Frontier Life in Texas
Some Unwritten History and Facts in the Thrilling Experiences of
Frontier Life. - The Battle and Death of Big Foot, the
Noted Kiowa Chief. The Mortally Wounding and
Dying Confession of "Old Jape," the Coman-
chie, the Most Noted and Bloodthirsty
Savages that Ever Depredated on
the Frontier of Texas.
By One of the Nine
A Member of Company "E 1
WHIPKEY PRINTING CO.
BY W. J. MALTBY
CAPT. W. J. MALTBY (CAPT. JEFF).
Who Killed "Big Foot," the Notorious Kiowa Chief
After Being Nine Years on His Trail.
As this narrative records the killing of two "Big Foot"
Indians it is due to the reader that I give dates of killings,
and the sections of country where their depredations took
"Big Foot" first mentioned operated west of San An-
tonion, over the counties of Bexar, Medina, Frio, Uvalde,
Nueces, and elsewhere, and was killed by Captain William
(Big Foot) Wallace in 1853. His tribe is unknown.
Big Foot No. 2 was killed by Captain W. J. Maltby,
known as Captain Jeff, Commander of Company E, Frontier
Battalion Texas Rangers, in the year of 1874. Big Foot No.
2 depredated over the counties of Callahan, Coleman, Brown,
Llano, Mason, Burnett, Lampasas and Hamilton. His Lieu-
tenant. Jape, or Japy, the Comanche, was mortally wounded
when Big Foot was killed, and in his (Jape's) dying confes-
sion, said that Big Foot No. 2 was a Kiowa Chief, big and
brave, and had just come from the Fort Sill (U. S.) Reser-
This book is written by Capt. W. J. Maltby, a noted
Pioneer, Frontiersman and Texas Ranger, who did more ser-
vice on the Frontier of Texas than any living man; com-
manding Texas Rangers nine years, and finally destroying
the worst band of Indians that ever depredated on the fron-
tier of Texas.
The story is one continued thrilling incident after an-
other from start to finish, which holds the attention of lov-
ers of fiction, romance and facts, and verifies the statement
that facts are stranger than fiction, whan told in the style
of the author, with his ready wit and great store of humor.
This book pays a just and noble tribute to all who took
part in the frontier life of Texas, that laid the foundation of
the Empire State of the Union. The book was born of ne-
cessity and pre-eminence as a reminder to the young as well
as the middle aged and the old heroes of that historical
time, whne the peace and safety of Texas' future hung
equally poised in the balances.
All should read ' 'Captain Jeff ," because it gives facts as
they occurred and a truthful statement found in no other
history or writings, and all the tediousness has been eliminat-
ed and the story told in a brief, simple and convincing man-
ner, which makes it a book of value to all.
This book will be of inestimable value to every citizen
of Texas, or anywhere else that wants to know anything of
Texas and her struggles with the redman for supremacy.
The first edition was quickly exhausted, and no doubt
this second edition will be sold as rapidly.
The price in paper binding is 50 cents and in cloth $1.00
15 cents extra on each copy when sent by mail. The book
can be obtained of N. C. Bawcom, Sweetwater, Texas; or
Capt. W. J. Maltby, Admiral, Callahan County, Texas.
N. C. BAWCOM,
Agent and Manager,
CHAPTER I. - 17
Capt. Jeff Resigned his Commission as Captain of Co. G, Sev-
enteenth Texas Volunteer Infantry, McCullough's Brigade,
Walker's Division, Feb. 19, 1863, on account of bad health, and
went to his home in Burnett Co. , Texas.
CHAPTER II. - 23
Indian depredations come thick and fast and the Big Foot In-
dian Kiowa Chief, the most formidable enemy of the frontier,
and his wonderful seeming providential escapes.
CHAPTER III. ... 36
The disobedience of orders and the timidity of the women,
doubtless prolonged the wily Chief's existence.
CHAPTER IV. . 48
The Civil War has ended. Gen. Lee has surrendered and our
Captain Jeff is hounded as a wolf by Federal soldiers, in which
the heroism of a true woman and noble wife is illustrated.
CHAPTER V. 55
Captain Jeff surrenders to the Federal authorities, in which
the old adags proves true a " Friend in need is a friend Indeed"
CHAPTER VI. - - 60
Capt. Jeff wrongfully indited by the civil law, for which he
makes a bad break, but through the Christianizing influence
of the noble wife, he guards himself against like occurrences.
CHAPTER VII. 62
His wife's little tea party.
CHAPTER VIII. 65
Richard Coke is elected governor. A battalion of Rangers is
ordered. Capt. Jeff is commissioned and raises a Company,
goes on duty and renews his pursuit of the Big Foot Indian.
CHAPTER IX. 73
Sergeant Andrew Mather is sent on a scout in Callahan county
Camps near Caddo Peak. John Parsons is sent out to kill a
deer for meat, encounters Big Foot and band, makes his cele-
brated shot, Big Foot dodges the bullet and makes his escape.
CHAPTER X. - - 77
Lieutenent Best is sent on a scout. Camps on Jim Ned and is
attacked after night by Big Foot and band. Cool bravery and
discipline whipped him off with the loss of only one horse.
CHAPTER XL - 80
High water discipline and the Ranger feast.
CHAPTER XII 85
Sargeant Mather is sent on a scout in Runnels county in which
discipline, coupled with individual bravery, kills the largest
bear in West Texas with a bowie knife.
CHAPTER XIII. 92
Captain Jeff's lucky No. "9" and the promptings of the Still
small voice fully verified.
CHAPTER XIV. 102
The buffalo hunt. Discipline and a lesson taught that military
organization could profit by its example.
CHAPTER XV. 107
The reduction and discharge of the Companies and fifty men
from each company in the Frontier Battalion and the return
home to its peaceful pursuits.
CHAPTER XVI. 109
CHAPTER XVII. Ill
Finale. At Mountain Dale, Home of Captain Jeff.
Captain Maltby Honored 115
Capt. Maltby's Reminiscences 118
A Letter from Captain Maltby - 148
Newspaper Extracts 159
Capt. Maltby Interviewed by a Reporter - 172
Homes for the People, Wealth for the State and Justice
for the Howlers - 175
Homes for the People and Wealth for the State - 179
Capt. Maltby's letter to the Belle Plains Alliance 182
Old Time Memories 186
Fruit and Truck Growing in West Texas - 189
Speech by Capt. Maltby at the Illinois State Fair 193
They were Comanches and Kiowas - . - 201
Capt. Jeff Resigned his Commission as Captain of Co. Q, Seventeenth Tex.
Volunteer Infantry, McCuIlough's Brigade, Walker's Divis-
ion, Feb. 19, 1863, on account of bad health, and
went to his home in Burnett Co. Texas.
On February 19th, 1863, two horsemen 'were s(ten winding
their way carefully through a creek bottom that was completely
covered with water for a distance of one and a half miles in
width, and ever and anon a plunge into swimming water would
be taken as they came to the depressions, or the sloughs, that ran
through the bottom; this was on the road that leads from Pine
Bluff, Ark., to Austin, Texas. Gen. John B. Walker's Division of
Confederate Soldiers had gone in to winter quarters near Pine Bluff.
The appearance of these horsemen denoted that they were Confed-
18 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR
erate officers or soldiers. Let us follow them to where they put
up that night, and inquire who they are and where they are going.
They put up that night at Farmer Jack McClure's, seventeen
miles from Gen. Walker's camp. On making the inquiry we find
that one of them is Captain Jeff, who had been in command of
Company "E," Seventeenth Texas Volunteer Infantry, command-*
ed by R. T. P. Allen; G. W. Jones, Lieut. Col. The other man
is Lieut. D. Reed, as traveling companion.
On making further inquiry we find that on February 18th, the
day before this story commences, that Captain Jeff was regimental
officer of the day, and on being relieved from duty that evening
he went to Dr. Deport Smith's tent Dr. Smith was the head
of the medical board. The doctor said to him : "Captain, if you
are alive in the morning, I want yc-u to write out your resigna-
tion and bring it to me, and I will put a certificate to it that will
take you out of this service at once. There is but one thing that
may prolong your life for an indefinite time, and that is the life-
giving atmosphere of Western Texas;" to which the captain re-
plied : "Well, Doctor, I have great faith and respect for you as a
doctor, but I have no fears of dying, being killed or drowning.
