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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Early Bell County, Texas History

"Long Lost Cave in Bell County"

THE STORY OF a cave lost in Bell county has been told by the Belton Journal. The things that the exploration party brought to light is no more interesting than the embellishments placed upon it by Editor Russell, who, it is stated will crack a joke at the undertaker when he comes to claim him. Here is the story of Bell County's Lost Cave.

J. C. Stubblefield, grandson of the late J. S. Stubblefield, after a search of many years for a cave discovered over fifty years ago by his grandfather last Sunday found the long-lost cavern. The cave is located on the old Shaddick place about four miles northeast of Youngsport in a country seldom visited by man.

When J. C. Stubblefield discovered the cave soon after the civil war, he went only a short distance into the first room, where he discovered a large quantity of ammunition and guns. That section of the country was occasionally frequented by desperadoes and various bands of outlaws and cattle rustlers, and the elder Stubblefield, supposing the owners of the property, judging by the age of same, to have been early day outlaws, who would never return, took his find for his own. A few weeks later Mr. Stubblefield was waylaid and shot, supposedly by a member of the gang which stored a part of its spoils in the cave. Before dying he told his son, J. L. Stubblefield, about the cave and tried to give him the location, but the song was never able to find the cavern. J. C. Stubblefield, from directions and markers told him by his father, after a ten-year search at odd times, found the lost cave Sunday.

The entrance to the cavern was discovered in the side of a canyon, in a clump of trees, briars and thorny undergrowth. A large flat rock, similar to those on every side, covered the door. Leaving nothing unturned to locate the cave, Mr. Stubblefield he moved this rock as he had many others in a vain effort to find the old hide-hole and to ascertain what it contained.

Great was the surprise of the party when they saw the unmistakable entrance to the cave, which they believed to be one they sought. Rains of more than fifty years had washed away the steps leading down to the first room, making the first landing some twelve feet from the entrance, with a 45 degree descent to reach it. The sharp descent didn't puzzle the party much as the risk of being snake-bitten when the landing was reached, as the rays from their carbide lanterns disclosed three enormous rattlers coiled at the foot of the old stairway, ready to receive the callers.

The snakes were killed with rocks and all of the party descended. The first room appeared to be about 95 feet long by 20 to 45 feet wide with a ceiling from 8 to 15 feet high. In this room the party found many evidences of habitation years ago, in the way of improvised seats, tables of stone, shelves, fragments of ammunition eases, etc., but no guns or ammunition. Passing into another room to the north of what might he termed the reception room or auditorium, the party found what the elder Stubblefield had not found, for lack of proper light or fear of snakes and wild animals— the remains of Indians or cliff dwellers. How many human beings perished here or how many bodies were deposited here for burial could not be ascertained, as the party were not so interested in finding skeletons as in collecting guns, coins, Indian or cliff dweller relics. In this room Mr. Stubblefield picked up a few human bones, but was careful not to include in his collection any skulls.

Entering room No. 2, the party considered itself well paid for the time and energy spent when it discovered a number of articles which in all probability had belonged to a race long extinct. The collection included a crude earthen pot, which showed signs of having at one time been used for a cooking vessel ; a, large strung bow and arrow, a buckskin valise or traveling bag, containing some two dozen arrow heads of various sizes. (This find was probably one of Lady Mountain Jumpers vanities, which had been overlooked and left in the drawing room following a bridge game at which hyena soup and delicious and bountiful helpings of polecat salad had been served for refreshments.) A large tommyhawk was also found in this room. The most valuable find of the party was a rock tablet picked up in room No. 3, covered with crude writings and drawings of a character different from any yet found in this country. Since it is a well known fact that. Indians were too lazy and shiftless to make permanent drawings, and their education consisting of memorizing of a dialect of very limited vocabulary, it is supposed that the tablet was carved by a race ahead of the Indians. It is possible the tablet contained the names of a number of rival chiefs selected to "take a ride." Or, it may be that the drawings represented on one side of the slab a promissory note accepted by Chief Cloud-Up-and-rain-in the-Face as part payment for a choice well polished missionary 's skull, the reverse side of the rock being left for credits of interests and payments on principal. Another theory is that the hieroglyphics on the tablet set forth. in rather abbreviated form, an account of some great and daring deed performed by the chief head-cracker of the tribe, or a brief and to-the-point discussion of the Volstead Act., ways and means of its enforcement, and its effect upon camp drunkards and cliff bootleggers. Until the writings have been translated what the author was driving at will remain a secret. Mr. Stubblefield and party left the cave after exploring for four hours. He plans to provide food and water and better lights for another trip to the ancient hang-out in the near future, at which time he believes more rooms will be discovered, and possibly more relics of a race that was.

For some great early (and rare) Bell County, TX history see:

"Pioneer Struggles in Bell County"

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