WOOD FAMILY STORIES
Richland Creek - A story told by John Wood's
Son, James


"This is a sketch of my life from a child up to now, on the frontier of Texas. I was born in San Saba County January 6, 1857, and
lived there until I was twenty-one years old. My father was a among the early settlers in that county. I have been told by some of my
relatives that my sister, two years older than myself, was the first white child born in San Sabe County. "My father had a large
family. He was married, twice and had seven children by each wife. My mother had one girl and six boys, and my step-mother had
four girls and three boys. "My mother was like most other women of those days. They had to card and spin and weave to make
cloth to clothe their families. They also knitted all of the socks. People didn't buy everything they wore then like they do now. They
didn't have to have silk stockings to wear every day like most of the ladies and girls do these days. They wore good substantial
clothes which they made themselves, and they got along just as well as they do now, if not better. I don't know how many pretty
blankets and coverlets my mother had that she made herself, but she had enough to keep her family warm in cold weather, and
plenty when company came to spend the night. If the women got new calico dresses in those days, they were just fine enough.
1. "My father was a blacksmith by trade, but he worked at it only at times because the heat and dust from the forge seemed to
injure his eyes, so he followed the ranch business until after I was grown. "People didn't farm much in San Saba County when I
was a boy, although it is a fine farming country now. Of course, there was some farming done then, but very few farmed for a living.
"My father raised a few of all sorts of stock except goats. He raised a little buffalo calf on a cow, and it stayed with the cows just
like the other cattle. After it was two or three years old, he sold it to Dr. Hudson for fifty dollars. "Dr. Hudson was starting to drive a
herd of cattle to market, and he took the buffalo with the cattle. The cattle stampeded one night and the buffalo with them. The next
day it went up to a man's house with some of the cattle, and the man killed it, thinking it was a wild buffalo. My father was a great
hunter, and he enjoyed hunting bees, as well. One time he had been off on a hunt and found a bee tree. He didn't have anything to
put the honey in, so he killed a deer and cased its hide, then [out?] the bee tree, filled the deer hide full of comb honey, and took it
home.
My father belonged to the Minute men. They served as rangers to scout after Indians, although they had to scout only ten days
each month unless the Indians made a raid in the country. Then they were supposed to be ready to go at a minute's notice.
"Sometimes my father would be gone for two or three weeks, and there was no one but my mother to look to for protection. But we
felt safe as long as she lived, for she could shoot a gun as well as any man, and father said that she could beat him shooting a
'sixshooter.'
"After mother's death, my father married a girl by the name of Warren. Her mother was a widow and lived in Burnett County. One
time father and my step-mother left us older children at home to take care of the place while they went on a visit to Burnett County
to see Grandma Warren. They were gone several days, and one night while they were away we heard our two dogs barking just
like they were baying at something in our yard. (We lived in a bottom where the timber made so much shade that it was very dark in
there at night.) So I yelled at the dogs and hissed them, and they barked like they were about to tear something to pieces. The next
morning we found either sock tracks or moccasin tracks in the yard. We had some lum bushes set out in the yard, and one of them
was almost twisted off at the ground. We thought that the Indian, or whoever it was had tried to break the plumb bush off to fight
the dogs with. We always thought that it was an Indian hunting for horses, as people usually tied their horses up at night in some
place to try to hid them from the Indians, especially on moonlight nights, or when they thought the Indians were liable to make a
raid in the country. "My father had a mare with a very pretty little colt, and he took her off one night and tied her in a bottom where
he thought she would be safe if the Indians came around. The next morning when we went to see about her, the little colt had
gotten the rope around its neck and choked to death. I was like most children and thought it was awfully bad that the colt choked to
death. "While we lived in San Saba, before my mother's death, my father had gone of the prettiest yellow dun mares; she was just
as pretty as a picture. He staked her out one night right in the edge of town, not over 300 yards from where the courthouse stands.
