Roger E Bilstein.

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kid on the trip and remarked, 'His age is
all right, if he has staying qualities, but
most kids are short on sleep, and generally
sleep on watch.' I told him I would not
sleep during stampedes or Indian fights
and he promised to gire me a trial, and
that made me exceedingly happy.

We left Helena with a full chuck wagon,
the necessary number of horses and men,
and went to the Mays pasture on the Ci-
bolo near 3tockd*le, Wilson county, and
received a thowand steers. Dunk Choate
counted the cattle and Mr. Byler pointed
the herd north, and Dunk said, 'Adioe,
boys. I will see you in Abilene. Kansas;
I must go now and start other herds.'

We went by Gonzales, Lockhart, Austin,
and Georgetown, without any unusual
happenings, but on the Gabriel we had a
stampede during a thunderstorm, and the
herd was split up into several branches.
They were all found the next day. Some
of the bunches had men with them and
some did not. They were all trailed and
found, except me and seventy-five steers.
By ten o'clock the boss finally located the
trail of my bunch and found it ten miles
down the Gabriel. When he rode up he
asked, 'Are you awake? Why didn't you
bring these cattle back to the herd?' I
said I could not find the trail the steers
made, and I did not know what direction
to go to find the herd. We got back to
the main herd about four o'clock in the
evening, and I was so tired and sleepy I
told the boss I was just bound to eat and
sleep a little. He said, 'Go eat and sleep
all night; I will herd your relief. You de-
seVve a rest.' That sounded good to me, for
up to this time I thought the boss was mad.

"After a good night's rest I wag on the
job early the next morning, ready to do
do my share in keeping the herd on tbe
move. The cattle were easily scared and
for several days were very nervous and
made runs, but the boys kept strict watch
on them and they finally became recon-
ciled. We went by Waco, Cleburne and
Fort Worth. Between the last named
places the country was somewhat level and
untimbered, and was full of prairie chick-
ens and deer. When we reached Fort
Worth we crossed the Trinity under the
bluff, where the present street car line to
the stock yards crosses the river. Fot

Worth was then but a rery small place,
consisting of only a few stores, and there
was only one house In that part of the
town, where the stock yards are now lo-
cated. We held our herd here two days,
finally proceeding on our journey and
crossed Red River at Red River Station,
and took the Chlsholm Trail through the
Indian Territory. Here we saw lots of In-
dians, who came to our herd with the usual
greeting, 'How, John,' to beg tobacco and
provisions. Byler got by these Indians
without any trouble, but we found all the
streams in that region up and had to
swim or lose time, for Byler wanted to keep
the lead, and we therefore crossed many
rivers at a time when other men would
have hesitated.

"At Pond . Creek we encountered our first
buffalo. The plains were literally oorered
with these animals, and when we came in
sight of them all ot the boys quit the herd
and gave chase. It was a wonderful sight
to see these cowboys dashing after those
big husky monsters, (hooting at them from
all angles. We soon learned that it did no
good to shoot them In the forehead, aa we
were accustomed to shooting beeres with
our plctols, for the bullets would not pene-
trate their skull. We would dash by them
and shoot them between the eyes without
apparent effect, so we began shooting them
behind the shoulder and that brought them
down. I killed two or three of the grown
buffaloes, and roped a yearling which I
was glad to turn loose and let him get
away with a good rope. I soon became
satisfied with the excitement incident to
killing buffalo, swimming streams, being in
stampedes, and passing through thunder-
storms, but I still longed to be mixed up
in an Indian fight, for I had not yet had
that sort of experience.

"We crossed Bluff Creek into Kansas
and passed Newton during the latter part
of May. A blacksmith shop, a store, and
about a dozen dwellings made up this town
at the time, but when we came back
through the place on our return home
thirty days later, it had grown to be quite
a large town, due to the building of a rail-
road. It did not seem possible that a
town could make such quick growth in
short time, but Vewton, Kansas, sprang up
almost overnight.

"We stopped our herd on Holland Creek,
twenty miles from Abilene, Kansas, where
we were met by Pink Bennett and a buyer.
Pink sold 300 fat beeves out of our herd to
this man, and I went to Abilene with them
to help load them on the cars. They were
the first cattle I had ever seen loaded on
a train, and I was anxious to see how it
was done.

