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From the collection of the
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o rrelinger

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San Francisco, California


Frontier History, Border Tragedy,
Pioneer Achievement


per year

Published Monthly
at Bandera, Texas,
by J. Marvin Hunter



When Camels Roamad Over Texas 1

Jack Potter, the Fighting Parson 4

The Old Time Campmeeting 8

Ex-Rangers' Reunion at Ranger

Recalls Indian Fight 12

"Whistling in Heaven," a poem 14

Douplos Wedded Fifty Years :. 16

iohn Wesley H;i

toe llmxIn'rHh HirMid.-r
of Texas" Rests and Wait

i Relie of 1847

Dcstruf*. m at Indianola, 187-'

Antonio's First Great Tragedy 4.1

Vol.8 OCTOBER, 1925 No 1

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Derated lo Frontier History, Harder Tragedy ami Pioneer Achievement

Vol. 3 No. 1 OCTOBER, 1925

R. C. Crane, in Dallas Semi- Weekly News, August 21, 1925

At the close of the Mexican war there
not a mile of railroad west of the
Mississippi River.

As a result of the annexation of Texas
and the settlement of peace with Mex-
ico, about one-third of the present area
of our continental United States was
added to our territory, and it thereupon
became necessary for the United States
to establish forts all over that region
located west of Louisiana.

With the establishment of forts at
strategic points over the west, the prob-
lem of transportation of army supplies
became acute, and the question of cost
of transportation became a serious one to
the quartermaster's department.

The army tried out experiments in
tryin'g to solve this transportation ques-
tion between the use of mule trains and
ox trains, and between the contract
system and of having the Government
own the wagons and mules or oxen, and
having its own teamsters do the hauling.
Owing to the fact that Indian's infested
the new region it was n/ecessary to send
guards of soldiers with every supply
train whether it was being run by the
Government or contractors.

The cost of sending supplies in a
roundabout way from Fort Smith, Ark.,
where they could be landed by boat up
the Arkansas River, ipiit by the old Santa
Fe Trail to Fort Bliss, at El Paso, was
'ried out in a cost competition with send-
in g out supplies to the same point from
old Imlinnola, then about the most im-
portant port on the Texas coast.

H was found that oxen were prefer-
able over mules for this work, because
i hey <-ould sustain themselves on the
grasses 'over which they passed. The
mules could not always do this. As to
cost, the difference was not great, either
between the contract system and the
Government trains, nor between getting

the supplies out irom Fort Smith or
Indianola to Fort Bliss.

But even when the supplies were de-
livered to the forts over 1 the unsettled
West, it frequently became necessary
for the soldiers to make quick, sharp
drives against marauding Indians or
redskins on the warpath, and cavalry
horsey could not sustain themselves long
o'n the vegetation that could be relied
on. Here again the problem -of trans-
porting supplies became acute. This
was the situation when Jefferson Davis
became Secretary of War in 1853 under
President Pierce.

Jefferson Davis had seen active ser-
vice in Mexico during the Mexican War
and wa, familiar with the conditions
and the topography of the Southwestern
section of our country, including Texas,
in which the Indian question was most
troublesome, and this transportation of
army supplies came up to him to lo
grappled with.

He studied the camel and his nature,
and the sections of country in which the
camel was the burden bearer and the
transportation system, and he came to
the conclusion that there were vast sec-
tions of country in Texas, New Mexico.
Arizona and other regions of the United
States so similar in climate, topography
and other characteristics to those re-
gions where the ep.mel thrived, that the
camel was worth trying. He took the
question to Congress with a strong rec-
ommendation for an appropriation suf-
ficient to send to Egypt and buy and
transport to Texas camels enough to try
out the question cf their availability.

Congress was convinced by the reason-
ing of the Secretary of War, passed the
appropriation and the camels were sent
for. They were brocght to Texas in
1855 with their native caretakers and-
landing at old Indianola, vppre taken tq


('amp Verde, about ixty miles north-
west of San Antonio, and there establish-
ed in permanent headquarters, which at
once took on the appearance of an Orient-
tal settlement.

