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 7 of 14)
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Kiowa chief, and Jape, the Comanche, who were protected and shield-
ed by the U. S. Government and its Quaker agents, knowingly or
unknowingly, long after they were placed on the Fort Sill reservation,
and the government is in duty bound to justly indemnify settlers for
their losses of property and deaths that they sustained by the hands
of the wards of the government, the Kiowas and Comanches, located at
Fort Sill in the Indian Eeservation bordering on the line of Texas

It is now October in the details of our narative, and the weather
is getting cold, and our commander ever on the alert for the good
of his men as well as the public service, ordered a scout of twenty
men, with wagon and team, for the double purpose of making a
scout and at the same time killing buffaloes for their hides to spread
in the tents to sleep on.


The third evening after leaving camp on Elm creek some ten
miles above where the town of Balinger now stands, buffaloes were
discovered in abundance, and the scout camped at once for the night
as the spot was a beautiful place for camp purposes.

The next morning the Captain left two men to guard the camp
and took twenty men with him and rode to an elevation that over-
looked the valleys and there to their delight was quietly grazing in
the valley near them a large heard of mostly old bulls, the very
kind that furnish the best hides for what they wanted.

Here the Captain placed nine men under Seigeant Mather and ten
under Sergeant Moreland and told them to charge the big fellows and
see which party could kill the most, saying, "I will keep Bill
Williams here with me on guard. We can see all over the country
with our field glasses." And now, reader, lend me your imaginations
t> help picture this never-to-be-forgotten buffalo charge. Imagine
nineteen young, dashing, Texas Eangers, mounted on superb, fleet-
footed horses, well trained to battle and firearms each man armed
with a breechloading Sharp's carbine and a Colt's army six-shooter,
and each man ambitious of distinction and desirous of applause. See
them dashing down a beautiful little slope for some two hundred
yards with the speed of a hurricane to a nice smooth valley that was
covered with a monarch herd of buffaloes that were so taken by sur-
prise by the suddenness of the charge that they could not run in any
particular direction, consequently the Eangers had buffaloes before
them, buffaloes behind them, buffaloes between them, and hail never
fell faster than leaden pellets of death and pain entered the bodies
or! those victims of man's greed and cruelty. And now the fight
is on in earnest. The old bulls, maddened with pain, lower their
heads, raise their tails high in the air and lunge with speed and des-
peration at their assailants, but the fleet-footed horse, quick eye and


horsemanship of his rider eludes the mad plunge in every instance;
finally some of the buffaloes lead off and the rest follow them. Each
man then selects a fine specimen and each pursues his victim
until the nineteen selected specimens are brought down. Bill Dun-
man, not to be outdone, roped a fine one and tied it to a tree for
breakfast next morning.

After the heard had moved off the ground where they were first
attacked, two monarchs of the herd that had escaped unhurt remained
on the ground with heads and tails high, rearing, pitching, sniffing,
pawing and bellowing, as much as to say, "come and tackle us/'
which banter was more than human nature could stand and our
Captain did what he never allowed one of his men to do and go un-
punished (broke his orders). In this instance he said, "Bill (to
the man he had kept with him on guard), we'll go and kill them two
big fellows that seem to be daring us; 1 will take that big fellow
on the left, his hide is mine; you take the other for your hide."
So saying, the dash was made, and in five seconds Selum took his
rider close to the side of the monster of his kind, and a ball was
driven into his body behind the shoulder, and another and another;
when the huge bull lowered his head and threw his tail high in the
air and made a lunge at Selum (such as no other animal that ever
lived could make), the horse was the twinkling of an eye the quick-
est; he raised Selum's tail on his horns and the horse and rider passed
beyond his reach.

This fight as it were was kept up with many repetitions of the
first attack until the Captain had loaded and emptied his six-shooter
three timies and aiming for each shot to take effect just behind the
animal's left four shoulder. The shots were all fired at no greater
distance than from ten to thirty feet, and he was considered the best
shot with a six-shooter either running or standing in the company


or out of it. So wjien he had shot the monster eighteen times and
he still fought as determinedly as he did at first, the Captain became
superstitious and thought the spirit of Big Foot or some other demon
had entered into whatever it was, and that it could not be killed, so
he slowly rode off and didn't get the hide to adorn his tent.