Some wise man sai.cl, 'there is a Fate that shapes our ends/ etc.
and something seems to tell me that I have something to live
for; it may be something very commonplace; however, I will live to
perform it. It seems to be in the dim future to me, but that I
will live to perform whatever it may be, I haven't the least
As this is the man we are to follow as the hero of this little
book, it is due the reader to give a short description of his per-
sonal appearance. He was born in Sangamon County, 111., De-
FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 19
cember 17th, 1829; is six feet high, with breast and shoulders of
a lion, and weighs when in good health, two hundred pounds;
with light complexion, expressive gray blue eyes, and an unconquer-
able will or determination. But he is at this time a mere shadow
of his former physical manhood.
The second and succeeding days of his and Lieut. Heed's travelb
were a repetition of the first, plunging and swimming creeks, bayous
and sloughs until they crossed the Trinity River some four hundred
miles from where they started, which almost demonstrates that he
had something to live for, or he never could have performed this
journey at this inclement season of the year on horseback, and we
may say with but little, if any change of apparel. But overcoming
all obstacles that lay in his path, he accomplished the distance
of six hundred miles to his home in twenty-five days, where he
found his true and devoted wife and two sweet children, Jeff and
Mollie, in the best of health. Here, the writer's pen is inadequate
to portray the happiness of that little family, so we leave the good
wife and mother to fix up little dainties and nicknacks to tempt
the appetite, tone up the stomach and help nature to give back
life and strength to the worn and weary soldier, while little Jeff
and Mollie climb on his knee, put their arms around his neck
and exclaim : "My papa, my papa !" While we call on Dr. Wilson
Barton, and ask him to go and lend his medical skill to make that
little family completely happy, which the good doctor joyously and
willingly did, and under his skillful treatment, coupled with the
kind nursing of his wife and the prattle of little Jeff and Mollie,
our subject soon regained his health and vigor. So on August
the 9th, 1863, he donned his soldier's attire, and presented himself
for duty to Col. John S. Ford, who was commander of conscripts,
with headquarters at Austin, Texas.
20 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR
During the years of 1862 and 1863 the Indians had become more
troublesome than ever before, from its first settlement, and it was
much feared that they would rob the settlers of all their work-stock
until there would not be teams left to make bread for the women
As Col. Ford had seen and done as much service on the frontier
as any man, living or dead, and being personally acquainted with
Captain Jeff, he recognized the fact at once that in the person
of Captain Jeff, the opportunity was given him to do valuable
service on the frontier, in the protection of life and property, so
he ordered Captain Jeff to go home and to organize a company
of conscripts in Burnett County, and to act without any further
orders. To arrest all deserters and "bushwhackers" and to " kill
every - Indian that puts his foot in the County." Here
the Captain smiled, and replied: "Well, Colonel, that 'foot' order
pleases me, for every light moon in this year of '63 our county has
been raided by a band of Indians and one of their number has
a remarkably big foot; it is generally believed by all that have seen
his tracks that he is a man of powerful physique, and is the chief
of his tribe, and I long to measure lances with him to decide
our prowess as soldiers of different nationalities."
With a smile of approval and a manly shake of the hand, the
Colonel said: "Go, and God be with you and give victory to the
The Captain lost no time in going home and organizing the
company as he was ordered, and none too soon, for three days
after the organization, Big Foot and his band made a raid into
Captain Jeff's settlement, and stole most of the best work horses
and mules, and Big Foot had the audacity to go into the orchards
FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 21
and gather fruit so that his tracks could be seen by any one as a
banter, "catch me if you can." Could his ears have been properly
opened, a "still small voice" would have whispered to him "Captain
Jeff lives, and he will live until you have to meet him face to
face. You may leave misery and desolation in your path, for
many moons, or even years, but the fates have decreed that he shall
hunt you down at last, and while your spirit is taking its de-
parture from this earth, where you have caused so much suffering
and sorrow, he will be riding at the head of his gallant Hanger boys
to carry the news that Big Foot's raids are at an end, and that
he met the reward that was decreed to him by Fate."
The next morning by early breakfast couriers began to arrive
at Captain Jeff's with the exciting news that last night Big Foot
had raided the entire neighborhood and stolen several of the neigh-
bors' best horses and mules.
The Captain at once dispatched the couriers in different direc-
tions to notify his company to rendezvous at a certain point in
which the Indian trails led off and to bring as much bread as
they could conveniently carry, and some salt. This was the standing
order for rations ever afterwards. So by noon of that day, seven-
teen men were at the appointed spot, and took the traill and pressed
it with all possible speed through the roughs and breaks of the
Colorado River and across the San Saba River.
