The Story of my Great Grandparents
Gena Elizabeth Schultz
(Creator of Best TeaandCandles.com & VisitCrosby.com)
My great grandfather ran to Texas as a young man because he was wanted for manslaughter in Mississippi. He got born again here, married a wonderful Christian Lady & had 3 sons & a daughter.
His wife, (my great grandmother) is my name sake. She was named Eugenia Elizabeth & her father died while she was still a baby. She had her own business as a young woman to financially support herself & her mother. She had her own team of horses & carriage that used to taxi people & goods between the railroads. She met my great grandfather, Samuel Brewer when she made deliveries to the ranch where he worked.
She took him to church & he got born again & they fell in love. But before that, she was a victim of a con man, who asked for her hand in marriage, & then ran off with her carriage & team of horses on the day they were married!
She was so loved in the Cleburne Texas, that the local residents took up an offering to purchase her team of horses & carriage & returned them to her. They say she could handle those horses & coach as well as a man!
Stories of Love & Suffering
for Texas to become a Christian Republic
The only way to understand Texans is to know our history. Terrorism didn't begin when the Twin Towers went down. It started with our ancestors as you will discover through the tragic story of Rachael Parker Plummer. The following are the stories of the the First Women to Discover the Place that would some day become the Famous Republic of Texas.
The following story is a colorful love story about newly weds & the first lady to ride the Chisolm Trail.
"Texas Tears & Texas Sunshine"
Exerts from the Book
edited by Jo Ella Powell Exley
Mary Olivette Taylor Bunton
Mary Olivette Taylor (c. 1863—1952) married her “girlhood sweetheart,” James Howell Bunton in 1885. Mary, who was educated in exclusive schools in Austin and Elmira, New York, was described by her niece as a “society belle.”
Mary married Bunton in a ceremony in her parents’ home. Her parents were Mary Helen (Millican) and Dr. Matthew Addison Taylor. Dr. Taylor was a wealthy and prominent Austin physician.
Bunton was a member of a respected pioneer Texas family. His father, John Wheeler Bunton, was a prominent rancher and lawyer and had served in the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas. James Howell amassed a sizable herd of cattle, which he kept on a ranch near Sweetwater, Texas.
Shortly after her marriage, Mary joined her husband on his dangerous journey up the Chisholm Trail. Mary was one of the few women to participate in a trail drive, and her lively account in,”A Bride on the Old Chisholm Trail,” in 1886 gives us a woman’s view of such a trip.
My story of the old Chisholm Trail begins with my marriage, October 14, 1885. The winter that followed was a very severe one. Blizzards swept the great cattle states of the West and the Northwest.
Thousands and thousands of cattle perished with the cold on the open ranges. You may think this story incredible, but it is a recorded fact in the weather bureau in Washington, D.C. These records tell of how the terrific velocity of the blizzards drifted the cattle on many of the ranches into sheltered places where they were actually piled to great heights, and were smothered and frozen stiff.
The ‘wealthy cattle barons of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska & Dakaa had their princely fortunes swept away in a single night. My fellow townsmen, Mr. Jesse Driskill, who built the famous Driskill Hotel in Austin and for whom the hotel was named, was at that Austin’s only milllionaire. Mr. Driskill had his ranches in the Sal Hills of Dakota and the blizzards cost him his millions. The blizzards also robbed my young husband of his fortune.
However, the cattlemen were never whiners. Those grand oldtimers were ever noted for their intrepid courage, and while they were dazed at first, when they did realize that their fortunes were gone and they had to make a new start in life, they, like the “Phoenix” of old: from the ashes of misfortune and began to look about for ways and means to recoup their losses.
The cattle situation everywhere was appauling. Many conferences were held and it was finally decided that money could be made buying cheap cattle in Texas and driving them north over the different trails to be sold to buyers who were restocking the great ranches of the North and West.
Mr. Bunton, after the greatest effort, succeeded in persuading Austin bankers to finance his gigantic undertaking and they did this without collateral. It was a hazardous risk for all concerned but they unlimited faith in Texas and her opportunities and in him as a moral risk, so as soon as financial support was assured, Mr. Bunton lost no time in selecting experienced buyers and went with them into South Texas where cattle were bought and segregated. Cows, steers aid yearlings were held on their ranches until whole herds could be assembled for driving over the Chisholm Trail to the Northern market.
While his plans were being successfully carried out in this part of the State. Mr. Bunton decided to go to his ranch, then near Sweetwater in Nolan County, Texas, where he had men gathering cattle to be thrown into the herds when they reached Sweetwater from the Souhern part of the State.
Mr. Bunton urged that I go with him to the ranch and I was delighted to have the opportunity. We had been married only two months and most of the time had been spent on our honeymoon in Chicago and Eastern points. I had never been on a ranch in all my life, so naturally, I was looking forward to my first visit with great anticipation as I had heard so much of the “Wild West,” ‘Great Open Spaces” and the fascination of cowboy life and their weirdly beautiful songs.
To add to my comfort while on the ranch, a small room of lumber was built and I was told that this was the first house of lumber ever built on Sweetwater Creek. It seemed that the living quarters on ranches in that section consisted of “dugouts” at that time. I wonder if any of you have ever seen, heard or read of a “dugout?" I never had until I first visited my husband’s ranch. You may depend on it, I was shocked to find not only cowboys but large families living in them apparently comfortable and contented.
Can you of this deluxe age imagine people living in dirt houses? That was what a “dugout” was—just a good-sized square hole dug back into the south side of a hill. On the north side of the room, a special place was dug out to be used as a fireplace. Just above this a round hole was dug through to the top of the hill for the smoke to escape, and the cowboys called it the dugout chimney. On the south side of the room was an opening without doors that gave light and ventilation. There were no windows in the dugout and only a dirt floor. In times of storm a wagon sheet or tarpaulin was fastened across the doorway. It was in such a dugout that the cowboys spent their time when they were not at work on the range.
If the weather was too inclement to work on the outside, the cowboys would bring in their saddles and bridles and grease them. When I asked them why they did this, they were too polite to laugh at my ignorance and just quietly told me that grease preserved leather and would protect it from the weather. The cowboys were expert in washing and mending their saddle blankets and their stirrup leathers.
They also prepared and ate their meals in the dugout and, as there were no tables or chairs, they had to squat around on the ground to eat. They slept in bunks built on either side of the small dugout room or rolled up in their blankets on the floor or out in the open. Some of the dugouts had several rooms and were satisfactory homes, the largest room being used as a place to have their visitors.
The dugouts were recreational centers, too, and, on Saturday nights and Sundays, cowboys came from near-by ranches to visit. On these occasions, they would sit around the open fire and tell hair- raising stories of their riding, roping, and branding, or thrum their banjos and guitars and sing their beautiful songs of life on the range.
Horseback riding, at that time, was one of the most fashionable
accomphshments for young ladies and I was very fond of that sport.
Even before my marriage I was a very good rider and it was fortunate
for me that I had learned for it enabled me to go with Mr. Bunton over
the ranch or follow the cowboys over the range. I had the opportunityof seeing a “rodeo” every day as they were "breaking" wild horses for use on the trail.