By the time he got back to where the slaughter commenced the
boys had all killed each one his picked buffalo and had assembled
for further orders. One man was dispatched back to camp for wagon
and team, butcher knives, whetstones, etc., and the skinning was com-
menced and kept up until the wagon was loaded down with the best
of buffalo hides, and moved back to camp late in the evening. The
camp was put in military order, which was always the first thing
with this company, whether there was danger of Indians or not. A
bountiful supper was prepared and eaten, as their appetites had been
keenly whetted by the exciting scenes and labors of the day.

After supper the Captain said: "Boys, it has been my painful
duty on some occasions to punish some of you for disobedience of
orders, and I broke my own orders to-day, as you all remember. I
placed myself and Bill Williams on guard while you were to kill
buffaloes, and then I left my post of duty, which is a very serious
charge in military discipline, and as there is no higher officer here to
assess my punishment, I herewith appoint all of you as a military
court o pass sentence on me for violating orders/' They all spoke
a.9 one man: "Why, Captain, we all would have done what you did
had we been placed in your position/' But said he, "That does not
alter the case, an order has been broken, and the offender must be
punished. Military law and the spirit of Christianity are strictly at
variance, and all well-balanced and thinking minds should devoutly
pray for the time to come spoken of by the meek and lowly Nazarene
that the sword should be beaten into the ploughshare and the spear


into the pruning hook, and that man should learn war no more, but
until that times does come military law, like the laws of the Medes
and Persians, must be ineorable. As you all are in a position to
practice the spirit of forgiveness, I am not so situated, and as com-
mander of this company, if I break my own orders, I must undergo
the same punishment that I would have been compelled to have
meted out to any one of you; therefore I put myself on solitary spy
duty for two days, while you all stretch the hides and prepare them
to be taken back to camp."

So the next morning the Captain saddled his horse, took a canteen
of water and a lunch for his dinner and rode some two miles to an
elevation that gave a good view of the surrounding country, and with
his field glasses he vigilantly scanned the surroundings until the sun
was set when he mounted and rode back to camip where he was
greeted by many exclamations of respect by his men, for in this in-
stance the lesson was fully demonstrated why the Captain had always
exacted a strict obedience to all orders, as that is the first requisite
to success in all military organizations, and that he had never de-
manded double duty of any of them that he was not bound to per-
form if he violated his own orders. Then they all said: "We will
all try never to break an order under any circumstances; but should
our human nature be too weak to stand the ordeal under which we
may be placed, we will never think it a hardship or degrading to
perform extra duty commensurate with the offense, as you have so
manfully and honorably explained."

The next morning the Captain carried out to the letter his duty
of the day before and his servitude for violating his own orders was
completed. On his return into camp that evening he said:


The Reduction and Discharge of the Companies and Fifty Men from
Each Company in the Frontier Battalion and the Return
Home to it Peaceful Pursuits.

"Boys, for my part, I don't care how soon the order comes for
us to be mustered out of this service. We have accomplished the
main point or the particular object that caused me to accept a com-
mission to raise and command this company, as you all know it wad
to utterly break up Big Foot and his bloody band of Kiowas and
Comanches that have been depredating upon our homes, lives and
property for so many years, and since the Civil War have been pro-
tected by the United States Government and its Quaker agents,
which is proven by the dying confession of old Jape, and the many
nice blankets branded U. S. that we captured with them. I told
my wife when I left home that my destiny in this last drama of
soldier life for the last nine years was to be filled, and as the preach-
ers say I was called to perform a certain work, and that when that
was accomplished, I would return to her and the children sound in


body and mind, mounted on my horse Selum, and would find them
all well; and my guardian spirit seems to say that very soon we will
have an opportunity to return to our homes and their loved inmates."

