Hico, Texas:

The Business Emporium

A Chronological History

by Michael Leamons
(Page 2, 1854-1877)

Pioneer Days

Old Hico Historical Marker
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 Comanches as "Teha Lanna" or "Land of Beauty".[3] To those who followed, it was known as "the Grand Prairie" or, more specifically, as the "Lampasas Cut Plain" portion of that prairie.[4] The first white settlers arrived around 1854. By 1856, several families had established homesteads in the vicinity of Honey Creek [5] in the northeastern corner of what, two years later, would be formed into Hamilton County from portions of Comanche, Bosque and Lampasas Counties.[6] Those first settlers[FN1], the M.A. Fuller[FN2], Henry Fuller, James Fuller, Ike Malone, Thomas Malone, John Anderson, Isaac Steen, John Barbee, [5] Sol Boykin, Zach Medford, Greenville Norris, Henry Brewer[FN3], Tilford Self, David Self,[7] 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 and was particularly severe in 1856 and 1858.[8]

The Medfords

Zachariah Hardin
Zachariah "Zach" Medford, came prior to 1854.

Among those contending with the drought was the Zachariah Medford family, which had settled in a log cabin on the north bank of the Bosque River, 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 ended up having 3 wives, who bore him 23 children. The first child was born when Zach was 21, the last, when he was 61.[9] When the moon was bright, the Medfords would conceal their horses in the thicket where City Park now is located because, "The Indians would make their raids on moonlight nights, but were afraid to enter a thicket after dark."[7] 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.[10] Shubael, one of the "Original 300" of Austin's Colony, had come to Texas from Maine in 1824.[11] 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".[12] Medford probably had been leasing the property from Shubael, as well, because the family had been living in the area for some time, and a daughter, Mary Ellen, was born to the Medfords in the Hico vicinity on December 11, 1853.[13] 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.

A Scene Too Dreadful

Ostensibly, one of the earliest eye-witness accounts of this period is preserved in this 1892 interview[FN4] with an unnamed, old-timer:[14]

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.

To Eat An Indian, or Not?

According to an account by frontiersman and Texas Ranger, Jame Buckner "Buck" Barry, who lived in Bosque County east of Meridian, in 1857 Indians made several raids through the area, killing settlers and stealing horses. The routes the Indians customarily used on their raids had been identified. After one raid, Barry devised a plan to ambush the Indians on their return through the area, the result of which he described in the following account:[15]

"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[FN5], 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."

Buck Barry
Texas Ranger "Buck" Barry, June, 1853 Daguerreotype.
Earliest known photograph of a "genuine" Texas Ranger.

Honey Creek Trading Post

During the time of the above-described Indian encounters, a settlement known as the Honey Creek Trading Post 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 trading post, as horseback deliveries were made from Meridian to Resly's Creek, Cora (the original county seat of Comanche County) and Brownwood[7]. 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 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[8] served the county's 489 residents.[16] Hampton, renamed "Hamilton" in 1874, was but a "small village of about 100 inhabitants" at the time its post office was opened.[17]

Dr. J. R. Alford
John Rankin Alford, many years later.

According to Alford, wild game was plentiful in those early years: "Antelope, deer, turkey, bears and wolves were numerous, and some panthers were found."[17] Most of the early settlers made their living ranching, "...though some wheat, corn and tobacco were cultivated."[5] 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."[7](Per J. J. "Mage" Smith, by wagon, the trip to Waco took 3 days.)[18]

The establishment of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in 1861 suggests many of the early settlers were Baptists. Isaac Reed was the first pastor.[8] "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." [19] (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.) [20]

Evidently, 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)* is documented as having taught school in 1860 in a one 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."[21]

Oldest House in Hico

The settlers were faced with numerous hardships. 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."[22] In addition to the privations of frontier life, the county's pioneers were confronted by the isolation created by a primitive transportation system, financial losses to cattle rustlers and the dangers posed by some of the indigenous peoples. The nearest Indian tribes, the Waco, Tawakoni and Tonkawa[6] were generally friendly. The same could not be said of the Comanche, whose homeland, the Comancheria, extended across some 240,000 square miles of prairie to the west and northwest of Hico. According to Alford, "A great many Indians were still in the county, and it was dangerous for people to travel alone, as those Indians would kill them at every opportunity. Besides the constant danger of losing their lives, the settlers had the risk of the Indians making raids, killing off their stock."[17]

Map of Comancheria

Frontier Militia Organized

In 1860, responding to reports of increasing Indian hostilities, Governor Sam Houston ordered local militias be formed in the 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.[5]

Emotions Run High on Secession

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".[23] 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."[22] 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."[24] 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.[25]

James M. Reed
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."[26] Accompanying Reed and his many kinfolk were 4 women slaves.[27] 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[26] which took a heavy toll as it swept through the county.[8]

A Different Kind of Indian Encounter

Many of the settlers' encounters with the Comanche ended in tragedy. One, in the fall of 1863, didn't. Patillo and Henry Fuller[FN5], Henry Brewer, Cal Deaton 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 horse 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.'"[28]

Henry Fuller
"Uncle" Henry Fuller

Frontier Militia During the War

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. Called into service on January 31, 1864, the J. M. Rice Company, Second Frontier Regiment of Texas State Troops, included 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, James Faggard, 19; Henry Fuller, 48; P. [Patillo] Fuller, 44; A. [Ault] Furgeson, 30; William Fuller, 18; G. H. [George Holland] Medford, 25; Thomas Malone, 20; A. I. [Andrew John] Malone, 18; J. G. Morris [Greenville Norris], 38; William Nicholas,26; William Oats, 35; Lem Reed, 18; and John Self, 38. 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, go away, but we succeeded in killing two out of seven without the loss of any of our men.

The Battle of Dove Creek

Though the conflict occurred not far from present-day San Angelo, 2nd Lt. Alford 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."[29] 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,[30] 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.[31] 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.[30] 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.'"[29]

Kickapoo men circa 1867
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..."[32] 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. "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."[30]

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",[29] 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."[28] That next morning, they tried to leave, but the snow was too deep. Some of the captured Indian ponies 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[FN6] (the soon-to-be New Mexico cattle baron whose path would cross that of Billy the Kid) near the confluence of the Concho and Colorado Rivers (where Lake Ivie now is). A detail was sent back to Dove Creek to bury the dead left on the battlefield. Before heading-out on the final leg of their journey home, the wounded who had died during the journey were buried at Chisum's ranch.[29]

John S. Chisum John Wayne's Chisum
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[33], 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."[29]

Enfield Rifle 1853
1853 Enfield Rifle carried by the Kickapoo.

Post-War Indian Troubles

Hamilton County experienced numerous Indian troubles during the first 16 months following the War: "...three people were killed, two wounded, and one child captured and then reclaimed. Four cattle and 215 horses were stolen." [34] The most notorious of these incidents occurred in July, 1867 when a band of Comanches 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[FN7] 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. [8]

"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."[5] As the area became more settled, the frequency and intensity of the Indian raids diminished. The last raid in the Hico area occurred in 1875 when some horses were stolen at Martin's Gap (now known as Fairy).[18]

Is There A Doctor in the House?

Dr. H. A. J. Snellings Capt. "Rube" Segrist
Dr. H. A. J. Snellings & Bro-in-law Capt. "Rube" Segrest

For all practical purposes, prior to 1870 the answer would have been, "No." Shortly thereafter, Dr. Henry Andrew Jackson (H.A.J.) Snellings, the first professionally trained physician, showed-up in Hico, where he practiced medicine until his death in 1890.[35] He had attended Southern Botanico-Medical College in Macon, Georgia.[36] (Accompanying Snellings on the move to Hico were his sister and brother-in-law, Captain "Rube" and Mattie Snellings Segrest, whose family still possesses their original homestead.) Although this next physician didn't arrive in Hico proper until 1895, Dr. James Hopkins Wysong, who had studied medicine at Tulane, began his medical career in 1873 in neighboring Bosque County.[37] In June of 1875, Wysong, J. A. Alford and 20 others went before the examining board of physicians in Meridian. Alford obtained his license, practiced medicine for the next 40 years[38] and operated pharmacies in both Hico and De Leon. [39]

The Alford Safe
1850's safe in City Hall vault bought from Alford for $100 in 1903.

"Old Hico" Cemetery

The "Old Hico" Cemetery began when "Rube" Segrest granted permission for burials to be conducted on a portion of his homestead. The earliest known graves date from the mid 1870's. The cemetery, now virtually lost among live oak trees, weeds and brush, contains over 150 graves with 98 of them being unmarked.[40] It is located northwest of where FM 1602 crosses Honey Creek and can be visited by appointment with one of "Rube's" heirs.

Hico in 1870

From 1860 to 1870, the county's population had increased by only 244, to 733.[15] The previously mentioned small pox epidemic hadn't helped. Tom Stinnett provides this glimpse of Hico as it appeared when his family arrived in January, 1870: "In those days there were no roads to speak of, we just traveled in the general direction of Hamilton until we got to Clifton, and from there a road led to Old Hico...There were two small stores at Old Hico when we arrived there, which carried a few supplies. Uncle Ike Malone and Faggard and Day owned the stores. A man named Clemens owned a saloon, and 'Rocky' Martin kept a hotel. This hotel consisted of one big log room, with a shed room across the back, and a cabin in the back yard for a dining room and kitchen. Many were the travelers who stopped at this pioneer inn, for it was on the main trail leading to West Texas, and at this time there were many people from the East going West."[FN8][41]

Tom Stinnett family
Tom Stinnet Family courtesy of Great Grandaughter Pat Ross.

Domestic Life

Stinnet provides this glimpse into the domestic life of that time, "...little farming was carried on in that count at the time, the settlers cultivating only small patches of ground. The big problem was fencing the land. We had to go into the timber and cut the rails, haul them in and build the fences. The houses were log cabins with puncheon floors or without floors. Our furniture was very scant and of the crudest kind. The settlers did not have wells for water, but they built their cabins near a creek or spring, some of them carried water for a long distance from the creek. Cooking was done on the open fireplace. Corn bread, jerky beef and coffee was the main diet of the settlers. They could get the corn ground at Iredell, ten miles down the Bosque creek. The nearest flour mill was at Clifton."[41]

Lawlessness and Murder

Stinnet went on to reveal worries over hostile Indians were being replaced with worries over outlaws, "...at times things got rather rough. Several men were killed while we were living there. Father [Capt. Rufus Stinnet][FN9]served as justice of the peace from 1872 until he died in 1894. W. H. Fuller [Patillo's son] was the first deputy sheriff appointed at Old Hico and he and my father were 'the law' for a good many years."[41] According to local historian, Oran Jo Pool, "In the early seventies, the lawless element [in Hamilton County] became so bold that the district judge had to be escorted in and out of Hamilton with armed deputies."[42]

One of those doing the escorting, George Walker White, many years later shared his memories of the first murder in Old Hico. He said that Henry Fuller, son of the Henry Fuller mentioned earlier, killed a man named Nichols or Nicholson, and that Fuller was probably the first one to stand trial for murder in the county. He also said that Fuller was later pardoned by Governor Davis. H. E. Chesley, Jr. offered a similar, but different account of what transpired: "Once Ferguson [Ault] was said to be having a fight with one Nichols and getting the worse of it, when Henry Fuller's brother-in-law or of some other relation to Mr. Snell[FN10], shot Nichols off and killed him."[8] The following can be reconstructed from District Court records. During its February, 1872 session, Alt Ferguson and H. E. Fuller were charged with "assault with intent to murder" and bail was set at $2,000 each. During the May, 1872 session, John Webster and Henry E. Fuller were charged with murder. "Holl" Medford and his brother John were scheduled to appear as witnesses on behalf of the defense. (Not a surprising development since they were married to Ferguson sisters who had numerous relatives, including a brother, named "Alston". Also, the two Medfords had served in the Frontier Militia with Ault and Henry's father.) Bail for Fuller was set at $20,000. On February 9, 1873, a jury rendered the following verdict in the Fuller case, "We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of murder in the second degree and assess his punishment at 5 years in the penitentiary." The defense gave notice that the matter would be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. Fuller wasn't particularly careful about the company he kept. One Hamilton County resident described Ault Ferguson as, "...a tall, raw-boned fellow with pock marks on his face, and a bad man." Ferguson ended up being credited with shooting-up William Snell and with murdering a Mr. Tedric and a Mr. Parsons. Ferguson was convicted of the Tedric murder and died in the penitentiary a short time later.[8]

Outlaws and Frontier Justice

The following account, as well as a later one describing freighter Ike Malone's encounters with outlaws, can be found in "Ike Malone, Westerner" : "Once several desperados hijacked Ike's freight wagon near Iredell at Johnson's Peak. They stole his team of horses, his money, and his boots. Ike walked barefoot more than ten miles back to town, rounded up a posse, and chased down the bandits near Gatesville. The posse took the men back to Hico and hanged them, then wrapped the bodies in a wagon sheet and buried them in a single grave [in the "Old Hico" Cemetery] some fifty feet from 'respectable people.' Ironically, the bandits have the best grave marker in the cemetery; it prominently bears the names of the owners of the wagon sheet and of those who paid for the marker."[34]

