The Recollections of an Octogenarian
By Willis B. Newton

   
Willis Newton did not name each chapter. We have added chapter names as a guide to his story.

                                                                Table of Contents                                                                     

  Chapter 1 - The Early Years in Arkansas                                            Chapter 8 - Life during the Civil War   

  
Chapter 2 - Introduction to Texas                                                        Chapter 9 - Beginning of the Wagon Train Trip to California 

  Chapter 3 - Texas Happenings                                                             Chapter 10 - The Staked Plains Desert and Horsehead Crossing 

  Chapter 4 - Cattle Raising in Lampasas and San Saba Counties     Chapter 11 - Desert & Commanches in West Texas, New Mexico. 

  Chapter 5 - Deer Hunting and a Commanche Indians encounter     Chapter 12 - Arizona and Apache Country 

  Chapter 6 - The Baker Family and the Commanches                         
Chapter 13 - Our New Home of California 

 
Chapter 7 - Death of Erath County Boy by Commanches
 


 
                               NOTE - We have included extra information highlighted in Bold that was not in the original writing.
                                             When a location or name has an historical website, it will be highlighted in Blue as a link.




Chapter 1 - The Early Years in Arkansas       


I was born in Hot Spring County in the state of Arkansas eighty-one years ago.

I spent the most of my boyhood days on a small farm in Clark County in the same state.  The country at that time was new and undeveloped. My Father was a small farmer and stock raiser. Cotton was the principal source of revenue. In fact, cotton was king. Any man that had a fairly good prospect for a cotton crop, his credit was good for anything he needed for the maintenance of his family.  Nearly all of the country was covered with a heavy growth of timber. The upland of rolling hills was covered with big oak trees. Many of them three and four feet in diameter, hickory, ash, black jack and dogwood. The bottom lands were covered with big oaks, hickory, black walnut, the tall sweet and glack gum, sassafras, hackberry, elm and persimmon trees that in the fall of the year were covered with a crop of beautiful ripe persimmons and there was plenty of possums hiding away in the hollow trees and logs that would come out at night time and eat those persimmons and keep fat. The woods in those days were full of wild animals.  Deer was plentiful everywhere and wild turkey also. Wolves was in evidence everywhere, so was the wild cat, red fox, coon and possum.  In the river bottoms and cane brakes the black bear and panther were to be found in abundance. All the farm houses in those days were made of logs cut in the forest and hauled together around the building site usually with a team of oxen. Then they were rolled one at a time on to a pair of heavy trussels built for the purpose and lined up with a chalk line and an expert with a broad ax hues them to a smooth surface. He usually reduces them to a thickness of about six or seven inches and when all is ready he appoints a day and invites as many of his neighbors as necessary to do the job to come and help him raise his house.  The logs were carried up one by one and notched down one on top of the other until the wall was raised as high as he wanted it to be and the job was done. He would do the rest.  Two or three of the neighbor women would come also to help the good housewife prepare the dinner for the men, which usually of an abundance of good vittles such as our mothers used to make and possibly a big pot of sassafras tea often made of bark taken from a sassafras tree growing right there on the place and big pot of pork and turnip greens, another big pot of chicken pie or chicken and dumpling, fried ham and brown gravy, good old fashioned corn bread, hot buisket, home made butter, sweet and buttermilk and pumpkin pie.  The boys and girls would often gather in and finish the job with a little dance at night.  Now the builder would go into the forest and select a smooth boddied nice looking oak tree, cut it down and with a cross cut saw would saw it into cuts four feet long which he would split up and make in to boards with which he would cover the house. The next job would be the floor which he would lay with puncheons. Now, I fancy I hear some reader ask what is a puncheon. The builder of a house goes into the forest again and selects as many trees as is needed for his purpose of straight smooth trunk and from twelve to sixteen inches in diameter. He fells them to the ground and cuts them the length he wants to make his puncheons.  He splits them in half.  He then hauls them in, puts them on a pair of trussels, stands them on edge and fastens them with a device made for the purpose.  He strikes a line with a chalk line and an expert with a broad ax hues them to a straight, smooth surface.  The edges are treated in the same manner and the ends are all made the same thickness and they are laid down and on sleepers side by side and jointed up together and make a good floor.  If he wants to make an extra nice job of it, he will follow the broad axe with a jack plane and make a nice smooth surface good enough for the boys and girls to dance on. There was many groves of pine timber in parts of the state but at the time of which I am writing which was seventy and seventy-five years ago, there was not a saw mill in all of the Southwestern Arkansas to cut it into lumber. All the lumber we had, which was very little, was cut by manpower with a whip saw.

I don’t suppose that one person in a hundred in this day and generation would know a whip saw if they were to see one and I am going to tell you about it, for that is the object of this narrative to tell you about things that you don’t know.

They select a tree that has a good straight trunk. They fell the tree and cut off the log the length of the lumber wanted. The log is lined up with a chalk line and hewed on all four sides with a broad axe and reduced to a square – hence the old saying that you often hear repeated, “hue to the line”. The logs was usually squared up to twelve or sixteen inches square, depending on the width of boards wanted.

Then they would set two heavy posts in the ground about six feet apart and put a cross on top from one to the other and the proper distance from those they would set two more posts and cross beam. Then with two long skids, one end resting on top of a post, the other end on the ground, the log was skided up on this rack and lined from one end to the other with a chalk line. It is now ready for the saw. The whip saw is six or seven feet long with teeth on one side all set one way. On each end a round socket is riveted to it but cross ways of the saw blade into which a round stick about a foot long is driven which makes the handles.  One man works on top the log, the other one on the ground. The man on top pulls the saw up and holds it on the chalk line. The man on the ground pulls the saw down and makes it do the cutting.

I remember very vividly now of setting around for hours at a time and watch my father and an uncle turn out board after board with the whip saw.

Our home was sixteen miles west from Arkadelphia, the county seat. It was situated on the bank of the Quichita River. Now, that is an Indian name and you won’t know how to pronounce it if I don’t tell you.  In English it is the Washitaw River. The town was small and the only town in the County at that time.  There was three general merchandise stores, two or three small trading shops, a small two-story hotel with bar attached and a small court house where a session of the circuit court was held twice a year.  Down on the River’s brink was a long cotton shed where the cotton from the farms all over the adjacent country as fast as it was gined and baled was hauled and stored up ready for shipment to New Orleans, when the River got flash enough for the boats to run.  The merchants bought up most all of the cotton. They would go East every winter and lay in a stock of goods large enough to last them a year and dispose of their cotton at the same time and get back in time to get their goods in and their cotton out down the River while it was flush enough for the boats to run. Small boats would run up to Arkadelphia during the later part of winter and spring months.  During the summer and fall they could only get up as far as Camden, County Seat of Washitaw County, sixty miles down the River. Such a thing as going to town to buy a farm implement anything larger than a cotton hoe or a scythe blade was unknown in those days. The plows and everything of that kind was hammered out and made right there in the country blacksmith shop.

Most of all the farmers would save a few acres of wheat to make bread for the family.  That wheat was sowed by hand and plowed under. It was harvested with a scythe and cradle, bound in bundles.  Some farmers would beat the wheat out of the straw with a flail.  Others would clean off a threshing floor on a hard piece of ground and lay the bundles of wheat around in a circle like a ring in a circus and put on horses and trample it out.  They would stir the hay and shake all the grain out of it and then pitch it over outside of the ring. This was done with wooden forks cut from some small tree out in the wooded forest.  Such a thing as an iron or steel factory made pitch fork was unknown at that time.  The wheat was then run through a faning mill and all of the chaff and dirt blown out of it.  Then it was sacked up and ready for the mill.  I was the mill boy for our family. There was eight of us children and I was no 6.  Father and mother made ten in family.  It took a good deal of bread staff to keep us all chewing.  Once a week father or one of my big brothers would throw a two bushel bag of corn or wheat across a horses back and I would mount on top of it and off I would go to Uncle Jackey Huffman’s mill down on south fork eight miles away.  Uncle Jake, as we all called him, was an elderly man, a Pennsylvania Dutchman.  We boys all liked him.

The greatest privation that the early settlers in that country had to endure was the want of school facilities for the education of the rising generation.  Public schools was unknown and there was no commodious school houses like we have today.  Our fathers and big brothers would take their axes and go to the woods and fell trees and cut house logs and haul them together to a site selected for the school house and in a few days they would have a log school house ready for the children to go to school in it.  In almost every neighborhood a man could be found who would claim to be capable of teaching school.  The schools were all paid for by subscription.  If they could get twenty scholars subscribing at one dollar and fifty cents a schollar per month, making a salary of thirty dollars per month, he would take the school and if he had no family he would usually board around among the children.  If A sent two children to school and B sent four, he would stay one night with A and two nights with B and prorate the board bill that way.  The farmer boy that got more than three months schooling, such as it was, in one year was considered a very lucky boy.  The parents had to dig up money to pay the tuition of the children and for the books they used also.

There is one other item I wish to speak of and I will close this part of my narrative.  It was a big job for a farmer to undertake to open up a farm in southwest Arkansas.  Nearly all of the best land was covered with a heavy growth of timber that had to be cleared off.  All of the small trees and under brush had to be cut off or grubbed up by root and burned and all of the larger trees had to be belted around so that the flow of sap would stop running and they would die.  Then it would take two or three years for the grubs and roots in the ground to rot and decay so they could be plowed out and put the land in shape to plow with any degree of satisfaction.  About the fourth year the belted trees begin to blow down and for three or four thereafter he had a big job every spring cutting off the fallen timber off his farm.  When he gets the logs all cut in suitable lengths he appoints a day for log rolling.  He invites all his neighbors in to help him pile his logs so he can burn them up out of the way of the plow and some of the neighbor women came also to help the wife prepare the meals for the men, as herein before described when they would raise a house.  This was often followed by a social dance at night if they could get the music.  My father had only one brother and he was a musician.  The only one that was ever known in the Newton family.  I can remember of hearing many a man say that Bill Newton could come nearer making the fiddle talk than any man they ever saw draw the bow.

I had read some and heard more from parties who has been there about the wonderful possibilities over in the great state of Texas and of the fortunes being made there raising cattle.  It occurred to me what Horace Greeley said, “Go West young man, go West”.  I got the Texas fever very bad.  I talked the matter over with my young wife, for young as I was, I had already found the girl that I decided I could not live without and had married her.  We decided to go to Texas and make our start in life.  My father caught the fever also and sold his farm and he and an uncle of mine and myself packed up bag and baggage and hit the road for the great state of Texas.  We crossed Red River out of Arkansas into the great state of Texas on the sixth day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty.

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Chapter 2 - Introduction to Texas     

My introduction to the state of Texas was frought with many thrills and excitements.  The second days travel braught us down to Bonham, the county seat of Fannin county.  On arriving there, we found the populace all in a flurry of excitement.  What was the occasion of all of this commotion, why they had just had a little hanging all only the day before.  The good citizens of the town and the vicinity had marched out seven men all in a body to a big live oak tree just outside the little town and hanged the whole bunch by the neck to the limbs of that old tree.  Now I seem to hear you ask, what great crime had those men done that they should be put to death by men who had took the law in their own hands.  The reason was very obvious, the political campaign for the election of a President in the United States was getting in full swing and Stephen Douglas, a prominent figure among the leading democrats of the country, and Abraham Lincoln, a well known abolitionist, both of the state of Illinois were the principal contestants for the honor.  Although Mr. Lincoln was bitterly opposed to slavery, he had a small following in the south.  These men were Linconites and had tried to incite the negroes of the neighborhood to an act of ___________ and that cost them their lives. 

     Austin….  the State capitol

As we pursued our journey a few days travel brought us to the city of Austin, the capitol city of the state; situated on the East bank of the Colorado River.  On our arrival there we found the populace all in a great state of excitement over a triple murder that had been commited a few nights before.  A few miles out of on the road leading down Sanantonio, the victims of this great tragedy were three young gentlemen from New York, sons of New York Millionairs.  They had finished there education having graduated from some of the best colleges in there city.  They had been reading about life in the far west and of the fortunes that men were making there who were engaged in the stock business. They decided to go there and see for themselves whether these things be true or not.  They were so insistant that there fathers finally consented to let them go and see the country for themselves, supplying them with all the money necessary for the trip.  The young men came around the coast, landing at Galveston Texas.  They went up to Houston 25 or 30 Miles inland, and there they fited themselves out with a span of Mules, a traveling carriage and a camp outfit and started out overland to explore the country.  They got over to Belton, the county seat of Bell county.  They stopped to look around a while.  They met and made the acquaintance of a Mr. ----.  ---- who lived a few miles out of town, was one of the wealthiest men in the county.  He took them in hand showed them around the county entertained them two or three days.  Then he advised them to go on down to the city of Austin, and stop and look around again.  He advised them to put up at a certain hotel in Austin, which they did.  The next day after they arrived there, Mr. ----- came and put up at the same hotel.  When he met the young men from New York, he told them that business had unexpectedly called him to the city, that in a little while he would be at there service again.  He spent a day or two with them showing them around, then he told them that he would have to take his leave of them and go home and he advised them to start on there journey and go out on the way six or seven miles to a spring that he described to them, and make there camp there for the night which they did.  The next day those young men were found laying in their camp all had been brutally murdered during the night. (The Texas State Gazette dated June 2nd 1860 has on the front page under the headline "An Appailing Tragedy" the following: On Monday evening last (This would have been Monday, May 28th 1860) the bodies of three men were found near the Magee place, between Slaughter and Onion creek, in this country.  From the cards and clothes of the deceased, their names seem to have been, W.H. Jones, M.A. Deloach, and Charles S. Harvey)  (The Oakwood-Sexton Cemetary in Austin has three gravesites, Charles Hervy, Wm. H Jones and M.A. Deloach with the same death date of May 23rd 1860)  The fiend covered up his tracks so completely that the officers of the law could never get any clue to the party who commited the crime.  A few days after this happened, a lone traveler came into the town of Belton traveling on horseback going East and had his six shooter in his belt, his rifle strapped on one side of the horn of his saddle, his picket rope on the other sied, his roll of blankets and his wallet of grub tied on behind his saddle, the regular Texas stile.  He spent an hour or two in the town.  He spent most of that time in the company of Mr. ----.  He mounted his horse and went on his way two or three miles out he came to a vacant ranchhouse with a good well of water in the yard.  He stopped and made camp for the night.  The next day people of the neighborhood passing about observed the horse standing there all day.  All day the second day the horse was still standing there but no man was insight at any time.  Finally a man went out to the camp.  The horse had eaten every spear of grass within his reach, and was almost perished for a drink of water.  There lay the saddle, the gun and the blanket, but no man anywhere to be found.  He summoned the neighbors to help start a search for the man.  They found his dead body at the bottom of the well with a bullet hole in his head.  That was another mystery that baffled the skill of all of the county officials.  They utterly failed to find any clew to work on.  There was one man in the party that found the body that must have had a vision or some other kind of feeling for her boldly declared that he believed that ---- was the murderer.  His neighbors hooted at the idear and told him he must be crazy, but he insisted all the more and went before the magistrate and swore out a search warrant to have Mr. ----- house searched with a view to finding a clew to that murder.  The warrant was placed in the hand of the sheriff (Joseph D. Cater) for execution.  The sheriff went very reluctantly, and Crazy Duke, as they was pleased to call him, went along, very much to the chagrin of the Sheriff to see that he done his duty.  On arriving at the ---- home, he said to Mr. ----, this crazy fool has accused you of the murder of that lone traveler out the other side of Belton, and it is made my painful duty to search over the house for evidence of the crime.  He looked around a little and came back and sead, Mr. ---- I am pleased to be able to congratulate you. I find no indications of anything wrong about your house.  Crazy Jake was not satisfied , his eyes was going about everywhere.  Mr. ---- lived in an old fashioned Mexican adoba Mansion.  It had been the home of some well to do Mexican before Texas was ceded to the United States in 1847 (Note - The actual date for Texas joining the United States was Dec. 29th 1845).   Looking up he espied what looked like a roll of rags tucked away back in the corner on top of the thick adobe wall.  He managed to get up there and lift it down.  He laid it on the table and unrolled the cloth.  The inside of the cloth was covered with blood and it contained a large sum of money gold coin.  He said Mr. Sheriff does that look like there was nothing wrong here.  The sheriff looked and then sead Mr. ----, I guess you will have to consider yourself my prisoner.  Mr. ---- turned white as cotton, broke completely down and made a full confession, not only of the murder of the lone traveler, but also the three young men from New York as well.  The sheriff lodged him in the jail at Belton.  Mr. ---- was a member of the Baptist Church, and was also a member of the Masonic lodge at Belton.  His first move was to send for Mr. Stephenson, worshipful master of the lodge.  Mr. Stephenson came at once to see what he wanted.  He wanted Mr. Stephenson to invoke the aid and influence of the Masonic fraternity to try to save his neck from the hangman’s nooze.  Mr. Stephenson replied to Mr. ---- you know as well as I do, that there are two crimes that Masonery dair not touch and you have committed one of them, good day sir.  The jail in Belton was a log house with holes bored in the wall and wooden pegs driven into on which to hang there articles of clothing.  When jailers (W.B. Denton was a Jailer in Bell County) entered the next morning to serve Mr. Reid his breakfast, the first thing that met his gaze was the body of Mr. ----- hanging to a peg in the wall dead.

