Levi Perryman and Men Encounter 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.

Montague County, Texas

    During August of 1872, Levi Perryman, Alex Perryman, Creed Roberts, Holloway Williams, Henry Williams, Henry Roberts, and a few others, had a fight with Indians near Dry Valley, southeast of Montague, in Montague County. At least one Indian was wounded, and the savages fled away.

    Capt. Perryman and his men waited a few minutes for Bob Bean and his company of citizens supposed to be a short distance in the rear. But when they failed to appear, Levi Perryman and his men, pushed on and overtook the Indians again about three miles west of Cash McDonald's place, where a stubborn fight followed. After the citizens had also fired out, Levi Perryman ordered the men to retreat, thinking they would fall back and meet Bob Bean and his company. This however, they failed to do, and when the retreat started, the citizens were pursued by the Indians. It was then difficult to stop the pioneers sufficiently long to make a stand. But Levi Perryman bravely covered Holloway Williams in the retreat, for it seems that Williams was riding an inferior pony.

    Creed Roberts became separated from the command, after his horse became wounded in the leg. When Roberts discovered that this animal could carry him no farther, he slid off in tall grass, for the Indians were near. The horse, however, went on, and it seems the Indians thought that Roberts was still on his pony. But when the Indians discovered that the horse was without a rider, the warriors began to search in the tall grass for the hidden citizen. Finally Roberts was discovered by the keen eye of the chief, who happened to be immediately over him. Each eyed the other for a second. When the chief was preparing to shoot, Creed fired first. The chieftain fell from his horse. This seemed to completely demoralize the Indians, who began to grieve over the loss of their captain. Roberts hurriedly made his escape.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: W.A. (Bud) Morris.

    Further Ref.: History of Montague Co., by Mrs. W.R. Potter.

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

Second Story

Published by Levi Perryman, Forestburg, Texas, 1919:

    In August of 1872 Bob Bean brought, me reports of Indians. Bean and I rode from my house east toward Rosston. On our way we fell into company with old man Southward and his son Bell, Marion Walker, Jno. Harwell, Alex Perryman, Henry Williams and Creed Roberts., We rode to John Roberts' house and there spent the night.

    The next morning I was selected as captain of a company. I directed that we should ride in twos in a southerly course, as we had guessed that the Indians would be coming back from the head of Hickory with the horses they had stolen the night before. I rode in front with Henry Williams, and the understanding among us was that anyone seeing Indians, or their trail, were to convey the fact to the other members of the party by waving their hats to the first ones in sight, and they were to pass the signal in like manner to the next two, thus completing a system of signals that would bring the entire company together on short notice. The line of riders stretched into several miles, as the distance between each two riders was a half mile or more.

    When Henry and I had ridden well into Denton county, about Lock Forester's ranch, the boys behind us signaled, and on turning back we learned that the Indians had come in from Cooke county and crossed Clear Creek near where we had spent the night. We followed the trail west to Valentine's Bluff. There I detailed Bob Bean to go up Denton Creek, gather as many settlers as possible and take his stand at Brushy Mound, on the head waters of Denton Creek. I agreed to overtake the Indians, if possible, and draw them into a fight, in order to delay them while he was hurrying with his men to head them off. We lost the trail in the rough country around Valentine's Bluff, and in trying to find it the men became badly scattered. After searching for some time, one of the boys or myself found it, and it was still leading northwest. I called to those nearest to follow me, and if we could overtake them with our five men we would make the fight. I expected the rest of the men to join us when they heard the firing. After getting their course we galloped after them and came within sight of them in what was known as Dry Valley. There were six of us in the squad-the two Southward's, Henry Williams, Alex Perryman, myself, and a man named Dillard, who had joined us after trailing the Indians from Cooke County.

    The Indians were trailing single file behind the stolen horses. We stopped in the edge of the timber, and Dillard and I, each with a rifle, fired at them. They halted and commenced to form a line, as if they meant to charge us, I dismounted and stepped behind a small sapling, and, laying my rifle against the side of it, fired, just as an Indian made a good target by turning his horse broadside to me. The Indian toppled over on his horse but did not fall to the ground. Other Indians rushed to him and they immediately hurried on. They had returned our fire. The bullets struck close about, but did no damage. We had delayed them several minutes, but the other men had not come up.

    The six of us followed the Indians to the edge of Denton Creek bottom, but we did not follow them through the bottom for fear of ambush, but skirted the bottom on the right and crossed the creek above what is now Ross's Crossing. We rode a mile or two up the creek, on the west side, to the home of Cash McDonald, where we stopped to inquire if Bob Bean had passed with his men. On learning that they had gone we rode southwest, toward where we thought the Indians would probably be. We soon struck the trail of the Indians,and a little further on we came in sight of them again. (I forgot to relate that old man Southward left us about the crossing on Denton Creek, and that Creed Roberts rejoined us at McDonald's, having been forced to go by home from Valentine's Bluff for a fresh horse). We opened fire on them, as soon as we were close
    enough, and they returned it.