But as Big Foot and band had good fat, corn-fed horses to change
upon, they gained rapidly upon their pursurers, and, after four days
of hard persuit, the word "halt" was given; the trail was abandoned
and Captain Jeff's cherished hope of a deadly encounter with Big
Foot was deferred to an indefinite time.
The dazed and worried expressions of the men's faces for six long
22 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR
days as they wended their way back, was distressing indeed, they
having accomplished nothing but to find out and fully locate the trail
that Big Foot and band had in the last twelve months driven thir-
teen droves of horses across the same crossing of the San Saba
Eiver. After ten days they reached home, horses and men badly
jaded, as the men had not eaten anything for the last six days
but meat, salt and water.
Before the Captain disbanded his men he told them to get
their horses in as good shape as possible, and io have everything in
readiness for the next light moon, for said he : "The next time
Big Foot raids this county I will beat him to that crossing on the
San Saba, and there lie in wait and snuff out his light, or die in
the attempt, God helping me."
So with sullen and sad countenances they bid each other adieu
for the time being, not knowing that they were destined to realize
more such sad experiences before the wily Big Foot, chief of the
Kiowa tribe, was outgeneraled by his determined adversary, as the
sequel will prove.
When the Captain made the vow to his men that the next time
Big Foot made a raid -he would beat him to that crossing on the
San Saba, or die in the attempt, he did not know how soon he would
be called upon to fulfill that vow, nor the trying circumstances under
which it was to be performed.
A's he had a fine stock of horses and the Indians were getting
more or less of them every light moon, he decided to gather them
and drive them to Caldwell County below the line of Indian
raids. So, the last day he gathered horses was on Sunday. He
rede hard all that day and got home just at sundown, unsaddled
his horse and staked him out as he had no feed to feed him, and
got back to the house and ate his supper after which he and his
wife walked out and took chairs on the gallery.
Indian Depredations Come Thick and Fast and the Big Foot Indian Kiowa
Chief, the Most Formidable Enemy of the Frontier, and his
Wonderful Seeming Providential Escapes.
The Captain's first lieutenant, John Owens, rode up to the front
gate and reported that the Indians had just killed Wafford Johnson
and family about one mile south of the Captain's house.
He at once went and brought up his tired horse, threw the saddle
on and mounted him, without any protest by his brave and noble
wife at being left alone, and as he rode off she said: "Jeff, go and
avenge the death of those noble and good people, and may God
bless you and bring you safe back to me and the children."
Such was the woman worthy to be the wife of the man who
was destined to rid the bleeding frontier of the State of Texas
of the two most barbarous and bloody savages that ever depredated
upon it, namely: Big Foot, the Kiowa Chief, and Jape, the Co-
manche, his first lieutenant.
24 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR
As Captain Jeff and Lieut. Owens rode off from the Captain's
house he said : "Now, Lieut. Owens, our physical abilities will be
put to the strain, I have ridden forty miles today, we will be com-
pelled to ride as much as forty miles tonight to get our company
rendezvoused in marching order at the spot where the Johnson fam-
ily were killed. It is ninety miles from there to the noted cross-
ing of the San Saba River, and you know at the termination of our
last scout I made a vow that I would beat the next Indians that
raided us to that crossing, or die, God helping me. Lieut. Owens, I
will perform that feat."
The first house they reached was Alex Barton's. He had one
good horse at his house, three other good ones in his field.
He quickly saddled his horse to accompany them in calling the
company together, remarking a? he threw on the saddle: "I will
ride Kate to-night, and get one of my horses out of the field
in the morning to ride on the scout. Poor fellow, he did not know
what the morning held in store for him.
Captain Jeff, Lieut. Owens and Barton rode all night notifying
and giving orders for the members of the Company to assemble
at the point designated, at as early hour as possible, with arms,
bread and salt. At about four o'clock in the morning as these
three were returning they had to cross the San Gabriel creek, one
bank of which made a part of Barton's field fence.
The crossing on the creek was near the steep bank that made
a part of Barton's fence, and it was very bushy, and just as they
reached that point the Captain said, "Stop boys, the Indians are
right here." They suddenly halted, looked wildly around, and as
they did not see nor hear the Indians, they commenced to laugh.