There were thirty-four in this ffirst
shipment, but two died. Thus, thirty-
two were landed safely and carried into

Much time was required for their re-
covery from the long sea voyage from
Egypt and, according to the report of
the Secretary of War for 1856, up to
that time little USD had been made of
them in the transportation of supplies.
However, he reported, on one occasion
a train, consisting of wagons and camels
was sent from Camp Verde to San An-
tonio, over a road not worse than those
usually foicnd on the frontier and the re-
sult was that the quantity of supplies
brought back by six camels (3,648
pounds) wasi equal to the loads of two
wagons each drawn by six mules, and
the time occupied by the camels wa
two days and six hours, and that con-
sumed _by the wagons drawn by the
mules Tour days and thirty minutes.

On another occasion the capacity of
the camel for traveling over steep ac-
clivities and on muddy roads was tested
with the most satisfactory results. In-
stead of making the detour rendered
necessary in the location of the road to
avoid a rugged mountain, impracticable
for wagons, the oamels followed a trail
which passed over it, and a heavy rain
occurring whilst they were at the depot
to which they had been sent for sup-
plies, the road was rendered so muddy
that it was considered impassable by
loaded wagons. The train of camels
wag nevertheless loaded with an average
of 328 pounds each and returned to
their encampment a distance of sixty
miles, in two days, suffering, according
to reports, no interruption or unusual
fatigue from mud or from torrents of

These tests were considered by the
itrony officers as practically proving the
probable usefulness of the camel in the
transportation of military supplies. But
the camel had to be given time to become
acclimated to the frequent and sudden
changes of Texas weather, and they had
to become accustomed to the herbiage of
the region, so different from that to

which they had beetn accustomed in their
native Egypt.

The experiments, even up to the winter
of 1856, were so satisfactorp as to larg^
ly dispel the doubts wh: ch were enter-
tained over the country over the avail-
ability of the camel for military uses in
the United States. It was reported:
"That the very intelligent officer vho
was sent abroad to procure them, and
who has remained in change of them, ex-
presses entire confidence, both of their
great value fof purposes of! transporta-
tion aind of their adaptation to the cli-
mate of a large part of the United

But the original appropriation had not
been exhausted with the purchase of the
thirty-four camels, so the War Depart-
ment arranged with the Navy Depart-
ment for Lieutenant D. D. Porter, who
became famous in the war between the
states as Admiral Porter, commanding,
to bring back forty more camels on a
store ship on its return from the Mediter-
ranean. These additional animals arrived
in the winter of 1856-7 and were carried
to Camp Verde, thus making about
seventy camels on hand with which to
continue the experiments.

During 1857 all sorts of experiments
were conducted by the use of the camel
in all sorts of regions, and even in what
is probably the roughest region of Texas,
the Big Bend country of the Rio Grande,
camels were used in these experiments.
Their use in all cases was considered
satisfactory. But in the Big Bend coun-
try, where they had to climb mountains
so steep that they were compelled to get
down on their knees amd travel over
rocks for days and carry barrels of water
on their backs, it v. a_s learned that there
was some limit toTbe endurance even of a
camel and that constant travel over flint
rocks would wear away their hoofs. In
learning the capactity of the camel for
transportation, his limitations were also
learned, as was also something of humane
treatment of him.

In 1858, Secretary of War John B.
Floyd said: "Thi s entire adaptation of
camels to military operations upon the
plains may now be taken as demonstrat-
ed, whilst their great usefulness and sup-
eriority in many partieclars is equally
certain. ' '

A heavy expense was necessarily in-


curred every year in the Quartermaster's
Department of the army in furnishing
transportation for troops while engaged
in expeditions agiiirrst roving tribes of
Indians of the plains, and Secretary
Floyd pointed out that in all of these
movements camels could be used to great
advantage, suggesting that in the space
of three days a well-appointed command
could set. out amd traverse 150 miles with-
out difficulty or much fatigue and fall up-
on any Indian tribe perfectly unawares.
Troops would be able to carry all neces-
sary supplies for the campaign and tra-
verse the arid plains without ainy incon-
venience from want of water.