The next morning the hides were packed in the wagon and in two
days headquarters camp was reached, and as the Captain had pre-
dicted, there was an order from the Adjutant General's office to Cap-
tain Jeff to leave twenty-five men in charge of Second Lieutenant
Foster and to report to Adjutant General's office with the balance of
the company for final settlement.

The next day the men were given an opportunity to volunteer to
stay and only twenty-five would stay. The next thing was an equal
distribution of the trophies taken in battle. The Captain put them
up in separate articles to the highest bidder, only members of the
company being allowed to bid, he excluding himself from the con-
test, although he very much wanted Big Foot's paraphernalia, and
he said long afterwards that he would have willingly bid one hun-
dred dollars for them, but he did not want his men to know that
he would take advantage of them by being able to outbid them. The
sales were all made and they amounted to one hundred and eleven
dollars, which was equally divided pro rata among all the men and
his command of Company E, Texas Rangers was duly turned over
to Lieutenant Foster, and he and his fifty men, who had prepared
to go out of service with him, bade a kindly adieu to their comrades
and in a few days presented themselves to Adjutant General Steel
for discharge and final settlement; and they were highly compliment-
ed by said officer for doing valuable and efficient service. In this
connection it is due the men to show the esteem in which they held
their Captain. They bought the finest suit of clothes that could be
found in the city of Austin, costing seventy-five dollars, took them
to the hotel and compelled him to put them on and parade the streets


with them. Two days after this Selum proudly carried his rider up
to his front gate, the home in tact, and the noble wife and sweet
children well and happy, with all the whisperings of the "still small
voice" fully and completely verified. And so ends the military
career of the man of whom we write, and so to speak, he fulfilled
his promise to his devoted wife he beat his pistol into the plough
share and his sword into the pruning hook and tries to learn war
no more. Shortly after this he moved from Burnet County, where
he was so unjustly persecuted.


Retrospective View.

Reader, go back with me while we chronicle very briefly a few-
incidents in the life of this man before this recital began.

In 1846 and 1847 he was a volunteer in Captain Felch's Com-
pany, Gray's Battalion, Arkansas Volunteers. In 1849 to 1855, in-
clusive, he was in the Quartermaster's employ, U. S. A. as teamster,
carpenter, wagonmaster, scout, dispatch-bearer, etc., and, like David
Copperfield, "doer of all odd jobs." He was at the location and
helped to build most of the old Government posts on the frontier
of Texas. In 1855 he was sent on a scout with Major Ruff, o* the
U. S. Rifles, to guard the road running from San Antonio to El Paso
and near Eagle Springs the command had a fight with the Muscalry


Indians, in which ten of the Indians were killed. He captured a
little girl child, its mother having been killed in the fight.

He took fatherly care of the little captive for some months. When
the command reached San Elizario, a little Mexican town on the
Kio Grande, he bought material to make it some clothes and gave
it to a Mexican woman, as he could not take care of it on the long
scout that was before them. Some timie after this he wrote to inquire
about his little captive. He was informed that it had sickened and
died and its little spirit had taken its flight to a better world, where
no doubt its murdered mother stood on the shore with open arms to
receive the spirit of her little girl.

We now return and follow him to the place which he has se-
lected for his new home. It is a beautiful basin near the geograph-
ical center of Callahan County, Texas. It is almost completely sur-
rounded by the most beautiful and picturesque little mountains, and
he christened it Mountain Dell, and to this lovely spot of God's
green earth he has devoted his time and talents to the making of a
lovely home. Here he has planted, pruned and cultivated with his
own hands everything that is pleasing to the eye, fragrant to the
smell or delicious to the palate. His house is well arranged, large
and commodious, and is presided over with ease and grace and dig-
nity by the same noble woman that has been his mainstay, comforter
and counsellor through all the varying scenes which he has been
called to pass through.


Finale. At Mountain Dale, Home of Captain Jeff.

