Johnston’s Station

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.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

Story 1

27 March 1857; Mertzon, Texas: Johnston's Station was a small mail station on the Middle Concho River, 8 miles west of present-day San Angelo, Texas, on what would become the Butterfield Overland Stage route. Five single men and a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Evaness, ran the station. On 27 March, a large number of Comanches rode in, hoping to make a quick theft of the horses. The three employees outside with the stock ran into the station. The Indians found the horses side-hobbled with locks and chains. Unable to break the chains, the Indians cut off the horses' legs and let them die.

Approaching the station, the Comanches saw a number of rifle barrels pointing at them through the firing slots and fell back, then sent flaming arrows into the structure. Speaking in Spanish, which some of the Indians understood, the station workers said they would not fire if the Indians let them go. Figuring there would be much to plunder once they put out the flames, the Indians agreed.

As the whites emerged, fingers on the triggers of their weapons, one Indian said in English that the white woman was beautiful and he wanted her for his own. Mr. Evaness heard the comment and shot the Indian, killing him on the spot. The employees ran for cover in a grove of trees. The Comanches fired, wounding both Mr. and Mrs. Evaness. They might have killed all the workers if a stagecoach had not appeared on the road. Believing the coach signaled the approach of a troop of dragoons, the Indians hastily left the station.

Story 2

15 June 1872; Mertzon, Texas: A band of Indians, perhaps Comanches, attacked Johnston's Station, a small mail station 20 miles west of Fort Concho. A detachment of Company H, 11th Infantry, under a Cpl. Hickey, defended the station without casualties, killing two Indians.

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