Josephus and Frank Browning

    The Browning Ranch on Hubbard Creek, not a great distance from its mouth, was a well known place during the pioneer days. This ranch was near the present town of Crystal Falls, in Stephens County. During the middle of June 1860, Josephus and Frank Browning, sons of William Browning, were out riding the range in search of cattle. When the noon hour arrived, these boys were below the mouth of Hubbard's creek and about one mile from the Clear Fork, in a mesquite and live oak flat. Since it was extremely hot weather, they decided to stop under the shade of a tree and let their horses graze. A short time later, they heard Indians coming. So the Browning boys hurriedly cut the hobbles from their ponies and started away. Since Josephus had more difficulty with his horse, he was soon overtaken by Indians and killed. Frank being badly wounded, fell from his saddle when he crossed Hubbard's Creek. Frank's pony, with two arrows sticking in his body, ran to the ranch. Wm. Browning instantly knew Indians had attacked his sons. So he, in company with others, took the back trail of the pony. When Frank was found at a crossing of Hubbard's Creek about one and a half miles east of the present town of Crystal Falls, was still conscious and able to relate the story to this father. Frank stated, "I stayed with Joe until he was killed, then I ran away from the Indians." He also told his father the feathered warriors attempted to grab his bridle rains. But when he shot two or three of their number, the Indians fell back. William Browning then sent to the ranch for a wagon, and after Frank was carried home, the relief party brought in the body of Josephus. Frank was wounded about seventeen different times and at least two or three arrows passed completely through his body. But under the care and treatment of a doctor summoned from Fort Belknap, he recovered. His death, however, about twenty years later, largely attributed to the old wounds.

    The living witnesses interviewed by the author slightly differ concerning what the boys were doing at the moment the Indians charged. But we sincerely believe this one of the most accurate accounts of this Indian killing that has ever been written.

    Before writing this story, the author went to Oklahoma to personally interview J. S. Schoolcraft, whose sister married Frank Browning; also went to San Antonio to interview Walker Baylor, who saw the corpse of Josephus Browning and whose brought back nine of the scalps of the particular Indians who murdered Josephus. Also interviewed J. R. Browning, a cousin, F. M. Peveler, J. V. Mathews, James Clark, and others who were living in Stephens and adjoining counties, when Josephus Browning was killed.

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

close