We only stopped a little while in the city, and moved on down the road some four miles and camped for the night.  Our baby boy had been sick for some time past.  My father had been sick and we had been hauling him in the wagon the past few days.  That night my wife took sick.  When morning came I saw plainly that I would have to go into camp awhile until my people got in better health.

Down the road about a half mile away, was a house, a large country mansion.  I went down there and near and near the road some negroes mixing morter and steping around and there was an elderly gentleman in shirt sleves, collar wide open, bare headed and bare footed and standing a few steps away, was a very neatly dressed lady.  As I rode up near them I bid him good morning and sead, Stranger, I am traveling through your country, I camped there on the branch last night.  I have had a sick child for some time and we have been hauling my father in the wagon sick for several days and now this morning my wife is sick.  Can you tell of some good place to camp awhile until my people gets in better health.  He hesitated for a moment and sead to the lady, Wife, where shall I send him.  Why, sead she, down where we went fishing the other day.  Yes, sead he, there is the finest camp in the world.  A big creek full of fish, lots of good wood, a grove of walnut trees for shade, a big spring of good water pouring out over a big flat rock, and grass as far as the eye can see.  Go back and hitch up and come on down here and I will have a negro ready to go and pilot you down there.  Keep him to help until you get your camp all arranged, then send him home.  As I turned to go, he sead to me, What part of the country are you from?  I answered from Arkansas.  O, sead he, I was wuten-bound in Arkansaw eighteen years before I came on to Texas.  He pointed his finger toward a house some three miles away and sead, do you see that house on that hill.  Dr Snead lives there.  The best Doctor in the State of Texas.  Call on him, he will take care of your sick ones.  And he did and had them all on there feet in a very short time.  While there in camp, I got somewhat acquainted with my benefactor and found him to be no less a personage than Seborn S. Sneed, one of the famous lawyers in the State of Texas. 

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Chapter 3 - Texas Happenings    

My family having gained there health under the care and treatment of Dr. Sneed, and I had enjoyed a good rest and which had offered me ample time for inquiry and thought, it occoured to me that I had gone too far south.  That what I most desired would be found in the northwest part of the state.  As much as I had fallen in love with that magnificant camp it was necessary that I move on.  I retraced my steps back to Georgetown, the county seat of Williamson county.  My Uncle had become dissatisfied with the country and had continued right back to Arkansas.  I started north and went up to Florence.  I little town sixteen miles from Georgetown.  There I found two small farms adjoining each other.  I rented bothe of them for one year.  My Father occupied one of them and I the other one.  My young brother and I planted the land to wheat.  About this time, they had a fire in Georgetown, which destroyed one of the principal business houses, and its contents, entailing a heavy loss to the owner.  By a heroic effort on the part of the whole populace, they kept the fire from spreading, and saved the rest of the town.  It was a clear case of incendiarism, and every clew pointed to one certain negro.  He was arrested and put thru severe grilling, he broke down and confessed to the crime.  The whole populace sat as a judge to try the case, and found the verdict of guilty, which carried with it the death penalty.  Seven or eight towns had been set on fire recently and in every case where they had been able to trace a clue to the fire bug, it proved to be a negro.  What was the cause of all this?  The Presidential Campaign was waxing hot and it looked much like Mr Lincoln would be the successful candidate, and if so, emancipation of Slavery was very likely to follow, but these fellows were impatient, they could not wait until the proper time to wreak out vengeance on there white masters.  The leaders of the little affair at Georgetown, decided to make a test case of it.  They sent messengers all over the county to notify every citizen to come on in and help hang that negro, and any man that refused would be considered an enemy to the country, and be dealt with accordingly.  They took the poor fellow out to a big Oak tree, and with them a whole coil of rope, threw the end of the roper over a limb of the tree, and tied it around the negroes neck.  A man unrolled the coil of rope, and the command was given for every man present, to take hold of the rope, and help hang the fire fiend.  This took place about the last week of August.  About the last week of September, I rode into Florence one afternoon and just at the edge of town, I met a file of men, all heavily armed, riding in single file.  One of the men had an unarmed man riding on the horse behind, and I know that poor fellow was a prisoner.  When I got to town, I found everybody in a great state of excitement.  All the talk was about the vigilance committee from up on the Colorado river had arrested Ben Eads, and had took him away.  About seven miles up the road, they left Mr. Ben, hanging by the neck to a live Oak limb.  A man coming down the road the next morning discovered the body, and reported his find.  When he reached town, they made up a little party of citizens who went out and buried the body.  The facts in the case went like this, Ben Eades lived in the Northwest corner of Lampasas County on the Colorado River.  Every little while all of the best saddle horses in that section of the county would be stolen.  They finally took notice that ever time that happened, Ben Eades was away from home for awhile.  This time they took up the trail, and followed it, and found Ben Eads, the horses all sold and the price of them in cash in his pockets, and the hanging was the result.  They didn’t loose any more horses.

About the last of November, I went in town one morning, and on my return happened to meet a man who lived over on the Lampasas River some nine or ten miles from town.  He was very much excited.  He called me to halt and told me he had just discovered the body of Mr. Sherman, hanging to the limb of a big Oak tree, about three miles down the road.  The facts in this case was like this.  Mr. Sherman, with his wife and family of five or six children lived in a wooded section of the country, near a big Cedar brake, about eight miles Northeast of Florence.  No one lived nearer than four or five miles of him.  It as a well known fact that Sherman would not work.  It was a question in the minds of people as to how Sherman got his living.  He did not own a hoof of stock except a saddle horse and a cow or two to give milk for his children.  Finally the stock men solved the problem.  He was living off of their stock, and the little hanging bee followed.  Sherman’s body was never took down and buried.  He was hung on Thursday night.  During the next three days a great many people mostly young people from the settlements nearby, went out to view the gruesome sight.  Sunday his widow went out and took a look at him.  She gave a negro boy a half dollar to cut the belt and get the six-shooter for her.  She went away and never made any effort to have him buried.  Somebody cut the rope and let the body fall to the ground where the coyoties and buzzards picked the flesh off of his bones.

Election day came and Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United States.  The very next move on the part of the South, was to secede from the Union.  In a very short time, every pettyfoger in the land that could make a speech, was on the stump, Speechifying, agitating the question of secession.  About February, first Texas seceeded from the Union as did all the southern states and what followed is two well known for me to take the time to rehearse it here.  Now dear readers, we have had enough of murders and hanging bees and now I will transfer the scene of action seventy-five miles farther west and give you some of my experiences during the next few years as a cowboy and Texas Ranger. 

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Chapter 4 - Cattle Raising in Lampasas and San Saba Counties     

The town of SAN SABA was situated seventy-five miles west of Florence, the scene of the preceding chapter.  W.T. Murray, a prominent citizen of that town and also clerk of the San Saba County, bought the ranch that belonged to old John Burleson and the stock of Cattle, about 800 head that belonged with it.  The ranch was situated thirteen miles north of San Saba, and on the other side of the Colorado river, in the northwest corner of Lampasas County fourty miles west of the town of Lampasas.  Mr. Murray was looking around for some reliable man to take charge and handle his stock for him.  Through the friendship, kindness and influence of uncle Dick Murray, his father who I happened to be acquainted with, I got the position.  As soon as matters were all worked out between Mr Murray and Mr. Burleson, the latter moved out and I moved in and took possession of the ranch, and took charge of the cattle.  A big job for a green horn, but I was determined to handle it.  Wife and I were both happy now in our new environment.  I had reached the goal that I had set before I bid farwell to my native home, and friend in Arkansas.  I was young then and ambitious and thought I could see in the not far distant future, when I would be counted among the Cattle Kings of Western Texas.  I was to have for my services one fourth of all of the increase of the stock.  That was the custom of the county at that time.  I was now in that part of the country that ravaged every little while by the Comanche Indians in quest of horses to steal.  I had not more than got settled down when they made a raid through our settlement one night and by way of introduction took the last horse I had and left me a flat a foot.  A few days after this little incident happened, I heard of a horse for sale and went and bought him.  This was in October.  In February in the following winter, the redskins visited our neighborhood again.  I went out one morning to get my horse, instead of finding him where I expected to, I found two strange horses, all tired out standing there resting.  The sweat dried and caked all over them.  My horse and two that belonged to a neighbor was gone and plenty of Indian Sine left to tell the tale.

About nine o’clock that morning two men met some Indians in the road leading an extra horse.  They gave chase after them.  They kept the extra horse and made there escape.  It proved to be my horse and I got him again.  Springtime was approaching and every cattleman was getting busy gathering in the early calves on the home range, and branding them and occasionally picking a maverick that happened to come his way.  Now a maverick was an unmarked yearling that has escaped the knife and branding iron.  The year before, and was now public property, and belonged to the man that found him and got his brand on him first.  I tried to get my share of them, new as I was in the business, I succeeded pretty well.  My boss had told me to get what I considered justly belonged to us.  Now the weather was getting good and so was the grass.  The Spring drives started and with them I started two.  Mr. heels heels ornamented with a pair of big spurs, a six-shooter in my belt, my reatta straped to the horn of my saddle.  My wallet of grub and rolled blanket to on behind my saddle astride of as good a vaquero horse as run the range.  I felt like a veritable Cowboy.  I very soon learned to swing the reatta with great precision and took great pride in doing so.  Sometimes there would be only eight or ten of us on the drive and at other times fifteen or twenty and at other times we would aim to drive a large scope of country and there would be as many as forty men and boys on the drive.  Every well equiped Cow Ranch had two large corralls big enough to accommodate two thousand head of cattle.  When we would start on the drive, each man would have in his wallet his giant cup to boil his coffee and a good supply of coffee, all the good home made biscuits he could carry and enough meat to last two or three days.  About the second or third evening we would select a good fat beef and butcher it, usually a fat yearling but the size of the beef would be governed by the size of our crowd to be fed.  Then the camp fires were kindled and the coffe put on to boil.  Then down on our hunkers we would go, each man with a forked stick loaded with fat beef roasting over the fire.  As fast as the beef would cook we would slice off and eat hot roast beef cold biscuit and drink hot coffe.  Spin yarns and crack jokes and sing war songs until a late hour at night for the civil war was now getting in full swing.  Now supper over and the fun for that night each man would spread down his saddle blanket for that was his bed for the night.  Turn his saddle up side down and served for his pillow, slip off his shoes, stretch him self out on his bed and pull his single blanket over him and sleep untill morning.  He gets up with the sun, kindels the fire again, takes on more hot coffe, roast beef and cold biscuit and into the saddle again and off to the range for another long hot day.  By the third day the herd is getting two large and it becomes necessary for a detail of men to stay at camp and brand the calves so that we can separate the herd and turn out all the cattle that belong on that range.  The others we drive along and take them home where they belong.  We were usually out on a drive from one to two weeks at a time.  We were almost daily in the saddle from early in April untill late in November when the cold northers would drive us in home.  By the end of the first season I had got to be quite an adept in handling the reatta and would tackle a bucking horse if I had to do it.  When I was getting ready for business I needed another horse.  A friend of mine some twenty four miles away had one for sale.  I went over there and bought him.  He was on the range some three miles from home.  We went and found him with a bunch of horses drove them to a correl near by.  Jack, for that was his name, went in and threw the reatta over his head and led him out.  I saw at once that he was full of snapp and ambition and that was what I liked.  He was fine and fat he had not had a saddle on for about six weeks.  He was a bright Sorrel with a bald face, he was not like the proverbial horse that you read about – four white feet, white on the nose take off his hide and feed him to the crows.  He didn’t have the white feet.  Jack and I was raised neighbor boys in Arkansas and on the good recommendation that Jack gave him as a cow horse, I bought him, paid four hundred dollars in confederate paper money for him.  That was about equal to one hundred dollars in Specia.  After I had closed the deal with Jack he told me all about his trick.  Said he was a race horse among saddle horses and he had won perhaps forty races since he had owned him and never been beaten but sead he it spoiled him, thats why I sold him.  Now sead he the first time you get on him he will run away with you.  I sead Jack he has not been under the saddle for some time.  He knows you and you know him put your saddle on him and ride him down home for me.  No sead he I-m his old soul.  I sold him to keep from having to ride him, he is your horse.  Now if you want him rode ride him yourself.  I sead alwright you lead my horse and carry my rifle and I will have the fun over with and be done with it.  So saying I put my saddle and bridel on him and into the saddle I went and away went the parson for that was his nam.  Jack had told me if I held him up he would buck like a bronco.  At about a hundred yards I set him up and up into the air he went.  I gave him slack rain and away he went again.  I held him up again with the same result then I commenced pulling him up and slacking the rain so fast he couldnt run and he wouldent stop but he commenced going side ways end ways and every other way.  Jack was watching the performance and laughing almost fit to burst his sides.  I came to where the road crossed the creek.  Jack came up behind us on the gallop yelling like an indian that was too much for parson.  He dashed off down the road like a young bronco.  I sead alright old fellow now just go it.  I can ride as fast as you can run.  It was about two miles down to the ranch.  When we got there he was ready to quit but I was just getting deeply interested.  I put the spurs to him and sent him down the valley about a mile forther and back.  By this time he had got up a good sweat and was ready to be good.