And now in the evening of their well spent lives, reader, should
you chance to visit them you will find them walking hand in hand
through their orchard or vineyard or sitting on one of the many
rustic seats under their own vine and fig tree, quietly worshiping
the beneficent Creator for His bounties to them in giving them the
opportunities and the desire to beautify the earth in the making of
what might be called a Home, as a stepping stone to that

"Land that is fairer than day,

And by faith they can see it afar, (

For the Father waits over the way,

To prepare them a dweling place there."

And should you chance to m&ke this visit to Mountain Dell,
methinks I hear you exclaim : "Vedly, verily, Peace hath her victories
as well as War, for here dwells the pioneer and enthusiastic horti-
culturist of Callahan County, and the surrounding counties." And to
give his sentiments we must quote him in his peroration before the
Farmers' Institute in an address on grape culture.

In closing his remarks he said : "Stock raising is the occupation
of the barbarous and semi-barbarious nations of the earth. Manu-
factories are the breeders of anarchism, alcoholism, poverty and
crime, but agriculture and horticulture are the handmaidens of Law
and Religion everywhere. You may admire the stockman and his
broad acres, with his cattle grazing on a thousand hills; you may
admire the factory with its thousands of busy spindles, but what


civilizing influences do they possess? But who can stand beside the
tree laden with its golden fruit or the vine with its purple cluster,
or the rose in its superlative loveliness, without worshiping the God
that gave such gifts to man?"

In politics he is strictly Populistic, or Progressive, his religion
is broad and reaches out to the ends of the earth,, and embraces every
kindred and tongue.

And he here wishes to put in a protest against the Grand Jury
of the present day. It may have been a wise institution for many,
many years, but it has outlived its usefulness and should be relegated
to the rear as one of the back numbers, for it is strictly at variance
with the teachings of Christ while here on earth.

He said : "It is better that ninety-nine guilty one- should go
unpunished than for one innocent person to suffer."

The Grand Jurors in most cases are well meaning men and the
majoritv of them are members of some Christian church, and in
their zeal they reverse the teachings of Christ, and by their verdicts
they virtually say: "It is better to make ninety-nine innocent per-
sons prove their innocence than one guilty man should go unpun-
ished/' and this is brought about in a great measure by the attorney?
who are pecuniarily interested in the number of bills, and the real
justness of the bills is of minor importance, for some of them get
a small fee anyway. Again, it is praiseworthy in a Grand Jury that
finds the bills on the best of evidence, or the petit jury that convicts
without the shadow of a doubt.

It would be truly Christian in them to sign a petition for the
unfortunate victim as King Mercy from the higher tribunals, keep-
ing ever in view those beautiful words:


"Teach me to feel another's woe,

To hide the faults I see;
That mercy I to others show,

That mercy show to me/'

for when they have passed the sentence for conviction they have
fully complied with the letter of the law, and the apostle Paul says:
"The letter of the law killeth, but the Spirit of the law giveth ever-
lasting 'life. The Spirit of the law and the Spirit of Christianity is
forgiveness, that we in turn be forgiven by the author of it, needs
be that offenses must come," whereby a standard of right could be

Again he thinks that capital punishment is wrong, and should
be abolished, for if the laws of the United States had never adopted
the cruel penalty of hanging, then mob law in this direction would
have been unknown and never resorted to. In this instance the
passage of Scripture is fully illustrated that sayeth, "The parents
eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are on edge."

Every man that the creative power allows to be born into this
world and commits a crime should be allowed one chance to reprieve
his fallen character, "for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." And
now our little narrative is drawing to a close; it has not been written
to point a moral or adorn a tale, but to chronicle in a plain, brief
way some unwritten facts which have contributed their "widow's
mite" in making West Texas what it is today, and if perchance it
should be read by some young men and women and they should try
to emulate the peaceful pursuits of these worthy old people, then
the world will be bettered by their having lived in it. And know,
dear reader, they bid you a kind adieu, while they wait for the call
from the Land of the Leal where they expect to sit down and smoke
the pipe of peace with Big Foot and all the nations of the earth,
fully recognizing and acknowledging the universal Fatherhood of
God and brotherhood of man.




Capt. Maltby Honored

Captain W. J. Maltby, Admiral, Texas: My Dear Captain At
a meeting in the city of Dallas, some time back, by the Ex-Kangers
of this State, I had the pleasure of nominating you as historian,
which was agreed to. I have no doubt that you have been duly
notified of your selection for this important position, and truly hope
you will acept it.

While it was only my pleasure to have been one of your com-
mand for a few months, as a member of Company E, Frontier Bat-
talion, my association with you fully satisfied me that you had, from
actual experience, a vast storehouse of information relating to fron-
tier life, which, if portrayed on paper, would be very interesting to
those who wish to read it.

The many risks and hazards the early frontiersman had to con-
tend with, taking his life constantly in his hands, living on the con-
fines of civilization, helping and assisting in rendering more secure
the lives and property of those who were pushing along at your
very heels, feeling assured by the knowledge that in front of them
Ihed men inured to frontier life, safeguarding their lives and prop-
erty, without fear or care, from the encroachment of raiding and des-
perate bands of Indians this you can surely portray. While thw
history of the frontier of Texas, from the TJio Grande on the South
to the Eed Eiver on the North, inseparably binds together the live*
of the hardy frontiersman and the Texas Banger as one, their many
deeds of valor and daring, if written, will speak of the many grand


old heroes that fought and fell; also of those who, in some marvelous
way, escaped alive, though battle-scarred. And amongst these your
name, as one who had risked his all in the many and various trials
incident thereto, will stand with the foremost as having donated your
full quota of service in assisting to develop the Western part of
Texas, making life and property safe and secure as it now is, to-day,
unequaled in any other part of the State. The history of the ser-
vices rendered by the Texas Ranger to this great State of ours is, or
would be, if fully portrayed, of the greatest interest to many citizens
of our great. State. Many to-day, living safe and secure in their
quiet country homes, would kindly remember and do honor to those
who, by devotion to duty, by constant, continuous service, as Rangers,
ready to cope with any emergency, at any time or place, had made
possible these conditions, repeating the history of the growth and
development of all of this great country of ours from the beginning.

It would seem that in the years 1874 and 1875, during Governor
Coke's administration, the most efficient and effective Ranger service
was furnished by the State, and her Frontier Battalion, under Major
John B. Jones' command, finally and for all time served notice on
the raiding bands of Indians that their day of raiding, stealing and
killing on the frontier of Texas was forever and eternally a thing of
the past. The rapid settlement and organization of about twenty-
five counties (I think) on the line of the battalion's base of action,
co-incident with this date, is surely proof enough that the State was
effectually cleared of any Indian danger and that the newly-opened
country was safe and secure to all comers. Company E, which you
commanded, and of which I was one, surely did its full duty, equal at
least to the duties performed by the other five companies.

To you and men of your type distinctly belong the honor and
credit, fontiersman and ranger, of effectualy driving from our fron-
tier the hostile Indian who tried men's souls. I take off my hat in
honor to such men, tried and true, and never found wanting.

Captain, 1 hope to live to enjoy reading your reminiscences, if
you decide to write them. With the highest personal regards, I beg
to remain your friend, HENRY SACKETT.

Admiral. Texas, Dec. 17, 1904,


Capt. Maltby's Reminiscences.


The first man with whom I shall deal in this article is Major
Jones, commander of the Frontier Battalion.

He was a man endowed with excellent judgment, his bravery
was unquestioned, and he soon proved himself in every way quali-
fied to fill the responsible position to which Governor Coke had ap-
pointed him. On his first visit to the camp of Company E, which
camp was on Clear Creek, some twelve miles west of the present
town of Brownwood, he called on me for six men to form part of
his escort. He also called on the other companies for a like num-
ber of men to form a scout from one company to the other, and
this scout passed continuously back and forth along the line, and
made one of the most effective patrols ever institued on the frontier.

On the Major's first trip along the line a band of one hundred
Indians, all of them well armed, charged into his command, and

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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 7 of 14)