We girls rode side saddles in those days but, later on I was the first woman to ride astride in our part of the State & you may be sure it caused a stampede amongst the cowboys & cattle. One "old timer” near by observed me on that memorable first occasion, & on rising in his saddle, with his long white whiskers flying in the breeze, his arms outstretched, exclaimed: "My God I kenw she would do it! Here she comes wearin’ the britches! My own husband viewed me with surprise, but had no time to comment as he had to get busy & round up the distracted cattle. Well, I galloped back home as fast as I could & that ended the intial display for my new riding breeches & boots which my mother had sent me as a gift...
I was just becoming accustomer to ranch life, to enjoy it's novelties & to love it's freedom when, late one night, a cowboy came galloping into camp & brought the news that 3 of Mr. Bunton's big herds were coming & that they were encamped just a few miles away. There was a great excitement in our camp then & not a sould slept another wink that night.
Before day, the next morning Mr. Bunton mounted his horse & rode away to meet the cattle & inspect the herds. He was gone all day & did not return until late that night. It was a new experience for me, & it was the first time he had left me at the ranch alone. As dark came on, I began to worry about him & imagine that a thousand things had happened to him. When he finally came & I saw a worried look on his face, I realized at once that something unusual had happened & so it had.
As soon as he could he told me how sorry he was to have been so late returning to camp but that it had been unavoidable; that when he reached the herds he found that the "herd boss" had been stricken with sore eyes on the way up & that the heat & the dust of the trail had made the poor fellow almost blind. As the man was suffering with such agony with his eyes, it would impossible for to have the responsibility of the cattle any further.
“What in the world are you going to do?" I asked.
"I don't know yet," he replied. "I have been in the saddle all day riding hard, going here, there, & yonder trying to find a man suitable for the place, but herd bosses are born, not made & I have not even heard of one. It just seems to be up to me. I fully realize that with my little experience, I am undertaking a herculean task, but I can find no other solution to my problem except to take charge of the herds and have the cattle driven through to market, myself.
I was simply dazed with the news at first. Through no fault of ours, the blizzards had robbed us of our fortune and now, to have this calamity overtake us, to have my husband go, so soon after our marriage, on that long, dangerous journey and leave me, it seemed that the dreams of my life were shattered. As I sat there pondering over the seriousness of the situation, a bright idea flashed into my mind, and, after a slight hesitation, I said: “I do not want to stay in that little town of Sweetwater, and I am not going home without you.”
My reply was like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Mr. Bunton looked at me in amazement when I further said: “I know what I am going to do, and I guess you will think I am having a ‘brain storm,’ but I have already made up my mind. I am going up the trail with you.”
As soon as he could get his breath, he said: “My dear, you know you could not do that. In the first place, you could not stand the hardships and, another thing, there are dangers on that old trail that you have never dreamed of. It will likely take us six weeks or two months to make this trip, and besides, I have never heard of a woman’s going up the trail.”
In my state of mind, his telling of the hardships did not faze me, for, as he said, I had never had to endure any, and as for the dangers I had never experienced any, so it seemed more like an interesting adventure to me than a thing to dread. His saying he had never heard of a woman going up the trail just made me eager and more determined than ever that I was going.
To gain my point, I began to coax him into taking me, but listening to his better judgment, he said, “Please let’s not discuss your going any further. It isn’t either a safe or sane thiiig for you to do.” I was on the verge of hysteria when I thought of a woman’s weapon— tears. So I then looked up at him with my eyes fill of tears and sobbingly said, “Please take me. You could find a way if you wanted me to be with you. I remember your saying this morning that your slogan was ‘where there’s a will there’s a way.”
He had never seen me shed tears and it was an entirely new experience & prooved to be the “straw that broke the camel's back."
He hurriedly said, “Please don’t cry. I thought you were only joking when you said you were going with me. It is true that I have always believed that one can accomplish wonders, if he tries hard enough, but you surely are putting me up against a hard proposition, and I don’t for the life of me see how I can manage it.”
As I continued to sob a little, he said, “If your heart is set on going, I guess it is up to me to find the way.” When he said this, I knew I had gained my point, so I looked up brightly and dried my tears and was soon happy again, while he rode away to attend to his duties around the herds. After a little while, I heard Mr. Bunton coming back to camp, riding like the wind and once more I was frightened until I saw his face was all smiles. He called out to me, saying he had solved the problem.
“What do you have in mind?” I asked.
“Well, dear, it is this—you can start the trip with me, though I feel sure you will soon be sick of your bargain, and if you are, I can put you on the train at some point where the trail is close enough to the railroad for me to leave the herds, and you could go back home.” That settled the question, but I knew I would not be taking that train for home.
The news of my going spread like wildfire, even in that sparsely settled country and the very next day some of Mr. Bunton’s friends, relatives and business associates came from Sweetwater to remonstrate with him.
His oldest friend acted as spokesman and this is what he said: “Look here, young man, we have come out here to give you a talk straight from the shoulder, and we are not going to mince words with you either. To tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, all of us think you have lost your mind. It’s the craziest idea we ever heard of—your promising to take Mrs. Bunton with you on this trip up the trail. You ought to realize that she is too young, too inexperienced, and too unaccustomed to hardships of any kind to make such a trip, and she is a bride, besides. Why, man, even to let her start the trip with you will likely end in tragedy. Think it over, and you had better heed our warning.”
Then they made an earnest appeal to me, telling me that they were surprised that I would want to add the care of myself to Mr. Bunton’s already too great responsibilities. I just couldn’t see their viewpoint and so I told them plainly that while I greatly appreciated the interest they were taking in us and in our affairs, Mr. Bunton had promised to take me with him and I saw no reason why I should not hold him to his promise. I really thought it would be the thrill of my life to go up the trail with my handsome husband and I want to assure my readers that it was a thrill in more ways than one. Many times afterwards I thought in trembling remembrance how true was the saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
Hasty preparations had to be made for my going, and of course I had “nothing to wear”—that is, suitable for living for weeks on the trail and traveling all the time. Mr. Bunton’s cousin’s wife gallantly came to my rescue, however, and I was soon outfitted with a dark green woolen cloth “riding habit” and several wash dresses of hers which fitted me perfectly. I also carried along one evening dress to be prepared for the social affairs of civilization when we reached the end of the trip.
In less than four days the three herds of cattle were thrown back on the trail and we started on that long, and to me, never-to-he- forgotten journey. The “chuck wagon” was loaded to the bows with supplies, camp paraphernalia and cowboy belongings, leaving little room for our baggage. We managed, however, to crowd in a suitcase and our blankets. One of the outfits carried a small tent. It was loaned to us and was stretched for our use at night. A tarpaulin was then put down with our blankets on that and we thus slept on the ground.
As the weather grew warmer, we abandoned the tent and had just the blue sky, spangled with millions of stars for our canopy, and the cowboys riding around the herds at night, singing their soothing songs lulled us to peaceful slumber.
There was a fine team of horses on the ranch but they were none too gentle, so in making preparations for my going on the trip, the question arose as to whether I would be able to manage this team if they were hitched to the buggy I was to drive.
