by Michael Leamons
(Page 2, 1854-1869)
On south side of FM 1602 just west of Honey Creek.
Hico is situated in a region of mixed woodlands and prairies which, reportedly, when encountered by early explorers was "...covered with flowers nearly every season of the year" and was known to the Comanche as "Teha Lanna" or "Land of Beauty". To those who followed, it was known as the "Grand Prairie" or, more specifically, as the "Lampasas Cut Plain" portion of that prairie. The first white settlers arrived around 1854. By 1856, several families had established homesteads in the vicinity of Honey Creek  in the northeastern corner of what, two years later, would be formed into Hamilton County from portions of Comanche, Bosque and Lampasas Counties. Those first settlers[FN1], the M.A. Fuller[FN2], Henry A. Fuller, James Fuller, Ike Malone, Thomas Malone, John Anderson, Isaac Steen, John Barbee,  Sol Boykin, Zach Medford, Greenville Norris, Henry Brewer[FN3], Tilford Self, David Self, John Alford, Wesley Brewer, William Oats, William Edwards, William Nicholas, Reuben Rochester and George Faggard families, didn't receive much of a welcome---drought gripped the area in those early years, being particularly severe in 1856 and 1858.
Zachariah "Zach" Medford, came prior to 1854[FN4].
One of the early settlers, if not the earliest, was Zachariah Medford, whose family settled in a log cabin on the north bank of the Bosque River, in what is now Hico, about a block west of the present-day Highway 281 Bridge. Pioneer families tended to be large; Zach's was exceptionally so. On the frontier, it was common when a spouse died, for the surviving spouse to remarry. Such was the case with Medford, who in succession had 3 wives, Martha, Elizabeth and Sallie, who bore him 23 children. The first child was born when Zach was 21, the last, when he was 61. When the moon was bright, the Medfords would conceal their horses in the thicket where City Park now is located because, according to Zach's son, "The Indians would make their raids on moonlight nights, but were afraid to enter a thicket after dark." The land where the cabin stood was patented by the Republic of Texas to James Hollingsworth, who assigned the claim to Shewbael (Shubael) Marsh on Feb. 6, 1846. Shubael, one of the "Original 300" of Austin's Colony, had come to Texas from Maine in 1824. When Marsh's will was probated, a portion of the property was conveyed to his daughter, Annie. Still a minor, Annie leased the property to Medford and later sold it to his son, "Holl". Medford probably had been leasing the property from Shubael, as well, because the family had been living in the area for some time. A daughter, Mary Ellen, was born to the Medfords in the Hico vicinity on December 11, 1853. Neither Shubael nor his daughter, Annie, ever lived in Hamilton County; however, another daughter, Abbie (Grubb), in October, 1890 settled on her portion of the Hollingsworth patent.
Could this have been the Medford's cabin?
Ostensibly, one of the earliest eye-witness accounts of this period is preserved in this 1892 interview[FN5] with an unnamed, old-timer:
It was...in '54...when I had my first experience with the Indians. I had been here only a short time, and...lived in constant dread that a band of these roving Comanches would pay me a visit. But spring and summer had come and gone, and still I had been unmolested. It was along toward the end of September...about half an hour before sunset one evening I saw a horseman riding across the prairie toward my house, his horse on a dead run...Every once in a while he would turn in his saddle and look behind as if to see if he was still pursued... a band of Indians were rapidly following him. The one thought uppermost in my mind as I watched the swiftly approaching horseman was, 'How can I save my wife and little children? '
[The narrator, then, hid his family in a nearby creek bottom.] ...As I cautiously peered above the banks I heard a yell that made my blood run chill...it sounded...like the blood curdling cry of the panther...the lone horseman was just passing my house, and not a hundred yards behind were the savages, yelling and whooping like veritable fiends incarnate. There were apparently about twenty of the Indians, and I had nothing but an old-fashioned rifle. I knew it meant death to myself and family if I fired on them, but the temptation was almost irresistible. To see them murder that man and yet powerless to help him was almost unbearable. More than once I leveled my trusty rifle and took "bead" on the foremost of the pursuers. Then the thought of seeing my wife and little children murdered, when by remaining inactive they would probably be saved, caused me to hesitate... Besides, I knew it would not avert the impending doom of him whom I would aid.
...The foremost Indians were now within twenty or thirty yards of the fleeing white, and already I could see the arrows flying thick around him...I saw the horse stagger, the rider plied his whip desperately, but in vain, and suddenly horse and rider went down in a heap. There went up then a wild whoop as the savages rushed on him. I turned my back for the scene was too dreadful to look upon. After they dispatched their victim the Indians looked around and were evidently debating whether they should raid my house, which was in plain view...After parleying for some minutes they apparently came to the conclusion that they had better press on...for they mounted their ponies and rode rapidly away...That is the most exciting Indian story that I know, and it is true as gospel.
