Frontier Times Magazine
Contents of this volume:
Ben Dragoo's Race for Life
Exciting and eye-witness tale of noted ranger, Benjamin Crawford Dragoo who was born in Washington county, Ill., in 1835, and came with his parents to Texas when he was three years old. His father settled on Blossom Prairie in Red River county, and a year later located his headright and settled in what is now Titus county, four miles from where Mount Pleasant now stands. After locating on this headright, the Indians became so troublesome that the father moved his family to Fort Sherman, where the people had erected a blockhouse and palisades for protection. This fort was on Big Cypress creek, near the county line, and among others who had gathered in that fort were the Coots family, Gibson Dial and Bell families. Some of the descendants of these families are now living in Llano, Mason and McCulloch counties. In the course of time the Senior Dragoo disposed of his headright and moved to the Navasota river and settled near Fort Parker. Ben Dragoo says that when a small boy he often played with Cynthia Ann Parker and lived only eight miles away when the Indians attacked the fort murdered members of the Parker family, and carried Cynthia Ann into captivity. This story depicts some of the bold confrontations that this great and courageous ranger had to face while in the service of the rangers.
Further Mentions: John R. Baylor's company of rangers. Captains Baylor, Dalrymple, Cottonwood creek, twenty miles above Ft. Belknap, Ross, Baylor and Buck Barry, A man by the name of Gray, Captain Sul Ross, Fort Griffin, F. M. Cassidy, who lived at Llano, Lieut. Callahan the gallant ranger for whom Callahan county was name, the Pease river country,
$100 Paid for Waxabaebie Survey.
Only $100 was paid for the survey of Waxahachie and Ellis county in the year 1850, and this sum was ordered paid after funds had been taken into the county treasury, sometimes of an uncertain length of time in those days, according to the old records of the city and county in the office of the county clerk of Ellis county.
The session of the court making the order -was held in the home of E. W. Rogers, there being no meeting place prescribed by law at that time. The original order, giving many interesting facts on the organization and the men who had part in the order, follows:
"At a session of the county court of Ellis county, begun and held at the town of Waxahachie, in the county of Ellis, in the State of Texas, at the home of E. W. Rogers (there being no courthouse or place designated by law for holding courts in the said county), on Monday, August 19, 1850. Present and presiding, the Honorable William Hawkins, Chief Justice of said county, and Larkin Newton, Henry Tremble and James L. Berry, commissioners and associates, and Ben F. Hawkins, clerk of the county court of said county, the court was opened by William H. H. Bradford, sheriff of said county.
" It is ordered by the court that Richard Donaldson be and he is employed to survey and lay off the county site, comprising sixty acres of land, into a public square, lots, streets and alleys of such size as may be determined by the court, and that the said Donaldson be allowed the sum of$100 to be paid in town lots to to be bid off at the public sale, or to be taken at an average price of similar lots, or the price of lots to be determined by two disinterested persons; a report to be made by the said Donaldson of his proceeding on the fourth Monday in October, 1850.
" It is ordered by the court that L. G. Crop, Chief Justice of Navarro County, receive the sum of $10 for his services in organizing said county of Ellis, that the same be audited and allowed paid out of the first money that comes into the treasury of said county."
Texas Rangers Were First to Use Six-Shooters.
By Prof. W. P. Webb. It was during the Republic that the rangers won a name as fearless and brave men that has clung to them down to the present time. They have always been a mounted force, and even today there is a saying that a ranger is no better than his horse. They had to go mounted because their enemies were mounted, and they were few because the State was too poor to maintain a large force. These early rangers had to make up in quality what they lacked in numbers. It was also during the Republic, 1836-1845, that they developed their technique of war. They were the first men to learn the use of the six-shooter, and to learn that the six-shooter was the logical weapon with which to fight the Indian on horseback. It was in Texas that the white man first came in contact with mounted Indians. The Americans had, up until the time Texas was settled, fought the Indians on foot. But when they came to Texas, they passed from the timbered area on to the plains, and on the plains and prairies around San Antonio they met the Comanches, the superb horsemen of the country. It is said that these Comanches could shoot their arrows from a running horse so rapidly that they could keep one in the air all the time. The Texans needed a weapon that carried several shots, and that wielded from the hurricane deck of a Texas mustang. This is the story of the ranger and his six-shooter.
Further Mentions: S. M. Swenson, Col. Colt who had just perfected his revolving pistol, Maj John B. Jones, Capt. McNelly,
The Lone Star Flag of Texas
T. B. Baldwin. The origin and history of the five-pointed star of the flag of the State of Texas.
Further Mentions: Gov. Henry Smith, Senator Jones, Oliver Jones, Mrs. Looscan, Mr. Thrall, James W. Robinson, President David O. Burnet, Capt. Burroughs, Capt. Sidney Sherman, Katherine Isabel Cox, David Paddley,
By A. J. Sowell. Various true accounts of savage raids in the area of Medina county, Uvalde county. Good early history of these areas.
Further Mentions: the ranch of Ross Kennedy, old man Schreiver, Ebenezer Rankin, brother-in-law of Mr. Kennedy, Doe (Louis) Lee, Jack Davenport, Clabe Davenport, Emory Givins, John Kennedy, and Ambrose Crane. Huffman and Wolf, two cow hunters, Kennedy's ranch. Blanco canyon, Captain Richarz, Rancher's creek not far from the present town of Sabinal, Captain Joe Ney, the Torn Wall settlement on the Frio,
Reunion of a Pioneer Family at Ballinger
By Henry C. Fuller. Good early history of Nacogdoches county, speaks of the J. C. Swift family who moved from Nacogdoches county to Runnels county in 1874 and in 1881 settled in the village of Runnels which was then on the feather-edge of civilization in the West. The nearest railroad was Abilene, fifty miles to the north while on the east the nearest point at which railroad could be reached was Fort Worth. W. H. Swift, father of Jim C. Swift, was born in Abbeville district, South Carolina, in 1816. In his boyhood days the family emigrated and settled in or near what is now Washington county, Alabama, on the Tombigbee River. When W. H. Swift reached young manhood he took to boating and on one of his far-reaching trips visited the coast of Texas, made his way up the Neches River to its confluence with the, Angelina river and thence up that river to the town of Marion, which stood at the head of navigation in the territory known at that time as "Nip-and-tuck,"
Further Mentions: Dr. R. A. Dickinson, Kit Carson, Will Drannan, Miss Nancy Walker, Mrs. Nannie Matthews and Mrs. Josephine Brown Fountain living in Dallas, the backwoods and pioneer church of Cross Roads, or old Hopewell.,
Shot with a Poisoned Arrow.
In 1863 John A. Jones moved to Bandera county and settled at Indian Spring on Myrtle creek, six miles north of the town of Bandera, and established a cattle ranch. This place, as was all of Bandera county at the time, was a frontier and exposed to frequent Indian raids. One day at noon in 1866, as the family of Mr. Jones was sitting down to dinner, Rufus Click dashed to the yard fence and called for Mr. Jones. He was minus his hat and his horse was breathing heavily. Jones soon discovered that he had been chased by Indians and was badly wounded. He had been shot with a poisoned arrow. The arrow had struck Click in the back, but he had pulled it out as he ran. The pain was like that after being bitten by a rattlesnake, for the spike was poisoned by venom from one of those most deadly reptiles. The doctor gave strychnine to counteract the effect of the poison.
Further Mentions: Dr. Fitzgibbons. the Jones ranch,
Hunting Buffalo on the Little Wichita River.
By W. S. Adair. Story of John E. Hess, who gives eye-witness account to a kind of frontier hunting expedition that has no modern rival. An excerpt: Capt. 'Peak, shot them off the roosts by the hundred, and we fed on them until the odor and taste of turkey made us sick. We saw no great swarms of buffaloes, but the country was covered, with small herds. We were armed with buffalo rifles, which carried a long .45 bullet a distance or 600 or 800 yards. The only cartridge six-shooter in the party was owned by Capt. Peak. The rest of us had the old cap and ball navy six-shooters used in the Civil War. It was just fine to see Capt. Peak ride into a bunch of running buffaloes and with the six bullets in his pistol bring down from four to six of the big fellows. He would ride alongside them and break them down in the loins.
