West Keechi Valley Road Trip

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.

On the left side of Highway 4, on December 23, 1871, Green Lasater left the ranch house in search of missing horses. His brother, A. M., was busy chopping wood. When Green was two miles east of Perrin, he saw eight Indians with a herd of stolen horses. Green hurried to the adjoining ranches recruiting locals to help him pursue the Indians. The citizens rode upon the Indians, who stopped and held their ground, causing the pursuers to turn and flee. Bill Riley was shot in the arm, which later had to be amputated. Green was trying to cover him when he was shot from his horse. He was stripped and scalped by the Indians who then stopped pursuing the rest of the posse.

To the right of the road, several miles to the west, on September 13, 1873, Howell Walker, his twelve-year old son, Henry, and another man were gathering corn when they took a break to go to Thurman Springs for water. Walker looked toward a nearby bluff and started to run toward Stevens and said, "My God, Steve, the world is alive with Indians. The best thing we can do is make that mountain." Stevens wanted to stay, but Walker and son started toward the mountain and he soon followed. The Indians caught them within a few hundred yards and fired at them as they passed. The three had lain down on the ground. They jumped back up and started running toward the mountain. The Indians charged again. This time a bullet went through Howell Walker and that same bullet wounded his son. Stevens shot an Indian then dashed into a dogwood thicket, eventually escaping and going to Jacksboro to report the incident. He stated that he had counted thirty-seven Indians. A posse rode out to the scene of the incident and found little Henry Walker lying dead next to his father. His heart had been cut out.

Just to the left of the road, about 1863, George McQuerry left his home headed for Jacksboro. He was murdered by Indians about seven miles south of town. His clothes had been burnt from his body and he was scalped.

On the east side of the road in July of 1864, the White and Kemp families were forted up at the old Jack Bailey place on the Big Keechi. Their children went to the creek to pick up the clothes that had been left to dry. En route Indians attacked them. Sarah Kemp, sixteen years old, managed to get back to the house but Elonzo White, who was ten, was captured. Sarah was almost captured but was saved by one of the family's dogs. She was shot in the breast with an arrow but eventually recovered. His father and Brit Johnson eventually ransomed Elonzo from the Kiowas.

Several miles further east, in the fall of 1869, Albert Harrell and Pete Lynn started riding toward Jacksboro when they saw sixteen Indians approaching fast towards them. The Indians reached them as they were trying to cross the creek. One Indian riding what was described as a splendid horse, jumped the creek bank to bank, a distance of twenty-seven feet. Albert started shooting at him. Each time he fired his gun, the Indian dropped off to the side of his horse. The warrior threw his lance at Pete Lynn but missed him, mortally wounding the mule Pete was riding. When the Indian tried to retrieve his lance, Albert shot and killed him. The rest of the Indians pursued the two to the Adkinson/Keith fort, whose inhabitants also started firing at the Indians. The Indians stole nine horses from the place. Albert and Pete, who had borrowed a horse, continued to pursue the Indians. Within a few miles, they caught up with four of the stragglers and exchanged fire. The Indians escaped and the citizens uncovered a shallow grave where a fallen warrior had just been buried.

On the left of the road, in 1860, John Reasoner and his son were in the field shucking wheat. The horses became frightened and when he looked up to see the cause, saw a large band of Indians. Both of the Reasoners were unarmed and ran for the house. The son made it, but his father was killed with a lance near the fence.

On the right, several miles to the west, Clinging and White, two cattlemen, were camped with their herd in about 1860. While Clinging was away, Indians attacked the herd, killing White and stealing their horses.

A little further south but a little closer to the road, in 1870, a band of Indians came riding in from the east during the middle of the evening. They rode into the Taylor Ranch House on Rock Creek. One of the men there, Mose Lemley, shot at an Indian, who dropped to the side of his horse, deflecting the bullet with his shield. Lemley fired a second time and the Indian fled.

About four in the afternoon, a band of about eleven Indians went on to the Lemley house, where George Lemley and others were branding cattle. Kit Carter and some of the other cowboys pursued the band across the Brazos into Ming Bend, where the Indians lost a portion of their stolen horses but escaped.

Just northeast of Graford, about 1864, Houston Bevers, some of the Caruthers and a few other cowboys were sleeping at the Bevers ranch house when a barking dog woke Allen Caruthers, who walked out on the porch to see what was causing the disturbance. Nothing seemed to be wrong and he returned to bed. The next morning he discovered an arrow sticking in a wooden water bucket next to the door.

Two years later, George Bevers discovered an Indian trying to break into his locked smokehouse. The current resident of the ranch, Bill Johnson, told me that Bevers had some prized thoroughbreds which he had taken to locking up in the smokehouse for just that reason. George's official story was that he took dead aim and fired at the Indian but he doesn't know what happened next. Perhaps he just vanished into the Keechi bottoms.

In 1868, George Bevers heard Indians making the sound of a dying calf. He walked out on his porch and shot in the direction of the noise. The Indians instantly returned his fire. George went back inside his house, stating he didn't care to kill any more Indians at that time.

To the north on June 16, 1871, W. B. Slaughter and his cowboys had a joint round-up with Goodnight and Loving's outfits and camped near each other on Dillingham Prairie near Rock Creek. On the morning of the seventeenth, the Indians charged Goodnight's outfit. During the fighting, Loving's brother-in-law, Charlie Rivers, had emptied his six-shooters and was reaching for his rifle when he was hit in the lung and died.

To the north, in 1859, John Bottorff had just left his home and headed to the mill in Weatherford when he was overwhelmed and killed by several dozen Indians. Uncle Billy Kutch witnessed the murder and scalping from a distance and chased the raiders as far as the Little Wichita River.

In 1865, Alf Ross, his fifteen-year old son and Shade Hightower were working their truck patch when Indians attacked the ranch. Mrs. Ross managed to gather the children in the house and close the door. The men were shot down in the field. While the Indians were busy elsewhere, Mrs. Ross took the children away from the ranch, stopping to pick up her husband's scalp. They hid in a cave overnight. She came back the next morning to find the Indians still there so she waited until dark then took her brood to her mother's place near the Lemley Ranch. Soon after they arrived, a little before midnight, they could hear gunfire coming from Kit Carter's Ranch nearby.

Captain Ira Long and his men attacked a band of Indians who had stolen some of their horses. The fight cost several of the Indians their lives.

In 1872, Frank Myers (Morris) also sometimes called the Jack of Clubs, was returning from Jacksboro with his marriage license when he was attacked and killed by Indians. He was engaged to Miss Mattie Crow, whose father and brother had been similarly killed over the last two years.

In 1870, John Crow was plowing when he was attacked and killed by several Indians in plain view of his family. His son, William Crow, was killed the year before at the famous Salt Creek Fight.


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