HAMILTON MAN AIDS IN RESCUE OF CYNTHIA ANN PARKER
(As told by Benjamin Franklin Gholson, August 26, 1931,
to Felix Williams and Hervey Chesley of Hamilton, Texas. Gholson was born
in Robertson County, now Falls County, Texas, Nov. 17, 1842, and died
April 3, 1932, at his home near Evant, Texas. Was with the Texas Rangers
1858-60. This account was taken in shorthand and verified by Gholson
I was born in Robertson County, Texas, November 17,
1842. Well, my father was the son of Colonel Sam Gholson, who was in
Jacksonís army. He got up a Kentucky regiment. He was born in 1816 in
Paducah, Kentucky. In 182_, his, that is, my fatherís parents moved to
Madison County, Tennessee. From there they came to Texas in a large train
of emigrants, arriving at San Felipe, on the Brazos about the 29th of
July, 1932 /sic. 1832/. He was a boy then. They went through that
doggone Mexican war. They came in a colonization contract, the Robertson
contract, which was for 200 families.
That Mexican war commenced in 1835. He took part in
that, joined Captain Whiteís company as a private. About the next thing,
when Ben Milan called for volunteers to go into San Antonio, when our army
was on the outside and Mexicans were in possession of the town, he
volunteered and followed Milam, and was near by when Milam was killed.
Yes, Milam was killed right there, in San Antonio.
Barron organized a ranging company in 1836, and my
father became a first lieutenant in this service. Well, I donít know
whether that was the first ranging force or not. They had some Indian
fights before they went into that war, but they didnít call them rangers.
This is about my father.
There is a difference of opinion about whether those
Indians that used to raid in this country were government charges. We once
had all these Texas Indians that belonged in Texas on a Texas reservation.
That was done after annexation. They came under treaties and were put on
reservation here in Texas. Fort Belknap was the headquarters in Young
County. There were remnants of several tribes. There were remnants of the
Comanches that had accepted the treaty, and the main tribe didnít do it.
That bunch was kept by Cooper because they was at variance with the other
tribes. The Caddoes, Delawares, Phawnees, Wacoes, and other tribes were
kept there until 1858
There was a division in the minds of the people on the
frontier. Some said them Indians was complying with the treaty, and was
being fed by the government and overlooked by the soldiers, and that it
was Indians not under the treaty, that was doing this devilment, and
others said these were the Indians that did it and were only taking part
with the wild tribes. Although my ranger days I thought that it was the
wild tribes, but I found there was more Indians in the world than there
was on those reservations.
But in 1859 there was much strife between people on that
question. Texas asked the general government to take charge of these
Indians and put them over in the territory that was then set apart for
Indians; and they had some five tribes on that reservation then, with Fort
Gibson as headquarters.
In 1959 these Indians were moved from off this
reservation, all of them, and they wasnít willing to go. They was
required to go with the assistance of the soldiers and two companies
of rangers who delivered them into the hands of the
Indian agents on the other side of the Red River.
I am of the opinion that right there things changed. I
donít believe them Indians had been doing anything to cause this move,
but the majority of the people got to think they were. They were forced to
go over there, and they had made their treaty to stay in Texas. I wouldnít
be surprised, then, if they didnít depredate from then on.
That was the reason our company was organized, by order
of Gen. Sam Houston. It is said that there were violations on the part of
the white people, somebody would mistreat some Indians somewhere that was
being friendly. In some other part of the state somebody else would do
something of the same kind.
In 1856, according to the statements of some prisoners
who was in the hands of the Indians and had been recovered there were nine
tribes of Indians come together in the fall. The nearest I can fix that
time is November, 1856. And it was said they comet together on and around
and near the forks of the Brazos, which would be the Yellow prong and the
Double Mountain prong of the Brazos, and that was where the council was
They described it that they held a meeting there near
the forks of the river, near Double Mountains. I donít know just where
the council ground was. It was there about the forks somewhere. They
designated the time As in the light of the moon in November. He (the one
telling this) called himself Juan Leon. He was a prisoner being used as a
horse herder and a hide dresser. They enslaved most of the Mexicans.
