Berry (Coon) Keith and Others Kill and Wound Indians

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.

Erath County, Texas

    We are not quite sure of the date of the two incidents related at this time, but they occurred sometime during the Civil War or shortly afterward, and will be reported at this time.

    On one occasion Berry (Coon) Keith, Johnny Owens and sons, Alfred and John Thomas Owens, were on the second bank of Armstrong about 11 miles from Dublin to cut meat sticks to be used in smoking the winter's supply of meat. Horses were heard running, so John Thomas Owens was instructed to climb upon the bank and ascertain what was causing the disturbance. He soon hurried back and stated that Indians were after the horses. So Berry (Coon) Keith pulled his six-shooter, ran upon the bank and shot at an Indian trying to rope his pony. This savage fell on his horse's neck and rapidly rode away. At the same time, some of his comrades came to his assistance.

    On another occasion Coon Keith, Ross, James Dunn and Mr. Simpson, and about one or two others were following an Indian trail, and came upon the savages at Flat Creek, about two miles northeast of the present town of Victor in Erath County. Berry (Coon) Keith and Simpson fired at the same time, and one of the two mortally wounded a savage. Berry Keith was allowed to scalp this Indian to avenge the death of his brother, whom the Indians killed in the Ellison Spring Fight during 1864. This Indian, of course, was killed after that time, but these two incidents are reported together.

    Note: Author personally interviewed Mrs. Berry Keith, her sisters and others who were living in Comanche, Erath and Eastland Counties at the time.

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

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