It was finally left for me to decide the matter. I was simply terror stricken for I had had very little experience driving a team. I was even shaking in my shoes. I knew, however, that I dared not show the white feather, for if I did they would probably brand me a “scared-cat” and likely as not, it would cause me to be left behind. So, I plucked up my courage and, though there was a lump in my throat, I managed to say, “Don’t let that worry i you; of course I can handle that beautiful team. Mr. Bunton ought to know that I am not afraid of horses.” That settled the controversy.
Mr. Bunton realized that the trip would be a long hard one for me and he was determined to make it as comfortable for me as he possibly could, so a Concord buggy was bought. It was the finest buggy of its kind made at that time and was the last word in buggy comfort. It was the kind of buggy used by cattlemen generally for traveling long dis tances over rough roads. As Mr. Bunton’s duties were very arduous on the trail, I had to drive or ride alone almost all the way.
Among a small bunch of horses which Mr. Bunton had purchased to use on the trail was a full-blooded Spanish pony, a beauty in cream color with long white mane and tail. As soon as I saw him I claimed him as mine, but Mr. Bunton doubted whether it was wise to buy it,as its owner stated that no man could ride it as his wife had spoiled it from the time it was a colt and it was “mean as the devil.” He said his wife was heartbroken to part with the pony but they just had to sell him.
The pony was “bridlewise” and a woman could easily ride him when he was saddled. “Please, Howell, let me have that pony,” I said, “He is such a beauty and just look how he eats sugar out of my hand!” I guess when a couple is still newly-married and very much in love, if the wife should ask her husband for the moon and he could arrange to get it, he undoubtedly would do so. Anyway I got the pony and he proved a joy and was the best gaited saddle pony I ever rode.
However, he would never let a man ride him or even catch him if he was loose. Every cowboy in the outfit tried time and again to conquer him but they gave up in despair. Finally, I laid the law down to them, one and all, that none of them was ever to get on his back again. When they attempted to saddle-him for me to ride, he would paw, kick and fight every man that came near but the minute he heard my voice, he would neigh for me and as soon as I was in the saddle he was gentle and obeyed the slightest touch of my hand on the bridle.
I had ridden him many times as much as thirty-five or forty miles on certain occasions and the going was so easy that I was not fatigued and my pony was none the worse for the trip. When I grew tired of riding horseback on the trail, he was turned in with the herd or attached to the chuck wagon as were the team of fine horses which drew the Concord buggy when I wanted a change.
Every morning during the drive up the trail, Mr. Bunton was up and in the saddle by daylight for he must ride ahead of the herds to find grass, water and bed grounds for his cattle that night. He had to look after the saddle horses to see that they were well cared for and never abused.
Every few days he must count the cattle in the three herds to see that none was lost and no strays picked up on the way. He must use the maneuvering of a general to keep his small army of cowboys faithftil to their herding tasks day and night, and above all, he had to be a diplomat to keep peace among them in the camps. As there were no towns or villages close to the trail, Mr. Bunton had to arrange ahead for freight wagons loaded with supplies for the various camps to meet us at designated points along the trail.
Naturally, at first, it was a hardship for me to have to sleep on the ground. Oftentimes I was afraid to go to sleep as I remembered the harrowing tales I had heard of snakes, bugs and crawling and stinging things that infested the woods or prowled around hunting their prey at night. I am ashamed even now to tell how it frightened me when I first heard the snapping and snarling and fighting of the angry, hungry wolf packs as they came closer and closer to our camp at midnight, searching for food.
A panacea for my fears as I lay on my pallet at night was turning my face towards the sky, watching the stars. In my last year at school I had studied astronomy and knew quite a few of the constellations and where to look for them. The Pleiades were my favorites. Night after night, I watched them slowly rising through the mellow shade glistening like millions of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.
The first part of the trip was perfect in weather and in interest. It was a novel sight to see those immense herds of cattle slowly wending their way along the trail. Riding ahead of the herd I would turn in my saddle and look back, and it would look as if the entire face of the earth was just a moving mass of heads and horns.
I traveled most of the time with what was known as the “lead herd” and camped with it every night. This one herd consisted of some several thousand head of heifer yearlings, all red Durhams of the same size, age, and color. They had been bought from the old Richard King Ranch near Kingsville, Texas, which is one of the most famous in song and story. The herd also had a record of being the largest one of its kind driven up the trail that year. It made a beautiful sight on the trail. To me, it looked as if a dark-red far as the eye could see.
The old Chisholm Trail wound its way over the hills and through the valleys. Wild flowers grew in the greatest profusion everywhere and there were many rare varieties that I had never seen before. I was fond of flowers and it afforded me great pleasure and helped to while away the long, lonely hours to gather them in armfuls. Sometimes, I would fill my buggy and decorate my horses’ bridles and harness with the gorgeous blossoms, then I would weave a wreath for my hair and a chaplet of flowers for my shoulders.
I was young, romantic and imaginative and, having to ride alone so much I really fancied that the lovely flowers growing along the roadside knew me and would wave, smile and nod to me as I drove through them. Seated in my flower-bedecked buggy it was easy enough for me to pretend that I was taking part in a grand flower parade.
The cowboys felt sorry for me in having to spend so much time alone, so they humored my whims. If any of them chanced to pass anywhere near and see me arrayed in flowers as if a Solomon in all his glory, they would stop their horses, take off their hats and make me a sweeping bow, and as they bent low over their saddle horns would exclaim: “Hail to the cowboys’ beautiful queen of the flowers!”
There were so many, many birds in the forest and I marveled at their songs and their varied and gorgeous plumage. I was always looking for the Bob-Whites calling from the tall grass or listening for the mocking birds singing their songs in the beautiful old trees. Ofttimes, leaving the trees, they would fly higher and higher while a trail of song floated back as if to cheer me on my lonely way, long after the clouds had hidden the birds from view.
Another fascinating sight was the great patches of wild berries ripening along the roadside. Early in the morning, wet with dew they would sparkle in the sunshine as if the fairies had sprinkled them with diamond dust.
There were other beautiful things too numerous to mention, but, on the other hand, there is another side to my story of the trail. I was so afraid of the unknown wild animals, the queer sounds at night and the prospect of wild Indians roving near. I dreaded to hear the lonely hooting of the owls at eventide and, too, how frightened I was the first time I saw a sleek, spotted leopard stealthily creeping through the underbrush close beside me as I rode the trail! Ofttimes, my blood would run cold when I would be awakened just before dawn by the human-like screams of a panther calling to his dead mate which some ruthless hunter had killed.
There were three other things on that old trail that disturbed my peace of mind—the Indians, the rattlesnakes, and storms. The Indians were supposed to be peaceful, but every few days, “cattle barons” came from scattered ranches to see the herds and to look through them for stray cattle. On these rare occasions they would never fail to tell us of the cruelties and atrocities practiced by the Indians and warn us of their treachery.
These stories were brought home to me one morning, very forcibly, when riding along. I drew up at a small shack just off the side of the road where some saddled horses were tied to the trees and men were standing around in groups apparently in serious conversation. A woman’s curiosity prompted me to stop and find out what was the matter. To my horror, I saw there a man, his wife, and a little child that had been murdered and scalped by the Indians and then dragged into the cabin, their blood still fresh on the doorstep!
