Indians Storm the Lee Home

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.

Throckmorton County, Texas

    Before the war, Mrs. Dodson built an excellent frontier home near the mouth of King's Creek, in Stephens County. She had her African slaves plant a hedge of bois d' arc timber under the banks of the Clear Fork. Mrs. Dodson, herself, peddled produce at Fort Belknap and Camp Cooper.

    During 1871, this building was occupied by Pro. Abe Lee, a singing school teacher, and his family. On the 20th of June, while Satanta and Big Tree were imprisoned at Fort Richardson, Mrs. John G. (Emily) Irwin, who had been visiting at the Lee home, returned to her own residence, for the creek was rising, and cut her visit short for fear she would be unable to cross the small foot bridge.

    Mrs. Irwin had been home only a few minutes when shots were heard. It was Sunday, and now noon, or shortly afterward, and Professor Lee was sitting on the south side of his home, which faced south, when Indians slipped up the bank of King's Creek, and shot him. A young man was in the house at the time to see Miss Susan Lee, about eighteen years of age, and when the Indians appeared he disappeared and ran out the back door, through a corn patch, to the north. Corn was in tassel at the time. Cordelia Lee, about 14 years of age, attempted to follow him, but she was shot down with a big gun, and died where she fell. The Indians also killed Mrs. Millie Lee. Susan, about eighteen, Frances, a girl about ten and Johnnie Lee, who was about nine, were carried into captivity. The Clear Fork was usually high, when this tragedy occurred. It was three days before John Irwin, Johnnie Hazellett, and Den Murphy's cow outfit was able to cross and bury the dead. They were buried on the north side of the house, about fifteen steps from the back door. The Indians also killed a milk cow and a bulldog. All were scalped, excepting Cordelia, who was found in the corn patch. As usual, the Indians ripped open the feather beds, took the ticking and stripped the house of such other articles that seemed to suit their fancy. Susan Lee, Johnnie Lee, and Frances Lee were carried by the savages to Oklahoma, but later released, and conveyed home by a government escort.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: John Irwin, who helped bury the dead: Chess Tackett; Geo. Tackett; Lish Christesson: J.B. (Bud) Matthews, and other early settlers who lived in that section at the time.

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

From Ty Cashion's book, A Texas Frontier:

...Settlers along the Clear Fork of the Brazos had long escaped the most sanguinary raids, but finally they suffered an incident comparable to the nightmares endured by pioneers inhabiting the Cross Timbers. Emerging from the banks of the swollen river, a party of Comanches crept silently toward the John Lee home east of Fort Griffin as the unsuspecting family was enjoying a Sunday respite. The warriors shot the patriarch as he sat on the porch, alerting the others inside. A young suitor visiting Lee's daughter Susan bolted from the house and disappeared into a corn patch, followed by a younger daughter, Cordelia. The young girl did not reach safety, however, nor did Mrs. Lee. After killing the woman and abducting Susan and the family's two remaining children, the Indians headed northward. The water, rising ever higher, prevented neighbors from crossing the river; all they could do was view the carnage from the opposite bank and speculate as to who had been killed.

[McConnell, West Texas Frontier II, no. 711; Wood to AAAG, July 6, 1872, RG 393, FG, LS.]
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