Nocona’s 1860 Raid

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.

Jack County, Texas
Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section)
John Brown | Gage Family | Landman Family | Mrs. Martha Sherman | Mrs. Martha Sherman (Second Story) | Further Activities of Indians During This Same Raid | Battle of Pease River
Landman Family

    When the Indians made their appearance at the home of James Landman on the 26th day of November, 1860, it was the beginning of one of the most far reaching raids ever made on the West Texas frontier. Furthermore, no foray ever perpetrated by the Indians on the pioneers of the West, excels the massacres to be related to exemplify the treachery and brutality of the wild hordes of the plains.

    Because of this gigantic raid, the exasperated citizens, rangers and soldiers determined to carry the war to the Indians' own doors, and to see the Indians paid dearly for this and the following dastardly deeds. When this policy of retaliation was pursued, the Indians were not only crushed, but Cynthia Ann Parker recaptured, after being in the hands of the savages for more than twenty-four years.

    Volumes have been written about the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker, but few times, if ever, has a complete story of her recapture ever been told. Much has been written about the fight in which she was recovered, but little has been said about this particular raid, which was the direct cause of the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker. And of the two phases of this very important frontier history, the part that has been heretofore left untold, from the standpoint of history, is equal or superior to the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker herself.

    James Landman and family lived about four and three-quarters miles northeast of Jacksboro, and about three-quarters of mile east of the home of Calvin Gage, who lived on Lost Creek. It was the 26th day of November, 1860. James Landman and his fourteen year old stepson named Will, were about one and a quarter miles to the east cutting timber. Mrs. Landman, Jane Masterson, a young lady, Katherine Masterson, also a young lady about fifteen or sixteen years of age, Lewis Landman, a son, six or seven years old; and John Landman, a baby were at the house.

    A large band of Indians came from the north down Hall's Creek, and charged the home of James Landman. Mrs. Landman and her seven-year-old son Lewis, were brutally murdered by the barbarians, and the baby, John, left unharmed. Jane and Katherine, for they placed her on a horse. But poor Jane was roped and dragged the entire distance. Before they left, the warriors cut open the feather beds, took the ticking and emptied the feathers on the floor and ground. They also took other things that suited their fancy.

    After leaving the Landman home a horrible scene, the blood-thirsty warriors, with Katherine on a horse, and Jane dragging on the ground, started to the home of Calvin Gage, to further murder, pilfer and plunder.

    Mrs. Landman and her son Lewis were buried at Jacksboro.

Gage Family

    When the Indians reached the home of Calvin Gage, the following people were present: Mrs. Calvin Gage, Mrs. Katy Sanders, a mother-in-law, Matilda Gage, age fourteen; Johnathan Gage, age five; Polly Gage, age one and a half, and Mary Ann Fowler, age about ten years.

    Joseph Fowler, about sixteen, brother of Mary Ann Fowler, and son of Mrs. Gage by a former husband, had penned one ox and was down in the pasture, at the time, almost a mile from home, in search of another.

    When the Indians arrived at the frontier home of Calvin Gage, who was away, they shot and killed Jane Masterson, dragged from her home in the manner mentioned in the preceding section. The Indians brutally slaughtered Mrs. Katy Sanders. They also shot Mrs. Calvin Gage, several times with arrows, knocked her in the head and left her for dead. Polly was also seriously wounded and left to die a lingering death. But she and her mother recovered. The death of Mrs. Gage, however, several years later was largely attributed to this horrible onslaught of the savages. The Indians also shot Mary Ann Fowler and Johnathan Gage. And to appease their peculiar sense of humor tossed one of the babies of Mrs. Gage high up in the air only to see it fall flat on the ground. To intensify the excruciating pain of this innocent little infant, it was again several times tossed backward over an Indian's shoulder.