"There were two good reasons why the rest of us did not imitate Captain Peak in this thrilling sport. One was that we were not sufficiently accomplished marksmen, and the other and best that our horses would not stand for it. The average horse is mortally afraid of buffaloes and Indians. A horse gets wind of buffaloes or Indians long, before a man can discover any signs. Captain Peak's horse must have been trained to the business. One day Capt. Peak espied a beautiful young buffalo with perfectly black hair, and had a mind to get him an extra fine buffalo robe. The hair of most buffaloes was sunburned until it ,was an ugly brown, almost red. In the chase the buffalo took to the river, which was bank-full and running like a mill race. In right after him, Capt. Peak spurred his horse. Buffalo, horse and rider went under. But up they came some yards down the river and out on the other side, where Capt. Peak killed his quarry, but, for some reason did not take its robe. Perhaps he felt that he had been fully repaid for his toil by the fun he had in the chase. The, superiority of a cartridge six-shooter over the old cap-and-ball pistol was demonstrated by the fact that after remaining under water while Capt. Peak was swimming the river the powder in the cartridge was still dry enough to explode.
Further Mentions: The party of Capt. June Peak, Col. W. G. Sterrett, Henry Boll, Robert Cockrell, Leopold Bolinny and Billie Friedman, and a Mexican cook. Henry Ball, Sheriff James E. Barkley of Dallas County, Colonel E. G. Bower, who was county Attorney of Dallas County, Sam Levy, Brownwood, Mr. Levy was a relative of Mr. Embrick,
Texas and Nacogdoches of Unknown Origin
The origin of the names Texas and Nacogdoches are alike veiled in mystery The original spelling and pronunciation and their local application were influenced by peculiar environment existing before the white man had come to the land. They were originally used by the aboriginal Indians and heard in the native unwritten dialects. The French explorers, coming from Canada and Louisiana, the Spaniards from Mexico, lead by the Catholic fathers, and the adventurous fortune-hunting Americans from the States, all appeared and figured among the native Indians about the same time at intervals just before and just after the year 1700, and each had to learn and write these names as they sounded to the ear from the standpoint of their own respective languages. This account further explores origins of the names.
Further Mentions: the old village of Douglas, a crossing on the Angelina River called Linwood, " old San Antonio Road " Stephen F. Austin, Travis, Bowie, Milam and other noted pioneers, including the adventurous St. Denis, Philip Nolan, Peter E. Bean and Gil Ybarbo, the colonist leader, who made the only permanent settlement of the town of Nacogdoches in May 1778, one Nepomuceno de la Cerdo, the Frenchified name of Deleacerdo. the Spanish name Padilla
Cox and Cantrell's Fight
The numerous members of Josh Cox's family were brave frontiersmen and had many fights with the Indians during the frontier days. They came from Fannin county to Southwest Texas and settled in the Nueces country.
Mentions a horse hunt on Elm creek in 1864 when Josh Cox and Silas Cantrell were attacked by nine Indians. Seven of them ran around a thicket and two charged toward them. At short range Cox and Cantrell both fired and each hit his Indian. They wheeled and ran and the settlers pursued them until they ran over a bank into the brush and disappeared. The other seven ran also as soon as the guns were fired. One of the wounded Indians was shot through the body, which shot also broke his left arm. He rode his horse six miles to a water hole and dismounting there, tied his horse to a tree and laid down and died. On the seventh day his body and the nearby starved horse were found. The horse belonged to William Pafford. The Indian had seven pairs of moccasins and a flintlock rifle. An old shirt was tied around his body, covering the bullet holes. The head and shoulder of another Indian were found in…
Further Mentions: the town of Uvalde on the Nueces river., Cantrell, Nathan Cox and Tom Bingham, Todd Pulliam,
Horrible Massacre Described by a Survivor
This is story of the indescribably brutal massacre of the Webster party and the captivity of Mrs. Webster and her children, as told by Virginia Webster, the only survivor of that terrible tragedy. Attack occurred near a point on Brushy creek, near what is now the town of Leander, in Williamson county,
An excerpt: "As soon as possible after it was seen that the Indians were going to make an attack the wagons were formed into a small square and immediately the battle began. This was a most un, equal battle, for my mother often told me that the number of Indians was estimated by my father and his men to be fully three hundred, my father's party being only 14 men. The battle lasted from sunrise until 10 o'clock at night, when the last man of the Webster party fell.