A little later on I was out one day along looking among the stock and some two or three miles from home I came onto a bunch of about a dozen cattle.  They were about half wild and a few hundred yards away was brush thicket about two miles long, so ruff that if cattle got in there they were safe for it was imposible to follow them on horse back.  As soon as these cattle saw me they made a brake for the thicket.  The moment that parson saw that he dashed also to cut them off from the brush thicket and came near spilling me off right there.  He turned the cattle away from the brush and headed them toward home.  Dear reader it would have interested you about as much as watching a circus performance if you could have been there and watched that old horse manage that bunch of half wild cattle.  I busied myself hanging on to him.  We put them in the correl at home, then came the most exciting part of the job.  There was a young calf in the bunch that I wanted to mark and brand.  Having put the brand iron on the fire with reatta in hand I started to get the calf.  I had not gon many steps until the mother cow came meeting me shaking her head and snorting like some wild beast.  She came about half way to me and whirled around and ran back to get her calf.  I discovered that the points of both of her horns were cut off.  I new then that I was dealing with an out law and was up against a hard proposition.  I went back and picked up a club an elm stick about the size of my arm and five feet long.  Armed with that I started across the correll again when about half way across here she came again.  This time she kept coming.  I dropt the reatta and grasped the club in both hands.  When she got close enough she made a lunge to drive her horns into me.  I jumped to one side.  She lunged by me as she did so I dealt her a blow on the head that staggered her.  She wheeled around and ran back to her calf.  I started on again and here she came more vicious than ever.  I plaid the same trick on her this time I dealt her a blow that brought her to her knees.  She ran back to the calf and stood there pawing the ground and bellowing while I ventured close enough to swing my reatta and drop it over that calfs head and dragged it clear across the correll and mark and brand it.  She was whipped I guess the first time in her life.  I had to hunt for my cattle in four different counties.  My mane cow range lay in Brown county.  I have chased cattle over the very groung on which the city of Brownwood now stands.  Colonel Chandler had a cow ranch there.  We would put in two to foor days on every big drive gathering in and branding calves at the Chandler ranch.  At night we would spread down our blankets and sleep on ground that today if I am correctly informed is worth several hundred dollars a front foot.  Some two or three hundred steps from Colonel Chandlers house stood an empty log house that was Brown Counties court house, where a session of the Circuit Court was held every spring and fall.  This was in the early sixties from 61 to 65. The Judge and the prosecuting attorney served from six to eight counties and swung around the circuit every spring and fall and held a Session of court in each county lasting from one to two weeks in each county.  At Brownwood Mrs. Chandler boarded the judge, jury and the whole court and they all brought there blankets and slept out on the commons where ever it suited them best like the Cowboys did.  I am told that there is a city of several thousand people there now.                                

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Chapter 5 - Deer Hunting and a Commanche Indians encounter     

Having got settled in the new home on the cow ranch and begining to get acquainted with my new neighbors I learned that I was living in a mile of the house that Ben Eads lived in before the vigilance committe hung him for stealing there horses.  I lived there among those people foor years I ran cattle with them, I scouted for Indians with them, I hunted for deer with them and I have never lived among a lot of better people anywhere than they were.  They just had to get rid of Ben Eads in order to keep a horse to ride.

Dear reader I am now living in a section of the country infested by the wild Comanche Indians they were making raids down through that part of the country every little while in quest of horses to steal and if they chanced to catch a lone man out from home they would kill him if they could do it.  My narrative would not be complete if I did not tell of a few of the exciting incidents that took place right around me while I lived there.

Jim Burleson was my nearest neighbor, he lived a half mile down the valley.  One morning early in the Spring I went out early and brought my horses in.  When I came out from breakfast I saw Burlesons daughter coming up the road on the run.  On arriving she sead to me the Indians have stole all of papas horses.  He wants you to come down if you have got any horses left and bring one for him to ride and help him try to catch them.  We chased them indians for five miles and lost the trail and had to give up the chace.  About a mile from where we turned back, they encountered a boy who was out looking for a yoke of oxen that his father wanted to use that day.  One of them indians made chase after him.  It was a whiping race for about four miles, the boy sead, if he had had to run another mile the indian would have caught him.

My next nearest neighbor was old Uncle Jeff Warren, he lived on the other side of the river a mile and a half away.  Deer and wild turkeys was both plentyfull in the woods.  Uncle Jeff liked to have me go hunting with him.  One day we had been out all day over on horse creek, some seven or eight miles away trying to get a venison.  It was getting dark when we got to his place and I had a mile and a half yet to go alone and the river to cross.  When I reached the river just as my horse entered the water a keen whistle rang out right close by but I could not locate it.  While my horse was drinking water the whistle rang out again, that time I located it right up on the bluff bank not more than fifty feet from me but it was so dark I could not see them.  When they heard my horse start on across the water the whistle rang out a third time then I new it was Indians.  It was about a mile up home I made the whole distance on the gallop.  On reaching home I turned my horse loos and told him to make his escape in the frost (?) oaks.  The next morning I went down to the river to investigate on top of the bluff bank there was the track of two horses.  They had come down the trail crossed the river and followed me home hoping no doubt to get my horse after I would turn him out.

Captain McMillan was an old indian fighter.  He was in the government service for several years as Captain of a company of Rangers stationed on the frontier about forty miles west of my home and was one of my neighbors when at home.  He was out reconnoitering around one morning looking for indians or there fresh sine when he sighted a bunch of red skins all on foot traveling about a mile away.  They were heading toward a cedar brake some two or three miles away intending no doubt to hide away there for the day.  They halted took in the situation.  Captain Mack sead boys we can cut them fellows off from that cedar brake and out on the open plain and kill or capture the whole bunch of them.  Mack had fourteen men with him.  There was eighteen or twenty of the red skins.  The boys agreed to his proposition and no one made any objection so he put the spurs to his horse and sead come on boys.  He was watching his game and payed no attention to the boys he supposed they was all with him.  The Indians discovered them when they were about half a mile away all of them being afoot they couldnt see any way of escape so they made ready for battle.  As soon as Capt Mack got in gun shot of them he opened fire on them.  They returned the fire with bow and arrow.  Pretty soon an arrow pearced Capt Mack in the left shoulder.  One of the boys pulled it out, it bled profosly.  Mack turned sick so faint he had to dismount and lay down on the ground.  When the indians saw that they leaped jumped and yelled at the top of there voices.  When Mack looked around he only had five men with him the other nime had deserted him.  He begged the five brave boys to make there escape.  He seas they have got me now and they will get all of you if you don’t make your escape.  The boys replied to him keep quiet captain if they take your scelp they will to take ours with it.  We will take you out of this or die by you.  They threw the lead into the commanchies so thick and fast and was wounding so many of them that they was glad to call the fight off to save there own scelps.  The five boys got Capt Mack on his horse and one rode on each side of him to steady him.  In that way they got him to camp wher they took care of him until he got well.  At the end of that years service Captain Mack retired to private life and made his home at Uncle Jeff Warrens.

In August 1863, while the Cowboys were taking there Summer vacation and giving the horses a rest prepairatory to the heavy fall work, Uncle Jeff, Tobe and Joe, his two sons, Captain Mack and myself made up a little hunting party to try to kill some deer.  We decided to camp at a little spring of water in some post (?) oak hills about six miles from my place.  We left my house about the middle of the afternoon.  We divided up, Tobe and Joe went together, Uncle Jeff and I and Capt Mack went alone.  At night fall we met at the spring and camped for the night.  Tobe brought in a nice yearling deer and had wounded a big buck but failed to get him.  We had nice venison for camp meat and we enjoyed it to our full satisfaction.  Our plan of work for the morrow was to rise early make a cup of coffe and get out earley for the only time to find a deer feeding during the hot weather was early in the morning and late in the evening.  Capt Mack, Tobe and Joe found there horses in a bunch near the camp.  I found the trail of Uncle Jeff's pony and my own travling towards home.  I came up with them about three foorths of a mile away I returned to camp with them.  We saddle up and started out.  Uncle Jeff sead to me, Newton take any direction you like this morning, I am going up the creek a little ways and come back, the best time to get a deer has already past.  That ment he wanted to go alone so I crossed the creek and went out over the hills westward.  I came to a high ridge running pairelell with the creek and pointing (?) out down near a pool of water in the creek where we had agreed to me after our morning deer hunt and try to find a bee tree or two.  I followed down on top of that ridge.  When I was about opposide our camp there was a musquite flat of som twenty acres at the foot of the ridge on the right hand side.  I rode over on that side to take a survey of the flat, for in that flat was where Tobe had shot the big Buck the evening before.  When I got where I look over in the flat there was a gang of Comanche Indians fifteen or twenty of them not more than a hundred and fifty steps from me.  They travling right toward the pool of water in the creek where we were to meet to look for bees.  Two of them were mounted on good looking horses, the others was all on foot.  I didnt think they had discovered me.  I turned and rode back quietly and noisesly till I got out of there sight then I put spurs to my poney and sent him down that hill and up the one on the other side of the branch as fast as he could go, looking back over my shoulder every once or two to se if they were coming after me.  Tobe and Joe were coming down the other ridge and they saw me running and looking back they galloped in a head of me.  When I got near them I sead boys I guess we are in for it.  Tobe sead where is papa.  He new by me looking back I was runing from Indians and his first thought was that while they were killing his father I made my escape.  I told him his father had gon up the creek alone.  We ran over to the camp and discovered Capt Macks horse track going down a cow trail toward the water hole in the creek.  Looking up the creek we saw Uncle Jeff coming.  I beconed to him to come on quick, he hastened down to us.  I told him of my discovering.  He sead boys lets get down to that water hole as soon possible or them Indians will catch Mack at that pool of water alone and kill him.  We went down there as fast as our horses could take us.  We crossed the Indians trail and didnt se it.  On reaching the pool of water we found that Mack had been there and had gon away.  We went back and found Mack at camp.  I told him my story he asked me if I could go back to where I saw them.  I answered in the affermative.  Sead he, all right boys lets go there, may be a chance for us to have some fun with them fellows yet.  The very mention of a camanche Indian excited the ire and ambition of the old war horse.  He had not came in contact with them any more since the morning more than a year before when nine of his fourteen men deserted him and ran away and he was shot in the shoulder and came near bleeding to death.  In this case he was eager for the fray.  We took the trail and followed it down the creek.  At a small pool of water a little way above the big pool there they had got down on all foors and drinked water.  We in our first dash down the creek had frightened them away and scattered like quail and we could not trail them any farther.  That broke up our hunt we packed up and went in home.

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Chapter 6 - The Baker Family and the Commanches      

Late in the summer of 1863, Jim Baker, who lived twelve miles up the river above the town of SAN SABA, had been with his wife and baby down to the city of Austin visiting her people.  Mrs Bakers maiden name was Austin.  The city of Austin was named after one of her ancestors.  They were returning home and her father was with them.  Baker and wife was travling with horse and buggy, Mr Austin was riding on horse back.  As they traveled along one afternoon right in the upper edge of Burnet county they encountered a bunch of Comanche indians.  Mrs. Baker had changed places with her father.  She was riding the horse.  The first dash the indians made at them they frightened the horses.  The saddle horse threw Mrs. Baker off and the buggy horse upset the buggy and threw the occupents out and ran away.  The most of the Indians went after the horses.  The few remaining made war on Baker and his party.  Mrs. Baker kept between the men and the indians and kept her baby between herself and the indians.  Finally one of them cursed her in English and told her if she didnt get out of the way he would shoot her.  Baker talked with the Chief in Spanish and beged him for the sake of his wife and baby to spair there lives.  At first the chief agreed to spair them but later he told Baker that he could not control his men any longer and to run into a little thicket of Shoemake bushes near by. They ran into the thicket but in doing so an arrow pierced Baker in the back an other one entered his right arm.  The point of the Spike broke off in the bone of the arm.  The babe had recieved a would in the abdomen from which it died two weeks later.  They crouched down by the root of a big oak tree in the thickett. The Indians sent several arrows crashing in around the root of the tree but none of them took effect.  One of the Indians crawled in there, Baker heard him coming he cocked his gun and held it in that direction, when the Indian got in fifteen or twenty feet of the tree he rose to his feet to look for them.  Baker emptied a charge of twelve buck shot in his neck, he droped to the ground dead.  The other indians ran in picked him up and carried him out of the bushes.  They carried him two or three hundred yards away and stretched him out on the ground and held a war dance over him.  Two men passed by not far away and saw them dancing around the dead body.  They supposed they had killed a white man, they ran over to a ranch about two miles away where some Cowboys were gethering cattle and reported there discovery.  The Indians seing they were discovered mounted there horses threw the dead body across a horse in front of the rider and away they went to try to make there escape.  The Cowboys came and took up the trail and followed it until night.  They never did find out what they came with the body of that dead Indian.  It was two or three months before Bakers wound got well.

In the summer of 1863 some Cowboys was gethering cattle upon the San Saba River.  Some twelve miles above the town a man came runing into there camp and reported having seen a bunch of comanches driving out a band of horses.  As quick as the boys could get there horses ready they went after the red Skins armed only with there Six Shooters.  They did not go far until they sighted the Indians and the chase began.  Three or four of the boys mounted on the best horses over hauled them and opened fire on them.  Some of the Indians returned the fire shooting back as they ran.. An ill fated arrow struck a man named Ben Linn in the lower part of the abdomen cut a hole in his Bladder and let its contents out inside of him and he died twelve hours afterwards.  Benn Linn was a son in law of my neighbor Uncle Jeff Warren.

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Chapter 7 - Death of Erath County Boy by Commanches     

The most pitiful and heart rending affair that ever came under my observation took place in the winter of 1864.  I think it was in the early part of December of that year.  Its foundation was laid over in Erath County sixty odd miles to the north ward and its culmination took place at the home of Aaron Burleson five miles down the river from my place.  Old Uncle John Burleson, when he vacated the ranch on which I then lived, leased a ranch in the gap of a low range of mountains midway between his former home and Lampasas Springs and was living there.  Over in Erath County lived a family whos name I cannot now recall.  The husband and father of the family was a Soldier in the Confederate army.  The wife and mother of the family was struggling along the best she could trying to maintain and care for her family of little children like tens of thousands of poor mothers had to do during the four years of that cursed rebellion.

One morning she sent her little boy, eleven years old, out on the range to find in bring in a horse that she wanted to use.  The boy went but did not come back, noon time came on and the boy had not returned, two o’clock came and she new that some thing serious must have happened to him.  She went in search of him.  She did not go very far until she discovered fresh Comanche Indian sine, then her fears were aroused.  She followed the trail and did not go very far when she unmistakeable Sine where they had caught her boy and carried him away a captive.  She returned home, the shock was so great and her grief was so sevier that she was almost insane.  Night came on, she went to bed but not to sleep.  She tosed from side to side on her pillow all night long.  She immagined a thousand things that may have happened to her dear little boy.  In her wild deleanium she fancied she could se his little form laying out on the high prarie, cold in death, with his scelp all skinned off of his head as was the custom of the red devils.  That was there trophie, the young buck Indian that could show a certain number of scelps to his credit was looked upon as a big injun and it entitled him to the hand in marriage of the fairest young squaw in the tribe, whether she liked him or not.

At the home of old Uncle John Burleson in the gap of the mountain range, he had quite a lot of company for the night.  Jim,(Jonathan ?) and Aaron Burleson, his sons, and Patrick Roach, Mrs. Burlesons brother in law and a Mr. Williams, a friend of the family were all there and George, Sam and Billey, three young mulatter boys that Uncle Burleson had raised from childhood who was now free men but prefered to stay with the old home and family where they had always been treated well.  There was eight men in all not counting the old gentleman.  Jim always kept three or foor dogs and he had them with him.  At about two oclock in the morning the dogs woke Jim and George out of there sleep barking like they were about to take something down out by the yard fence.  Jim sead to George, them dogs are barking at somebody, lets go out and se what it means.  When they got out to the yard fence where the dogs were, they found three strange horses standing there, each with a helter rope tied around his neck and apparently very tired.  They new at once that there was indians somewhere around there.  They called up the other men and told them of there discovery.  They decided that the Indians now that they were discovered would try to make there escape and get out of the country.  They got horses ready as quick as possible and with the aid of Jims dogs they got the rout they had gone.  There was two trails, one went along the base of the mountain for a distance of nine or ten miles then went on top.  The other went right up on top and traverced the top of the mountain.  They came together on the mountain som twelve miles from there.  The Indians had took the lower rout.  Jim and Aaron decided to take the mountain trail as it was it was the shortest rout.  They reach the point where the two trails came together.  Just after day light they found the trail where the Indians had passed that point just ahead of them.  Jim put his dogs on the track and told the men to keep up with them.  It didnt take them long to come in sight of the red skins, then a whipin race ensued for two or three miles.  Jim ordered every man whos horse was able to overhaul them Indians to get there as quick as possible and do all the execution possible when he did get there .  Aaron and George when they were geting aboot close enough to open fire and start a running fire, they came to some under brush.  When the Indians entered that they were out of there sight.  Just before they reached the brush one came runing back on foot meeting George.  He halted threw his gun over and with finger on trigger was just drawing a beed on him when the wind blew the rim of his old slouch hat back and revealed the pale face of a white boy, another moment and he would have killed him.  The little fellow ran up to George, the blood flowing profusely from his abdomen.  One of the red devils had him on the horse behind him.  On entering the brush he threw him to the ground and plunged his spear into him and leaped on his horse again and made good his escape.  In less time than it takes me to tell it the other men had all came up.  The boy proved to be the same one that was captured and carried away from in Erath county two days before.  He had now been in the custody of the indians forty eight hours.  He had not had a bite of anything to eat and nearly all of that time he had been astride of a horse behind one of the Indians.  When they did stop to get a little sleep, of course he could not go to sleep.  He sead they killed a beef and feasted on the guts.  They offered him some but of course he could not eat.  His wound continued to bleed profusely, he turned faint and craved water.  Jim and Aaron new of a little spring on the mountain not far away.  They took him there and gave him all the water he wanted and diged up mud from the bottom of the spring with there hands and made a mud poltice and applied it to the wound to stop the flow of blood, tearing strips from the tail of there shirts to bandage it with.  All of this done, they then decided to take the boy to the home of Aaron Burleson.  They dispatched George to San Saba for Dr. Hudson.  They dispatched one of there party to the boys home in Erath county after the grief stricken mother.  George reached my house just at noon, his horse all tired out.  He stoped to get a fresh horse.  I told him my horses was out on the range, it would take me and hour or two to get one.  He sead he could not afford to loos that much time.  I prevailed on him to go in and eat some dinner which he was glad to do for he had not had anything to eat that day.  Dr. Hudson reached the boys bedside just at nightfall.  The messenger who went for the mother had a sixty mile run to make.  He used a relay of horses and covered the distance quick.  On arriving there he found her in bed sick with grief.  When the messenger broke the glad news to her, that her boy was rescued and was still alive she arose from her bed, dressed herself and mounted a horse and rode that sixty miles without stoping to rest, using a relay of horses and a cold norther blowing at the time.  When she reached the Burleson home and pressed her darling boy to her bosom once more and planted numerous kisses on his emaciated cheeks.  Of joy unspeakable joy for mother and son.  To her it was as if one has arose from the dead.  The boy lived untill the ninth or tenth day and died.  Dr. Hudson sead that Jim and Aaron, in there great anxiety to save the boy in rendering first aid had ignorantly done the very thing that cause his death.  In stoping the flow of blood outwardly they cause it to flow inward and in a few days that stale blood mingled with his intestines and other internal organs of his body, had set up a case of blood poisning among the internal organs where he could not apply any effective remedies and the result was the boys death.  Such was life on the frontier of Texas in the days of camanche Indians.

Standing out about five miles north east of my home and between the Colorado River and a range of mountains that ran parallel to it some nine or ten miles away, it was nearly round, small in diameter but mounted up to a wonderful hight skyward, it was known as the San Saba Peak and could be seen many miles away.  It was one of the main landmarks of that part of the country and served as a guide for the Comance Indians in passing in and out of the country in quest of horses to steal.  Captain Pace of Lampasas Springs, Captain of one of the home guard ranging companies, while out on scout one day with a squad of men, came on to a fresh trail of horses, which he recognized as the trail of a band of horses being driven out by Indians.  He took up the trail and pressed forward with great speede.  He over took the Indians with there stolen booty.  Right at the foot of San Saba Peak a running fight ensued in which two of the Indians was killed and the horses retaken and returned to there owners.  While this was going on the other Indians made good there escape in the range of mountains near by.  I had a neighbor whos name was Borrel, neighbors who lived at the foot of Sansaba Peak on the South East Side.  He was very fond of hunting for deer.  In the fall of ’63 he was out one day some four miles from home and between the Peak and the main mountain range he espied some deer feeding.  He sliped along untill he got where he had to get down in the grass and crawl on his alfours in order to get near enough to them to make a sure shot.  He had a rope about 30 feet long, one end tied around his horses neck, old Sam he called him, a loop in the other end through which he thrust one arm.  In that was he led old Same be coming along at full length of the rope behind feeding on the grass.  As he moved along the deer was accustom to seeing stock feeding on the range and of course they paid no attention to old Sam.  All of a sudden the deer took a fright and ran away.  On looking around to se what frightened the deer he saw not far away a bunch of Comanches coming under full gallop right toward him.  He sprang to his feet and went for old Sam as fast as he could run, taking up the rope as he run.  With gun and rope in his left hand he grasped the horn of the saddle with the right and making a tremendious bound he lit in the saddle and puting the spurs to old Sam, a whiping race began, a race for life.  He didnt run far until he came to a small creek that had to be crossed.  To his consternation he discovered that he was approaching it in a bend and no cow trail visible over which to cross.  He sead the creek was about 15 feet wide and the banks about 4 feet high.  He gave old Sam the spurs and scaled the bank landing about the middle of the creek.  He gave him another dig with the spurs and with a tremendious bound he scaled the bank on the other side, landing flat footed and on the run.  The Indians stoped and watched him as he galloped off up the slope of the hill, as much as to say no use to try catch such as horse as that.

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Chapter 8 - Life during the Civil War    

I could go on and write a good sized book rehersing Indian stories.  Incidents that actually took place right around me during my residence on the frontier of texas during my residence there but the fore going is enough to give the reader a very correct idea of the enormity of the hardships and privations that the pioneer settlers was subjected to and the great dangers that they was called upon to face in combating and driving back the Savage Comanche Indians in there brave battle in clearing the way and opening up the broad prairies of the great State of Texas for settlement and making of a fit place for future generations to live in.  Rail Roads in Texas was not so much as thought yet nor was there any water courses capable of furnishing transportation by River Steamer.  The United States mail was carried on the main lines by Stage Coaches which also furnished meager accommodation of passenger trafic.  The mails over the less important lines, those leading out into the interior of the country was carried by pony Express I mean by that some brave boy that was willing to take his chances for the Salary that uncle Sam paid for the servis.  Mounted on a texas mustang the mail thrown across the saddle a navy sixshooter in his belt and a rifle or a double barreled shot gun straped to the horn of the saddle.  All goods were freighted by Prairie Schooner drawn usually by six yoke of big long horned texas steers by Prairie Schooner.  I mean a wagon long enough to roll along under six or seven tons of freight.  The goods were hauled from Galveston, Victoria, Port Lavaca, Brownsville and other intermediate points along the coast of texas.  All the lumber that was used in the finishing of buildings and other like purposes was hauled in the same way from the pine groves of Eastern texas.  All the Salt Supply for western and north west texas was hauled by ox teams from Corpus Christi on the coast of texas near the mouth of the Rio Grande River.  It seemed as if nature had provided for her children by creating a natcheral salt works there on the beach the salt sea water ebing and flowing out over the beach for several miles evaporated and turned to salt.  Teamsters from all over western texas use to go down there and load back with salt.  They would drive right down on the beach and schoop it up with schoop shovels.  It did not take long to load a big prairie schooner with fine (?) rock sale of a good quality.  Early in the year of 1862, all of the Southern ports along the Atlantic Coast was blockaded by Uncle Sams navy and we were completly bottled up as it were and thrown on our own recourses, when a merchant sole out his stock of goods the only thing left for him to do was to close his doors and quit business for it was impossible for him to get goods with which to replenish his stock.  And the same was true for the consumer.  When we used up the supplies that were on hand when the blockade was instituted there was no more to be had at any price for love or money.  Then we were thrown on our own resources and had to get along with such things as we could produce and manufacture right in the home.  Of course we produced our own bread and meat, milk, butter and eggs.   We tried all kind of substitutes for coffe and tea.  Some thought one thing was best and some another.  Sugar there was no substitute of that we just had to get along with out it.  Some one got in a supply of tobacco seed and every one that had a water to erigate a patch of ground planted a part of it to tobacco.  It grew well but no one seemed to understand how to manufacture it into a desireable plug and the only thing they could do with it was to stem it and twist it up into twists and use it that way.  It was called long green.  The matter of clothing for the family was the greatest difficulty to be over come.  The matter of Shoes was the hardest problem of all to solve.  It is a well known fact that it takes at least twelve months to take a raw hide and convert it into leather fit to make a shoe out of here we was in many instances the shoes were already wearing out some of them had holes worn in them and others had the bottoms nearly worn out and no leather available to mend them with.  Men got busy in a hurry.  They converted big logs in to tan troughs and gathered shoemake berries which was quite plentiful in our part of the country and used the juice of the berry for an ooze to tan the hides in instead of black oak bark which was not to be had in those parts.  By the time the hides were half taned they would take up some of them and work them down and make shoes out of it.  At least one third of the hide in the center of it was as raw as ever it was and when it got dry became very hard and was hard on the feet but had to be endured untill something better could be provided.  My mother was reared in middle Tennesse where mothers tought there girls to do things useful and from my earliest recolection my mother had a spinning wheel and a loom in the house and always made a good part of the cloth that went to make up the clothing for the family.  Of course I became thoroughly famillar with the dimentions and make up of the loom in all of its parts.  When I grew up to manhood and got married my wifes mother was a daughter of the commonwealth of old Virginia where mothers taught there girls to be useful as well ornamental. 