    Then at the home of Calvin Gage, the Indians murdered Mrs. Katy Sanders, mother of Mrs. Gage, and left the latter dead; they also left Jonathan Gage, Polly Gage, and Mary Ann Fowler badly wounded. No doubt, the Indians thought each would die. They killed Jane Masterson as has already been related. These brutal barbarians then ripped open seven feather beds and emptied the feathers on the ground; and after pilfering and plundering to their hearts content, rode away and took with them Katherine Landman, Matilda Gage, and little Hiram Fowler. Matilda and Katherine, both about fourteen years of age were savagely abused, stripped of most of their clothes and then released.

    By this time the girls could hear Joseph Fowler driving the belled oxen, which had strolled away. Consequently, instead of returning home, in their pitiable condition, they hurried to convey the news to Joseph Fowler, for fear he would run into and be massacred by the Indians. The three cautiously hurried to the house, and Joseph Fowler personally told the author that it was impossible to conceive of the terrible scene he saw on that occasion. A cold wind was coming from the north and feathers were so badly scattered, they resembled snow. Joseph and the two girls carried Mrs. Gage and Mary Ann into the house, but Jonathan and Polly were able to walk.

    As soon as possible, Dr. S.A. Cole and Dr. Milton Hays were called to the aid of the injured, all of whom in due time recovered. But the death of Mrs. Gage several years later, was attributed to her old wounds. About one year after this tragedy the bones of little Hiram were found several miles away, where he had either been murdered by the savages or turned loose to starve. So up to this time the Indians had killed five people, left four for dead, and carried Katherine Landman and Matilda Gage several hundred yards from home.

    A little later during the same day after the Indians charged the home of these two frontier families, news was narrated in all directions, and a posse of men was soon on the Indian's trail. Joseph Fowler left the bedside of his dead and wounded, to convey the sad news to James Landman and his stepson were just ready to start for home, and can we really imagine the shocking effect of this sad news? And again can we realize the paralyzing effect of the horrible scene which presented itself to Mr. Landman at the time he reached his frontier home? Joe Fowler then crossed the creek to the home of Wiley Gunter, John Fowler, etc., to relate to them his sad story. When he returned home, it was already dark. Numbers of people at that time had gathered in. Needless to say, every able bodied person was ready to shoulder arms against the savages. For such a sight they had never before seen.

    Note: Before writing this and the preceeding section the author personally interviewed Joseph Fowler himself, a stepson of Calvin Gage, and the same Joseph Fowler who was driving the belled oxen, when this tragedy lccurred.

    Also interviewed A.M. Lasater, whose father-in-law was murdered by these same Indians the following day, B.L. Ham, James Wood, and others who were then living in that section.

John Brown
Picture of Mary Tarkington Brown Crawford
Mary Tarkington Brown Crawford (circa 1832-1916), widow of John Brown, who, in November 1860, was killed, scalped, and mutilated by the Comanches near his home located sixteen miles northwest of Weatherford and about four miles southeast of Whitt. Mary Brown was struck in the forehead by a Comanche warrior's arrow, leaving a pronounced "widow's peak" along her hairline. Mrs. Brown later married Simpson Crawford, noted frontier rancher of Palo Pinto County.
(From the book, Savage Frontier, by Stephen L. Moore)

    At the time of this particular raid, there were less than two hundred families living in Jack County. Since it was reasonably certain the savages would extend their foray further on into the settlements, the local citizens hastily dispatched a messenger to Weatherford, for aid and to alarm the people. At that time John Brown was living sixteen miles northwest of Weatherford, near Rock Creek, and on the Weatherford-Jacksboro Road. The messenger reached his home just before day, November 27, 1860. From Mr. Brown, this "Paul Revere" of the Western Frontier secured a fresh horse and hurried to Weatherford. Mr. Brown had about thirty-five head of horses penned in the peach orchard near the house. About sunrise he saddled one of his slowest ponies, and started to the home of Mr. Thompson, his neighbor, who lived about two miles to the West. Since the Indians had not been previously depredating in that section he told his wife before he rode away, that the Native tribespeople would not come that far south on this particular raid, but would eventually do so. He then started unarmed on a slow pony to the Tompson home.

    About thirty minutes after Mr. Brown had gone, and before reached the home of Mr. Thompson, two of his slaves, an African woman, and a boy about fourteen years of age, were on the outside of this yard a short distance to the southwest of the John Brown home. This house was newly constructed and was one and a half story "Log Cabin mansion."