The superiority of the camel over the
horse would soon become so manifest for
all movements on the plains and deserts
that hostile Indians in those regions
would soon come to understand the hope-
lessness of escape by flight and the folly
of marauding where punishment was

The camels lived and thrived upon
what would not sustain the hardiest mule
and consequently the item of forage, one
of enormous cost in the army, would be
almost saved, if the supply of camels was
sufficient to answer the demands and re-
quirements of the frontier sendee, ac-
cording to Secretary Floyd. He there-
upon recommended that Congress auth-
orize the purchase of 1,000 camel's fior use
in army transportation on the frontier.

A little later, Gen. Robert E. Lee (then
a Lieutenant Colonel, but in command of
the United States military forces in Tex-
aas) took notice of the use of the camel
in army transportation and treated the
experimental stage of their use as having
about passed, and in his report to the
War Department gave their use his in-
dorsement and encouragement.

But the war between the States came
on and that bloody struggle was pitched
in regions where the use of the camel ap-
pears not to have been thought of), so the
camel was turned loose on the- range.
But, some of them having been carried
to Arizona for use in the army out there,
even now one reads occasionally of a
stray camel being found in the wilds of
that State, descendants of the camels
which Jefferson Davis had brought to
the United States for use in the army.

There still are evidences at Camp Verde
of the fact that camels once were prom-

inent in that camp the sheds built for
them still are in a good state of preserva-
tion; but the fact is little known that the
use of the camel was so close to solving
the transportation question in the United
States Army as herein indicated.

When the clouds of war had lifted and
the soldiers came back to the frontier,
the construction of railroads to the
Pacific amd to the West and Southwest
were being pushed and were looked to to
solve the transportation question along
all lines. Thus, the camels having scat-
tt'i-fd and disappeared and the conditions
i-ompletely changed, their use in the
army became a closed incident.

(EDITOR'S NOTE The old camel
post at Camp Verde, twelve miles nortn
of Bandera, has practically disappeared.
The sheds mentioned by the writer of
the above story, have been torn down,
and all that remains of the historic post
is the officers' barracks building, which
has been converted inito a modern resi-
dence and is now occupied by Mr. W.
H. Bonnell, the owner of the old post
grounds. )

Heel Fly Time in Texas

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25 cents. A thrilling story of the Civil
War period, true in every detail, and
full of human interest. Order today
from Frontier Times, Bandera, Texas.

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time Texas Ranger, every old Trail
Driver, should send us a sketch of his
experience for publication in Frontier
Times, and in this way help to preserve
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Written by John Warren Hunter in 19J1

No name was more familiarly known
twenty-five years ago in West Texas
than that of Andrew Jackson Potter,
the "Fighting Parson." His name was
a household word from the Panhandle
to the Gulf; from the Colorado to the
Rio Grande and the stories of his wit,
prowess and adventures were sent
abroad in the nation by press and pul-
pit. While the question of frontier pro
tection was b> A ing considered in the
United States c ingress in 1872, a Texas
member said in his speech : ' ' Remove
your regulars from the garrison on the
Texas border: commission Jack Potter,
a reclaimed desperado and now a Me-
thodist preacher and Indian fighter; in-
struct him to choose and organize one
hundred non arid Indian depredations
along the Texas border will cease.''

A. J. Potter was born in Charitou
county, Missouri. April 3, 1.830, and
was one of s-eten children four boys
and three girls Andrew being th? third
son. His father, Joshua Potter, was
one of those rugged Kentucky marks-
men who stood behind the breastworks
at New Orleans, January 8, 1815, find
helped defeat the flower of the P.ritis'i
army under Packenham. It was OK ac-
count of his love and veneration f'r
"Old Hickory" that he named hi s son
Andrew Jackson. While quite young,
the boy's father moved to Grand river
near Clinton where the lad spent his
boyhood. Clinton was at that time a
border county and educational facili-
ties were very limited. Three months
in school covered the entire period of
Andy's scholastic experience and dur-
ing this time he learned to read after a
fashion but did not acquire the art oi'

