Indians Ambush W. J. Hale on Ioni
During 1871, the Jowell brothers were running the old stone ranch-house on Bluff Creek, in the western part of Palo Pinto County. This old building, which still stands, and in which portholes were made to better counteract the Indians, was used as ranch quarters, and known as the Jolly Ranch. At that time, deer in this section were so plentiful, sometimes fifty or more were seen in a single bunch. Bear, antelope, panther, wild eagles, wild turkey, and other kind of wild game and animals, common to this locality, were found in countless numbers. Even today, this section is one of the wildest places in north Texas.
W. J. Hale, who had been working for the Jowell brothers for a few months, left the old ranch, March 7, 1871, and started alone on his way to Palo Pinto. When he reached what is called the Second Crossing of Ioni, about fourteen miles west of Palo Pinto, Uncle Bill was waylaid by several Indians, who made their arrows fly thick and fast. But he ran, and began firing with his six-shooters on both sides. When Mr. Hale reached the First Crossing of Ioni, eastward of the Dindy Place, a few Indians, had also entrenched themselves there. Here again, he fired two or three shots. As Uncle Bill fled eastward, he was followed by the savages until they reached the point where the Cantey Bus Station now stands. Here W. J. Hale made a halt, and when he fired with his Winchester, the Indians fell back. At each of the three places the savages were plainly visible in the bright moonlight. Uncle Bill reached Palo Pinto about eleven o'clock.
Some one heard the firing, and when the news reached the Jolly Ranch, George, Jerry, and Virgil Jowell, and Sam Conner, who were at the ranch, took W. J. Hale's trail, and followed it to Palo Pinto, for they were afraid he had been murdered by the Indians. Geo. Jowell and Sam Conner and W. J. Hale then returned to Ioni, and discovered that either an Indian or his horse had been wounded, for two bloody places were found on the ground. An arrow was also found sticking in a tree, by which W. J. Hale passed as he went up the bank of the creek.
Note: Author interviewed: W. J. Hale, mentioned above and one or two others.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.