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.

Picture of Clay County Jail

Clay County 1890 Jail Museum-Heritage Center

The following story is from the book, Ninety-Four Years in Jack County 1854-1948, by Ida Lasater Huckabay.

    Among the most noted Texas cowtowns in the frontier days was Henrietta, Clay County. Clay County (named for Henry Clay), of which Henrietta is the county seat, was created and surveyed in 1857. Red River forms its northern and part of its eastern boundary. Its fertile valleys, naturally found favor in the eyes of the early settlers.

    The county was organized in 1860. We shall make no attempt to give historic facts other than give brief accounts of the pioneer cattlemen of this section.

    Captain J. B. Earhart formerly of Jack and Wise County, father of Lif Earhart of Lubbock, was perhaps, the first man to locate a ranch in Clay County. He located near the mouth of Post Oak on the Little Wichita.

    Charlie Wantling established a ranch also on the Little Wichita, a few miles northwest of Henrietta. Next cattlemen to arrive were Jim Dumas and E. Emmerson, who located northeast some three or four miles from Henrietta. Later came Calvin Smith, Harris Forsythe, Perry and Levi Wilson, and Willis Sparks. Some of these cattlemen located at the mouth of the East Fork of Little Wichita.

    It is evident that George Shelton, Tip Mooney, Ben Hubert and John Carter located on or near Red River at an early day. Dan Waggoner made a location near the mouth of Duck Creek in 1860 or 1861. The outbreak of the Civil War caused the entire population to relinquish the territory to the Indians. Ed. Wolffarth and family were the last to vacate.

    From Mrs. Molly O' Sullivan, we learned much concerning the family's departure (Mrs. O' Sullivan is the daughter of Ed Wolffarth). It seems that Mr. Wolffarth had gone to Gainesville and was employed there by Chas. Goodnight. One by one the families departed. Mrs. Wolffarth refused to move until she could hear from her husband. Late in the night, at a distance, could be heard the rumbling of an ox wagon and the driver urging the weary teams on.

    Presently, Chas. Goodnight's wagon paused in the road some distance from the Wolffarth cabin and Chas. Goodnight appeared in person and urged Mrs. Wolffarth to gather the children and rush to the wagons, which she did, taking only what little clothing she could collect. The family spent some time at Gainesville and it was, during their stay that Mrs. O' Sullivan acquired the nickname of Molly from Mrs. Molly Goodnight. Mrs. O' Sullivan said the family, in their hurried flight, left all household goods, the winter supply of meat, lard, etc. When Mr. Wolffarth decided it was safe to return to Clay County home, the house was empty and buffaloes had sought refuge from the weather therein. After the war closed, A Dr. Eldridge of Illinois, brought a colony of some eight or ten families and attempted a settlement. They were warned against locating near Henrietta; but many people in the East had the mistaken idea, that if white immigrants displayed a friendly spirit the "Indians would meet them more than half way," and such was the experience of some of these Illinois families, only the Indians went all the way-coming in and massacring many.

    One Mr. Goodleck Koozer, a Quaker from Illinois, turned a deaf ear to all warning and moved into the deserted buildings of Henrietta, determined to make friends with the Indians. Shortly after, Chief White Horse came by Henrietta with his warriors. Mr. Koozer went out to extend greetings. Old White Horse held Mr. Koozer's hand with his left, pulled his six shooter with his right, and killed Mr. Koozer. Mrs. Koozer and two grown daughters were carried away. The little boy, Ed, was out after the cows and hid, when he saw the Indians. Mrs. Koozer and the daughters were released after several months. Through the efforts of citizens and soldiers, a warrant was issued for White Horse and sent to government authorities in Oklahoma, but they refused to surrender White Horse.

From J. Carroll McConnell's West Texas Frontier, page 250, we take the following:

    "We can appreciate Mr. Koozer's effort to introduce the word of God among the savages, but we cannot fully appreciate his mistaken ideas that seemed to be in accord with certain citizens and historians in remote sections of the United States, who seemed to attempt to saddle the responsibility of the frontier affairs on the shoulders of the citizens and who entertained the idea that practically all the depredations were being done by renegade ruffians of our own race. Such ideas were not supported by facts, and we sincerely feel that it is not only our liberty but our duty as well, to make this brief explanation in behalf of those faithful and patriotic pioneers who suffered considerable hardships to blaze the pathway for our present civilization."

