Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 1, No. 3
THE LAST OF THE CHEROKEES IN TEXAS,
AND THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CHIEF BOWLES.
By ALBERT WOLDERT, M. D.
It was not until spring of the year 1836 that the separate political destiny of the State of Texas was decided. Mexico still
laid claims to all of Texas, while a treaty made by a commission of Texans and the Cherokee Indians and their associated tribes
involved a wide strip of rich territory in eastern Texas, lying north of the old San Antonio road (Camino el Real), between
the Neches, and Sabine river, and in the original Spanish grant of Filisola. Historic events, occurring in the early part
of the year 1836 and subsequently, came on with such rapidity that only fragmentary statements as to precise dates and places
were preserved as a matter of history, thus leading to considerable confusion as to the definite localities where important
battles were fought between the Texans and the Cherokees, and ending in the expulsion of the latter from Texas forever.
The histories of Texas being written at the present day are entirely too silent regarding this entire matter, and some of
them dismiss the subject in only a few brief lines. It has occurred to the writer that at least one of the greatest battles
ever fought with the Indians in Texas, in which about 800 Indians were engaged on the one side, and about 500 Texans on the
other, with many casualties, should receive greater attention by historians of the present day. The name of one Indian—Chief
Bowles, of the Cherokees—stands out prominently in these historic events, and the writer has paid particular attention to
On account of the importance of this subject and, in order to record the events in chronologic order, the author has devoted
much time in endeavoring to secure correct data from elderly persons now living and from libraries situated in the states
of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia
and Texas, and from numerous histories of Texas, and such data is embodied herewith.
According to Starr1 the name "Cherokee" is derived from the word "a-che-la" meaning fire, and the word "ah-gi", he takes. The expression has
its origin in the belief that the Great Spirit gave to this tribe a sacred fire with the admonition that they were to keep
it perpetually burning, and that on this fire the "kutani" or priests were to offer sacrifices.
As to the origin of the Cherokees, Powell2 states: "That the Iroquoian stock to which the Cherokees (Chalaques) belonged had its chief home in the north, its tribes
occupying a compact territory which comprised portions of Ontario, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania almost to the latitude
of Washington. Another body including the Tuscarora, Nottoway, and perhaps also the Meherrin, occupied territory in northeastern
North Carolina and the adjacent portion of Virginia. The Cherokees themselves constituted the third and southernmost body.
They were the mountaineers of the South occupying the territory along the Alleghanies from Kanawha and the Tennessee almost
to Atlanta, and from the Blue Ridge on the east to the Cumberland range on the west, a territory upward of 40,000 square miles.
Echota on the south bank of the Little Tennessee river was considered to be the capital of the Nation. Hereditary wars with
the creeks, and along their boundaries with the Tuscaroras and Catawbas, kept them constantly engaged."
Starr3 says: "That the religion of the Cherokees was an obscure polytheism. The sun, their superior diety, was called. ‘The Apportioner,’
dividing time into day and night, giving the four seasons, as well as the giver of the ‘divine fire’ of their ancestors. Ranking
as their gods were the ‘Long Man,’ the representative of the water; the ‘Red Man,’ representative of the east, possibly from
the rising moon. ‘Little Man,’ who lived in the thunder; ‘Little People,’ fairies in the rocks of the cliffs, etc. Conjurors
were many among these aborigines and the Cherokees believed that through the mystical efforts of these persons they
could cure diseases (snake bites), cause rain, produce death and harm to any one with whom they became displeased, without
regard to distances."
The First Cherokees to Enter Texas
In the winter of 1819 and 1820 Chief Bowles (or Bowl) led sixty of his warriors, probably of the hunter class of Indians,
and their families from Arkansas into Texas, these being the first civilized tribe of Indians, perhaps, to find their way
into this state. According to King:4 "In the year 1822 a convention was made between the Cherokees and the empire of Mexico by which the Cherokees in Texas were
permitted to occupy and cultivate certain lands of eastern Texas in consideration of fealty and service in case of war. Neither
the empire, however, nor its successor, the Republic of Mexico, would consent to part with sovereignty in the soil, and persistently
refused any other rights than those of domicile and tillage."
It should be recalled to mind that until the year 1824, Texas had been a province of Mexico with a department representing
its capital situated at San Antonio. In that year the State of Coahuila and Texas was created, much against the will of the
citizens of Texas, but it so remained until the year 1835. Shortly before the year 1835 important events began to occur in
rapid succession in Texas. Her people had grown restless under Mexican misrule and oppression, and with a spirit of revolution
began to organize and, on November 13, 1835, through their general council or consultation, created a provisional government.
The day previously Henry Smith was elected governor, and James W. Robinson, lieutenant governor of Texas.
At last the Mexican authorities began to realize the possible loss of sovereignty of one of its richest possessions, which
it sought to fortify by calling to aid the Cherokee Indians, together with their associate tribes, also regarded as adherents
of Mexico and looked upon by those in authority in Mexico as being only tenants or occupants of the soil at the will of the
sovereign. The Texans, having made rapid strides in growth and development, now realizing their own power, and with the hope
of achieving complete independence began to exhibit a more defiant attitude toward Mexico, at the same time endeavoring to
win the favor and allegiance of the Cherokees. With the view of obtaining a better understanding between the whites and Cherokees
(and with the associate bands of the latter), Governor Henry Smith on December 28, 1835, commissioned General Sam Houston,
Colonel John Forbes and John Cameron, Esq., to meet and form a treaty with the Cherokees and associates for the purpose of
effecting a mutual understanding with the Indians, including their rights as occupants of the soil.
This commission met with the Cherokees and their associates and concluded and signed a treaty with the Cherokees and their
twelve associate bands then residing in Texas. On behalf of the Texans this treaty was signed by General Sam Houston and Colonel
John Forbes; while the following named represented and signed for the Indians: Colonel Bowles, Big Mush, Samuel Benge, Osoota,
Corn Tasele, The Egg, John Bowl and Tenuta, this commission from the Indians representing the Cherokees, Shawnees, Delawares,
Kickapoos, Quapaws, Buloies, Iowanes,Al-abamas, Coshaties, Caddos of Neches, Tamocuttakes, Untangous, "By the head chiefs
and head men and warriors of the Cherokees as elder brother and representation of all other bands agreeable to their last
council, done at the village of Colonel Bowl on the 33rd day of February, 1836."
In substance this treaty recited: That the parties declare that there should be a firm and lasting peace forever, and that
friendly intercourse shall be preserved by the people belonging to both parties. Also that it was agreed and declared that
the before-mentioned tribes of bands shall form one community, and that they shall have and possess the lands within the following
bounds, to-wit: lying west of the San Antonio road and beginning on the west at the point where the said road crosses the
river Angelina and running up said river until it reaches the first large creek below the Great Shawnee village emptying into
said river from the northeast, thence running with said creek to its main source, and from thence a due northeast course to
the Sabine river, and with said river east. Then starting where the San Antonio road crosses the Angelina river, and with
said road to a point where it crosses the Neches river and then running up said river in a northwesterly direction. Generally
speaking, this territory granted the Indians in this treaty comprised the whole area of what is now Smith and Cherokee counties,
also the western portion of Rusk and Gregg counties and the northeastern portion of Van Zandt county, Texas.
In this treaty Article VI provides: "It is declared no individual person or member of the tribes before named shall have the
power to sell or lease said lands to any person or persons not a member or members of this community of Indians, nor shall
any citizen of Texas be allowed to lease or buy land or lands from any Indian or Indians." In part Article VII stipulates:
"That the Indians shall be governed by their own regulations and laws within their own territory not contrary to the laws
The powers conferred upon General Sam Houston and Col. John Forbes in making this treaty with the Cherokees and their associates
may be indicated in the following letter from Hon. Henry Smith, first temporary governor of Texas, in part as follows:
"San Felipe, December 18, 1835.
"Gentlemen of the Council:
"I further suggest to you the propriety of appointing commissioners on the part of this government to carry into effect the
Indian treaty as contemplated by the convention. I would therefore suggest the proprietry of appointing General Houston of
the army, and Col. John Forbest of Nacogdoches, who has been already commissioned as one of my aides. These commissioners
would go specially instructed, so that no wrong could be committed either to the government, the Indians or our individual
citizens. These agents going under proper instructions would be enabled to do right, but not permitted to do wrong, as their
negotiations would be subject to investigation and ratification by the government before they would become a law. I am, gentlemen,
your obedient servant,
"HENRY SMITH, Governor."