There came a day on the trail when even the early morning was too hot for comfort. As the sun rose higher it grew hotter and hotter— the intense heat seemdd not only to affect my nerves but to make my head ache and my eyes burn. The horses seemed harder than usual to drive and to keep on the trail. Finally, I was almost in a state of collapse. I wanted to get out of hearing of the lowing of the cattle, and the noisy cowboys slapping their leggings with their quirts, and whistling and calling to the cattle trying to urge the poor leg-weary things along, and keep them strung out on the trail. The dust was suflbcating—my team of horses was restless and thirsty.
As Mr. Bunton kissed me good-bye that morning and reminded me of my promise not to get out of old Sam’s sight, I answered him mechanically. However, as the day wore on I became obsessed more and more with the desire to get away from the disagreeable surroundings, though I really didn’t mean to break my promise. I unconsciously slackened my horses’ reins when I thought I saw over a slight rise in the road ahead, a large group of trees. I thought how refreshing it would be to rest under the shade until the wagon came along, and I felt sure I would find water in the creek for my horses. Soon the team was traveling at a rapid clip—I suppose they had smelled the water—for I remembered that Sam, the negro camp cook, had told me that “old mother nature” had endowed horses with instinct and they could always locate a stream of water when they were thirsty.
It was not long until we reached the high bluffs and came in sight of a creek. I checked the horses’ speed a little as we drove down the steep banks.
The water was up to the horses’ knees and clear as crystal. At once the horses seemed to sense danger and began to paw the water and snort. They never even lowered their heads to drink, I tapped them with the reins to remind them to go on across, but, those blooded horses had more sense than I had, for in less time than it takes me to tell it, they had wheeled around turning in midstream and were running up the bluff at breakneck speed. As they turned, I caught sight of five or six big Indian bucks grunting and wallowing around in the cool mud and water.
In the meantime, old Sam had missed me. My buggy tracks were the only clue he had to the way I had gone. Be put whip to his mules and was coming to hunt me as fast as he could. The wagon sheet was flapping, the tin pans and plates were rattling and at every turn of the wheels the jolting was scattering everything loose out of the wagon all along the trail.
Sam said later that he couldn’t see me sitting in the buggy for the cloud of dust that enveloped me—that he was praying with every breath, that God would let him save the “young Missus” from the Indians, even if it cost him his life. Well, I was saved through the wise action of those fine horses but I’ll never forget the fright nor the comic figure old Sam cut with his galloping mules and clattering chuck- wagon.
You may like to hear some tales about the rattlesnakes we met on the trail, so I shall give you some of our experiences in that line, as my close association with ranch life and the tall tales told by the cowboys may have given me a little proficiency in that respect.
All Spring the weather had been very warm and rattlesnakes were to be seen and heard everywhere. I was almost afraid to walk around on the ground in daylight for fear of being bitten. I had to watch out every moment, for even as I rode along they would hiss as they lay alongside the road, coiled ready to strike. Giant rattlers, sometimes as many as six or eight by actual count would be coiled beneath the shade of the trees enjoying the sunlight and growing warmth.
Once, a mother snake and her family of little snakes crossed the road just ahead of me, frightening my horse so that he came in an ace of pitching me over his head into their midst. One day, Mr. Bunton decided to count the cattle in the herd behind us, so I went with him. We were returning to camp, and, as usual after a day’s trip we were tired and hungry, so we sat down near the chuck wagon and old Sam was serving us supper when one of the cowboys came up and kindly offered to spread our blankets for the night.
It was a little too dark for him to see the ground plainly, so he spread the tarpaulin and blankets over a rattlesnake hole without knowing it. In the night, the snake, I suppose, got too warm or possibly hungry, so it crawled out of its hole, and as it could not get out from under the tarpaulin because of the weight of our bodies, it stretched its body full length between us.
As usual, the next morning we were up before day, and as it began to get near daylight, I chanced to notice the ridge under our blankets. I spoke of it to Mr. Bunton only to be laughed at for my fears, and, to tease me, he asked me if my hair rope had lost its charm. He assured me the ridge was nothing more than a small branch of a tree that George failed to see when he spread our blankets the night before.
His explanation failed to satisfy me, so I lingered around to see for myself, and sure enough, when the blankets were rolled away for the day, there we found his snakeship peacefully sleeping. We were so amazed and yet so thankful that he had not bitten us that we allowed that five foot diamond back rattler with its many rattles and a button to crawl back into its hole unharmed!
The season had been very dry with scarcely enough rain at any one time to lay the dust, but just after crossing the line into Kansas, we struck one of the terrible storms we had been hearing about. It was indeed one of the most terrifying electrical storms I have ever witnessed. We were out in the open without any sheltering walls or roof and we received full benefit of the performance. The clouds had begun to gather in the northwest shortly after noon.
As the day drew ahead of the herds to Coolidge, Kansas, to see what the chances were of his disposing of the cattle there. Coolidge, at that time, was one of the wildest frontier towns in the West. It had the reputation of being inhabited chiefly by bandits, gamblers, cow thieves, and murderers, but as we drove through its dusty streets, I was not one bit frightened, nor was I ever so much as thinking of the shocking tales I had heard. Instead, my heart was singing with joy, for, after two months on the trail, at last I would have a roof over my head, a good hot bath and a comfortable bed.
As we drove up to the hotel, we recognized men from home standing in groups on the sidewalk. As soon as they saw us, they came rushing out to meet us with open arms, shouting their welcome. I was fairly lifted out of the buggy and my feet never touched the ground while I was carried and safely installed inside of the hotel. Every step of the way, those gallant cattlemen in loud voices were proclaiming me as the “Queen of the Old Chisholm Trail” and that night at a great impromptu feast and ball at the hotel, I was wined, dined and toasted and made to feel like a real heroine in a great western frontier.
After returning from the trail drive, the Buntons moved to Mary’s father’s ranch in Dimmit County, near Eagle Pass, Texas. Mary enjoyed living on the ranch even though at one time her life was threatened by Mexican outlaws.
In later years, Mrs. Bunton lived in Austin, where she was a prominent member of society. At times she would be called upon to recount her experiences on the Old Chisholm Trail. In a preface to A Bride on the Old Chishoim Trail in 1886 Mary Connor Cook describes one such océasion: “The story is told with such perfect poise and in voice low-pitched, yet so perfectly modulated that it reaches the farthest away in a crowded auditorium; told dramatically because it is dramatic, and made to live for her hearers it is still so vivid in her memory.”
Many people implored Mrs. Bunton to write a book on her experiences on the ranch in Dimmit County, but she never did. Mary Taylor Bunton died in Austin in 1952 at the age of eighty-nine.
Mary Sherwood Wightman Helm
Description of the First Texans
This exert if from page 24-25.
“Their unassuming, free-and-easy benevolent manners were most admirable. We didn’t expect such perfect Chesterfields in the garb of deerskin and moccasins, and such unselfish benevolence. All knowledge seemed practical, useful fitted to any emergency, especially in children, which seemed so strange. They tread in the ways and manners of their elders, without a rebuke, as with us, if we, when children, should presume to give our opinions to elders; but I saw the advantages.