The Indians came along and cut the rope and led her off. He heard the dogs barking all over town and heard horses traveling
around town, but we supposed that it was someone living there who had been away and was returning. The next morning our
horse was gone, and several others had been stolen that night from other persons. "I remember being at Grandpa's once when I
was just a little boy, and we children were put at play. We heard someone hallooing away off as though he was in distress, but
being small, we didn't pay much attention to it. We just played on, and about ten o'clock that morning someone came and told us
that the Indians had killed old Man Beardy Hall out near the round mountain that morning. He had gone out there that morning to
see about some cows and little that he had out there. I suppose that he was feeding them to gentle the pigs. The little round
mountain was about half way between Richland Creek and the San Saba River. Anyone could get on the little round mountain and
see along way in every direction he supposed that these Indians were in this mountain looking out to see if they could locate a
bunch of horses and Mr. Hall, slipped up on him, and murdered him. Of course, they took his scalp so that when they got home
they could have their big war dance, as that was their custom when they made a raid and killed anyone. "One of the worst scares I
ever got by the Indians was when I was about thirteen years old. 'bout seventy-five Indians came down Richland Creek one day.
The first place they came to was close to the head of the creek. man named Warren Hudson lived there. He was standing in the
door as they rode by. They stopped and led a pony off that he had staked closes to the house and rode on down to where a family
of children lived by the name of Harkey. There were twelve or thirteen of these children; both the father and mother were dead. But
some of the children were grown, so they still stayed in the homestead, some of the children were playing out on the road; when
they saw the Indians coming they all ran to the house except one little girl she climbed up in an old live oak tree that leaned over
the road, thinking they were cowhunters until they were almost under her. She just sat still and the Indians rode under her without
seeing her. As they passed the house Joe Harkey got his gun and shot at them two or three times, but the Indians rode on without
paying any attention to him. "A little farther down the creek they ran on to about fifteen cowmen who had a bunch of cattle rounded
up and had a battle with them. It was about amile from our place. We could hear the guns shooting/ faster than I ever heard guns
shoot before, or have since. It wasn't long until we could hear the horses running, and in a few moments we saw the cowmen
coming as fast as their horses could run. Alex Hall was in the lead. As soon as he got close enough he called to father and said,
'John, you all better hide; there are a hundred, Indians after us.' So we boys, or the largest ones, just run through the high woods in
the fields as fast as we could and ran across the creek to where Uncle lived. In a few minutes Pa and the rest of the folks came
over there and the cowmen with them -- all but a man named Bomar. They said the last time they saw Bomar the Indians were right
on his heels and that they were satisfied that the Indians had killed him. "In those times everybody used what were called cap-and
bell guns and pistols, sot it took some time to reload a gun or pistol. So the cowmen men got powder, caps and bullets fromPa and
reloaded their guns and pistols. Then they all went down on the river where their families lived except two--they left Parson Davis
with us and another man to wait on him. The Indians had lanced Parson Davis, under the arm, but he soon got over it. "We all
stayed at Uncle Spence's that night. Uncle Spence lived in a field, and about ten o'clock that night we heard someone halloo down
back of the field, and Pa stepped out and asked, 'Is that you, Bomar?'Bomar answered, 'Yes,' Pa said, 'I thought you were dead.'
