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Copyright 1919 
By C. G. Raht and O. W. Williams 

Ml 24 1919 


This volume is dedicated 

to the memory 

of the late 

William B. Bloys 


I claim no literary merit for this work. Its very nature, 
wherein truth of statements is of the first importance, precludes 
the possibility of artistic writing. In gathering my data I have 
attempted to eliminate the personal viewpoint of the narrator, 
as well as of myself. I have used much material as it was 
given to me, simply because I feel that the original expresses 
more clearly than I could express the subject dealt with. 

I have tried to produce a work that will be of value to my 
readers. This book has been written under varying and trying 
circumstances. It has taken me two and a half years to compile 
my data and write the manuscript. During that time I traveled 
57,000 miles in a car, over good roads and bad and in all sorts 
of weather. My work has been interrupted by both sickness 
and sorrow, and very often my feet have wavered from the 
path I had chosen for them to tread. Still, I feel that I have 
done my best and that there are many who will appreciate this 
work. For those I am writing this introduction. 

It is impossible to name separately the sources from which 
I have drawn my material, and I must rest content to express 
my appreciation collectively to the hundreds who have con- 
tributed their knowledge to this book. The cover design was 
drawn by Mr. Waldo Williams, who, like myself, is a native 
of the Southwest. To him and his father, Judge O. W. Wil- 
liams, I owe much material and many suggestions. I further 
wish to thank for assistance rendered and data given, Mr. 
Barry Scobee, Capt. J. B. Gillett, Capt. John R. Hughes, Col. 
Geo, T. Langhorne, Mrs. Julia Lee Brown, Lieut. H, O, Flipper, 
and C. E. Way. 

In this work I have tried to convey something of the real 
West as it was and as it is. I have before me a letter from an 
old pioneer, which breathes the spirit of the West. He says — 
"The West ? There is no more West. It lives only in memory 


as the days that were. Sometimes when weary of the roar of 
the traffic on the streets, the clanging of the cars, the tramp- 
tramp of those who press the crowded thoroughfares in search 
for gold, I long for the old carefree days of thirty-five years 
ago ; for the mad rush after the cattle ; the shouts of the cow- 
boys; the slap-slap of the quirts against the leather leggings, 
around the milling herd. In fancy I can see the glimmering of 
the campfires, smell the fragrant coffee and the roasting ribs, 
and the burning hair from the branding pen. I long for the 
free-masonry of the days that are gone and the friendships 
that were strong and true. Like the buffalo and the red man, 
they are gone forever, but to us who linger along the 'trail' 
we cherish them fresh and green in our memories as the richest 
experiences of life." 

The Palisades, 
Fort Davis, Texas. 







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The first white man to set foot in the Big Bend of Texas 
was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, the Spanish adventurer. 
Forty-three years after Columbus discovered America, de Vaca 
discovered the Big Bend. He found a great region of lofty 
peaks and deep canyons, magnificent valleys and wind-swept 
plains — a region, which is an empire in itself, three times the 
size of Belgium, and equal in area to Ireland, South Carolina, 
or Maine. 

The Big Bend embraces the extreme southwestern portion 
of Texas, in the heart of the Spanish Southwest, and is some- 
times called the Lower Panhandle, from the fact that it forms 
an entering wedge between New Mexico, on the north, and 
the Republic of Mexico, on the south. Again it is often 
referred to — and correctly so — as the Trans-Pecos region, as 
it is bounded on the east by the Pecos River; but more prom- 
inently it is bounded on the south and west by the Rio Grande, 
which here forms a great bend, or curve, embracing three- 
fourths of the entire territory. For this reason, it is deemed 
proper to refer to it as the Big Bend country. 

In the dark days of the Spanish Inquisition, so runs the 
legend, the Kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre, respectively, 
were seated in grave council beneath the canopy of their joint 
council tent. About them were gathered their captains and 
soldiers — the flower of Spanish knighthood. 

Up in the mountain passes, strongly entrenched, crouched 
the Moors. Far outnumbering their Spanish foes, and con- 



scious of their strength, they patiently awaited the hour to 
strike a fatal blow. 

Realizing their desperate plight, the Spanish kings looked 
at their followers in growing perplexity. Should these soldiers 
be hurled against the Moors, in a desperate effort to break 
through the coils, which daily grew tighter about the allied 

The answer came in an unusual manner and from an 
unexpected quarter. A sentry, closely guarding a peasant in 
the garb of a goat-herd, pushed through the soldier throng, to 
the feet of the three kings. "Sires," said he, bringing up with 
a salute, "this man begs an audience with your Majesties." 

"Let him speak," said the King of Castile, although he 
frowned at the interruption. 

The peasant bent low over the King's hand. "Sire," he 
said, "my name is Martin Alhaja, a goat-herd. With your 
Majesties' permission, I can take you to a pass that I know 
in the mountains, which will lead you to the rear of yonder 
Moors. I have marked it well with la caheza de vaca (the head 
of a cow), so placed that you can see it from a great distance." 

Due to this timely information, the allied armies gained a 
strong position, and on the nth day of July, 1212, the battle 
of Las Navas de Tolosa was fought and won by the Spanish 

In payment for his services, the humble goat-herd was 
ennobled, and he was given the name, Cabeza de Vaca — "The 
Head of a Cow" — to denote the origin of his improved social 
condition. From Martin Alhaja descended a long line of 
explorers and hardy adventurers. 

When Governor Panfilo de Narvaez sailed from the Port 
of San Lucar de Barrameda, June 27, 1527, with orders from 
Charles V of Spain to explore and conquer Florida, he took 
with him as comptroller and royal treasurer, Alvar Nuiiez 
Cabeza de Vaca, a descendant of the one-time humble goat- 
herd. No doubt, in his day, the goat-herd had been looked 
upon as being a great adventurer; but it remained for Alvar 
Nunez and three followers to trace their footsteps across the 


American continent, from ocean to ocean, unarmed and almost 
naked, in the greatest of all adventures. They were passed 
from tribe to tribe, sometimes as slaves, at other times as gods ; 
and, in the eight years of their wanderings, they saw no signs 
of white men and heard no speech, except the unintelligible 
jargon of the strange barbarians in whose midst they were 

After reaching the shores of Florida, misfortune befell the 
Narvaez expedition. Governor Narvaez, with half his force, 
numbering three hundred men, marched inland in quest of rich 
cities ; while he ordered the five ships to proceed westward, 
where he would meet them upon his return to the sea. But 
few of his land force lived to return, and those who did saw 
no ships. Tired of waiting, and confident that Narvaez and 
his land force had perished, the ships' crews had sailed for 
the home port. 

Already starving, the followers of Narvaez built five barges 
and put out to sea in search of a Spanish settlement known 
to be at Panuco, near the present-day seaport of Tampico, 

In a storm off Galveston Island, the barges were wrecked, 
and but a small remnant landed safely. So emaciated and ill 
were these that a dozen only survived. Four of the most able- 
bodied men were chosen to explore down the coast in search for 
Panuco, which the Spaniards believed to be nearby. 

Following the departure of these men, the weather turned 
cold — so bitterly cold that the Indians, who had been feeding 
the Spaniards on roots and fish caught from the water's edge, 
could no longer work. The crude lodges afforded but scant 
shelter or warmth, and both Indians and Spaniards died. De 
Vaca says, in his naive way, that "five Christians, quartered 
on the coast, were driven to such extremity that they ate each 
other up, until but one remained, who, being left alone, there 
was nobody to eat him." 

Almost immediately following the shipwreck and disinte- 
gration of the Narvaez expedition, de Vaca had been made a 
captive by the Indians, and he remained a slave for six years 


before he attempted to escape. The reason for this long 
deferred attempt was due to the fact that on an island not 
far from the abode of de Vaca's captors, there lived another 
member of the shipwrecked expedition, Lope de Oviedo, by 
name. Every year de Vaca went over to the island where lived 
this man and tried to persuade him to go in search of their 
countrj^men. But each year Oviedo put off going, until the 
sixth year, when he consented to accompany de Vaca on his 
westward journey. 

The island, where de Vaca found Oviedo, was appro- 
priately called the "Island of 111 Fate," and at the time the 
two Spaniards began their journey, they very reasonably sup- 
posed that all of their companions had perished. However, 
after journeying across four rivers, the fugitives met Indians 
of another tribe, who told them that further on were three 
white men. De Vaca called these Indians the Guevenes, and 
from them he also learned the fate of divers other Christians 
who had suffered great hardships and brutalities at the hands 
of the savages. By way of illustrating their accounts of ill 
treatment of the Christians, the Guevenes beat and kicked 
Oviedo in such a manner that death almost resulted, and de 
Vaca modestly stated that "neither did I remain without my 
share of it." 

As a result of this ill-treatment, Oviedo refused to pro- 
ceed further, preferring to return to the known dangers and 
hardships on the Island of 111 Fate, rather than face new 
perils. It is regrettable that Oviedo should have deserted de 
Vaca here, because in later years both men wrote largely of 
their experiences, and no doubt the combined observation of 
the two concerning what lay between the two oceans would 
have given a very complete and reliable history of the most 
remarkable journey ever undertaken by civilized man. 

It must be borne in mind that no settlement had yet been 
founded in the United States. The great exploration move- 
ment, which started in England to counteract Spanish explora- 
tions, was yet in its infancy. The voyage, which resulted in 
the founding of Jamestown, was undreamed of, and the set- 


tling of St. Augustine and Santa Fe was the work of a later 

These were the conditions which confronted the intrepid 
explorer, Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca, when he took sorrow- 
ful leave of Oviedo and saw his fellow-outcast take the "back 
trail." But one gleam of hope remained to keep black despair 
from overwhelming de Vaca: somewhere further on were 
three Christians like himself, and he turned his attention to 
establishing communication with them so that he might per- 
suade them to undertake the perilous journey with him. 

In the six years of slavery, de Vaca had learned many things 
about the ways and customs of the savages, which, while vary- 
ing slightly with each tribe, remained basically the same 
throughout the country in which he lived. During these years 
of servitude, which he spent so miserably on the Island of 111 
Fate and the nearby mainland, he became practiced in two 
arts. These were the art of healing and the art of barter. The 
first of these he had of necessity acquired that he might, in 
some degree, escape the ill-treatment accorded him by his brutal 
masters. Even the Indians must have felt the influence of de 
Vaca's personality, for while they beat and cuffed him unmer- 
cifully, they elevated him to the position of medicine-man, a 
place of high honor among them. 

De \'"aca's manner of healing varied slightly from that of 
the Indian medicine-men. The general practice of the Indians 
was to make a few cuts where the pain was located and then 
suck the skin around the incisions. After this they cauterized 
with fire — a method which de Vaca says was very effective. 
However, this method caused great pain to the sufferer, and 
produced a very small per cent of cures. 

Contrary to this method, de Vaca made the sign of the 
cross while breathing upon the patients, recited a Pater Noster 
and Ava Maria, prayed God to give them good health, and 
"inspire them to do us some favors." In answer to this not 
entirely disinterested prayer, de Vaca says, "Thanks to His 
will and the mercy He had upon us, all those for whom we 
prayed, as soon as we crossed them, told the others that they 


were cured and felt well again." This innocent statement 
would lead one to believe that the patient preferred to lie in 
favor of the Christian medicine-man, rather than have to 
undergo the pain and, perhaps, torture inflicted by the Indian 

For a time de Vaca fared better, but so great was the lack 
of food that sometimes he remained without eating for three 
days. Finally, unable to stand the torments of hunger and 
receiving such brutal treatment at the hands of the Indians, he 
decided to run away. So he struck out for the mainland, where 
he fell in with a tribe who treated him well. These 
Indians persuaded de Vaca to become a trader so that he 
might go from tribes along the coast to those further inland, 
bartering and exchanging those commodities held in esteem 
by the different tribes. Thus de Vaca would start from the 
coast with a stock in trade composed of sea shell, cockles and 
shell beads, journey inland, and shortly return with hides for 
clothing; red ocher, with which the Indians rubbed and dyed 
their hair and faces ; flint for arrow points ; glue and hard 
canes, with which they made arrow shafts and many ornaments. 

It was impossible for de Vaca to gain a speaking acquain- 
tance with all of the Indian tongues which he heard while a 
trader. Still, he mastered a great many useful words and a 
considerable vocabulary in the common sign language, which 
was understood at that time and is to-day by all Indians, 
whether of the East or of the West. 

De Vaca's period of slavery equipped him wisely for the 
journey he was about to undertake. Being a man of quick 
wit, initiative, and determination, he looked westward with 
optimistic eyes. 

Two days after Oviedo turned back, the Guevenes escorted 
de Vaca to a grove of pecan trees about three miles from the 
Indian village, and de Vaca found Andres Dorantes, one of 
the three of whom the Guevenes had already spoken. Later, 
Dorantes took de Vaca to where was Alonzo del Castillo, the 
second of the three men spoken of. These proceeded to find 
Estevanico, the Moor, who was the third man of whom the 


Guevenes told. Together the four plotted to make their 

From these men de Vaca learned many things that had 
taken place concerning the shipwrecked crews of the five 
barges. Governor Narvaez had been swept out to sea and 
lost. One by one the other members of the crews were 
accounted for. The four concluded that the ships, with those 
on board who had not joined the land expedition of Governor 
Narvaez, must have returned to Spain. There remained but 
one thing for them to do — act upon the suggestion of de Vaca 
and proceed westward in search of the Spanish colonies known 
to exist in Sinaloa, Mexico. 

It was now necessary to lull the suspicions of the Indians, 
so that the Indians might not kill them and thus prevent their 
escape. So de Vaca decided to remain six months longer 
with these Indians, who were called Mariames. With them 
also stayed Dorantes ; and again de Vaca found himself a 
slave — although, for once, a willing one. The family to whom 
de Vaca and Dorantes belonged, consisting of their master, his 
wife, their son, and another Indian, were all cross-eyed. Cas- 
tillo and Estevanico belonged to their neighbors, the Iguaces. 

These people, the Mariames and Iguaces, stand out more 
dearly in their tribal characteristics than any other people with 
whom de Vaca came in contact. Dorantes told de Vaca that 
a Christian, by name Esquival, had fled to the Mariames, and 
that because a woman had dreamed that he would kill her son, 
the Indians pursued and killed him. In proof of this, the 
Indians had shown Dorantes a rosary, a prayer book, and sword 
which had formerly belonged to Esquival. 

This was the bloodthirsty people with whom de Vaca chose 
to remain as a slave until the time came when they should move 
westward to the place of the tunas, or prickly pears, upon 
which they lived three months in the year. 

Unlike the powerful, well-organized tribes of the North, 
the Gulf Coast tribes were broken up into small, closely related 
family groups, each so-called tribe representing the strength 
of one family ; and it is highly probable that the dozen or more 


tribes to which de Vaca gave tribal names in his Neufragious, 
became known to Father Massenet, one hundred and fifty years 
later, as the Kingdom of the Tejas, or Texas. 

It was the custom of these Indians to destroy all girl babies, 
because they might marry their enemies and give birth to chil- 
dren who would become their foes. Their own wives were 
bought from other tribes, the price paid for a woman being a 
bow and two arrows. 

The women of these tribes were compelled to do all the 
hard work, for the men did nothing which might increase their 
hunger. Food was scarce, consisting largely of roots and herbs 
dug out of the ground, although occasionally, due to their great 
speed and endurance, the men would run down and kill a deer. 
During the time of the prickly pear, the Indians made merry 
with dancing and feasting. They were joined by other tribes 
from further west who traded bows and arrows for the dried 
tunas, and these were the tribes with whom the Christians 
meant to escape. 

When the Franciscan father went among the Tejas Indians, 
he noted a much improved condition over that which de Vaca 
found and described ; but one hundred and fifty years elapsed 
between de Vaca's journey and that of Father Massenet, and 
in that length of time it is reasonable to suppose that these 
Indians showed some progress. Very probably, while de Vaca 
was learning much from them, they also were learning much 
from him, 

r : Finally the great day arrived for the execution of their 
plans. The Indians went inland thirty leagues — ^practically 
ninety miles — to a country where the tunas were ripe. But the 
Christians were doomed to meet with disappointment. The 
Indians fell out among themselves about their women and 
began to fight; and they all separated, each one taking his 
family and going in different directions. So the four Chris- 
tians had to part, but not before they agreed to meet again at 
the same place the year following. 

A year! How slowly the time passed for the captives! 
Back to the old life of drudgery and abuse went the Christians, 


not knowing whether they would be alive to meet again. When 
they did come together the following year, they were separated 
by their captors, and each one was sent a different way. But 
they had agreed to meet at the same spot when the September 
moon became full. This they did and escaped. 

At the time the four Christians made their escape from 
their Indian captors, they were in the vicinity of the Lavaca 
River. The tunas were still ripe, and de Vaca hoped to gain 
food from them until they should reach the tribes further 
west where game was more plentiful. 

De Vaca journeyed along the Lavaca River which derives 
its name — the Cow River — from the fact that de Vaca saw 
his first buffalo there. His description, which follows, was 
the first description of the American bison, or buffalo, ever 

"Here also they (the Indians) came upon the cows; I have 
seen them thrice and have eaten their meat. They appear to 
me of the size of those in Spain. Their horns are small, like 
those of the Moorish cattle; the hair is very long, like fine 
wool and like a pea jacket ; some are brownish and others are 
black, and to my taste they have better and more meat than 
those from here (de Vaca wrote his account in Spain). Of the 
small hides the Indians make blankets to cover themselves 
with, and of the taller ones they make shoes and targets. These 
cows come from the north, across the country further on, to 
the coast of Florida, and are found all over the land for over 
four hundred leagues. On this whole stretch, through the 
valleys by which they come, people who live there descend to 
subsist upon their flesh. And a great quantity of hides are met 
with inland." 

From here the four wanderers struck out boldly into the 
Unknown, keeping their general course westv/ard, although 
on account of natural obstacles they were often deflected north- 
ward from their course. For one thing, Castillo and Dorantes 
could not swim. This made it necessary that shallow fords 
should be sought in the rivers they crossed. Then, too, in 
order to obtain food and be able to learn the, whereabouts of 


nearby Spaniards, should there be any, they were compelled 
to lay their course from village to village. 

On the afternoon of the first day, the tired fugitives saw 
a camp smoke at a distance ; and near sunset they struck the 
Tillage of the Avavares. These Indians de Vaca had known 
when they had brought bows and ornaments to barter with 
his former captors ; and for this reason, as well as because of 
his reputation as a medicine-man, de Vaca and his companions 
were made welcome. 

Hardly had the Christians been properly lodged before a 
number of Indians went to Castillo and begged him to relieve 
them of their sickness. De Vaca says that as quickly as Castillo 
njade the sign of the cross over the sick one and recommended 
him to God, all pain and illness disappeared. In return, the 
Indians brought to them many tunas and pieces of venison, 
and so large a number of Indians were cured that the Chris- 
tians had not room wherein to store the meat. 

But the Indians of the sixteenth century were as improv- 
ident as those of later time ; and after five days of feasting and 
celebrating, during which the Indians ate their store of tunas, 
or prickly pear, and venison, they began to suffer greatly from 
hunger. This forced them to move to another spot where the 
tunas were plentiful. 

At this new camp, de Vaca became separated from the 
others and was lost for five days. During this time he tasted 
no food and, being naked, he suffered from cold and bleeding 
feet. Just as he was about to give up, he happened to strike 
the shore of a river and there found the camp of his Indians. 

The fame of the Christians had gone all over the Indian 
country, so that wherever the Christians went they were sought 
after to cure the sick and bless the well. In this new spot came 
many different tribes in quest of tunas, and among them they 
brought five people who were paralyzed. These Indians, Cas- 
tillo was called upon to cure, which he did, as de Vaca affirms 
that God "seeing there was no other way of getting those people 
to help us so that we might be saved from our miserable exist- 
ence, had mercy upon us, and in the morning all awoke in such 


good health as if they never had had any ailment whatever." 
Up to this time, Dorantes and Estevanico, the Moor, had not 
made any cures ; but the business of healing grew to such pro- 
portions that they, too, were compelled to become medicine- 

After leaving these Indians, with whom tkey remained over 
a year, the Christians made rapid progress westward, and 
while they encountered many hardships and suffered hunger 
many times almost to the point of death, still they fared much 
better than they had fared in the coast country. 

So westward toward the Pecos River marched de Vaca, 
Castillo, Dorantes, and the Moor. Sometimes they were alone, 
hungry, and almost dead of thirst ; at other times they formed 
a triumphal procession, with followers numbering three or 
four thousand, whose reverence and abject fear felt for the 
divine beings sent among them to cure and bless them, caused 
de Vaca to say with some impatience "that it was very tire- 
some to breathe on and make the sign of the cross on every 
morsel of food they ate or drank." 

In this country, through which the Christians traveled, the 
Indians smoked tobacco and drank an intoxicating liquor, 
which they brewed from the leaves of a tree something like the 
water oak. The intoxicant might have been an early form of 
mescal, so extensively used by the Mexican Indian of to-day. 
Here the Indians celebrated the coming of the Christians with 
a great feast, at which they ate the mesquisuez, or the mesquite- 
bean. This bean the Indians pounded up into a meal which 
they mixed with earth and water, and which de Vaca says 
tasted very palatable to them. The Christians must have been 
hungry, indeed ! 

Now began a journey through many tribes, halting only 
long enough in a village to secure guides to conduct them to 
the next. After traveling until late in the afternoon, the four 
Christians crossed a large river, waist deep and swift of cur- 
rent. And at sunset they reached an Indian village. Here 
the people met them with much noise, which was made mainly 
with perforated gourds filled with pebbles, which the Indians 


told the Christians came from Heaven, and were sent down 
the river to them when the spring rises set in and overflowed 
the land. 

De Vaca often had a following of a great many people. While 
this was ascribed largely to the belief in his divinity, still it was 
in a measure due to a mercenary reason. It was the custom 
when de Vaca and his companions reached a village, for those 
who came with him, guides as well as his followers, to take all 
of the possessions of the Indians in that particular place. In 
this way the last followers of the Christians returned to their 
villages reimbursed for those things of which they had lately 
been robbed; and the people of the last village to which the 
Christians had come learned this custom from those Indians 
who had despoiled them, and followed de Vaca to the next 
tribe, with the expectation of being reimbursed for the things 
which they had recently lost. 

Perhaps this was fortunate for de Vaca, as at all times it 
kept him well supplied with guides. That the Indians did not 
bewail their losses, but rather looked forward to despoiling 
the tribe further on, is evident, for they told de Vaca not to 
permit this custom to worry him, as the tribes further on were 

The Christians now began to see mountains in the distance, 
and the Indians near them were of good physique and lighter 
skinned than any the Christians had seen in the land. Further- 
more, these Indians were quite intelligent, for after those who 
arrived with the Christians had sacked their dwellings, they 
gave to the white men strings of beads, ocher, bags of mica, 
and other ornaments, which they had hidden away for this pur- 
pose. Knowing the custom of pillaging, the next day, when de 
Vaca was about to leave, these Indians tried to prevail upon 
him to go to their friends who dwelt on the spur of the moun- 
tain. As an inducement, they said there were a great many 
lodges, and the people would give much to the Christians. This 
would have been good business for the Indians, as they knew 
the Christians took nothing themselves, but gave it to their 
followers. Also, they said that nobody lived where the whites 


intended going, neither were there tunas nor any other kinds 
of food. But de Vaca persisted in maintaining his course, and 
sadly these Indians turned back down the river. 

For four days, de Vaca and his companions marched up this 
river. Then they turned westward fifty leagues, following the 
direction of the mountains. Here they found a village where 
they remained a fortnight. Leaving this village, they crossed 
a mountain seven leagues long, and reached another village 
situated on the banks of a beautiful river. 

Here the Christians saw for the first time the signs of 
precious metals, the hopes of finding which had motivated 
Spanish explorations more than recovering the lost souls of 
the savages. The Indians gave Dorantes a big rattle of copper, 
upon which was represented a face, and which appeared to 
de Vaca to have been cast in a foundry. Again, another tribe 
gave them pouches of mica and powdered antimony (silver). 
Also, these people ate tunas and nuts of the pine, which grew 
on the small trees of sweet pines. Here de Vaca proved him- 
self skilled in surgery, by cutting an arrow-head from the breast 
of a savage, where it was athwart and had pierced a cartilage ; 
while with a deer-bone he made two stitches. Before de Vaca 
left the village, the Indian had wholly recovered and the wound 
had closed up. This successful operation increased de Vaca's 
fame ten- fold. 

After many days they reached the breaks and canyons in 
the neighborhood of the Pecos River. The Indians here were 
great hunters, and so large had de Vaca's following grown that 
it took one-half of them hunting constantly to supply them all 
with food. While some who carried bows and arrows hunted 
along the canyons' edges for deer, quail, and other game, others, 
armed with clubs three hands in length, hunted the rabbit ; and 
so skillful were they, says de Vaca, that "whenever a rabbit 
jumped up they closed in upon the game and rained such blows 
upon it that it was amazing to see, . . . and when at night we 
camped they had given us so many that each one of us had 
eight or ten loads." 

While continuing in a general westerly direction, but still 


in the country of many breaks and canyons, the Christians 
came suddenly upon the banks of the Pecos River. This river 
they crossed and continued for thirty leagues over a great plain, 
before they struck rugged mountains again. Here also they 
found a different people. At the end of this distance, guided by 
these new people, the Christians journeyed fifty leagues through 
rugged mountains, arid and devoid of game. They now came 
to a river that flowed between mountains — the Rio Grande, a 
short distance below Presidio, Texas, in the Big Bend; and 
here for the first time they saw a village composed of real 

From this point in his travels, de Vaca gives us little infor- 
mation regarding his route and the characteristics of the Indians 
with whom he came in contact. He considers it sufficient to 
say that he journeyed westward, until in April, 1536, he came 
upon a party of Spanish horsemen, who conducted him to the 
settlement of San Miguel. 



There is no story of the sixteenth century more romantic 
than that told in the Neufragious of Cabeza de Vaca. The hero 
starts out, armed in his panoply of the sixteenth century war- 
fare, to the discovery of some impossible Eldorado. He becomes 
the victim of cruel enemies ; he suffers all that man can imagine 
of the horrors of shipwreck and slavery ; torn by thorns, blis- 
tered by heat, ready to drop from starvation, and plainly 
doomed to death by savage masters, he drags himself painfully 
along on a tropic coast. From tragic death he is saved by 
the sign of the Cross, becomes a great medicine-man, and, 
after eight years of suffering, returned to his jealous country- 
men, a naked king at the head of barbarian worshipers. 

It has been a difficult task to locate precisely the ground 
covered by the itinerary of this romantic character. From the 
time when the survivors of the Narvaez expedition left Tampa 
Bay, Florida, in their boats whose "gun whales were not over 
one span above the water," until the naked remnant of three 
whites and a Barbary negro reached San Miguel, State of 
Sinaloa, Mexico, there is in the account no natural object — such 
as river, mountain, spring, or plain — mentioned which can be 
positively identified. It is certain only that they voyaged west 
from Tampa Bay, necessarily hugging close to shore ; that they 
were shipwrecked in a storm ; that they were in slavery for 
about six years ; that they escaped finally from the Indians 
and started westward, and in that land they passed from tribe 
to tribe as medicine-men, with a crowd of followers at times 
amounting to three or four thousand people ; and that they 
finally came back to their countrymen near the present town 
of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. The beginning and the end of 
the itinerary, as well as the point where these wanderers crossed 


the Rio Grande, are known, and in addition to this de Vaca's 
route has been worked out after years of painstaking study. 

The element of vagueness in de Vaca's account of his jour- 
ney which he gives in the Neufragious, written over a year 
after his return to his countrymen, is due to a desire on the 
part of de Vaca to report to King Charles V, not the story of 
bis personal adventures, but to convey to his royal master an 
adequate idea of the immensity of the country which he had 
traversed, the character of its productions, and the kind and 
number of its inhabitants. It was, one might say, an official 
report made to the crown by the sole survivors of an exploring 
expedition which had been sent out with the expectation of 
finding a rich country abounding in gold ; and in the report it is 
quite plain the hope lingered that such a country did exist. So 
de Vaca did not concern himself with matters so small as the 
accurate description of the natural objects of any section of 
country with a view to subsequent identification. 

It will therefore be of general interest to the reader to go 
into detailed reasons why de Vaca's route was outlined as in 
the preceding chapter. Judge O. W. Williams, of Fort Stock- 
ton, has given material assistance in compiling the following 
deductions ; and it might be worth while to state that Judge 
Williams' opinions, through a first-hand knowledge of the 
countries traversed by de Vaca and through years of earnest 
study of de Vaca's route, bear great weight. 

In his account, de Vaca relates that the tribes of Indians 
with whom he and the other Spaniards lived just prior to their 
escape to the west, were in the habit of migrating at a certain 
season of the year to a part of the country where they lived on 
the fruit of the prickly pear cactus for a term of three months 
in each year. The prickly pear is found in the Southern States 
and as far north as Illinois, but in order to meet the require- 
ments of de Vaca's narrative, a country must be found where 
the prickly pear ripens in great abundance and endures long 
enough to furnish food for the Indians three months of the 
year. This is not the case generally in Texas, but applies only 
to that portion of Texas lying south of a line drawn from 


Galveston to Eagle Pass. This gives a northern limit to the 
location of de Vaca when his party started westward. 

The only objection which can be properly urged against 
the legitimacy of this northern limit, is the contention that 
there may have been a change of conditions during the three 
hundred and ninety-three years which have elapsed since de 
Vaca passed through the countr)^ This objection as urged 
against the defining of the cactus country will also apply to 
some points under the same head whose value we shall consider 
in advance. 

There are three ways in which a considerable change in the 
natural growths of this country might have been brought about. 
First, we shall consider the probability of a change brought 
about by an increase or decrease in the rainfall, or the humidity 
of the climate. Drawing upon information given in old Spanish 
records from the very beginning of the Spanish occupancy of 
Texas, and taking the Mexican Government reports, and the 
United States Government reports of a later period, up to the 
present time, there is nothing of record to show a material 
change in rainfall or climatic conditions in Southwest Texas 
during the past four hundred years. Certainly there is no 
evidence that the change has been so great as to drive out any 
plant or even to alter materially the habitat of any species of 
vegetation. Irrigation was just as necessary in the south- 
western portion of Texas when first settled by the Spaniards 
as it is today. It is quite true that in Southwest Texas, farm- 
ing without irrigation is now practiced, while in earlier settle- 
ments it was carried on solely by irrigation, but it does not 
follow that the same kind of farming could not have been 
successfully carried on there from the beginning of the settle- 
ments. According to the authorities, the encroachment of 
farming upon lands in the United States formerly considered 
arid, has not been due to an increased rainfall, but is attributed 
largely to improved methods of tillage. 

The generally received opinion among scientists of the 
present day seems to be that the world is gradually, but very, 
very slowly, losing its humidity. However, this rate of decrease 


is so small as to be of little consequence in a period covering 
only four hundred years of the world's existence ; hence, so far 
as Texas is concefned, this decrease has been so small that it 
does not affect our calculations, and unless some special cause 
of increase or decrease of humidity has operated, the cactus 
would remain to-day suited to growth in large quantities in the 
same territory as it was in the day of de Vaca. 

But a change of habitat may have occurred through the 
agency of fire. De Vaca tells us that the favorite way of 
catching game to which the Indians resorted was to set fire 
to large areas of country. This necessarily must have destroyed 
some vegetation and, if persisted in for years, must have 
changed its character to some extent. At the present day, in 
West Texas, the effect of fire is shown in the changing char- 
acter of our grasses, and in many places some growths of 
grasses have been completely destroyed and replaced by other 
species. It is not, however, always easy to determine how 
far this change is due to fire, or to what extent it may be due 
to close grazing by stock. Cactus is not destroyed by fire, but, 
on the contrary, the destruction of other vegetation in this 
manner makes way for an increase of cactus. If this be true — 
and those who have observed it say it is true — then the cactus 
belt was probably not as far north four hundred years ago 
as it is now, or, possibly, the belt may remain now as it was 
then, with the cactus growth thickest in the original belt rather 
than spreading over more territory. Certainly, it seems prob- 
able that whatever effect fires must have had in changing the 
character of vegetation, and of cacti particularly, this change 
must have long been accomplished before the time de Vaca 
passed through Texas, as the Indian practice of "firing" for 
game was an ancient one. 

The third point to be mentioned is that the coming of civil- 
ized man must have introduced some changes in the vegetation 
of Texas. This would be more largely due to the introduction 
of cows, sheep, and horses, and the dissemination of the seeds 
of foreign and intrusive forms of vegetation. Take, for 
instance, the mesquite tree. De Vaca makes note of this tree 


only in East Texas, not far from the seacoast. To-day, the 
mesquite can be found from coast to coast. In the past twenty 
years, this tree has made perceptible advance in the country 
west of the Pecos. Forty years ago, the first great movement 
of cattle started westward, although there were a few herds 
prior to that time. Many of these herds reached the Trans- 
Pecos country, and, finding good range there, they remained. 
Since then the mesquite has encroached on plains once destitute 
of it. This result is commonly and reasonably attributed to the 
distribution of the seeds by cattle and horses, which are very 
partial to the mesquite. This is but one instance of many which 
might be given how seeds are carried from one country to 

But this can not be said of the cactus. It has been a few 
years only since the present breed of man entered Texas, and 
there are living to-day men whose memory goes back to the 
time when the cactus could have been very little influenced 
in its habitat by the advent of civilized man. It is one of the 
most persistent, conservative, and hidebound of our native 
growths, giving way only with the greatest reluctance, and 
in general holding tenaciously to time-honored territories and 

The pinon tree, which will be brought into consideration 
later, has been, up to the last half century, out of direct con- 
tact with civilization, at least so far as it is found in this state ; 
consequently, it can not have been affected by the presence of 
man. It is therefore reasonable to assume the situation and 
distribution of plants in this state to be very much the same 
now as in de Vaca's day, so far as the cactus and piiion are 

After leaving the cactus region, de Vaca was brought in 
touch with a new kind of animal life — the American bison, or 
buffalo. Just before de Vaca escaped from the Indians and 
commenced his westward march with his three companions, he 
was at one of the summer stations where the Indians lived 
three months on prickly-pear fruit; consequently, he was in 
the cactus region, south of the line drawn from Galveston to 


Eagle Pass, and not far from the coast. Of this country, he 
says: "Cattle come as far as here. Three times I have seen 
them and eaten of their meat"; then follows a clear descrip- 
tion of the buffalo and his habits. 

From the fact that he had seen buffalo and eaten of their 
meat only three times during the six years when he had 
remained a slave to the Indians, it is natural to conclude that 
the country from which he started on the westward march was 
at the extreme southern or southeastern limit of the buffalo 
range. De Vaca says, "Cattle come as far as here," as if 
they did not go any farther. By determining what that limit 
was in Southeastern Texas, in 1535, we can determine approxi- 
mately de Vaca's position before commencing his western 
journey. The nearest record, in point of time and locality, 
which can be established, is that left by La Salle's party when 
they attempted to settle Fort Saint Louis, about 1685, or one 
hundred and fifty years later. 

According to Parkman, Fort Saint Louis was situated on 
the Lavaca River, near Matagorda Bay, and the French were 
at this place in the summer of 1685, when buffalo were so 
abundant that they were, in the words of the Abbe Jontel, the 
"daily bread" for the French settlers there. So, at the time, 
the southeastern limit of the buffalo range must have been at 
least as far south as the Lavaca River. Up to the time Mata- 
gorda Bay was settled by the Americans and the buffalo were 
driven further westward, that country was their southeastern 
limit, and must have been even prior to the days of de Vaca 
and La Salle. 

The limits of the buffalo's range, prior to the entrance of 
man, were originally set by natural conditions, such as abun- 
dance or scarcity of grass and water, or winter temperature ; 
so it can be definitely stated that the southern and southeastern 
limit of the buffalo range was south of the Lavaca River, and 
we may safely conclude that when de Vaca started westward 
he started from a point somewhere south of the Lavaca River. 

After making their escape from the Indians here, the Span- 
iards marched a short distance to another tribe and concluded 


to winter with them. They remained with these Indians for 
eight months, until the mesquite-bean ripened, when they again 
took up their travels westward. The general course at which 
they aimed was toward the setting sun. The route could not 
be followed closely all day. Then, too, the Spaniards planned 
to travel from village to village and depend upon Indian guides. 
Very naturally, these guides led them over beaten and long 
used trails, which for various reasons often deflected from 
the general direction the Spaniards wished to go. In part, these 
deflections were caused by tribal treaties and tribal jealousies. 
It was but natural that the guides would lead the Spaniards, 
who were even then gaining a widespread reputation because 
of their miraculous cures, to friends rather than to their 
enemies; consequently, the trail from one village to another 
led the Spaniards far from their course. The other main reason 
for these deflections was that the trails followed water-coui ses, 
or, at least, passed by known springs. From such causes their 
course lay north-of-west. This is obvious, for had their course 
led to the west, or south-of-west, it would have carried them 
across the Rio Grande, and de Vaca would certainly have 
recorded this fact. Rivers which were not fordable were 
avoided as much as possible, due to the fact that neither Cas- 
tillo nor Dorantes could swim. 

After spending many days on the march, and making cures 
in some of the villages, they arrived at "many houses on the 
banks of a beautiful river. The people ate prickly pears and 
the seed of the pine. In that country were small pine trees, the 
cones like little eggs, but the seed is better than that of Castilla, 
as its husk is very thin and while green is beaten and made into 
balls to be eaten." This clearly is a description of what is 
known in West Texas as the pifion tree. It is common on high, 
rocky ground west of the Pecos River, but is found east of 
that river only in possibly two localities — the one on the breaks, 
or heads of small canyons, east of the Pecos River, and near 
the old Pontoon Bridge Crossing ; and the other in Edwards 
County. In either premise, de Vaca was obviously being led 
over the Great Indian Trail, which crosses the Pecos and 


strikes out for the great cross-roads of trails at Comanche 

The Spaniards' use of the term river, or "rio," is very 
confusing. Their interpretation of the word is different from 
its meaning in EngHsh. We speak of a river as being a stream 
of some importance. The Spaniard may call a dry-wash, or 
gully, a rio, and in the next breath designate a strong-flowing 
stream by the same term. For instance, the Spaniards spoke 
of the Rio Hondo, Rio Alamito, Rio Toyah, Rio Limpia, and 
Rio Comanche, all of which would be raised to considerable 
dignity by being termed creeks ; but these names were fastened 
on these streams in an early day by the Spanish explorers, who 
knew no Spanish equivalent to the English word "creek." Of 
such streams, Edwards County has several, and to the Span- 
iards they were "rios." Also, this country has the prickly-pear 
cactus in quantity, although not in such abundance as is to be 
found further south and east. 

After leaving this place, they traveled through a country 
abounding in people and game. "Those having bows were not 
with us ; they dispersed about the ridges in pursuit of deer, 
and at dark came bringing in five or six for each of us, besides 
quail and other game." 

West of Edwards County lies the great limestone plateau, 
extending to a point eighty or ninety miles west of the Pecos 
River. This plateau is cut off by canyons, the main canyons 
running north and south, while the lateral canyons run a little 
north-of-west and a little north-of-east. To one accustomed to 
that country, it would be the reasonable expectation that deer 
hunters would hunt along the ridges at the edge of canyons, 
where deer would be found lying in the shade of cedar trees, 
in the heat of the d^y. 

Another important fact to note is that this plateau country 
has a vast number of old rock heaps, said to have been used 
by Indians for roasting sotol and mescal. During certain 
seasons of every year this country must have a considerable 
Indian population living on roasted sotol and hunting the deer 
and buffalo. 


Shortly after, they passed over "a great river coming from 
the north." There are several reasons for concluding that this 
was the Pecos River, at, or about, the crossing near Sheffield, 
near where the Live Oak Creek empties into the Pecos River. 
At this point the Pecos River is flowing almost directly from 
the north, and as the distance traveled by de Vaca agrees 
approximately with the distance from the Pecos River at this 
point to the junction of the Conchos River and Rio Grande, 
where it is known he crossed into Mexico, and as he makes no 
further mention of crossing a river until he reached the Rio 
Grande, it may be safely concluded that this was the point 
where de Vaca crossed the Pecos River on the old Indian trail. 
At the present day the Pecos carries very little water, being 
at best a naturally formed irrigation canal for the numerous 
irrigation projects along its banks. And, while the Spaniards 
would still call it rio, we Americans would hesitate to call it a 

In 1880, the Pecos was a very different stream from what it 
is to-day. It was a stream of very regular dimensions for three 
hundred miles above its junction with the Rio Grande. It was 
generally from sixty-five feet to a hundred feet wide, from 
seven feet to ten feet deep, of a rapid current, exceedingly 
muddy, of a very red cast, and fordable in very few places. 
This was what de Vaca saw, and to the Spaniards it was a 
"great river," which they forded, the water coming up to their 
breasts. The next river the wanderers crossed was the Rio 
Grande, at a point just below the present town of Presidio, 
Texas. The distance assigned between the two rivers, eighty 
leagues, is too great, but their route must have been subject to 
a very considerable deflection in order to obtain water, which 
is very scarce in that country. Besides, it is very probable 
that de Vaca overestimated his distance in his narrative, writ- 
ten almost two years later, in which time many of the details of 
his journey must necessarily have faded from his mind. 

Another fact which would lend plausibility to this assump- 
tion is that for eight years he had no means of verifying his 
estimates of distance, and in this particular instance he had 


traveled over a desert country where he and his companions 
had suffered greatly, both for food and for water ; therefore, 
it would have been but natural for him to overestimate the 
distance between the Pecos River and the Rio Grande. 

After reaching the Rio Grande and crossing to the south 
bank, they had traveled but a short distance when they came 
to a settlement of fixed habitations. This was one of the 
numerous settlements occupied by the Indian tribes found a 
few years later by Rodriguez and Espejo, As de Vaca pro- 
gressed up the river the settlements became more numerous, 
until he reached an Indian town where beans, pumpkins, and 
corn were cultivated. Just before reaching this town they had 
crossed to the north bank of the river, and he must have been 
in the neighborhood of Presidio. 

Irrigation is necessary at the present day, and has been as 
far back as we have any record of farming in all of West Texas 
and New Mexico. ' In the neighborhood of Presidio, however, 
corn has been planted from time immemorable in temporales — 
that is, in sandy stretches near the river, where it is not irri- 
gated, but to bring it to fruitage depends upon the rainfall 
and the overflow from the two rivers, the Rio Grande and the 
Conchos, whose junction is just above Presidio. That these 
people did not depend upon irrigation is evident from the fact 
that de Vaca was asked by them to tell the sky to rain, that 
they might plant their corn. These Indians told de Vaca there 
had been no rain for two years and that the seed had been eaten 
up by moles. 

One statement in de Vaca's account has caused considerable 
confusion in the minds of investigators. This is the statement 
that the people whom he found on the river were called 
the Cow Nation, on account of their living mainly off the chase 
of the buffalo, and de Vaca says, "The cattle are slaughtered 
in their neighborhood, and along up the river for over fifty 
leagues they destroy great numbers." From the subsequent 
record of Antonio de Espejo, some forty years later, it would 
appear that de Vaca landed among a tribe of the Jumano 
Indians, who, for some reason, had become separated from the 


main branch of the tribe living north and east of the Pecos 
River. There is no question that the Jumanos were the same 
people de Vaca called the Cow Nation. This name they won 
because among all other mountain tribes they were more given 
to following the buffalo. In the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries this could be said of the Southern Comanches, and, 
as will be brought out later, the Southern Comanches were 
either the direct descendants of the Jumano Indians or, at 
least, very close kin. Therefore it is reasonable to suppose that 
de Vaca misunderstood which river the Indians referred to 
when they said they hunted "along up the river for fifty 
leagues." From the Indians' own statements, the tribes inhab- 
iting the upper Rio Grande, from the junction of the Conchos 
up to what is now New Mexico, were hostile toward them. On 
the other hand, the natural route of the Jumanos would be 
toward the Pecos, where the people were more friendly, where 
lay the great salt deposits, from which they obtained their salt 
supply, and also where the greatest number of buffalo grazed. 
They doubtless meant the Pecos River was the habitat of the 
buffalo rather than the Rio Grande. 

This is further substantiated by Bandelier and other writers 
who have examined the records of the early Spanish explorers. 
According to these authorities — and present-day research has 
failed to refute their statements — the buffalo never frequented 
the Rio Grande in the Big Bend region. There are a few excep- 
tions where the buffalo has been known to cross the Pecos 
River, but these exceptions seem to be mere accidents. In 1684, 
Mendoza recorded that he killed three buffalo bulls at Comanche 
Springs, or Fort Stockton, A few years ago, Mr. H. Huelster, 
who resides near Toyahville, on the eastern slope of the Davis 
Mountains, found a buffalo horn near Phantom Lake, some 
distance from the water, on high, dry land, where neither 
camper could have dropped it nor flood-water could have car- 
ried it. Mr. Huelster is familiar with the buffalo, and he said 
the horn was that of a young animal rather than a cow's horn 
or that of an adult bull. He doubts, too, that Indians dropped 
it there, as they would have had no purpose in carrying the 


horn, and it was found at a place some distance from any 
customary Indian trail. Many other like instances could be 
cited where possibly a few animals might have wandered across 
the Pecos River, but no instance has been found where buffalo 
in any considerable number frequented the Big Bend, or Trans- 
Pecos region. A statement made by de Vaca also bears this 
out. He says that the men of the village on the Rio Grande 
were absent, hunting buflfalo. 

In this manner de Vaca's route across the American conti- 
nent can be limited to a comparatively small area, and knowl- 
edge of the old Indian trails, combined with a knowledge of 
the laws of nature, which are immutable, enables the investi- 
gator to trace with fair accuracy a course, provided two points 
are established — the starting point and the objective point. 
In the case of de Vaca, we have three points which are well 
established, the two named above and the point where he 
crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. Even though his manu- 
script is often confused in regard to distances and directions, 
still he gives a fairly accurate description of plant life and the 
topography of the country. 


^ ^ ^ 

Pioneers of The Big Bend 




If a ranchman of the present day, with his family, driving 
through Paisano Pass, in his high-powered automobile, should 
meet a party of Spanish explorers, monks, and Indian slaves, 
decked out in the regalia of three hundred years ago — if thus 
the Twentieth Century should meet the Sixteenth Century, 
which party do you suppose would give the road ? 

It is highly probable that the ranchman would hesitate for 
one startled moment, then reverse his direction and — to use a 
modern slang expression — "step on the gas" for all he was 
worth, meaning that he would leave that vicinity. On reach- 
ing Alpine the ranchman would report the approach of a Mexi- 
can bandit raiding party. On the other hand, it is probable 
that the Spaniards would not hesitate upon sight of the auto- 
mobile, but would press eagerly forward, expecting the strange 
monster to lead them to some unknown Eldorado. 

How much more astounded, then, must the Indians have 
been when the Spaniards first appeared among them ; while the 
Spaniards, lured on by tales of great cities whose streets were 
paved with gold, had their imagination fired to such an extent 
that they willingly endured almost unbelievable hardships to 
realize their dreams. With them, as co-workers, came the 
monks and lay brothers of the Franciscan and Jesuit brother- 
hoods, who, too, were fired by tales of the country's wealth, 
and dreamed of the spiritual conquest of the land. 

So, side by side, monk and soldier, religious and secular, 
m.arched into the land known to-day as the Big Bend country. 
And to show the left-handed way of their coming — charac- 
teristically Spanish — Cabeza de Vaca, the first white man in 
this region, came from the direction of the rising sun, while 
Antonio de Espejo, the second white man to come, entered this 
land of romance from the north. Left-handed? Yes. The 


logical direction for them to have come was from the south, 
Mexico, where the seeds of conquest and settlement sown by 
Hernandez Cortez had borne a rich harvest. 

In an indirect way de Espejo's journey had considerable 
bearing on the country's development, particularly in the Big 
Bend of the Rio Grande. Coronado had made his triimiphant 
march into New Mexico by way of Arizona. In 1561, the great 
province of Nueva Viscaya was formed, embracing the Sierra 
Madres and the Great Central Plateau, south of the Big Bend 
of Texas. The Franciscan fathers, aided by the soldiery, had 
pushed their way as far north as the headwaters of the Conchos 
River, the southern tributary of the Rio Grande. As a natural 
result of their success, their ambitions to extend their work 
into the fabulously rich country visited by Coronado, needed 
but small motivation to culminate in an expedition of spiritual 
and economic conquest. 

This motivation came in the shape of an Indian captured 
near Santa Barbara, who told the monks of a populous region 
where the people raised cotton for clothing, and crops of grain 
and corn. Aroused to zealous action by this information. Fray 
Rodriguez obtained his royal master's permission to enter and 
Christianize that land. Northward they marched to the junc- 
tion of the Mexican Conchos and Rio Grande, near where 
now is Presidio, Texas, thence into the fertile valleys above El 
Paso, in New Mexico. 

But that expedition proved disastrous. Fray Rodriguez, 
Fray Lopez, and Fray Santa Maria decided to remain with 
the Puaray Indians, whose settlements embraced many well- 
established pueblos, while the rest of the party, numbering 
nine whites, returned to Nueva Viscaya to report their 
discoveries in the new country. Unwisely, Fray Rodriguez 
deemed his religion to be sufficient protection for himself and 
his two companions against the natural cupidity of the savages. 
He kept with him all the stock, including many horses and 
goats, as well as a large supply of provisions. But before the 
nine whites had reached Nueva Viscaya, they received 
word that the Puaray Indians had murdered Rodriguez and 


his companions in order to gain possession of their belongings. 
At the same time, Chamuscado, who was captain of the return- 
ing expedition, and who was more than sixty years old, fell ill 
and died before reaching Santa Barbara. 

Instead of discouraging further explorations, however, the 
news of the ill-fate of Rodriguez and his companions caused a 
half dozen adventurous spirits to petition the King of Spain 
' for permission to explore and conquer New Mexico. 

To Antonio de Espejo, a wealthy gentleman of Santa Bar- 
bara, the privilege was granted. On November lo, 1582, the 
expedition was begun at Valle de San Bartolome. Espejo's 
party included fifteen soldiers; he had also a number of serv- 
ants, a large quantity of arms, munitions, and provisions. He 
took with him one hundred and fifteen horses, mares, and 
mules ; and from the animals strayed, lost, or stolen from this 
herd and those stolen from Fray Rodriguez, can be traced the 
beginning of the use of the horse by the American Indian. 

In his own words, de Espejo gives a graphic description of 
the people he found along the Conchos River and adjacent to 
the Rio Grande. These Indians were the forerunners in the 
Big Bend region of the savage Mescalero Apaches and South- 
ern Comanches, who harassed the frontier many years after 
the Americans occupied the country. 

"After two days' march of five leagues each," writes de Es- 
pejo, "we found in some rancherias a number of Indians of the 
Conchos nation, many of whom, to the number of more than 
a thousand, came out to meet us along the road we were travel- 
ing. We found that they lived on rabbits, hares, and deer, 
which they hunt and which are abundant ; and on some crops 
of maize, gourds, Castilian melons, and watermelons, which 
they plant and cultivate ; and on fish, and the mescales, which 
are the leaves of the lechuguilla, a plant a half vara in height, 
the stalks of which have green leaves. They cook the stalk of 
this plant and make a preserve like quince jam. It is very 
sweet and they call it mescale. 

"They go about naked and have grass huts for houses. 
They use bows and arrows and have caciques whom they obey. 


We did not find that they had idols, nor that they otfered any 
sacrifices. We assembled as many of them as we could, erected 
crosses for them in their rancherias, and by interpreters whom 
we had of their own tongue, the meaning of the crosses and our 
Holy Catholic faith was explained to them. 

"They were with us for about six days from their ranches, 
which must have been a journey of twenty-four leagues to the 
north. All this distance was settled by Indians of the same 
nation, who came out to receive us in peace, one cacique report- 
ing our coming to another. All of them fondled us and our 
horses. They were friendly." 

After passing through a nation of Indians called Paza- 
quantes, who lived much the same as the Conchos, de Espejo 
came to the nation of Tobosos. From this tribe came the name 
of the grass so widely known over the Southwest. This tribe 
and the Salineros, their kinspeople, appeared to have been the 
most warlike people whom de Espejo found, and they belonged 
to the Apache family. Before de Espejo could make friends 
with them, the Tobosos attacked the expedition, stole several 
horses, and killed and wounded several more ; but even- 
tually, by numerous presents, the whites made friends with 

Reaching the junction of the Rio Grande and the Conchos 
River, de Espejo found a nation of Indians living in large, per- 
manent pueblos. They were the Jumanos. They were large peo- 
ple and lived in five pueblos, situated near what is now Ojinaga, 
Mexico, opposite Presidio, Texas, and these pueblos contained 
possibly ten thousand inhabitants. Up and down the two rivers 
they cultivated their little patches, in which they raised corn, 
wheat, and a great variety of citrus fruits. 

De Espejo called the Rio Grande the Guadalquivir River, 
after the river of that name in Spain, and he says it was a branch 
of the Conchos River, which emptied into the North Sea. 
(In de Espejo's time the Atlantic Ocean was called the North 
Sea while the Pacific Ocean was known as the South Sea.) 

These Indians had well-defined trails leading to and from 
great saline deposits, where they obtained their supply of salt. 


These trails also led to the buffalo country on the other side 
of the Pecos River. 

A study of the main commercial highways of to-day will 
bring out the fact that the trails of yesterday are the trails of 
to-day, and will be the trails of to-morrow. The water supply 
is the most vital consideration in the making of a trail, whether 
it is for the ox-cart or for the railroad. A knowledge of the 
history of trail-making will show that the railroads of to-day 
practically follow trails which were laid out by the Indians, 
possibly many thousand years ago. 

However, there are exceptions to this. On account of 
hauling facilities, a railroad may divert its lines from the 
beaten, well-watered trail, preferring to haul water rather than 
spend vast sums to overcome topographical difficulties in track 

The proposed route of the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient 
Railroad, with its present terminal at Alpine, followed the 
northeastern trail of the Jumano Indians. This trail leads to 
the salt deposit in Crane County, which borders the northern 
bank of the Pecos River. As this railroad enters the Trans- 
Pecos country from the extreme northwestern part of Crockett 
County, below Horsehead Crossing, it does not strike the old 
Salt Trail until it reaches Fort Stockton. At this place the 
famous Comanche Springs, with a daily flow of sixty million 
gallons of water, is the source of a great irrigation district. 
From Fort Stockton to Presidio, Texas, the proposed route of 
this railroad never once leaves the old Salt Trail. 

Owing to the present settled condition of the country, the 
network of railroads, and that wonderful common carrier, the 
automobile, it is no longer necessary that Alan observe distance 
and location of water supply ; but, up to the advent of the 
railroad and other modern conveniences, the one thing most 
required of guides and scouts was a knowledge of convenient 

Two other salt deposits, or salt lakes, might be mentioned, 
to which the Indians resorted for their supply of salt, since 
time immemorable. The first of these is in Culberson County, 


forty miles north of J. M. Daugherty's Figure 2 Ranch head- 
quarters, and a few miles west of Guadalupe Peak. The other 
large deposit is in Hudspeth County, and was the point of 
dispute which brought on the Salt Lake War, in 1877. 

The Jumano Indians were egregious. They covered a vast 
area of country similar in scope to that covered by the South- 
em Comanches two hundred years later. When de Espejo began 
to inquire into their form of worship, he found that they 
believed in a God, whom they called Apalito, and whom they 
asked for all things. They gave de Espejo to understand, 
through interpreters, that there had passed through the country, 
three white men and a negro, from whom they obtained the 
idea of their God. This establishes the point where Cabeza de 
Vaca struck the Rio Grande. 

The Jumanos wore gamuzas — a combination vest and shirt — 
made of deer skin, well tanned. They also tanned hides that 
were obtained from the humpbacked cows, called by the Indians, 
cibolos, which they hunted beyond the Pecos River at certain 
seasons of the year. 

The manner in which de Espejo was handed from tribe to 
tribe, recalls the like treatment of Cabeza de Vaca. It was 
against Indian nature to love work, and breaking new trails was 
work; consequently, de Espejo, in a manner similar to that of 
de Vaca, was guided over well-known ground, and handed 
from tribe to tribe, following a beaten path up the Rio Grande. 

When he reached the country of the Puarays, de Espejo 
found corroborative evidence of the deaths of the three fathers, 
Rodriguez, Lopes, and Santa Maria. Thus having accom- 
plished the object of the expedition and his forces were too 
small to undertake a campaign of conquest, he decided to return 
to Nueva Viscaya by a new route. 

The Puaray pueblos were in the vicinity of the present town 
of Santa Fe. Leaving the Puarays, July i, 1583, de Espejo jour- 
neyed eastward to the Pecos River, which he called Rio de las 
Vacas — the River of the Cows, on account of the number of 
buffaloes he found in that vicinity. After crossing this river, 
de Espejo passed down the eastward bank for one hundred and 


twenty leagues, where he met three Jumano Indians, who had 
gone from their homes on the Conchos River to the salt lakes, 
to gather salt. These Indians told him that he was twelve days 
journey from the junction of the Conchos River and the Rio 

Up to this time, Espejo had not penetrated the Big Bend 
proper. He had traveled along the south, west, and north 
sides, but now he was compelled to cross this region in order 
to strike the trail leading from the Conchos River to the Valle 
de San Bartolome. 

Led by the three Jumanos, he crossed the Rio Pecos, a few 
miles above the mouth of Comanche Creek, at the old Salt 
Lake Crossing, followed a southerly direction until he struck 
Comanche Creek, which he followed until he reached the great 

These springs, known to-day as Comanche Springs, have 
been through all the ages the cross-roads of the Southwest. 
With every changing race of people to enter the Big Bend 
region, these springs have been a mecca. De Vaca must have 
camped near them in 1535 ; the Jumanos, from the Rio Grande 
and Conchos River, made it their camp on the way to and 
from the buffalo country and the salt lakes ; the Haupaches, 
or Apaches, camped near its source on their way from their 
rancherias in New Mexico to raid and steal from the Jumanos 
and Tejes nations, living east of the Rio Pecos ; in 1839, Dr. H. 
Connelly, with a great train of bullion, made these springs a 
resting-place between Chihuahua City and Arkansas, on the 
initial trip which opened up the great Chihuahua Trail ; ten 
years later Lieutenant Whiting, of the U. S. Topographical 
Engineers, mentioned these springs, on his way from San 
Antonio to El Paso; and to-day they mark the site of Fort 
Stockton, a trans-continental automobile highway, and the line 
of the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad. Once a trail, 
always a trail. 

But Antonio de Espejo was bent on reaching his base of 
supplies in Mexico. He and his followers had remained a 
year in the wilds ; their provisions and ammunition were spent ; 



and worn out from constant vigils against the marauding 
Indians, they were anxious to reach their countrymen in Nueva 
Viscaya. So, after a brief rest at the wonderful springs, they 
resumed their march southward. 

Passing Leon Waterholes, Leoncita, and Kokernot Springs, 
near Alpine, they continued on the trail through Paisano Pass, 
down the Alamito Creek, up the Rio Grande, until the junction 
of the Rio Grande and the Conchos River was reached. From 
this point they followed the Rio Conchos to their destination, 
San Bartolome, east of the present City of Chihuahua. 

Antonio de Espejo's journey through the heart of the Big 
Bend region was an accident and quickly passed from the 
memory of the savages. It remained for another and later 
people, the Americans, to conquer this land and make it what 
it is to-day. Credulous as the Spaniards were of ever}^ tale told 
them by the cunning natives, not one of them sought to con- 
quer and settle this land. All they saw were rugged moun- 
tains and unwatered plains ; and, while they were ever ready 
to endure the dangers of an unknown land that they might 
rifle it of its treasure, this unknown land they deemed without 

For this reason the tide of Spanish exploration split upon 
the rock formed by the Big Bend country, and ebbed and 
flowed along either side for two centuries. To the east, the 
Kingdom of the Tejas was the objective point of both explorer 
and monk ; to the west. New Mexico, with its cities of many- 
storied houses, rich mines, and farming centers, was the objec- 
tive. For this reason, also, the records of the Big Bend country 
during the Spanish occupation of the Southwest, are meager 
of detail. 

The report of de Espejo, concerning New Mexico, created 
general interest in New Spain. Scores of adventurers peti- 
tioned for the exclusive privilege of entering the new country 
for the purpose of conquest and exploitation, but it was not 
until 1598 that the King of Spain granted the permission. Don 
Juan de Onate, a wealthy resident of Guadalajara, and hus- 
band of the grand-daughter of Cortez, was appointed first 


Governor of New Mexico, and immediately set out with his 
company for the upper Rio Grande. 

Reaching the headwaters of the Conchos River, he left the 
trail hitherto used by the explorers and bore northward along 
the present line of the Mexican Central Railroad. Oiiate was 
the first explorer to use wagons for transporting supplies. His 
explorations in New Mexico and the settlements which he 
built were of lasting importance to the development of that 
section of the Spanish Southwest. As he touches no part of 
the Big Bend, nothing concerning him will be considered, 
except a description he gives of his discovery of the buffalo. 
It is from his own pen, under date of 1599, and concerns the 
activities of certain of his men : 

"The corral constructed, they v^ent next day to a plain 
where on the previous afternoon about one hundred thousand 
cattle had been seen. Giving them the right of way, the cattle 
started very nicely toward the corral. But soon they turned 
back in a stampede toward the men, and rushing through them 
in a mass, it was impossible to stop them, because they are 
cattle terribly obstinate, courageous beyond exaggeration, and 
so cunning that if pursued they run, and that if their pursuers 
stop or slacken their speed, they stop and roll just like mules, 
and with this respite renew their run. For several days they 
tried a thousand ways of shutting them in or surrounding 
them, but in no manner was it possible to do so. This was not 
due to fear, for they are remarkably savage and ferocious, so 
much so that they killed three of our horses and badly wounded 
forty, for their horns are very sharp and fairly long, about a 
span and a half, and bent upward together. They attack from 
the side, putting the head far down so that whatever they seize 
they tear very badly. Nevertheless, some were killed, and 
over eighty arrobus (a ton) of tallow were secured, which 
without doubt is greatly superior to that of pork. The meat 
of the bull is superior to that of our cows, and that -of the cow 
equals the most tender veal or mutton. 

"Seeing therefore that the full-grown cattle could not be 
brought alive, the sargento mayor ordered that calves be cap- 


tured, but they became so enraged that out of the many which 
were brought in, some dragged by ropes and others upon the 
horses, not only got a league toward the camp, for they all 
died within about an hour. Therefore it is believed that unless 
taken shortly after birth and put under the care of our cows 
or goats they cannot be brought until the cattle become tamer 
than they now are. 

"In shape and form they are so marvelous and laughable, 
or frightful, that the more one sees it the more one desires to 
see it, and no one could be so melancholy that if he were to 
see it a hundred times a day he could not keep from laughing 
heartily as many times or could fail to marvel at the sight of 
so ferocious an animal. Its horns are black, and a third of a 
vera long, as already stated, and resembles those of the biifalo. 
Its eyes are small, its face, snout, feet and hoofs are the same 
form as of our cows, with the exception that both the male and 
female are very much bearded, similar to he-goats. They are 
so thickly covered with wool that it covers their eyes and faces, 
and the forelock nearly envelopes their horns. This wool, 
which is long and very soft, extends almost to the middle of 
the body, but from there on their hair is shorter. Over the 
ribs they have so much wool and the chine is so high that they 
appear humpbacked, although in reality and in truth they are 
not greatly so, for the hump easily disappears when the hides 
are stretched. 

"In general they are larger than our cattle. Their tail is 
like that of a cow, being very short and having a few bristles 
at the tip, and they twist it upward when they run. At the 
knee they have natural garters of very long hair. In their 
haunches, which resemble those of mules, they are hipped and 
crippled, and they run therefore as already stated, in leaps, and 
especially downhill. They are all of the same dark color, some- 
what tawny, in parts their hair being almost black. Such is their 
appearance, which at sight is far more ferocious than pen can 

For one hundred years after Antonio de Espejo's journey 
across the Big Bend no further incursions were made, except 


a few small parties of slavers, who operated among the Indian 
tribes near the junction of the Rio Grande and Conchos River. 

This was due to the disturbed condition of the Indian 
country under the jurisdiction of the Franciscan and Jesuit 
fathers. In 1644, the Concho, Toboso, and Salinero Indians 
drove back the Spanish outposts to Durango. Hardly had this 
revolt been overcome, when, in 1648, the Tarahumares, a 
powerful tribe dwelling on the eastern slope of the Sierra 
Madres, revolted and forced the abandonment of practically 
all of the Jesuit and Franciscan missions in northern Nueva 
Viscaya, including those established along the Mexican Con- 
chos and Rio Grande. But when peace was declared, after 
four years of bloodshed, these brotherhoods resumed their 
efforts with renewed energy to proselytize the savages. 

While the Jumano Indians heretofore met by the Spaniards, 
were those living in their rancherias, in the Conchos River 
and Rio Grande district, their rancherias extended as far north 
as the Arkansas River, and as far east as Central Texas. The 
Spaniards, through traders who had come up from Monclova 
into the country east of the Pecos River, possessed some knowl- 
edge of these far-away Jumanos. 

In the early part of 1683, a deputation w^as sent to El Paso, 
by several Indian tribes living in the Big Bend and east of the 
Pecos, among whom were the Jumanos and Tejas representa- 
tives. The object of this commission was to encourage more 
traders to come into the Indian country, and the return of the 
fathers to teach the Indians Christianity. The deputation was 
headed by a Christianized Jumano Indian of unusual intelli- 
gence, Don Juan Sabeata. Governor Cruzatc received the depu- 
tation favorably, but the Franciscan fathers, who had but 
recently suffered from Indian treachery, refused to go unless 
they had stronger assurance of the Indians' sincerity. 

Immediately, Sabeata dispatched Indian runners to the 
various villages along the Conchos River and Rio Grande, as 
well as to the rancherias east of the Pecos, with instructions 
to the natives to build churches and houses for the use of the 
padres. In an incredibly short time, these Indians returned 


with the news that Sabeata's instructions had been carried out. 
Upon this assurance the Franciscans agreed to take up work 
among those Indians. 

In the meantime, Governor Cruzate prepared an expedi- 
tion, which he put in charge of Captain Juan Dominguez de 
Mendoza, who, thirty years previously, had been among the 
Jumanos, east of the Pecos. This expedition was clearly a 
commercial enterprise. The Jumanos had asked for traders 
and missionaries, and in this way the Spaniards expected to 
profit both in commerce and in winning religious converts. 

Don Juan de Sabeata, in order to impress more favorably 
the Franciscans, on first reaching El Paso, had told them a 
tale of the marvelous appearance of a cross in the sky near 
La Junta — the junction of the Conchos River and Rio Grande. 
The place where the apparition was said to occur was later 
named by the Spaniards, La Navidad en los Cruces. Sabeata 
later confessed that the story was a pure fabrication, intended 
to stir the Spaniards to action. His ruse succeeded so well, 
however, that in early December, 1683, Captain Mendoza and 
his expedition, accompanied by Father Zavelata and Father 
Lopez, began their journey down the Rio Grande, to the junc- 
tion of the Conchos River. 



Mendoza's expedition is the first expedition into the Big 
Bend of which we have a complete record. The worthy Cap- 
tain, in his diary, gives a daily accounting for his movements. 
On reaching La Junta, a term used to cover some half dozen 
Indian pueblos, in the neighborhood of the junction of the 
Conchos River and Rio Grande, Mendoza left Fathers Zava- 
lata and Lopez. He then proceeded down the Rio Grande to 
the mouth of the arroyo flowing from the north, which we 
know to-day as Alamito Creek. It is easy to determine his 
camping places from his description of the countr}\ Every 
landmark that he mentioned in his diary has been located 
to-day, with the exception of a spring of hot water, the origin 
of which was in a hill near Alamito Creek, about forty-five 
miles above the mouth of the creek. In the great gap known 
to-day as Paisano Pass, he found a reservoir of water, sufficient 
to water any number of horses. Traveling through the Pass, 
he followed the old Salt Lake trail to Comanche Springs. Here 
he mentions killing three buffalo bulls — one of the few times 
we hear of buffalo in the Big Bend. 

Eventually, Mendoza reached Horsehead Crossing. Here 
he struck the rancherias of the Jediondos, who built him jacales 
of tule, the reed grass so common along our creeks and water- 
holes. Pie speaks also of this crossing as being on the trail 
which leads to the Salt Lake, and he calls the Rio Pecos the 
Rio Salado, or Salt River. 

In time, he reached the villages of the Jumanos, and estab- 
lished a mission, the ruins of which may to-day be seen near 
San Saba, Texas. 

Mendoza speaks of the Haupaches, who were the inveterate 
enemies of the Jumanos, and who at this time were harassing 
the Jumanos in their rancherias along the San Saba River. 

The significance of Mendoza's journey among the Jumanos 


was that the Spaniards came more frequently into the Big 
Bend, both to trade and win rehgious converts. 

After leaving the Jumanos, he crossed the country known 
as the Kingdom of the Tejas; and upon his return to New 
Spain, he carried the news of the French invasion in territory 
which the Spaniards considered solely their own. 

A brief survey of the map of Texas will show the observer 
that the Big Bend, or Trans-Pecos, region is composed of nine 
counties — Terrell, Pecos, and Reeves, which border the Pecos 
River on the west ; while Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Cul- 
berson, Hudspeth, and El Paso Counties border the Rio Grande. 

Some time between the Mendoza expedition, 1683, and the 
year 1724, some slight changes took place in the names of Indian 
tribes indigenous to the Big Bend. Instead of speaking of 
the Jumanos, the Tobosos, the Salineros, and other kindred 
tribes, the records began to carry the names Comanche and 
Apache. Just when this change took place, and why, is not 
known. The territory occupied by the Comanches was iden- 
tical with that occupied by the Jumanos; and as no extended 
Indian war is recorded which could have caused the Jumanos 
to lose their territory, it can be accepted as a fact that the 
Comanches are the descendants of the Jumano Indians. 

Father Massenet, who made a journey in the Tejas country, 
reiterated the statements made by Mendoza concerning the 
encroachment of the French upon Spanish territory; and the 
fears of the Spaniards were regarded as well founded. The 
French manner of approach was in strong contrast to that of 
the Spaniard. The French kept their promises when once 
made ; the Spaniards did not. The French gained their ends 
by diplomacy ; the Spaniards gained theirs by force ; and it is 
but natural that of the two methods the Indians should prefer 
the Frenchman's manner of approach. 

In 1724, the first important French post was established 
near the country inhabited by the Comanches. This was Fort 
D'Orleans, established on the present site of St. Louis, Mis- 
souri. In an extended visit among the Comanches on the 
Kansas River, M. de Bourgmont sought to establish trade 


relationship with all the tribes, ranging from Southwest Texas 
to Northern Kansas. Of these tribes the Comanches were the 
most powerful. 

While the Spaniards spoke of the Comanches, the French 
spoke of the Paducas. The word Paduca came to the French 
through their intercourse with the Sioux Indians, whose name 
for the Comanche was Padouca. The Comanche name for 
themselves was Num — "people." 

M. de Bourgmont's description of the Comanches and their 
customs was the first authentic record of this powerful and 
warlike tribe. Those of the Comanches who lived far from 
the Spaniards raised no grain, but lived solely by the chase. 
They had permanent dwellings and large villages, composed 
of cabins, each of which were occupied by several families. 
From these villages they sent out hunters, sometimes to the 
number of a thousand in a band. 

On account of their long acquaintanceship with the Span- 
iards, who had introduced the horse into America, these Indians 
took more readily to the use of these animals than any of the 
kindred tribes. Justly they have been called "The Horsemen 
of the Plains." 

The hunters were armed with bows and arrows. They 
traveled three or four days' journey from the villages, where 
they found herds of buffalo. The manner of carrying their 
belongings on these hunting trips was to fasten the ends of 
two poles, one on either side of a horse, with the rear ends 
dragging the ground. On these poles were placed the packs, 
and upon these rode the children. A man on horseback con- 
ducted this party, and the hunters, women, and young people 
marched freely and lightly along the trail. When they arrived 
at the place of the hunt, they camped near a stream where both 
water and wood were obtainable for cooking. 

Next morning, each hunter mounted a horse and rode to 
the nearest herd, having the wind to its back, the purpose of 
the Indian being to allow the buffalo to discover him through 
their delicate sense of smell, and start running from him. When 
this was accomplished, the hunter followed them closely at a 


gallop. Upon reaching the side of the animal he had chosen, 
the hunter leaped to the ground and, with his arrows, shot the 
buffalo behind the shoulder. Ordinarily, the cows were chosen 
for beef. After the chase was over, the Indians, including the 
women and children, joined in to skin and dismember the 
carcasses. They boiled what meat was necessary for their 
immediate wants, and, while the hunters returned to the chase, 
the squaws smoked the remainder. 

This nation raised neither corn, melons, nor tobacco, but 
the Spaniards furnished them these provisions in return for 
deer and buffalo skins. The villages nearest the Spaniards of 
New Mexico had knives and hatchets made of steel, but those 
farthest from the Spaniards had implements made only of flint. 

The Comanche nation was very populous, and extended 
from the Kansas River on the north to the Rio Grande on 
the south. The particular village in which M. de Bourgmont 
visited the head chiefs was composed of 140 cabins, where 
lived 800 warriors, 1,500 women, and 2,000 children. When 
these Indians lacked horses on which to carry their baggage, 
they made use of large dogs, which they raised and trained 
especially for this purpose. 

The Paducas, or Comanches, were almost entirely desti- 
tute of European articles of merchandise, for in 1724, natu- 
rally, there were no manufactories in America. The men were 
covered with breeches of old hides, the lower part of which 
were bell-shaped, a fashion taken from the Spaniards. Unlike 
the civilized woman, who has a variety of material from which 
to make attractive clothing, the Indian woman wore a simple 
garment of deer skin, fastened about the belt with a thong. 
Before the arrival of M. de Bourgmont, these Indians knew 
nothing of firearms, for the Spaniards were too crafty to give 
such an advantage to a potential foe. When they went to war, 
the Comanches rode horseback, and they covered their horses 
with thick hides to protect them from arrows. 

On the afternoon of October 20, 1724, M. de Bourgmont 
made a treaty with the Comanches which had a most impor- 
tant effect on the future destiny of the Big Bend country. 

The pioneer builders of Fort Stockton 



This pact remained unbroken up to the day the French with- 
drew from the American continent. M. de Bourgmont prom- 
ised guns and ammunition to the new alHes, in trade for their 
skins, and he paved the way for an aggressive campaign against 
the Spaniards. 

The attitude the Indian maintained towards both the French 
and the Spaniards was made quite clear by the head chief of 
the Comanches in his speech, in response to the speech of 
M. de Bourgmont. 

Before beginning his speech, the great chief said to the 
interpreter that he would willingly give two fingers from his 
hand to be able to make himself understood by the French chief. 

"My father, my heart is crushed, as if it were between two 
rocks," he said. "How can I speak so you may understand me ? 
Can I speak as my heart wishes? It would be better that my 
heart had a mouth which could make itself understood. For 
a long time our hearts trembled like the leaves stirred by the 
wind at the last cry of the night birds ; all our warriors were 
on foot and could not sleep without arms in hand. Even the 
young men hid away from discovery in the day. Hardly had 
ceased falling the tears for a warrior slain, when they began 
to fall for another; our women hardly dared to go hunt for 
wood to cook something for us to eat, and our children, who 
cried from hunger day and night ; we hardly dared to go to 
the chase, since the sun was red, the time was dark, the roads 
were covered with briars and thorns, the muddy water hid 
from us the fish, the game fled far from our villages, and we 
had lean bellies and hollow jaws. The birds which perched 
above us seemed from their mournful singing to sing over us 
as they sing over the dead. 

"But to-day, my father, you bring us the beautiful days. 
How serene is the sky, how bright the sun ! The roads are 
cleared, the water is no longer muddy, the game comes back. 
Our women begin to laugh, to dance, and to prepare food at 
their ease ; our children begin to run and leap like the fawns 
of the deer; and living in peace with those who have been 
our enemies, we will march without fear on the same road, 


the same sun will light the way for us, we will feast together 
as brothers, and, although our nations are far apart, we will 
be as if we lived together, each of us carrying the other in his 

"Ah ! What a happy day which has brought you among us, 
my father. Much will our descendants remember you, when 
they will call up thy "name and the bounty of thy sovereign, 
who sent you here to bring us peace and those beautiful mer- 
chandises. Can we ever forget the bounty of the French heart, 
who gave us everything without price? All that has been told 
me of the French is nothing compared to what I see. I have 
heard good reports of the French bravery, but you have proved 
even more in giving us frightful arms, of which the noise alone 
makes us to tremble. 

"The Spaniards on the contrary trade us horses of which 
they have so many that they do not know what to do with them ; 
on the other hand, they will only trade us some poor hatchets 
of soft iron, and some little knives, of which often they break 
the point for fear that we may use it some day against them, 
and they only give us something which they trade to us very 
dear. How different are the French from the Spaniards, of 
whom I know nothing more from now than this earth" — ^here 
the chief stopped and picked up a handful of dirt, which he 
threw in the direction of the Spanish Southwest — "while I 
regard the French as the sun !" — pointing to it with his other 

The descendants of this old chief made good his word. 
From this year, 1724, until the Spanish withdrew from the 
Southwest, a century later, the Comanches gave them and their 
proselytized Indian adherents no peace. 

While on their East the Spaniards had proper cause to be 
jealous of the French, from the Big Bend of Texas to the 
Pacific Ocean, they remained unmolested. By the year 1760, 
Durango, Southern Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora were held 
by the Spaniards, and with these points as their bases of opera- 
tion they extended a network of presidios, or army posts, far 
into the Indian country to the north. 


Since the first Spaniards had entered the Big Bend of Texas, 
they had confined their operations to the great waterways — the 
Conchos River and the Rio Grande. In the territory extending 
from Paso del Norte to La Junta, there were approximately 
one hundred thousand Indians, many of whom were farmers 
and stock raisers. The Spaniards had brought in oxen and 
the domestic cow, which, like the horse and mule, multiplied 
rapidly and gradually became very common among the Indians. 
Eventually, the Viceroy of New Spain found it expedient to 
throw a line of presidios along the banks of these rivers. The 
presidio at El Paso had been moved by Governor Cruzate, 
from twenty miles below the pass, to a point opposite the old 
Hart mill, above the present Mexican town of Juarez. In 1760, 
the presidio of Belen was founded and garrisoned by fifty men. 
This presidio occupied the present site of Ojinaga, Mexico. 

In 1773, the presidio system was reorganized, and six pre- 
sidios erected, which extended along the Rio Grande from 
Cerro Gordo, known to-day as San Carlos, to Carrizal, Mexico. 
In this year, the presidio at Huajuquilla was moved to Valle de 
San Elceario, known to-day as San Elizario, three miles south 
of Clint, Texas. About midway between San Carlos and San 
Elceario, on the Rio Grande, was located the Presidio de 
Pilares. The aim of the Government was to have five "flying 
companies," which could be quickly switched from one presidio 
to another, as the exigencies of the situation demanded. 

The presidio San Vicente, the ruins of which to-day may be 
seen on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande between Boquillas 
and Glenn Springs, was founded in 1780. 

There was no one determinate thing which brought about 
the end of the presidios and the missions. It had been the policy 
of the Spanish crown to furnish protection to the Franciscan 
and Jesuit brotherhoods in their work. In return for this 
protection, from mine and field the royal treasury was amply 
rewarded for its concessions to these brotherhoods. 

In 1794, the strength of the Spanish padres began to wane. 
The dates of their withdrawal from the Rio Grande and Con- 
chos River territory varied. In 1795, the presidio of Guadalupe 


was suppressed, and the garrisons of the various other pre- 
sidios began to dwindle away. The changes incident to the 
Hidalgo revolution, in 1810, in Mexico, heralded and brought 
about the end of the presidio system on the Rio Grande. After 
Hidalgo's defeat, in 181 1, the presidios were never restored. 
Up to that time the presidios had flourished. The soldiers, 
under the commanding officers at Presidio del Norte, San Carlos, 
Pilares, and San Vicente, lived with their families, in their own 
homes, tending their small farms or herding their goats. Some- 
times, at irregular intervals, they were called upon to drill. 
At other times, at even less regular intervals, they were called 
upon to fight Indians. Acting, in a way, as a sort of militia, 
these few remnants of the former glory of Spanish soldiery 
garrisoned the presidios. 

Coincident with the revolution of Hidalgo, the religious 
brotherhoods fell into disrepute with the Spanish government. 
Less attention was paid to the presidios, and the missions were 
abandoned ; the practice of forwarding the Catholic religion 
by keeping soldiers with the padres, died out. The garrisons 
were not renewed with new blood, and gradually the men died 
or were killed by Indians, and others moved away or were 

Of these old presidios, that of Del Norte, which to-day is 
Ojinaga, was the last to disappear with the dust of time. Prob- 
ably this presidio was abandoned and reoccupied several times. 
In 1820, the mother of John Burgess was in Presidio del Norte, 
when three hundred Apaches entered the village and killed 
many inhabitants. This occurred at an interval when the sol- 
diers had been withdrawn to Chihuahua City. On record in 
the Land Office in Ojinaga were two land titles, under date of 
1828 and 1835, respectively, which bear the signature of El 
Capitan Jose I. Benquillo. It is highly probable that this officer 
was the last commander of the decayed presidio system along 
the Rio Grande. 

Valle de Piedra, commonly called Valpiedra, is still a small 
settlement situated between Ojinaga and Pilares. Originally 
it was a penal colony. It was founded on the site of irrigated 


farms, and convicts from both Presidio del Norte and Chi- 
huahua were sent there to work. Concessions were given by 
the government to certain prominent men, sometimes to com- 
manders of the garrison itself, and it might be noted that in 
this latter case very often the commanders would increase their 
labor by their own judicial decisions, when necessary. 

There is no definite date available as to the time of the 
establishment of Valle de Piedra, but it was the last one of 
the old colonies to be in operation. Cotton was the usual crop, 
and during the days of the Civil War, the cotton was shipped 
to northern markets. At the close of the Civil War, when 
the South resumed cotton planting, Valle de Piedra lost its 

One other old ruin known as Old Fortin, which was settled 
in 1848 by Ben Leaton, and which to-day is owned by John 
Burgess, was at one time one of the seven presidios located in 
the vicinity of the junction of the Conchos River and the Rio 

As early as 1800, trappers and hunters came to Presidio del 
Norte, to trap beaver on the Conchos River, but the Mexican 
authorities turned them back. From 1820 to 1850, the St. Louis 
Fur Company and Bent Fur Trading Company had a few trap- 
pers and hunters in the country, but very little can be told about 
their activities. 

The Santa Fe Trail had been in operation since 1822, and 
ran south from Santa Fe, New Mexico, through Paso del Norte, 
to Chihuahua City, With a view of encouraging commercial 
development and finding a shorter route than the Santa Fe 
Trail from Chihuahua City to the Red River frontier of 
Arkansas, the Mexican Government agreed to reduce the im- 
port duties to a very low rate in favor of a pioneer enterprise, 
and to furnish an escort of dragoons for the protection of the 
traders. An American merchant, Dr. H. Connelly, and a num- 
ber of wealthy Mexicans undertook the adventurous trip. The 
caravan set out from Chihuahua City, April 3, 1839. It con- 
sisted of 100 men, including 50 dragoons. There were seven 
wagons in all, 700 mules, and from $200,000 to $300,000 in 


specie and bullion. Following the Conchos River, as did the 
old Spanish explorers, they crossed the Rio Grande at Presidio 
del Norte. They kept the old Salt Lake Trail, to Horsehead 
Crossing, and met with no greater accident between the Cross- 
ing and Fort Townsend than to confuse the Red River with 
the Brazos. 