Indian Reservations on the Brazos
Indian raids, like the one above, were rare in the Hico area during the early years, but became common by 1857. Why the change? Some believe it was due to an unfortunate incident in Stephenville. The Anadarko, Ioni, Caddo, Tawakoni, Keechi and Waco tribes had relocated to the Brazos River, about 10 miles southwest of present-day Mineral Wells, sometime prior to 1852. In 1854, the State legislature authorized the establishment of Indian reservations along the upper Brazos. The above tribes, along with the Tonkawa and Delaware were relocated to the "lower" reservation just south of Fort Belknap. An "upper" reservation was established some 45 miles to the west on the Clear Fork of the Brazos for the Penateka "Honey Eaters" Comanche, though most of the Comanche tribes refused to live there. Jose Maria[FN6] was chief of the Anadarko and over-chief of an Ioni, Caddo and Anadarko confederation. His tribes had been living north of Comanche Peak as early as 1848. Having gone to Washington, D. C. in 1846, Jose Maria recognized the power and resources of the whites and had long been an advocate of peace.  Many believed Jose Maria's warriors had shielded the settlers from the marauding Comanche, but withdrew their protection after March 14, 1856, when a lone Anadarko Brave, Red Jack, wandered into Stephenville:
There was a saloon on the square. The Indian paid 50 cents in silver for a pint of whiskey and became intoxicated. He came to my father's house and dismounted began walking...he was offered water and food which he refused. A youth, Arch McNeill, about 19 years of age, a cousin of my father [W. W. McNeill], snapped his gun at the Indian who reached for a large knife in his belt and made for Arch who wounded the Indian. The Indian rode away, then died. The next morning Jose Maria and his tribe of 100 came in, trailing the Indian and found him, placed him on a horse and went up the Bosque... My father and grandfather sent runners to the families and all forted up for two weeks at Stephenville, waiting to see what the Indians would do. My grandfather invited the Indians to a dinner, all came except one. An interpreter was found and rationalized with the chief so the tribe went to their camp six miles west of town.
Others contend the raiding was increased to prevent further encroachments upon the Comanche homeland, the Comancheria, which extended some 240,000 square miles of prairie to the west and northwest of Hico. Yet others suggest the raids were prompted by the Comanche's changing circumstances. The Comanche on the reservation were more accessible to traders, but had no furs or money with which to bargain. The traders, however, were willing to exchange their goods for horses and weren't particularly concerned about their origins. Historian and author, T. R. Fehrenbach, credited the increase in raids to the actions of the new U. S. Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, who in 1857 redeployed the greater part of the federal troops protecting the Texas frontier to Utah. "The bands [of Comanche] in the Indian Territory knew within weeks that the horse soldiers were gone and war parties again probed the Texas frontier."
Regardless of the reasons, the settlers had to live with the fall-out from the increase in raids. On December 30, 1857, little Peter Johnson was kidnapped. Shortly thereafter, Frank M. Collier of Cora (later a Captain in the Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers Company "D"), published the following account in various newspapers:[22,23]
It was in the latter part of December, 1857, that Peter C. Johnson, accompanied by his little son [Peter, Jr.], ten years of age, left his family, a wife and six daughters [in Brown County], and started to the settlement [Meridian or somewhere nearby] for family supplies, not knowing that eight savages were approaching the settlements. On the 28th of December, as the Indians were passing down the divide between the Bosque and Leon rivers, they came upon a negro man [who worked for Turnbolt Barbee of Resley's Creek, later known as Dublin] who was looking for stock, and after shooting twelve arrows into him and stripping off his apparel, they passed on, leaving the negro, as they supposed, dead; but the negro revived and got well, and is now living, and in describing the scene to me shortly after its occurrence he said: "I make 'em tink me dead, but me warnt. I act de possom wid'em, and fool'em; Injuns no get dis nigger." On the next day, the 29th, fifteen miles from this scene, they came upon John P. Beene and his negro man, who had just started from home with a wagon, after family supplies. Beene and his servant were both killed, their bodies stripped, and every article of value taken from the wagon. After committing this atrocious murder, they went on six miles, and encamped at what was then called Meridian [Meridian Peak, 2 miles south of Iredell], but since called Johnson's Peak, which afforded them a commanding view of the road which passes by its base, and the surrounding country.
On the morning of the 30th, Johnson and his son were returning with their supplies , and on nearing the Peak, eight savages burst forth from their concealment...[killing the father and capturing young Peter]...the body of his father mangled in most brutal manner, and everything in the wagon carried off or destroyed.[FN7] [4 days later]...taking little Peter's coat, they left him at the camp, forty miles above the settlements, without anything to eat, or blanket to sleep on, and in his shirt sleeves. The little fellow gathered grass and made him a bed. He remained there two days and nights, thinking that a company of citizens would pursue the trail and relieve him; but on the third morning, this hope left him...Little Peter wandered about four days in the wilderness, enduring the chilling winds of January without coat or blanket, and subsisting on black haws and grass roots...On the fifth day he came in sight of a herd of cattle [which he followed for three days]...his feet were frost bitten, swollen and raw, and it was with the utmost difficulty that he kept among the cattle. About two o'clock p.m., a rainy norther set in, and the cattle collected to a ravine for shelter [about 6 miles west of Resley's Creek]. Just at this time, two men, the owners of the stock, rode up...A fire was immediately kindled and a cup of warm coffee and some broiled meat was soon prepared, and every care and attention given to revive him. [Peter was taken to Cora, then the Comanche County seat. There he met Mr. Collier, who was moved with compassion to collect $1.00, each, from all the men in the area to help Peter and his family.][FN8]
Captain F. M. "Frank" Collier*****Peter Cartwright Johnson, Sr.
According to frontiersman and Texas Ranger, James Buckner "Buck" Barry, who lived near Walnut Springs, the Peter Johnson kidnapping was the last of a number of Indian raids made in 1857 during which settlers were killed and horses were stolen. When the routes the Indians customarily used on their raids were identified, Barry decided to turn the tables on the marauders:
"One of my neighbors and friends, Zachariah Medford, had two about half-grown boys who went with every scout. I sent an expressman on one occasion to let him know the Indians had gone into the corners of McClellan and Bell Counties, so that he could strike them as they came out at the point of Bean's Mountain, on the Leon River. The expressman got together several men on his trip to Medford's. But he found Medford very busy at work, who said, 'Boys, I am too busy, and I can't go. I've been and been on every trip and have never seen any Indians. I have lost so much time I'll never get my place improved.'...Hill and John[FN9], Zach's boys, commenced begging their dad to let them go, saying, 'Dad, we may have some luck and kill some Indians this time.' 'If nothing else will do you, go! I'll eat all the Indians that are killed,' their father answered. One of the crowd said, 'Uncle Zach, are you in earnest about eating all the Indians we kill?' 'Yes, and I'll chew the bones, also,' he replied." About six miles out from Medford's place, the scouting expedition came upon the raiding party, killing three of the Indians and recovering all the horses that had been stolen. Remembering what Zach had said, they took him a leg from one of the Indians. "Uncle Zach went back on his promise, swearing that he would not let even his dogs eat a quarter of an Indian. He made his two boys take it off and bury it."
Texas Ranger "Buck" Barry, June, 1853 Daguerreotype.
Earliest known photograph of a "genuine" Texas Ranger.
Settlers all along the North Central Texas frontier blamed the reservation Indians for the raids and began complaining to officials. "Buck" Barry offered what was a typical grievance, "When the settlers would follow the raiding parties beyond all the settlements and return by the Comanche reservation, they invariably found theirs or some of their neighbors' horses. At one time, I found thirty-two of my own and my neighbors'." Both Barry and F. M. Collier vociferously denounced the reservation system. The situation escalated to the point where a group of citizens launched a spirited, but unsuccessful, attack against the reservations. The attack may have failed, but the campaign against the reservations was successful. In late July, 1859, as "bitter enemies to Texas," all the reservation Indians were led away to a new home in the Indian Territory.
Amidst all the drama, a settlement arose on the banks of Honey Creek about 2 1/2 miles southeast of present-day Hico, just off FM 1602. In 1860, newlyweds J. R. and Martha Malone Alford moved into the community from Freestone County with a small stock of dry goods and opened a store. A weekly mail route passed near the settlement, as horseback deliveries were made from Meridian to Resly's Creek, Cora and Brownwood. Since it had no post office, the rider by-passed the trading post. To improve their situation, the settlers asked Alford to petition the appropriate authorities in Washington, D. C. for a post office. A name for the settlement had to be submitted with the petition; postmaster-to-be Alford chose "Hico", the name of his hometown in Kentucky. The petition was granted, and the new post office opened for business on October 4, 1860. Together, the Hico and Hampton post offices served the county's 489 residents. Hampton, renamed "Hamilton" in 1874, was but a "small village of about 100 inhabitants" at the time its post office was opened in 1859.
The frontier economy wasn't very sophisticated. Primarily, it involved making a living off the land by whatever means possible. According to Alford, wild game was plentiful for the taking in those early years: "Antelope, deer, turkey, bears and wolves were numerous, and some panthers were found." In addition to those listed by Alford, "Buck" Barry also mentioned hunting "...otter...cats...some buffalo...prairie chickens, ducks, geese and birds too numerous to mention." "Buck" also liked to fish, with seining being the preferred method, especially when gathering enough for a community fish fry. Most of the early settlers made their living ranching, raising horses and cattle, although, again per Alford, "...some wheat, corn and tobacco were cultivated." Concerning farming, "Buck" Barry noted, "In March corn was planted, oats sowed, and setting out of peach trees completed. Irish potatoes were planted in liberal quantity. September was our favorite time for sowing a turnip patch. Fall wheat was sowed in October, along with some rye for the chickens." A few engaged in trade, freighting supplies in from Waco, "...these trips were made in large covered wagons with two, two-mule teams or horse teams. Ike Malone, Sr. [Martha Alford's father] was the most prominent 'freighter' and he made regular trips to Waco and back to Hico, Comanche and Brownwood. Besides beef and hides that he carried to Waco, there was some cotton to be carried...On his return trip he would bring sugar,coffee, flour, salt and other commodities."(Per J. J. "Mage" Smith, by wagon, the trip to Waco took 3 days.) An important part of the yearly ritual for many was, hog-killing time, which "came with the first apparently consistent cold weather...The butchering, rendering of lard, the cutting up and salting down of the meat, making of sausage, and cleaning the premises...was the work of several days' duration." Generally, the pioneers had log smokehouses with dirt floors, in which a year's supply of bacon and sausage were cured.
John Rankin Alford, many years later.
Alford mentioned the presence of panthers in the area. During the year previous, Elias L. Deaton, who then lived in Comanche County, but would soon move to the Carlton area, gave the following account of getting up close and personal with a panther in 1859 while chasing an Indian raiding party along the Leon River:
We camped near a place where turkeys were coming in to roost. I told the boys that I would go and wait until they came in and kill enough for supper. Taking my six-shooter, and secreting myself on the bank opposite some cottonwood trees, I patiently awaited the approach of the turkeys. While in this position I noticed the tall grass moving in the run of the creek, and not knowing what it was, I prepared for a fight. It was a large panther, and very poor. He was within thirty feet of me. I pulled down on him, intending to shoot him through the heart, but being a little excited, I reckon, the ball struck the ground. I shot him again. This time he made for me, snuffing and growling in a furious manner. I shot him again. He never altered his course, but made a leap for me, and when within six or eight feet of me I shot him the fourth time. The force of the powder and ball from this shot out of a Colt's revolver striking him in the side of the neck and ranging back, turned his course, and I jumped to one side and the panther passed by. As he passed I gave him another shot. By this time, judging from his actions, he thought he had fallen into unfriendly surroundings. As he turned to the left I shot my last ball into him. He jumped off a bluff and died, having in him the full contents of my revolver.
