Bolen and James Savage

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.

Parker County, Texas

    March the 2nd, 1866, Bolen Savage who lived west of Weatherford on Sanchez Creek, was plowing in his field about ten o'clock in the morning, when nine Indians came riding from the east. These Indians were first discovered by Mrs. Elizabeth Savage, and she did her utmost to notify her husband, who was about one-half mile from the house. But since the March winds were blowing loudly, it was impossible for Mrs. Savage to arouse his attention.

    At the time Marion Savage, age eleven, James Savage, age seven, and Sam Savage, age five, were about half-way between their father, Bolen Savage, and the house, and were traveling toward their father. Marion and Sam Savage were made captives, but James escaped by hiding in the creek. Several of the Indians charged on toward the father, Bolen Savage, and as he attempted to escape in the timber, he was shot in the head when he jumped into the same branch in which his son hid. One of the Indians rode into the yard and started toward the house, but Mrs. Savage with Lornty, a six or seven month old baby, in her arms, took an old gun with no lock, and told the Indian that if he came any further she would blow his brains out. The Indians then fell over his horse and rode rapidly away.

    Picture of Sam Savage
    Sam Savage

    The red-men then took their two captives, Marion and Sam Savage, and rode about two miles west where they struck the home of James Savage Sr., a brother of Bolen Savage. He too, was plowing in the field, and was unarmed. His being without necessary weapons was soon discovered by the Indians, who rode over him with their horses, and knocked him down. His daughter, Sarah about eighteen came running to his assistance with a gun. She was followed by Renna, aged thirteen, and Malinda aged eight, who came trailing along in the rear. The Indians ran over Sarah and knocked the weapon out of her hand. By this time, the father had almost reached his daughters, and he was instantly shot down. They then captured Malinda, and when she was placed on a horse, Renna caught her foot. After the wild men of the plains were unable to force Renna to release her sister, they lanced her arm. Wm. Savage, a brother of Malinda, and his mother, who had been working east of the house, by this time, discovered the terrible crimes being committed by the Comanches. But when they were approaching the house, they saw the Indians were leaving and now had in their possession three captives. The two sons of Bolen Savage, Marion and Sam, and a daughter of James Savage Sr., Malinda.

    After the Indians left the homes of the Savage brothers, they next appeared at the pioneer residence of R.C. Newberry, who lived on Grindstone, about three miles east of the present town of Millsap. There were now twenty Indians, for the original nine that first appeared at the home of Bolen Savage had been augmented by others. From here they went to the home of Fuller Millsap, who lived on Rock Creek, about one mile north of the present town by the same name, and were attempting to steal the horses in a field, when Fuller Millsap and an African woman took shotguns and drove the Indians away.

    After the Indians left the home of Fuller Millsap, they started with their caballada of stolen horses and three white captives, towards the wilds of northwest Texas. While the savages were traveling along, perhaps somewhere in Palo Pinto County, an Indian attempted to ride on of their newly acquired animals. He was so badly thrown by the wild horse, the Indian's head became entangled in the rope and was completely severed from his body. It devolved on an Indian female tribesperson, who was already carrying young Sam Savage, to carry the head of the dead Indian for several miles, and until they reached the place where he was buried. Can you imagine the impression of little Sam Savage as he rode along on the same horse with the Indian female tribesperson and Indian's head. The Indian was soon buried by his comrades.

    The savages crossed Big Keechi, and continued their course toward the northwest, until they reached the western parts of the present state of Oklahoma. As usual, the captives were offered raw meat, and little Sam refused to eat so many days, he became so weak and poor he could hardly walk. Finally the little fellow seemed to realize his very existence depended upon this peculiar diet, and when they threw a piece of raw buffalo meat toward him, he picked it up and at last ate a part of his Indian menu. When he did, the Indians clapped their hands with joy.

    The three Savage children were discovered by John Fields and one or two others. These patriotic and worthy gentlemen, ransomed the children of Bolen and James Savage, and placed them in charge of white folks until Wm. and John Stephens, the half-brothers, of Bolen and James Savage Sr., came for the children and took them to Denton.

    Note: Author personally interviewed Sam Savage, himself, who remembers a portion of his experience, and the remainder he has heard his mother and aunt as well as others, relate many times; also interviewed James and Sam Newberry, and several others who lived in Palo Pinto and Parker County when this occurred.

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

J.W. Wilbarger gives a short description of the Savages' encounter with Indians in his book, Indian Depredations in Texas.

Savage story by WIlbarger

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