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 The Dowdy Family Massacre

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Cliff Caldwell
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Regular Member


Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Fri May 01, 2009 7:40 pm

The Dowdy Family Massacre

___________________________________________________


One bit of Kerr County history that has not been forgotten by many is the tragic slaying of the Dowdy children. This blood event occurred just west of Kerrville near Mountain Home in 1878.

The present day community of Mountain Home, first called Eura, was first settled about 1856 by storekeeper Thomas A. Dowdy and was a supply center for area ranches. The Post Office was established and named by H. Louis Nelson in 1879. The pioneer family of James Dowdy (1818-1900) and Susan (1830-1913) moved from Goliad to Kerr County in 1878 and settled on Johnson Creek, not far from the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. By 1878 the couple had five children:

  •  Thomas A. born 21 August 1854
     Alice C. born 1 January 1860
     Martha F. born 31 March 1862
     Susan V. born 12 September 1864
     James C. born 15 December 1867.

The Dowdy’s had recently arrived at Mountain Home and not yet unpacked all of the belongings when they suffered this horrendous tragedy. Indians killed four of the children - Alice, Martha, Susan and James - while they were tending sheep near their home.

The attack took place in the fall of 1878, near the Dowdy homestead which is located approximately 3.5 miles northwest of present Ingram (along Johnson Creek near Hwy 27). According to a later report by Texas Ranger Captain J.B. Gillett filed on 5 October 1878 Mr. Dowdy, who owned two or three thousand head of sheep, had them grazing several miles from his home. He had contracted for delivery of his winter supply of corn. When the first load of grain arrived he sent his three daughters out to where the sheep were pastured to relieve his eldest son so that he could assist him with the unloading while the girls stayed and watched the sheep with the youngest son. When the eldest son Thomas Dowdy and his mother Susan returned to the sheep about an hour later they discovered that the younger brother and all three of the girls had been murdered, presumably by a roving band of Indians. Tragically, Susan Dowdy was the one who discovered the bodies of two of the girls and the boy. Some have reported that Mrs. Dowdy would not allow the spear and arrow heads to be removed from the children, fearing that somehow it would cause them further pain. From observing the sign on the bluff above the spot where the herd of sheep had been grazing Dowdy surmised that the Indians had been watching his stock, and when they saw the only adult male leave they descended upon the defenseless children and killed them. Both guns and bows and arrows were used in the attack, and ample evidence of both was found at the site. The pantaloons of the boy were taken, along with the outer garments of the three girls. The Galveston Daily News account of 10 October 1878 goes on to say that “there was no evidence of the girls have been outraged, nor had their scalps been taken”.

The nearest Ranger Camp was a hundred miles distant, so a posse of local citizens was formed who pursued the band of Indians for nearly two hundred miles until they lost their trail near the Devil’s River country. Immediately after the incident Kerr County called on General Jones for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. Lieutenant Reynolds soon arrived and made camp near the Dowdy Ranch, where they remained for the winter. Captain J.B. Gillett, who was with that group of Rangers, later recalled that “at the time of the murder the ground was soft and muddy from a recent rain, so one could see for months afterward where the poor girls had run on foot while the Indians charged on horseback”. He continued “I remember one of the girls ran nearly four hundred yards before she was overtaken and shot full of arrows by a heartless redskin”. Gillett and others had surmised that the Indians who committed this murder had probably been Lipans or Kickapoos who lived in the Santa Rosa Mountains of Old Mexico and frequently raided into south Texas.

A report in the 27 November 1878 edition of that Galveston Daily News seems to contend that after further investigation Texas Ranger Headquarters believed that perhaps the murderers had been white men dressed as Indians, and that the girls had been (using the appropriate term of the era) “outraged”. It is known that a cave containing Indian clothing and a supply of bows, arrows and other assorted weapons was discovered along the Guadalupe not far from the scene of the Dowdy killings around the same time. It was the belief of locals that much of the killing and mischief that had been attributed to roving bands of Indians was being carried out by white men masquerading as Indians. On 11 December 1878 the Galveston Daily News reported that “all efforts by Mexican sympathizers to claim that the Dowdy killings were not the responsibility of Mexicans have failed”, clearly indicating that some still held to the belief that the massacre was not the work of Indians.

While guarding the area the Rangers built a rock monument eight or ten feet high to mark the place where the massacre had taken place, and by some reports smaller rock monuments to mark the places where each of the children had fallen. Although Lieutenant Reynolds kept scouting parties in the field throughout the winter of 1878-1879 they made no contact with hostile Indians. This, Gillett surmised, was owing to the fact that the Natives rarely struck the same place twice. The Dowdy children were buried the day after the massacre at Sunset Cemetery, located northwest of Ingram. This incident was one of the last Indian raids in Kerr County. Kerr County was largely rid of hostile Indians and outlaws that winter, thanks to the work of Lieutenant Reynolds and his men.





1) Kerrville Daily Times 7 April 1922 – Article by Rev. O.W. Noles
2) Wilbarger, J.W. – “Indian Depredations in Texas” – 1985 - Eakin Press, Waco Texas
3) Sowell, A.J. – “Texas Indian Fighters” - 2005 – State House Press McMurry University – Abilene, Texas
4) Kerr County Historical Commission Website
5) The Galveston Daily News - 10 October 1878
6) The Galveston Daily News – 8 October 1878
7) The Galveston Daily News – 27 November 1878
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Russell Burrows
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Age : 83
Location : Windsor Colorado
Registration date : 2009-01-22

PostSubject: Re: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Sat May 02, 2009 12:12 am

Cliff Caldwell wrote:
The Dowdy Family Massacre

___________________________________________________


One bit of Kerr County history that has not been forgotten by many is the tragic slaying of the Dowdy children. This blood event occurred just west of Kerrville near Mountain Home in 1878.

The present day community of Mountain Home, first called Eura, was first settled about 1856 by storekeeper Thomas A. Dowdy and was a supply center for area ranches. The Post Office was established and named by H. Louis Nelson in 1879. The pioneer family of James Dowdy (1818-1900) and Susan (1830-1913) moved from Goliad to Kerr County in 1878 and settled on Johnson Creek, not far from the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. By 1878 the couple had five children:

  •  Thomas A. born 21 August 1854
     Alice C. born 1 January 1860
     Martha F. born 31 March 1862
     Susan V. born 12 September 1864
     James C. born 15 December 1867.

The Dowdy’s had recently arrived at Mountain Home and not yet unpacked all of the belongings when they suffered this horrendous tragedy. Indians killed four of the children - Alice, Martha, Susan and James - while they were tending sheep near their home.

The attack took place in the fall of 1878, near the Dowdy homestead which is located approximately 3.5 miles northwest of present Ingram (along Johnson Creek near Hwy 27). According to a later report by Texas Ranger Captain J.B. Gillett filed on 5 October 1878 Mr. Dowdy, who owned two or three thousand head of sheep, had them grazing several miles from his home. He had contracted for delivery of his winter supply of corn. When the first load of grain arrived he sent his three daughters out to where the sheep were pastured to relieve his eldest son so that he could assist him with the unloading while the girls stayed and watched the sheep with the youngest son. When the eldest son Thomas Dowdy and his mother Susan returned to the sheep about an hour later they discovered that the younger brother and all three of the girls had been murdered, presumably by a roving band of Indians. Tragically, Susan Dowdy was the one who discovered the bodies of two of the girls and the boy. Some have reported that Mrs. Dowdy would not allow the spear and arrow heads to be removed from the children, fearing that somehow it would cause them further pain. From observing the sign on the bluff above the spot where the herd of sheep had been grazing Dowdy surmised that the Indians had been watching his stock, and when they saw the only adult male leave they descended upon the defenseless children and killed them. Both guns and bows and arrows were used in the attack, and ample evidence of both was found at the site. The pantaloons of the boy were taken, along with the outer garments of the three girls. The Galveston Daily News account of 10 October 1878 goes on to say that “there was no evidence of the girls have been outraged, nor had their scalps been taken”.

The nearest Ranger Camp was a hundred miles distant, so a posse of local citizens was formed who pursued the band of Indians for nearly two hundred miles until they lost their trail near the Devil’s River country. Immediately after the incident Kerr County called on General Jones for the assistance of the Texas Rangers. Lieutenant Reynolds soon arrived and made camp near the Dowdy Ranch, where they remained for the winter. Captain J.B. Gillett, who was with that group of Rangers, later recalled that “at the time of the murder the ground was soft and muddy from a recent rain, so one could see for months afterward where the poor girls had run on foot while the Indians charged on horseback”. He continued “I remember one of the girls ran nearly four hundred yards before she was overtaken and shot full of arrows by a heartless redskin”. Gillett and others had surmised that the Indians who committed this murder had probably been Lipans or Kickapoos who lived in the Santa Rosa Mountains of Old Mexico and frequently raided into south Texas.

