Turkey Creek Fight of 1864

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.

Palo Pinto County, Texas

    During August of 1864, Wm. Wilson, A.M. Lasater, Charles Goodnight, Sam Ham, Ruff Evans, James Williams, Wess Sheek, Wm. Keith, Evans, Geo. Lasater, and possibly one or two others, who lived in the Keechi-Black Springs community, agreed to meet Wm. Wilson's father about two and a half miles south of Black Springs, and then make a round in Lovings Valley. Since every one was late, Wm. Wilson's father failed to meet the cowboys at the above place. So he rode ahead. When the others were in that vicinity, and on Turkey Creek, about ten miles northwest of the present city of Mineral Wells, they came upon several horses belonging to a ranchman named Kale, who lived in Johnson County. Shortly before, they also saw Mr. Wilson riding alone, about one-half mile away. The horses ran into the timber on Turkey Creek. Wess Sheeks, a half brother of Chas. Goodnight, suggested that the crowd stop and eat lunch. After eating the noon-day meal, the cowboys mounted their horses and again started in search of cattle. About this time, the same horses that were seen a short time before, came running out of the timber, and one animal had an arrow sticking in his side. Wm. Wilson called for a volunteer to go with him to protect his father, A.M. Lasater agreed to go. Mr. Wilson and A.M. Lasater, then started off in a southwesterly direction, and Chas. Goodnight, Sam Ham, and Ruff Evans, came trailing along about 150 yards behind. After riding in this manner about a mile, Wilson and Lasater rode upon a ridge. They saw two Indian ponies with blankets on their backs, in a branch a short distance away. In the next second, they discovered two Indians down by the water, getting a drink. Wm. Wilson and A.M. Lasater, then a boy of 15 years of age, evidently were not seen by the savages. So they dropped back behind the ridge, and reported to Chas. Goodnight, Sam Ham and Ruff Evans. The five cowmen then moved forward as rapidly as possible. The citizens were within seventy-five yards of the Indians when first seen. The savages by this time had mounted their steeds, strung their bows and started across the bank. Wm. Wilson was riding the best horse, so he ran ahead. He placed his bridle reins in his mouth, and reached for his pistol with his only hand. But his six-shooter jumped out of his scabbard and fell to the ground. Wm. Wilson, a one-armed man, then requested A.M. Lasater to permit him to shot Lasater's gun. By this time, Sam Ham rode forward and intended to catch one of the fleeing savages by the long hair on his head, but when the Indian threatened to shoot, Ham was forced to fall back. The red men were reaching a rock cliff. So. Wm. Wilson, the one-armed man, rushed forward, shot an Indian and as the enemy went over the horse's head, he dropped his quiver of arrows. The arrows being missed, the Indians reached around to pick them up. When he arose from the ground, Wm. Wilson, who was on his horse, on a cliff, about twenty-five feet away, shot the Indian in the left breast. The savage then started to run, but was again fired upon by the whites. This Indian only went about fifteen steps before he fell. Chas. Goodnight then rushed forward and shot the Indian in the head. It is reasonably certain that Wm. Wilson had already given the savage a mortal wound. The other Indian successfully made his escape. The cowmen, also, recovered about nine head of stolen horses, and everything seemed to indicate that other Indians had retreated into the timber.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: A.M. Lasater, mentioned above, Lafayette Wilson, a brother of Wm. Wilson; B.L. Ham, a brother of Sam Ham; James Wood, and others who were living in Palo Pinto and Jack counties at the time.

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

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