False and Determined Ideas

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.

Clay County, Texas
False and Determined Ideas Lead Goddleck Koozer to His Grave

    About 1870, Goodleck Koozer, a quaker from Illinois, and his family passed through Montague, on their way to establish a colony in Clay County while the Indians were as hostile as they were. But Koozer said that it was suicidal to move into Clay County while the Indians were as hostile as they were. But Koozer said that he had never waged war against the Indians, never carried arms, and that he was going to live on peaceful terms with the savages, whom he felt sure would respond to kind treatment, if they only had a chance. Unfortunately, Mr. Koozer was totally unaware of the conditions as they existed on the frontier, for he, like many people in the north and east, at that time, seemed to be of the opinion that the people along the frontier were to blame for the prevailing difficulties; and that the Indians would readily respond in a friendly way to kind treatment.

    We can appreciate Mr. Koozer's efforts 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 the facts, and we sincerely feel that it is not only our liberty, but duty as well, to make this brief explanation in behalf of those faithful frontiersmen, and patriotic pioneers, who suffered inconceivable hardships to blaze the pathway of our present civilization.

    But regardless of the appeals of local citizens, Mr. Koozer moved out into Clay County, and occupied the deserted buildings of Henrietta. These buildings were abandoned at the outbreak of the Civil War. Indians and others, from time to time, had passed and entered the deserted village. But Mr. Koozer and his family occupied this place as a home, and determined to make friendship with the Indians.

    What was the result? After they had been there a short time, chief Whitehorse, who was wearing a large head-garb, similar to those worn today by certain bandmasters, and his warriors, came by Henrietta. When the Indians arrived, Mr. Koozer came out to meet them, and extended his hand in token of peace and friendship, but Whitehorse held Mr. Koozer's hand with his left, pulled his six-shooter, and killed Mr. Koozer with the gun in his right hand. Mrs. Koozer and her two grown daughters were made captives and carried away. Ed Koozer, about eleven years old, was out after the calves at that time, and hid when he saw the Indians. After being in the hands of the Indians for several months, the soldiers and citizens at Fort Sill, secured their release, and escorted Mrs. Koozer and her daughters back to Montague. When she told her story, Chief Whitehorse was indicted. W.A. (Bud) Morris and District Clerk of Montague County at the time. He issued a warrant and sent it to the government authorities in Oklahoma, but they refused to surrender Chief Whitehorse. Joe Bryant and several other citizens went from Montague over to Henrietta to bury the body of Mr. Koozer, who was killed while attempting to make peace with the Indians.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: Joe Bryant, and W.A. (Bud) Morris, mentioned above.

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

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.

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