During 1873, William Williams and his family were living on Sand Creek about twelve miles west of Brownwood in Brown County. They had been living there only a short time and were improving a new place. One morning Mr. Williams and his son, who was about sixteen years of age, went down on the creek to cut some timber for rafters, necessary for their new home. Late in the evening, they started home with a heavily loaded wagon, which moved very slowly. When they were a short distance away, the son walked ahead and went on to the house where he came upon his mother lying on the bed, and almost dead. But she murmured, "Indians! Indians!," and that was all she said. A three months old baby, still alive, lay out in the yard, about twenty steps from the door. Reports differ concerning the treatment the Indians administered to this child. According to one report, the baby was almost burned to death; according to another, it had been dragged until it was almost dead. A little daughter, eight years old, was missing. In a few minutes, the father came to witness this awful tragedy. In a very short time, the devoted frontier mother was dead and surrounding circumstances seemed to disclose that she must have been wounded early in the morning, just after Mr. Williams and his son went away. For Mrs. Williams had only milked a part of the cows and a bucket of milk was still standing in the lot. Trails of blood also showed that after being wounded, Mrs. Williams went to the spring and brought back a bucket of water and changed clothes twice during the day.
As soon as possible, Mr. Williams and his son summoned the aid of the faithful Brown County citizens, who so willingly responded in time of distress. W.W. Hunter and Wm. Adams were the first to reach the Williams' home. In a short time, however, others came and Mrs. Riley Cross took charge of the baby, who only lived about one or two days.
By daylight of the following morning, 32 men were at the Williams' home and they followed the Indian trail as far as the headwaters of the Clear Fork of the Brazos but were forced to return on account of darkness and scarcity of provisions. On the return journey, W.W. Hunter killed a bear and all were so hungry, this animal was almost eaten at one meal. They also almost famished for water but finally reached Pecos Springs in Runnels County.
A few weeks after this awful tragedy, G.W. Angle, George W. Polk and J.E. Elgin were in charge of a surveying party on the headwaters of the Salt Fork of the Brazos when one of their men found the body of a little girl hanging in a tree. The leather strap around her and other evidence disclosed that this sweet little innocent child had unquestionably been dragged to death. She was also scalped. The members of this surveying party, when they returned to the settlements, began to make inquiries to find, if possible, the parents of this lost child. They were told that the description was suitable for the little Williams girl. The surveying party, of course, gave her a Christian burial but preserved bits of her clothing for identification.
So when these scraps were shown to Mr. Williams, they were identified and he felt sure this was his lost child. When the surveying party also told Mr. Williams there was an old sidesaddle of a certain description near the little girl found hanging in a mesquite tree, he then knew unquestionably this was his lost daughter, for the description of the sidesaddle conformed exactly to the one the Indians carried away.
Note: Author personally interviewed W.W. Hunter, mentioned above, Tom Starks, Harve Adams and several others, who were early settlers in Brown and Coleman Co.
Further Ref.: A manuscript containing the above story, furnished the author by W.K. Baylor, who interviewed some of the above surveyors.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.