"We held our herd there unUI several
more herds belonging to Choate & Bennett
arrived. They- gold some out of eacU herd,
and we soon had a surplus of men and
burses. VT. O. Butler had done likewise




and he also had too many men and horses
to continue on with the cattle, so it Was
arranged that some of us could start home,
and accordingly about fifty men, with five
chuck' wgons, five cooks, and about 150
horses, Kit the back trail for Texas. We
had a lively time en route home, for -we
had nothing to do but drive the horses,
makei camp, and sometimes sleep. When
we reached the Washita River we found it
oiit of its banks. We cut timber and made
a raft by tying the logs with ropes, but
could not ferry the rude craftt .until a rope
had been stretched across the river, which
was some 300 yards wide and very swift

I could not have gone ten feet further;: in
my exhausted . condition.

"We soon put our outfits across with the
raft, but lost the hind wheels of one of
Butler's wagons. We carried the wagon
beds oiver on the raft, and then pulled the
: toagonS across with ropes, for we had to
draw the wagons and effects up a steep,
slippery embankment, and this required a
great deal of time, patience and profanity.
When we got everything across We rigged
up our outfit and resumed our journey.'

"We crossed 3ed River opposite Deriison,
rode into town and visited all of the stores

WCU* J3U1I1C ti\J\J Jt*lUO wi^AX- T~. J -" -

arifl deep Several ' of the boys attempted ..and saloons. The . people there were glad

to make it across with the end of a rope, to see us come and glad to see us

but each one failed. - Some of ;: them got < Pur. next town was Denton. where the . ,of-

half way across, turned the rope loose .and Dicers demanded our pistols, the law, _pro-

swam back. One of them got near thepp- ...hibitjng the carrying of pistols, had been

posibe back, but lost the end- of the rope

/.and .landed without it. I was the f.ifth

one to try this difficult -feat, and- determin-

ed to-succeed,SQ taking one , end of ..the


enacted ftnly a short, lime before, and was
then in effect, but we cguld ,not thak of
SftrtwR with .our lifekmg- Mends, ,sp when
.a demand was. made for ... us to .surrender

-, , .. .

rope in my mouth, passing it over my - them we.puUed our pistols and jode out . of

shoulder, I- entered the. water, the boys on
the bank-/ releasing the rope gradually as
I swam out, and I made it across. When
1 ueared the opposite side I was almost
-exhausted, but grasped a overhanging
-willow limb and pulled myself asJbore with
the rope still in my mouth. The man
who had preceded me across; came to my
assistance and helped me up the slippery
bank, then there was a cowboy yell of ap-
proval from the other side as the boys
realized; that I had/ succeeded in accom-
plishing a dangerous feat. I felt very proud
of myself, and think I added several in-
ches to my stature right there,, for I was
only seventeen years old, and had succeeded
in an undertaking in which four stalwart
men had .failed, but I am willing, to confess trip.


, shooting into the .air. The. c

..did not follow, us.

"We stopped at Fort Worth and all the
other towns on our route. a we leisurely
traveled homeward; finally - reaching our

: "destination safely. I was mighty - proud of
this, my first trip, and reached home with
a pair -of shop-made boots and two K<?od
suits of clothes, one of which was a black
changeable velvet affair that I had paid

-fifty dollars for in Kansas. I carried these
clothes- in a pair of saddle bags all the way
home, and found after I reached there that
I could have purchased them cheaper, from

>& local merchant. But little did I care, for
I was determined to 'cut a shine' with the
girls when I got back off that notable


When the Mormons Came to

Ted Thompson, in San Antonio 'Express, March 18,


AR0tY UNKNOWN to .the : 'to the -Mormons as the City -of Zodiac, is
people of Central and Western the old Mormon cemetery. '-There is to be
Texas today, the history of a found the last - resting place of Lytaan

-Wight, veteran rebel against the -leadership
I'M ;Bris;hm Young, a pioneer in the = strict
'sense of 1 the term, and leader of the Texas
colony which came in time to bear . -his

The migration of the Lyman -Wight col-
ony into Texas is closely linked : with the
history of Mormon activity in the Bast.
:Pounded in 1830 By Joseph- -Smith, who-<saw
he coming of his- new religion in a "heav-
enly visitation" u hile attending a religious
revival of Baptists and Methodists, the
-cult established- headquarters first at Kirk-
land, Ohio, in the Western Reserve. Ly-
man Wight joined the chUrch there, was
made an elder, and was one of the prin-
cipal church leaders when the saints mov-

_ of eastern Mormons who
.settled near Austin in 1846 re-

" veals the story of a' people with peculiar
religious zeal, and a pioneer inthtstriousness
that became recognized as a leading factor
in parly Texas development.

