the Bastrop Chronicler by
John Holmes Jenkins
who read this column on a regular basis know that I am a real believer in using
old newspapers as a source to obtain historical data. I tend to believe that eyewitness
accounts found in newspapers, diaries, and personal journals are more reliable
than what some self-proclaimed historian might conjure up. |
not always necessary to go back 100 years or more to find articles which document
the past. Such was the case when I came across an article from a 1958 edition
of The Lavaca County Tribune. This particular story originally came from a book
titled "Recollections of Early Texas" and was written by a man know as the "Bastrop
chronicler." His real name was John Holmes Jenkins. |
Jenkins wrote mostly
about the Indians in this part of Texas and his assessment of the Native American
is anything but flattering. He called them "savages" and described them in a manner
that might chill the blood of any civilized individual.
Bastrop chronicler described one account where a band of Comanches was given a
beef by the settlers so they would have something to eat. Evidently the Indians
were starving and they acted friendly enough that they convinced the Texans to
feed them. According to Jenkins' reminiscences, the Comanches proceeded to eat
the cow before it was completely dead. "They were eating its raw liver most ravenously
while the warm, red blood trickled from their mouths and down their chins," wrote
He also described one of the white settlers as being rather
callous as well. It seems the Texans had captured a Waco Indian woman along with
her little three-year-old girl. The woman killed her child and tried to kill herself.
Evidently she was almost dead by the next morning and one of the men volunteered
to finish her off. "Taking her to the water's edge, he drew a large hack knife
and with one stroke severed her head from her body, both of which rolled into
the water beneath."
Jenkins wrote that these were rough and cruel times
and produced some heartless people.
He said that of all the settlers
who fell victim to the Indians, a man named Josiah
Wilbarger was perhaps the most famous. Wilbarger was hunting one day with
four companions when the Indians attacked them. Two of the hunters escaped and
the next day a party of men from a nearby settlement found the others. Of the
three, two were scalped and dead. Wilbarger was found sitting under a tree. Jenkins
wrote, "[He] was scalped and crippled, covered with mud and blood."
gruesome event that the Bastrop chronicler described was about a fight between
the Tonkawas and those of the
Waco tribe. He said that the Tonkawas shot and killed one of their adversaries
and then held a happy celebration. "They cut off the hands and feet of the hated
savage," said Jenkins, "and boiled them together with some beef."
hard to imagine what our ancestors had to endure to colonize this place. Nothing
came easy on the Texas frontier and many of those who ventured here, seeking free
land, didn't live long enough to raise a family or plow a single acre.
In his recollections, Jenkins told of one ten-year-old boy, Warren Lyons, who
was captured by Indians near Schulenburg.
Years later some white surveyors found him in San
Antonio and returned him to his mother. "The young Warren Lyons returned to
the American way of life, married and became one of the outstanding Texas ranchers,"
The recollections of John Holmes Jenkins should remind us
all of what our forefathers had to go through so long ago. Their strength and
perseverance conquered the Texas frontier - through their many hardships, they
left us a legacy that we can be extremely proud of.