This territory of about fifty miles long and about thirty miles wide, set aside by this treaty, was to be the circumscribed
hunting grounds and home in Texas of that principal
and formidable band of Indians who had turned their faces towards the Southwest. Here in this narrow confine of a few miles,
under the shadow of the hickory, oak and pine, they might erect their wigwams and crude log huts and dream if they would of
the lands left behind, of the mountains they had often climbed in search of the bear, the turkey, and the deer, of the rivers
flowing swiftly over the gray flinty rocks at the foot of the Ozarks and Alleghanies; and, if they had possessed the advantages
of a more enlightened race, they might have called to their minds the days that had long gone before when their proud but
savage ancestry had wandered at will over a large portion of the American continent, governed not by the pale face, but by
their own peculiar customs and nature’s laws.
Whether or not it was at this conference (February 23, 1836) at a later date General Sam Houston, probably as a testimonial
of his good will, presented to Chief Bowles a military hat, a silk vest, a handsome sash, and handsome sword. At the time
this treaty was made and signed by the contracting parties (February 23, 1836) representing Texas, and the Cherokees, Texas
was still a provisional government only, but assuming sovereign rights.
Two months after this treaty was made with the Indians, the battle of San Jacinto was fought (April 21, 1836), Texas won its
independence from Mexico and proclaimed itself a republic. On the first Monday in September, 1836, General Sam Houston was
elected president of the Texas republic, receiving a total of 5,119 votes out of a total of 6,640 votes cast. The policy of
President Houston towards the Cherokees was friendly, fair, and generous.
In the year 1837 this treaty (of February 23, 1836), made in good faith by Houston and Forbes with the Indians, came before
the senate of the republic of Texas, which rejected it. Therefore, according to King:5 "In 1838 President Lamar directed attention of congress to this act of the senate and to the further fact, that Mexico had
never, under any form of government, either conveyed or promised to convey as allodial property any portion of the Texas territory
then, or at any time occupied or claimed by the Cherokees." The Indians, therefore, though having the protection of the treaty,
were still without title to the lands on which they lived.
Some Customs and Mode of Life of the Cherokees of East Texas
History does not seem to give an account of the proportion of Cherokees in Texas who lived in houses such as crude log
huts and those who lived in tents. On account of them living to a large extent the life of hunters, and like Indians of other
tribes many of them doubtless lived in tents composed of three poles tied together at the top, and covered with hides of various
animals such as buffalo, bear, and deer, and so arranged that these wigwams could be taken down, and ready to be moved within
ten minutes time, according to Mr. T. H. Singletary.
Mr. Bum L. Walker, an aged and estimable citizen of Tyler, informed the author that the Indians of east Texas planted and
cultivated only a few acres or "patches" (of usually five or six acres) in corn which they cultivated in crude hills made
with a hoe. After gathering the corn they prepared it for food by mixing it with lye to make what they called "soffica." This
they would eat either hot or cold, by means of a spoon made from the horn of a cow, and eating it three times a day. The Indians
seldom used salt with their food. Meats, such as buffalo, they would cut into long strips an inch or two wide and about half
an inch thick, and hang it up to dry. After drying this meat would be eaten without cooking it.
While the Indians seldom used salt in their food, some of them must have regarded it as having considerable value, since Chief
Bowles for a time made his headquarters near the Neches (or Hotchkiss, but now called Brook’s) saline, in Smith county, apparently
about the years 1837 or 1838. Their pottery (often decorated) was made of the clay obtained from the banks of creeks near
their villages, which clay being baked turned it into various shades of brown or red, depending upon the percentage of iron
contained in the clay. The author has found numerous specimens of this Indian pottery about one-third mile west of the Neches
saline (Brook’s saline) prairie; also about one mile east; and about two miles southeast of the same; also near what was once
probably a Delaware Indian village about three or four miles northwest of Chandler, Henderson County, Texas.
According to Mr. Ludwig Anderson, an esteemed citizen of Cherokee County, the Indians who had formerly lived near what is
now his residence, about three or four miles southeast of the Neches saline, were friendly with the whites and would not tell
a lie. If they borrowed a gun to go hunting, they would take good care of it and would always return it in good order. They
would not wantonly kill and destroy game, and would never kill more game than was actually necessary to supply their immediate
needs. Mr. J. E. Arnold stated that it was the custom of the Indians to locate their grave yards about two arrow shots down
stream from their villages.
Methods of Electing Their Chiefs
For the purpose of holding elections, and previous to the year 1831, Starr6 says that "All of the voters were notified to meet at a certain place. A couple or more of their leading men would each announce
in a tone that could be easily heard the name of the favorite candidate. Each nominator then stepped off a few steps from
the crowd and called for those who preferred this candidate to join him. The nominators then proceeded to an audible count
of their partisans. The candidates were then brought back and the election proclaimed. After 1821 the elections (in what is
now Arkansas) were held on the second Monday in July. The First and Second Chiefs were to receive a salary of one hundred
dollars each and the Third Chief was to have an annual salary of sixty dollars. Their tenure of office was to be for four
years. The western Cherokees were in constant war with the Osages until 1821 or 1822, and for that reason it was necessary
to elect three chiefs so as to preserve their executive line of succession even though the First and Second Chiefs might die
or be killed."
Bowles, Chief of The Cherokees; His Place of Abode
The following sketch of the life of Chief Bowles has been largely obtained from data furnished by Doctor Emmet Starr,7 and also from the writings of Hon. John H. Reagan,8 Yoakum, and others. To a large extent these writers will be quoted in many instances verbatim.
Colonel Bowles, Chief Bowles (or "Bowl", a translation of his native name Diwa-li) was the halfbreed son of a Scotch-Irish
trader by the name of Bowles (who lived among the Cherokees) and of a Cherokee mother. He was born in the year 1756, but it
is not known definitely in what section of the country
inhabited by the Cherokees. However, from the fact that a certain incident occurred, it is possible that he was born in the
state of North Carolina. Starr says that when Bowles was a small child his father was killed by some men from one of the North
Carolina settlements. When he was thirteen or fourteen years of age he killed the two men who had killed his father, and though
he had evened the score always hated North Carolina people as long as he lived.
In personal appearance Starr describes him as being decidedly Gaelic in appearance, having light eyes, red hair, and somewhat
freckled. Reagan9 speaks of him as being a magnificent specimen of manhood. And though being somewhat tanned in color he did not seem to be
an Indian. He had neither the hair nor the eyes of an Indian. His eyes were gray, his hair was a dirty sandy color, and his
was an english head. In spite of his age (eighty -three years—W) he seemed to be strong and vigorous.
In 1839 when eighty-three years of age, he had three wives (Reagan). He is known to have had two children, one a son known
as Standing Bowles. Whether in Texas this son was afterwards known as John Bowles the author does not know. Reagan speaks
of Chief Bowles having a son by the name of John Bowl (see below). Rebecca Bowles was the daughter of Chief Bowles, and who
married Tessey Guess, a son of Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.
Starr10 says: "The First Chief of the Western Cherokees were consecutively: Bowl, 1795-1713 ; Takatoka, 1813-1818; Tahlonteeskee,
John Jolly, John Brown and John Rogers. History seems to first mention the name of Bowles in 1794, at which time he had attained
the position of Chief of the Running Water Town on the Tennessee river at Mussel Shoals, probably near the present town of
Haywood11 quoting from Washburn says: "That after this bloody tragedy which is known as the Mussel Shoals massacre, the whole party
of Cherokees went aboard the boats, descended the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi to the mouth of the St.
Francis river. There they placed all the white women and children in one boat, relinquished to them all the furniture which
they claimed, granted to each one of the married ladies a female servant, put on board an ample stock of provisions and four
strong and able black men and let them descend the Mississippi to New Orleans, the place of their destination. After the departure
of the boat for New Orleans, Bowl and his party ran the other boats with their contents of goods, servants, etc., a few miles
up the St. Francis river to await the issue of the affair. As soon as the massacre of Mussel Shoals was known to the Cherokees
in their towns they convened a general council and in a memorial to the United States Government declared that they had no
part in the tragedy. When this matter was investigated by the Government of the United States the Cherokees were fully justified
and the property confiscated and declared by treaty to belong justly to the perpetrators of the Mussel Shoals Massacre."
After the removal of Bowles to the St. Francis country (1794—W) Starr12 states that his settlement was situated in the Valley of the St. Francis in southeastern Missouri, where finding game abundant
he remained until December, 1811, at which time ax great siesmatic disturbance occurred in the St. Francis country in the
immediate vicinity in which the Cherokees were located, causing much of this territory to be submerged and many of the Cherokees
fearing that the community was under the ban of the Great Spirit, moved westward and settled in the valley of the Petit Jean
creek in Arkansas. Thoburn gives the location of the Bowles settlement at this time as being in the Petit Jean country not
far from the mouth of that stream, four miles east of the creek and four miles from the Arkansas river, in Conway county,
ten miles north and west of Perryville. According to Starr, in 1812, by an arrangement of the government, these Cherokees
removed from the St. Francis, and settled between the Arkansas and White rivers.
In 1813 a considerable accession was made to their number by voluntary emigration from the old Nation that they became so
numerous that the whole tribe were united and they became known as the "Cherokee Nation West." Starr13 further says:
"The boundary lines of the Cherokee Nation West were run in the spring of 1819 by William Rector, Surveyor General of Arkansas,
and were accepted as correct. Bowles village was between Shoal and Petit Jean creeks on the south side of Arkansas river and
consequently not within the territory added to the Cherokees by the treaty of 1817. On account of this fact and also to gratify
a general wish of his townsmen to locate within Spanish territory, Bowl, with sixty of his men and their families, emigrated
in the winter of 1819-20 to territory promised them by the Spanish authorities on the Sabine and Neches rivers in the Mexican
province of Texas."
Bowles’ statement (in 1839) made to Martin Lacy, Esq., Hon. John H. Reagan and others in Texas was that previous to coming
to Texas he had lived at Lost Prairie, Arkansas, which was situated in Miller County, on the west bank of Red River about
twenty miles east of the present city of Texarkana and about ten miles south of the Missouri Pacific railroad. From this statement
it is evident he had lived for only a short time at Lost Prairie.
Bowles and his followers, having arrived in Texas (in the winter of 1819-20), soon began to lay plans for the acquisition
of land in their new home (possibly the Three Forks of the Trinity, now Dallas) and in order to do so appealed direct to the
Mexican authorities. Wankler14 says: "On November 8th, 1822, the principal Cherokee chief, Richard Fields, Bowles and five others composed a delegation
appointed by the governor of Texas, Don Jose Felix Trespalacios, to proceed to the commandant general of the Eastern Province
and later to go to the city of Mexico if necessary to ask permission for their tribe to settle on lands in Texas. This delegation
arrived in the city of Mexico early in the year 1823. After their return home to Texas, a dispute arose between the Indians
and the Mexicans as to the claims of Fields mentioned in the grants regarding lands in east Texas, which almost ended in a
clash of arms between them. In this application to the Mexican Government, in 1822, made by Richard Fields, he stated that:
"The Cherokee Nation numbered 15,000 souls, buts there are within the borders of Texas only one hundred warriors and two hundred
women and children. They work for their living and dress in
cotton cloth which they themselves manufacture. They raise cattle and horses and use firearms. Many of them speak the English
language." (Bexar Archives).
According to the statement made by Bowles (Reagan’s Memoirs, page 30), he had lived for about three years at the Three Forks
of the Trinity (now Dallas—W) and had then moved down near the Spanish fort of Nacogdoches (1822 or 1823—W).
Winkler15 states that: "Certain documents showed that, in the year 1825, the Cherokee chief, Richard Fields, though acknowledging the
sovereignty of Mexico, sold lands to whom he pleased and considered himself master of the section in which he lived, namely,
north of the San Antonio road, and between the Trinity and Sabine rivers. Fields claimed that the land, enough for his own
and tribe’s needs had been granted them by Mexico. Lucas Alaman, Minister of Relations of Mexico, denied that such grant had
been made to Fields."
"Starr cities that during the Fredonian Rebellion (1826-1827) "Bowl, who had become a Mexican sympathizer, had Hunter and
Fields killed (1827) while they were in the Cherokee settlement attempting to raise further reinforcements." Bowl secured
the papers of Fields and turned over at least a portion of them to the Mexican authorities. Mr. J. E. Bean, of Kilgore, informed
the writer that Richard ("Dick") Fields was killed in Rusk County about 100 or 200 yards north of Towisky Creek and about
three-fourths of a mile northwest of the present town of Pirtle and about 75 yards west of the present Kilgore-Henderson Highway.
With regard to those supposed to have been instrumental in bringing about the death of Fields and Hunter, a letter from Ahumada
to his superior in command, Bustamente, of March 11th, 1827, speaks in part as follows: "Justice obliges me to inform you
that Mohs (Big Mush—W) and Buls (Bowies—W) civil and military chiefs of the Cherokees—agreed and gave orders to kill Hunter
and Fields, recovering the papers and flag mentioned and giving me every proof of loyalty to and love for our government from
which they hope for a grant of some land ‘in which they loved.’"
But, instead of grants of land being given the Cherokees for
the part played by Bowles and Big Mush, Lieutenant Flores, on July 13th, 1827, was commissioned to visit Bowles and confer
upon him the title of Lieutenant Colonel from the General Government of Mexico—a title with which he seemed well pleased.
Soon after the death of Fields and Hunter, Bowles and Big Mush began to exercise authority over the Cherokees of east Texas,
Bowles acting as principal or military chief; while Big Mush was civil chief.
On July 20th, 1833 "Colonel" Bowles, John Bowles and others signed a petition addressed to the Secretary of State of Coahuila
and Texas asking to be put in possession of lands in the Cherokee country and stated that: "The tribe at present numbers about
150 families, the total number of persons being about 800. The property of the Cherokees, consisting of about 3,000 head of
cattle; about the same number of hogs and 500 or 600 horses. The subscribers inform you that the said tribe lives chiefly
by tilling the soil and raising cattle."
In the summer of 1833, Bowles, Vann, and Harlin were given a pass permitting them to visit the capital at San Antonio to again
ask to be put in possession of the lands in the Cherokee country, the territory being asked for lying between the Sabine and
Trinity rivers. Their request was never granted.
Bowles Village of February 23d, 1836
I have made a prolonged search through varied histories and libraries of Texas, and have had interviews with numerous descendants
of those whose relatives resided in east Texas in the early days in order to determine the precise locality with reference
to present day maps of the "Village of Colonel Bowles" of February 23d, 1836, mentioned in the Houston-Forbes-Bowles treaty.
In addition I have consulted numerous maps of Texas, including the years 1834, and 1835, but found that there was no place
designated as Bowles’ village on these maps. But on these maps of 1834 and 1835 I found Cherokee Village, and, during the
month of August, 1923, was shown the place where this Cherokee village was said to have stood, my informants being Dr. W.
P. White, and Mr. Tom D. Pitner of Henderson, Texas, each of whom had resided in the locality, or within a few miles of it
for over fifty years, and had been over the ground many times. This Cherokee village was said to have been situated in the
liam Ravy survey, Rusk County, on Caney creek, the Indian grave-yard being on the north side and a peach orchard once being
situated on the south side of the old bed of Caney Creek, about three-fourths of a mile west of the confluence of Towisky
Creek and Caney Creek, and near the southwest corner of the Will Steber, and northwest corner of the Luther Warren surveys;
about one-fourth mile southeast of an unusually bold spring coming up from what was at my visit a dry ravine above the spring;
and being situated about nine miles north of Henderson, three miles south of Pirtle, nine miles southeast of Kilgore, and
about forty-nine miles north of Nacogdoches. Whether this Cherokee Village, and the "Village of Colonel Bowl" were one and
the same place, and the terms used interchangeably, the writer does not know.
It is evident that both Bowles and Big Mush, as late as September, 1835, received their communications to them addressed to
Cherokee Village, as shown by the following: Lamar papers (Vol. I; page 258) date of September 19th, 1835, states that Big
Mush and Bowles made talks to the Cherokees at Cherokee village (?) upon keeping peace with the Anglo-Americans. Lamar Papers
(Vol. I; page 239) date of September 24th, 1835, states that General Sam Houston, and General Thomas J. Rusk wrote a letter
to Bowles and Big Mush acknowledgeing receipts of their talks (by Bowles and Big Mush), and addressed this letter to Bowles
and Big Mush, Cherokee Village (Texas—W).