    To their sudden amazement, when they looked up the road towards Jacksboro, and saw about fifty or sixty Indians riding rapidly towards the house, the African Woman told the boy they must hide or else be killed. This brave African lad said, "No. I'll die with de misses and chilluns." The African woman then ran and hid in the high grass in the peach orchard, but the boy hurried to the house and related to Mrs. Brown, the Indians were coming. The approaching warriors could now be plainly seen. Mrs. Brown hurriedly gathered the following children: Mary, about ten years of age, John, about eight, Teranna, about five, and Seaph, about two months old, and took them upstairs. She then closed the trap door. About this moment it was discovered that Annie, about two and one half years of age, was missing, So the brave African boy named Anthony Brown, after the Indians had completely surrounded the house, rushed down stairs in search of Annie. She was found playing in the African cabin, about thirty feet from the house. Annie at the time was dipping ashes with a spoon. The African boy and the colored boy carried little Annie upstairs. About this time Mrs. Brown heard the rattling of chains, and since her husbands bridle reins had chains next to the bits, she thought it was he coming. So she looked out of a window and said, "Have you come." About that moment she discovered a savage in the very act of shooting her. So she jerked back only in time to receive an arrow in her ear. This weapon struck the window facing, where she had been standing.

    During this exciting time, the Indians were also chasing the horses in the orchard and the African woman then hiding in the tall grass later stated that if she had not been hidden under the tree, the Indians would have ridden over her several times.

    The blood thirsty savages cut the bell from one of the horses, and started the herd westward toward the home of Mr. Thompson. They had gone only about one-half mile, when the warriors met Mr. Brown unarmed. He was soon killed with a lance, and scalped. But it is generally supposed he wounded one of the warriors with a pocket knife, for evidences of a wounded Indian were later discovered.

    The Indians continued their course westward, crossed the line from Parker into Palo Pinto County, and next appeared to exact their toll of human lives, at the home of Ezra Sherman, who lived on Stagg's Prairie, then known as Betty Prairie, and located a few miles north and east of the present city of Mineral Wells.

    Note: Before writing this article, the author personally interviewed A.M. Lasater, who on June 8th, 1876, married Annie Brown, the little daughter playing in the ashes with a spoon when rescued by Anthony, the African boy. Mr. Lasater not only heard his mother-in-law many times relate this story, but remembers the occurrence himself, for he was a boy several years of age when this occurred.

    Also interviewed Mrs. Wm. Metcalf, Mrs. H.G. Taylor, Mrs. Huse Bevers, James Wood, E.K. Taylor, Joseph Fowler, Mrs. M.J. Hart, B.L. Ham, James Eubanks, Mrs. Wm. Porter, and others who were living in Palo Pinto and Parker County at the time.

Mrs. Martha Sherman

In his book, Indian Depredations in Texas, J.W. Wilbarger provides an account of the murder of Mrs. Sherman, which appears below:

Sherman story by Wilbarger

Sherman story by Wilbarger

Sherman story by Wilbarger

Sherman story by Wilbarger


Picture of Ezra Sherman
Ezra Sherman

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

    Mrs. Sherman's maiden name was Martha Johnson, a sister of Jerry Johnson, an early settler of Parker County. She had been previously married and later wedded to Ezra Sherman. They moved to Staggs Prairie in Palo Pinto County, and lived there only a short time before this raid. Mr. and Mrs. Sherman made their home in a small log cabin.

    On November 27, 1860, Mr. and Mrs. Sherman and children were eating dinner, when the same Indians mentioned in the preceding sections, surrounded their home. Some of the warriors stepped in the door and told the family to "Vamoose." Ezra Sherman then took his wife and children and started east toward their nearest neighbor, who lived on Rock Creek in Parker County. Mr. Sherman, like Mr. Brown was unprepared to fight and had no guns at home.

