Crawford Fight on Chick Bend Mountain

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.

Palo Pinto County, Texas

    After Jesse Veale was killed and sometime during the year 1873, or early in 1874, the Indians made a horse-stealing raid through Fortune Bend, about nine miles northwest of Palo Pinto, and stole a large Bay mare that W.C. Upton had borrowed from Al G. Crawford. Upton then lived in Fortune Bend, and Crawford lived at the Crawford or Lane Place, north of Crawford Mountain. When the mare was stolen, Upton had her tied to the front of the house, and the Indians slipped up during the night, and took her away. When Upton reported to Crawford that the horse was gone, Al G. Crawford, accompanied by a man named Valentine, fresh from the East, and inexperienced in Indian warfare, took the savages' trail. It led to the bluff, on the south side of the Chick Bend Mountain. When Crawford and his scared companion were reasonably near the cliff, they found Crawford and other citizen's horses, tied ahead in the timber, two-thirds of the distance from the little gap in this mountain, toward the mountain's most eastern point. The horses were tied north and a little west of the Chick Bend Spring, and Chick Bend schoolhouse. The Indians, at the time, were asleep under the cliff, and lying up for the day, so they could steal horses during the night. But Crawford, thought the Indians had hidden the horses, while they had gone elsewhere to find others. Eaf K. Taylor, at the time, lived on Eagle Creek, about three hundred yards above its mouth, in the little valley to the east. So Crawford, who realized his inexperienced companion could be of little or no assistance, sent the "newcomer" over to the home of Eaf K. Taylor to seek his assistance. When Valentine reached the Taylor residence, Geo. Praiter joined him and went to the assistance of Al Crawford. Taylor stayed at home, for he had only one gun, which Praiter carried. Eaf Taylor also wanted to protect his wife and little children. While Valentine had gone over to the Eaf K. Taylor place, at the mouth of Eagle, Al Crawford went to the Crawford Ranch to get his oldest son, Breckenridge Crawford, and they hurried on back to the horses for fear the Indians would arrive and carry them away. Valentine was instructed to pilot Geo. Praiter, back to the place where Al Crawford and his son, Breck, were hiding in the timber and brush, a short distance from the horses, and near the cliffs of the high Chick Bend Mountain. But when George Praiter had been piloted to a place about three hundred yards of where Crawford and his son were concealed, Valentine because scared, would go no further, and pointed out to Praiter the approximate location of Crawford and his son. Geo. Praiter, however failed to find Al and Breck Crawford. When he was near the top of the Mountain, he peeped around a large rock, and saw five Indians sound asleep under the shelving cliff, which was high above the winding Brazos below. Praiter had not yet seen Crawford, and neither had Crawford seen Praiter, but the latter dropped back, and whistled for the former in a low tone. This whistling evidently alarmed an old sleepy and rusty warrior, who seemed to have been unable to discern from what source the whistling came, or whether or not he heard a noise. Everything was quiet and still. This slowly moving Indian came from under the cliff, at the top of the tall Chick Bend Mountain, walked over to Al Crawford's stolen mare, tied only a few feet away, rested his elbow against the horse's hips, and placed his hand under his head. In this position, which presented a living statue, and living picture unexcelled in all the art galleries of America, this lone Indian looked and listened over the many miles of wasteland along the winding Brazos below. But Crawford had not yet located Praiter, and neither had Praiter been able to locate Crawford. The latter and his son could now plainly see the dreaming Indian. The target was too much of a temptation, so Al Crawford shot this hostile warrior of the wild west. When Crawford fired, the stillness of the mountain began to reverberate the report of his gun, and the red man fell to the ground, where he began to groan and moan. The sudden change of affairs took the remaining Indians completely by surprise, but finally two other warriors came out from under the bluff, and dragged the wounded Indian back into the rocks. Crawford and his son fired at these Indians also while they were carrying their wounded comrade under the cliff. Praiter was alarmed by the report of Crawford's gun, for he thought it were Indians firing, and as a consequence, retreated down the mountain. After taking time to put on their war-paint, and preparing for battle, the savages again came out from under the cliff, and began to wage war in Indian fashion. The red men yelled and jumped, and danced around not unlike drunken demons. When both Crawfor and his son, and the indians had "fired out" both factions retreated. Crawford was wounded under the arm or in his shoulder, and a portion of the bullet was removed by Dr. C.B. Raines. The remaining part, however, accompanied Al Crawford to his grave. The next day, Eaf K. Taylor, Breckenridge Crawford, and a man named Hunt scaled the mountain to the scene of the battle, and found where one, and possible two other wounded Indians had been lain on the ground by their comrades. One Indian appeared to have been mortally wounded, for he bled profusely.

    When the news of the fighting reached Palo Pinto, in a short time, Thomas Wilson, who served as sheriff of Palo Pinto County, Charlie Cowan, Dr. C.B. Raines, Henry and P. Veale, John Lynn, a brother of M.O. Lynn, and others huried to the Crawford's Ranch and Chick Bend Mountain. Dr. Raines turned his attention toward Al Crawford, who was seriously wounded. Most of the others took the Indians' trail, which led over to the mountain, where the Indians were soon found, and several shots fired. The savages, however, had more urgent business in Oklahoma, so they made a hasty retreat. They were followed on to the north, and as they went up the mountain to the west of the Bill Elgin Ranch, and near the present Lou Queen Graveyard, again the citizens fired several shots at the Indians, who finally made their escape.

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

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