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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 3 of 14)
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men in a loud, clear, Indian voice. It would have been poor gener-
alship under the adverse circumstances to hare climbed down that
bluff, where all would have been killed without ever having seen
an Indian. They would have picked off each man as he climbed down
a tree, as there was no other way of descent except to jump down,
which last method might have caused some broken or badly strained
legs; there was nothing else to do but make virtue out of pressing



42 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR

necessity to provide for the famished and jaded horses, only to draw
off to a safe distance from the Indians' arms and to camp for the
night.

A beautiful little rivulet wound its way into the main canyon,
up which he went some fourth of a mile, where he found good grass
and water for his famished horses. Here they were unsaddled and
picketed out, and five men, the Captain as one, formed a circle or
cordon around the horses, and the other four men spread down their
saddle blankets on the wet ground with their saddles for a pillow.
They were so fatigued that they were soon asleep and dreaming pleas
ant dreams in place of the exciting scenes that had just been passed
through.

At one o'clock the sleepers were roused up, and took the places of
the Captain and his guard, who in turn took theitr places on the
pallets and were fast asleep in two minutes, which sleep was abso-
lutely necessary for the trials that lay before them for the morrow.
At daylight all were up, saddled their horses and rode to where the
Indians made the leap, and the two poor horses that they could not
force over the bluff had not moved off more than fifty yards. They
were literally whipped (some parts of them) almost to a jelly. Here
the Captain led his men down the canyon some hundred yards to
where the bluff terminated and where there was a crossing, and here
they struck the Indians' trail. After following it some three hun-
dred yards, it passed a man's house by the name of Allen, who was
coming towards them. When he got close enough to speak, he said,
"Boys, what's up?" The reply was: "We are after Indians. We
ran them into that deep canyon last night ; didn't you hear two shots
just as it commenced to rain ?" He replied : "Yes, I was right here,
and hobbled out two good horses just as the shots were fired." In look-



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 43

ing around a little, they picked up a nice rawhide lariat, and there,
plain to be seen, was Big Foot's track in the sand, where he had roped
Allen's horses. Here let us recount the luck, the Providence, or the
First, they went around the pass that they had always gone
what not, that befell these Indians in the last twelve hours,
through, where Captain Jeff had them surely bagged if they had
gone through. Second, when they were run down and overtaken, we
may say that the earth opened to protect them and the horses, all but
the two that they could not force into the chasm, and they were
worthless to them, as they were completely run down. Third, that
in going six hundred yards from where two of them had to turn
a somersault over their horses' heads down into the deep canyon,
two good horses were hobbled out and in waiting for them.
There was no management or generalship in these transactions.
Reader, you are at liberty to call it what you please.

"The prospects to overtake these Indians, when freshly mounted,
is slim," Captain Jeff iremarked, as he was hesitating what to do.
The Captain's horses were badly jaded after the hard run putting the
Indians into the deep canyon, and had thrown every shoe in the
six-mile run over the honey-comb rocks.

After a moment's hesitation, the Captain said: "Boys, the pros-
pect to overtake Big Foot on these horses is gloomy indeed. We have
no show whatever to get fresh ones, but I am loth to abandon his
trail without one more desperate and determined effort to bring him
to bay where he must fight for his liberty instead of running for it.
Some small voice seems to speak to me every time that I have
run him, that his good luck will forsake him and fall on me, and
that I will be the victor, and this may be the day. If you will fol-
low me, we will urge our horses to their utmost in trying to over-



44 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



take him." The unanimous reply from the eight men was : "Captain
Jeff, we will follow you to the end of the world to kill that big brute/'
to which the Captain said : "He has eight men, and he makes nine;
you are eight, and I make nine ; so our numbers are equal, and should
we overtake them, each one of you single out your man. Remember,
this time for all, that I claim the honor to be his special antagonist
until one of us fall."

The Captain turned his horse to the trail, and the rest followed,
and the race for the day began. They had followed the trail about
four miles, when they came to a fine horse belonging to an old man
by the name of Wolf, one of the Captain's remote neighbors, but neal
neighbor to some of his men. Here they found Big Foot's tracks
again where he had lassoed another fine horse that seemed to have
been placed directly on the route, and just at the spot that old man
Wolfs horse gave out. Our wily chief had made four lucky hits in
the last few hours, which, no doubt, inspired a greater confidence in
his braves and led them to believe that he was a particular favorite
of the Great Spirit, and that he could lead or bring them out of all
difficulties that they might encounter while making war on the pale-
faces. This last piece of good luck for the Indians added an addi-
tional gloom to the already gloomy prospects of overtaking them that
day, but they were determined to follow until their horses gave out.
The trail was fresh until about noon, when they came to where the
Indians had killed a big mooly cow and had taken most of her meat,
and her paunch to carry water in. Here was a thick grove of trees,
a nice place to secrete "themselves. They tied their horses to the
trees, so that they could be mounted at a moment's warning, and lay
down in the grass and slept; their beds were all plainly to be seen
very near their horses.



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS. 45

The calf of the cow which the Indians had killed was standing
near by; it was fine and fat, and as the Captain's party had not
tasted food since the day before, the cravings of hunger demanded
that they should stop, kill that calf and eat it, while their horses
rested and grazed for a short time, if the trail was to be pursued any
further. They at once lassoed the calf and carried out the program
of resting and eating, which was fully carried out for two hours from
the time they stopped, which was all the time they could take from
the trail if it was to be pursued any further.

After this the horses were saddled and the unanimous voice was
to follow, as there was one chance in a thousand that the Indians had
taken so much meat that should a favorable spot present itself they
would stop and barbecue the beef.

They pressed forward all the evening through breaks, canyons and
bJuffs of the, Colorado river with the hope of soon coming in sight
of the smoke of the Indians' fire. At sundown they found that they
were compelled to camp for the night, as their horses could go no
further, and on making a very careful examination of the locality it
was found to be a spot that looked like it was formed by nature
for a camping place for this very occasion. It looked as much
like a providential arrangement around us as one of Big Foot's esca-
pades, and as he had not taken the advantage of camping in this
strategic spot all hope of overtaking him with these completely broken-
down horses fled. Here was plenty of grass and water, and the place
so walled in by natural fortifications that two men could hold it
indefinitely against fifty Indians.

The horses were all turned foot-loose, two men on guard, one at
the inlet and one at the outlet; all the rest lay down at once to sleep.
T>ey had eaten but one meal in twenty-four hours, but they were



46 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



more sleepy than hungry. The two men on guard changed guards
alternately every two hours ; and all therefore got a good night's sleep
and rest.

At daylight all were up and ready for any emergency that might
arise. At this time the most pressing emergency that forcibly pre-
sented itself was to appease the cravings of hunger that were loudly
knocking and craving to be gratified.

There was but one door open for such gratification, which was
the usual one to kill a beef and make a meal of beef, salt and water,
which was partaken of without a murmur for something better. After
the meal was concluded preparations were made to take the back track,
but on examination it was found that the horses were so footsore
they could not travel. The Captain ordered the men to cut up the
beef hide and make a kind of a rawhide moccasin and tie the same
around the fetlock so as to come under the bottoms of their feet,
which was done, and they rested all that day at Camp Providence,
or Camp Good Luck.

Nothing worthy of note transpired that day or night. The 'fol-
lowing morning they got up their horses and saddled them and
started for home. It was then found that most of the horses' feet
were so sore that the men had to walk and drive them to get them
home, which journey was accomplished in five days without any in-
cident worthy of record, only the worry and fatigue of walking and
driving the worn-out horses that distance.

At home they found all well, and no report of Indians during their
absence. They went to work with a will as best they could to be in
readiness for the next raid, which was as sure as fate to come, since
it was only a matter of time.



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 47

For many moons the Indians gave Burnet County a wide berth,
for they had found that Burnet County was too hot for them; that
they would surely have to "run the gauntlet" if they made tracks
in that county. Big Foot changed his location to depredate upon.