    When this pioneer family reached a point about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards east of their residence, about six of the warriors suddenly dashed up, took Mrs. Sherman by the hair of the head and started back toward the house. Mr. Sherman was again advised by the Indians to "Vamoose." The oldest child, a son of Mrs. Sherman by her former husband, hid in a brush pile where he could see all that transpired. Mr. Sherman with the two smaller children went on to the home of a neighbor.

    The wife and mother was then carried back toward the house, being robbed by the remaining Indians. When the blood-thirsty barbarians dragged Mrs. Sherman, to a point, about two hundred yards from the house, she was tortured in an inconceivable manner. This faithful frontier mother was outraged, stabbed, scalped, and left for dead. An Indian on a horse held up her hands while another pushed an arrow under her shoulder blade. Neil S. Betty later placed this arrow in a museum, perhaps in Dallas, as a symbol of the severe suffering administered to Mrs. Sherman, by the blood-thirsty savages.

    The house was completely robbed and pilfered by the Comanches. The warriors took cups and saucers and drank molasses out of a large barrel, which Mr. and Mrs. Sherman had stored away for the winter. The blood-thirsty warriors also ripped open feather and straw beds, took the ticking and emptied the contents on the floor and ground. They took Mrs. Sherman's family Bible, for what purpose no one knows, unless as a token of war. The savages then took a southwest course almost in the direction of the present city of Mineral Wells.

    Mr. Sherman secured a gun from a neighbor and returned. His wife was found still alive and in a pitiable condition. His house after being robbed and ruined by the raging savages, was fired; but since it was a rainy day, the building refused to burn.

    The splendid frontier citizens, the trail blazers of the great west, administered to Mrs. Sherman all possible aid. For three days she lived and continually talked about her horrible experience.

    Many times she shamefully referred to that "Big old red-headed Indian." No full blooded Indian was ever known to be red-headed. Was this red-headed man the same individual who made his appearance in other raids before and after this time? Was it some one the Indians had captured when a child and reared to be a blood-thirsty savage? Or was it some renegade ruffian of our own race? Nevertheless, again we find the presence of a red-headed man with the red men.

    Mrs. Sherman was buried to the west of the Fox family in the Willow Springs Graveyard, several miles east of Weatherford.

    Note: Before writing this section, the author personally interviewed a daughter of R.C. Betty, Mrs. William Porter, who stayed with Mrs. Sherman a great portion of the three days she lived, after being brutally assaulted by the savages. Also corresponded with Mrs. Joe Sherman a daughter-in-law of Mrs. Ezra Sherman, and interviewed those mentioned in the preceding and succeeding sections relating to this particular raid.

I have misplaced another account of Mrs. Sherman's ordeal that described the Indians braiding her hair with a horse's tail then running the horse through rocks and cactus. John Graves' moving account of her ordeal follows.

Mrs. Martha Sherman-Second Story

They rode up to the cabin while the Shermans were at dinner on November 27, 1860-dinner in rural Texas then and up into my young years being the noontime meal. There were half a hundred of them, painted, devil-ugly in look and mood. It was the year after the humiliating march up across the Red under good, dead Neighbors; the frontier country was not yet strange to The People, nor were they yet convinced they had lost it. They wanted rent-pay for it in horses, and trophies, and blood, and boasting-fuel for around the prairie campfires in the years to come. Horses they had taken in plenty-300 or so of them by the time they reached the Shermans'-and they had just lanced John Brown to death among his ponies to the east, and the day before had raped and slaughtered and played catch-ball with babies' bodies at the Landmans' and the Gages' to the north.

Though the Shermans did not know about any of that, their visitors lacked the aspect that a man would want to see in his luncheon guests-even a sharper frontiersman than Ezra Sherman, who, in that particular time and place, with a wife and four kids for a responsibility, had failed to furnish himself with firearms.

    The oldest boy, Mrs. Sherman's by an earlier husband who had died, said: "Papa…"

    But by the time Ezra Sherman turned around, they were inside the one-room cabin, a half-dozen of them, filling it with hard tarnished-copper bodies and the flash of flat eyes and a smell of wood smoke and horse sweat and leather and wild armpits and crotches.

    Behind them, through the door, were the urgent jostle and gabble and snickering of the rest.

    "God's Heaven!" Sherman said, gripping the table's edge. Martha Sherman said: "Don't show nothin'. Don't scare."

    She had come to the frontier young with a brother and his family, but even if she'd only come the year before she'd have known more about it than her husband. There was sense in her, and force. Her youngest started bawling at the Indians; she took his arm and squeezed it hard until he shushed, looking up the while into the broad face, slash-painted diagonally in scarlet and black, of the big one who moved grinning toward the table. He wore two feathers slanting up from where a braid fanned into the hair of his head, and held a short lance.

    "Hey," he said. "Hey," Ezra Sherman answered. The Indian said something. "No got whisky," Ezra Sherman said. "No got horse. Want 'lasses? Good 'lasses."

    "You're fixin' to have us kilt," his wife said, and stood up. "Git!" she told the big Indian.

    He grinned still, and gabbled at her. She shook her head and pointed to the door, and behind her heard the youngest begin again to cry. The Indian's gabbed changed timbre; it was Spanish now, she knew, but she didn't understand that either.

    "Git out!" she repeated.

    "Hambre," he said, rubbing his bare belly and pointing to the bacon and greens and cornbread and buttermilk on the table.

    "No, you ain't," she said, and snatched up a willow broom that was leaned against the wall. But his eye caught motion to the left and she spun, swinging the broom up and down and whack against the ear of the lean, tall, bowlegged one who had hold of her bolt of calico. She swung again and again, driving him back with his hands raised, and then one of the hands was at a knife in his belt, and Two-feathers's lance came down like a fence between them. Her broom hit it and bounced up. The three of them stood there… Two-feathers was laughing. The lean Indian wasn't. The calico lay on the floor, trampled; she bent and picked it up, and her nervous fingers plucked away its wrinkles and rolled it again into a bolt.

    "Martha, you're gonna rile 'em," her husband said.

    "Be quiet," she told him without looking away from Two-feathers's laughing eyes.

    "Good," the big Indian's mouth said in English from out of the black-and-red smear. With his hand he touched the long chestnut hair at her ear; she tossed her head away from the touch, and he laughed again. "Mucha Mujer," he said.

    The lean one jabbered at him spittingly.

    Martha Sherman's oldest said calmly: "That's red hair."

    It was. In the cabin's windowless gloom she had not noticed, but now she saw that the lean one's dirty braids glinted auburn, and that his eyes, flickering from her to the authoritative big one, were green like her own. Finally he nodded sulkily to something that Two-feathers said. Two-feathers waved the other warriors back and turned to where Ezra Sherman stood beside the dinner table.

    "No hurt," he said, and jerked his head toward the door. "Vamoose" "Yes," Ezra Sherman said, and stuck out his hand. "Friend. Good fellow."

    The big Indian glanced ironically at the hand and touched it with his own. "Vamoose, " he repeated.

    Ezra Sherman said: "You see?" He don't mean no trouble. I bet if I dip up some molasses they'll just…"

    "He means go," Martha Sherman said levelly. "You bring Alfie."

    "Go where?"

    "Come on!" she said, and the force of her utterance bent him down and put his callus-crusted farmer's hands beneath the baby's arms and straightened him and pulled him along behind her as she walked, holding the hands of the middle children, out the door into the stir and murmur of the big war party. It was misting lightly, grayly… The solemn oldest boy came last, and as he left the cabin he was still looking back at the green-eyed, lean, redheaded Comanche.

    Two-feathers shouted from the door and the gabble died, and staring straight ahead Martha Sherman led her family across the bare wet dirt of the yard and through the gate, past ponies' tossing hackamored heads and the bristle of bows and muskets and lances and the flat dark eyes of fifty Comanches. She took the road toward the creek. In a minute they were in brush, out of sight of the house, and they heard the voices begin loud again behind them. Martha Sherman began to trot, dragging the children.

    "Where we goin' to?" Ezra Sherman said.