These precocious youths were sent out on a message of fifty or a hundred miles alone through unsettled regions, where he was obligated to assume the manhood he had been practicing from almost his infancy. For the very infant is expected to be introduced to every stranger and to give his little hand to everyone coming or leaving, thus cultivating the habits of social and benevolent feeling. While we northerners treat children as nonentities, and, unless business or necessity compels, the bashful youth, in consequence, shirks the society of his elders and superiors.”
“And then I could but notice that every boy was almost a knight errant. I noticed great deference paid to all the females: no man would remain sitting when one of us entered the house, fort, or camp, and thus it was everywhere as we traveled or camped out. All the severe work on such occasions was done by the men of the company.”
Ann Raney Coleman
exert is from pages 31-32.
“The country was full of bachelors, but very few ladies. We expected a room to ourselves, but on being told that the gentlemen slept on the one side and the ladies the other side of the room, I opened both my eyes and my ears and looked again at my hostess, who didn’t seem to be jesting.”
“The ladies all laughed at us and said, ‘By the time you have been in Texas a few months, if you travel in the country, you’ll have to sleep with the man and his wife in the house you visit,’ as houses were only log cabins with two rooms, one for house servants, the other for the family.”
Preface to the Parker Tragedy
by T.R. Ferenbach
The Anglo frontier in Texas was not a frontier of traders, trappers, & solders, as in most other states. It was a frontier of farming families, with women & small children, encroaching & colliding with a long-ranging barbaric, war making race. For 40 yrs, this bleeding ground was filled with men & boys, wives & sons, who had kinfolk carried off never to be heard from again.
Thousands of frontier families were to see the results of Comanche raids: men staked out naked to die under the blazing sun, eyelids & genitals removed; women & female children impaled on fence poles & burned.
Captives found still writhing, dying, with burned-out coals heaped on scrota & armpits; ransomed teenage girls & women returned to their relatives with demented stares. (Females captives were raped & tortured). Almost every ranch, every waterhole, & every family had its record of gunshots in the night & blood under the sun.
Texans had to be warlike to SURVIVE. The dominant Texan viewpoint was not that Texans SETTLED Texas, but they CONQUERED it. Texas was never a refuge for the lowly, or oppressed, or a beacon proclaiming human rights.
Some Americans chose to conquer Texas, & in the process unquestionably came to look upon themselves as a sort of chosen race. This sense of being a chosen people, which was tribal & Biblical, was an enormous Texan strength rather than a weakness.
It gave Anglo-Texans immediate moral superiority, in action, over their enemies. It led to high nobility & at times a valor almost beyond belief.
The struggle, the violence, the tribal instincts, & the feeling for place that these engendered may have separated Texans from other Americans, but tended to make Texans closer, in most ways to the rest of mankind.
The Following exert is not suitable for children & contains terrible descriptions of death & violence.
In the year of 1834, the Parker clan of 30 hard shell Baptists settled into the later Limestone County (modern day Groesbeck), close to Waco, in Central Texas
On the morning of May 19, 1836, the Comanches overtook them all, stabbed John Parker, scalped & cut off his private parts. Granny Parker was stripped, speared to the ground & raped. They left behind 5 dead men, & 2 women who would die from their injuries. Granny Parker pulled the spear from her flesh & lived. She was tough stock.
Rachael Parker Plummer & her children were taken captive in the raid. The following is her story, written her own words...
On the 19th of May, 1836, I was living in Fort Parker, on the head waters of the river Navasota. My father, (James W. Parker,) and my husband and brother-in-law were cultivating my father’s farm, which was about a mile from the fort. In the morning, say 9 o’clock, my father, brother-in-law, and brother, went to the farm to work. I do think they had left the fort more than an hour before some one of the fort cried out, “Indians!”
The inmates of the fort had retired to their farms in the neighborhood, and there were only six men in it viz: my grandfather, Elder John Parker, my two uncles, Benjamin and Silas Parker, Samuel Frost and his son Robert, and Frost’s son-in-law, G. B. Dwight. All appeared in a state of confusion, for the Indians (numbering something not far from eight hundred) had raised a white flag.
On the first sight of the Indians, my sister (Mrs. Nixon) started to alarm my father and his company at the farm, whilst the Indians were yet more than a quarter of a mile from the fort, and I saw her no more. I was in the act of starting to the farm, but I knew I was not able to take my little son, (James Pratt Plummer).
The women were all soon gone from the fort, whither I did not know; but I expected towards the farm. My old grandfather and grandmother, and several others, started through the farm, which was immediately joining the fort. Dwight started with his family and Mrs. Frost and her little children. As he started, Uncle Silas said, “Good Lord, Dwight, you are not going to run?” He said, “No, I am only going to try to hide the women and children in the woods.” Uncle said, “Stand and fight like a man, and if we have to die we will sell our lives as dearly as we can.”
The Indians halted; and two Indians came up to the fort to inform the inmates that they were friendly, and had come for the purpose of making a treaty with the Americans. This instantly threw the people off their guard, and Uncle Benjamin went to the Indians, who had now got within a few hundred yards of the fort. In a few minutes he returned, and told Frost and his son and Uncle Silas that he believed the Indians intended to fight, and told them to put everything in the best order for defense.
He said he would go back to the Indians and see if the fight could be avoided. Uncle Silas told him not to go, but to try to defend the place as well as they could; but he started off again to the Indians, and appeared to pay but little attention to what Silas said.
Uncle Silas said, “I know they will kill Benjamin”; and said to me, “Do you stand there and watch the Indians’ motion until I run into my house”—l think he said for his shot pouch. I suppose he had got a wrong shot pouch as he had four or five rifles. When Uncle Benjamin reached the body I was now satisfied they intended killing him. I took up my little James Pratt, and thought I would try to make my escape. As I ran across the fort, I met Silas returning to the place where he left me. He asked me if they had killed Benjamin.
I told him, “No; but they have surrounded him & I know they will kill him, but I will be good for one of them at least.” These were the last words I heard him utter. I ran out of the fort, and passing the corner I saw the Indians drive their spears into Benjamin. The work of death had already commenced. I shall not attempt to describe their terrific yells, their united voices that seemed to reach the very skies whilst they were dealing death to the inmates of the fort. It can scarcely be comprehended in the wide field of imagination. I know it is utterly impossible for me to give every particular in detail, for I was much alarmed.
I tried to make my escape, but alas, alas, it was too late, as a party of the Indians had got ahead of me. Oh! How vain were my feeble efforts to try to run to save myself and little James Pratt. A large sulky looking Indian picked up a hoe and knocked me down. I well recollect of their taking my child out of my arms, but whether they hit me any more I do not know, for I swooned away.
The first I recollect, they were dragging me along by the hair. I made several unsuccessful attempts to raise to my feet before I could do it. As they took me past the fort, I heard an awful screaming near the place where they had first seized me. I heard some shots. I then heard Uncle Silas shout a triumphant huzza!
I did, for one moment, hope the men had gathered from the neighboring farms, and might release me.I was soon dragged to the main body of the Indians, where they had killed Uncle Benjamin. His face was much mutilated, and many arrows were sticking in his body. As the savages passed by, they thrust their spears through him. I was covered with blood, for my wound was bleeding freely. I looked for my child but could not see him, and was convinced they had killed him, and every moment expected to share the same fate myself.
