MISS ANN WHITNEY
The story of the murder of Elizabeth Ann Whitney has
oft been told and remembered. Miss Whitney has been immortalized for her
bravery. That is well and good, but few recognize the other heroine of
that July day in 1867--the almost seventeen-year old Amanda
At the time of the Indian attacks, Amanda Howard, sister
of Volney "Vol" Howard, and her sister-in-law . Sarah Clover
Howard, wife of "Vol" Howard rode into the Warlene Valley from
the east. Amanda was mounted on the young unproven and spirited horse she
The beautiful Warlene Valley reposed on the south bank
of the Leon River six miles northeast of the present town of
valley was approximately three-quarters of a mile wide and one and a half
miles long. The school which has no other name than "The Leon River
School" was near the center of the valley. The Howards lived about a
mile west of the school and the John Baggett lived about half a mile east
of the school in this valley. Ezekiel Manning and Alexander Powers lived 1
˝ miles south of the valley behind a high hill. Two miles up the Leon River were the cabins of the Massengills, the Ganns, the Strangelines, the
Coles, Simon Kuykendall, and James M. Kuykendall. J. B. Hendrix and his
sons Crockett and Abe lived two miles from the school.
Judge D. C. Snow
and Uel Livingston and the Pierson ranch were within six miles.
Miss Whitney had been employed to teach a private school
on the banks of the Leon River. This school was the first school to be
taught in Hamilton County following the Civil War and was the fourth
school of record to be taught in the Hamilton County area. The first three
schools (pre-Civil War) were:
1857-- Langford Cove school taught by Raleigh
Hazzard who was paid $92.58 on 2 November, 1857, by the Coryell County
Commissioners. The present County of Hamilton was not created
until 22 January, 1858, by the Seventh Legislature of the State of
1859-- Hamilton--private school taught by John
Jefferson Durham. This school ended when Mr. Durham enlisted in the
1860- private school taught near on the Leon River
east of Hamilton by Rev. Jesse J. Griffith, who was killed by Indians
9 February, 1860, thus ending the school.
The Civil War suspended the formal education processes
in Hamilton County until 1867 when Miss Whitney taught the private Leon
On July 11 (or July 9--accounts vary) about 2:00 p.m. a
party of perhaps a dozen Indians invaded the log schoolhouse of Miss Ann
Whitney. The school was a small log cabin which had a door on the south
and a small window on the north. Large cracks gapped between the logs in
both the walls and the floor. Early schools could be taught only during
warm months because the schools were unheated and each would last only for
a few weeks.
A daughter of Alexander Powers saw a group of men
rapidly riding toward the school and alerted Miss Whitney who was certain
that the riders were cowhands of John Barbee who was coming to see his
daughter Olivia that day. Olivia Barbee was boarding with a family so that
she could attend school. Hence, Miss Whitney made the fatal mistake of
ignoring the warning. Watching the approach of the Indians through the
cracks in the wall, the Powers child became frightened and pushed her
little brother through the window and they escaped into the brush. Going
to the door Miss Whitney witnessed the Indians taking Mary, her horse.
Closing and barring the door, Miss Whitney instructed the children to
escape through the window. As Miss Whitney was pushing the last two
girls--Mary Jane Manning and Jane Kuykendall through the small window on
the north side of the cabin, Miss Whitney was fatally shot with arrows.
Miss Whitney had pleaded with the Indians to kill her and to leave the
children alone. The Indians were led by a red-headed white man. All but
two of her students were able to escape through the small window on the
north side of the cabin. As Miss Whitney lay dying, she spread her skirts
attempting to cover cracks in the floor where John Kuykendall and Louis
Manning were hiding. Jane Kuykendall, shot by an arrow, fell down and the
Indians assumed that she was dead.
The red-headed attacker asked John and Louis if they wanted to go with the Indians. John Kuykendall, who replied
"yes," was taken captive.
Olivia Barbee was seized by the English-speaking Indian
who forced her on his horse. Olivia slid off the horse and escaped into
the dense underbrush when her captor’s attention was distracted. Olivia
was so consumed by terror, that when John Massengill spotted her the next
day, he had to run her down.
At the time of the attack Miss Amanda Howard and her
sister-in-law Mrs. Sarah Howard had ridden their horses into the valley from the
east. Believing that the Indians were hunters, Amanda and Sarah rode
toward the school. The Indians spotted these ladies and pursued. Amanda
and Sarah reversed directions and rode toward the home of John Baggett
half a mile east of the school. Amanda’s horse leaped over the Baggett’s
eight-rail fence, but Sarah’s horse turned hurling her over the fence as
an Indian captured her horse. Sarah was not hurt seriously and quickly
found refuge in the Baggetts’ home.
While one group of Indians was attacking the school
near the middle of the valley , another group waylaid the Stanaland
[not Strangeline] family who were traveling through the valley from the west. Both Mr. and Mrs.
were shot as were their two children. Mr. Hugh Strangeline
killed but not scalped.
Amanda Howard formulated a plan to alert other settlers
and to secure help. Amanda had to ride past the Indians and outrun them to
get to the only road that crossed the high hill to the south that led to a
lower settlement. Amanda’s dash through the valley interrupted the
Indians who were attacking the Stanaland
[not Strangeline] family. The daring
seventeen-year-old Amanda escaped the Indians only by a few rods as she
reached the road to the south.
Amanda’s riding skills distracted the Indians from the
school, and away from the Strangelines (correction--Stanaland)
. Her courage saved many lives as
the Indians hurriedly beat a retreat to the west with their captive, John
Some of the men who joined the posse to search for the
Indians were Abe Pierson, Chapman and Volney Howard, and Abe Hendrix and
School children in Hamilton County later raised money to
erect a monument placed in Graves Gentry Cemetery in Hamilton in memory of
the brave Ann Whitney.
"In memory of Ann Whitney, a frontier school
teacher; born in Massachusetts about 1835, killed by Comanche Indians July
9, 1867. Resting in hope of a glorious resurrection. Erected by the school
children of Hamilton County."
FIRST SCHOOLS in HAMILTON COUNTY
PECAN SCHOOL DISTRICT, NO. 18