Brit Johnson/Elm Creek Raid

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Young County, Texas
Elm Creek Raid

The Elm Creek Raid had a black hero, Brit Johnson, whose wife and children, along with other members of the settlement, were taken captive by the Kiowas. He rode alone into Indian territory where he visited Milky Way's Comanche camp. The chief was openly jealous of the Kiowas' rich plunder and agreed to help Brit negotiate ransoms with the "tricky" Kiowas.

Frederic Remington's Ridden Down Picture
"Ridden Down" by Frederic Remington on display
at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth Texas
(click on picture for larger view)

Brit traveled many times over the next few years between the Elm Creek community and Indian territory, delivering ransoms and returning with captives. In the end, the Kiowas decided they had been cheated by Brit and a few years later when Owl Prophet and a few of his Kiowas crossed the former slave's path nine miles north of Graham, they paid dearly to even the score.

Esa-Havey (Milky Way) Picture Milky Way's Wife Picture
Esa-Havey (Milky Way) and his wife.

My road trip continues back to the east on 380 until I take 1769 north to the Brit Johnson Marker. I continue a little further north from there and take the gravel road to the east which passes the old Turtle Hole where Brit was killed.

The drive toward Brit Johnson's Marker traces the Old Military-Butterfield Road. Along this route, Carter and Mackenzie led the Fourth Cavalry towards their new headquarters at Fort Richardson. Carter noted in his diary about passing a graveyard with three fresh graves. Those were Brit and his partners, protracted victims of the Elm Creek Raid.

Charles Goodnight Picture
Click on Charles Goodnight's picture (above)
for his description of the site at the Elm Creek Raid.

By far the most devastating Indian attack in North Texas was this very raid in Young County. Several movies have been based on the raid including "Black Fox" starring Christopher Reeve; and to some extent, John Ford's "The Searchers" starring John Wayne, though it more resembles the attack on Parker's Fort. Nearly a dozen soldiers and settlers were killed and that many more captured as well as ten thousand head of livestock, which represented a substantial portion of the area's wealth.

Movie Poster of The Searchers

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