    I noticed them acting as if they were going to charge, so I directed the men to fall back, as there were sixteen Indians against only six of us. Seeing that my men were becoming demoralized I gave orders to dismount and fight from behind the thick timber. The men either did not understand or else decided it was a case of every man for himself.

    Williams and I, who were the last to retreat, found ourselves targets for the Indians, who, in pursuit of the retreating men, had by this time come up even with us. Williams had been reluctant to leave McDonald's without a fresh horse, he having ridden his hard all day. This was 3 o'clock in the evening. I insisted that he should come, as I counted on his splendid courage and good marksmanship. After exacting a promise from me that I would stick to him he agreed to come.

    The Indians in front of the charge rode straight back down their trail in pursuit of the other men. Williams' horse was completely exhausted, and I yelled to him to bear to the left through the thick timber and I would cover his retreat. The Indians had been firing at us as they passed, but seemed bent on overtaking the retreating men. I was watching those who had already' passed on my right when a pistol shot blazed on my left. Turning, I saw a big Indian within thirty or forty feet, bearing down from my left. He fired three or four shots more. Then, calculating that his pistol was about empty, I reined up, thinking I would take a good shot at him with my rifle. Before I had time to raise my rifle two more Indians, coming from the same direction, joined him. I postponed hostilities until I could get some distance between us. Old Charley, my horse, responded to the spur, and I remember that a fallen tree, which had been blown up by the roots, blockaded his passage. The log was full breast high. I was looking behind, and a slight check in Charley's speed caused me to turn just in time to set myself for the leap, and he cleared the log like a deer.

    A little further on I came to Henry Williams. His horse was exhausted, and he was the most exasperated man I ever saw. I called to him to quit beating his horse, and he said: "Levi; how in the world did you get here? I saw that Indian shoot three or four times, and he was right at you." I told him that I stayed behind to protect his retreat, and of course he expressed grateful appreciation. We waited for his horse to rest, and Alex Perryman joined us. He reported that his horse, which was a racing animal, had become uncontrollable when the other boys commenced to run past him, and that he reined him to the left and away from the trail.

    We three then started north toward Denton Creek to find a house where we could leave Williams, or else get him a fresh horse, expecting to proceed to Brushy Mound and there join Bob Bean and his company. We came to a house known as the McFarland place. I have forgotten the name of the family who resided there at the time. Here we found Creed Roberts, and in giving his experience he told us that his horse had sprained his leg in a gopher hole and could not run, so he dismounted. When he saw these last three Indians, with whom I had the brush, coming, he hid in the grass. His horse passed on and two Indians passed him; the third rode almost over him, and, as he leaned over to look through the tall waving grass, Roberts drew his pistol and fired. The bullet struck the Indian in the head and he fell dead. He then crawled through the grass, out of danger, and had walked the remainder of the way to the house, which was about two miles distant. We rested awhile and then rode back to where the Indian lay, Roberts having borrowed a horse to ride.

    The other members of the Company had rallied after the Indians turned back west and they had followed the trail up to and beyond where Roberts had killed his man. A mile or so beyond there they found Roberts' horse. He was injured by a pistol shot, from the effects of which he soon died. The Indian that Roberts killed was riding a stolen horse belonging to Ben Leeper. He lost other horses in this raid but they were never recovered.

    During the forenoon John Roberts had gone for more men, and they had been coming to us all day; - Palmer and old man Estez were among them. There were others, whose names I do not recall. Palmer had followed ;he Indian trail after the fight, leaving the remaining men in the vicinity of the encounter. It was now almost night and Palmer brought word that the direction taken by the Indians would take them to the left of Brushy Mound. Feeling sure that Bean and his men would not see them, we returned to our homes.

    Palmer rode to Brushy Mound and gave Bean and his men the direction we thought the Indians had taken. They rode south two miles. They found the trail going northwest; they had passed about an hour ahead of them, and they did not pursue further. Bean's men were citizens of upper Denton Creek valley, including the Willingham's, McDonald's, Wainscott's and others-in all eighteen men -mounted and well armed.

    This was my last encounter with the Native tribespeople, and my horse carried me out of the worst of it. He was the most remarkable animal I ever saw. He was a large chestnut stallion with almost human intelligence, and with such power and stamina that I was never concerned as to how far or how long I could ride. When the shadow of the red man was no longer a peril to the citizens of Montague county and of North Texas I let Charley go. Some of his offspring are in my pasture now, and the 3-P horses which are commonly found in Montague county are of the same stock.

    The government interpreter reported that three or four Indians died from wounds. One was shot, through the jaw, which I am confident was the one that got my bullet when I shot from the sapling in the first fight in the morning. I have since thought it was probably best that we did not have enough men to engage in a pistol battle, for we no doubt would have lost some men. As it was we lost none of our men and only one horse, and captured some horses from the Indians.

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