When I first enlisted in the rangers, it was in 1858.
That was in another company. This Pease river fight was when I was in Sull
Rossí second company and I served in each of them. We was organized on
the first day of October on the bank of the San Saba, near the new village
of San Saba, but that was the first company.
I went on then until this March enlistment under Smither
here in Waco in 1860. I came here (then Hamilton County, now Mills County)
and worked on my fatherís ranch till March of 1860, when I went. Then
was when we went into the regiment, ordered by Sam Houston, and formed at
Sull Ross was born in 1838. That was 1860. I believe he
was born in April. He was 22 years old and a little better. Six months was
the ranger term. I was in three times and this was the last. This company
was organized in October, and this fight come off in December, while we
were in the service of that organization. Smithís company came to Rossí
later on. When we organized in a regiment Captain Smith went in as a field
officer and Ross took his place in command of the company.
San Houston was governor at the time and wanted to send
out a regiment of rangers against the Northern Comanches that spring, and
in due time he commanded certain men to raise companies; as, Smith of
Waco, Darnell of Dallas; Burleson of Austin, and so forth. Then the
companies would organize in different parts wherever enlisted.
Well we went up the Brazos River yonder and got to Fort
Belknap. One company got there today, one the next. Col. M. T. Johnson was
there in command authorized to organize them into a regiment. We came from
Waco, and the other fellows from wherever they was from. When we got there
Johnson had authority to organize a regiment.
Johnson had his authority from the governor, and also
these captains had, because he had commissioned them. The lieutenants and
sergeants was elected by the men. Captain Darnell and Smith ran for
lieutenant-colonel, for we needed some field officers, needed a
lieutenant-colonel and a major and an adjutant. Smith got a majority of
the votes. The whole regiment voted.
Sull, we had elected him first lieutenant here in Waco.
When they raised Smith, we just moved Sull up by all of the votes and
named Callahaw to Sullís place, and Allen Galt to Callahawís place.
Captain Fitzhugh got to be major. Joe Johnson was to be adjutant.
Well, word was brought from Fort Cobb of some men who
had been over there with some beef and supplies. Gooch and McKay were
contractors to furnish corn and so forth, and when they returned to Ft.
Belknap they had learned that there were several bands of Indians camped
over there in what were supposed to be their winter quarters. There was a
man named Steward who had been in that country up there the year before,
and he said he believed he knew where the place was and believed that he
could find it.
Well, we went to hunt that bunch of Indians. I donít
know now whether this man Steward went voluntarily or whether he was
promised pay, but he went along with us as a guide, not to keep us from
getting lost, but to find those Indians.
We struck the river about 20 miles up, but still didnít
find any Indian signs, fresh signs. That river was running from west to
east. We went northwest till we struck that river, went across it, and
hadnít found any fresh signs. We turned them up the north side of the
river and camped one night on the north side. That night came a rain and
freeze, enough to wet
the top of the ground, and it was a cold rain.
The next morning we started up the river. We first
picked a buffalo trail, for the river was bad about quick sand, so looked
for buffalo trails for a place to cross it. We crossed right over behind
them for if a bunch of buffalo can cross the sand it is safe to cross
until there comes another rise. We took up the south side, still we didnít
see any fresh Indian signs. We had crossed the river again and camped on
the north side about 10 miles up, and found another buffalo trail, and
crossed back to the south side and camped.
All this time we had some men ahead of us, some of us,
six or eight men, from four to ten miles ahead, and we had some up that
side and someone the this side, to look out for signs, or if they saw a
body of Indians to come and report to the command. They beat on up the
river till night, and we had four men ahead and we stopped there. When the
men ahead wanted to find the command they knowed what direction it was,
and at night they would see the fire light. In the day time in that
country you could see all over the country.