    He said: "I don't see how you could git so ugly about a little old hank of cloth and then leave the whole house with-"

    "Don't talk, Ezra," she said. "Move. Please, please move." But then there was the thudding rattle of unshod hooves on the road behind them, and a hard-clutching hand in her chestnut hair, and a ring of ponies dancing around them, with brown riders whose bodies gave and flexed with the dancing like joined excrescences of the ponies' spines.

    Before she managed to twist her head and see him, she knew it was the redheaded one who had her; he gabbled contemptuously at Ezra Sherman, and with the musket in this other hand pointed down toward the creek. The pony shied at the motion, yanking her off balance. She did not fight now, knowing it pointless or worse.

    "Durn you, let her be!" Ezra Sherman yelled, moving, but a sharp lancepoint pricked his chest two inches from the baby's nose and he stopped, looking up.

    "Go on, Ezra," his wife said. "They'll let you go."

    Ain't right," he said. The lancepoint jabbed; he backed away a half-foot. "Go on."

    He went, trailing stumbling children, and the last she saw of them was the back-turned face of her oldest, but one of the horsemen made a plunging run at him, and he turned and followed the family… The redhead's pony spun and started dancing back up the road. The hand jerked her hair, and she went half down, and a hoof caught her ankle; then she was running to keep from dragging. Snow was drifting horizontally against the chinaberries she had planted around her dooryard, though it was not cold; she saw finally that it was feathers from her bed, which one of them had ripped open and was shaking in the doorway while others laughed. In a shed some of them had found the molasses barrel and had axed its top and were drinking from tin cups and from their hands, throwing the ropy liquid over each other with yells. The old milk cow came loping and bawling grotesquely from behind the house, A Comanche astride her neck, three arrows through her flopping bag…

    Deftly, without loosening his grip, the redhead swung his leg across his pony's neck and slid to the ground and in one long strong motion, like laying out a rope or a blanket, threw her flat. Two of the others took her legs, pulling them apart. She kicked. The flame-pain of a lance knifed into her ribs and through her chest and out the back and into the ground and was withdrawn; she felt each inch of its thrust and retreat, and in a contraction of shock there relaxed elsewhere, and her legs were clamped out wide, and the lean redhead had let go of her hair and stood above her, working at his waistband.

    Spread-eagled, she twisted her head and saw Two-feathers a few yards away, her big Bible in his hands, watching. Her eyes spoke, and maybe her mouth; he shrugged and turned toward the shed where the molasses barrel stood, past a group that was trying to light fire against the web cabin wall…

    The world was a wild yell, and the redhead went first, and the third one, grunting, had molasses smeared over his chest and bed feathers stuck in it, and after that she didn't count; though trying hard she could not slip over into the blackness that lay just beyond an uncrossable line. Still conscious, and that part over, she knew when one on horseback held her arms up and another worked a steel-pointed arrow manually, slowly, into her body under her shoulderblade, and left it there. Knew, too, when the knife made its hot circumcision against the bone of her skull, and when a horseman messed his fingers into her long hair again and she was dragging beside his panicked, snorting pony. But the hair was good and held, and finally a stocky warrior had to stand with a foot on each of her shoulders as she lay in the plowed field before the house, and peel off her scalp by main force. For a time after that they galloped back and forth across her body, yelling-one thing she recalled with a crystallinity that the rest of it lost, or never had, was that no hoof touched her-and shot two or three more arrows into her, and went away. She lived for four days (another writer says three, and another still says one, adding the detail that she gave birth to a dead child; take your pick), tended by neighbor women, and if those days were anything but a continuing fierce dream for her, no record of it has come down.

    In delirium, she kept saying she wouldn't have minded half so much if it hadn't been for that red hair…

    The oldest boy had quit his stepfather and had circled back through the brush and had watched it all from hiding. No record, either, states how he felt about Comanches afterward, or the act of love, or anything.

    Picture of Joe Sherman and his wife, Pearlina Underhill Sherman
    Younger brother, Joe Sherman with wife, Pearlina Underhill Sherman. No picture or record exists of his older brother.

The above story is from the book, Goodbye to a River, by John Graves.