Sometime between the month of September, 1835, and February, 1836, Bowles apparently changed his place of abode, for on February
5th, 1836, General Sam Houston wrote a letter to Colonel Bowl and addressed it Cherokee Nation. (Texas, Woldert: See Lamar
Papers, Vol. I, page 317). Lamar Papers (Vol. I, page 352) states that General Sam Houston under date of April 13th, 1836,
wrote a letter to Colonel Bowl addressing it "Great Chief of The Cherokees," but no town or village was designated where the
letter was to be received. With reference to ’the place where the Houston-Forbes-Bowles treaty was signed, in the Texas Almanac
for 1860, page 45, we find a statement attributed to President Burnet, and reading as follows: "Two of the plenipotentiaries,
Houston and Forbes, departe, and Bowl, Big Mush, and The Egg, Cherokee head men at the vil-
on the 23rd of February, 1836, entered into a treaty with the lage of the Bowl, a few miles north of Nacogdoches."
As to where Bowles had a village or camp in February, 1836, I wish to state that in August, 1923, Mr. John Henson, who had
resided in Rusk County and in the immediate locality, seven miles west of Henderson, since 1856, informed me that Chief Bowles
at one time had a camp on the east side of Bowles Creek in the Pru league and on the old Blackwell place. This information
had been furnished Mr. Henson by Mr. Will Brumbly, Mr. Peter Tipps, and Mr. Will Davis, all of whom had been in the fight
to expel the Cherokees from east Texas.
Mr. Albert Blackwell, a descendant of Jasper Blackwell, in August, 1923, accompanied us over this site where Bowles was said
to have had his camp, and we found evidences of an Indian village there, as shown by pieces of broken pottery and a flint
Indian arrow head. Two of these places pointed out to us by Mr. Blackwell were situated on the east side of Bowles’ Creek,
in the Pru league, Rusk County, on the Blackwell farm, one being situated on what is now a slight knoll covered with pine
trees, about 100 yards, east of Bowles’ Creek, and about 150 yards southeast of a spring in a ravine, near the eastern edge
of Bowles’ Creek. Mr. Blackwell stated that he had picked up a great many Indian arrow heads on this knoll, and that it appeared
to be a place where arrow heads might have been made. About one-fourth mile further up the creek on the east side, we found
pieces of broken pottery, and a fine Indian arrow head; while a third place was pointed out to us by Mr. Blackwell as being
situated about seventy-five yards west of the creek, and about one-third mile northwest of the first camp. The site of the
village or camp as pointed out to us is situated about half a mile north of the present Tyler and Henderson highway, about
six and one-quarter miles east of Arp, about ten to fifteen miles west of the former Cherokee village, about twenty-five miles
northeast of Tyler, and about forty-five miles slightly northwest of Nacogdoches. Mr. Henson stated that the older citizens
in passing along the road by the Blackwell old place as described above would ponit out the Bowles’ camp on the east side
of the creek, and stated that near the west bank of Bowles’ Creek, just south of what is now the Tyler-Henderson road, there
was once a peach orchard believed to have been planted
by the Indians, and not far distant below the camp or village. Further down Bowles’ Creek about two miles distant and on the
west side of the creek, and about 200 or 300 yards west of Bowles’ Creek, Mr. Henderson spoke of an old rock furnace in which
he believed some kind of metal had been melted. This spot was called the "stone ruin."
In this regard, Mr. Joe White, in July, 1923, informed the writer that, in the year 1835, his grandfather, Mr. Jesse Chambers,
and Mr. Robert Smith were on their way to Texas when they met Chief Bowles in Shreveport, where Bowles was selling lead, and
had with him a pack train of mules and horses. Chambers and Smith came on to Texas with Bowles, passing westward through the
Indian village at Henderson, and further west along an old Indian trail. Chambers, Smith and Bowles camped about three or
four miles east of Omen, near Bowles’ Creek, and while camping there they looked at some land, and Bowles pointed out a fine
building site for a home for Chambers. Chambers and Smith went on to Nacogdoches.
In July, 1923, Mr. J. E. Bean, of Kilgore, an elderly writer and well acquainted with the older residents of Rusk County,
and who had resided in Rusk County many years, informed the writer that Mr. George Star told him that Chief Bowles lived on
Bowles’ Creek about five miles south of what is now Overton. This locality would approximately be the same as pointed out
to me by Mr. Henson and Mr. Blackwell. From the fact that Rabbit, Bighead, Towiski, Gibson, Shawnee, Big Mush, Johnson and
Anadarko villages have given their names to the creeks near or on which they were located would indicate that Bowles had his
village on the creek that bears his name.
In Rusk County, Chief Towiski was said to have lived about 200 to 300 yards north of what is now Pirtle, or about 400 yards
north of Towiski Creek; Chief Johnson lived about 400 yards east of Johnson Creek, about 150 yards north of the present Henderson
and Tyler highway. In Smith County, Chief Harris is said to have lived about 200 yards east of Harris Creek and about 800
yards southeast of what is now Winona; while Chief Simpson lived about 200 yards north of Simpson Creek and about seventy-five
yards north of the present Dixie highway, on top of the hill about a mile east of Winona.
Yoakum16 states that, about the year 1838, Bowles was snaking his headquarters on the "Neches saline" (now called Brooks’ saline)
in the extreme southwestern portion of Smith County, and about eighteen miles southwest of Tyler, Texas. With reference to
this latter location, and in regard to the expedition of Rusk (August, 1836) against the Indians and Mexicans who had stolen
some horses and committed murders near Nacogdoches, Yoakum17 says: "Having done this the malcontents set out on their march for the Cherokee Nation. Major Austin was detached with 150
men to follow the Mexican trail; while the main body of Texans, under General Rusk, marched toward the headquarters of Bowles,
the Cherokee chief, whither. he understood the enemy had gone. On reaching the saline he discovered that the insurgent leaders
had fled to the upper Trinity and their followers dispersed."
The headquarters of Bowles from October, 1838, to later months in that year was evidently in the vicinity of the Neches saline,
for Yoakum18 with reference to the killing of the Killough19, Wood, and Williams families (October 5th, 1838), says: "To prevent such occurrences Major Walters had been ordered with
two companies to occupy the Neches saline, not only to watch the Cherokees but to cut off their intercourse with the Indians
of the prairies. Bowles, the Cherokee chief, notified Major Walters that he would repel by force such occupation of the saline."
According to a communication received by the writer in August, 1923, from Mr. J. E. Arnold of Henderson, Texas, Mr. A. K.
Vansickle being a witness in a case in the District Court of Henderson County, Texas (W. D. Irwin vs. Flora Hamlet et al),
Vansickle claimed to have known Chief Bowles personally and is credited with the statement that Bowles lived as a friendly
neighbor near the Irwins and Vansickles, who lived in the Debard league near the Neches saline (now called Brook’s saline—W)
in the southwestern part of Smith County. (Note—this date may have been the year 1836—W).
In June, 1839, when the Indian agent of Texas, Mr. Martin
Lacy, accompanied by the Hon. John H. Reagan, Dr. Dowers and one Cordra, carried the message of President Lamar to him. Bowles
was then living about three miles north of Martin Lacy’s house, (Reagan) and four miles northwest of what is now Alto, Cherokee
County, Texas. In order to determine the exact location of Mr. Martin Lacy’s house in June, 1839, the author on September
20th, 1920, visited the place where Mr. Lacy lived and the spot where the Locy house formerly stood was pointed out by Mr.
T. H. Singletary, of Rusk, Texas, an esteemed citizen who had resided in Cherokee County since 1848, who had formerly lived
within a few miles of Mr. Martin Lacy’s residence, and who had frequently visited the home of Lacy before its disappearance.
Some of the rocks evidently used as the foundation for the Lacy home are still there. The site of this home is on a perpendicular
bluff some twenty-five feet in height, on the north bank of what is now called Harrison Branch, in the Martin Lacy Survey,
two miles north of what was formerly Ft. Lacy, three miles west of Alto, and about ten miles east of the Neches River.