Their story is a rugged romance, closely
associated especially with the 'early history
of Austin and FredeficksbUrg; Their Story

' is recalled today only by a few acquainted
with legends hovering around the suggest-
ive ruins of their colony across, from Mount
Bonnell, four miles north of Austin, and the

remains of their dwellings and 1 mill sites
near Fredericksbur^ and in Burnet Coun-
ty. In this Gillespie 'County settlement,
four miles below Fredericksburg, and known




, ed their headquarters to Jackson County,

Missouri. When the cult was expelled from

this locality in 1833, Wight accompanied

.them to Clay County, Missouri, : was given

^.commission as colonel in the Missouri

lilitia during the brief "Mormon War"

which resulted from strife between the

Mormons and "Gehtiles," and left with his

people when the Mormons were ordered Brazos May .14 near the site of Marlin,

ffr,n 1-V-io G^dtci irv 1 QQQ T?a lie f?nt>r*tir "ciiriTMminCT t.Vioit* tfiomc Qn^

ton, Tex., early in November, passed "Port
Wichita 1 ' on November 13, and on Novem-
ber 19 moved to an evacuated fort, at
'Georgetown, Grayson County, where they
spent the winter. Breaking, camp on April
24, 1846, the wanderers crossed the Trinity
River three miles above Dallas, then a
small village, on April 30, and crossed the

from the State in 1839.

Returning east, the Mormons settled at
bommeree, 111., which they rebuilt and
named Nauvoo. In the construction of the
Nauyoo Temple and other of the city's
buildings, the Texas colony found its real
beginning, according to a brief history of

ilie colony recently prepared by H. H.

,Smifh, Iowa Mormon, and great-grandson
ol. Lymah Wight, Lyman Wight and Bis-

Falls County, "swimming their teams and
cattle, and ferrying the wagons across by
means of small canoes," according to. a
diary of the journey kept by Lyman Wight.
The colony reached its location on the Col-
orado on June 6. the diary relates.

The Mormons gained almost immediate
renown here when they built the first
power-driven grist and. lumber mill ever

., ...,..,. _..... seen in the country. The mill was built

hop George Mjller, it is related, were put in just at the foot of Mount Bonnell, and for
.orge', of the Black River Lumber Com- years afterward the- springs located there
papy, located in the pineries of Wisconsin, -were known as the "Mormon. Springs." "Up
from which lumber for the buildings was to 'that Cirne,'' commented Noah Smithwick,
be obtained. pioneer- Austinite, in his, book of recollec-

tions. "We were under the necessity of
'grinding our .corn, on steel mills run, by
"'haaid a tedious and ;. wearying;, process so
! 'tfiat- ; in the building .of .the, mill the. Mor-
mons became public benefactors, and it
was a great catastrophe to the country
when 'ft rise in the.rriver... swept their mill
away." The Mormons also took the con-
tract for 'the building of the first jail in



he company operated rather urisuccess-

ly until 184'4, when the second factor in-
volved in the Texas migration' came' with
.the plan to run Joseph Smith for the
presidency of the United States. Failure
of the Mormons ' to get nationel interference
during the Missouri persecutions was ad-

nci.'d as the motive for the race, and. 'ac-
cording to Smith's account, "there is evi-
dence that they 'really thought there was a
chance for election:"

:owever, in case of defeat, 'another plan residents.

Austin, Smithwick relates, and
houses were constructed for early



been thought of. The Black River
Lumber Company, it was provided, was to
take possession of a new territory in Texas,
which was to be the future home of the
Mormons. A delegation was sent to pre-
sent a treaty before the Texas congress for
purchase of the country "n6rth of a west
line from the falls of the Colorado River
to the Nueces; thence down same to the
Gulf of Mexico and along same to the Rio
Grande and up same to the United States
Territory." Here the Mormons expected to '
be recognized as a separate nation, and to
help Texas defend herself against Mexico.
The proposition is said to have been fav-
orably received by trie Texas lawmakers.
The plan, however, was abruptly ended

tthe killing of Joseph and Hyrum Smith '
a mob in Carthage, 111., on June 27,
1844. Brigham Young soon after came to

Remaining at 'this site< until March of. the
next year, the Mormons in that short per-
iod completed several homes on the Perdi-
ftales River. A wide, durable highway run-
ning up into the hilly region, it is still in
existence, and known here as the Old Mor-
mon Road.

