Jesse Stem

    By virtue of an order from the office of Indian Affairs, dated November 25, 1850, Jesse Stem, of Piffin, Ohio, was appointed special Indian Agent for the Department of Texas. In this capacity he served for several years and many of the early reports made during the early fifties were made by Jesse Stem. Since his duties were largely confined to the Upper Brazos and since he was much pleased with this section of the State, sometime prior to this death he established a ranch on the Clear Fork not far from the Comanche Indian Reservation, and near old Camp Cooper.

    Early in 1854 Ed Terrell, father of J. B. Terrell, lived at Fort Worth, and was hauling about six or seven wagons of corn, oats, flour, etc., to Fort Belknap; these wagons were pulled by oxen, and when they reached a point somewhere between the present cities of Weatherford and Jacksboro, they were joined by Jesse Stem, who had retired as an Indian agent and a Mr. Lepperman, one of his personal friends from Ohio. Major Stem and Lepperman stayed with Mr. Terrell’s train of wagons until they reached a point within about eight or ten miles east of old Fort Belknap and near Salt Creek, when the two decided to proceed in advance of the wagons, which were heavily loaded and moving along slowly. At this point on Salt Creek, Mr. Terrell decided to stop for dinner, but since Jesse Stem and Mr. Lepperman were anxious to reach their destination, they could not be induced to remain for dinner, but hurried on toward old Fort Belknap. When they reached a point about four miles east of the post, near the present Stem’s Gap, the two were ambushed and killed by Indians. Stem’s Gap derived its name from the murder of Jesse Stem near this point. There seems to be a slight difference of opinion concerning who first found Jesse Stem and his friend Mr. Lepperman. John Peveler, who was a met contractor at the post, had a cattle pen not a great distance form where Stem was killed on the Fort Worth and Fort Belknap Road. It is certain that when Mr. Terrell and his associates reached the point, they found the bodies of the two men murdered by the Indians. It seems that John Peveler was also an early arrival on the scene, but which of the two reached them first, we are unable to state.

    This dastardly deed was traced to the door of the Kickapoos, who were at the time, camped in Oklahoma.

    The bodies of Major Stem and his companion were buried near old Fort Belknap, and about 1910, the remains of Major Stem were removed from old Fort Belknap to Washington, D. C., where they were buried with honors.

    Ref.: Before writing this section, the author personally interviewed J. B. Terrell, an aged son of Ed. Terrell; F. M. Peveler, a brother of John Peveler, a meat contractor at Fort Belknap when Major Stem was massacred. Detailed accounts of these killings were also made by Major Robert S. Neighbors and Captain R. B. Marcy. See page 159, Rep’t. Com. Of Indian Affairs, 1854; U.S. Sen. Ex-Doc., Vol. 12, No. 60, 35th Con., 1st and 2nd Ses., 1855-56.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

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