It was the intention of the adventurers to return to Chi- 
huahua the ensuing fall, but, suffering much delay, they did 
not get started until the following spring. On the return trip, 
the caravan consisted of sixty or seventy wagons, laden with 
merchandise, and about 225 men, including their escort, the 
Mexican dragoons. After being lost, by missing their old trail 
in the "Cross Timbers," they finally reached the Pecos River, 
where, in contrast with its small flow of water to-day, they were 
compelled to use water-kegs to float their wagons across. At 
the Pecos, they met a large body of Comanches, but their 
number was sufficient to make the Indians appear friendly. 

Upon reaching Presidio del Norte, or Ojinaga, they learned 
that General Irogoyen, with whom they had celebrated the 
contract for diminution of their duty, had died in their absence. 
The new commander insisted on the payment of the full duty, 
which would have caused financial disaster to the expedition. 
After a delay of forty-five days at Presidio, they made a com- 
promise ; and on the 27th day of August, 1840, safely reached 
Chihuahua City. 

The delays and accumulated expenses of the expedition 
caused such disastrous results to those interested that it was 
nine years before the Chihuahua Trail became a generally used 

George F. Ruxton, a noted English traveler, throws con- 
siderable light on Indian conditions in, and adjoining, the Big 
Bend of the Rio Grande, in the years 1845-46, gained in travel- 
ing through the danger zone of Northern Mexico. 

In Ruxton's time, the city of Durango was considered the 
Ultima Thule of the civilized portion of Mexico. Beyond it, 
to the north and northwest, stretched away the vast uncultivated 
and unpeopled plains of Chihuahua, the Bolson de Mapimi, and 


the arid deserts of the Gila. In these wild regioi.s, the hostile 
tribes of Indians had their dwelling-places, from which they 
continually descended upon the border settlements and hacien- 
das, drove off the herds of horses and mules, and barbarously 
killed the unarmed peasantry. This warfare — if warfare it 
could be called, where the aggression and bloodshed were on 
one side only, and passive endurance on the other — had existed 
from time immemorial ; and the wonder is, that the country 
had not long before been abandoned by the persecuted inhabit- 
ants, who at all seasons were subjected to their attacks. 

The Apaches, whose country bordered upon the Department 
of Durango, were untiring and incessant in their hostility 
against the whites ; and, being near neighbors, were enabled 
to act with great rapidity and unawares against the haciendas 
and ranchos on the frontier. They were a treacherous and 
cowardly race of Indians, and seldom attacked even the Mexi- 
cans, save by treachery and ambuscade. When they had carried 
off a number of horses and mules, sufficient for their present 
wants, they sent a deputation to the governors of Durango and 
Chihuahua, to express their anxiety for peace. This was 
invariably granted them, and, when en pas, they resorted to the 
frontier villages, and even the capital of the Department, for 
the purpose of trade and amusement. The animals they had 
stolen in Durango and Chihuahua, they found a ready market 
for in New Mexico and Sonora ; and this traffic was most 
unblushingly carried on, and countenanced by the authorities 
of the respective states. 

But the most formidable enemy, and most feared and 
dreaded by the inhabitants of Durango and Chihuahua, were 
the warlike Comanches, who descended from their distant 
prairie country beyond the Pecos River, at certain seasons of 
the year. Annually, these Indians undertook regularly organ- 
ized expeditions into these states, and frequently into the inte- 
rior, as far as the vicinity of Sombrerete, Durango, for the 
purpose of procuring animals and slaves, carrying off the young 
boys and girls, and massacring the adults in the most wholesale 
and barbarous manner. 


So regular were these expeditions, that in the Comanche 
calendar the month of September was known as the Mexican 
moon, as the other months were designated the buffalo moon, 
the young bear moon, the corn moon, etc. They generally 
invaded the country in three different divisions, with two to 
five hundred warriors in each. One, the most southern, passed 
the Rio Grande between the old presidio of San Juan and the 
mouth of the Pecos, and harried the fertile plains and wealthy 
haciendas of El Valle de San Bartolome, the Rio Florido, San 
Jose del Parral, and the Rio Nasas. Every year their incur- 
sions extended farther into the interior, as the frontier hacien- 
das became depopulated by their ravages, and the villages 
deserted and laid waste. For days together, in Bolson de 
Mapimi, Ruxton says that he traversed a country deserted on 
this account, and passed through ruined villages, untrodden for 
years by the foot of man. 

The central division entered between the Presidio del Norte 
and Monclova, where they joined the party coming in from 
the North, and passed the mountains of Mapimi and traversed 
a desert country destitute of water, where they suffered the 
greatest privations, ravaged the valleys of Mapimi, Guajo- 
quilla, and Chihuahua, and even the haciendas at the foot of the 
Sierra Madre. 

It appears incredible that no steps were taken to protect the 
country from those invasions, which did not take the inhabit- 
ants unawares, but at certain and regular seasons and from 
known points. Troops were employed nominally to check the 
Indians, but very rarely attacked them, although the Comanches 
gave them every opportunity, and, thoroughly despising them, 
met them on the open field, and with equal numbers almost 
invariably defeated the regular troops. 

The people themselves were unable to offer any resistance, 
however well inclined they were to do so, as it was the policy 
of the Government to keep them unarmed ; and, being un- 
acquainted with the use of weapons, when placed in their hands, 
they had no confidence, and offered but feeble resistance. So 
perfectly aware of this fact were the Comanches, that they 


never hesitated to attack superior numbers. When in small 
parties the Mexicans never resisted, even if armed, but fell 
upon their knees and begged for mercy. Sometimes, however, 
goaded by the murder of their families and friends, the ran- 
cheros collected together, and, armed with bows and arrows, 
and slings and stones, went out to meet the Indians, and were 
slaughtered like sheep. 

In the years 1845-1846, the Indians were more audacious 
than in previous years. It may be that they were rendered 
more daring by the knowledge of the war between the United 
States and Mexico, and the supposition that the troops would, 
consequently, be withdrawn from the scene of their operations. 
They overran the whole Departments of Durango and Chi- 
huahua, cut off all communications, and defeated, in two pitched 
battles, the regular Mexican troops sent against them. Upward 
of ten thousand head of horses and mules were carried off, in 
those two years ; scarcely a hacienda or rancho on the frontier 
was left unvisited ; and everywhere the people were killed or 
captured. The roads were made impassable, all traffic was 
stopped, the ranchos were barricaded, and the inhabitants were 
afraid to venture out of their doors. The posts and expresses 
traveled at night, avoiding the roads, and news came daily of 
massacres and harryings. 



After the decay of the presidio system, the mightiest and 
most dangerous tribe of Indians in the Big Bend were the 
Comanches. Their wanderings and forays spread over an 
immense territory. By preference, their fixed seats of abode 
were chiefly in the rocky highlands which stretch between the 
upper part of the Red River and the Rio Grande. East and 
west, they extended from the San Saba Valley to the thickly 
settled portion of New Mexico, which was given over to the 
Apaches, the inveterate enemies of the Comanches. However, 
they were great wanderers and often were known to roam 
along the banks of the Arkansas River on the north, and to 
the interior of Durango, Mexico, on the south. 

They were essentially a hunter folk, without enduring 
homes, and no liking for agriculture. They continually wan- 
dered about in this immense territory, following the march of 
the buffalo, north and east of the Pecos River, and to a great 
extent their manner of living was fixed by this running wild 
cattle. Year in and year out, the meat of the buffalo was their 
main food. Even the two-year-old children were fed "jerkey" 
— buffalo meat cut in narrow strips and dried by the sun. 
The only plant food which they occasionally ate, appeared to 
be the inch-thick root of a specie of the pea, sometimes called 
Indian bread-root. At one time this bread-root was quite 
common along the banks of the San Saba River, at the timber's 
edge. Very naturally, the need and want of provisions was 
frequently felt by a people solely accustomed to the chase ; and 
in them was bred a natural indolence and carelessness, which, 
at certain seasons, caused great suffering from hunger. In such 
straits, which happened often when they were on their period- 
ical forays and could not devote the time to the chase, they 
killed a horse or a mule. 


Owing to the fact that they trusted to Nature and their 
abiHty to kill a sufficient number of buffalo for their sustenance, 
they were prevented from gathering together in any consider- 
able number. Had this not been so, it is doubtful if the white 
settlers, who pushed their way into the hunting-ground of the 
Comanches, could have withstood the forays of the Indians. 

Just as essentially as they were a hunter folk, they were a 
wandering folk. All their chief pursuits were carried on by 
the horse. They fought, hunted, and traveled on a horse. It is 
needless to say that they were expert horsemen, and often in 
battle it was observed that as they rushed upon their enemy, 
their horses running full speed, they swung to the far side, 
shooting at their foes from the under-side of the horse's neck, 
and exposing no part of their body but their foot, the heel of 
which was hooked over the horse's withers. 

The women sat astride the horses just as the men did, and 
rode scarcely less skillfully. The horses were, necessarily, of 
the breed brought into the country by the Spaniards, and, while 
not imposing in appearance, were capable of great endurance. 
In part, these horses were raised by the Indians, and, in part, 
they were captured on their forays into Mexico, or stolen from 
the Texas settlers. The stealing of horses they justified by 
saying that it was manifestly an injustice on the part of the 
Great Spirit that He had given so many horses to the white 
men, who were so trifling in number, while they themselves 
had received so few ; and they sought to equalize this disparity 
as much as possible. 

Perhaps no race of Indians had their mode of living so 
greatly changed as had the Comanches by the coming of the 
Spaniards. From that first moment when they learned to use 
the horse, dates all the peculiarities and terms of their later 
material existence. 

The weapons of the Comanches were bows, arrows, and the 
long lance. Their bows, four feet in length, were manufac- 
tured from the bois d'arc, which was indigenous to East Texas 
and Arkansas. The arrows were two feet in length and were 
carried on the back of the warrior, in a quiver made of horse- 


hide, and, sometimes, of cougar or jaguar skin. The earHer 
arrow-points were of flint ; but long years before the Apaches 
began to use the iron points, the Comanches adopted them 
through trading with the Spaniards. The arrow-head was 
attached to the shaft by means of a thong or deer tendon, and 
was so held that after an arrow was embedded in an object, 
the shaft might be removed but the arrow-head would remain. 
So skillful were the Indians with the bow and arrow that while 
a bullet would often fail to penetrate the buffalo's hide, some- 
times the arrow was shot with such force that it protruded 
from the opposite side of the animal. The lance, which varied 
in length from six to ten feet, was spiked with an elongated 
iron point, which was manufactured in many cases from a 
hundred-year-old Toledo sword-blade. Occasionally, however, 
but not sufficiently common to be of great importance at this 
period, the Comanches were provided with the American long 
rifle, but at no time was the rifle in the hands of a Comanche 
so dangerous as his home-made bow and arrow. 

The clothing of the Comanche was not greatly different 
from that of other North American Indians. It consisted 
usually of leggings, moccasins, the breech clout, or "flap," and 
the buffalo-skin, or woolen cloth, which covered the whole body 
as a cloak. Often they wore, besides, a tight, close-fitting 
jacket or short shirt of buckskin, split in front, called gamusas. 
The women were clothed in a short dress or tunic of deer 
leather, which was often adorned with embroidery and loose 
hanging metal pieces. Besides this, they wore moccasins and 
short leggings. The women cut their hair moderately short, 
but the men wore their hair long, either flowing over the back 
or hanging in ornamented plait. For head-covering they had 
in general as little as the other Indian races. 

The popular conception of an Indian is a dark-skinned, 
haughty-countenanced person, with a great head-dress, out of 
which rises the tail feathers of the eagle; but amongst the 
southern and western Indians, the heat from the sun's rays 
prohibited the use of anything on the head, except, possibly, 
a band of gaudy cloth, tied around their heads to keep their 


hair from blowing into their eyes. Although deer and buffalo 
skins were chosen, when possible, for the clothing of the 
Comanches, yet woolen and cotton shirts, and other articles of 
American manufacture, were often found among them ; such 
articles coming from the Government through exchange at the 
trading-posts, for skins. In the main, their clothing was less 
neat and spruce than that of their neighbors, the Lipan Apaches. 

In bodily structure, the Comanche was seldom handsomely 
built, usually being squat of stature and crooked of limb. They 
could in no way compare with the half-civilized Delaware and 
Shawnees, among whom handsome forms and high-bred, noble 
countenances were frequently seen. The Comanche women 
were small and undersized, and only in first youth, well-formed 
and of pleasing countenance. They faded early, due in part to 
the series of hard bodily labor which fell to their lot, and to 
their naturally exposed manner of living. In contrast, were 
the little children, with coal black, fiery eyes, glistening dark 
hair and brown complexions, through which the bright red of 
the cheeks showed — a happy, healthy youngster, as a rule, who 
was handled with great tenderness by the older people. As 
was the usual custom with the Indian mother of other tribes, 
the Comanche mother carried her little one on her back, 
wrapped in skins and laced up on a board. 

In comparison with other Indian races, the Comanches 
stood out as possessing great contempt for the enjoyment of 
spirituous drinks. It is well known that distilled drinks gave 
all other North American Indians passionate enjoyment, and 
that firewater, which was brought to them by unscrupulous 
traders, often in the form of alcohol, was next to smallpox in 
evil. The Comanches not only rejected spirits for themselves, 
but scorned all others who used intoxicants. Von Roemer, who 
had extensive dealings with these Indians about 1840, said that 
while in San Antonio, Texas, he watched a pair of Comanches 
viewing a drunken Delaware Indian, who was reeling along the 
street, and that he never forgot the expression of deep con- 
tempt which showed on their countenances. Perhaps, this one 
trait in the Comanche people caused the general fear and 


respect for them as fighters, which was so widely felt, both 
by the white settlers and their red foes. 

The villages of the Southern Comanches were composed of 
tents or tepees. These tents were excellent for their purpose 
and comfortably arranged. They were of cone-shaped form 
and twelve to fourteen feet high ; the material of which they 
were constructed was the tanned buffalo-hide. Several hides 
were sewed together and spread over the framework of long 
tent-poles, which crossed each other at a point near the top. 
From the ground up to this point, extended a small chink, 
which was covered in time of storm by two flaps. Through 
this chink escaped the smoke of the fire, placed in the center 
of the lodge. A bear-skin formed the flap to the entrance. 
All tents were so placed that the smoke-hole and the doors lay 
towards the prevailing direction of the wind. Buffalo-skins 
and bear-skins were spread on the ground, which formed the 
floor of the lodge, and in a circle sat the family of the house- 
hold — the master on a bear-skin opposite the door, where he 
could observe what was passing without ; at his side his wife, 
occupied with the care of the children, or working bead em- 
broidery. In the center of the tent was a round hole in the 
earth, upon which the household cooking was done. From the 
cross-points of the tent-poles, in the peak of the tent, was a 
leather thong fastened to a tent peg, driven in the ground, 
which served to give greater strength to the structure and 
prevent its being overturned by wind-storms. 

In point of bravery, the Comanches stand high above the 
Apaches. While the latter attacked their enemy almost always 
in ambush, and were concealed as much as possible, on the 
contrary the Comanches shirked not to stand in open field 
against the whites. Many times has this been verified. 

Von Roemer, commenting upon the fact of the Comanches' 
bravery, cites as an example an incident which occurred at 
San Antonio, while Lamar was President of Texas. The 
Comanches had been long at war with the Texans, without 
either side gaining material advantage. Because of this, the 
situation became burdensome to the Texans, and they decided, 


if possible, to make a treaty of peace with the Indians. With 
this in view, they invited the chiefs of the Comanches to a peace 
conference, at San Antonio ; and at the same time summoned 
the Indians to bring along their captives, for whose freedom 
the Texans would negotiate. As a result of this summons, 
some fifteen chiefs appeared in San Antonio at the time set; 
but they left behind the captives in a camp many miles from 
the town. 

The peace conference began, and, conformably, the first 
day was spent debating the amount of ransom to be paid for 
the captives. On the following day, the prisoners were not 
only not produced, as the Indians had promised, but the chiefs 
demanded a higher ransom. Broken up over this breach of 
good faith, the Texas officer, presiding, declared to the chiefs 
that they themselves would be held back as prisoners until they 
had produced their captives. 

The moment they heard they were prisoners, the head chief 
raised the war-cry and shot one of the Texas commissioners 
through the breast with an arrow. The others followed his 
example, and before the Texans could make use of their weap- 
ons, many of them were dead or wounded. Still, the Texans 
outnumbered the Indians, and, aided by the armed guard held 
ready in front of the assembly-house for such an emergency, 
they succeeded in killing all but one of the Indians. This last 
Indian broke through and fled into a stone house, in which he 
long defended himself. Then, for a second time breaking 
through the multitude besieging the house, he escaped. When 
the fight first began a thirteen-year-old son of the chief was 
playing in front of the door of the assembly-house ; when the 
war-cry of his tribe reached his ears, he sprang up, and, with 
his small bow and arrow, shot down one of the Texans who was 
hastening towards the council-house. 

Von Roemer, whose relations with the Comanches covered 
an extended period, gives an interesting and informative account 
of a visit to the Comanches, under the chiefs, Ocol, Buffalo 
Hump, and Santa Anna. This latter chief was quite friendly 
with the whites. He had shortly returned from a trip to 


Washington, at the time Von Roemer visited him, and he had 
brought back a full impression of the power of the white people 
— an impression the Government desired to make by having 
several of the Indian chiefs visit the capital. 

As Von Roemer got within a half mile of the Indian camp, 
a representative of the chiefs, splendidly dressed and carrying 
a flag, met him and ceremoniously escorted him to the lodges 
set aside for him and his party. Hardly had the white men 
settled themselves, when a great number of men, women, and 
children gathered around them to get a look at the white 
strangers. Already, they began to eat and steal little things, 
and to be very troublesome, a practice which in the following 
days, through greedy crowding, became still worse. The whites 
let their horses run free after the chief gave them the promise 
that none would be stolen. "That we found them all again on 
our departure," says Von Roemer, "is certainly a noteworthy 
evidence of the reliability of the Comanches when they have 
once pledged their hospitality, especially when it is considered 
that such horses as those of ours are a treasure for any Indian, 
for whose winning he is gladly ready to risk his life. 

"Very early in the evening," continues Von Roemer, "our 
Indian hosts took themselves back and left us to rest, but which 
we could not soon find, so excited were we by the multiplied 
impressions of the day." 

When the whites awoke on the following morning, they 
saw before their tents their new friends, the three chiefs, seated 
by the rekindled fire, waiting patiently for their appearance. 
They were very soon convinced, however, that this early visit 
was not only to wish them a good morning in Comanche- 
land, but that also a much more solid design lay at the bottom — 
a square meal. The so-called Comanche hospitality was more 
often a negative kind, although, with the exception of a few 
trifling articles, the Indians committed no theft against their 
guests. It was highly amusing to see how Santa Anna, a power- 
ful man in his best years, lingered near the supply of provisions, 
and used flattering words and signs in order to obtain sweet- 
meats. As an excuse for the importunity, however, it was 



evident to the whites that the Indian camp contained no provi- 
sions except a Httle buffalo meat. 

This particular camp was composed of one hundred and 
fifty tents, of different sizes, which were dispersed, without 
order, along the edge of the wood. One of these tents, in which 
all official business was conducted, was set apart from the 
others, and before the entrance was placed a shield, a peculiar 
head-dress of buffalo-skin, with the buffalo-horns and a lance 
on it. These weapons so placed were "medicine" and were 
sacred to the religious mysteries, for which reason no one 
dared to touch them. 

On this trip of inspection, as Von Roemer and his party 
approached a tent, they were always welcomed by the sullen 
barks of a number of vicious, lean dogs, who stole cowardly 
away when one went straight toward them. Everywhere they 
saw the busy squaws occupied with the housework. Some 
twisted ropes of horse-hair, used for tying horses; others 
plaited leather straps or lassoes from small strips of horse- 
hide ; still others worked the hard buffalo-hide into use, from 
which they cut off the still clinging fleshy and fatty parts from 
the inner sides with a hook-shaped, short-handled work-tool ; 
others were cleaning house, and farther away a squaw was 
leading into camp a pack-horse loaded with venison. 

At another place a number of women were engaged in 
taking down tents and packing them on mules. A mule packed 
with skins on the back, with a thick bundle twelve feet long, 
and the tent-poles dragging on the ground behind, presented a 
strange sight to the members of the white party. One of the 
most easily read Indian signs, which usually marks an Indian 
expedition, was the trail which the dragging tent-poles left 
behind on the ground. 

While on their review of the village, the whites were offered 
different objects for trade. One could get a good buffalo-skin 
for a woolen horse-blanket ; a smaller skin of the grey fox or 
civet-cat for a small portion of salt or corn ; and Von Roemer 
mentioned that he exchanged a leather lasso for a small quan- 
tity of cinnibar, which must have been obtained in the Ter- 


lingua district, Brewster County, Texas, as that was the only 
country inhabited by the Comanches where cinnibar has been 
found. The general preference of the Indians was always for 
purely decorative things or trinkets of no practical use. 

About the village, grazed easily one thousand horses, many 
of which, including some mules, bore Mexican brands. One 
distinction about the Comanche horses was that the points of 
their ears were slit. 

Toward noon of that day, the Indians arranged a council 
with the whites, to which assembled the three head chiefs and 
the most conspicuous warriors. Ocol, the first head chief, who 
attended to all political matters, was a small, insignificant- 
looking man, in a dirty cotton jacket, and his onl}^ distinguishing 
trait was a sly, diplomatic face. Different from. him was the 
war chief, Santa Anna, a strong man with a benevolent and 
sprightly countenance. The third chief, Buffalo Hump, pre- 
sented the real, typical picture of the North American Indian. 
Real, because, unlike most of his tribal kin, he disdained Euro- 
pean clothes. With the upper part of his body naked, a buffalo- 
skin wrapped around the hips, yellow brass rings on the arms, a 
string of beads about the throat, the long, coarse black hair 
hanging down, he sat in the council with a stern, apathetic 
expression of countenance popularly conceived to belong only 
to the typical savage. 

As the council began, the women and children drew away 
from the circle to a more decorous distance, and formed a 
gayly-colored background for the assemblage. In the middle 
of the circle, lay a small pile of tobacco, and a pipe. This an 
Indian picked up, filled with tobacco, and, after he had lighted 
it, took a couple of puffs, then sent it around the circle. Twice 
around the peace pipe went, with the silence remaining un- 
broken ; after this ceremony, the Comanches entered into the 
negotiations for a peace treaty with the possible settlers. 

In the evening following the negotiations, which had been 
successfully carried out, the party of whites were treated to a 
customary spectacle. A number of horsemen in festive attire 
formed into a procession, which filed slowly past the camp of 


the white men. The faces of the warriors were painted red, 
and on their heads they wore remarkable head-dresses of 
buffalo-skins, with the horns still on them. They were the 
same head-dresses that had been seen in front of the tents. In 
one hand, each warrior carried a long lance, daubed in red; 
in the other, a round shield of tanned buffalo-hide, with gay 
colors daubed, and bordered with a margin of different feath- 
ers, which, when the shield was swung, fluttered in the breeze. 
The horses shared in the grotesque appearance of their riders, 
as they were colored a most fiery red on tail and head. So 
paraded this fantastic procession many times before the tents 
of the whites, then they passed away in a long gallop, and 
disappeared in the darkness. 

It was an expedition of young warriors leaving on a war 
trip — or, more correctly, a robbing and plundering trip — 
against Mexico, who wished to show their white visitors 
something of their strength and preparedness for trouble. 

An idea of the general condition in 1840 may be gained 
through Von Roemer's comment : 

"The uncertainty and misery in the Mexican border prov- 
inces of Coahuila, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, in which these 
Indians make their regular inroads, must be boundless. If a 
stronger authority does not take the place of the present in 
Mexico, then these provinces under the Spanish dominion, 
which tried to hold in check the strong, ever-robbing tribes, 
will be gradually devastated and depopulated. As a result, 
always more encouraged, the Indians will spread their forays 
into the heart of the Mexican lands. Probably an energetic 
movement of all the provinces will not be sooner than a peace- 
able or warlike 'robbery' brings Texas, New I^Iexico and Upper 
California under the banner of the United States. We saw 
among the Comanches all kinds of movable property, stolen in 
Mexico, costly woolen cloths, mules, horses and bridles ; also 
captive Mexicans, sometimes w^omen and children. Some lived 
so long already among the Indians that they feel no wish to 
return to their native people, and which are therefore not 
handled any longer as prisoners. A young Mexican was brought 



by us from his owner, who was dissatisfied with him, for the 
small piece of forty dollars." 

The morning after the treaty, an amusing incident occurred, 
at least amusing to Von Roemer and his companions. An old 
man appeared before the chiefs and complained with woeful 
look that the same young people who had held the warlike 
proceedings the evening before had stolen his wife from him, 
and two of his best horses, and had taken them away. The 
chiefs advised him to set out with some other young people, and 
to take back his stolen goods. 

Late that evening, the old man returned, with satisfaction 
expressed in every seam of his face, and related that he had 
found the war party at no great distance, and, while they were 
occupied in drying the flesh of horses for their journey, he had 
surprised them, regained his wife, also a span of good mules, 
and made off with them. The wife was still young-looking and 
not ill-favored. To the question why he did not cut off her 
nose, he replied that he was glad enough to get her back. As a 
punishment for unfaithfulness, it was generally the custom 
among the Comanches to mutilate the guilty woman in this 
fashion, and then to repudiate her. Von Roemer relates that 
he saw many such women, with noses cut off and with short, 
bristly hair. 

"The Southern Comanches were distinguished from the 
Northern Comanches, who held their rancherias on the Purga- 
toire and other branches of the Arkansas River, in Colorado. 
The Southern Comanches, from the hills under the staked 
plains in Texas, had been, at the time of the war of Mexico 
with the United States, for many years incessantly raiding the 
Mexican border states. So long had this continued that the 
younger generations had been reared, trained in all the arts and 
practices of predatory warfare, and had become accustomed to 
consider raiding into Mexico as their future hope of gain and 

"The scenes of their life of rapine lay in the semi-arid Big 
Bend region ; and in this country there is usually an abundance 

Quoted from O. W. Williams. 


of rain in the months of August and September, when the 
grasses start into vigorous growth and the charcos — pools 
formed from rain-water — are full of water all across the desert 
wastes. So, in the month of September of each year, when 
the moon became full, the war parties of young, ambitious 
bucks began to trail across the four hundred miles of wild 
country which lay between the Llano Estacado — the staked 
plains — and the homes of the vaqueros and farmers in Durango 
and Chihuahua. 

"Magnificent horsemen as they were, a half-wild horse 
taken from some herd of mustangs, a bit with a rawhide rein 
for bridle, and a tanned sheep-skin or a patch of buffalo-hide 
for a stirrupless saddle, the long trip over thorny plains and 
through stony mountains was to them a festive occasion. 

"With a bow of Osage orange wood — ^bois d'arc — and arrows 
of the river reeds, or the 'vara dulce,' slung over the shoulder 
in quivers of lynx-hides ; carrying the lance of ash-wood shod 
with iron and resting across the saddle with the chimal, or 
shield, of the buffalo-hide, fringed with turkey feathers ; and 
occasionally an old Spanish escopeta with a bell-shaped muzzle, 
much resembling the muzzle of a trombone — a gun which shot 
a slug of lead as large as a quail tgg — slung under the leg in 
a rawhide case ; with a Bowie knife from Texas, or a machete 
from Mexico, carried anywhere room could be made, these 
freebooters of the plains were ready to fight any foe. 

"Each year, in the light of the Mexican moon — for so they 
came to term the September full moon — the Comanche war 
trail swarmed with parties of these barbaric warriors, in troops 
of a half dozen to a hundred and more, including outlaws from 
many other tribes and even renegades from Mexico, who hur- 
ried forward to the carnival of bloodshed and rapine on the 
south side of the Rio Grande. 

"The trail carried them over the southeastward shoulder of 
the great Llano Estacado, where, for a hundred miles, nothing 
was to be seen but the open, grassy plain tenanted only by the 
jack-rabbit and antelope, and sentinelled by the gull and hawk, 
down through the terraced pass, the Castle Gap, just above the 


Pecos River, into the wide mesquite plains of the Pecos River, 
across Horsehead Crossing, on past the noted Comanche Springs 
into the mesa-topped limestone hills, then into the mountains of 
burnt rocks — monuments of primeval fires — and over the Rio 
Grande into the promised land. Here the parties diverged, 
each to its own chosen area. One scourged the fertile valleys 
of the Conchos River, up to the very walls of Chihuahua City ; 
others carried fire and lance into the confines of Durango ; 
some went to the mines, some to the farming valleys, but most 
of them sought the haciendas, where they might find horses and 
cattle, the great source of savage wealth. 

"Along in November or December, following, the parties 
began to return. The great Comanche war-trail then again 
presented an animated picture. A party here would be driving 
a herd of cattle; a party there, a troop of half-wild horses. 
In another band might be seen a small train of captives, 'laced 
like Mazeppa to a Tartar of the Ukraine breed,' and herded 
and driven as any other beasts devoted to man's use. There 
might be a great prairie fire started by a party of raiders to 
escape pursuers, while the party itself deflected from the main 

"But there was no way to cover or hide the Great Trail itself. 
It was worn deep by the hoofs of countless travelers, man and 
beast, and was whitened by the bones of many animals. It was 
a great chalk line on the map of West Texas, cutting through 
the heart of the Big Bend. 

"Among the habitual tenants of this great trail, the Coman- 
ches were easily the lords. Their flag of sovereignty was 
lowered to one necessity only — the lingua franca of the Trail — 
the Spanish language. This concession was granted been use 
the Kiowa, the Utah, the Cheyenne, the Apache, and Comanche, 
each in time, learned some Spanish from his Mexican captive, 
while the captive in turn became a good Indian, and at the 
same time a good interpreter; so it came about, as has so 
often happened among the languages of the world, that the 
tongue of the vanquished became the tongue of the war trail. 
This was aided and supplemented in many ways by the sign 


language common to the Indians of the Spanish Southwest, so 
that on the trail these Indians of divers races and tongues had 
a common language which was foreign to each one of them. 

"Among these lords of the war trail, Tave Tuk, or as he was 
generally called, Bajo el Sol, the Comanche, was the most noted 
war-chief. He was distinguished for skill in arms, for address 
in the battle plan ; but mostly for indomitable courage in the 
fight. It was said that he took his name because he feared 
nothing 'under the sun.' 

"His mother, old Tave Pete, was a kind of female shaman 
in her tribe. She was old — so old, the time-honored Mexicans 
said, that when she rode on the forays, she tied up her lower 
jaw by a thong passing up over her head, in order to prevent 
it dropping down against her throat and breast, as it otherwise 
v/ould have done ; yet she had great influence with her people. 
An old Mexican, who formerly told the story of the prowess 
of Bajo el Sol, said that he listened to Tave Pete once deliver 
her orders to her people from the belfry in the church at the 
old presidio of San Carlos ; and that immediately after her 
harangue, the Indians hastily packed, mounted their horses, 
and took their way to the hills. 

"On account of his mother's power and that of his brothers, 
Mauve and the two pelones, but chiefly on account of his own 
powers, Tave Tuk was a great chief of the war trail. The 
Indians attached themselves to such leaders as they chose, and 
Tave Tuk, or Bajo el Sol, always carried the largest war-party, 
and his power extended very largely to other bands over which 
he was not in immediate control. 

"The forays of the Indians in Chihuahua and Durango were 
most destructive to life and property. The country was being 
depopulated. The center of government at the City of Mexico 
— when there happened to be one — was entirely occupied in 
tr}ing to uphold itself against hostile factions, and had no time 
to aid its frontier states. These states themselves were more or 
less divided among warring factions ; all was confusion. The 
states were suffering both from the Comanche war-trail and, 
also, from the mountain Apaches, who, from their rancherias 


in New Mexico, Chihuahua, and the Davis Mountains in the 
Big Bend, descended upon the defenseless borders in a separate 
warfare of their own. The Comanches descended upon these 
frontiers once a year, but the mountain Apaches — Hke the poor 
— were with them always. 

"In despair over the situation, the State of Chihuahua re- 
solved to make a treaty with the Indians for that state alone. As 
the lesser of two evils, and also as probably being a more reliable 
ally, it was decided to treat with the Comanches. The treaty 
was made with Bajo el Sol, as the main chief, and with other 
chiefs of the war trail, by which Bajo el Sol and his associates, 
for a consideration, agreed to make war on the Mescalero 
Apaches, and to refrain from ravaging Chihuahua, being left 
free, however, to raid any other Mexican states. To carry out 
the agreement more effectually, the Indians of the war trail 
moved into Chihuahua, to the borders of Lake Haco. From 
this seat, they could more conveniently carry on the fight with 
the Mescalero Apaches, and at the same time harry Durango. 

"While this treaty was in force, Bajo el Sol, with his wife 
and her younger brother, was traveling near the Del Carmen 
Mountains, on the Rio Grande, above Boquillas, Brew- 
ster County, when they ran into a band of about thirty !Mes- 
calero Apaches. These Indians had in their possession a captive 
Mexican boy, by name Domingo Porras. 

"The wife of the Comanche chief entreated him to go on 
and leave the Apaches unmolested. To this, Bajo el Sol replied 
that his treaty with Chihuahua bound him to fight the Apaches 
wherever he met them, and he would not have it said that he 
feared the face of living man. So he sent on his wife and her 
brother, and prepared to make his lone fight against thirty 

"He tightened the cinch of his skin saddle, and examined the 
rawhide bits in the mouth of his horse. Then he looked to see 
that the point of his ash-wood spear was well set, saw that his 
arrows were good and in place, strung his bois d'arc bow, and 
placed his chimal buffalo-hide in readiness. 

"His preparations complete, he rode up to the Apaches and 


in the lingua franca of the Southwestern Indians, demanded 
the surrender of the captive boy. This was refused. He then 
informed them that he would fight them and that they must get 
ready. In reply, they taunted him. He set his spear firmly 
under his right armpit, and charged. 

"The Apaches scattered to avoid the charge, and, while they 
ran and dodged among the bushes and rocks, Bajo el Sol shot 
at them with his bow and arrows. After this erratic manner, 
the fight continued for several hours, during which time he 
killed two Apaches and wounded several others. His arrows 
all being shot, Bajo el Sol continued the fight with his spear 
alone, which the Apaches, owing to the broken nature of the 
ground, were easily able to avoid. 

"In some manner the Apaches had gained possession of an 
old escopeta, and the owner had only one load. At last, it was 
planned among the Apaches that the owner of the escopeta 
should hide behind a certain rock, while the other Indians con- 
tinued to lure Bajo el Sol to charge them by the side of this 
rock. He charged, as they intended him to do, and the Indian 
with the escopeta came out from behind the rock just after he 
had passed and fired at him at point-blank range. The slug 
struck Bajo el Sol in the back of the head, and he fell from 
his horse. Thus ended, in the foothills of the Del Carmen 
Mountains, the last fight of the most heroic Indian of the old 
Comanche War Trail." 



The immediate predecessors of the white man in the occu- 
pancy of the country known as the Big Bend, were Indians of 
the Apache family, a southern branch of the Athabascan lin- 
guistic group. While the Apaches were often encroached upon 
by the Comanche tribes north and east of the Pecos River, and 
while these latter Indians often occupied territory west of this 
river, still they had no permanent habitations or rancherias, as 
did the Apaches. 

The past few years have seen the greatest advance in 
research work along ethnological and anthropological lines in 
regard to the Indian races in the Spanish Southwest. Still, 
much remains to conjecture. The Apache family, the different 
branches of which occupied Southwest Texas, still remains a 
great puzzle to the scientists. At different times, and given 
by different writers, the name Apache varies greatly. We find 
such names as Salinero, Faraone, Perillos, and Mescaleros 
applied to the Indians who lived between the junction of the 
Pecos River and the Rio Grande, and westward into New 
Mexico. Besides these branches of the Apache family, we find 
that in the early settlement of Chihuahua and Coahuila, the 
Spaniards were greatly harassed by the Tobosos, a tribe then 
living on the Rio Grande, between the mouth of the Conchos 
River and the Santa Rosa Mountains, to the east. This name 
survives as applied to the well-known Toboso grass, but it seems 
to have utterly died out two hundred and fifty years ago as the 
name of a tribe. 

These Indians were described as being numerous, and they 
fought in guerrilla warfare with the usual Apache tactics. No 
serious defeat was registered against them, yet about the year 
1660 they disappeared from the pages of history. At the same 


time, or a little later, we hear of Mescalero Apaches in South- 
west New Mexico, and in 1749 the records state that they killed 
Padre Silva on the Coahuila Road, in Mexico. 

The connecting link between the Tobosos and the Mesca- 
leros is fairly well established. All over the old Toboso hunting- 
grounds, south of the Rio Grande, there still remain those 
characteristic rock-piles which the Mescaleros, as well as their 
progenitors, the Tobosos, made in roasting sotol, lechuguilla, 
and mescal ; hence it is very easy to draw the conclusion that 
the Tobosos were the Mescaleros, and occupied both sides of 
the Rio Grande west of the junction with the Pecos River, 
at the first approach of Spanish settlements. Therefore, it can 
be readily seen that the Apaches were the lords of the soil in 
the Big Bend, from the first coming of the Spaniards to about 
the year 1870, when the last band left the lower part of old 
Pecos County and took up their home and made their last 
rancheria in the Chisos Mountains. Among the Mexican 
descendants of the earliest Spanish settlers on the Rio Grande, 
there is a tradition that there was an earlier race of people in 
this country, whom their forefathers designated as Cholumbos. 
They say that the flint arrow-heads, spear-heads, obsidian 
Jcnives, fire-drills, and the round hammer-heads of tuff, the 
broken fragments of which are so abundant in this section, are 
the remains of this early people and not of the Apaches. 

Just how much of this tradition is true cannot be ascer- 
tained, but an examination of the remains and evidence extant 
has failed to establish a connecting link between this lost race 
and the Athabascans who followed them. 

Mrs. Sarah M. Janes, who spent a number of years in the 
Davis Mountains, and devoted considerable time to Indian 
culture, has perhaps the finest private collection of Indian pot- 
tery, implements, arrow-heads, and other Indian paraphernalia, 
in the Big Bend. Mrs. Janes, who is accredited with being the 
first white woman to climb Mount Livermore — the apex of 
the Davis Mountains and the second highest peak in Texas — 
made seven trips to the summit of Mount Livermore, in the 
interest of Indian culture. 


These trips were made with a view of establishing more 
facts in regard to a cache of Indian arrow-heads that was dis- 
covered under a rock monument on Mount Livermore. The 
discovery of these arrow-heads created considerable interest in 
the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. T. A. Merrill 
first examined the "grave," as it is commonly called. Until 
recently, the monument was supposed to have been erected by 
the Indians at the time they buried their arrows. It was argued 
that no one would spend time and energy to erect a monument 
of such dimensions, without a motive. The fact that arrows 
were found beneath it, would seem to prove the monument to 
be the work of Indians. But a knowledge of the Indians' dis- 
inclination to do unnecessary work, brought about further 
investigation, with the result that the builder of the monument 
was found. Captain W. R. Livermore, now a retired colonel, 
while engaged in surveying the Big Bend, for the War Depart- 
ment, in 1884, used the peak which later became known as 
Mount Livermore, for his base of observation. By a coinci- 
dence, without knowledge of the "grave," he erected his base 
monument on the very spot used by the Indians for the disposal 
of their arrow-points. 

However, two representatives of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution — Professor Douglas, United States Inspector of Surveys, 
and Vincent Bailey, the naturalist, who inspected the cairn, 
or Indian "grave," separately and at different times — agreed 
that the evidence found on Mount Livermore points to a pre- 
historic people, and to-day specimens of the arrows discovered 
in the crypt can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution, labeled 

These arrows corresponded in size to those generally used 
by Indian children, commonly called "bird arrows." A great 
many of them were of obsidian, a glassy, silicious rock, kin 
to quartz; others were of the ordinary flint. At the time of 
this discovery, there had been no other such discoveries made 
outside of a similar cairn in Death Valley, California ; but in 
the past two years, in the research work relative to gathering 
this historical data, similar finds, differing only in quantity, 


have been made in the Davis Mountains and in the vicinity 
of the Rio Grande. 

The fact that similar arrows have been found in the sites 
of former Apache rancherias, and also in favorite camping 
places of these Indians, where the arrow-makers plied their 
trade, would seem to prove a relationship between the tribes 
who buried the arrows on ]Mount Livermore and those Indians 
who later became known as Rancheria Apaches — Mescalero 
Apaches — who lived in settlements near springs or other sources 
of water supply. 

The remains of these primitive people may be classified in 
three groups. First, are the domestic implements, and those 
used in the war and chase, referred to by the Mexicans. They 
are flint arrows, spear-heads, obsidian and flint knives, beads 
of mussel-shell and of soft stone, flint scrapers, and the flat- 
tened rock nictates, used in grinding corn, acorns, and mesquite 
beans ; besides, a few other implements, generally of stone or 
of bone, which were used in savage life. The flint implements 
are made of rock lying abundantly in the mountain regions 
west of the Pecos River. These implements are found scat- 
tered over the country in great quantity, especially in the 
neighborhood of permanent water, where the Indians had their 
favorite camping-places. 

Second, a peculiar class of rock mounds are found, known 
as mescal-pits. They are scattered over the country, in the 
neighborhood of rock croppings, and are located apparently 
without any convenience to permanent water. They may be 
found in the Big Bend by the thousands, and are generally of a 
certain and well-defined shape. Each mound is circular in 
shape, fifteen to twenty-five feet in diameter, hollow in the 
center, and with a rim of rocks of uneven height around the 
circumference, generally much higher on the north or north- 
west side than anywhere else, to agree with the prevailing 
direction of the wind. In the middle will be found strong 
signs of fire, both ashes and charcoal being evident. These 
mounds are found of largest size and most frequently in places 
where there is now an abundance of sotol or lechuguilla, but 


they are also found in localities where neither of these plants 
grow. In such cases the mounds are smaller and the circular 
pit form is not so well defined, showing that perhaps ages have 
elapsed since that country was covered with sotol or lechuguilla. 

The third class of remains is mortuary, and in some re- 
spects quite peculiar. Graves are found in high, prominent, 
exposed places, A high bluff, overlooking a valley, is a favorite 
place for the most elaborate of these graves — a location that 
an Indian chief would naturally select for his burial place. 
The body appears generally to have been laid on the ground, 
without regard to any especial attitude. Ornaments and im- 
plements of the war and chase were placed in the hands, and 
the corpse was then covered with stones, and the grave often 
marked by an outside ring of flat stones, set on end, extending 
around the body in a circle. Graves of this character indicate 
the prominence of the dead, and are probably those of shamans, 
medicine-men, or chiefs. 

Another class of graves is found on the slopes of prominent 
hills or bluffs, where the stratum of rock crops out and leaves 
an exposed face one or two feet in height, where the front 
drops to the next lower stratum. Here the body is laid against 
the face of a rock and stones piled over it, generally giving 
the grave the appearance of a semi-circular pile of rock, hard 
to distinguish from the broken slides of talus usually found 
in such places. As in all other graves, implements and weap- 
ons are found buried with the dead, but in these graves the 
character of the implements found indicates often that women 
are buried in them. Here you will find the flat stones used 
for grinding corn and beans, the flint scrapers used in dressing 
gamusas, or deer skins, and the bone-needle, such as an Indian 
woman used. The Indian had no more idea of the honor due 
his squaw in her death than he had in her life. She was 
buried on the hillside, while her lord and master was laid on 
the highest and most prominent spot, where he could continue, 
after death, to look down upon his inferior half. 

The three above classifications may be supplemented by two 
other evidences of Indian occupancy. The first of these is the 


remains of former irrigation systems which were in operation 
before the advent of the Spaniards. That the Indians were 
the builders of these accquias, rather than the Mexicans, can 
be estabhshed in one's mind simply by a brief survey of Mex- 
ican settlements. When once the Mexican settles a spot, there 
remains to-day, if the settlement is abandoned, the usual adobe 
structures. On account of the durability of adobe, ruins 
are standing to-day which date back to the very beginning of 
Spanish occupation, three hundred and ninety years ago. In 
the case of the Indian settlements, or rancherias, there remains 
no sign of habitation in the nature of buildings or homes. One 
of the most pronounced signs of former Indian occupancy are 
those found in A. J. Tippett's Mitre Peak apple orchard, situ- 
ated some four miles off the road leading from Fort Davis 
to Alpine. 

The Tippett orchard is located on a bench of rich loam, 
which, at some former age, had washed down from the moun- 
tains above. Between the mountains and the orchard are a 
series of broken hills, at the foot of which is a magnificent 
spring, the source of water used at present to irrigate the 
orchard. This spring at one time had been sealed up by the 
Indians, and even to-day the flow of water comes from a 
partly dammed up exit. Although the orchard is thirty years 
old, or more, signs still remain of the former Indian ran- 
cheria. From the spring to the back of the orchard there is 
a gradual slope, and the Indians had terraced this, using walls 
of rock to retain the water on each terrace, each terrace form- 
ing a semi-circle, with the spring as the center of circumfer- 
ence. There were perhaps a dozen terraces, all forming a semi- 
circle, facing the spring. On the east side of the orchard, 
farthest from the spring, ]\Ir. Tippett excavated for a reser- 
voir and found the bones of a number of Indians, and several 
implements peculiar to the Apaches. He also found a number 
of arrow points, similar to those taken from the crypt on 
Mount Livermore. In the broken hills just above the springs 
are scores of tnolinos, or hand-mills, hollowed out of the 
igneous rock, which were used to grind corn and which go to 


show that perhaps the crop most raised by the Indians was 

The remains of another extensive irrigation system can still 
be seen near the Kendrick ranch, northeast of Agua Spring, 
in Brewster County. The main ditch can be seen to have been 
at least half a mile long, and it is built zig-zag, twenty-five 
feet down a slope, then turning to the right or left twenty-five 
feet, thus preventing the water flowing fast enough to wash 
the soil badly. Considerable skill is shown in its construction, 
and at one time it must have been the main ditch in an exten- 
sive irrigation system. Had the Mexicans built this ditch there 
would still be other evidences of their buildings. 

Again, on Limpia Creek, just up the canyon from the pres- 
ent site of Fort Davis, was another rancheria of the Apaches, 
where they used ditches to convey the water from Limpia 
Creek to their corn fields. As late as 1849, when the first Gov- 
ernment reconnaissance passed through Fort Davis on its way 
to El Paso, corn was seen growing, under irrigation, and the 
Indians, upon the sight of the soldiers, fled into the mountains. 

The other evidences of Indian occupation are the crude draw- 
ings and paintings, so commonly found in countries occupied 
formerly by the Indians. Specifically, these works of Indian 
art tell us little ; to the Indian they doubtless meant much. 
The drawings were guide posts to the warrior or hunter, away 
from his home country, pointing him to the water, the trails, 
the ranges of game, and other things of importance to the 
nomadic savage. The intelligence and civilization of a people 
are judged largely by their art and literature; these drawings 
and paintings represented the art and literature of the Indians. 
And as their works in the Big Bend were inferior to those 
of the pueblo tribes of New Mexico and Arizona, we can 
safely assume that the Indians of the Big Bend were of a 
lower grade of intelligence and occupied a lower position in 
the scale of Indian civilization than the tribes farther west. In 
a general way, this is what the Indian drawings and paintings 
tell us. 

Considering the various classes of remains, the evidence 





/ ^^^>r^2>^ 


goes to show that either the Cholumbos were a people of the 
same grade of culture as the Mescalero Apaches, or that they 
were the Mescaleros themselves. The latter is not improbable, 
because, as we have seen, the Mescaleros appear to have been 
known to different people, at different times, under widely- 
different names. This is a very common circumstance in the 
history of Indian tribes, for the tribe may be known by its 
own name, or by the name given it in derision or compliment 
by other tribes, enemies or allies. For example, the Comanches 
are often alluded to in early history by the French as Paducas, 
by the English as lataus, while they called themselves Num. 

Taking this evidence up in detail, we are reasonably certain 
as to the first class of remains, that flint, obsidian and tuff 
weapons and implements were common to all Indian tribes 
before the coming of the white man. Beyond a very limited 
amount of native copper, no metal was in domestic use among 
them. One piece of metal, found in connection with Indian 
raiding in Pecos County, was discovered on Leon Creek, in 
an old grave. It was a small circular piece of copper, beaten 
flat, and having a small hole bored in the center. It may have 
come to this region by barter among primitive Indians from 
the Lake Superior mines, which were worked by the Indians, 
or it may have been fashioned by a white man in the last hun- 
dred years. 

The remains of these fllint implements are all of the same 
class of workmanship. There is no dift'erence in construction 
and finish ; they are of a common kind. What is found in one 
grave, in one cave, or around one mescal-pit, that same class 
of implements, of the same pattern, will be found around 
another. So far as these remains show there is no evidence 
that more than one people ever lived in the Big Bend before 
the coming of the whites. 

As to the second class of remains, there is also little room 
for doubt. They belong peculiarly to the Apaches. The name 
given the Tobosos or rancheria Apaches — Mescalero, meaning 
mescal-makers — was given to these Apaches from their dis- 
tinctive custom of roasting and fermenting mescal or sotol. 


This custom was probably connected primarily with a sort 
of spirit or fetish worship. The term, mescal, is now con- 
nected with several objects, but in each case the underlying 
significance is in some way connected with intoxication. The 
word mescal is Indian and seems originally to have meant a 
peculiar kind of melon cactus, called by the Indians pcixoto. 

It was the custom of the Mescaleros to build a fire on a 
flat pile of rock and, after the rocks were sufficiently heated, 
the mescales were placed on it and covered with other rocks, 
after which fire was again built over all, and kept up until 
the mescales were sufficiently roasted ; then the mescales were 
put away for safe keeping until the proper time should come 
for their use in the ceremony. During this time the sugar in 
the plant became fermented or probably converted to alcohol. 
When the time came for the mescal feast, or ceremony, certain 
of the leading men — women were excluded from joining — 
took the mescales and went to a secluded spot in the hills, 
and, sitting in a circle, each Indian ate his mescal. This was 
done in silence, which continued unbroken twenty-four to 
forty-eight hours. While under the influence of the mescal, the 
Indians had many dreams and saw many visions. Then, at 
a signal, the circle broke up. The visions and dreams were 
considered as interviews with the spirits and were looked to 
for guidance in temporal affairs. 

But these mescal-pits were used for more than roasting 
mescal. The sotol, which is close kin to the mescal, was 
quite an article of food with the Mescaleros. It was roasted 
and eaten fresh in a similar manner to our corn roasting-ears. 
After roasting it was often powdered and carried along as 
food. In time, it became sour, and finally worthless, but it 
had to obtain a bad odor indeed before the Mescalero would 
refuse to eat it. Again, these pits served for roasting lechu- 
guilla, which, it is said, nothing but a deer, javelin — the wild 
Mexican hog — or a Mescalero would eat. In these pits used 
for this purpose, game animals were often roasted whole ; 
a mule, being considered by the Apache as the finest flavored 
of the "game" animals, v/as roasted whole, unless the Indian 


was a trifle hungry, in which event he did not wait to cook his 
meat but took it "rare." 

As to the third class, the rock-covered graves, it is fairly 
certain that they are of Apache origin. The custom of burying 
on high points prevailed among a few Indian tribes other 
than the Apaches. The custom of burying the weapons and 
implements of the deceased with him was a common practice 
of all North American Indians, and resulted from what seemed 
to have been a general belief among them that there was a 
life hereafter in the Indian paradise, hence his favorite weap- 
ons of the chase and hunt were buried with him, to be used in 
the spirit land. 

So it appears that the remains of ancient inhabitants of 
this country can be reasonably attributed to the Mescaleros, 
while some of these remains can not well be assigned to any 
other tribe concerning whose habits we have any knowledge ; 
and the Cholumbos, if there was such a people, were either 
the Mescaleros, or a people of similar customs. 

Among some of the older Mexicans along the Rio Grande 
border, there are a few ancient story-tellers, who have been a 
repository of legends handed down from father to son for 
several generations, and whose stories should be taken for 
what they are worth. There live to-day only a few of these 
ancient bards, who sing their prose songs about former great 
days, and one of these, Natividad Lujan, told the following 
story. In the early '8o's, Judge Williams, with a party, was 
running surveys in the Big Bend, near the Rio Grande, and 
Natividad was his guide. 

"After a long climb through artenisias, fouquieras, yuccas, 
and other thorny plants of this thorn infested country," said 
the Judge, "we arrived, late in the afternoon, at the summit 
of the hill towards which our burros had all day bem headed. 
We stopped to allow the animals to gain a breathing spell and 
I looked around me at the extensive view. 

"It was a goodly sight, for on three sides of me the peaks 
and mountains of two thousand square miles of territory were 
visible. To the south could be seen the curves in the gigantic 


wall of limestone, out of which crept the Rio Grande. This 
was the Grand Canyon of the Rio Grande, the walls of which 
tower two thousand feet above the water. To the east the cir- 
cled tops of the Chisos, or Ghost Mountains, glistened in the 
western sun, like the pearly points of a coronet. 

"Sixty miles away to the north stood up the square, mesa- 
like top of Santiago Peak, which can be seen from the Southern 
Pacific Railroad, between Marathon and Alpine. This peak 
towered among the plains and smaller hills around it like 
Saul among his brethren. I had often fancied that it was a 
relic of the Cretaceous age, eroded by centuries of rain and 
storm, from a large mesa to a narrow, flat-topped peak, and 
left on guard by the convulsions of nature like the Roman sen- 
tinel of Pompeii. 

"I had pictured to myself that the very name Santiago 
must have come down from some adventurous hidalgo of 
the old Spanish times, when the Spaniards had carried their 
crosses and monons to the Indians of the wilderness, in search 
of, the fabulous Eldorado ; so I turned to our guide and said 
to him: 

" 'Natividad, how does yonder peak get its name of San- 
tiago ?' 

"Now, Natividad had a face like his deer-skin jacket, in 
color and texture. The wind and sun for sixty years had been 
tanning and hardening and dressing its surface, until by no 
possibility could any passion throw the red blood to the outer 
part of the epidermis. Of men's usual facial expression there 
was only one left — a pair of keen black eyes, under shaggy 
eyebrows, and a few archaic wrinkles about his mouth, which 
showed on duty feebly when he attempted to laugh, but it 
seems to me that Nature, with a view to compensation, had 
given to his crown of red hair a sort of limited expression, 
and that it grew deeper or lighter according to the varying 
emotions that might move the soul inside that deerskin mask. 

"At my question, his eyes flashed, the archaic wrinkles 
deepened, and even his poll seemed to flush a deeper red, as 
he replied, 'Seiior, that peak was named after my uncle.* 


"Pride was plainly visible even in his voice, and one might 
think from his manner that he considered the peak to owe its 
notoriety and possibly its dimensions to the fact that it was 
named after his uncle ! 

"It was patent at once that one of Natividad's stories lay 
ahead of me, so I said to him, 'Very well, as soon as we get into 
camp you shall tell it to me.' 

"The jaded burros were set in motion along the trail, 
down the hill, and soon we were setting up our night camp in 
a diminutive park near the usual tinaja — water hole. Then 
Natividad, with a good deal of importance, made an unusually 
large cigarette, and proceeded thus with his story : 

" 'Seiior, my uncle Santiago was a great man of war when 
he lived in Presidio del Norte, many years ago. When the 
Indians raided or killed any of the Nortenos, as we call the 
people of Presidio del Norte, it was my uncle who must lead 
in the pursuit. Pie had led the chase after Apaches into their 
rancherias near where Fort Davis now stands, and fought 
the Comanches on their retreat into the stately plains beyond 
the Rio Pecos. 

" 'So when the Indians came in the dead of night and took 
away the horses of Gregorio Jiminez, from the corral at his 
very door, it was to my uncle that Gregorio went to help him 
on the trail ; and my uncle Santiago gathered five men, and, 
with Gregorio, took up the pursuit. 

" 'The trail led to the east, and it was at first thought the 
Indians must be the Apaches from the Chisos Mountains, but 
on the second day it turned again to the north and began to 
point toward the great peak that was afterwards named after 
my uncle. 

" 'By this time they had learned from the signs around the 
camp-fires left by the Apaches, that it was a small party, 
and the Nortefios pushed on the pursuit rapidly. On the even- 
ing of the fourth day, the signs were plain to my uncle that 
they were close upon them, so they camped early and sent out 
two scouts, who located the Indian camp just about dark. 

" 'Very early the next morning, my uncle and his men sad- 


died up their horses and rode until the scouts of the evening 
before told them that they were near the Indian camp. The 
Nortenos then dismounted, tied their horses, and took their 
way silently and cautiously on foot. Light was breaking in the 
east, and by it they saw a small smoke from the Indian camp 
fires, and made out a small cavallado of horses on a hill about 
a mile to the east. Very quietly, the Nortenos slipped up an 
arroyo and soon reached a point where they could see six 
Indians, eating a breakfast of horse meat. 

" 'At a word from my uncle, the Nortenos fired upon them, 
and killed three of their number; the others ran away. My 
uncle did not follow them for he was an old Indian fighter 
and knew that they must get back to their horses. As the 
Nortenos started back to their horses, they heard a shot and 
yell of an Indian from the hill to the east, where they had seen 
the cavallado of horses, and they caught glimpses of an Indian 
riding furiously toward them. 

" 'The Nortenos had barely mounted their horses, when 
this Indian came riding at them, yelling and shooting, and 
followed at a distance by three others, on foot. By his actions 
he showed that he meant to kill or be killed. 

" 'Now, the Norteiios, Senor, are not bred to that kind of 
fighting, so they began to ride away — quite rapidly — all except 
my uncle Santiago, who was shooting at the charging Indian. 

" 'But all at once he fell from his horse, shot through the 
hips, and at the Indian's mercy. As the Indian rode up to 
give my uncle his death wound, the Norteiios heard him call 
out, "Santiago," — for the Indian must have known my uncle 
— "why do you cry? You have killed three of our side, 
while you have lost only one of your own?" 

" 'With that he killed my uncle, then rode away with the 
other Indians, and they were never seen again. But I feel it 
now to explain to you, Senor, that the Indian did not put the 
matter fairly about my uncle, for he did not cry only because 
one of his side was killed, hut because he had to he that one. 

" 'The Norteiios buried him there at the foot of the great 
motintain, and put up over him a monument of stones, and 


called the peak by his name. When I now go by that pile of 
stones I pick up a stone and add to the pile, saying as I do so : 
"Do you still weep, my uncle, for that one of your side who 
was lost in the fight ?" 

" 'Only the priest says that my uncle has long since ceased 
to cry, as his soul is among the blessed who have died for the 
Faith among the heathen. Surely he knows, for did not 
Gregorio Jiminez pay him to say masses for the soul in pur- 
gatory, and did not I, twenty years afterwards, pay him again 
to say more masses ; for Gregorio was a poor man, Sefior, and 
I feared he had not paid the priest enough to get my uncle's 
soul entirely out.' 

"After the burros were watered," continued Judge Wil- 
liams, "we returned to the camp, where we found supper about 
ready. When supper was over some of the Mexicans pro- 
ceeded to set a sotol on fire, and as fast as the fire from one 
burned low, another was lighted. The heat was great and the 
green leaves of the crown popped like the report of guns. 
While this was going on I reminded Natividad of his promise 
to relate more of his legendary history, and, after seating 
himself comfortably on an aparajo, or pack saddle, he began 
another story. 

"'Senor, my grandfather was a soldier of Spain, born, I 
have been told, in Estremadura. That must be a country of 
fair-skinned men, because from niy grandfather I inherit my 
red hair. You hardly ever find it in this country ; on account 
of it, the Comanches called me I'yote, the Mexicans, Alasan, 
while you Americans call me Sorrol Top. 

"'My grandfather was sent to serve in Mexico, and, after 
a time, came to the old presidio of San Carlos, just across the 
Rio Grande from us, in Chihuahua. The presidio was built 
as an outpost against the Indians of the north, the Apaches, 
Comanches, and Lipans, and at that time was far out. My 
father married there.' 

"Here followed the history of his grandfather's life, his 
father's life, and that of sundry relations, told in excruciating 
detail, but he finally came to his own life." 


" 'Here in San Carlos I was born, and raised among wild 
Indians, many of whom lived temporarily in and about the 
presidio. When a tribe was in danger from their enemies, they 
would promise to be good to our people of the town and not 
rob or kill any of them, no matter what they might do to other 
people, and we would let them live among us. I remember the 
time when six kinds of Indian people lived among us. They 
were the Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches Mescaleros, Apache 
Gilenos, Rayados, and Cioiiabos. So I grew up to know 
many Indians, and could even speak in Apache. 

" 'My most intimate friend among the Indians was an 
Apache boy, named Guero Carranza, who afterwards became 
a great brave among the Mescaleros, and stole horses, took 
scalps, and did other meritorious actions more than any other 
man in his tribe. 

" 'Guero, you know, Seiior, among us means a light-skinned 
person. This boy was the lightest colored Indian I ever saw, 
and maybe he prided himself on it. At any rate he was always 
very partial to the white people, and in his later years he be- 
came so much so as to prefer the scalp of a white man to that 
even of a dreaded Comanche. So he was always a great 
friend of mine and often told me what a pretty scalp I had. 
After he had left us and had gone back to his people in the 
Chisos Mountains, along the Tas Linga Creek, which you 
Americanos call Terlingua Creek, he sent for me to come 
and visit him. I went up in the mountains and stayed with him 
for some time. 

" 'We hunted the cimarron — the big horned sheep — in the 
Grand Canyon, and the oso pricto — the black bear — in the 
Chisos Mountains. From him I learned to strike a fire out 
of the dried bloomstalk of the sotol, by whirling the sharp 
point of the chaparro pinto in the pith of the sotol-stalk until 
it took fire. There, too, I learned to eat the powdered flour 
of the sotol. I learned how easily one could go into a bear's 
cave and kill the brute with a knife as it rushed out. And, 
Guero showed me the mescal and told me how the wise men 
and warriors had mescal feasts every year, when they went 


away to themselves in the mountains and dreamed dreams and 
had talks with the spirits, while under the spell of the potent 
plant. The mescal was always roasted some time before the 
fiesta and laid away in dry places to wait the time. 

" 'Something of this I one day saw. Guero and I were 
hunting a black-tail deer, which he had wounded with his ar- 
row. We became separated and I lost the trail. So I went 
up on the top of a high mountain to look for him. While 
up there, I saw some Indians in a glen below me, and as their 
number and their quietness aroused my curiosity, I carefully 
slipped down the mountain side, until I got to a place where I 
could easily watch them. 

" 'They were sitting in a circle on the ground and were 
quiet and motionless. I watched them for a long time and was 
getting tired and about to go away, when I saw one of them 
rise and go to a cave at the foot of the high rock on which 
I was lying. In a few moments he came back, carr}ang a 
basket of willow bark, in which were a number of roundish 
black things which I took to be the roasted mescals. Without 
a word he offered this basket in turn to each Indian, who 
took out one mescal, and slowly ate it, while the basket was 
returned to the cave. Not a word was spoken, and, after 
waiting a long time to see something more, I became tired 
and silently slipped away. 

" 'When I found Guero again I told him what I had seen. 
He was very much interested and told me never to tell anyone, 
at any time, what I had seen ; that the spirits would be very 
angry with me and do me great harm ; and that I had better 
go back to my home at once. 

"*I never was much afraid of Mexican spirits, Senor, ex- 
cept when they came along in the shape of custom-guards, in 
the days when I was smuggling; but I was not acquainted 
much with Indian spirits, so I went back home and kept my 
peace for many years. But the Indians have departed this 
country long ago and have taken their spirits with them, so 
it comes that I tell you, to-night, Sefior, how it happens that I 
know that the Apaches called the cactus mescal.* " 



Up to the time of the war between the United States and 
Mexico, the Big Bend had been but Httle visited by American 
whites. Their coming marked an epoch in the history of the 
country and brought about a change in conditions. After 
years of struggle, it was possible for this oldest settled country 
in the United States to come into its own. 

The events leading up to this change of conditions were 
caused primarily by the successful termination of Texas' fight 
for freedom against Mexican misrule, and, later, the admission 
of Texas into the Union. The difficulty between the United 
States and Mexico was over the western boundary of the new 
state. Texas claimed the Rio Grande as her western boundary, 
while Mexico claimed the Nueces River. The struggle, which 
culminated in the victory of the United States Army, in 1847, 
resulted in fixing the Rio Grande as a permanent boundary ; 
and thus the Big Bend was brought under the sovereignty and 
protection of the United States. This step called this wild 
country to the attention of white pioneers, and as a result the 
actual settlement by Americans began. 

The first organized company of Americans to enter the Big 
Bend was a troop of the Ninth Dragoons, who crossed this 
region in 1847, on their way to reinforce General Fremont, in 
California. A year later, actual settlers began to come. These 
settlers had gone to Chihuahua City, by way of the Santa Fe 
Trail, which, since 1822, had been in operation, with only a 
broken interval during the Mexican War. 

A party headed by John W. Spencer followed the trail of 
the early explorers up the Conchos River, to its junction with 
the Rio Grande, and entered the old presidio of Del Norte, in 
the early part of 1848. About the same time came Ben Leaton, 


John Burgess, and John Davis. These men formed the nucleus 
of an American colony on the banks of the Rio Grande, and 
exerted great influence over that and adjoining territory. 

After a short stay in Presidio del Norte, Spencer crossed 
the river and founded the present town of Presidio, Texas. 
This land he bought from four or five Mexican families whom 
he found living there. The titles to this property were held 
under Spanish land grants, dated 1832. Spencer immediately 
located the land under the Texas Settlement Law, and started 
to lay the foundation of a fortune which, in later years, reached 
substantial proportions. 

The only connection, in 1848, that the Presidio colony had 
with the outside world was through Chihuahua City. Mer- 
chandise had to be freighted to Chihuahua over the Santa Fe 
Trail, and back up the Conchos River to Presidio. By 1849, 
the emigrants had opened an important trail between San 
Antonio and what is now El Paso. This formed one of the 
great arteries which fed the gold-fields of California. 

At the time of the "gold rush," the War Department insti- 
tuted a number of surveys, in order to determine the most 
suitable route for travel, from the eastern portions of the 
United States to the newly-settled territory of California. 

The West Coast country was being settled rapidly. The 
War Department, in order to test the feasibility of such a 
course, ran preliminary surveys through and parallel with 
the Rio Grande Valley, to ascertain the best route for a trans- 
continental railway. In 1849, Lieutenants N. Michler, W. H. 
C. Whiting, F. T. Bryan and Wm. F. Smith were detailed for 
this work, under Brevet Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, of the 
Topographical Engineers. 

These several surveys covered a period of five years, and 
Major W. H, Emory summed up briefly the result, in 1854, 
while he was determining the United States-Mexico boundary, 
in conjunction with the Mexican Commission. "The reports 
from the War Department clearly demonstrate the practica- 
bility of a railway route through the newly acquired territory 
and goes to confirm the opinion, heretofore expressed by me. 


that it is the most practicable, if not the only feasible one, by 
which a railway can be carried across the Sierra Nevadas 
and its equivalent ranges to the south." Thus, a third of a 
century before the Southern Pacific came into existence, the 
idea of a railway was conceived. 

These military explorations, under command of the above- 
named engineers, entered the Big Bend at two points on the 
Pecos River: one, at the crossing near the junction of Live 
Oak Creek and the Pecos ; the other, at the famous Horse-head 
Crossing. Both of these crossings were Indian highways, 
and had become historic. Over Live Oak Crossing, de Vaca 
had followed his barbaric guides on his journey through the 
Big Bend ; and over Horse-head Crossing, the Comanche 
hordes passed to and from their raiding trips into Mexico. 

At the time of these military explorations, the Pecos River, 
though insignificant in size and importance, defined sharply 
the eastern limits of the Big Bend. No traveler, upon reaching 
its banks, would by any chance mistake it for another stream. 
With the exception of a few well-known fords, animals could 
not with safety approach it for water, so steep were its banks 
and so swift its current. Only the catfish inhabited its depths; 
and the antelope and wolf alone visited its desolate banks. 
Even the Indians avoided it. 

Great must have been the wonder of the engineers when 
they first beheld Comanche Springs. For four days the party 
had traveled steadily away from the Pecos, across the great 
limestone plateau, barren and devoid of game. There had been 
but one break in the monotony of the landscape — Escondido 
Springs, which received its name from the fact that the In- 
dians attempted to hide it from travelers. Out of this desert 
they came suddenly upon the great springs, around which the 
bleaching bones of thousands of animals showed it to be a 
favorite Indian camping-place. Indeed, these springs were 
the cross-roads of the Southwest. At this time, however, they 
bore the name of Ahuache Springs, Ahuache meaning water, 
in the language of that tribe. As the Comanche Indians were 
driven westward by the settlers, the Apaches were in turn 


driven westward by the Comanches, until this tribe occupied 
the great plateau country west of the Pecos, including the 
great springs. As the Comanches were "horse-back" or plains 
Indians, they made no eflfort to encroach upon the mountain 
retreats of their inveterate enemies, the Apaches. 

About nine miles west of Comanche Springs, the engineers 
came upon Ojo de Leon, These water-holes were remarkable 
for their great depth, and for the peculiarity of the soil sur- 
rounding them. The soil was a dull gray volcanic ash, and 
the cavities, or gashes, from which flowed the large bodies of 
artesian water, possibly were, ages before, the outlets for 
pent-up internal fires. Many travelers camped at these water- 
holes in preference to Comanche Springs; and it was the 
misfortune of one wagon-master to pay dearly for his knowl- 
edge of their depth. Upon reaching the ojos, "eyes" or holes, 
he removed a wagon-wheel, which had almost rattled to pieces, 
and cast it in the largest water-hole, for the purpose of swelling 
the spokes tighter in the hub. Down, down went the wheel, 
disappearing from the sight of the astonished wagon-master ; 
and although he fished for it with a grappling-hook, he never 
recovered it. Having no extra wheel, he fastened a drag-pole 
under the axle, and in this manner completed the journey to 
Paso del Norte, a distance of two hundred and seventy miles ! 

After leaving Ojo de Leon, the party began to see lofty 
mountains, the first on their trip, and after traveling forty 
miles, they entered Limpia Canyon. The limestone formation, 
so much in evidence around Comanche Springs, disappeared, 
and the hills presented a somber appearance from the dark 
rocks of the primitive formation. So wide was the canyon 
that it might be termed a valley, and the hills on either side 
were clothed in verdure. After the engineers had progressed 
up Limpia Canyon fifteen miles, the valley terminated in Wild 
Rose Pass, with walls of vertical rocks rising up a thousand 
feet above their heads. Several years later in this rugged spot, 
while driving the first mail coach which ran between San An- 
tonio and El Paso, Big Foot Wallace drew rein to shoot a 
large buck deer that he saw grazing on the mountain-top. 


At the crack of the rifle the buck plunged over the cliff with 
a rock-slide following in his wake. He rolled down the moun- 
tain, and brought up under the dancing feet of Wallace's thor- 
oughly frightened stage-mules. To one of the stage guards, 
Big Foot remarked : "Them's the first mountains I ever seen, 
whur the game comes to heel after being killed." 

The mountains of the Davis Range do not form a single 
continuous ridge, but rise in irregular order, mountain on 
mountain, and peak on peak, covering an immense extent of 
country, and forming innumerable, small and shaded valleys, 
deep canyons, and ravines, that wind in a circuitous course 
around the base of the mother range. The country, viewed 
from the top of one of the highest mountains, presents in 
every direction hills of pristine grandeur, and countless as 
the billows of the ocean. Far and near, these thousand single 
conical mountains rise, intersecting each other at their base 
or higher upon their sides, and they would have formed an im- 
passable barrier had not some convulsion of Nature opened 
the pass and canyon through which the trail ran. 

The next camp on the trail was Painted Comanche Camp, 
which, in 1854, became Fort Davis. At the time the engineer- 
ing party reached this point on the Limpia, and a little distance 
up stream from their camping-place, there was growing a 
small field of corn, planted by Indians, and along the banks 
of the creek were some of their lodges, constructed of willow 
sticks, bent in the form of an arc, and interlaced at the top. 
The general custom of the Apaches was to construct their 
lodges in this manner. As the Indians fled from their village 
on the approach of the engineers, no attempt was made to iden- 
tify the tribe. Doubtless, they were Mescalero Apaches. 

The first sufficient water supply beyond the Limpia was 
found at Smith's run, an arroyo which flows through Captain 
J. B. Gillett's Barrel Springs Ranch, twenty-five miles west 
of Fort Davis. At this point the trail led near the apex of 
Davis Mountains — Mount Livermore. From there the road 
ran by El Muerto, or Dead Man's Hole, although at this time 
these springs had not received their sinister name. From 


this point, the road left the Davis Alountains and crossed the 
great Van Horn Flats for a distance of sixty miles, to Eagle 
Springs, in the Eagle Mountains. 

From Eagle Springs, the trail ran near the Eagle Moun- 
tains, until it crossed the Devil's Back Bone, to the plains be- 
yond, and ran thence towards the chain of mountains that rise 
near the Rio Grande Valley. 

The bottom lands of the Rio Grande Valley, on the Amer- 
ican side, for a distance of fifty-five miles, to the lower end of 
Fabens Island, were in many places very fertile. The trail 
crossed over a shallow ford to the Island and passed 
through the villages of San Elceario, Socorro, and Ysleta. 
At this point, it recrossed to the mainland and con- 
tinued to the intersection of the Santa Fe Trail, opposite Paso 
del Norte, at the ranch of Ponce de Leon, which is to-day mod- 
ern El Paso. The distance from San Antonio was six hundred 
and seventy-three miles. 

In this same year, 1849, another survey was run from San 
Antonio to El Paso, which, instead of crossing the Pecos 
River and passing through the Davis Mountains, skirted the 
Pecos River up to Delaware Creek, where it turned westward 
to the foot of Guadalupe Peak, passed by the Hueco Tanks, 
and from there down to Paso del Norte ; and, while this route 
was some twenty-five miles shorter than the Davis Mountains 
route, still the lack of water was such that it was not recom- 
mended by the engineers. 

For a time there were hopes that a shorter route would be 
established, parallel to the whole length of the Rio Grande, 
from Eagle Pass to El Paso. No less an authority than Colonel 
Joseph E. Johnston suggested this route ; his reason being first, 
the enormous cost of transporting supplies to the outposts on 
or near the upper Rio Grande ; and second, a road near the 
river would facilitate the settlement of the valley of the Rio 
Grande, which he considered the most extensive tract fit for 
settlement west of the Devil's River. So slight was the knowl- 
edge of the Rio Grande possessed by the engineers of 1850 
that Colonel Johnston suggested, as being practicable, the use 


of navigation to facilitate communication between posts situ- 
ated on its banks. 

But on account of topographical difficulties encountered at 
many points along the Rio Grande, in the Big Bend, this idea 
was abandoned. Therefore, we find that the Davis Moun- 
tains route was adopted as the permanent military road, as 
well as the overland mail route, across the Big Bend. 

These reconnaissance parties were not the first to put 
wagons over this trail, as emigrants had already begun their 
westward march. Still, from the reports of these parties, the 
military authorities mapped out their future course of action 
in Southwest Texas. 

Prior to the Mexican War, military posts had been advanced 
far enough in the Indian country to afford only a limited 
amount of protection to the settlers. A more extensive system 
was required. The defensive warfare against the Indians, 
heretofore carried on by the War Department, had proved 
inadequate. It now became necessary to establish strongly 
garrisoned posts in the heart of the Indian country, from 
which aggressive campaigns could be inaugurated against the 
red marauders, either to teach them a respect for the Govern- 
ment forces, or to exterminate them. 

The line of posts recommended by the engineers extended 
from the Red River to the Rio Grande, in the Big Bend. The 
policy of small, fixed garrisons of infantry had proved a 
failure. For these heavily armed, foot troops, it was recom- 
mended that cavalry, lightly armed and well mounted, should 
be substituted. Being located near the rancherias, these 
mounted troops, upon the first sign of unrest of ambitious 
warriors, could quell the war-party before they had time to 
strike the settlements. Thus, the troops would become a 
preventive, rather than a doubtful cure. 

It was not until four years later, however, that these recom- 
mendations were acted upon. And until that time, the sole 
protection of settlers and travelers lay in their strength of 
numbers. Unfortunate, indeed, was the white party whose 
trail crossed that of a superior force of Indians. 

Of Fort Davis 


The population of the Southwest grew rapidly, as a result 
of the explorations in 1849. This growth was supplemented 
by the great number of emigrants to the California gold-fields, 
who had already become wearied with the hardships and dan- 
gers of the Big Bend. Alarmed by this new encroachment 
of the whites, the Indians prosecuted their warfare with in- 
creased fury. It was impossible to bring these deluded people 
to a sense of their weakness compared with the power of the 
United States, except by severe chastisement, which could not 
be effected without carrying the war into their homes and 
mountain fastnesses. For the same reason, the United States 
could not comply with the eleventh article of the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo, which guaranteed Mexico relief from the 
depredations of Indians belonging in the United States. 

The military force in the West was inadequate to under- 
take a general war promising success. Supply depots and 
posts had to be advanced. At the same time, the chain of 
posts then in existence had to be maintained to prevent the 
enemy from getting into the rear of the more advanced posts, 
thus exposing the frontier settlements to Indian massacre 
and destruction. 

Surely, the United States was a nation powerful enough 
and possessed superiority sufficient in point of numbers and 
necessary supplies to carry out this objective. It was not a 
good policy for the Government, while possessed of such 
advantages, to place itself on an equality with the Indians ; 
and when the great number of valuable lives, both in the settle- 
ments and in the army, were considered risked and jeopardized, 
because they could not enforce a reign of peace, it became evi- 
dent to the most pronounced jingoist at Washington that steps 
should be taken iDy which the Indians would be compelled to 
respect our Government. 

The delay in taking the proper steps to effect this object 
could be traced to a desire on the part of the Government to 
effect an agreement with the State of Texas, regarding a 
proper boundary between the settlements and the Indians. In 
this manner the Indian tribes infesting the Big Bend would 


be placed on the same footing as those of the North and North- 
west; thus they would be brought under the protection and 
sovereignty of the United States. To do this required con- 
siderable time, and, even then, complete success was not to be 
expected immediately in regard to the Mexican situation. In 
the latter case the number of posts had to be increased on the 
Rio Grande. At a point on this river, in the Big Bend, opposite 
San Carlos, which was the key to the country in Mexico called 
Bolson de Mapimi, there would have to be a strong garrison ; 
and further up the river, at Presidio, Texas, another garrison. 
It was necessary to strengthen these positions sufficiently to 
permit an active force to be in the field, constantly operating 
against the roving bands of thieves and murderers, who knew 
no difference between American and Mexican property, ex- 
cept that they could plunder with greater safety in Mexico. 

It was strongly recommended, in the event of a boundary 
being thus established for the Comanches and Apaches in the 
Big Bend, that these Indians should be subsidized, receiving 
annuities as in the case of the northern tribes, because they 
actually did not have the means of subsistence unless they 
continued their thieving practices and followed the mustangs — 
droves of wild horses — which were to them what the buffalo 
was to the Indians east of Pecos. Otherwise, if they were 
kept from stealing and plundering on American soil, these 
Indians would be necessarily forced into Mexico. 



In the year 1850, the troops in Texas were more like an 
army in the field in active war than in garrison. The regular 
force had been increased by an auxiliary volunteer force and 
had been furnished supplies, with extensive means of trans- 
portation, both public and private, and with horses to mount 
a portion of the foot soldiers, but the territory of the Big 
Bend was so vast that troops employed for its defense, as well 
as the defense of the trains which supplied tlie various posts 
on the frontier, had to traverse routes so long and so entirely 
unimproved that the expense of transportation and all 
supplies was extremely heavy. In order to facilitate troop 
movements and those of supplies, engineers detailed for that 
work constructed good roads between the frontier posts and 
those posts and accessible points on the coast and rivers. 

It has been previously mentioned that Indian relations in 
Texas were in an awkward and embarrassed state. In Texas 
there were no enforced laws which regulated the trade and 
intercourse with the Indian tribes, nor could there be without 
the consent of the State of Texas. The same unfortunate con- 
dition existed in Texas that existed in New Mexico, and the 
same remedial measures were equally necessary in the two 
cases. It was true that the Constitution of the United States 
gave Congress the power to regulate commerce with Indian 
tribes, but without the faithful co-operation of not only the 
state government, but also the several groups of settlers and 
pioneers adjacent to the territory occupied by the Indians, it 
was a difficult matter to exercise rightfully this power to punish 
citizens of the state for trespassing on lands occupied by In- 
dians, or trading with them, unless licensed by the Govern- 
ment. It would have been wisdom on the part of the Texas 
state government to have given the Federal Government 


absolute authority in these matters. It was necessary to assign 
the Indians to a suitable country, exclusively their own and 
remote from white population. By doing so, arrangements 
could have been made for regulating trade and intercourse 
with them, and other measures adopted for their gradual civ- 
ilization and improvement. 

That these measures were not adopted proved costly and 
disastrous to the western part of Texas. In this year, 1850, 
the Indians seemed to be in a better mood to enter into amicable 
arrangements with the Government ; but the delay and uncer- 
tainty displayed by the officials, aroused the Indians' suspicions 
that such delays were brought about for the purpose of matur- 
ing some plan, or occasion, to their disadvantage or injury. 
Indians were exceedingly jealous and selfish, as well as decep- 
tive, yet, strange to say, there was nothing that they abhorred 
more in a white man than like characteristics. 

The plan was conceived and carried out to appoint five 
agents for the five following tribes : Southern Comanches, 
Mescalero Apaches, Navajos, Utahs, and Northern Apaches, 
or Jacarillas. Likewise, the President appointed three com- 
missioners for the purpose of procuring information, collecting 
statistics and making treaties with the Indians along the Mex- 
ican border. This was the first consolidated eflFort made by 
the Government to solve the Indian problems along the Mex- 
ican border, and attempt to alleviate the suflferings of the 
whites and Mexicans, caused by incessant Indian depredations. 

When the early Spaniards entered the Big Bend and New 
Mexico, they found dwelling in houses of adobe, numerous 
Indian tribes who farmed by irrigation. They were the Pueblo 
Indians, receiving their name from the fact that they dwelt 
in pueblos or villages. They lived mainly along the banks of 
the upper Rio Grande, but extended as far down as the junc- 
tion of the Conchos River and Rio Grande. In later years, 
this Indian practically disappeared from the neighborhood of 
the Conchos River, but from the El Paso Valley up to the 
head waters of the Rio Grande they remained in large numbers. 
In time they became a peaceable, honest, and industrious peo- 


pie, possessed of many of the rights of citizenship, and, in 
1850, they numbered about seven thousand. They owned the 
best farms under cultivation in the country, and, while their 
land came into their possession through legal grants from the 
Spanish, and later Mexican Government, for some years tres- 
passes and encroachments upon these lands had been com- 
mitted by Mexicans. This was but one of the thousand per- 
plexing problems which the United States had to solve after 
the war with Mexico. These pueblos were divided into three 
districts, and three agents were appointed, whose duties were 
to adjudicate claims and furnish these Indians with counsel 
in their fight to retain their lands. In return for this assistance, 
the Pueblos became the scouts for military parties in their 
chase of the wild tribes. 

A policy was inaugurated to have delegates from each of 
these wild tribes go to Washington, in order to give these dis- 
tant savages some idea of the strength and power of the Gov- 
ernment. It was wisely decided that, could the Indians obtain 
a correct knowledge of the power which they were fighting, 
they would have a better disposition to enter into formal stipu- 
lations and would observe better faith in the execution of 
their treaties. 

In connection with this, neither superintendents, Indian 
agents, nor former commissioners could be effective without 
the presence and co-operation of a strong and active military 

Contrary to previous suggestions, and at the same time 
showing that the Government officials had gained knowledge 
from their experience in Indian warfare, it was decided that a 
force of volunteers, as well as regular troops, should be placed 
in the field. These volunteers were composed of those hardy 
and adventurous pioneers and mountain men who were to be 
found upon the frontier, and were commanded and officered 
by men well acquainted with Indian character and warfare. 
In the main, these officers were vigilant, prompt, and ener- 
getic, undaunted by any difficulties or obstacles, and pursued 
the Indians to their mountain haunts and wild retreats with 


the result that, sooner or later, they visited upon the savages 
the punishment so richly deserved. So long had the Govern- 
ment delayed this punishment that the Indians believed they 
could commit any depredation with impunity ; and it was very 
hard to bring them to the point where they desired to make a 
treaty. Naturally, in a country which was so rapidly being 
settled, the number of outrages increased in proportion. In 
carrying out this new policy, however, the Government was 
able to check the Indians at comparatively small cost, without 
having to institute a warfare of extermination. 

It was but natural where raiding was so frequent that 
the Indians should obtain a great many captives. Out of this 
condition grew a trade which the Government found necessary 
to suppress. The trading in captives had been so long tolerated 
in the Big Bend and other portions of the West, that it had 
ceased to be regarded as wrong, and the traders, both Mexican 
and American, who purchased these unfortunate people refused 
to release them, without adequate ransom. It was necessary to 
bring strong legislation to bear in suppressing this nefarious 
trade, and a limit was placed upon the expenditures incurred 
in releasing captives. Unless the Mexicans were paid for such 
captives, few of them would have been released. And it was 
found that it did not answer to allow captives to make their 
choice in the matter of releasing, for their submission to their 
masters was almost perfect, and by them were instructed to 
make proper replies to interrogatories. 

In order to observe proper economy in gaining the release 
of captives, arrangements were made, through authorized 
Mexican agents who resided along the border, that these cap- 
tives should be returned early to Mexico. An effort was made 
to make a similar treaty with the Apaches and Comanches, by 
which the Indians would be required to deliver up all captives, 
free of charge, and all stolen property in their possession. 
This, however, failed, except when it suited the convenience 
of the Indians. The handling of these captives naturally 
entailed upon the Government considerable expense. 

As is very often the case, the Government and the settlers 


worked at cross purposes. An instance of this was the atti- 
tude of the settlers when a Mexican killed an Apache family. 
Whether the Mexican was justified in slaying the Indians, is 
not known; but a quotation from the report of the Indian 
Agent will make clear the opposing views taken by that official 
and the local inhabitants: 

"The Mexican who caused the murder of the Apache 
Indians, has been in prison here for the last three days, and 
will be set at liberty upon a mere nominal recognizance. The 
demoralization of society here is such that it would be impolitic, 
if not altogether impracticable, to administer justice in this 
case. A considerable sum of money has been subscribed to 
procure a gold medal, to be presented to this cold-blooded 
murderer, and this is done chiefly by Americans." 

In the light of subsequent events, the circumstances sur- 
rounding this killing might not be the crime which the official's 
report seemed to make of it. The Indian, with eighteen or 
twenty others, appeared at the house of the Mexican, and 
begged or demanded food. In either case it meant the same. 
Possibly, the Mexican had suffered at the hands of the Indians 
at some former time and took advantage of this occasion to 
retaliate. That the Americans applauded his act was but natu- 
ral at a time when the Apache name struck terror to every 

The Government had succeeded in establishing a number 
of traders' reservations and at various times granted annuities 
to the border tribes. This, of course, was when the Indians 
had made a temporary peace. From these reservation Indians, 
the war trails in the Big Bend were largely recruited. One of 
the reasons for this was a general dissatisfaction caused by the 
Indian agents withholding portions of the Indians' annuities to 
satisfy damage claims brought against them by white claimants. 
It had been a practice of the War Department for years to 
adjudicate and allow claims against the Indians, and retain 
portions of the annuities to satisfy the claimants. These claims 
were generally allowed upon ex parte statements of the whites, 
thus giving the Indian no opportunity for defense. It too 


frequently happened that the Indians received the first informa- 
tion of the existence of claims against them from the agents, 
or sub-agents, when their annuities were about to be paid. 
They were then told that a certain sum of their money had 
been retained and paid over to individuals who presented claims 
of a national character against them, at Washington. 

It was useless for the Indians to protest against this, or 
deny the justness of the claims. The only satisfaction they had 
was the poor one of abusing the Government and its officers. 
Justly, they claimed that the whole amount of their annuities 
should be fairly and honestly paid over to them and let them, 
in the tribal or individual capacity, settle with their creditors. 

There is no question that ordinarily this course would have 
been advisable, but it is doubtful if it would have in any way 
bettered the character of the Indians. Such a course, how- 
ever, would have decreased the practices of Indian traders in 
crediting the Indians imtil after their return from a raid, gener- 
ally in Mexico, as it would be at their own risk and with the 
full knowledge of the fact that they must look only to the 
Indians for payment. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 
Mr. J. S. Calhoun, was of the opinion that all claims against 
the Indians, either tribal or individual, should have been pre- 
sented in the Indians* country, at the time their annuities were 
being paid. This would have given the Indians an opportu- 
nity to produce testimony against any claim they might pro- 
nounce as fraudulent or unjust. Should the officer making 
the payment be convinced that the claim was just and the 
Indians, notwithstanding, refused to pay it, then it was that 
officer's duty to report all the facts of the case to the War 
Department for its future action. 

As a basis of his opinion, Mr. Calhoun claimed that no 
department of the Government had the legal power to take one 
dollar out of the Indians' annuities for any purpose whatever, 
without their knowledge or consent, as among all laws or regu- 
lations treaty stipulations were paramount. On the other hand, 
if the Department had the authority which so long had been 
exercised over the Indians' annuities, then the treaties with 


these Indian tribes were nothing more than "scraps of paper." 
As an example, Mr. Calhoun cited our treaty stipulations with 
Mexico, by which the United States pledged her national faith 
and honor to pay Mexico, in the shape of annuities, fifteen mil- 
lions of dollars, the price of lands ceded by her to the United 
States. The Commissioner stated that our Government had 
no legal right to take any portion of this money to pay over 
to merchants, or other American citizens, who may have had 
claims against the Republic of Mexico, or the citizens thereof. 
And if our Government had no authority in the one case, he 
could not understand why it had in the other. 

Commissioner Calhoun's opinions were upheld by several 
prominent legal authorities, who contended that the Indians 
had a right to require the Government of the United States to 
refund every dollar that had not been paid in accordance with 
their treaty stipulations. Had the Indians been of a nature 
which enlisted sympathy, and had they been inclined to accept 
the changing order of conditions and meet the march of civiliza- 
tion with an efifort to better their condition, they doubtless 
would have received at least a partial refund of these misappro- 
priated annuities. But their acts of atrocity and their continual 
breaking out in predatory warfare brought down upon them 
the wrath of the Nation and caused them, whether justly or 
unjustly, to lose the territory for which they so stubbornly 

The best manner of controlling the various Indian tribes 
which came under the guardianship of the United States upon 
the annexation of Texas and the treaty with ^lexico, was a 
problem which could not be easily solved ; indeed, it never was 
successfully solved, except by the natural conditions arising 
from increased settlement of the West and the gradual decline / 
of the Indians' strength by the ravages of smallpox and other 
diseases, and through their losses sustained in almost con- 
tinuous warfare. It was estimated that, in 1850, the Indians in 
the Southwest numbered one hundred and twenty-four thou- 
sand. ]\Iany of the tribes thus brought under our control were 
of fierce disposition and predatory in their habits, and it was 


difficult to restrain them from committing outrages upon the 
persons and property of the inhabitants, in the Big Bend and 
New Mexico, as well as in Mexico proper. The step taken by 
Congress to appoint agents to take charge of the numerous 
tribes, whereby necessary and satisfactory information could be 
obtained respecting their conditions and wants, did much to 
alleviate the sufferings of the settlers, but failed to furnish a 

This, however, could apply only to the American settlers. 
The Indians appear to have been the natural enemy of the 
Mexicans, for the Indians killed the Mexicans wherever they 
were found, and frequently for no possible reason. The Mexi- 
cans had such a dread of Indians, that they never stood their 
fire, but ran at the very first indication of their presence. For 
the previous two years the Indians had been very troublesome 
to the Mexicans and had appeared in large bodies as far south 
as Durango. To fight a party of some two hundred Indians, 
who were in the neighborhood, the military commander of 
Chihuahua hired, at an extravagant compensation, a company 
of Americans, who were on their way to California. This 
occurred at a time when there was stationed in that city, a large 
garrison of Mexican regulars, and several thousand citizens 
capable of bearing arms. 

The attitude of the Indians, toward the Americans in the 
United States, became even more hostile ; because they consid- 
ered it an overt act on the part of the Americans in Mexico, in 
thus interfering with their rights to plunder Mexico. But the 
United States authorities could make no appeal to the Mexican 
authorities to prevent this body of Americans from meddling 
in Mexico. Each Mexican state made its separate treaties with 
the Indian tribes, which harassed them, and often this treaty 
was made at a considerable disadvantage to a sister state. At 
this time, large bodies of men could cross and re-cross the 
International Boundary without meeting challenge from cus- 
tom officers or troops of either nation. 

Owing to this newly-disturbed condition, traveling was 
rendered extremely dangerous, and immigration in the Big 


Bend was almost entirely arrested. The United States forces 
stationed in the Indian country, represented a large portion of 
our standing army. Most of these troops were infantry, which 
could only guard a certain locality and were never able, through 
lack of horses, to pursue Indians for the purpose of punishing 
them. This gave rise to the necessity for more cavalry, which 
did not arrive, however, until the following year. 

On the part of the settlers, many complaints had been made 
against the United States Government for neglecting to extend 
to the inhabitants a greater and more reliable protection than 
they had received. Here, again, the military officials and the 
settlers disagreed. In reports made by commanding officers, 
it can be gathered that they considered the complaints ground- 
less so far as the Government was concerned. They claimed 
that enough troops, if properly managed, had been stationed 
there to secure and protect the people against all the Indians 
able to reach that country. They further claimed that the men 
who complained so loudly, were those who trafficked and traded 
in that country, and lived and thrived on the expenditures of 
the troops. These profiteers cared less for the protection of 
the inhabitants than they did for augmenting and increasing the 
expenses of the general government in the Big Bend, for their 
personal enrichment. 

These same military commanders, however, made a strong 
recommendation to the Government that by stationing mounted 
troops in close proximity to the Indian rancherias, a better state 
of affairs would come about and the ravages of the Indians 
would be lessened. They emphasized the fact, which later was 
proved true, that the frontier would always be in an unsafe 
and insecure condition until troops intended for border ser\nce, 
instead of remaining in garrison, would travel and campaign 
over the country continuously. This course of action, they 
contended, would not add to the expenses of maintaining the 
troops, but, on the contrary, would be a great saving in many 
respects, and particularly in the article of forage for their 
animals. In garrison, this forage consisted mainly of wheat, 
hauled at a great expense, from Chihuahua or Presidio del 


Norte; or of prairie hay, the cutting of which was contracted 
at high prices, to private individuals or concerns. 

It was maintained that until some such course was adopted, 
no reliable state of safety or security from Indian depredations 
could be expected, owing to the precarious and uncertain state 
of feeling and disposition of the uncivilized and untamed sav- 
age, whose chief and sole ambition was to plunder and destroy 
his fellowman. It would be more to the welfare of the troops, 
watching and observing the Indians, for them to travel about 
the mountains and over the plains, where game, grass and pro- 
tection for man and horse were to be found, than for them to 
remain in the garrison the whole time, subject and liable to 
arrests and punishments, which are invariably brought upon a 
soldier through idleness and dissipation. 

Just the reverse, however, were the existing conditions, 
which was the secret of their inefficiency and inability to keep 
in check a few wretched savages. The life of the garrisons 
was not at all calculated to improve the soldiers, either physically 
or morally. The most ruinous vices of savage and civilized 
man were practiced around them, without even the check of 
public opinion to disapprove or condemn such conduct. What 
service then, from the military point of view, could possibly 
be expected from men habituated for years, or even for months, 
to such a life? 

There was no desire on the part of anyone to disparage the 
United States army. Practically all of these troops were vet- 
erans of the Mexican War, in which they rendered gallant ser- 
vice ; but the information which frequently came from the 
Indian country, and which was familiar equally to the whites 
and the Indians, had an almost ruinous effect upon the feelings 
and dispositions of the Indians. There was nothing to keep 
them in check but a dread of the power of the United States; 
this dread they lost after several years of encounters with the 

In the fall of 1850, J. H. Rollins, Special Indian Agent, 
made an eleven hundred mile trip in Texas, to meet the various 
Indian tribes, of which the Southern Comanches were the 


strongest, in order to make treaties and bring about peace- 
ful relations between his charges and the settlers. On the fifth 
day out from Fort Graham, Rollins found the Comanche chiefs, 
Catumpsey and Little Wolf, and a portion of their people. 
These Indians were at first greatly frightened, but the assur- 
ance that no violence was intended, soon removed their fears, 
and they collected around Rollins for a council. 

Rollins informed them of the object of his visit and of their 
supposed unfriendly disposition and conduct. The Indians 
expressed the strongest desire to be considered friends, and 
readily agreed to meet him as soon as he succeeded in finding 
Buffalo Hump and Shanaco, the other chiefs of the Southern 
Comanches. In order to show their sincerity, they sent a young 
Comanche captain along to assist Rollins in his search for the 
other chiefs — a thing unprecedented among the Comanches. 
Three days later, Rollins found Bufifalo Hump and Shanaco, 
and met them in council. 

Rollins explained to them that on account of their absence 
from his councils, their frequent robberies and occasional mur- 
ders, the Government inferred that they had abandoned the 
treaty of 1846, and decided to be hostile. The agent recounted 
many reasons that existed for supposing them unfriendly, and 
told them that the Government had determined not to submit 
to this state of things any longer, but intended, unless satis- 
factory explanations and atonements were made, to make war 
upon them immediately. 

Buffalo Hump, for himself and the other chiefs, replied 
that "the talk was very good" and that, although it was very 
plain and not the kind they had been accustomed to hear, it was 
nevertheless not offensive, and he believed it to be true and 
warranted by the circumstances. He said there had been many 
violations of the treaty on both sides, and it was better either 
to renew and abide by the treaty or disregard it altogether. 
Buffalo Hump admitted that in company with other Indians, 
against his wishes and in violation of his express orders, his 
people had been on the Rio Grande occasionally, in small num- 
bers ; but that as some of them had been killed, he hoped that it 


would be a lesson to the others. As an excuse for these depre- 
dations, he said that he and his people generally were friends to 
the whites, but that they had bad men among them whom they 
could not control, and he hoped that the innocent would not 
be made to suffer in common with the guilty. On account of 
the difficulties on the Rio Grande and the West generally, and 
upon receiving information that all Indians found west of 
the Colorado River would be attacked indiscriminately, the 
Comanches had fled to the Brazos River, where they were in- 
formed there was no war and they would be safe. Buffalo 
Hump said his people had been anxiously waiting for some time 
to learn the disposition of the Government toward them and 
the course intended to be adopted, and that all the Southern 
Comanches were ready and anxious to deliberate with Rollins 
at any time and place appointed by him. 

In his report, Rollins expressed the belief that the Comanches 
would meet him at the time and place agreed upon ; but, as in 
many similar instances, this meeting never took place, nor were 
the treaties observed, and in the year following the Comanches 
resumed their raiding across the Rio Grande and harassed, to 
the very doors of San Antonio, the newly-made Chihuahua 
Trail, east of the Pecos River. 

Aside from the warfare of the Indians, the Big Bend coun- 
try was being slowly settled. The great emigrant trails swarmed 
with caravans, which traveled in large bodies to withstand the 
Indians. The trend of emigration was toward California, but a 
considerable number stopped along the way, some at Presidio 
del Norte, and others at El Paso, or points in New Mexico. 



One of the stipulations of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 
February 2, 1848, was that a survey was to be made to determine 
the United States-Mexico boundary. The members of the 
Boundary Commission began their work in 1850. The Commis- 
sion was given instructions to examine the country contiguous 
to the line, with a view of ascertaining the practicability of a 
transcontinental railway route. It was also instructed to collect 
information with reference to the agricultural and mineral re- 
sources, and such other conditions as would give a correct 
knowledge of the fiscal condition of the country and its present 

Practically all of the first three years of this work was in 
charge of John R. Bartlett. At the end of that time. Brevet 
Major W, H. Emory superseded Mr. Bartlett, and carried the 
work to its completion. 

Bartlett gives an interesting account of conditions in the 
Big Bend, as they were at that time. The Boundary Commis- 
sion landed at Galveston, in August, 1850, and immediately 
began employing teamsters, laborers, cooks, and other help 
necessary to carry on the work. Unfortunately, the quarter- 
master was obliged to take such as offered themselves, naturally 
giving preference to those who could produce testimonials of 
good character. Many of these had been formerly in govern- 
ment employ, and came well recommended ; but there were many 
others of questionable character. 

The Boundary Commission was divided into a number of 
parties, which extended from California to the Gulf of Mexico. 
Several of these parties or trains, reached El Paso at the same 
time, and it became necessary to discharge a large number of 
men, chiefly teamsters. Because of this, and the fact that a 
larjre number of emigrant trains bound for California were dis- 


banded here, a great many of the tricksters of society were left 
stranded, with no means of support. 

The discharge of so many men at Socorro, a village near El 
Paso, let loose upon the peaceful inhabitants of that place a 
gang of outlaws, who by daily increase of numbers, had become 
so formidable that no one was considered safe beyond the walls 
of his own house. Several of these men actually forced the 
inhabitants to give them homes. 

Upon the arrival of the main party of the Boundary Com- 
mission, under charge of Mr. Bartlett, a temporary check was 
placed upon this band of gamblers, horse thieves, and murder- 
ers. The presence of such a well-armed force tended to make 
the outlaws more circumspect for a time ; but as the members 
of the Commission were drafted off to enter upon the duties 
connected with the survey, the outlaws became more threaten- 
ing in their conduct. Houses were opened for the indulgence 
of every wicked passion ; and each midnight hour heralded new 
violence and often bloody scenes, for the fast-filling records of 
crime. The peace-loving Mexicans gathered their little store 
of worldly wealth and, with their families, fled from the rapidly 
depopulating village. Every new outrage was overlooked by 
the local authorities. No one dared stir from home without 
being doubly armed and prepared to use his weapons at a 
moment's warning ; for the turning of a corner might bring one 
face to face with the muzzles of a dozen pistols. 

After several murders had been committed, the engineers 
sent a note to the military commander at San Elceario, giving 
an account of what had occurred and presenting the alarming 
condition of things in the community. The messenger returned 
with an answer from the commanding officer, Major Van Home, 
declining to furnish any assistance, on the ground that the ap- 
plication should be made first to the civil authorities. 

In the evening a dancing-party, or baile, an almost nightly 
amusement in all Mexican and frontier towns, was given, which 
as usual was attended by quite a mixed company. As the baile, 
or fandango, was open to all, the gang of outlaws was largely 
represented, and its members made themselves conspicuous by 


their conduct. Pistols were fired over the heads of the women, 
who, in their alarm, attempted to escape from the room. This 
was prevented, however, by confederates stationed at the door. 

At this stage of the disturbance, great excitement prevailed 
in the dance-hall, and several outlaws began using their Bowie 
knives. Edward C. Clark, assistant quartermaster of the Com- 
mission, was the first person attacked by the ruffians. Four of 
them set upon him with their knives and he fell near the door, 
mortally wounded. He was immediately taken to the quarters 
of the surgeon of the Commission, Dr. Bigelow, who, on ex- 
amination, found he had received nine or ten serious knife 
wounds in his breast and abdomen. Mr. Clark died next day. 
Another man, named Gates, was wounded by a pistol-shot in 
the leg. 

When the startling announcement was made that an officer 
of the Commission had been foully murdered by the wretches 
who had already gone too long unchecked, the question arose 
as to the best course of action to take. 

At this turn of affairs, the members of the Commission were 
moved to action and resolved upon a plan to protect, not only 
their own lives and property, but, also, those of the dismayed 
population about them. Aid from the military had been re- 
fused. The alcalde of the village, a weak and sickly imbecile, 
had transferred his authority to another, even more timid and 
less reliable than himself. Yet this person was invested with 
the powers of a justice of the peace, and constituted the entire 
civil authority at Socorro. 

Messengers, calling for assistance, were sent to the main 
body of the Commission, at San Elceario. The call was promptly 
answered and in three hours, a party of Americans and Mexi- 
cans was formed. They hastily secured arms, and, with the 
members of the Commission, proceeded at once to Socorro. 
Strengthened by these reinforcements, the citizens divided into 
small parties and began a systematic search to ferret out the 
murderers. Every house was examined, and eight or nine per- 
sons arrested ; but Alexander Young, the ring leader, could not 
be found. 


The outlaws caught in the drag-net, were immediately con- 
ducted by an armed force to the house of Justice Berthold, 
where a court to suit the emergencies of the case, was instituted. 
Jurors were summoned and sworn in ; a prosecuting attorney 
named, and counsel offered to the prisoners. This offer they 
declined, treating the whole matter as a jest, and making 
facetious remarks about their condition. The prisoners were 
under the impression that nothing could be done with them, and 
that they could easily swear themselves out of the difficulty. 
The examinations were conducted with propriety, and the 
prisoners made to keep silence by the resolute demeanor of the 

In selecting the jury, six jurors were taken from the Mexi- 
can citizens of Socorro and six from the Boundary Commis- 
sion, as there were no other Americans in the place. 

The trial took place in one of the adobe houses, which was 
dimly lighted from a single small window. Scarcely an indi- 
vidual was present who had not the appearance and garb of men 
who spend their lives on the frontier, far from civilization and 
its softening influences. Surrounded as they were by savage 
Indians and constantly mingling with half-civilized and renegade 
men, it was necessary for citizens to go constantly armed. No 
one ventured forth a half mile from home without first putting 
on his pistols, and many carried them upon their persons, even 
when within their homes. But at the trial, circumstances 
rendered it necessary that all should be armed, for safety, as 
well as for the purpose of thwarting any attempt on the part of 
the outlaws to free their comrades from the grip of the law. 
There sat the judge, with a pistol lying on the desk before him ; 
the clerks and attorneys wore revolvers at their sides ; and the 
jurors were either armed with similar weapons or carried with 
them an unerring long-rifle. 

The members of the Commission and citizens, who were 
either guarding prisoners or protecting the Court, carried by 
their sides a revolver, a rifle, or a shot-gun ; thus presenting a 
scene more characteristic of feudal times than of the Nineteenth 
Century. The fair but sunburnt complexion of the American 


portion of the jury, with their weapons resting against their 
shoulders and with pipes in their mouths, presented a striking 
contrast to the swarthy features of the Mexicans, muffled in 
checkered serapes, or the conventional capote, — cape cloak — 
and holding their broad-brimmed, glazed hats in their hands, 
while between their lips rested delicate cigarritos. 

The reckless, unconcerned appearance of the prisoners, 
whose unshaven faces and disheveled hair gave them the ap- 
pearance of Italian banditti, rather than of Americans ; the 
grave and determined bearing of the jury ; the varied costumes 
and expressions of the spectators, clad in serapes, blankets, or 
overcoats, with their different weapons, and, generally with 
long beards, formed altogether one of the most remarkable 
groups that ever graced a court-room. 

Two days were occupied in the examination and trial, for 
the one immediately followed the other. In the meantime, a 
military guard of ten men had been sent promptly by Major 
Van Home, upon a request from Mr. Bartlett ; so that the open 
threats which had been made by the prisoners during the first 
day of the trial were no longer heard. They now saw that the 
strong arm of the law would triumph. 

All fairness was shown to the outlaws, and on the second 
day, a member of the Commission w-as requested to act as their 
counsel. His efforts, however, to prove an alibi, to impeach 
the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution, or to estab- 
lish the previous good character of the defendants, proved 
futile. The prisoners were then heard in their defense, but 
they could advance nothing beyond the mere assertion of their 
innocence. At the close of the testimony, an attempt was made 
by the friends of the prisoners to postpone the trial for the pur- 
pose, as they stated, of obtaining counsel and evidence from 
El Paso. But the Court had been appraised of the existence 
of a plot to attempt a rescue that night, and accordingly the 
request was refused. 

The evidence being closed, a few remarks wxre made by the 
prosecuting attorney, followed by the charge of the judge, 
after which the case was given to the jury. In a short time. 


the twelve men returned to the courtroom with the verdict 
of guilty, against William Craig, Marcus Butler, and John 
Wadel, upon whom the judge then pronounced sentence of 

The prisoners were escorted to the little plaza, or open 
square, in front of the village church, where the priest met 
them to give them such consolation as his holy office offered ; 
but the conduct of these men, notwithstanding the desire on the 
part of all to afford them consolation and comfort, continued 
reckless and indifferent, even until the last moment. Butler 
was alone affected. He wept bitterly, and excited much 
sympathy by his youthful appearance, but his companions 
scoffed at him and begged him not to cry, as he could die but 

The sun was setting when they arrived at the place of execu- 
tion. The assembled spectators formed a guard around a small 
alamo, or cottonwood tree, which had been selected for the 
gallows. It was fast growing dark, and the busy movements 
of a large number of the condemned men's friends, dividing 
and collecting together again in small bands, at different points 
around and outside of the party, and then approaching nearer 
to the center, proved that an attack was meditated, if the slight- 
est opportunity should be given. But the sentence of the law 
was carried into effect. 

The scene was of a character which the participants never 
again desired to witness. The calm but determined citizens on 
the one side, and the daring companions of the condemned out- 
laws on the other, remaining keenly on the watch throughout ; 
the former for the protection of life and the support of good 
order in the community, the latter with the malicious eyes of 
disappointed and infuriated malcontents, who would have been 
willing to sacrifice a hundred additional lives, to rescue their 

Socorro now resumed its previous quiet and good order, for 
the authorities had directed all persons who were not con- 
nected with the Commission and who were without employment, 
to leave the village within twenty-four hours. This, however. 


was hardily necessary, for the vagabonds already had begun 
to depart and before the close of another day all had left; 
but before the indignant populace would be satisfied there 
was another, the original leader, who was yet to be appre- 

Four hundred dollars was subscribed by the employees of 
the Commission and offered as a reward for the capture of 
Alexander Young. Volunteer parties set out in all directions ; 
and word was finally brought that he had been caught further 
down the Rio Grande, at Guadalupe. 

The prisoner was brought to Socorro and placed in con- 
finement, well chained and guarded. The careless, dogged look 
had left his eyes, and was replaced by a supplicating glance, 
which plainly told of a change within. He was anxious to know 
if either of the three who had been executed, had made a con- 
fession. He expressed a wish to have a letter written to his 
mother, who had not heard from him in six years. The letter 
was written and the prisoner appeared much affected. He con- 
fessed the truth of the charges against him, incriminating clearly 
the three who were first hanged, besides many others. 

At ten o'clock, the following morning, the Court again con- 
vened and a jury was impaneled. The prisoner's confession 
was publicly read, signed by himself, and witnessed by several 
members of the Court. 

With the testimony in hand, the jury could have returned 
a verdict ; but it was deemed advisable to present further evi- 
dence to show the unmistakable guilt of the men who already 
had been punished. This was done for the reason that several 
persons who passed for honorable men were interesting them- 
selves in defending these outlaws because of what they called, 
humanitarian grounds. 

The prisoner was found guilty and sentenced to hang. That 
afternoon he was taken to the church, where, on bended knees 
and with trembling lips, he made his final confession, received 
the blessing of the priest, and was taken to the alamo, where 
he was to be executed. His last request was that he might be 
buried as respectably as circumstances would permit. At half- 


past four o'clock, in the afternoon of the same day that the trial 
began, using the same tree where the three others were exe- 
cuted, the law was carried into effect. Justice was served with 
dispatch in 1850. 

The well-merited punishment of these four men was loudly 
applauded and justified by both the civil and military authori- 
ties of the frontier. Such an example as this had been needed 
for some time. The vicinity was again freed from worthless 
desperadoes ; and as the Mexican citizens of the peaceful old 
town of Socorro remarked, "We can now sit in the evening by 
our doorsides and not be obliged to retire with the sun, fix bolts 
and bars, and huddle in corners with fear and trembling." 

While these examples of justice served to promote the wel- 
fare of the people and to curb the activities of the vicious ele- 
ments, who naturally resorted to the settlements, still it had no 
effect upon the Indian marauders in the Big Bend. The rela- 
tion between the Indiarfs of this region and several of the Mexi- 
can towns, particularly San Carlos, below Presidio del Norte, 
was peculiar, and the source of considerable worry to the 
United States and Mexico. The Apaches were usually at war 
with the people of both countries, but had friendly relations 
with the people of certain towns, where they traded and received 
supplies of arms and ammunition in exchange for stolen mules 
and, often, captives. This was the case with the people of San 
Carlos, who had amicable relations with both the Apaches and 
the Comanches ; and these Indians made San Carlos a depot of 
arms in their annual excursions into Mexico. 

While at Presidio del Norte, Major Emory, of the Boundary 
Commission, received authentic accounts of the unmolested 
march of four hundred Comanches, under Bajo el Sol, through 
Chihuahua, toward Durango. Chihuahua, not receiving the 
protection to which it was entitled from the central government 
of Mexico, had made an independent treaty with the Comanches, 
the practical effect of which was to aid and abet the Indians in 
their war upon Durango. In 1851, Bishop Leamy, of Paso del 
Norte, upon his return from a visit to the Bishop of Durango, 
said that the wealthy state of Durango would soon be depopu- 


lated by the Indians. Within a few leagues of the city, 
haciendas, that once possessed a hundred thousand animals, 
had been abandoned. 

This condition of affairs, together with the three years' 
drought, had brought ruin to the inhabitants of the State, and 
had driven them to unmanly despair. On the occasion of a 
great fiesta, in the State of Durango, where no less than ten 
thousand people were assembled in and around a plaza, the cry 
"Los Indios ! Bajo el Sol !" was heard. In a very short time 
every one had disappeared, leaving no one to face the enemy. 
The alarm proved to be false on this occasion, but the instance 
conveys a good idea of the general fear felt toward the Indians 
by the Mexicans. 

In the autumn of 185 1, Major Emory, with a small party 
of the Boundary Commission, escorted by a detachment of 
fifteen soldiers, was making a rapid march across the Pecos 
country. After being without water a considerable time, as 
they approached Comanche Springs, the party discovered graz- 
ing near the springs a herd of a thousand horses, divided into 
three different squads, and held by Indians just before the 
Springs, on a small plateau, where now stands the business 
section of Fort Stockton. Watching the advancing whites, 
thirty or forty Indian warriors were drawn up. It looked as 
if a fight was inevitable ; so without making a halt, the men, as 
light infantry, were deployed to the right and left of the 
wagons, and the whole moved rapidly toward the water. The 
Indians raised a flag, which was answered by Lieutenant Wash- 
ington and two others, w^ho rode forward. Believing it to be a 
ruse to divide his forces or to gain time to deliberate, Major 
Emory increased the speed of the column, so as to keep Lieu- 
tenant Washington under cover of a defense fire. In this way, 
the American party reached advantageous ground within pistol- 
shot of the water, before they halted to parley. A man was sent 
to the top of a large hill, with a spyglass, to look back, as if the 
party was expecting additional forces. They promptly corralled 
their wagons near the water and put themselves, without ap- 
pearing to do so, in a good position to fight. They succeeded 


in conveying the idea that they were only the advance guard of 
a large force, which was but a short way behind. They assumed 
the mien of a superior party and camped on the ground eighteen 
hours. The next day they moved off as if they had an armed 
force behind them. How different would the story have been 
had the Americans been Mexicans. 

The party were Kioways and Comanches returning with 
nearly a thousand animals, from a forage into Mexico. Mucho 
Toro, the chief of this party, who spoke Spanish well, said he 
had purchased the animals in Mexico, and that this was but the 
advance party of several hundred warriors who were close 
behind him. 

Mucho Toro, in full dress, paid Major Emory a visit, on 
which occasion he displayed great humility, and exhibited con- 
spicuously upon his breast an immense silver cross, which he 
said had been given him by the Bishop of Durango, when the 
chief was converted to Christianity. He had, no doubt, robbed 
some church of it. His features showed the profile of the 
Mexican Indian peon, but the warriors he commanded had the 
bold aquiline profile of the Kioways and Comanches. He rep- 
resented a type of that class of Mexicans, who, by affiliation 
with the wild Indians, had wrought such irremediable ruin in 
the northern states of Mexico. 

The Americans desired very much to attack Mucho Toro's 
party, but their force was too small, and they were three hun- 
dred miles from support. The next day, when crossing the 
dividing plain between Comanche Springs and Ojo de Leon, 
they discovered the dust rising from the trail coming from the 
south, as far as the eye could reach. They had just missed 
meeting with Bajo el Sol and four hundred warriors. 

In his work on the Boundary Commission, Major Emory 
had many similar adventures with these Indians, and he gave 
orders that none should be allowed to enter his camp, and if 
they did, they were to be killed at sight. By taking this harsh, 
but necessary step, he was one of the few persons passing 
through the Big Bend at this time, who did not experience a 
loss. The Mexican Commission was robbed repeatedly, and 


upon more than one occasion was obliged to suspend its opera- 

Indeed, so bold had the Indians become that they raided the 
Magoffin ranch, where stood old Fort Bliss, and in plain 
view of the little settlement of Franklin, or El Paso, drove off 
forty head of mules. 

Much light is thrown on conditions, as they existed in 1850, 
by a series of communications between several American and 
Mexican officers. At the time John W. Spencer settled across 
the River from Presidio del Norte, Ben Leaton settled a few 
miles below Spencer's ranch, where at one time had been an 
old Spanish fort. For that reason it was called Fort Leaton ; 
today, it is known as Old Fortin. Major J. Van Home, of the 
Third Infantry, stationed at El Paso, received two communica- 
tions — one from Governor Trias, of Chihuahua, the other from 
Emilio Laughberg, inspector of military colonies at Paso del 
Norte. These letters accused Leaton of furnishing the Indians 
with arms, powder, and lead, and also, of the purchase of prop- 
erty, stolen from the Mexicans by the Indians. 

Major General George M. Brooks, commanding the Eighth 
Department, informed Major Van Home that steps had been 
taken to redress this evil. He was instructed to inform Gov- 
ernor Trias of the difficulties which had prevented the Gov- 
ernment of the United States from carrying out faithfully and 
honorably the specifications of the peace treaty with Mexico. 
He was instructed to say that the United States had most 
serious and grave cause for complaint against the high authori- 
ties of Chihuahua, particularly with reference to the employ- 
ment of Americans in making war on the Apaches and other 
Indians, not only in JMexico, but on the territory of the United 
States, in the Big Bend. By this action, the Indians had been 
made to believe that the American Government approved of 
those aggressions. As a consequence many American citizens 
had been murdered and robbed by the Apaches and other 
Indians, and unless parties were accompanied by expensive 
military escorts, traveling in the Big Bend was extremely 
dangerous. Before the violation of our soil and the employ- 


ment of expatriated Americans, there had been safety as far as 
El Paso, at least; while at this time, all of the tribes were 
revengefully hostile. 

Governor Trias made counter-complaint that for some time 
Leaton had kept an open treaty with the Apache Indians, con- 
trary to what he had been expressly advised to do. He had been 
repeatedly charged with this vicious conduct, but it had been 
impossible to stop it, as Leaton respected neither the authori- 
ties of the Presidio nor the laws of his own country. Governor 
Trias presented positive proof that the great portion of this 
illicit traffic, in which Leaton dealt, consisted of selling and pur- 
chasing from the Indians goods and property stolen by them 
from the citizens of Mexico. But the evil consisted not only in 
this, but in return for the plunder he received from the Indians, 
Leaton furnished them with arms, powder, lead, and other 
articles of ammunition. 

Just to what extent Leaton was guilty, was not clearly 
established. Evidently, the War Department took the stand 
that he was to blame. Leaton was following the practice then 
customary among the Indian traders, and no doubt this traffic 
did encourage Indian depredations on both sides of the Rio 
Grande. Leaton claimed that for two years previous to this, 
he had endeavored to pacify the Apaches about Presidio del 
Norte, and advised them to preserve friendly relations with the 
United States ; his idea being that an Indian agent would soon 
visit the settlement and make a treaty with them. According to 
his statement, the causes of the hostilities with the Apaches 
was a party of American outlaws under Glanton, who had at- 
tacked the Indians and killed a large number of them. This was 
the same company of Americans, Leaton averred, who had 
enlisted in the service of Chihuahua, and as the Indians knew 
no distinction between Glanton's party and other Americans, 
they had become hostile toward all Americans as well as toward 
him. Leaton contended that, in many instances, he had turned 
the Indians from their purpose of attacking emigrant trains 
and other parties, traveling through the country. 

The case of Leaton was but one of many which showed the 


inability of the two governments to control their Indian wards. 
If the United States was guilty of violating her treaty, Mexico 
was equally guilty. The vacillating policy of the State of 
Chihuahua, whereby they were at one moment bribing the 
Indians to keep peace, and the next moment hiring American 
outlaws at a compensation of one hundred and fifty dollars per 
scalp, to slaughter the Indians, did more than any other cause 
to stimulate the Indians in their depredations. Instead of 
co-operating with the American Government, in an effort to 
control the Indians, the Mexican Government failed in every 
promise and threw all responsibility upon the United States. 



The year 1850 may well be regarded as the beginning of 
that period in the history of the Big Bend, marked by the first 
footsteps of the vanguard of civilization, which, in time, made 
the beaten trail ready for the future commerce. The first two 
groups of actors have been introduced ; their character and their 
conduct have been shown ; the stage needs but to be set and the 
curtain lifted, to introduce the characters of the third epoch of 
the great historical romance of the Southwest. The first two 
epochs concerned the Spaniard and the Mexican ; the third has 
to do with the American. 

It is necessary first to take up in detail the nature of the 
country which comprises the Big Bend, and outline more in 
detail the natural causes which impeded the progress of ad- 
vancing civilization. One who is unfamiliar with this great 
territory, can not fully appreciate the obstacles which the 
pioneers encountered in making it, not only habitable, but, in 
time, a country of prosperous ranches, wealthy communities, 
and law-abiding citizens. To accomplish this result, fifty years 
of untiring labor was required. 

The Big Bend is an oblong stretch of territory, thirty thou- 
sand square miles in extent ; on the south and west is the Rio 
Grande ; on the east and northeast, the Pecos River ; while New 
Mexico is at the upper end. In such an immense tract, it is 
impossible to go into a detailed topographical account, because 
of the many and often abrupt changes in the formation of the 
country. So isolated has been this region and so different in 
character from the greater portion of Texas, that few realize 
the magnificent scenery of the Big Bend. Hypothetical 
geography has been carried to such an extent in information 
given the public concerning this region, that the newcomer often 
exclaims, "I did not know there was such scenery in Texas !" 


For Texas is supposed to be a land of plains, and not of lofty 
mountains and gaping canyons. 

In 1850, there were only two settlements in the Big Bend, 
both of which were on the banks of the Rio Grande. One was 
the settlement of Franklin, now El Paso, opposite the Mexican 
town of Paso del Norte, which to-day is known as Juarez ; the 
other was opposite Presidio del Norte, the Mexican town at the 
junction of the Conchos River and the Rio Grande. 

As all trading was on the Mexican side of the River, it was 
later in the fifties that American settlements, dignified by post 
names, sprang into existence in this country. Paso del Norte 
and Presidio were the only depots of refuge and supply for 
the travel-worn Americans in this great region. 

The Mexican settlements, however, were more numerous, 
nestling along the banks of the Rio Grande wherever the val- 
leys were of sufficient width to permit farming by irrigation. 
The first in this line of villages extending up the Rio Grande, 
and one of the oldest Spanish settlements in Northern Mexico, 
was Presidio del Norte. In this particular year, 1850, the 
Indians drove off most of the cattle ; the drought had caused a 
failure in the corn crop for the previous three years, and the 
town, isolated from other settlements, had suffered from famine. 
At Presidio, very little farming was carried on by irrigation, as 
the farmer depended upon the rainfall and the overflow from 
the two rivers. 

Presidio del Norte was an adobe built town, situated upon 
a gravelly hill, overlooking the junction of the Conchos River 
and the Rio Grande, then called Rio Puerco, from the contrast 
of its muddy waters to that of the Conchos River, which, except 
during freshets, was clear. The town contained about eight 
hundred inhabitants, but on account of the nearness of the 
great Indian Trail, at this time extensively traveled by maraud- 
ing bands, there was much talk of abandoning it. 

The church was within the walls of the presidio, or fort, and 
contained one or two pictures of more value than are usually 
found discoloring the walls of frontier churches. In almost 
every house was found, in addition to the Cross, a figure of our 


Saviour, which was sometimes so very grotesque that piety 
itself could not divest it of its ridiculous appearance. These 
images and pictures, however, were sources of comfort and 
happiness in prosperity and adversity to the simple Mexican 
people. They filled the imagination and gave occupation to the 
idle. The padre, who had charge of the church in this district, 
was by nature intended for the military profession. Brave, 
frank, handsome, and energetic, he was the leading spirit in 
every foray against the Indians ; and upon his person were 
many wounds received in battle. In the isolated and defense- 
less condition of the Presidio, he was the type of spiritual and 
temporal advisor most needed. 

Passing through Presidio del Norte, was the great thorough- 
fare, the Chihuahua Trail, which was destined to have very 
important bearing on the settlement of the Big Bend. Across 
the Rio Grande, just below the Presidio, was the Spencer farm, 
on the American side, and six miles further down, also on the 
American side, was Fort Leaton, the home of the Indian trader, 
Ben Leaton. 

From Presidio del Norte to Vado de Piedras, a distance of 
twenty-four miles, the valley of the Rio Grande had a course 
from the northwest, and varied in width from three to four 
miles. This valley was enclosed by hills on the American side, 
and on the Mexican side by a large mountain range. 

Vado de Piedras, named from the rock ford of the River, 
opposite the town, was a military colony where convicts were 
kept, and at this time contained three hundred prisoners. The 
main building was a large cuartel, or barracks. Around the 
town were small cultivated fields, watered by irrigation and 
yielding bountiful crops of wheat and corn. 

From here, the Rio Grande took a course from the north, 
through a valley, varying in width from one-half to one and one- 
half miles, until Pilares, forty-five miles above Vado de Piedras, 
was reached. Pilares was at one time a military colony and 
convict camp, similar to Vado de Piedras ; and from numerous 
signs visible to-day, the smelting of silver ore was carried on 
here extensively. This old presidio was abandoned about 1873. 


Fifty miles above Pilares, the Rio Grande emerged from a 
narrow valley through which it had flowed for twenty-four 
miles, and entered Quitman Canyon, where the El Paso-San 
Antonio road left it, and where in later years was located Camp 

From Quitman Canyon to El Paso, a distance of ninety miles 
by the windings of the river, the valley of the Rio Grande aver- 
aged from six to ten miles in width ; and, had water been plenti- 
ful, all of this fertile valley would have been susceptible to cul- 

Before reaching San Elceario, and on the Mexican side of 
the Rio Grande, there were two small military colonies of about 
five hundred inhabitants each — Guadalupe and San Ignacio. 
From San Elceario to El Paso, a distance of thirty miles by the 
river, there was almost one continuous settlement of Mexicans, 
Suma and Piro Indians, with here and there an occasional 
American farmer or trader. 

At this time, Franklin had only two hundred inhabitants, and. 
San Elceario, with a population of twelve hundred, had just 
been made the country-seat of the Big Bend district. As can 
be seen from the number of Mexican villages and outposts along' 
the Rio Grande, on the ^lexican side, that republic should have 
been in a better position to control the Indians along the border 
than the United States. 

The topography of the lower country from Presidio del 
Norte to the Pecos River along the Rio Grande, w^as even more 
rugged than that above. Just below Fort Leaton, the Bofecillos 
Mountains bisected the Rio Grande, thus forming a canyon 
through w^hich the River passed. From there to the Comanche 
Pass, the country was broken and very rough. This pass crossed 
the Rio Grande above old San Carlos, below which on the 
Mexican side rose the San Carlos Mountains. 

Below San Carlos was the Grand Canyon of the Rio Grande, 
which forms one of the many phenomena occurring in this land. 
In ages past the walls of this canyon had been a great lime- 
stone plain, but from some cause a section twenty miles long 
had been disturbed by the earth's internal action, and had 


forced the lower end of the plain to an elevation of two thousand 
feet above the surrounding country. The process of upheaval 
was carried on so slowly that the Rio Grande was able to con- 
tinue its flow through the old channel, cutting deeper into the 
limestone as rapidly as the plain was pushed upward. 

Next in order was the mountains of San Vicente, which take 
their name from the old presidio, long since abandoned by the 
Spaniards. From this point in the windings of the River, lying 
some distance northwest of the Grand Canyon, were the Chisos, 
or Ghost Mountains, the peak of which, rising seven thousand 
eight hundred and thirty-five feet in elevation, was named 
Mount Emory, in honor of Major W. H. Emory, of the 
Boundary Commission. 

Almost directly east of the Chisos Mountains, after the 
Rio Grande turned its course northeastward, lay Sierra del 
Carmen, on the Mexican side. From here to the mouth of the 
Pecos River, the eastern limit of the Big Bend, was a distance 
of approximately one hundred and thirty miles. Here canyon 
followed canyon, and rapids, swift and treacherous, one after 
the other, made the Rio Grande unfordable, except in two 
or three places. 

As can readily be seen, a route of travel along the Rio 
Grande was impracticable. The trail through the Davis Moun- 
tains ; the one up the Pecos over the Delaware and Guadalupe 
Mountains ; and the Chihuahua Trail from Presidio to Horse- 
head Crossing, naturally became the three main highways used 
by settlers and emigrants. The two first named trails led from 
San Antonio, or other eastern points, to El Paso. Of these 
two, the Davis Mountains trail became the more generally used 
on account of the water supply. The Guadalupe trail was used 
but a few years and abandoned ; and to-day there remains but 
little trace of any habitations along that route. 

These trails were traversed both by troops and by emigrants, 
while the number of freight outfits was gradually increasing 
and much trade was being diverted from the Santa Fe Trail to 
the San Antonio-El Paso Trail. 

Emigrants, however, were the travelers who were subject 









to the most dangers from Indians and hardships, from lack of 
water, death of work-stock, and other misfortunes. A certain 
knowledge of conditions was necessary for an emigrant to make 
a successful passage across this vast country. The best season 
for them to leave the eastern sections of the United States for 
CaHfornia by the Davis Mountains, or southern route, was 
about the first of June. There was then good grass and water 
as far as Camp Quitman on the Rio Grande, which they could 
reach the last of July. This method of travel gave them enough 
leisure to stop two or three weeks for their animals to graze and 
recuperate, and lay in additional supplies for the remainder of 
their journey. 

The emigrants soon learned from experience that oxen were 
the best kind of work-stock for the country over which they had 
to travel. Before leaving their starting points they provided 
themselves with one or two extra yoke of oxen, to replace any 
which might be lost or stolen on the way. At this time they 
used light, strong wagons — much lighter than the prairie 
schooner which came into use a few years later. They took with 
them only those supplies which they required for the journey. 
These provisions were wrapped in oilcloth or other material, 
which kept them from dampness, rain, and immersion when 
deep fords were crossed. Each wagon carried a double canvas ; 
two water-casks lashed to either side ; and extra axle, pole, and 
a pair of hounds. The parties usually consisted of seventy-five 
to a hundred men, who were sufficient protection against 
Indians, and a guard for the herd and work-stock. At night 
the wagons were arranged in a circle, forming a corral, into 
which the work-stock was driven in time of danger. While 
traveling through the Indian country, the emigrants herded 
their animals night and day, and never allowed them to move 
from camp without an armed guard. 

The relative merits of the mule and oxen was a much de- 
bated question. ]\Iules were more gregarious than oxen and 
more easily herded at night ; also more liable to be stampeded. 
Sometimes one mule with his saddle or harness on, by»suddenly 
joining the herd, caused a stampede 6f every animal belonging 


to the train. At night, an Indian, coyote, or a horse running by 
was sufficient cause for the loss of the herd ; and once in the 
possession of the Indians it could not often be regained by the 
pursuing party. On the other hand, oxen traveled so slowly that 
they could be overtaken. But oxen would stray from the herd, 
lie down in the bushes, and thus often be lost. Mules would 
subsist where oxen could not, and in mountainous countries they 
could always feed on the hillsides. Their power for endur- 
ing fatigue, hunger, and thirst were greater, and, particularly 
so, when the marches were made during the day. They re- 
quired only one-fourth as much water. Oxen had the advan- 
tage in strength when it came to service in wet, boggy soil, 
or on level plains ; while the mules had the advantage where 
the country was rugged and there were many steep ascents. 

Generally, when the emigrants began their westward jour- 
ney, their mules were wild and unbroken. As native grass 
was their sole sustenance, this was at first cut for them. After 
a few days on the trail, they were hobbled while grazing but soon 
both of these methods were abandoned from necessity. During 
a stampede, when the mules were b^eing led away by a horse, 
their flight was often arrested by shooting the horse. Horses 
were not permitted to run loose with the herd of mules, for 
the mules would almost invariably follow them. They had 
such an attachment for a horse that they would follow wher- 
ever he led, and be governed by sight of him or by sound of a 
bell attached to his neck. 

The frontiersman and emigrant soon learned to^ display 
much sagacity in detecting and reading signs along the trail, 
when and by whom made, strength of the party, whether they 
were Indians, Mexicans, or Americans, and their direction. 
So with the places where there had been encampments ; these, 
the wary traveler on the trail inspected with care, to see 
whether friejid or enemy had preceded him. If they were 
Indians, he would find wigwam-poles, fragments of skins, 
deerskin thongs, and beads. A little experience enabled him 
to distinguish whether the campers were Comanches, Lipans, 
qr Mescaleros. The principal characteristic was the form of 


their wigwams. The Comanches set up erect poles ; the Lipans 
bent them over in circular form ; and Mescaleros gave them a 
low, oval shape. Then, too, there was a difference in tlieir moc- 
casins and the footprints they made. Each tribe of Indians 
had its particular fashion, which were chiefly shown in their 
methods of fixing their hair and covering their feet. Amer- 
ican emigrants, or travelers, left many marks to indicate their 
nationality and character, such as scraps of newspaper, bits 
cf cigars, fragments of hard bread, pieces of hempen rope, 
and other known articles of American manufacture. The 
Mexicans had none of these articles, but were identified by 
the remains of cigarritos, pieces of rawhide, which they used 
instead of rope ; or, if they left any portion of their camp out- 
fit or cooking utensils, these differed from those of the Amer- 
icans. The remains of their food also differed. This con- 
sisted of tortillas, cakes made of corn or wheat flour, similar 
in shape to the American pancake ; frijoles, a brown bean ; 
tamales, minced meat rolled up in cornshucks and baked in 
cakes; chili Colorado, Mexican red pepper; and dried beef. 
If the Mexicans wore shoes, they were unlike the American 
shoe. '■ 

The extent of the party was shown by the number of foot- 
prints. These could not be told while the party was in motion 
as there might be a large number of animals driven in a herd 
with but few attendants ; but when the camping-place was 
reached, the number of persons could be detected with a con- 
siderable degree of certainty. The freshness of footprints, 
broken twigs, and similar signs, showed how recently the 
party had passed. 

As before stated, the year, 1850, was the beginning of 
the third epoch in the history of the Big Bend — the American 
epoch. The Spaniards spent two hundred and seventy years 
in an effort to conquer and colonize this region ; the Mexicans 
threw off the yoke of the Spaniards, and upon the crumbling 
foundation ^. the Spanish civilization, they, too, attempted 
to subdue this country but it remained for the Americans, a 
more northern race,'' with different ideas and ideals, to accom- 


plish that which the two first named peoples had failed to 

Before the economic pressure, which forced the lines of 
civilization westward, became so great in the eastern portion 
of the United States, the Big Bend had attained a state of semi- 
civilization which might truly be called, from the Indians' 
standpoint, the Golden Age. Under the Spanish rule, prior 
to 1810, all the Indians, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf 
of California, were brought under the benign influence of the 
Roman Catholic Church, through the efforts of the Franciscan 
and Jesuit brotherhoods. Under the Spanish dominion, a cor- 
don of military and ecclesiastical stations existed, from ocean 
to ocean, for a distance of fifteen hundred miles. Troops, 
known as flying squadrons, passed regularly from station to 
station ; and at each station great structures were erected for 
the accommodation of these troops, for religious worship, and 
for storing provisions. The remains of these structures still 
may be seen, silent witnesses of former Spanish greatness. 

Two causes brought about the downfall of this magnifi- 
cent cordon of military and ecclesiastical establishments and 
the return of Indians to a savage life, far more ferocious than 
ever before. First, the revolution, where both the Monarch- 
ists and Republicans courted the co-operation of the Indians, 
and thus invited them to insubordination. Second, and more 
lasting, the attempts at amalgamation by intermarriage of the 
Spaniards and the Indians, This last cause, which has oper- 
ated so banefully over the whole Spanish America, and which 
after years of practice resulted in almost universal disease 
among the Mexicans, or Mexico Indians, has not been suf- 
ficiently stressed in the mapy attempts to account for the 
retrogression and decay of the population of the Spanish- 
speaking countries. 

The second, or Mexican epoch, was of such short duration 
that judgment can not well be passed upon what tl^e ultimate 
outcome might have been. But the internal affairs of Mexico, 
from that time until to-day, have been kept in a continual agi- 
tation by a succession of revolts and revolutions, which have 


precluded the successful operation of any fixed policies in 
regard to the frontiers of that republic. 

In order that we Americans, as a people, may not take more 
credit than is due us for winning the Big Bend to civilization, 
it might be well to advance the suggestion that our prede- 
cessors laid a foundation upon which we, as a stronger and 
more energetic race, have built and remodeled to a better 

While the third epoch really began with the successful termi- 
nation of the war with Mexico, 1846-48, the two years following 
were given over entirely to exploration and reconnaissance, 
in order that a policy for the betterment of the newly-acquired 
empire might be formulated. The first two important steps 
taken were the establishment of mail routes and military out- 
posts. Strange to say, the mail routes were established prior 
to the posts. This was due, not to local conditions in the Big 
Bend, but to the fact that a tremendous volume of mail fol- 
lowed the rush of the emigrants and gold-seekers to California, 
and there was need for a shorter route than by ship down 
the Atlantic to Panama, across that country, and up the Pacific 
Coast to California. 

In 1850, the San Antonio-El Paso link in the chain of 
mail routes, which crossed the continent, was welded ; and 
the first contract was awarded to Henry Skillman. The initial 
"run" was made with six wild mules and a Concord coach, 
guarded by a party of eighteen well-armed, mounted men 
under the captaincy of the famous Indian fighter, Big Foot 
Wallace. This "run" required thirty days to cover the dis- 
tance of six hundred and seventy-three miles, due to the fact 
that only daylight "runs" were made and there was no equip- 
ment for the various stations along the route. It must be 
borne in mind that the whole distance was infested by hostile 
Indians, and that these mail parties faced the ever-present 
danger of attack by superior numbers. The contract called 
for three mails a week, each way ; but until after the Civil 
War, no more than one mail a week, each way, succeeded in 
reaching the terminals. 


In a short time, along this route, thirty or forty miles 
apart, stage stands, or stations, were established, according 
to their nearness to water and their location in regard to pro- 
tection from the Indians. The personnel of the guard accom- 
panying each coach, consisted of frontiersmen, inured to hard- 
ships and experienced in Indian fighting. 

Big Foot Wallace, perhaps the most widely-known Indian 
fighter in the history of Texas, figured as the chief character 
in many of the tales of romance along the frontier. One day, 
while living on his ranch about thirty miles west of San An- 
tonio, he heard his dogs barking a short distance from the 
house. He knew from the sound of their baying that they had 
treed some animal, and, as customary, he took his rifle and 
went to their assistance. What was his surprise to find an 
Indian up in the forks of a tree, just out of reach of the dogs ! 
The Indian was a young warrior, on his first raid, and had 
become separated from his companions. While he was armed 
■with bow and arrow, these were strapped to his back, and evi- 
dently he had been too frightened to use them. Big Foot 
hauled him out of the tree, put him in the saddle on his horse, 
tied his feet under the horse's belly, and in this way carried 
him to Castroville. Riding into the village, this strange couple 
attracted much interest. 

"Say, Big Foot, give me that Indian," called one of his 

"No, this is my Indian," replied Wallace. "If you want an 
Indian go out and get one. There are plenty left." 

Another story is told, which illustrates Wallace's bravery 
and quick wit. Big Foot was out horse-hunting on a mule, 
when he came upon a fresh Indian trail leading in a northerly 
direction, over a divide. To make certain that the Indians 
took the same trail on the other side of the divide, Wallace 
spurred up his mule to reach the top of the rise. If he could 
establish the fact that the Indians had continued in the same 
direction, he intended to hurry on to Castroville and organize 
a party to intercept them. As he rode over the crest of the 
hill, he came suddenly upon twenty-five or thirty Indians, 


who were busy catching saddle-horses out of a big herd they 
had stolen. 

Big Foot instantly saw his danger; there were too many 
Indians for him to fight, and if he attempted to run, the swifter 
horses of the Indians would soon overtake his mule. Without 
a second's hesitation, he charged down upon them, waving 
his hat towards his rear, and shouting at the top of his voice, 
"Come on, boys ! Come on ! We've got em !" 

This was more than the Indians could stand. Naturally 
supposing that a company of "badly riled" frontiersmen were 
just over the hill, out of sight, they jumped on their horses and 
fled. Wallace leisurely drove the stolen horses back to their 

Two other hardy frontiersmen who accompanied Wallace 
as guards with the first mail party to enter the Big Bend 
were Diedrick Dutchover and E. P. Webster, both of whom 
settled and lived at Fort Davis, where to-day their numerous 
descendants reside. 

The name, Dutchover, is of peculiar significance on account 
of its origin. In 1842, a youth, by the name of Anton Died- 
rick, in Antwerp, Belgium, happened to be the sole witness of 
a cold-blooded murder. The murderers, fearing exposure, 
drugged and shanghaied Diedrick ; and when he awoke, he 
found himself virtually a prisoner on board a tramp wind- 
jairmer — a sailing vessel carrying nondescript cargoes from 
one port to another. For three years he remained a prisoner 
on board of this boat, and during that time he sailed the high 
seas and made many ports. Eventually, the wind-jammer 
reached the port of Galveston, and there Anton Diedrick was 
allowed to go ashore. 

The struggle between the United States and Mexico had 
just begun ; all the able-bodied men, who could fight, were 
being urged to enlist in the ^rmy. Impelled by curiosity and 
wondering at the strange commotion around him, Anton Died- 
rick one day found himself near a recruiting station. Sud- 
denly a man in a blue uniform grabbed him by the arm and 
began talking to him rapidly in English — of which Diedrick 


understood not one word. Before the dazed youth could make 
out the situation, he was pulled into the recruiting station and 
called upon to give his name. Not understanding the question 
asked him, naturally he made no answer. Whereupon the 
recruiting officer exclaimed, "Aw, he's Dutch all over. We'll 
name him Dutchallover !" In this manner he became an Amer- 
ican soldier and answered to the name of Diedrick Dutchall- 

As time passed, after serving with merit in the Mexican 
War, the name of Dutchallover became too cumbersome, and 
the second syllable was therefore stricken from the name — 
leaving Dutchover. In after years when Diedrick Dutchover 
applied for pension papers, as a Mexican War veteran, he had 
considerable trouble in establishing the co-identity of Anton 
Diedrick, Diedrick Dutchallover, and Diedrick Dutchover. 

By the close of the year, 1850, the stage-stands along the 
mail routes were completed and the mail facilities expedited. 
The stage-stands of adobe were all built on the same plan. 
They were usually placed on a rise or sweep of ground, which 
permitted the stage-tender to see several hundred yards in 
every direction. On either side of the broad entrance was a 
large room. This entrance, or gateway, was barred, and opened 
into a passage-way, which was covered overhead by a roof 
extending from the rooms on either side. In the rear of these 
rooms, and large enough to accommodate a number of teams, 
was the corral or patio. The walls of the corral were twelve 
or fifteen feet high, two or three feet thick, and constructed 
of adobe brick. One of the rooms was used for cooking and 
eating; the other was used for sleeping quarters and a store- 
room. The stage company furnished each stage-tender with 
supplies, and he cooked for the passengers — when there were 
passengers — charging them fifty cents a meal. The stage- 
tender was allowed to keep for his recompense all money col- 
lected in this manner. 

When the stage rolled into the station, the tender swung 
open the gates, and the mules, which were of the untamed 
Spanish breed, dashed into the corral. As soon as they were 


unhitched from the stage-coach, the men would turn around 
the stage by hand, pointing it towards the entrance. When the 
fresh mules were hitched to the stage-coach and the gates again 
opened, with a yell from the driver, and a crack from his whip, 
the mules would dash out of the enclosure on a wild run, 
which did not slacken until the next stage-stand was reached. 

Often, when the Indians were quiet, the detachments of 
troops which ordinarily camped near the stage stations were 
ordered away ; and during these unprotected periods, the In- 
dians would creep up to the stage-stand unobserved and, not 
infrequently, succeed in killing the stage-tender. A few years 
after the establishment of the mail route, an amusing incident 
occurred at the old Barila stage-stand, thirty miles northeast 
of Fort Davis, near the present J E F Ranch. The stage- 
tender was in the act of feeding his stock in the corral, and 
was bending over a barrel containing shelled com. The In- 
dians had been quiet for some time and he had no thoughts of 
them. Suddenly a great shadow was thrown on the ground 
near him, and at the same time he heard a noise overhead. It 
flashed into his mind that a bear had climbed the wall, and 
he was blaming himself for not keeping his gun by his side. 
He realized how tired he had become of salt pork ; and visions 
of a juicy bear-steak arose in his mind. He looked up. As he 
did so a big buck Indian lit on the ground an arm's length 
from him. The surprised stage-tender yelled for fear. The 
Indian, too, stood amazed in his tracks. He was as much 
surprised as the stage-tender. The yell of the white man still 
confused him ; and while he stood transfixed, the stage-tender 
scrambled over the wall. Later, the old stage-tender remarked, 
"I left it with him, and ran nine miles to a ranch settlement." 

From 1850 to 1857, or until the Government subsidized 
the Butterfield Overland Daily Mail route through the Guada- 
lupe IMountains, the Davis Mountains' route was the highway 
over which passed the freight, mail, and passenger traffic from 
the East to the West. Comanche Painted Camp (later Fort 
Davis) became known as La Limpia, the name being derived 
from the clear running stream which flowed down the great 


canyon in the Davis Mountains. As yet, no intermediate post- 
offices had been established on the mail route west of the Pecos 
River, but letters were delivered at the various stage stations. 
A few settlements sprang up here and there. On account of 
the Chihuahua Trail and Overland Trail passing through La 
Limpia, a few Mexicans settled on Limpia Creek and raised 
corn and cut prairie hay for the stage-stands. On Alamito 
Creek a few settlements likewise sprung up. Also, on the 
northern side of Davis Mountains, where now is Toyahvale, 
along the banks of Toyah Creek and at the famous Head 
Springs, a few of the more daring of the Mexicans built their 
ranchos. These settlements, however, could not be called per- 
manent. Hardly were they established, before the Mescalero 
Apaches destroyed them, killed the men, and took the women 
and children away into captivity. 

After the establishment of the line of stage-stands, E. P. 
Webster became stage-tender at La Limpia, while Diedrick 
Dutchover continued riding as guard for two years. 

There was so much trouble in getting the mail over the 
route that a change took place whereby the escort guard was 
reduced to four men, and the War Department stationed de- 
tachments of troops along the routes, thus forming an almost 
continuous picket-line from San Antonio to El Paso. These 
troops worked in relays from permanent camps, which in time 
automatically became known as posts. 

Until 1852, there was no official postoffice on the north 
banks of the Rio Grande. Opposite Paso del Norte, there had 
grown up a village of two hundred inhabitants, which included 
the majority of the dwellers in the El Paso district. In order 
to satisfy the needs of this growing community, the Postoffice 
Department established a postoffice, giving it the name of 
Franklin, in honor of the first postmaster, Franklin Coontz. 
At the same time, San Elceario became Americanized, and the 
name of the town changed to San Elizario. This town, with 
a population of two thousand inhabitants, had grown to be 
the largest town in the Big Bend. Two years before, the Big 
Bend had been divided into two immense counties. El Paso 


and Presidio. El Paso county included the extreme western 
corner of the state, and San Elizario was made the county seat, 
with jurisdiction over Presidio county, which was not then or- 

While settlement was growing in the El Paso district and 
the great trails were becoming more and more travel worn, 
the Boundary Commission was progressing slowly with its 
work along the Rio Grande. Major W. J. Emory had been 
removed from duty in 1850, but was reinstated in the fall of 
185 1. Work on the commission was greatly handicapped by 
complications arising from the control of the work being trans- 
ferred from the Department of State to the Department of the 
Interior. Drafts to the amount of forty-three thousand dollars, 
drawn by the commissioner in charge at that time, J. R. 
Bartlett, had been repudiated by the Department of the Inte- 
rior ; and the affairs of the commission were in a bad way. By 
the prompt action of the War Department, in having Major 
Emory reinstated, and thus placing the commission in the 
hands of the military, the situation was saved. In 1853, ^ ^^w 
boundary treaty was made with Mexico, known as the Gadsden 
Treaty, which superseded the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 
of 1848. The field or exploration work under charge of Major 
Emory was not completed until 1856. The American Com- 
mission during these several years of work had crossed the 
continent from the mouth of the Rio Grande, in Texas, to San 
Diego, California, with the loss of only two men, while the 
Mexican Commission was robbed twice by the Apaches, and 
otherwise handicapped by the inability of the Mexican Govern- 
ment to furnish means of carrying on the work as had been 

The year 1854, witnessed the next important step in ad- 
vancing the line of civilization west of the Pecos. The Mes- 
caleros had gathered in large bands in the Davis Mountains 
and were striving fiercely to hold back the tide of whites, which 
was now flowing steadily into the country. The principal 
points of attack lay along Limpia Creek and the western slope 
of the Davis Mountains. For years, the military authorities 


had been recommending and urging the War Department to 
estabHsh permanent posts along the Overland Trail, to compel 
the Indians to remain in their haunts, beyond striking distance 
of the line of travel. Posts had been established east of the 
Pecos and soldiers had followed the Indians westward. Thus 
the region west of the Pecos was subjected more severely 
than ever to Indian depredations ; and at last, the Secretary of 
War, Jefferson Davis, decided to establish in the center of 
this great region a post, the influence of which would tend 
to discourage Indian interference with settlers and Govern- 
ment work in that country. 

Heretofore, no man's life was safe on the Limpia. Even 
with the added protection of the few troops, so inadequate was 
their ability to do the work demanded of them, that almost 
daily an emigrant train, a freighter on the Chihuahua Trail, 
or a mail party brought word of an Indian attack. Fortunate, 
indeed, was the party, who reached their destination without 
the loss of one or more men, or perhaps the loss of their entire 
work-stock. The Indians had retreats within rifle-shot of 
the little settlements and could easily escape pursuit ; and 
after an attack they have been known to return to a settle- 
ment by a circuitous route, and unmolested, bum, murder, 
and pillage to their hearts' content, while all the available 
men were away following their trail. 

When the Eighth Infantry, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Washington Seawell, arrived on the Limpia, 
four hundred men strong, on October 3, 1854, he was com- 
pelled to fight his way into camp, through an Indian ambush, 
where the warriors, stationed behind every rock and boulder, 
had an unobstructed view of their target. Four days later, 
October 7, Fort Davis was formally established and named ; 
and from the moment the first adobe brick was laid in the 
construction of the post buildings, a new era dawned for the 

The Eighth Infantry, the first troops to occupy this post, 
was composed of six companies of mounted riflemen. The 
news of the establishment of the post spread rapidly over the 


West. Traders and merchants came ; and, unfortunately, with 
them came saloonkeepers and gamblers. But, true to the rough 
times, these several elements — the useful and the parasitical — 
stood together in building up a sturdy town, which in time 
became the metropolis of the Big Bend. 

The nearest point of supplies, to the east, was San Antonio ; 
to the west. El Paso; to the south, Chihuahua City. These 
distances necessitated expensive hauling. In the valleys sur- 
rounding the Davis Mountains, the black gramma grass was 
knee-high; and on the little irrigated farms, wheat could be 
successfully raised. With so many local resources, it was 
but natural that in a short time grain was harvested and hay 
cut for the use of the new post command. 

The naming of Fort Davis has long been an unsettled ques- 
tion. Historians are loath to accept evidence submitted in 
proof of a point unless that evidence bristles with truth. It 
has long been the custom of the War Department to name 
forts, fortresses, military posts and cantonments after leaders 
who have been prominent in the army or navy. Usually the 
names are chosen from the honored dead. This custom is to- 
day more closely adhered to, however, than in early times. 
When Fort Davis was established Jefiferson Davis was Secre- 
tary of War. The post was located, either after a personal in- 
spection by I\Ir. Davis, or upon the recommendation of some- 
one considered authoritative by him. Despite the fact that his- 
torians generally hold to the opinion that Jefferson Davis was 
never west of the Pecos River, many bits of evidence would 
point to the fact that he had visited this country. 

When Jeff Davis County was organized, in 1887, James 
Stewart, the first county clerk of the new county, wrote to 
Mr. Davis, informing him that the county had been named 
in his honor. In reply to this letter, Mr. Davis wrote Mr. 
Stewart that he recalled well his visit to the old Fort Davis, 
while on a trip of inspection he had made to the frontier 
posts. Unfortunately, this letter has been misplaced. A close 
reading of Mr. Davis' Annual Report to the President, while 
Secretary of War, shows an intimate knowledge of the country 


west of the Pecos, which could only have been obtained through 
personal observation and travel. The fact that Mr. Davis 
introduced camels into the country shortly after establishing 
Fort Davis is but further evidence that he had a personal 
knowledge of conditions in this arid region. 

Bearing out Mr. Davis' letter to Mr. Stewart, there was 
another letter, also lost, written by an army officer, while 
attached to the Jeff Davis party. The letter was to the officer's 
wife and described Mr. Davis' trip of inspection along the 

It is unfortunate that these proofs of Mr. Davis' visit to 
the Big Bend cannot be produced. Many months of earnest 
effort have been spent to substantiate this interesting point. 
The oldest inhabitants — and there are some whose memory 
can reach back to 1854 — claim that Fort Davis was named 
in honor of Jefferson Davis. 

Prior to the of the troops, there Avere but few cat- 
tle in the country. It was now necessary that beef should be 
obtained ; and beef contracts were made. John W. Spencer, 
at Presidio, had failed in the horse raising business — the In- 
dians had attended to that. He then turned to cattle, buying 
his first cattle from the great haciendas in Chihuahua. With 
the coming of the troops, came a Virginian, Milton Favor, 
who, striking out with that certainty of self, so characteris- 
tically American, established a ranch a few miles above Pre- 
sidio. This same year, Senor Manuel Musquiz settled in the 
canyon, six miles southeast of Fort Davis ; which later became 
known as Musquiz Canyon. Musquiz was a political refugee 
from Mexico, of prominent family ; to-day the remains of 
his ranch-house and corral may be seen on the road between 
Fort Davis and Alpine, and the great alamos, pr cotton-wood 
tr^es, planted by him, still stand. 

It did not take long for the word to spread among the 
Indians in the Wgst that a fort had been established, the pur- 
pose of which, as they saw \t, was to cheat them out of their 
domain. They had seen the result of the establishment of 
other posts east of the Pecos River; and with prophetic eyes 


they saw truly the result of this new post, which had been 
established in the very heart of their stronghold. 

To the Indians, depredating and murdering were a religion ; 
and in the minds of these savages one idea became fixed and 
remained so, until the remnants of the last band of Mescalero 
Apaches was driven from their retreat in the mountains of the 
Big Bend, many years later. Their idea was to destroy Fort 
Davis, and thereby so greatly discourage the white settlers 
that the country west of the Pecos River would be left to the 
Indians. In the twenty years following the establishment of 
Fort Davis, perhaps that fort stood more attacks from the 
Indians than any other post of that day. 

In pursuance of the policy, which after years of delay and 
indecision has been put into operation by the War Department, 
Colonel Seawell began a systematic campaign to drive back 
the Mescaleros from the strip of country bordering either side 
of the Overland Mail route. It was imperative that this be 
done, not only in order to protect the American settlers, but 
in order that the Government might not become embroiled 
with Mexico, on account of the Indians raiding south qi the 
Rio Grande. 

One advantageous condition resijlted from this active 
campaign. There had been considerable complaint from 
the officers commanding the different posts on account of the 
unsatisfactory class of recruits which had filled up the ranks 
since the ^lexican War. The Eighth Infantry had been ex- 
ceptionally hard hit in this regard. Immediately following the 
war, in 1848, this regiment raised a purse of eight hundred 
dollars and employed counsel at Washington to have a law 
passed, by which they would all be discharged. In 1849, *^^ 
regiment was recruited almost entirely anew, and by the time 
these men had learned something of military tactics, they were 
transferred to the Pacific division, and, for the third time 
in six years, the regiment was built up from raw material. 

The campaign against the Indians in the Dtivis ^Mountains, 
in 1855, converted this raw troop into efficient and formidable 
fighting men. The active warfare waged against them in the 


Big Bend and Davis Mountains country, caused the Mescalero 
Apaches, Comanches, and Lipans to enter Mexico in large 
numbers, not to depredate, as formerly, but to make treaties 
with the different Mexican states and to gain protection from 
the American troops. 

For a time, the usual Indian situation was reversed. In- 
stead of the Indians raiding into Mexico, from their mountain 
retreats in Texas and New Mexico, they now raided into Texas 
and New Mexico, from their mountain retreats in the northern 
states of Mexico. 

Owing to the vacillating policy practiced by the Mexican 
Government in matters pertaining to the Indians, it was im- 
possible for the American settlers to look for redress. It 
was but a short time after Colonel Seawell had cleared the 
country of the marauders, when they again began their depre- 
dating. The first intimation of the return of the Indians the 
settlers had, was the attack at El Muerto, or Deadman's Hole, 
on a detachment of mounted riflemen from Fort Davis. A 
sergeant and a musician were killed before the Indians could 
be driven off. Between El Muerto and Van Horn, the same 
party of Indians attacked the west-bound stage, but were kept 
from doing serious damage by the appearance of the east- 
bound stage with a heavily-anned guard. 

Lieutenant Horace Randell, with a detachment of mounted 
riflemen, intercepted these Indians, who proved to be Mesca- 
leros, in Canyon de los Lamentos, or Quitman Canyon. A run- 
ning fight began midway between the Canyon and Eagle 
Spring, and covered the same ground where one of the hardest 
Indian fights took place twenty-five years later. The punish- 
ment inflicted upon the Indians by Lieutenant Randell had a 
salutary effect upon many other bands which were preparing 
to cross the Rio Grande and attack the mail route at various 

There is no question but that the soldiers rendered invalu- 
able service in keeping the Indians out of the Big Bend, in the 
years '54-'55 ; they were aided to a certain extent, however, 
by a drought, which covered an unbroken period from 1850-55. 

AeHai^em^ 3^ 

01 ' " VfiW^ 

Their first home in Toj'ah Valley 


The Indians were even more dependent upon rainfall than the 
whites ; it was necessary that their trails should be well sup- 
plied with water ; that game be plentiful, and that grass contain 
nourishment for their horses. They carried neither commis- 
sary nor water canteens, as did the whites. If their trails 
crossed a country devoid of springs, they waited for rains 
to fill tcncjas and chare os — the former being great rocks in 
which the wind had burrowed holes ; the latter were the ponds 
and water-holes filled by drainage during the rainy season. 
On account of this severe drought, raiding parties were less 
frequent ; and no big movement, numbering several hundred 
warriors, could be undertaken. 

This drought was so severe that, in the second year, the 
Rio Grande was dry below the El Paso district ; and a party 
of whites drove a bunch of mules from Presidio del Norte to 
San Elizario, traveling the whole distance in the bed of the 

The Davis Mountains were the only section during this 
time that had any considerable rainfall, and, in the last year 
of drought, Milton Favor — Don Milton, as he was called by the 
Mexicans — and John W. Spencer drove their cattle out of the 
Rio Grande and Alameto ranges into the Davis range. 

In the same year that Fort Davis was made a post, another 
important settlement was founded. This was at the cross- 
roads of the great trails — Comanche Springs. The Govern- 
ment here located a military post, and named it in honor of 
Commodore Stockton, who occupied Monterey, California, 
during the JNIexican War. It was not, however, until 1859 
that General Anson E. Mills, deputy surveyor of El Paso 
County, formally laid out old Fort Stockton. • 

One very interesting point, which either has passed unno- 
ticed or has been ignored by chroniclers of Texas history, is 
the fact that Jefferson Davis, while Secretary of War, intro- 
duced camels in the arid portions of the Southwest. In 1856, 
the first cargo of thirty-two camels reached the coast of Texas, 
and was distributed from San Antonio to the Davis Mountains. 
The year following, upon the arrival of a second cargo of forty 


head, the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona began to know 
these strange beasts of burden. 

Considerable time was required for the first lot of thirty- 
two camels to recover from their long sea voyage and become 
acclimated. During the period of acclimation, two of the 
beasts died. When one considers the great change in climatic 
conditions from that to which they had been accustomed and 
the difference in grasses and foodstuffs, it speaks well for the 
hardiness of the animals that only two succumbed. 

The first practical tests made to ascertain the suitability of 
the camel for burden carriers in the Southwest proved suc- 
cessful. On one occasion a train consisting of wagons drawn 
by army mules and a. caravan of six camels were sent from 
Campe Verde to San Antonio, a distance of sixty miles, over a 
road no worse than was usually found on the frontier. The 
result was much in favor of the camels. Two wagons, with 
a combined load of 3,684 pounds, and each wagon drawn by 
six big army mules, took four days to make the trip. The six 
camels, likewise with a combined load of 3,684 pounds, made 
the trip in two and one-half days. On another occasion, the 
capacity of the camel for traveling over rough, stony country 
and muddy roads was tested with satisfactory results. This 
journey was made during an unusually heavy rain, which at 
first glance would seem a serious handicap, but which later will 
be shown to have been the cause of such a successful trip. 
Instead of following the wagon road, which the rains had made 
impassable for a wagon at that time, the caravan followed a 
trail over the mountains, each camel loaded with 328 pounds. 
Despite rain and mud, these beasts covered sixty miles in two 
days, suffering neither unusual fatigue nor inconvenience. 

After these and similar tests made under what was con- 
sidered most unfavorable conditions — mud and rain — forty 
more camels were imported; and transportation authorities 
began to show considerable surprise that the camel, among the 
first beasts to be domesticated by man, had not been introduced 
long before. The theory was advanced that if the camel, being 
accustomed to desert sands, could perform well in mud and 


rain, he should perform better as conditions approached those 
to which he was accustomed. 

It was beginning to look as if hard times were in store 
for the old time "mule-skinner" and "jerk-line" teamsters ; it 
seemed as if the time had come when he must degenerate into 
a camel-driver. To add to the teamster's dislike of the beasts, 
each time he met them meant the runaway of his mules. So 
with accumulative hatred he waited the seemingly inevitable 

With the coming of summer, came a long drought, ac- 
companied by hot winds and sand storms. Typically Saharian, 
said the camel experts ; and they waited expectantly to see the 
imported camels out-perform the native mules. And they did. 
They carried more than the mules could pull ; they needed 
little water and less food ; sun, heat, sand, and wind failed 
to bow their serenely-poised heads. With a shuffling, pacing 
gait, they passed slow-plodding, heat-maddened mules, who, 
upon the strange beasts' passing, invariably wasted a day's 
worth of energy in a desperate effort to get as far from them 
as possible. 

Gradually, then more rapidly, the terrible heat of the sum- 
mer and the hot winds, began to draw the moisture from the 
earth. The ground cracked open and a hard-baked crust 
formed on the surface. Less frequently, the camel-trains 
passed the wagon-trains. The teamsters began to look more 
cheerful. Evidently, something was wrong with the "critters." 
Then occasionally teams began to pass a caravan on the road, 
the camels, with heads still held serenely high, resting upon 
their leathery knees. 

The experts began to look anxious, then dubious ; then 
disgusted. Finally, the staunchest friends of the camel ac- 
knowledged that the beasts would not do for American use 
From Texas to Arizona, the small, sharp, igneous rocks had 
literally cut to shreds the soft-padded feet of the camels. They 
were irrecoverably tenderfooted ! Unlike the mule, whose 
tenderfootedness could be remedied by proper shoeing, the 
bottom of the camels' feet were gristly pads. The first sea- 


son of tests the beasts performed so well because the continual 
rains kept the ground soft, both on plains and on mountains. 
The weakness of the camels* feet did not show up until the 
ground became hard and dry, which prevented the small sharp- 
cornered rock from being mashed into the earth when trod 
upon by the camel. 

For a time after the experiment with the camels was aban- 
doned, these animals were herded and cared for by the Govern- 
ment, principally in Arizona. But being of no further value — 
in fact, being considered a burden and a nuisance — the herders 
became slack in their herding, and many of the beasts strayed 
away — unsought and unmourned. Many stories are centered 
about these pilgrims of the desert — ^how they were shot by 
Indians, and hunters who thought they had discovered a pre- 
historic species. Then, in time, they disappeared, and, to-day, 
the only trace that remains of the camel's brief life in the great 
deserts of the Southwest is contained in a few scattered Gov- 
ernment records. 

In 1857, the Government subsidized the Butterfield Over- 
land Daily Mail, from Saint Louis to San Francisco ; and for 
a short period the mail route left the old line at the Pecos 
River, turning northwest and following that stream to the New 
Mexico line ; from there it crossed to the foot of the Guada- 
lupe Mountains, on to the Huaco Tanks, and down to El Paso. 
On account of the scarcity of water this route was abandoned 
in a short time and the old trail, through Fort Stockton and 
Fort Davis, was resumed. 

We have considered the first early efforts of the American 
pioneers to win homes in the new country west of the Pecos 
River. We have seen them wrest the land from the savage. 
So occupied had been these people with their own struggles 
that they had not heard the rumbling sounds of dissension, 
which soon would divide the North and the South, and precipi- 
tate a struggle which would not only have a far-reaching effect 
over the more civilized sections of the United States, but 
which would wipe out the growing settlements west of the 
Pecos River and cause the Big Bend again to be overrun by 



The conditions in the Big Bend country, in i860, were 
more favorable to a healthy growth of the settlements than 
in any other year since the establishment of the military posts. 
Both Fort Davis and Fort Stockton were at this time flourish- 
ing settlements of several hundred people, including large 
bodies of troops stationed at these points along the Overland 
Mail routes. The route by way of Delaware Creek and Guada- 
lupe Mountains had been abandoned, and a daily mail had 
been established over the San Antonio-El Paso division, by 
way of Comanche Springs and the Davis Mountains. And 
another mail division, coming from Fort Worth, converged 
with the main route at Fort Stockton. Traffic over the Chi- 
huahua Trail had grown to enormous proportions, and as many 
as two hundred freight outfits made round-trips over the trail 
between Chihuahua and San Antonio. Another freight line 
followed the mail route from San Antonio to El Paso. Just 
as the advent of a railroad in modern times expedites the 
growth of the towns through which it goes, so did these great 
freight trails hasten the growth of the settlements through 
which they passed. 