The Home of Bowles, in June, 1839
Mr. T. H. Singletary, of Rusk, stated that during the years 1851 and 1852, he had attended school about 400 yards from where
Chief Bowles formerly had his home (or hut—W) in June, 1839, when Bowles received the communication from President Lamar through
the Indian agent, Mr. Martin Lacy. From 1847 to 1865, Mr. Singletary had resided about one and a half miles southwest from
where Bowles was living when called upon by Mr. Lacy and others, and stated that Bowles at that time lived in Cherokee County,
Texas, in the Tillman Walters survey, about three miles due north of Mr. Martin Lacy’s house; and about four miles northwest
of what is now Alto; about five miles north of the old San Antonio road, and about ten miles east of the Neches River. More
accurately located, the spot where Bowles: lived at that time, according to Mr. Singletary, was about 250 yards west of Redlawn,
about forty feet south of Isom Collier’s Branch, and about 200 yards west of what is now the St. Louis Southwestern Railway.
This location differs slightly from the description given by Hon. John H. Reagan. The spring known as Bowles’ Spring (which
in September, 1920, was quite dry) according to Mr.
Singletary was situated down in the bed of Isom Collier’s Branch, and about 150 feet northwest from the residence of Bowles.
While Mr. Singletary was quite positive as to the precise place where Chief Bowles lived, in June, 1839, and where the spring
mentioned by Reagan was situated and described above, I have since my first visit to the locality learned that Mr. Singletary
made a very slight error in locating precisely the spot where Bowles evidently lived, in June, 1839; and also regarding the
exact locality of Bowles’ Spring.
More correctly the spot where Bowles lived, in June, 1839, is evidently situated on the tract of land owned in 1923 by Mr.
Lude Hamilton, about 500 yards due northwest of the small town of Redlawn, Cherokee County, Texas, in the Tillman Walters
survey, and about four miles northwest of the present ity of Alto. This would be about 150 yards further northwest from where
Mr. Singletary loated, the place where Bowles lived.
Bowles’ Spring ("fine spring") as described by Reagan is evidently situated on the Tillman Walters survey about 650 yards
due northwest from the town of Redlawn, Cherokee County, Texas, or about 250 yards further northwest than Mr. Singletary located
it. This Bowles’ Spring is further situated about 400 yards due southwest of the home of Mr. Lude Hamilton, in 1923, about
150 yards east of Bowles’ Creek, and on the tract of land owned, in 1923, by Mr. J. J. Tullis, near his east line, and about
seventy-five yards south of a ledge of very large rocks, covering the curve of a rather large, steep hill or cliff.
In April, 1923, when I visited this spring, though much neglected, it was some six feet in diameter, and about a foot deep.
It is a rather bold spring, partly covered with moss, and situated on the western slope of a small red-colored hill, the hill
extending from north to south and sloping westward towards Bowles’ Creek. It is believed that Bowles had his house or hut
about 100 or 150 yards southeast of this spring, on top of the hill.
A pin oak tree, some two feet in diameter stood off toward the south of this spring, and a double trunk willow tree in a marsh
stood off toward the north of the spring some seventy-five feet distant, the spring being situated in a pasture on
marshy land and immediately surrounded by small ironwood and pinoak bushes some ten or twelve feet high.
Mr. J. J. Tullis had lived on this tract of land for upwards of forty-two years and Mr. Lude Hamilton had lived in the immediate
vicinity for upwards of thirty-eight years, and they pointed out to me the Bowles’ spring, in April, 1923.
Chief Big Mush
The Cherokee chief who exercised authority in civil matters during the days of Bowles was Gatun-wa-’li (bread made into
little balls or lumps), or Big Mush. History makes only brief mention of this Cherokee chief. His home was said to have been
situated at one time in the northwestern part of Rusk County and perhaps later a few miles south of Rusk, Texas. From the
fact that he was closely associated with Chief Bowles in the year 1827, and became the chief in civil matters, he must have
had considerable influence with the Cherokees. It is known that he was one of the signers of the treaty made with General
Sam Houston, John Forbes, Bowl and associates, dated at the village of Colonel Bowl, on February 23d, 1836. Powell states
that Big Mush was killed in the last battle with the Cherokees, on July 16th, 1839, and on the same day Bowles was killed.
Some Historic Events Occurring Previous to the Expulsion of the Cherokees from Texas
In 1826 many of they white colonists who had settled in Texas under the grant issued Hayden Edwards who, taking advantage
of the temporary hostile attitude of the Indians in not securing titles to the lands on which they lived, formed a mutual
league with the Cherokees to act in concert with them in starting a revolt against the Mexican government, with a view of
obtaining their independence. John Dunn Hunter and Richard Fields represented the Indians in this union effected with the
whites at a general council lasting three days, those taking part in this league being subsequently known as the "Fredonians."
But this "Fredonian" enterprise owing to the adroitness of Pedro Elias Bean (Ellis P. Bean), the loyal Indian agent of the
Mexican government at that time (1826-1827), was of short duration. The Fredonians were soon conquered and disbanded.
In regard to this affair, Yoakum says: "The Fredonians thereupon sent an express to Aes Bayou for assistance, but Bean had
dispatched an emissary (December 26th, 1826) in advance to these people promising them pardon and lands. They also sent an
express to the Indians but Bean likewise anticipated them here, and had promised the Cherokees and their associates that they
should have the lands they applied for. Colonel Bean through the instrumentality of John Williams, Elliott and others succeeded
in detaching the Indians from the whites. These agents for their services received each a league of land. Richard Fields and
John Dunn Hunter remained friendly to the whites
through promises of land to be granted by Mexico, succeeded and faithful to their agreement, while it appears that Bean, in
detaching from this union two principal chiefs, namely Bowlesand Big Mush. Shortly after the Fredonian rebellion (1826-27)
both Hunter and Felds were assassinated, and Bowles became principal chief of the Cherokees (1827)."
In 1831 General Teran executed an order addressed to the proper Mexican authorities which in part read: "I pray your Excellency
may be pleased to order that possession be given them (Cherokees—W) with the corresponding titles." But this order was never
executed and instead of receiving titles from Mexico to the lands on which these Indians lived, they were as usual again rewarded
with only glittering hopes and gilded promises.
In 1836, and apparently only a few days previous to the battle of San Jacinto, a committee representing the citizens of Nacogdoches
was sent into the Cherokee country to ascertain the feeling of the Indians, and Yoakum states that "Bowles, principal chief,
advised the agent to leave the country as there was danger. As to the suspicion that he (Bowles) might lend his assistance
to the Mexicans, he became indignant at the suspicion of his good faith and pacific intentions and sent in his denial." Subsequent
history proved that none of the Cherokees joined the Mexicans to assist Santa Anna just before the battle of San Jacinto.
As to the good faith of the Cherokees towards the whites, and their fidelity to treaties made, General Sam Houston who was
then (January 29th, 1855) in the United States Senate said: 20"The Cherokees had ever been friendly, and when Texas was in consternation, and the men and women were fugitives from the
myrmidons of Santa Anna, who were sweeping over Texas like a simoon, they had aided our people, and given them succor—and
this was the recompense. They were driven from their homes and were left desolate."
The Killough, Wood, and Williams Massacre
In October, 1920, the author through the ourtesy of Mrs. W. F. Partlow of Mt. Selman, Texas, obtained the following
original account of the Killough, Wood, and Williams massacre, written by Mr. W. B. Killough (son of Mr. Samuel Killough,
who was killed, together with several members of his family) and who while an infant was rescued by his mother during the
massacre on October 5th, 1838. Mrs. Killough escaped with her infant son into the woods, being finally taken through the woods
on foot to Ft. Lacy, near Alto, a distance of some forty miles.
The account of Mr. Killough, describing the massacre, given almost verbatim and without special effort at correction, is as
follows: "I was born in Mardisville, Taladoga County, Alabama, September 26th, 1837. Father moved to Texas the same year,
stopping where old Larissa now stands, the 24th day of December, 1837, it being some forty miles from any white settlement—Lacy’s
fort being the nearest. They built houses, cleared land and made a crop. Everything went well until the fall of 1838 when
the Indians began to give trouble. The Killoughs and connections left, but on making a treaty with the Indians they returned
to gather their crops and stock. They had finished all except about two hours in Uncle Nathaniel Killough’s corn, so, as they
would not be out long, they concluded they would leave their guns at home. They had been in the habit of taking them, and
stacking them in the field. About one o’clock they started for the field. On their way the larger portion had to cross a creek.
In passing through the swamp they were attacked by the Indians and all killed except Nathaniel Killough, his wife and child.
He was watering his horse. He lived on that side of the creek. On hearing the firing he rode to the house and tried to get
his wife and child up on the horse. But they pursued him and he had to leave the horse and take to the cane. Ire made his
way to a friendly Indian, and got another horse and made their escape to the fort. That baby girl whoch was about one year
old is still living. She is the wife of Doctor G. M. Mathis, of Garden Valley, Smith County. Samuel Killough, my father, lived
on the northeast side of the creek. When mother Narcissa heard the firing, she taken me up and started to see who was killed.
She was joined by Aunt Jane, (wife of Isaac Killough, Jr.) and her brother Williams. He took me to carry, for mother was very
weakly, her standing weight being ninety-four pounds. They went but a few steps when they saw the Indians coming. Handing
me to mother he said: "Here, take
the baby, I must go." They swept by the man and shot him down a few yards from them. They found father in a small branch beyond
the main creek, where he fell. The balance they failed to find except grandfather, Isaac Killough, Sr. He was lying in his
yard and grandmother was all alone.
"In this massacre there were eighteen killed and taken off. Wood, a brother-in-law of the Killough’s, his wife, five children,
a Miss Killough, sister to father, were all taken off and were never heard of. The girls were about seventeen years old. Williams
and Miss Killough were to have been married soon. After trying to get grandfather in the house, and failing, he being a very
large man, they covered him up with quilts, laying rails on the side to hold them down. They turned their steps to east, returning
to father’s they found everything torn up and strewn over the yard. After sometime taken up in consultation, there being three
women-Mrs. Urcery Killough, wife of Isaac Killough, Sr.; Mrs. Jane Killough, wife of Isaac Killough, Jr.; Narcissa Killough,
wife of Samuel Killough (my mother).
"As the Indians sent for them while they were at the house to go to Sam Benge’s, their chief, about two miles north. The first
two mentioned were in favor of going—Narcissa told then they could go but she would die first. So one of them Indians sent
for them—Dog Shoot by name—told them if he had a gun he would kill them. The male portion being dead they did not bring their
guns. Narcissa sent them after their guns, and while they were gone she took her baby boy and started on a long journey of
forty miles without anything to eat, among savages and wild beasts.
"They hid in the grass near where Larissa now stands until night came. They could hear the Indians yelling and see the smoke
from the house, which on returning, not finding the women, they set on fire. When night came they started for Ft. Lacy, travelling
as best they could, as they had to leave the path often as Indians were coming up all through the night. There was one serious
draw-back to them—one that might have proven fatal to them at any time. They had an infant one year and eight days old, and
a small fist dog along. The cry of one or the bark of the other would have been fatal, but it seems that both knew there was
something wrong, for when they would stop the dog would hover under their skirts like he was trying
to keep out of danger. In starting they did not know what to do with the dog. They could not leave it, and didn’t have the
heart to kill it, nor anything to kill it with.
"The third day in the morning as they had been without anything to eat, they concluded they would travel by day. They had
hid in the day-time. They had not gone far on hearing a noise behind them they looked and there stood an Indian with his gun
to his shoulder ready to shoot. As some of the women screamed he ran up and showed them there was no powder in the pan—all
guns were flint and steel then. The path forked at that place and he wanted them to turn to the left in a dimmer path. They
refused to go at first. He could not speak English so he had to use signs.
"As they would not go he got in the trail ahead of them and loaded his gun. They concluded it was death anyway so they started
his way. They had not gone far before they came to an Indian hut and about 200 Indians painted. They were killing a beef.
They were carried to the hut and put in—the same Indian sitting in the door with his gun. There was a negro woman came in.
Mother asked her some questions. She gave no satisfaction. They then gave them something to eat—the first they had in forty-eight
hours. They sent off for an interpreter and when he came he told them that they were safe. Had they gone half a mile farther
we would have all been killed, as the Indians in the town were on the warpath. That’s where the painted warriors were from.
He also told them that the whites had a great many friends among them, and they knew there were three women trying to make
their escape and they had placed guards all over the country to find them if possible, but, as they had traveled only by night,
they did not find them before. They were kept there until the next morning when they were furnished with horses and sent to
the fort. The Indian that captured them rolled up in his blanket with his gun laid across the door all night.
"This place is about four miles west of where Rusk now stands. They came very near being shot at the fort as it was night.
All excited, they were hailed three times; finally they answered: ‘Women from the Saline,’ just in time to save themselves.
There was an amusing incident happened while we were
in the fort. It was reported the Indians were coming. Mrs. Box got Johnny Box (her husband) down and commenced to beat on
him, saying at the top of her voice: ‘Pray, Johnny Box, do pray, if you ever did pray, pray now, for the Indians is coming.’
We stayed in the fort about a month, then went to old Douglass, then mother and I soon left for Alabama. Will state that there
were whites with the Indians in the killing of our family. There was one by the name of H—— from Taladega County, Alabama,
that my family knew.
"In about five weeks after the Killoughs were killed, General Houston sent General Rusk up and drove the Indians back, and
buried our dead. Uncle Nathaniel Killough was with them. He was wounded in the Kickapoo fight being shot through the shoulder."
The following is a copy of the petition of Nathaniel Killough to the Congress of Texas, December, 1838, asking for relief
for his losses:
"To the Honorable House of Representatives and the Senate of This Republic, in Congress assembled: The petition of Nathaniel
Killough humbly showeth unto your honorable body that he is now and has been for some time past, a citizen of Nacogdoches
County; that during the past summer petitioner, together with his father, Isaac Killough; his brothers, Allen Killough, Samuel
Killough, and Isaac Killough, Jr., and his brothers-in-law; George W. Wood and Owen C. Williams, resided near the Neches river
in said county, and we were at that time engaged in the pursuit of agriculture; and that, at their residence, they were on
the 5th of October last, attacked by Mexicans and wild Indians, and that Isaac Killough, Sr., Allen Killough, his wife and
five children; Isaac Killough, Jr., George W. Wood, his wife and two children; Samuel Killough, a daughter of Owen C. Williams,
and Elizabeth Rollough were killed as your petitioner believes. Your petitioner would also show unto your honorable body that
at the time his relations were murdered, the Mexicans and Indians took and destroyed all the property of your petitioner and
his relatives, and that the property of your petitioner so destroyed consisted of household furniture, farming utensils, and
arms of the value of $2,000; 500 bushels of corn worth $1,000; a carriage worth $200; a wagon worth $250; two horses, one
of great value, both worth $700; a number of
cattle worth $150; the entire loss of your petitioner being $4,300; that that Isaac Kollough, Sr., lost property of the same
description of the value of $2,500, and that Allen Killough lost $3,000 worth of property; Samuel Killough lost property worth
$3,700; Isaac Killough, Jr., lost property worth $700; George C. Wood had property destroyed worth $2,400, and that Owen C.
Williams last property worth $2,300; and the value of the before-mentioned has been entirely lost to your petitioner and to
the heirs of his relatives; and that every possible effort has been used by your petitioner to recover the property mentioned,
but that your petitioner has been unable to recover any of said property. In consideration of the premises, your petitioner
prays that your honorable body will grant to him and Owen C. Williams and the heirs of Isaac Killough, Sr.; Allen Killough,
Samuel Killough, Isaac Killough, Jr., and George C. Wood such relief as a sense of justice may dictate; and that your honorable
body will duly consider the prayer of your petitioner; and that your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray."
(Signed) NATHANIEL KILLOUGH.
(Nacogdoches, Dec. 26, 1838).
"We the undersigned citizens of Nacogdoches County respectfully represent unto the honorable Congress of this Republic that
we have examined the foregoing petition of Nathaniel Killough, and that we are satisfied the statements made in the foregoing
petition are true, and we pray that the honorable Congress will grant the prayer of petitioner.