My wife (Charlotte Hudson-Newton) had learned the art of spining and making cloth from her mother at home before we were married.  The first house we lived in when we commenced keeping house was a small log house that we built with my own hands on a peas of Uncle Sam’s domain, where I had filed a preemption claim and my wife did not think her house was furnished untill I went and bought a spining wheel and set it up in the house.  When we emigrated to Texas she had me nock the wheel down and pack it and take it along.  When the stress of the war time came on us she told me to make her a loom and she would try to replenish our stock of clothing which was getting pretty well used up.  I assembled my kit of tools which consisted of a choping axe, a hand saw, a square, two or three augers of different sizes, two or three chisels and a jack plane and my pockett knife.  I went over in the river bottom and fell a cotton wood tree and cut it in suitable lengths and with maul and iron wedg I split it up in suitable sizes for my purpos.  I hauled them home and with my choping axe, for I had nothing better, I hewed them to as smooth a surface as I could and then with the jack plane I dressed it down to a smooth surface.  I was laboring under great disadvantages and it made a lot of hard work for me but it was the best I could do for there was not a saw mill or a lumber yard in all that country where a man could go and buy a stick of dimention lumber but with all these difficulties to over come in a few days I had a loom set up in the house ready for use and in the mean time the wife had been busy geting the thread ready for her first web of cloth.  In a verry few days the first warp of thread was on the beam and with my assistance it was soon drawn through the harness, then the slay for my mother had made me help her when I was a boy untill I was rather an expert at the business.  Everything now being properly adjusted, wife mounted the seat and with feet on the treddles she commenced opperations sending the shuttle back and forth at a rapid rate and the batten swinging two and fro beating up the threads one by one of the first web of cloth with which to replenish the much needed stock of clothing for our little family.  The news soon went out all over the neighborhood that Mrs Newton had a loom and was making cloth.  Immediately the neighbor women commenced calling on her to investigate the matter.  On entering the house usually the first exclamation would be why Mrs Newton where did you get your brand new loom.  Her answer inveribly would be Willis made if for me.  The next question would almost invariable be I wonder if I could get him to make one for me.  My childrens cloths are nearly all worn out and I have been wondering what on earth I would do about it.  I havent even got anything to patch them with.  As a result of the matter in a very short time I had several orders for looms.  I turned my back yard into a loom factory for a while untill I supplied the pressing demand for looms.  A man down in Burnet in an adjoining county some forty miles away had a supply of cane from some of the river bottoms in Eastern Texas and was making slais for the loom so the women that I made looms for could get slais from him.  Slai making was a trade within its self that I had not learned.  In the mean time the pressing demand for clothing had become so great and so general that other men in different parts of the country had gon to work building homemade looms so that in a very short time the shuttles were flying and the battons were swinging in many homes manufactoring homemade cloth with which to clothe the almost naked families.  This destitution was not confined to any one section of the country but the blockade had affected the entire South every State South of the Mason and Dixon line.  It was the price of Secession.  It looked hard that such privation and hardship should be dealt out to the wives and children to gratify the rebelious ambitions of the husbands and fathers but such was true in this case.  One of the hardest problems our women folk had to solve was in the matter of dye stuff with which to color there cloth.  For the under garments of course they made it up in its original color white but for the outer clothing it was necessary to color it with something to prevent the show of dirt so easily and to make it more desireable to look at.  Women were trying all kinds of bark all leaves of trees with poor success.  They could get black walnut hulls which made a good dye for wollens such as jeans and linseys, such stuff as Indigo madder and coppers was very scears and hard to get at any price.  My wife had a small lot of each of them that she had brought with her from Arkansas.  She died a part of her thread for the next web of cloth with each of those colors.  Her first web of cloth had already been made up into under clothing for the family.  The next one was intended to be used for dresses for her self and Mrs (Sarah Ann Hudson)-Bryan, her sister, who with her two little children had come to make there home with us while Mr Bryan(Harbert Alexander Bryan) was away serving as a soldier in the Confederate Army.  Some one made the discovery that there was a little bug whick they called the Cotchoned (?) bug which was quite plentiful in some places.  In its make up it had rather a hard shell the contents of which was composed in most part of a red fluid which it was sead when properly set would dye a beautiful turkey red.  A small red stripe mixed in with the other colors in the homspun dresses was something very much desired by most of the women.  It was sead that these little bugs were to be found on the under side of the leaves on the weeds and small bushes and the fallen leaves under the oak trees.  My wife and her sister accompanied by the kiddies was now to be seen searching the leaves for bugs.  If you had chanced to pass along and sa them you would have been reminded of a mother hen with her chicks searching in the leaves for bugs to eat.  They was not long in getting enough to dye a small lot of thread they proceeded to set the dye and succeeded in geting a beautiful red cast in the thread.  They now had a chane of warp striped with indigo blue madder, brown, turkey red and coppers on a white ground and in the fillen they checked it with the same colors to suit there fancy when the cloth was finished and made up into dresses I must say that they were very becoming and hansom.  Our women folks had to spin every thread that went into the making of the cloth but they had also to spin the sewing thread that they made it up into clothing with and sew every stitch of it by hand for sewing machines had not so much as been though of in that part of the country.  During the rebellion we had war songs plenty of them some of which I use to sing.  There was one especially that I always fancied more of any of the rest, it was composed and sang by a young lady of the Southland.  I find that I have the old ballad now in a good state of preservation after a lapse of sixty years time and for the benefit of the younger set who never heard any of those songs I think it very befiting to insert it here it ran like this.

The Homespun Dress.

Oh yes I am a Southern girl and glory in the name

And boast of it with greater pride than glitering wealth or fame

I envy not the northern girl her robes of beauty rare

Though dimonds deck her snowey neck and peans bedeck her hair.

Chorus

Hurah Hurah for the sunny South so dear

Three cheers for the Homespun Dress the Southern ladies wear.

This homespun dress is plain I know, my hat palmetto two

But then it shows what Southern girls for Southern rights will do

We scorn to wear a dress of silk a bit of northern lace

But make our homespun dresses up and were them with such grace.

Now northern goods are out of date and since old Abes blockade

We Southern girls are quite content with goods ourselves have made

We send the brave from out the land to battle with the foe

And we will lend a helping hand for we love the South we know.

Our land it is a glorious land it owns (?) a glorious cause

Then three cheers for the homespun dress and for the Southern boys

We sent our sweethearts to the war but dear girls never mind

The soldier boy will near forget the girl he left behind.

A soldier is the lad for me a brave heart I adore

And when the Sunny South is free and fighting is no more

I then will choos a lover brave from out that glorious land

And the soldier boy whom I love best shall have my heart and hand.

And now young men a word to you if you would win the fair

Go to the field where honor calls and win your ladies there

Remember that our brightest smiles are for the true and brave

And that our tears we shed for those who fill a Soldiers grave.

Hurah Hurah for the Sunny South so dear

Three cheers for the Homespun dress the Southern ladies wear.

            1861 - 1862 - 1863 having past and no visible sine of the abatement of the war which we had hoped would have come to an end before this and the spring of Sixty four now having opened and the armies on both sides having emerged from there winter quarters rested and invigorated are marshaling there forces prepairatory to a renewal of hostilities.  Summer passes and autum comes and goes without any decisive blow having been struck by either side.  General Robt E. Lee with his able assistants Brigadeers Wilcox, Fetherstone and Pryor was holding the Front at Richmond where it was expected the decisive blow would be struck.  Times were geting harder all the time the tools and farming implements that we used to produce the living scant as it was for our families was all very near worn out and there was no possible chance to replace them with new ones.  The blacksmiths had picked up all the job lots of scrap iron they could find and already used up the most of it.  The outlook was very gloomey to say the least of it.  In the Spring of 1864 quite a company of people fited up and got together a good sized train and crossed the plains to California they made it through safely to San Bernardino and Los Angeles.  (Note: For a list of all the men on the 1864 Wagon Train trip to California, go to www.wagontrain1864.com) Some of them had written back to friends giving such a good account of the country where they were that it excited a great many people to action.  They commenced disposing of there belongings such as they could not take along and fit up wagons and teams and by the time grass got good in the spring there was a good sized train ready to hit the trail for California.  The mane body of the company got together at old Fort Macavett near the head of the San Saba River.  Our party consisting of Marion Hutchinson, my father, my oldest brother and myself got together at Hutchisons Ranch near the town of San Saba.  All things being ready on the morning of May 3rd 1865 we bid farewell to friends and the State of Texas and took the trial for California.

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Chapter 9 - Beginning of the Wagon Train Trip to California     

The third day of May 1865 having got all things ready we took the trail for California.  A hot wave came over the country that day which continues for three days at times it was almost suffocating.  The third day out we reached Kickapoo Springs there we stayed two days while Mr Hutchison and my brother (Anderson Newton) went to Fort McKavett to look for the main body of the train.  On arriving there they learned that the train had started on the road ten days before.  They got all things nearby and didnt wait for us and they paid dearly for it of which I will say more later on.

Here we found ourselves three days out on the way, only four wagons, four families, six men all told, six or eight boys, four teams to drive and about 500 head of cattle and the train that we expected to travel with had gon ten days ahead of us and no chance to overtake them.  Here we found ourselves just a little squad and didnt have wagons enough to form a correll of wagons nor men enough to put up much of a fight in case we were attacked by the Indians which we were liable to be at any moment.  For a little while we were at a loss to determin what was the best thing to do.  We had always heard it sead where there was a will there was a way so we decided to go forward and trust to a kind Providence to protect us against danger.  Having settled that question we started on our way which went in a northerly direction over to the South Concho one of the tributaries of the Colorado River.  We traveled up that stream to where the overland stage root turned southwest across the Staked plains to the horsehead crossing on the Rio Pecos.  As we traveled up the Concho we found a note tacked on the trunk of an oak tree telling us of there train how they were geting along and the date when they passed that place.  When we had got within about four miles of the head water or rather where the road leaves the last watering place and turns into the dry desert the road was smooth and inclined to be a little gravelly and the ground sloping a little off to the left.  Mr Hutchison was in the lead, my brother second(Anderson Newton), Fathers team was third driven by my little nephew. Father, (John Newton), was in the wagon sick.   I (Willis Newton) was bringing up the rear and the boys were close behind the wagons bringing along the herd of about 500 loos cattle.  I heard a peculiar ringing sound and looking ahead of me I saw the tire of the left hand hind wheel of my fathers wagon rolling off down the slope of the hill and the wheel had just started to creep over.  I hollowed whoa and threw up the but of my whip which was a signal to the well trained wheel oxen to stop the team.  My nephew hearing my out cry looked back and the first thing that caught his attention was his wagon wheel going down.  I never in all of my 81 years have seen a boy of only 8 or 9 summers use such good judgment and presence of mind as did little Anderson Wilson (Newton) on that occasion.  He yelled whoa threw the but of his whip high above his head and jumped right in front of his rear wheeler Old Coley true to his bovine instinct from the training he had received new there was something wrong.  He at once threw his whole weight and strength backward in the yoke.  He stoped the team right on the spot.  I sprang forward and by the time the wheel had stoped turning I had my shoulder under the top of the rim and took the weight off the wheel and saved it from going down.  My brother hearing the out cries looked back to se what the excitment was about.  I called to him to get an axe and cut a block off a black jack sapling that stood by the road side and set it under the axel of the wagon, that being done the question natcherly arose in our minds what can we do now.  There was one thing certain we had to go to water.  Looking off to the left hand and about a half a mile distant we could se the South Concho.  Billy Truman galloped off down there and made a hasty survey of the location and galloped back and reported that there was plenty of wood, water and grass down there and some half dozen big Pecon trees that would furnish plenty of shade.  Hutchison and my brother turned and drove down to the creek.  Brother took one wheel off of his wagon cut a brushey toped musquit bush, threw his wheel on the brush and with a yoke of oxen draged it up to the broken wagon put it on in place of the broken wheel and in that way we all got down to camp.

It was now noontime after we had partaken of some dinner. Hutchison, brother and I came together for consultation to se if we could studdy out or devise any way or means by which we could over come this great calamity that had come upon us.  We went to bed that night without obtaining any results.  What to do we didnt know, here we were about 200 miles from home and at least 150 miles from the nearest blacksmith shop and a wagon tire broke square in too but it has been sead that needcessity is the mother of invention so it proved to be in this case.  The next morning after we had partook of our breakfast the three of us came together again to compair notes but no one of us had been able to formulate any plan of action.  My brother had a little half inch cole chisel in his hand.  After hearing each others report he held up the chisel and sead in looking through my little kit of tools I find this little chisel and sead he I beleave by persistent heating and punching we can put holes through that tire, if we only had something to mend it with after we get the holes through it.  Hutchison took the chisel and turned it and looked at it from every point of view and sead by golley Ive got some bolts that will just fit the holes and will serve as rivits.  So saying he went to his wagon and got a little bag of bolts, some of which was just the right size.  Now sead he if we could only find two thin straps of iron and lay one on the inside and the other one on the outside of that tire and rivet them there with these bolts we would have it.  I sead Marion I have got it, off I went to my wagon and in less time than it takes me to tell it I returned with a big hoe, what we use to call a regular cotton hoe down South.  I sead we can heat this hoe and with that cole shisel we can cut two straps off of it.  That will just complete the job, the problem was solved.  The next thing to do was get busy and fix it.  In that clump of Pecon trees was one that evidently been blown down during a wind storm when it was quite young.  The roots were not all torn out of the ground and it continued to grow.  The top had turned and grew up straight and made quite a tree some seven or eight feet of the trunk lay flat on the ground.  We scelped off a smooth surface on top of the log which served as our anvill.  We set all the boys to carrying up any wood and Hutchison and I went to work, he as chief mechanic and I as his helper.  To make a long story short before the sun set that evening we had that tire mended and back on the wheel and the wheel on the wagon ready to take the road again next morning and it came on through to California.  That proved to be a lovly camp but we could not stay to enjoy it.  The next day we moved on up to the head water or the last watering place before turning into the Stecke (Staked)  plains, that 86 mile dry desert laying between the Concho and the Rio Pecas (Pecos River).  86 miles without a drop of water only when there chanced to come a shower of rain which had always been few and far between.  Our plan of action had now been thorowly discussed and settled which was to camp there over night, lay still untill twelve oclock noon the next day and having all things ready at twelve oclock sharp.  Our stock having drinked all the water they would start on our much creaded journey across that long dry desert and travel continuously day and night as fast as our stock could stand it untill we reached the water on the other side.

To our great satisfaction when we arose the next morning it was densly cloudy.  After partaking of our breakfast all of the younger set of our party was in the saddle rounding up the stock and while we were out on that little job it commenced raining and we all got soaking wet.  It rained until about nine oclock when the clounds showed sines of breaking up. Seing those sines someone sead it has rained and wet the ground and cooled the atmosphere why lay here and waste time.  Lets hitch up and move on.  We may by so doing find some pools of water along the way.  That was thought to be a good suggestion and everybody got busy.  By ten oclock everything was ready and the teams all strung out on the road and the herd of cattle following along behind.  When we got out about four miles on the raod we passed out of the rain belt and came to where the road was dry and dusty.  At about one oclock we stoped and ate lunch and let our stock rest about an hour.  A low range of mountains paralleled the road and a mile or two from it.  We had heard travelers tell about finding bason rocks on the mountain cliffs full of water.  It was the decision of our party that someone must search the cliffs of that mountain for water and fate ruled that the writer would do that stunt.  Of course it was a dangerous undertaking for if I chanced to find water I was liable to find a bunch of Indians camped nearby living off of the wild game that might come there to get a drink.  About 4.30 I came to the end of the mountain and returned to the train.  About five oclock we stoped and partook of a cold supper and after an hour or twos rest we moved on with the understanding that we would travel alnight or as late as the stock could stand it to travel.