The Indian situation was well in hand ; although there 
were times when spasmodic raiding was carried on by small 
bands, who broke away from the control of the authorities 
in New Mexico. The habit so long established among the 
Comanches and Apaches to follow the lure of the Mexican 
moon, or September moon, could not be overcome in one gen- 
eration. Still, these raiding parties were so small that they 
dared not attack a well-armed freight outfit or mail party. 

In the El Paso district, the postoffice of Franklin had grown 
to be a "metropolis" of one thousand people, San Elizario, 
still the most important town in the Big Bend, with a jurisdic- 


tion over thirty thousand square miles of country, contained 
two thousand inhabitants ! In the more southern section, the 
Big Bend settlement, started by John W. Spencer and others, 
had grown until it rivaled the town on the Mexican side of the 
Rio Grande, Presidio del Norte. At this point, the Govern- 
ment encouraged the settlers to raise wheat for the troops at 
Fort Davis and Fort Stockton. A small flour-mill was erected, 
and a new industry was added to that of stock-raising, which 
had been started in 1854, by Spencer and Favor. In a way, the 
United States was taking reprisal on the Chihuahua state 
government for a decree, which had been issued in 1855, for- 
bidding the exportation of corn across the Rio Grande. This 
decree, made to annoy the Americans, was put into effect dur- 
ing the time of a great drought, when practically no forage or 
grain were obtainable elsewhere than in Chihuahua. 

While the Government was lavish in the quartering of 
troops for the protection of various settlements in the Big 
Bend, and while for years military commanders had urgently 
advised that such a step be taken, the Government steadfastly 
refused to station troops at Presidio, the port of entry opposite 
Presidio del Norte. It is incomprehensible that the United 
States should neglect to protect that settlement, especially as 
the grain supply for several large bodies of troops was grown 
and milled there. Possibly, the fact that the feeling between 
the American and the Mexican troops was of a nature none too 
cordial might have caused the Government to take no chances 
in engaging our country in another war with Mexico. 

These were the conditions in the American settlements west 
of the Pecos River at the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861. 
The six companies of the Eighth Infantry, which had made 
Fort Davis their headquarters since 1854, had been scattered 
in small detachments along the mail routes, as guards for the 
stage-stands and mail company's property. Immediately after 
the outbreak of the Civil War, these troops were cut off from 
communication with the North. In the meantime, the Second 
Texas Confederate Cavalry, under the command of Colonel 
John R. Baylor, was enroute from San Antonio to El Paso. 


At every troop station, the Federals were given the choice of 
being paroled or joining the Southern cause. As the Eighth 
Infantry was composed largely of Northern men, they accepted 
parole and were allowed to withdraw. 

The advance guard of Colonel Baylor's command, under 
Captain Parker, on April 13, 1861, marched into Fort Davis, 
just as Company H, Eighth Infantry, Captain Edwin D. Blake 
commanding, retired. 

The change of governments had little effect upon local con- 
ditions in the Big Bend. Those whose sympathies were with 
the North were given ample time to close up their affairs and 
depart. In this first year, under Confederate protection, there 
was no perceptible decrease in freighting over the great trails. 
The mails continued to run as usual, although at less regular 
intervals. Detachments of Confederates filled the stations 
which Federal troops had occupied. 

But while trade conditions remained practically the same, 
the Indian situation became more menacing. Owing to the dis- 
turbed condition of the country and the withdrawal of large 
forces of Federal troops, which had heretofore been employed 
in controlling the Apaches, these Indians had sensed the great 
war the whites were waging among themselves, and conceived 
the idea that the appointed hour had arrived when they could 
gain control of the hunting-ground of their forefathers. With 
this idea prominent in their minds and their spirits fired by 
mescal feasts, the fierce Mescal'.ros debouched upon the Big 
Bend in war parties of unusual numbers. 

The effect of this was soon apparent ; and once again the 
frontiersman learned to accept with equanimity the loss of his 
work-stock and, often, a member of his family, or a friend ; 
a thing which boded no good for the red marauders if caught. 
In a letter written by Pat Murphy, a storekeeper at Fort Davis, 
under date December 29, 1861, the casual manner in which 
raids were mentioned is clearly shown. The letter was a long 
business letter, addressed to John W. Spencer, at Presidio, 
and the following excerpt was the last paragraph: "Night 
before last, the Indians came to my corral and drove off a num- 


ber of my cattle. A party of thirty-three men pursued them 
yesterday, hot on the trail, and I hope will be successful. 
Yours, P. Murphy." 

The Indians, as a rule, preferred to strike small, outlying 
settlements, rather than risk losing warriors in what might 
prove to be a sanguinary battle with well-armed forces. With 
the coming of the troops, in 1854, Senor Manuel Musquiz 
settled in the beautiful canyon, six miles from Fort Davis. 
Here he built a substantial ranch home along the edge of a 
well-watered meadow, which was sufficiently large to furnish 
grazing for his cattle. Including his family and servants, or 
peons, this little settlement numbered twenty people. Don 
Manuel made frequent trips to Presidio del Norte, and it was 
during one of these trips that old Nicolas, the chief of the 
Apaches, with two hundred and fifty warriors, attacked the 
ranch, killed three members of the Musquiz household, and 
drove away all the cattle. 

As soon as the Indians left, a messenger was dispatched 
to Fort Davis for aid. Lieutenant Mayes was at that time 
stationed at the post with a detachment of twenty men. Not 
knowing the size of the raiding party, the lieutenant took up 
the pursuit with twelve soldiers and four civilians, at the same 
time sending for reinforcements to Fort Stockton, where the 
main body of the Confederate troops was then stationed. 

The trail was plain. The Indians followed down the can- 
yon to Mitre Peak, a well-known landmark, ten miles north- 
west of Alpine ; from there they headed south toward Cathe- 
dral Peak, where they struck a well-watered canyon, which 
led them toward the Rio Grande. 

Lieutenant Mayes, with his well-mounted detachment, 
pressed hard upon the heels of the Indians and overtook them 
the following day. Seeing a small band of Indians, Mayes 
engaged them in a running fight down a great canyon. This 
fight continued until the Indians reached a point in the canyon 
where the sides rise precipitously several hundred feet. All 
at once a storm of arrows from the rocks and trees overhead 
greeted the pursuers. Too late, Mayes saw the ambush. As 


he turned to retreat from the death trap, he found the passage 
blocked by a hundred warriors. The Indians, who had been 
luring them on, now turned and, reinforced by those who had 
been hidden in the rocks overhead, rushed upon the soldiers and 
closed the death trap. 

But one man escaped — the Mexican guide, who sprang 
from his horse and fled up the sides of the canyon. Unob- 
served by the Indians, he managed to hide in a cave, where he 
lay all day and night. The Indians, knowing he was in the 
neighborhood, searched thoroughly for him, but finally they 
gave up the hunt and departed. The next day the guide made 
his way on foot to Presidio with the news of the massacre. 

A messenger was dispatched on horseback through Paisano 
Pass to intercept the Fort Stockton reinforcements. This he 
succeeded in doing; and although the troops pushed on with 
renewed speed at the news of the massacre, they were unable 
to overtake the Indians, who were by that time safe with their 
friends and relatives in Mexico. 

Outside of the immediate vicinity of El Paso, nothing of 
importance transpired in the Big Bend relative to the Civil 
War; although the results of the campaigns of Sibley's brigade, 
C. S. A., and Canby's Brigade, U. S. A., had direct bearing 
upon the country. In ]\Iay, 1861, George W. Baylor was sent 
from Fort Clark to El Paso, to become the adjutant of Colonel 
John R. Baylor, his brother. The first regiment of the Union 
army against which these brothers were called upon to lead 
their forces was the old Seventh Infantry, to which their 
father had been attached during his lifetime. Before the close 
of the war, George \V. Baylor rose to the rank of Lieutenant- 
Colonel ; and almost continually in the years following the 
Civil War, Colonel Baylor was identified with the Big Bend, 
as a fearless Indian fighter and Texas Ranger captain. 

As the months of struggle between the states passed into 
years, both the passenger and freight traffic on the great trails 
decreased. The settlements lost their prosperity, and, one by 
one, the settlers drifted away, either to enter the army or to 
seek elsewhere a livelihood. 


Many of the old freighters on the Chihuahua Trail changed 
their routes from San Antonio to Santa Fe. But even this was 
too hazardous. John W. Burgess, who was one of the first men 
to arrive at Presidio with John W. Spencer, attempted to make 
a trip from San Antonio to Santa Fe, Like his neighbors, he 
had espoused the Southern cause. His train consisted of 
twenty-two wagons and two hundred and twenty mules. When 
he reached the state-line of New Mexico, his entire outfit was 
captured by the Federals ; and by the merest chance, he, with 
one of his men, escaped on fleet horses, and eventually reached 
Presidio in a starving condition. 

An effort was made by the Confederate troops to punish 
the Mescalero Apaches for their recent misdeeds ; more espe- 
cially, by pursuing Chief Nicolas and his band. Finally, this 
crafty old chief called on Colonel McCarty at Fort Davis, and 
offered to negotiate peace terms. He agreed to accompany 
Colonel McCarty to El Paso and talk the matter over with 
Colonel John R. Baylor. This was done; and after a treaty 
had been satisfactorily arranged, Nicolas, accompanied by 
Colonel McCarty and an escort of soldiers, began the journey 
back to Fort Davis, on the stage. 

Whether or not Nicolas had arranged a meeting place with 
his warriors was not known, but when the party reached Barrel 
Springs, the first stage station west of Fort Davis, Nicolas 
jerked Colonel McCarty's six shooter out of the scabbard, 
jumped from the stage, and ran down the canyon where his 
band awaited him. Unsuspecting danger, two soldiers followed 
him and were killed. Colonel McCarty pursued Nicolas a short 
distance, but fearing an ambush gave up the chase. George W. 
Baylor was then sending a herd of contract beeves over the 
trail to Fort Davis, and later in the day word was brought in 
that Nicolas and his band had attacked and killed Baylor's 
herders and had driven off these cattle. 

In 1862, freighting and traveling over the trails ceased. 
The able-bodied men of the country had either gone to war or 
to Mexico. The enforcement of Lincoln's blockade naturally 
curtailed transcontinental shipping, and mails and imports 


from Mexico were now diverted to San Antonio, by way of 
Laredo and Brownsville, on the Rio Grande. 

The settlements at Presidio and El Paso alone remained, 
and to the population of these settlements had been added refu- 
gees from the other communities. Troops were no longer 
needed in the Big Bend. There was nothing in the country 
to protect. This was the prime reason for the abandonment 
of the Big Bend, by the Confederates. 

During all these years, Diedrick Dutchover remained with 
the mail company. He established a small ranch, five miles 
down Limpia Canyon from the post, where he attempted to 
raise sheep — attempted to raise them, for the Indians rarely 
failed to rob him. When the post was abandoned, Dutchover, 
who had taken no part as yet in the struggle between the 
North and the South, was left in charge of the post buildings 
and of such equipment as could not be handily removed. 
Another reason for selecting Dutchover as caretaker was that 
he had taken no part in any of the fights against the Indians. 
He was considered by them to be a harmless fellow, and he 
would probably be treated friendly by them. 

The post at Fort Davis was built of adobe brick, and many 
of the out-buildings and stables had the conventional Mexican- 
style flat roof, with a parapet some three feet high, extending 
above the roof on all sides. Shortly after the Confederate 
troops left the post. Chief Nicolas, with two hundred and fifty 
Indians, entered the town. For some reason, Nicolas was in 
an ugly mood and his actions were so threatening that Dutch- 
over found it advisable to gather his party and take refuge 
on the top of an old building. 

The refugee party consisted of Dutchover, a Mexican 
woman with two children, and four Americans, one of whom 
was quite ill. Dutchover expected the stage from San Antonio 
any moment and it was his intention to send the sick man to 
a doctor. The only provisions they were able to carry with 
them were a sack of flour and two barrels of water. Fortu- 
nately, on the roof of the house they found some old \vagon- 
wheel spokes, with which they built fires for cooking. Every 


precaution was used to hide the smoke and flames and avoid 
betraying their position to the Indians, who, as yet, were so busy 
pillaging the post that they paid no attention to Dutchover's 

For two days and nights, the refugees remained on the 
housetop. By that time, the Indians grew tired of their work 
of destruction in the post buildings, and scattered over the 
valleys and mountains in search for stray cattle left by the 
troops. The third night, under cover of darkness, Dutchover 
and his party, with the exception of the sick man, crept out of 
their place of concealment and struck out for Presidio, ninety- 
two miles away. 

When the stage arrived, the day after Dutchover left, the 
sick man was dead. Four days later in an exhausted and 
starving condition Dutchover, and the three Americans, the 
Mexican woman and children, staggered into Presidio. 

One of the most interesting spots in the country is that 
known as Skillman's Grove, where the Bloys Campmeeting 
Association holds the annual campmeeting. This beautiful 
grove derives its name from the original locator, Captain Henry 
Skillman. While a mail contractor. Captain Skillman lived 
at Franklin, the present El Paso, and was a well-known char- 
acter there. As long as the tide of war was in favor of the 
Southern cause, the mail-stage kept up communication between 
the Confederate headquarters at San Antonio and the western 
posts. After the abandonment of Fort Davis, however, from 
lack of protection against the Indians, it was no longer pos- 
sible to get the stage through, and it fell to the lot of such men 
as Captain Skillman to act as couriers for the Confederate 

Captain Skillman was a Kentuckian — a great blonde giant 
with flowing beard and hair — ^the "Kit Carson of the Big Bend." 
He had been an Indian fighter, mail contractor, guide and scout 
for the United States troops, and later served with credit in the 
Southern army. He was highly esteemed by both the Amer- 
icans and Mexicans, but had one great fault. At rare inter- 
vals he drank heavily, and while under the influence of liquor 


would "shoot up the town" and "wind up" by ordering every- 
one to close their stores, as he wanted "to run the town" him- 
self. After sobering up, he would return to the scene of his 
exuberance, pay the damages, and apologize to everyone for 
his actions. 

But he permitted no one else to do likewise. At one time, 
when a desperado attempted a similar action, and had terrified 
everyone, including peace officers, Skillman disarmed him, gave 
him a good thrashing, and ordered him out of town. 

After the Union army occupied Franklin and Fort Bliss, 
which had been established shortly after Fort Davis, the Con- 
federate colony gathered in Mexico, at Paso del Norte, or 
Juarez, as it is known to-day ; and it was Captain Skillman's 
duty to keep communication between San Antonio and that 

The Union commander desired to capture Skillman and 
his party, and Captain Albert H. French was detailed for that 
duty. But Skillman was not the kind of man to be captured. 
On the night of April 13, 1864, Skillman, with a party of thirty 
men, went into camp a mile below Presidio, in the Big Bend, 
on the old Fortin road. 

At the same time. Captain French had gone into camp with 
his command near the ford above Presidio, opposite the Mex- 
ican custom-house. Diedrick Dutchover, seeing their camp, 
paid French a visit, and French told him his purpose. Dutch- 
over had enjoyed years of friendship with Captain Skillman, 
but had no knowledge that the Confederate scout was camped 
below Presidio. Had he had this knowledge, the affair might 
have had a different termination. 

At midnight, French, with his command, slipped into the 
unguarded camp of the Confederates, who suspected no enemy 
nearer than El Paso. At the signal from Captain French, the 
Federals sprang into the midst of the sleeping Confederates 
and called for surrender. 

Skillman, with his gun in his hand, sprang up at the first 
sound, barely awake ; and Captain French killed him the first 
shot. Then followed a volley from the Federals, which killed 


two and wounded one of Skillman's party. The others sur- 
rendered and were taken to San EHzario. 

The termination of the Civil War, in 1865, saw the Big 
Bend, with the exception of the settlements of Presidio and 
El Paso, re-occupied by the Indians. Once again the Indians 
had established their rancherias in the Chisos and the Davis 
Mountains. On the north slope of the Davis Mountains, where 
the Head Springs are located, which to-day furnish water for 
fourteen thousand acres of irrigated land at Balmorhea, the 
Apaches had again established a rancheria, and the springs 
were called San Solomon Springs, after the chief of that band. 
In Limpia Canyon, and as far east as Horse-head Crossing, on 
the Pecos River, old Espejo, or Looking-glass, ranged with his 
warriors and hunters in undisputed possession. But the sig- 
nificant fact was quite clear that no Comanches came west of 
the Pecos. While the Apaches and Comanches were invet- 
erate enemies, and fought each other relentlessly for the pos- 
session of a broad strip of country running north and south 
the whole distance of the Big Bend, including the Davis and 
Chisos Mountains, and east to the Pecos River, still it was not 
the prowess of the Apaches which caused the Comanches to 
give up forever the Big Bend. 

The Comanches were a nomadic people, who depended 
largely upon the buffalo for sustenance. These animals never 
frequented the Big Bend. Then, too, after the establishment 
of the overland mail routes and numerous military posts be- 
tween San Antonio and El Paso, the constant travel of troops 
to and fro, emigrants and freighters, who traveled in large 
well-armed parties, formed a southern boundary over which 
the Comanches could not with impunity cross. This they had 
learned by bitter experience on occasions when small bands 
more daring than their fellows crossed the boundary into 
the more thickly settled country to the southeast. 

Just before the beginning of the Civil War, Captain L. S. 
Ross, later a governor of Texas, with a mixed troop of cavalry 
and mounted frontiersmen, numbering one hundred and thirty- 
two men, inflicted such severe punishment on the Comanches 


that they were driven far up into the Panhandle of Texas 
and the present State of Oklahoma. This fight took place 
several hundred miles east of the Big Bend, but it was one of 
the direct causes of the Comanches relinquishing their hold 
upon Southwest Texas. 

Hardly had Lincoln's blockade been removed from that 
great trans-continental highway, when commerce began again 
to move along the overland trails. Once again, after a silence 
of five years, the musical jingle of harness bells and the creak- 
ing of heavily laden wagons, could be heard in the Big Bend. 

Two of the first freight outfits to leave San Antonio were 
the wagons belonging to James and John Edgar, loaded with 
government supplies and merchandise, consigned from San 
Antonio to El Paso. Each outfit comprised twenty wagons 
and two hundred head of mules. The two outfits traveled three 
days apart, and they made good time until Horse-head Cross- 
ing was reached. About midway between Horse-head Cross- 
ing and Escondido Springs, the second train under James 
Edgar encountered a terrific rain-storm, which turned into a 
snow with the thermometer at zero. Such extreme weather 
coming at that late time of year — April 22 — Edgar was wholly 
unprepared to meet it, and one hundred head of mules froze 
to death that night. In this crippled condition, he pressed on 
with half of his outfit to Fort Stockton, twenty-six miles away. 
There he dispatched a messenger to his brother, who by that 
time should have reached Fort Davis. 

In the meantime, John Edgar was also having trouble. 
His lead outfit had reached Wild Rose Pass, but here he en- 
countered old Espejo and his warriors, numbering one hun- 
dred. Being an experienced Indian fighter, John Edgar cor- 
ralled his wagons, preparatory to making a last stand. Old 
Espejo attempted to make a treaty with the freighter, and 
while doing so he took inventory of the twenty-five deter- 
mined, well-armed frontiersmen and their well-protected posi- 
tion. Although the twenty loaded wagons greatly aroused 
his cupidity, the wary old chief Saw that to gain them meant 
the sacrifice of many warriors — more warriors than he could 


afford to lose. Arriving at this conclusion and meeting a 
refusal to enter into a treaty, Espejo withdrew with his war- 
riors into a deeper, more rugged part of the canyon. Believing 
Espejo still planned an ambush, John Edgar turned his train 
back to Fort Stockton. On the road he met his brother's mes- 
senger with the story of his disaster. After a short rest at Fort 
Stockton, the brothers stored part of their wares, joined the 
two trains together and proceeded unmolested to El Paso. 

In 1866, the Postoffice Department let a new mail contract 
for the Overland Daily Mail. Fickland and Sawyer were 
awarded the contract. No two men could have been apparently 
more mismatched as partners. Ben Fickland was economical 
to parsimony, while Sawyer was a light-hearted, "devil-may- 
care" fellow. Both, however, were good managers and busi- 
ness men notwithstanding their different dispositions. 

One time Fickland stopped at Fort Concho with a large 
drove of horses and mules, which he was distributing along 
the several thousand miles of mail route covered by his con- 
tract. Some of the animals needed shoeing badly. Fickland 
went to the commander of the garrison and asked to have 
his horses shod by the post farrier, or blacksmith. The com- 
mander replied that if the farrier wished to do the work and 
had time, he had permission to do so. The stage-man found 
the farrier ; and took four days to shoe all the horses. 

When the big job was completed Fickland proffered a 
Mexican dollar to the smith, saying as he did so, "I want to 
make you a little gift after all that work." 

"Gift, hell !" replied the farrier, "you can't 'gift' me. You'll 
pay me for that work." 

After considerable argument, Fickland went to the com- 
manding officer to prove that the soldier had been ordered to 
do the work. He explained that had he known there were to 
be charges he would not have had all the horses shod. 

The commander pointed out that he had said the farrier 
could do the job if he cared to, and in the end Fickland was 
compelled to pay the soldier twenty-five United States silver 


After the mail contract had been going for a year or so, 
Frederick P. Sawyer was called to Washington to explain why 
the contractors were unable to get the mail over the route on 
schedule time ; also, to explain wh}' so many of his mules died 
of disease. When Sawyer was on the witness-stand, he painted 
a fearful picture of the hardships, the Indians, the bad men, 
the dry country, the lack of water, and many other evils. In 
astonishment, a congressman asked him, if conditions were so 
hard and dangerous, how he ever managed to get drivers for 
the coaches. 

To which question Sawyer replied, "If you w'ould start a 
mail line to hell, I could get all the drivers I wanted." 

Sawyer, a good mail-coach man, liked to be on the road, 
with the coaches, and he knew the outdoor business; while 
Fickland knew how to make every dollar count and never 
allowed even a piece of broken leather to be wasted. 

The first stage to run west out of San Antonio for El Paso, 
under the contract of Fickland and Sawyer, was under charge 
of Captain T. A. Wilson, with Sam Miller as one of the guards. 
Both men had been in the Big Bend with Sibley's Brigade, 
and both men in later years were prominent in public affairs 
of the Big Bend. 

On the trip west they encountered signs, but had no trouble 
with the Indians until they reached Escondido Springs, eighteen 
miles east of Fort Stockton; here the mail party was rounded 
up by old Espejo, who now had a following of three hundred 
and fifty Indians. 

Captain Wilson, an old Indian fighter who had with him 
Texans well versed in Indian warfare, quickly reviewed the 
situation and prepared to make a stand. There were forty men 
in the party, and they fortified themselves on a hill, a quarter 
of a mile from the Indians. 

For forty-eight hours the Indians held them in this posi- 
tion and occasionally old Espejo would circle within range 
of the Texans' "long" rifles, but at a volley from the whites, 
immediately withdraw to a safe distance. On the second day. 


old Espejo tried to make a treaty — one of his customary de- 
vices to pave the way to later treachery — but Captain Wilson 
was too wise to fall into the trap. Furthermore, there was 
nothing about which a treaty could be made. While the In- 
dians held the water they had no food, and the mail-party had 
food and some water in their canteens. With the full knowl- 
edge of this, and as his attempt at making a treaty had failed, 
Espejo withdrew. 

The first stage-party to run from El Paso, however, did 
not fare so well as the party under Captain Wilson. The east- 
bound party was composed of Northern men, who knew little 
or nothing about Indian warfare, and while they had two 
Mexican guides, they were not willing to listen to their advice. 
This party was ambushed in Wild Rose Pass, by Chief Espejo, 
in the same spot that John Edgar's party had been caught less 
than a month before. Had the white men followed the advice 
of their Mexican guides, they would have come out of the 
ambush unscathed. 

Espejo followed his usual tactics of rushing the party out 
of their lodgment, but failing in this, he offered to make a 
treaty. The leader of the mail-party, a Mr. Davis, agreed, 
and with due solemnity drew up a formal treaty with the In- 

In pursuance of the treaty, Espejo apparently withdrew, 
but when the mail party emerged from their stronghold, the 
Indians attacked them with full force. The first man wounded 
was an army officer. This happened when he and an Irish- 
man became separated from the others. Pat attempted to 
carry the wounded officer back to the party, but was forced 
to lay dov/n his burden and fight. While Pat had his back 
turned, feeling his case was hopeless, the officer placed a pistol 
to his own head and killed himself. 

Eventually, the Indians were beaten off, but not until sev- 
eral men had been killed and the stage and horses stolen. After 
the Indians had retreated, the party walked into Fort Stockton, 
sixty-eight miles. Before the fight began the Mexican guides, 
knowing only too well what would happen when the treaty was 


made, deserted the party and walked all the way to San Felipe 
Springs, to-day Del Rio. 

Fickland and Sawyer's contract called for three mails per 
week, with Fort Stockton as the meeting place between San 
Antonio and El Paso, but during 1866, the year before the 
return of the Federal troops to abandoned posts along the 
mail route, not more than one mail a week, each way, was put 
through, owing to the activities of Espejo and his band. 

The restless feeling of the people in the more thickly set- 
tled sections of East and Central Texas had not been quieted 
by Lee's surrender at Appomattox. As a result immigration 
was heavy, and once again the great trails resounded to the 
creaking ox-wagons, the lowing of cattle, the crying of travel- 
worn, thirsty children, and the loud commands of the frontiers- 
men, as they pushed westward seeking more elbow room. 

Years of raiding by the Apaches and Comanches in the 
Northern states of Mexico had drained that country of cattle. 
Great haciendas embracing thousands of acres had been laid 
waste. After the Comanches had been driven further north 
and the Indian agents had gained a hold, although none too 
firm, upon the various tribes coming under the head of 
Apaches, these great haciendas in Mexico began to offer good 
prices for imported cattle. These prices tempted the more 
adventurous and hardier cattlemen in Central Texas to drive 
great herds of cattle over the Chihuahua Trail, to this newly 
established Mexican trade. In 1868, one of the first men to put 
cattle over the trail was Captain D. M. Poer. He drove twelve 
hundred head from Fort Concho, which to-day is San Angelo, 
by way of Fort Stockton, Paisano Pass and Presidio, to the 
great Terrazas Hacienda in Chihuahua. This drove of cattle 
passed through the unsettled country unmolested either by 
Indians or cow-thieves. 

In the same year, W. O. Burnam left Burnet County, for 
Chihuahua, with a party of twenty-five neighboring cowmen, 
and over a thousand head of cattle, to trade for sheep. Two 
months were spent on the trail, and from the time they left 
the Pecos River until the Rio Grande was reached, they never 


saw a white man. While at Burgess Springs, or Charco de 
Alsate, just east of Alpine, seven or eight suspicious-looking 
Mexicans, with a bunch of Texas cattle, were observed. They 
had evidently picked up "strays" from other herds, and Bur- 
nam, suspecting that some of his cattle were included, started to 
investigate. In the fight which followed the Mexicans were 
overcome and their herd inspected to observe the brands. 
There v/as not a single Mexican brand in the outfit, but Bur- 
nam failed to find any of his cattle. By necessity, he turned 
the rascals loose, although he knew they had stolen their herd 
from other Texan outfits. 

On account of the new trades' relations between the citizens 
of the United States and the Northern states of Mexico, and 
the reopening of the Chihuahua Trail, a friendly feeling sprang 
up between the Americans and the Mexicans. The Big Bend 
once again was rapidly becoming habitable ; and it needed but 
the re-entrance of the United States troops to keep in check the 
Indians and other reckless, lawbreaking elements for the settle- 
ments to again become thriving and prosperous. 



On June 29, 1867, four troops of the 9th Cavalry, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Wesley Merritt commanding, reoccupied Fort 
Davis, after an abandonment of six years. Fort Davis now 
for the first time became a regimental post. The 9th Cavalry 
was a negro regiment officered by white officers. Colonel 
Merritt at once started building permanent quarters, and for 
the fortsite, he chose ground well above the high-water mark 
in Limpia Canyon. While the War Department had acquired 
a block of land for the post buildings, a more suitable site was 
chosen on land owned by John James, upon which the Govern- 
ment took a long term lease. In 1856, John James, a prominent 
pioneer and surveyor, had laid out a townsite for the growing 
settlement. In some manner, not stated in the records, James 
obtained six hundred and forty acres adjoining the townsite 
from A. C. Lewis, original owner. Lewis had obtained the 
land when Texas was granting land to settlers. John James 
had also acquired the fortsite of Fort Stockton and a number 
of other posts in the West. He had the distinction of surveying, 
platting, and recording more land than any other surveyor in 
the state. 

Colonel Merritt did his work thoroughly, although handi- 
capped by lack of tools ; and, to-day, much of it remains in a 
well preserved state. In 1854, while exploring the neighbor- 
ing mountains, Major Simonson had found a quantity of pine 
timber, up Limpia Canyon, eleven miles from the post. From 
this point, Colonel Merritt hauled logs and sawed them by hand 
at Fort Davis. Later, a sawmill was erected in what is to-day 
known as Sawmill Canyon, and the sawed logs were brought 
to the post by ox-teams. 

With the troops at the time they returned to Fort Davis, 
came Whitaker Keesey, as head baker, and Sam R. Miller, as 



butcher. Both of these men have left the mark of their work 
upon the country. 

Fort Davis, under the encouragement and protection of the 
troops, soon became the most important town west of the Pecos 
River, until San Elizario was reached. It was not long before 
merchants opened their doors to catch the passing trade over 
the Chihuahua Trail and the mail route. Hunters made it 
their headquarters, and daily these silent mannered men came 
into the post leading their horses laden with venison, antelope, 
or bear meat and, occasionally, the honey from a bee-tree. For 
the bee was the sure forerunner of settlements. Various sorts 
of contractors came in to secure government contracts for 
wood and forage. Every three months, the paymaster visited 
the post, and usually he was accompanied by two sisters of 
charity, who came to collect money for St. John's Orphanage, 
at San Antonio. One of these sisters of charity. Sister Ste- 
phens, of the Order of the Incarnate Word, is living to-day, in 
San Antonio. 

Just west of the parade grounds, opposite the barracks, 
stood the well built houses of Officers' Row. Colonel Merritt 
lived in Number Seven, and in this house he had the first 
Christmas tree. Near the old spring at Murphy's Grove, but 
a step from the south walls of the post, Dan Murphy had his 
home and store. Here nightly, the officers and their wives 
gathered to indulge in such amusements as the western outpost 
afforded. On the other side of the post, Abbot & Davis, the 
post traders, had their commodious store. Here, too, Patrick 
Murphy, no wise related to the patriarchal Daniel Murphy, 
had reopened the doors of his store, which had been closed 
since the first year of the Civil War. In these two famous old 
trade emporiums, gathered those rough and ready members 
of western society who lay no claim to class distinction, — the 
soldier, the hunter, the trail driver, — and here could be heard, 
deleted of all fancy phrases, stories of daring, of bravery, of 
human kindness, as well as of human hate. 

At the time the troops re-occupied Fort Davis, Sam Miller, 
who had the regiment's beef contract, had brought in one 


hundred and sixty-five head of beeves and stock cattle. While 
these cattle, with one hundred and fifty work-oxen, were being 
herded by Mexicans, in the flats east of the post, a band of 
Apaches attacked and killed the herders, and stampeded the 

By the time word reached the post, the Indians had several 
hours' start, but as quickly as possible a detachment of troops, 
with Sam Miller as guide, started on the well-marked trail. 
After killing enough beeves for their immediate wants, the 
Indians had attempted to drive the remainder; and the trail 
followed by the troops was marked by the carcasses of cattle, 
which the Indians, in pure maliciousness, had shot down when 
they could go no further. The trail followed down Limpia 
Canyon, along the north slope of the mountains, to Gomez 
Peak, and from there up the Van Horn Flats, to the foot of 
the Guadalupe Alountains. At this point, the Indian signs 
showed that several large parties had met, and the captain in 
charge of the troops refused to follow them further. Against 
the earnest protests of Aliller, the chase was abandoned and 
the party returned to Fort Davis. A short time afterward this 
captain was court-martialed and cashiered from the army, 
because he had refused to go on. 

This statement should not be construed as being a condem- 
nation of the military in general. It was no fault of the officers 
in command of the western garrisons that troop movements 
were slow. They were bound by rules and regulations which 
were meant for civilized warfare, if there is such a thing; and 
before orders could be conformed to by the troops, the Indians 
would have a start which could never be overcome. The 
frontiersmen, also, had a considerable advantage over the 
soldier, as they, like the Indian, carried no excess baggage, 
slept where night overtook them, ate what they could, and 
depended largely upon their rifles for meat ; while, on the other 
hand, in any considerable movement of soldiers, it was neces- 
sary to provision both men and horses, which resulted in the 
loss of much valuable time. 

Presidio, — for so had John W. Spencer's farm been named, 


— although lacking troops to form the base for its prosperity, 
still, next to Fort Davis, was the most important town on the 
Chihuahua Trail. So important had this port of entry grown 
that an American custom house was opened. Captain Mose 
Kelly, who for some time since the Civil War had been em- 
ployed in the El Paso custom house, was sent to Presidio to 
organize and officer the new port of entry. Accompanied by 
Juan Ochoa, William Leaton, and John Burgess, Captain Kelly 
floated down the Rio Grande in a boat from El Paso to Pre- 
sidio. Kelly was a lively, kindly, and dashing young fellow 
and had won a captaincy in the Union army as a cavalryman. 
He rented two rooms from John Spencer, and established his 
office and his home in them. Shortly after establishing the 
custom office. Captain Kelly opened a general merchandise 
store in Ojinaga, or Presidio del Norte, the Mexican port over- 
looking Presidio, Texas. Shortly afterwards, Charles Spencer, 
a son of John W. Spencer, became interested in the store with 
Captain Kelly, and he took charge in Ojinaga. The American 
colony at Presidio had been strengthened by the addition of 
several men who later became prominent in the affairs of the 
country. Richard C. Daily, who had seen service in the 
Mexican War and also served with the army of the South, 
entered Presidio by way of Chihuahua. William Russell came 
about the same time ; he, too, was a veteran of the Civil War. 
Milton Favor — Don Milton — and John B. Davis had pushed 
out boldly from the settlement and established ranches in the 
mountains. The majority of these men had married among 
the prominent Mexican families, and, to-day, their descend- 
ants are numbered among the most worthy citizens of the 

These were Arcadian days for Presidio. While the Indians 
were raiding in every other portion of the Big Bend, the little 
colony remained undisturbed. What a few years before had 
been the cultivated fields of John W. Spencer, was now a 
cluster of prosperous stores, ranged along either side of a long 
street, which also served as a passage way for the Chihuahua 
Trail drivers. 


In the peaceful quiet of their patios, the families gathered 
at night, with no fear of being disturbed by the terrifying war- 
whoops of the Apaches. The doors were without locks, for 
nobody stole. 

One instance, which is a matter of record, throws consider- 
able light upon the attitude of the Presidio pioneers. With the 
overthrow of the Maximilian regime, the conditions in Ojinaga 
for a few years were chaotic. This was in 1867. Some of the 
inhabitants of the Mexican border towns fled across the Rio 
Grande to Presidio, Texas, and amongst the number were 
quite a few characters of questionable repute. 

The coming of so many undesirables into the peaceful com- 
munity became the subject of grave consideration for the city 
fathers. One giant Mexican, particularly, was a subject of 
suspicion ; and it was not long before he was caught entering 
the living quarters of some of the women in the Spencer house- 
hold, with the intent of theft. 

But a short time before, Judge J. Hubbell, the local justice 
of the peace, had been killed by the Indians at El Muerto, and 
no new justice had been elected to fill his place. But action 
was quick and certain. The giant was seized and hauled before 
a body of law-enforcing citizens. Judge and jury were quickly 
chosen. John W. Spencer was made judge, and his jury was 
composed of Captain Mose Kelly, Larkin Landrum, Robert C. 
Daily, and a number of Mexican citizens, among whom was 
Patricio Juarez, the blacksmith, a man of powerful physique. 
After a brief trial, the prisoner was found guilty, and sentenced 
to have one hundred lashes delivered upon his bare shoulders. 
And Patricio was delegated to wield the lash. 

The blacksmith went down to the river bottoms and re- 
turned with an armful of willow switches ; but so powerful 
were his strokes that the willows broke easily, and he threw 
them away in disgust. He stalked into his shop and returned 
with a heavy rawhide bull-whip — the kind used by the Chi- 
huahua Trail drivers. Doubling this in his great fist, he de- 
livered the remaining blows. Not liking his first taste of 
American justice, the Mexican meddler returned to the Mex- 


ican side ; and the story of the first law on the border, reaching 
others of his kind, discouraged any ambition they may have 
entertained of overrunning the little American colony. 

The United States custom service was not well organized 
in those days, and in the afternoons many hundreds of pack 
mules forded the river and drew up to the American stores in 
Presidio. Later, under cover of darkness, they returned to 
the Mexican side, their cargoes free of duty. The coin most 
current was the silver peso, or Mexican dollar. The fact that 
Presidio was the port of entry for the Chihuahua Trail, 
brought many characters whose names are woven into the 
history of the Southwest. Most of the local men had freight 
outfits on the Trail, while such men as Ed Frobboese, August 
Santleben, John Holly, Shay Hogan, Seferino Calderon, at 
regular intervals, directed their trains of ten to twenty wagons 
to their camping places on the Rio Grande, near the custom 

While Presidio was unmolested by the Indian attacks, other 
portions of the Big Bend were filled by marauders. Once again 
the Apaches saw the Big Bend wrested from their grip ; and, 
in reprisal, they left such scenes of horror behind them that 
any sympathy which might have been felt for them, over the 
loss of their domains, was destroyed. 

John Burgess had secured a contract for hauling large 
quantities of supplies from San Antonio to Fort Stockton and 
Fort Davis. After delivering his freight, he would continue 
south to Presidio del Norte — his home — recuperate his animals, 
attend to necessary repairs, then load up with grain and flour, 
which he would deliver to the posts on his return trip to San 

The previous year a considerable number of cattle had 
been driven over the Chihuahua Trail, but instead of going 
through Fort Davis they had gone down the great valley 
between the Davis Mountains and Glass Mountains, through 
Paisano Pass, and struck the old Chihuahua Trail on Alamito 
Creek. When Burgess was loaded with grain for Fort Stock- 
ton, he took this short cut, by way of Paisano Pass; and the 


spring just east of Alpine, on the Kokernot ranch, became 
known as Burgess' Spring. 

It received the name after Burgess' encounter with Chief 
Leon and his braves. While the wagon train was corralled 
about the springs, Chief Leon, who had started on a raid into 
Mexico, surrounded the outfit. But Burgess had between thirty 
and forty wagons and a corresponding number of men, which 
caused the chief to hesitate to attack, and instead, send an 
Indian for re-enforcements. There had not been a single shot 
fired by either side, and the Indians were squatting stolidly 
about their camp-fires fully aware, as were the whites, that the 
trail-drivers could not escape. 

It was the custom of the wagon-master to ride horseback, 
so that he might better oversee the progress of the train. Some- 
times the line of wagons was strung out for a distance of two 
or three miles. It happened on this trip that Burgess was 
riding a very fine racehorse, and that night, after the Indians 
had laid down, Burgess quietly mounted the lightest man in 
his party on the racehorse, tied the horse's feet in sacks, and 
sent the man charging straight through the Indians' camp. 

Before the Indians recovered from their surprise, the horse- 
man was safely through the lines, headed straight for Paisano 
Pass. The Indians pursued him on their fleetest ponies, but 
the racehorse easily outdistanced them. 

It was now a question as to which party's re-enforcements 
arrived first. All day the besieged and besiegers kept their 
positions, and that night both parties slept upon their arms. 
The next morning, Burgess' worn-out party saw a great cloud 
of dust rising at the point where Paisano Canyon spilled out 
into the grassy plains. His re-enforcements were arriving. 
Chief Leon, also, saw the cloud of dust, and his guttural com- 
mands to his warriors could be heard in Burgess' camp. A 
moment's confusion, a whirlwind of horses, and the Indians 
swept away to the north at full gallop. 

Burgess' messenger had ridden his horse to death twenty 
miles out of Presidio, and he had run and walked the remainder 
of the distance in four hours. 


While the Kokernot Spring was known to the whites as 
Burgess' Spring, in the lingua franca of the Indian war trail, 
it had become known as Charco de Alsate. Usually the Chi- 
huahua Trail ran through Fort Davis, but after John Burgess 
had opened up the route through Paisano Pass, this new route 
became quite popular among the more intrepid of the trail 
drivers. It was the same route used by the Jumano Indians, 
by de Vaca, by de Espejo, and Mendoza, in their travels 
through the Big Bend, as well as being the great Indian thor- 
oughfare of the middle nineteenth century. Perennial rains 
had formed a chain of water holes, or charcos, at the spring, 
which led the Indians and Mexicans to refer to that watering- 
place as the Charco. The name Charco de Alsate was given 
to it because the most powerful chief on the war trails at that 
period was the Apache chief, Alsate — a leader who ranked 
with Bajo el Sol, Guera Carranza, Victorio and Geronimo, the 
ablest Indian generals of their time. 

We Americans have been accustomed to place the Indians 
in one category — to us there are no good Indians. We go so 
far as to use the word, Indian, as a synonym for every evil and 
ferocious propensity in the human animal. When we say, "He 
behaves like an Indian," we infer that his conduct was in some 
manner uncouth, or inhuman. Being thus brought up to regard 
the Indian, it is very difficult to appreciate or understand the 
attitude of the Mexican people toward the Red Man. Refer- 
ence is here made to the common, or pilado Mexican. 

Perhaps a parallel illustration will bring this point more 
clearly to the reader. A half-dozen mounted men ride down 
the main street of a small western town, surround the bank, 
dismount, and stage a bank robbery. It doesn't matter whether 
they escape or are captured, the point is they are considered 
outlaws. If they should return again and be recognized, there 
would, no doubt, be a strong effort made to capture them. Now 
suppose a similar appearing band of mounted men — good citi- 
zens, however — should enter that town, ride up to the bank, 
dismount and enter that institution, how would they be re- 
garded? They, too, were strangers, their behavior up to the 


time of entering the bank had been identical to that of the first 
party. Outwardly their appearance and bearing was identical. 
But they would not be regarded as outlaws. 

So among the jMexicans there was a differentiation between 
the good and bad Indian, which we Americans never recog- 
nized. This seeming forbearance on the part of the Mexican 
is explained by the fact that a relationship existed between 
them. Two or three hundred years of civilizing influences had 
raised the Mexican to a higher plane of existence than his 
Indian cousin. A Mexican himself will tell you, "Yo estoy 
puro Indo!" ("I am pure Indian!") That is, he will tell you 
this if he has imbibed sufficiently of mescal. 

Parenthetically, it is well to add that the Mexican manner 
of judging between the good Indian and the bad was not always 
based upon the Indian's moral status. It also involved to a 
greater or lesser degree a consideration of the Indian's ability 
and strength to retaliate when he was interfered with. There- 
fore, when at the head of a score of warriors, Alsate, chief of 
the Mescalero Apaches, marched into Presidio del Norte, one 
crisp autumn morning, 1867, he entertained no fear of being 
molested by the Mexican authorities. 

The salutations which greeted him on every side bore wit- 
ness to the respect he elicited. Curious children followed 
mothers to the doors and clung to the protecting skirts, while 
they gazed with awe at the Indian chief about whom centered 
many thrilling tales, false and true. Many times had these 
children seen the Apache chief thus enter Presidio del Norte, 
but never before had they seen him wearing an overcoat of 
the white man's pattern ; they looked and wondered. What 
unfortunate Americano had crossed the trail of the Apache 
brave ? 

The procession of half-naked savages filed silently down 
the street, the quick bird-like motions of their heads and the 
restless glitter in the eyes showed that the Indians noted every- 
thing, perhaps in anticipation of the time when they would 
take the war-path against the Nortafios, to rob and to plunder 
them in a carnival of bloodshed. The Indians filed past the 


casa in which lived John Burgess, who at this time was away 
on the Chihuahua Trail, in company with John Davis and 
William Brooks. In common with her neighbors, Mrs. Burgess 
came to the door to look curiously at the passing savages. She 
gave a start, and her eyes strained horror-stricken at the tall 
Indian in the overcoat — her husband's overcoat! 

The Burgess family was one of the oldest and most influ- 
ential in Presidio del Norte, Mrs. Burgess hurried to the 
alcalde with her fears and suspicions. The result was that 
Alsate and his band were thrown into prison, upon the charge 
of having murdered John Burgess. 

The day of trial came. In sullen silence, Alsate and his 
band looked through the bars of their prison. Alsate had 
related to the Alcalde a strange, wholly improbable story. The 
Mexican had smiled unbelievingly ; and, thereafter, Alsate 
maintained a dignified silence. Heavily guarded, the Indians 
were escorted to the juzgado, where the trial was to be held. 

Presidio del Norte overlooked the Rio Grande from a high 
gravelly bluff. As the prisoners were being led to the jusgado, 
they cast longing eyes across the River, to the beckoning hills 
beyond. With eyes inscrutable, they watched a long line of 
freighted wagons, with their teams of eighteen or twenty mules, 
as they plowed through the deep sands of the alluvial river 
bottom just before crossing the stream to the rocky and more 
secure footing on the Mexican side. 

It was a customary sight to the guards, who hurried the 
prisoners to the tribunal. The court was called to order, with 
the Alcalde presiding. The evidence of the overcoat was intro- 
duced. Mrs. Burgess swore to its identification. There was a 
settled air on the face of the Alcalde. 

At this juncture, a disturbance broke out at the door of 
the courtroom. All present looked hastily around, expecting 
— perhaps, a surprise attack by Alsate's tribesmen. But it was 
a white man — an Americano. Mrs. Burgess gave a cry of 
relief as she recognized her husband. 

The trial proceeded no further. Burgess' appearance put 
an end to that. Then followed the trail-drivers* recital of the 


manner in which Alsate had gained possession of the over- 

For mutual protection, Burgess had joined forces with 
John Davis and William Brooks, The three outfits were loaded 
with grain and corn, raised at Presidio and bought by the 
Government, for the troops at Fort Stockton. After delivering 
their cargoes, it was customary to proceed to the salt lakes 
beyond the Pecos River, and load with salt, which found easy 
sale at Presidio del Norte. 

Up Alamito Creek, through Paisano Pass, into the grassy 
plains beyond, without sign of the Indians, drove the freighters. 
But when they drew near Charco de Alsate, they were halted 
by a large force of Apaches, led by Alsate and Leon. Imme- 
diately, the freighters formed a large circle with their wagons, 
corralling their work-stock in the enclosure for protection 
against arrows and to prevent them from stampeding. For 
four hours, by every wile known to the savage general, the 
whites and their teamsters were tempted to leave their im- 
promptu fort. The Indians swept by on their horses, then 
formed in a madly racing line which disappeared over the 
nearby hills. After time had been given the freighters to con- 
clude the attack was abandoned, the Indians swooped down 
from another direction, thus hoping to catch the whites off 

Finally, becoming tired of the exhibition, Burgess and 
Davis walked out some distance from the wagon train, although 
careful to remain under the protecting cover of the freighters' 
long-rifles, and, in the commonly understood sign language, 
invited Alsate and Leon to a parley. 

Burgess told his story, simply, dramatically and, of course, 
in Spanish, every word of which Alsate understood. When 
Burgess reached this point in his narrative the discomfited chief 
shot a look of understanding and hatred at the trail driver. 
Should another meeting occur, plainly there would be a differ- 
ent story to tell. 

When the two chiefs advanced to meet Burgess and Davis, 
the white men drew their pistols which they had concealed, and 


under threats of death, forced the chiefs to order their warriors 
to withdraw to a distant hill. So well did the bluff work, that 
Burgess stripped off his overcoat and presented it to Alsate 
with a view of, at least, partly placating the disgruntled chief. 
After reaching Charco de Alsate, the freighters made them- 
selves safe from attack; and being aware of this, Alsate and 
his band gave up their attempt to trap them. 

At the close of Burgess' story, Alsate and his warriors were 
set free. No thought was given to the evident intention of the 
Indians in waylaying the wagon-train. Attempts at murder, 
unless successfully carried out, were not deemed important. 

In justice to the Indians, however, it must be admitted that 
all of them were not bad. To illustrate: After the re-occupa- 
tion of Fort Davis, the little settlement, located as it was in the 
heart of the Apache country, stood the brunt of the Indian 
attacks. One morning, the inhabitants were awakened by the 
war-whoop, as the Apaches poured into the outskirts of the 
town from the nearby hills and canyons. The surprise was 
complete ; but, aided by the presence of several large freight 
outfits which had camped in Fort Davis on their way over the 
Chihuahua Trail, the soldiers and citizens managed to beat off 
the attack and inflict severe punishment on the marauders. 
Many dead and wounded Indians were left on the ground. 
Among the latter was a young Indian girl. She was badly 
wounded, and would have been taken to the hospital with the 
other wounded had not a Mrs. Easton insisted on taking charge 
of her. Mrs. Easton finally nursed the young squaw back to 
health, and kept her for a companion and servant. 

For two years, Emily, as the girl was named, lived with the 
Easton family. She had grown accustomed to the ways of the 
whites and her stay among them seemed indefinite. Mrs. 
Easton's son. Lieutenant Thomas Easton, was a great favorite 
with Emily, and in a shy, unobtrusive way, she attended his 

Then the Nelsons moved to Fort Davis. Immediately, 
Thomas Easton was attracted to Mary Nelson, an occurrence 
which did not escape the keen eyes of the Indian girl. She 

Presidio, Texas 

Of Alpine, Texas 


began to act queerly, and for hours at a time, she would sit and 
gaze at the mountains, as though she was considering some 
action of which she was uncertain. The day the engagement 
of Tom and Alary was announced, Emily disappeared. 

For some time, Mrs. Easton hoped for Emily's return, but 
the months stretched into a year, with no word of the girl. The 
newly acquired daughter, however, made up for the loss of 
Emily ; but the Indian girl was not forgotten. 

The Apaches had become more troublesome than usual; 
raids were more frequent and increased in boldness. The 
soldiers were kept busy and the post command was constantly 
on the lookout for an attack on Fort Davis. One night, during 
this troublesome time, a sentry heard someone trying to pass 
him. Suspecting it might be an Indian, he called, "Halt, or I 
fire !" Instead of making reply, the intruder broke into a run 
towards the post buildings. The sentry took careful aim and 
fired. The shot was answered by a scream in a feminine voice. 
The soldier rushed up to the fallen woman, who proved to be 
an Indian squaw, and lifting her carefully in his arms, he 
carried her to the commanding officer's quarters. It was Emily, 
and she was mortally wounded. 

Mrs. Easton was immediately sent for. Upon seeing her 
friend, Emily, with failing breath, gasped out : "All my people 
come to kill — I hear talk — by light of morning — maybe you 
know — Tom no get killed — good-bye" — and the faithful Indian 
girl was gone. The Indians did come, and in a force sufficient 
to annihilate the unprepared settlement ; but Emily's warning 
had been in time to make preparation, and the Indians were 
beaten back with heavy losses. 

When the tide of gold-seeking reached high-water mark, 
those who failed in their efforts to moil a fortune from the rocks 
and sands of California, drifted eastward on the ebb tide. New 
Mexico and the Big Bend of Texas became a haven for many 
adventurous barks. After braving the perils of the great 
Arizona deserts, the weary travelers were afforded a breathing 
spell in the settlements along the Santa Fe and El Paso-San 
Antonio Trails, and many, seeing opportunities which they 


had failed to find in the goldfields of California, remained in 
this new country. 

Heretofore, immigration to Southwest Texas had been 
from the older settled eastern sections of the United States. 
Now, in the recoil from the goldfields, immigration flowed in 
from the far west. This was due largely to the reason that 
when the emigrants to the goldfields passed through the Big 
Bend on their way to California, they crossed a country devoid 
of settlements and trails. When they returned, on their way 
eastward, they found many towns, populous and thriving. 
Their stay in California had weaned them of a desire to return 
to their old homes in the eastern states ; the West had gotten 
into their blood. But little persuasion, therefore, was necessary 
to induce many of these travelers to cast their lot with the 
young and optimistical Southwest. 

It was natural that many of these newcomers belonged to 
that class of adventurers who were not sticklers in the observ- 
ance of the laws, either of their own country or of IMexico. It 
must be borne in mind that in the early days questions of polity 
in no way hampered the movements of bodies of men or of 
individuals. The seats of government, — Washington, D. C, 
and the City of Mexico, respectively, — were several thousand 
miles away, with but a few scattered officials to enforce a 
semblance of restraint. It was not regarded as a moral 
breach to become a free-trader or filibuster, any more than 
it was to become a racehorse man, a gambler, or a saloon- 

But the administrations at Washington and the City of 
Mexico, — when that republic had one, — were as much opposed 
to the smallest infraction of the laws along the Rio Grande as 
they were at either of the above named seats of authority, espe- 
cially in regard to filibustering or an avoidance of customs 
duty. So when Harry Hinton, late of the goldfields, with 
twenty-five men, armed with Sharp bufifalo-guns and convoying 
a pack-train of valuable merchandise, crossed the Rio Grande 
one dark night, unobserved by the handful of customs guards, 
he felt no qualms of conscience on the score of unpaid duties. 


The money thus saved would add much to their already assured 
handsome profits. 

Straight for Chihuahua City headed the filibusters. The 
trail was free from Indians, weather conditions were favorable, 
and all signs were propitious. In high spirits, the party entered 
the city, displayed their goods to the merchants, and sold out 
at a price exceeding that anticipated. 

Their business satisfactorily closed, the Americans tarried 
in the city for a few days, basking in the smiles of the fair 
senoritas, enjoying the plaza life, the siestas, and the quaintness 
of the Chihuahua capital. They were in no hurry to quit the 
life of ease and pleasure which their profits had opened for 
them. Finally, however, Hinton rounded up the several mem- 
bers of the party who had become widely separated in pursuing 
their several sources of pleasure. Then something happened. 
Inexperienced in dealing with Mexicans, Hinton had failed to 
"salve the palm" of the local custom officers. This was an 
oversight for which he dearly paid. Los Americanos had 
broken the law and evaded the customs, therefore merited 
punishment. The first intimation the filibusters had of this 
was when a much-uniformed Mexican officer with a squad of 
bare-footed soldados, with rifles thrust forward in the most 
threatening manner, surrounded the departing pack-train. Hin- 
ton attempted diplomacy ; it was too late. To have used their 
fire-arms would have brought upon them the death penalty. 
But one other course remained ; and, at a low command from 
Hinton, each man picked a weak spot in the cordon of soldiers. 
Surprising the Mexicans by the suddenness of their attack, the 
Americans managed to escape. 

Between them and the American boundary lay two hundred 
miles of desert. Across this, Hinton with two companions 
made his way. The journey was one of thirst, hunger, and 
untold hardships ; but, eventually, the Rio Grande was reached, 
and they crossed to the Texas side a few miles below Presidio. 

So relieved were they to reach the United States and the 
protection of the Stars and Stripes, that they proceeded no 
further, but cast themselves upon the ground in a thicket of 


tules, and dropped into an exhausted sleep. Night came, the 
moon rose full and bright, and cast upon their haggard, up- 
turned faces its mellow glow, but the three Americans slept on. 

Technically, they should have been safe from Mexican 
pursuit, but then, as to-day, the Rio Grande furnished a boun- 
dary only in the physical sense. After they had been asleep 
for some hours, Hinton was awakened by feeling some object 
being thrust over his head. Springing up he gave the alarm. 
There stood three Mexicans who had quietly crept upon them 
and were attempting to put sacks over their heads. It would 
have been useless for the Americans to inform the Mexicans 
that they were on United States soil ; sometimes explanations 
are better made to surviving relatives. At least, so Hinton 
must have thought, for when the Americans departed, they 
left three Mexicans in the sleep from which there is no 

Eventually, the three white men reached Fort Stockton. 
Their filibustering days were over. Neither Hinton nor his 
companions ever learned the fate of the other twenty-two men. 
Presumably, most of them reached the United States, as the 
two Governments were enjoying friendly relations, and, at that 
particular time, the death penalty to the Americans who had 
committed misdemeanors on Mexican soil, was being pre- 
scribed only in extreme cases. 



Slowly, but none the less surely, the Indians were being 
forced westward in the Big Bend. While Fort Davis was yet 
the center of attention of the retreating Mescaleros, Fort 
Stockton, the metropolis of the great plateau country lying 
east of the Davis Mountains, enjoyed a period of uninterrupted 
quiet. Comanche Springs, already famous as a watering-place 
and for being the cross roads of the great western trails, rapidly 
became a farming and commercial center. 

In 1868, such men as George M. Frazier, Peter Gallager, 
and Joseph Frelander had found the western post a good 
stopping-place. The year following, came Francis Rooney, an 
Irishman, who left the stamp of his name upon the West-of- 
the-Pecos country. Caezario Torres came also, and, to-day, 
the great alamos and adobe-brick buildings stand witness to the 
energy of the founder of the 7D Ranch. 

For the first time, the waters of Comanche Springs were 
turned to productive use. Canals, or accqnias, were dug, into 
which was turned the precious life-giving water, which hereto- 
fore had been allowed to waste its virtues on useless salt grass 
and tules. Alfalfa, corn, and other forage crops were raised. 
Sheep and cattle were brought into the country and grazed on 
the stubble-fields in the winter ; while in the spring and summer, 
they were herded on the surrounding plains. 

Not only were the waters of Comanche Springs brought to 
obey the will of man, but Leon Waterholes, nine miles west 
of Fort Stockton, was utilized. George M. Frazier and George 
Lyle located farms in Leon Valley, where, to-day, a seven- 
thousand-acre feet reservoir stores water for the three thou- 
sand and more acres of farm lands in the valley. 

The community life in Fort Stockton differed little from 
that in other settlements. At the army post, three or four 
companies of troops were constantly stationed. This blending 


of army and civilian life produced a kaleidoscopic picture. The 
pioneers and their families, the West Pointers, their wives, and 
daughters, presented a contrast which was heightened by the 
sprinkling of Indians, army scouts, cowboys, and Mexicans. 

The prices of all commodities were high. Drygoods and 
groceries were freighted from San Antonio, a distance of four 
hundred miles. Store and saloon usually occupied the same 
building, and often were to be found in the same large room. 
Some of the prices rivaled the existing high prices of to-day — 
butter, $1.50 per pound ; eggs, $1.00 per dozen ; milk, blue with 
water, 25 cents per quart ; potatoes, bacon, ham, and like staples, 
50 cents per pound. Still, the community was prosperous. The 
wealth of the local ranchmen, coupled with the Government's 
liberality in letting high-priced contracts for wood, grain, hay, 
and freighting, offset the high cost of living. 

With the exception of a trail which follows the windings 
of the Pecos River into New Mexico, all trails passed through 
Fort Stockton. This added largely to the importance of that 
settlement. Usually, these travelers were cowmen and farmers, 
whose fathers had migrated to Texas from the states east of 
the Mississippi River. They inherited the pioneer instincts of 
their fathers, which caused them to move westward in advance 
of civilization — seeking more elbow-room. 

A page chosen here and there from the life of one of these 
particular old pioneers, will create a much clearer picture of 
the conditions met with and overcome by the builders of the 
West, than an unlimited indulgence in generalizing statements. 

The inhabitants of the region in Texas, west of the Pecos 
River, have much in common with the inhabitants of that 
portion of New Mexico which lies immediately north of the 
Big Bend and adjacent to the Pecos River, in that state. This 
is due largely to the similarity in topography, geology, and 
climatic conditions of the two countries, which are separated 
only by an imaginary line — the state line. Both are cattle and 
irrigated farms countries, and many men of the two are asso- 
ciated in business enterprises. Therefore, an illustration which 
holds good in the one holds good in the other. 


In 1868, Robert Casey rounded up his cattle on his Menard 
County ranch, packed his household belongings, put his wife 
and five children in a covered wagon, and headed west for 
New Mexico. With the help of one man, a Mexican, he under- 
took to drive eighteen hundred cattle through a country in- 
fested by the thieving Apaches, while he depended upon Mrs. 
Casey to take care of the children and drive the wagon. 

Some time before, Casey had made a trip to New Mexico, 
over the same trail, so he knew the location of water and grass 
along the route. The Caseys had not traveled far when they 
fell in with another cow outfit, consisting of the owner, Mr. 
Gooch, and two cowboys. These outfits joined forces for 
mutual protection. 

As the party approached the Pecos River, they began to 
see Indian signs. For several nights, lights had been discern- 
ible in the distance, sometimes to the north of the trail, at 
other times to the south. Mr. Gooch ridiculed the assertion of 
Mr. Casey that the lights were Indian fires calling together the 
different roving bands in the neighborhood for the purpose of 
attacking their outfit, and he contended that the lights came 
from another cow outfit. In proof of this, he volunteered to 
find the camps and return with a firebrand. 

The discussion was ended, however, one morning about 
daylight. Mrs. Casey was the first to hear a low, rumbling 
noise. At first, she thought the noise was thunder, and she 
raised up in her bed to see the direction of the approaching 
storm. Clouds of dust, not of rain, met her gaze, and she 
caught glimpses of dust-hidden Indian horsemen, as they raced 
down full speed upon the bedding-ground of the cattle. Robert 
Casey had stood night-guard over the cattle and was sleeping 
peacefully when he was grabbed roughly by the shoulder and 
jerked to a sitting position by Mrs. Casey. 

"Get up, Robert !" she cried, "the Indians are taking our 
cattle !" 

Instantly, Casey was alive to the situation. Before he had 
reached his feet, he had his gun in hand and began shooting. 
Mrs. Casey hastily put the children in the wagon, then grabbed 


a double-barreled shotgun — a muzzle-loader — which she began 
to load. Being excited, however, she rammed the powder into 
one barrel and the shot into the other. This harmless weapon 
she thrust into the hands of the bewildered Mexican, who soon 
discovered the mistake, and could only use the gun as a "bluff" 
throughout the fight. 

One of the Gooch cowboys had a new suit of clothes, of 
which he was very proud ; and, after their efforts to move their 
wagon closer to the Casey outfit had failed and his companions 
were retreating to the safety of the Casey shelter, he remarked 
that he would stay with his clothes, and quietly climbed into 
the wagon. Strange to say, he was not molested by the Indians, 
although they ransacked the back of the wagon, where the 
provisions were stored. 

With the exception of Casey, the other men were practi- 
cally powerless, as they had used most of their ammunition on 
game. Single-handed, he held the Indians away from his pro- 
visions, although they succeeded in running off thirteen hundred 
head of his cattle. In the fight, Casey wounded one Indian. 

Mrs. Casey had a bunch of pet sheep, which the Indians 
noticed, and a band of them got off their horses to drive these 
sheep before them. When Mrs. Casey saw what they were 
doing, she grabbed up a tin pan and ran out some distance from 
the wagon She beat on the pan and called, "Nannie ! Nannie !" 

When the sheep heard the familiar sound, which to them 
meant a generous supply of shelled corn, they turned upon their 
Indian herders, and, upsetting every Indian who attempted to 
bar their progress, ran blithely back to their mistress. Had 
Mr. Casey not rushed to his wife's rescue, she, too, would have 
been taken captive. 

The loss of the cattle would not have been felt so greatly 
had the Indians not taken all their work-oxen as well. Travel- 
ing through the heart of an unsettled and hostile country, with 
practically no ammunition, with few provisions, in the dead of 
winter, the future welfare of the little caravan was a question 
of grave consideration. 

But Robert Casey was not the man to grumble at mis- 


fortune. With the optimism which undying lay in the hearts 
of those sturdy old pioneers, he and his wife gathered the few 
straggling cattle the Indians had failed to run off, broke in a 
new team of wild steers, and continued their westward journey. 

As though by a preconcerted arrangement with Fate, the 
newly-broken oxen made all the trouble they could. They 
would either sulk and refuse to pull, or they would take a 
running start, which would land them and the wagon in a pile 
at the bottom of an arroyo or gully. This was fine sport for the 
children, who shouted with glee at every new disaster. But 
to the pioneer and the worried mother, it brought home their 
desperate situation. 

Up the Pecos River, to the point where the old Immigrant 
Trail struck Pope's Crossing, thence into New Mexico, to 
Fort Stanton, struggled the brave little party. The last three 
weeks of the journey was made without flour ; and upon reach- 
ing their destination, the children, seeing their first wheat- 
bread, thought it was cake and offered to exchange their most 
highly treasured keepsakes for some of it. 

Casey settled on the Rio Hondo, about twenty-five miles 
south of Fort Stanton, and immediately began the construction 
of a house, barns, and corrals. When this work was well under 
way, he cleared and broke ground for wheat and corn. After 
the hardships experienced on the journey across the plains, the 
new home soon became the center of a cheerful and contented 

Surrounding the house and barns was a high adobe wall, 
which served at night as a corral for the cattle. With the 
exception of two large swinging gates, which were locked at 
night, there was no other opening. Neither bear nor other wild 
creatures could kill the calves, nor could the Indians run off 
the cattle without first arousing the household. 

So thought Robert Casey. One morning, however, he went 
out to open the gates in order that the cattle could graze over 
the hills, and he found the corral empty. 

Upon investigation, he discovered a gap in the adobe wall 
where the Indians had used their rawhide lariats for saws, by 


an Indian standing on either side of the wall and dragging the 
lariat back and forth over the top, thus cutting through it from 
top to bottom, after which they had pushed over the sawed 
section of adobe and quietly drove the cattle through the aper- 
ture without making a noise. Indeed, it was fortunate that 
Casey had not awakened, as moccasined prints showed that a 
guard had been stationed at the front and back doors of the 
house; and Casey, undoubtedly, would have been killed had 
he attempted to leave the house. 

The only source of aid was Fort Stanton, twenty-five miles 
away. Casey rode to the fort and made his report ; but troops, 
who were immediately dispatched to run down and capture the 
Indians, returned empty-handed. 

Finally, Casey, after being depredated upon several times 
by the Indians, and, growing discouraged at losing each herd 
of cattle as fast as he built it up, proposed to the officer in 
command at Fort Stanton that he might be permitted to go 
with the troops as guide and scout. This was readily agreed 
to by the post commander, who was glad to have the aid of 
one so well versed in Indian signs as was the frontiersman. 

After traveling several days on the Indians' trail and finding 
the carcasses of cows and calves, which the Indians had killed 
to eat while in flight, the pursuers lost the main trail and were 
debating as to which way to go. Casey and several of the 
older troopers had been sent out to circle the end of the trail, 
when one of them discovered some freshly cut grass. From 
this point, Casey wanted to go in one direction, and the com- 
manding officer another. 

When the officer ordered his detachment to follow him, 
Casey rode off in the direction he favored, muttering half to 
himself, "That's why you never find the Indians. When you 
get on a hot trail, you turn off in some other direction." 

Hardly had he finished speaking, when up jumped what he 
supposed to be an Indian, from behind a clump of bear-grass. 
Casey called to the officer for orders, but the detachment was 
some distance away and he was not heard. In the meantime, 
the Indian was yelling, "Cautivo! Esclavo!" Casey thought he 


said, "Cow ! Cow !" and began to shoot. Fortunately, the 
frontiersman's shots went wild ; and about that time it dawned 
upon him that his target was only an unarmed boy who was 
crying "Captive ! Slave !" 

Casey's firing attracted the attention of the soldiers, who 
rode back to learn its cause, and the Mexican boy — for such 
he proved to be — told his story. He had been captured by the 
Indians while herding sheep in Chihuahua, Mexico. He could 
speak some Mexican, although the Indians never permitted 
him to use his own language, and had often punished him 
because he persisted in using it. His story was typical of 
Mexican captives. He told of the time when he was tied to a 
post to be shot, because he would not obey his savage master, 
and an Indian squaw saved his life by giving a red blanket for 
him. Across his forehead was a deep mark, caused by a rope 
which he used to secure a pack on his back when the Indians 
forced him to carry heavy burdens. 

With the one exception of the squaw who had saved his 
life, Timio, the Mexican boy, feared the sight of the Indians. 
He was given to Robert Casey, who cared for him. After the 
death of the old pioneer, one of Casey's sons took him, and, 
to-day, Timio, very old and feeble, lives upon Casey's New 
Mexico ranch which is located on the same spot settled by 
Robert Casey. At one time, Jose de la Paz, an Apache-Mexican 
renegade chief, oiTered Robert Casey three fine horses for 
Timio, and the boy was greatly frightened for fear that Casey 
would make the trade. 

Close questioning of the Mexican boy disclosed the fact that 
he and several of the Indian bucks had been grazing their 
horses. Timio cut the grass while the bucks looked on. After 
a time they all became drowsy and fell asleep. Timio, taking 
advantage of this, fell asleep also. Evidently, the coming 
of the soldiers had awakened and alarmed the Indians, who 
did not have time to find and warn Timio before they fled. 

After obtaining all the facts possible from Timio in regard 
to the whereabouts of the Indians, the soldiers followed his 
guidance over a rise into a canyon. There, spread out before 


them with the camp-fires' smoke curling lazily up into the 
sky, the squaws busying, equally lazily, about their duties, 
and children of every size and description playing about the 
camp, the watchers saw the Indian village. No warriors were 
in sight, but thinking possibly they might be hidden in the 
low, oval-shaped tepees, the whites wasted no time on the 
picturesqueness of the scene, but charged, yelling and shooting, 
straight down upon the village. 

Robert Casey, on his swiftest saddle mule, was in the 
lead, and was the first to reach the tepees. The women and 
children, at the first sound of the charge, huddled together or 
scurried into the nearest tepees, seeking escape from the 
whistling bullets. After searching several tepees for possible 
bushwhackers, and failing to find them, Casey raised his hand 
and called to the shooting soldiers to cease firing. The order 
was quickly obeyed. 

With the true instincts of the child, no matter what the 
color, the little Indian children ran up to Casey, seeing in 
him a protector, and, catching him about the legs, fairly 
swarmed over him, jabbering at him in their shrill, unintelli- 
gible lingua. 

One squaw, at the outset, had jumped on a large sorrel 
horse and broke for the hills. But the soldiers shot the horse 
from under her. She then tried to escape on foot, but by 
that time the troops had formed a cordon about the village, 
and they drove her back. 

It may seem remarkable that no one was wounded nor 
killed in the charge. The soldiers shot only to frighten the 
defenseless women and children. Had a warrior appeared, 
no doubt he would have been riddled with bullets. Robert 
Casey was looked upon by the Indians as being their preserver 
and protector — a matter which proved, later, to be of much 
importance to him. 

The surprise of the village was complete. When the 
bucks discovered the soldiers so near to them, they were 
forced to flee in another direction, and had no time in which 
to warn the village of danger. 


A peculiar custom of the Mescalero Apaches was brought 
to the attention of Casey upon his return to Fort Stanton. 
The squaws and children were taken to the post and held there, 
with the view of persuading the bucks to come in for a council. 
Among the squaws was one who had been bitten by a rattle- 
snake. She had been left in an abandoned camp, with an 
earthen vessel of water and a small quantity of jerked meat 
to stay her thirst and hunger until she should die. 

Upon reaching the army post, this squaw was placed in a 
house under the care of several other squaws. The sentry, on 
duty not far away, saw the squaws rush suddenly from the 
house, and, try as he would, he could not prevail upon them 
to return. With some impatience, he entered the room to in- 
vestigate, and found the sick squaw had died. It was custom- 
ary in camp when a death occurred to move to another spot. 
The military authorities exerted all their persuasive powers, 
but were unable to induce the Indians to return to the cabin 
formerly occupied by the snake-bitten squaw. 

The captured squaws and children were comfortably quar- 
tered at Fort Stanton, and a systematic effort made to induce 
the bucks to come in. The squaws were fed, clothed, and 
otherwise well treated. After several months had passed, 
one of them was dressed up and given a mule, loaded with 
presents and blankets, and told to go out, find her buck, and 
bring him back with her. 

This squaw was never heard from. In a short time, an- 
other squaw was sent out, and returned later on foot. She 
gave as excuse that her mule broke away from her. For a 
second time, this squaw was sent out ; and, before long, she 
returned, bringing several bucks. These were well fed and 
cared for, and sent out in like manner, until the whole band 
was induced to come in. The Government set aside a reserva- 
tion for these Indians, and monthly rations were issued to 
them. To-day, this is known as the Mescalero Apache Indian 
Reservation, and lies principally in Otero County, New 

The establishment of this reservation did much to free 


the Big Bend of Texas from Indian depredations. It enabled 
the Indian agents to keep in closer touch with the Govern- 
ment's wards, and to see that those returning, after leaving the 
reservation on raids, were properly punished. 

Up to the time of this chase after the Indians, in which 
he acted as scout, Robert Casey had never been able to keep 
cattle or horses on his ranch any great length of time. The 
Indians would steal even the milch-calves ; and, at one time, 
so said Timio, the Mexican, they had planned to steal the 
two young daughters of Casey. But after Casey had caused 
the firing to cease at the attack of the Indian village, the 
Apaches made him a promise never again to harm him or his 
property. Often the Indians would break out on the war- 
path, and steal from the ranchmen below and above the Casey 
ranch, but never did they molest the Caseys. 

That the old pioneer had the respect and esteem of the 
Indians is illustrated by a story told by his daughter, Mrs. 
J. L. Moore, of Balmorhea, Texas. At the time of this occur- 
rence, she was six years old. She was staying with an officer's 
wife, at Fort Stanton, and Robert Casey often came to the 
post. Mrs. Moore says, "When Father came to Fort Stanton, 
the little Indians, even at that age, evincing that keenness of 
eyesight for which they are famous, would spy him before I 
did, and run, pell-mell, to meet him. Father would stop his 
team and take them into the wagon with him, after which he 
would drive slowly along, smiling in reply to their excited 
jabbering. They seemed to think that they had more right to 
him than I had." 

Up to the time of the establishment of the Mescalero 
Apache Indian Reservation, 1869, the troops, stationed along 
the overland mail route from San Antonio to El Paso, were 
kept constantly in the field. This applied more especially to 
the troops stationed at Fort Stockton and Fort Davis. 

From the day his command had reached Fort Davis, 
Colonel Wesley Merritt had been erecting post buildings and 
otherwise improving his station. This work was not carried 
on without constant danger from Apache ambush, and, almost 


daily, some unpleasant incident took place which brought to 
the notice of the post commander the constant watchfulness 
of the red marauders. 

In examining the records covering the Indian depredations 
for a period of twenty years — for which later the Government 
paid the early settlers millions of dollars in indemnities — one 
is astonished at the number of times certain of these old pioneers 
had all their cattle and other belongings taken from them in a 
single night's work of the Apaches. 

Perhaps Dietrick Dutchover — whose name had been short- 
ened from Dutchallover — was the most persistently raided 
settler in the Big Bend country. For one thing, his ranch was 
located in Limpia Canyon, in easy striking distance of the 
Indian trails leading to and from New Mexico. Another 
potent factor which caused the Indians to have no fear of him, 
was their knowledge that he had not been an active belligerent 
in the Civil War and never carried a gun. 

Dutchover had a hauling contract with the quartermaster 
department, at Fort Davis, to haul vigors — heavy rafters — 
from the post sawmill, twenty-five miles up Limpia, in Sawmill 
Canyon. A squad of soldiers was stationed at the sawmill, 
to protect it, and Dutchover and his men were camped near 
them for protection. Notwithstanding this fact, the Mescaleros 
slipped up to the corral, where the work oxen were kept at 
night, and managed to steal thirty of them. The soldiers pur- 
sued them the following morning, but failed to get near enough 
to the Indians to strike a "warm" trail. 

Not long after this theft, five Mescaleros passed by the 
Dutchover ranch, four miles from the post, and drove off fifty 
head of cattle. Again the Indians escaped, although a detach- 
ment of troops was sent after them. 

Prior to 1871, the only effort made to use the water from 
Head Spring and Phantom Lake, on the north side of the 
Davis Mountains, was by a few scattered Mexicans. In this 
year, however, the beautiful Toyah Valley — the valley of 
flowers — attracted the attention of Sam Miller, George B. 
and Robert E. Lyle, and Daniel Murphy. Lyle was the first 


American to use the waters from Toyah Creek for irrigation 
purposes. His farm was near Victorio or La Loma — the hill — 
about a mile and a half down the valley from Head Springs. 
But it was Sam Miller who first located Head Springs, or, as 
it was named then, San Solomon Springs, the name being 
taken from a locally famous Mescalero Apache chief. 

Daniel Murphy, who had arrived at Fort Davis shortly 
after the reoccupation of the post by the Eighth Cavalry, also 
located a farm in Toyah Valley, at La Mata, ten miles down 
the valley from San Solomon Springs. To-day, the canal he 
built in that first year is used by the farmers at Balmorhea. 

The coming of Miller and Murphy brought on a water- 
right controversy, which, in later years, developed into a water 
feud. But, for several years, the two owners kept an agree- 
ment to divide the water equally between them. 

While Murphy maintained his home at Fort Davis, he 
spent considerable time in Toyah Valley, looking after his 
farm and cattle. In time, he built a ranch headquarters on 
the opposite side of Toyah Creek from Miller's farm. Mr. H. 
Huelster, who worked for Murphy in the early days, de- 
scribes Murphy's ranch house as being of adobe and sur- 
rounded by a stone corral, ten feet high, large enough to ac- 
commodate three hundred cattle or horses. Into this corral 
the herd was driven at night. Mr. Huelster says that he has 
seen Mr. Murphy sit on one of the sheds or outhouses, where 
he could view all his cattle, and, laboriously, count them, over 
and over. If one was missing, the Mexican herders were sent 
out to look for it. 

The first year after Murphy had located his ranch near 
San Solomon's Springs, both he and Miller had a large crop 
of wheat, and between the two farms, they were using all 
the available water. Further down the valley, at the present 
town of Saragosa, there was a settlement of Mexican farm- 
ers. It was a dry year, and, to live, all had to have water. 

Ed Brady, the seventeen-year-old stepson of Murphy, with 
Jim Riley, a boy two years his senior, was living at the Murphy 
ranch, taking care of the wheat crop and the cattle. Murphy 


r. c. 

3 CQ 







was at Fort Davis, but Sam Miller was living on his farm 
across the Toyah Creek. A dam had been thrown across the 
creek between the two farms, from which each owner took 
his water. 

One day a Mexican brought to Sam Miller a letter which 
stated that if the Americans did not let the water come down 
the creek the Mexican farmers down the valley would come 
in force and tear down the dam. As the water belonged to 
the men who had located it, Miller consulted with the boys 
on the Murphy farm and they decided to fight for it. 

Miller had two white men working for him, which made a 
force of five men to stand off the Mexican mob. 

"How are you boys fixed for ammunition?" asked Miller. 

"We've got a thousand rounds," informed Brady, eagerly ; 
the boys were spoiling for a fight. 

"All right. Build a breastwork of adobe on top of your 
house, and get up there with your guns and cartridges. If you 
see any Mexicans coming, shoot. Don't ask any questions — 
just fire away." 

Then Miller returned to his side of the creek, to clear his 
house-top for action. 

By the middle of the afternoon all was in readiness for 
the expected attack. With eyes strained down the valley, the 
two boys waited expectantly and impatiently. They finally 
decided that the Mexicans had postponed their attack until 
darkness came to their aid and they could creep up the bed of 
the creek, in the shadows of the tules or along in the purple 
black of the banks. With the coming of night, the boys stood 
guard with unabated watchfulness. They listened for a step — 
for the sound of crunching gravel under foot — with guns ready, 
anxious for a skirmish. 

So intent had they been on watching for the Mexicans that 
neither of the boys had noticed gathering clouds over the 
mountains. Suddenly, great cooling drops began to fall, 
slowly at first, then more rapidly, until with a burst of thunder- 
claps, a storm was upon them. The boys retreated hastily 
from their barracks, although not before they were drenched 


to the skin. Wet and shivering, they huddled in the house. 
Still the rain fell in increasing torrents. It rained all night; 
all the next day ; and the next. The whole valley was a solid 
sheet of water; the adobe buildings, which were not built to 
withstand such storms, began to crumble and to melt away. 
The Mexican farmers got water aplenty; and there was no 



The dangers and difficulties attendant to operating a trans- 
continental mail line is well described in an article written by 
C. Babock, in the Texas Almanac, published January i, 1870, 

Relative to the San Antonio-El Paso mail line, it says, 
"This line starts from San Antonio and runs via Boeme, 
Fredericksburg, Loyal Valley, Fort Concho, Camp Stockton 
(Fort Stockton), Fort Davis, Fort Quitman, Fort Bliss, to 
El Paso, a distance of 735 miles, carries the United States mail 
and passengers weekly. . . . From Fort Davis to Presidio 
del Norte, a distance of 100 miles (this distance applies to 
the old mail road), there is a weekly line carrying mail and 

"Entirely along this portion of the line the Comanches 
and Apaches, the most troublesome and bloodthirsty tribes of 
Indians, frequently commit severe depredations, not only to 
the mail line, but to the government trains and droves of cattle 
passing through the countr)\ They frequently, by their skill 
(if it may be called such) stampede every hoof of stock be- 
longing to a mail station, and more frequently, by the same 
means, manage to get possession of a whole cavayard (caval- 
lado) of mules belonging to a government train, thus leaving 
the train and wagoners at a complete standstill, their train being 
loaded with stores for the different military posts along the 
lines, and they in a wild Indian country without food or wa- 
ter. As a matter of consequence, great suffering on the part 
of the train employees is occasioned, as well as for the stores 
and by the troops for whom such stores are designed. 

"The Indians, thus far, have only captured three mails 
since the establishment of this line, the managers using every 
effort to guard against capture, etc. We are informed and 
see by various accounts in newspapers, that these Indian dep- 


redations are frequently committed by small parties of In- 
dians. Still, while they are small, the United States forces to 
watch them are much smaller, which the Indians are smart 
enough to know — hence the casualties. 

"This line is under the supervision of B. F. Ficklin, who is 
the same man that first established the pony express between 
San Francisco and the States, and who, it may be said, was 
indirectly instrumental in the building of the Union and Cen- 
tral Pacific Railroads. We trust that his advent in Western 
Texas may prove means of an early construction of a South- 
em Pacific Railroad. Mr. Ficklin is an experienced frontiers- 
man, mail contractor, and stage man, and we think and expect 
much will be accomplished by him for the settling up and de- 
veloping the many resources of this fine country." 

Ficklin and Sawyer had the overland mail contracts which 
covered the entire Southwestern part of the United States, 
both on mail lines and branches. The various divisions of 
these lines were sub-contracted, but at all times were super- 
vised and inspected by Ficklin and Sawyer. On the whole, the 
contracts were filled to the satisfaction of the Postoffice De- 
partment; but in 1870, complaint was made to the department 
by several of the larger towns along the route for neglect of 
the Mail Company to get the required number of mails through 
to their destination. W. W. Mills and James A. Zabriskie, of 
El Paso, represented the complainants at Washington. The 
charge was made, and proved, that in some instances post- 
masters along the route signed up for mails which had never 
arrived. As a result of the investigations, the Mail Company 
was penalized several thousand dollars, and the situation was 
considerably bettered. 

The concurrent opinions of the passengers who traveled 
on these great mail and passenger routes, as to the characteris- 
tics of the typical stage driver, is well expressed in a descrip- 
tion of them given by W. W. Mills, in relating one memorable 
trip from El Paso to San Antonio, accompanied by Mrs. Mills. 
The other passengers on the stage were Judge Charles H. 
Howard, who was killed in the Salt Lake War, in 1877; and 


a young St. Louis lawyer, who was receiving his first lesson 
in frontier life and customs. 

In substance. Colonel Mills says: "If I desired to learn a 
man's true character, I would take a long day-and-night jour- 
ney with him in a stage-coach. The lack of sleep and other 
annoyances, vexations, and privations, bring out, at times, all 
the ill nature and selfishness one may possess; and, again, 
when everything goes smoothly and all are moving leisurely 
and silently over some long stretch of prairie or plain, and the 
weather is pleasant, men appear to cast all cares and reserve 
to the winds and converse with each other more frankly and 
confidentially than elsewhere. 

"Here, and during other like experiences, Mrs. Mills made 
the acquaintance of the stage driver — a character difficult to 
describe. He possessed the courage of the soldier and some- 
thing more. The soldier goes where he is told to go, and 
fights when he is told to fight, but he has little anxiety or re- 
sponsibility. The stage driver, on the other hand, had to be 
as alert and thoughtful as a general. There was not only his 
duty to his employers, but his responsibility for the mails (he 
was a sworn officer of the Government) ; and the lives of 
passengers often depended upon his knowledge of the country 
and the Indian character, as well as his quick and correct judg- 
ment as to what to do in emergencies. Like the sailor, he was 
something of a fatalist ; but he believed in using all possible 
means to protect himself and those under his charge. 

"Your stage driver was usually of a serious, almost sad, 
disposition ; inclined to be reticent, particularly about himself 
and his former life; and his surname was seldom mentioned 
either by himself or his associates. He was known as 'Bill,' 
®r 'Dave,' or 'Bobo,' or 'Buckskin,' or some like sobriquet. 
When, however, he could be induced to talk about himself as 
a stage driver, his stories were interesting and sometimes thrill- 
ing. There was, occasionally, a liar among them, but most 
of them had really experienced such serious adventures and 
hair-breadth escapes, that it was not necessary for them to draw 
upon their imaginations. 


"Rough, profane, and unclean of speech among their asso- 
ciates, they were remarkably courteous to lady passengers, 
and ever thoughtful of their comforts and feelings. More than 
once, upon arriving at a station where the drivers were to 
be changed, I have heard one whisper to another, 'Remem- 
ber, Sandy, there is a little lady in the coach/ That was 

"During the most interesting portion of the trip, we had 
two drivers, 'Uncle Billy,' who was going to San Antonio 
on leave, and 'Bobo,' the regular driver. They vied with each 
other in trying to make everything comfortable and pleasant for 
Mrs. Mills. They would prepare the driver's high seat with 
cushions and blankets, and assist her to mount to the seat. 
Then for hours, they would call her attention to points of in- 
terest or entertain her with stories of their experiences, both 
humorous and tragic. 

"One morning, just after daybreak, Bobo halted the coach 
and said, 'Gentlemen, get your guns ready. The print of 
moccasins are as thick as turkey-tracks.' And so they were ; 
and fresh, at that. A large party of Indians had recently 
crossed the road; but we neither saw nor heard more about 

After crossing the Pecos River and reaching the Concho 
River, the mail coach party ran into a herd of buffalo. "Of 
course, we dismounted and wantonly fired into them," con- 
tinued Colonel Mills. "With what effect I do not know, ex- 
cept that some one wounded an immense bull so seriously that 
he became angry, and sullenly refused to run away, as the 
others did. 

"We, with our deadly Winchesters, ceased firing at him, as 
he was of no use to us ; but not so the young St. Louis lawyer. 
He wanted to do something he could tell about at home, and 
he advanced upon the irate animal with his little thirty-two 
calibre pistol, firing as he went. He was encouraged and ani- 
mated by the shouts of Bobo and Uncle Billy. 

"'Charge him, mister!' they shouted. 'You've got him! 
The next shot will fetch him !' " 


"'Why, Uncle Billy!' exclaimed Mrs. Mills, 'that animal 
will kill the man ! Call him back.' 

" 'Of course, he'll kill him,' agreed Uncle Billy, 'Now, you 
just watch and you'll see the fun. He'll toss that little lawyer 
higher'n the top of this coach!' 

"Still," says Colonel Mills, "neither Uncle Billy nor Bobo 
were bloodthirsty men. So, to satisfy Mrs. Mills, the tender- 
foot was called back." 

The Mescalero and Lipan Apaches — principally the former 
— were the only Indians giving trouble in the country west of 
the Pecos River — the Big Bend. On account of the friendly 
relations which had sprung up between these Indians and the 
Mexican inhabitants of San Carlos, San Vicente, and Presidio 
del Norte (Ojinaga, Mexico), populous Indian rancherias were 
built along the Tres Linguas Creek and in the Chisos, or Ghost 
Mountains. These mountains, of which Mount Emory is the 
apex, were the most rugged and precipitous mountains in the 
Big Bend. Even to-day they furnish a safe refuge for in- 
dividuals who desire to remain without the pale of the law. 

The name, Tres Linguas, is derived from the fact that three 
different races of Indians — the Comanche, the Apache, and the 
Shawnee — lived on the three branches of this creek. There is 
no record available which explains the presence of the Shaw- 
nees in this far-off country. Therefore, the creek was called 
the Creek of the Three Languages ; and this name, by usage, 
has been gradually slurred into Terlingua Creek. 

Soon the bands of Apaches who settled in this country 
became known as Chisos Apaches, and, while Fort Davis and 
Fort Stockton had formerly been considered the strategical 
bases from which to operate against and control these maraud- 
ers, it was found necessary to establish another post, Pina 
Colorada (red rock), six miles below the present town of 
Marathon. At the time of establishment, Piiia Colorada was 
isolated from all settlements, the nearest being Fort Davis, 
sixty-five miles to the northwest. 

From their retreats in the Chisos Mountains, the Apaches 
harassed the Chihuahua Trail; and, if pursued, they crossed 


into Mexico, where they found protection among their friends 
and kinspeople in the Mexican settlements along the Rio 
Grande. From the south banks of this river, they could defy 
their pursuers on the north bank without fear of punishment. 

In 1870, William Russell, with Dario Rodriguez, his father- 
in-law, established a sheep ranch at the foot of Capote Moun- 
tain, fourteen miles north of Candelaria, a settlement on the 
American side of the Rio Grande. The Indians had never 
before molested the settlements along this portion of the Rio 
Grande, as it lay too far away from the Indian trails. 

Two years prior to establishing his sheep ranch, Russell 
had established an extensive irrigated farm on the Rio Grande, 
near Candelaria, on which he raised grain for the troops at 
Fort Davis and Fort Stockton. The river, in a freakish mood, 
changed its channel in flood time, and swept away the Russell 

As if to aid and abet the forces of Nature in bringing ruin 
upon the hardy old pioneers, the Apaches attacked the sheep 
ranch and killed four of his herders, while Matildo Rodriguez 
alone escaped by hiding behind a large boulder. The Indians 
lost three of their number in the fight, however, before they 
killed the herders. 

No troops had ever been stationed regularly at Presidio 
del Norte since the abandonment of that post by the Spaniards, 
and up to the beginning of the Madero Revolution, in 191 1. 
Every year or so, however, two or three hundred troops would 
appear suddenly at the old presidio and camp for a few 
months. Ostensibly, they came to fight Indians, but, in reality, 
they came to take care of some captain's smuggling interests, 
or to collect port receipts. Upon news of the Capote Moun- 
tain massacre reaching the authorities, a company of Mexican 
regulars was sent to chastise the Apaches. In a sense, the 
Nortanos felt that the Indians had violated their friend- 

Much has been said in regard to the alien votes which are 
yearly cast along the border. On account of the overwhelming 
majority of Mexicans in the country, this question has long 


been a cause for the serious consideration of every American 

In the early days, however, nothing was thought of import- 
ing Mexicans from across the Rio Grande and voting them in 
droves. This was considered a privilege shared equally by all 
candidates for office. If the candidate failed to take advantage 
of his opportunity, and his opponent did, no one was to blame 
but the negligent candidate. 

The story is told about the Democratic candidate for Con- 
gress, who made the long journey by mail coach from Ysleta 
to Fort Davis, to garner in the votes in that thinly settled 
portion of his district. 

At Fort Davis, the first man the candidate saw was Cap- 
tain Mose Kelly. Captain Kelly had come up from Presidio 
on some business. The two men shook hands warmly ; they 
were old friends. 

"Help me get elected, Kelly," said the candidate, after the 
preliminary greetings had been gone through with. 
"Fd like to," replied Kelly, "but I am a Republican." 
"Politics don't matter," explained the office-seeker. "This 
is a Democratic state, and a Republican can't be elected. So 
why waste your energies trying to elect one?" 

"All right," said Kelly, after a moment's consideration. 
"I'll do it. How many votes do you need to be elected?" 
"One hundred and fifty," said the candidate. 
"Can you buy two barrels of whiskey?" asked Kelly. 
The candidate could, and he gave the money to Kelly with 
the admonition to "make it count." 

The day before election, Kelly was in Presidio. That 
night, he gave a big celebration and invited the Mexicans from 
the south side of the Rio Grande. Fully one hundred and fifty 
attended. One of the barrels of whiskey was opened, and soon 
the fiery liquor was flowing down the throats of the thirsty 

"To-morrow is election day," shouted Kelly, above the up- 
roar. "Will you all vote for me ?" 

"Scgiirro! Sure!" cried the homhrcs. "Viva la Kelly!" 


So Kelly began to poll their votes. 

"Will you cast your vote for me, Juan?" he would ask; 
and when Juan would cry, "Yes !" very gaily and enthusias- 
tically, Kelly would write down the ballot for his friend, the 
Democratic candidate. 

Then he would say to Juan : "Have you a father, a brother, 
or a good friend, you can vouch to vote for me ?" 

"Oh, si, si, Senor!" 

"What is his name?" 

"Pedro Sanchez, my cousin, Sehor." Whereupon, Kelly 
would write down Pedro Sanchez' vote for the candidate. 

The election went merrily on. By the time each man had 
cast his vote, and the vote of a friend or relative, the first bar- 
rel of whiskey was emptied ; and still it was only around mid- 
night. But who was there to question such a small detail as 
casting votes before election day ! 

By the time the first barrel of "voting juice" was empty, 
all had voted ; so, as Kelly pulled the bung stopper of the sec- 
ond barrel, he remarked, "Just to make certain, it will be a 
good idea for everybody to vote over again, and have four or 
five hundred votes." 

"Sure! Segiirro!" shouted the happy Mexicans. "Viva 
la Kelly!" 

All of which transpired in the year, A. D, 1872. 

The year, 1873, was of considerable moment in the history 
of the Big Bend, owing to the fact that the Government de- 
cided to place all of our Indian wards upon reservations. It 
will be recalled that the experiment had already been tried out 
at Fort Stanton, New Mexico. 

To the Indian, this was the land of his forefathers, and 
had been for unknown ages. Better to understand the Indian 
situation, some idea of the Indians' viewpoint must be dealt 
with. His claim was that of prior possession. To him, the 
Rio Grande had no particular significance, and the fact of 
its being the initial boundary between two powerful republics 
was never recognized. He had learned by experience that the 
troops on the north side of the river were more to be feared 


than those on the south side. Therefore, the Rio Grande was 
the Hmit of his activity only in a physical sense. Wherever 
the trails crossed the Rio Grande, thus overcoming the phys- 
ical obstruction of that stream, it meant no more to him than 
the Pecos River or other streams crossed by the trails. 

In fact, the country claimed by the Apaches lay on both 
sides of the Rio Grande. Therefore, it was difficult to de- 
termine whether the Indians depredating in the Big Bend were 
the wards of the United States or of Mexico. Hence, the 
necessity of co-operation between the two governments in 
rounding up these Indians. This co-operation was extended, 
in so far as the Mexican Government could give it. 

For some years the Apaches had been led by Chief Alsate, 
who stands a spectacular figure in the annals of the Apaches. 
In the roundup of these Indians, which followed the arrival 
of Colonel Williams at Presidio, almost all of the Chisos 
Apaches, including their chief, Alsate, were taken to the City 
of Mexico. His subsequent return to his old haunts in the 
Big Bend furnishes a chapter in itself, and will be dealt with 
later. One of the last hostile acts accredited to Alsate, before 
his capture, was his attack on the freight outfits of Wolff and 
Hagelstein, at Charco de Alsate, east of Alpine. The freighters 
were returning from the salt lakes, in what is now Crane 
County, loaded with salt for Presidio. Alsate had a hundred 
warriors, but the freighters fought them off without loss on 
either side. 

The Comanche and Kioway Indians had been eliminated as 
factors in the disturbed conditions in the Big Bend. In 1872-3, 
a campaign was inaugurated by the civilian organization which 
later became known as the Texas Rangers. This campaign 
culminated in the Deer Creek fight and the Pack-saddle Moun- 
tain fight, two of the last engagements with the Comanche and 
Kioway Indians on Texas soil. 

But different from either of these Indians, were the Lipans 
and Mescaleros, who belonged to the Apache family and in- 
habited the rugged mountain country adjacent to the Rio 
Grande, in the Big Bend. After Colonel Williams had gathered 


all the Indians whom he could find and had placed them on res- 
ervations in the Indian Territory and New Mexico, there still 
remained scattered bands, numbering from a dozen to fifty 
men, women, and children. 

Against these, the Government instituted a vigorous cam- 
paign, either to capture or to exterminate them. In May, 1873, 
Lieutenant John L. Bullis, of the Twenty-fifth Infantiy, took 
charge of the Seminole Negro-Indian scouts ; and in the follow- 
ing eight years of active campaigning against these Indians, his 
record was such that Brigadier-General D. S. Stanley, in rec- 
ommending Bullis for promotion, declared that his career in 
Southwest Texas was the most successful of any Indian fighter 
in the history of the United States Army. 

In 1875, Charles Mulhern, who for fifty years has been 
closely identified with the upbuilding of the Big Bend, was ordi- 
nance sergeant, C troop. Fourth Cavalry, under Captain John 
A. Wilcox. While stationed at Fort Clark, on the east side 
of the Pecos River, a citizen came into the post one day with 
the information that he knew the location of a band of Apaches 
who had in their possession a bunch of stolen horses, and that 
these horses could easily be retaken by the soldiers. 

At that time, Captain Wilcox and most of the troop were 
out on an Indian scout, so Lieutenant Irwin, the next in com- 
mand, with five soldiers and five citizens immediately went in 
pursuit. In the meantime, another citizen had trailed the horses, 
until he found them herded by two Indians. Considering him- 
self the equal of two Indians, he fired upon them, and suc- 
ceeded in running them off and retaking the horses. Later, 
Lieutenant Irwin and his party had met the valorous citizen 
and were helping him drive the horses back to Fort Clark, 
when, by accident, they struck a fresh Indian trail, which 
showed signs of having been made by a large band. 

Leaving the citizen alone to drive the horses into the post, 
the Lieutenant's party struck out on the newly discovered trail. 
They rode rapidly ; but the Indians evidently expecting pursuit 
did likewise ; and it was the second day before the pursuers saw 
their first encouraging signs. This was a camp, where the In- 


dians had killed and eaten a young colt. This sign spurred 
the party's flagging hopes, and, despite hunger, they pressed 
on rapidly. They had ridden only a few miles, when they came 
upon the Indians, camped on Devil's River, in a canyon shaped 
like a washbasin, where they were preparing a meal. 

All fear of pursuit had left them by this time, and they were 
cooking a meal of colt's meat. One lone Indian was driving 
their tired saddle-horses to water, and so secure did they feel 
that the usual custom of posting a sentinel was not observed. 

Unfortunately, in maneuvering for a better position for their 
attack, one of the Americans became over-eager and fired his 
gun. The shot alarmed the Indians about the camp, and they 
fled precipitously to the hills. 

The horses of the party were almost exhausted, and, at the 
command of Lieutenant Irwin, they were abandoned, and the 
whites took up the pursuit on foot. But this did not last long, 
as the Indians easily outdistanced them. 

Giving up the chase, the party returned to the Indians' camp, 
and after rounding up the scattered horses, sat down to a hearty 
meal, consisting of barbecued colt's meat. 

While the hungry whites feasted, the Indians sat up in the 
rocks, out of rifle shot, and watched them, no doubt envying 
them the feast. 

It was customary for the army quartermaster to sell all cap- 
tured horses when the owner did not claim them. This was 
done with the horses captured on this trip. The animals were 
sold to the highest bidders, for seventy-five cents to one dollar 
each. ]\Ir. Mulhern bought two fine animals for the total sum 
of $1.50! 

An hour or so after the sale was over, the owner reached 
the post, anxious to recover his horses. But the buyers had 
either departed or could not be found. The owner was not 
reimbursed, for by the rough and ready military laws of the 
rough and ready West, he was loser for "keeps." 

It was probably due to this incident, a short time after, that 
a general order was issued from the department headquarters 
at San Antonio for all captured horses to be sent to the depot 


there and disposed of after a sufficiently long period had 
elapsed for the owner to make claim for his stock. 

In 1875, the Indians were very active, especially along the 
northern slope of the Davis Mountains. At that time, Sam 
Miller ran a mail stage from Fort Davis, north, through Toyah 
Valley, into the Seven Rivers country of New Mexico. Miller 
kept his work stock on his farm at San Solomon Springs, and 
found it difficult to provide a sufficient number of mules for the 
stage journeys, because of repeated thefts by Indians. 

Fires to the number of seventy or seventy-five were fre- 
quently observed on the cliffs of the Davis Mountains. These 
signals proved to be the Indians calling together their families 
before a general attack on the settlers in the valleys below. 
After they had gotten their women and children out of the way, 
they struck daily at some settlement or lone settler. 

While Robert Lyle was cattle hunting near the present 
Seven Springs Ranch, five Mescaleros attacked him. For two 
hours, he stood them off, although he was shot in a leg, an arm, 
and had a bad bullet wound in the forehead. It would have been 
his last fight, had not Daniel Murphy happened along, on his 
way from Fort Davis to his Toyah Valley farm. The two men 
succeeded in driving off the Indians, and Murphy took Lyle to 
his Toyah Valley farm. 

Another fight occurred a short time afterward with the same 
band of Indians. Four white men were hauling corn to Fort 
Davis for Whitaker Keesey, from his Phantom Lake farm. 
One of their wagons had broken down and half a load of corn 
had been left on the ground, while they continued to Fort 
Davis with the remainder. On a return trip to mend the wagon 
and pick up the corn, they walked into an Indian ambuscade, 
which had been formed about the scene of their late break- 
down. The men ran for a small hill nearby, and succeeded in 
gaining its summit, where they quickly built up a barricade of 
loose boulders. All day, the besieged held the Indians at bay, 
but finally three of the whites were killed. As evening ap- 
proached, worn out by the strain, his companions dead, seeing 
the Indians were ready to close in upon him, the fourth man 


was about to turn his gun upon himself, when a shout from 
down the canyon, told him that aid was at hand. 

Robert Lyle, with ten Mexicans, who had been working 
cattle further down Limpia Canyon, hearing the shots, had 
ridden up the canyon to investigate. At sight of these rein- 
forcements, the Indians fled. 

This fight took place at a little knoll, along the present road 
leading down Limpia Canyon, between the ranch homes of Ben- 
nett B. and Willis W. McCutcheon ; and the barricade of rock 
still stands, mute evidence of the tragedy. 



On July 24, 1875, by an act of the state legislature, Presidio, 
which hitherto had been attached to El Paso County, was made 
a county, with Fort Davis as county-seat. This act made Pre- 
sidio the largest organized county in the United States, embrac- 
ing approximately twelve thousand square miles. 

The unsettled condition of the country is illustrated by the 
fact that when the new county was divided into five districts, 
or precincts, the fourth district had no justice of the peace nor 
tax collector, the reason being that no one lived in that district. 

The roll of new county officers contained the names of men 
who played important parts in the upbuilding of the South- 
west. John R. Davis, justice of peace and tax collector for the 
third district, had come to Presidio del Norte with John W. 
Spencer, in the late forties. In time, he had established a ranch 
headquarters above Presidio, on Alamito Creek, and his ranch 
became one of the stopping places on the great Chihuahua Trail. 

Captain Theodore A. Wilson, sherifif, and Sam R. Miller, 
justice of the peace and tax collector for the second district, are 
already well known to us from their activities in fighting In- 
dians and outlaws ; while Whitaker Keesey, a grand old man, 
who, perhaps more than any other one man, helped build up 
the- cattle industry in the Davis Mountains, had come as head 
baker with Merritt's troops in 1867. From his meager army 
pay, Mr. Keesey saved enough money to found a mercantile 
establishment, in 1873, which has never closed its doors. With 
almost prophetic vision, he saw the great future of the country 
and, consistent with his views, in later years, he risked his per- 
sonal fortune, time after time, in carrying cattle men through 
disastrous droughts and hard years. 

Fort Davis was rapidly settling with a sturdy class of 
pioneers whose descendants to-day are meritoriously upholding 


the dignity of their names. George Crosson, for a number of 
years had been wagonmaster on the San Antonio-Santa Fe 
and the Chihuahua Trails. After the organization of Presidio 
County, he gave up trail-driving and brought sheep to Fort 
Davis. Upon the arrival of Mrs. Crosson and the children, two 
years later, Crosson established permanent ranch headquarters 
several miles away from the army post. In those days, living 
on a ranch was very hazardous, on account of the Indians. 
Time after time, the Crosson ranch w^as raided. The Indians 
seemed to prefer sheep to cattle, as they could be driven more 
easily and readily over mountain passes; and, when pressed 
closely by irate citizens or soldiers, the Indian herders could 
secrete the sheep in small bunches, where their tracks would 
pass unnoticed by the trailers. 

In this year, the Indians were unusually active around Fort 
Davis. The spreading out of the settlers, who dared brave 
the perils of raids in order to have the fine pasturage for their 
stock, had attracted the Indians' attention. Grafton T. Wilcox, 
county and district clerk, lost eighteen head of beeves, forty- 
two young cows, and several fine horses in an Indian raid upon 
Captain Wilson's ranch, down Limpia Canyon. None of these 
was recovered. At that time Wilson was a young man, just 
beginning life with this little bunch of cattle, which would have 
grown him a fortune. He lost all in one raid ! 

Indeed, the Indians became so bold that they crept up to the 
adobe wall surrounding the post buildings and shot a soldier 
who was working in the post garden. Again, they stole the 
sheep and goats from a corral in the rear of Patrick Murphy's 
store, and succeeded in reaching their mountain fastnesses with 
their slow-moving captives. 

Were the records obtainable concerning the thrilling experi- 
ences of the stage-drivers, they would be replete with interest. 
In 1877, the Twenty-fifth Infantry, a negro regiment, com- 
manded by white officers, was stationed at Fort Davis. Their 
duty was to keep the Indians pushed back from the overland 
mail route. 

An amusing incident connected with this stage route, and 


an instance of ironical retribution, took place, which brings out 
the iron-fisted way a proper regard for the code of the West 
was taught. 

At every stage stand, army pickets were posted. In addi- 
tion to this, soldiers acted as guards for United States mails. 
The stages were the Concord coach type, with a driver and two 
guards riding in the driver's seat. 

One day, something had incapacitated the regular driver, 
and E. P. Webster, who had charge of the stage stand at Fort 
Davis, mounted the driver's seat to take the stage over the first 
division west. As usual, two negro soldiers climbed up in the 
seat with him. All went well until the stage reached a thicket 
of live-oaks between El Muerto and Van Horn Wells. At 
this point, the stage was ambushed by the Indians, who closed 
in from both sides of the road. Webster was driving a team 
of four wild, half-broken mules, and successfully ran the gant- 
let of the Indians' cross-fire, without man or beast being dis- 

The Indians were poorly mounted, but in the first burst of 
speed to regain their lost advantage, they came up almost 
abreast of the stage. Webster carried only a six-shooter, and 
was too busy managing his thoroughly frightened mules to be 
able to use it. But the two soldiers were armed with the regu- 
lation army guns, and replied to the fire of the racing Indians. 

As the Indians momentarily gained on the stage, one of these 
negroes, thinking a position inside the stage would be less 
perilous, scrambled back over the top to get inside. He failed 
to consider that the canvas side of the stage afforded but 
scanty protection. In crawling down, he caught his gun in the 
rear wheel and it was jerked from his hand, rendering him use- 
less in the fight. His mishap was greeted with a yell of glee 
from the Indians. Naturally, he felt very uncomfortable. 

However, after the first burst of speed, the Indian ponies 
were outdistanced by the wiry stage mules, and the mail raced 
into Van Horn Wells at top speed. A report was made of the 
attack to the officer in command, who immediately arrested 
the unfortunate soldier. 


Instead of dismissing him from the service, with a dishon- 
orable discharge as a punishment, the soldier was placed on 
night guard for one year, at a lonely station, without either 
rifle or side-arms. With the Indians ever threatening, the ter- 
rorizing noises of the night and the rough men of the day, 
this unofficial punishment was meted out to the careless sol- 
dier. At the end of the year, he was taken to Fort Davis, and 
dismissed from the service. 

This same year, Lieutenant Bullis, with his Seminole scouts, 
made a dash into Mexico after a band of Mescalero Apaches, 
who had been raiding and murdering in the neighborhood of 
the Pecos River. Bullis had been on a chase after the Indians 
operating in the Davis Mountains, and was returning to Fort 
Clark, when he picked up the fresh trail of a large party. The 
Indians were headed for the old war trail, which crossed the 
Rio Grande a hundred miles above the mouth of the Pecos 
River. Across the Rio Grande, at the old crossing, into Mexico, 
followed Bullis. This point was afterwards called the Bullis 

On the third day of pursuit, the scouts came upon the In- 
dians as they were resting. Never dreaming that they would be 
followed into Mexico, the Indians were completely surprised. 
The advantage in position was in their favor, however, and 
after a short stand, they fled up the mountain side, where the 
scouts, smaller in number and worn out from their three days* 
steady riding, could not follow. Bullis rounded up twenty- 
three head of stolen horses and returned to the Texas side. 

When he first discovered the Indian signs, Bullis had dis- 
patched a courier to inform General Ord, commanding the De- 
partment of Texas, of his purpose to give chase ; and Ord had 
ordered Colonel Shatter to march to Bulks' relief. Before the 
Colonel's forces had gotten under way, however, Bullis, in per- 
son, rode into Fort Clark to make his report. He had left his 
scouts in camp, and had ridden 140 miles in thirty-six hours. 

Lieutenant Bullis was a remarkable man. No military 
commander, until the coming of Gaston and Langhorne, was so 
well liked by the frontiersmen. At one time, a request was sent 


to General Ord, by the citizens of a border county which BulHs 
had successfully rid of Indians, to assign Lieutenant Bullis an 
independent command of seventy-five men, to be selected by 
himself. This could not be done on account of army regula- 
tions. Again, Frederick Remington, who needs no introduction 
to the reader, in an article written for the Century Magazine, 
pays a tribute to Bullis after Bullis had been assigned to 
the charge of the San Carlos Indian Reservation, in Arizona. 
The artist draws this word picture : 

"The affairs of the San Carlos agency are administered at 
present by an army officer. Captain Bullis, of the Twenty-fourth 
Infantry. As I have observed him in the discharge of his du- 
ties, I have no doubt that he pays high life insurance premiums. 
He does not seem to fear the beetle-browed pack of murderers 
with whom he has to deal, for he has spent his life in command 
of Indian scouts and not only understands their character, but 
has gotten out of the habit of fearing anything. If the deeds of 
this officer had been on civilized battle fields instead of in 
silently leading a pack of savages over the desert wastes of the 
Rio Grande, they would have gotten him his niche in the Tem- 
ple of Fame. But they are locked up in the gossip of the army 
mess-room, and end in the soldiers' matter-of-fact joke about 
how Bullis used to eat his provisions in the field, by opening a 
can a day from the pack, and, whether it was peaches or corned- 
beef, making it suffice. The Indians regard him as almost 
supernatural, and speak of the 'Whirlwind' with many grunts 
of admiration, as they narrate his wonderful achievements." 

The Seminole scouts were the one-time slaves of the Kicka- 
poo Indians. The name, properly Simanoli, means renegade, or 
runaway, in reference to their secession from the Creek con- 
federacy early in the eighteenth century. In time, a branch 
of Seminoles crossed with the Southern negro, and became the 
slaves of the Kickapoos. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, 
six hundred Kickapoos left their reservation in Oklahoma to 
settle in Mexico, taking their half-breed slaves with them. 
After the abolition of slavery, they desired to return to the 
United States, but, before they could do so, they had to free 


their Seminole slaves. Gradually, these slaves drifted back 
across the border, and, on account of their knowledge of Indian 
customs and habits, were employed in the army as scouts. 

One of the men to cross trails with BuUis in the early days, 
was Judge Joseph Jones, judge of the Sixty-third District. At 
that time, Judge Jones was a surveyor, and was running surveys 
in the country infested by both the Lipan and Mescalero 
Apaches. Sometimes, Lieutenant Bullis and his scouts were 
detailed as escorts for the Jones' surveying party, when the In- 
dians were particularly bad. On one of these occasions, the 
surveying party was camped near a water hole, and, early in the 
morning, Bullis saw a suspicious looking smoke not a great 
distance from their camp. Although the party had not break- 
fasted, Bullis decided to attack before the Indians should dis- 
cover them. 

The surprise was complete ; the Indians, five or six in num- 
ber, fled ; no casualties. But when the whites rushed into their 
camp they found nice, juicy horse meat broiling on the fire; 
and, joining in with the others, Judge Jones ate a hearty break- 
fast of the meat. 

Another peculiar incident happened to the Jones' surveying 
party while surveying across the Devil's River, above the pres- 
ent town of Del Rio. In reports to the War Department, in 
the early fifties. Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, in command of 
the topographical engineers, mentioned losing a man, with a 
surveyor's transit and chain, in a quick rise of the San Pedro 
River (Devil's River). 

Thirty years later, the Jones' party was surveying the same 
stream. In crossing a shallow place, a Polish boy, by name 
Wyschetzky, stepped on a sharp-pointed object, like the fin of a 
large fish. He made for the bank, plunging and yelling. Upon 
investigation, an old surveyor's transit was dug out of the mud, 
with the initials "J. E. J." stamped upon it. 

The events which led up to the so-called Salt Lake War 
are difficult to relate. The personal prejudices which are bound 
to crop out in any bitter struggle between two factions are hard 
to eliminate. Our oldest and best citizens alive to-day who 


took part or were in any way connected with or sympathized 
with one faction or the other see, from their personal view- 
point, the incidents and tragedies of that darkly-clouded year, 
1877. In so far as available, this account is drawn from offi- 
cial sources and reports. 

It is inevitably true that two races so widely dissimilar in 
temperament, business and moral standards, historical prece- 
dents and traditions, as are the Anglo-Americans and Latin- 
Americans — commonly called Mexicans — can never come to 
an understanding, unless the above named differences are over- 
come through education, and a stable form of government under 
which the Mexican people, as a whole, are taught to aspire to 
higher ideals, both in national polity and in personal behavior ; 
and until we Americans cultivate, not forbearance, but a more 
sympathetic understanding of these people, which will enable 
us to render them assistance. We must ever bear in mind, when 
dealing with lawlessness along the border and in Mexico, that 
since the coming of Hernandez Cortez to the present time, these 
people have had to live under conditions which absolutely pre- 
clude a possibility of their attaining higher standards, either 
morally or spiritually. Slaves they were ; slaves they are to- 
day ; slaves they will be to-morrow, unless they receive assist- 
ance from without. And it must be remembered that when for 
a brief space they break their bonds and run mad with rioting 
and killing — a throw-back to their Indian progenitors — that it 
is but the resultant reflex action from the terribly miserable lives 
they are wont to live. 

Under the Spanish and Mexican rules, the Mexican citizens 
of the settlements along the Rio Grande were given the free 
use of the several large salt deposits, about one hundred miles 
north of the Rio Grande. For many years after Texas became a 
state, this custom was continued, as the country was unsettled 
and there was no demand for either the salt or the land. 

As the country became more settled, however, and citizens 
began locating land under the Texas settlement law, Judge 
Charles H. Howard, of El Paso, and his father-in-law, George 
Zimpleman, of Austin, located the largest of these salt lakes, 


which lies northeast of San Elizario, at that time the county- 
seat of El Paso county. 

Immediately, a protest arose from the Mexicans, who main- 
tained that the treaty by which the territory was ceded to the 
United States did not extinguish the rights of the public to use 
these salt lakes. To add to their dissatisfaction, Judge Howard 
would permit no one to take salt from the deposits. He was 
acting within his rights, and had filled every requirement of 
the law. 

As soon as Howard took possession of the salt lake, he put 
into execution plans to market quantities of salt in Chihuahua 
and other points. This was transported by wagon, and, to 
overcome the dearth of water between San Elizario and the 
salt lakes, he had water barrels placed at intervals along the 

The situation had by this time grown tense. Heretofore, 
the Mexican populace, on both sides of the Rio Grande, had 
expressed their discontent in mutterings and veiled threats. 
Now, the situation took on a political aspect. 

In every county along the border, not only in Texas, but 
elsewhere, the Mexican vote was, and is, controlled by certain 
political bosses or factions. As a rule, national political creeds 
did not figure prominently in these fights ; but, when they did, 
the bitter feelings engendered took on a more personal aspect. 
This statement holds good to-day. 

Judge Howard had been placed in office by the white vote. 
Opposing him was Luis Cardis, an Italian, who had come to 
the Southwest in the 6o's. Up to five or six years prior to the 
Salt Lake trouble, Cardis had Leen the political lieutenant of 
W. W. Mills. He knew the Spanish language and understood 
the Mexican people thoroughly. He succeeded Colonel Mills 
as leader of the Mexican people, and was the acknowledged 
dictator of the Mexican vote. Cardis was a Republican ; How- 
ard was a Democrat. Also, Cardis had the sub-contract on the 
Overland Mail between El Paso and Fort Davis. A statement 
is on record which claims that Cardis collected $2.50 revenue 
from each cart-load of salt the I^Iexicans hauled away from the 


salt lakes. Yet, the Mexican people loved and obeyed Cardis ; 
and therein lies the crux of the trouble. 

Judge Howard was a man of imposing appearance, powerful 
physique, and wonderful determination and courage, and was 
district judge of El Paso, Presidio and Pecos counties. Be- 
fore coming to the Southwest he had served in the Confederate 
army. Howard's chief characteristic was force ; that of Cardis, 
persuasion and management — a natural diplomat. 

On September lo, 1877, the real trouble began. Judge How- 
ard had two prominent Mexicans of San Elizario arrested for 
making public threats against him. No sooner had this been 
done, than a mob of forty or fifty Mexicans broke into the jail 
and forcibly released their countrymen ; and, in turn, arrested 
Howard and the county judge, held a farce which they called 
"court," and possibly would have killed them both, had not 
Luis Cardis and the parish priest appeared in time to cool the 
Mexicans' thirst for blood. After a promise was extorted from 
Howard to leave the country and never return, he and the 
county judge were released. 

Howard then proceeded to New Mexico, where he tele- 
graphed Governor Hubbard, of Texas, for protection. There 
was great excitement in the state, and the incident, much to the 
detriment of many good citizens of Mexican blood, was gen- 
erally termed a race war. 

Major John B. Jones, Adjutant-General of Texas, suddenly 
appeared in El Paso, organized a company of rangers, com- 
missioned John B. Tays as lieutenant, and returned to Austin. 

On October loth. Judge Howard returned to El Paso. He 
had already accused Cardis of being the instigator of the trouble 
by creating dissatisfaction among the Mexicans about the salt 
lakes. Howard went out to hunt for Cardis, and found the 
Italian in the store of S. Schutz & Brother, where Cardis had 
gone to have Adolph Krakauer write a letter for him. Howard 
walked into the store, and with a double-barreled shotgun, 
killed Cardis. When the dead man's body was removed, a six- 
shooter was found in his pocket, in a scabbard, and cocked. 
The details of this tragedy is a matter of record. 


Again Howard fled to New Mexico, but he returned in De- 
cember to hold court at Fort Davis. From El Paso to San 
Elizario, he was escorted by the rangers, twenty in number, 
under command of Lieutenant Tays. But they never got be- 
yond San Elizario. 

A detachment of regulars, under command of Captain 
Thomas Blair, was stationed at San Elizario, and his report on 
the subsequent occurrences was as follows : 

"As soon as Howard arrived in San Elizario, the town was 
surrounded by a cordon of armed men (Mexicans) and pickets 
posted on all roads. As soon as Tays saw the state of affairs 
he and his party retreated to their quarters (which was a de- 
tached building with corral) and barricaded the doors and win- 
dows and cut port-holes in the walls. On Thursday morning 
the firing began, and continued with but few intermissions until 
the rangers surrendered on IMonday forenoon. Mr. Ellis, a 
merchant, was the first one killed ; that was Wednesday night. 
When the tumult began, he went out to find out what it was, 
and not stopping when halted by one of their sentinels (Mexi- 
cans), was shot. Afterward his throat was cut and his body 
thrown into an accquia (water-ditch). 

"On Thursday morning. Sergeant Mortimer, of the Rang- 
ers, was killed while making his way to the building where the 
others were posted. The Rangers consisted of just twenty men, 
I believe. With them in the building were Howard and his 
colored servant ; Mr. Adkinson, a merchant of San Elizario, a 
Mr. Loomis, from Fort Stockton, I believe, and Mrs. Campbell, 
the wife of one of the rangers, and her three children. 

"After hearing that I had been inside, Mrs. Marsh and Mrs. 
Campbell (senior) went down from El Paso on Sunday morn- 
ing. Mrs. Marsh got out her son who was with the rangers, 
but the Alexicans disarmed him and retained him prisoner. 
Mrs. Campbell (senior) got out her daughter-in-law and her 
two children. 

"The ranger party on Monday found that they could not hold 
out much longer, the men were being overcome by sleep, and 
under a flag of truce went out and had a talk with the leaders, 


who told them if they would give up Howard it was all they 
■wanted. This they refused to do. They then said that if Howard 
would come out he could make arrangements by which it would 
be all right. Tays returned and told him so, but told him not to 
go unless he wanted to do so, that he would defend him to the 
last man. Howard returned with Lieutenant Tays to the lead- 
ers. However, after some talk they asked Tays to leave How- 
ard to them and go into another room, which he refused to do, 
whereupon he was seized by about a dozen men and carried 
out, and then found that all his party had surrendered at the 
instigation of Adkinson (it is said). 

"During the afternoon, Howard, Adkinson, and McBride, 
Howard's agent, were taken out and shot. A strong effort was 
■ made by the more violent of the party, and by those from the 
other side, to have all the Americans shot, but Chico Barela 
opposed this, said there had been enough blood shed, and that 
only after they had killed him could any more Americans be 

"Thursday forenoon they were all released, each one having 
Ills horse returned to him, but their arms were retained. Some 
of the rangers with whom I have talked, informed me that they 
were all asked whether they were employed by the Governor of 
Texas or by Howard, and then each one was required to sign a 
blank paper. They were then escorted by guard as far as 

"The mob is estimated by Lieutenant Tays at no less than 
five hundred, many of the leaders being from the other side. 
The loss was five Americans killed and at least one Mexican, 
belonging to a party under Captain Garcia, who tried to assist 
the Americans. The losses on the side of the mob are un- 
known, but at least five or six are known to have been killed and 
a large number, not less than thirty or forty, wounded." 

During the five days of fighting, Captain Blair states that 
he held frequent coramtmications with the leaders of the Mexi- 
can mob. He says : 

"I found the people excited over the fact that Howard, who 
had taken a life, was permitted to go at large, while two of 


their number, who had only said they would go for salt to his 
Salinas, had been arrested. They said Howard had killed their 
friend, Cardis, and they would have his life, cost what it might. 

*T found their force to consist of about three hundred and 
fifty sober, well-organized, well-armed, determined men, with 
a definite purpose. Howard they wanted, nothing less, nothing 
else. I told them I thought they would regret their course, that 
for Howard personally I cared nothing, but I would be sorry if 
anything happened to Lieutenant Tays. Yes, they said, but 
why was he defending Howard?" 

The frank acknowledgment of Captain Blair that he had 
held communications several times with the outlaws, but still 
made no move to prevent the killing of his five countrymen, 
on United States soil, especially as the most of these outlaws 
were known to have come from Mexico, makes quite clear the 
principal reason the army was respected neither by the Amer- 
ican settlers nor by the Mexicans. It is true that Governor Hub- 
bard called on President Hayes for assistance, but by the time 
the President's instructions had been acted upon by the War 
Department, the instructions passed to the commander of the 
Department of Texas, who, in turn, passed them on to the 
commanding ofiicer at Fort Bliss, who instructed Captain Blair 
what to do, the tragedy had occurred, and the outlaws had 
escaped to the south side of the Rio Grande. 

Upon news of the killing reaching the Governor, he ordered 
an additional force of rangers recruited to assist the authorities 
in restoring order and calm. In reviewing the testimony, the 
Judge Advocate General of the Army reports : 

"Many outrages were committed on innocent people in the 
neighborhood during the excitement, but of these not a few 
were perpetrated by members of the State force raised in New 
Mexico under authority of the Governor of Texas. These last 
seem especially to be responsible for the crimes of which the 
people justly complain." 

The United States Commissioners, Colonels King and 
Lewis, before whom all the testimony was placed, say : 

"On December 22d, another small force of about thirty 


men (this was the force already referred to) arrived from Sil- 
ver City, who had been called into temporary service under 
telegraphic instructions from the Governor, but, unhappily, as 
was natural and according to experience in raising volunteers 
along the border when the exigencies of the occasion do not 
permit that delay which a wise discrimination in the choice of 
material would cause, the force of rangers thus suddenly called 
together contained within its ranks an adventurous and law- 
less element which, though not predominant, was yet strong 
enough to make its evil influences felt in deeds of violence and 
outrage, matched only by the mob itself. Notably among these 
atrocities, should be classed the shooting of two Mexican pris- 
oners who were bound with cords when turned over to the 
guard at Ysleta, ostensibly to bury the bodies of Howard, Ad- 
kinson and McBride — then lying in the fields of San Elizario — 
and when next seen, about an hour after, were pierced with 
bullet holes, their appearance giving rise to grave apprehension 
in unprejudiced minds that their deaths were neither necessary 
nor justifiable." 

No one was punished for this last tragedy. Lieutenant Tays 
was forced to resign, and the Adjutant General of Texas or- 
dered Colonel George W. Baylor, captain of Ranger Battalion 
Company. D, to proceed to Ysleta as quickly as possible, and 
restore order. 

Thus ends the story of the Salt Lake War. No one was 
punished for this last tragedy. In the rough code of that day, it 
was "an eye for an eye." Just ever so often, a similar occur- 
rence takes place, for instance, the Glenn Springs raid ; the 
Columbus raid; the Brite's ranch raid — end upon end, they 
could be enumerated. Can Mexico cite us to similar deeds com- 
mitted by Americans upon Mexican soil ? 



Pecos and Presidio counties had been created in 1870. It is 
not convincingly clear regarding the formation of these coun- 
ties, but a search through the records revealed that the first 
legislative act to form them went by default, and that the elec- 
tion in 1872 was held on the authority of a proclamation of a 
"township" or "precinct" in Presidio County. It is possible 
that this precinct was called Pecos. The records say that, in 

1870, Pecos and Presidio Counties were created by the legisla- 
ture, by boundaries which were found to be incorrect. In 

1871, Pecos County was again created by boundaries, and a 
board appointed to organize on the first Monday in May, but 
the board members were not appointed until May 12. This is 
why the organization seemed to go by default. The board con- 
sisted of Peter Gallagher, George Frazier, and Caesario Torres. 

In 1874, Pecos and Presidio Counties were attached to El 
Paso County for judicial purposes. On March 13, 1875, ^ board 
of commissioners was appointed to organize Presidio County, 
under act of 1871, with power to organize that which was en- 
acted under the provisions of 1871. Pecos County, being also 
approved under act of 1871, is presumed to have been organ- 
ized in this same manner, for it is a fact by all records that 
Pecos County was organized in 1875, with Saint Gall as the 
county seat. 

Following is a report of the first grand jury in Pecos County, 
in June, 1875: "We have thoroughly investigated all matters 
of a criminal nature which have been brought before us, which 
have occurred since the organization of the county. We have 
found the county generally in a quiet and peaceable condition." 
The document is signed by Bernardo Torres, foreman. 

Despite this statement from the jury, it appears that there 
were many cases of murder, attempted murder and theft per- 


petrated at this time, as is evidenced by the report of the crimi- 
nal docket. 

The grand jurors were, perhaps, lolHng in their self com- 
placency, as the following portion of their report from Pecos 
County, October lo, 1875, will indicate: "We, the jurors, rec- 
ommend there be some suitable place erected or provided for the 
safe keeping of prisoners, as, at the present time, we are en- 
tirely dependent upon the military authorities at Fort Stockton 
for the safe keeping of prisoners, and they, the military authori- 
ties, may at any time refuse to receive a prisoner in their guard 
house. The grand jury has discovered, with regret, that in 
this county there is a looseness of moral conduct based upon 
old habits, and found in a new and somewhat uncivilized 

"The grand jurors have a reason to congratulate themselves 
upon the prompt and efficient manner in which they have dis- 
charged their duties. They have found a large number of in- 
dictments and have thoroughly investigated other matters that 
are common within their knowledge." 

The first district judge was Charles H. Howard, who was 
afterward killed at San Elizario by a Mexican mob in the Salt 
Lake War of 1877. In the year 1 871, on June 28th, the district 
court was opened, under the supervision of the district attor- 
ney, James A. Zabriskie. 

In 1875 the first commissioners' court met. Officers present 
were George M. Frazier, presiding justice, as the record says ; 
Caesario Torres, Francis Rooney, Hipolito Carrasco, E. W. 
Bates, clerk, and Andrew Loomis, sheriff. 

Then followed the passing of laws which dealt first with the 
primary necessity of life — the preservation of food. After this 
most important act, laws were drawn up against murderers and 
thieves. Then came readjustment of titles, and, ultimately, 
laws against such minor offenses as gambling and "boot-leg- 

The fourth law passed by the commissioners, at the first 
meeting, held forth that if any description of livestock be 
found tresspassing between March 18 and December i, the ani- 


mals would be impounded and the owners held liable for dam- 
ages and fine. 

It was not, however, until 1881 that Fort Stockton was 
named the county-seat. The commissioners called a meeting 
for August 13th, of this year, to choose a permanent seat, and 
the choice lay between Fort Stockton and Saint Gall, lying side 
by side. Ninety-four votes were cast in the election ; Fort 
Stockton received sixty- four of this number ; Fort Davis, sit- 
uated in Presidio County, receiving one, and Saint Gall the 

The courthouse at that time was an adobe building which, 
at the present time, is still standing, and is being used for a 
Mexican school. The present courthouse is standing just across 
in the southwest corner from the old one. A point of interest, 
which elicited little or no atterition at the time of the old court- 
house, was the fact that it was situated within the precincts 
of Saint Gall, and was continued to be used in this capacity for 
many years, although Fort Stockton was the county-seat. 

About this time the shortness of water in Limpia Canyon 
necessitated the mail route being changed temporarily to Mus- 
quiz Canyon. Judge Joseph Jones made a trip over this route 
when he was sent out to Fort Davis and Fort Stockton to meas- 
ure wood contracts for the quartermaster department. Colonel 
Lawton, afterwards of Spanish-American war fame, was head 
of the department, and had his command divided between the 
two posts. At this time, however, he was away on leave of 
absence, and Lieutenant Kendall was acting quartermaster- 
Lieutenant Kendall refused to receive the wood, which was 
mesquite, because it was all roots. After an investigation, how- 
ever, on the part of the War Department, following a recom- 
mendation by Judge Jones, the lieutenant was ordered to receive 
the wood. 

The contractors for the wood were Francis Rooney and 
Caesario Torres, who had been clearing some farm lands of 
mesquite grubs, and had used the mesquite trunks for fence 
posts. Their contract with the Government had been filled with 
the roots. 


In 1878, Captain Shavley built a road through Wild Rose 
Pass, and during the same year. Lieutenant Kendall worked a 
road in Musquiz Canyon, which later Colonel Grierson com- 

Mrs. Kendall, wife of Lieutenant Kendall, while her hus- 
band was absent on one of his trips of inspection, during the 
time he was acting as quartermaster, had an experience with a 
negro trooper. With her and her little children was Lizette 
Stivers, the daughter of a neighboring officer. In the night, 
after they had retired, they heard a noise, and plainly saw a 
negro man picking the glass from the window to gain an en- 
trance. Although frightened, Mrs. Kendall did not lose her 
nerve, and immediately got her revolver, which she kept under 
her pillow. With this, she crept quietly to the foot of the bed, 
and, within a few feet of the negro, fired at him point blank 
range. The negro was not given a military funeral. Mrs. 
Kendall deeply regretted the occurrence, but was highly praised 
for her bravery and presence of mind. After this happening, 
she would no longer go about alone, but was always attended 
by an escort. 

In 1879, a flood completely washed away the old telegraph 
office, which was located near Limpia Creek, below Fort Davis. 
The telegraph line was from Fort Concho to El Paso, and con- 
nected at Fort Davis with the telegraph line to Presidio and 
Pina Colorada. After the flood the telegraph office was moved 
to the south side of the present post. 

During the year 1878 the Indians were at their worst. The 
country for miles about was continually infested with them, 
and soldiers and rangers had to be kept constantly in the field to 
ward off their attacks. The troops finally drove them eastward 
from the field of operation around Eagle Springs, Diablo 
Mountains, and other points west of the Davis Mountains. 

As a result of this, however, the Indians retaliated by raid- 
ing in and around Fort Davis. Dutchover's ranch, four miles 
north of Fort Davis, was raided, in July, 1879; twenty-one 
head of horses stolen; one Mexican woman killed, and other 
damages perpetrated by the savages. Captain Carpenter, com- 

Q ^ 

Oh o 






mandant at the post, hurried a detachment after the marauders. 
After scouring the country, and faiHng to apprehend any of 
the band, four of the soldiers were left to guard the ranch for 
a month. 

Another striking incident connected with the Indian activi- 
ties at this time was the attack on three stonemasons who were 
coming from New Mexico by way of the El Paso trail. They 
had walked from Ysleta to within a half a mile of Barrel 
Springs, on their way to Fort Davis, where they intended to 
catch a Chihuahua freight-outfit and ride into San Antonio. 
Cautiously and successfully they passed through the most dan- 
gerous part of their route, and were in sight of the stage sta- 
tion. Fatigued and worn out, they were sighted by a band of 
Indians, and in plain sight of witnesses at the station who were 
powerless to interfere, were brutally attacked. Two of the 
masons were killed. One of them swung a trowel across his 
back, which a bullet pierced, penetrating his heart. The third 
man escaped and reached the stage station. 

Another incident occurring about the same time was when 
John Spencer, and his son,William,a small lad, were riding across 
the Fort Stockton Trail, between Charco de Alsate and Lioncito. 
The son glimpsed a group of horsemen at a distance, and sug- 
gested to his father that they were Indians. The elder man 
was of the opinion that they were cowboys, and paid no attention 
to them. He alighted from his horse to arrange something about 
the saddle, when, suddenly, he was startled by the yells of 
Indians sweeping, in full speed, toward him and his son. 
Spencer jumped quickly upon his horse, but the Indians were 
so close that they shot the horse underneath him. Immediately 
he sprang up behind his son, whose horse, though heavily handi- 
capped, outdistanced the Indians' ponies and escaped. 

In 1879, Colonel W. R. Livermore, retired, after whom the 
highest peak in the Davis Mountains is named, was instru- 
mental in completing a route for the approaching Southern 
Pacific Railway. Previous attempts had been made during the 
fifties, of the last century, to find such a route, but it was left 
for Colonel Livermore to perfect a successful expedition. 


Colonel Livermore's' experiences were similar to those of 
other explorers, scouts, and travelers in the Fort Davis region 
during that period. His explorations followed a tour of ob- 
servation made by him when he was engaged in Mexico on a 
mission of international courtesy, together with the Honorable 
Elihu Washbourne, and his topographical assistants, Butter- 
field and Cotera. At this time the party made a rough survey 
from Fort Clark to Fort Davis. 

An appropriation had been made by Congress for explora- 
tions to establish the sites for a series of military posts to de- 
fend the frontier lands from any possible plundering raids from 
Mexico or from the Indian reservations, and to protect the 
scanty population from outlaws. 

Such protection made explorations more possible than 
before, and in 1880 an expedition was organized by Colonel 
Livermore at San Antonio and Fort Clark. This consisted of 
a company of the Eighth United States Cavalry, under William 
A. Shunk and John W. Pullman, who were at that time lieu- 
tenants in the United States army. The expedition also in- 
cluded a detachment of Comanche and Seminole Negro-Indian 
scouts from Lieutenant Bullis' company. They were supplied 
with plenty of six-mule teams, and a large pack-train, so that 
on passing the plains and climbing the mountains, new roads 
and paths were opened up. From Fort Clark to Fort Davis 
the explorers followed almost in the trail made by Butterfield 
and Cotera. This trail has been erroneously confused, how- 
ever, with the trail of the Butterfield Daily Overland Mail ; but 
which has no connection with the Butterfield-Cotera trail. 

Colonel Livermore and his attendants completed the wagon 
road and the survey, halting at points some twenty or thirty 
miles apart, which, but a few years later, became stations along 
the Southern Pacific Railroad. 

In the year of 1880 H. Huelster moved to Leon Water- 
holes, which, in an earlier period, was known as Ojo de Leon, 
to take charge of the mail stage stand. Later he was joined by 
Mrs. Huelster from St. Louis, who assisted him in conducting 
the stand, with the help of an old Mexican. 


The stand was a rudely constructed adobe building, contain- 
ing two rooms. The only interest outside of daily work was 
the daily mail coach, which gave them something to look for- 
ward to during the monotony of their existence. 

The Huelsters had sixteen mules to care for, and as the 
Indian troubles had abated somewhat, they were enabled to put 
the mules on grass. As a sentinel for the mules, an old gray 
cavalry horse, with a bell jingling about his neck, was staked 
out, and the mules stayed in close vicinity. 

During July and August of 1880 great rains fell at Leon 
Waterholes. The dirt roof of the Huelster adobe leaked so 
badly that the passengers who came on the stage coach, and 
the Huelsters, were compelled to move about inside, and eat in 
a room almost knee-deep in water. It is said that during the 
rainy season of the year the quartermaster clerks at Fort Davis 
had to work under umbrellas in their adobe house to keep the 
rain off their ledgers. 

The Huelsters moved from Leon Waterholes to Barila 
stand in 1881. Here conditions were about the same. They 
lived in a similar two-room adobe, which had a dirt roof, 
through which Mrs. Huelster, from her bed, could see the 
north star. 

The stand was close to the present site of the JEF Ranch 
headquarters, and the only commodity for which the proprietors 
did not have to stake their last dollar was the water, which was 
procured from a well nine feet deep, and which was made 
deeper from time to time. Prices were soaring, and as the 
Huelsters supplied meals to the passengers who came on the 
daily stage from San Antonio, it was necessary that they have 
a full table. Coffee and sugar sold at fifty cents a pound ; beans 
fifteen cents a pound; raisins fifty cents a pound; starch forty 
cents a pound. A bar of cheap laundry soap cost ten cents, 
and many commodities were almost unpurchasable. To allevi- 
ate the high cost of living, Mrs. Huelster tried to keep a well- 
filled and flourishing garden to furnish vegetables for the table, 
as well as to raise many chickens to furnish eggs and fowl for 
the passengers. 


That all stage stations did not serve the passengers so bounti- 
fully as did the Huelsters is evidenced by the story going the 
rounds at the time Huelster moved to the Barila station. 

One night the stage driver to Barila had two very fastidious 
passengers coming from El Paso, on their way back to civiliza- 
tion. They were exceedingly irritable from their journey across 
the country. That they did not love the stage coach nor the 
country was evident from their many complaints which they 
hurled, ever and anon, at the driver's head. 

Finally, they requested the driver to awaken them for break- 
fast, and went to sleep. They arrived at Barali station at two 
o'clock in the morning. 

"Breakfast!" shouted the driver, shaking and kicking them. 
The men tumbled out, stiff and sore from their long journey, 
and went grumbling into the stage stand quarters. 

Even at that unearthly hour, the driver announced that they 
must have breakfast then or not at all, as the next stop was at 
Fort Stockton, fifty miles away. 

Inside the stage stand a tender brought out a pan of beans, 
dry, not very well cooked, and rattling in the pan. 

"I can't eat beans," said one of the men in disgust. "I am a 
victim of dyspepsia. I just can't eat them." 

The cook then served them with bacon, fat and juicy, which 
he slammed down before his guests indifferently. 

"Bacon !" exclaimed the other passenger. "Why, whoever 
heard of one eating bacon so early in the morning? It doesn't 
agree with me this early." 

"Well 1" retorted the driver, snatching up a bottle from the 
shelf," here's some French mustard — eat that, damn you !" 

One of the tasks of the Huelsters, besides serving meals, 
was to note the time of arrival and departure of the stages. The 
company kept a clock in good order in each stand for this pur- 
pose, and the stage drivers carried books, like modern express 
messengers, in which the time was inserted in the proper places. 
There was no postoffice at the place, but the Huelsters got their 
mail from the little pouch that contained this report book. 

As memories of hardships seem to linger with a greater 


poignance than those of happier events, Mrs. Huelster remem- 
bers occurrences connected with their pioneer days. Events 
were so few and far between, and wealth still a dream not soon 
to come true. There were still the fears of the Apache Indians, 
and the attendant privations met in such surroundings. The 
Huelsters were the first married couple to live in that section 
away from the garrisons, and their cattle were the first to be 
brought to that vicinity. The first child born away from a gar- 
rison in that section was Frank Huelster at Barila station. 

During the same year Colonel Shafter was in command at 
Fort Davis, where the monotony of camp life at such a post was 
almost unbearable. Colonel Shafter had been more than once 
criticised for his general lines of conduct, which were said to 
have been not above reproach. Notwithstanding this, there 
were a number of humane acts which the world deserves to 

The story goes that with several officers, Colonel Shafter 
was sitting on the veranda of No. 7 officers' quarters, after a 
particularly good meal, when a soldier walked across from the 
barracks and saluted him. The soldier held a tinplate, contain- 
ing a few morsels of meat and vegetables, which, he, trembling 
with indignation, displayed before the eyes of the officers. 

"Sir," he exclaimed, "this is my dinner !" 

The Colonel leaned forward in his easy chair, and took an 
inventory of the plate and its meagre contents. 

"Well, eat it, you damn fool 1" he answered. "I've had 

Without a word the soldier saluted and turned toward the 
barracks. Naturally, the soldier continued to curse the service, 
and also the Colonel, as did his comrades who heard the story. 
None of them knew the outcome of the soldier's complaint, but 
Shafter, upon the disappearance of the man, sent for the cap- 
tain of his company. 

"Sir," he demanded, when the captain stood before him, 
"how much money have you in your mess fund ?" 

"Eighteen hundred dollars, Colonel," answered the captain, 
proudly ; he was of a saving nature. 


"Well, sir," said Colonel Shafter with lowered brows. "Im- 
mediately change that eighteen hundred dollars into provisions 
for your company, and do it damn quick !" 

And the soldiers never knew why the quality of their food 
improved so quickly. 

During the same year, 1880, E. L. Gage established a ranch 
south of Marathon, with headquarters near the McKinney 
Springs, named for T. D, McKinney, Gage's ranch foreman, 
and his brother, John C, who also worked for the Gage outfit. 

Following the establishment of the Gage ranch, Francis 
Rooney, a nephew of the old pioneer, Francis Rooney, came and 
established a ranch at Leoncita, twenty-five miles north of 
Alpine. There were no fences nor fixed boundaries to a man's 
ranch in those days, and the roundup reached from the Pecos 
River to the Guadalupe Mountains, east and west, and from the 
Rio Grande to the Pecos, north and south. The ranchmen 
drove their herds, mostly steers, to the Indian Territory, in the 
fall of the year, over the old trail that ran through Fort Stock- 
ton, down to Horsehead Crossing, up through Midland, to 
Dodge City, Kansas, where the northern buyers bought the 

All during this time there was the continuous fear of possi- 
ble attack by either renegade Mexicans or Indians. J. D. Jack- 
son was ranger at this time under Captain Bryan Morris, Co. B. 
After his ranger service, Jackson became a cowboy, and, finally, 
one of the biggest ranch operators in the country. Jackson at 
one time served on the grand jury, when six indictments were 
found for cow stealing. The jury agreed that no member 
could go on bond of the accused men, and, outside of the jury 
there was no one else who could furnish bond. 

During the time Jackson was ranger there were many ways 
planned by the ranchmen to outwit the Indians in their game 
of pillaging and murdering. One of the most interesting is the 
story of Colonel George W. Baylor, who proved to be more 
adroit one time than the Indians. Baylor, with a Mexican, was 
traveling with a supply wagon, and knew the Indians would kill 
him to get his provisions. A hundred of them were about to 


attack when he hastily poisoned some of the sugar, and other 
supplies, after which he and the Mexican jumped on their 
horses, and outran the pursuers. The Indians took the supplies, 
and several of them died from the effect. 

Another rancher who was instrumental in building up this 
region was Milton Favor, who had three ranches, on two of 
which were fort-like houses. One was the Cibolo, situated 
at the southeast end of the Chinati Mountains, where the still 
for peach brandy was built, the remains of which are standing 
to this day. Another ranch was Cienaga, six miles east of 
Shafter, and another was called Morita, meaning Mulberry, sit- 
uated southeast of Shafter a few miles. The larger fort-house 
was located at the Cibolo ranch, the smaller at the Cienaga 
ranch. At INIorita was planted a large peach orchard, while 
similar smaller ones were at the other two ranches. The F 
brand of cattle was well known at this time, and spread from 
the Rio Grande to the Pecos River, and to the Guadalupe 
Mountains on the north. John Beckwith was the first cowman 
to locate at Pina Colorada. He was a post trader, also, and 
maintained a store and a saloon. After operating his place for 
five years, he sold out to Hess Brothers and moved to Fort 
Davis, where he lived a short time, ultimately moving to New 

In the late '70s and early '80s the term "rustler" took on a 
new meaning. The origin of the word resulted from the free, 
open range of country at that time. Ranchmen employed 
cowboys by the month to brand all mavericks, or unbranded 
cattle, with the employer's brand ; hence, the term "rustler" 
became a synonym for a cowboy who "rustled" for his em- 

In time, however, the rustlers decided to rustle for them- 
selves. Why brand all unbranded cattle with the employer's 
brand, when they could use one of their own? Consequently, 
they began to brand the unknown cattle with a mark of their 
own. This privilege soon degenerated into the pernicious habit 
of branding other people's cattle, by "burning" the brand, and 
other methods. 


The famous band of rustlers included Sand Hill George, 
who was later charged with murder; Barney Gallagher, John 
Boyd, members of the Jesse Evans gang, including the Graham 
brothers. The leader of this gang was Billy the Kid. They 
operated in Eastern New Mexico and in the hills north of Fort 
Stockton. The gang drove stolen cattle to New Mexico and 
sold them. In New Mexico they stole other cattle, drove them 
back to Texas and sold them. 

The rustlers were almost as feared as the Indians had 
been. They took anything and everything they wanted, regard- 
less of right or law. Any person who was a lawbreaker could 
join the gang, and the band was made up of men from almost 
every state in the Union. Families living in sections where 
they operated were in constant fear of these men who possessed 
no ideals of law and order, and who stole cattle and murdered 
citizens without the least compunction. 

A very interesting story is told of an incident connected 
with the killing of Barney Gallagher, who was a leader among 
the rustlers. George M. Frazier had a cow outfit working 
along the New Mexico border, and was present at the death of 
Gallagher. Two cowboys, Lon Neil and Phil Rock, were also 

It appears that Barney possessed a handsome silver- 
mounted hat, which he had left either to Neil or Rock on his 
dying bed. There was some contention as to whom it was 
willed, and a quarrel ensued between the two men, which con- 
tinued until they arrived days afterward at Fort Stockton. 

Late on an evening Neil and Rock met at Silverstein's sa- 
loon, where they agreed to settle the dispute. Clasping each 
other by their left hands, and aiming their pistols with their 
right hands, they shot each other to death. Neil was killed out- 
right, and Rock lived an hour or two. They were buried face 
to face in the same grave, Neil with his boots on, because he 
had died immediately, and Rock without his boots, because 
they had been removed before he expired. 

During the rustler reign there were trials, fears and sorrows 
among the women who lived in the cow country. Pioneers, 


indeed, they were ; but they were more than that. Had they 
not been strong, courageous, and almost fearless, they could 
not have survived the privations and fears always attendant on 
their lives. Perhaps it was the open, free life of the range, too, 
that imbued them with that unrelentless strength they possessed, 
which resulted in not only building up an unsettled, lawless 
country, but in giving to the world some of its staunchest men 
and women, who in turn will produce another generation of 
strong citizens. 

One particular family that experienced some extreme trials 
was the Casey family, herein before referred to, living on their 
ranch in the country infested by the rustlers. After the death 
of Robert Casey, Mrs. Casey, who was a pioneer to the very 
marrow, and who perhaps learned the lesson during the first 
of those days that a woman's "nerves" are half imagination, 
made an earnest effort to keep her family together. There 
were two daughters, Ivlrs. J. L. Moore, of Balmorhea, Texas, 
and Mrs. L. C. Klasner, at present living in Chaves County, 
New Mexico, and two sons, W. D. Casey and R. A. Casey, 
both prominent cattlemen in Southwest Texas and New 

The Casey ranch was more than once invaded by the rustler 
band, who stole cattle, and committed other thefts. Following 
one of the cattle thefts by the band at one time, Mrs. Casey de- 
cided to go and use all of her persuasive powers in regaining 
her property. 

Putting two of the children in the wagon with her, she 
started for Seven Rivers. They had to spend the night with a 
Mexican family, and the next morning Mrs. Casey bravely met 
the rustlers, pleading for her cattle, but to no avail. Unsuccess- 
ful in her attempts, there was nothing to do but return to her 

While at Seven Rivers, the Caseys witnessed a shooting 
affair caused by the rustlers. There was an old man living on 
a farm nearby, and the rustlers decided they would get rid of 
him. They took his cattle and ordered him to leave the country. 
In his flight, he had paused long enough at Seven Rivers to re- 


late his story, when at that junction one of the very men who 
had robbed him, rode up. The old man was so angry that the 
sight of the rustler drove him to a frenzy. Notwithstanding 
the poor chance he had of escaping, he shot the rustler off his 
horse. He then jumped on this horse and, although pursued, 

Mrs. Casey and a Mexican woman carried the wounded man 
into the house, after which Mrs. Casey left ; but she heard later 
that he recovered. 

At one time a man named Hart came to the Casey ranch and 
asked for lodging. While Mrs. Casey was preparing his supper, 
one of the children became interested in the large Mexican hat 
he was wearing. The band string was of an unusual pattern. 
The man left, and, shortly afterward a Mexican came to the 
ranch wearing the identical hat. One of the children who had 
been attracted by Hart's hat cord, called her mother's attention 
to it, but Mrs. Casey thought nothing of it. 

It developed, however, that Hart was missing, and his body 
was later found in a hole some distance from the house of the 
Mexican who was wearing the hat. When the Mexican found 
he was suspected of the murder, he tried to escape, but was 
intercepted, and captured by a band of cowboys. 

Many men would break jail, and stop at the Casey ranch 
for provisions. The kind-hearted ranch woman always fed 
them. On one occasion the family had just eaten breakfast, 
when, to their consternation, they saw Billy the Kid, the fero- 
cious outlaw head of the rustler band, ride up to the gate. He 
had been in a fight the day before, and had lost his horse, saddle 
and bridle. He found a little pony which he rode to the Casey 
ranch, where they gave him breakfast, glad for him to go on 
his way. 

These glimpses of the rustler days can give but a faint idea 
of the hardships and dangers of the pioneer cattlemen, and their 
families. In later years, after the word "ranchman" became 
synonymous with wealth, the cry has arisen that the country 
made them. But it has been the history of every pioneer land, 
that in the battle for life and in the protection of family and 


property, only the fittest and strongest have survived ; and, 
justly, wealth and prosperity have come to those hardy pioneers 
who, while they were building for themselves, built up the 



Much history has been written about the Santa Fe Trail ; 
little about the Chihuahua Trail. Yet, statistics show that more 
commerce in merchandise, silver, copper, lead and gold passed 
over this trail than over the Santa Fe Trail, 

The Chihuahua Trail, as it became known, was begun in 
1848 by a small group of pioneers, including John W. Spencer, 
John B. Davis, Ed Frobboese, August Santleben, John Holly, 
Sha Hogan, John Burgess, Brooks, Calderon, Richard Daly, 
William Russell and others. These were the first set of ad- 
venturers, who later became known as the trail drivers, to com- 
plete successful journeys; although the Connelly expedition, 
from Chihuahua City, across Texas, into Arkansas, and return, 
was made in 1839. 

The Connelly expedition was the first commercial enterprise 
undertaken to establish trade relations between northern Mexico 
and the United States, other than by way of the Santa Fe Trail. 
This expedition resulted in a failure, however, due to a change 
of administration at the port of entry, Presidio del Norte, and 
a resultant raise in the customs duties, which dampened the 
ardor of the merchants at that time. 

For these reasons the Chihuahua Trail was not used again 
until the trail drivers, who had settled along the banks of the 
Rio Grande, opposite Presidio del Norte, sought an outlet 
through the Big Bend to San Antonio. It was not long before 
they were hauling through freight back and forth between these 
metropolises of Texas and Mexico. 

The first trips were made prior to the Civil War from In- 
dianola to Chihuahua, Mexico, a journey of eleven hundred and 
fifty miles. But it was not until 1869 that the trade reached 
substantial proportions. The goods were loaded out of bonded 
warehouses belonging to commission merchants in Indianola 


and San Antonio, and the trail drivers gave a heavy bond, pay- 
able to the United States, as a guarantee of their responsibility 
and to insure prompt transportation of supplies. 

The trail ran westward from Indianola to San Antonio, 
thence to San Felipe Springs, which is to-day Del Rio. From 
this point it led to the lowest ford on the Pecos River, a few 
miles above where is now the Southern Pacific Railroad high 
bridge spanning the river at a height of 321 feet above the 
water. It then turned in a northerly direction to Horse-Head 
Crossing, where the Fort Concho trail intersected with the 
route. The next important point on the trail, forty miles 
further west, was the military post. Fort Stockton. The en- 
tire distance of 230 miles from Del Rio to Fort Stockton wa^ un- 
inhabited. The country was open and rough, but its most ob- 
jectionable feature consisted in the strong alkali dust which 
almost smothered teamsters and drivers. 

Nine miles west of Fort Stockton was located Leon Water- 
holes, with its clear, sparkling waters. The main spring was 
thirty feet in diameter, and was so deep that the bottom could 
not be touched. 

The Chihuahua trail diverged from the El Paos road at the 
Leon Waterholes, and followed a route leading in a southwest 
direction to Presidio del Norte. Thirty miles beyond Leon 
Waterholes was the Leoncito, a watering place, which was set- 
tled in 1869 by Joe Head ; while forty miles farther was the 
Burgess Spring, which also was known as Charco de Alsate. 
The trail then ran through Paisano Pass, twenty miles beyond 
to Antelope Springs, better known as Berrindo, while thirty 
miles beyond this, arrived at the Tinaja San Esteben. After 
this came El Alamito at a distance of twenty-five miles, which is 
forty miles from Presidio del Norte. Alamito was settled in 
1870 by John Davis. 

These distances made 195 miles, and the road was not in 
very bad shape, except the last forty miles, which was hilly, and 
at intervals the sand was heavy. However, there was an abun- 
dance of grass, which afforded good pasturage. 

Presidio del Norte was situated on the Mexican side of the 


Rio Grande, below the mouth of the Rio Conchos, and one of 
the old presidios was on the Texas side. Custom houses were 
established by the two republics, in both the American and 
Mexican towns through which a large quantity of goods passed. 

For the expedition prairie schooners, or large covered wag- 
ons, were used. These were immense structures, and the fol- 
lowing dimensions of a few of the parts will convey an idea of 
their strength : the hind wheels measured five feet ten inches in 
height, and the tire was six inches wide and one inch thick ; 
the front wheels were built similar to the hind wheels, but were 
twelve inches lower ; the axles were of solid iron, with spindles 
three inches in diameter. All the solid running gear was built 
in proportion for hard service. The wagon bed was twenty- 
four feet long, four and one-half feet wide, and the sides were 
five and a half feet high. Wagon bows attached to each were 
overhung with heavy tarpaulins, which completely covered the 
sides and protected the freight. On the covers the train owner's 
name was painted, and beneath, the number of the wagon, in 
which freight was loaded as it was entered on the bill of lading. 

Every wagon was furnished with a powerful brake, which 
was used to regulate the speed when going down steep hills. 
The beam that constituted the brake was seven feet in length, 
and was made out of choice hickory timber. It was placed be- 
neath the wagon box, behind the hind wheels, in two heavy 
iron stirrups, that were secured to the frame on either side by 
heavy braces or bolts. A block of wood was fastened near each 
end, which pressed against the wheels when the lever was 
manipulated by the driver in his seat. He could control the mo- 
tion of the wagon, according to the grade, by forcing the brake 
against the wheels until they ceased to revolve, or check them at 
will with a motion of his hand as easily as a motorman controls 
his car. Two heavy chains were attached to the wagon body for 
use in cases of necessity. Occasionally, accidents happened to 
the brakes, and the heavily loaded wagon would become uncon- 
trollable. As a result, driver and mules were often crushed to 
death under the wheels. 

An average load for such a wagon was about seven thou- 


sand pounds, but generally with sixteen small mules attached, 
sixteen bales of cotton was a load. The great capacity of such 
wagons may be estimated by comparing them with the wagons 
used by the United States government which hold an average 
load of three thousand pounds, with six large mules. 

The mules used for freighting purposes were small, but 
active, and possessed an untiring energy, with a constitution 
that enabled them to endure extreme hardships. The manner 
in which they were hitched brought them close to their load, and 
made them almost a unit when a steady pull was necessary. 

Before the prairie schooner was adopted as a means of com- 
munication between Texas and the northern states of IMexico, 
commercial energ)' in that direction was hampered ; but after 
they had been introduced, and when the benefit to be derived 
from direct trade between these regions and the seaports of 
Texas was understood, wagon trains of six or more prairie 
schooners were introduced, with a capacity to move a large 
amount of freight in a given time. These were conducted un- 
der a systematic management, which inspired confidence. As 
a result, it was not long before both countries realized advan- 
tages through the arrangement. 

San Antonio was encouraged to extend her business con- 
nection with IMexico, and much was done toward stimulating 
the trade between Alexico and the countries of Europe, through 
Texas seaports, which continued to grow until it reached large 

A way was opened up for the railroad which followed in the 
wake of the trail drivers, and which removed all competition in 
the way of travel and transportation by offering superior ad- 
vantages. The prairie schooner was an humble pioneer that 
plodded its way slowly over the plain and mountain, through 
a wilderness peopled by warlike savages ; yet, it was appre- 
ciated in its day, and its arrival at its destination was greeted 
with far more interest than is manifested when a- modern, up- 
to-date train arrives at its station. 

The Mexican trains could not compare with those of the 
Americans in general appearance, but, in many respects they 


were decidedly superior, and were managed more successfully 
because of the strictness with which they were conducted. The 
Mexican wagons were clumsily built, with beds twenty-four feet 
long that rested on heavy running gears, and had no sides. They 
were capable of carrying heavy loads. A wagon train of twelve 
wagons, each drawn by fourteen mules, distributed in three 
sets of four working abreast, and two to the tongue, would 
transport 120,000 pounds of freight with ease over the roads 
in Mexico. 

The Mexican mules were superior to the American mules, 
because they were raised on Mexico ranches, where the native 
drivers could select the best. Neither did they depend upon 
grass alone' for feed, as the Americans were forced to do, but 
always carried a sufficient amount of corn and wheat straw, 
which kept the animals in fine condition. The teams belonging 
to the Americans showed hard service because of their long 
journeys, as they were frequently exposed to privations on 
drives of ninety miles in length. 

The same drivers were employed continuously by train 
owners in Mexico, and were subject to strict obedience. The 
mules were easily controlled, as they had become trained to 
routine movements. So well were they trained that when the 
caporal walked to the center of the corral among the loose 
mules, he had nothing to do but crack his whip and they imme- 
diately filed into their proper places and stood with their heads 
raised, waiting for the bridles. 

The Gonzales brothers, of Saltillo, owned a train of twenty- 
five carts with five mules each. They used shafts in which a 
mule was hitched, with one on either side, and two in front. 
These mules were so well trained, it is said, that they knew 
their own carts from the others, and would back up to their 
proper places of their own accord. 

The trail drivers experienced many hardships during these 
journeys, such as attacks by Indians and scarcity of. water. The 
scarcity of water and grass on the route frequently made it 
necessary for them to divide their daily journey into three 
drives, or camps, especially where the watering places were 


\4 J 


|^^BBiH|^^^^^Qh^'*'^'*^^v^^^^b9¥^Hh! n^ ^^^^B 

Lion Valley, Pecos County 


fifty miles apart. In making a long drive, they generally started 
about one o'clock, postmeridian, and drove until about six, when 
they stopped to eat supper and graze the teams. They again 
started at ten o'clock at night, and drove until three o'clock 
in the morning, when they camped without water. At seven 
they were again under way, and by ten o'clock, they arrived 
at the watering place, where the teams were turned loose to 
graze for about four hours, after which they were again watered 
and the journey resumed. Traveling at night made it possible 
for the teams to do with less water, along that portion of the 
trail where it was scarce. 

However, the inconveniences they experienced on account 
of a scarcity of water could in no way compare to the necessity 
of protecting the mules from the Indians. Knowing the In- 
dians were constantly watching for a chance to overpower 
them, the trail drivers were compelled to keep forever on the 
alert against surprises. Sentries, similar to the military, were 
posted about the camps, and teamsters stood on guard while 
the mules were grazing. The type of arms used on the trains 
were Sharp needle-guns, of fifty caliber, made especially for 
the trail drivers. The gun was carried in a scabbard, fast- 
ened to the driver's saddle mule, and when in camp it was 
usually placed against the left wheel of the driver's wagon, 
within easy reaching distance. A forty-five caliber six-shooter 
also was carried in a scabbard on a cartridge belt, strapped 
about the driver's waist. It, too, was always in reach. The 
belt carried fifty rounds of cartridges for the Sharp needle- 
gun, and twelve rounds for the pistol. The needle-guns ranged 
about 800 feet and the pistols about 300 feet. 

As drivers, IMexicans were found to be more efficient than 
the Americans. In an almost uncanny manner, they could pick 
out their teams in the darkest night, when colors were not dis- 
tinguishable, rarely making a mistake, and taking but little more 
time to hitch at night than in daylight. This talent seemed to 
be confined to teamsters of the Mexican race. 

Every wagon train was under the personal supervision of a 
wagon master. He directed the train's movements, and was 


responsible for his train in the same degree as the modern rail- 
way freight conductor. The next person in importance, was 
the caporal. He was in charge of the herd of extra mules and 
the teams after they were unhitched from the wagons ; he 
directed the way to watering places, grass, and camping places, 
and he prevented the teamsters from mistreating their mules. 

A train of twelve wagons was divided into two six-wagon 
sections, with each section in charge of a captain who was 
held accountable for certain duties and the accuracy with which 
his wagons were placed when forming a corral. These captains 
were expert drivers, and when forming a corral, errors seldom 
occurred, even in an emergency. The driving was done sys- 
tematically, changes being made in the positions of the wagons, 
in order that no section should be strained too much on account 
of frequent stops, which would occur if they traveled con- 
tinuously in the same order. 

The corral was an important institution on the trail, on 
account of the large number of animals to be handled and fed. 
It was indispensable for the safety both of the animals and the 
drivers, when encamped, and served as sufficient fortification 
for man and beast, when attacked by Indians or other enemies. 

To form a corral, the wagons of the first section were 
driven in a half-circle to the right of the road, while those of 
the second section were driven in a half -circle to the left of 
the road; thus all teams were brought facing inward toward 
the center of the completed circle. The openings, or gaps, be- 
tween the wagons were closed with heavy ropes, stretched from 
wagon to wagon, and these could be removed quickly when 
the mules were to be driven out to graze or to water. 

A corral could be formed as readily in any open space where 
there were no roads or guides, and they were a necessity on 
account of their convenience which no other arrangement could 
have supplied. The mules were always taken from the wagon 
and unharnessed on the outside, and there was no place in 
which they could have been secured so well. When turned 
loose, they passed through the rear openings, into the corral, 
where they were fed in long canvas troughs which were 


stretched from the wagons. After feeding, they were driven 
in a herd through one of the large openings to a watering place 
or pasture by drivers in charge of the caporal. 

When the mules had returned to the corral, the caporal gave 
the first intimation that it was time to move by cracking his 
whip in the center of the corral, thus ordering the mules to take 
their places. Soldiers did not move in a more orderly man- 
ner to their places than did the mules, who knew their places 
as well as the trained horses of a fire engine. Frequently when 
the herd was driven in from the grazing, the better trained 
mules did not wait for the signal, but, with almost human 
intelligence, took their places at once with their backs against 
the wagon, thus avoiding the jam caused by the commotion the 
herd was thrown into by the crack of the caporal's whip. 

When traveling through the western country, a train was 
occasionally attacked by Indians, and it became necessary to 
form a corral immediately for the protection of the men and 
mules. On such occasions, the wagons were placed in the same 
order as for an ordinary camp, except that no openings were 
left in between. Thus protected, the train men could repel 
any attack that might be made, unless overwhelmed by numbers. 

Sometimes the trail drivers were caught in the midst of 
terrible blizzards. On one occasion, during a trip from Chi- 
huahua, the drivers encountered a ten days' spell of sleet and 
snow, and at one place, the head of the Texas Concho, the grass 
was covered for days with snow. In 1866, a long train of 
wagons in charge of Capt. James Edgar, bound for El Paso, 
was exposed to such a blizzard that sixty mules were lost. The 
mules had gathered close together for protection against the 
cold, but were frozen to death ; and the place was known for 
years afterward as "Edgar's Boneyard." 

In the spring of 1870, the wagpn train belonging to August 
Santleben, on its way to Chihuahua, had reached Fort Davis. 
The old trail driver, delayed by business in San Antonio, had 
arranged to follow on the overland stage, and overtake it at 
this point. Colonel Terrell, paymaster in the United States 
army, was also on the stage, and, traveling under his protection. 


was Sister Stephens, of the Order of the Incarnate Word, of 
San Antonio, who was on her way to visit Fort Davis, in the 
interest of the orphans. There were several other passengers 
on the stage, including Mr. Joe Head and Mr. Peter Gallager, 
of Fort Stockton, two soldiers, and others. Sister Stephens 
was an entertaining traveling companion, always in a pleasant 
humor with the trail drivers and passengers. She was one of 
the few women making such a trip at that time. 

One of the trail drivers asked Sister Stephens what service 
could she render In case of an Indian attack. 

"Sir," she replied with a smile, "I would have work to do. 
While you do the fighting, I'll do the praying." 

