San Saba River Raid During the Summer of 1866

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.

Menard County, Texas

    August 5, 1866, the cow men who lived in Menard County and elsewhere, rounded up about five thousand head of cattle, which were herded about ten miles east of old Fort McKavitt. When the day's work was done, Wm. McDougall rode to his home about one and one-half miles to the east of the above post and spent the night. Next morning he saddled his pony and started out alone toward the herd but only went about one mile when several savages charged upon him. Wm. McDougall ran about one mile and swam the San Saba River but was finally overtaken and killed. The Indians, shortly afterwards, came upon Clara Schulenbruger, a stepdaughter of Wm. McDougall. Clara was returning from the garden, which was about one-fourth mile from the house. Miss Schulenbruger was almost home when the Indians reached her, and she had her arms full of cantaloupes. She could not see very well so Clara at first thought the Indians were cow men. Finally she said, "O mother, they will get me." She ran and fell over the fence bars into the yard, and the Indians lanced her just as she went over the fence. Mrs. McDougall, who had not realized her husband was slain and who was unprotected at the home, made all the disturbance possible to cause these savages to think several men were in the house. Mrs. McDougall succeeded in frightening the savages away and saved her wounded daughter from further injury. The Indians on this raid drove away approximately five thousand head of cattle.

    During this particular invasion, as well as others, we are inclined to believe that white cow thieves of New Mexico and elsewhere, were cooperating with the savages who stole so many cattle on this occasion. In the first place, the savages had no particular incentive to steal so many stock, and in the second place, Jno. Hittson of Palo Pinto County and others, who were sent to the west for that purpose during the dark days of reconstruction, discovered many Texas cattle in New Mexico. These cattle had been driven away by the Indians, who were no doubt, hired by cow thieves. On these major raids, when such immense herds were captured by the Indians on the San Saba, Pecos and elsewhere, the cattle were so often later found on the great western ranches of New Mexico.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: Mrs. Ben Ellis, a granddaughter of Mrs. McDougall, J.D. Carlisle, who in company with John Ringer, were the first to find McDougall; Mrs. J.D. Carlisle and Mr. and Mrs. J.F.P. Kruse, Ben Ellis and others who lived in this section of the state at the time and shortly afterwards.

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

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