John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

. (page 8 of 135)
Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 8 of 135)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


able coincidences it may be stated that she was born
on the 19th, married on the 19th, captured on the
19th, released on the 19th, reached Independence
on the 19th, arrived at home on the 19th,
and died on the 19th of the month. Her
child, James Pratt Plummer, was ransomed and
taken to Fort Gibson late in 1842, and reached
home in February, in 1843, in charge of his grand-
father. He became a respected citizen of Ander-
son County. This still left in captivity Cynthia
Ann and John Parker, who, as subsequently
learned, were held by separate bands. John grew
to manhood and became a warrior. In a raid into
Mexico he captured a Mexican girl and made her
his wife. Afterwards he was seized with small-pox.
His tribe fled in dismay, taking his wife and leaving
him alone to die ; but she escaped from them and
returned to nurse him. He recovered and in dis-
gust quit the Indians to go and live with his wife's
people, which he did, and when the civil war broke
out, he joined a Mexican company in the Confed-
erate service. He, however, refused to leave the
soil of Texas and would, under no circumstance,
cross the Sabine into Louisiana. He was still liv-
ing across the Rio Grande a few years ago, but up
to that time had never visited any of his Texas
cousins.

EECOVERY OP CYNTHIA ANN PAKKER.

From May 19th, 1836, to December 18th, 1860,
was twenty-four years and seven months. Add to
this nine years, her age when captured, and, at the
latter date Cynthia Ann Parker was in her thirty-
fourth year. During that quarter of a century no
reliable tidings had ever been received of her.
She had long been given up as dead or irretriev-
ably lost to civilization. As a prelude to her
reclamation, a few other important events may be
narrated.

When, in 1858, Major Earl Van Dorn, United
States dragoons, was about leaving Fort Belknap
on his famous campaign against the hostile tribes,
Lawrence Sullivan Eoss (the Gen. " Sul " Ross,
a household favorite throughout Texas to-day),
then a frontier Texas youth of eighteen, had just
returned for vacation from college. He raised and
took command of 135 friendly Waco, Tehuacano,
Toncahua and Caddo Indians and tendered their
services to Van Dorn, which were gladly accepted.
He was sent in advance to " spy out the land," the
troops and supply trains following. Reaching the
Wichita mountains, Ross sent a confidential Waco
and Tehuacano to the Wichita village, 75 miles east
of the Washita river, hoping to learn where the



42



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



hostile Comanchea were. On approaching he
village these two scouts, to their surprise, found
that Buffalo Hump and his band of Comanches,
against whom Van Dorn's expedition was intended,
were there, trading and gambling with the Wichitas.
The scouts lay concealed till night, then stole two
Comanche horses and hastily rejoined Ross with the
tidings. With some difficulty Ross convinced Van
Dorn of the reliability of the scouts and persuaded
him to deflect his course and make a forced march
for the village. At sunrise, on the first day of
Outober, they struck the village as a whirlwind,
almost annihilating Buffalo Hump and his power-
ful band, capturing horses, tents, equipage and
numerous prisoners, among whom was the white
girl, " Lizzie," never recognized or claimed by
kindred, but adopted, educated and tenderly reared
by Gen. Ross and subsequently married and died
in California. VanDorn was dangerously wounded ;
as was also Ross, by a rifie ball, whose youthful
gallantry was such that every United States officer,
while yet on the battle field, signed a petition to
the President to commission him as an officer in the
regular army, and he soon received from Gen.
Winfield Scott a most complimentary official recog-
nition of his wise and dauntless bearing.

Graduating at college a year later (in 1859), in
1860 and till secession occurred in the beginning
of 18fil, young Ross was kept, more or less, in the
frontier service. In the fall of 1860, under the
commission of Governor Sam Houston, he was
stationed near Fort Belknap, in command of a com-
pany of rangers. Late in November a band of
Comanches raided Parker County, committed serious
depredations and retreated with many horses, creat-
ing great excitement among the sparsely settled
inhabitants. Ross, in command of a party of his
own men, a sergeant and twenty United States
cavalry, placed at his service by Capt. N. G.
Evans, commanding at Camp Cooper, and seventy
citizens from Palo Pinto County, under Capt. Jack
Curington, followed the marauders a few days
later. Early on the 18th of December near some
cedar mountains, on the head waters of Pease
river, they suddenly came upon an Indian village,
which the occupants, with their horses already
packed, were about leaving. Curington's company
was several miles behind, and twenty of the rangers
were on foot, leading their broken-down horses,
the only food for them for several days having been
the bark and sprigs of young cottonwoods. With
the dragoons and only twenty of his own men,
seeing that he was undiscovered, Ross charged the
camp, completely surprising the Indians. In less
than half an hour he had complete possession of the