In the mean time it had become dense cloudy again.  It was right on the full of the moon but the night was very dark.  Hutchison and I both were leading a saddle horse behind our wagons.  Aways along in the night, I think it must have been about ten oclock some of the cattle in the herd got so tired the boys could not keep them up along with the wagons.  They had got almost out of hearing behind.  Hutchison gave his ox whip to his wife and told her to try to keep the team going while he would go back and help the boys bring up the herd.  About an hour later I could tell from the sound of her voice when she would hollow at the oxen that she was having a hard time of it.  My wife had woke up from a good sleep.  I handed her my whip and told her to try to keep my team moving and I would go and relieve her sister (Almyra Hudson).  I rode up to where she was when I asked how she was geting along with them she replied I have wore myself out trying to keep them going and cant do it.  I helped her on my horse and told her to drop back and help to keep my team going and I would se what I could do with them.  I kept them going a little while longer and those young steer in the team became so leg weary that they would drop to there knees and my playing the whip on them.  I could se that they had done all they could.  I called out halt.  We waited till the herd came up I explained the situation to Mr Hutchison and advised that we stop there untill daylight and take our chances.  Hutchison agreed to the proposition and aded that a good many cattle in the herd was in the same fix.  We turned everything loos except a saddle horse or two and every body got down to sleep.  I tied my horse to a mesquite tree with a long pickett rope, threw my saddle blanket down for a bed and my saddle for a pillow.  I took a quilt from the wagon, I laid down and pulled the quilt over me.  I must have pulled the quilt over my head for the next think I new the water woke me up running under me.  It had rained untill the ground was covred with water nearley ancle deep.  I got up climed into the wagon and hunkered down in the front end untill daylight.  When the morning light broke over the land I took a survey of the surroonding country.  We had stoped right in a kind of sag or bason.  Just a little way off and to the right hand of the road was higher ground, a kind of elevation or flat ridge which came along down and crossed the road diagonally a little way ahead of us.  The water during the rain had evidently drained off of the higher ground into the bason where we were.  Our cattle was all in sight on this higher ground busy feed on the luxurient mesquite grass which covered the ground every where as far as the eye could se.  Where our wagons were there was puddles of water still standing about on the ground.  We caught up a team of oxen and moved our wagons one at a time to the higher ground some two hundred yards ahead so our women folks could get out and prepair the morning meal.  Breakfast now over with, the cattle had been able during the rain to get all the water they wanted and now had filled and was filling themselves with the rich luxuriant grass.  Many of them had already lain down to rest there wearied legs.  The concensus of opinion was that we had better lay still untill noon, let the cattle have a good rest and time to masticate the food they had gathered.  A bunch of us went up to a rockey point of the mountain about a mile to the right of the road.  On top of that ledg of rocks we found a bason rock some thirty or forty feet in diameter and the water was at least sixteen or eighteen inches deep in it, had evidently collected there during the rain the night before.  That verified the statements of the pioneers who crossed the plains to California in the early days of gold excitement in California.  We broke camp promptly at twelve oclock and started on our way.  Everything moved along with new life and vigor.  Just as the sun was sinking in the west we came to the old overland stage station (Llano Estacado Station) thirty five miles out from the South Concho and fifty one miles from the Rio Pecos and to our great joy we found in the ravine that ran past the Station great pools of water, more than our stock needed for the night.  We turned everything loos and camped for the night.  We made an early drive next morning, traveled all day.  About three pm we came to wild China Pond.  The soil was a red clay and the water in the pond, for it was about half full, was the color of the soil and so warm our stock refused to drink any of it.  Just before the sun sank behind the horison in the west we called a halt and partook of a cold lunch.  By the time we finished the lunch the cattle had all lain down to rest there weary feet and legs.  After a two hours rest and the full moon having rose to a hight of about one hour in the east and it was now almost as light as day, we concluded that the thing for us to do was to make time while the moon shined.  We started on again, traveled all night.  Just as the sun peaped over the eastern hills in the morning we reached the head of Castle Gap or Echo Canyon as some pleased to call it.  Down through the canyon we went a distance of about four miles to where it opens out into the Pecos valley.  There we stoped again and our women folks served us with a warm breakfast.  By this time our cattle was getting so dry for water they refused to eat grass.  We was now ready to enter the home stretch of twelve miles to the Pecos River.  We moved on and arrived at the River about three PM where everything got all the water it wanted.  We got across the desert safley with everything we started with, didnt even loos one of the weakest animals in the herd.  But here I lost my lead yoke of oxen.  Never saw them again.  After I turned them loos they must have got in the River and boged down in the quick sand and droond.  Lots of the cattle did get boged and had to work out into swiming water to get out.

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Chapter 10 - The Staked Plains Desert and Horsehead Crossing     

Now dear reader go back with me a little way and listen while I tell you about the awful calamity that befell the train just ahead of us.  The train that got in a hurry and went off and left us behind without giving us any notice of there going.  When we got out three days drive on the way and learned that they had gone and left us we were chagrined to say the least of it.  It was a blessing in disgise but we could not se it that way at that time.  They moved along up the Concho to where the road turned into the Stake plain, that dreadful eighty six (86) mile stretch without a drop of water.  Only when it hapened to rain they must have plunged right in to it with out taking time to think what time of the moon it was or the condition of the weather.  It was right on the dark of the moon.  They had to make there night drives by starlight and they had round about a thousand (1,000) head of loos cattle driving behind the train of wagons.  That three days hot wave that I have spoken of in a previous chapter caught them right in the dry desert and the terrible suffering that they had to endure makes me shudder now when I think about it.  When we had reached about midway of the plain and about the middle of the afternoon we passed the carcus of a dead yearling laying by the road side.  A mile or so further on we passed another one and a little farther on another one.  From here on to the head of Castle Gap we were never out of sight of a dead carcus, from there on to the river there was not nearly so many, all the weakest cattle had already succumbed to the intense heat and suffocation.  Down at the mouth of Castle Gap or Echo canyon where we stoped for breakfast in a little bason covering an area of not more than two acres I counted thirty carcases of work oxen.  Some of them I recognised as belonging to my youngest brother (Robert Jasper Newton) who was one of that party and his father in law Riley Dawson.  Now they had lost fully one half (1/2) of all of there teams (The estimated number of Wagons was Fifteen)  and they had yet the twelve home stretch to make before reaching the water.  The only way the could manage to get there was to double up two and two.  Put two teams or what was left of them to one wagon, take it on and leave the other one.  Dawson and my brother had two wagons, they took one and left the other one.  It took both of them to manage that team from there to the river.  They had to walk one on either side and just herd them to the road.  They were so near dead for water and the intence heat seemed to have addled there brain.  They were like crazy animals and oh the suffering they called upon to endure on this last streatch was heart rending.  I have to paus and wipe the tears from my eyes so I can se to tell you about it.  My brothers tong swelled clear out of his mouth before he reached the water.  His young wife (Margaret Ann Dawson) was a very stout buxom young woman or would have never reached the water.  She walked that entire distance and carried her three year old little girl on her hip and back (Note - Jasper Newton and Margaret were married Dec. 1st 1864.  No mention of a child being born in 1862 before their marriage is recognized by their family history).  They got through to the river without any loss of human life but they lost fully one half of there live stock.  After a day or twos rest they went back and brought up the other wagons.  Now here we have them at the Rio Pecos but one one of them has got enough work stock left alive to take his outfit away from there.  Now what were they to do or what could they do, they couldnt stay there.  There was a man in there party named Messer (Messa J.) Poe.  He owned fully one half of the herd of cattle and a great many of them big beef steers.  Mr Poe got an idear (idea).  He had a big heart in him and just at that time it happened to be in the right place.  He called the people together and gave them the idear which he had formulated in his own mind which was to round up his herd of cattle.  A great many of them were big beef steers and catch up enough steers to fill out there teems, strong enough to take them away from there.  He sead there is my herd help yourself, you are welcom to the use of anything I have got.  In two or three days they were fited up so they could move on.  Precidio Delnont (Presidio Del Norte near present day Presidio, Texas) on the Rio Grande being the nearest point of settlement they headed for it.  They got there safley and when they had time to recuperate sufficiently they all went back into Texas by way of Sanantonia (San Antonio, Texas), a rout that had water all the way. 

Now let me go back and recapitulate a little what unseen influence or force was it that sead to me in almost audible tones when I was loading my wagon you better take that big hoe with you.  It might come in handy some where on the way.  The same influence seemed to say to Hutchison you better take them bolts along with you they might come in handy to mend something on the way and what caused the wagon tire to brake.  It was rolling along slowly on smooth hard ground when it broke.  It was a clean smooth brake no sine of an old brake or even a crack and why did it brake just where it did, right down on the creek only a few hundred yards away was an ideal camping place where we stoped untill we got it mended.  If it had broke two days later it would have caught us right out in the midst of that dry desert and we would have missed both of them refreshing rains, the last one of which gave us an abundance of water thirty five miles out on the desert and enabled us to go on through to the Rio Pecos in good shape without any loss at all.  There is several incidents connected with this recapitulation that to my mind is very significant.  Can you se the work of an unseen hand anywhere it it.  I leave the reader to decide the question.

We will now resume our journey.  When we arrived at the Rio Pecos we found it greatly swolen.  The water was up almost to the top of the banks at that point.  It was a little more than a hundred feet wide and I would judge about ten feet deep.  All along the bank was patches of tules and they were working alive with muskeetoes. Late in the afternoon they begin to come out and reconorter around before it got dark.  All space seemed to be full and working alive with them.  They acted like they were on starvation and finding us there fresh game.  They seemed to be determined to have a feast out of us.  They found the children in the several camps right away the cry went up from every camp O Mamma the skeeters are eating me up.  I never in all my life saw a lot of little mothers have such a time as our women folks had that night trying to protect there children from the tortures of them blood thirsty muskeetoes.  We tried building smkes that would repulse them but they would ralley and come again and evertime they seemed to be heavily reinforced.  About the middle of the night they began to subside and we got some sleep and rest toward morning.  When we arrived at the river we found a small party of emigrants encamped there from Eastern Texas.  They had been there some three or four days.  They supposed that they would have to lay there and wait untill the river ran down so they could ford it with there teams and wagons.  When the morning light came and we had gon out and rounded up the stock.  When we return we came together as was our custom to advise with each other and try to find some way if possible to get across that river.  We had been accustom to acting on the principal that when there was a will there was a way.  We had the will and now the thing for us to do was to find the way.  We didnt have to wait very long untill someone, I cant recall now who it was, advanced the idear that he beleaved that we could convert one of our wagon beds into a ferry boat and cross that river in it.  The plan looked feasible.  We looked our wagon beds all over and selected my brothers wagon bed as the one best suited for our purpose.  We rolled that wagon down near the waters edge and unloaded it, took the bed off and set it down at the waters edge, assembled all of the kegs and vessels of every kind that we had used for hauling water and with ropes we lashed them along on either side of the wagon bed to help to float it with a load on it.  Then we gathered up all of our ropes of which we had a good supply.  Hutchison and I had both been holding down a cattle ranch and we were well supplied with both lass ropes and picket ropes.  We tied enough ropes together untill we made two ropes long enough to reach across that river.  Just at that moment our women folks announced that dinner was ready.  After we had partaken of the noon meal we returned to our work.  We had told our strange friends that if they would assist us in our work if our boat was a success we would let them have the use of it to ferry there stuff across also.  Hutchison took one of the ropes and wound it carefully in a coil on his left arm then he called from someone to volunteer to swim the river and take the rope across.  We natcherly supposed as we were furnishing every thing some one in the other party would have manhood enough about him to volunteer to do that stunt but not so.  They all remained mum.  After a little wait I sead well its got to be don and there is no use of dallying about it.  I striped my clothes off down to my shirt and drawers and reached for the end of the roap.  Just at that moment Billy Truman called out hold on uncle I aint going to let you do that.  I will take that roap across myself if I get drownd I wont leave any babies behind to cry after me.  He undressed took the end of the rope betwen his teeth and plunged into the water.  I followed him so that if he got entangled with the rope I could assist him.  We landed safly on the other side.  After tying a rope to each end of the boat they slid it into the water and Billy and I pulled it across the stream.  The men on the other side pulled it back again.  It worked like a charm.  They put a light load on it.  I told them to send another man across to help us haul the boat and expedite the unloading.  Before the sun sank behind the western hills we had three families and there goods transferred to the other side of the river.  Mr and Mrs Hutchison had to remain behind and fight musketoes another night.  Next morning we were not long getting them across.   Then we turned the boat over to the other party and we turned our attention to getting our wagons across.  We yoked up six yoke of our bigest oxen.  We selected the largest best trained pair of the leaders.  We hitched them six yoke of cattle to an empty wagon and started them across the river.  Two men swam on the upper side holding to the wagon bed with one hand to keep the swift current from turning it over.  I swam my saddle horse on the lower side of the team and commanded the leaders by talking to them and kept those in the middle bunched in line with a good stick.  It did not take us long to put our wagons across then we rounded up the herd of cattle and made them swim the river.  Thus you se by persistent effort we had everything all of our belongings landed safely on the other side of the river in less than two days time.  When the other party had finished ferrying there goods and families across the river and had turned the boat over to us again we put it back on the wagon again and reloaded it.  There was now nothing more for us to do there.  In view of the fact that both was so weak in manpower we thought it would be a good idear to consolidate the two as a matter of safety but they were so indifferent and displayed such a disposition of selfishness that we sead nothing to them about it when we got ready to go.  We resumed our journey and left them there at the river. 

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Chapter 11 - Desert and Commanches in West Texas, New Mexico.     

Here the ways parted, one road went straight ahead through Eagle Pass and up the Rio Grande to Elpaso, the other one turned west and went up the Rio Pecos seventy five miles then out by the Guadalope Mountains (Guadalupe Mountains) and cross country to El Paso.  We made our first camp at Antelope Springs twenty four miles out from the river.  We traveled untill late at night to get there.  Next morning we discovered that we had lost seven big steers out of the herd during the night drive.  A loss two great to go on without making an effort to recover them.  Billy Truman and my brother went back to look for them.  They went clear back to the crossing on the river.  While there they met with two men direct from Elpaso.  They had a contract with some Texas cattle men to meet them at Horse head crossing with some beef cattle to trade them for two wagon loads of goods they had comeing on behind escorted by a squad United States soldiers from the post at Elpaso commanded by Sargent Brown.  These mens names were Patterson (James M. Patterson) and Orr.  Our men camped with them that night.  They had come on ahead of the wagon to se if the men had arrived with the cattle.  Looking across the river they could se them over waiting for them.  These men advised us to come back and take the other rout.  They sead the travel that spring had all been on the Eagle pass rout and the Indians had got on to that and had gethered along that rout and watching for emigrants to murder and rob.  We headed there advice, retraced our steps and went the other rout by the way of the Gordalupe mountains.  During the first afternoon we met the two wagons and Sargent Brown there escort.  He went on down camped at the crossing that night.  Next morning he delivered up his charge to its owners and retraced his steps from home comeing up with our party just after we pitched our camp for the night.  He camped nearby and came over to our camp.  When he had looked around and sised up the crowd he sead is this all of your party?  We told him it was.  He exclaimed my God people you are taking desperate chances.  You are all liable to be murdered and scelped any hour.  Sargent Brown came back next morning and sead to us it is my business to escort weak parties around over this dangerous country.  If I go on in and report having seen a small weak party out here and didnt offer to assist them and anything happenes to you I will be held responsible.  For new sead he if you people will accept of my services I will stay with you and se you safly through to Elpaso.  Of cours we accepted his kind offer and thanked him for it.

