Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 20 of 894
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tbededicated four leagues of land upon
which It jias to be located into small farm lots to be
lloltteto the settlers of the town. In-fulfillment
of is duties, Maj. Kerr, with bis negro servants
a4 bix single men, arrived on the present site of
A/onzales in July, 1825, he thereby becoming the
first American settler, as the head of a family, west
of the Colorado river in Texas.
The six single men who accompanied him to
Gonzales, and for a time remained in his service as
chainmen, rodmen or hunters, were the afterwards
famous Deaf Smith, Bazii Durbin, John Wightman,
' Strickland, James Musick and Gerron
His chief servants were Shade and Anise, the
parents and grandparents of numerous offspring,
who became widely known to the future settlers of
the country and greatly esteemed for their fidelity
to every trust and t4eir patriotism in every
Soon after Maj. Kerr's settlemint, Francis
Berry, with a family of children and two stepchildren,
John and Betsy Oliver, arrived and settled
half a mile below him. Cabins were erected and
their new life auspiciously begun.
The little settlement remained in peace for a year,
receiving occasional calls from passing parties of
Indians, professing friendship, and occasional visits
from Americans exploring the country. Among
these were Elijah Stapp, from Palmyra, and Edwin
Moorehouse, from Clarksville, Mo., both of whom
settled in Texas five or six years later..
Capt. Henry S. Brown, brother-in-law of'MLj.
Kerr, having arrived on the lower Brasos as-a Mexican
trader in December, 1824, made his first trip
into Mexico in 1825, and halted his caravan for rest
at the new settlement on both his outward and
In the meantime, Maj. Kerr prosecuted his
labors in the survey of lands, his people subsisting
on wili meat and coffee. Each household opened
a fiel and planted crops in the spring of 1826. In
June, Maj. Kerr was absent , on the -Brazos.
?here was to be a primitive barbecue on the Colorado
at Beson's, seven miles below the present
Columbus. It was agreed among the pilgrims that
they must be represented, notwithstanding the disan-e
seventy miles. Bazil Durbin,
Jbt r id Betsy Oliver and Jack, so of Shade aan
Ani, wtere seeted as the delegates. On the
tf.tiKt t S-lnday,i, July 2d, this party eft on
orsebseok ftorW ieon's. At that time Deaf Smith
and -Himd were out buffnalo hunting; Musick,
Strickland and tbe ilored people were spending
tie afternoon aR-Aer q, And
left alone in
chatrgerof the pM^ t of
double log house, with passage between -and two or
three cabins -in the yard. No danger was applrehended
as no indications of hostility bythe Indians
had been observed.
Durbin and party traveled fourteen miles4 en-camped
on Thorn's branch and all slept soundly,
but about middight they were aroused by the warwhoop
and firing of guns. Springing to their feet
they discovered that their assailants were very near
and in ambush. Durbin fell, but was assisted into
an adjoining thicket where all found safety. The
Indians seized and bore away their horses and all
their effects. Durbin had a musket ball driven
into his shoulder so deep that it remained there till
his death in JacksonCounty in 1858, thirty-two years
later. He suffered excruciating pain, from which,
with the loss of blood, he several times fainted.
Daylight came and they retraced their steps to
headquarters; but on arriving were appalled to
find the house deserted and robbed of its contents,
including Maj. Kerr's papers and three surveying
compasses, and Wightman dead, scalped and his
mutilated body lying in the open hallway. Hastening
down to Berry's house they found it closed,
and written on the door with charcoal (for Smith
and Hinds) the words: " Gone to Burnam's, on
the Colorado." It was developed later thLOw1en
Musick, Strickland and the clored peo;ple returned
home late in the evening they found this condition
of afairs riturned Jo Berry's and all of both
houses left for the Colorado. As written by the
writer more than forty years ago, in the presence
of the sufferer:
"Durbin's wound had already
rendered himn very weak, but he had now no alternative
but to seek the same place on foot, or peris
on the way. Three days were occupied in the trip,
the weather was very warm and there was great
danger of mortification, to prevent which -mud
poultices, renewed at every watering-place, proved
to be effectual."
And thus was the first American settlement west
of the Colorado baptized in blood.
Maj. Kerr then settled on the Lavaca and made
a crop there in 1827. His place temporarily served.
as a rallying point for De Witt and others, 4il the
spring of 1828, when the settlement at Gonzale
was renewed. MaJ. Kerr remained permanentl
on the Lavaca, but continued for sme 'years-a
'surveyor of De Witt's colony. The-tem.po0ry
tiement on the west of the Lavaca was subseu_
klown as the " Old Station' while Mheadright
league and home were on-the ,.
In the autdiurnot 183 -J3i -ob euAf lg 1
and sagaious ackwoodma, f boders of
Ml8issoui, with his j qi d en and. i,
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/20/?rotate=90: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .