During October of 1868, approximately two hundred savages first appeared
when they charged John Bailey and Will Ball, who were gathering corn
in the northern part of Wise County. Bailey opened fire, and apparently
killed a chief, but he too was soon slain. Will Ball, however, hurried
toward the house, and may have also been murdered had he not been
saved by Will Clark, who concealed himself behind a fence, and covered
the Ball boy until he could successfully escape. The savages next
appeared at the home of Mrs. Vick, where she was murdered.
About this time, the Indians were discovered by J. D. White, who
was on a ridge and waved his hat pretending to be motioning to men
in the rear to rapidly advance. To be sure, Mr. White was alone, and
there was no one to rally to his assistance. But this strategic movement
seemed to have effectually caused the savages considerable consternation,
gave him sufficient time to out-distance the savages, and reach his
home where his wife and little ones were unprotected. But while Mr.
White was watching the Indians, three of their number rode away in
the direction of the home of Mrs. Vick, and when shots were heard,
J. D. White thought the savages had added another scalp to their belt.
When he considered it safe, he and Granger Salmon rode over to the
Vick home, and discovered the savages had, in fact, shot Mrs. Vick
while bending over the washboard.
The Indians apparently, next arrived at the home of J. J. Connelly.
He alone was present to defend his home and family. Several women
and girls were in his house, he had only one gun, and it contained
only one load.
Mr. Connelly quickly ordered the women to dress in men's clothes,
and show the points of broom and hoe handles, to make it appear several
men were present, and all were well armed. This bit of strategy also
had the desired effect. Up until this time, the Indians' every movement
indicated they intended to storm the house. But when the women presented
their weapons of war, the Indians rode away.
The new of the raid finally reached Decatur, then a frontier village,
and the local citizens fortified in the court-house, Bishop's Tavern,
and perhaps, elsewhere, for it was feared the Indians would circle
in that direction, and storm the little village. But the hostile savages
passed into Denton County, where they continued their raid in quest
of horses and human blood.
October 30, 1868, a large band of Indians, who came through Montague
County, made their appearance in Denton County, and were harassing
the people on all sides. According to reports, three hundred and twenty-five
Indians were counted by William McCormick. In a short time the savages
gathered up a herd of horses variously estimated to be from 600 to
1000 in number. The frontier citizens hurriedly volunteered to defend
the frontier settlements. A. H. Fortenberry numbered among the volunteers,
and when he and a few others came in contact with the savages, Mr.
Fortenberry was killed, scalped, and his body badly mutilated. According
to reports, he was slowly burned to death.
After terrorizing the citizens of Denton County, the Indians headed
toward Fort Sill. When they passed through Montague County, going
north, W. R. Willingham was watering stock at the Jackson place, about
twelve miles southeast of Montague and saw the Indians coming. He
hurried in the log cabin, held his horse through the crack in the
walls, and knocked the chinkin from between the logs, to have a porthole.
After circling the house several times, the savages went away toward
Oklahoma. They were also pursued by a posse of citizens of Montague
County, but the Indians had such overwhelming numbers, the small band
of whites were forced to fall back.
Note: Author interviewed: W. A. (Bud) Morris; Wm. Harrell; Charlie
Grant; and others who lived in Montague and Denton Counties at the
Further Ref.: Of Denton County, by Ed. F. Bates; Pioneer
History of Wise County, by Cliff D. Cates.