On his return trip, Santleben passed the place where the 
Miguel brothers had met with a serious misfortune a short time 
before. The Indians attacked their camp, eighteen miles east 
of Johnson's Run, and captured the entire herd of mules be- 
longing to the train. The cart men retreated to an elevation and, 
with loose rock, built a circular breastwork, behind which they 
defended themselves until the enemy retired with the herd. 
Two Mexicans were killed in the engagement, and were buried 
at the foot of the hill where the rude fortification was situated. 

Soon after Santleben's return, his wagons were loaded with 
government freight and sutler's supplies, for Fort Davis and 
Fort Quitman. This train was placed in charge of Entinio 
Mageras, an experienced wagonmaster. After delivering the 
freight, according to contract, Mageras with his empty wagons, 
established a camp to recuperate his teams, near Beaver Lake, 
adjoining the Eighteen Mile crossing on Devil's River. The 
mules, which were turned loose to graze on the excellent 
pasturage, were left unguarded. No danger was suspected, un- 
til the quiet was broken by the fearful warwhoops of the 
Comanches. Before the trail men could assemble to resist, the 
Indians charged between the wagons and the grazing herd. 
The caporal and four men were cut off and escaped through 
flight. The majority of the Indians engaged the remaining 
teamsters in battle, while the remainder, after roping the bell 
mare, took charge of the herd and galloped away over the hills. 


The men in the camp, though much startled, returned the 
fire of the marauders, but the battle quickly ended when the 
Indians secured the rich prize they were after. A half-hearted 
attempt was made to give chase on foot, but its uselessness was 
apparent and the idea was abandoned. 

The caporal and his herders were thought to have been 
killed in the first attack ; but anxiety on this score was removed 
when they ventured forth from their place of refuge. For- 
tunately, none of the men were hurt, and if casualties occurred 
among the Indians, the fact was never known. It cost Santle- 
ben six hundred dollars to get his train pulled into San Antonio. 
Santleben and his trail drivers possessed a fine lot of teams 
and prairie schooners with which to carry on their work. His 
experimental trips to and from Chihuahua had netted him 
handsome returns, and he decided to confine his freight line 
to that point. 

One of the celebrated characters on the Chihuahua Trail, 
who worked for Santleben at this time, was Olojio Danda, a 
citizen of Presidio del Norte. He was celebrated, not as a 
trail driver, but as a great Indian fighter. His reputation was 
acquired on the trail that passed between Presidio del Norte and 
Fort Davis, over which marauding bands of Mescalero Apaches 
and other warlike tribes passed in making raids in the Big Bend 
and Mexico. Occasionally the Indians fought openly, but their 
favorite mode of attack was from ambush. The services of 
such men as Danda were always much in demand in that re- 
gion, because of their knowledge of Indian warfare, and because 
their courage was equal to any occasion. 

Considerable light is thrown upon internal conditions in 
Mexico, especially in Chihuahua, in and around 1874, by ac- 
counts drawn from the trail drivers of that period. Upon 
reaching Chihuahua City the teams were quartered at Meson de 
Messarre. This establishment was a great convenience to trav- 
elers and freighters, and similar ones are found in many cities 
throughout IMexico. Senor Messarre was the owner of this 
particular meson or hotel. The buildings of the meson formed 
a large square, and along the walls were arranged stalls, 


equipped with cement troughs sufficient for stabling at least 
six hundred animals. The square inside had sufficient room 
for trains of heavy wagons. In the center stood the granary, 
a peculiar stone structure, in the shape of a bottle, with a round 
tower which resembled the neck. The structure, resembling 
the silo of the American farmer, was seventy-five feet high and 
twenty feet in diameter, with steps that wound around the 
outside to the top, to a platform. The corn was carried up 
and deposited in an opening at the top. When the tower was 
full, the opening was sealed with adobe mortar, which made it 
air-tight. Its capacity was about fifteen thousand bushels, and 
that quantity could be kept for three years, in perfect condition, 
without becoming infested with weevils. 

A few days after the arrival of the trail driver who related 
the incident, a large body of friendly Indians came into Chi- 
huahua City to celebrate a recent victory they had gained over 
one of the tribes to the northeast about fifty miles distant. The 
authorities of the State of Chihuahua had granted them the 
privilege of passing through the streets in triumphal procession, 
for the purpose of displaying the trophies they had won in their 
foray into the enemies' country. 

The wild Indians represented by the Apaches, Comanches, 
Lipans, Navajos, and other fierce tribes, had proved them- 
selves a great scourge on the northern part of Mexico, 
where they had materially injured the country. In order to 
suppress them, Governor Luis Terrazas, of the State of Chi- 
huahua, offered a reward of $250 for the scalp of every un- 
friendly Indian. The agreement was that the scalp should be 
identified by other trophies taken from the enemy, so that no 
impositions should be practiced. As the dress and ornaments, 
as well as the bows and arrows, of every tribe were different 
and could easily be recognized, by those familiar with them, 
deception could not easily be practiced. These were turned 
over to the government officials, and, if the evidence was suffi- 
cient, the reward was immediately paid. 

The friendly Indians on the reservations, influenced by this 
reward, made a regular business of waging war on the wild 


tribes, and would absent themselves from their villages for 
the purpose of seeking scalps. Frequently their object was 
accomplished by surprises that resulted in the extermination of 
whole Indian settlements. The state did not concern itself 
with their manner of warfare; it approved any method the 
Indians cared to use. 

An enmity had always existed between the peaceful and 
warlike tribes ; and it was easy to arouse the cupidity of the 
former by offering liberal rewards. By such means, Chihuahua 
rid itself of a large number of savages, and gave protection to 
its citizens. 

The celebration above referred to was not only approved 
by the city authorities, but was arranged beforehand by them. 
The procession entered the city about ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing, headed by a brass band. The warriors followed on horse- 
back in their war paint, and decked out in all their finery. About 
fifteen of them carried long poles, to which were secured the 
scalps of their victims, killed in battle, together with the bows 
and other trophies necessary to prove their valor. The women 
and children of the tribe came next on horses, and also in sin- 
gle file. Their oddity and bizarre appearance added much to 
the effect. ", : ,-^^^. , 

In this same year, August Santleben started for Texas, with 
his wagons heavily loaded with freight, to which was added a 
large sum of money. Upon arriving at Mula, about forty miles 
south of the Rio Grande, where a custom house officer was 
stationed, Santleben was arrested and his train sequestered 
upon the suspicion that part of his freight was contraband. 

The preliminary circumstances that led up to the arrest of 
Santleben were connected with the fact that the Mexican gov- 
ernment, in order to get rid of copper money that flooded the 
country, provided for the coinage of five and ten cent pieces, 
and the mint in Chihuahua was obliged to coin ten percent 
of its total silver output in coins of such denominations. As 
the merchants of the city were opposed to retiring the copper 
money from circulation, because it was the money of the 
poorer classes, they agreed among themselves that they would 


not pay out the small silver coin, which was received in their 
business transactions. Consequently large sums accumulated 
on their hands, and when the government learned that it was 
unpopular, and again made copper the legal tender, they had 
to dispose of it in some way. 

Small change was very scarce in San Antonio at that time, 
especially five and ten cent pieces, and such denominations 
readily commanded ten per cent premium. The exorbitant 
export duties exacted by the government, amounting to ten 
per cent, prohibited the shipping of the five and ten cent pieces 
through legitimate channels ; therefore, certain persons deter- 
mined to avoid this duty by smuggling the money across into 
the United States, in order to take advantage of the excellent 
market that was offered to them. In this way, the greater part 
of the holdings were transferred to the United States. A part 
of the sum, amounting to about $i,ioo, was placed in a sack of 
beans, and shipped with similar freight in one of Santleben's 

Upon arriving at Mula, the officer stationed at that place 
inspected his freight without discovering the money, and every- 
thing was thought to be correct. Santleben was ready to move 
on when a second inspection was made, and, as the officer acted 
upon newly received information, the sack of money was found. 
A courier was dispatched to Presidio del Norte with the in- 
formation and the whole train was detained until a squadron of 
mounted custom house guards arrived. Santleben was ar- 
rested and held under indictment for smuggling money out 
of the country. Santleben's defense, however, was sufficient to 
show that he was innocent of any attempt to defraud the gov- 
ernment, and that he had obviously been imposed upon by 
others who were using his train for illicit purposes. He was 
honorably acquitted, and the money was confiscated by the gov- 
ernment. A few days after his release from custody, he 
crossed the Rio Grande and passed the United States custom 
house, after a satisfactory inspection. 

He camped the same day beyond the river, and that night 
was joined by James Clark, who was then in charge of the 


American customs house, and a party consisting of his wife, 
two young ladies, Hi Kelly, and an escort of six men on horse- 
back. The party was traveling in an ambulance, and were out 
on a pleasure party. Santleben made them welcome at his en- 
campment, and after supper it was decided to have a dance. 
For this purpose several wagon sheets were spread on the 
ground inside the corral. Traveling with Santleben was the 
Loza family, representing several members, and Prof. Manuel 
Manso and his orchestra troupe. The dance place was illu- 
minated by candles placed on the wagons. Such occasions con- 
stituted the social life of the people living in that part of the 
country at that time. 

On one occasion, in the year 1875, Santleben was returning 
from Chihuahua with a valuable load of freight and $150,000 in 
silver coin, when his wagon was attacked. 

He was camped near the Rio Grande crossing, after having 
passed the customs house inspection. The usual precautions 
were carried out for the protection of the train, and the cus- 
tomary guard was selected to watch over the camp. The mules 
were grazing on the west side of the canyon, on the mountain 
slopes, under the watchful care of the caporal and his herders, 
and before the evening shadows closed about them, the only 
noises that disturbed the silence of the wilderness was the 
twinkling of the bell-mare. 

The calm that enveloped the camp was not broken until 
some time after Henry Vonflie and his men, who were first on 
guard, had retired. Santleben, Timps, a young American, and 
three Mexicans relieved the guard, and were seated outside the 
corral, near the two wagons which were loaded with money, 
when a shot was fired near the wagons. Immediately after 
they heard the tramp of men running over the rocks toward the 
camp. They realized that an attack was being made on the 
train and instant preparations were made to meet it. Santle- 
ben fired the first few shots a few moments before his com- 
panions commenced firing, and their assailants answered with a 
volley that brought Vonflie and his men to his comrades' assist- 
ance. The party was armed with Winchesters, and many shots 


were fired on both sides before Santleben and his men drove 
the assailants away. 

The fight lasted but a few minutes, scarcely long enough 
for the wagon master and his men to drive the herds of mules 
into the corral before it was over. They were kept there, how- 
ever, and strict vigilance was observed until morning, as a 
similar attack was momentarily expected. But nothing else 

Early the next morning the trail drivers visited the posi- 
tion of their foes, where the skirmish was held, with the expecta- 
tion of finding a few gory corpses. But their valor was poorly 
rewarded, as not even a drop of blood could be found. Neither 
could they discover whether their adversaries had suffered the 
slightest injury from Santleben's storm of lead. Nothing was 
found save a couple of old hats, a gourd of water, and a few 
trifles of little value as trophies of their victory. 

They afterward learned that the attacking party numbered 
forty-two cut-throats, who knew that Santleben was carrying 
a large sum of money. They had arranged to attack Santleben 
and his eleven men, approaching the camp through the canyon, 
in two equal parties, one from the east and one from the west. 
They had planned to make a simultaneous attack on foot, when 
a signal gun was to be fired by a spy, who was to enter the cor- 
ral secretly. Their plans were disarranged by the detachment 
which was to have advanced from the west. This was delayed 
by coming in contact with the herders guarding the mules 
which had grazed olT in that direction. Fearing detection, they 
used precautions which prevented them from making an assault 
on the west side, when the signal shot was fired. 

A few months later, several of the men who took part in 
the skirmish were pointed out to Santleben, but as nothing could 
be proved against them, it was not safe to molest them during 
such rough times, and in that part of the country. 

As a large sum of money was carried by Santleben, there 
was the possibility of a second attack being made by the rob- 
bers ; but, nevertheless, the journey was continued. The great 
sum of money placed in his care made it necessary for Santleben 


to protect his customer's interests. Thereupon, he engaged the 
services of Capt. Maximo Arranda, with thirty men, to escort 
his train. General Ord furnished mihtary escort from Fort 
Davis to Fort Stockton. 

At this time the plains and valleys traversed by the head 
waters of the Texas Concho River and its tributaries, were 
occupied by droves of buffalo, whose numbers could not be 
computed with certainty. They seemed to be innumerable, 
and many times formed into such masses that the trains were 
compelled to stop until they passed. 

In 1876, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Rail- 
road was rushing its track toward San Antonio, from the East. 
The popular belief was that it would never extend farther west, 
owing to the fact that the Indians would tear up the track 
as fast as it was laid. Santleben found the wholesale merchants 
at Chihuahua rejoicing, however, at the prospect of having a 
railroad terminus at San Antonio, within 900 miles of them. 
They thought it possible to cut down expenses and procure 
quicker transportation of smaller consignments. Freight and 
custom houses had become serious burdens, as the goods had to 
be stored in warehouses six or eight months, thus keeping large 
sums of money lying practically idle. 

Santleben made a proposition to these merchants, that if 
they would bind themselves for ten years to import 72,000 
pounds of merchandise monthly, exclusive of heavy machinery, 
and export all their imports and freight through him, he would 
start thirty-six small wagons with five mules each ; divide these 
into three trains ; load each wagon with 2,000 pounds ; and run 
a thirty day schedule, between San Antonio and Chihuahua. 
In his proposition, he also provided an insurance clause for 
merchants, against weather and thieves. 

Freight rates from San Antonio to Chihuahua were $90 per 
thousand, and from Chihuahua to San Antonio $50 perthousand 
on ores, and $25 on every thousand dollars Mexican money and 
silver bullion. 

The merchants, thereby, agreed to this, providing the con- 
tract should become null in event the railroad was completed 


to Chihuahua within ten years. Ed Frobboese was to be Sant- 
leben's partner. 

Before his plans were perfected, however, word reached 
Santleben, from Chihuahua, that a railroad was to be built 
from El Paso to Chihuahua ; and thus died the Santleben trans- 
portation company. And soon, too, died the famous Chihuahua 
Trail, which had opened up access for two countries, ultimately 
paving the way for the railroads which followed. 



One of the most interesting products of the Southwest, 
during its pioneer days, was the Texas Ranger. To tell all that 
is worth telling about this type of man would about fill a good- 
sized volume ; and all this chapter can hope to do is to confine 
itself to the subject generally, and relate briefly a few of the 
adventures of the Texas Ranger, during the interim of 1874 
and 1880. 

From the days of the Lone Star Republic to the present 
hour, the history of the State of Texas has been one continuous 
struggle against savage and semi-savage foes ; and it was neces- 
sary for the state, during this period, to raise troops to guard 
against the Indians and to help the authorities in upholding the 

Prior to 1874, ranger forces were organized only for partic- 
ular occasions. In this year, however, a more permanent or- 
ganization was perfected. Gov. Richard Coke was in office 
at that time, and the Legislature appropriated $300,000 to pro- 
tect the border counties, and a suitable police, under the con- 
trol of the state and Adjutant General Steele, was immediately 

The command was known as the Frontier Battalion and 
consisted of six companies, of seventy-five men each, all under 
the command of Maj. John B. Jones. Each company was com- 
manded by a captain, two lieutenants, three sergeants, and four 
corporals. It was soon found that the appropriation would not 
be sufficient to support the establishment, and reduction in force 
had to be made from time to time until a company numbered 
only thirty men or fewer. 

The purpose for assembling the rangers was to operate 
against the Indians who were becoming daily more hostile, and 
who were continually making advances. It became also neces- 


sary to clear out the whole country around the heads of the 
Nueces and Llano rivers, which had become headquarters for 
all the desperadoes, outlaws, horse and cattle thieves, and 
fugitives from justice, in the whole Southwest, and from the 

The ranger has always elicited much interest and curiosity 
among those who have not been acquainted with the Southwest. 
It may be said of the old-time ranger that he was not so hand- 
some as he might be, but was as courageous as a Numidian lion, 
and tougher than a Mexican burro. His language, perhaps, 
could not pass in the London drawing room, but he could suc- 
cessfully ride a bronco and kill a Mexican horse thief at five 
hundred yards. His manners may not have been exactly Ches- 
terfieldian, but this deficiency was more than offset by the 
aestheticism displayed when he scalped an Indian. He probably 
was not acquainted with the tariff question, but he could follow 
a blind trail at a gallop and never miss the way. It is possible 
that he could never tell the difference between the hypothesis of 
atomic evolution and a lunar eclipse ; but he knew a "rustler" 
by sight, and could name half the fugitives in Texas. 

But underneath his rough exterior the ranger possessed a 
heart as simple and guileless as a little child's, and a sympathy 
that was in-stantly touched by human misery or woe. Perhaps 
he did not respect the Sabbath with the same zeal as by some of 
the better citizens, as he cleaned his gun, washed his shirts, and 
repaired his saddle on that day. But he would share his only 
dollar with a man in want, and throw his last biscuit to a hungry 
dog. His salary was meagre and he did not profess to love his 
country as dearly as a candidate for the Legislature, but he 
would tackle a bunch of rustlers, nevertheless, single-handed. 
As a rule, he never saw the inside of a college, but all the same 
he was the advance courier of civilization, and was instrumental 
in making life and property safe in Texas. 

Half the time the ranger never received credit for his good 
work, though he always was ready to protect his country from 
Indians and outlaws. Short-sighted Legislators grumbled when 
they were called upon to pay him his pittance, and every year 


they cut down the appropriation. Penurious tax payers insisted 
he was a useless burden on the state ; but all the time he was 
returning to them their stolen horses and cattle, and bringing 
to justice the man who had stolen them on the highway. East 
Texans entertained the belief that the frontier was too far away 
for them to need protection during that time, and objected to 
expense of maintaining the ranger. The ranger knew, if no one 
else did, however, that it was he who fixed the present bound- 
aries of the frontier, and could well remember when the blood- 
thirsty Indian and the daring highwayman lurked in the very 
shadow of the State Capitol. 

The ranger was hardly ever out of his saddle. He was the 
original and only "solitary horseman" who scoured the plains 
in search of redskins since the dawn of the first dime novel. 
He might easily be called the beau ideal of Young America's 
border chivalry. 

The ranger could ride harder, fight longer, live rougher, and 
make less talk about it than anything else that walked on two 
feet. He wore a sombrero and spurs, and thus accoutred, with 
a two-dollar government blanket, he would defy alike the rains 
of summer, and the snows of winter. He generally died with 
his boots on, and as the state did not furnish rosewood caskets 
and cemetery lots for her fallen soldiers, his comrades would 
wrap him in an old blanket, and, thus shrouded, he was laid 
gently in his grave. 

Capt. L. P. Seiker was the veteran of the first battalion of 
rangers formed. He joined in May, 1874, and served without 
losing a day, later becoming captain of Company D. His com- 
pany killed more Indians and rustlers than any other in the 

One of the best rangers in the country was J. B. Gillett, for- 
mer city marshal of El Paso. Gillett was a splendid type, little 
over the medium height, possessing a clear quick-sighted tem- 
perament that made him a continual fear to a horse-thief and a 
warning against any Indian in the country. In all his move- 
ments he was quick, nervous, and active ; but not powerful as 
one would associate power with the heavy, overgrown bully of 


the prize ring. Yet his hand was the hand of destiny among 
the outlaws of Southwestern Texas. He dressed in good taste, 
without pretension. He possessed the marks of a gentleman, and 
was genial and kind to a degree to all. As some one has said, 
he seemed to have taken to himself personally the words of St. 
Paul : "Be all things to all men," in order to catch some. 

Gillett never took a drink. He was heard at one time to 
answer a man, who had invited him to drink with him : "No 
sir, I never drink. Men like myself, who spend their lives mak- 
ing enemies of the pests of society, must expect to be killed 
some time, but the man who kills me will never be able to say 
he killed me drunk." 

Gillett joined the service in June, 1875, ^" Company D, of 
Vv^hich Captain Roberts was commander. Those were lively 
times, and Indians were continually on the war-path, in all 
parts of the country. The Comanches came down into Texas 
from the Fort Sill reservation, and kept up continual hostilities 
in the north ; while the Kickapoos and Lipans were a constant 
menace in the southwestern counties. The two latter bands 
did not number a total of fifty warriors, yet they kept both the 
rangers and the national troops constantly on the move. The 
Apaches were on the west, and the Kiowas on the north and 
the northwest. Most of these Indians had come from the 
Santa Rosa Mountains, in Old Mexico, and were outlaws in 
both republics. Their hostilities were such that Southwest 
Texas was becoming uninhabitable. 

A ranger knew that the only good Indian was a dead 
one, and they set about to rid the country of them. Gillett's 
company had three fights with the Comanches, killing six In- 
dians. The next fight was with the Lipans, cousins to the 
blood-thirsty Mescalero Apaches, who had committed innumer- 
able horrible deeds in the country. 

The Lipans had raided a ranch in Menard County, killed 
three girls and a boy, and made their escape. Capt. D. W. 
Roberts, Company D, with a detachment of five rangers, in- 
cluding J. B. Gillett, while scouting on Saline Creek, ran into 
this band, numbering nine bucks and a squaw. There ensued a 


short fight of rifles against wooden bows, of belted rangers 
against blanket-swaddled Lipans, and the five rangers dis- 
mounted to claim the spoils of war. 

For several years after the fight, when a traveler passed by 
the spot, there could be seen a skull stuck on a mesquite limb, 
grinning one perpetual ghastly grin at the passerby ; until an 
attorney, en route to Junction City, took down the gruesome 
relic for the purpose, as he stated, of making a drinking cup 
of it. 

J. B. Gillett took one of the scalps, and covered his revolver 
holster with it. Afterwards, in bending over a frying pan at 
breakfast, he trailed the end hair in the gravy, whereupon 
Lieut. N. O. Reynolds applied a torch to the greasy locks, and in 
an instant nothing was left but the bald skin. 

"Wah !" said a woolly ranger, as he sniffed the burnt hair, 
"you have spoilt my appetite." 

Every company of rangers had one or more fights with the 
Indians during the first year of the existence of the battalion. 
Thus, the ranger system was a success from its inception, and 
from it have sprung the most celebrated mounted police in 
the world. In the first seven years of its organization it had 
aided the regular army in ridding the country of practically 
every Indian that infested the frontier of Texas. 

The rangers were then called upon to rid the state of cat- 
tle and horse thieves, bands of outlaws, train and bank robbers. 

In 1876, Major Jones, commandant of the battalion, con- 
ceived the idea of forming an escort company. It consisted of 
thirty men, led by a captain with sergeants and corporals. 

J. B. Gillett was one of the rangers selected by Major Jones, 
to become a member of the escort company. Gillett was one 
of the youngest of the rangers, lacking two months of being 
twenty years old at the time. The escort, like Napoleon's old 
guard, camped around the major at night and marched with 
him by day. 

When fully equipped, the escort company was composed of 
one captain and thirty men, including sergeants and corporals. 
Two four-mule wagons hauled the camp equipage, supplies for 


the men, and forage for the horses. The command was divided 
into three messes, of ten men each. To each mess was assigned 
two pack mules to be used when on Indian trails. When on the 
line of march, the Major, with the battalion surgeon, Dr. Nich- 
olson, moved in front; then came the company, marching in 
double file ; after which came the Major's light two mule 
wagons, and the four mule wagons trailed behind. At roll call 
each morning, the guard, consisting of a non-commissioned offi- 
cer and ten men, was announced for the fourteen hours. 

An advance guard of two men preceded the command 
about a mile, and two men, known as flankers, were deployed on 
either side of the column, while the sergeant or corporal, with 
the remainder of the men, formed the rear guard, and brought 
up the pack train. Thus it was impossible for the Indians to 
take the command by surprise. 

The flankers were allowed to hunt, and in this manner the 
command was well supplied with fresh meat. It was no un- 
usual thing to see buffalo meat, venison and wild turkeys 
hanging in camp. 

Neither were the rangers deprived of some kind of music — 
without which Sousa has declared there can be no marching 
to glory. With the command was a fine violinist, a banjo 
picker, and a guitar player. There also was a quartet of sing- 
ers, and after a long day's march the musicians would get out 
their instruments, and by the dim camp fire there would fill 
the night the lilt of song, music, and story. 

As the country was becoming almost as thickly infested 
with desperadoes as it had been with Indians, it was necessary 
for the rangers to work quickly. The rangers captured the 
noted desperado and murderer, John Wesley Harden. They 
broke up the "Peg Leg" gang of stage robbers, in Menard 
County, and killed or captured the "Jesse Evans" gang, of 
"Lincoln County War" notoriety. Jesse Evans was a member 
of the notorious "Billy the Kid's" gang for years, and partici- 
pated in all the battles of the cowmen in Lincoln County. Of 
the other bands rounded up by the rangers, can be mentioned 
the "Dick Tutts" gang, of Travis County ; the "Bill Redding" 


gang, of Llano County; the "Taylor" gang, in Lampasas 
County ; the "King Fisher" gang, in Maverick County ; the 
"Bone Wilson" gang, in Erath County, and hundreds of 
individual operators. 

One of the men the rangers had to contend with was Scott 
Cooley, the head of a gang of desperadoes. Cooley himself had 
once been a ranger, but had killed a man while in the service, 
and had deserted. After remaining in concealment for some 
time, he got together a band of men as desperate as himself 
and set up in business as a cattle stealer. His depredations 
were principally among the Germans. It is said that he killed 
no less than twenty men. Once in Fredericksburg, he killed 
a German deputy sheriflf, scalped him, and, with the gory 
trophy in his hand, paraded the streets. He would enter a 
saloon, throw down the scalp and demand drinks for the party, 
which were always forthcoming. After remaining in the town 
all day he left, and a party was raised to follow him. He killed 
several of his pursuers, put the rest to flight, and rode leisurely 

In Socorro, New Mexico, on Christmas Eve, a church fes- 
tival was held. Mr. Conklin, editor of the Sun, was chairman 
of the occasion. Two young Mexicans, named Baca, were 
making themselves too noisy in the room, and Conklin ex- 
pelled them. One of them, a man of about twenty-three, lay 
in waiting for Conklin, after the entertainment. Conklin was 
with his wife, and, while one of the Alexicans jerked her away 
from her husband, the other one shot the editor dead. He fell 
in front of the church door, and the whole town was aroused. 
Although everything was done to intercept the IMexicans, they 
succeeded in getting away. 

A short time after the occurence, Sergt. J. B. Gillett, of the 
rangers, noticed a Mexican, who was frequenting Ysleta in a 
mysterious manner ; whereupon, Gillett wrote to Socorro for a 
description of the Baca brothers. When he received the descrip- 
tion, he recognized that the mysterious stranger was one of 
them, and had him arrested and delivered over to the New 
Mexico authorities. 


But it happened that the one arrested had not done the 
shooting, the principal man was yet at large. After a while, 
Gillett learned that he was clerking in a store at Saragossa, 
Mexico, a srnall town about fifteen miles south of Juarez. Gil- 
lett decided to go over to the town and capture the murderer 
without waiting for extradition papers. 

Thereupon he armed himself, mounted his horse, and ac- 
companied by George Lloyd, a corporal in his company, crossed 
the Rio Grande. Without arousing suspicion, he reached Sara- 
gossa and the store. Leaving his horse in the shelter, with 
Lloyd as guard, Gillett, unobserved, rushed into the store. 
Baca was behind the counter, and, before he could make a move, 
the ranger had him "covered." The Mexican surrendered at 
once; and Gillett, placing his prisoner on the horse behind 
Lloyd, started for the river. 

The people of the town immediately pursued Gillett, who 
had four miles to gain before reaching the Rio Grande. His 
speed was hampered, owing to having to change the prisoner 
back and forth from his horse to Lloyd's, in order to avoid 
tiring out their mounts. The Mexicans fired a few shots, but 
were afraid of killing Baca, and, therefore, did very little 
shooting. Gillett was afraid of the Mexican government, and 
lost no time in getting his prisoner into New Mexico. The 
night following the arrest, the prisoner was turned over to the 
sheriff of Socorro County ; and the next day he was lynched by 
the citizens of the town. 

Baca was the nephew of the Judge of the Probate Court of 
El Paso. The judge became irate, and went to Chihuahua, 
where he had the governor of that state place a price upon 
Gillett's head. For a time, he was valued at $1,500; conse- 
quently he stayed on the American side. 

Gillett then entered into correspondence with Secretary 
Blaine, who wrote a long letter to Governor Roberts, of Texas, 
claiming that the capture was a breach of international comity. 
It seemed for awhile that Gillett would be turned over to 
Mexico, but the feeling aroused by the occurrence gradually 
died out. Afterwards Gillett stated to friends that he regretted 


his action, although it was one of those wrongs that make a 

In the spring of 1880, information was received at Austin, 
that a lawless band of characters were operating south of Fort 
Davis, in the Chinati Mountains, where there were no rangers 
to keep guard. Major John B. Jones ordered Sergeant Seiker 
to take four men and one Mexican guide, and repair to the 
scene. The men included Sam Henry, Tom Carson, R. R. 
Russell, L. B. Carruthers, Red Bingham, and a Alexican. At 
Fort Davis, Sergeant Seiker learned that the most daring of 
the desperadoes were four in number, one of whom was Jesse 
Evans, from New Mexico, a ring leader of the notorious "Billy 
the Kid" gang. This band of robbers would terrorize the citi- 
zens of Fort Davis, and would rob stores in open daylight, dar- 
ing anyone to resist them. A heavy reward had been offered 
for their capture. 

The rangers learned through a negro named Louis, who 
occupied a neutral position between the two parties, that the 
outlaws' stronghold was in the Chinati Mountains. He also 
told the desperadoes that the rangers were after them. Believ- 
ing the negro was wholly on their side, the outlaws told him if 
only four rangers came to hunt for them, he need put himself 
in no trouble to warn them, but to keep them posted in regard 
to a larger force. 

Leaving Fort Davis, the rangers rode southwest about 
eighty miles. On a little creek in the Chinati range, while 
hunting for trails, they discovered four men on horseback above 
them on the mountainside. As this corresponded to the num- 
ber of men they were hunting, Seiker and his men turned and 
went toward them. The outlaws, for such they were, turned 
and fled, but soon commenced firing upon the rangers, who 
were in close pursuit. This settled their identity, and Sergeant 
Seiker and his men put their horses to the utmost speed to 
overhaul them, firing as they rode. 

The chase lasted for two miles, when the outlaws came to 
a mountain which was flat on top, but on the opposite side was 
a ledge of rock, four feet in height, which ran around the cir- 


cle of the mountain. Across its flat crest raced the outlaws, down 
the ledge to near the base, and there dismounted, tied their 
horses, and came back to the ledge, where they took a position 
behind it to fight the rangers. When Sergeant Seiker and his 
men arrived at the mountain and discovered the position of the 
desperadoes, they went up near the crest, dismounted, tied 
their horses and advanced to the assault on foot. The Mexican 
had been left behind with the pack mules. The rangers deployed 
as they went, but soon were fired upon, and a desperate charge 
was made across the open ground, in which Bingham was 
killed. His comrades were charging straight ahead, firing rap- 
idly with their rifles, and did not notice him fall. The bullets 
flew so thick along the rim of the ledge that it was death to an 
outlaw to get his face above it. 

One of the outlaws, George Graham, was not quick enough, 
and while giving a swift look over the ledge, was fired upon by 
Sergeant Seiker. For an instant the outlaw ducked his head, 
then raised it quickly again. This time he received a bul- 
let between the eyes. Finding that it was a losing fight, the 
other outlaws begged for their lives by throwing down their 

This all happened in so short a time that it was not yet dis- 
covered that Bingham was killed. When it was found out, 
Seiker's men were wild with anger, and wanted to kill the out- 
law prisoners. This they were prevented from doing, as the 
outlaws had surrendered their arms and were defenseless. 

Then came the sad duty of burying a comrade. This con- 
sumed several hours' time, as the rangers had nothing to dig 
with except their Bowie knives. After showing their dead 
comrade all the honor in their power, they tied the prisoners 
upon the captured horses, mounted their own, and rode rapidly 
to Fort Davis, where the captives were placed in jail. 

The jail at Fort Davis was of Mexican model, and was lit- 
tle less than a dungeon. The main building was a square, adobe 
structure, with the rooms in the center and doors opening on 
the outside into the courtyard. The jail was in one corner of 
the building, and blasted out of the solid rock to a proper depth. 


and then covered over the top by strong timbers securely- 
fastened. The egress was a trap door. No light was there. 
And into this place of utter darkness the captured outlaws were 

Considering the disadvantage under which Seiker's rangers 
charged across the open ground upon the sheltered position of 
the desperate outlaws armed with the best repeating guns, 
and the numbers nearly equal, coupled with the rapidity with 
which they made themselves masters of the situation, the fight 
was said to have had but few equals in any warfare waged by 
the rangers upon outlaws and Indians. 

Thus the Texas rangers have made it possible once more 
for the citizens of Fort Stockton and Fort Davis to breathe 
with ease. They greatly rejoiced at the changes which had been 
brought about by the capture of some of the most deadly out- 
laws in the Southwest. Before that, they had been afraid to 
open their mouths in condemnation of the lawless acts that were 
constantly being perpetrated upon the least provocation. The 
five hundred dollar reward which they had offered for the 
apprehension of the outlaws was cheerfully given to the 

Such service as this was expected of the rangers without 
any compensation to them except their monthly pay, and it was 
not for any reward, but their sense of duty, that caused them 
to apprehend the bandits and capture them. The reward was 
given out of the free will of merchants and stockmen, who were 
elated over the fact that their country was safe ; and the money 
was accepted in the same spirit, by the rangers, who had been 
the means of rendering the country safe. 

There were six ranger companies in all at the outset of the 
organization, under the command of Maj. John B. Jones. In 
1882, the companies were stationed as follows: A Company, 
Capt. G. W. Baylor, commanding, at El Paso ; B Company, 
Capt. S. A. McMurray, at Colorado City; C Company, Capt. 
George Arrington, on Red River, in the Panhandle ; D Com- 
pany, Capt. L. P. Seiker, Uvalde ; E Company, Capt. C. L. 
Nevill, near Fort Davis; F Company, Capt. T. L, Ogelsby, 


Oaka, on the Neuces. Three of the companies, A, C and E, 
were in the Indian country, where they were continually bat- 
tling with the hostile redskins. The other three companies were 
on special duty — B Company was protecting the Texas and 
Pacific Railroad from train robbers, a squad of men riding on 
every train ; D Company was protecting, in like manner, the 
Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway extension ; 
and F Company did fugitive work. 

At the beginning of the ranger organization, Capt. Neal 
Coldwell, formerly referred to in another chapter, who was 
born in Dade County, Missouri, in May, 1844, was appointed 
captain of Company F, with Pat Dolan — later a ranger captain 
— as first lieutenant, F. C. Nelson as second, and with seventy- 
five enlisted men. Later, it became necessary to reduce the 
ranger force, and Captain Coldwell's company was cut down to 
forty men, with the three lieutenants eliminated. Afterwards 
Major Jones allowed one lieutenant, however, and W. K. 
Jones, later judge of Val Verde County, was appointed. He 
was brother of the ranger captain, Frank Jones, who was 
killed in El Paso County. 

It is impossible to give even a synopsis of the innumerable 
deeds of daring performed by the rangers, since the organiza- 
tion of the frontier battalion. If the history of the service is 
ever written it will be a good-sized volume. The compensa- 
tion for their brave work was not what could be termed hand- 
some. Until 1879, privates received $40.00 per month; cor- 
porals, $40.00 ; sergeants, $50.00 ; lieutenants, $75.00 ; and cap- 
tains, $100.00. This was exclusive of subsistence for them- 
selves and forage for their horses. The men had to furnish 
their own arms, ammunition, horses, and clothing. A little 
later the pay of a private was reduced to $30.00 a month, and 
that of corporals to $35.00. Eastern Texas, which contained 
the bulk of the population of the state, needed no ranger pro- 
tection and the members of the Legislature from that section 
were always opposed to the service, and were ready to advocate 
its disbandment. In 1876, the Legislature appropriated $300,- 
000 for the frontier protection. In 1878, it appropriated $180,- 


ooo, and in 1880, $140,000. Each of these appropriations went 
to pay the expense of maintaining the service for two years. 

So much good did the ranger service do on the frontier, in 
ridding the state of predatory bands of Indians, that Congress- 
man Upson, from the Bexar District, successfully introduced a 
bill in Congress to refund the State of Texas out of the Na- 
tional treasury, the sum of $1,000,000, which was expended in 
fitting out the ranger expeditions against the Indians and 

The ranger commands of revolutionists struggling for the 
freedom of Texas were composed of those heroic spirits who 
made a choice between liberty or death, and Mexican thraldom. 
They valiantly accepted the former alternative and achieved 
liberty ; but many met death in a horrible form, bravely facing 
the foe, as did Crockett and his courageous band in the Alamo. 
The rangers made for themselves an undying record for heroism 
and courage. No better troops ever faced an enemy. Follow- 
ing the Civil War, the great natural resources of the Southwest 
began to attract the attention of immigrants, and capital sought 
investment in the Lone Star State, and the legislative power of 
the state wisely encouraged both. Eastern Texas, rich in 
timbered and farming lands, was soon thickly settled by the 
eager horde of restless fortune-seekers, and the advance guard 
pushed west to the great plains. Little settlements and isolated 
ranches sprang up along the river and creek bottoms, and in 
the fertile canyons wherever water could be found. 

These pioneers had one great enemy to contend against, an 
enemy, pitiless, bloodthirsty, and cunning. Not the poor In- 
dian of poetry and of romance, but the greasy savage of the 
plains, the Indian of real life. And it was the ranger who 
exterminated this enemy, and made the Southwest safe for its 

But in recounting his own deeds, the ranger was invariably 
modest. He never talked unless pressed to do so. However, 
about the campfire, in the midst of his companions, he would 
brush up his recollection of perilous adventures and reckless 
daring. The service had a fascination for him which he found 


difficult to overcome, and it was said that once a ranger always 
a ranger — at heart. 

Is it any wonder that he was thus reckless, or that the stock 
of his carbine was so notched with the tally of his dead? Some- 
times they were literally born in the service. As an illustration, 
one of the famous rangers, during the period which we have 
been reviewing, inherited his fondness for the service from his 
father and grandfather. The latter was a ranger when Texas 
was a Mexican province, and died beside Crockett in the Alamo. 
His father sprang to the defense of the Stars and Bars, at the 
head of a company of "rough-riders," and the morning sun 
kissed his dead face, upturned to the sky on Chickamauga's 

Living in the midst of danger, it was not long, however, for 
any man, even though he did not inherit the qualities of a 
ranger, to become the hero of daring adventures. The deeds 
of bravery of rangers were of such countless numbers that his- 
tory will fail to know even the most prominent. Conscientiously 
doing his duty and daring all danger, he broke the way for the 
onward march of civilization, which continually rolled toward 
the land of the setting sun. When the deadly arrow of the 
redman or the equally deadly bullet of the outlaw put out the 
light of his brave, young life, his comrades raised the lifeless 
body with tender hands, and — 

On the rocky banks of the Pecos 
They will lay him down to rest. 

With his knapsack for a pillow, 
And his eun across his breast. 



In April, 1S79, Victorio fled from the Mescalero Apache 
reservation, near Fort Stanton, New Mexico, and with thirty 
braves took the war path in a campaign against the settlers in 
the Big Bend and against the Mexicans in Northern Chihuahua. 

The cause of this outbreak was directly traceable to Vic- 
torio's stubbornness and rebellion in being removed from one 
reservation to another. First, the Chiricahua Apaches, of 
whom he was chief, were removed from the Ojo Caliente reser- 
vation to the San Carlos IMescalero Apache reservation against 
tlieir wishes. Victorio had twice fled from this reservation, 
and both times was driven back by troops. After escaping 
from the Fort Stanton reservation, he was joined by one hun- 
dred and fifty kinsman warriors, from the Ojo Caliente res- 

Troops were at once sent against them, and they were forced 
to flee into Mexico, swinging around south of El Paso and 
crossing into Texas about forty miles below Fort Quitman. 

At this juncture, Troop A, loth Cavalry, commanded by 
Captain Nicholas Nolan, which had been stationed success- 
ively at Eagle Springs, Van Horn Wells, Fort Quitman, Fort 
Elliot, and Fort Davis, was ordered into the field against the 
Victorio band. Other troops, in the meantime, were being 
mustered into service to go to their assistance. 

Colonel George W. Baylor, commanding the Texas Rang- 
ers, drove the Indians back into Mexico, after which Victorio 
returned to New Mexico, where he found Lieutenant Colonel 
N. A. ]\I. Dudley, with a battalion of the 9th Cavalry, waiting 
for him near the border. 

The Texans were congratulating themselves that they were 
rid of the Indians for a while, when late one afternoon the Fort 
Davis-El Paso stage coach drove into Fort Quitman with the 
driver and a dead passenger, General Byrne. It was then 


learned that Victorio, baffled upon meeting Colonel Dudley's 
battalion, had turned again into Texas to resume his hostilities 

Colonel Grierson was stationed at Eagle Springs with a con- 
siderable force of cavalry. A stage arriving from Fort Davis 
had reported the wires cut and poles chopped down, indicating 
that the bulk of the Indians had crossed the road there. Col- 
onel Grierson, with his full command, was sent to meet the 
Indians, leaving only a small troop to guard Eagle Springs. It 
was further reported that the Indians were going west, and 
the nearest water was at Fresno Springs, in the direction they 
were headed. Colonel Grierson decided to beat them to the 
springs. To accomplish this, he took a short cut, rather than 
follow the Indians' trail. 

After a hard ride, the command reached Fresno Springs 
about midnight, and surrounded the springs on all sides. In 
this position, without supper or breakfast, they then quietly 
waited. The next morning about eleven o'clock, the Indians 
were sighted coming into the trap set by Colonel Grierson. 
Unfortunately, just before they reached the trap, a wagon 
train came in sight. Simultaneously with the troops, the In- 
dians saw it, and proceeded to attack. And the command was 
compelled to go to the assistance of the train, thus giving the 
Indians time to retrace their steps into Mexico. 

Colonel Grierson decided to make another effort to head 
Victorio off, by reaching the Rio Grande before the Indians 
could recross. The command had dinner, and then took up the 
march, riding until dark. After supper. Colonel Grierson or- 
dered Lieutenant Flipper and a detachment to proceed in a 
southerly direction nearly at right angles to the route the 
command had been following, in an effort to cut the trail of the 
Indians. It was supposed at first that they had doubled back 
over their trail of the day before, but scouts had been unable 
to find any trace of them. 

Lieutenant Flipper had marched scarcely two miles before 
fresh signs revealed the fact that the Indians had but recently 
passed. A courier notified Colonel Grierson, and he also swung 


into the trail and followed so closely upon the heels of the 
Indians that they were seen on the other side of the river. There 
was nothing to do but wait until the Indians attempted another 
attack. Troop A returned to its station at Fort Quitman, and 
the other troops w-ere placed in advantageous positions, while 
a picket tinder Lieutenant Charles G. Ayers was placed at Ojo 
Caliente, some forty miles below Fort Quitman, to watch the 
river. The Indians presumably had decided to wait awhile 
before resuming their hostilities. 

Their next attack was upon a little band of brave Mexicans, 
which resulted in a horrible massacre. In November, 1879, 
Victorio, finding that New ]\Iexico was growing too warm on 
account of the United States soldiers and cowboys, came down 
into Mexico to take a rest. At that time the United States had 
no agreement with Mexico allowing troops to cross the bound- 
ary between the two republics in pursuit of hostile Indians. 
Thus all the blood-thirsty thieving Apaches had to do, when 
the United States soldiers pursued them, was to cross into 
Mexico. When the ^lexicans pursued them, they fled into 
Texas, New IMexico, or Arizona, keeping up a continual will o' 
the wisp flight. This was a most unfortunate state of affairs, 
for some of the best and bravest men lost their lives before an 
agreement was reached allowing the troops of either country 
to cross the boundary at will. 

Victorio knew every foot of the country, where to find 
wood, water, grass, and game. So he took his time and came 
from New ^Mexico down into Chihuahua, stopping first at the 
Santa Maria, a stream which furnished plenty of water and 
grass. "There he took refuge in the rough mountains south of 
Lake Hueco to ward off an attack from the^ Mexicans. But 
as the country thereabouts was thinly settled at that time, there 
was little fear of danger. 

Gradually he moved his warriors down to the Candelaria 
Mountains, to procure new range and to be nearer to the settle- 
ment of San Jose, owned by Don Marino Samaniego. Also, he 
could watch the public road between the City of Chihuahua and 
El Paso del Norte, the present Juarez. 


It was here that one of the saddest and most frightful mas- 
sacres of the early days was perpetrated. Victorio was at the 
large tank, or reservoir, on the north side of the Candelaria 
Mountains, where he had fine range for his stock, with plenty of 
wood and game. Located among the almost inaccessible moun- 
tains, for twenty or thirty miles in any direction he had every- 
thing in plain view and could see every movement made by 
travelers or bodies of men. 

A report had been sent to the neighboring Mexicans that 
the Indians were near; and a company of the principal Mexi- 
cans of Carrizal, fifteen in number, under the command of 
Don Jose Rodriguez, left to locate the enemy. 

The band of Mexicans proceeded to the north side of the 
Candelaria Mountains and struck the trail of Victorio's band 
on an old beaten route which passed from the Santa Maria 
River to the big tank on the northern slope of the mountains. 
The trail led up a canyon, passed between two rocky peaks, 
down the side of the hills to the plain, thence to the big tank. 
Old Victorio, who was a natural soldier, knew that the Mexi- 
cans would never come up on the Candelaria Mountains after 
seeing the size of his trail From his position on the tall peaks 
he had seen the little body of men long before they struck his 
trail, and had sent forty or fifty of his warriors down to form 
an ambuscade where the trail crossed the crest between the 
two peaks. He perhaps was with the men himself, as the at- 
tack was most skillfully planned and executed. The Indians 
hid in the rocks on the north side of the trail where there were 
a few big boulders, and when the Mexicans got between them, 
the Indians fired a volley. Naturally, the Mexicans made for 
the cover of the rocks on the south. 

The Mexicans passed into the fearful death trap laid for 
them, and there was no hope of escape or rescue. One of the 
Mexicans had made his way into a crevice, and from his posi- 
tion could have shot any one coming at him from east or west. 
He was hidden to one group of Indians, but his legs were ex- 
posed to another group, who literally shot them off, up to the 
knees. The horses, in their struggles after being shot, had 


rolled down the deep canyon on the east, breaking their lariats, 
and not stopping until they had reached the bottom of what 
was called later the Canada del Muerte (canyon of death). 
This massacre occurred on the seventh day of November, 1879. 

When the company did not return, there was great sorrow 
and alarm at Carrizal, for it was supposed that only a small 
band of Indians, bent primarily on horse stealing, was hiding 
in the Candelarias. So another company of fourteen men 
volunteered to go and see what had become of their friends 
and kindred. 

When this second band failed to return, the citizens of Car- 
rizal petitioned Paso del Norte for assistance, and George W. 
Baylor proffered the services of his company of rangers. Soon 
one hundred and ten mounted, well armed men were on the 
trail leading to Canada del Muerte. 

Colonel Baylor was selected by Senor Ramos to command 
the entire force, on account of his experience as a soldier, and 
as a compliment to the rangers. Baylor did not accept, how- 
ever, giving as his reason that the campaign was on INIexican 
soil, and to rescue or bury Mexicans, it would be proper to ap- 
point one of their own men, under whom the rangers would 
be glad to serve. Thereupon Don Francisco Escajeda, of Gua- 
dalupa, was chosen as commander in chief, and Baylor made 
second in command. 

The command rode out on the sand road beyond Samala- 
yucca and sent spies ahead to locate the Apaches, if possible. 
Before they reached the Candelarias, they halted behind some 
mountains to await the report of the spies. They could learn 
nothing, however, and returned without any special discov- 
eries. It was bitter cold night, and a few of the party made 
fires in the deep arroyos. But they could not linger around the 
blaze, as every minute counted. 

Moving on towards the mountains north of the Candelarias, 
they reached there early the next morning, and there found a 
large fresh trail, two days old, going in the direction of Lake 
Santa Maria. For fear of some trick, the command divided, 
some taking the crest, south of the trail where the massacre 


took place, and the others going to the right. It was soon evi- 
dent, however, that the entire band of Indians had left, and 
nothing remained for Escajeda and Baylor to do but the sad 
duty of collecting the bodies of the massacred Mexicans for 

The dead bodies were scattered about, none very far from 
where the attack had commenced. It was evident that the last 
party had found the bodies of their kinsmen and had collected 
and placed them in a big crevice in the rocks. But just as they 
had begun to cover the bodies with loose stones, the Indians, 
who were stealthily watching them all the time, opened fire 
on the Mexicans and exterminated the entire party. 

It was a sad scene when a Mexican in the third scouting 
party made the discovery of a dead brother or kinsman. There 
was not a dry eye among either Mexicans or Texans, and for 
one time a bond of friendship, created by sympathy, was 
linked between the two races. 

The bodies having all been recovered except two, they were 
buried in the crevice of the mountains where the massacre 
occurred. All were in perfect state of preservation, owing to 
the pure cold air of the mountain. These men had lain on the 
ground for nearly two weeks, and not a sign of decomposition 
had taken place. Neither had wild animals nor birds of prey 
touched the bodies, and it is said to be a strange fact that no 
wild animal or bird of prey will ever touch the body of a Mexi- 
can. If they had been Indians, negroes, or whites, the coyotes, 
buzzards, and carrion crows would have eaten them the first 
day and night. 

On the 5th day of October, 1879, Colonel George W. Baylor 
received a note from Captain Gregorio Garcia, of San Elizario, 
stating that fifteen Apache Indians had been seen by some 
Mexicans who were cutting hay fourteen or fifteen miles back 
of La Quadrilla, for the stage company. The Indians had at- 
tacked the men, five in number, and it was thought that all but 
one had been killed. 

Colonel Baylor with his command left at midnight ; and 
after a hasty breakfast on the river, five miles below Qua- 


drilla, started with a guide to the point where they suspected 
the Indians had gone. 

Going in a southerly direction in single file from Las Cornu- 
vas, they crossed the Rio Grande, opposite Guadalupe. Colonel 
Baylor had no hesitation in crossing the river, as he hoped to 
find the Indians within a short space. His calculations were 
not correct, however, for the Indians had just passed the edge 
of the trail which Baylor was taking, and had made straight 
for the nearest town where they had killed a mare. 

Colonel Baylor halted and sent word by Captain Garcia and 
Martin Alarcan, to the President of Guadalupe, as to their 
movements. Taking advantage of the halt, the rangers took 
their dinner, and gave the animals a chance to rest. 

Upon his return, Captain Garcia reported that the Presi- 
dent was not only very much pleased that they had crossed but 
would join the rangers with all the men he could muster. About 
this time, a courier from Don Romana Arranda's ranch brought 
word that the Indians had killed the herder of the ranch, and 
had taken six mules of the stage company and five of the ranch 

The command immediately started for the ranch, which they 
reached at sunset, after traveling seventy-eight miles since 
eleven o'clock the night before. They were joined at the ranch 
by a party of ^Mexicans, under command of Captain Francisco 
Escajeda. The ]Mexican party numbered twenty-three men ; 
Arranda and his son also joined the party, and Colonel Baylor 
then took the road to Lucero. The Mexican allies had discov- 
ered the trail, which led off south along the pass of the Arma- 
gora Mountains, in the Sierras Ventanos ; and at eleven o'clock 
in the morning, they arrived at the mouth of the Canyon ]\Iar- 
ranas, an ugly hole cut in the mountains, looking grim and 
defiant enough without the aid of the Apache warriors. 

Obviously, the Indians had laid a trap for the command; 
and, dismounting. Colonel Baylor left fifteen of his men in 
the joint company to guard, began to \Scale the mountains on 
the south side of the canyon. As soon as the Indians discovered 
they did not intend to enter the mouth of the canyon where 


they had posted themselves in the high diffs on either side, 
they opened fire on Baylor, his men, and horses, that were 
unfortunately in an open plain and in good range. 

The Mexican allies soon got possession of a high rocky 
point in full view of the Indian camp and horses, which they 
kept hot with bullets. The Indians in turn kept up a steady fire, 
and were evidently armed with heavy rifled needle guns. Al- 
though some of the enemy were six hundred yards off, the 
accuracy of their fire was such that by the time the smoke 
arose from the gun, a bullet would strike just below the crest 
of the mountain, and whiz over the heads of the Americans and 

Having left two of his men with his horses, and taking only 
eight with him, as the Mexicans had gone to the left, Colonel 
Baylor advanced along the slope of the mountain in the rear of 
where the Indians were in the rocks. The first shot on his small 
party was one from an Indian not more than twenty-five yards 
distant. Sergeant J. B. Gillett returned the fire, and undoubt- 
edly mortally wounded the Indian, as he did not appear again, 
and was heard groaning for hours. The Indian had fired two 
shots at Gillett, one knocking the palmetto in his face and the 
other cutting the rim of his hat. 

The Indians then began firing on the party in full force, 
but as Baylor had instructed his men not to fire unless they 
saw an Indian, they did nothing but watch the flash of their 
guns as the smoke came from the pile of rocks. As Baylor 
and his men were protected mainly by Spanish dagger plants, 
they fell back fifty yards to good rocks, so as to be on equal 
footing with the Indians. The enemy, however, did not show 
themselves again, but left the ground and fell back six hun- 
dred yards, to their horses. 

Baylor then joined the Mexican allies, and kept up a fire 
until sunset ; but after finding that they could not dislodge the 
enemy, the allies ceased firing, after having killed only three 
Indians, and crippled several. 

Thereupon Colonel Baylor and his men returned to their 
horses, the Indians still firing upon them. It would have been 


possible to have charged against the enemy, but the men and 
horses were tired and thirsty, and Colonel Baylor turned to- 
ward the Arranda ranch, where his men and animals were 
refreshed with food, water, and rest. 

Following this incident. Captain Coldwell was ordered by 
General Jones to Ysleta to inspect the company of Captain Bay- 
lor. Nothing of particular interest occurred on the trip to 
Ysleta, and after spending several days there attending to busi- 
ness, Coldwell started on the return trip to Fort Davis. 

At Fort Quitman, news was received that the Mexican 
forces had fought Victorio and his band, making a stand-off 
affair, and had gone back to Chihuahua; also that after the 
fight, Victoria had crossed the Rio Grande, and was then in 

With Victorio near. Captain Coldwell knew that the trip 
back to Fort Davis was fraught with grave danger. With him 
in the mail jerky was one negro soldier, a boy named Graham 
on his way to Fort Davis to act as hostler, and the driver. It 
was thought that the Indians might attempt an attack in Quit- 
man Canyon. 

They expected to meet the buckboard, another vehicle used 
on the mail route, at the Eighteen-mile Water-hole, Avhere a 
short halt was to be made to get water. About evening, five 
men were seen on large horses, who at a distance had the ap- 
pearance of United States soldiers, on account of the horses. 
One approached within a short distance of the jerky and went 
back. Coldwell felt relieved, thinking that the country was 
being well patrolled by the regular troops. 

About dusk the waterhole was reached, but Baker, the driver 
of the buckboard, and his vehicle were not there. This natu- 
rally caused some uneasiness. Captain Coldwell stated that 
they would continue their journey, and thereupon alighted to 
fill a vessel with water from the spring. 

One startling fact, which the captain and his party were 
not cognizant of, was th^t on this very day a battle had been 
fought with Victorio's band within a few hundred yards of this 
waterhole, in a little canyon just back of it. A squad of the 


loth Cavalry had been routed by the Indians, with the loss 
of five or six men and horses. 

The dead horses were lying almost in view of the road, and 
what had been taken for American soldiers had been Victorio's 
scouts, mounted on the United States cavalry horses, which 
they had captured. It had been agreed by the party in the hack 
that if the Indians came upon them that the driver would give 
his gun to the Graham boy, and let the team run in the road. 
Captain Coldwell and the negro soldier were to fight the In- 
dians as they rode, unless a mule was killed ; and, in such an 
event, the four were to stand and fight to the best advantage. 

Had they known what was ahead, the situation would have 
seemed desperate. Also the non-appearance of Baker with the 
buckboard Vv^as ominous. After leaving the waterhole, the 
mules went at a lively rate for three miles, and then shied at 
something by the road. It was the buckboard with one mule 
dead, and the other gone. Beside it lay two men, dead, the 
driver, Baker, and a passenger. They evidently had been killed 
about sundown, as they should have been at the waterhole at 
the time the other vehicle was there. No doubt they ran and 
fought the Indians until one mule was killed, and then died be- 
side the buckboard. 

Very little time was taken by Captain Coldwell and his 
party to look around, as the situation was grewsomely appalling. 
The driver slowed down his team. The captain sat with his 
rifle in hand, admonishing the men to keep cool, and have 
their guns in readiness. Close watch was kept on both sides 
of the road. Fortune favored them, however, and they ar- 
rived safely at Eagle Springs. 

In November, 1880, Colonel Baylor and twenty Texas 
rangers joined Colonel Juaquin Terrazas, in running down 
Victorio. After recrossing into Mexico, the old chief sent 
his younger braves on an expedition, while he remained in 
camp with his older warriors, women, and children. As a 
camping place, he had chosen the mountains of Tres Castillos, 
in Northern Chihuahua. 

In the meantime, while Colonel Grierson, with his command 


of United States regulars, were chasing the younger warriors, 
the Mexican authorities had sent Colonel Terrazas, command- 
ing a thousand Mexican regulars, to join forces with Lieu- 
tenant Parker, commanding sixty-eight Chiricahua scouts, Lieu- 
tenant Manney, with a detachment of twenty negro troopers, 
and Colonel Baylor, commanding twenty Texas rangers. 

After following the trail of Victorio for several days, the 
pursuers succeeded in locating him in the Tres Castillos. But 
the Mexicans became uneasy and refused to go farther, until 
the American commands should turn back. In explanation, 
they said that the Chiricahua scouts were relatives of Victorio, 
and would prove treacherous. 

Although anxious to participate in the extermination of the 
renegade Apaches, the Americans were forced to turn back 
upon the announcement made by Colonel Terrazas that he had 
orders not to allow the American troops to remain upon Mexi- 
can soil. 

Twenty-four hours later a messenger carried word to the 
retiring Americans that Terrazas had fought and defeated 

Victorio was killed by a Tarahumar Indian, by name Mau- 
ricio, whom the State of Chihuahua rewarded with a fancy 
nickeled rifle. This same Mauricio is said to have killed Cap- 
tain Emmet Crawford, who had gone into Chihuahua, under 
treaty with Mexico, in pursuit of Chief Ju. 

Victorio has often been called a Mescalero Apache, but he 
was a Chiricahua Apache, although many of his warriors were 
Mescaleros. He always avoided battle when his women and 
children were with him, but accompanied by his men, he com- 
mitted some of the most frightful crimes ever perpetrated by 
Western Indians. During his most successful encounters, he 
was strong and virile, even though he was past fifty. His ex- 
termination rid the border of its deadliest and fiercest enemy. 

After Victorio was killed, the remainder of the band scat- 
tered. A few small parties recrossed the Rio Grande and were 
met by United States soldiers, where most of them were killed 
or captured. One remnant of the band, however, reached the 


Diablo Mountains, which they gained by a circuitous route, 
crossing the Rio Grande into Mexico and recrossing into Texas 
between Eagle Springs and Quitman Canyon. 

Colonel Baylor and Captain Charles Nevill joined forces. 
With twenty-five men they struck the trail of the fleeing In- 
dians, which they followed for five days with but little food 
and nothing but melted snow to drink. One night they camped 
two miles from where the Indians had established themselves, 
and early the next morning took the enemy by surprise. The 
fight lasted only a short time, but was decisive, crowning the 
rangers with complete success. Four bucks, two squaws, two 
children, sixteen head of stock were killed, and ammunition, 
firearms, and commodities which had been stolen by the In- 
dians were recovered. There were no casualties on the ranger 

One of the last raids in the Big Bend was led by Magoosh, 
chief of a band of lawless red men who murdered and stole 
whenever the opportunity came. Magoosh claimed to be the 
last active chief of the Apaches, and said he came down from 
New Mexico where he saw the Southern Pacific Railroad, be- 
tween Marfa and Valentine. Thereupon he surrendered, stat- 
ing he had seen iron horses pursuing him when he saw a train 



In 1882, the Big Bend was freed from its last wild Indians. 
Of this tribe, known as the Chisos Apaches, Alsate was the 
chief. He differed somewhat from other chiefs, as he himself 
was the son of a Mexican who had been stolen in his youth by 
the Indians. From infancy, he grew up among them, know- 
ing nothing but their method of living and their manner of war- 
fare. He was, withal, brave and fearless, and was for many 
years associated with the operations of the Chisos Apaches. 

Prior to 1882, attempts had been made to drive the Indians 
out of the country but to no avail ; and it was left for the in- 
sidious policy of Porfirio Diaz to finally forward their capture. 
The Apaches made their home in the triangle of Texas, lying 
between the Pecos and Rio Grande, and south of New Mexico, 
which was the last foothold of the wild, untrammeled Indian in 
Texas, They had their rancherias in the Chisos Mountains, 
but were compelled to shift their position from time to time to 
avoid the rangers and soldiers. This part of the country had 
been closely watched for some time by Diaz, who determined 
on the capture and extermination of these Indians. 

To further such a capture entailed many disadvantages, and 
numerous plans were discussed by Chihuahua officials. It was 
possible for the Indians to cross irito Texas within a few hours, 
and escape the Mexican pursuit This emergency had to be 
dealt with in whatever plan was formulated. 

At last it was decided to employ the services of a man named 
Lionecio Castillo, who was thoroughly acquainted with the 
habits of the Indians. He was of a doubtful character, and was 
what the jNIexicans call a "rattero," or petty thief. He had 
spent most of his time in jail, and, when out, spent his time in 
outlawry and thieving. He had cultivated the acquaintance of 
the Apache Indians, and perhaps had joined and aided in their 


Such a man would prove very valuable to the Mexican 
officials as a "stool pigeon," and Diaz lost no time in employing 
him. Castillo was an intimate of Alsate, and it was to the chief 
that he went to make arrangements according to a plan devised 
by his employers. Owing to the erratic movements of the In- 
dians it was a tedious search for Castillo, but he finally found 
the cautious band. 

According to his instructions, he represented himself as a 
great friend of Alsate and his band. He informed the chief 
that he had been sent to make a treaty with him, under which 
the Indians were to be placed in a reservation and were to be 
dealt out certain provisions and clothes at regular intervals. 
This was the manner in which the Indians were treated by the 
United States, and it had proved successful. Therefore, Al- 
sate did not object since his people were to be well fed and 
well treated. To fortify his story, Castillo produced certain 
papers adorned with gorgeous gold and green seals, bearing the 
impress of some Chihuahua official with irrelevant writing and 
fraudulent signatures. 

The bait was taken. None of Alsate's band could read 
Spanish, but they could enjoy the green and gold glitter as well 
as any Mexican, and could feel the proper respect for officials 
and tinsels. They had heard that the United States did make 
such treaties with their Indian wards, so why should not the 
Mexican government do the same? 

But with all the temptation of the glittering document, their 
cunning caution did not entirely leave the Indians. They de- 
sired further proof of Castillo's good faith. It was, therefore, 
arranged that two or three Indians should meet Castillo and 
the Mexican representatives at the Presidio of San Carlos, on 
a certain day, of a certain moon, when a treaty should be made. 

Promptly at the time set, Colorado, one of Alsate's sub- 
chiefs, and two other Indians, made their appearance at San 
Carlos. Here they were escorted to the town house on the 
plaza, and were met in solemn council by a number of men in 
lace and gold uniform, having every appearance of military 
officials. Here for two days, with all the seeming solemnity. 


the farce was played. A number of details were agreed on, and 
among them were those that provided that on a certain day of 
the next m.oon all the living representatives of the Apaches 
should come to San Carlos and should there receive each a red 
blanket, a belt, and certain provisions. 

On the evening before the day set, several companies of the 
24th Mexican Infantry marched from Presidio del Norte, at 
the mouth of the Conchos River, on the road to San Carlos. 
At daybreak the next morning they camped in a secluded spot 
to escape the keen vision of any sentinel of Alsate's band, and 
there they remained during the day in readiness for the climax 
in the game then being played. 

In the meantime, the Indians, men, women, and children, 
had set out from their mountain retreat for San Carlos. A sen- 
tinel was placed on the nearest mountain top to spy out any 
signs of soldiers. After this every member of the Apache band, 
after an inspection of the town, entered and camped on the 

They were cordially received, and were given provisions in 
abundance. Cattle and goats were slaughtered, and cooked 
sweetmeats of every kind that would be tempting to the Indians 
were distributed among them. In every hospitable way that 
could be arranged, the Indians were treated as if they were 
guests at a royal fiesta. All during the day, alcohol in different 
forms was brought in to the feast, and the Indians were in- 
vited to partake. Some of them were aware of the danger of 
the white man's "fire-water" and endeavored to prevent the 
others from indulging. But in spite of the warnings, by night- 
fall almost every member of the band was intoxicated ; and as 
the supply of liquor was apparently unlimited, they drank far 
into the night, until stupefied. 

In the meantime, the Mexican soldiers had commenced their 
march to San Carlos. As the Indian sentinel on the mountain 
top had become fearful of losing his share of the festivities, 
and seeing no signs of soldiers, he had joined his companions 
to participate in their drunken orgy. Consequently, the march 
of the soldiers was not observed, so they reached San Carlos, 


and waited in the distance until silence should fall on the 

At an early hour the next morning, they quietly surrounded 
the little town and closed in on the drunken Indians. Some of 
them resisted and were killed ; but the majority were captured 
and bound while in a state of drunken stupor. They were then 
taken to Santa Rosa, to await departure to the City of Mexico. 

Residing at Santa Rosa was an important man named Don 
Manuel Musquiz, who was none other than the uncle of Alsate. 
It has been heretofore related that Alsate's father was a Mexi- 
can, stolen in his youth by the Apaches. He was now old and 
blind, as a result of a wound in his head, but he remembered 
that it was in Santa Rosa that his brother resided. Thinking he 
might influence the release of the Indians, the old man sent for 
his brother. When Don Manuel came to where the Indians 
were, Alsate's father related to him how he had been stolen 
in his youth, and that his name was that of Don Maguel, which 
also was the name of their mother. 

But Don Manuel was not ready to believe this story. Said 
he: *Tf you are Miguel Musquiz, my brother, you have six 
toes on your right foot." 

The blind man, stooping, took off his moccasin and said, 
"Brother, for that the mountain trails are rocky and hard to 
travel, long ago have I sent off the sixth toe. But here is the 
scar where the sixth toe once rested." 

Don Manuel then knew him to be his brother, and set about 
to help him. General Blanco, a member of the General Council 
of Mexico, was an intimate friend of his, and Don Manuel felt 
that the time had come when his friend could assist him. First 
he claimed his brother as an Indian captive, and the soldiers 
were forced to give him up. But Alsate, the chief, they would 
not surrender, so to him his uncle gave a letter, addressed to 
his friend General Blanco. He cautioned Alsate to guard it 
well until he reached the end of his journey, when he was to 
give the letter to no one excepting General Blanco, at Mexico 

The soldiers then started on their march for Chihuahua, 


carrying their prisoners, manacled and tied together. The 
wretched prisoners in sore suffering of body and mind were 
driven in sullen silence along the highway. On the long march 
to the City, many of the band died under the hardships, and 
when at last they were thrust into the famous prison of the 
Acordo, to await the determination of the Council, but few 

Alsate requested the Council to listen to him, and after 
being given a hearing he pleaded for his people, asking only 
for a chance to live and breathe the air of the mountains. He 
presented to General Blanco the paper from Don Manuel, ask- 
ing him to befriend the Indians. 

The Council, in the meantime, had decided that the Indians 
should be separated and given out among different families in 
different towns in far Southern Mexico. Thus was a plan 
brought about to make slaves of the Indians, separating rela- 
tives and friends and loved ones ; and it was so arranged that 
none of them should ever escape from this bondage to return 
to their former home in the mountains. 

Following Alsate's entreaty, they were told that they would 
be sent back to their rancheria. They were then removed from 
the prison, and taken in wagons on a return journey to their 
rancheria. They had no faith in the statement of the Mexicans, 
and Alsate was all the time scheming and planning for a means 
of escape. 

At a signal from their chief, being unbound, the Indians 
leaped from the wagons and fled into the woods and hills. Some 
of them were later recaptured, and distributed as slaves among 
Mexican families in Southern Mexico. But Alsate, the fear- 
less and the courageous, was not intercepted ; neither was his 
squaw and some of his band. He dropped out of sight and 
was not seen nor heard of for many years. It was thought that 
the Apache chief had died, and soon he was forgotten among 
those who had heretofore so feared him and his band. 

But after a time sinister rumor began to creep over the 
old frontier of the Chisos Mountains. It was told by the camp- 
fires at night among the shepherds that the ghost of Alsate had 


made its appearance in the old haunts of the Chisos Apaches. 
One man had seen the phantom, as the evening began to fall, 
walking on the slopes of the Del Carmen Mountains. Another 
had seen it standing on the tip of a rocky point overlooking 
the Rio Grande. 

The rumor became so persistent that people became afraid 
to be out at night in the vicinity of the chosen haunts of the 
ghost. In the summer of 1886, two Americans were camping 
along the Rio Grande opposite San Vicente, east of the Chisos. 
Upon awaking every morning, they found moccasin prints on 
the ground or in the sand within six feet of their beds. The 
prints were of two persons, big prints and small ones, as if made 
by a man and a woman. The Americans never saw nor heard 
anyone in the night, even when they began to watch. The 
tracks were to be seen for a distance of twenty miles or more 
along the river with San Vicente as a pivot. The Americans 
followed the prints endlessly, but with no success of discovering 
the sign of the makers. 

Nor was there any harm done by whoever made the prints. 
The haunters seemed to have no purpose, and the system of 
their wanderings was not more than a wisp of wind. 

Finally the San Carlos authorities sent out custom guards, 
but the phantom figures were too wary to permit the mounted 
officers to catch even a glimpse of their shapes. 

In searching about the mountains where the ghosts had 
often been seen, there was found a cave with signs of recent 
occupancy by some animal, which was able to gather and carry 
in grass for a bed, to slay and eat birds, rabbits, and other ani- 
mals, and to build a fire for cooking. It was hardly supposed 
that a ghost would have occasion for fire and food, so the search 
passed on. As the ghost was so often seen in this neighbor- 
hood, and about the cave, it soon became known by the name 
of "Cueva de Alsate," or Alsate's Cave ; but as Alsate's ghost 
harmed no one, it was not thought expedient to admit of further 
official pursuit. 

The report of the ghost did, however, trouble one man. 
This was none other than Castillo, the "stool pigeon" who had 


betrayed the Indians. As soon as the report became current 
that the Indian chief's ghost was at large in his former haunts, 
Castillo found occasion to leave the country. When the custom 
guards reported that they could tind no evidence of Alsate's 
presence, Castillo again returned to San Carlos, but no sooner 
had he made his reappearance than the ghost was reported to 
be seen again. 

But after a while the stories ceased, and the people about 
the country began to take on fresh courage and to pass in broad 
daylight near Alsate's Cave. Still later, a small band of the 
curious took their lives in their hands and ventured with fear 
and trembling to search the cave. There in an obscure corner 
lay the mummied remains of Alsate, the Apache chief. Near 
was the charcoal remnants of a fire and signs of a frail bed. 
His squaw was not found with the chief's mummied remains, 
and it was supposed that she had returned some time before to 
her people in San Carlos. 

And so it came about that, even though there might have 
remained a few hybrids in some scattered towns in the far 
south of Mexico, where they had been taken into slavery, in 
whose veins ran the blood of the Chisos Apaches, nevertheless 
when Alsate died in the darkness of his cave, alone and uncared 
for, there passed away the last of the Chisos Apaches. 



One morning, in 1882, Jay Gould, of the Texas Pacific 
Railroad, awoke to find that his dream of constructing a trans- 
continental railroad had been rudely interrupted. His rival, 
Collis P. Huntington, was working while he, Gould, was dream- 
ing, and the builder of the Southern Pacific had contracted with 
every steel-rail maker in the United States for three years 

The building of the Southern Pacific road had been delayed 
so long that there was a possibility of losing the franchise be- 
fore it could be constructed. Because of this, Huntington lost 
no time, and worked his men from daylight until dark, and 
often by candle light. There was a saying that one could track 
Huntington by the quarters he dropped behind him. But he 
always dropped money for a purpose, and in the steel rail case, 
before the expiration of his three years' contract, the price of 
steel had advanced so that he profited millions. 

The railroad was constructed by the Civic Improvement 
Company, of which J. H. Strawbridge was president and man- 
ager. Colonel Gray had been chief engineer of the railroad 
during the time the preliminary survey was being made. At 
the death of Gray, Hood was appointed chief engineer to fill 
the vacancy. N. G. Gillett was assistant engineer. There were 
six or seven thousand men working on the construction. All 
of the bosses and teamsters were white men, but the laborers 
were mostly Chinese and of other nationalities. 

The preliminary survey was a man^^noth job in itself. There 
were employed twelve eight-horse teams to haul water from the 
Rio Grande to the Camp. Eighty-five men were employed in 
the surveying party. 

The surveyors were subjected to all of the nascent wildness 
of a new, unsettled country. Neither was it without its dan- 


gers, for they frequently had skirmishes with the Indians. They 
also came in contact with great herds of antelope, and buffalo 
east of the Pecos River. 

Following their topographical notes, they discovered that 
Piasano Pass was the highest point on the G. H. & S. A. Rail- 
road. This point was 5,078 feet ; but was not the highest, how- 
ever, on the Southern Pacific, as this honor has been accorded 
to Tehachapi Pass, in California. 

Foreigners coming to the new country, encountered many 
unusual and bizarre experiences during the construction of 
the Southern Pacific. Not acquainted with the gruff methods 
of the pioneer, they many times found themselves facing big 
revolvers for the least provocation. Kleinman, an Austrian, 
came over during the construction of the road, en route to 
Presidio, to join his uncle, Sam Goodman, who was proprietor 
of a store. His only knowledge of English had been acquired 
during a nine-day stay in England, and while aboard a ship 
coming to Galveston. 

Kleinman was thoroughly unacquainted with the early- 
Texan, and was surprised when he was invited to take a drink 
by Uncle John Davis, who ranched on the Alamito. Davis 
knew the Austrian's uncle and had busied himself to make it 
pleasant for him during a stop-over at Mar fa. But Kleinman 
was a temperate man, and refused to drink. He quickly changed 
his mind, however, when he found himself looking into the 
muzzle of a big revolver poked near his nose. But with all 
this. Uncle John was a kind man who favored his neighbors, 
and would cook a meal for a passerby at any time of the night 
or day. 

Even though the pioneer was gruff, he was not desperate. 
Neither were the cowboys, although there has been a fallacious 
idea that they belonged to a class entirely undesirable. This is 
far from being true, and there were found among the old-type 
of cowboy representatives of some of the most peaceable pioneer 
families. Those who gave much trouble were the cattle thieves 
and outlaws, for as late as in the spring of 1883 there were 
organized bands of the latter. Heavy thefts were continually 


being made, until the cowmen of the vicinity made an attempt 
to bring about a regeneration, and to establish a law and order 
that would not be ignored by the most daring. 

The cowmen organized, and effected a total revolution in 
the business of thievery, so that in most cattle districts the 
industry became not only safe, but a most preferred invest- 
ment. The cattlemen were assisted in bringing about this 
change by the rangers, one of whom was Colonel George W. 
Baylor, who was one of the veteran rangers in the Texas serv- 
ice. Colonel Baylor was known far and wide for his bravery 
and valor. Through his efforts many bands of marauders, 
both Mexican and Indian, were intercepted and arrested. He 
had killed a dozen men in hand-to-hand encounters, and 
was held to be invaluable in the service by cattlemen and 

Colonel Baylor had many narrow escapes during the cam- 
paign to exterminate the cattle thief. On one occasion he went 
to arrest a desperado, accompanied by one of his men. He 
found the outlav>^ with a confederate at a house on the moun- 
tain side. Colonel Baylor rapped on the door, and the confed- 
erate stepped out and asked what was wanted. Baylor stated 
that he had come to make an arrest. At this, the man on the 
inside immediately fired twice upon Baylor through the open- 
ing. One shot disabled his left hand, and the second struck 
an iron ring in the belt he wore. The confederate, seeing Bay- 
lor, as he supposed, totally disabled, turned and fired on the 
other ranger. Baylor, resting his shotgun on the injured hand, 
fired a load of buckshot into the man's breast at close range in 
time to save his friend, and then turned upon the remaining 
man, who had stepped inside the room to procure another rifle. 
As the desperado turned v/ith the weapon in his hand, he re- 
ceived Baylor's second load, and dropped, dead. 

Baylor lost his thumb as a result of this encounter, and as 
he had a passion for music he was heard to exclaim, "Well, 
that does up my old violin !" 

But through his efforts there was brought about a total 
change in the cattle districts. Organizations were so perfected, 





so vigilant, and so powerful, that the outlaw began to realize 
that he took his life in his hands at every attempted theft. 

In the same year the Shafter Mine, which was called the 
Presidio Mining Company, was discovered by John W. Spen- 
cer, who found float of free milling silver carbonates, zinc car- 
bonates, and lead. The four original owners were General 
Shafter, Lieutenant Bullis, Lieutenant Wilhelme, and John W. 
Spencer. The first foreman of the Shafter mine was S. A. 
Wright. Prior to this he had discovered gold in the San An- 
tonio Canyon, fifteen miles west of Shafter, and later discov- 
ered Young's lead property, 

Boquillas was settled in 1894 by D. E. Lindsey. He was 
running a bullion train in Mexico when he saw an opportunity 
for a store on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, opposite Bo- 
quillas, Mexico, where also was located the Del Carmen mine. 
Going to San Antonio, he purchased a stock of goods, and 
freighted it to Boquillas from Marathon, meanwhile breaking 
the road. He employed men to go ahead clearing the way and 
picking out the bes^ trail. Two weeks were consumed in mak- 
ing the trip, and when he reached Boquillas, Lindsey could not 
get within two miles of the place where he wanted to locate his 
store, because of the impassable road and clififs. Accustomed 
to hardships, he was not in the least daunted by this impedi- 
ment. Throwing off his clothes, he swam the river, entering 
Boquillas, Mexico, with only a blanket about him. There he 
obtained burros to transport his commodities to the selected 

His first store was a rude structure with counters made of 
adobe framed over with goods boxes. It was not long, how- 
ever, before he had enlarged his place of business, and had as 
many as 250 wagons operating, hauling supplies to the mine, 
and back-hauling ore. His first customer was a woman, who 
was carried across the river on the shoulders of two men. 

It was considerably earlier than this that a band of Mexican 
cattle and horse thieves had been raiding across the border, 
stealing horses and cattle and keeping the ranch people in con- 
stant terror. This band numbered about thirty-seven of the 


most desperate and bloodthirsty outlaws in the great Mexican 
state of Chihuahua, and the border was continually infested 
with thieves and murderers. Not a day passed but word of 
some outrage reached the state capital and was brought before 
Governor Ireland, who determined to clear up the border from 
Brownsville to El Paso. 

Living in San Antonio at that time was Captain Lee Hall, 
then commander of the rangers, who already had won distinc- 
tion by his many skillful and adroit captures of cattle thieves. 
The governor sent word to Captain Hall to come to Austin. 
A meeting was quickly arranged by the two, and it took only 
five minutes to arrange the famous Red Ride. 

The advance began at Brownsville, Hall having the entire 
ranger force at his command. He divided the companies into 
squads of two and four men, and formed them in a straight 
line, reaching north into the state at intervals of from 200 
yards to a mile between squads. The length of the screen was 
about twenty miles long, and within a week it began its west- 
ward sweep. 

The line moved with deadly precision, and each night when 
camp was made, all was clear in the rear. In all the history 
of the Southwest, there never was a clean-up made in so thor- 
ough a manner. The number of desperadoes killed by the 
rangers was never known, as no account was kept of the out- 
law casualties. That was too unimportant a matter during the 
Red Ride, but it was significant that during the drive not a 
ranger lost his life. The ride ended at El Paso about six weeks 
after it started from Brownsville. 

Shortly after this. Captain Hall distinguished himself fur- 
ther by discovering the source of the relay cattle stealing sys- 
tem and by arresting the chief. So far as the outside world 
knew, this chief was entirely respectable. He had four sons 
and two daughters, the latter being noted for their beauty. 
Captain Hall and the rangers were the only ones who knew that 
this man was responsible for much of the stolen cattle of the 
southwest. Cattle thieves would take their loot and pass it 
north through the relay stations to the Indian Territory, where 


those in charge of the northernmost station in the system 
would dispose of the cattle, and later distribute the proceeds 
along down the line to the old man at San Antonio. 

The old man found out that the rangers had discovered his 
system, and he decided to trap Captain Hall and his men before 
they could trap him. It was planned that his daughters should 
give a ball in honor of the ranger captain, but Hall suspected 
all of the time that this was a scheme to bring about his murder. 

On the night set for the supposed dance, Hall, accompanied 
by a single ranger, proceeded to the ranch of the chief of the 
relay system. As he entered the room where the dance pre- 
sumably was to take place, the women ran frantically from the 
room, expecting that a fusillade would follow. Hall and his 
lieutenant marched into the room, walked up to the relay chief, 
and in a moment disarmed him. Captain Hall then proceeded to 
disarm each of the party of outlaws. Not a man resisted, 
thinking that the house w^as surrounded by rangers. After the 
disarmament, the ranger tied the hands of the eight outlaws, 
and marched them into San Antonio, where they were turned 
over to the sheriff. Thus ended the relay system for all time. 



Perhaps better than any other writer on the Spanish South- 
west, Judge O. W. Williams has caught the subtle undertones 
of the Mexican story-tellers. The two stories following are 
taken from his notes, written while surveying in the Big Bend, 
in the early '90s. Judge Williams says : 

Many of the distinctive and peculiar plants of the Trans- 
Pecos country have no English names in common usage. When 
the English speaking peoples settled in that country, they found 
that the Mexicans had already in use a large vocabulary of 
Spanish words, to designate these plants and shrubs, and this 
vocabulary was generally adopted by the new settlers. Since 
then very few English names have come into use to supplant the 
Spanish names. 

In writing out the story of the Honca^ Accursed, I have used 
exclusively these Spanish words, in order to keep up a uniform 
system of names, and this was not possible with English names. 
As many of the readers will probably not be familiar with these 
terms I have thought it best to add a short glossary, explaining 
briefly the meaning of the Spanish names and giving a short 
description of the plants so named. 

The story of the Honca Accursed was told to me by Juan, 
who was often my guide while surveying in the Big Bend. 

An hour's ride had carried us from the hills to a wide valley 
that lay between the m.ountain ranges. That hour had trans- 
ported us from one vegetable world to another, as if we were 
in the hands of the genius of some New World Aladdin's lamp. 
The sparse mountain oaks and junipers, with their stunted and 
dwarfed bodies, had disappeared, and we were now among the 
inhabitants of the valley, a floral people even more stunted and 
dwarfed and of forms infinitely more strange and grotesque 

1 Honca. This is an evergreen thorn tree, 4 to 8 feet high, of a habit of 
growth described above. 


than their kin of the mountains. We had left a people of 
Quakers, wearing the garments of peace and harmony ; we had 
come among a people of war, frozen by some magic with sword 
in hand and armor buckled for the fray. Lance or sword or 
dagger peeped out from almost every bush, and where we saw 
a shrub without weapons in sight we scrutinized it with a 
strong suspicion that somewhere in its drab or russet bosom 
there lurked some secret deadly missile ready to be thrust into 
the rash intruder. 

