A COMANCHE PRISONER IN 1841
COL. WILSON T. DAVIDSON
Grandmother Angelina Smith was well content with life in
the small town of Austin a little over a hundred years ago.
Her husband, James Smith, was the first Chief Justice of Travis
County. Her town, though small, was now the capital of a great
new-born republic. To add to her satisfaction, she had "three
of the smartest children" in town-at least she thought they
were-Caroline, my mother, aged eleven, Fayette, who was soon
to celebrate his ninth birthday in a tragic way, and Lorena,
the youngest, who was seven.
As a sincere member of the Presbyterian Church, Mrs. Smith
was not only a regular attendant at its meetings, enjoying the
services and the short social contacts that always came, but in
some way she had acquired the library of a Presbyterian clergy-
man, and oddly enough, took great interest in poring over
various subjects in these volumes.
How suddenly was the whole scheme of life disrupted for
Angelina! On the morning of January 21, 1841, the Chief
Justice, entirely unarmed, the idea of hostile Indians never
entering his mind, mounted his horse, taking his son, Fayette,
up behind him. He rode up the river to the present site of the
old Confederate Home, to look out for some hogs that were
rooting around in the nearby woods.
He had just reached his destination when a band of five
Comanche Indians suddenly swooped down upon him, shooting
with bows and arrows and one or two guns. One arrow struck
his left arm, breaking it, and, continuing its course, struck
my Uncle Fayette on the forehead. The thoroughly frightened
horse became unmanageable, and dashed under a live oak tree,
where both the riders were swept off by an overhanging limb.
The Indians ran up at once, completed the killing of Grandfather
Smith with bows and arrows, and took Fayette captive.
As the day wore on, Angelina, unperturbed, went about her
usual affairs. Was not her boy entitled to have a good time out
in the woods on his birthday ? But when the pair failed to return
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed July 10, 2014.