J.B. Earhart Ranch Fights

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.

Jack County, Texas

    Gus and Silas Morrow, sons of James Morrow, who lived on the west fork of the Trinity, about thirteen miles east of Jacksboro were clearing timber about one-half mile south of their home. When they went to their work early in the morning, the boys noticed an unusually large pie-melon as they passed through the field. When they returned home for dinner this melon was gone, and moccasin tracks were seen nearby. As a consequence, James Morrow sent his sons to the ranch of J.B. Earhart, who lived about five miles further north to notify them to be on the lookout for Indians.

    When Gus Morrow brought the news to Mr. Earhart, the latter staked two horses in a little wheat field near the house as a trap. After dark J.B. Earhart, Joe L. Harden, and Jess Earhart, an African, concealed themselves inside of the field's fence between the two horses. According to reports two Indians, after dark, appeared as decoys for the white men, to attract their attention in one direction, while two other savages in another direction were after the horses. But regardless of whether or not these Indians were separated for that or another purpose, both factions were discovered by the citizens and the African secreted in a corner of the fence. When J.B. Earhart fired his shotgun loaded with nine pistol balls seven of them struck an Indian in his chest, and an eighth ball supposed to have hit the other warrior, for his belt was knocked from his body. The second Indian, however, was able to run away. The citizens were unable to shoot any more on account of a favorite horse, causing considerable disturbance. When the citizens reached the dead Indian he had been slain so instantly, the warrior held three arrows in his hand.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: E.P. (Lif) Earhart, son of J.B. Earhart and others who lived in Jack County at the time.

Second Indian Fight at J.B. Earhart's Ranch

    The Indians near the close of the war became so troublesome, J.B. Earhart moved his family from the edge of Jack Co. over into Wise, and located on the J.H. Martin Ranch, about fifteen miles west of Decatur. The Martin and Earhart families "forted up" at this place for mutual protection, and their homes were about one mile north of the west fork of the Trinity.

    About one o'clock in the afternoon during August of 1865, Neeley Butler and orphan boy, discoveNative Americans running horses about seventy-five yards eastward of the Earhart Ranch. Two of the horses the savages were attempting to steal were the same two staked in the field mentioned in a preceding section. When young Neely Butler reported to Mr. Earhart, who was behind the house, somewhere in the backyard, the latter ran through his residence and picked up a Kerr rifle, a longrange gun, that James Harden brought back from the Civil War. He attempted to overtake the Indians, one of whom was leading a pony and the other two driving hobble horses. When Mr. Earhart shot, the Indian leading the pony, fell over on his horses neck, and the other two rushed to his aid. During the succeeding day, when reinforcements arrived, the citizens followed the Indian trail, and a short distance away found bloody rags, which the two remaining Indians had used to attempt to stop the flow of blood of their companion.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: E.P. (Lif) Earhart, son of J.B. Earhart, and others who lived in Jack County at the time.

Third Indian Fight at J.B. Earhart's Ranch

    A short time after the two fights mentioned above in the preceding sections, Neeley Butler, during the middle of the afternoon, discovered a trail of horses moving through the edge of the timber, and near the home of J.B. Earhart, on the J.H. Martin Ranch in Wise Co. The trail of these horses particularly attracted Neeley Butler's attention because James Burton who lived to the east of Decatur, ate dinner at the J.B. Earhart ranch during that same day, and was hunting his lost horses, which the Indians had stolen, but which he thought voluntarily strayed away. Some strange horses were seen in the timber. So young Neeley Butler conveyed the news to J.B. Earhart, who picked up a shotgun and a six-shooting rifle, and started toward the horses. The shotgun was handed to young Butler, and when they had gone about 500 yards from the house, about 35 Indians dashed upon them. J.B. Earhart and the boy retreated toward the house, and after running a short distance, suddenly stopped and made a stand to cause the Indians to fall back. When they were again closely crowded, they made a second stop, and again the Indians fell back. During the third run they successfully reached the house, but the Indians stole and captured the same two horses which had played a prominent part in the preceding two fights.

    After Mr. Earhart reached his home, he continued to fire at the savages. Mrs. J.B. Earhart, his faithful wife, would load his gun, and Mr. Earhart did the shooting.

The above stories are from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

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