Murder of Mullen’s and Fight of W.C. McAdams and Others

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.

Palo Pinto County, Texas

    During the summer of 1872, Capt. W.C. McAdams and a Mr. Wilson, who were in Weatherford and preparing to go west agreed to travel together for mutual protection.

    McAdams was accompanied by one of his cowboys. Wilson also had with him a new employee named Mullens and a boy about fifteen years of age. McAdams and his companion were ahead, and upon reaching Rock Creek thought, they heard a strange noise on the hill. So he stopped and waiting for the others, who soon arrived. Mullens was driving a wagon. Wilson and the boy drove several head of horses and brought up the rear. After holding a short consultation, the four men and fifteen-year-old boy remained closer together and started on westward. When they reached Loving's Valley, and were near the Palo Pinto-Parker county line, these pioneer citizens saw a large number of Indians standing in the road, approximately two hundred yards ahead.

    McAdams stopped his wagon, and ordered Mullens to drive his vehicle about eight or ten feet to the side. They then unhitched their teams, put the wagon-seats over the end of the wagons, and Capt. McAdams stepped out, and told the Indians, that if they wanted to fight, they were ready. Wilson and the boy tied their horses to the wagon, and after McAdams made his dare, the savages mounted their steeds, and began to circle around the citizen's fortification. In a short time, an Indian a long distance away, fired, and the bullet accidentally struck Mullens in the head, killing him instantly. The Indian that did the shooting, took aim over a tree. When Mullens fell, according to reports, Wilson said, "Let's run," and about that time, mounted their horses. McAdams said, "Aren't you going to let us ride behind you?" But, according to reports, Wilson and the boy hurried on south, and were followed by McAdams and his employees, who were afoot. When McAdams and his associate, however, reached the timber, about 150 yards away, they turned abruptly to the right, and when the Indians came dashing along, they went straight ahead after Wilson and the boy. McAdams and his employee circled through the timber and finally found their way to Old Black Springs, about ten miles to the northwest. Wilson and the boy turned east and went into Parker County, and reported to the citizens in the Dry Creek Community. When they did, Billy Garrison, one of the McCluskeys, and others, came back to the wagons, wrapped Mullens in a wagon sheet, and placed him in a tree, where they intended to leave him until morning.

    After Capt. W.C. McAdams reported at Black Springs, A.M. Lasater, James Wood, Lee Wood, Tobe Palmer, Silas Sheek, Wiley Peters, accompanied by Capt. W.C. McAdams and his employee, also returned to the wagon. They found Mullens in the tree. In one of the wagons, the citizens left a jug of whiskey. It has always been supposed this jug was drained dry by the Indians, who also took some tobacco, and other supplies.

    The party from Black Springs agreed to go home and return the next morning.

    The next morning, the same party from Black Springs returned to the scene of the difficulty, and found Mullens, a short distance from the wagon, hanging in a tree. Shortly afterwards, about twelve citizens from Parker county, accompanied by Wilson and the fifteen year old boy arrived. In a little while, Horton Williams, John Lasater, Martin Lane, and Jack Vaughan, with cowhands, also reached the scene. So, in a short time, there were thirty-two men present. Since the Indians had taken the mules and harness away, the citizens decided to tie lariat ropes to the tongue of a wagon and pull it with their horses. In this way, Mullens body was moved to the graveyard, about one mile east of the present town of Salesville.

    About the time they were ready to start, McAdams said that he had bought a new set of harness, and wanted to follow the Indian trail, for he felt sure they hung the harness in the tree, not a great distance away. Consequently, twelve citizens went with the wagon to bury the dead, and the remaining twenty followed the Indian trail.

    True to expectations, the harness was found about one-half mile north. Some of the citizens then proposed to follow the trail further, but Capt. McAdams said, "No, those Indians may be sixty miles from here."

    They then turned around and rode back about 100 yards. A.M. Lasater said, "Boys let's go and see where they went." So A.M. Lasater, James Wood, Wiley Peter, Billy Garrison, and John Lasater followed the Indian trail about 600 yards farther north. Here, A.M. Lasater said, "Boys, I saw something move in the brush about 200 yards ahead. The five citizens then dismounted, and about that time, A.M. Lasater, who was one of the first on the ground saw a savage riding a "flea-bitten" gray horse, and this Indian appeared to have a calico skirt around his body. Some one then said, "Hold on boys, that is our own crowd," for Lee Wood was riding a speckled horse of that description. But shortly afterwards, Indians were discovered.

    John Lasater was riding an inferior steed and since Capt. McAdams had reported there were forty-five Indains, he hesitated to go. Garrison then said, "Somebody that is riding a good horse, follow me and we will follow them." A.M. Lasater agreed to go, then the two started out without knowing whether or not the three remaining citizens would follow. When they had gone a short distance, they discovered the Indians, and dismounted. Garrison fired first, and this scared Lasater's horse, causing his shot to go wild. The Indians then mounted their steeds and took after the two citizens, who retreated toward McAdams and the others, but A.M. Lasater fell behind to cover John Lasater, who was on a slow pony. When the five reached McAdams and the remaining citizens, they stopped. A.M. Lasater, thinking the others were following, started again for the Indians. McAdams said, "Stop, you! ____fool, you will get killed." So Lasater stopped, and for the first time discovered the others were not following. A.M. Lasater and Wiley Peters were then detailed to go to the graveyard for the others. They rode within a half mile of the graveyard, waved their hats and hollowed. Then the second bunch of citizens joined Capt. McAdams and his command. The trail was then followed for about ten miles, but the Indians, who realized there was a large bunch of citizens, fled as rapidly as possible to avoid a fight.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: A.M. Lasater; James Wood; Martin Lane, and Wiley Peters; all mentioned above; also interviewed: Bud Ham; Mrs. and Mr. W.B. Slaughter, daughter and son-in-law of Capt. W.C. McAdams; and others.

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

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