It was just at dusk that night that two of our men that
were in front of us, rode into camp. We was camped one company right above
the other one. Rossí was ours, and Curetonís Minute Men was furtherest
down. Anyhow, that was the way it was. They rode in, two men of our
company, and told us--told Ross--and the balance of us that was a mind to
could listen in--that they had found some fresh signs and said it was
about seven or eight miles from there. The understanding was that these
two men would come and lead us up to the place, and that the other two
would examine and see what they could learn.
When Ross talked to Cureton, he said, "Ross, it is
jut impossible for me to move up tonight. Part of the menís horses
wouldnít be able to go 10 miles, they are so fagged." He says,
"Why not wait till morning and then we will all start together? By
the time our horses rest tonight they can travel."
Ross said, "No, them two men that was left there
wold wait until somebody came to them," and he says, "If you canít
move you can follow us early in the morning and I will take them soldiers
and my company and go up there where those two men are, and we will be on
the river so you can find us by just coming up the river."
Those men that couldnít move that night were Minute
Men. Them fellows was considered rangers took but they were Minute
Rangers. Twenty soldiers went with us that night. And there was a Mexican
with us, Anton, that was really Rossí cook. He was brought along because
he had been raised in that part of the country. Ď60 was a dry year, and
Captain Smith had told Sull, "That is the best man you can take. He
will know all the lasting water is in that country. There were 41 rangers
that went, just 61 men, except the Mexican and he was not an enlisted man.
We stayed up all that night, kept moving up the river,
and having a man ahead to see if he could see any lights or the kind in a
low valley, we would have to have been ahead or away up above them to see
Either on the north or the south they would have been
hid. We didnít see them, at any rate, and would just keep moving up.
Them boys that had been left had gone on up five or six miles, and they
had found some more signs closer than that. They said the Indians were
still going up the river. That was what caused us to keep on going up the
The Indians had killed a pole cat; and they found close
to the river where the squaws had cut down a hackberry tree and there were
Indian childrenís tracks around it in the sand where they had been
hunting hackberries. So then we knew they wasnít far off. From, there on
we kept about 12 men up front, instead of four.
Just about daylight, when it was beginning to get good
light, the Indians were found in that place where the high hills were on
all sides except up and down the stream. They were packed up and some of
them had done started when discovered. The balance was leaving as they got
ready. There were 61 horses and mules packed with buffalo meat. As we
later found, instead of staying there all winter, they were drying, after
killing their winter meat. At this time the game was poor, and they killed
it there. They were killing and preparing the meat, and we later learned
there was a bigger camp thirty-five miles above that.
They would have anywhere from two to four hundred pounds
on a horse, just owing to what the horse could work under. Unless they had
plenty of pack animals, they didnít have any mercy of horses and mules.
We got 375 horses and mules in all (after the fight). There was 19 of them
mules had "US" branded on them. They had robbed some government
train. The mules looked like they had them a good while. Most of them was
I guess, women and children and all there were between
500 and 600 Indians. Some histories say we killed them all, but the... we
did. There was more than 150 or 200 warriors.
Well, just as soon as we went up on top of this narrow
hill that was cut in two by this creek (that ran into the river here) we
was discovered. The yell that was set up from the Indians notified the
rest and we just charged off of the hill and across the little creek,
which was boggy in places. There was some Indians going that way, and they
fired into them and turned them this way. They just come up through the
valley like they was running a race.
They had dogs with them, and some of them barked and
growled, and some run and some stopped with the Indians till they got
killed. They didnít have a great many dogs. I guess, as many as fifteen.
Ross said, "Twelve of you men on horses go to the
front and try to head them off." The Indians were strung out from the
battle grounds as far as the eye could see. Twelve of us set off As quick
as possible as soon as we could hear what he wanted us to do. There was a
string of Indians, and here is an Indian village right over there. There
is a narrow ridge over there cut in two by a creek (indicating the
positions on the floor as h e told it.) He sent 20 men around the end of
the ridge, around the point where the creek narrowed. Them was the
regulars that were at Rossí command. He told them to run around the end
at that point.
When the Indians undertook to run they went right off to
the west. The Comanche chief ran off up here, when he turned back with
some warriors who came back with him. When he was with them the Indians in
front bore a little to the north. When he turned back here, them Indians
resumed their course, took the same course nearly exactly west.
When he comes back he forms a circle, a kind of oblong
circle, right in front of our men. Them Indians that went in that circle
dismounted and throwed their horses next to us, made a breastworks of the
horses. That was to check us until the others could get away. That was his
idea. Right while the talk was going on was when he come.
Ten was when Ross told ten or twelve men with the best
horses to go after the Indians., to delay them till something could be
done. We got clear away from where those fellows were fighting around the
circle. So all twelve of us kept together. Now they were going this way,
to the west, and running on the south side of the river. When we
fired into them, it shoved them over a little to the
north. Finally about four miles from there, they crossed the river and we
crossed right behind them and ran in and turned them almost to the north.
Every time we fired a volley the Indians would turn a littler to the south
until finally when we quit them they were going nearly exactly north. We
turned them from west to north.
After crossing the river there, there was branches and
gullies leading off from the river, one at one place, and one at another.
Before our run was ended we went on higher ground, going to the Red River.
Every once in a while we would see a big bunch of Indians, but mostly
women and children, going in those dry draws. We were on the opposite
side. I remember three different good, big bunches, just quitting the run
and running down in the draws, but not all in the same draw.
That was about the plan of it. There was kind of a half
circle made. I donít know how much tat run around was, but it was about
12 miles to go straight back to the battle grounds. We kept together, just
counseled among ourselves as we went. If we had separated and gone up the
draws, we would likely have been killed.
Every once in a while as we were on this run there would
be two or three guns and sixshooteres shot. There must have been a few
more sixshooters among the Indians than there was guns, because we could
tell, were close enough when one was fired to know what it was. I will say
that there wasnít more than one fie arm to 20 Indians. They didnít
have many guns.
Nocona, the chief (identity known later) back at the
battle ground, took his position in the circle and his warriors too. There
was about 17 Indians killed in there, and five at one valley. No rangers
were killed or wounded. After 17 were down, Nocona spoke out something.
(I am done now, but that is what the boys said.) He said about three
words. They didnít know what it was, but soon saw what it was.
Most of the Indians were then down behind dead or
wounded horses for protection, or breastworks. When three words were
spoke, they rose right up and mounted the nearest horses to them. came up himself and when he mounted one squaw that was over there
the same place, and up she jumped behind him. At that time all were
mounted that was going to be able to get up, just five warriors and that
squaw. What he said was let every man take care of himself and get out of
there or die.
That was the only way the boys knew what the order
meant. He went himself. Well, as he went out Lieutenant Mike Sommerville
was the nearest man in the direction he wanted to go. Mike was a great,
big fat fellow. He fell almost to the ground as an arrow went over him. By
the time Sommerville had recovered, the Indian had passed.
Ross fell right in behind. That Indian then had that
squaw still behind him. Ross ran in behind them and shot the last rider
first. He shot one shot that went clear through her and injured Nocona.
That didnít stop them until death struck her. They got five or six
hundred yards from the circle place, and she just made a loud scream, a
wild death scream, and come to the ground, and she brought old Nocona with her off of the horse. That put them on the ground afoot, and here was
Ross coming right behind them.
When she got to the ground, Nocona got loose. About the
first shot Nocona made with his arrow he hit Rossí horse. Nocona was
letting the arrows come quick and fast. Sull shot random shots and one of
these shots struck his right arm.
When he got that arm broke, Sull had shot him two or
three times before he broke that arm, he turned to the only sapling close.
It was a mesquite, I suppose 20 feet high, and he took hold of it with his
hand this way them boys said and Sull told it.
The next man that come to him was his Mexican cook, and
the cook had been in the hands of he Indians before, and he understood
their language. When he (Nocona) took hold of the sapling, he commenced
looking right off, way toward the northwest and commenced talking in his
When the Mexican came up Sull was afoot and the Indian
was afoot and ahold of the sapling, and there stood the Indianís horse.