He practically took command of our party from there to Elpaso.  He kept three or four of his men back with us all the time and he would go on with the others a mile or two ahead of us.  They were fifteen in number.  We were five days travling up that river to the mouth of the Deleware creek to where we left it.  There was only one day out of the five that I didnt have to swim that river after cattle that would get out in the river and swim across when we were watering them.  That day we failed to find a place to water them where we could get them in the river and water them and get them out again.  There was so much quick sand.  We camped them cattle that night about three hundered steps from the river bank and them was dry for water.  I was in the saddle from before dark untill after daylight next morning.  A good deal of that time my horse was on the run.  My father had a man with him that had a wife and child.  He was hauling them and there baggage and boading them in exchange for his services with the cattle but he was a sly old fox and had away of always geting sick when he would scent a hard job coming his way.  When we got camp arranged I kindled a fire and told my wife to get supper ready early that I would have to go to the herd.  Sead I, Roberts will come in sick about dark and we will get no more help from him tonight.  Sure enough when we were siting at supper about sunset here came Roberts riding into camp.  We could hear him grunting and groaning.  By the time he got within twenty yards of us he tumbled down on the ground groaning and gaging trying to vomit.  Told his wife to strip his horse and turn him loos and fix his bed as quick as she could.  It was not long untill she had him tucked away in bed.  He lay there and groaned and gaged till they thought everybody in camp had gon to sleep.  She sliped his supper to him, he ate it in bed then went off to sleep and slept untill morning.  That left Billy Truman, Bill Hutchison, a fourteen year old boy, and I to hold them cattle there that night.  At about eleven oclock Bill Hutchison being only a boy got so sleepy he couldnt keep awak any longer.  I sent him to camp.  About twelve oclock Billy Truman was getting in the same fix, by one am he would go sound asleep.  Several times his horse started off with him and I had to run after him and wake him up.  Finally I told him to gallop around the herd and keep awake untill I could go to camp and back.  I went and called Hutchison up and told him that the boys had both went to sleep on the job and I would have some new help or let the cattle go.  He woke up his second daughter Lizzie a girl of eleven years.  He put her on a horse and told her to go and help me hold them cattle.  He seas if you get sleepy run the horse untill you get awake and stay there till morning.  She was the best help I had during the night.  We found a place early in the day and watered the cattle. They drinked so much that for an hour or two they didnt want to travel.  When we left the Rio Pecos and struck out across country to Elpaso the rout was fairly well watered and no very bad road and our escort Sargent Brown proved to a prince of an escort.  He was a New York man and a perfect gentleman.  We met with no more serious trouble untill we came to Yslette a Mexican vilage thirteen miles below Elpaso.  Our rout went right through the town.  The street was not more that twenty five feet wide and on either side the vacant ground was all plated to garden.  There was lots of onion patches.  It was a matter of utter impossibility to keep the loos cattle out of those gardens.  We camped for the night some two miles above the vilage.  Early the next morning here came an officer of the law to serve the papers on the owners of the cattle in a damage suit.  They had kicked a few onions out of the grount in one of the gardens.  Hutchison and my father went down and answered the complaint.  The man had about a bushel of onions there in court as an exhibit of the great damage he had sustained.  The old Mexican Alcada before whom the case was tried decided that the farmer was damaged to the amount of twenty dollars.  Of cours they had to pay it.  Hutchison got hot in the color and swore he wouldnt pay twenty dollars for one bushel of onions unless he got the onions.  The Alkalda ruled that as he was paying an exorbitant price for the onions that they was his property.  We feasted on onions for a few days.  The next snag we ran up against was at Elpaso.  We had hardly got settled down in our camp when an officer called on us and demanded that all the men in our party march up to the provost martials office and take the oath of allegiance to the United States.  Of course we complied with the order then we were citizens of the United States again.  We moved on twenty miles farther up the river and went into camp and stayed there six weeks untill we disposed of all of the loos cattle.  We had not been there many days when that little party of emigrants from Eastern Texas pulled in and camped along side of us.  There was an elderly Presbyterian minister named Weir (William B. Wear) another one whos name was Jamison (James B. Jamison) his wife was insane.  The other two men was named Walton(William M. Walton) and Allen(John H. Allen).  Jamison had a nephew who went out to Elpaso the year before and ran out of money and couldent get work and as a last resort he enlisted in the United States army for a term of three years.  He belonged to Captain Nichols company who was stationed about two miles from our camp.  Jamison and his party had not been there many days when it was rumored in camp that his nephew and another young mad had deserted the army.  Captain Nichols set a watch on our camp beleaving that they were in hiding near by and was being harbored by some parties in the camp.  He made it known that if such proved to be true the whole camp would be liable for punishment for an infraction of the military law.  The elder Jamison had been passing by our camp fire every morning for a week with a buckett full of something in his hand and would disappear in the thick willow bushes in the river bottom.  My wife sead to Mrs Walton one day I beleave Jamison is feeding them deserters.  He passes by my tent every morning with a bucket full of something in his hand and goes into the river bottom.  He is making a plain trail through the willows.  Mrs. Walton sead lets go and find them.  They followed his path some three hundred steps and come to there camp.  The men hid from them and grouled and made other noises like wild beasts to frighten them away.  They came back and reported there find to Mr Walton and my brother.  They went right up and reported the matter to Capt Nichols.  He came down with a detachment of his men and demanded of those women to lead him to there hiding place.  He arrested the men, he placed the elder Jamison under arrest and took them all off together.  He sead they would organize a military court at Elpaso the following day and give them a trial.  He required Mr Walton and my brother to attend as witnesses.  The court gave the deseters a long term in the gard house and was going to impose a heavey penalty on Jamison including a prison term when Walton and my brother championed his cause telling the court of the helpless condition of his family.  Several small children that needed his care daily and worst of all the mother of the children was insane and required his care more than the children did.  The court gave him a sevier reprimand and ordered that his head be shaved and that he be dromed out of town between two bayonets.  The court order was promptly executed. 

Just before we were ready to resume our journey what was known as the Cole train came along and stoped a few days.  Jack Cole(Andrew J. Cole) had his old gray haired father(Samson Cole) and mother(Lavinia Cole) with him, a married brother and sister and there families two single brothers and some nephews and nieces.  The Cole family predominated in numbers and Jack Cole was captain of the train hence the name the Cole train.  When they got ready to move on again we joined them and traveled through to California with them.  They had a sick man in there party an old gentleman named Pyatt (Jacob Pyeatt).  We moved up past Lamacilla (Note: La Posta, today a Mexican Restaurant in Old Mesilla, is a must stop if you are visiting Old Mesilla.  It was built in 1840 and was the Overland Butterfield Stage Stop) and crossed the river to a little Mexican vilage named Pecatch (Picacho, New Mexico).  The sick man got worse and we stoped a day or two.  Ben Cole and Alfred Patton of the Cole train had traded two yoke of thin foot oxen to a man named Mcintosh for two yoke of fat Mexican oxen.  Mcintosh lived in Donyana (Doña Ana)10 or 12 miles up the river from Lamacilla.  A mexican passing our camp espied those Mexican cattle and laid claim to them.  Sead they was stolen from him.  We refused to give them up.  The next day he came again with a deputy sheriff and a writ of neplevin (?) to take the cattle.  We stood him off again and refused to give up the cattle.  Next morning the deputy sheriff came again and six men with him all heavily armed.  We bluffed him out again.  He went away very mad, sead he was coming back the next morning after them cattle and by God sead he Ill take them.  We didnt know what kind of move he would make next but we new there would be something doing when he came again.  We dispatched two of our boys off to Donyana after Mcintosh to come and meet the eshue (issue).  When our boys reached Donyana, Mcintosh was not at home.  They had to wait untill night to see him.  He asked them to spend the night with him and he would go with them in the morning.  They told him they were afraid to stay, the Mexicans might steal there horses.  He seas turn them over to me and they will be here in the morning.  He seas I have killed seven of them devils and they are all afraid of me.  He seas there isnt a Mexican on the river would dare touch them while they are in my care.  His wife was a Mexican Senora.  The boys staid with him that night.  Mr Beeman (William W. Beman) Deputy Sheriff was a white man, the high sheriff (Mariano Barela) was a mexican.  The next morning about nine oclock our cattle had filled themselves with grass and was laying around under the shade of some mesquite trees resting and some ten or dozen of our party was in the shade of some other trees near by watching them to keep the mexican from runin some of them off to get a reward offered to bring them back.  We looked down the road and saw Beeman coming, the high sheriff with him and twenty two armed me.  Each man had double barreled shot gun and two Six Shooters in his belt and many of them had a pair of Six Shooters straped to his saddle.  When they rode up to where we were Beeman bid us good morning and sead I have come after hem cattle and by G-d I am going to take them.  Ike Boice who acted as our spokesman sead to him wait untill I send up to camp for Captain Cole, he will talk to you.  He waited in a few minutes Capt Cole came.  Capt Cole was a veteran of the Mexican war and was now a veteran of the Civil war.  He surveyed the mob and the great display of fire arms.  I could se that his eyes were almost snaping fire.  Beeman sead to him Capt Cole I have come after them Mexican cattle and by G-d I am going to take them.  Cole replied to him under the circumstances we are going to let you take them.  If it were not for those women and children up there at the camp we would se every one of you in H-ll before we would let you take them.  We could wipe you fellows out so quick you wouldent know how it was done but we are here in your country and amenable to your laws.  If we was to do that every one of us would hang for it and our women and children be left here at your mercy and no one to protect them.  For that reason alone we will let you take them.  They started away with the cattle.  Someone exclaimed Mcintosh and the boys are coming.  Looking up the road and about a fourth of a mile away Mcintosh was coming his horse at almost full speed.  As he approached that mob he commenced cursing them.  He run the cattle around them and back into the herd again, wheeled up his horse around faceing the mob and defied them to attempt to take them.  Then he told the sheriff I know this matter has got to be settled by law.  If you will institute a court of inquiry tomorrow and find out who the rightful owner of these cattle are I will let you take them to town.  The sheriff agreed to do that, then he told them to take the cattle.  Mcintosh asked Ben Cole(Benjamin F. Cole) and A Patton(Alfred Patton) to attend the court cession the next day.  The Mexican proved that he was the rightful owner of the cattle and took them.  Mcintosh gave to Ben Cole and A Patton each a hundred dollar green back, that was the price of fat steers in that markett.  Notwithstanding our sick man was not any better we resumed our journey.  It was fifty four miles to Rio Mimbers(Rio Mimbres) the next water on the road.  By making a long night drive we reached the water the next day.  In the afternoon it was plain to be see that our sick man could not survive much longer.  We laid still the next day and early the following morning he passed away.  George Cole(George W. Cole) a brother of Capt Jack and Ben emigrated to California the year before.  (Note: For a list of all the men on the previous years Wagon Train trip to California, go to www.wagontrain1864.com) Old Billy Cole(William Cole) a batchelor uncle was with George.  He took sick and died.  George wrote back to his people that he buried Uncle Billy near fort cumings on the Rio Mimbers.  We went and found the little graveyard and found Uncle Billy Coles grave with his name written on the head bord.  This is rather a strange incident.  We dug a grave by the side of it and buried grand father Pyatt(Jacob Pyeatt) by the side of his life long friend Billy Cole.  He was the first and only man I ever helped to lay away in his last resting place without a coffin or some kind of a box to put the body in.  I brought out with me from Texas two good young saddle horses.  I sold one of them to a Doctor Smith an army surgeon at Lamacilla.  When we left Rio Mimbers we had to make a night drive to reach the water.  The other horse got away some how that night and I never could find him so I was left a foot.

                                                                                                                                                                                      
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Chapter 12 - Arizona and Apache Country     

We had now passed out of the country that had always been ravaged by the blood thirsty Comanche indians from the time of the earliest white settlement on Texas soil and was just entering the territories of New Mexico and Arrizona the country that was so long terrorized by old Geronimo Chief of the Apaches.  After leaving fort Bowie and the Rio Mimbers Apache pass was the next point of any interest on our rout.  It was  little fort of barracks in the gap of a mountain where a company of Uncle Sams soldiers was stationed.  The next place of any note was Tucon down at the Sink of the Santa Crose River in Arizona.  It was composed of very little more than a fort where another company of soldiers was stationed to safe guard the travel through the country.  About midway between Apache pass and Tucon we came to a place where some white people had evidently had some trouble with the Apaches.  One of our party found a womans hand laying on the ground.  It had been amputated at the rist.  It was pretty well dried up.  On reaching town we rested a day and was advised to divide up our train between that place and Camp Sacatone on the Gilla River on account of the scearcity of water.  The distance was round about a hundred miles and only one watering place called blue water station.  A lone man kept a station house there.  The most of his stock in trade was bad whiskey.  There was plenty of water but it had to be lifted a hundred and twenty feet with a winlas and bucketts.  It was a slow process the watering of a lot of stock.  We cut our train in three divisions, one division going forward every day.  I was in the second division to go.  They told us twelve miles down on the way there was a place where the water came near the surface and tank had been dug in the ground and water raised in that tank but not enough to water any large number of stock.  We started awhile before noon.  When we got to the tank we camped for the night and by continuous diping with bucketts we watered all of our stock.  While gethering the stock next morning my father saw fresh Indian tracks but they never molested us.  When we reach camp Sacatone on the Gilla River it was just before sunset in the evening the advance party was still there in camp.  As we were unhitching our teams someone came along the line and sead dont put the bells on your oxen tonight.  There is an Indian reservation not far away and if they hear the bells they are liable to try to steal some of our cattle.  The fact of the matter was there had been two wedings in camp that afternoon and some of the younger sett had made up there minds to give the newly weds a grand send off that night with a rousing big shivares and they wanted all of the bells in camp.

Now let me go back and explain.  There was an old man whos name was Morris came over in the Cole train.  Morris had six daughters three of them of marriageable age.  Miss Anna the second one had been courted for several months before starting by a young man whos name was Sam Grambles.  Sam couldnt stand it to se his sweetheart go away to California and leave him behind so he packed up bag and baggage and came along.  Also he took the job of driveing one of the Morriss teams.  There was another old man in the Cole train whos name was Myers, he was an elderly man.  Mrs. Myers was about middle age or hardly so much.  They had one daughter Fanny who had married a young man by the name of Billy Black just a few months before starting.  Myers had a team and so had Billy.  Myers drove quite a bunch of cattle out to the Rio Grande and sold them geting quite a bit of money for them.  Then he bought at Elpaso a nice carriage and bit of money for them.  Then he bought at Elpaso a nice carriage and team for him and Mrs Myers to ride in in comfort the balance of the way to California.  Myers had with him a man by the name of Marion Taylor who had helped drive his cattle to the market.  He was about middle aged and a veteran of the Civil War.  Immediately after he bought the carriage Myers took suddenly ill and died.  Taylor took charge of the carriage and team and took Myerss place beside the Madam in the carriage.  He was natcherly a braggadocio kind of a fellow and he was now big eye.  Taylor and Morris were both in the first division to reach camp Sacatone.  During the day they rested there the Indian agent called and made quite a visit with the emigrants of course.  Mr. Taylor entertained him and incidentally made it known to him that he and Mrs Myers wanted to get married as soon as they reached civilization where they could get someone to perform the ceremony.  Why seas the agent I am authorized to marry people, you dont need to wait any longer I can tie you up as good as any of them.  They engaged him to perform that Service for them that afternoon.  Sam and Anna on hearing of that arrangment concluded to have him hitch them up in double harness at the same time.  The two wedings had took place only an hour or two before our party got into camp that evening.  There was also camped there that night a train of freighting teams ten in number, sixteen mules a team.  They belonged to General Banning of Wilmington, Los Angeles County California.  There was ten teamsters a wagon master and a cook in there party.  When they were told of our intentions that night they were all as eager for the fun as we were and all joined in it with a will, there wagon master Bill Harper leading the program.  We marched in double file from Harpers camp to Taylors tent and marched around it several times firing a salute of two guns at each corner we stoped and invited him to come out.  He laughed at us sead he had danced to that kind of music a good many times.  Then we tried our ox bells and tin cans, he still refused to come out.  We ran a rope around his tent and all took hold of the two ends and ran off down the road taking the tent off of them.  The tent pegs caught in the bed covers and her clothing where she had laid them beside the bed and took the whole business along together about fifty yards down the road.  We dumped the whole mess out on the bushes by the road side.  We went into Harpers camp and chated awhile.  We found that Sam Grumbles had been with us all through the meles with Taylor so we told him to go along and go to bed that we would not bother him.  Anna had made there bed in his wagon and had gon to bed.  Sam went to bed but over a little way off there was a little camp fire still burning and a little groop of women huddled around it.  They had so much to talk about they couldnt get sleepy.  Sam had not more than got settled down in bed when the ox bells and tin pans broke loos to ratling around his wagon.  He leaped out over the end gate of his wagon just in his night clothes and commenced jumping up and down yeling at the top of his voice.  The women scatered and ran each one to her own camp and went to bed.  That ended the fun for that night.

Those Mericopa indians didnt bother any of our stock.  We moved on down another day or two, brought to the Pinole Reservation, another day or two brought us down to Uma at the mouth of the Gilla River on the Colorado.  Just below Yuma was the Papago Reservation.  All of these Indians were cemi civilized and lived on Reservations.  On arriving at Yuma on the Colorado River we learned that the ferry belonged to a German named Yager and he would not ferry a wagon of any size across the River for less than ten dollars.  We were told that twenty miles down the River and over a good road an Englishman whos name was Pedrick had a ferry boat and only charged three dollars a wagon.  We turned our course and went down to Pedricks ferry.  Small steam boats ran up the River as far as Ehrenborg a part of the year.  Pedrick kept a wood yard, he told us that he wanted wood cut.  That any of us that would cut a cord of four foot wood he would set us across the River.  I cut wood.  When we all got ready we crossed over the River and landed on California soil at last.

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Chapter 13 - Our new home - California     

Having corssed the Colorado River, we was now on California soil but confronted with one of the hardest prospsitions on the entire route.  We was just entering into the great Colorado Desert.  We were told that it was one hundred and twenty miles across it.  There was enough water along the way but there was no feed at all, only in two places and most of the way the road lay in a heavy sand bed.  It was harder on our teams than the stake plains of Texas, for our teams were now getting thin and weak and were not able to stand heavy loging and starvation.

The first day brought us to the Cottonwood station – water plenty but no feed at all.  We were told that there was plent of feed eight miles south.  Some three or four of us took all the stock and drove them down there, getting there late at night.  We found an abundance of grass and a small running stream of water.  We kept the stock there two days when we drove them back to camp and moved on.  Our next camp was at what was known as New River.  It was more like a dry slew than a river.  It had some pools of water in it and it was bordered on either side with a strip of salt grass.  Our oxen managed to get enough to eat.

There we were introduced to the first California desert sand storm.  About seven A. M. a heavy northwest wind commenced blowing.  It increased in intensity and velocity until the elements were filled with dust and sand.  The skie was clear but most of the day the sun was darkened, the sand was so dense.  We laid still there two days.  When we left there we carried a great deal more sand in our gizards than we brought there, for it was impossible of us to eat or drink water without getting more or less sand with it.  When we left this camp, for several miles the country during the mid-summer freshets had been over flowed.  It had left a thin deposit of sediment which had dried and was almost as hard and smooth as a floor.  All the children that was big enough was out romping and having a good time.

Jesse, our baby boy then about two and a half years old, wanted to get out and romp with the others but his mother would not let him go.  She told him he was too little.  She laid down in the wagon and went to sleep.  He thought that was his opportunity.  He climed over the end gate of the wagon.  He must have missed his footing.  He fell to the ground.  I heard his outcry and looked around just as the front wheel of the wagon was passing over his body.  I could not get to him quick enough to save him from the hind wheel.  He fell on his back, both wheels passed quare over his little body right at the waist between the hop bones and ribs and chest.  When I picked him up I thought he was dead.  I gave the alarm and stoped the train.  Pretty soon he commenced breating, then turned sick and vomited up a lot of blood.  In a little while he was comparatively easy.  We examined him the best we know how and decided that there was no broken bones.  In the course of a weeks time he was alright again.

Our next camp was called big Laguna.  There was a lake of water there some three or four miles in diameter.  All round its border was damp marsh land that grew some salt grass.  That was the last grass of any kind we found on the Yuma desert.

Then it took us two days to reach Cariso Creek, the next water.  The road lay nearly all the way in a bed of sand.  There our oxen had to get all they could to eat by browsing on the greaswood bushes for there was no grass at all.

There was a man stoping there keeping a little station.  He had a few articles for sale.  As usual, he had more bad whiskey than anything else that he sold for two bits a drink.  He had a few bales of very poor quality barley hay that he sold for forty dollars a ton.

He told us that Vicela, the next station and water on our road, was sixteen miles distant and just up the canyon a short distance from the edge of the desert and deep sand most of the way.  Cariso Creek was so strongly impregnated with alkalie or some kind of mineral that water burned the mouth when we drank it.  When we gathered in the cattle in the morning we found that our teams would not be able to take all the wagons out so we doubled up.  Taylor and Black put all of their stock that was fit to go to Taylors wagon and took it out.  My father my brother and I made up two teams out of our three teams and took my wagon and brothers out.  Father staid behind and kept two yoke of broke down oxen and fed them on forty dollar hay.  Some of our oxen gave out long before we reached camp.  They would get so leg weary they would drop down in the road and stop the team.  After a short rest we would whip them up and go on until they would drop down again for another short rest.  In that way just at night fall we all made it into camp.  Early the next morning we rounded up the stock, brother and I out of our two teams made up a team of four yoke of oxen that we thought might be able to go back and bring out the other wagon.  Marion Taylor didn’t believe that he had enough oxen that was able to make a second trip over the road, so he went through the camp soliciting help without any success until he came to Capt. Call.  He listened to his pleading and then said to him, “Marion, it’s a bitter pill to have to make my old oxen go back over that sand bed again but Fanney Black is too good a woman to be left in that desert.  I will see if I can’t rig up a team that can go and bring her out.  Him and I truged back over the sixteen miles of sand bed, each with four yoke of oxen, reaching camp about sunset.  We kept our oxen in camp that night and fed them on forty dollar hay.

We got an early start the next morning, for ew knew it would be the most trying day of all.  Capt. Cole’s team made the trip without much difficulty.  A part of my team gave out and began to lay down in the road when I was only a little more than half way out.  My brother met me some four or five miles down on the way with two yoke of oxen that he had kept at camp.  We took out two yoke of my tired oxen and put his in their place.  They gave out before we reached camp and we had to change them back again.  After a long weary day we got into camp and turned out for the night.  Everybody and everything was tired out but we was all glad and thankful that we had got across that terrible desert of sand without losing any of our livestock.

We laid still here two days and let our teams rest.  Here we had our first mess of California cabbage.  The station keeper had a few large heads of cabbage on sale at one bit a pound.  We put one on the scale and it tiped the scale at sixteen pounds.  Four of us chucked in four bits each and took the cabbage to camp and cut it into four quarters and it made a dinner for four hungry families.  We all thought it was the best cabbage we had ever eaten.

After our two days rest we moved on over to San Fillepa.  There I paid my last ten dollars for a sack of flour.  Our next stop was at Warners Rancho.  We traveled until in the night trying to find some grass but failed.  The valley had been fed off clean with sheep.  We stopped and trusted to our cattle to find something to eat.  We found them next day nearly noon about four miles from camp laying down resting.

We moved on that afternoon and camped that evening at what was called dead man’s hole.  There was plenty of grass there but not more than thirty minutes after we turned our stock loose, it commenced snowing and in a few minutes the grass was all covered with snow, so that the cattle couldn’t get a spear of it.  There was an open valley of some 20 or 30 acres and the country all around was an oak forest.  We draged up dry wood and logs and build log heat fires that saved the families from suffering with cold.  The next morning the snow was knee deep everywhere.  When we went out to look after our cattle we found twelve oxen froze to death.  The snow was so deep and our oxen so weak we knew they couldn’t take us out of there but on the other hand, we knew very well if we didn’t take them out of there and to feed we would lose all of them.  We had been told of the Oak Grove Ranch six miles further on down the road.  Capt. Cole sent two men to the Ranch to see if they couldn’t buy hay to feed the oxen.  The rest of us gathered up the cattle and started them toward the Ranch.  About two miles on the way we met one of the men coming back to help us.  He reported that he had bought 25 pounds of hay of each ox.  That was all he could get.  He had left the other man cutting down the stack and distributing the hay for the cattle.  By the time we could get them there to it they told us they couldn’t spare any more hay but if we would take the cattle on down the road four miles further into the canyon it was much lower and the snow was light down there and the bottom of the canyon was set with sacatone grass that the snow didn’t cover up and the stock could get enough of it to live on.  The next morning we moved the cattle down in the canyon and left them there three days.  When a train of government teams of mules and troop of soldiers came along going east and packed the snow so that our weak oxen cound take our wagons out of there.  In the canyon we found the advance party of our train encamped.  They were one day ahead of us.  You see, when we reached civilization our train broke into small parties.  Those that had the ablest teams went on ahead.  Our oxen had now had a good rest and filled up on sacatine grass and was in much better condition for traveling.   Now, let me make a little explanation right here.  I don’t know the meaning or definition of sacatone.  Webster is silent about it.  It is found in marshy places, by streams of water or by the side of lakes and in the botton of canyons and gulches where the ground is moist.  It has a stout, stiff stem and grows from two to four feet high.  The top is covered with a course grass blade.  It is a course, rough feed, but stock will live on it.  We took our oxen early in the morning back to camp, picket up and came back to the canyon camp the same day.

The next night we camped at what was known as the Negro Ranch.  It was owned and occupied by an old colored man called Uncle Jesse.  There was cattle there – one nice fat three year old beef steer – we bought him for ten dollars, butchered him and divided him out among all the families.  That was Christmas eve 1864, just fifty-six years ago today.  The next day, Christmas Day, we camped for the night down at Temecela.  We didn’t have any turkey but we feasted on as fine fat California beef as you would ever wish to set down to anywhere or on any occasion.  A few days more and we were at the end of our journey.  There was only one more incident occurred that caused any excitment after leaving Temecula.  Our next camp for the night was at the west end of big laguna.  The next morning we crossed over the ridge and came down to what was known at that time as Little Laguna.  It was just a small dry lake bed nestled right up against the mountain.  There was a Mexican settlement there and in a correl by the road side an elderly Mexican woman was milking some half dozen cows and not far away stood a corn crib with a lot of corn in it.  Something caused us to call a halt and while we were there the old Mexican owner of the cows came along the line looking at our wagons and offered to trade cows for a wagon.  Billy Baker, brother-in-law to Capt. Cole offered to trade him his wagon for cows.  The Mexican looked the wagon over and offered to give him four cows for the wagon.  Baker told him if he would give him four cows and twenty sacks of corn, he would unload the wagon and let him have it.  The Mexican agreed to do it.  So we all got busy.  Baker, Capt. Cole and Andrew Pyatt, whose wife was a niece of Capt. Cole, set to work transferring Baker’s load to Cole and Pyatt’s wagons and they and the rest of us set to work sacking up the corn.  When they had the load transferred, we carried out the corn and tucked it away in the several wagons and went to get the cows but there was not a cow in sight, but instead, there was six or eight Mexicans heavily armed, sitting around on their horses and others in sight coming.  Baker demanded possession of his cows but he couldn’t make the Mexican understand a word he said any more.  On looking around the place, we found the trail where the cows had been run off up a canyon.  We couldn’t see any way to get the cows without a fight and that might cost the life of one or more of our party and that would be at too great a cost.  So we let them go.  We kept the twenty sacks of corn for our trouble and went on our way.

At Chino Rancho the well known Dick Gird directed us down through La Bray Canyon.  He said it was quite a cut off in going to Los Nietos, our destination.

When we passed out of the canyon in the open valley we camped for the night – our last camp on the journey.  Everything was very dry for as yet there had been no rain that winter.  I noticed that our oxen was very busy feeding on something that they was gathering up off of the ground.  I went out and watched them a while.  I came back and told the other men that our oxen was picking up dry weeds off of the ground and eating them like they were sweetened.  I afterwards learned that it was dry alfillavilla, one of the best feeds that grows for cattle.

This last camp was in the La Habra Valley right where the town of La Habra is located today.  That was the last night of December 1865.  The next day, New Years Day, we moved on over to Los Nietas and reached our goal and I pitched my tent right in the edge of what is now the town of Downey, having been on the road just eight months, lacking two days.

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