At length I saw him. An Indian had him on his horse; he was calling mother, oh, mother! He was just able to lisp the name of mother, being only about 18 months old. There were two Comanche women with them (their battles always brought on by a woman), one of whom came to me and struck me several times with a whip. I suppose it was to make me quit crying.
I now expected my father and husband, and all the rest of the men were killed. I soon saw a party of the Indians bringing my Aunt Elizabeth Kellogg and Uncle Silas’ two oldest children, Cynthia Ann, and John, also some bloody scalps; among them I could distinguish of my grandfather by the grey hairs, but could not discriminate the balance.
Most of the Indians were engaged in plundering the fort. They cut open our bed ticks and threw the feathers in the air, which was literally thick with them. They brought out a great number of my father’s books and medicines. Some of the books were torn up, most of the bottles of medicine were broken; though they took on some for several days.
I had a few minutes to reflect, for they soon started back the same way they came up. As I was leaving, I looked back at the place where I was one hour before, happy and free, and now in the hands of a ruthless, savage enemy.
They killed a great many of our cattle as they went along. They soon convinced me that I had no time to reflect upon the past, for they commenced whipping and beating me with clubs, etc., so that my flesh was never well from bruises and wounds during my captivity. To undertake to narrate their barbarous treatment would only add to my present distress, for it is with feelings of the deepest mortification that I think of it, much less to speak or write of it; for while I record this painful part of my narrative; I can almost feel the same heart-rending pains of body and mind that I then endured, my very soul becomes sick at the dreadful thought.
About midnight they stopped. They now tied a plaited thong around my arms, and drew my hands behind me. They tied them so tight that the scars can be easily seen to this day. They then tied a similar thong around my ankles, and drew my feet and hands together. They now turned me on my face and I was unable to turn over, when they commenced beating me over the head with their bows, and it was with great difficulty I could keep from smothering in my blood; for the wound they gave me with the hoe, and many others were bleeding freely.
I suppose it was to add to my misery that they brought my little James Pratt so near me that I could hear him cry. He would call for mother and often his voice was weakened by the blows they would give him. I could hear the blows. I could hear his cries; but oh, alas, could offer him no relief. The rest of the prisoners were brought near me, but we were not allowed to speak one word together. My aunt called me once, and I answered her; hut indeed, I thought she would never call or I answer again, for they jumped with their feet upon us, which nearly took our lives.
Often did the children cry, but were soon hushed by such blows that I had no idea they could survive. They commenced screaming and dancing around the scalps, kicking and stomping the prisoners.I now ask you, my Christian reader, to pause. You who are living secure from danger—you who have read the sacred scriptures of truth—who have been raised in a land boasting of Christian philanthropy—I say, I now ask you to form some idea of what my feelings were. Such dreadful savage yelling! Enough to terrify the bravest of hearts. Bleeding and weltering in my blood; and far worse, to think of my little darling Pratt! Will this scene ever be effaced from my memory? Not until my spirit is called to leave this tenement of clay; and may God grant me a heart to pray for them, for “they know not what they do.”
Next morning, they started in a northern direction. They tied me every night, as before stated, for five nights. During the first five days, I never ate one mouthful of food, and had but a very scanty allowance of water.
After we reached the Grand Prairie, we turned more to the east; that is, the party I belonged to. Aunt Elizabeth fell to the Kitchawas, and my nephew and niece to another portion of the Comanches.
I must again call my reader to bear with me in rehearsing the continued barbarous treatment of the Indians. My child kept crying, and almost continually calling for “Mother,” though I was not allowed even to speak to it. At the time they took off my fetters, they brought my child to me, supposing that I gave suck. As soon as it saw me, it, trembling with weakness, hastened to my embraces. Oh, with what feelings of love and sorrow did I embrace the mutilated body of my darling little James Pratt.
I now felt that my case was much bettered, as I thought they would let me have my child; but oh, mistaken, indeed, was I; for as soon as they found that I had weaned him, they, in spite of all my efforts, tor him from my embrace. He reached out his hands towards me, which were covered with blood, and cried, “Mother, Mother, oh, Mother!” I looked after him as he was borne away from me, and I sobbed aloud. This was the last I ever heard of my little Pratt. Where he is, I do not know.
Progressing farther and farther from my home, we crossed Big Red River, the head of Arkansas, and then turned more to the northwest. We now lost sight of timber entirely.For several hundred miles after we had left the Cross Timber country, and on the Red River, Arkansas, etc., there is a fine country. The timber is scarce and scrubby. Some streams as salt as brine; and others, fine water. The land, in part, is very rich, and game plenty.
We would travel for weeks and not see a riding switch. Buffalo dung is all the fuel. This is gathered into a round pile; and when set on fire, it does very well to cook by, and will keep a fire for several days. In July, and in part of August, we were on the Snow Mountains. There it is perpetual snow; and I suffered more from cold than I ever suffered in my life before. It was very seldom I had anything to put on my feet, but very little covering for my body.
I had to mind the horses every night, and had a certain number of buffalo skins to dress every moon. This kept me employed all the time in day light; and often would I have to take my buffalo skin with me, to finish it whilst I was minding the horses. My feet would be often frozen, even while I would be dressing skins, and I dared not complain; for my situation still grew more and more difficult.
In October, I gave birth to my second son. As to the months, etc., it was guess work with me, for I had no means of keeping the time. It was an interesting and beautiful babe. I had, as you may suppose, but a very poor chance to comfort myself with anything suitable to my situation, or that of my little infant. The Indians were not as hostile now as I had feared they would be. I was still fearful they would kill my child; and having now been with them some six months, I had learned their language. I would often expostulate with my mistress to advise me what to do to save my child; but all in vain.
My child was some six or seven weeks old, when I suppose my master thought it too much trouble, as I was not able to go through as much labor as before. One cold morning, five or six large Indians came where I was suckling my infant. As soon as they came in I felt my heart sick; my fears agitated my whole frame to a complete state of convulsion; my body shook with fear indeed. Nor were my fears ill-grounded.
One of them caught hold of the child by the throat; and with his whole strength, and like an enraged lion actuated by its devouring nature, held on like the hungry vulture, until my child was to all appearance entirely dead. I exerted my whole feeble strength to relieve it; but the other Indians held me.
They, by force, took it from me and threw it up in the air, and let it fall on the frozen ground, until it was apparently dead. They gave it back to me. The fountain of tears that had hitherto given vent to my grief, was now dried up. While I gazed upon the bruised cheeks of my darling infant, I discovered some symptoms of returning life. Oh, how vain was my hope that they would let me have it if I could revive it. I washed the blood from its face; and after some time, it began to breathe again; but a more heart-rending scene ensued. As soon as they found it had recovered a little, they again tore it from my embrace and knocked me down.
They tied a plaited rope round the child’s neck and drew its naked body into the large hedges of prickly pears, which were from eight to twelve feet high. They would then pull it through the pears. This they repeated several times. One of them then got on a horse, and tying the rope to his saddle, rode round a circuit of a few hundred yards, until my little innocent one was not only dead, but literally torn to pieces. I stood horror struck. One of them then took it up by the leg, brought it to me, and threw it into my lap.