For this was the flora of the arid region, and our scientists 
tell us that this extraordinary and varied development of leaf, 
stipule, and stem into thorn is the result of an age long struggle 
on the part of the plants against their competitors and enemies. 
Now the dagger, sword, and lance would avail little in the 
struggle for life against their competitors, who carry on their 
operations chiefly under the ground, vegetable sappers and 
miners who in darkness and depth steal the moisture and life 
away from the beleaguered citadel. But against their enemies, 
the birds that steal away the seeds and the animals that browse 
on leaf and stem, these weapons would avail much. So we 
understand that the panoply of war which these plants wear 
is not put on for service against their neighbors of the flora, 
but against the predatory animal life that feeds on them. 

Yet, as one gazes over this troop born of the dragon's teeth, 
that has sprung armed from the ground, the imagination easily 
falls into the thought that it is a picture of war of neighbor 
against neighbor, class against class, brother against brother, 
and we can even picture to ourselves certain resemblances 
among the plants to characters of the Middle Age, that age 
when every man was an Ishmael whose hand was raised against 
every other man. Over yonder stands the courtly palma,^ 
whom we may liken to the Knight Errant, kindliest of all the 
spirits of this war-like array, and the earliest doomed to dis- 
appear. Within its coronet, dagger guarded, the crow in safety 
rears her brood. Under its straw colored armor the lizard 

> Palma. An aloe, 6 to 12 feet high, well known In the Southweet as the 
"Spanish Dagger." 


hides, and in the shade at its feet the hare sets his form. When 
it is decked in its white plume the desert bee sucks desert nec- 
tar from its snow-white bells. And when it finally falls in the 
battle, the termite'^ — the cowled monk — shrouds it in its dusky- 

And here stands the gatun/ the robber baron, with curved 
claws thrust out from his castle ; claws that never loosen 
when once fastened, that grasp meat or raiment regardless of 
distinction, for everything is prey that comes his way. 

Over there is the tasajillo'^ Italian bravo, hiding under 
cover at the street corner, eager to thrust his stiletto into his un- 
suspecting victim, ready as he does so to draw back into ob- 

Here is our leech, the hoja-sen,^ sober of garment and 
wise of countenance, offering as a remedy for every ill, whether 
of fever within or wounds without, the one sovereign remedy 
of the leaf. 

And there, hid away in the shade of some strong hand, like 
the gatun, its treasure guarded by gnarled roots, is the tasajo,^ 
the hermit monk. Meek and mild its drab stem pointed to 
heaven with cross uplifted, while hidden underground and 
warded above by castle walls lies its store of worldly wealth. 
In darkness it blooms, and charms with its sweetness the spirits 
of the night, spirits too meek and lowly to court the light, of 
the sun. 

2 Termite. Known to Americans as "White Ants;" to Mexicans as 
"Hormigas Blancas," When a twig falls to the ground, these so called ants 
proceed to devour it, covering it in advance with a thin coating of mud, 
under which they carry on the consumption of the woody fibre. They are 
said to be blind. 

''Gatun. Probably a corruption of "Gate d'urio," known to Americans as 
"Cat Claw," because of the recurved thorns with which it is armed. It 
belongs to the Acacias. 

* Tasajillo. Diminutive of Tasajo. See note G. 

B Hoja-sen. Literally "Senna Leaf." A small shrub 2 to 3 feet feigh. 
It is not our commercial senna leaf, but possesses similar medicinal properties, 
and is used by the Mexicans for the same purposes. In the early days of 
West Texas settlement, Mexican freighters returning to San Antonio from the 
frontier army posts, gathered and brought back much of the leaf for sale to the 
Mexican population of that city. 

« Tasajo. Literally "dried" or "jerked" beef. The meat so cured was cut 
Into long strips of an angular surface, and hung out to dry in the sun and 
wind. Because of the resemblance in shape of the stem of this plant to the 
long angular strips of meat used for drying, the name became fastened to 
the plant. The root of this plant at about 12 inches below the surface of the 
ground terminates in a large gorm, which is much sought after by some 
animals. The plant is a "cereus," probably "Cereus Greggii," and blooms at 


And down on the sandy barrens lie, waiting for unwary 
feet, the pcritas,'' the crabbed essence of bristling barbarity, 
corded and knotted with fiery barbs, the caltrops of this fiendish 
infantry. No subtle spirit of distillation can charge a human 
weapon with more painful humor than carries this humble, 
crawling porcupine of the sandy dunes. 

Here too is our outlaw, the hianaga,^ living apart and 
alone, a law to himself, and disdaining alike the power of the 
robber baron and the balmy night sweetness of the hermit monk. 
But through all its coarse and roughened hide now and then 
there breaks forth a brilliant bloom of star-like purity of color, 
an emblem of what may come from the lowliest and loneliest 

Just so, too, amid all this scene of desolation, flits our Prince 
of the Red Hat, the cardinal bird, preening his feathers in the 
shade of the gatiin, picking insects from the bells of the palm, 
or plucking the red berries from among the thorns of the tasa- 

But nowhere in all this throng shall you find those spirits 
of peace and good will to man, the yellow-buskined wheat 
or the more gallant corn with his golden tasseled cap 
and his green plumes. We miss these burghers. To find 
them we must go, just where we would find them in the 
Middle Ages, to the water's edge, whether in the hills or on 
the plains. 

Now among them all there towered up here and there a 
lone figure in Lincoln green, presenting to every front an un- 
changing face of thorns, and for it I could recall no suitable 
figure. It was what Americans term the "All-Thorn." It is 
well named, for stipule, leaf, and stem seem to have alike gone 
to thorn, so that at its outer perimeter it is difficult to make 
out the particular thorn, which is the true stem along which 

^ Perlta. "Little Pear." Probably a diminutive of "pcra," the prickly 
pear. It is a cactus of crawling haliit, its limbs hugging the ground like 
those of a vine, covered with thorns and broken at short intervals with nodes 
Of excessive development of thorns. 

* Biznaga. A hxwaW ecbino-cactus with a thick corrugated skin and rldgea 
of spines up and down its siilos. It l)ears after rains and irregularly, beautiful 
and evenly tinted flowers. I find tb(> term used among the Mexicans to desig- 
nate at least one other kind of cactus. Derived from the Arabic. 


runs the center of growth. As I did not know the name given 
to it by the Mexicans, I asked it of Juan. 

"The Honca Accursed," was the reply. 

I know of no reason, logical or grammatical, why there 
should be any difference of meaning between "The Honca Ac- 
cursed" and "The Accursed Honca," yet in the local parlance 
there is a difference implied. And if you will substitute for 
"Accursed" the old stage-drivers' favorite equivalent — ^begin- 
ning and ending with a "d" — you will easily catch the distinc- 
tion. When the participle precedes the noun the imprecation is 
a personal one prayed for or pronounced on its object by the 
party speaking. But when the participle follows the noun it 
is rather the reiteration of a curse already pronounced by a 
higher authority. 

Having this in mind, I asked of Juan why it was that he 
designated the shrub as "Accursed." 

"Has the Senor never heard ?" was the surprised answer. 

I told him that I had not. 

"Then it must be that the Protestants do not have the same 
Bible that we Catholics have. Or it may be that the Seiior 
has never had his Padre to tell him the story of how the wicked 
Jews crucified Christ." 

"Yes, I have heard the story, but what has it to do with the 
Honca Bush ?" 

"That will I now tell to the Senor in my own way, as I have 
heard it from my Padre, with maybe a little more as I have 
heard it told among us by the campfire. 

"You must know that long ago the Jews had Christ among 
them. They wanted a king among them who would take them 
out to battle, and who would place his foot on the neck of 
every nation on earth, and they believed that their old Books 
had promised them such a king. Christ claimed to be their 
Promised King, and they saw that he did have great power. 
But he taught them that they should not go to war ; that were 
a man to be struck on the right cheek, he should offer the left 
to be struck in the same way. This kind of teaching would 
never bring the King of the Jews to place his foot on the necks 


of every people on earth, and they came to consider Christ as 
an evil spirit — a deceiver — who plotted evil to them. Then 
they planned to kill him. 

"Now when the Jews had gotten Pilate to deliver Jesus into 
their hands that they might crucify him, they set about to mock 
him as they led him to his death. On the way (Via Crucis) 
they passed a goodly thorn tree. This they cut down and of its 
trunk they made the Cross on which to crucify him, while of 
its branches they made a crown of thorns, and set it on his head 
to make sport of his Kingship. And so they went on scoffing 
and reviling at him, while the blood dripped out of the broken 
and bruised ends of the thorn tree. 

"This thorn tree, Senor, was the Honca bush, and for its 
part in the sin of that day it stands accursed for all time. Like 
the Wandering Jew, it can never lay down its burden, but must 
go to the end of time accursed and hated by beast and man. 
From a tree it withered and shrank, blasted to a shrub ; leaf 
nevermore grew on it to shelter its trunk from the fierce rays 
of the sun. The sap in it ran out on that evil day, and there was 
left to feed it only a foul poisonous oil. Because its thorns had 
pressed as lightly as they could on that sacred brow there was 
given it to bear a tiny blossom and to ripen a very small berry. 
But no bee hunts that flower, and only a dark brown moth, by 
night and in stealth, visits it in shame and penance. No bird 
or insect tastes that berry, and it is left to wither on that hated 
stem until the angry winter winds blow it away to be hidden in 
the merciful dust. 

"The chonte^ never sings from its branches, nor does the 
mariposa}'^ sip from its flower. The liebre^''- never sits in 
its shade, nor does the codornis^^ take to its covert when 
pressed by the hawk. The spotted thrush does not build 
its nest in its limbs, though the snake never climbs the naked 
trunk nor does the hawk dart on its outskirts. The Honniga^' 

'Chonte. The mocking bird. Name probably a corruptloQ of "Slnionte" 
from the Aztecs. 

»" Mariposa. Butterfly. 

>» Liehre. Jackrabtiit. Derived from the Latin "LepuB." 
" Codornii. The Blue Quail. From the Latin "Coturnix." 
"Hormlga. The Ant. 


hunts the little greeyi bug'^* in the tops of shrubs and weeds, 
and your wise Doctor has told us that it milks the bug, as 
we milk the goat, and lives on it. It may be that the wise man 
was making sport of us, for he might as well tell me that I 
could live on the milk of a concjo;^^ and the little green bug 
could not live on the juiceless ends of the honca thorns ; or if 
it could even do so, no ant could live on it. So the ant never 
climbs the honca, nor makes its home near its roots. 

"Never in social union lives the honca. The tecumblate'^^ 
grows in great clusters, bush and bush side by side, with 
branches embracing in brotherly love. The gatiin plants its 
roots near to its kin, and rejoices in the fragrant bloom of its 
neighbor. But the honca lives an outcast, solitary and alone, 
shunning its own kin and hated by all plants. The tasajillo 
nestles under the hoja-scn, and may be found even under the 
verha-hcdionda}'^ , but it never thrusts its thorn into a passer-by 
from the shadow of the honca. The tasajo loves the shade and 
seeks for protection to its papa}^ among the thick roots of the 
gatiin, the mesquite or the hoja-scn, but never will you find its 
buried treasure guarded under the honca. 

"No wayfarer will use the honca for fire unless in evil plight, 
for its hateful odor and dire smoke carry its curse. It bums 
with a fierce and brilliant light, but the curse goes into the 
torch as well. 

"So, living or dead, the honca is shunned by all. When life 
departs from the leafless limbs it goes so steadily and shame- 
facedly that no one knows when it has escaped its rider. For 
years the bare dead limbs will steadily but hopelessly face the 
winter storms and summer heat, disappearing piece by piece no 
one knows how or when, until at last there only stands the 
bare trunk. When finally the withered trunk lies on the 

" Green Bug. The Aphis. 

" Conejo. The Cotton-Tail Rabbit. Lilse the English "coney," this word 
originally comes from the Latin "cuniculus." 

" Tecumblate. A shrub growing in clusters and bearing a black berry 
with very little pulp. Name supposed to be of Indian origin. 

" Yerlm Iledionda. Literally "Stinlc Plant." Leaves of this plant have 
a very acrid disagreeable odor, so that it is sometimes designated by American! 
as "Creasote Bush ;" Larrea Mexicana. 

^8 Papa. This is the usual term by which the Mexicans designate the Irish 
potato, but is also in common use for bulbous roots of any kind. 


ground it is not given the burial that comes to all plants in the 
grace of God. For plants, like men, have their friends who 
see that they have burial after death. The little blind horuiiga 
blanca^^ kindly feels its way in darkness to the fallen bodies of 
the giants of his home, and patiently working day and night 
little by little covers the dead with earth. But it never covers 
the body of the honca in decent burial, but lets it wither and 
char in sun and storm, until finally, how or when no one knows, 
there is no more any sign of the accursed shrub. Perhaps it 
has gone to feed the fires of Hell. Quien sabe !" 

At another time, we had camped for the night by the side 
of a rock cliflf, which presented to us a front as regular as that 
of a wall laid in Flemish Bond. Our nightly campfire had 
dwindled down to one or tv/o sticks, and the flickering light 
therefrom threw the shadow of an "a^grita" bush on the wall 
in a sort of fantastic resemblance to a dancing human being, or 
human jumping-jack. To our comrades, given to dolorous 
memories, it suggested recollections of the convulsive move- 
ments of a man dying under the hangman's care. This in turn 
suggested to someone the "Juez de Cordado," of the other side 
of the river — the Rio Grande — whose name and whose sum- 
mary power of administering death without trial or hearing, 
hinted strongly to us of a "cord" or "rope." 

After some discussion, I asked, "Natividad, what is the 
name of the present Juez de Cordado at San Carlos, Mexico?" 
San Carlos was a town lying some sixty miles away, 

"They haven't any, Seiior," he replied, "They have not 
had any since I caught the last one." 

There was plainly a story behind this, a story in which 
Natividad delighted, if one could judge from the wrinkles about 
the big mouth and the dancing of the little black eyes, "The 
Sefior must know that I keep very closely to the American side 
of the river, and even when the General Naranjo was about 
to sell his land over the river, and was carrying around that lot 
of Kickapoo Indians to show them the land, and sent for me 
to come over and show the corners, and sent word to me by his 

•» Hormlga Blanca, Termite, Bee note 2. 


messenger that I would be safe for he would protect me, yet I 
did not go over. Now, Senor, I was born in that land ; the 
antigos of my youth are scattered over it ; and I could not find 
a house over there, save one, where I v/ould not be welcomed 
to eat and smoke. I know those terreanos as a bird knows the 
chapfarro prieto, in which its nest is built. And it comes about 
that I do not go there now, just because I knew it so well in 
my time, 

"The Senores must know that the line between the states 
of Chihuahua and Coahuila runs into the Rio Grande at the 
Paso del Chisos, which the Comanches used in the times long 
ago, — when they came into Mexico in the old days to rob and 
kill. They came in by Lajitas and Santa Helena. I was then 
a boy at San Carlos and many a time I have seen them. There 
was old Tave Pete, the old woman captain, — so old that when 
she rode, she had to have a thick woolen cord tied around her 
throat to keep her jaws from clattering together. Often have 
I heard her call out her commands to her people from the 
belfry in the church, in front of the plazita in San Carlos, and 
have seen the warriors disperse to do her commands. There I 
saw the two pelones, her sons, so called by our people because 
they cut their hair short, instead of wearing a long scalp-lock 
like the other Indians. There have I seen Mauwe and Tave 
Tuk contend to see which could shoot the strongest arrow. Ah ! 
Tave Tuk was a man! We called him Baja el Sol, — which 
means 'Under the Sun,' and he made his boast that there was 
no man like him for courage under the sun. I have since heard 
that he died in the Sierra Del Carmen, fighting the Apaches 

"Now these Comanches came into Mexico by San Carlos, 
in September of each year. They robbed and plundered until 
they were ready to go back. By this time they had captives, 
horses, mules, and even cattle, to carry back in great numbers, 
so they had to travel slowly. Nov/ to return by their pass at 
the Lajitas was to bring them within forty miles of the soldiers 
at Presidio del Norte, and, as they did not wish to have the 
soldiers to follow them, they took to crossing the river further 


east, and forty miles further away from the soldiers, and thus 
returned along the east side of the Chisos Mountains. This 
pass came to be known as the Paso del Chisos. I saw it after 
I was a grown man, and at that time the trail leading to and 
from the ford was a great wide trail, covered with the bones of 
animals in great number. I would have thought then that the 
trail could have been followed by the line of bones for a thou- 
sand years to come. Well, the Comanches ceased to come, and 
our horses and cattle rejoiced once more. And in time those 
who knew the Comanches and their ways died ofT until now 
there are few of us living who ever saw a Comanche ride into 
San Carlos, with his chimal on his arm and his spear across his 
horse. During this time the bones along the old trail to the 
Paso del Chisos began to disappear. None knew how. Some 
said the wind covered them with dust, and the rain washed them 
into holes. Others said the wind ate them as we eat bread ; 
that the bones flaked into little thin pieces, and the little whirl- 
winds that came dancing over the country in the spring picked 
them up and ground them into the air. I do not know how this 
is, Senor, but the bones disappeared long ago so that there was 
nothing to mark the spot where the trail crossed the river at 
the Paso del Chisos. But there were still a few of us who 
knew where the old pass had been. 

"Some thirty years ago a surveyor came down to our country 
who had some surveying to do, and who had to commence at 
the Paso del Chisos, as his work was to lay entirely inside of 
one of the states and he could not cross into the other. So he 
wanted some one with him who knew where the Paso lay, and 
in this way I came to go with him. I carried the flag for him 
and we commenced our work at the Pass. The work was fin- 
ished, the surveyor went away, and many years passed. 

"Several years ago a dispute came up between General 
Naranjo and Don Celso Gonzales, as to the real place of the 
Paso del Chisos. Celso Gonzales had a grant from the State 
of Chihuahua which called to begin at the Pass and to lay up 
the river towards the Cafion Angulo. General Naranjo had a 
grant from the State of Coahuila which called to begin at the 


Pass and to lay down the river many leagues. Each had a 
pass on the river which he called the Paso del Chisos. But 
General Naranjo said that the Pass claimed by Celso Gonzales 
to be the Paso del Chisos was too far down the river. Celso 
Gonzales said that the Pass set up by General Naranjo was too 
far up the river. Each of them said that the other was claiming 
land that belonged to him, and so they were about to go to the 
Courts about it. 

"Some one told Gonzales that I knew where the Pass was, 
so he sent for me. Now it so happened that the Pass which I 
knew to be the Paso del Chisos was the Pass claimed by Gen- 
eral Naranjo, and when Celso Gonzales learned this he was 
angry with me. He was a man of importance on his side of 
the river, was on close terms with all the officials, and it was 
not good to have him angry at one. 

"I lived then on the Texas side of the river and had done 
so for many years. I cultivated a little farm on the river bank. 
One day after this, in August, while I was at work in my field, 
several men rode up to me and one of them, Sufiiga, told me 
that he was Juez de Cordado, in San Carlos, and that I had to 
go with him. This was very bad news to me. The Juez de 
Cordado never tried men at all, but he had authority from the 
Mexican Government to execute men, and few of us knew how 
far that authority went. All we knew was that when he wanted 
help he called on any and every one that he saw fit and they 
had to go, for the Government said so in his papers. But be- 
sides this if any one refused to go, he did not know but that 
the Juez de Cordado might call for him to stand up against a 
wall. Thus it was that every one had a great respect for him, 
and when he asked any one to go with him, he went, and when 
he commanded his helpers to hang or shoot any one, they 
obeyed orders. 

"I was unarmed and helpless, so they bound me and took 
me over the river into Mexico. I said good-bye to my family, 
for I never expected to see them again. I was carried to 
Ojinaga, a long way it seemed to me, and put into prison. Here, 
as I learned after a time, the Juez de Cordado, claimed that 


my name was on the book of the Juez Primero, as one charged 
with theft and that if that were true, he had the right to exe- 
cute me. So it must have been that the Juez de Cordado had 
to find one already charged with some offence before he had 
the right to execute him. But I had never stolen from any 
one, and they did not find on that book anything complained of 
against me. If they had my family would never have known 
what became of me. So I went free and very hungry. 

"Now it was in November after the August when I was 
taken prisoner that I was peddling up and down the river and 
I came near to IMartin Solis' place with two of my friends. We 
came first to a wagon on the road side and inquiring whose it 
was, we were told it was Suniga's, and that Suniga was then 
riding to a house near by to get his coat. After we rode by 
the wagon, my friend, Juan, said to me that here w^as a chance 
to catch Suniga, and that it was my duty to do so ; that he had 
been already put on the Judge's book at Alpine for carrying me 
over the river, so that I had the right to arrest him. But I was 
unarmed and said so. 'No matter,' said Juan, 'Elijio and I are 
armed with rifles, and we are your friends and if you will call 
on us to help you, we will arrest him.' With that we hurried 
oflF towards Solis' house, on the way Suniga went, and caught 
up with him just before he got to the house. As I was un- 
armed, I passed him, going towards the house, while my friends 
stopped to talk to him. Before getting to the house, I turned 
around and saw Suniga fall off his horse, while Juan and Elijio 
had their guns drawn on him, and then I turned back to help 
bind him. He called on us to know why we had done this. I 
answered that I would show him the papers, but he said he 
knew now and that I need not show the papers. 

"Well, then we got what provisions we could and started to 
the Pulvo, which was sixty miles away. It was a long, hard 
journey over the mountains. We had only four almudas of 
corn and one pint of flour, and there were four of us, so we 
didn't eat much parched corn at a meal. Suiiiga complained 
when we camped to eat near the Mesa Prieta, where the big 
mines of Asoge now are, and the corn was not well parched 


nor was there much of it. But I said to him that he must not 
complain of the parched corn, for it was the best I could do for 
him, and that it was much better than Suiiiga had done for me 
when he took me to Ojinaga, for that he had given me nothing 
and I had to depend on charity on the road or starve ; and that 
after getting to Ojinaga, I had been put in jail and given a 
medio (Mexican money 6 cents) a day to feed myself on; that 
I had not forgotten. But Sufiiga made no more complaint, for 
he was afraid we were going to kill him and he was only too 
glad to live on parched corn, even if the grains were few and 

"Now we got to the Pulvo and turned Suiiiga over to Don 
Juan Humphreys, who was Deputy Sheriff. It so happened 
that Don Juan's son was then over the river in Mulatto, and 
when the Alcalde of Mulatto, who was a brother to Suniga, 
heard that Don Juan had Sufiiga under arrest, he arrested Don 
Juan's son and put him in prison. Don Juan hearing of this 
went over to Mulatto, and the Alcalde put him in jail, too. 
But finally they both got out and we went up with Sufiiga to 
Alpine, where Suiiiga was tried. 

"Now it so turned out that Jesus Ralles, who now lives 
over yonder on the Terlingua, was sent to the penitentiary at 
the same time, and he says that Sufiiga was sulky and mad and 
obstinate, until one day, after a prisoner had been tied up and 
whipped with a lash on the bare back, the Major Domo called 
him up and told him that if he did not behave he too would 
be whipped in the same way. After this he gave no trouble, for 
he felt I think as he did about the parched corn, that he would 
be satisfied if he fared no worse. After he served his term 
out, he came back and now lives over the river. 

"In this way, it happens, Senor, that they have no Juez de 
Cordado in San Carlos, for they never appointed any after 
Suniga was arrested. In this way, too, it happens, Sefior, that 
I never go over the river into Mexico now, even if General 
Naranjo sends for me, because Suiiiga lives over there. 

"They told me that Sufiiga's avocado told the Judge that the 
law was meant for men who stole children, not men — (I think 


Americanos call it kidnapping) — that Sufiiga stole a grown man, 
old and fat. But the Judge said that a Mexican unarmed was 
no better than a baby before three armed men — which seemed 
good law to me. 

"So after much talk in a big room with many people, the 
Judge — Gracios a Dios! — told Suniga that he must go to the 
penitentiary for two years. And, Gracios a Dios, he went !" 



Up to 1887, Presidio was the largest county in Texas. It 
then comprised what are now the counties of Presidio, Jeff 
Davis, and Brewster. In the winter of 1884, the people of the 
section around what is now the town of Alpine, made an attempt 
to have a portion of old Presidio County cut off, with Murphys- 
ville as the county seat. The movement, however, met with 
defeat, and Presidio County remained intact for another two 

When the next State Legislature convened, in January, 
1887, there was a strong lobby on hand working for the crea- 
tion of a new county out of Presidio County. The bill was 
favorably reported on in due course, and on February 2, 1887, 
Governor Sul Ross signed it, with the emergency clause. The 
same bill provided for the immediate organization of a county 
designated as Brewster County. It provided also for the selec- 
tion, at the election to follow, of a county seat and a full 
roster of county officers. 

The same bill provided for the organization of the county 
by a commission empowered to divide the county into voting 
and commissioners' precincts, to designate polling places, ap- 
point officers of election, to canvass the election returns, declare 
the result and issue certificates of election to the successful 
candidates. This commission consisted of Dr. J. D. Caddis, 
T. S. Brockenbrow, and C. E. Way. Their duties and powers 
were identical with those of regularly constituted commission- 
ers' courts as the law at that time provided. 

The commissioners lost no time in entering upon their pre- 
scribed duties, and on the 14th of February, 1887, the first 
election of county officers was held. Murphysville was selected 
as the county seat. The first county officers were Dr. J. E. 
Cummings, county judge ; J. T. Gillespie, sheriff' and tax col- 
lector ; Ed Garnett, treasurer ; C. E. Way, district and county 


clerk ; W. W. Turney, county attorney ; Tom Newton, assessor ; 
W. B. Hancock, hide and animal inspector. The board of 
county commissioners consisted of J. T. Southwell, John 
Rooney, Lawrence Haley, and Charles Kellogg. 

The law creating Brewster County also created out of the 
old Presidio County territory the unorganized counties of JefT 
Davis, Buchell, and Foley. All of these unorganized counties 
were attached to Brewster County for judicial purposes. As 
soon as Brewster County was in shape for business, Jeff Davis 
promptly presented to the commissioners' court of Brewster 
County a petition asking that an election be ordered for the 
organization of Jeff Davis County. The petition was granted. 
The first election of Jeff Davis County followed. The returns 
were canvassed by the Brewster County Commissioners' Court, 
the result declared, certificates of election issued, and the suc- 
cessful candidates were duly sworn into office. Buchell and 
Foley counties remained unorganized for a number of years ; 
later both of them were abolished, and their territory included 
in that of Brewster County. At the time of the organization 
of Brewster County, the county was over thirty miles in width, 
beginning a few miles north of Alpine and running to the Rio 
Grande, more than lOO miles to the south. 

The land on which Murphysville was located was owned 
by Hon. D. O. Murphy, then of Fort Davis. Murphy laid out 
the town site into lots and blocks, streets and parks, much as 
it is to-day. After the organization of Brewster County, the 
name of Murphysville had to be written thousands of times by 
the various county officers in legal blanks, court processes, and 
in other legal ways. As it was long and inconvenient to write, 
a suggestion was made that it be changed. No slur was in- 
tended on the name, nor on the founder of the town, Mr. 
Murphy, as he was held in high esteem. It further was de- 
cided to incorporate the town, and in the petition, asking for 
an election for that purpose, the name of "Alpine," suggested 
by the late Ed Garnett and Walter Garnett, was written instead 
of the name of "Murphysville." As this name was appropriate 
to the mountainous nature of that section, it was easily passed. 


In 1883, Alpine was composed of seven lumber shacks, one 
general store, and two saloons and dance halls combined. The 
saloons and dance halls did a thriving business, as this was an 
important cattle shipping point. This was during the time 
when every man was a law unto himself, and carried his code 
with him. Gambling was open, and on hot summer days the 
tables and the "layout" were placed on the front verandas of 
the saloons. Sunday afternoons were the most popular after- 
noons of the week at the saloons and dance halls. 

The old cemetery at the point of Twin Mountains was first 
broken for the body of Mike Dersey, who was killed one sum- 
mer's day while in a poker game. His slayer was arrested, but 
later escaped from the old "Bat Cave" at Fort Davis. 

Alpine was in its "wild and woolly" state during this time, 
and excursions from the East always stopped long enough to 
give the passengers a chance to view the sights. Most of the 
passengers were persons who never had been west of New 
York, and often their credulity and inquisitiveness was taxed 
to the breaking point. A story is told that on one occasion 
just before the train departed, one of the passengers, wearing 
slippers, a smoking jacket, and a monocle, appeared on the rear 
platform of the last Pullman. One of the cowboys, seeing him, 
quickly dropped his rope over him, and drew him off the plat- 
form, whereupon all of his cowboy companions rushed up 
shouting, "I saw him first!" "What is it?" "If you can name 
it, you can have it," "It is mine, I roped it first," and other 
similar statements that were hurled at the head of the scared 
and helpless prisoner. The westerners, in all good humor 
among themselves, then began to quarrel over the ownership of 
the passenger, and guns were brought into play to settle the 

The train had gone some distance by this time, but the 
conductor was implored by the other passengers to back up and 
recover the man. When it did, there was one frightened tourist 
who scrambled on board, vowing never to return to the Big 

Another interesting story is told of a Kentucky lad who 


desired some excitement. He was a friend of the Durants, 
who owned a large ranch in the Big Bend. D. G. Knight, fore- 
man of the round-up, consented to take the youth and train 
him up as a cowboy in his outfit of sixty men and 400 horses. 

It appeared that the young man was a devotee of social 
affairs, and he immediately started to criticise the cowboys 
for their lack of social form. His criticisms acted only as a 
pleasant irritant to his companions, who were always ready for 
a little fun, and who decided that some of their tricks played 
on the boy might furnish them many wholesome laughs. 

The first thing they did was to slip the clinches oflF the 
saddle of the youth's horse, so that when he tried to head a 
steer, his horse stopped quickly, and he and the saddle kept 
going. This the lad thought was an accident. They had 
frightened him considerably with their stories of the Indians, 
and one night they decided it was time to have a real Indian 
fight to initiate the Kentucky "tenderfoot." They started by 
telling him of all the narrow escapes they had encountered in 
Indian raids. This continued until bed-time, and when the lad 
retired, the boys warned him to be prepared for an attack at 
any time during the night. After the cowboys had bedded for 
the night, ten or twelve of them slipped off and tied bunches 
of grass on their heads, at the same time taking in their hands 
sotol stalks to serve as lances. 

About twelve o'clock the boy was awakened by Knight, 
who told him to saddle up and go with him to move a number 
of staked horses closer to the camp in order to protect them 
from the Indians. The boy was frightened, but there was 
nothing for him to do but obey the command. No sooner had 
he and Knight dismounted and begun their work than the 
pseudo-Indians came charging, shooting, and yelling. Knight 
fell as if he had been wounded, and shouted to the boy to 

The youth needed no second bidding. He sprang on his 
horse, stuck spurs to the animal, and galloped madly away. He 
ran so fast the cowboys could not overtake him and explain 
the joke. He continued his pace for sixty miles, reaching 


Marfa before ten o'clock the next morning. He arrived ex- 
hausted, and told the citizens of the Indian attack, stating that 
he was the only one to escape. When he discovered that a joke 
had been played on him, he returned to Kentucky. 

In 1890, the mining town of Shafter experienced consider- 
able trouble with a Mexican who had come there to live. The 
Mexican was exceedingly vicious and did everything in his 
power to start trouble with the men at the mine. On several 
occasions, he laid plots and schemes to catch off guard certain 
of the officers who had been instrumental in capturing some 
murderers a short time before. One day, loading himself with 
mescal, he mounted a horse and went tearing through the camp, 
insulting everyone. Riding up to the jacal of an old Mexican 
woman, he insulted her. When she ordered him away, he dis- 
mounted, took up a four-foot club, and beat the woman over 
the head with it, causing an ugly wound in the skull, and 
breaking her arm. 

Indignation ran high against the Mexican. It was thought 
the woman would die, and he was arrested and chained to a 
tree, there being no jail at Shafter. Authorities intended to 
take him to Marfa the next day and place him in jail, but he 
was taken out in the night and shot by a group of angry citizens, 
whose identity remained unknown. 

From that time, a feeling existed between the Mexicans 
and the Americans, as it was supposed by many that it was 
Americans who did the lynching. Following this, several 
American miners were notified in anonymous writing to leave 
the country. As the Mexicans far outnumbered the Ameri- 
cans, the danger was imminent and the Americans immediately 
set about to make the place safer for themselves. 

In the meantime, on a certain Sunday night, the Mexicans 
were having a sort of bailie dance. The festivity was taking 
place in the Mexican quarter of the town, and about two o'clock 
in the morning the participants grew hilarious and began to 
shoot. Many families of white people living near grew 
alarmed and summoned the officers. Two of them, Ben Bowers 
and James Deck, visited the Mexican quarter and ordered the 


shooting to cease, whereupon the officers were told to get out, 
the Mexicans implying if they did not they would be shot. The 
officers were shown the muzzle ends of so many six-shooters 
that they left the place and went back to the center of town 
and collected a crowd, including Texas rangers Gravis, W. W. 
Jones, and Ike Lee. They started again for the Mexican 
quarter, where the inhabitants were still fighting and shooting. 
As the Americans approached they were suddenly fired upon, 
evidently by ten or twelve men hidden in a clump of trees 
and behind a pile of adobe huts. Gravis was instantly killed 
and Lee was badly shot in the wrist. 

The firing then became general, and was continued for some 
time. The Mexicans easily had the advantage, as they fired 
from behind their houses and from clumps of trees. At day- 
light reinforcements arrived from the mines, and about forty 
rangers and miners were on the ground. The rangers sur- 
rounded the quarter and sent word to the Mexicans that if 
they wished to continue the fight to send their women and 
children away, and if not, to surrender, or the entire quarter 
would be blown up with dynamite. The Mexicans surrendered 
quickly, and the Americans disarmed them. The Mexican 
who had shot Gravis attempted to escape and gave his pursuers 
a hard fight. He shot at them every time there was a chance, 
and was only captured after he was entirely surrounded. 

Following this outbreak of the Mexicans it became neces- 
sary for rangers to be established near Shafter to guard the 
mine, as there was uneasiness among the Americans that sim- 
ilar outbreaks might occur at any time. Petitions were forth- 
with sent to Governor Ross, seeking for better protection in 
Presidio County, which resulted in a much larger force of 
rangers under the command of Captain Frank Jones being sent 
to Shafter to guard the county. 

A famous murder occurred in the Big Bend, in 1890, re- 
sulting from a quarrel over a young maverick. The maverick 
was claimed by both H. H. Poe and Fine Gilliland. It was 
near Leoncita that Gilliland was driving off the calf, which he 
claimed as his own. Poe disputed the ownership, and shot at 


the young steer, whereupon Gilliland turned upon Poe and 
met him with a six-shooter. Poe was one-armed, and attempted 
to hold his horse and pistol with the same hand. The two men 
began shooting, and Poe's shot went wild, with his horse rearing 
and jerking. Gilliland's shot struck home. 

The murderer fled to the Glass Mountains, where he re- 
mained in hiding for some time, and where he was unsuccess- 
fully pursued by the rangers under Captain Frank Jones. De- 
spite their quick chase, Gilliland eluded them and escaped. 

Shortly after this, T. T. Cook, a noted peace officer, accom- 
panied by John Putman, of Marfa, left Marathon on a scouting 
trip for Stockton, concluding to go by way of the Glass Moun- 
tains with the hopes of tracing Gilliland. Riding in the wind- 
swept mountains, among the desolate crags, they spied a lone 
horseman approaching. Neither Cook nor Putman knew Gil- 
liland, but the fugitive knew the peace officer by sight. The 
three met in a precipitous canyon, and on passing Putman, 
Gilliland spoke in a friendly manner. When he approached 
Cook, however, he opened fire and hit the officer in the knee 
cap, at the same time killing his horse. Cook fell with his 
horse, but called quickly to his companion to kill his opponent's 
horse. Putman was a good shot, and at his first aim Gilliland's 
horse fell. Gilliland then opened fire on Cook, who was lying 
behind his dead horse, with one leg pinned under the animal. 
With all of his strength, and with the assistance of Putman, 
Cook returned fire, and when the smoke of the battle cleared 
away Gilliland was lying dead beside his horse. 

The steer over which the murder was caused was later 
branded by a number of cowboys, and the brand that it bore 
was "murder." • The maverick was then turned loose and 
allowed to wander at large. Legend has it that the hair of the 
maverick later turned gray. 

Shortly after Gilliland's death, his nephew, JefiP Webb, boss 
of the D. & W. ranch, was murdered. This stoi*y is also con- 
nected with that of the steer branded "murder." One evening 
Webb became drunk and stole a pet bear from a corral where 
his horse was tied, and when dusk fell started for his camp 


north of Alpine, with the bear in front of him, on his saddle. 
When he was two miles north of Alpine the rain began to fall 
in torrents, and out of the night came a shot that told the story 
of another murder. 

Several persons were arrested for the murder of Webb, 
but all were found to be innocent. Sam Taylor was the last 
person seen with the murdered man on that rainy night, but 
he, too, was cleared of all suspicion. But it was decreed that 
he was to pay in the end for the folly of some one else ; as a 
Spanish proverb has it, "Nuos la hacen y otros la pegan" — 
Some do it and others pay for it. 

One night he was engaged in a poker game at a gambling 
house in Alpine, when again, out of the night, a shot was fired 
through the window, followed quickly by a second. Taylor 
leaned gently forward over his hand, which held five cards. He 
was dead. When his body was examined it was found that he 
held clinched tightly in his fingers a pair of aces and a pair 
of eights. From this came the origin of the card term, "dead 
man's hand." 

Later the truth was revealed about the murder of Webb by 
Victor Ochoa, a notorious "general" who had joined the Chi- 
huahua revolution, in 1894, and who was a confederate of 
Catrina Garza, of the lower Rio Grande, in an attempt to 
organize a revolution for Mexico. Ochoa was captured later 
by Jim Fulgim. He was imprisoned in the Reeves County 
jail, and it was here that he told the truth concerning Webb's 

Ochoa stated that on the same stormy night that Webb 
was killed, he and a companion were riding from San Angelo 
to Presidio, wheq they met a man a short distance north of 
Alpine. They only became aware of his presence when Webb's 
horse bumped into the horse of Ochoa's companion. The 
Mexican, thinking that the horseman was about to shoot, fired 
and started to escape. 

Hearing a cry, however, Ochoa and his companion turned 
back, thinking to find a child. What they found was a pet bear, 
whining and sitting on the dead man's chest. 


But the Mexican who was the real murderer had already 
made his escape into his own country. 

During this time, and up until 1896, the vicinity near Alpine 
was continually being raided and plundered by a band of 
robbers who always were adroit enough to elude the law. 
Captain J. R, Hughes, of the rangers, was appealed to, and, 
together with a number of his command, he started from 
Ysleta to Alpine and there a trail was started and followed. 
About twenty miles north of Alpine the rangers saw indica- 
tions of where the outlaws had camped. It was obvious that 
they were headed for the McCutcheon Ranch in quest of pro- 
visions and cattle. 

The rangers followed and reached the McCutcheon Ranch 
but without finding any trace of the bandits. Three of the 
party were sent ahead to ascertain whether or not they were 
on the right trail. While going through the hills, the men 
suddenly came upon three of the robbers. They opened fire on 
the band, which caused them to turn quickly back behind the 
hill. The pursuers followed, and fired a few more shots, but 
by this time the desperadoes had gone beyond their range. 

It would have been folly for the three men to have attempted 
the capture of the outlaws, as they were poorly armed. Two 
of them, consequently, returned to the McCutcheon Ranch for 
the rangers, while the other remained in the hills to keep an eye 
on the robbers, who made it interesting for the lone man by 
approaching him afoot, shooting at him and cursing him. But 
the ranger kept well out of their range until he was joined by 
his comrades. 

A battle then commenced, and the officers ordered the rob- 
bers to surrender. The outlaws, who seemed ready for a fight, 
resisted, with the result that two of them were killed. The 
third was in the act of mounting his horse to escape, and could 
easily have been killed had not some one called out not to shoot, 
as the robber was mistaken for one of the rangers. Before 
the mistake could be rectified, the outlaw was going at full speed 
on a good horse, and the bullets sent after him failed to stop 


One hot midsummer day a company of rangers, under the 
command of Captain Hughes, was camped in the lower Big 
Bend, a wild and remote region covered with scant desert vege- 
tation, bordering the Rio Grande. The rangers had been on a 
hunt for Mexican cattle thieves, for that section of territory 
embracing more than eighteen thousand square miles was the 
rendezvous of many desperate outlaws, murderers, robbers, 
smugglers, and a great variety of other criminals. The Big 
Bend derived its name from the peculiar shape formed by the 
tortuous course of the international boundary stream. It is 
one hundred miles from the farthest dip of the river to the 
nearest railroad point. It was the scene of many daring ex- 
ploits of the rangers, who finally succeeded in killing or cap- 
turing many of the lawless element. 

On this particular day. Captain Hughes and his men were 
taking a few hours' rest in camp, which was pitched in a little 
thicket of scrubby trees on Tortilla Creek, after a long chase 
for thieves who had made their escape by crossing into Mexico. 
Knowing that they were in the heart of the outlaw infested 
country, the camp had been picketed to prevent an unexpected 

Suddenly, a horseman rode down into the gulch and crossed 
over to the camp. He was a messenger from Alpine, eighty 
miles to the north, and was bearing a telegram for Captain 
Hughes, which said that a Southern Pacific train had been 
held up and robbed near Dryden. Train robbers had been 
creating much trouble in the Big Bend for some time, and 
Hughes was anxious to get on their trail. 

He ordered his men to get ready, and as there was neither 
tent nor chuck wagon to hinder, quickly departed from the 
camping place. Rangers were wont to sleep upon the ground 
with their saddles for pillows, and a blanket for covering. A 
small cotton sack or two usually carried all their commissary 
supplies, and in ten minutes the men were in their saddles 
headed across a trailless country in the direction of Dryden, 
150 miles away. By daylight the next morning they had made 
sixty miles of their journey. 


The fourth day after they had broken camp, far down in 
the Big Bend, the rangers came in sight of two of the outlaws. 
In their haste to escape, the robbers had dropped a sack of 
silver coin. The shooting began as soon as the rangers and 
fugitives were within firing distance. One of the robbers was 
killed. When his companion saw h« was alone, he deliber- 
ately perched himself upon a rock in sight of the rangers and 
blew out his brains. 

The Big Bend saw its last train robber, however, with the 
capture of R. E. Vandegriff. He had attempted a train rob- 
bery, assisted by two other men named Bird and Kutch. The 
instigator of the robbery, however, was said to be a man named 
Smith, who interviewed the three men while they were working 
in the capacity of cowboys on the Tom Newman Ranch. Over- 
tures were made by Smith concerning a possible robbery, and 
as there was no opposition the four worked out a plan which 
they determined to complete. Smith was to board the train 
at Kent, a station on the Texas Pacific Railway, on the north 
slope of the Davis Mountains, and compel the engineer to stop 
at a place where the other three men had agreed to be waiting, 
when they were to uncouple the express and go ahead with it. 
Upon arriving at the place, the train stopped and Vandegriff 
had just commenced to uncouple the express car when the 
guards began to fire. They were so close upon him that the 
flashes from their guns burnt his face. Seeing that Bird was 
shot, Vandegriff ran to his horse, sprang on his back, and gal- 
loped across the prairie to Marfa. There he took the train. 
He had no ticket, and paid the conductor in cash. He tried to 
act in a cool, composed manner, and not to create any suspi- 
cions against him, but no sooner had the train arrived at Alpine 
than he was arrested by Sheriff J. B. Gillett. Kutch and Bird 
had been arrested, in the meantime, and placed in jail at Alpine. 
This was one of the last attempts to rob a train in the Big Bend. 

During this time, the Big Bend was infested with several 
notorious Mexican bandits who crossed the line at will, for the 
purpose of stealing cattle. The raids were made so rapidly 
that the people in the different vicinities began to demand a 


strong river guard to protect their cattle. A notorious outlaw 
and cattle thief, Coo-Coo Torres, was one of the most daring 
of the Mexican bandits. He operated with an equally daring 
partner, Eledio Sanchez Aramos, one of them staying on the 
Mexican side and one on the American side. Aramos had a 
small ranch, on the Mexican side, where cattle stolen by Coo- 
Coo, on the American side, were taken and concealed. In like 
manner, Coo-Coo received smuggled cattle on this side of the 
Rio Grande. 

Captain Hughes and the rangers were appealed to to inter- 
cept and capture the two bandits, who had, a short time before, 
waylaid and killed a ranger. Previous to this Coo-Coo's gang 
had boasted that no one could arrest any of the band and 
escape alive. Captain Hughes dispatched Jeff Vaughan, who 
enlisted the aid of J. W. Pool in a search for the bandits ; and 
they found the leader at his jacal on the river banks. Pie was 
sitting in front of the door, his gun being inside his house. 
Before he could reach for it, Vaughan drew on him, and the 
bandit was captured. The rangers took their prisoner to a 
nearby store, where he was guarded until they could have a 
chance to search for others of his band. None others were 
captured, however, and as the rangers had the most important 
of the bandits, they started to ^larfa with him. 

The bandit was placed in front, as the rangers feared an 
attack from Coo-Coo's companions, during their return journey. 
Vaughan cautioned Coo-Coo to keep still in case his friends 
did attempt to free him, stating that he would not be harmed ; 
but that if he made a single false move, he would be shot. 

About four miles from the ranch house, the bandit began 
to show signs of nervousness. Vaughan and Pool watched him 
closely, and his actions were so suspicious that Vauglian drew 
his rifle from his scabbard. Just at that point they were fired 
upon. The Mexicans were on a bluff about 150 feet above, 
and the bandit made a break to get to his friends, but was 
killed. Pool's saddle was hit by a bullet, and the bandit leader 
Aramos was shot in the hip. About one hundred shots were 
fired, when the Mexicans broke for the river. The dead leader 


of the band was taken to Shafter, where he was buried. Ara- 
mos was later killed by Colonel Ortega, a Carrancista com- 
mander, below Ojinaga. 

During January, 191 3, Moore and Webster, of the rangers, 
had a thrilling encounter with a detachment of Jose Ynez 
Salazar's band of rebels, near Fabens. The rebels attempted 
to enter United States territory, but Moore and Webster 
ordered them to stop. When they were ordered not to cross 
the border, the rebels began shooting at the two rangers, and 
the fire was returned. It was later discovered that three of 
the Mexican soldiers were killed. 

In 1914, a report reached Governor Colquitt from the 
Madero Ranch which said that there was a standing reward 
among Mexicans, offering five hundred head of cattle for the 
head of every Texas ranger. The governor then announced 
that he would keep the militia on the border until an equal 
force of United States troops, promised by Secretary Garrison, 
should arrive. 

Captain John Hughes, senior officer of the rangers, and 
Adjutant General Hutchings were directed by the governor to 
draw up the border into three general districts. Captain Hughes 
had charge of one district at Brownsville; Captain Sanders 
was stationed at Laredo, and Captain Monroe Fox was sta- 
tioned at Marfa, in the Big Bend. Each division employed a 
sufficient number of rangers to afford protection to the terri- 
tory along the border. 

The rangers were instrumental in clearing up the country 
of many desperate outlaws, and among them was a Mexican 
bandit named Lina Baiza, who was killed at the head of his 
band. His companions escaped across the river, however, and 
eluded the rangers. Another Mexican bandit executed shortly 
after this was Manuel Cano, who openly boasted that he had 
shot and killed one of the field inspectors. And so was brought 
about the capture of some of the most desperate of outlaws 
along the Rio Grande, although their depredations were never 
entirely stopped, even up to the present time. 



Fort Davis perhaps would have been one of the largest 
military posts in the west had the railroad passed through the 
town. This objection, coupled with one or two others, how- 
ever, caused the Government to debate for some time as to 
whether the post should be retained as a permanent one. The 
ground on which the post buildings were erected was owned 
by John James. The Government offered to buy the property, 
and sent out Senator Proctor of Vermont to investigate and 
appraise its valuation. The senator arrived, wearing a silk 
top hat and a frock tail coat, and found a very dry desert 
country, upon which he pronounced the verdict of "no good." 

Up to this time, the Government had been installing modern 
conveniences, such as bath tubs and plumbing, in the post build- 
ings. These, and many other improvements, were immedi- 
ately discontinued after the investigation of Senator Proctor. 
The five troops of the Eighth Cavalry, then stationed at Fort 
Davis, were changed to other posts, and on July 31, 1891, the 
old post was officially abandoned. 

At this time, a daring IMexican bandit, Antonio Carrasco, 
was startling the country along the Rio Grande with his incur- 
sions across the American line. Carrasco led a large band of 
outlaws, who lived in the mountains of Coahuila, and came 
out only for the purpose of raiding, plundering, and killing. 
The settlers who lived on the frontier at that time were almost 
without exception participants in some thrilling adventure. 
Carrasco was instrumental in bringing about the murder of 
both Sergeant Fusselman of the Texas Rangers, and of Deputy 
Sheriff Pastrana. 

One of the most startling adventures of an American with 
the bandits was that of Captain Frank Benairs. He had started 
for Central America with a number of friends, but their schemes 


proved too visionary for him and he separated from the party, 
crossing the Rio Grande, accompanied only by his colored 
body servant, Nick, The negro was a splendid specimen of 
physical development and yielded implicit obedience to his 

Benairs and his servant procured lodging and board v^^ith 
a Mexican farmer, and while there heard a great deal of talk 
concerning the daringly vicious, but handsome Antonio Car- 
rasco. Carrasco was a lad of only eighteen years of age, and 
Benairs became exceedingly interested in the story that was 
,told of how he became a bandit. The story went that one night 
upon the return of Carrasco to his home, he found his father 
and mother killed, his home robbed of all valuables, and his 
sister, a girl of sixteen years, carried away. 

Carrasco applied to the authorities for a force of men to 
hunt down the miscreants, but was put off with excuses and 
delays, which finally resulted in a refusal. Believing, whether 
justly or not, that one of the men in authority had excellent 
reasons for refusing the assistance asked of him, Carrasco 
walked into that official's private quarters, and though un- 
armed, cursed him as a villain, at the same time threatening 
complete vengeance. Soldiers were at once summoned, but 
the boy jumped from the window and escaped. 

He was as good as his word, however, and within a year of 
his threat, the father and mother of his enemy were taken to 
the mountains, tortured, and their heads placed on stakes in 
the highway. The enemy's young sister was murdered and 
her body thrown into the street, with a dagger pinning a letter 
to her breast. Finally the officer himself was captured, taken 
to the mountains, tortured into confession and then slowly 
put to death. 

Carrasco with his small band had committed such crimes 
by this time that high rewards were se', upon their heads. They 
pledged themselves, however, to eternal fidelity to their career, 
and laughed in the faces of their enemies. Though educated, 
accomplished, and aristocratic, Carrasco made war upon the 
aristocracy, and stripped the wealthy to give to the poor, know- 
































ing that by doing so he would retain his popularity, and as a 
consequence his supremacy. 

Benairs found all of these stories of the boy bandit of 
much interest to his sporting blood. The day finally came when 
he and his servant decided to go southward toward Mexico 
City. Nick was packing up when he turned to his master and 
stated that he believed that two of Carrasco's men were con- 
templating a robbery that night on a store in the neighborhood, 
giving as his authority bits of conversation he had overheard in 
regard to the planned attack. 

Benairs dismissed the matter, but it gave him more un- 
easiness than he cared to show. Don Jose Garcia, who had a 
splendid property near by, had none too many retainers for 
defense, and had, no doubt, sufficient wealth to tempt the 
cupidity of a bandit. And besides, if the nature of the young 
villain, Carrasco, had been depicted correctly, the beauty of 
the young Senorita Donna Inez would prove tempting enough. 
Benairs had met Don Garcia and his family several times in a 
social way, and could not bear the thought of so amiable a 
family being attacked by the outlaws. The Don's house con- 
sisted only of himself, his daughter, her dueyina and the usual 

Benairs bade his landlord adieu and started off before day- 
light that day. As they passed Don Garcia's house, he felt 
irresistibly urged to awaken the owner and warn him, wonder- 
ing all the time how he could explain so strange an action at 
so early an hour. Obeying his impulse, he finally rang the 
large bell in front. The ring was answered by a blood-curdling, 
long-drawn wail of a dog. 

The negro servant rushed into the house and returned, his 
face almost ashen with fright. Benairs entered the house and 
found the bodies of the servants lying dead upon the floor. 
Not a living person was near. The dog, wounded and fright- 
ened, started up a path leading to the back of the house into 
the mountain, seemingly in the hopes of attracting Benairs and 
his servant. Benairs and the negro followed. Presently they 
lost sight of the dog, and hitching their horses they started 


through the underbrush, when a growl called to their attention 
the bound and gagged form of the old Don, the dog standing 
by his side. 

Don Garcia was hastily released, and in his broken English 
he explained as best he could what had happened. Carrasco 
and his band had surprised him, killed the servants, brought 
him to the mountains to starve to death, and had ridden off 
with his daughter. The anguish of the father was pitiable. 
Putting him upon the horse in front of him, Benairs impressed 
upon him that he must guide them ; whereupon they followed 
the path taken by the bandits. 

Don Garcia stated that there were only five of the bandits, 
and Benairs thought, if it were possible to catch them before 
they reached their den or were joined by their comrades, he 
would have a good chance of success. In about half an hour 
they came to an abrupt turn of the road and saw the bandits 
below preparing for breakfast. They were on a shelf of rock 
which was on the side of the mountain, one side of which rose 
perpendicularly. On the other side was a direct fall of a 
thousand feet. Before the bandits the road wound slowly 
down into the valley, and behind them Benairs, Don Garcia, 
and the negro crept forward to surprise them. The lovely 
Donna Inez could be seen among the bandits with her slender 
wrists tied with lariats. 

Benairs and his servant crept closer after ordering the old 
Don to stand still. At the first fire made by Benairs, two of 
the bandits dropped dead, and the fire returned by the other 
three was of no import. The bandits did not know how many 
were in the attacking party, and the sudden fire made them 
believe that their only safety lay in flight. Springing to their 
horses, they rushed over the little rise which formed a sort of 
natural rampart and galloped down the road, and around the 
curve of the valley. 

With Donna Inez was her maid, and the first work of 
Benairs and Don Garcia was to release the two girls. The 
maid had fainted, and Benairs was hurrying to get her on one 
of the horses as well as to place her mistress upon one. His 


solicitation in wishing to be off appeared almost rude to the 
affectionate father and daughter, who were overwhelmed at 
their meeting. But they were soon to realize the importance of 
Benairs' hurry, as the entire number of the robber band were 
coming to reinforce Carrasco. They were twenty in number, 
and Benairs saw the uselessness of any further struggle with 
two tired horses and a maid who had fainted. He determined 
on a bold stroke. 

""Nick," said Benairs, to his servant, "can you run down 
around the curve, catch that boyish looking leader and carry 
him here if you are not interfered with?" The negro tipped 
the scales at two hundred pounds, 

"Why, co'se I kin, Marse Cap'n, ef I ain't interfered wid," 
responded the servant, "but what's gwine to keep 'em from 
interfering wid me ?" 

"When you start down the hill, they will not attack you," 
replied his master, "because they will think you have deserted 
us. If you can catch that young villain by the wrists, you can 
easily throw him on your back with one arm drawn tightly over 
each of your shoulders, and you will have his body between 
you and them while you are coming back. They will not dare 
shoot for fear of killing their leader." 

Benairs knew that the only risk was that some of the out- 
laws might be quick enough to get on their horses and catch 
the negro before he reached his master, but he had decided to 
cover the servant and his captive with his rifles. 

"They are off their horses now," exclaimed Benairs; 
"hurry !" 

No sooner was this said, than the negro rushed off down 
the slope. Benairs placed himself in view, drew his rifle on the 
retreating negro just about the time when he supposed the out- 
laws were ready to receive him as a deserter. Rushing up to 
young Carrasco, the negro grasped each wrist, turned him over 
upon his own back, and was under good headway before the 
stupefied Mexicans could stir. When they did realize what 
had occurred, a howl went up among them. Two men started 
after the ne::::ro and his captive, on foot, and two more sprang 


for their horses. The suspense felt by Benairs and his party- 
was terrible. One man got his horse quicker than was ex- 
pected, and, yelling for the men to clear the way, came charging 
up the road. Benairs was very careful with his aim, and 
before the pursuer had half way reached the negro, his horse 
was shot from under him. This gave the negro time to reach 
his master with his burden. At this the whole crowd of out- 
laws rushed up the slope. 

Benairs gave orders to the negro to hold Carrasco suspended 
over the side of the mountain, and as soon as this was done he 
told Carrasco to order his men to halt until matters could be 
discussed. At the same time he ordered the servant to hurl 
the young villain over the mountain side if the men came past 
a boulder fifty yards distance. Don Garcia was ordered to 
take one of the guns lying on the ground, and also to arm his 
daughter and her maid, who had in the meantime recovered 
from her faint. Carrasco pretended not to understand Benairs, 
but when his men had almost reached the boulder, his voice rang 
out clear as a bugle and stopped them as if they had been 
jerked up with a rope. When the Mexicans saw the peril of 
their leader, a cry of protest went up. 

Carrasco then coolly explained to his men the situation, 
that Benairs' party was only three against twenty, and that 
they could take them all and get the booty, but if they did so 
he would be thrown to the vultures, 

"If they restore me to you they will insist on our returning 
all we took from the hacienda," said Carrasco to them. "Shall 
we do this, or shall I bid you adieu, let you retain what you have, 
avenge my death, and elect another leader?" 

But the outlaws loved their daring leader, and cried out 
in one voice for him to make any terms so long as his life was 

Benairs thereupon ordered the negro to bring the young 
brigand to him, and, with Donna Inez as interpreter, negotia- 
tions were made. It was some time before they could decide 
upon terms, but they finally came to a decision which demanded 
that every outlaw, one by one, was to deposit his weapons with 


the negro. This agreement was carried out perfectly, and what 
weapons they could not carry with them, Benairs threw over 
the side of the mountain. 

Benairs and his party, thereupon, turned and started back 
to the home of Don Garcia, from which place a physician was 
sent for to attend to the wounds of the old Don, and to dress 
his daughter's wrists, which had been cut with the ropes. The 
legs of the negro also were badly cut by Carrasco's spurs when 
he was kicking and struggling to free himself. 

Benairs and his servant remained at the Garcia home for 
about ten days, during which time the Don turned his place 
into a miniature fort, capable of standing a month's siege. 
There might have been a romance attached to the incident had 
Donna Inez been willing, as her father intimated that Benairs 
was at liberty to win her heart and hand, if he desired. The 
beautiful senorita confessed her love, however, for a handsome 
young Mexican, and Benairs acted as love's ambassador to the 
stern but loving father, and won the eternal gratitude of Donna 
Inez and her lover. 

There was a romance attached to the incident, at any rate. 
When the old Don offered to give the negro servant a good start 
as a farmer, he afterward married the senorita's peon maid. 
After satisfying himself that the Garcia home was well pro- 
tected from future raids, Benairs went on to Mexico and opened 
up a business of his own. 

It was some years after this that the daring and brilliant 
young bandit was executed in the camp of General Jose de la 
Cruz Sanchez, of the insurrecto army, by order of Francisco 
Madero. The condemned was shot by a firing squad of five 
men ; but, true to his character, he faced them with a cigarct in 
his lips, with his hands tied, and requested that the party aim 
at his heart. His breast was riddled by bullets. He had been 
condemned to death as a spy after being found guilty by a court 
martial of treason. At the beginning of the rebellion he had 
been admitted, with his band of nearly one hundred men, into 
the insurgent army, and when the siege of Ojinaga began he 
was given an important point with orders to advance and cutj 


the line of communication with the American side of the Rio 
Grande. He had failed to do this, however, and letters from 
him to General Luque, commanding the federal garrison, were 
intercepted. These were taken as conclusive evidence that 
Carrasco had warned that officer of his danger, and for this 
crime he was shot. 

It was during the same period that Corporal John R. 
Hughes of the rangers distinguished himself for many of his 
noteworthy arrests of bandits and Mexican outlaws. In 1892, 
he apprehended a band of fifty robbers who were stealing ore 
from the Shafter mine. This mine employed a large force and 
was continually being robbed by the outlaws that roamed the 
country. This was soon checked by Hughes and his rangers, 
however, who made it too unpleasant for the outlaws to keep 
up their thievery. Hughes and his men had numerous fights 
with cattle thieves, and succeeded in capturing many of the 
outlaws in that part of the country. Several were hanged for 
murder, some were extradited by Mexico, and others were 
sent to the penitentiary. 

On one occasion, Hughes acted in the role of Solomon when 
he let little children choose their own pet calves. It happened 
that Hughes and his men had apprehended a band of cattle 
thieves and had recovered one hundred and forty calves, most 
of which had been stolen from milch cows of a border town. 
Many of the calves were pets of little children, and were placed 
in a corral until they were called for by their owners. When 
the children came, they each called their calves by names, put- 
ting their arms about the animals' necks and leading them from 
the corral. 

A short time before this, Hughes was promoted from cor- 
poral to take charge of the rangers, and to fill the vacancy made 
by the assassination of the commandant of the company, Cap- 
tain Frank Jones. Little was ever learned of how Captain 
Jones lost his life, and the true story perhaps never will be 
known. He was killed on Mexican soil, after having crossed the 
Rio Grande to intercept Severo Olguin, who had killed a man 
on the American side. The Olguin brothers were a lawless 


tribe, and Severe was said to have been the fiercest of the lot. 
Physically he was small and dried up, with keen, piercing eyes, 
but rather good looking. As he was the one who always made 
the most trouble, it was thought that it was he who had fired the 
fatal shot at Captain Jones. The truth of the matter was never 
known, but at any rate another chapter had been terminated 
in the series of bloody encounters between law and lawlessness. 



When King Solomon made the famous statement "There 
is nothing new under the sun" he must have had in mind the 
fact that in the beginning all things were potentially proven ; 
that nothing was lacking which was necessary to complete 
every phase of existence ; and that men had lived so long and 
in such numbers that nearly any change possible in the chord 
of Nature had been touched somewhere, at some time, by 

The theory serves to bring to our minds the process of 
reasoning by which we render an application of this saying — 
"There is nothing new imder the sun" — through something that 
is familiar to everyone. Take, for instance, the lasso : When 
the lasso was first knotted, made into a loop, and used to 
display skill in catching objects, it was probably a wonderful 
discovery. At any rate, it was a wonderful discovery to those 
who knew nothing of the skill displayed by the Texan and the 
Mexican when they used the lasso as only the people of ihe 
open range can use it. 

The Mexican, it is learned, possessed the skill of lassoing 
and of marking and branding cattle, long before Texas was 
settled by Anglo-Saxons. Consequently, it was to the Mexican 
that the origin of these two customs — lassoing and branding 
cattle — was attributed, and for a long time no further antiquity 
for them could be found. 

It was an established fact that prior to the discovery of 
America there were no domesticated animals on the Western 
Hemisphere, with the exception of the dog, in North America, 
and llano, in South America. The dog, whose attachment is 
always of a personal nature, would not need a mark for his 
identification ; while the llano, as owned in Peru, remained the 
property of the Incas wherever found, and there could have 
been no private ownership of them. Consequently, upon neither 


Americas there was no occasion for the art of lassoing and 
branding animals to denote private ownership. 

There were two wild species closely related to the llano 
which were never domesticated, and which ran wild in the 
Cordilleras, known as the huanco and the vicuna. Had the 
natives been allowed to hunt ana kill these animals for food, 
they might possibly have learned to use the lasso. Even then, 
as they had no horses, the lasso would have been a thing of 
little use. 

But one's faith in Mexican inventive genius receives a shock 
upon reading Herodotus, for the Father of History gives an 
account of the great expedition made by Xerxes, King of 
Persia, against the Greeks, 2,400 years ago. In this account, 
a description is given of the magnificent world's expedition of 
people and manners in the heterogeneous army of five million 
gathered together under the banner of one king so long ago. 
In one of the most striking accounts, the historian tells of the 
5,000 Sagartians from the country north of the Caspian Sea. 
He relates that they were mounted on sturdy horses and 
carried only dirks and lassos. When they met the enemy, 
the Sagartians threw their ropes which ended in a noose, and 
whatever the lasso encircled, be it man or beast, they dragged 
it toward them and slew the victim entangled in the toils. 

The practice of branding cattle is traced to the ancient 
Egyptians. In Thebes, in a rock hewn tomb of a cattle king, 
there was found, years ago, a set of mural decorations, which 
showed the custom of cattle raising in Egypt 3,500 years ago. 
There is also extant a life-sized drawing of a cow, lying on her 
side with her feet turned out, tied just as the cowboy ties her 
to-day, while he is putting the brand on her side or hip. 
Nearby, is drawn another cowboy with a small charcoal fur- 
nace, showing that it must be in a country destitute of fuel. 
A brand is shown on the thigh of the cow, while several more 
brands are about her body, which makes the cow resemble 
a typical Texan animal after it had changed owners a half 
a dozen times. As shown in the drawing, the brand is not a 
letter or figure, but a geometrical character composed of 


squares and crosses, bearing close resemblance to the patterns 
frequently seen in tessellated pavements. 

Thus has the art of lassoing and branding descended from 
the dawn of time down to the present day, and was used exten- 
sively during the building up of the Big Bend and other parts 
of the West where cattle raising is the principal industry. 

In 1882, when the Texas & Pacific Railroad crossed the 
Trans-Pecos region, Van Horn was first made a station. The 
country surrounding this place is noted for its fine stock and 
is one of the most famous ranching districts in the Southwest. 
There is little farming except around the ranch settlements 
where the ranchmen cultivate small orchards, gardens, .and 
small feed crops for his cattle. This is done by irrigation 
from wells, reservoirs, or springs. In a few instances, when 
the season is good, dry-land farming on sub-irrigated farm 
lands is attempted, but other than this the greatest effort is 
placed on the cattle raising industry. 

The country surrounding Van Horn for many miles forms 
a great basin. From the south, the waters from Valentine, and 
from the north, the waters from New Mexico between the 
Diablos and Delaware ranges, drain into the Van Horn basin. 
The soil is alluvial in the lower part of the basin, while the 
benches are white limestone. These benches are covered with 
the famous black grama grass. 

Forty miles north of Van Horn is located J. M. Daugherty's 
valley land, which is susceptible to irrigation from reservoirs, as 
water in abundance lies seven to thirty feet below the surface. 
A demonstration farm in the valley has shown that almost all 
vegetables can be raised, as well as sugar-beets and alfalfa. 
The valley includes perhaps one hundred thousand acres. Out 
from Van Horn a fourteen-mile railroad grade has been con- 
structed and a survey extends on to the New Mexico line near 
Orange. The world war checked the operations of the syndi- 
cate having the work in hand. 

Van Horn was named for the old Van Home stage stand, 
which in turn received its name from Major Van Home, who 
commanded the troops along the Rio Grande in 1857. 


Until 1905, there was but little ranching carried on between 
Sierra Blanco and the New Mexico line, owing to the great 
scarcity of water. The Lanier Brothers first began a deep 
well project upon two hundred thousand acres of Texas State 
University land. While this well was being drilled water was 
hauled twenty-five miles. A well was sunk after much work 
had been accomplished and water was reached at 900 ft. depth. 
Some wells were 1,100 ft. deep. But well drilling was not for 
the poor man, and many ranchmen had to be satisfied with 
scraping out tanks or reservoirs. As the cost for completing 
a well ran from $10,000 to $12,000, entailing a considerable 
further expense for the upkeep, ranchmen could not aflford to 
handle less than forty sections. 

Irrigation began in the vicinity of Pecos City, on the Pecos 
River, in 1886. The country was noted at that time for its 
cattle, and irrigation but speeded the success. Pecos City was 
started close to the river, but owing to the inability of the set- 
tlers to get title to the land — as it was in a condition where the 
heirs could not be reached conveniently — the town was moved 
back a mile and a half, where George A. Knight had received 
land and could produce title. Reeves County, of which Pecos 
City as county seat, was organized in 1884, with R. S. Harrell 
as first County Judge and with John IMorris as first sheriff. 
Pecos City is familiarly known as the "town of salt cedars." 

The cattle in the Davis Mountains were of a fine, healthy 
breed, and many settlers passing through, upon seeing them, 
pitched their tents in the grassy canyons rather than go farther 
west. In 1885, several families were enroute to Arizona, from 
Menard County. In the party was William L. Kingston, who, 
upon reaching Toyah, caught a glimpse of the famous cattle of 
the Davis Mountains, and could not be induced to go farther. 
He obtained employment at the W. D. Casey ranch and later 
leased the J. L. Moore ranch, which in time he bought. 

The story of how Kingston started at the bottom, in a new 
country, finally succeeding, is typical of many Texas pioneers 
who worked and won. Kingston was assisted by his wife, who 
was the daughter of a pioneer settler from St. Louis, Missouri. 


Kingston and his wife both knew the first laws of thrift and 
practiced them dihgently in their ranch hfe. They raised all 
of their commodities, and never bought butter, lard, meat, eggs, 
nor garden truck, except at one time when they traded some 
produce for a small quantity of lard. Their spirit of thrift 
was practiced by other pioneer families who attained success 
and whose names are the ones that will be preserved in the 
archives of the history of the Southwest until this age has been 
swept out by another. 

The last glimpse of the Toyah Valley given the reader was 
during the early days when Miller, Murphy, Kessey, and the 
Lyles stood their ground against the renegade Apache, and laid 
the foundation for the present day great irrigation system 
around modern Balmorhea. 

This system was begun by the valley farmers who organized 
an irrigation district and who expended over a quarter of a 
million dollars for the purpose of increasing the available water 
supply. Before this was done the crops were obliged to go 
eighty days without water during one period of the growing 
season. Even with this handicap, one energetic farmer made 
$3,600 net, in one season from seventy-six acres. To obtain 
two more irrigations during the season the irrigation district, 
which numbered about fifty farmers, placed on their land an 
annual tax of $3.50 per acre to take care of this bond issue and 
properly maintain the irrigation system. 

Balmorhea lies at the base of the Davis IMountains and up 
to the time of building the great reservoir, the water supply was 
taken from San Solomon Springs, which bubbles out of the 
ground, up toward the mountain range, with a flow of twenty 
cubic feet per second. The present system collects the surplus 
waters from these springs into a large reservoir during the 
winter season and also diverts the flood waters from Madero 
Canyon into the reservoir. The Madero Canyon has a water- 
shed of ten square miles, and so steep and precipitous is this 
watershed that the rain — when it does rain — forms mill-races 
down the hundred arroyos leading from the mountain slopes to 
Toyah Valley. This water has been diverted to an intake canal, 


28 feet wide at the base, with a clearing capacity of 1,000 cubic 
feet of water per second. This canal empties into a creek 
which empties into the reservoir. At the head of the canal, 
gates have been constructed to let five feet of water into the 
canal. These gates have 500-foot wing walls of earth and 
500-foot spillway of reinforced concrete. The surplus runs off 
down the creek. 

To form the reservoir, Jameson & Company built a main 
dam 47 feet high, about 2,000 feet long, and containing 165,000 
to 180,000 cubic yards of material. The slope is 2^/2 to i on 
the front, and i^ to i on the back. The main part of this dam 
is paved with reinforced concrete, 7 inches thick at the bottom 
and 4 inches at the top, the reinforcing wire being laid diago- 
nally in order to better take up the expansion. This concrete 
work was done by Roy & Simons, of Sweetwater, Texas. 

This great embankment has been laid in 3-foot lifts and 
each lift irrigated, which seems to have been something new 
in dam construction. By tapping a creek two miles away, 
water was carried to the top of the dam, and the core or center 
of the dam was "puddled" in. This is a new process in dam 
construction, wherein the adhesiveness of the adobe soil is in- 
creased by an admixture of water which, when dry, is similar 
in body to adobe brick. Also an abundant supply of water 
was brought to the dam for the purpose of watering the work 
stock, mixing concrete, etc. 

Standing at the northern extremity of the dam, a person 
unfamiliar with the country's topography would feel positive 
that the water was flowing up hill. Before construction began, 
an elderly Chicago financier stood looking over the project with 
a view to taking bonds. L. B. Westerman of Fort Stockton, a 
sub-contractor who built the flume outlet conduit and upper 
gates, explained to him how water was to be carried over the 
intervening hills to the top of the dam. The financier looked 
incredulous. Finally, with a smile, he exclaimed: 

"If I was thirty years younger^ I'd call you a liar," 

Underneath the main dam a puddle trench was dug 20 feet 
deep, carried down to the rock or clay to cut-off and gravel 


stratum. It was filled with water and the material "bulldozed" 
in from the ends. 

Irrigation of the successive lifts in the dam was continued 
for two or three days, work proceeding at the other end mean- 
while. There is also a cut-off dam of 21,000 cubic yards, to 
keep the water out of the town of Balmorhea. 

An outlet canal and concrete conduit 210 feet long at the 
bottom of a 20- foot cut, mostly rock work, was constructed. 
There is a double set of gates, one for service and one for 
emergency. After passing through the conduit, water from 
the reservoir is carried around a hill through a flume, built of 
Armco iron, 975 feet long, and empties into the main canal of 
the project. 

The intake canal was dug with Monigan drag lines. A por- 
tion of the banks of the outlet canal, where low, were built up 
with borrowed material, by means of elevating graders and 
dump wagons, to carry 2^^ feet of water. 

A. D. Jameson, the active partner of Jameson & Company, 
was in charge of the entire work. The work required a year 
and 125 men were employed, 

Vernon L. Sullivan, former territorial engineer for New 
Mexico, and at present manager of the Imperial Irrigation 
Project for the Orient Railway and engineer for the Fort 
Stockton irrigated lands, was engineer for Reeves County 
Irrigated District No. i. R. S. Watrous was resident en- 

The reservoir when filled with water covers 533 acres and 
stores 7,000 acre-feet of water. Thus a good-sized lake has 
been formed near Balmorhea and the inhabitants have stocked 
it with fish and put on a boat service for duck hunting, and are 
talking of a winter resort with automobile drives through the 
picturesque Davis Mountains. 

In the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, which for convenience 
we are designating as the Big Bend, as in most other cow and 
sheep countries, trouble prevailed in the early days between 
the cow and sheep men, but not such violent trouble as occurred 
in Wyoming. The story of the man with the bent gun-barrel 


is also a story of a sheep man who became involved with a cow 

A man named Patterson ran a bunch of sheep in the region 
of Gomez Peak, on the north side of Davis Mountains, Jeff 
Davis County. The Gomez Cattle Company, with which the 
Newmans of El Paso were connected, had cattle on the MF 
range (MF was the brand of the company). Two cowboys, 
one a Mexican, the other an American, got into trouble with 
Patterson over the sheep and cattle range border. In a fight 
which ensued, Patterson shot and killed the Mexican and shot 
at the American, who fled. 

Patterson, who was fifty years old and of a hasty disposi- 
tion, abandoned his sheep and struck out horseback for the 
New Mexico border, beyond which lay safety. 

In the mountains north of Kent, he reached the headquar- 
ters of the B-Bar outfit, owned by the Bean family. At the 
B-Bar were Jim Bean, then a lad, his father, and a hired man. 
Patterson arrived one morning while the three were at break- 
fast. He rode a jaded horse, and he was weary and unkempt. 
He carried a Winchester, the barrel of which was slightly bent. 
Supposedly, he had shot the Mexican at close range with it, but 
he missed the American cowboy because of the curve of the 

Patterson's appearance was made still more unprepossessing 
owing to the fact that he had killed a rabbit for food and he 
had no water to erase the smears of blood. He asked for 
breakfast. The lad, Jim, set out the breakfast, and when Pat- 
terson slacked up in the hurry of his ravenous appetite and 
began to look about curiously, Jim asked his name — a question 
which in those days was considered rather unethical. 

"Patterson !" replied the man, quick as a flash. "Did you 
ever hear of it?" 

"No !" said Jim, quickly. 

But the story of the killing had reached the B-Bar, and Jim 
had his suspicions. The man appeared to be relieved at Jim's 
answer and decided to remain throughout the day to rest his 
weary mount. The father and hired man were working some 


distance away on a ranch out-building. Jim slipped away from 
the stranger and imparted his suspicions to the men. 

As the day went by and the stranger sat at the supper table, 
the hired man, who was a giant of a fellow, proposed to Mr. 
Bean that he be permitted to strike Patterson with some weight 
and bind him. But the ranchman would not consent to this 
plan of capture because he was afraid the man might kill the 
stranger, or that he might fail in the attempt to stun him, and 
Patterson might shoot them. Such was possible as Patterson 
kept close to his Winchester and the Beans were unarmed. It 
speaks of the peacefulness of their environment that the ranch- 
men did not have a gun on the ranch. 

Patterson remained one full day and night, then started on 
the Crow Spring trail toward New Mexico — toward what is 
now Orange. As he was preparing to start, some comment was 
made about the bent gun-barrel. 

"Bent it over a man's head," he said, briefly. "Over Charley 
Cole's head when I hit him in a quarrel." 

Cole was a ranchman whom the Beans knew had had trouble 
with a sheepman. 

Late in the evening of that day on which Patterson con- 
tinued his journey, two Texas rangers, Joe Sitters and Ed 
Eaton, arrived at the B-Bar ranch. Rangers were so common 
in those days that the Beans did not think at first of mentioning 
Patterson, as it did not occur to them that the rangers were 
after him. But this fact came out after a time and early the 
next morning the two men of the law set out on the Crow 
Spring trail after their man. They, too, had jaded mounts, 
for they had been riding long and hard — rangers who never 
gave up their quarry. 

In the evening they came in sight of a lone man riding a 
weary horse. The man kept looking back uneasily and urged 
his horse on, but the rangers gained on him. When they were 
about two miles from the New Mexico line, where their hunt 
must stop to keep within the bounds of legality, the stranger 
ahead of them stopped and called back: 

"Are you afraid?" 


"No," said the rangers. 

"Why don't you come on up with me then ?" 

They overtook him and Patterson made no resistance. He 
could have shot at them when they were far back and perhaps 
prevented his capture had his gun barrel not been so bent as to 
shoot in a curve. He was taken to El Paso and later was tried 
and sentenced in Jeff Davis County. 

In 1896, gold began to lure the settlers of the Big Bend. 
A negro named Bill was employed by John, Frank, and Lee 
Reagan, who had cattle around Stillwell's Crossing, with head- 
quarters on the Rio Grande below Boquillas. 

But it appeared that Bill had caught a glimpse of the lustre 
of gold. One morning he laid a handful of gold nuggets 
before Jim Reagan when he was sitting about the camp break- 

"See what I have got from my gold mine," he said to the 
white man. 

But Reagan brushed the stuff from the table saying that it 
was nothing but copper and dust. 

The next day the negro hunted for horses all day ; but on 
the following morning he shoved another handful of gold at 
Reagan's plate. At this Reagan informed the negro that he 
was employed to hunt horses, not to search for gold ; and again, 
with contempt, he brushed the gold aside. 

A short time after this Bill was sent to Sanderson for pro- 
visions. With him he took some of the gold and gave it to a 
railroad conductor, who circulated the story that a gold mine 
was near. As a result many prospectors became interested. 
But before Bill could tell just where the gold mine was he made 
a hurried departure from the Big Bend. It happened in this 
wise : 

One morning while out in the hills "rustling" the horses he 
stayed longer than the Reagans thought necessary. In anger 
they went in search of him. In the meanwhile, however, Bill 
rode into camp from another direction, having been unable to 
find the horses ; and he was warned by a IMexican that the 
Reagans were out looking for him. The negro did not relish 


the idea of being punished, so he "hit the trail." That was the 
last ever seen of Bill, 

So arose the story of the lost gold mine, which lured many 
fortune hunters to the Big Bend. The business of searching 
began and the Reagans, who had so disdainfully repulsed the 
negro, became mad with the desire to locate it. They spared 
neither time nor expense in the search. They paid a California 
prospector ten dollars a day for six months to hunt for the 
mine; and when the time came to pay the bill, Jim Reagan 
shipped eighty fine fat steers to market to get the money to pay 
the prospector. 

During the first years of the search Bill's lost mine was 
supposed to be on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. However, 
as time passed and genuine prospectors, who were well ac- 
quainted with the various formations favorable to finding gold, 
came in to search for the lost mine, the mine was conveniently 
"moved" to the Mexican side, where there was a possibility of 
finding the mineral. 

The prospectors who had been in California in '49, men 
from all parts of the Southwest and in other portions of the 
country, were attracted by the story of the lost gold mine, so 
many and alluring were the stories told that the craze settled 
on young and old in the Big Bend. But time passed and 
the lost gold mine remained unfounded. The one logical thing 
to do was to find the negro Bill. There had been various 
reports as to his movements and some said he had died at 
Fort Worth. Others claimed that he was then living in 

At any rate he acquainted two Colorado prospectors with 
the story of the mine, as there came to Big Bend two men who 
worked with more system than the other searchers and who 
seemed to be better informed about Bill. Hearing that they 
were from Colorado, Wilson Bourland, one of the most inter- 
ested of the prospectors, went to see them with the hopes of 
learning something about the negro. Bourland learned from 
the men that Bill had relatives in Austin ; and to Austin he went 
to interview Bill's kinsmen. 


Bourland reached Austin and found an old negro who pos- 
sessed a fine farm and a close mouth. He informed Bourland, 
however, that the Colorado prospectors had maps in their pos- 
session which evidently had come from Bill. 

But the outcome of the exploration of the Colorado pros- 
pectors bore no fruit. They planned another trip, and wrote 
to Bourland for accommodations in the way of burros, but they 
never showed up. It is estimated that forty-five thousand 
dollars has been spent in the search for Bill's mine. 

If you but stop to think, have you ever heard of a lost gold 
mine being found? With very few exceptions, for example 
the lost mine of Tiopa, in Mexico, we have no records of mines 
being lost. It is true that in the days of the Spanish conquista- 
dorcs the Indian slaves were wont to revolt against their harsh 
masters and often destroyed all trace of the mines in which 
they had worked, in order that they would not be again forced 
to enter them. But it is an open question as to whether there 
is such a thing as a lost gold mine. 

To get back to Bill's lost mine : Some years prior to the 
coming of the Reagan boys in the Big Bend, an old ex-pros- 
pector, by name Corbett, who was in ill health, built a small 
cabin upon the very spot where in later years the Reagan boys 
had their cow camp. The old prospector had worked from 
Alaska to Panama, and he had gathered a wonderful collection 
of gold bearing ore. At the time Corbett lived at Stillwell's 
Crossing, Jim Wilson and J. E. Davenport were running cattle 
on the Rio Grande, with their headquarters near Corbett's 
cabin. In time the old prospector died; a windstonn blew 
away his cabin and scattered his precious collection of gold ores 
over the hillside. 

Then came the Reagan boys and the negro Bill. One day 
Wilson and Davenport, both of whom were great practical 
jokers, conceived the idea of playing a joke on the Reagan 
boys. So they broke up some of the old prospector's gold ores, 
secreted it in a good place and "steered" negro Bill up against 
the cache. 

The plan worked beautifully. In much excitement Bill took 


the gold nuggets to the Reagans, as herein before related. This 
is the true story of the lost gold mine. 