Following the flood which destroyed their
mill on the Colorado, an "exploring com-
mittee" reported location of a spot on the
Perdinales "with plenty of good water and
timber abounding with game and honey."
The colony took up- location here, four iniles
below Fredericksburg. in August. "Six weeks
after selecting a mill site.' Smith relates,
"the colony had a. grist mill in operation,
houses were built, shops erected, and crops
planted." When the town was completed it
was named by Wight "The City of Zodiac."
1 This settlement seems to have attained

be recognized as the leader.-'and was follow- ' wtde< popularity among the German settlers
I'd by all dignitaries of the church ' save of the new town of Fredericksburg. ^any
Wight , ' and two other leaders. Wight took of the' new arrivals, destitute and in a
charge of the Black River Lumber Com- 'strange landi were taken in by the ,Mor-
pany. leaving his associate. Miller; who- for mons and given : employment in, their mills.
;i time followed Young, and began hi* mi- Others obtained, lumber from the mills for
ion to Texas, according -to the scheme the erection' of some .of .the. most durable
previously conceived in the event Of Smith's '"houses in 'Fredaricksburg, some of which
defeat; as president. are still standing.

The Wisconsin mills were sold, and Wight
With a company of about 150 men. women
and children, started down the Mississippi

in four home-made boats On March 28,
1845. They forded the Red River at Pres-'

The industrious inhabitants were .also
noted by subsequent historians of the era.
Lee C. Harby, commenting in the Novem-
ber, 1888, issue of the Magazine of Aflieri-
can History, notes that "when Fredericks-



burg was first settled there dwelt on the
Perdinales River a colony of Mormons.
Surrounded by Indians, they lived in peace
with the several tribes. They had a strong
stone fort, and their settlement presented
a beautiful picture of thrift, neatness and
fertility. Every section had a frontage on
the river, and a fine, broad road, -well
shaded, stretched along the river bank. The
farms were irrigated and divided from one
another by stone fences; so perfect were
they with their neat stables, barns and
dwellings, that they seemed like a piece of
rural Europe dropped down into those wild

The influence of Lyman Wight's colony
apparently became felt among the Bastern
Mormons, who several years previous had
followed Brigham Young to Salt Lake City,
for in December, 1848, it is recorded that
two of Young's disciples came to Texas,
seeking to bring Wight and his followers,
back into the fold. They are said to have
ttireatened Wig-ht with disfellowship should
he refuse. Wtfht ia Mid to hare replied
that "nobody under the light of the sun
except Joseph Smith or John Smith could
call him from Texas to go to Salt Lake
City," and that "he had as much authority
to call them from Utah as they had to caH
him from Texas."

The ideal conditions at Zodiac, however,
were blasted by a second misfortune in
jfcy, 1858, when a rise in the Perdinales
swept their mill away, left the burrs, or
mill-stones, covered in sand, and inundated
their village. A peculiar incident thaft
stirred the natives to wonder for several
years is related oy Smithwick, who tells of
Wight's recovery of the lost millstones:

"After wrestling alone with the spirits
for some little time he arose one mornin?
with joy in his heart, and summoning his
people announced to them that he had had
a revelation, and bidding them take spades
and crowbars and 'follow him, set out to
locate the millstones. Straight ahead he
bore as one in a dream, his divining rod
in his hand; his awe-struck disciples fol-
lowed him silently. Pausing at last in the
middle of the sandbar he stuck his rod
down. "Dig right here," he commanded. His
followers, never doubting, set to work, and
upon removing a few feet of s*nd. lo and
behold, there was revealed the buried mill-
stones. Wight said he saw theim in a vision,
and his followers believed it."

If the Mormons enjoyed peace iltth the
Indians at their fredericksburg settlement,
ffcey found a decided change in conditions
when they were forced by the second flood
early in 1851 to their third location on
Hamilton Creek, about 50 miles up the Per-
dinales in Buroet County. Here they en-
countered open warfare of the 'Indians of
the waster* wilds of Texas," says Lev! La-
moni Wight, one of Wight's sons, in his
journal. "They finally took and refcaok our
horses until we saw them no more," he
continuas. "Of our neighbors the men are

often killed, and children carried off to
suffer torture worse than death. I could
recite many instances of horror about the
bloody deeds of those savages." In op-
posing Indian attacks in this and in their
future settlements, the Mormons became
known as fearless frontiersman

Their new mills erected, industry began
once more, and soon the surrounding
country was being supplied with chairs,
tables, bedsteads and other articles of fur-
niture. The women, it is related, joined in
the work by making willow baskets for sale.
Crops were planted, and several farms were
soon under cultivation.