'No, he said, 'I aint dead.' So he came on in. The Indians hadn't even scratched him. Mr. Bomar said that the Indians crowded him
so close that he ran to the creek, jumped off his horse, and ran under a little bank in the edge of a hole of water. He stayed there a
few minutes and listened, and soon as the Indians quit making a noise, he slipped out and went into the post oaks and climbed up
into a thick-topped elm tree and stayed until after dark. Then he got down and came on in. The hole of water he hid in was called
the Bomar Hole after that, and the flat where they had the battle with the Indians was called the Bomar Flat. "'In the battle the
cowmen had with the Indians, if they killed an, Indian, the Indians carried him off, as they always did if they could. They found blood
on the trail the Indians took, so we supposed they had wounded some of them. These Indians had robbed the Widow Lindley's
house and burned it as they came in up on the Colorado close to Trickum. The Widow and children happened to be away
fromhome, or they might have been murdered. "Capt. Wood was in this battle, and he shot at an Indian who had a dress skirt of
Mrs. Lindley's on his head for a headdress. He either cut it off his head or made him dodge till he lost it, for it was left lying on the
battle ground. "After this raid, the few families that lived on Richland Creek decided that it wasn't safe to stay there because the
Indians were coming often and in such large bands, and that the few neighbors up and down the creek wouldn't have much chance
to defend their families against one of the large bands of Indians. So we all moved down on the river close to San Saba town
where it was more thickly settled, so we would have more protection. When we moved, we crossed the trail the Indians made that
had the battle with the cowmen. It was so plain that we could see it for a hundred yards or more ahead of us. "Sometime after the
battle on Bomar Flat, I was horse hunting one morning in the Bomar Flat and I looked up the creek and saw Sam Duncan come
riding down the road. As I was afoot, I thought that I would sit down by the side of the road and wait until he came up to me. He saw
me and thought that I was an Indian sitting there and raised his gun to shoot at me. So I got up and stepped out in the road where
he could see me; then he came on to me. He told me that the Indians were in the country and said for me to be very careful. He
said that he came very near shooting me. "As soon an the Indians quit coming in such large bands and so often, we moved back on
Richland Creek at our old home. But they made several raids after that, off and on for several years. My father had a nice bunch of
horses, and they kept stealing them until they got nearly all of them. "I had claimed several horses, but the Indians had stolen them.
So I bought a pony and Pa bought a fine mare at the same time. We had had them only about two weeks when the Indians stole
them one night. Some neighbors followed them the next morning, overtook them sometime that day, and captured all of the horses
except the ones the Indians were riding. The Indians saw the men coming after them, and they ran and made their escape. Then
the men drove the horses back and put them in a pen and notified the people to come and get their horses. I went that evening and
got my pony, but pa didn't get his mare. We supposed that an Indian was riding her, an she was a good animal, and the Indians
always rode the best horses they had when they thought there was any danger of being overtaken. "A short time after that the
report got out that the Indians were in the country again and some of the neighbors got up a little squad of men and boys to go up
on the head of Richland to look for them and try to catch them as they went out, or try to strike their trail. I went along with them; I
think that there were about twenty of us. I was about fifteen years old then, and there were some more boys in the little band about
my age. We rode all day and didn't see any signs of Indians. "About dark some of the men decided that there wasn't any use in
staying out that night and were in favor of going home. However, some wanted to stay all night and said that they were going to do
so. Then those in favor of going home decided that they would stay too if they would all hobble their horses and herd them. So
everyone agreed to the proposition, and they unsaddled their horses and hobbled them, all except my horse and Bill Shipman's we
were going to take the first turn herding the horses. By the time we were ready to go on herd, some of the first horses that were
hobbled out had grazed off some distance, so we started out to round then back and get them all together again so that we could
herd them. Bill Shipman went west of the camp and I went east. In a few minutes Bill ran back to camp and said that he had seen a
man out there on a horse, and the men all got their bridles and began to catch their horses and saddle up. Jim Harkey got his
horse saddled first and galloped out in the direction that Bill had seen the man, and he saw a man on a horse in the direction that
Bill and seen the man, in the shade of a tree. The man ran, and Jim chased him some distance and shot his pistol empty at him,
but he soon disappeared in the brush. After we all got all of the horses rounded up and caught, we decided that it would be best to
tie them and guard them so that the Indians couldn't run in and stampede them. So we guarded them the rest of the night, and the
next morning we hunted the country all around there to try to find some trail of the Indians, but we failed to find any trail that we
could follow so we gave up the hunt and went home."