Adjacent to Hico, in Honey Creek was a spring-fed pool of deep, blue water, known as Blue Hole. Quite likely, it was the reason the town had been located there. It was a "popular gathering place for picnics, swimming, baptisms and cattle-watering."
Early-on, provisions were made for educating the community's youth. Patillo Fuller (head of one of the families listed on the Old Hico Historical Marker)[FN2] is documented as having taught school in 1860 in a single-room, log structure where, "The seats were made of split postoak logs, and the pupils worked at tables made of pine, with tallow candles used for lighting purposes on dark, early winter days."
Along the Texas frontier during the first 3 months of 1860, Governor Sam Houston estimated 51 settlers had been killed and 1,800 horses stolen. Responding to the situation and tapping into extra funding provided by the State Legislature, that spring the Governor authorized the formation of local militias in 23 frontier counties. Later, when the War Between the States broke-out, to maintain those militias men on the frontier were exempted from service in the Confederate Army.
The establishment of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in 1861 suggests Baptists were well-represented among the early settlers. Isaac Reed was the first pastor. "Affectionately known as 'The Old Irishman,' Reed normally carried a six-gun for protection and road horseback to his various preaching appointments. Often during church his gun and Bible would be laid side-by-side."  (In 1838, Reed's paternal grandfather, namesake and predecessor in the ministry had been instrumental in organizing the Old North Baptist Church near Nacogdoches, purportedly the oldest continuously functioning Baptist Church in Texas.)
Indians weren't the settlers' only problem. In an 1861 letter-to-the-editor, one Hampton resident lamented, "Some of our citizens are doing without bread and have no money to buy it. The fact is there is no money in the county." Looking back on those early years another of the County's residents, James Reed, who is introduced in the next account, commented on the lack of bread, but seemed to adopt a more optimistic outlook, "Bread was occasionally scarce, but every day we would have plenty of wild turkeys and venison to eat and there were lots of fish in the creek. It was a beautiful country, but wild yet it was a hunter's paradise...with all its hardships, I think the pleasures of those pioneer days over shadow the sorrows and troubles." "Buck" Barry shared Reed's love of frontier life, but his enthusiasm was tempered by the loss of two of his young daughters to illness within a six month period, provoking "Buck" to opine, "But it was death in the frontier home from other than accidents or hostile Indians that banished any youthful romantic ideas of the frontier that we once had."
On February 23, 1861, Texas conducted an election on the question of secession. Statewide, the motion carried by a 3-to-1 majority. In Hamilton County, the vote was 86 "for" and 1 "against". The author of the previously cited letter-to-the-editor was of the opinion, "There would have been no vote against seccession, if the voter had understood the matter." A week prior to the vote, the citizens of Hamilton County had been called together for a "Mass Meeting" to consider a report that the Chief Justice (the office now referred to as County Judge) of Hamilton County, James A. McBarron, Esq., was an abolitionist. Reportedly, 2/3rds of the county's residents were present, and many wanted to hang the Chief Justice; though invited to the meeting, McBarron chose not to attend. A jury of 12 was appointed and, after hearing the evidence, concluded that McBarron was "an Abolitionist and a dangerous man" and required him "...to leave our county, in the space of five days or else abide the verdict of an indignant community". Fifty-five of those present signed the verdict, which was adopted "without a dissenting voice." Demonstrating "discretion is the better part of valor", McBarron chose not to appeal the decision and departed for regions unknown. Perhaps having been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants, McBarron was opposed to slavery; nevertheless, he proved loyal to Texas. As a member of the Texas 23rd Cavalry, he perished in 1864 in the Red River Campaign, leaving behind a widow and young son.
Chief Justice Reed's grandson, James M. Reed
The County's next Chief Justice, Dr. William B. Reed (not a trained physician---more an herbalist), was a member of the Hico community and the father of Pastor Isaac Reed. The Reeds had come to the area in 1860, originally settling in Bosque County. According to Reed's grandson, James, 10-years-old at the time, "...some cow hunters from Hamilton County came along: John Barbee, Sol Boykin, Ike Malone, John Anderson, and others. I do not recall their names. They told our folks that Hamilton County was a much better county and had plenty of timber. They dropped all work and Father went to investigate. He decided to move. The 4th day of September, 1860 they landed on Honey Creek [3 miles east of Carlton] where they decided to settle." On their move west, accompanying young James and his many kinfolk, including Uncle Joe Ferguson, were 4 women slaves. Since Dr. Reed was one of the few slaveholders in the County, voters didn't have to worry about him harboring "dangerous abolitionist" sentiments. While in office, Reed and his son, Pleasant (young James' father), volunteered for a 3 month stint in the Confederate Army and were stationed in Galveston. They were discharged, but then called back. While at home on leave in early 1863, apparently, both fell victim to a smallpox epidemic which took a heavy toll as it swept through the County.
Captain Wilber F. Cotton's Company of Minute Men, was mustered into service on June 15, 1861 with only two members from the Hico area, Tilford and James Self. Later, the J. M. Rice Company, Second Frontier Regiment of Texas State Troops was called into service. A January 31, 1864 muster roll of that Company listed many men from the Hico area: J. R. (John Rankin) Alford, 2nd Lt., 30; T. M. (Tilford Martin) Self, 6th Sgt., 38; J. Q. (John Quincy) Anderson, 1st Corp., 38; John Medford, 3rd Corp, 21; and privates, H. [Henry] Bruer [Brewer], 41; James Faggard, 19; Henry Fuller, 48; P. (Patillo) Fuller, 44; A. (Ault) Furgeson, 30; William Fuller, 18; E. (Eli) Howard, 38; G. H. (George Holland) Medford, 25; Thomas Malone, 20; A. I. (Andrew John) Malone, 18; William Nicholas,26; William Oats, 35; Lem Reed, 18; and, John Self, 38. (For some reason, Sol Boykin served in Captain S. S. Totten's Company in Bosque County.) Second Lieutenant Alford provided the following reminiscences about the Company:
This company was for keeping the Indians out and also for capturing all deserters from the main army and returning them to their command...Each of us had so many men that we could call out any time, and we had certain times that we had to take our men and range the country over and look for Indians. Many a cold night have I been out in camp with my little squad of men--we would go out for ten days at a time, and I will here add that we had fine grass and all we had to do was unsaddle our horses and put out guards at night. In bad cold weather we would have a good fire and sit around it and nod--for a good sleep was a stranger to us...We would stand around the campfire in the mud with our homemade raw hide shoes until they would stretch large enough for two such feet and then when they would draw up we could hardly get them on.
...While on the lookout for Indians we were guarding the point of Long Mountain, which was their main trail. Seven Indians came along riding leisurely and our spies reported them coming and when they got in two or three hundred yards of us we made a charge on them and we had a running fight with them for about half an hour and five of them being on fleet horses, got away, but we succeeded in killing two out of seven without the loss of any of our men.
On October 25, 1861, 23-year-old Samuel Houston Kuykendall and another young man named "Splawn" were returning to their homes at Resley's Creek after having located some missing oxen on Honey Creek. As they neared the head of Honey Creek, a group of Indians herding stolen horses came upon the young men. With gun in hand, Splawn assumed a defensive position beside his mule. Unarmed, Kuykendall made a run for it on his pony. Bypassing the armed man, the Indians pursued Kuykendall for about 3 miles, overtaking him where Carlton now stands. They filled his body with arrows and took his scalp. While the Indians were busy chasing Kuykendall, Splawn escaped. Two years later, on May 3, 1863, Samuel Rogers was killed and scalped by Indians while travelling to his son Henry's home a mile west of Carlton. A marker is located at the site of this tragedy, about two miles from the Carlton Cemetery in a pasture off FM2823.
"The Bosque Times says that on the 30th ult. [Dec. 30, 1861] an Indian trail was discovered by Capt. Fuller, coming down beyond the village of Hyco, in the northeast corner of Hamilton county. As soon as a company could be mounted, they started in pursuit. Near the point of the mountains in a ravine they found where they had camped. Their camp was in a little ravine, where some moccasins tracks, some boot tracks, and some unsalted beef were found. Near this camp the rangers found about a hundred head of horses---none of which they were able to locate. The horses seem to have been herded. The Hyco rangers were joined by a company from Hampton, but separated next morning, one company following the Indians, and the other watching near the point of the mountain. There were supposed to be five or six Indians, mostly on foot."
The exact date of the incident isn't known, but sometime during the early to mid 1860's Janie Boykin[FN10] and her brother Sol, Jr. were walking to school when, suddenly, they stopped upon hearing "an ominous sound---a low thunderous rumble that seemed to shake the very ground...The rumbling became a deep bellowing and thousands of stamping hoofs roared toward the frightened children." The two ran to the nearest tree, scrambling into it to avoid being trampled by the stampeding buffalo. Buffalo weren't common in the Hico area at the time, but massive herds roamed the plains to the west, and there weren't any fences to prevent a stray herd from wandering in.  It's possible the area had been home to buffalo in the not-too-distant past, as some travelers passing through Hamilton County in 1858 observed quantities of buffalo skulls and bones bleaching in the sun. Like, Postmaster Alford, they also noted the presence of antelope and wolves.
Many of the settlers' encounters with the Comanche, like those of Rogers and Kuykendall, ended in tragedy. One, in the fall of 1863, didn't. Patillo and Henry A. Fuller, Henry Brewer, Cal Deaton (brother of the panther fighter) and another man of the community had gone on a hog hunt. One evening while in search of their camp, young Ship Tabor, unexpectedly, rode into the midst of some Indians skinning a beef and found himself surrounded. Knowing how they loved horses, Ship sent his towards the Indians and shinnied up a tree. "The Indians then began riding around the tree, yelling like demons and using their bows in a manner indicating their intention to shoot him. He would present his gun, when they would laugh and jabber in great glee. He said it might have been fun for them but it was a serious thing for him." The Indians took his horse and left. By then, night had fallen. Afoot, Ship made his way through the darkness to the home of Dr. Reed's widow. The next morning, when the men returned from their hog hunt, "Uncle Henry Fuller, who was a very religious man, said to him, 'Ship, did you think about praying?' Ship replied, 'Uncle Henry, I would have prayed, but I was afraid to shut my eyes, for fear the d----d things would catch me.'"
"Uncle" Henry A. Fuller
Bosque River, Nov. 18  **---Three parties of Indians made their appearance near Hico within the past few days. They killed a few horses and drove off some herds. A party of citizens started after, but did not overtake them.
Though the conflict occurred not far from present-day San Angelo, Lt. Alford, in command of Capt. Rice's Company from Hamilton County, and other members of the area militias ("Buck" Barry led one contingent) were called upon to respond to some Indian movements which culminated on January 8, 1865 in the Battle of Dove Creek , "one of the most controversial conflicts in the annals of Texas Indian warfare." Unfortunately, the militia, along with a contingent of Confederate regulars, were led into battle by one, misguided and obstinate, Capt. Fossett of the Confederate Frontier Regiment, against some 700 peaceful Kickapoo, including women, children and old people. To avoid trouble, the Kickapoo had been keeping well to the west of the settled areas of Texas as they travelled from their home in Southern Kansas to a new home in Mexico, where some of their fellow tribesmen had already settled. The tribe had secured permission from landowner R. F. Tankersley to make camp on the banks of Dove Creek, in return for the favor, they retrieved some of Tankersley's horses that had gone missing. In the early stages of the conflict, it was "...reported on good authority that an Indian 'went out from the encampment with two children to Captain Fosset...and unarmed with his hand raised' informed the captain that 'they were friendly Indians.' In reply Fossett told the Indian that he recognized no friendly Indians in Texas 'and thereupon ordered him shot.'"  Such may have been Fossett's position, but a report filed from Hamilton County 11 days after the battle noted, "The men...were opposed to going into the fight after finding out what kind of Indians they were."
Kickapoo Men circa 1867
Alford described the ensuing conflict: "After four days we came upon them camped in a thicket on Dove Creek...We found the Indians in their wigwams not suspecting any trouble until we began firing on them...After fighting about one hour and they getting the best of it and killing and wounding several of our men, we were ordered to fall back..." Having lost most of their horses and leaving most of their possessions behind, the Kickapoo escaped into Mexico, suffering 15 fatalities, while their attackers suffered 25. Elias Deaton was among the wounded, having sustained a severe injury to his arm. "It was a battle that embittered the Kickapoo for many years to come as they made cross border raids from Mexico into Texas looking for retribution." The previously cited report from Hamilton County indicated, "The popular opinion is that it has left the frontier in a great deal worse condition than it was before the Expedition started out."
The fatalities and defeat suffered during the battle were but the beginning of the militia's woes. Following their dismal encounter, with only 1 blanket each, the men faced a long, cold, wet and miserable night. The dead had been left on the battlefield, and the supply wagons were 30 miles away. About midnight, the rain turned to snow. One account reports snowfall of 12" to 14", while another reports 2' to 3'. Looking back from 1927, one eyewitness claimed it was the "...worst snow storm that we have any history of in these parts." That next morning, they tried to leave, but the snow was too deep. Three of the captured Indian ponies and two dogs were slaughtered and eaten to stave off starvation. The second morning after the battle, the militia began the long trek home, using mules equipped with make-shift travois constructed of poles, rope and wet blankets for transporting the wounded. On the third day, they encountered the supply wagons. A week after the battle, they finally made it to the settlements on the Concho, stopping at the ranch of John Chisum[FN11] near the confluence of the Concho and Colorado Rivers (where Lake Ivie now is). Before the weary warriors could head home, certain matters required their attention. Those who had died on the journey were buried at Chisum's ranch, and a detail was sent back to Dove Creek to bury the dead left on the battlefield.
John S. Chisum, Cattle Baron*****John Wayne's Portrayal of Chisum
Several factors contributed to the unexpected turn of events at Dove Creek, but one is quite surprising---the militia were out-gunned. In Kansas, the Kickapoo had assisted the Union Army with some engagements against Indian tribes friendly to the Confederacy and had been equipped with Enfield rifles, while, per one of the Confederate regulars, the "...flop-eared militia, as we called them, were armed with all kinds of firearms, shotguns, squirrel rifles, muskets and pistols."
1853 Enfield Rifle carried by the Kickapoo.
On one of the raids following the Battle of Dove Creek, the Indians were heard speaking Spanish, making the settlers believe they were retaliating Kickapoo, coming across the border from their new home in Mexico. The settlers dubbed them "Totten's Indians", being those whom Capt. Totten of the Bosque County Militia had fought against at Dove Creek. A raid involving Billy Medford, Zach Sr.'s son, and one of Henry A. Fuller's sons occurred along Cowhouse Creek, near Blue Ridge, south of Hamilton on July 25, 1865 as a group, mostly of boys, which had split into two parts was gathering cattle. It's said that Ed Cox, age 55, and Bud Hollis, age 14, were caught off-guard, captured and scalped when they mistook a band of about 15 Indians for cowmen. Armed with only a double barreled shotgun, one of the other boys was able to save the rest of the party.
Hamilton County experienced numerous Indian troubles during the first 16 months following the end of the War Between the States: "...three people were killed, two wounded, and one child captured and then reclaimed. Four cattle and 215 horses were stolen."  The most notorious of these incidents occurred in July, 1867 when a band of Comanche led by a red-headed, white man attacked the school at Warlene Valley on the Leon River. (School was held during warm weather due to the difficulty in heating the primitive schoolhouse.) Shot through with numerous arrows, schoolmarm Ann Whitney died as she helped her students escape. One of them, Olivia Barbee[FN12] of Hico, who had been boarding with a nearby family so she could attend school, was captured, but when her captor was distracted, slid off his horse and hid in some dense underbrush. The heroine of the day was seventeen-year-old Miss Amanda Howard, who when approaching the school saw it was under siege. In a rare display of horsemanship, she urged the young spirited horse she was breaking over an 8 rail fence, allowing her to escape and alert the community about what was transpiring.
