Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 60 of 894
INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
the late war, in 1864, twenty-seven years after her
captivity, when she was providentially restored to
her family at Gonzales, and it happened in this wise:
Judge John R. Chenault, of Southwest Missouri,
who had, in former years, been an Indian agent
west of that State, refugeed to Gonzales, where he
had kindred. In his family was a girl he had in
that day recovered from the Indians, and educated.
She was identified beyond doubt as the missing
daughter of Mr. Putman and resumed her place
among her kindred. Judge Chenault died several
years since, a citizen of Dallas County.
In fulfillment of one of their violated promises
to bring in all the prisoners they had, the warriors
only brought in one poor woman, who had been
cruelly treated throughout her captivity
burnt in small spots all over
and this was Matilda
Restored to her family and adorned in civilized
costume, she speedily developed into one of the
prettiest and most lovely women in the surrounding
country, becoming a great favorite, distinguished
alike for modesty, sprightliness, and
affectionate devotion to her kindred and friends.
A few years later a cold contracted at a night
party, fastened upon her lungs, and speedily closed
her life, to .the regret of the whole surrounding
country. The story, from her own lips, of the
cruelties practiced upon her throughout her captivity,
would fill a small volume, the reason for
which was unknown to her and unexplainable at
home. Temporary brutality to captives is common
among the wild tribes, but in a little while the young
are treated as other children.
This leaves the little girl of Mr. Putman alone to
account for. She was two and a half years old
when she was captured in 1838.
Another party of warriors in the spring of 1840,
brought in and delivered up at San Antonio a little
girl of about five, but who could not or would not
tell where she was captured, and no one there from
her appearance, could imagine her to be one of the
lost children of whom he had any information.
The child could not speak a word of English and
was wild -afraid of every white person
tried on every occasion to run away. The military
authorities were perplexed and knew not how to
keep or how to dispose of her. Here, again, came
The District Court was in session, the now
lamented Judge John Hemphill presiding for the
first time. In attendance as a lawyer was his predecessor,
Judge James. W. Robinson, who then
lived two miles above Gonzales, and one mile below
him lived Arch Gipson, whose wife was a daughter
of Mitchell Patman, and a sister of the missing
little girl. Hearing of the child he examined her
closely, trusting she might show some family resemblance
to Mrs. Gipson, whom he knew well and
whose father lived only fifteen miles from Gonzales.
He could recognize no resemblance, but determined
to take the little stranger home with him,
for, as he assured the writer, he had a presentiment
that she was the Putman child, and had a
very sympathetic nature. He, Judge Hemphill and
John R. Cunningham (a brilliant star, eclipsed in
death as a Mexican prisoner two years later), made
the trip on horseback together, the little wild creature
alternating behind them. They exhausted
every means of gentling and winning her, but in
vain. It was necessary to tie her in camp at night
and watch her closely by day. In this plight they
arrived at Judge Robinson's house as dinner was
about ready, and the Judge learned that Mrs. Gipson
was very feeble from recent illness. He deemed
it prudent to approach her cautiously about the
child, and to this end, after dinner he rode forward,
alone, leaving the other gentlemen to follow
a little later with the child who, up to that time, had
not spoken an English word.
Judge Robinson gently related all the facts to
Mrs. Gipson, said it could not be her sister, but
thought it would be more satisfactory to let her
see in person and had therefore brought the little
thing, adding: ' Be quiet, it will be here very
The gentlemen soon rode up to the yard fence,
the child behind Judge Hemphill, on a very tall
horse. I quote by memory the indelible words
given me by Judge Robinson a few days afterwards:"Despite
my urgent caution Mrs. Gipson, from
her first realization that a recovered child was
near at hand, presented the strangest appearance
I ever saw in woman, before or since. She
seemed, feeble as she was, to skip more as a bird
than as a person, her eyes indescribably bright,
and her lips tightly closed
but she uttered not a
word. As the horsemen arrived she skipped over
the fence, and with an expression which language
cannot describe, she stood as if transfixed, peering
up into the little face on horseback. Never before
nor since have I watched any living thing as I
watched that child at that moment. As if moved
by irresistible power, the instant it looked into
Mrs. Gipson's face it seemed startled as from a
slumber, threw up its little head as if to collect
its mind, and with a second piercing look, sprang
from the horse with outstretched arms, clasping
Mrs. Gipson around the neck, piteously exclaim
Here’s what’s next.
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/60/ocr/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .