Theodore Adolphu Babb.

In the bosom of the Comanches; (Volume 1) online

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In the Bosom of the

A Thrilling Tale of Savage Indian Life, Massacre

and Captivity Truthfully Told by

a Surviving Captive

Texas Borderland Perils and Scenes Depicted

The Closing Days of the Trying Indian Struggles
upon the Frontiers of Texas


Amarilldi Texas

Copyright 1912 by T. A. Babb

(All rights reserved)





Index to Illustrations

Dot Babb Frontispiece

James W. Babb 17

Dot Babb and his horse, Old Coley 18

John S. Babb 21

Omercawbey 23

Black Hawk and Squaw 25

Black Hawk 29

Mrs. J. D.Bell 31

Congressman John W. Stephens 33

Indian Warriors 35

Chief Horse Back 39

Indian in Full Regalia 41

Chief Esserhabey 45

John Pasawaky 49

Chief Esserhabev's Grandson, Squaws and Papoose 53

Miss Margie Babb 57

H. C. Babb 61

James W. Babb 63

Rufus Booth 67

Geo. Stephens 69

An Ex- Warrior and His Family . 73

Comanche Medicine Man and Teepee 75

Jimmie Roberts 79

Quanah Parker and three of his wives 83

Mrs. T. A. (Dot) Babb 89

Mrs. Graham 91

Grandma Ibbie Gordon 93

Maxine Babb 95

Quanah Parker's Stage Coach 97

Quanah Parker 99

Amarillo Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Dot Babb 101

Quanah Parker's Heme 103

Quanah Parker in Costume 105

Waneda Parker 109

Scene on Dot Babb's Ranch Ill

Parkerheimer, Squaw and Son 113

Daughter of Chief Tabernanika 117

Tom Watsacoder and other Indians in Regalia 119

Comanche Dwelling 121

Indians Butchering a Cow 125

Apache Girls Going for Water 127

Quanah Parker and his old home 131

Comanche Babe and Cradle 133

Tah-hah 135

An Indian Belle of recent times 137

Present Day Indian Girls Visiting the City 139

Indians drawing rations near Fort Sill 141

Fourth of July Celebration, Snyder, Okla 143

Present Day Comanche Mother and Son 145


In the unchallenged verity of the chronicle of Theodore
Adolphus Babb, better known as Dot Babb, recorded in
the pages that follow is vouchsafed a sustained and ab-
sorbing interest to the reader and the student : a dissolvent
of the mystical haziness that has characterized so much
of the Indian lore, current hitherto; and a contribu-
tion to history, an inestimable legacy and gift to posterity
as rare and timely as truth is mighty and eternal. Mr.
Babb, a descendant of resolute venturesome pioneer stock,
entered upon an eventful boyhood in the untamed wilds
of the western border of Texas in a locality and period
when the mounted Indian marauder with his panoply of
war and death was often seen silhouetted against the
distant horizon, at a time when the spectre of tragedy
and desolation, of atrocious massacre, mutilation, cap-
tivity, and torture, cast its terrifying shadow athwart the
fireside of every pioneer home; when, unheralded, cunning
monsters of vindictive savage hate, here and there among
the settlers, in unguarded repose or fancied security, sprang
from stealthy ambush, from the wood-lands' dark border,
the sheltering hillside and gulch, or the shadowy lustre of an
unwelcome fateful full moon, and amid and unheeding the
shrieks of horror, and frenzied slaughter, mingled with the
cries of anguish and prayers of women and children
kneeling before their doom, they struck with the fangs of
the most vicious, merciless, and unreasoning beast, and
in their unrestrained and unresisted madness and ferocity,
they left in their crimson wake a sickening chapter of
ghastly human wreckage of whole families exterminated,
m either a fiendish butchery or revolting capti\nty with-

out a counterpart in all the annals of every race and age
since the hour of the dawn of Christendom, if not since
the world began.

At a time when there were no white flags and no
surrender, and only such alternatives as death, flight, or
captivity; when lion-hearted men defiant of frightful
consequences went afield, tended the herds and flocks,
and pursued the chase and all the vocations of daily life
heavily armed, perhaps never to return, or returning to
find a home in ruin and the family either annihilated or
some members murdered, some made captive, and still
others that miraculously escaped by flight, concealment,
the coincidence of absence, or being stricken dowm and
unwittingly left for dead; when upon these scenes of
appalling desolation men and women assembled, the
survivors buried their dead and with the gory fragments
builded again, animated by the one unconquerable pur-
pose to defend, hold, or die on their border heritage. At
a time when keenest vigil day and night was never re-
laxed by man or beast, when the horizon was anxiously
scanned for the ascending camp fire smoke, swirling
clouds of dust or other such unfailing portents of the red
messengers of devastation and death; when every moon-
beam and shadow in thicket or grove, when every sound
or noise breaking the slumbrous solitudes (whether a gust
of wind or the flapping of wings or plaintive notes of
nocturnal fowls) was seen, heard, and interpreted with
strained senses of preternatural power; at a time when
swift hoofbeats rang out upon the stillness of the night
the warning of perhaps the sole survivor of the latest
massacre, and, with relays of horses fleeting and untiring
as if conscious of their mission, the gruesome tidings were
borne to the settler far and near. Being thus warned
Spartan men and women grimly and silently prepared
for the onslaught, padlocking corrals, replenishing the
supply of water from the spring or well, barricading doors
and with shotted rifles, bullet molds, and powder, stoically
awaited the attack. During the nerve-racking watches

of the dismal night, as babes and children lapsed into a
slumber perhaps eternal, no sentinel nodded or slept at
his expectant post. When at length the attack came, the
defenders, conscious that no quarter could be asked or
given, were transformed into an incarnation of billegerent
fury, a super-human maelstrom of action and combative
power, and with souls and all reserve forces and energies
ablaze, and an unconquerable purpose to shield and
preserve their loved ones, they grappled with the demon-
iacal savage. Failing, all perished together upon the
hallowed altar and sanctuary of a family and home pul-
sating and resounding a few hours before with emotions
and manifestations of love, joy, and hope.

From this crucible of dramatic episodes, struggle, and
peril. Dot Babb was evolved, and amid such stirring
scenes he passed his early youth and advancing boyhood
up to the hour of the tragical climax of the unutterably
horrifying and heartrending spectacle of his beloved
mother impaled by the Indians as she pleaded for her
children and his still deeper sorrow in being torn from
her dying embrace for the inevitable captivity which
immediately followed and her farewell words of solace in
his inconsolable distress, and the tender maternal bene-
diction gently spoken as he looked back into tear bedewed
eyes for the last glimpse and vision on earth of a sainted
face on which he plainly saw the unmistakable pallor of
fast approaching death. In his enforced captivity by the
Comanches, one of the fiercest Indian tribes then extant,
Dot Babb approached his maturing years as a full-fledged
warrior, being made to engage in raids and battles in
common with the Indian braves. His experiences, priv-
ations, and exploits he recounts with the simplicity and
vividness of truth, and in a like manner details his re-
clamation by the United States Army and his eventual
restoration to the fragmentary units of his shattered
family, his recivilization and subsequent career notable
for the highest probity of character and usefulness as a
most worthy and valued citizen down to this good hour,

which finds him happy and prosperous in the sunset of a
thrilHng Hfe, whether peacefully pursuing the herds on
the broad acres of his Panhandle ranch or extending the
proverbial pioneer hospitality of a spacious and beautiful
home in Amarillo, Texas, to his old-time friends, who are
legion. Upon his return from an unwilling militant service
in the ranks of the red warriors to the society of his fellows,
Mr. Babb was quick to re-adopt and experience a com-
plete revival of the inherent sentiments and amenities of
civilized life. After becoming settled in his chosen avoca-
tion of cattle raising he married the splendid and estimable
woman who to-day is his greatest comfort in presiding
over his elegant and hospitable home and in sharing with
him the honor and blessing of the sterling family they
have reared.

At an impressionable age Dot Babb, the boy captive
and warrior, had much intimate contact with the inner
Indian life, motives, habits and tribal laws, superstitions,
joys, and sorrows, of which the Dot Babb of to-day dis-
closes glimpses as rare as they are interesting and in-
structive. Mr. Babb found much worthy of admiration
and emulation if not adoption in the Indian character, in
their traditional laws, heroic and domestic life; and being
made familiar with the Indian view point he has found no
little to condone and defend that in the public imagination
has had universal and popular condemnation. In the
period of his captivity there were cemented between him
and many of the chiefs and the rank and file ties of
strongest attachment that have not waned in all the lapse
of time. Not a few of the ex -warriors now dwelling in
comfort and contentment upon their allotments learned
long ago after a fashion to write a mixed Indian and
English dialect and have persevered in an unbroken cor-
respondence throughout all the intervening years with
Mr. Babb, who both speaks and writes the Indian lan-
guage with the fluency and ease of a Comanche.

It has also been a fixed custom of Mr. Babb to make
visits at regular intervals to many of his old surviving

captors, and is received and entertained by them with an
almost unexampled joy and hospitality and perhaps more
so than if he were one of their tribal kin and brethren.
In fact the Comanches have all along regarded him as the
son of their rightful adoption and when the big Fort Sill
reservation was being made ready for allotment and
settlement Mr. Babb was urged by Chief Quanah Parker
and subordinates to qualify for allotments for himself
and each member of his family in common with the
Comanche and Kiowa Indians. In all their dealings with
the United States government and in all important tribal
questions and affairs, whether business, domestic, or
social, the counsel and advice of Mr. Babb has been sought
and freely given, as he has ever been their steadfast friend
and co-worker. In their relations there have been the
same mutual confidence and reciprocal esteem and sym-
pathy that obtain in the better forms of civilized society.

Mr. Babb is therefore doubly unique in his dual
adaptability to Indian life and tradition and to the best
business and social life as found in the higher circles of
substantial, refined, and enlightened men and women.
It can hardly be said that any man living to-day is
equipped with the same experience, observation, and
knowledge and can speak so authoritatively of the Indian
era of Texas, the old Indian Territory, and the Southwest
as Mr. Babb. Therefore the narrative of Mr. Babb,
replete with deepest human interest and much pathos,
and descriptive of expeditions of war and savage fury, as
well as of the latter life of the subdued Indian, with his
crimson tomahawk discarded forever, is the truest link
yet formed between the Indian and civilization. As the
Indian, America's first great settler, with such biographers
and interpreters of his life, exploits, and character as Mr.
Babb, is now essaying his role in the closing scene of the
last contemporaneous drama, Mr. Babb's realistic por-
trayal, is nothing short of a noteworthy contribution to
the best Indian archives and an ampler appreciation of
one of the stirring epochs of a nation; and as such it is

dedicated to the entertainment and edification of the
generations of to-day and those to follow.

Albert Sidney Stinnett,

Editor and Biographer.

JAMES W._BABB, Dot Babbs Grandfather

— 2

Dot Babb and his horse Old Coley.

In the Bosom of the Comanches

My name is Theodore Adolphus Babb, better known
as Dot Babb. I was born May 17th, 1852, near Reeds-
burg in Saurk County, Wisconsin, to which place my
father emigrated from Ohio in an early day. In 1854 my
father with his family consisting of my mother and
brother, Hernandez Cortez Babb and myself, entered
upon the long journey to Texas. We traveled the entire
distance in a two-horse wagon, and were twelve months
on the road. Our first stop in Texas was in Grayson
county near Sherman. About one year later our family
moved in ox wagons to what was known as Dry creek in
Wise county, about twelve miles west of Decatur, Texas.
My earliest definite recollections were in our new home
on Dry creek. There were but few white people in that
section at that time, but the Indians were ntmierous.
These Indians were then friendly, and remained so till
fugitive outlaws and renegades from other states com-
menced killing and stealing their ponies, and also killing
the Indians who undertook to recover their ponies. The
Indians at length decided to strike back, and putting all
the white people in the same class commenced their
depredations upon the white settlers generally about the
time of the breaking out of the civil war. This caused
the state of Texas to place its rangers on the western
border from the Indian Territory to Mexico, and ample
protection was afforded up to the close of the war between
the states, at which time the southern soldier was dis-
armed and the state government turned over to an alien
militia concentrated at the state capital and other centers

20 In the Bosom of the Comanches

of population. The border settlers had but little if any
protection from that time and the Indians became cruelly
savage, killing and scalping whole families, taking children
into captivity, stealing horses, and engaging in all manner
of barbaric practices and deeds.

In the spring of 1865 my father, Jno. S. Babb, and
my older brother, H. C. Babb, started out with a drove
of cattle for the markets of Arkansas, leaving mother,
me, and two sisters at home. My oldest sister was nine
years old, my baby sister eleven months, and I about
thirteen years old. There was also making her home
with us a Mrs. Luster, about twenty-two years old, whose
husband was killed in the Civil War. There were two
other families living on our place, and all were within
three or four hundred yards of each other. One of the
families, Harbolt by name, had several boys, some of whom
became notorious outlaws in later years, and many old
timers will recall the name of Jim Harbolt as a terrible
bandit of the darkest days of the Indian Territory.

The other family was that of the widow Estes and
her several children.

About the middle of September, 1865, between three
and four o'clock in the afternoon, my eldest sister and I
were at play when we discovered thirty-five or forty
Comanche Indians in all the regalia and war paint of the
savage warrior. Stupified with fright we looked again
and realized that they were advancing rapidly upon us,
and with quickened heart-beats we wondered what our
fate would be at the hands of these emissaries of murderous
implacable hate. We soon saw they would raid our home,
and with their weird and unearthly war whoops ringing
in our ears we ran to the house for the protection of
mother and Mrs. Luster, who had also seen and heard the
demons approaching. Mother had us enter the house as
quickly as possible and closed the unbarricaded doors.
It would be indeed impossible to describe the emotions of

In the Bosom of the Comanche s


horror that possessed all of us in this moment of fatal
doom and peril. There was no time for either lamenta-
tion or prayer with our helplessness accentuated by the
lack of every means of defense; and justifiable premoni-
tions of death were proclaimed in our tremulous voices and
fear-distorted faces. An eternity of horror crowded into
a moment of insufferable suspense for unprotected and
undefended w^omen and children, confronted by merciless
and remorseless savages whose known acts and lives were
records of treachery and blood.

Mrs. Luster undertook to conceal herself in the loft of
the log cabin and I made for two or three old guns in their
racks on the wall. Simultaneously several of the Indians


Father of Dot Babb. Born 1810, Died i)

22 In the Bosom of the Comanches

broke open the door and as I would seize a gun they
would take it from me and belabor me over the head with
their quirts. My mother was trying to soften or make
friends by shaking hands with them, and against these
overtures they were as surlily obdurate and unmoved as
ever these ruthless slayers had been painted. The first
thing in their diabolical perfonnances was to plunder our
home and take off everyting in the way of clothing and
bedding. They then had Mrs. Luster come down from
her hiding in the loft and she was bound by some
Indians and taken outside to the other Indians and their
horses and there declared a captive. The remainder of
the Indians in the house seized my oldest sister and
started off with her. My mother, prompted by an un-
controllable maternal instinct and afifection, interfered
and clung to my sister in an effort to prevent her being
taken, and as she did so one of the Indians stabbed my
mother four times with a big butcher knife. They then
took my sister from the house and made captive of her
also, along with Mrs. Luster. Seeing my mother brutally
and fatally stabbed I assisted her to the bed just as two
of the Indians came back, and not finding my mother
dead as they expected, one of them with drawn bow shot
her in the left side with an arrow that ranged up towards
her lungs. I pulled the arrow out and sat upon the bed
by her, doing all I could to console and comfort her as
her strength and life waned. The same Indian drew his
bow and pointed a deadly arrow at me and commanded
me to go with him. Mother, seeing that I too would be
killed if I resisted or refused, said, "Go with him and be
a good boy." One of them then grabbed me by the arm
and jerked me off the bed, and as he dragged me towards
the door the other Indian pounded me with his quirt.
In this miserable plight I was forcibly separated from my
mother, dying in a mass of blood, with my baby sister
enclasped within her arms.