But the peculiar restlessness of the saints,
driven onward by their desire to gain con-
verts to then- religion, ever building for
others and neglecting their own domestic
peace, finally overcame old Lyman Wight,
and in 1853 the entire Mormon settlement
was sold to Noah Smithwick. Here begins
the gradual break-up of the colony, a few
families remaining with Smithwick, who
sought to enlarge and improve the mills.
Wight and his followers went to Llano
County for a brief sojourn, leaving there in
December for Honey Creak, Mason County.
The wanderings of the ensuing months took
them through Llano, Mason, Oillespie, Kerr
and Bandera Counties to a point across
from Bandera on the Medina River, where
they spent the summer of 1854. That
winter they went 12 miles down the river
and founded a community which they
named Mountain Valley, into the fountain
of which they spent their usual energies,
making extensive improvements. Here
they remained four years, until 1858. It
was a lonely country, wild and rugged,
covered by Indians. It was a pioneer out-
post of civiliaztion, and the last establish-
ed and held by the Texas Mormons.

Indian hostility being almost unbearable,
Lyman Wight in letters to Major Neighbors
of the State militia, and to the Governor
of the State, protests early in 1855 that the
State government should assist the pio-
neers in their struggle to live. He appar-
ently met with little success. Major Neigh-
bors himself concurring in Wight's asser-
tion that "troops are raised and sent five
or six hundred miles from where an Indian
ever roamed and leave our frontiers with-
out protection."

"While Congress is spending six or eight
months to find out whether it is best to re-
inforce the army or not," old Lyman con-
tinues in his sincere, straightforward and
ungrammatical letter, "the Indians are kill-
ing men, women and children and driving
off large quantities of stock and nothing to
hender (correct). We make this one more
appeal to Goverment (correct) and if this
fails we have but one alternative (correct)
and that is to abandon the frontiers allto-
gether (correct.)"

Tn a letter to his nephew in New York,
dated April 3, 1856, Wight again reveals the
determination in his heart that proved e-j



nagnetic to his followers. He was fight-
ing to keep Texas from becoming "a place
for the satir to dence," but, even in the

last years of his life, the letter reveals, he
planned an evangelistic campaign through
Mexico and Central America.

Utah Carrol; a Cowboy Song

Kind friends, you may ask what makes me

sad and still?
What makes my eyebrows darken like a

cloud upon a hill?
Rein in your pony closer while I tell a sad,

sad tale
Of Utah Carrol, my partner, and his last

ride on the trail

Mid the cactus and the thistle of Mexico's

fair land.
Where the cattle range by thousands of

many a mark and brand,
to a grave without a headstone, without a

date or name.
Quietly sleeps my partner in the land to

which he cam*.

Long, long we rode together, had ridden

side by side;
I loved him as a brother and wept * when

Utah died;
Long, long we rode the ranges, threw ropes

and burnt the brands
In dark and stormy weather we gained

night herders' stands.

While rounding up one morning our work

was almost done
The cattle qui' xl on a wild and

maddening run;
The boss' little daughter, while riding at

one side.
Rushed in to stoo the stampede 'twas there

poor Utah died.

Lenore, upon her pony, tried to turn the
cattle right.

Her blanket slipped beneath her, but she
caught and held on tight;

And when we saw that blanket each cow-
boy held his breath.

For should her pony fail her none could
save the girl from death.

When the cattle aaw that blanket almost
dragging on the ground

They were maddened in a moment and
charged with deafening sound;

Lenore soon saw her danger, she turned her
posy's face.

And. bending in her saddle, tried the blan-
ket to replace.

Just then she lost her balance in front of

that wild tide;
Lie still, Lenore; lie still, I sy!" Twas

Utah Cartt>l mho cried.
And then close up beside her came Ulan,

riding fast.
But little did the poor boy think that rid

would be his last

Full often from his saddle had he caught
the trailing rope

To pick her up at full speed was now his
only hope;

The horse approached the maiden sure-
footed every bound

Carrol swung low from his saddle to raise
her from the ground.

Low he swung from his saddle to raise her

to his arms;
He thought he had succeeded that the girl

was safe from harm;
Bu such strain upon his saddle had ne'er

been put before
The cinches broke beneath him and he fell

beside Lenore.

When the girl fell from her pony she had

dragged the blanket down;

Online LibraryRoger E BilsteinFrontier times; devoted to frontier history, border tragedy, pioneer achievement .. (Volume 5) → online text (page 62 of 98)