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 Last Indian Massacre in Texas

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Cliff Caldwell
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Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 71
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

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PostSubject: Last Indian Massacre in Texas   Last Indian Massacre in Texas I_icon_minitimeWed Jan 28, 2009 11:43 pm

The Dowdy Massacre

The present day community of Mountain Home, known earlier as 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 previous year four children of the Dowdy family, early settlers, had been killed here in the last Indian raid in Kerr County.

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. Their children included 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 family, who had just arrived and not yet unpacked all of the belongings, suffered a horrendous tragedy when Indians killed four of the children - Alice, Martha, Susan and James - while they were tending sheep near their home.

The attack occurred in the fall of 1878, at a site approximately 3.5 miles northwest of present Ingram (along Johnson Creek near Hwy 27 between Meadows Road and Bluff Trail). According to a later report by Texas Ranger Captain J.B. Gillett 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 arrived he sent his three daughters out to where the sheep were pastured to stay with the youngest son and relieve his eldest son so that he could assist with the unloading. When the eldest son Thomas Dowdy and his mother Susan returned to the sheep about an hour later they discovered the younger brother and all three sister had been murdered, presumably by a roving band of Indians. Tragically, Susan Dowdy was the one to discover the bodies of two of the girls and the boy. From observing the sign on the bluff above the spot where the herd 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 “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 upon 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 some investigation Texas Ranger Headquarters seemed to believe 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 as well as 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. 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, 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. Although largely free of outlaws, one truly bad hombre remained…that being Eli Wixon. Wixon, who was wanted for murder in east Texas, had come to Kerr County. Expecting some trouble form him at the polling place at the election held in November 1878 Lieutenant Reynolds sent three Rangers, Corporal Warren, Private Will Banister and Private Abe Anglin. In due time Corporal Warren spotted Wixon, approached him and ordered him to drop his belt and pistol. Wixon hesitated, then refused. He called on locals to come to his aid, and for a time it seemed that they would. Corporal Warren stood fast however, in spite of the abusive language hurled at the Rangers by Wixon and the crowd. Corporal Warren made it clear to the crowd that if anything was started that Eli Wixon would be the first one to be shot. Privates Banister and Anglin held the crowd at bay with drawn Winchesters while the Corporal disarmed Wixon, grasped the reins of his horse and lead him away in custody.

1) Kerrville Daily Times 7 April 1922 – Article by Rev. O.W. Noles
2) Wilbarger, J.W. – “Indian Depredations in Texas” – 1991
3) Sowell, A.J. – “Texas Indian Fighters” - 2005
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
Cool The Galveston Daily News – 11 December 1878
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Male Number of posts : 59
Age : 72
Location : Rockwall, TX
Registration date : 2009-01-28

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PostSubject: Re: Last Indian Massacre in Texas   Last Indian Massacre in Texas I_icon_minitimeThu Feb 05, 2009 2:50 pm

great posting, Cliff...as an ardent student of Texas history, you would really enjoy a trip up to my home stomping grounds in the panhandle....Palo Duro Canyon, Adobe Walls, Panhandle-Palins Museum in Canyon and the Ranching Heritage Center on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock. I was allso thinking that maybe in the spring, my wife and I might head down that way to photograph the wild flowers and maybe we could meet up and swap a few lies

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Male Number of posts : 59
Age : 72
Location : Rockwall, TX
Registration date : 2009-01-28

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PostSubject: Re: Last Indian Massacre in Texas   Last Indian Massacre in Texas I_icon_minitimeThu Feb 05, 2009 2:52 pm

oops!! should be Panhandle-Plains...sometimes my fingers get ahead of the rest oif me Rolling Eyes
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Male Number of posts : 16
Age : 44
Location : Dresden, Germany/San Angelo, TX
Registration date : 2009-01-28

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PostSubject: Re: Last Indian Massacre in Texas   Last Indian Massacre in Texas I_icon_minitimeSun May 31, 2009 9:51 pm

@Dave: I wonder about your avatar pictures. Do you think that these are Billy and Tom (Folliard) or twice Billy?
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