But in praise to the Indians, I must say, that they gave me time to dig a hole in the earth and bury it. After having performed this last service to the lifeless remains of my dear babe, I sat down and gazed with joy on the resting place of my now happy infant; and I could, with old David, say “You cannot come to me, but I must go to you;” And then, and even now, whilst I record the awful tragedy, I rejoice that it passed from the sufferings and sorrows of this world. I shall hear its deathly cries no more; and fully and confidently believing, and solely relying on the imputed righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, I feel that my happy babe is now with its kindred spirits in that eternal world of Joys.
Oh my dear Savior, by his grace, keep me through life’s short journey, and bring me to dwell with my happy children in the sweet realms of endless bliss, where I shall meet the whole family of Heaven—those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I would have been glad to have had the pleasure of laying my little James Pratt with this my happy infant. I do really believe I could have burried him without shedding a tear; for, indeed, they had ceased to (Low in relief of my grief) My heaving bosom could do no more than breathe deep sighs. Parents, you little know what you can bear, surely surely, my heart must break…
On one occasion, my young mistress & myself were out a short distance from town. She ordered me to go back to the town and get a kind of instrument with which they dig roots. Having lived as long, and indeed longer than life was desirable, I determined to aggravate them to kill me.
I told her I would not go back, She, in an enraged tone, bade me go. I told her I would not. She then with savage screams ran at me. I knocked, or, rather pushed her down, She, fighting and screaming like a desperado, tried to get up; but I kept her down; and in the fight I got hold of a large buffalo bone. I beat her over the head with it, although expecting at every moment to feel a spear reach my heart from one of the Indians; but I lost no time. I was determined if they killed me, to make a cripple of her.
Such yells as the Indians made around us— being nearly all collected a Christian mind cannot conceive. No one touched me. I had her past hurting me, and indeed, nearly past breathing, when she cried out for mercy, I let go my hold of her, and could but be amazed that not one of them attempted to arrest or kill me, or do the least thing for her. She was bleeding freely; for I had cut her head in several places to the skull. I raised her up and carried her to the camp. A new adventure this. I was yet undetermined what would grow out of it. All the Indians seemed as unconcerned as if nothing had taken place. I washed her face and gave her water. She appeared remarkably friendly.
One of the big chiefs came to me, and appeared to watch my movements with a great deal of attention. At length he observed— “You are brave to fight—good to a fallen enemy—you are directed by the Great Spirit. Indians do not have pity on a fallen enemy. By our law you are clear. It is contrary to our law to show you foul play. She began with you, and you had a right to kill her. Your noble spirit forbid you, When Indians fight, the conqueror gives or takes the life of his antagonist—and they seldom spare them.”
This was like a balm to my soul. But my old mistress was very mad. She ordered me to go and get a large bundle of straw. I soon Iearned it was to burn me to death. I did not fear that death; for I had prepared a knife, with which I Intended to defeat her object In putting me to death by burning, having determined to take my own life. She ordered me to cross my hands, I told her I would not do it, She asked me if I was willing for her to burn me to death without being tied. I told her that she should not tie me.
She caught up a s bundle of straw, and setting it on fire, threw it on me. I was as good as my word. I pushed her into the fire, and as she raised, I knocked her down into the fire again, and kept her there until she was as badly burned as I was. She got hold of a club and hit me a time or two. I took it from her, and knocked her down with it. So we had a regular fight. I handled her with more ease than I did the young woman.
During the fight, we had broken down one side of the house, and had got fully out into the street. After I had fully overcome her, I discovered the same indifference on the part of the Indians as in the other fight. The whole of them were around us, screaming as before, and no one touched us. I, as in the former case, immediately administered to her. All was silent again, except now and then, a grunt from the old woman. The young woman refused to help me into the house with her. I got her in, and then fixed up the side of the house that we had broken.
Next morning, twelve of the chiefs assembled at the Council House. We were called for, and we attended; and with all the solemnity of a church service, went into the trial. The old lady told the story without the least embellishment. I was asked if these things were so. I answered, “Yes.” The young woman was asked, “Are these things true?” She said they were. We were asked if we had anything to say. Both of the others said “No.”
I said I had. I told the Court that they had mistreated me—they had not taken me honorably; that they had used the white flag to deceive us, by which they had killed my friends—that I had been faithful, and had served them from fear of death, and that I would rather die than be treated as I had been. I said that the Great Spirit would reward them for their treachery and their abuse to me.
The sentence was, that I should get a new pole for the one that we had broken in the fight. I agreed to it, provided the young woman helped me. This was made a part of the decree, and all was peace again.
This answered me a valuable purpose afterwards, in some other instances. I took my own part, and fared much the better by it.
One evening as I was at my work (being north of the Rocky Mountains), I discovered some Mexican traders. Hope instantly mounted the throne from whence it had long been banished. My tottering frame received fresh life and courage, as I saw them approaching the habitation of sorrow and grief where I dwelt. They asked for my master, and we were directly with him. They asked if he would sell me.
No music, no sound that ever reached my anxious ears was half so sweet as “Ce senure” (yes, sir). The trader made an offer for me. My owner refused. He offered more, but my owner still refused. Utter confusion hovers around my mind while I record this part of my history; and I can only ask my reader, if he can, to fancy himself in my situation; for language will fail to describe the anxious thoughts that revolved in my throbbing breast when I heard the trader say he could give no more.
Oh! had I the treasures of the universe, how freely I would have given it; yea, and then consented to have been a servant to my countrymen.
Would that my father could speak to him; but my father is no more, or one of my dear uncles; yes, they would say “stop not for price.”
Oh my good Lord, intercede for me. My eyes, despite my efforts, are swimming in tears at the very thought. I only have to appeal to the treasure of your hearts, my readers, to conceive the state of my desponding mind at this crisis.
At length, however, the trader made another offer for me, which my owner agreed to take. My whole feeble frame was now convulsed in an ecstasy of joy, as he delivered the first article as an earnest of the trade. MEMORABLE DAY!
Col. Nathaniel Parker, of Charleston, Illinois, burst into my mInd and although I knew he was about that time in the Illinois Senate, I knew he would reach his suffering niece, if he could only hear of her, Yes, I knew he would hasten to my relief, even at the sacrifice of a scat in that honorable body, if necessary.
Thousands of thoughts revolved through my mind as the trader was paying for me. My joy was full. Oh! shall I ever forget the time when my new master told me to go with him to his tent? As I turned from my prison, in my very soul I tried to return thanks to my God who always hears the cries of his saints:
My God was with me in distress,
My God was always there
Oh may I to my God address
Thankful and devoted prayer.
I was soon informed by my new master that he was going to take me to Santa Fe. That night, sleep departed from my eyes. In my fancy I surveyed the steps of my childhood, in company with my dear relations. It would, I suppose, be needless for me to say that I watched with eagerness the day to spring, and that the night was long filled with gratitude to the Living Conservator of the divine law of heaven and earth.
