William J.] 1829-1908 [Maltby.

Captain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life online

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Online LibraryWilliam J.] 1829-1908 [MaltbyCaptain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life → online text (page 11 of 14)
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did, leaving Mr. Sims in charge of the camp, while I was placed in
command of the squad. On reaching the place where the Indians
had been seen the day before we discovered that they had evidently
been frightened themselves, as their trail showed that for a distance
of ten or fifteen miles they had ridden as fast as possible, leading
several horses.

The trail led north up to and along the east line of San Saba
county; then it turned east to the north part of Hamilton county.
Along the trail we frequently saw signs where they had roped horses.
In fact, they had captured every horse along the line of their retreat,
and every one of them was leading about two horses. Near the north
line of Hamilton county the Indian trail intercepted and followed a
large cattle trail. We followed this trail only a few miles further
and found that another Indian trail came into the cattle trail, the
last Indians coming from the East, and this squad seemed to have
been about equal in numbers to the squad we were following; and
they had also been leading a considerable number of horses, a fact
which we determined because the horses were travling three in a
bunch, showing that one horse was being ridden and two others led.
We also found along the big trail where they had killed three or four
young beeves.

From all indications, the Indians would have easily outnumbereJ
us five to one, and, besides, they had plenty of good, fresh horses
and several hours the start, while our horses were tired out. So we


held a consultation and decided that it would be foolish to continue
the pursuit any further, as the prospects were that we could not over-
take the Indians, and the probabilities were that we would get the
worst of an encounter with them should one take place. We then
went west to the San Saba river, and then down the Colorado river,
through the cedar brakes of Morgan's creek, to where we first strucK
the trail, and then back to our camp, where we found Mr. Sims, who
had carefully attended to everything during our absence. We then
resumed the work of gathering cattle pending another redskin dis-
turbance from some Indian reservation.

I will say that it was a notorious fact that the people of Hamil-
ton county lost a great many horses and cattle about this time. We
did not learn who lost the big herd, the trail of which we struck in
the northern prt of Hamilton county, as we neither saw horses nor
men along the route we traveled; but I afterwards learned that the
principal losers were James Carter, "Big Bill" Keith ind Solomon
Barron, and others whose names I do not now recn.-l, as that was so
many years a^o.

As to parties who lost horses and cattle, and who have good and
just claims, I cannot remember all of them at this time, but will
enumerate the following, all of whom I think can, or at least .should,
recover :

The Northington family of Lampasas county ; John Hinton of
Llano county; Ewin Lacy's widow, of Burnet county, and Joe Baw-
com, of McCuloch county.

But, in conclusion, I certainly know, but cannot prove positively,
the identity of the tribes of Indians that committed the depre-
dations in all of the counties from Kinney on the west to Tarrant
on the east, and north and south across the State from 1850 to 1874.
These depredations were committed, encouraged or guided by the In-
dians held, fed and protected by the United States Government, and
known as Penatocas, or Southern Comanches, and only differing from
the Northern Comanc'hes in complexion, stature and general make-up,
as the white men of the North differ from the white men of the


South. I have at different times been on the reservations of the Pen-
atocas, have been in camp with two thousand of the Northern Co-
manches, have seen many Indians pursued and killed while making
their raids on the unprotected frontier, and all that I have seen I
unequivocally pronounce as wards of the Government, even their
trappings and fixtures fully verifying this conclusion, for I have
observed closely and have arrived at this conclusion impartially and
because facts would warrant no other conclusion in the matter.

There were many who lost both cattle and horses in the big raiu
on the San Saba river. Some of these parties lost very heavily. As
to small losses, I could name very many of them, the owners of which
are justly entitled to recover for their property; but the long lapse
of time and the disappearance of witnesses, by death and otherwise,
added to the necessary delay of the courts, makes a small claim ut-
terly worthless. As to your question about attorneys in this clas.s
of cases, I would recommend Col. I. K. Hitt and Wm. H. Robeson,
Bond Building, Washington, D. C., as they are perfectly reliable and
possess extraordinary ability. In your letter you ask the question
positvely, if I am personally knowing of any big bands of Indians
that came down on the frontier people, and, if so, what counties' did
they raid? My answer is, Yes; the Indians that I, G. C. Arnett, Joe
Bawcom and others followed out of Burnet county into Hamilton
county were a part of a big band of Indians, as the trail proved to
concentrate with other trails and made a very large trail.