Sull asked the Mexican, "Who is he?" He said, "Well, he is Nocona." We all knew him by reputation but not by sight. "Well,
what is he talking about?" The Indian was not noticing them, was
looking way off yonder and talking. "Oh!" he says,
"the--blank -- blank-- he talk to his god." Sull said,
"What is he saying?" "Well, he says he wants his gekovah to
give his token if he has done his duty as a chieftain, or ever failed his
tribe, or failed or refused to do his duty any time in
behalf of his tribe." Ross said, "But can you talk to him?"
The Mexican said, "Yes." Ross said, "Tell him then if he
will surrender he will not be shot any more." The Mexican broke loose
talking to him in his own language. That was the first time, I suppose,
that Nocona had noticed the Mexican. Quick as he spoke Nocona turned and
looked at the Mexican as much as to say, "Who is that talking my
language?" I never knowed whether he recognized him or not.
So when the Mexican told him what the white captain
said, he looked at Sull then, looked back at Sull. Sull was standing there
waiting for an answer. He said, "You tell that white man that when I
am dead I will surrender, but not before, and not to him," and that
he was going to surrender to that other captain up there, his gekova. Then
he made his motion to the other one and went right on talking to his
Right when he made him that answer he turned loose that
sapling, and had a long spear, about that long (indicating a spear head
some nine inches long) with a China pole about nine feet long made fast at
each end to a spear, which was sharp on each edge. The other end was made
fast with a Spanish knot to a buckskin lariat plaited from it, the other
end around the horseís neck. Just as he answered, both things were at
the same time, he turned loose that sapling, and took this well arm and
threw this spear at Sull that way. All Sull had to do was get out of the
way, beyond the edge of the lariat.
When Nacona saw it didnít hit him, he just turned
back to sapling and went to talking again. Sull said to the Mexican (only
the three of them were present), "This is the bravest man ever I saw.
I Canít shoot as brave a man as that!"
The Mexican had a gun too, and before he could say
"shoot," that Mexican shot him clear loose of that sapling. He
just fell loose from it. Sull ran up to him then, and he was lying on his
back, and he looked up at him and breathed about three times, and between
breaths he gritted his teeth like a wild hog.
This Mexican, Anton, was, had been the personal slave to
Nocona, belonged to Nocona, and he was very bitter against him. We didnít
know why. He told us afterwards. He said that when he was a small boy, his
father was a ranchman in Mexico, not far from the Rio Grande. He said that
one morning, the morning he was captured, his father and three Mexicans
were at the corral roping and catching a lot of horses, and his mother and
the balance of the family was at the house. And there was a big bunch of
Indians came around the corral, and it didnít take them long to kill the
four Mexicans. Some of the Indians ran between them and the house and
circled around the corral.
Well, he said, they came to the house and his mother
came out of the house and met him, Nocona, who was leading that charge,
then a young man, she met him and plead with him, in Spanish in her
language, not to kill the children and not to carry them off. He said that
there was another Mexican woman or two there. He said they killed the
women, and carried off the children, him among them, and that he saw
Nacona shoot his mother with a pistol when she was pleading with him.
Nacona kept him, he said, when they divided up he prisoners, and made a
servant out of him. And that was the reason he knowed him and that woman,
and knowed what they called her, Palooch.
Now by the time Ross saw the breath was out of him (Nocona),
he knew that Callahaw, another lieutenant, was out there having trouble
with one Indian. Sull mounts his horse again and went to relieve Callahaw,
right out on the open ground, nearly north of where Sull and he chief
were. That left the Mexican behind, and up ran two more of our men, and
the Mexican told them enough that they knew it was Nocona and that the
woman was some young squaw he didnít know. He spoke a few words and ran
after Ross again, but never caught up with him till Ross got to where
Callahaw and this Indian were having trouble.
The first thing he done (Ross) was to run right up in
front of them. When he run up in front of them the Indian had a buffalo
robe around him, for it was a pretty cold day. She looked at him with a
wild glare, and Sull hollers out to Callahaw, "Tom, this is a white
woman!" Tom said.
"...., no! That ainít no white woman," for
he was mad and cussing, was an Irishman, and said, "... that squaw,
if I have to worry with her any more, I will shoot her!"
Sull contended she was a white woman, and he stayed in
front of her himself, and finally laid hold of her horseís bridle. The
Mexican ran p first, and when he is up, Sull said, "Who is she,
Anton?" and he said, "Th! She is Nocona's wife."
She had a baby under that buffalo robe and held it up
when Callahaw started to shoot her, and that was the reason he didnít
shoot at her just as soon as he ran up on her. That was the first that he
knew that she wasnít a warrior. He said, "She is Nocona's wife." And Sull said, "Well, who is she?" He said that she
was a white girl they had raised and didnít know who she was. Tome gave
it up then.
Between the Mexican and Sull and Tom they got her quiet,
and the Mexican talked to her in the Comanche language, telling her what
she must do. They insisted on carrying her back. Just then these two
fellows that were left with Nocona was dead ran up during this time, and
they had scalped Nacona, took the scalp and split it, and each one had
half of it. She (the woman) wanted to go back there where Nocona was
killed. They carried her up there, and she got down and paraded
around over Nocona a bit, and paid her respects to this
They had to force her away from there, took hold of her
and just put her on her horse. The Mexican was telling her she would make
them kill her if she didnít come on. They carried her into camp then,
and they established camp. We 12 fellows hadnít come back yet, but that
is the way they told it. That Mexicanís name was Antonio Mortimus.
We were at Camp Cooper about three weeks afterwards when
we discovered the womanís identity. There were different surmises about
it. There wasnít any of us that really knowed anything about it. There
had been a lot of children carried off at different times in Texas. We
couldnít learn from her who she was. One thing I left out, when Callahaw
caught up with her, she didnít run out of the ring, for she had started
off with the squaws and the children but had turned back to see if they
would be killed, when the circle broke, she was just a little way off as
if she had been in the circle. Callahaw didnít know that she was a
woman. She said at the time she throwed the baby up, "Americano!"
said it over about three times. Now he misunderstood what she meant. He
thought she was a squaw pleading with him as an American, but he learned
afterwards that she meant to tell him that she was an American. (The woman
was Cynthia Ann Parker.)
There wasnít but 27 Indians killed that we got. They
were carrying 32 Indians when running off, wounded Indians you might say.
There were 17 dead in the circle.
Sull Ross went to meet Sam Houston, the governor, at
Waco, and he took that boy (an Indian boy that was captured) with him at
that time. Sullís father lived at Waco and had several Negroes and put
that Indian among them Negroes and was raised with them. He used the
Indian as a cowboy as soon as got big enough. That was the reason they
caught him running with those Negroes up there. He has been right on this
gallery here. That was the son of one of those warriors there.
Here is the way the boy told that to the Mexican as we
came back. He said that when they went to start from the camp he had his
pony ready to start, and thought he would walk a piece and shoot with is
bow and arrow a little to get warmed up before he got on his horse. When
the hurrah was raised and guns began popping this horse broke and run and
the boy never did get to his pony. Marion Cassidy saw him dodging some
horses and men. Marion took hold of his hand, while the fighting was going
on at the circle, which must have lasted an hour. When they were bringing
Cynthia Ann in, Ross happened bo see something way out yonder, and rode
out there and got him. Sull couldnít talk but just a word in place to a
Comanche and the Indian came up to him, and he brought him in behind him.
He wasnít Naconaís boy at all. I guess he told the Mexican what
Indianís son he was. We didnít care whose son he was.
HAMILTON COUNTY NEWS, Vol. VIII, No. 7
THE CARLTON CITIZEN, Vol. 30, No. 23
Friday, June 24, 1938
W. F. Billingslea, Publisher, Hamilton