camp, their supplies and 350 horses, besides killing
many. Two Indians, mounted, attempted to escape
to the mountains, about six miles distant. Lieut.
Thomas Killiher pursued one ; Ross and Lieut.
Somerville followed the other. Somerville's heavy
weight soon caused his horse to fail, and Ross pur-
sued alone till, in about two miles, he came up with
Mohee, chief of the band. After a short combat,
Ross triumphed in the death of his adversary,
securing his lance, shield, quiver and head-dress,
all of which remain to the present time among
similar trophies in the State collection at Austin.
Very soon Lieut. Killiher joined him in charge of
the Indian he had followed, who proved to be a
woman, with her girl child, about two and a halt
years old. On the way back a Comanche boy was
picked up by Lieut. Sublett. Ross took charge of
him, and he grew up at Waco, bearing the name of
Pease, suggested doubtless by the locality of his
capture.

It soon became evident that the captured woman
was an American, and through a Mexican interpre-
ter it became equally certain that she had been cap-
tured in childhood — that her husband had been
killed in the fight, and that she had two little boys
elsewhere among the band to which siie belonged.
Ross, from all the facts, suspected that she might
be one of the long missing Parker children, and on
reaching the settlements, sent for the venerable
Isaac Parker, of Tarrant County, son and brother
respectively of those killed at the Fort in 1836.
On his arrival it was soon made manifest that the
captured woman was Cynthia Ann Parker, as per-
fectly an Indian in habit as if she had been so born.
She recognized her name when distinctly pro-
nounced by her uncle ; otherwise she knew not an
English word. She sought every opportunity to
escape, and had to be closely watched for some
time. Her uncle brought herself and child into
his home — then took them to Austin, where the
secession convention was in session. Mrs. John
Henry Brown and Mrs. N. C. Raymond interested
themselves in her, dressed her neatly, and on one
occasion took her into the gallery of the hall while
the convention was in session. They soon realized
that she was greatly alarmed by the belief that the
assemblage was a council of chiefs, sitting in judg-
ment on her life. Mrs. Brown beckoned to her
husband, who was a member of the convention, who
appeared and succeeded in reassuring her that she
was among friends.

Gradually her mother tongue came back, and
with it occasional incidents of her childhood, includ-
ing a recognition of the venerable Mr. Anglin and
perhaps one or two others. She proved to be a



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



43



sensible and comely woman, and died at her
, brother's in Anderson County, in 1870, preceded a
short time by her sprightly little daughter, "Prairie
Flower."

One of the little sons of Cynthia Ann died some
years later. The other, now known as Capt.
Quanah Parker, born, as he informed me, at Wich-
ita Falls, in 1854, is a popular and trustworthy
chief of the Comanches, on their reservation in the
Indian Territory. He speaks English, is consider-
ably advanced in civilization, and owns a ranch
with considerable live stock and a small farm —
withal a fine looking and dignified son of the
plains.

Thus ended the sad story begun May 19th, 1836.
Various detached accounts have been given of it.



Some years ago I wrote it up from the best data at
command. Since then I have used every effort to
get more complete details from those best informed,
and am persuaded that this narrative states cor-
rectly every material fact connected with it.

Note. Eider Daniel Parker, a man of strong
mental powers, a son of Elder John, does not figure
in these events. He signed the Declaration of In-
dependence in 1836, and preached to his people till
his death in Anderson County, in 1845. Ex-Kep-
resentative Ben. F. Parker is his son and successor
in preaching at the same place. Isaac Parker,
before named, another son, long represented Hous-
ton and Anderson Counties in the Senate and
House, and in 1855 represented Tarrant County.
He died in 1884, not far from eighty-eight years of
age. Isaac D. Parker of Tarrant is his son.



The Break-up in Bell County in 1836 — Death of Davidson and

Crouch — The Childers Family — Orville T. Tyler —

Walker, Monroe, Smith, Etc.— 1836.



When the invasion of Santa Anna occurred, from
January to April, 1836, there were a few newly
located settlers on Little river, now in Bell County.
They retreated east, as did the entire population wesfc
of the Trinity. Some of these settlers went into the
army till after the victory at San Jacinto on the
21st of April. Some of them, immediately after
that triumph, with the family of Gouldsby Childers,
returned to their deserted homes. During the pre-
vious winter each head of a family and one or two
single men had cleared about four acres of ground
on his own land and had planted corn before the
retreat. To cultivate this corn and thus have bread
was the immediate incentive to an early return.
Gouldsby Childers had his, cabin and little field on
his own league on Little river. Robert Davidson's
cabin and league were a little above on the river,
both being on the north side. Orville T. Tyler's
league, cabin and cornfield were on the west side
of the Leon in the three forks of Little river, its
limits extending to within a mile of the present
town of Belton. Wm. Taylor's league was oppo-
site that of Tyler, but his cornfield was on the
other land. At this time Henry Walker, Mr. Mon-
roe, and James (Camel Back) Smith had also
returned to their abandoned homes, in the edge of
the prairie, about eight miles east of the present



town of Cameron, in Milam County, their cabins
being only about a hundred yards apart. This
was the same James Smith who, in October, 1838,
escaped, so severely wounded, from the Surveyor's
Fight, in sight of the present town of Dawson, in
Navarro County, as narrated in the chapter on that
subject.

Nashville, on the Brazos, near the mouth of
Little river, was then the nearest settlement and
refuge to these people, and the families of those
who returned to cultivate their corn in the new
settlement, remained in that now extinct village.

The massacre at Parker's Fort on the Navasota,
occurred on the 19th of May. In the month of
June, but on what day of the month cannot be
stated, two young men named John Beal and Jack
Hopson, arrived as messengers from Nashville to
advise these people of their great peril, as large
bodies of hostile Indians were known to be maraud-
ing in the country. On receipt of this intelli-
gence immediate preparations were made to retreat
in a body to Nashville. Their only vehicle was a
wagon to be drawn by a single pair of oxen. They
had a few horses but not enough to mount the
whole party. The entire party consisted of Capt.
Gouldsby Childers, his wife, sons, Robert (now
living at Temple), Frank (17 years of age, and



44



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



killed In Erath's fight with the Indians, on Big Elm,
in the same section, in January, 1837), William
and Prior Childers, small boys ; his two grown
daughters, Katherine (afterwards Mrs. E. Lawrence
Stickney); Amanda (afterwards Mrs. John E.
Craddock, and still living in Bell County); and
Caroline, eight years old (now the widow of Orville
T. Tyler and the mother of George W. Tyler, liv-
ing in Belton), the whole family consisting of nine
souls — also an old man named Rhoads, living with

the Childers family, Shackleford, Orville T.

Tyler, Parson Crouch and Robert Davidson (whose
families were in Nashville), Ezekiel Roberson and
the two messengers, John Beal and Jack Hopson —
total souls, seventeen, of whom eleven were able
to bear arms, though Mr. Rhoads was old and
infirm.

On the evening of the first day they arrived and
encamped at the house of Henry Walker, where
the farailies of Monroe and Smith had already
taken refuge. It was expected that these three
families would join them in the march next morn-
ing; but they were not ready, and the original
party, when morning came, moved on. When two
or three miles southeast of Walker's house, on the
road to Nashville, via Smith's crossing of Little
river, Davidson and Crouch being about three hun-
dred, and Capt. Childers about one hundred yards
ahead and two or three men perhaps two hundred
yards behind, driving a few cattle, the latter discov-
ered about two hundred mounted warriors advanc-
ing from the rear at full speed. They gave the
alarm and rushed forward to the wagon. Capt.
Childers, yelling to Crouch and Davidson, hastened
back. They reached the wagon barely in time to
present a bold front to the advancing savages and
cause them to change their charge into an encircle-
ment of the apparently doomed party ; but in
accomplishing this purpose the enemy discovered
Messrs. Crouch and Davidson seeking to rejoin
their companions. This diverted their attention
from the main party to the two unfortunate gentle-
men, who, seeing the impossibility of their attempt,
endeavored to escape by flight, but being poorly
mounted, were speedily surrounded, killed and
scalped. Then followed great excitement among
the Indians, apparently quarreling over the dispo-
sition of the scalps and effects of the two gentle-
men. This enabled the main party to reach a
grove of timber about four hundred yards distant,
where they turned the oxen loose, and only sought
to save their lives. At this critical crisis and just
as the savages were returning to renew the attack,
Beal and Hopson, who had won the friendship of



all by coming as messengers, and by their conduct
up to that moment, made their escape from what
seemed certain death.

For a little while the Indians galloped around
them, j'elling, firing and by every artifice seeking
to draw a fire from the little band ; but they pre-
sented a bold front and fired not a gun. Shackle-
ford could speak the Indian tongue and challenged
them to charge and come to close quarters, but the
Indians evidently believed they had pistols and
extra arras in the wagons and failed to approach
nearer than a hundred yards and soon withdrew.
In close order, the besieged retreated changing
their route to the raft, four or five miles distant,
on Little river, on which they crossed, swimming
their horses. Carolina Childers, tiie child of eight,
rode behind her future husband, Orville T. Tyler,
who had a lame foot and was compelled to ride,
while others, for want of horses, were compelled to
travel on foot. They doubted not the attack would
be renewed at some more favorable spot, but it
was not. Thus they traveled till night and
encamped. They reached Nashville late next day.

During the next day Smith, Monroe and Walker,
with their families, arrived. Immediately on leav-
ing the former party the Inilians had attacked the
three families in Walker's house and kept up a fire
all day without wounding either of the defenders,
who fired deliberately through port-holes whenever
opportunity appeared. While not assured of kill-
ing a single Indian, they were perfectly certain of
having wounded a considerable number. As night
came on, the Indians retired, and as soon as satis-
fied of their departure, the three families left for
Nashville, and arrived without further molestation.

Note. Robert Davidson was a man of intelli-
gence and merit, and was the father of Wilson T.
Davidson and Mrs. Harvey Smith of Belton, Mrs.
Francis T. Duffau of Austin, and Justus Davidson
of Galveston, all of whom have so lived in the
intervening fifty-one years as to reflect honor on
their slaughtered father. Of the family of Mr.
Crouch I have no knowledge. Mrs. Stickney died
in Coryell County, December 24, 1880. Prior
Childers died in Falls County in 1867 or 1868.
William Childers died in tlie Confederate army in
1864, having served from the beginning of the
war.

0. T. Tyler was born in Massachusetts, August
28, 1810; landed in Texas in February, 1885;
married Caroline Childers in 1850; was the first
chief- justice of Coryell County, and filled various
other public stations; and full of years and the
honors of a well-spent life, died at his elegant home
in Belton, April 17th, 1886. His son. Senator
George W. Tyler, of Belton, was the first white
child born in Coryell County.



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



45



The Murder of the Douglas and Dougherty Families — 1836.



The month of March, 1836, ranks overwhelmingly
as the bloodiest and yet, in one respect, the brightest
in the annals of Texas. On the second day of that
month, at Washington on the Brazos, the chosen
delegates of the people, fifty-two being present,
unanimously declared Texas to be a free, sovereign
and independent Republic, according to Gen. Sam
Houston, their most distinguished colleague, the
opportunity of subscribing his name to the solemn
declaration, the second of its kind in the history of
the human family, on his birthday, an event not
dreamed of by his noble mother when in Rockbridge
County, Virginia, on the second day of March, 1793,
she first clasped him to her bosom. On the 4th of
March, Gen. Houston was elected commander-in-
chief of the armies of the Republic, as he had been
in the previous November of the armies of the Pro-
visional, or inchoate, government. On the 11th,
Henry Smith, the Provisional Governor, one of the
grandest characters adorning the history of Texas
and to whom more than to any one man, the cause
of Independence was indebted for its triumph, sur-
rendered his functions to the representatives of the
people. On the 2d, Dr. Grant and his party,
beyond the Nueces, were slaughtered by Urrea's dra-
goons, one man only escaping massacre, to be held
long in Mexican dungeons and then escape, to
survive at least fifty-five years, with the fervent hope
by hosts of friends that he may yet be spared many
years to see a commercial city arise where he has
resided for over half a century. The veteran
gentleman referred to is Col. Reuben R. Brown, of
Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos. On the 6lh
the Alamo and its 182 defenders went down to
immortality under the oft-repulsed but surging
columns of Santa Anna. On the 19th Fannin
capitulated to Urrea on the plains of Coleto. On
the 27th he and his followers, to the number of
about 480, were massacred in cold blood, under the
specific orders of that arch traitor and apostate to
liberty, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, whose life,
twenty-four days later, when a prisoner in their
hands, was spared through a magnanimity unsur-
passed in the world's history, by the lion-hearted
defenders of a people then and ever since, by prej-
udiced fanatics and superficial scribblers, charac-
terized as largely composed of outlaws and quasi-
barbarians, instead of being representatives, as they
were, of the highest type of American chivalry,
American civilization and American liberty.



