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James Billings and Son, John

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. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Gillespie County, Texas

    January 31, 1863, James Billings, accompanied by his son John, was hunting hogs on the head of Willow Creek, about fifteen miles northeast of Fredericksburg, and about three miles from Mr. Billings home, when surrounded by twenty warriors. It was early in the morning, the two were horse-back and in a short time each sustained five wounds, similar in many respects. John was then ten years old. He was also struck in the head with a stone, which cut an ugly gash. Mr. Billings and his son were left for dead by the savages, who took their horses. Little John who displayed the wisdom often lacking in many grown men, continued to appear dead while the savages were present. But after the Indians had gone, in his almost unconscious condition and as badly wounded as he was, staggered to the home of Mr. Cadwell, where he was kindly received, tenderly treated, and in due time recovered from his wounds.

    Little John thought he left his father dead, but when sufficient men were mustered to go bring in his body, it was discovered he had crawled a considerable distance, and was found near the creek where he had gone for water. Here he died, and when found, was both scalped and stripped of his clothing, excepting perhaps a sock on one foot. Will Walker, Wesley Cadwlll, and Mr. Davis numbered among those who brought in Mr. Billings. A wife and eight children, as well as others, were left to mourn his death. Little John got well, grew to manhood, raised a large family and lived until 1918.

    Note: Before writing this section, the author was furnished a written account of this terrible tragedy by Mr. Stockman, and wife Rebecca Stockman, a daughter of John Billings, and the only survivor of the Billings Family. The author also interviewed others.

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

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