In the Bosom of the Comanches


OVIERCAWBEY (Walking Face) Nephew of Chief Horse Back'

A very desperate Indian who shot my mother with arrows at the time she was
killed and I captured. I never saw him afterwards, but understood later that
he had been shot to death. — Dot Babb

24 In the Bosom of the Comanches

Here in a time of trustful security, as the light laughter
of playing children mingled with the songs of birds, and
love and joy unconfined rioted in the fondest and most
sacred family ties, in a few terrible moments was written
in blood a chapter of human bitterness and sorrow at
which all civilization and mankind would stand aghast.
A home rent asunder, a mother sacrificed in anguishing
torture and death upon the altar of dutiful devotion and
purposeful life, a young woman and a youthful son and
daughter torn from the family roof -tree to be carried into
the unknown wilds and the forbidding and darkest realms
of the fiercest and most unrelenting savage barbarians
that ever trod the earth, an unrestrained, inhuman,
savage debauchery crying aloud for the intervention and
mercies of God and man.

When they got outside with me I saw my sister and
Mrs. Luster mounted on horses, each with an Indian in
front of her on the same horse, thus riding in double
fashion. I was placed on a horse in a similar manner,
with my hands tightly held by my Indian riding mate.
The plunder taken from my home had been securely
fastened on the pack animals, and with the three captives,
consisting of my sister, Mrs. Luster, and myself, the cav-
alcade, without ceremony but with inuch solemnity, fear,
and sorrow upon the part of the captives, hastily moved
off the premises. When we had gone about half a mile
we came upon several of my father's horses grazing upon
the common. The Indians selected some of the younger
of these horses, which they drove along with the other
horses they had seized or stolen and then took a route up
Dry creek right through where the town of Chico is now lo-
cated, thence northwest, pushing onward after nightfall and
only stopping two or three times the entire night for short
intervals of rest. B}^ nine o'clock the next morning we
were out of the cross timbers and into an open plains
country. Fearing pursuit it was a custom of the Indians

In the Bosom of the Comanckes


evere Fighter in the Indian Days

26 In the Bosom of the Comanches

returning from a raid with captives, stolen horses, and
other booty to undergo fatigue, hunger, and all manner of
privation and to exert themselves and horses to the point
of exhaustion to get beyond the line the white settlers
would venture to follow. Therefore, for many hours the
Indians gave us but little rest and neither food nor sleep,
but pressed onward persistently and swiftly.

We at length reached the Little Wichita river, which
was swollen by recent floods to brimming bank full; but
the Indians found a big acciimulation of drift, on which
we crossed dismounted, the horses being made to swim
the river. The first thing we had to eat during the many
hours since setting out on this unwilling, mournful journey
was after we had crossed the Little Wichita river and
reached Holiday creek, about eighteen miles southwest
from the site of the present city of Wichita Falls. This
feast was on the remains of a big steer that the lobo
wolves had freshly slain and of which they had eaten both
hams as was their custom. From here we proceeded to
the Big Wichita river which we crossed just below the
mouth of Beaver creek, and this course was kept till we
reached Red river that afternoon about sunset at a point
a little below the mouth of Pease river. Being now com-
paratively safe from pursuit, the Indians halted with us
for three days and four nights, and during the time they
took rest and also nursed a wounded Indian who had been
shot with a bullet through the right knee in a skirmish
that they had with settlers before they reached and
devastated our home. In this particular raid they en-
countered stubborn resistance and had four or five severe
fights up to the time of attacking our lamented home and
family. In the first of these fights they killed two white
men and two negroes on Carrol's creek, south of Jacks-
boro, Texas, and in the fights that followed with the
Owens, Higgins, and Armstrongs, they had slain four of
their warriors, but they managed to carry off three of

In the Bosom of the Comanches 27

their dead and only left one to be scalped by the whites.

The next fight was with Ben Blanton, Glen Halsell and
Lansing Hunt. These men were working for Dan Waggoner,
and had penned some cattle that they might brand the
calves at the old Thorn place about three miles southeast
of our home. There was a family living on the old Thorn
place by the name of Couch, but the man or head of the
family was not at home and the three men were busy
branding out in the corrals when the Indians charged

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