A band of one hundred or more went, all in a body, into Coleman

The big raid on the San Saba must have contained several hun-
dred Indians, as they swept the range of all stock in their track.

The last raid in 1874, in Coleman county, where I struck with m;y
company of State Rangers and completely routed them, horse and
foot, each division in detail, after they had formed in several divi-
sions for the purpose of stealing horses, when they came together
to spread over a large section of country and drive everything in the
way of cattle and horses. To show how completely I and my com-


pany defeated their hellish purposes and schemes of murder and rob-
bery, they were completely whipped, discouraged and left the country
without getting a single hoof of cattle or horses, only what they
killed and ate, and from that time down to the present date they
have never returned.

For your satisfaction and pleasure, whom I hold in the highest
esteem, I would go into the details of this subject more fully and
write an account of all the horrors it has been my misfortune to wit-
ness during my long frontier life were my physical ability such as
would permit of the labor. I have not told one-half of the incidents
of horrors and outrages that I have personally witnessed and ex-

Fraternally yours, W. J. MALTBY.


(BOOK in.


Newspaper Extracts.

Extract from the Southern Mercury, Dallas, Texas, of October
31, 1903:

The county exhibits were all good. Taylor county carried off the
blue ribbon. In Callahan county, though there was the finest in-
dividual exhibits to be seen, the vegetables of this collection far ex-
celled in size those shown in other counties. The exhibition here of
Mr. W. J. Maltby, is an illustration of what has been, and what can
be accomplished within a few short years. This enterprising gentle-
man had on exhibition all grains, every species of fruit (and I believe
about as many vegetables), that were exhibited at this fair. The
vegetables he had on exhibition far exceeded in size those seen else-
where, as one can judge by the following: One roasting ear (perhaps
the largest ever grown) measured 4 inches in diameter, 12 inches
in circumference, and the length of a large Mason jar, after two or
three inches had been cut off. A "Mammoth Chile" squash, weighed
103 pounds. Mr. Maltby informed me these were grown principally
for stock, on account of the immensity of size, though they were as nice
for table use as the ordinary pumpkin. Then he had the William
Henry Mall Price prize-taker (I am not certain if this is correct)
onion, grown from seed sown in February, that attained a size of
something a little less than two pounds. Two "Golden Queen"
pepper pods took the blue ribbon at Abilene Fair, as did also his


ochra. The pods were as large as a quince or a pear. He had the
best flavored sun dried fruit, apples, peaches, Mission grapes and
tomatoes, too, were sun dried. These Mission grapes are indigenous
to Mexico, where they have been growing for hundreds of years. Mr.
Maltby went to Mexico for them, says they do well in his country.
Dried, they are nearly as good as the California raisin.

Dried tomatoes were something new to me; the flave.r was good,
and one need never be at a loss in winter time to know how to make
good soup. The yellow preserve tomato about the size of a walnut
was the kind seen. I asked him in regard to his almond crop, seeing
some. The yield is uncertain, or has proven so with him thus far.
though as his trees get older he hopes for better results; says it is
a lovely tree. In this same collection was to be found sugar made
of sorghum, and as far as I was capable of judging, it compared very
favorably with that used in her family that sells nine pounds to the
dollar. Syrup made of the sorghum was a bright golden color. I
was tempted to taste it, but had tasted so much I doubted my ability
to pass judgment. There "were thirty-four varieties of wood on ex-
hibition, thirty-three of which were grown by the exhibitor. The
one not his was a pecan. Now, readers, this has all been accomplished
in the miraculously short time of twelve years by Mr. Maltby, and in
justice to him, and myself as well, I will say that Mr. M. has possessed
advantages over us. He has availed himself of travel, and has no
doubt profited by the experience of observation, while w,e, less for-
tunate, have to experiment for ourselves and let "chill penury repress
our noble rage" in trying to emulate the example of our more suc-
cessful neighbor. "STAR."

Baird Star, Baird, Texas, March 16, 1905 :

Editor Star: To give Mrs. Joel Nabers a more correct account
of the location of the historical government post of Phantom Hill,
and to refresh the memory of Mr. Jesse Johnson, Sr., in Comanche
Chief, I herewith give you the facts in detail as near as the memory
of man can narrate after the lapse of fifty-five years; and in


connection will give your many readers the dates of the location
of most of the government posts in Texas, by whom located, etc., as a
matter of history that should be of interest to the many who have
enjoyed the blessings that have followed their location.

From 1844 to 1852 General Arbnckle, of the United States army,
was in command of the western part of Arkansas, the Indian Na-
tions, with their five tribes, and the northern part of Texas, with his
headquarters at Fort Smith, Ark. After the close of the Mexican
war of 1846-7, the United States was responsible for the protection
of Texas, with a frontier on the north on the 32nd parallel running
from Red river to the Rio Grande, a distance of six or seven hundred
miles. This country was roamed over and depredated upon by all the
different hostile bands of Indians, and from El Paso on the west
to Corpus Christi on the south, a like distance of seven hundred miles,
there was exposure to the depredations of marauding bands of Mexi-
cans that infested the borders all along the Rio Grande.

So our Uncle Samuel had fifteen hundred miles of much exposed
frontier to guard, and the only way to do it was to build a line
of posts from east to west and north to south, with many inter-
mediate posts near the settlements to guard the settlers and their
property. General Twiggs was placed in command of the west
or Rio Grande division, with headquarters at San Antonio, and ordered
the building of the following posts, to-wit : Fort Bliss, El Paso ; Fort
Leaton. Presidio Del Norte; Fort Duncan, Eagle Pass; Fort Mc-
Intosh, Laredo; Fort Brown, Brownsville.

As it will be only necessary to mention one of these named posts
and Robert E. Lee's connection with it, we go back and take up the
thread of our narrative in the location of Phantom Hill and what
led up to it.

In 1849 General Arbuckle ordered the fitting out of an ex-
pedition of one company of United States infantry, Captain Mar-
cellus French to command, Lieutenant Myers to act as quartermaster,
with one hundred ox and mule teams, carpenters, sappers and miners,
and everything necessary to build and maintain a government post


in the Creek Nation, somewhere near the Canadian river. I em-
ployed myself to the then acting quartermaster at Fort Smith, Captain
Montgomery by name and rank. He kept me in his office while the
expedition was fitting out to carry orders and purchase what the de-
partment did not have in stock, and when the expedition started I
was sent along as a supernumerary to do anything, or to work in
such harness as the quartermaster might throw on me.

The progress of the expedition was rather slow as we had to
make the road as we went. When we had got say seventy-five miles
from Fort Smith and had to stop to build a road over a creek
with high banks, one of the men was taken sick and on the third
day developed a full case of the smallpox of a malignant type. Here
was consternation of the worst form, and the only thing that could
be done for the government doctor to order every man up to his
tent and vaccinate as fast as possible. The sick man died and no
one else of the entire party took the disease. Considering this in
all its bearings, it was Providential.

The expedition moved on to its objective point, and Fort Ar-
buckle, No. 1, was located and built. When built it looked moro
like an old-fashioned nigger's quarter than a government post, for there
was nothing to be had but the native timber as it stood in the forest.

Late in the fall Captain French discovered a better location for
a post, some eighteen miles south at a big spring near the Washita
river, in the Chickasaw Nation. So Fort Arbuckle, No. 1, was given
to Black Beaver, chief of the Delaware tribe of Indians for his head -
quarters, and the troops were moved to the Big Wild Horse Spring
in the Chickasaw Nation, and Fort Arbuckle, No. 2, built, where
it has stood as a government post ever since.

A big government ox train loaded with supplies arrived about
the first of November. I went back to Fort Smith with it and
reached there the last of the month. A cabin was built in the Porto
river bottom, a big canebrake, and the oxen were moved to it. I
was put in charge with a few of the teamsters to herd the oxen,
preparatory to the location of two government posts on or about the


parallel in Texas, which posts were named Belknap and Phantom
Hill, respectively.

So in the spring of 1850 a train of lOf) or 150 ox and six-mule
teams was fitted out at Fort Smith, with several companies of the
Fifth Infantry, and ordered forward to locate the above posts. When
the expedition reached old Fort Washington in the Choctaw Nation,
near the line Texas, Lieutenant Bliss was ordered to take some men
and teams and go to Shreveport, La., after some ordnance stores
etc., with instructions to travel back on the west side of Red river
until he struck the road made by the command which was to cross
Red river at Coffey's Bend at a little town called Preston, and es-
tablish a quartermaster's store there, with Major George W. Wood as

I was sent with Lieutenant Bliss to Shreveport, at which place I
was promoted to engineer. With six fine gray government mules and
a six-pound brass cannon I was to head the expedition the balance
of the trip. To say that I was proud of my promotion would be
expressing it very mildly.

In the country through which we traveled the settlements were
few and far between, but coming to a nice farm house where every-
thing betokened some refinement, Lieutenant Bliss ordered me to
halt while he dismounted and went in. He presently reappeared with
a nice old lady and, oh, my ! two beautiful daughters, for us boys
to feast our eyes upon, which was a treat indeed, for we had been
away from home and society until the pretty girls looked to us like
angels. The old lady was much excited over the cannon, and inquired
of the Lieutenant if it was the kind of gun that Captain Taylor had in
Mexico. The Lieutenant smilingly replied, "Yes, madam, this is
one of the little things General Taylor hag! for toys when he played
with the Mexicans."

Lieutenant Bliss struck the road made by the command in Gray-
son County west of Preston and followed it, overtaking the com-
mand where it had halted and located Fort Belknap, Post N"o.l. Here
a rest of some time was taken to recruit the teams for the onward


march to locate Post No. 2. So I will say that about the 15th of
December the order was given to load, hitch up and march, and my
recollection is, with one company of the Fifth Infantry, Major Thomas
as the commanding officer, Black Beaver, chief of the Delaware
Indians, as guide, and 100 mule and ox teams to haul camp equippage
and supplies. The expedition moved forward on Captain Marcy's
Santa Fe trail, which led west on the north side of the Clear Fork
of the Brazos.

The third night after leaving Fort Belknap we camped in a beau-
tiful basin surrounded by mountains, an ideal camp ground, and as
we had to depend entirely on grass for forage, the mules were tied
to the wagons until 2 o'clock in the morning and then turned loose to
graze, with men to herd till daylight.

This was my morning to go on herd. My mess consisted of three,
myself and two others. About four o'clock my mess called me to
breakfast. I had no appetite that morning which was unusual for
me, as I was known as a good feeder. When day began to break
orders sounded to drive up and hitch up, at which time the aged
chief, Black Beaver, with his experience of West Texas, went to Major
Thomas and told him that he had better stay at that ideal camp
ground, as there was a fearful "Norther" approaching, to which
Major Thomas turned a deaf ear, as he had a fine closed hack and
a fine pair of black horses to draw it. By good daylight Major
Thomas, guide and soldiers had taken the old Marcy trail and gone,
giving the quartermaster notice when he was to leave. It was the
supposition that the Major's hack tracks would plainly mark the way ;
but, alas ! the supposition proved wrong ; for a few moments after the
quartermaster left camp, myself with the cannon, the caisson and
the major's baggage wagon following close up to him, the storm broke
upon us with all its fury; and when the quartermaster reached the
place where he thought he had been directed to turn off from the
Marcy trail and travel in a westerly direction he turned off, but
could not find any marks of the Major's hack tracks.

I followed close up to the quartermaster with the caisson and the


Major's baggage wagon close up to me. When the quartermaster
found himself, the storm had drifted him some three miles south
of the trail to a big canyon that we could not cross. There was but
one way out of this distressing dilemma, and that was to turn back
and face the storm of sleet and hail, that seemed to strike us with
as much force as if shot out of a cannon.

By a superhuman effort the quartermaster drove the spurs into
his horse and held him to the wagon tracks that we had made, which
brought us back to where we had left the old trail. It required all
the energy that we drivers could put forth to run along by the side
of our teams and force them against the storm, which struck them
and us full in the face.

When we had got back to where we had left the trail the quarter-
master said, "Boys, for God sake, try to make a fire, for I believe
we shall all freeze to death." And then the language he used about
his commanding officer for not leaving a guide to direct him, would
not do to put in print. There was an ax in the Major's baggage
wagon and some dry material. John White, the driver, got them
out, and as there was plenty of dry mesquite trees at the spot, I. took
the ax and went to splitting up wood with a will, urged on by ne-
cessity. The two other drivers kindled a fire, and in a short time we
had a life-giving blaze. The drivers brought up their wagons,
jumped off their saddle mules and hovered over the fire.

During this time the quartermaster had never stopped his mad
ride in search of the Major's hack tracks. I heard a halloa. I
threw down the ax. My team was nearby, standing all huddled up,
freezing to death. I grabbed my lines and whip and forced them
to their utmost, running along side of them, and soon overtook
the quartermaster and kept up with him on a run until we reached
Camp Necessity.

And why Necessity?

The Major's fine horses stopped and refused to go any further,
and he had to stop just where he was ; and when he was asked why he
had camped in such a place he replied, "It was a military necessity."


CouLl he have forced his horse a few miles further, the quarter-
master and several more men and mules would have fallen victims
to his rashness in not heeding the advice of the old Indian.

The soldiers had managed to have good fires. When we reached
them the quartermaster was frozen so that he could not dismount
and had to be lifted from his horse and carried to the fire. The
doctor administered brandy to him and had him rubbed, and his
life was saved; but to this day I cannot see how any man could
live in the saddle and cover as many miles as he did on that never-
to-be-forgotten day.

Some one or two hours later the wagons began to come into camp
until twenty or thirty came in; and as the wagonmaster was still
back and no one to give orders what to do with the mules, the drivers
unharnessed and let them go as they pleased. Late in the day some
of the teamsters brought in their teams and left their wagons on the
way; and many that had their blankets in the wagons turned their
mules loose, got into their wagons, covered up heads and ears and
remained so until we went back the next day and halloaed them up.
As the mules had been turned loose as they came into camp, they
drifted away with the storm. As there was no wagonmaster to give
orders, I asked one of the teamsters by the name of Bill Stevens, a
very powerful young man, to go with me and see if we could not
drive them back. He said yes, and we struck out to herd the mules
back. We got off some three miles from camp, running and working,
but could not do anything with them, so we had to give them up,
and started back to camp, as we supposed. We had not gone far after
leaving the mules, when, to our good luck, we met Black Beaver, the
guide. He said, "Halloa, Beaver, where are you going?" He said
h^ was going to camp. We said, "Oh, no, Beaver, that ain't the way
to camp," which seemed to nettle him for us to presume to question
him in direction and he the guide. He replied, "You go that way,
me go this way," and made off and didn't look back. We consulted a
few moments, and thought it best to follow Beaver, which saved our
lives, for we were surely lost and could not have survived through
the night.


About the time myself and Stevens got back to camp three or
four of the teamsters came in, bringing their saddle-mules, having
turned the rest loose, and had left their wagons. They reported
that James Morehead, who had started with them$ had not come up
and they feared he would freeze to death, whereupon Billy Benton,
a noble-hearted boy and a nephew of Senator Benton of Missouri,
said to the wagonmaster, William Locklin, "If you will let me have
your horse, I will go back and try to get Morehead to camp." The
wagonmaster consented but advised him not to go, and others en-
deavored to dissuade him, but the noble-hearted boy replied, "More-
head shall not freeze to death if I can save him/' So he mounted
the horse, which was a good one, and he forced him to his best for
five miles. He found Morehead sitting down, speechless. He dis-
mounted and tried to lift him on the horse, but he could not do it.
So he remounted and returned to camp and reported, as here written,
Mr. Locklin called for volunteers to go after Morehead. I responded
and also William Kemper and William Lace. So we three caught
the first four mules that we came to, hitched them to an unloaded
wagon, put a camp kettle full of good solid coals of fire in it, the
wagonmaster got a bottle of brandy from the doctor, Kemper got on
the saddle mule, Lacey got in the wagon by the kettle of coals and I led
the head mule by the bridle. This was our only chance to rescue our

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Online LibraryWilliam J.] 1829-1908 [MaltbyCaptain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life → online text (page 11 of 14)