The Captain remarked: "You need not laugh, the Indians are right
FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 25
here, or very near here, for I smell them; this is not the first
time I have smelt Indians of a night when they could not be seen,
arid have proved it to the men that were with me at the time." So
when daylight dawned and Barton went out into his field to get his
fresh horse to ride on the scout, the revelations proved that at the
time our party crossed the creek and Captain Jeff said that he
smelt them, they (the Indians) had Barton's horses rounded up on
the high bank in the field where they caught them. They went
around and let down the fence and crossed the creek at the same
crossing that our party had just crossed. On examination of the
tracks it was plainly evident that Big Foot got Barton's horses.
One of Barton's horses was a very fine mare, gentle to handle, but
not broke to ride, and just after crossing the creek where the Captain
smelt them, one of them tried to ride her and she threw him,
evidence of which the marks on the ground disclosed ; and they killed
her then and there to let the hated pale faces know that if they
could not use her no one else should.
Had Big Foot been a few minutes longer in getting to the cross-
ing of the creek he would have met his sworn and determined enemy
but it seems that the time was not full ripe for the final contest,
so we go forward and chronicle the events just as they transpire.
The Captain reached his home that morning just at day light and
found his noble wife preparing his breakfast with the full hope that
he would be there in due time to take breakfast with her, and rest
for only a few minutes. The children had not yet awakened, so
he softly went to the bed and kissed their sweet and innocent
faces, sat down and partook of a hearty breakfast, put his arms
around his wife, kissed her, and gently patting her on the shoulder
told her to be of good cheer, that in due time he would return;
26 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR
that he had full faith and hope that "God would protect the right."
So saying he walked out and mounted his tired horse and urged
him forward for one more mile to the spot where Wafford Johnson
and family fell brutally murdered by Big Foot and his savage band.
In twenty minutes from the time he left home his horse that
had carried him seventy or eighty miles in the last twenty-four hours
carried him to the tragic spot of the evening before.
When he reached the place but two or three of his men were
there in his advance. Dismounting, he walked to a pool of blood
where Johnson had lain in the road. There was Big Foot's tracks
plainly to be seen wheire he had bent over Johnson's body to take off
his pistol belt and scabbord.
In looking further over the ground, the road ran close by a dense
dogwod thicket, in which a noise was heard, and on further ex-
amination of the cause of the noise, it was found that Mrs. John-
son as she ran her horse close by the thicket, threw her
baby boy of one year old in the thicket, with a mother's never dying
love to the last, that he might escape discovery by the Indians, and
be found by some friendly hand that would kindly take care of her
darling baby boy. The poor little fellow lay where he fell in the
thicket all night, a prey to the wild beasts of the jungle, with an
arrow through his right arm.
His uncle soon came on the ground, and took the little suf-
ferer to where he could get nourishment and attention. The cir-
cumstances of the killing of Johnson are supposed to be these :
A Mr. Whitehead, lived about a mile from Johnson. On Sunday
morning Johnson and family, consisting of wife and three children,
visited Mr. Whitehead where they remained until late in the day
when they started home horseback. Mrs. Johnson rode with her oldest
FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS. 27
girl beind her and her baby boy in her lap; Johnson rode another
horse and carried his second daughter, a beautiful little girl of four
summers, in his lap. She was his idolized pet. She and Johnson
must have been killed when the attack was first made, for when
found he had his left arm around her, his right arm had been
used to defend her to the last moment.
The oldest girl who rode behind Mrs. Johnson, jumped off the
horse and was not discovered by the Indians, and she ran home,
which was only some three hundred yards from where the attack
was made. Mrs. Johnson's hdrse ran some one hundred yards before
she fell, her body filled with arrows. Beader, my pen utterly fails to
portray to you my fellings while I have to chronicle the short de-
tails of this foul murder that was blacker than hell itself.
All that we could say was: "Go on, Big Foot, your day of retri-
bution must, shall and will come."
By the time the sun was one hour high the company, to the
number of thirty men, had assembled. The Captain selected fifteen
men with the best horses, and put the other fifteen on the trail and
told them to follow it for six days, and he offered one hundred dollars
reward to the man that killed the Indian that carried Wafford
The Captain's horse was completely exhausted for the time being,