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.

Shackelford County, Texas

During the closing year of the Civil War, Phil Runnels was working for W.H. Ledbetter, who operated the Old Ledbetter Salt Works about nine miles south and west of the present city of Albany. Early in the morning Phil Runnels, a single man, took four yoke of oxen and started for a load of wood to be used at the salt works. After going about ten miles, he was ambushed in a small branch, by Indians. Runnels was fatally wounded before he was able to pick up his gun. His oxen left the road and circled out through the flats. When they ran 300 or 400 yards, the wagon struck a tree, and this cause Phil Runnels to fall from the wagon frame. This occurred about twelve miles south of Albany.

    When Phil Runnels failed to return, a searching party from the salt works soon found where he had been killed. His wagon hitched to two yoke of steers, was found hanging to a tree near Hubbard Creek, about one mile from where Phil was found. The other two yoke of steers had come unhitched and were found in the same vicinity. The branch where the Indians ambushed Phil Runnels has since been called Phil Runnels Branch.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: Harve Ledbetter, son of W.H. Ledbetter, Joe B. Matthews, W.D. and Ben Reynolds, Joe Schoolcraft, Wm. Harrell, and others who lived in Shackelford, Stephens and adjoining counties at the time.

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

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