While these grand events were transpiring, the
American settlers on the Guadalupe, the Lavaca
and farther east were removing their families east-
wardly, flying from the legions of Santa Anna as
from wild beasts. Many had no vehicles and used
horses, oxen, sleds or whatever could be improvised
to transport the women, children, bedding and food.
Among those thus situated were two isolated
families, living on Douglas' or Clark's creek, about
twelve miles southwest of Hallettsville, in Lavaca
County. These were John Douglas, wife and

children, and Dougherty, a widower, with

three children. The parents were natives of
Ireland, but had lived and probably married in
Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where their children
were born and from which they came to Texas in
1832. They were worthy and useful citizens, and
lived together. The}' prepared sleds on which to
transport their effects, but when these were com-
pleted the few people in that section had already
left for the east. On the morning of the 4th of
March Augustine Douglas, aged fifteen, and Thad-
eus Douglas, aged thirteen, were sent out by their
father to find and bring in the oxen designed to
draw the sleds. Returning in the afternoon, at a
short distance from home, they saw that the cabins
were on fire, and heard such screams and war
whoops as to admonish them that their parents and
kindred were being butchered ; but they were
unarmed and powerless and realized that to save
their own lives they must seek a hiding-place.
This they found in a thicket near by, and there
remained concealed till night. When dark came
they cautiously approached the smoldering ruins
and found that the savages had left. A brief
examination revealed to them the dead and scalped
bodies of their father, mother, sister and little
brother and of Mr. Dougherty, one son and two
daughters, lying naked in the yard — eight souls
thus brutally snatched from earth. Imagination,
especially when assured that those two boys were
noted for gentle and affectionate natures, as per-
sonally known to the writer for a number of years,
may depict the forlorn anguish piercing their young
hearts. It was a scene over which angels weep.

There were scarcely anything more than paths,
and few of them, through that section. Augustine
had some idea as to courses, and speedily deter-
mined on a policy. With his little brother he pro-
ceeded to the little settlement in the vicinity of



46



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



where Halleltsville is, but found that every one had
retreated. The3' then followed the Lavaca down
about thirty-five miles to where their older sister,
the wife of Capt. John McHenry, and a few others
lived — but found that all had been gone some
time. They then took the old Atascosita road
from Goliad which crossed the Colorado a few
miles below where Columbia is. Near the Colo-
rado, almost starved to death, they fell in with
some Mexican scouts and were conducted to the
camp of the Mexican general, Adrian Woll, a
Frenchman, who could speak English and to whom
they narrated their sad story. Woll received them
kindly and had all needful care taken of them. In
a few days the boys were taken by a Frenchman
named Auguste, a traitor to Texas, to his place on
Cummins' creek, where he had collected a lot of
negroes and a great many cattle belonging to the
retreating citizens, from which he was supplying
Gen. Woll with beef at enormous prices. The 21st
of April passed and San Jacinto was won. Very
soon the Mexicans began preparations for retreat.
Auguste, mounting Augustine Douglas on a fine
horse, sent him down to learn when Woll could
start. In the meantime a party of Texians, headed
by Alison York, who had heard of Auguste' s
thieving den, hurried forward to chastise him before
he could leave the country with his booty. He
punished them severely, all who could fleeing into
the bottom and thence to WoU's catap. When
York's party opened fire, little Thadeus Douglas,



not understanding the cause, fled down the road
and in about a mile met his brother returning from
WoU's camp on Auguste's fine horse. With equal
prudence and financial skill they determined to save
both themselves and the horse. Thadeus mount-
ing behind, they started at double quick for the
Brazos. They had not traveled many miles, how-
ever, when they met the gallant Capt. Henry W.
Karnes, atthe head of some cavalry, from whom they



Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 8 of 135)