Another student, Sarah Jane Kuykendall, "who had been hiding beneath a bench during the murder of Whitney, picked up a piece of wood from the floor, faced her attackers and...let it fly at the head of the nearest Comanche. She then bolted out the window, and headed for the river. As she ran across the schoolyard, a Comanche raised his bow in her direction, and she instinctively threw up her hand to block the arrow, which...pierced her wrist. Turning again for the river, she was almost to the brush when she was hit square in the back by a Comanche arrow that drove her to the ground. Sure that she was dead, the Comanches turned their attention to the few remaining children, and managed to capture Sarah Jane's eight-year-old brother, John Kuykendall, as well as two other boys...Sarah Jane survived the attack...John would remain a prisoner of the Comanches for 10 months, until he was sold to an Indian agent at Fort Buckle, Kansas. By the time he returned home, John had lost many of his language skills. He had, however, picked up Comanche song and dance, which he would launch into at the Kuykendall dinner table, at least until his mother quashed the practice." Samuel Kuykendall, mentioned previously, was the children's uncle; their father, James, was a combatant in the Battle of Dove Creek, having been enlisted into the Comanche County unit of the 2nd Frontier Regiment of Texas State Troops by Frank M. Collier. Indeed, the North Central Texas frontier was a very small world.
"In 1869 [when Ike Malone and John Quincy Anderson were sent to represent Hico's Mt. Zion congregation at the organizational meeting of the Paluxy River Baptist Association] the danger of Indian attack made it necessary for all of the messengers to keep their pistols strapped to their waists and to post a guard on their horses. Following the Sunday evening service the Puluxy community was raided by Indians who stole horses. On Monday morning the visiting messengers assembled just long enough to adjourn before rushing home to protect their own families."
No firm date accompanies the following account of an Indian raid, but its subject, Zach Medford, Jr., was born June 24, 1857, suggesting it, likely, transpired in the late 1860's to early 1870's: 
One night the Indians stole eleven saddle horses belonging to Mr. Medford's father. They did this by driving them into Mr. Medford's stock pen or stockade, which was located about where Mr. J. R. McMillan's house now stands [southwest corner of Elm Street and Avenue B]...The night that the Indians stole the eleven horses a brother of Mr. Medford had pneumonia and was lying at the point of death. Mr. Medford told his father that he heard Indians running their horses and that he could hear one of his ponies groaning, which the Indians had shot. His father told him not to go outside for fear the Indians might kill him. Mr. Medford, being a boy just at the age to have adventure, slipped outside and went down to about where the ice plant now stands [northeast corner of Utility and Mesquite Streets where the Fire Hall now stands]. Here he found the pony pierced by several Indian arrows. These he drew out, but the pony died.
Col. Ranald Mackenzie
It probably will come as no surprise, but the most significant impediment to resolving the Indian problem was...political. No one was willing to adopt the hard line needed to resolve the situation. Exacerbating matters, in 1869 the Quakers, known for their passivism, were placed in charge of the Comanche reservation. The army wasn't allowed to attack or even arrest an Indian on the reservation without the permission of the Quaker agent in charge. When Col. Ranald Mackenzie, dubbed "the best Indian fighter in the West" was given the green light to dispense with what one angry Texas judge called the "Quaker Indian Peace Policy" and told to do what needed to be done to clean-up the Indian problem, a solution was on the way. Mackenzie made war on the Comanche and by September 2, 1872, had humbled them. Then, he turned his attention to "Totten's Indians," those tribes making raids into Texas from across the Rio Grande. In May of 1873, in violation of international law, but with the tacit approval of his superiors, Mackenzie led an assault deep into Mexico, destroying 3 Kickapoo-Apache villages and ending the across-the-border raids. Although the Comanche had been humbled, from time-to-time stray bands still made their presence felt on the Texas frontier, though not with the same intensity as before Mackenzie's efforts. With the massacre of the buffalo between 1871 and 1874, resulting in their virtual disappearance, and the army's relentless campaign, the marauding Comanche, finally, were brought to bay. Peace descended upon the Texas frontier in 1875, the year the last raid in the Hico area is said to have occurred, when some horses were stolen at Martin's Gap (now known as Fairy).
A pile of buffalo skulls marks the end of the buffalo and the Comanche.