At the age of ten, Andrew was an
orphan, without home, friends or heri-
tage and became a race rider, and his
skill, courage and daring soon won the
high regard of his employer to the ex-
tent that he taught him to write, play
cards and shoot straight; three of the
most important branches of a frontiers-
man's education during those early
days. For six years Andrew followed
the occupation of race rider, his daily

associates being Jockeys, gamblers,
drunkards and blasphemers six years
of perilous paths that led over hills,
mountains and deserts from St. Louis
to Santa Fe. In 1846 when, hostilities
broke out between the United States
and Mexico, Mr. Potter then being 16
years of age, enlisted in Capt. Slack's
company of volunteers and under com-
mand of. General Sterling Price took up
the line of march for Santa Fe, New
Mexico. A few days march demonstrat-
ed the fact that Andrew was too small
to carry a haversack and musket and
endure the fatigue of a soldier; he was
detailed as teamster where he learned
his flirst lesson in driving oxen.

The expedition left Leavenworth,
Kans., in September, 1846, and the route
led up the Arkansas. Before reaching
Bent's Fort the entire train of 40 wag-
ons was captured by the Cheyenne In^
dians. Not apprehending danger, it
seems the main body of troops had pass-
ed on far in advance, leaving the train
without an escort. Under the cloak of
friendship, two Indians camb into the
camp early in the morning and were
given food and remained. When the
train moved out, two others came up;
other squads joined them and then still
larger bands, then three hundred sava-
ges rushed upon the teamsters. No at-
tempt at violence was made by the In-
dians. The chief gave the wagon mas-
ter to understand that he only wanted
provisions, not scalps, and if he had to
fight to obtain the provisions he'd take
scalps also. The wagon master agreed
to give him a certain amount of provi-
sions and while this was being given out
a cloud oi! dust was seen rising flar in the
rear and the teamsters shouted, "Sol-
dier's! the soldiers are coming." Seiz-
ing their plunder, the Indians mounted
and fled. The cloud of dust was caused
by an approaching wagon train.

At Bent's Fort, young Potter was seiz-
ed with an attack of "camp fever" and
it was thought necessary to leave him at
that post but his wagon master who had
become greatly attached to the lad made
arrangements to take him along. It
was yet thre* hundred mjles to Santa Ff*,


winter at hand and the Raton moun-
tains were before them. After endur-
ing untold hardships, they reached
Santa Fe in January, 1847. For five
years young Potter remained with the
army in that region, operating in New
Mexico and Arizona, fighting, trailing
and routing the vengeful Apaches and
other dangerous tribes. It was during
this period that he became an adept in
all the arts of Indian warfare. He was
an apt student in their school of cunning
and strategy. Mr. Potter leaves on re-
cord his impresions made by the suffer-
ings of Price's men in the hospital at
Santa Fe. He says:

"In the latter part of 1847, I was em-
ployed as nurse in the hospital at Santa
Fe. On entering that place I saw an
ailfiecting scene; a large number of men
sick of" scurvy, measles, and pneumonia,
were lying on narrow bunks so closely
crowded together that there was just
room to pass between them. My time
of nursing came or the first part of the
night and it was an awful half; night to
me. Many of the sufferers in their
fevered delirium, would rise up and
gather their blankets, saying that they
were going home. By the time I would
get them quieted, others would be cry-
ing out: Goodbye! I am going home!"
at the same time making effjorts to get
up. Never shall I forget those dreary
nights I spent there with the dead and
dying. 0, the sweet thoughts of home,
sweet home! They came as a dream
charm over the fevered brain when
sisions of wife, babes and loved ones at
home entered the mind.

"At length a train set out flor Fort
Leavenworth, to carry home all the sick
who were able to stand the trip across
the plains. I was one of the attendants.
As our ox teams slowly moved up the
hill, I took my last lingering look at the
old adobe town of Santa Fe, with eyes
dimmed by unshed tears, as I gazed for
the last time on the graves of so many
brave soldiers who lay side by side on
the tomb-covered hill beyond, not to
arise until Death's long reign is passed.
Many of our sick died in the great wil-
derness and we rolled them up in their
blankets and hid them in earth's cold
clay at intervals in our long journey
from Santa Fe to Fort Leavenworth.
Their unmarked graves are in the un-

settied wilds of! Nature's solitudes.
Friend and dear ones at home know not
the place of their rest. When we wrap-
ped their cold bodies in their soldier
blanket shrouds and shaped the grave
mound over them, the hardy soldier
would perchance moisten the earthen
monument with a pitying tear. To me
it was a terribly gloomy thought to
leave them alone in savage lands, to be
trodden under foot by the wild, roving
bands of Nature's untamed children in
their merry dances over the dust of
their vanquished foes."