    Most of the decade was relatively prosperous for the settlers, despite deadly weather, animals, and Indian raids. Wives and children joined husbands; tents became cabins; herds expanded and fields were cleared for cultivation. Those few who found dependable water sources, despite the danger considered themselves fortunate.

Following the Kiowa's attack on the Warren Wagon Train, the bulk of the warriors headed north with their loot and stories of victory. A few unfortunates chose to hang around North Texas a little too long.

The following story is from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

    Quitan and Tomasi, Mexican-captive members of the Kiowa tribe, were great buffalo hunters. Together with two other Kiowas they lingered behind the main body to kill some buffalo, which then were running in from the west and swimming the river. They had slaughtered twelve or more, and were engaged in cutting them up when they were surprised by twenty-five men of the Fourth Cavalry under Lieutenant Peter M. Boehm. Boehm was returning to Fort Richardson after a thirty-day scout. In the sharp exchange of shots which followed, one trooper and two horses of Lieutenant Boehm's detachment were wounded. Tomasi and his horse were killed. The other Indians sprang on their ponies, mingled with the buffalo herd, and swam the river. When the main body of Indians heard the shots and saw the fugitives flying toward them they raced away. Quitan brought up the rear. The ground was soft and muddy. When the Indians stopped to catch their breath Quitan arrived, covered with mud thrown up by the flying hoofs. They gave him a big laugh and went on their way north. Boehm's men scalped Tomasi. They took the scalp to Fort Richardson, where Boehm presented it as a souvenir to the regimental adjutant, Lieutenant Carter.

    Although the Kiowa raiders were burdened with the wounded Hau-tau, they moved rapidly across Red River and regained their village safely. A few days later Hau-tau died. "The screw worms got into his head," they explain. The death of Hau-tau brought the Indian fatalities to a total of three: Or-dlee, Tomasi, and Hau-tau. But the Indians were more than satisfied. They had killed seven whites, captured forty-one mules, and brought back much other plunder. They felt full of pride and importance.

The following story is from the book, Los Comanches, The Horse People 1751-1845 by Stanley Noyes.

    Three years later, during the 1874 Red River Campaign, according to Carter, a Lieutenant Peter M. Boehm was leading a detachment of scouts at some distance from General Ranald Mackenzie’s 4th Cavalry. Besides the lieutenant the group consisted of a Sergeant Charlton, a trooper named McCabe, and two Tonkawas. Abruptly the detail came upon four Comanches sitting on the grass, holding the reins of their horses. The warriors leapt for their ponies. Three of them managed to mount, while the fourth somehow lost his reins, permitting his pony to flee. Lieutenant Boehm shot the horse from under one of the braves, who immediately engaged him in combat, until the officer finally killed him. The two remaining mounted warriors fled, with McCabe and the Tonkawas in pursuit. Meanwhile Sergeant Charlton directed himself toward the warrior whose distant pony was becoming a puff of dust.

    This Comanche, who was broad-shouldered and well over six feet tall, was taking deliberate aim with his bow at the lieutenant. Sergeant Charlton shot him before he could release the arrow. In response the warrior discharged a series of arrows at Charlton, whose horse had been plunging and throwing its head each time the American tried to aim his carbine. During the sergeant’s struggle with his horse, an arrow drove through his thigh, pinning him to the saddle. The warrior, having used all his arrows, now began firing his rifle, with one shot striking the sergeant’s left hand and tearing away parts of two fingers. In spite of this, Charlton finally managed to aim and pull off a round that “shattered the Indian’s hips and lower spine.” But the Comanche laughed, “tossed his black mane from over his eyes and kept on firing,” continuing to do so until Charlton shot him through the head.

    Later the sergeant examined the body of his dead foe. He discovered it bore nine bullet holes, “any one of which should have killed an ordinary man.” The tall warrior would have been considered an exceptionally brave person in any culture. But in his fight to the death, he personified a Comanche ideal. Not every man, or woman, could live up to it. The ideal, though, was that of a kind of courage able to inspire and motivate the entire People.

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