|[FN1]||There were numerous connections among those first families. Ike and Thomas Malone were brothers. John Anderson was married to Thomas' daughter, Mary Ann, and John Alford was married to Ike's daughter, Martha Ann. Isaac Steen was married to John Anderson's sister, Frances. John Anderson's mother, Elizabeth Noland, was a sister to Thomas Malone's wife, Susan Noland. Brothers Tilford and David Self, respectively, were married to sisters, Winnie and Emily Cooper. M. A. Fuller was married to Henry Fuller's brother, Patillo. Both William Oats and Sol Boykin married Zach Medford's daughters. William married Martha J. and Sol married Emily, then after Emily's death, he married her sister, Elizabeth. Reuben Rochester was married to William Nicholas' daughter, Mary Manora. Wesley Brewer and William Edwards were married to the Hester sisters, Martha and Sarah Jane, respectively. Dr. Wm Reed's daughter, Mary was married to Joe Ferguson (brother of Lucinda and Annie Ferguson, who, married "Holl" and John Medford, respectively), and his daughter, Bridgett, married Greenville Norris shortly after arriving in the area. Additionally, more than a few of the above came from Freestone County: Ike Malone, Thomas Malone, John Anderson, John Alford, Isaac Steen, Tilford Self, David Self and Sol Boykin. It's unclear how Isaac Steen made it into the list of original settlers, as he was listed in the 1860 Census of Hill County. All the other families, except those of John Barbee, George Faggard and Sol Boykin, which haven't been located anywhere in the 1860 Census, were listed in the 1860 Census of Hamilton County. A historical account indicates Barbee came to the area in 1859. An obituary for Faggard's son, John, indicates that family moved to Hamilton County in 1855. James Reed's account confirms both Boykin and Barbee were present in Hamilton County in 1860.|
|[FN2]||The "Old Hico" historical marker lists the names or initials of the male heads of households except in the case of M.A. Fuller . Evidently, those involved in placing the marker didn't realize M.A. were the initials for Mary Ann. Her husband, Patillo Fuller, had passed away sometime shortly after 1867, resulting in her initials being used in numerous legal documents and census records.|
|[FN3]||In the copy of Juddie Martin's account that has come down to us, the names are given as "Morris and Briever", but should be "Norris and Brewer".|
|[FN4]||Although Zachariah Medford was the first settler in the area that would become Hico, having passed away on May 18, 1874, he didn't live to witness the town's arrival. Though the exact location is unknown, he was buried in pasture on the Medford home place. Later, a headstone bearing his name was placed in the Hico Cemetery.|
|[FN5]||The interview was conducted by Dewey Langford, an attorney who came to Hico in 1892. Previously he had been a professor in Kentucky, as well as the editor of the Kansas Chronicle and Barton County (Kansas) Democrat. In 1906 while in Hico, he and his partner, though ultimately unsuccessful, took the case, Cox vs. Texas all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.|
|[FN6]||Jose Maria was the name he had been given upon baptism by a Catholic priest, his Caddo name was Iesh or Aasch.|
|[FN7]||While ransacking the Johnson wagon, the Indians spied a rider coming and fled. That rider was Patillo Fuller, who went to Meridian to report what had just transpired.|
|[FN8]||It appears the John Quincy Anderson family was nearing the end of its journey from Freestone County to Hamilton County when Peter Johnson, Sr. was killed. Anderson's granddaughter, Quata Woods, claimed the family was camped at Clifton, "...while cooking breakfast a man came by on horseback saying that Indians were in the vicinity and had killed a man not far from there. This frightened Grandmother and she wanted to go back home, but Grandfather persuaded her to go on..." Quata never identified the victim of the Indian attack, but in one of her columns, Mary Huggins connected the arrival of the Andersons with the attack on the Johnsons.|
|[FN9]||One wonders if it weren't "Holl" and John, rather than Hill and John. The former were close, having, married sisters, served together in the Frontier Militia (Hill served in the regular Confederate Army) and signed-up together to testify at Henry E. Fuller's murder trial. Moreover, "Holl" was much closer in age to John, with the two having been about 19 and 16, respectively, at the time of Barry's account. Whereas, Hill would have been about 25, hardly what one would describe as an "about half-grown boy". Barry assembled his recollections late in life. Perhaps his memory didn't serve him well, or perhaps he wrote "Holl" and the transcriber, unfamiliar with the name, mistook it for Hill.|
|[FN10]||Sarah Jane "Janie" Boykin's mother died while she was young, possibly during Janie's birth. Around 1861, her father married Zach Medford's daughter, Emily, who died around 1868. For a while, Janie is said to have taken care of her father and brothers. Sometime after Emily's death Janie and her younger, half-sister, "Bamah", went to live with Dr. Crow and his wife. The Crows were living in Meridian, but then moved to Stephenville, where Janie met and married local merchant, James House Cage. The Cage family was successful and soon branched-out into various banking, cattle and railroad ventures. In recent years, their residence in Stephenville was restored.|
|[FN11]||John Simpson Chisum, the Texas-New Mexico cattle baron, had several connections to Hico. First, through the assistance provided at his ranch on the Concho River to those returning from the Battle of Dove Creek; second, in the employment of Jim Barbee on his Jinglebob Ranch in the Texas panhandle; third, in his Lincoln County, New Mexico connections with Hico's Billy the Kid Legend; and, finally, through his place in this author's family. Another famous cattleman, Charles Goodnight, also had connections with Hico. He was one of the militia men at Dove Creek and his brother, Elijah, later purchased property near Hico. About a year after the Battle of Dove Creek, Goodnight and his partner, Oliver Loving, blazed the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail from Central Texas across the Pecos at Horsehead Crossing and, then, up into New Mexico. Later that same year, Goodnight bought cattle from Chisum's ranch on the Concho and drove a second herd up the trail. Later still, Goodnight bought his most famous lead steer, "Old Blue" from Chisum. Chisum, himself, used the trail when he relocated his operations from the Concho to New Mexico. The Louis L'Amour book, Killoe describes a cattle drive along the Goodnight-Loving Trail, starting from Cowhouse Creek, the stream flowing through Hamilton County next to which Cox and Hollis were killed.|
|[FN12]||As if her escape from the Indian's hadn't provided enough drama, Miss Barbee filed the following, rather unusual, affidavit, dated April 28, 1872, with the Hamilton County Clerk's Office: "Dear Father & Mother & to all hoom it may concern. That I do this day pledge my sacred word & honor that I Olivia Amanda Barbee will never run away or mary one Wm Day of said county without my Father's consent & if I relinquish all of my right & title to all of My Father & Mother's property to them & further more I forsake my Father & Mother & all of the family for life & never will I expect to be allowed to come to my Fathers House any more while life last him as he so much opposed to my marrying a boy who has never thought the first time of what it takes to take care of a wife. I do sign this with my own consent & free will. Olivia Amanda Barbee." And, yes, she married Mr. Day.|