"(Signed) R. H. Pinney, Osc. Engledow, Jas. H. Starr, Wm Hart, D. Rusk, K. H. Douglas, M. M. Cox, Henry Rogers, Jas. S. Linn,
J. Smith, Chas. H. Taylor."
This massacre of the Killough, Wood, and Williams families on October 5th, 1838, occurring about one mile west of the old,
town of Larissa, Cherokee County, aroused the entire people of the Republic of Texas. General Rusk had shortly after this
occurrence been despatched to the neighborhood where the massacre occurred to drive the Indians back and, a short while (probably
a few weeks) afterward, Major Walters had been ordered with two companies to occupy the Neches saline, not only to watch the
Cherokees, but as stated elsewhere, to cut off the
intercourse with the Indians of the prairies on the west. Bowl, the Cherokee chief, notified Major Walters that he would repel
by force such occupation of the Saline. As the major’s force was too small to carry out his orders, he established his post
on the west bank of the Neches out of the Cherokee territory (Yoakum).21
In July, 1838, Vincente Cordova began to sow seeds of discord among the Indians and instigated them to aid the Mexicans in
making war on the Texans, and shortly afterward Cordova disclaimed allegiance to Texas. Yoakum22 states that: "Cordova wrote Filisola from the headwaters of the Trinity on the 29th of August and 16th of September, 1838,
giving him an account of his progress. In the spring of the following year, (1839) Flores, the Indo-Mexican agent at Matamoras,
departed for Texas carrying instructions to Cordova from Canalizo (who had succeeded Filisola) and also messages to the chiefs
of the Caddoes, Seminoles, Biloxis, Cherokees, Kickapoos, Brazos, Towakonies and perhaps others, accuring these Indians that
they need expect nothing from the greedy adventurers for land, who wish even to deprive the Indians of the sun that warms
and vivifies them, and who would not cease to injure them while the grass grows, and water runs."
In March, 1839, Colonel Burieson endeavored to capture Cordova on the Guadalupe River, but he escaped and fled to the Rio
Grande. According to Brown:23 "Manuel Flores, the Mexican Indian agent in Matamoras, responsive to Cordova’s earnest desire for a personal conference and
ignorant of the latter’s disastrous defeat, set forth from Matamoras late in April (1839—W) to meet Cordova and the Indian
tribes wherever they might be found. He had an escort of about thirty Indians and Mexicans, supplies of ammunition, etc.,
and all the official papers from Filisola and Canalizo empowering him to treat with the Indians so as to secure their united
friendship for Mexico and their combined hostility to Texas. Lieutenant Rice fell upon his trail and assailed him on Brushy,
in the edge of what is now Williamson County. Flores endeavored to make a stand but Rice rushed forward with such impetuosity
as to throw the
enemy into confusion and flight. Flores and two of his followers were left dead upon the ground, and fully one-half of those
who escaped were wounded. Rice captured one hundred horses and mules, three hundred pounds of powder, a large amount of lead,
shot, balls, etc., and all the correspondence in possession of Flores. This correspondence revealed in detail the whole plot
that had been formed for the destruction of the frontier people of Texas."
In these papers captured from Flores were letters said to have been addressed to, Big Mush and Bowles, chiefs of the Cherokees.
"It is inferred from these documents found on Flores and addressed to the Cherokee chiefs, that the latter were in correspondence
with the Mexican authorities." (Yoakum).24
For the Cherokees a new and very sorrowful day was about to dawn. The bright red hills of east Texas, crowned with hickory,
oak and pine, were to be illumined no more by their wigwam fires at night. The land in which they had found a dwelling place
for some twenty eventful years, the lands which they longed to hold through sovereign title, and so ell adapted to their nomadic
life, was to pass from them forever. At a very early day the warriors of the Cherokees with gun and bow and arrow, using them
as best they could, were to measure arms with the well equipped soldiers of Texas, under the ever alert and dauntless Rusk,
Burleson, Douglass and Landrum. They hoped to remain longer in the land in which they lived, but it was only a forlorn hope.
Henceforth the Cherokees were not to be persuaded, nor humored, nor treated as friends. Orders would soon be issued saying
to them, "You must go peaceably if you will, forcibly if you must." For them it would be a surren awakening as from a fitful,
feverish dream. There must be no lingering by the way in the land they had inhabited and which doubtless they thought belonged
to them because their homes were there. Here they had watched the full moon come and go some two hundred times or more. But
the unrelenting hand of fate must guide them toward a new home and like that of the "old man" and
little Nell, this resting place from unceasing wars must be a little further on, "just a little further on."
On December 9th, 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar was inaugurated President of Texas Republic. The policy of President Lamar seemed
unlike that of Ex-President Houston. Houston apparently believed that the white race and the Indians should grow and develop
along the lines each desired, and that the Indians should be kept pacified, treated with friendliness and be permitted to
work out their own destiny. President Lamar seemed disposed to pay the Indians for their improvements, losses, and their crops,
after which they must leave.
Eventful matters in Texas history now occurred in rapid succession, some of which evidently aroused President Lamar to take
summary action against the Indians. Among these might be mentioned: first, the capture of the correspondence found on Flores,
showing the plot of the Mexicans to induce the Indians to join them in renewed hostility against the Texans; second, the continued
Indian depredations and killing of white people in various sections of the State; and, third, the enraged feeling produced
on the public mind by such massacres as that of the Killough, Wood, and Williams families.
President Lamar therefore sent a communication to Chief Bowles, then living about four miles northwest of what is now the
city of Alto, notifying him of the proposed action to be taken by Lamar against the Indians, this communication being carried
to Bowles by Martin Lacy, Esq., the Indian agent for Texas, being accompanied on that occasion during the month of June, 1839,
by Dr. J. W. J. Jowers, Hon. John H. Reagan, and one Cordra. As to the contents of this communication from President Lamar
to Bowles, Mr. Reagan25 says: "Among the facts so recited, as I remember them, was one in the year 1836, when the people of Texas were retreating
from their homes before the advancing army of the Mexican General, Santa Anna, that Chief Bowles assembled his warriors on
the San Antonio road east of the Neches River for the purpose of attacking the Texans if they should be defeated by Santa
Anna. This communication also called attention to the murders and thefts which had been committed on the people of Texas by
and, upon these statements, saying to Chief Bowles that Texas could not permit such an enemy to live in the heart of the country,
and that he must take his tribe to the nation north of the Red River, peaceably if they would, forcibly if they must. President
Lamar in that communication said to Chief Bowles that he had appointed six among the most respectable citizens of the republic
and authorized them to value the immovable property of the Cherokees which was understood to be their improvements on the
land, but not the land, and to pay them for these in money."
Speaking further with reference to this communication, Reagan says: "Indian Agent Lacy lived on the San Antonio road about
six miles east of the Neches River. Chief Bowles lived about three miles north of Mr. Lacy. When he reached the residence
of Bowles he invited us to a spring (in Reagan’s Memoirs, page 3, he speaks of it being a "fine spring") a few rods from his
house, and seated on a log, received the communication of the president. After it was read he remained silent for a time and
then made a denial of the charges contained in that communication, and said the wild Indians had done the killing and the
stealing and not his people. He then entered into a defense of the title of his tribe to the country which they occupied.
He said that after his band had separated from the old Cherokee Nation, they, under him as their chief, settled at Lost Prairie,
north of Red River, now in Arkansas, that, after living there for a time they had moved to the Three Forks of the Trinity,
now Dallas, and the surrounding countries; that he had intended to hold that country for his tribe but the other Indians disputed
his right to do so and claimed it as a common hunting ground; that he remained there with his tribe about three years in a
state of continual war with other Indians until about one-third of his warriors had been killed; that he then moved down near
the Spanish fort of Nacogdoches (I use his expression) and the local authorities permitted him to occupy the country which
his tribe then occupied; that he went to the City of Mexico and got the authority of the Mexican Government to occupy that
country, and that, during the Revolution of 1835-36, the Consultation representing Texas recognized his right to that country
by a treaty. It is proper here to state that the Consultation (note—appointed by the General Council and commissioned by the
Governor—writer) did appoint General Houston
and Colonel Forber and authorized them to make a treaty with the Cherokees. I am, not informed as to the extent of the powers
conferred on them for that purpose. A treaty was agreed to between them and the Cherokees and reported to the Consultation,
which adjourned without ratifying the treaty so made, and with its powers was superseded by the convention which formed the
Consultation of the republic, and that convention also rejected the treaty which had been agreed to by General Houston and
Colonel Forbes. This is the treaty to which Bowles referred. So that the Cherokees had no higher title to the country they
then occupied than the privilege of occupancy during the pleasure of the sovereign of the soil.
