History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families Page: 125
HISTORY OF TEXAS. l2
J oNs C. hI.AYS, generally known as Colonel
"6 Jack" Hays, was a native, it is believed,
of Tennessee, and came to Texas when a
young man, bringing with him letters of
recommendation from prominent people to
President Houston. The latter soon gave
him a commission to raise a ranging company
for the protection of the western frontier.
This company is supposed to be the first
regularly organized one in the service so far
in the West. With this small companyfor
it never numbered more than three-score
men-Colonel Hays effectually protected a
vast scope of the frontier reaching from
Corpus Christi on the gulf to the headwaters
of the Frio and Nueces rivers. With the
newly introduced five-shooting revolvers each
of his men was equal to about five or six
Mexicans or Indians. Although the colonel
was rather under the medium size, he was
wiry and active, well calculated to withstand
the hardships of frontier life. He was frequently
seen sitting before his camp fire in
a cold storm, apparently as unconcerned as if
in a hotel, and that, too, when perhaps he
had nothing for supper but a piece of hardtack
or a few pecans. Although lie was extremely
cautious when the safety of his men
was concerned, he was extremely careless
when only his own welfare was in jeopardy.
He was elected colonel of a regiment of
mounted volunteers at the breaking out of
the Mexican war, and they did valiant service
at the storming of Monterey. Some time
after the war he moved to California, where
lie finally died, a number of years ago.
As an example of Hays' heroism we cite
the following anecdote from Mr. Wilbarger's
work: In the fall of 1840 a party of Comanche
Indians numbering about 200 came into the
vicinity of San Antonio, stole a great many
horses and started off in the direction of the
Guadalupe river. Hays, with about twenty
of his men, followed in pursuit, overtaking
them at that river. Riding in front, as was
his custom, the colonel was the first to discover
the red rascals, and, riding back to his
men, he said, "c Yonder are the Indians, boys,
and yonder are our horses. The Indians
are pretty strong, but we can whip them and
recapture the horses. What do you say?"
" Go ahead," the boys replied, i" and we'll
follow if there's a thousand of them."" Come
on, then, boys," said Hays: and, putting
spurs to their horses, this little band of only
twenty men boldly charged upon the 200
warriors who were waiting for them drawn
up in battle array.
Seeing the small number of their assailants
the Indians were sure of victory; but Hays'
men poured shot among them so directly and
rapidly as to cut down their ranks at a fearful
rate, killing even their chief, and the
Indians, frightened at what appeared to them
a power superior to man, fled in confusion.
Hays and his men followed for several miles,
killing even more of them and recovering
most of the stolen horses.
About a year afterward he was one of a
party of fifteen or twenty men employed to
survey land near what the Indians called
' The Enchanted Rock," in which, high up,
was a cavity large enough to contain several
men. Being attacked by Indians in this
vicinity, Colonel Hays, who was at some
distance from his party, ran up the hill and
took a position in this little hollow place,
determined to "sell his life at the dearest
price." He was well known to the Indians,
and they were anxious if possible to get his
scalp. Mounting the hill, they surrounded
the rock and prepared to charge upon him.
Hays was aware that his life depended more
upon strategy than courage, and reserved
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Lewis Publishing Company, publisher. History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families, book, 1893; Chicago. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29785/m1/130/ocr/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .