Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 29 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
sewed a buffalo skin, and traveled along five days
without looking at it; when it was opened, it was
in a fair way for healing, which it finally did,
and the mortified parts all dropped off, and his
leg now is as well as it ever was. There was none
of the party but had his skin cut in several places,
and numerous shot holes through his clothes.
" On the twelfth day we arrived in good order,
with our wounded men and horses, at San Antonio
The Scalping of Wilbarger and Death of Christian and
Strother, in 1833.
In the year 1828, Josiah Wilbarger, recently
married to a daughter of Leman Barker, of Lincoln
County, Mo., arrived at Matagorda, Texas.
The writer of this, then in his eighth year, knew
him intimately. The Wilbarger family adjoining
the farm of my parents, lived on a thousand arpents
of the richest land, one mile east of the present
village of Ashley, Pike County, Missouri, sixteen
miles from the Mississippi river and seventy-five
miles above St. Louis. In the autumn of 1826,
Capt. Henry S. Brown, father of the writer, temporarily
returned home from Texas, after having
spent two years in that then terra incognita and
Northern Mexico. His descriptions of the country
deeply impressed young Wilbarger, as well as a
large number of persons in the adjoining county of
Lincoln, whose names subsequently shed luster on
the pioneer life of Texas. The remainder of the
Wilbarger family, or rather two brothers and three
sisters of their number, came to Texas in 1837.
Josiah spent a year in Matagorda, another in Colorado
County, and in 1831 settled on his headright
league, ten miles above Bastrop on the Colorado, with
his wife, child and two transient young men. He
was temporarily the outside settler, but soon others
located along the river below and two or three
above, the elder Reuben Hornsby becoming the
outer sentinel, and so remaining for a number of
years. Mr. Wilbarger located various lands for
other parties in that section, it being in Austin's
second grant above the old San Antonio and Nacogdoches
road, which crossed at Bastrop.
In August, 1833, accompanied by four others,
viz., Christian a surveyor, Strother, Standifer and
Haynie, Mr. Wilbarger left on a land-locating
expedition, above where Austin now is. Arriving
on the ground and on the eve of beginning work,
an Indian was discovered on a neighboring ridge,
watching their movements. Wilbarger, after vainly
beckoning to him to approach, rode toward him,
manifesting friendship, but the Indian, pointing
toward a smoke rising from a cedar brake at the
base of a hill, in plain view, indicated a desire for
his visitor to go to camp and galloped away. The
party, after a short pursuit, became satisfied there
was a considerable body of Indians, hostile in feeling,
and determined at once to return to the settlement.
They started in, intending to go directly to
Hornsby's place, but they stopped at a spring on
the way to take lunch, to which Wilbarger objected,
being quite sure the Indians would pursue them,
while the others thought otherwise. Very soon,
however, about sixty savages suddenly charged,
fired and fell back under the protection of brush.
Strother fell dead and Christian apparently so.
Wilbarger's horse broke away and fled. He followed
a short distance, but failed to recover him.
Hastening back, he found the other two men
mounted and ready to flee, and discovered that Christian,
though helpless, was not dead. He implored
the two mounted men to stay with him in the ravine,
and endeavor to save Christian. Just then
the Indians renewed the fire at long range and
struck Wilbarger in the hip. He then
asked to be
taken behind one of the men, but seeing the
enemy approaching, they fled at full speed, leaving
him to his fate. The Indians, one having mounted
Christian's horse, encircled him on all sides. He had
seized the guns of the fallen men and thus with
these partly protected by a tree just as he was
taking deliberate aim at the mounted warrior, a
ball entered his neck, paralyzing him, so that he fell
to the ground and was at once at the mercy of the
wretches. Though perfectly helpless and apparently
dead, he was conscious of all that transpired.
A knife was passed entirely around his head and
the scalp torn off. While suffering no pain, he
ever asserted that neither a storm in the forest nor
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/29/: accessed July 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .