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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 4 of 14)
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surrender to you, and all I ask is to get justice." The officer raised
his eyes to the Captain's and in a manly voice replied: "You shall



56 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



have it." Then Captain Jeff said: "I will get down off my horse
and consider myself your prisoner." After dismounting he said:
"Do you want me to go under guard ?" He said : "No, the limits of
the camp are yours,, but do not attempt to leave it." "I certainly
will not without your permission." He then said : "Then I am your
friend." After breakfast he issued an order ordering every man in
Burnet County to come in and report to him, after which he called
his jury of twelve men, all neighbors of Captain Jeff, and during
the war they spoke the praises of Captain Jeff on all public occasions
and applauded him for the valuable services that he rendered to the
frontier after the war was over, and General Oaks was established
Military Dictator with headquarters at Austin. See the wolves that
had been wearing sheep's clothing, carrying reports to General Oaks
that was blacker and more damnable than hell itself, if possible.

These were the men that were selected to sit as jurymen during
the examination and cross examination.

Right here the passage of Scripture was proven that sayeth
a man will stick closer to a friend than he will to a brother, in
the devotion of Dr. W. E. Jennings to Captain Jeff, and fully
illustrated the love of Jonathan for David as recorded in 1st
Samuel, 19th and 20th chapters.

The camp was at a country school house; a sentinel was placed
before the door; the jury was called in and the rigid examination and
cross-examination of Captain Jeff begun.

The officer had been selected by General Oaks for his fitness as
a lawyer and rapid penman, to go to Burnet and get the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth in regard to the many horrible
murders that had been committed in Burnet County during the war
and had been reported at headquarters by good loyal Union men. The



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS. 57

examination lasted three days; the questions all written down and
their answers. At the end of the third day the officer had exhausted
all his abilities and had not got one solitary criminating fact. He
closed his examination and said to his jurymen: "Gentlemen, I am
done; I am satisfied; any or all of you are at liberty to ask Captain
Jeff any questions you may wish."

Each one got up and said : "I have none," and stepped out with
his tail down like a sheep-killing dog, and all the rest followed but
one old long-faced hypocritical Baptist preacher, who said : "I will ask
one question: do you believe in future punishments and rewards?"
"I do, to some extent," answered I; "I accept Dr. Dick's definition
of such things," and he said, "and who is Dr. Dick?" The reply was:
"He is the most eminent theologian of the day, and all ministers of
the gospel of any note quote him in their sermons." He got up and
went out with his head and tail both down, which left Captain Jeff
and the officer alone, and he was so nonplused that he did not speak
for some time. Finally, Captain Jeff said : "I await your orders,
sir," to which he said, "I don't know what to do; there have been so
many hard reports to General Oaks against you that he sent me here
to arrest you and some others, and to leave no leaf unturned to prove
your guilt. If it was left to me, I would do as Christ did when the
hypocrites brought the woman to Him to be rebuked. He said to
them : 'He that is guiltless let him cast the first stone/ and they all
sneaked off just as your accusers have done this evening." "When I
gave them the opportunity to question you there was not one of them
that had the courage to ask you a question but that old hypocritical
preacher, and the question he asked had nothing whatever to do with
your guilt or innocence." He finally said, "I suppose I will have to
require you to give bond." "Draw up the bond and I will fill it."



58 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



The bond was drawn in the sum of one thousand dollars, if called
for in thirty days; if not, then it was null and void. The bond was
filled at once, Emanuel Sampson as surety, and our Captain Jeff was
told that he could go in peace.

At six o'clock he mounted Mansfield; it was twelve miles to his
home, but at seven o'clock he was siting in his home, his noble wife
on one knee and his two lovely children on the other, again the hap-
piest little family on the frontier of Texas.

The days came and went, and when the clock struck six on the
'evening of the thirtieth day and no call had been made for him, he
walked up to his wife, threw his arms around her, pressed her to his
heart with a fervent "thank God, my Mollie, we are free once more !"
He had lost six years in defence of his country, his home and his
fireside; his good stock of horses had been driven off by Big Foot
and his band; his cattle was all gone but two cows, and summing
everything up he found that he had to commence again almost at the
bottom round of the ladder, but he had his noble wife and two lovely
children, his good health and a determination to overcome every
obstacle that might lie in his path.

He made rails, opened up more land, and as he was a good car-
penter, all the neighbors that wanted work of that kind gave him
the contracts in preference to any other, and gave him more than
they could have got the same work done for, as they were sure of an
honest job. As fast as he worked out money he invested it in cattle,
and as cattle were very low in price, he soon had a nice bunch of
cattle, and added to this all the men in the adjoining counties gave
him full authority to use their cattle as he pleased. This enabled
him to make contracts to put up herds of cattle for sale, and as his



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS



59



business rapidly increased he took a partner, G. C. Arnett, who had
been in his company in the late war.

They drove beeves to New Orleans, and to the packeries at Cal-
vert, Texas, and stock cattle to Kansas, and steadily invested their
profits in the purchase of entire stocks of cattle, marks and brands.
In a short time the firm controlled seventy marks and brands in the
counties of Burnet, Lampasas, Llano and San Saba, and prosperity
followed his every effort as he so richly deserved.





CHAPTER VI.



Capt. Jeff is 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



It has been said by some wise man "that every sweet has a
bitter," and that unalloyed happiness and prosperity can only last an
indefinite period of time, and such was the case with our Captain
Jeff. Federal Judge, Federal Prosecuting Attorney and Sheriff were
appointed for Burnet County and the twelve men that sat as jurors
in Captain Jeff's quasi military court martial were appointed grand
jurors and they found bills of indictment against Professor Holland,
Captain Jeff and fifty-eight others for murder and robbery during
the late war. So our hero's troubles commenced again just where they
were left off.

The papers were served on Captain Jeff and sixteen others; they
all easily gave bond for their appearance at court ; they then employed
a lawyer, the best that could be found, to fight their case, turned



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 61

loose all their business and stood ready and waiting for the call of
court. When it was called they were all in waiting, and the State
put off the trial till the next term, and the next term was the same.
When the third term came around they were all in waiting and anxious
for trial, but the District Attorney was ordered by the Judge to throw
the whole batch out of court, and so they were deprived of a tongue
revenge, for their attorney was well prepared to show to the court
and to the citizens of Burnet County the low down villainy of the
grand jury in finding the bills worded as they were worded.

Here the pent-up feelings of Captain Jeff for that grand jury
could not be restrained any longer, as he, with all the others had been
deprived of their tongue revenge through their attorney. He deter-
mined to take revenge with his own strong arm, steady nerve and
quick eye. He commenced to drink, the only bad generalship he
ever displayed. His friends, all those that had been indicted with
him, and many more crowded around him, got hold on him and by
sheer force and persuasion got him out of town, and Jas. W. Taylor,
whom he loved as a brother got him on his own horse and took him
to Taylor's home and kept him till the next morning. Taylor sent
to town, had his horse brought out and would not let him leave until
he promised him that he would not go through town as he went
home, and that he would never seek a difficulty with his persecutors,
and he kept his promise with his true friend, J. W. Taylor.




CHAPTER VII.



His Wife's Little Tea Party,



A ;hort time after this his wife gave a litle teaparty to some of
her Lady friends and on this occasion she opened a few bottles of her
pure unfermented juice of the celebrated Mission grapes and her
lady friends proposed that they all drink a toast, each one to select
her own subject and insisted that the hostess lead off.

She filled her wine glass, rose to her feet, raised her arm to
full length. The thoughts uppermost in her mind how a few days
since Jeff came so near blasting his and her hopes of happiness
through this life, she spoke and said: "Here is to my husband; may
he never get tight, but tight or straight, my husband." The next
one said : "Here is to our noble hostess ; may her every wish be grat-
ified, and may we live to emulate her courage, patience and womanly
devotion," and all the others said: "Amen, amen, amen, amen."



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 63

Captain Jeff was away from home for a few days on some busi-
ness when this little teaparty was given ; before he returned he heard
of it' and the toast his wife had drank to him ; when he got home he
said: "Mollie, open a bottle of your grape juice; I want to drink to
you a pledge that will relieve you of all dread or anxiety that called
forth your toast." She quickly and joyously opened the bottle and
set him a wine glass; he filled it to the brim, then raised his arm
and said: "My Mollie, in this glass of the pure juice of the grape
I pledge to you, God helping me, that from this time on that I will
not make, sell or use as a beverage any spirituous or malt liquors;
that wherever I go I will keep this pledge to you sacred." And in
after years he made a tour of the entire State of California with the
American Horticultural Society, as he was a member of that society.
The society stopped over at a town called Fresno; the citizens came
forward from every quarter with their best private conveyances to
welcome them and drive them over the country and show them their
fine orchards, vineyards and wineries.

The first visit was to the Barton vineyard of six hundred and
forty acres, with winery attached, at which place they all halted and
alighted and formed a procession of twos and marched into a long
room where was spread a long table covered with snow white linen,
wine glasses and all varieties of all the very finest wines that Cali-
fornia could boast of. When they reached the table they filed right
and left and moved forward to fill up the table.. When the lead man
reached the table he faced about so as to overlook the table and all
the guests. He said: "If there is any one present who will not
taste any of this wine let him hold up his hand," and in an instant
Captain Jeff's hand went up to the full length of his arm, and he
held it there so all could see who it was. The spokesman at the



64 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



head of the table said : "One hand up," and Captain Jeff slowly
lowered his hand to its natural position, the honored hero of the
occasion.

When the wine banquet -was over, the ladies and one or two of
the gentlemen who were strictly temperate, crowded around our Cap-
tain Jeff, heartily shaking his hand and complimenting him for his
courage and devotion to principle so publicly explained.

They said : "We were not nor did not taste the wine, but we
did not have the moral courage to follow your noble example. How
could you do it?" "It was without any effort on my part; it struck
my ear as a challenge to principle, and in an instant my principle
accepted the challenge, and oh, my dear friends, I was rewarded for
the act a thousand times more than my feble tongue can express."
"Was the reward invisible to all but yourself?" "It was." "Will
you then please give us an explanation?" "I will, and I will do so
as fearless of criticism as I was when I held up my hand. The
moment I held up my hand an angelic face appeared to me as if
suspended in the air in front of me and a little higher than my
head looking me straight in the eyes, and a heavenly radiance of
approval beamed from its every feature, and in that moment my
stature seemed to grow higher and higher and higher and the world
seemed to be under my feet, and I lost sight of the audience, the
table, wine and wine glasses, and I can only add that my feelings
were not earthly, but heavenly."

The party was banqueted every day for thirty days in making
the tour of California, and he left the State not knowing whether
California wine was good or bad or indifferent, and he says that
alcoholic liquors is the best tasted of anything that he ever tasted.

We hope the reader will pardon this digression. It seemed to be
necessary in this connection to show up the firmness and devotion
of the man of which we write.



CHAPTER VIII.



Richard Coke is Elected Governor. A Battallion of Rangers is Ordered,

Captain Jeff is Commissioned and Raises a Company, Goes on

Duty and Renews his Pursuit of the Big Foot Indian



As they were making the tour of California, great changes were
progressing in the great State of Texas. A State election had been
held. Richard Coke was elected Governor, and Richard Hubard
Lieutenant Governor, and a Democratic Legislature which passed a
special act authorizing the raising of a battalion of Rangers, in which
the opportunity will be offered for us to return to the thread of our
narrative in the long pursuit and final capture and death of the
noted Big Foot Kiowa chief and his lieutenant Jape, the barbarous
and bloody Comanche.

As soon as it was known that the battalion of Rangers was to
be organized Jas. W. Taylor at once got up two petitions and got
them signed by all the leading men of Burnet County. One to
Captain Jeff asking him to take the command of the battalion, and

5



66 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



the other to Governor Coke asking him to appoint Captain Jeff to
its command. Jas. W. Taylor went in person with the petition to
Governor Coke, where he met Senator W. H. Westfall and solicited
his assistance, which was the very thing that was uppermost in the
Senator's mind in regard to the commander of the battalion, as he
had been on many scouts after Indians with our whilom Captain.

Senator Westfall got General Shelly, an eminent lawyer, to draw
up a petition and recommendation and got it signed by all the mem-
bers of both houses of the Legislature and all the bankers and leading
business men of Austin. But Governor Coke being the Democratic
party of Texas, as Cleveland was the Democratic party of the United
States, he gave the majorship to John B. Jones, a man that had no
experience whatever in Indian warfare; a man that never lived on
the frontier and was not identified with the frontier in any way. His
only apology was that he knew John B. Jones and did not know our
Captain Jeff, and that he intended to give the appointment to Jones
from the start, regardless of fitness, for he was his personal friend
and that he had seen his bravery tested many a time on the battle
field in the Confederate war.

In conversation with Captain Jeff after the appointment, he
said: "Captain Jeff, you have the best recommendation in my office
for the command of the battalion that any man could have, and I
have stepped over it, and I hope you and your people will not think
hard of me for it/" The reply was : "You are our Governor, and it
is your bounden duty to render to all the people a just service as you
may see it." The Governor then said: "Will you accept a commission
as Captain of one of the campaigns?" The reply was: "Will the
Governor give me three days to consider it?" He said: "Yes, as
many days as you want." While waiting for the expiration of the



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 67

three days to give the Governor his final decision he received a letter
from his wife saying: "Jeff, do come home as soon as you can; that
Big Foot brute of an Indian that murdered poor Mrs. Johnson and
her dear little innocent children almost at our very door has just
been here in the neighborhood, and I am almost frightened to death
for fear that he will come and kill me and the children or some
other good family."

When he had finished reading his wife's letter, his mind was
made up that here was another chance open for him to rid the
frontier of this dread curse that hung over them like a pall both day
and night. He folded his wife's letter, put it in his breast pocket
and started at once for the Governor's office.

On his way he met James Cornell, a man that had seen and done
much service on the frontier and was one of his particular friends.

He said: "Jim, I am going to the Governor's office to accept a
Captain's commission in the frontier battalion. Won't you go in
with me as my first lieutenant?" He said: "I can't get the ap-
pointment." "Come with me, and we will see." They went together
to the Governor's office, and Captain Jeff introduced Cornell to him
and said : "Governor, if you will give me Mr. Cornell here, as my
First Lieutenant, I will accept the Captaincy in the Frontier Battal-
ion, for, Governor, if I accept a Captaincy, there will be a great deal
expected of me." The Governor replied : "Yes, more than any man
in the battalion." Here the opportunity was presented to give the
Governor a little thrust and the Captain said : "Governor, you ought
to except the Major." The Governor winced, for he felt that the
point was well taken; however he said: "Hold on here, a few minutes
ivhile I go and talk to Adjutant General Steel about your First
Lieutenant."



68 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



In a few moments the Governor returned and said: "You may
have Mr. Cornell for your First Lieutenant, and you are the only
Captain that will be shown that courtesy after being sworn into the
service."

The Adjutant General turned over to Captain Jeff a pair of mules
and hack, leaded the hack with arms and ammunition, and ordered
him to go and raise a company of seventy-five men, and to swear them
into service, and to furnish them all the necessary supplies and to
go on July at once. As the country was overrun with Ic<li. a n? and
outlaws, Captain TcfT and his Lieutenant started at once wit.1i the
j.rms and i'mmun'i'on to raise a select company of men and horse.?
with all possible dispatch.

When they got near the Captain's home, they saw a man coming
meeting them riding'a fine iron gray horse. The Captain said: "Jim,
if I did not know that old Selum was dead, I would say that man was
riding him; he has his every movement, arid I am going to buy him,
if he can be bought, for something tells me that that is the horse
that is to run down my Big Foot adversary that has been so for-
tunate as to outgeneral me so many times." By the time this con-
versation was ended, the parties met, and after the usual salutations
the following conversation was had :

"Mister, how old is your horse?" "Six years old." "What stock
is he?" "The best four mile stock that is raised in Arkansas; he
has never been beaten on the track." "Is he gentle?" "Yes, gentle
a- 2 a dog, and as brave as a lion." "Well, that is the very horse I
am looking for ; I once owned a horse that was a dead match to
ycurs, but I think my horse was the better horse of the two."

He said: "Stranger, that horse don't live that is a better horse
than this, my horse, Selum." "Is that his name?" "Yes, he was



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS. 69

named after the horse that young Scotch McDonell rode in the Rev-
olutionary War in General Marion's company." "Well, that was my
horse's name, too, and he was named after the same horse of Rev-
olutionary fame." "Well, what will you take for him?" "I am a
new comer here, and I will need a good work team, and if youi
will give me a pair of good horses and one hundred dollars in cash,
you may have him." Without any hesitation, the Captain replied:
"It is a trade; it is only one mile to my house; come with us and
I will fix you up with a good team and one hundred dollars cash."

After reaching the Captain's house it only required a few minutes
to make a final close of the trade, and he mounted one of the horses
and rode off saying, "Good-bye, gentlemen, and good-bye, Selum/ 1
When he was gone, the Captain hollowed : "Oh, Mollie ! Come out
here." After introducing her to Lieutenant Cornell, he said : "Mollie,
do you know that horse?" She looked at him, in perfect amazement,
and finally stammered out: "Y-yes, n-no; if I didn't know that old
Selum was dead, that the Indians killed him, and you on him, and
that you carried your saddle home on your back, I would say, yes, I
know him, that he was Selum." "Well, Mollie, he is Selum number
two, and I have a commission in my pocket to raise seventy-five men
and go Rangering, and I bought Selum number two to ride." She
exclaimed : "Why, Jeff, you have been a soldier and worse than a
soldier for the eight years, and I have been a kind of a grass widow
all that time." "Say, Mollie, what is a grass widow ?" "It's a woman
that her husband goes off and leaves her all the time." "Then what
is a kind of a grass widow?" "It's a woman that her husband goes
off and leaves her most of the time ; and when I married you, I
thought I was going to have a husband all the time." He replied:
"Then I have been only a sort of a husband a very little of the time."



70 CAPTAIN JEFF, OR



"Mollie, you say, and correctly, that I have been a soldier for
eight years; did you know that No. 9 was my lucky number? My
mother was born in the year 1809, you were born in 1839 and you
two are the greatest women I have ever known, and that I was born
in 1829, that our boy Jeff was born in 1859, and circumstances, it
seems, over which I have no control cause me to accept a soldier's
life one more year, which makes that No. 9. Why, Mollie, I used to
play poker before I was overshadowed by your Christianizing influ-
ence, and whenever I got a pair of nines I always staid in the Jack
pot, and if I got the third one in the draw I never laid them down."

"Oh, pshaw, Jeff, what do I know about such talk as Jack pot.
stay in and lay down, three nine, and so on? But if your destiny
was or is to soldier nine years, I hope kind Providence will protect
you in your lucky No. 9, as it seems to have protected you for the
last eight." "Mollie, let me say to you, don't have any fears for my
personal safety, for that small voice that has protected me through
all my life tells me to go, and that I will be successful, and that
when the full time alloted to me as a soldier has expired that I will
return to you and the children victorious, mounted on Selum and
in the best of health, and will find you and the children well and
happy; then I will lay aside my arms of death to man and try and
practice war no more." She said: "God grant it; amen."

Lieutenant Cornell remained at Captain Jeff's that night and in
the morning the Captain told him to go right on to Brownwood,
Brown County, where he had lived for years and knew every man in
the county, and to pick twenty-five men and horses, the very best
that he could select; then the Orderly Sergeant and one duty Ser-
geant, and you go on to Camp Colorado and tell Lieutenant Best
that I send the same order to him that I give to you. He can select



FRONTIER LIFE IN TEXAS 71

one Duty Sergeant and two Corporals. I will pick twenty-five men
here in Burnet County and select one Commissary Sergeant, two
Duty Sergeans and two Corporals, and rendezvous at Brownwood.
Expedite matters as fast as you can, having an eye single to the
good of the service." By this mode of wise procedure in a very
short time a company of seventy-five men was raised, giving the
counties of Burnet, Brown and Coleman an equal devision of com-
missioned and non-commissioned officers and men.

In the short space of two weeks the company was rendezvoused


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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 4 of 14)