Another phase : Wilson and Davenport broke up some of 
the nuggets and gave them to Joe and Will Kincaid, D. S. 
Combs and Capt. Alfred Wallace, v^ho sent them over to have 
them assayed. The nuggets were very rich and when the assay 
statements came back the men demanded of Wilson and Daven- 
port to be shown where the vein was. At last the story of the 
assay and rich mine went abroad and the joke came out. 

The peculiar thing about the story is, that one man who was 
in on the joke, in later years spent a thousand dollars to locate 
the lost mine. 

When the people of Alpine stand with uncovered heads some 
of these days, to listen to the dedicating services held at the Sul 
Ross Normal, in every heart there should be gratitude to a 
fellow citizen of theirs to whose influence and untiring efforts is 
due the principal credit for what will be that great West Texas 
school. Mr. J. D. Jackson is the man to whom reference is 
made. He is the father of the institution. 

Mr. Jackson was brought up without the advantage of edu- 
cation. He made the West his home when it was only a wil- 
derness and school houses were far apart. But in spite of 
that fact he is a friend to the great cause and has placed this 
star in the West, by spending time and money and labor in that 
direction. He does not want the younger people of this day to 
battle their way up as he has done, without having an oppor- 
tunity to attend good schools and receive proper training 

To the man who is informed and who appreciates the right 
kind of efforts, Sul Ross Normal will stand out there at the 
summit of the great State of Texas, out there on the eternal 
roof garden, as a monument to the endeavor of this plain but 
honorable and able cowman, who has accumulated one of the 
big fortunes of the State. 

Alpine gets this normal because Joe Jackson took the time 
from his own business and made the dream of the little city 
come true. His heart beat in the right place and unselfishly 


he began putting his mind and influence to work in that direc- 
tion and he never stopped, he never laid down until the thing 
he went after had been lariated and tied so that it could not 
get away. 

The people of Alpine claim to have the greatest health resort 
anywhere in Texas or outside. Apparently no one ever thinks 
of dying out there, life on a plateau having so many delights. 
The altitude is 4,500 feet above sea level and the winters are 
mild because the mountains to the north act as a barrier against 
the north winds and Alpine does not suffer from blasting blows. 
For this reason it is expected that many students will flock from 
the lowlands to study amid healthful surroundings, so that 
when they are ready to teach they may present a certificate of 
perfect health as one of their qualifications. 

Alpine is located at the junction of the two trunk lines, the 
main line of the coast-to-coast Southern Pacific line and the 
main line of the Orient railway, sometime to be extended 
through Mexico to the Pacific coast. That it is the logical place 
for a normal college is attested by the fact that it was named in 
the bill, the unanimous choice of the forty-four counties within 
its area, and the only requirement was that Alpine should give 
the site and that it should be no less than 100 acres of the best 
land obtainable within three miles of the city. The local pride 
of Alpine in the college insured the selection of the best site 
that could be had. One hundred acres at the edge of town, a 
beautiful location, was donated by W. B. Hancock, another 
prominent ranchman. 

There are 71,000 scholastics in the district that will be spe- 
cially served by this normal college. For the benefit of any 
who may think Alpine is located on the Rio Grande overlooking 
the plains of Mexico, it is stated that while Brewster County 
has a 300-mile front along the Rio Grande the city of Alpine 
is no miles from the river, or only thirty miles closer to the 
border than the city of San Antonio. 

Alpine is 445 miles distant from San Marcos, the site of 
the Southwest Texas Normal School, and 600 miles from 
Canyon City, where the Northwest Texas Normal is located. 


The city of El Paso, with approximately 100,000 inhabitants, 
is 228 miles west of Alpine. 

The special need of Sul Ross Normal College is tiot only 
for the real West Texas, but it is also needed to raise the stand- 
ard of education in Texas, which now ranks thirty-eighth in 
the galaxy of states. The State of Massachusetts ranks first 
and has ten normal schools, which send teachers to all parts of 
the United States. The population of Massachusetts is about 
1,000,000 less than Texas and she has about 400,000 less scho- 
lastics, notwithstanding that the scholastic age is 8 to 20 years, 
as against 7 to 17 in Texas. West Texas contains about one- 
third of the population of Texas, yet the only normal west of 
the 98th parallel is in the Panhandle. 

The territory about Alpine has come into prominence for 
its fruit during the last few years, apples, peaches, apricots, 
pears, grapes, berries and melons being grown in unsurpassed 
quality. The first stratum of water is obtained at a depth of 
forty-three feet, the second at eighty feet, and both are said to 
be pure free-stone water in inexhaustible quantity. The abun- 
dance of water, coupled with the high altitude, has given the 
stimulus to fruit growing. 

The finest marble quarries in the country are near Alpine 
and should it be desired it would be possible to construct the 
buildings of the Sul Ross Normal College of marble at com- 
paratively small expense. 



He was a smallish man, slight built and almost frail looking, 
with earnest, deep blue eyes which in the later years of his life, 
were almost hidden behind heavy glasses. He usually wore 
black — usually, because ofttimes he wore overalls ; for this Man 
of God disdained not to work with his hands. And as he 
wrought great changes in the spiritual life of the pioneers in 
the Davis Mountains and the Big Bend country, so did he leave 
evidence of his work in an organization — the Bloys Campmeet- 
ing Association — which has stood for thirty years a guide-post 
pointing towards a higher plane of Christianity. 

Dr. William B. Bloys was born January 26, 1847, in Carroll 
County, Tennessee, and died at Fort Davis, Texas, on March 
22, 1917, in his seventieth year. During the first years of his 
majority he taught school and helped his father on the farm. 
At the age of thirty-two he graduated from Lane's Seminary, 
Cincinnati, Ohio, and took up the work of a Presbyterian Home 
Missionary. On May 26, 1879, he married Miss Isabelle Cath- 
erine Yeck ; and immediately the young couple moved to Cole- 
man, Texas, where for nine years Dr. Bloys performed the 
duties of minister before coming to the Davis Mountains. 

The direct cause for this we.'/vvard move was the ill health 
of the young minister. The Merrills had moved from Coleman 
to the Davis Mountains to eng-L;^e in ranching. At that time 
there was no minister or chaplain at Fort Davis and it took but 
little persuasion on the part of the Merrills to induce Doctor 
Bloys to enter the new field. For twenty-nine years the spirit 
and teachings of this wonderful man influenced the lives of the 
people in Southwest Texas. To-day, and with each succeeding 
year, although Doctor Bloys has passed to the Great Beyond, 
the influence of his teachings become stronger and stronger. 

A description of the last campmeeting at which Doctor Bloys 


officiated appeared in the San Antonio Express, Sunday, Sep- 
tember ID, 1916: 

"With the mountains towering in silent grandeur above the 
tent-dotted grove of live oaks and the very air charged with the 
Spirit of the Hills, the Bloys Campmeeting Association held its 
annual campmeeting in Skillman's Grove, Davis Mountains, 
sixteen miles west of Fort Davis, August 23 to 29, inclusive. 
Here gathered the local ranchmen's families who lived in a 
radius of fifty miles, visitors from Valentine, Marfa, Alpine, 
Fort Stockton, and Marathon, as well as those who came in 
automobiles from Pecos, Midland, and Abilene — a distance of 
two hundred miles and more. 

"Twenty-nine years ago. Dr. W. B. Bloys, a Presbyterian 
home missionary, conceived the idea of holding an annual camp- 
meeting, to which the scattered ranchmen and cowboys could 
come once a year to hear the Gospel preached ; and with a hand- 
ful of ranchmen, the nucleus of the present great association 
was formed. This'was in 1890. To-day, the influence of this 
splendid work is evidenced by the high class of citizenry in the 
Fort Davis country. 

"In time the needs of the campmeeting grew to such propor- 
tions that it became necessary to establish and maintain a regu- 
larly equipped camp ground. The first move made in this 
direction was to buy 640 acres of land, in the heart of which 
was a beautiful grove of live oaks — Skillman's Grove. Im- 
provements have been continually added, until now the camp 
ground has every modern convenience — water system, with 
pipes running to each camp, a spacious tabernacle, with lighting 
system, storehouses, and, in many instances, concrete flooring 
and sidewalks for the tents. 

"Each old family has its arbor, under which the heads of 
the house form a center for both the religious and social life 
about them. The Evans, Means, Jones, Merrills, Medleys, 
Prudes, Gilletts, all stand out as leaders and as examples of 
the kind of men and women Christianity in the broadest, truest 
sense develops. Here reigns hospitality and sociability in an 
almost ideal state. The word 'stranger' is a misnomer, for 


one immediately feels at home, and though one may not be able 
to call each individual by name, yet the hospitality and socia- 
bility is so pronounced that the formality of an introduction is 
dispensed with. Some of these camps comprise nearly three 
hundred members, including guests and the family — the Evans- 
Means camp is as great as this, while the W. T. Jones camp 
follows a close second. The other camps range from twenty- 
five to fifty persons. 

"But how conditions have changed, with the coming of 
automobiles, of telephones, of modern camp appliances! The 
thrill one experiences on hearing these old leaders tell of the 
hardships and inconveniences they suffered then, in the early 
days of the camp meeting; how they rode overland in covered 
wagons and on horseback for days and days to reach the camp 
ground ! To-day, each family has two or more automobiles, 
in which they may leave their homes and arrive at the grounds 
after a few hours' pleasant drive over the best natural roads 
in the world. Through telephone and telegraph communication 
with the outside world they are enabled to keep in close touch 
with daily happenings. 

"When the results of the United States senatorial race 
reached San Antonio every man in camp soon knew of it ; daily 
live stock market reports were received, and one never feels that 
sense of isolation which usually comes with being 'far from 
the madding crowd.' But all this is inevitably true, for these 
religious folk are a business folk as well, and many millions of 
dollars are represented by the various families. 

"The Association is nonsectarian. Any denomination having 
a representation in the community may have its minister in the 
pulpit. At present four denominations are represented — ^the 
Presbyterian, I^Icthodist, Baptist, and Christian. This shows 
the broadmindedness of the founders of the association. No 
expense is spared to bring before the people the ablest and 
best pulpit orators to be had. And very wisely the directors of 
the Association follow the plan of withholding the name of 
the immediate occupant of the pulpit until the service has 
begun. This eliminated the probability of those staying away 


from services not conducted by a minister of their particular 
denomination. This year the services were conducted by Dr. 
S. J. Porter, pastor of the First Baptist Church, San Antonio ; 
Dr. John H. Burma, formerly pastor of the Second Presby- 
terian Church, Dallas, and now vice president of Dubuque 
College, Dubuque, Iowa ; Dr. C. S. Wright, vice president of 
the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and Rev. H. M. 
Bandy, of Alpine. 

"But mention of that grand old man, Dr. William B. Bloys, 
who has been the spiritual father of every man, woman, and 
child in the community for over thirty years, must not be 
omitted. He is growing old now, but the same indomitable 
will to serve his Master which has won him the title, 'The 
Little Father of the Hills,' is apparent in his every act and 
word. An incident which occurred at the business meeting of 
the Association will illustrate the place he occupies in the hearts 
of these great, rough men, over whom he has held spiritual 
sway for so long. 

"In a speech he explained the expediency of electing an- 
other and younger man to fill his place — that of superintendent 
of the meetings. For some moments after he had begun to 
speak his hearers did not catch the drift of his remarks ; but 
when the idea entered their heads that their leader, the man 
who stood for all that was good and beneficial, was trying to 
resign, with one voice the members of the Association cried him 
down. Nor would they hear to him breaking in a new man to 
fill his place. John Means, whose brand is carried by thousands 
of cattle, shouted above the uproar, 'Sit down, Bloys, there'll 
be plenty of time to elect your successor when you're gone !' 
A remark made by one of the old pioneers unwittingly shows 
the individuality of 'The Little Father' and the hold he has upon 
the great hearts of the hardy mountain folk. An old settler 
was telling Dr. Wright of the Southern Methodist University 
how much he enjoyed the privilege of listening to the big men 
of the pulpit who came from afar to preach. 'But,' concluded 
the frank old man, 'I'd ruther hear Parson Bloys make his 
announcements than t' hear the whole bunch of you preach.' 


"In point of attendance, Sunday was the big day. As early 
as 9 o'clock cars began to top the low summit of the pass to 
the westward and to sweep into camp with a last burst of speed, 
while shouts of welcome answered the discordant sound of auto 
claxons, as long-parted friends sighted one another. Here Bill 
met John for the first time since the last campmeeting, and Mrs. 
Bill reminded Mrs. John of her promise made the year before 
to eat Sunday dinner with her. By the time the 1 1 o'clock 
service was ready to begin there could be seen two hundred 
automobiles — 'sixes' and 'eights,' if you please, with a few 
'fours' and 'twelves' scattered throughout the ensemble. 

"Thickly packed around the tabernacle, the sides and ends 
of which were raised to resemble a porch roof, cars were parked 
so the occupants could sit comfortably in their seats and hear 
every word spoken from the pulpit. The interior of the tab- 
ernacle was crowded, although Dr. Bloys was careful to see 
that none should have to stand who cared to sit. Trust that 
grand old man for that ! Then began a service which surely 
must have impressed every listener for the dignity, simplicity, 
and earnestness evinced by those who took a part. A folk 
surely partake of their surroundings, and here in one of the 
most beautiful spots imaginable, pressed to the bosom of the 
majestic mountains and drinking the pure, fresh air into their 
lungs, these people have found cause to thank God for His 

"After the forenoon service a rush for the various camps 
took place. But no fear, there was enough for all — and more. 
How one's appetite is increased by the invigorating mountain 
air ! In one camp the hungry diners ate thirty-nine cakes, and 
that after having partaken of the loads of good things which 
went before. In the combined camps two whole beeves were 
consumed in this great dinner, while twenty-three were butch- 
ered in the seven days the meeting lasted. A popular fallacy 
exists in the minds of many people about ranchmen having 
nothing but condensed milk, if any, and living out of tin cans. 
That condition may obtain in some places, but on the long 
tables placed beneath the arbors of the different camps one 


could find preserves made from grape, plum, peach, and apricot, 
the finest yellow butter, sweet milk, buttermilk, and cream for 
the coffee — and such coffee ! No one can boil a pot of coffee 
like the plainsman, as all who have partaken thereof can testify. 
"When one considers that five services are held daily, the 
opportunity for much social life seems limited. But here the 
social life is subordinated to the religious, and this tends to en- 
courage sociability. For among these Christian people, as 
among other groups of people of common sympathy, there 
exists a bond of brotherhood, of free masonry, which brings 
together those of the same belief. The social life here is found 
in its purest and best state and, while dozens of marriages 
are brought about through the young people being thrown to- 
gether at the campmeetings, yet the divorce evil is practically 
unknown. A healthy body begets pure thoughts and here, 
favored by climate and surroundings, the young men and 
young women grow up free from so many of the evils and 
temptations which are the continual ban of parents in more 
thickly settled communities. 

"Many incidents occurred during the campmeeting which 
showed the wholesome, healthy temper of these big people 
of a big country. One night, while a solo was being sung by 
one of the choir, the lights grew dim and then with a last 
flareup, went out. The audience immediately became restless, 
chairs scraped against the floor as many started to rise and a 
murmur of dismay ran through the house. But the soloist 
with unusual presence of mind and without a single faltering 
note, continued the sacred song. 

"The accompanist at the piano played on ; from somewhere 
an electric flashlight was produced, then another and another ; 
the singing continued, lanterns were brought quickly from the 
nearest camps, autos were driven alongside the tabernacle and 
their headlights turned on the assembly ; order was restored 
and Doctor Bloys rose and announced that Doctor Porter, of 
San Antonio, would deliver the sermon. 

"But the incident did not close with this. Several men had 
gone quietly to the gas-house to locate the trouble and Doctor 


Porter had read several verses of his text when, suddenly, a 
dull report, accompanied by a blinding flash of light, came from 
the gas-house, and again a commotion ensued. Many of the 
men broke for the explosion, fearing for the safety of those 
who had gone first to investigate the trouble, while the others 
served to quiet the stampeding audience. . 

"In a few moments word was brought that none had been 
injured in the explosion and order was again restored. For 
the second time Doctor Porter rose, after having been so 
rudely interrupted, and in five minutes he had the perturbed 
audience under the spell of his magnetic voice. 

"It stands to reason that it takes large sums of money to 
foot the bills for a campmeeting conducted on such a large 
scale. But each man carries a checkbook and he makes use of 
it. At one of the afternoon prayer-meetings for men, George 
Evans, owner of the EV Ranch, made the suggestion that those 
present — twenty-eight in number — make a little donation for 
the Buckner's Orphan Home, at Dallas, to help relieve the 
epidemic of typhoid fever prevalent among the orphans. The 
checkbooks were called into play and four hundred dollars 
were raised in less time than it takes to tell it. That is the 
way these people do things. 

"When the Association was formed, there were only three 
professed Christians in the community, one of whom was 
Doctor Bloys, who had come to Fort Davis as a home mis- 
sionary in the early eighties. But the other settlers, com- 
ing as they had from Christian homes, realized the advantages 
to be derived from Christian influence, and one and all joined 
in the movement. To-day these old families are represented by 
three generations, and 95 per cent of them belong to some 
church. One wonders at this until the mountains lay their 
hold upon him, then he wonders no longer. 

"Fort Davis is called the 'Mile-High Town,' and as you 
go westward toward Skillman's Grove, you rise to an altitude 
of 6,000 feet. In every direction, the eye is met by scenery 
unequalled by any other in the State. It is a land of immense 
valleys and high mountains. In these valleys and on the moun- 


tainsides, grow the famous black grama grass, on which graze 
the herds of cattle that have made the community so wealthy. 
It is a country of large ranches, and on these reside a people 
who have never felt the cramping littleness of more thickly 
settled communities. They are literally 'monarchs of all they 
survey/ And when these people come together, let it be either 
for business or for pleasure, they enter into the spirit of the 
occasion with all the strength and vim which comes from clean, 
moral living. 

"Probably the most impressive service of the campmeet- 
ing was the one held at 8:30 Tuesday morning, just before 
breaking camp. This last service is always conducted by Doc- 
tor Bloys, in person, while each of the ministers who have 
taken part in the services have an opportunity to say a farewell 
word. Everyone was in a hurry, apparently from impatience 
to get back home, but in reality dreading the leaves-taking which 
would separate them from their friends for another long year. 
Those new converts who had not already been received in the 
church were now taken into membership, and the emotions of 
the people were thinly veiled. Just after the final benediction, 
some of the older men could have been seen slipping quietly 
away. These men, who could be shrewd and hard when a 
cow deal was on, were too deeply touched to undergo the last 
goodbye. After a few moments in the tabernacle, the break- 
ing-up of camp began, and the twenty-sixth annual camp- 
meeting of the Bloys Campmeeting Association had closed." 

At the annual campmeeting, held in August, 19 17, a com- 
mittee was appointed to select a suitable monument to be 
erected on the campmeeting grounds in memory of their beloved 
leader. At the time the selection was being made the opinions 
of the committeemen were divided in regard to the kind of 
stone, design, etc., which should be used. One or two of the 
committeemen were in favor of an artistically ornamented 
obelisk, with lighting fixtures, so placed that the monument 
could be lit up at night. But one of the old cowmen present 
raised strenuous objections. In a speech he voiced these 
objections and closed by saying — "We want a monument just 


like Brother Bloys, simple, strong, and solid, from top to 

And to-day such a stone as this stands in the heart of the 
campmeeting grounds, to which every man and woman who has 
known and loved the "Father of the Hills" may point with 

Among the treasured keepsakes found after Doctor Bloys' 
death, there was a scrap-book, in the fly-leaf of which was 
found a preface written in the smooth, round handwriting 
of the minister. One can not read this without feeling the 
simplicity, the kindliness, and the strength of the man. It 
reads : 

"Preface to the first edition: Well, I am once again to be 
an author. I say again, because I have been an author at vari- 
ous and sundry times since babyhood. In the young, tender 
years of life, when the time seemed long from one Christmas 
to another, when peach tree switches were constantly in vogue 
and other kinds, too ; when the mud puddles were sources of 
delight and the face washing was torture ; in those tender years, 
I say, if any mischief was done about the house or premises 
it was unanimously attributed to me. 

"So you see, although so young, I was an author of some 
repute. From that time to this I have been an author in 
various ways. As with other authors the times have varied; 
sometimes up, sometimes down ; sometimes dark days, some- 
times bright ; but the bright days have outnumbered the dark 

"But I am now to be an author in an especial sense. I am to 
make a book, and this is the preface. Why preface? What 
did Herodotus and Cicero and Demosthenes and Macaulay 
and Mark Twain and all those other fellows write a preface for? 

*T am not to worry my brain with thinking and thinking 
and thinking, as some other authors are supposed to do ; I am 
not to banish the family from the house so that it can be quiet ; 
I am not to burn the midnight oil in poring 'over many a quaint 
and curious volume of forgotten lore,' to get the knowledge to 
put into a book. No, sir, or madam, as the case may be, I am 


to gather the chapters together and throw them into a book 
as so many chips into a basket, 

"Every chapter will be on a different theme. Some authors 
make a whole book with only one theme ; but I like a book 
with a good many themes. It affords variety, and variety, as 
you may have heard, is the spice of life. 

"There are to be some rare gems in this book of mine, 
and some that are not worth much. I put them in for the reason 
that editors put so much useless trash in the papers, to fill up 
space. Some of these came to me from loved ones whose faces 
I shall see no more, whose memory will ever be green and fresh 
in my mind. Some of them I gleaned from newspapers and 
from other sources. I don't know how I came by the rest of 

"This is the first preface I ever wrote. It may be the last, 
I don't know. I make no rash promises ; but I thought an 
innocent and unsuspecting public ought to know some of my 
reasons for sending this book out into the world. Besides I 
have little use for that class of authors who are ashamed 
of their productions and write under a nom de plume. I don't 
want any 'plume' at all. I want the facts to be known, the 
truth to shine out, and to that I am not ashamed to put my name, 
which is W. B. B. 

"To her, who one sweet May day plighted her troth with me, 
who since then has walked with me through light and storm, 
sometimes I the oak, she the clinging vine ; sometimes I the 
vine, she the strong oak ; to her, the patient mother and wife, 
this volume of scraps is most respectfully dedicated by the 

On August 19, 1917, the regular three o'clock service at the 
campmeeting was changed to a Memorial Service for Doctor 
Bloys. This service was opened with Dr. C. S. Wright read- 
ing from the Scriptures, then Dr. John H. Burma made the 
memorial address. Following this Captain J. B. Gillett, C. O. 
Finley, and J. W. Merrill spoke feelingly out of their great 
knowledge of the man. After this Doctor Truett, of Dallas, 
made the closing talk. In substance, the symposium of their 


remarks was as follows : Dominant trait of character ; strong 
conviction that he was born to lead a people out of a second 
Israel; simplicity, energy, and optimism, which knew no limit, 
and great common sense, which made him tolerant of others' 
beliefs so long as they worked for the common cause — the 
cause of Christ. Doctor Burma stated that Doctor Bloys had 
summed it up thus, "All denominations serve their purposes in 
the sight of God, each one being an instrument in the hands of 
the Lord, and so long as each instrument is useful the Lord will 
take care of it. Why, then, should the power of one instrument 
be used to lessen the power of another?" 

In a letter to a friend, C. E. Way, first county clerk of 
Brewster County, makes this mention of Doctor Bloys: "A 
history of the Big Bend country would be incomplete without 
mention of the late William B. Bloys. I heard the first sermon 
he preached in Alpine. Later we became warm and steadfast 
friends. He lives in my memory as the most consistent and 
unselfish Christian character I have ever known. The roughest 
characters of those rough days were ready to fight for him. 

"Aside from the great strength of his Christian character, 
he was a man absolutely void of physical fear. I do not think 
he knew what the sensation of fear was like. I sometimes think 
his great success in the West was attributable to this trait of 
his character. Courage always appeals to the men of the West. 

"Wherever his duty called him, there he would go. I have 
seen him walk into a saloon full of drunken men, who were 
yelling and cursing. When he appeared in the doorway every 
curse was hushed; glasses half raised to cursing lips were 
lowered ; profanity died half spoken, and gambling games sus- 
pended operations. After speaking with whom he had business, 
with a friendly nod he went his way. 

"The good he left as a legacy to the people will never die. 
From the depth of my love for him and with profound sorrow 
at his demise, I pay this poor tribute to his greatness." 

A picture : Doctor Bloys standing by the side of the altar 
in the tabernacle with watch in hand. Just at the exact minute 
the service is to begin, he raises his voice in a command that can 


be heard in all parts of the tabernacle — "It's time for the service 
to begin." Immediately a hush falls upon the assembly, for 
in that little body was the spirit that commanded and demanded 
implicit obedience. 



On August 30, 191 5, Pasqual Orozco, the notorious Mexi- 
can rebel leader, together with four followers, was killed while 
resisting arrest two miles south of High Lonesome Peak, Cul- 
berson County, by a posse of citizens. 

The testimony of Will H. Schrock, of Sierre Blanco, was 
taken by Justice of the Peace, Tom H. Owens. ]\Ir. Schrock 
gives in detail the incidents surrounding the fight : 

"I first heard of the Mexicans when I drove up to R. C. 
Love's ranch about i p. m., August 29. August Fransel and 
Joe Thomson told me that two well-armed Mexicans had ridden 
off the ranch in the direction of the Dick Love well. Joe also 
said that five Mexicans were camped at this new well and that 
they had several horses. Joe said he was hunting horses and 
rode up to a loose bunch when these Mexicans rose up and 
spoke to him in English, saying, 'come here.' He said he went 
to where they were camped and they asked him what he was 
looking for. He replied that he was looking for horses. 
When he asked them what they wanted with him they told 
him they wanted some chuck. 

" 'All right,' he replied, 'come with me to the ranch and I'll 
get you some chuck.' Two of the men, one with black leggings 
and the other with a black eye, khaki suit and tan puttees, went 
with him to the ranch. When they dismounted one of the 
Mexicans told Joe to shoe his horse, which Joe did. 

"They went into dinner and while they ate they constantly 
watched the roads leading to the ranch house. During the meal 
one of them spied three men coming toward the house, and 
said in Mexican, 'there comes three men, let's go.' They 
jumped up, grabbed their Winchesters, which they brought in, 
and ran for their horses, mounted, and rode away. 

"About fifteen minutes later five other men and I were in the 


saddle hot on their trail. When we reached the point where 
they had camped the night before, we saw them going east 
toward the Eagle Mountains and they were 'beating them on 
the tail,' too. They reached the mountains about a quarter of 
a mile ahead of us and began shooting at us. I lost my hat 
about that time and did not know what happened for awhile. 
They fired fifteen or twenty shots, which caused us to turn back. 
They kept their position for about two hours, then went into 
Frenchman's Well Canyon. We trailed them into the canyon 
above Frenchman's Well, but darkness stopped us. The next 
morning we picked up the trail where we left it, followed them 
through the mountains and on to where we found them about 
2 p. m., August 30, in the foothills of Van Horn Mountains, 
almost due south of High Lonesome Peak and about one-half 
mile from Stephen's tank. 

"There a posse surrounded them and they made fight. Hid- 
ing behind rocks and shooting with their Winchesters, they 
fought until they were all dead. They were all armed with 
practically new 30-30 Marlin rifles, they also had one, and 
perhaps more pistols. After the battle we found in their pos- 
session about 1,000 rounds of 30-30 cartridges. We also found 
in their possession two horses belonging to J. E. Marshall, 
G. H. & S. A. Ry. pumper at Ilaska, Texas, one horse owned by 
Bob Love, which had been taken from the same pasture. They 
had only five horses with them so far as I know." 

(Signed) W. H. Schrock. 

Following the killing of Orozco comparative quiet reigned 
along the Rio Grande in the Big Bend until the world was 
startled by the Gle«n Springs raid and massacre. On the night 
of May 5, 1916, a band of Mexican outlaws, both Villistas and 
Carranzistas, led by Rodriguez Ramierez, raided Glenn Springs, 
or as it is sometimes called, McKinney Springs. Ramierez was 
a bandit who had carefully planned the raid in advance. He 
had gathered seventeen men at El Peno and crossed the Rio 
Grande at the Teague ranch, twenty-five miles above Glenn 
Springs. He remained at the Teague ranch for about three 


days for the purpose of recruiting more men for his band. 
After which they moved down the Rio Grande recruiting more 
men all the while, until he had a formidable number, including 
some of the fiercest outlaws of Mexico. 

A number of the bandits crossed the river near San Vincente 
and divided ; whereupon part of them went to Glenn Springs 
to make an attack and the other detachment went to the 
Deemer store, at Boquillas, to loot. The attack on Glenn 
Springs was begun at 1 1 o'clock, when the Mexicans attacked 
nine men of the 14th Cavalry under the command of Sergeant 
Smyth. At Glenn Springs besides the soldiers were E. K. 
Ellis, C. G. Compton, a small daughter, a son of four years, 
and a deaf and dumb son a few years older. About 11 o'clock 
the Mexicans slipped into the village and took a position fifty 
yards from the store, and about the same distance from a two 
room adobe shack, covered with a tin roof over which was 
spread candililla weed for a thatch. Within the shack were 
five of the soldiers, three asleep and two on guard. 

Ellis first heard the battle cry of the Mexicans, but he dared 
not shoot as he was afraid of hitting some of the soldiers. 
The Mexicans obviously were there for the main purpose of 
looting the store, as well as to kill the soldiers who were 
guarding the place. When entering the village they stopped at 
the Compton house, seventy-five feet back of the store, and in- 
quired if soldiers were in the place. Compton answered in 
the negative, hoping perhaps that the Mexicans would go on 
and be killed by the guards. 

Compton, who was a clerk in the Ellis store, carried his 
daughter to the home of a Mexican woman for safe keeping. 
He left his two sons in his home, and during the night when 
the smaller son, four years old, was peeping from the door, a 
Mexican standing just outside of the wall of the house, fired 
and killed the lad. 

The soldiers were doing all in their power to defend the 
place but their number was too small. The fight continued 
until 2 o'clock in the morning and a short time before the Mexi- 
cans began to give signals to depart by throwing balls of red 


flannel saturated with kerosene oil upon the thatched roof of 
the soldiers' shack. The candililla weed is very inflammable, 
and as the thatched roof caught fire, a flare of light illuminated 
the whole village. 

It was necessary for the soldiers to escape or be butchered 
by the maddened bandits. To do this it was necessary to run 
the gantlet. In escaping, one of the soldiers was shot and 
killed while jumping through a window. Coloe was killed 
about fifty yards to the northwest and Rogers was only on 
the hillside one hundred yards away before he was downed. 
But before Rogers died he killed one of the Mexicans. When 
the roof of the shack fell in two of the soldiers were wounded 
by bullets, three killed, and two were badly burned. On the 
hillside there were found nine pools of blood other than those 
of the Americans, indicating the death of as many Mexicans. 

The other body of Mexicans who had gone on to Boquillas 
were equally as successful in raiding Deemer's store. The fol- 
lowing morning they crossed the Rio Grande to the Del Carmen 
Mine where they captured all the American employees at the 
mine. They took the provisions from the mine and loaded them 
on a large truck ; then both parties of Mexican raiders started 
on their return trip to Mexico. The captured Americans were 
commanded to drive the truck. 

Determined not to drive the truck into Mexico, the Ameri- 
cans ran it into a bad crossing near Arroyo, where it stuck fast. 
There were only four of the bandits with the Americans at 
the time, and they were made to believe that it was an accident. 
The Americans then asked the Mexicans to assist them in 
starting the truck again. The Mexicans complied, and at a 
signal they were seized and disarmed. The Americans then 
started on foot to Boquillas, bringing their prisoners with them. 
The main body of bandits fled to El Peno, Chihuahua. 

The following is the report sent in by Captain C. W. Cole, 
14th Cavalry, to the commanding ofiicer, First Provisional 
Squadron, 14th Cavalry, Marfa, Texas: 

I. In compliance with your instructions by buzzer. May 7, 
I left here at 6 :30 a. m., in an automobile with Sheriff Walton, 


of Brewster County, Texas, and proceeded to Glenn Springs, 
Texas, via Marathon, arriving at Glenn Springs at 5 :t,o that 

2. There were nine men of Troop "A," 14th Cavalry, 
in the detachment at Glenn Springs at the time of the attack — 
Sergeant Charles E. Smyth, in command ; Privates Joseph 
Birck, Stephen J. Coloe, Frank W. Croskem, William Cohen, 
Frank Defrees, Charles L. Dempsey, Hudson Rogers, and 
Roscoe C. Tyree. 

3. The attack was made about 1 1 :30, May 5, 191 6, and was 
first discovered by the two men on guard. Privates Birck and 
Cohen, who were the only men who had their clothes on. The 
others had retired for the night and were in their underclothes 
and barefooted. When the attack was made the men were 
distributed as follows : Private Birck and Cohen on guard 
and near horse trap ; Sergeant Smyth and Private Rogers, in 
the adobe building, and Private Defrees lying down just outside, 
Privates Coloe, Croskem, Dempsey, and Tyree were in the 
sleeping tent. The bandits made the attack dismounted, having 
left their horses under cover some distance away and attack- 
ing from three sides — north, west, and south, at a distance 
varying from 30 feet to 200 yards. When the action was 
well under way the men in the sleeping tent shouted to Ser- 
geant Smyth that they were going to make a rush for the cook 
shack and to open the door for them, which was done. It was 
during the rush that Private Birck was wounded. Privates 
Croskem and Dempsey went into the forage tent in- 
stead of the cook shack, where they remained during 
the fight, shooting through the holes they had cut 
through the tent. They were the last men to leave the scene 
for the shelter of the hills. The bandits were held off until 
about 3 :oo o'clock the next morning, when they succeeded in 
setting fire to the candililla which had been put on the sheet- 
iron roof as a protection from the heat. The little garrison 
held out until the most of them were literally roasted, then a 
rush was made for the hills. Private Cohen attempted to get 
out through the window and was killed with a shotgun before 


he ever touched the ground. Private Coloe was killed near the 
corral, and Private Rogers about three hundred yards away, 
having run into an outpost. The others reached the hills in 
safety and kept up a scattered fire until the bandits left shortly 
after daylight. When the firing commenced all the cavalry 
horses were in the small corral near the adobe building, but 
soon after broke through the gate into the pasture, adjoining, 
where they were rounded up by the bandits shortly after day- 
light and ridden off when they left. 

4. Boquillas was attached by a part of the same band at 
daylight, the morning of the 6th instant. The store of Jesse 
Deemer was looted and he was robbed of what money he had. 
The bandits remained in the vicinity of Boquillas all day Friday 
and were joined about ten o'clock in the morning by about forty 
men who had participated in the Glenn Springs attack. That 
night the bandits loaded their loot on wagons and pack animals 
and crossed to the Mexican side of the river, taking Jesse 
Deemer, Dr. Homer Powers, Maurice Paine, a negro, and 
Pablo Alcala, Mexican clerk for Deemer, with them. 

5. Monday, when we arrived at San Vicente and Boquillas, 
both were deserted. Careful search was made and several 
papers, a note book and other evidences of the raid were found, 
which were turned over to you on the loth instant. 

6. A conservative estimate of the number of outlaws par- 
ticipating in both raids, Glenn Springs and Boquillas, is 200, 
and that probably 100 or 125 were in the attack at Glenn 
Springs, as in addition to those actually engaged in the first 
attack on the detachment there. The entire place was sur- 
rounded by a cordon with outposts still farther out, covering all 
approaches. From the meager information obtainable the 
bandits were made up of both Villistas and Carranzistas, with 
a considerable number of Mexicans from this side of the river, 
as it is very evident that a part of them were thoroughly 
familiar with conditions, size of garrison, surroundings, etc., 
in the vicinity. Several bandits wore masks and handkerchiefs 
over their faces, which would indicate that they feared recog- 
nition. During the fight the bandits repeatedly shouted "Viva 


Carranza" and "Viva Villa," showing conclusively that repre- 
sentatives of both factions were present. It is believed that most 
of the outlaws came from the vicinity of Torreon. They were 
reported to have made a march of fifteen days before reaching 
the border and the jaded conditions of their animals tends to 
prove the truth of the report. Upon reaching the river they 
were joined by Mexicans from both sides and the crossing made 
in small groups of twenty or twenty-five, at Boquillas, San 
Vicente and near the Caulder, Compton, and Solis ranches. At 
this season the river may be crossed almost anywhere. The 
rendezvous was probably at some point near and south of Glenn 
Springs. After th,e raid they separated into small bands and 
recrossed into Mexico at approximately the same points. The 
raiders had wagons and pack animals with them to carry away 
their loot and everything indicates a well arranged and care- 
fully planned expedition. 

7. The bandits were supposed to have been led by one 
Lieutenant-Colonel Nativided Alvarez of the constitutionalist 
army, since reported captured by the miners on the Mexican 
side and turned over to the military authorities now at Boquillas. 
The bodies of the dead Mexicans were found in the candililla, 
about 75 yards from the soldiers, and upon one of them was 
found a lieutenant's commission, bearing the name of Rodriguez 
Ramierez. This man was well known at Boquillas and Glenn 

8. There is no way of knowing the number of bandits killed 
and wounded, but it is believed their losses were heavy, beside 
the two mentioned above. Two newlymade graves were found 
near San Vicente and it is expected that more will be found. 
The ground in the vicinity of the adobe building was covered 
with pools of blood and looked like a slaughter pen, so their 
losses must have been considerable. 

9. Our casualties were as follows — killed : Private Wil- 
liam Cohen, entire top of head blown off by shotgun, body 
horribly burned ; Private Stephen J. Coloe, shot through the 
head, chest and shoulder, body badly burned ; Private Hudson 
Rogers shot through the head. 


Garnett Compton, four years old, son of C. G. Compton, 
Glenn Springs, shot in chest, abdomen and leg. 

Wounded : Private Joseph Birck, gunshot wounds in both 
legs, severely burned. 

Burned : Sergeant Charles E. Smyth, Private Frank De- 
frees, and Private Roscoe C. Tyree. 

10. Cavalry horses ridden off by the raiders and most of 
the property in possession of the detachment was either burned 
or stolen. 

11. It is considered that the conduct of the men composing 
the little detachment at Glenn Springs was nothing short of 
heroic, that they did all that could be expected of mortal men 
and that their services deserve recognition. 

(Signed) C.W.Cole, 

Captain 14th Cavalry. 

NOTE: A War Department "Certificate of Merit" was 
awarded Sergeant Charles E. Smyth, "A" Troop, 14th Cav- 
alry, for heroic conduct at Glenn Springs. A medal of honor 
would undoubtedly have been awarded Sergeant Smyth had 
his conduct been observed by a commissioned officer, as re- 
quired under the law. There was no commissioned officer 

The letter referred to in Captain Cole's report reads : 

Detachment, Troop A, 14th Cavalry. 
May 6, 1916. 
Commanding Officer : 

The McKinney Springs detachment was attacked last night 
about 1 1 45 by about 700 Villa men. We have 5 men left in 
camp, 3 are known dead and i missing. I have in camp Private 
Birck, shot 3 times and Private Defrees is pretty badly burned. 
Private Croskem is O. K. Private Dempsey is O. K. and I am 
O. K., except my feet are so badly burned that I cannot walk 
hardly. Private Cohen is dead, Private Rogers is dead, Private 
Coloe is dead, and Tyree is missing, but I believe he is safe as 
I laid down and was shooting as he was making for the hills. 
The Mexicans burned the shack down that we were in, it was 


an adobe shack but had wooden doors and windows and other 
wooden stuff inside. We stood them off all right until they 
burned down the adobe shack and then we had to make a 
run from it and we passed through some lead but they got 
three men, as I told you in the first part of letter. Captain, 
I am staying instead of coming in as I want to be on the scene ; 
also get even for killing our men. And, Captain, all the men 
stood the test great, not a one flinched. Please send plenty of 
ammunition, both rifle and pistol. Also please send shoes and 
clothes, as we all fought in our underclothes, except the two 
men on guard, they had their clothes on at the time. I just 
got word that a force of Villa men made a raid on Boquillas. 
Also please send plenty of lime water and linseed oil for burns. 
I am sending in the three dead bodies of our men and also a 
little boy that was killed. Well, as the truck is ready I will 
stop and send in this letter. Please send out four pistols, as 
the men lost them, also one field belt, also plenty of bandages 
and other hospital supplies. All horses lost, also saddles, in 
fact everything but our rifles and my pistol. 

(Signed) Chas. E. Smyth, 
Sergeant, Troop A, 14th Cavalry. 

Word of the Glenn Springs and Boquillas raids was not 
received at El Paso, the district headquarters, until Sunday, 
and but few details were given. Major George T. Langhorne 
was ordered to proceed to Glenn Springs with "A" and "B" 
troops of the SthCavalry. He left by train Sunday and arrived 
at Marfa at daylight Monday morning. At El Paso, a con- 
ference was in session between General Scott, General Funston, 
and General Obregon, the Mexican commander. General Fun- 
ston's instructions to Major Langhorne were, if necessary, to 
cross the river in pursuit of the bandits ; to leave word for the 
sheriff who would follow with other troops; also to rescue 
Americans who were supposed to be besieged at the Del Car- 
men Mine. It was known that the bandits had taken Deemer 
and a Seminole negro prisoners. These were to be rescued. 

Major Langhorne preceded his troops to the river, 92 miles, 


got his information, returned, and met them at Boquillas. After 
communicating with Colonel Sively, the two troops of the 8th 
Cavalry, under Major Langhorne, went into Mexico. He left 
Boquillas at 8 o'clock at night and reached Peno del Rio, con- 
tinued on by night marches, and rescued Deemer and the 
Seminole at El Peno. He then continued the chase after the 
bandits, i68 miles from the Rio Grande into Mexico. Positive 
orders were received for the return of the troops, owing to 
information received by General Funston that i,6oo Yaqui In- 
dians had been sent after the bandits, supposedly also to resist 
the American troops. Troops "A" and "B" marched 568 miles 
in sixteen marching days. Three days were added for rest days. 
On these rest days the horses were taken over the mountains 
to keep them from getting sick. No man nor horse was lost 
or sick in Mexico. No ambulance was carried. Ten of the 
thirty bandits were either caught or killed, brought back, were 
tried at El Peno and given various long sentences. 



Following the Glenn Springs and Boquillas raids, the anti- 
Mexican feeling ran high in the Big Bend. The internal con- 
dition of Mexico was chaotic, and this was reflected strongly 
in the United States-Mexico relations. The Americans found 
that the Carranzistas were adroit liars. They called the Vil- 
listas bandits, and in turn they were called bandits by Villistas. 
There are few cases on record where the American troops, while 
apprehending Villistas bandits, received aid from the Car- 
ranza troops. 

After the Glenn Springs raid, the Big Bend was made a 
military district. It was changed back into a sub-district of 
El Paso, then later changed to a district. The first cavalry 
sent to the Big Bend was the 6th, commanded by Colonel 
Joseph A. Gaston, who, when the United States entered the 
World War, was made Brigadier-General. The 6th Cavalry 
reached Mar fa May 21, 19 16, and remained until October, 
1917, when it was relieved by the 8th Cavalry, under the com- 
mand of Colonel George T. Langhorne. During the time the 
6th Cavalry occupied the Big Bend, the 4th Texas Infantry, the 
1st Texas Cavalry Squadron, two battalions of the Pennsyl- 
vania National Guard, and the 34th United States Infantry also 

To Colonel Gaston was assigned the responsible task of 
suppressing the wave of brigandage which was sweeping the 
Big Bend ; protecting the interests of the citizens, and dealing 
out justice to both Mexicans and Americans. Colonel Gaston 
had thirty-nine years of service in the United States Army to 
his credit, during which time he had been almost continuously 
with troops. He was on duty w^ith the 8th Cavalry in New 
Mexico and Arizona during the Apache war, 1885-1886, as 
second and first lieutenant. It is interesting to note that he 


served as second lieutenant at old Fort Davis, after his gradua- 
tion at West Ponit. He was with Troop H, 8th Cavalry during 
the Sioux war, 1 890-1 891. He also served in the Spanish- 
American war and was later placed in command of Fort Sill, 
Indian Territory, in 1898, to prevent an outbreak of the 
Indians, which at that time was feared. Colonel Gaston also 
served in Cuba, assisting in the general work of policing the 
island. While there his regiment suffered severely from a 
typhoid epidemic. In 1906, when the San Francisco earth- 
quake and fire occurred, Gaston's regiment was ordered to San 
Francisco and he was detailed as superintendent of permanent 
camps, with the responsibility of caring for the 20,000 refugees 
in those camps. 

Gaston also served in the Philippine Islands, and later took 
the field officers' courses at the Mounted Service School, Fort 
Riley, Service School, Fort Leavenworth, and the Army War 
College, Washington, D. C. From 191 4 to 19 16, he was sta- 
tioned at Texas City, the Brownsville Cavalry Patrol District, 
and from April 18, 191 6, until ordered to the Big Bend, was 
in Mexico with the punitive expedition, commanded by Gen- 
eral Pershing. On returning from Mexico, Gaston's regiment 
was ordered from Columbus, New Mexico, to the Big Bend 
District of Texas. 

When the 6th Cavalry was ordered away from the Big 
Bend, it was replaced by the 8th Cavalry, Colonel George T. 
Langhorne commanding. Colonel Joseph A. Gaston had 
wrought a marked change in the conditions during the year 
and four months of his administration in the Big Bend. He had 
taught the Mexicans to fear and respect the American troops. 
Still, for the most part, internal conditions in the Big Bend 
depended not upon the tranquillity of the different American 
communities on the Texas side, but upon the conditions on the 
Mexican side. Perhaps, for months all would be quiet south 
of the Rio Grande, then a new revolutionary movement would 
be started by some disgruntled Carranzista, Villista, or some 
other "ista," which would almost invariably terminate in raids 
on the American side. 


These people knew the conditions on the Texas side of the 
Rio Grande, owing to the fact that the American ranchmen 
employed Mexican help, which formed the floating population 
of the country. These Mexican laborers knew intimately the 
trails, the whereabouts of the horses and cattle, as well as 
supplies and provisions. Added to this leading element was the 
American slacker, who, for the most part, came from that por- 
tion of the Mexican population who were willing enough to 
make their living amongst us but who were not willing to 
fight for their country. 

This was the condition which the 8th Cavalr}^ had to meet 
only a short time after it had replaced the 6th Cavalry. 

On October 17, 1917, 150 Mexicans under a Carranza 
major were marching down the river opposite Nevill's ranch. 
They saw a patrol of four men under a lieutenant of the 8th 
Cavalry on patrol duty. Fifty of the Mexicans and the major 
crossed the Rio Grande ; twenty of them set about rounding 
up Mr. Nevill's cattle and thirty came toward the soldiers, 
who, with one man holding the horses and Mr. Nevill and his 
sixteen-year-old son, took up a position on a hill. The Mexicans 
were halted, the major made to advance, and he was asked 
what he was doing there. The Mexican officer said he had 
mistaken the American patrol for Villistas. The major was 
held under the guns of the patrol and made to order his men 
to desist from rounding up the cattle, and he was then forced 
to order his men to return to the Mexican side. 

On another day, while patrolling the lower Nevill ranch, a 
corporal in charge of three troopers of the 8th Cavalry saw 
a large party of Mexicans crossing to the Texas side. Orders 
were to allow no Mexican to cross. The Americans were far 
outnumbered ; however, they were concealed, an advantage 
the corporal was quick to seize. He showed himself and called 
to the Mexicans to turn back. The Mexicans kept coming. 
Whereupon the corporal faced to the rear and began speaking 
to the three hidden men as if he were addressing a troop of 
a hundred soldiers. 

"Lieutenant," he shouted, "take your men into skirmish 


line over there on the left. Captain, get your men behind that 
clump of trees to the right." 

All the time he gesticulated as if lining up a troop for battle. 
The three soldiers "tumbled." Taking their cue from the 
corporal, they kept out of sight and began giving commands as 
if to bodies of men. 

The Mexicans concluded that an entire troop of cavalry 
was present and "fell" for the bluff. They turned back to 
the Mexican side, and the corporal and his men vv^ere saved 
the trouble of fighting a big bunch of w^hat was potentially 
outlaws. The corporal was a lieutenant in France by the sum- 
mer of 1918. 

The next incident was the taking of Ojinaga by Francisco 
Villa. This occurred November 12. Ojinaga is exceedingly 
well situated on a high, narrow ridge, with the Conchos River 
on one side, and the town overlooking a bend of the Rio 
Grande. It was occupied by 800 Carranzistas, General Corniva 
E. Espinosa commanding. Villa's troops attacked in the morn- 
ing, just before daylight ; and with the assistance of two Amer- 
ican deserters mounting machine guns, the Carranzistas repelled 
the rebel attack. Again that night, Villa, in person, with 500 
men resumed his attack. He gave orders that no man should 
fire more than five rounds of ammunition. Following a short 
fight, the 800 Carranzistas, after losing a small number, de- 
serted their position and retreated to the Texas side of the river. 
They were interned, put on army trucks, and sent by rail to 
Juarez, the Mexican town opposite El Paso. Carranza's gov- 
ernment was required to pay all the expenses. The command- 
ing officer at Marfa had the Mexican Consul General place 
money in the Marfa National Bank against which all costs of 
subsistence, clothing, etc., were charged, and the Carranzistas, 
women and children, were kept under guard and a full account 
of all expenditures was made. 

The garrison of Presidio was reinforced by troops from 
Marfa. It is worth noting that these troops were in automobiles 
furnished and driven by citizens of Marfa, who had organized 
for just such purposes. The drive was made from Marfa to 


Presidio in three hours and a half, a distance of 68 miles, on 
less than three-quarters of an hour's notice. The Carranzistas 
were placed on a train at Marfa, and the train was held until 
the Consul General deposited in El Paso, money for the fares 
of all to Juarez and for the return fares of the American guard. 

Villa then garrisoned Ojinaga with the hopes of opening the 
port of entry in order to pass through large shipments of bul- 
lion and to receive in return ammunition and supplies for his 
ragamuffin army. Washington, however, kept the port closed, 
and Villa's garrison remained at Ojinaga much disappointed. 
A few weeks later, on the first approach of a Carranzista force, 
having failed in his object in taking Ojinaga, Villa withdrew his 
forces to the hill. Since that time despite many rumors of the 
approach of the Villistas, Ojinaga has been garrisoned by 

Believing that in entering the World War the vigilant eyes 
of Uncle Sam's army had been withdrawn from the Rio Grande, 
raids became more frequent in the Big Bend. Tigner's ranch 
about eight miles from Indio was next raided and a herd of 
cattle driven off. Colonel Langhorne, from his Marfa head- 
quarters, wired Lieutenant Matlock, stationed on the river, to 
meet Mr. Tigner on the road, to investigate, to find the trail, 
and then to follow this hot trail the next day with troops the 
Colonel had ordered from Presidio. Lieutenant Matlock with 
21 men followed the trail, and ran into an ambush of 200 Mexi- 
cans at Buena Vista. That is, he found them in ambush and 
promptly charged them in the rear, surprising the ambush and 
killing 35 bandits. He then returned to the American side of 
the river, met the reinforced troops and later crossed to the 
Mexican side and recovered the body of Private Riggs, who 
was killed in the fight. Four of the cavalry horses were shot 
in this engagement. 

Mr. Tigner, who was wounded in this engagement had 
managed to stay on his horse until the river was reached, when 
he had to dismount and hide. He was searched for that night 
but could not be found. His Mexican foreman, who followed 
him with the troops, had been tied and killed by the retreating 


bandits. The foreman's body was found on the return of the 
troops. Mr. Tigner was found the next morning ; and recovered 
from his wound. 

The next day the Mexicans delivered a fire on an American 
patrol. The troops returned this fire across the Rio Grande and 
killed twelve Mexicans. Some of the Carranzista garrison were 
in these two engagements and furnished part of the casualties. 

A typical example of the way in which Colonel Langhorne 
enforced an observance of American laws, in dealing with the 
Carranzistas is illustrated by the following : In December there 
were large numbers of Carranza troops, including several gen- 
erals, at Ojinaga. Two horses and a mule were stolen by these 
troops below San Jose, and the district commander demanded 
the immediate return of these animals. This was promised 
by twelve o'clock the next day. They were not returned at that 
time; and all traffic across the Rio Grande was stopped. At 
four o'clock the Mexican consul gave a check for the value of 
the stolen animals, made out in favor of their owner, to be 
cashed ten days later if the animals were not returned. Col- 
onel Langhorne then permitted the port of entry to be reopened. 

In the fighting along the Rio Grande it frequently happened 
that soldiers and Texas rangers fought side by side. In a fight 
near Hester's ranch a ranger followed the Mexicans across the 
Rio Grande. In an unboastful way he was proud of this. Like 
so many next-to-the-soil border men he was just a grown-up 
boy, ready for a fight or a frolic. He had a leaning toward 
bright colors. While on the other side, the ranger saw a bril- 
liant scarlet dress hanging in a Mexican jacal. 

"There was just one thing over there that I'd 'a liked to 
had," the ranger said afterward. "I sho' wanted that there red 
dress, but I 1 just didn't take it." 

Which self-denial showed either his fear of an outraged 
damsel, or that he would not rob a woman. 

About eleven o'clock, Christmas morning, 1917, Mr. Luke 
Brite telephoned Colonel Langhorne that his headquarters 
ranch was being raided. In eighteen minutes after the troops 
were notified, the first of them left the army camp at Marfa 


in citizens' automobiles, followed by others within a few min- 
utes. In the meantime, troops were ordered from Ruidosa 
to march up the river to intercept the bandits. The troops, 
ranchers, sheriffs, and civilians reached Brite's ranch within 
an hour. 

A good illustration of the fighting quality of the western 
people is given in this fight. Reverend H. M. Bandy, a Chris- 
tian minister, living at Marfa, drove to Brite's ranch to make 
Christmas dinner and he arrived in the middle of the raid. 
He was held up and questioned by some of the Mexican raiders, 
and they were told that he was a priest, as they would not un- 
derstand the meaning of the word minister or preacher. Being 
assured he was a Man of God, they permitted him to pass into 
the house. As he was but a "priest," they believed him harm- 
less. Upon entering the house, Mr. Bandy called the besieged 
around him, offered a prayer for deliverance, grabbed a Win- 
chester, and took his station with the other men at one of the 

After securing all the loot in Brite's store the bandits pre- 
pared to retire. The retirement was accelerated by the appear- 
ance of the troops and posse in automobiles. The troops were 
on foot and the bandits were mounted, but as the bandits went 
over the Rim Rock the troops were near enough to fire upon 
them, making them drop large quantities of their loot. Part of 
the troops proceeded on foot for several miles but returned later 
to get horses at the ranch. The bandits intercepted the stage, 
killed Micky Welsh, the mail carrier, and also killed two Mexi- 
cans who were in the stage. 

Christmas night was very cold and the troops marching up 
the river from Ruidosa suffered exceedingly. They marched 
forty miles, and the next day found the trail where the Mexi- 
cans had crossed the Rio Grande. The bandits had attempted 
to cross at several points, but lost many of their animals in 
the quicksands. They finally succeeded in crossing at Fresnos. 
The troops from Ruidosa were the first to cross the river and 
came upon the fleeing bandits about five miles in ]\Iexico. These 
troops were followed by the troops which had arrived at Brite's 


ranch in automobiles and who had gotten horses from Brite's 
ranch and Evetts' ranch. Those troops joined with the Ruidos' 
troops and engaged the bandits in a running fight for ten miles. 
Only three or four bandits were seen to escape. They were 
made to drop most of their loot. Of the twenty-five horses 
stolen from Mr. Brite, the troops found, shot, foundered, and 
otherwise disabled, eleven horses. Eighteen of these bandits 
were killed and two died later, and the Carranzistas reported 
that they got six of them. That is, they found three of them 
dead, and three wounded, whom they killed. Pinto Villa Nueva 
was the leader and he died later. One Mexican was killed at 
the ranch by the Neals. He was dressed in a Carranza^ uniform. 
One of the Neals was wounded, one soldier wounded, one mule 
killed, and two mules and a horse wounded — total American 

About this same time a squadron of American soldiers en- 
gaged a bandit raiding party in a fight at the river. The bandits 
were on the Mexico side and were strongly entrenched behind 
some great cottonwood trees. The American soldiers were 
firing from a gully on the Texas side. One Yankee gunner 
was using a machine gun, but with considerable dissatisfaction 
to himself because the cottonwood tree on the south shore 
hid the pack of Mexicans so that he could not get in good work 
on them. The great alamo had a luxuriant network of branches, 
stood very high, and had a bole about eight inches in diameter. 

The lieutenant in charge of the detachment was walking 
along behind the barricade instructing his men, when he came 
to the machine gunner. 

"That tree hides the target. Lieutenant," complained the 

"Don't let that bother you," said the lieutenant. "Here's 
the way to serve trees that are in the way." 

Whereupon, the officer slid up behind the machine gun, 
pressed the trigger for thirty seconds, while a squirt of bullets 
sang out from the muzzle. The big cottonwood swayed, tot- 
tered, and fell, sawed in two near the ground by bullets. The 
bandit nest was equally as neatly cleaned out. 


On January 26, 1918, a Mexican told an American patrol 
near Pilares that the troops seen that morning going down 
the Rio Grande were Carranzistas, and that their going down 
the river was caused by Villistas. The Carranzistas always 
called the Villistas bandits, and vice versa. They were going 
over the mountains through Pilares to meet others from Bosque 
Bonito, and then they were going down the river for a raid. 

The commanding officer at Evetts' ranch reported this fact 
and also sent Lieutenant Gagne up the river to warn Nevill 
and his boy, at that time on Nevill's lower ranch, and to learn 
if any Mexicans had left Bosque Bonito. Lieutenant Gagne 
ascertained that they had left. He then returned to Nevill's 
upper ranch, where there was a telephone, and made his report. 
Nevill returned to his lower ranch, although warned by the 
soldiers not to do so. 

About dark, thirty-five Mexicans crossed the river and 
came up to Nevill's house. Nevill called to his boy and a 
Mexican named Castillo, warning them to leave the house. 
Nevill succeeded in reaching the brush unobserved by the ad- 
vancing bandits. The boy tried to escape but was shot in the 
leg and beaten to death. The bandits caught Castillo and took 
him back into the house, where they showed him his dead wife. 
They said that it was a mistake, that they had not meant to 
kill her, but that they should kill him for being a gringcro — 
an American-lover. They said, however, that since his wife 
was dead, they would let him go. 

Castillo went out, caught a horse, and reported to Lieutenant 
Gagne. The lieutenant sent in the report by wire, then with 
ten men raced to Nevill's ranch. Captain Anderson also re- 
ported the facts, and went from Evetts' ranch to Nevill's ranch. 

Colonel Langhorne sent Captain Tate's troops to Lobo by 
rail and over the Van Horn Mountains to Nevill's ranch, mak- 
ing 115 miles altogether covered by that troop. A pack train 
was sent at the same time from Holland's ranch. Colonel 
Langhorne went to Nevill's ranch, where he secured guides 
who knew the country on the opposite side. From Hester's 
ranch, a detachment of "H" troop marched 75 miles to Nevill's 


ranch, between 12:30 a. m. and 4:00 p. m., of the same day. 
The next morning the troops took up the trail, which the raiders 
had tried to hide by scattering. The trail was found, however, 
by the experienced trailers, and followed over the mountains, 
unspeakably rough — so rough that the bandits lost several 
animals over the side of the cliffs. After marching forty 
miles, the troops continued the trail the next day which led 
back over the mountains to Pilares. 

When the combined American forces, which numbered 
eighty soldiers and six civilians, were 250 yards from the 
Mexican town, Pilares, the bandits harbored in the houses of 
the town, opened fire upon their pursuers. The returned fire 
of the Americans was so hot that the Mexicans retreated to 
the mountains near Pilares. Here they took up strong posi- 
tions for a time, but were forced to retreat further into the 
mountains. The Americans followed them for eleven miles. 

During the fight five of the cowboy civilians, including the 
two scouts, Charlie Beall and Tom Beall, had forged ahead of 
the soldiers and worked their way into a canyon. When 
discovered by the troops they were mistaken for Mexicans and 
the troops would not let them out. Fortunately, no one was 
hit by the soldiers' fire and they finally succeeded in making 
themselves known. 

In this fight ten dead bandits were found by the soldiers 
and about twenty more were reported by the Mexicans. Upon 
one of the dead bandits was found young Nevill's hat and 
leather leggings ; on another was found his boots. Two of 
Nevill's horses were found, one shot and the other foundered ; 
both of them were saddled. The Carranzistas made absolutely 
no effort to help the Americans capture the bandits. 

Buster, a negro cowboy working for the Loves, was down 
on the Rio Grande with the soldiers. One day the soldiers 
engaged in a fight with Mexicans. Buster was lying beside 
Lieutenant J. J. Hansey, and like the soldiers, was firing at 
the Mexicans. Bullets were buzzing by their heads as if the 
Mexicans must immediately use the product of a great muni- 
tion factory, but no one was in sight, nothing but desolation — 


lonely rocks and the great empty inverted bowl of the sky. 
Bullets alone broke the silence, until Buster spoke. 

"Say, Loot," said he, "ain't them things got a lo-o-o-nesome 

And for some intangible reason, soldiers echoed Buster's 
sentiment. Bullets in the Big Bend have a lo-o-o-nesome sound. 

There is a great deal of Germanism and German propaganda 
in Mexico. This condition not only obtained during the war 
but obtains to-day. This was especially shown by the action 
of General Francisco Murguia and his brother Jose. General 
Murguia was Carranza's commander of the north zone, in 
Chihuahua. Reports were received that General Murguia told 
his soldiers that he had no money with which to pay them nor 
food to give them, but that there was plenty of money and pro- 
visions in Texas, and they could get it. 

Troops to the number of several thousands were sent north 
from Chihuahua City. Over three thousand of these were 
sent opposite the Big Bend. A column under Colonel E. Mar- 
tinez Ruiz started to march down the Rio Grande towards 
Ojinaga from a point opposite Fort Hancock. These troops 
had no provisions and they got into difficulties near Fort 
Hancock. They fired on our patrol ; part of them crossed the 
river and fired at the Mexicans on the Texas side, and then 
stole anything and everything they could lay their hands on. 

The Mexican consul was warned that if they marched troops 
down the river without anything to eat they were certain to 
have trouble. On April 20, 191 8, they raided White's ranch 
across the river, and butchered and stole several head of cattle 
and horses. As these depredations continued, Colonel Lang- 
horne ordered his officers to get in touch with Colonel Ruiz 
and demand payment. Colonel Ruiz gave an order on the 
Mexican Consul General in EI Paso, in payment for stolen stock. 
He also wrote several notes to Colonel Langhorne, in which 
he stated that a number of his men had deserted, and he re- 
quested Colonel Langhorne to catch and execute them. In 
another note Colonel Ruiz told Colonel Langhorne that his 
men were deserting and crossing the Rio Grande ; and he hoped 


that they would be caught and punished according to our laws. 
He also begged that if firing was heard on the Mexico side there 
was no occasion for alarm because his men were shooting at 
rabbits and hares. Colonel Ruiz* column stretched out a long, 
straggling, ragamuffin line for seventy-five miles. It was child- 
ish, ludicrous, pitiful and annoying. 

A number of American troops were ordered to follow 
down the river ; and at various points Colonel Langhorne met 
Colonel Ruiz. Each time the American troops, as only Ameri- 
can troops can look, well turned out, equipped, and presentable, 
were casually dropped in at the meeting places so that the 
Mexicans could see what they were up against. Colonel Ruiz 
then acknowledged that it was impossible for him to chase 
bandits and asked that the 8th Cavalry should chase them, and 
he said that the American troops would not be disturbed on 
the Mexico side. 

During this ludicrous march down the river. Corporal Keal, 
of "G" troop, 8th Cavalry, with Scout Beall and a small de- 
tachment, while following a trail of mules owned by a Mexican 
named Orozco, came at dark to the river. There they saw four 
Mexicans on the Texas side and three on the Mexico side, who 
opened fire on the patrol. The fire was returned but results 
could not be noted, as it was growing dark. The next morning 
three dead horses and three wounded ones were found on the 
scene of action. One of the wounded horses had a Mexican 
officer's equipment and was recognized by the soldiers as being 
a horse stolen from White's ranch. Colonel Langhorne secured 
payment from the Mexican Consul General in El Paso for the 
stolen property, and paid the owners. 

Many instances similar to these occurred, as for instance, 
seven horses were stolen from a man named Davis near Loma 
Paloma and ten head of cattle from a ranchman named Russell. 
This stock was seen in the Carranza camps. These Carranzistas 
had little to eat. The Mexican consul at Presidio begged the 
assistance of Colonel Langhorne at Marfa, in getting permission 
to cross sixty thousand pounds of corn meal for the use of the 
Carranza garrison. Colonel Langhorne got the permission with 


the proviso that the animals of Davis and Russell should be 
returned. That proviso was accepted and some of the animals 
of Davis were returned and he was paid for the remainder. 
A guarantee was put up for the cattle of Russell, and Russell 
was paid, as they were not returned. Over seven hundred of 
Ruiz' men were reported deserters, and it is probable that many 
of them came to the Texas side. Opposite Santa Helena and 
Lajitas there have been Villistas for the past two and a half 
years. These are not molested in the least by the Carranzistas. 
Raiding is no new thing along the Rio Grande. But so long 
as the 8th Cavalry remains in the Big Bend there will be protec- 
tion. These troops have become experienced bandit fighters. 
They are meeting every emergency nobly ; dealing with justice 
fairly and impartially, and exchanging "eye for eye" with the 
bandits — a policy, which, if generally adopted along our south- 
em border, would soon bring peace and tranquillity to not only 
the American side, but to the Mexican side as well. 




In summing up the story of the Big Bend due credit must be 
given to the citizenry of the Trans-Pecos country for winning a 
wilderness to civilization. The commercial growth of this 
country has been dealt with but sparingly, owing to the limited 
space. No one volume can possibly deal with all phases of a 
country's development. The products of this country, from 
ranch, farm, and mine, reach all parts of the world ; and it has 
been the purpose of this work to deal with more particularly 
the obstacles which were met and surmounted by the people 
of the great Southwest. Therefore we will consider a survey of 
the conditions in the Big Bend District since 1535, in which the 
primary causes of outlawry and brigandage will be briefly out- 

In 1535, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, with three com- 
panions, passed through the Big Bend District, after wandering 
among the Indians for seven years. De Vaca's rclacion of his 
journey spurred on the adventurous Spaniards to seek the con- 
quest of the land north of New Spain, or Mexico. From that 
time to the present day, the vicious element in the Indian-Mex- 
ican population along the Rio Grande has been a continual 
source of trouble to the two governments on either side of the 
Rio Grande. 

Following de Vaca, some forty years later, Antonio de 
Espejo came up the Rio Conchos, from San Bartolome, Chi- 
huahua, on his way to New Mexico ; and at the junction of the 
Rio Grande and Rio Conchos, he found the Indians with whom 
de Vaca had lived. These Indians were the forefathers of the 
present day peon Mexican along the border. They were the 
Jumanos, Tobosos, Julemes, Salineros, Tarahumares, and a 


few wandering Tajes. The two most powerful of these tribes, 
the Jumanos and Tobosos, have been identified with a consider- 
able degree of certainty as the progenitors of the Southern 
Comanches and Mescalero Apaches, 

The records of the Comanche and Apache are too well 
known to make it necessary to furnish evidence of their thiev- 
ing and murdering propensities. During the i6th, 17th, and 
most of the i8th centuries, the Franciscan and Jesuit Fathers 
exerted every effort to Christianize these wild tribes. In the 
missions which they established along the Rio Grande, they 
met with but partial success. These missions became the home 
of a number of proselytized Indians, who, while they retained 
all the propensities of their wilder brothers and often broke out 
in revolt, found it expedient to bow to the Spanish yoke. Com- 
ing into such close contact with the Spaniards, in time some 
Spanish blood was infused in their veins — not as a rule, through 
marriage, but through the sensual cravings of the Spaniard, 
who cared nothing for his offspring. As is generally the case 
where a superior race joins blood with an inferior race, the 
progeny is likely to inherit more of the weaknesses and fewer 
of the virtues of the superior race. 

This is the condition of the border peon Mexican today — 
and it must be borne in mind that we are speaking of the peon 
Mexican. More often than not the little good blood the peon 
may have in his veins is contaminated with disease, and, from 
the mother stock, he rightfully inherits the bloodthirstiness of 
his Indian forefathers. 

In speaking to-day of the peon Mexican, we must remember 
that he is an Indian, living under slightly different conditions 
from the wild tribe, but at heart still an Indian, Ask one of 
them if he is Spanish and he will resentfully reply : "No, 
Senor, Yo estoy puro Indio!" — "No, sir, I am pure Indian!" 
He is proud of the fact. The Gauchapin — a pclado word for 
Spaniard, denoting contempt — is even more hated than the 

In 1794, the strength of the Spanish padres began to wane. 
The date of their withdrawal from the Rio Grande territory 


varies. Gradually they were forced to abandon their missions. 
By the year 1800, the Indian residents of the missions were 
left to shift for themselves. From 1800 to 1848, the wild tribes 
of New Mexico and North and East Texas held undisputed 
possession of the Big Bend, but there was nothing to arouse 
their cupidity until Old Mexico was reached. 

The records of the old Indian Trails, both Comanche and 
Apache, extending from New Mexico to Texas into Old 
Mexico, showed that for many years these tribes were at war 
with one another, and yearly made extended raids into the 
interior of Mexico, going as far south as Santiago Papasquiaro, 
Durango, in great numbers, carrying bloodshed and rapine to 
every hacienda and returning to their haunts with thousands of 
horses, cattle, and many prisoners. 

In efforts to halt these warfares, the Central Government of 
the City of Mexico pitted one State against another, permitting 
the Indians to raid in one State if they would leave another 
unmolested. Even the States of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora, 
and Durango made separate peace with these Indians, giving 
them protection as long as they raided sister States only. One 
State would allow the Indians to dispose of their stolen property 
and prisoners obtained in another State. The Comanche and 
Apache would live among the inhabitants while one of these 
peace treaties lasted, would intermarry with the Mexicans and 
raise families, and it is a well known fact that many of the 
mightiest chieftains of the Comanches and Apaches were half- 
breed Mexicans or Mexican renegades. In time, the little good 
the padres had accomplished among the proselytized Mexico 
Indian became neutralized by this new infusion of savage blood. 
Practically all that remained was a husk of Roman Catholicism. 

Despite these conditions, pioneers began to push into the 
Big Bend. Dr. H. Connelly, in 1839, broke trail across the 
Trans-Pecos country, from Chihuahua City to Arkansas. He 
was not molested, and returned safely to Chihuahua in 1840. 
In 1848, a Virginian, John W. Spencer, settled the present site 
of Presidio, Texas. With him came Burgess, Leatpn, and 
several other Americans. Then, in 1849, under the command 


of Brevet-Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, the War Department 
began a series of reconnaissances between San Antonio and 
El Paso. 

In 1850, a permanent trail of commerce was opened, reach- 
ing from Chihuahua City to San Antonio and other points east ; 
and, for thirty-two years, until the railroads came, the trail- 
drivers and freighters on the Chihuahua trail had continuous 
warfare with the Indian and Mexican outlaws. 

Naturally, the coming of settlers and freighters, with their 
work animals and supplies, attracted the Indians, as well as an 
element among the Mexican population, called ladrones. In 
order to cover up their operations, these latter outlaws, after 
an attack on a wagon-train, would set up the cry of "In- 
dians !" 

Among the more notorious of the Indian leaders, Bajo el Sol 
stands out in a spectacular manner. He was the son of old 
Tave Pete, a female Shaman of the Comanches, was born near 
the old presidio of San Carlos, across the Rio Grande from 
Lajitas, Texas. As long as he lived, the Mexicans on th-e 
Mexico side, harbored and protected him from the whites. 

Among the Apaches Mescaleros, two chiefs stand out above 
their Indian followers as being superlatively cruel and resource- 
ful. The first of these, Espejo — looking glass — harassed the 
early freighters on the Chihuahua Trail in the '60s. Following 
the Civil War, in 1867, two freight outfits, under James and 
William Edgar, respectively, were continually preyed upon by 
Espejo and his band, between Horsehcad Crossing and Fort 
Davis. Eventually, James Edgar was forced to turn back to 
Fort Stockton when Espejo barred his passage in Wild Rose 
Pass. In the fight, Edgar lost two men. 

The last famous Mescalero Apache chief, Alsate, was the 
nephew of Manuel Musquiz, after whom Musquiz Canyon was 
named, and who was the first settler in the Davis Mountains 
to have cattle. Alsate was named after Lieut. Francisco Alsate, 
of the Mexican army, stationed at Presidio del Norte, Mexico. 
This chief mixed freely with the Mexican people in San Carlos 
and other settlements along the Mexican side of the river. 


But more troublesome, perhaps, than the Indians, were the 
bands of Mexican outlaws that infested the trails and cattle 
ranges bordering the Rio Grande. A brief survey of past and 
present history will bring to light some of the conditions which 
have caused raiding from across the Rio Grande. The Mexican 
peon, like the Indian, is constitutionally opposed to labor. At 
best, he will cultivate a small plot of ground, raise a little corn 
and beans, and keep a small goat herd. When for any reason 
these sources of food supply fail him, he must either starve or 
steal. If the raiding periods are watched closely, the observer 
will find that raiding is heaviest when some calamity has over- 
taken the Mexico side of the Rio Grande. During the Maximil- 
ian troubles in Mexico, raiding became more frequent on the 
American side. When Porfirio Diaz took over the reins of 
government, the records show heavy raiding. And since the 
beginning of the Madero Revolution up to the present time, 
raiding has been constantly carried on. So fixed has become 
the habit of obtaining a livelihood without work and so in 
keeping with their natural tendencies, that it is doubtful whether 
our Southern border will ever be safe, except it be by force of 

From 1866 to the present time, Mexican bandits have taken 
a heavy toll in lives and property in the Big Bend District. 
With a view to showing the endless warfare this troublesome 
people has waged on border citizens, a few examples have been 
taken from existing records. 

1866: W. O. Burnham, with a party of twenty-five men, 
drove 1,200 cattle over the Chihuahua Trail to Chihuahua City. 
Before reaching Paisano Pass, while camped at Burgess' Water- 
hole, just east of the present town of Alpine, Burnham saw 
seven Mexicans, who were suspiciously hanging around. These 
Mexicans had a small bunch of cattle, and Burnham thinking 
they might have stolen some of his cattle, decided to investigate. 
In the fight which followed, the Mexicans were overpowered. 
Burnham found none of his cattle, but the entire outfit was 
composed of cattle stolen from other American herds. The 
Mexicans were allowed to withdraw their dead. 


1876: August Santleben, returning from Chihuahua with a 
wagon-train of bullion, over the Chihuahua Trail, was attacked 
by forty-two Mexican bandits, but the bandits were forced to 
withdraw. Later Santleben saw several of the bandits in 
Mexico, but was powerless to act against them. 

1877 : The Salt Lake War. Judge Charles Howard located 
the great saline deposit north of Sierra Blanco, and prohibited 
the Mexicans from hauling away the salt. Louis Cardise, an 
Italian, living at El Paso, championed the Mexicans. Howard 
killed Cardise, which so enraged the Mexicans that a mob of 
several hundred came over from Mexico, upon learning that 
Howard was at San Elizario, surrounded Howard and a force 
of Texas Rangers sent to guard him. After a siege of two 
days. Lieutenant Tays, of the Rangers, surrendered. Howard 
and two others were murdered by the Mexicans. 

1891 : A party of Mexican outlaws headed by Catrino 
Neita, attacked the ranch home of Victoriano Hernandez, on 
Alamito Creek, wounded Hernandez and killed Oscar Duke. 
Motive : Cattle stealing. 

1892 : Corporal John R. Hughes and his rangers killed 
Florencio Carrasco, while he was resisting arrest. Florencio 
was an outlaw against whom several murders were slated, as 
well as considerable stealing. He belonged to the Mexican 
bandits who made their home in the Coahuila Mountains. 
This occurred opposite the San Antonio Colony, on the Rio 

1893 : W. T. Henderson, Lew Butrill, Jim Wilson, and 
several other cowmen who had cow outfits near the Rio Grande, 
between Maravillas Creek and Stillwell's Crossing, south of 
Marathon and Sanderson, had 1,200 cattle stolen and crossed to 
the Mexico side, by Mexicans under the command of a Lieu- 
tenant Puentes. The cowmen obtained a small reinforcement 
from Marathon, crossed the river and, after a two days' fight, 
managed to return their cattle to the Texas side. 

191 1 : Antonio Carrasco killed Ranger Sergeant Fusselman 
and Deputy Sheriff Pastrana, in the Bloody Peninsula — the 
Big Bend. Carrasco was the leader of the band of outlaws 


that had been operating in the Big Bend for several years. 
Many deeds of violence were attributed to him. He was cap- 
tured and shot at Ojinaga, Mexico, by order of Francisco 

191 3: Efifio Torrez, better known as Coo-Coo Torrez, a 
Mexican outlaw, was killed while under arrest, when his friends 
from the Mexico side ambushed Texas Ranger J. E. Vaughn 
and Ranchman J. W. Pool. This was the culmination of a 
long list of outrages perpetrated by Coo-Coo and his band of 
murderers and cattle thieves. 

1913 : Jack Howard, river guard, was killed by Lina Baiza, 
who also wounded J. A. Harvick, Inspector of the Texas Cattle 
Raisers' Association. A year later Biaza was killed near Pilares, 
Mexico, by officers of the law. 

1914: A band of Mexican raiders crossed the Rio Grande 
southwest of Valentine, and drove off sixty head of horses 
belonging to local ranches. At the same time two other raids 
were reported between Valentine and Sierra Blanco ; one near 
Van Horn and one near Dalberg. At both places a number of 
horses were taken. 

191 5 : Pasqual Orozco, Jose Delgado, C. Caballero, Andres 
Sandoval, and Siguel Terrazas were killed in a fight with a 
sheriff's posse in the Van Horn Mountains, Culberson County. 
Orozco was an escaped revolutionist from Mexico and was at 
that time reorganizing his band on the Texas side for a return 
to Mexico. 

The above raids were taken at random from a long list. No 
year from 1866 to the present day has been free from blood- 
shed. It is safe to say that no peon Mexican respects the United 
States-Mexico boundary, whether it is marked by the Rio 
Grande or by monuments. He plays the game of escaping from 
the authorities on the side of the river which is pressing him 

Basically, the raiding and murdering propensities are in the 
peon Mexican blood to the same degree as that found by our 
Government, in 1850, in the blood of the Apache and Comanche. 
There is practically no difference in being murdered by Indians 


belonging to the Comanche and Apache tribes, and being mur- 
dered by peon Mexicans who are the descendants of these or 
other Indians. 

In 1850, WiUiam H. C. Whiting, Lieutenant of Engineers, 
and a miUtary authority on border warfare and conditions made 
the following statement : 

"With me it is a conviction which the experience of each day 
serves only to strengthen, that the country will continue to hear 
of murders and robberies in Southwest Texas, and its citizens 
to suffer, until authority and force be given to strike at the 
hearts of this people. (The reference here is to the Comanches 
and Apaches). . . . The early history of our western posts 
. . . the policy of the British Government with her Indians ; 
and, above all, the practice of those sagacious and enterprising 
soldiers, the old Spanish adventurers, all teach that the most 
efficient system with such an enemy, is the establishment of a 
powerful garrison in their midst ; and the surest, and, in the 
end, the most humane preventative is retaliation." And Pre- 
sidio, Texas, was one of the points which Lieutenant Whiting 
pointed out as being most important to the preservation of order 
in the Big Bend of the Rio Grande. 

A scrutiny of the topography and geography of the section 
of the country known as the Big Bend of the Rio Grande, will 
show its favorable location for the successful operation by 
cattle-thieves, smugglers and law evaders. 

The area of the country subjected to lawlessness embraces 
15,000 square miles; bounded on the south by the Rio Grande, 
while the Southern Pacific Railroad cuts through the northern 
portion. Some idea of the extent of this "no man's land" may 
be gained from the following : 

The distance from river points to the railroad varies from 
40 miles to 104 miles. In this district there are 181 mountain 
peaks over 4,000 feet altitude — 70 peaks above 4,000 feet ; 58 
peaks above 5,000 feet ; 35 peaks over 6,000 feet ; 15 peaks from 
7,000 to 7,800 feet, and 3 peaks over 8,000 feet. These moun- 
tains, including their ranges and canyons, cover approximately 
8,000 square miles, or 53.33 per cent of the total area. These 


figures are taken from reports furnished by the University of 
«'' Texas, in Bulletin No. 365. 

From vital statistics obtained from the above source and 
from the county records in the several counties concerned, the 
following holds true : Taking the county poll-tax records of 
the several counties as a basis, we find that there is, to every ten 
square miles, one white male adult only, who is capable and will- 
ing to help uphold the law ! And this area would be much 
larger, if we excepted a large number of ranchmen who live in 
the various towns. 

The white male adult only has been considered for the rea- 
son that, while the Mexican may be a peace-loving citizen, he is 
rarely active in furnishing information that may lead to the 
apprehension of local criminals. This is caused partly through 
an imperfect understanding of American laws and the English 
language ; partly through fear of retaliation on the part of the 
person, or his friends, on whom information is given, and partly 
through sheer indifference. As a rule, only when he is person- 
ally concerned, will the Mexican give information to peace 
officers or to the military. 

A country so thinly settled and so rugged makes an ideal 
rendezvous for persons of loose character who desire to remain 
unseen. In the main, this class is composed of Mexicans who 
have "got in bad" with state and federal officials, and who strike 
out for this great "hole-in-the-wall" country, where he may 
evade and defy the officers, and turn his energies to the lucra- 
tive profession of cattle-stealing and smuggling. Reaching his 
harbor in safety, he may take up a few sections of land and un- 
der guise of running a few cattle, "burn" the brands of a dozen 
cow outfits without much danger of being caught red-handed in 
the act ; and dispose of his stolen stock, either through un- 
scrupulous merchants along the border, or smuggle his stock 
across the river to confederates on the Mexico side. Or he may 
choose to remain "on the dodge" in the Rim Rock county, 
Chinati or Chisos Mountains, with little fear of being caught — 
so rough and broken are those regions. 

The operations of these cattle-thieves and outlaws are so 


interwoven with the operations of confederates and brigands 
from the Mexico side of the Rio Grande, that it is difficult to 
give a separate detailed account of their deeds. The cattleman, 
who ranches in the outlaw zone, is very reticent concerning his 
losses, although he may have well-founded suspicions as to who 
the guilty persons are. So long as he is protected by a posse 
or a detachment of soldiers, he feels safe ; but he knows full 
well that a time will come when he will be caught on his ranch 
alone ; and one of the methods of instilHng fear in the hearts of 
their victims, is for the outlaws to appear suddenly at a ranch- 
man's headquarters, call him to the door, and shoot him down. 
This method, with slight variations, constitutes sufficient rea- 
sons for much knowledge of the stealing never reaching the 
public. But the majority of the law-abiding citizens know of the 
conditions, without being able to remedy them. 

Despite all these obstacles, the West-of-the-Pecos country 
has grown and prospered. Nowhere in the world will be found 
a higher type of citizenship. Good churches and good schools 
are everywhere in evidence, and culture and refinement are met 
with on all sides. Nor must the reader believe that it is entirely 
a land of raids and border warfare. Through the heart of the 
country runs the Southern Pacific Railway — a dead line which 
no Mexican bandit has had the intrepidity to cross. The final 
settlement of the troubles in Mexico and along the border will 
insure the future of this great country. 




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