The next raid he made was on the west line of Burnet County and
east line of Llano County. He killed Mrs. Blalock and four of her
children, which 'report Captain Jeff did not get for several days, when
it was too late to follow. On this raid Big Foot, in addition to kill-
ing the Blalock family, stole and got away with forty or fifty good
horses.

The next raid was still further west, through Mason County,
where they killed Tom Miligan, a worthy citizen, and father of a
large family. They shot him full of arrows within fifty yards of his
own house. They then went on and captured Miss Todd, who was
going to one of the neighbor's on horseback. They got away with
twenty-five or thirty good horses and carried Miss Todd into a cap-
tivity a thousand times worse than honorable death.

At the time the Indians made this raid Captain Jeff had been
ordered by Colonel Ford to meet him with his company on the Col-
orado river fifty miles above Austin city for the breaking up of some
bands of bushwhackers and deserters. The country here along this
river is very rough and abounds in many caves that were found to
be full of the above class of men, and as some of them fought to des-
peration they necessarily had to be killed (mention of which will be
made before this recital is closed).

Many prisoners were taken, whom Colonel Ford took to the city
of Austin and placed in confinement, and then he ordered Captain
Jeff and company back home.



CHAPTER IV.



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.



Shortly after this the Civil War ended, and Captain Jeff and com-
pany were disbanded, as all other men that had been in any way
connected with the Civil War. The State of Texas was then put
under military rule, and E. J. Davis was appointed Military Governor,
who proved to be a perfect tyrant, and the citizens were subjected to
many insults and hardships under his tyrannical rule. Federal sol-
diers were sent into Burnet County to arrest Professor Holland,
Captain Jeff and fifty-eight others who had been conspicuous in hunt-
ing down the Indians, bushwhackers and deserters, and Captain
Jeff came in for a full share of the persecution that was meted
out to the good citizens of Burnet County. Here the Federal soldiers
hunted Captain Jeff like a wolf, and he was compelled to take to



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 49

the brush and make that his home for months. Here the devotion
and bravery of his noble wife shone forth with the brilliancy of the
morning star.

During this distressing time she had all the burdens to carry that
were necessary to keep up their home wood to get, cows to milk,
stock to atend to, and, the hardest burden of all, every other day she
had to leave her two little children alone", mount her faithful pony,
take some circuitous route to some big thicket with something for
her Jeff to eat. Oh, this was the most trying time to those good
people that they had to encounter during the almost five years since
the commencement of the Civil War. One day she took her two chil-
dren and went to her brother-in-law's, as was agreed upon by her and
Jeff, where he was to be in some big thickets that were near Allen's
house, and here he- says he was the worst scared that he ever was in
his life. He was sitting in a thicket; his horse was near him saddled
and bridled for use at any moment. He looked towards Allen's
house and saw fifteen Indians riding directly towards the same. He
said : "Oh, my God ! What shall I do? Oh, my noble wife and chil-
dren!" But his mind was made up in a moment. He sprang on his
horse, drew his six-shooter, and said, "Go, Mansfield ! (his horse's
name) Go, and I will die with them!" He dashed madly forward,
and just before they reached the gate they looked back and saw him
coming like a hurricane, pistol held high in the air. They shouted
at the tops of their voices, "Toncawa ! Toncawa !"

A mountain of intense anxiety was lifted off his breast; the T.on-
cawas had come into the neighborhood the day before, but Captain
Jeff had not heard it, and when he saw the Indians, he readily thought
that they were Big Foot and his band going to Allen's house to mur-
der its inmates.

4



50 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR

Reader, I feel that you will join me in thanks to God that this
cloud had its silver lining. The Toncawas had a white man to go
around as guide to beg watermelons ; Mrs. Allen gave them permission
to go into the watermelon patch and they ate every one, ripe or
green, that was as big as a man's fist. When it was all cleaned up,
they mounted their horses and rode off to hunt another patch. Cap-
tain Jeff remained at or near Allen's house all that day and night.
When his wife was fixing to start home next morning, he said:
"Mollie,". (that was his wife's name) "I am going home with
you." She tried to dissuade him, but he said : "I can't miss this
pleasure to ride home with you and the children; the Yankee soldiers
don't have horses that can catch Mansfield" (patting his noble horse
on the neck). They rode home together, and the scene that met
their eyes when they reached home almost beggars description. The
doors were all broken open; the beds turned over, trunks broken open
and their contents turned out on the floor. The house had been
literally ransacked from cellar to garret. His Sharp's rifle, his dou-
ble barrel shot-gun, a fine pistol, his wife's fine silver-mounted bridle
that cost $22.00, and other things too numerous to mention, were all
gone.

Front gate was open, all the milk vessels left sitting outside where
they drank the milk, smokehouse door open and a big steer inside
of it, and this long after General Lee's surrender.

Reader, how do you think you would have felt if you had been
in Captain Jeff's shoes, with his pent-up feelings of disgust for a
government that allowed its soldiers to commit such low down petty
larcency? Captain said: "Mollie, I feel that Providence has been
with us this time." She replied : "Well, this don't look like it, does
it ?" "To the casual eye it does not, but to the spiritual eye it does,"



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 51

said he. She said a little sarcastically, "Oh, Jeff, what do you mean,
what are you talking about?" "Let me explain," said he, "how
I see it with the spiritual eye, as some may term it; you see that
day before yesterday when 1 came home for a few moments and asked
you to get your pony, take the children and go over to Mat Allen*.?
and stay until this morning, so I could be near you, and we could
have the pleasure of each other's company, it relieved you for that
time of the worry and fear you have had for months.."

1st. Looking back with the spiritual eye, I see or hear some small
voice say: "Jeff, go tell your wife to take the children and go over
to Mat Allen's."

2nd. I see that had I not done so, you would have been here and
subject to all the insults of a degraded company of Yankee soldiers.

3rd. I see that in all probability that you would have killed
some of them, and if so they would have you a prisoner under guard
at the city of Austin, where, with all your fortitude and courage, you
would have pined away and died with anxiety for me and the children.

4th. I see that we are both here with the children ; all well, that
our roof is over our heads, and that we can get along very
well even with our losses, and I accept our absence from
home at this time as a providential thing in our behalf." After he
closed this speech, she raised her eyes to his and said : "Jeff, I didn't
know that you was such an exhorter only in love affairs. I suggest
that when you get out of all these troubles and run down Big Foot
that you turn preacher; all the women will join your church."

After this little seemingly bit of sarcasm she said : "There are
two sides to every question, and since you have argued your side I
am more willing to be convinced; therefore I humbly bow my head
to the Giver of all good, that I was not here when they were, and



52 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



when I wanted to say something ugly about them your little lecture
on the spiritual eye has driven all the hard words from my tongue,
and each moment I am more and more thankful that I was not at
home. You gave me a nice double barrel shot-gun when we were
first married, and you learned me to shoot with it, and in your ab-
sence J leaned on it for a protector. I have always kept it well loaded
with buck shot for big game like man, and I fully believe had I been
at the house and ordered those Yankee soldiers not to come into it,
and they had attempted to do so, that I should have shot and
killed some of the.m, and you correctly drew the picture, that I
now would be a prisoner under guard and guarded by those same
despoilers of our home, and oh, God ! the agonizing thought of being
torn from our children, and placed under guard and subject to the
daily insults of, I must say brutes in men's clothing! Oh, hor-
rible ! horrible ! With bowed head and humbleness of spirit I join
you in returning thanks to God for overshadowing us by His provi-
dence and shielding us from bodily harm through all the trying
scenes of the last five years.

When the soldiers broke open Captain Jeffs house they had four of
the best men of Burnet County as prisoners. They had them chained
and locked to their horses' necks. They were over military age, but
were particular friends and associates of Captain Jeff, and they wanted
to fix him the same way, for he was reported to them as being the
ring leader, and was reported to General Oaks by some of his neigh-
bors that claimed to be Union men, as a murderer and robber, conse-
quently every effort was made to capture him, but kind fate kept
him out of their clutches until such time as his protecting voice told
him to go and surrender. As the Yankee soldiers had gone on to>
Austin, Captain Jeff decided that he would stay around home until



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 53

he heard that the soldiers had come back to Burnet County. His
house was a double house, gallery in front, ten foot hall between, two
shed rooms back. He fixed one of the shed rooms for his horse and
kept him in it all the time with the saddle on, and the bridle hanging
on the horn of the saddle so that he could mount him and be gone
hi a few moments.

So the days came and went for some ten or twelve. When he
had eaten his supper and had slept out in the hall one of his neigh-
bor's boys ran by his gate on his horse, and as he passed the gate he
said : " Captain Jeff, the Yankee soldiers are coming after you ; they
are right up there by your field." The bridle was slipped on and the
Captain was in his saddle just as quickly as such a performance could
be done. As he rode off he said : "Mollie, don't be scared ; I will go
and meet them, and get them after me and will then lead them off
and prevent them from coming to the house to worry you." He dashed
out through the field in the direction they were coming, and when he
got opposite them, he hollowed and said : "Here I am ; come and get
me, you ."

Two of them dismounted, threw down the fence and they all
dashed over after him, which was the very thing he wanted, as he
had every confidence in the fleetness of his sure-footed horse Mans-
field. He led them to the opposite side of the field, and Mansfield
leaped the fence without halt or bobble and was gone from his pur-
suers. After leaping the fence he turned to one side, halted and
remained still until they passed him ; he then fell in behind them and
dodged them until they struck the main road leading to Burnet and
they took the road, which satisfied him that they were going on to
Burnet that night.

He turned his horse and rode back home. After feeding his



54 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



horse and resting a while he said: "Mollie, I have stood this perse
cution as long as I can; I am going to Austin and give myself up
to General Oaks, and ask him to give me justice." She replied: "It
is so hard, so hard for mo to see you go, but it is no worse than for
you to stay here; they will hunt you like a wolf till they do get you,
and then chain you on a horse and take you to Austin and throw you
into a dungeon as they did Dr. Moore, John Moore, Sam Tate and
Captain Dorbant. Taking it all in all, it will be better for you to
go and give yourself up than to be arrested by these low down thieves
that have just been liberated out of the penitentiaries." He said :
"Then I will start at once, ride all night, get into Austin early in
the morning, and go at once to General Oaks and surrender myself
to him. Be of good cheer, for I feel that I will be safe back home
in a few days, in better shape to stay at home than I have been in
several months."

He at once mounted his horse, and turned his head towards Aus-
tin. Six miles from his home on the road to Austin was the little
burg Liberty Hill. The postmaster, Wilson Bratton by name, was
a Northern man, and a man of influence, and was a particular friend
of Captain Jeff. He hollowed up Bratton as he was passing and
told him where he was going. He said: "Captain, go back and give
yourself up to the officer at Burnet, and if he puts you under guard,
I solemnly pledge you my word of honor that I will never eat, drink
or sleep until I release you." "Then I will turn back; it is only
twenty miles from here to Burnet; it is now twelve o'clock; I will
take through the woods and by six o'clock in the morning I will ride
into the soldier camp and give myself up to the officer in command."
The Captain then said: "Bratton, 'a friend in need is a friend in-
deed,' and I here pledge to you my true friendship until death."
He heartily shook his hand, and turned his horse through the woods
for the soldiers' camp.



CHAPTER V.



Captain Jeff Surrenders to the Federal Authorities, in Which the Old

Adage Proves True that a ' 'Friend in Need is a

Friend Indeed."



Wilson Bratton was a perfect gentleman, a friend of true men
and a merciless foe of frauds ; a man whose nobility of soul and mind
deserves a monument, but whose name and good deeds have been for-
gotten, except by those who knew him and benefited by his generosity.

At six o'clock he rode in and recognizing the officer by his uniform,
he rode directly up to him and introduced himself to him and said:
"I expect you have heard a great many bad things about me." The
officer replied : "Yes, I have." The Captain then said : "I can't truth
fully be charged with but one thing, and that is being a Rebel, and I
have been that to the backbone and I have come into your camp to


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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 3 of 14)