In the morning quite early, all things being ready, we started. We traveled very hard for seventeen days, when we reached Santa Fe. Then, my reader, I beheld some of my countrymen, and I leave you to conjecture the contrast in my feelings when I found myself surrounded by sympathizing Americans, clad in decent attire. I was soon conducted to Col. William Donoho’s residence. I found that it was him who had heard of the situation of myself and others, and being an American indeed, his manly and magnanimous bosom, heaved with sympathy characteristic of a Christian, had devised the plan for our release.
I have no language to express my gratitude to Mrs. Donoho. I found in her a mother, to direct me in that strange land, a sister to console with me in my misfortune, and offer new scenes of amusement to me to revive my mind. A friend? Yes, the best of friends; one who had been blessed with plenty, and was anxious to make me comfortable; and one who was continually pouring the sweet oil of consolation into my wounded and trembling soul, and was always comforting and admonishing me not to despond, and assured me that everything should be done to facilitate my return to my relatives; and though I am now separated far from her, I still owe her a debt of gratitude I shall never be able to repay but with my earnest prayers for the blessing of God to attend her through life.
The people of Santa Fe, by subscription, made up $150 to assist me to my friends. This was put into the hands of Rev. C——, who kept it and never let me have it; and but for the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Donoho, I could not have got along.
Soon after I arrived in Santa Fe, a disturbance took place among the Mexicans. They killed several of their leading men. Mr. Donoho considered it unsafe for his family, and started with them to Missouri, and made me welcome as one of his family. The road led through a vast region of prairie, which is nearly one thousand miles across. This, to many, would have been a considerable undertaking, as it was all the way through an Indian country. But we arrived safely at Independence, in Missouri, where I received many single favors from many of the inhabitants, for which I shall ever feel grateful. I stayed at Mr. Donoho’s but I was impatient to learn something of my relatives.
My anxiety grew so great that I was often tempted to start on foot. I tried to pray, mingling my tears and prayers to Almighty God to intercede for me, and in his providence to devise some means by which I might get home to my friends. Despite of all the kind entreatiesof that benevolent woman, Mr, Donoho, I refused to be comforted and who, I ask, under these circumstances, could have been reconciled?
One evening I had been In my room trying to pray, and on stepping to the door, I saw my brother—In—law, Mr. Nixon. I tried to run to him, but was not able, I was so much overjoyed I scarcely knew what to say or how to act. I asked, ‘Are my husband and father alive?” He answered affirmatively. “Are mother and the children alive?” He said they were. Every moment seemed an hour. It was very cold weather, being now in dead of winter.
Mr. Donoho furnished me a horse, and in a few days we started, Mr. Donoho accompanying us. We had a long and cold journey of more than one thousand miles, the way we were compelled to travel, and that principally through a frontier country. But having been accustomed to hardships, together with my great anxiety, I thought I could stand anything, and the nearer I approached my people, the greater my anxiety grew.
Finally on the evening of the 19th day of February, 1838, I arrived at my father’s house in Montgomery County, Texas, Here united tears of joy flowed from the eyes of father, mother, brothers and sisters; while many strangers, unknown to me, (neighbor’s to my father) cordially united in this joyful interview.
I am now not only freed from my Indian captivity, enjoying the exquisite pleasure that my soul has long panted for.
Oh! God of Love, with pitying eye
Look on a wretch like me; That I may on thy name rely,
Oh, Lord! be pleased to see.
From my poor wounded heart, Yet thou my wishes did reward,
And sooth’d the painful smart.
How oft have sighs unuttered flowed
* * *
In her preface to “The Rachel Plummer Narrative,” Rachel wrote: “With these remarks, I submit the following pages to the person of a generous public, feeling assured that before they are published, the hand that penned them will be cold in death.” She was right. On February 19, 1839, one year after her release from captivity, Rachel Plummer died.
The other four members of the Parker clan who had been abducted all eventually returned to civilization. Elizabeth Kellogg was ransomed six months after her capture. James Pratt Plummer was rescued six years later, John Parker refused to return to civilization until he contracted smallpox and was abandoned by the Indians.
He then became a rancher in Mexico and died in 1915. Cynthia Ann Parker’s story was as tragic as that of Rachel. She became the wife of one Indian chief and the mother of another. She was captured and returned to her family in 1860, but she never adjusted to civilized life and died in 1864, shortly after the death of her daughter, Prairie Flower.
COMANCHES Walked to TEXAS
The Spaniards brought the first horses, cows, pigs and sheep to this continent in the 1600’s. Horses & cattle escaped from the Spanish rancheros, & multiplied in the wild as mustangs & long horn cattle.
Texas’s harsh climate of 100 degree heat and scorching sun made it impossible to cross this territory on foot. Texas was never anyone’s sacred hunting grounds, but the advent of horses caused a violent struggle for this land.
The Comanches first walked to Texas in 1705, where they acquired wild mustangs. Women & children, as well as men, were spectacular horsemen, spending the majority of their lives on horseback. They came into power as fierce war waging Indians and controlled much of Texas with terrorism for over a hundred & fifty years.
When Stephen F. Austin first brought Anglo Whites to Texas, he did so with the understanding that Comanche Territory was to be avoided, because the Comanches glorified senseless violence, brutality & savagery.
The ways of the Comanches were nauseating to the whites & to Native American Indians in northern states that accepted Christianity, were extremely intelligent, & lived in civilized farming communities. Rape, torture, & sexual mutilation were used by the Comanches to strike fear in the hearts of anyone who thought of coming to Texas. Texas was an untamed Paradise, virgin territory that no man could lay claim to before horses.
Americans that came here were either crazy or courageous; believing Texas was their Promised Land, & that God had anointed them to take this land away from demonic savages for Texas to become a Christian Republic. Texan men, women & children died for their beliefs.
Comanche Indian War Party
“War parties, particularly, were a resplendent sight. The warriors had painted their faces red and most of them wore headdresses of buffalo horn or deer antlers. Their long lances had also been painted red, and each warrior carried a shield of tanned buffalo hide ‘painted in gaudy colors and decorated with a circle of feathers’ which fluttered whenever the shields were moved, perhaps serving to spoil an enemy’s aim.
“Even the horses shared in the rider’s adornment, their heads and tails being painted ‘carmine red.’ Warriors had attached red ribbons to their horses’ tales; many wore headdress of buffalo horns or deer antlers, one wore a headdress made of ‘a large white crane with red eyes,’ and others wore all sorts of plunder. One huge warrior wore ‘a stove pipe hat’ and another ‘a fine pigeon-tailed cloth coat, buttoned up behind.’”
“Warriors carried bison hide shields, hardened, often paper-stuffed, and constructed with a convex outer surface to turn enemy arrows, blows and bullets. They were decorated with bear’s teeth, to show the owner was a great hunter; with scalps, to suggest his status as a warrior; and horse tails, to symbolize his prowess as a raider.”
“The ideal warrior was a vainglorious, somewhat egotistical, aggressive, independent person. Warriors encouraged their hair to grow long, & adorned themselves with jewelry, but their squaws were a pitiful sight. Women were slaves, property, chattel & were shared sexually as a favor to another warrior. Comanches were also superstitious & believed twins & dying elderly had evil spirits, so they were abandoned to die in the wilderness alone.”