Horse Thieves Tombstone Old Hico Cemetery
Tombstone in Old Hico Cemetery

J. J. "Mage" Smith, whose family moved to Hico from Arkansas in 1874, spoke of another hanging on Gilmore's Creek just west of Carlton involving 3 alleged horse thieves. Per Smith, the 3 were hung on the same limb, and their combined weight caused the limb to sag enough to where the toes of the end man touched the ground. He "...quit kicking, then cut himself free after the crowd left."[18] The survivor later described the harrowing incident in a sworn affidavit: "After the men left I cut one of the men down, he was dead. I wish I had cut the other poor fellow down as he might have lived, but I was scared."[43]

Captain J. C. Huchingson, who also came to Hico in January, 1874, claimed during those early days there were "...many cattle thieves..." and "...there was more booze drunk then than now and there were more drunk men. Rough men would sometimes ride in and 'shoot up the town.' At different times they entered his store and shot up through the ceiling. At that time they knew nothing of the 'parole system.' There was a 'business committee' to take men out and hang them or shoot them if they had committed crime."[7]

[FN1]There were numerous connections among those first families. Ike and Thomas Malone were brothers. John Anderson was married Thomas' daughter, and John Alford was married to Ike's daughter. Isaac Steen was married to John Anderson's sister. Tilford and Daniel Self were brothers and were married to sisters. M. A. Fuller was married to Henry Fuller's brother. Both William Oats and Sol Boykin married into Zach Medford's family. Reuben Rochester was married to William Nicholas' daughter. Wesley Brewer and William Edwards were married to the Hester sisters. 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, who haven't been located 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 the family moved to Hamilton County in 1855. The James Reed family 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.[44]

[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]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 Supreme Court.[8]

[FN5]One wonders if it weren't "Holl" and John, rather than Hill and John. It would seem the former two were close, having, married sisters (Lucinda and Annie Elizabeth Ferguson), served together in the Frontier Militia (Hill served in the regular Confederate Army) and signed up together to testify at Henry Fullers 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 a "about half-grown boy". Barry put his memories on paper late in life. Perhaps his memory didn't serve him well, or perhaps he wrote "Holl" and the transcriber, unfamiliar with that name, mistook it for Hill.

[FN6]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 a 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. 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 (which flows through Hamilton County).

[FN7]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:[45] "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.

[FN8]Stinnet provided the following list of early settlers: "...the Faggards, John Barbee, Mrs. Taylor, Uncle Sol Boykin, the Medfords, Andersons, Malones, Bill Oats, the Deatons, Fulchers, Fullers, Fergesons, Martins, Days, Montgomerys, Reeds, John Alford, and about two years later the Haile and Morrison families came in. There may be some other names that I do not remember now." Not much change from the 1860 list.

[FN9]"Captain Rufus Stinnet, a fairly well-to-do merchant and farmer, moved here with his family from Cameron, where he had been engaged in the mercantile business and had served as Sheriff of Milam County one term after returning from four years of the Civil War." Stinnet "...bought 200 acres on the Bosque just below the juncture of Hone Creek, about one mile east of Old Hico."[41] In 1874, Stinnet built a two-story rock house on a hilltop overlooking the Bosque River. In January, 1877, Stinnet's first wife died. He then married Margaret Hyles and moved to Hico, selling his farm to Elijah Goodnight, brother of the famous cattleman, Charles Goodnight.

[FN10]Henry E. Fuller and William Snell were married to daughters of Daniel "Rocky" Martin, Hico's hotel proprietor in 1870. Later, it was alleged that a witness in the State's murder case against T. J. Wood was kidnapped and hidden at Rocky's place by W. H. "Bill" Fuller (Henry's first cousin, the law at "Old" Hico for a while and, later, proprietor of Hico's Fuller Hotel.)

Continued on Page 3

Page 1, Intro........
Page 2, 1854-1877
Page 3, 1877-1882
Page 4, 1882-1889
Page 5, 1891-1899
Page 6, 1900-1908
Page 7, 1908-1932
Page 8, 1933-2011



Upcoming Events

Saturday, November 01
2nd Annual Hamilton County Relay For Life Color Run

Monday, November 03
Domino Tournament

Tuesday, November 04
Monthly EDC meeting

Wednesday, November 05
Coffee at the Activity Center

Wednesday, November 05
Civic Club Luncheon

Saturday, November 08
Trade Days

Monday, November 10
Lions Club

Monday, November 10
Regular City Council Meeting

Monday, November 10
Hico VFD

Wednesday, November 12
Coffee at the Activity Center

See full calendar