in the days of early Texas, the local newspaper was the major supplier
of news for the citizens. Second only to “word of mouth,” the newspaper
was the only source for people to learn what was going on in their
area and around the state.
It was the custom back then for out-of-town folks to drop by the
paper, when they came to town, and share a yarn or two with an editor
or reporter. Those stories usually found their way to the printed
page for all to read.
Such was the case when E.G. McCoy, of Blanco,
came to Gonzales
and had a chat with the local editor. McCoy’s narrative of an event
involving his father was published in the Inquirer way back in 1879.
His father, John, was a pretty tough ol’ boy and had a natural dislike
for Indians. I think you will find by reading the following article,
that John McCoy wasn’t one to forgive and forget.
The Gonzales Inquirer – Saturday, Feb. 15, 1879
met in town last week Mr. E.G. McCoy, of Blanco
city, from whom we learn the following incident which happened near
this place in 1843.
His father John McCoy, called “Devil John” because of his bravery
and daring, lived near Concrete
in DeWitt County.
One of his neighbors was killed and horribly mutilated. Suspicion
rested upon a tribe of friendly Lipan Indians in the neighborhood.
Mr. McCoy determined to ferret out the perpetrators, and laid his
plans accordingly. Coming to Gonzales
one day he met one of the shrewdest Indians of the tribe, furnished
him an abundance of “fire water,” and soon had him drunk. McCoy
proposed to go to the tribe and buy hides.
Taking the Indian up behind him on his horse he started for the
old Matthis ford, and when near the river mentioned that a mean,
bad white man had been killed. The Indian replied, “Yes, me help
kill him; me tomahawk and scalp him,” and proceeded to mock the
victim’s agonies of torture.
This was all McCoy wanted. “You helped kill him, did you?” asked
McCoy. “Yes, me scalp him,” said the Indian. “Well,” said McCoy,
“I’ll settle your hash.” Reaching around behind him he seized the
Indian and pulled him off the horse. The Indian had a white bone-handled
bowie knife in his leggings. This McCoy seized and cut off a scalp
lock from one side of the Indian’s head, with a small portion of
the skin adhering, and placed it in his belt.
He then cut off a similar piece from the other side and placed it
in the Indian’s belt. This was fair division, and significant of
friendship. He then released the Indian. As the latter rose he said
to McCoy, “Me kill you and your family before three moons.” Thereupon
McCoy knocked him down and, running the point of his knife under
the skin just below the hair clear around the Indian’s head, jerked
his scalp off.
Releasing the Indian McCoy told him to run, telling him if he caught
him before he reached a certain clump of trees he would kill him.
The Indian fled. McCoy mounted his horse and pursued, but the Indian
News of it got abroad, and McCoy was arrested and brought to trial.
The judge asked him if he had not admitted the deed, McCoy answered,
“Yes, but I now deny it, and you must prove it.” No proof being
produced he was discharged. He then said, “Judge, you can’t try
a man twice for the same offense can you?” Being answered in the
negative, he declared: “Well, judge, I did scalp that Indian, but
you failed to prove it.”
Mr. McCoy was half brother to Jesse McCoy, who was the only man
who went out and returned to the Alamo
after it was besieged. He fell in that siege.
Mr. E.G. McCoy is here looking after the McCoy estate.
June 3, 2011 column