The Famous Paint Creek Fight
After the Indians made the preceding raid, the local citizens elected John R. Baylor as their leader. Mr. Baylor suggested that it would be inadvisable to attempt to immediately pursue the Indians. For in such cases, the red men expected to be followed, and to protect their retreat, posted spies on adjoining hills and mountains.
The local citizens set to work molding bullets and preparing for an extended invasion into the Indian country. It was, also agreed, the pursuing party rendezvous at the ranch of John Dawson.
About three days later, John R. Baylor, George W. Baylor, Elias Hale, M. Wright, Tom Stocton, and John Dawson started out for an unknown destination in search of the hostile savages. This was one of the most dangerous, yet one of the most successful raids ever made by such a small band of citizens.
The first day the old Indian trail was followed to a point a few miles above old Camp Cooper, where the citizens camped on the Clear Fork for the night. The following morning they discovered the retreating Indians, also camped very near this same place, and that the warriors sent their scouts on an adjacent high point of land. During the second day while the citizens were searching for the trail, George W. Baylor found the scalp of Josephus Browning, which had been accidentally lost by the Indians. This scalp was returned and buried in the lonely grave with young Browning's body. The half dozen brave Texans pursued their journey and followed the trail into hostile territory.
As usual, those interviewed slightly differ concerning the details of the famous Paint Creek Fight. On one occasion, however, Col. Charles Goodnight, John Dawson, and Congressman Hatton Semners, became intensely engaged in a conversation. This conversation was printed in the Farm & Ranch, October 14, 1911, and ably presented by Hon. Hatton Semners. Excerpts of this story are given as follows:
"Col. Charles Goodnight said to Mrs. Dawson, "John
tell Semners about the fight when you got the arrow wound in your
hand there, pointing to the scar. 'All right, Charlie' said Mr.
Dawson. And thus began the story. 'John R. Baylor George, W. Baylor,
Elias Hale, Tom Stocton, M. Wright, and myself followed their trail
and overtook them about one hundred and twenty-five miles away,
killing one of them and the others escaping.
"After running them to Paint Creek above old Camp Cooper, we overtook them and in the fight, which followed, killed six of them. Continued our journey toward home on the evening of the same day about an hour before sundown, we met a band of six Indians driving some stolen horses; we saw them face to face. The place is known as Baylor's Creek. When the Indians saw us they set up a yell. We yelled back and the fight begun. Four of the Indians were shot down, but only one of them was badly wounded in the back and could not get up.
"One Indian and a boy about seventeen years old started to escape on a horse. When they had gone some distance, the boy looked back and saw the wounded Indian on the ground struggling to rise. He jumped down from behind the wounded Indian on the horse and came back to the one on the ground. He tried to lift him up, but he could not stand; when the boy saw he could do nothing for the wounded Indian, he gave a most distressing cry and started toward us and shooting as he came. It was clear that he had determined to avenge the death of his comrade by killing some of us, or die in the attempt.
"He was coming straight to me. I shot him with a rifle. Tom Stocton and Elias Hale were shooting at him with six-shooters. The boy had on a loose shirt and the pistol bullets went through, but they could not stop him. The men who were shooting at him with their pistols were kneeling down. The Indian was coming straight for me. He got so close to me that Stocton and Hale got back and I started to mount my horse and met me face to face about ten steps away. We both started to shoot at almost the same time. I with my pistol, and he with his bow. He was a little quicker than I was, and his arrow went into my right hand, and as I was aiming at him, he shot into the stock of my pistol disabling it and making me helpless. Just as he was getting another arrow with which he would, no doubt, have killed me, Geo. Baylor shot him with a shotgun and he fell from his one rifle hole and nine pistol wounds, besides the one made by the shotgun. There were no wounds in his arms or legs. The shirt was as blood as if it had been dipped in blood."
Others may have had a nobler purpose, used better judgment, or been inspired by a higher patriotism. But no example of any man's courage in all the annals of man's history, excels that of this lone Indian boy with his bow and arrow engaged in a mortal combat with six white men armed with guns.
The dead body of the wounded Indian who escaped on his horse, was afterwards found and his shield became the property of Mr. Dawson. In a receptacle of the shield was found the scalp of a woman, with long golden hair. This scalp may have belonged to Mrs. Lucinda Wood, who was massacred by the Indians only four months before.
Most of this fighting occurred in the present Haskell County; and, no doubt, some of these various scattered bands were returning from the settlement where they had been making one of their forays.
In addition to a large number of captured Indian implements and stolen horses, John R. Baylor and his five associates brought back nine Indian scalps, as evidence of their successful fighting. Shortly after they returned, another scout left old Camp Cooper and went into Haskell County. The bodies of four additional Indians, which had been murdered by Col. Baylor and his men, were found. So these six lone Texans during this expedition killed no less than thirteen warriors, recovered a large number of Indian implements. The scalp of Josephus Browning and some frontier lady's scalp, and also recovered a large number of horses, which had been stolen in Palo Pinto County and elsewhere.
Celebrations and barbecues were held at Crystal Falls, Palo Pinto, Weatherford, and elsewhere, and in several instances, the frontier citizens danced around these Indian scalps.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.