After six years service as a soldier,
Mr. Potter came to Texas, reaching San
Antonio in 1852 and from there he went
to visit a brother then living on York's
creek in Hays county. Shortly after
his arrival at his brother's he was strick-
en with typhoid fever and came near
dying. When he recovered he found
himself penniless and a big doctor's bill
to pay. His first employment was driv-
ing an ox team at $15 a month, hauling
lumber from Bastrop county to San
Marcos and by saving up his wages he
was soon able to pay oflf all indebted-
ness. About this time Rev. I. G. John,
a Methodist preacher came along and
filled an appointment on York's creek.
Potter went out to hear him more for
the novelty of the meeting and a spirit
of curiosity. The text, "Who is the
wise man?" pierced his soul, and from
that day he became a regular attendant
at preaching, even denying himself the
pleasures of! a Sunday horse race in
order to hear Rev. John preach.

John preached at a great religious
revival held at Croft's Prairie, in 1856.
Mr. Potter was converted, joined the
church and the horseracer gambler and
saloon-keeper tough was completely
transformed and tecame one of the most
useful men West Texas ever knew.

The new life inspired Mir. Potter with
a desire to learn and became a devoted
bible reader. He learned to write, and
soon began to preach. In 1859, he sold
out in Bastrop county, and located on a
place nine miles east of Dockhart, where
he was licensed to preach and from there
began his wonderful career as an itiner-
ant preacher.

In 1861 he was seized with a desire to
visit the old home in Missouri but had
no money to defray the expenses of the

journey. Mr. Miller, of Lockhart, was
getting ready to start a herd of cattle to
Kansas. Mr. Potter hired to him as a
herier and after 47 day's, reached a
point 100 miles fiom the home of his
boyhood, which he traversed in a few
days. His sister only remained to greet
him and those who had known him as
the reckless race-rider and gambler were
astounded to learn that Andy Potter
had come to life and was a preacher !
He preached to a great crowd the Sun*-
day following his arrival, and this was
the beginning of! a great revival that
continued three months.

In February, 1862, Mr. Potter enlisted
as a prii ate in Capt. Stoke Hohne's Com-
pany at Prairie Lee. This company was
assigned to Wood's regiment, Thirty-
Second Texas cavalry. The command
was first stationed Camp Verde, Kerr
county, and later near San Antonio,
where Re i. Potter was appointed chap-
lain of DeBray's regiment. From San
Antonio the command went to Browns-
ville, where the fighting parson whipped
the editor of the local paper for having
published what Potter concieved to be a
libl on his regiment, and was on the
eve of throwing the printing plant into
the river, but was prevented by General

Mr. Potter was in all of the battles of
the Red River campaign in 1864, one of
unspeakable hardships to the soldiers of
the r'onfederacy hunger, slackness, toils,
battle-strife, death. Bread, sugar and
berries were the chief articles of food.
The. good chaplain shared all these hard-
ships will) ihp foirmi'on soldiers, passing
;i!l the daily drill s and marches,
tf, praying and exhorting the

When in hull IP array and ready for
lln- order to advance, Clia plain P-olte.r
could !)' seen with hat in one hand and
bible hi Dip other, walking back and
ford) rjn-ht in front of bis regiment
exhorting the men to repentance. "Boys
some of you may fall in this battle," he
would say; "in a few minutes you may
be palled to meet your maker. Repent
noiv and. ;jve your heart to Christ. He
ig to rece : ve you. 0, men it's a
;'!. -m n moment! You are f/acing death
and Mcrnify!" And when the order
"forward" was given, Mr. Potter seized
n mviskp-t. fell.- in rank : and fought side

by side with his men. At the close of
battle Potter seemed endowed with the
power of) ubiquity. Everywhere, pray-

Online LibraryRoger E BilsteinFrontier times; devoted to frontier history, border tragedy, pioneer achievement .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 99)