A report in the 27 November 1878 edition of that Galveston Daily News seems to contend that after further investigation Texas Ranger Headquarters believed that perhaps the murderers had been white men dressed as Indians, and that the girls had been (using the appropriate term of the era) “outraged”. It is known that a cave containing Indian clothing and a supply of bows, arrows and other assorted weapons was discovered along the Guadalupe not far from the scene of the Dowdy killings around the same time. It was the belief of locals that much of the killing and mischief that had been attributed to roving bands of Indians was being carried out by white men masquerading as Indians. On 11 December 1878 the Galveston Daily News reported that “all efforts by Mexican sympathizers to claim that the Dowdy killings were not the responsibility of Mexicans have failed”, clearly indicating that some still held to the belief that the massacre was not the work of Indians.

While guarding the area the Rangers built a rock monument eight or ten feet high to mark the place where the massacre had taken place, and by some reports smaller rock monuments to mark the places where each of the children had fallen. Although Lieutenant Reynolds kept scouting parties in the field throughout the winter of 1878-1879 they made no contact with hostile Indians. This, Gillett surmised, was owing to the fact that the Natives rarely struck the same place twice. The Dowdy children were buried the day after the massacre at Sunset Cemetery, located northwest of Ingram. This incident was one of the last Indian raids in Kerr County. Kerr County was largely rid of hostile Indians and outlaws that winter, thanks to the work of Lieutenant Reynolds and his men.





1) Kerrville Daily Times 7 April 1922 – Article by Rev. O.W. Noles
2) Wilbarger, J.W. – “Indian Depredations in Texas” – 1985 - Eakin Press, Waco Texas
3) Sowell, A.J. – “Texas Indian Fighters” - 2005 – State House Press McMurry University – Abilene, Texas
4) Kerr County Historical Commission Website
5) The Galveston Daily News - 10 October 1878
6) The Galveston Daily News – 8 October 1878
7) The Galveston Daily News – 27 November 1878

Very good Cliff. It reveals just how the Indians made war. Kill everything that moves and take what they could. I think the one lesson learned by the early settlers was that mountains or hills, woods and Indians was a very bad mix.

Russ
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Cliff Caldwell
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Regular Member


Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: Re: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Sat May 02, 2009 1:13 pm

Thanks Russ. I live in a part of Texas that was plagued by Indian depredations for many years. The Dowdy Massacre took place about 4 miles from my house. The old Texas Ranger camp on Contrary Creek is about the same distance.
I will post a small collection of these stories in another post …FYI I find researching them to be very interesting.
Cliff
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Russell Burrows
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Male Number of posts : 86
Age : 83
Location : Windsor Colorado
Registration date : 2009-01-22

PostSubject: Re: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Sun May 03, 2009 1:59 am

Cliff Caldwell wrote:
Thanks Russ. I live in a part of Texas that was plagued by Indian depredations for many years. The Dowdy Massacre took place about 4 miles from my house. The old Texas Ranger camp on Contrary Creek is about the same distance.
I will post a small collection of these stories in another post …FYI I find researching them to be very interesting.
Cliff

Yes indeed Cliff. Very interesting. It would have been a rough row to hoe back in those days.

Russ
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Dave
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Age : 71
Location : Rockwall, TX
Registration date : 2009-01-28

PostSubject: Re: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:53 pm

Cliff, wow what an interesting story. As you know, I too am a native Texan, however I was born and raised a "fur piece" up the road, namely the Texas Panhandle which is also rich in Texas indian lore (Adobe walls, battle of Palo Duro Canyon to name a couple). I really like your style of writing...do you write professionally? If so, where would some of your work be found?
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Cliff Caldwell
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Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: Re: The Dowdy Family Massacre   Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:39 pm

Thanks Dave. I appreciate the compliment. My books are for sale through the normal sources, but few of the stores except Hastings and several around Lincoln and Ruidoso, New Mexico stock them. You can order them from Amazon, or order a signed copy of any of them by going to my web site at www.cclandandcattle.com.
I will soon be publishing a book containing some good Texas Hill Country history titled "A Days Ride From Here". It will be followed by my new book on John Chisum titled "The Cattle King of the Pecos Revisited – John Simpson Chisum". It is being edited this month.
Cliff
 
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