"By the time the battle was ended six hundred more of the savages had arrived swelling the number to nine hundred, the Indians leaving the scene of the massacre after dark. There were ten sacks of coffee in the wagons and they poured that out on the ground. They smashed the crate that contained my mother's fine china and silver that she had brought with her from her home in Virginia, taking the silver and making trinkets out of it with which they ornamented themselves, stringing them around their necks, their arms and their ankles. My father had his sword with him, and they broke it up into small pieces, breaking the hilt into three pieces for the three chiefs -Guadalupe, Buffalo Hump and Yellow Wolf. While I was very young, scarcely 4 years old, yet I can well remember these old Comanches breaking up the sword, and cutting up the silver on that awful day. Oh, that awful day still haunts my memory, but I feel happy that such sorrow can never come to us again. Oh, it was a horrible sight to see all the brave and good men fall at the hands of the savage demons. I well remember how I cried, and how my little brother fought the Indians after the battle was over, when they would approach. Neither tongue nor pen could describe the awful sufferings of my dear mother, nor can any reader of this story imagine her horror at seeing her beloved husband and friends cruelly scalped and mutilated, with only two small children with her and expecting every moment to see them, too, killed and scalped. My brother, who was in his l3th year, could distinctly remember all the details of the horrible day and night. After the savages had completed their work of death and destruction they started to their great camping place, which was a good many days travel from this bloody scene, taking mother, brother and myself with them. When we reached the camping grounds of the Indians they took all our clothing from us, dressing my mother in the garb of the Indian women, and my brother like the Indian boys, As for myself, I never had a stitch of any kind of clothing at any time while I was in the possession of the red devils. Just think about me, a little child, going with out clothing in the winter's cold and summer’s sun, in sleet and in snow. If any mother who reads this story will only think of her own tender babe being placed in the situation that I was in, she can imagine the feelings of my mother, and will wonder doubtless, as I often do now, how a little child could endure such hardships and live to be 76 years old, as I have. And to think of the brutal torture I had to undergo at the hands of these brutes in human form for the red devils burnt me, and whipped me because I cried. They would sometimes tie a rope around my body and throw me into the river, and then drag me out. I still have scars on my body that were made by these savages by burning and whipping me. I was almost a solid sore all over my body when my mother and I reached San Antonio. Just think of we being stark naked and sore all over and in the winter at that…"
Further Mentions: Captain John Webster, who with his family, consisting of Mrs. Webster, one brother 10 years old, and the author, at age 2, and two or three negro servants and a company of 44 men, landed at Galveston in November of 1836. A Mrs. Boone, Paul Flesher, Hornsby's Bend, a short distance below Austin. Webberville, in Bastrop county, Colonel Burleson, the name of Cooksey , M. G. Strickland, Strickland, in Burnet County.. Charles Munro Simmons,
The Trail of Blood Along the Texas Border
During the year 1873, the Indians had been comparatively quiet along the Texas frontier, but as they again began raiding the border settlements and committing depredations it became necessary to send another expedition against them. The frontier forces had been depleted, and to make a respectable escort it was compulsory to draw off all available men within 1,000 miles of the border, hence when Gen. Mackenzie was ready to start on this expedition, he had drawn troops from every post from Fort Richardson (Jacksboro) to Fort Duncan on the Rio Grande, and yet the fighting force, exclusive of train guards and packers, was only about 400 men. The gathering of the clans took place at the old supply camp on the Clear Fork and was completed by the arrival of the Seminole Scouts from the Rio Grande, twenty-one strong and seven Tonkawas from Fort Concho, on the 18th of September.