Further Activities of Indians During This Same Raid

    After the Indians left the home of Ezra Sherman, they stopped about two or three miles north of the present city of Mineral Wells. The savages then took a northwest course toward Turkey Creek and next appeared at the home of Joe Stephens. But here they did little damage, and soon went away. Joe Stephens counted fifty-five savages painted for war.

    The Indians now had a herd of about three hundred head of stolen horses. They made their next stop about one mile from the home of William Eubanks, who lived about five or six miles northwest of Mineral Wells. Four or five of the warriors were sent to reconnoiter his home. These Indians were first discovered by James G. Eubanks, about eleven years of age, who in company with John and George Eubanks, had been to the spring for water. James told his mother and older sisters that his father was coming. The sister came out to see, but soon discovered the horsemen were Indians. The three Eubanks girls, Mary, age eighteen, Emily, fifteen, and Guss, thirteen, put on men's hats, and stood on a bench stationed near the strongly fortified picket fence, and just on the inside of the yard. Only their heads and shoulders could be seen. Mary the oldest girl also armed herself with a loaded double barrel shotgun. The Indians then dashed up as if they intended to make a charge, but when Mary pointed the gun as if she intended to shoot, the savages circled and rode away. Had these brave frontier girls become frightened, perhaps a different story would have to be related. Mary actually fired one shot and the gun kicked her from the bench. It had the desired effect, however, for the Indians appeared frightened, and hurriedly made their retreat.

    The savages then started toward the mouth of Big Keechi, a favorite Indian crossing. But it was not long before another unusual event transpired.

    During the dark hours of night, Wm. Eubanks, who was away when the Indians visited his home, and who was now returning, found himself surrounded by about three hundred head of horses, and fifty-five warriors. Since it was dark, it occurred to him that the safest thing to do, was to remove his hat, assume a stooping position like an Indian and follow the herd. This he did, but made it a special point to drop behind as rapidly as he could. Finally, when he reached the timber, and had an opportunity to slip away, he lost no time in reaching his residence on Turkey Creek.

    It was a rainy, misty night, but a bright moon was shining beyond the clouds. The savages crossed Big Keechi above its mouth and then took a westerly and northwesterly course toward Dark Valley. When the Indians crossed the rough country, bordering on the breaks of the Brazos near the mouth of Keechi, they lost several of their stolen horses. Each of the thirty-five head of Mr. Brown's horses returned home, including the horse he was riding when killed.

    During the following day, when the Indians passed the home of Jowell McKee, who then lived in Dark Valley, near the Flat Rock Crossing, about eight miles north of Palo Pinto and seven miles southwest of Graford, they took about three hundred head of his horses. The Indian's herd now consisted of approximately five or six hundred head, and was about one half mile wide.

    After leaving the home of Jowell McKee, the savages discovered Tom Mullins and Billy Conatser. An exciting chase followed with the latter in the lead. Mullins and Conatser, however, were not overtaken before they reached Ansel Russell's store, which was about one and a half miles west of Graford, and on the old Fort Worth and Belknap Road.

    And this brings to a close one of the largest forays ever made by the savages on the West Texas Frontier. Seven people were killed, five wounded, two innocent girls made captives, but later released, and several others seriously menaced and greatly frightened by their presence.

    Note: Before writing this section, the author personally interviewed James G. Eubanks, who first saw the Indians when they appeared at the home of William Eubanks; also interviewed Mrs. H.G. Taylor, Mrs. Huse Bevers, A.M. Lasater, Mrs. M.J. Hart, Martin Lane, James Wood, E.K. Taylor, B.L. Ham, Joe Fowler, John McKee, whose father lost the two or three hundred head of horses in Dark Valley. Also interviewed others mentioned in the preceding sections relating to the same raid. This is, no doubt, by far the most detailed and accurate amount of this major raid that has ever been offered. And it is the result of hundreds of miles of hard driving, and many months of close study.

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

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  • My husband gggrandmother was Catherine “Katy” Sanders. I have heard and read this story several times. This the only mention of this lady I can find in history. I am glad we have this history in print, even though it is hard to read. Thank you

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