Further Mentions: the Seminole camp, General McLaughlin, Palo Duro canyon, Tule Canyon, Lieutenant Thompson, Captain Boehm and Colonel Beaumont, Canyon City, Hon. Chas. Goodnight of Goodnight, Texas, who was ranching in the vicinity, J. M. Harworth, U. S. Indian Agent,
A Survivor of the Mier Expedition.
Major Whitfield Chalk came from the other side of the Mississippi. Reared in the stirring days of the war of 1812-15, Whitfield Chalk had little trouble in adjusting his life to the dangers and uncertainties which then marked the day in Texas. His father, Capt. William Chalk came to this country from England shortly before the war of 1812, settling in South Carolina with his family which consisted of his wife and young Whitfield. When the latter had reached the age of twelve years, the family moved to Tennessee, the state from which Texas was then drawing most of her pioneers. The death of his father a few years afterwards caused young Chalk to turn his eyes also towards the west, which then still lay as a riddle and mystery before all men.
On his trip down the Mississippi on one of the old steamboats, Mr. Chalk had a rather unusual experience. Crew and passengers were attacked by the cholera and all of them, with the exception of Chalk and the captain of the old craft died. Ultimately he participated in the famous Mier expedition and was one of the very few that escaped with their lives.
Further Mentions: Fisher's company, then one of the crack organizations in the army of Texas. "Big Foot" Wallace, Bate Berry and "Jeems" O'Rice, all of them heroes of the Texas - Mexican War, Kempe, Tex
J. C. Bryant Has Had An Eventful Career
J. C. Bryant, Confederate veteran, Indian fighter, former cattle inspector on the old Chisholm trail and former sheriff, settled in Montague county and led an eventful career and is brim full of thrilling stories of Indian battles and of adventure during the early days on the frontier. This is his story.
Further Mentions: the old Chisholm trail, the famous battle of Adobe Walls, the Canadian River, he was a close friend of the Comanche chief. Quanah Parker, the famous long shot fired by Scout Billie Dixon with a buffalo gun, which has caused a great deal of comment among historians., "My father," said Mr. Bryant, "was a resident of Polk County in the early days and I was born there. He was the first sheriff of Bosque county and was waylaid and killed on Village Creek, in Johnson county, not far from the Shannon settlement in the '60's. Bourland's Regiment of the Confederacy, Red River Station in Montague county, Denton county, Gainsville, Byers, Clay county, about 15 miles from Henrietta,
The Bloody Career of Billy the Kid.
Billy the Kid was a New Yorker. His right name was William H. Bonney. He first saw the light of day in New York City, Manhattan Island, on the twenty-third day of November, 1859.
Further Mentions: George Hindman, Sheriff Brady, The killing of Carlyle, Pat Garrett, Judge Bristol. the murder of Bernstein. Mesilla,
Terry's Rangers Elect Officers.
Major George T. McGee of San Marcos, was re-elected president of the Terrey's Texas Rangers, at the close of the fifty-second annual reunion of this famous organization at Austin, September 27. Other officers elected included: Mrs. W. T. Wroe, Austin, vice-president; T. M. Rector, Manor, vice-president; Mrs. W. M. Owens, Austin, secretary; Shirley Gregg, Travis county, corresponding secretary; Dr. W. R. Minter…
Reconstruction Days in San Antonio.
By Taylor Thompson.
During the period that has passed into history as the reconstruction days, the people of the southern states and especially those who had served in the Confederate army, were made the victims of many acts of cruelty and oppression. This is an account of it’s effects in Texas.
Further Mentions: Major Dan McGary, the Brenham Banner, a weekly paper published at Brenham. Gen. Griffin's, Alexander Sweet, Captain George S. Deats, a gallant ex-Confederate officer, Colonel James R. Sweet,
A Plea for County Historical Societies.
The Killing of Lieutenant Carter
In 1860 a small party of Texas rangers, eight or ten in number and commanded by Capt. Cotten, left the town of Hamilton on an expedition against such Indians as they might find. Among the men were Lieutenant Carter, John Witcher, Grundy Morris and John Hurst, and others. This account details the narrow escape of Witcher, and the death of Carter who received a dozen bloody wounds in the severe Indian attack near Hoover's ranch on the Cow House creek.