At this conference with Chief Bowles, he stated that he could not make answer to the communication of the President without
consulting his chiefs and head men and requested time to convene his council. Thereupon it was agreed between them to have
another meeting a week or ten days later (I do not remember the exact length of time) to give time for the council of the
Cherokees to meet and act. On the day appointed, Agent Lacy returned to the residence of Chief Bowles, accompanied by Cordra,
the interpreter, and by Dr. Jowers and myself. We were again invited to the spring as upon our first visit. The grave deportment
of Chief Bowles indicated that he felt the seriousness of his position. He told Mr. Lacy that there had been a meeting of
the chiefs and head men in council; that the young men were for war; that all who were in the council were for war except
himself and Big Mush; that his young men believed they could whip the whites; that he knew the white could ultimately whip
them but that it would cost them ten years of bloody frontier war. He inquired of Mr. Lacy if action on the President’s demands
could not be postponed until his people could make and gather their crops. Mr. Lacy informed him that he had no authority
or discretion beyond what was said in the communication from the President. The language of Chief Bowles indicated that he
regarded this as settling the question and that the war must come. He said to Mr. Lacy that he was an old man (being then
about eighty-three years of age, but looking vigorous and strong) and that in the course of nature he could not live much
longer, and that to him it mattered but little. But he added that he felt much solicitude for his wives (he had three) and
for his children; that, if he fought, the whites would
kill him, and if he refused to fight his own people would kill him. He said he had led his people a long time and that he
felt it to be his duty to stand by them whatever fate might befall him. I was strongly impressed by the manly bearing and
frankness and candor of the agent and the chief. Neither could read or write, except that Mr. Lacy could mechanically sign
his name. During their two conferences they exhibited a dignity of bearing which could hardly have been expected by the more
enlightened diplomats. There was no attempt to deceive or mislead made by either of them."
Apparently within a few days (or immediately) after this conference Bowles hurriedly began to confer with his head men, and
warriors of the different bands associated with him, and evidently about the first week of July (1839) had concentrated his
forces in the northwest corner of Cherokee County, and east of the Neches River. Reagan says that Bowles "Was joined by the
Shawnees, the Delawares and by warriors from all the wild tribes of Indians, and at that time there were a good many of them."
Reagan26 states that: "Colonel Rusk, with a regiment of volunteers was the first in the field on the part of the Texans. General Albert
Sidney Johnson, the Secretary of War, and Adj. Gen. Hugh McLeod accompanied this regiment. It went into camp about six miles
to the east of Bowles’ camp, and for ten days or more negotiations were carried on between the belligerents, Bowles negotiating
to gain time to collect his warriors from the wild tribes, and the Texans negotiating to gain time for the arrival of Burleson’s
regiment of regulars from the west and Colonel Landrum’s regiment of volunteers from the redlands (of east Texas, and known
as "redlanders"—W). A neutral boundary had been agreed on between the belligerents and the men of neither side were to pass
it without notice."
Colonel Burleson, who had been detailed to collect a force on the Colorado for the purpose of using them if necessary against
the Indians elsewhere, was ordered to march his troops to re-enforce the Texans under Rusk, who had taken position about six
miles east of Bowles’ camp. Landrum and the troops under him would arrive within a few days. In the meantime
the Commission appointed by President Lamar consisting of Vice-President David G. Burnet, General Albert Sidney Johnston,
Secretary of War; Hugh McLeod, Adjutant General; and Colonel Thomas J. Rusk, to carry on negotiations with Bowl with a view
of paying the Indians for their improvements, and peace removal, but the negotiations abruptly came to naught.
As to the precise spot where Bowles had his camp, the author has not been able to learn more than is told by Reagan as above
stated: "That Chief Bowles took his position east of the Neches River in the northwest corner of what is now Cherokee County."
The regiment of Colonel Rusk went into camp about six miles to the, east of Bowles’ camp. This description by Reagan would
indicate that perhaps the camp of Chief Bowles was near the point where Saline Creek flows into the Neches River, and east
of the Neches River; that is to say in the vicinity of the Neches Saline, near which place Bowles made his headquarters. If
this assumption is correct then the position of Colonel Thomas J. Rusk at that time (Rusk’s camp apparently being called Camp
Johnston) was only a short distance, possibly west or somewhat northwest of the present town of Larissa, Cherokee County.
An agreement had been made by the Commission and Bowles that "Neither party was to break camp without giving notice to the
Colonel Landrum’s regiment reached the camp of the Texas forces on July 13th or 14th, and Colonel Burleson’s troops finally
arrived and reached the east bank of the Neches, on July 14th, 1839.
Reagan27 also states, with reference to the combined forces of Texans, that: "On assembling of this little army of three regiments
(at Camp Johnston—W) the volunteers wanted Colonel Rusk for their commander, wile the regulars wanted Burleson for that position.
It was agreed to solve the question by having General Kelsey H. Douglass elected as brigadier general and placed in command.
Early on the morning of July 15th, Chief Bowles sent his son, John Bowles, accompanied by Fox Fields, under a flag of
truce to notify the Texans that he would break camp that morning, and move to the west of the Neches River. They delivered
their message to General Johnston and having done so inquired if they could return in safety. General Johnston told the messenger
that his father had acted honorably in giving the notice according to agreement and that he would see that they had safe conduct
out of our camp, and he detailed a number of men to see them safely a half-mile beyond our pickets. He also told them to inform
Chief Bowles that the Texas forces would break camp that morning and pursue them."
The Battle of the First Day with Bowles
(July 15th, 1839)
A brief reference to the first day of the battle (July 15th) with Bowles will be here given for the purpose of locating as
definitely as possible the situation of Camp Johnston, as well as Bowles’ camp, and to also show the distance the Cherokees
and associated tribes under Bowles retreated that day, as shown in Report No. 8 of General K. H. Douglass to the Secretary
of War, which in part reads as follows: "The enemy was engaged on the 15th, about sixteen miles from Camp Johnson (Doubtless
Johnston—W) from whence we marched about half past one o’clock P.M." It swill be recalled that Camp Johnston was about six
miles to the east of Bowles’ camp. The distance from Camp Johnston to the battle ground of the first day in Henderson County
(about three or four miles northwest of Chandler) was about sixteen miles.
The writer has been over a large part of this line of retreat of the Indians, lying along the west bank of the Neches river,
and can say that, for the most part, it is a flat, or level country often subject to overflow, and thickly covered with trees
of unusual size and height, incluing sweet-gum, various kind of oak, and in some places pine and hickory.
A more detailed account of the battle of the first day with Bowles and the Cherokees may be summarized from the official Report
No. 8 of General K. H. Douglass to the Secretary of War, dated July 16th, 1839, and also Lamar Papers, Doc. No. 1372, as follows:
"On yesterday negotiations on the part of the Commissioners having failed, under your orders the whole force
was put in motion towards the encampment of Bowles on the Neches. Colonel Landrum crossed to the west side of the Neches,
and up the ravine. The regiments under Colonel Burleson and Rusk moved directly to the camp (of Bowles—We) upon reaching which
it was found to be abandoned. Their trail was ascertained and rapid pursuit made. About six miles above their encampment in
the vicinity of the Delaware (apparently on Battle Creek, Henderson County, about three or four miles northwest of Chandler,
and about sixteen miles northwest of Camp Johnston, Cherokee County—W), at the head of a prairie they were discovered by the
spy company under Captain Jim Carter and a detachment of about twenty-five from Captain Todd’s company lead by General Rusk.
The enemy deployed from the top of a hill, advanced and fired four or five times and immediately occupied a thicket and ravine
on the left as the troops advance. The lines were immediately formed and the action became general. The ravine was instantly
charged and the enemy was driven from the ravine and thicket, leaving eighteen dead on the field that were found and carrying
off their wounded. Texan loss was two killed, one wounded mortally, and five slightly."
On acount of several additional incidents that occurred, the writer desires to also add the Hon. J. H. Reagan’s account of
the first days’ battle with Bowles, as follows: 28 "The Indians occupied the bed of a dry creek running north to south and then turning to the east. Just above this bend there
was a prairie bottom nearly half a mile long to the east of that part of the creek running south; and commencing near the
lower end of the prairie and extending north parallel with the creek was a thick growth of hackberry bushes and rattan vines
some three hundred yards long. When the firing of our scouts was heard, Burleson’s regiment crossed the creek below the bend
where it ran to the east and moved forward to the rear of the line of the Indians who were posted in the creek bed above the
bend. Rusk’s regiment, to which I belonged, moved forward to opposite the lower end of the prairie just mentioned and there
wheeled to the right and in front of the liner of the enemy. As the Hon. David S. Kaufman and I, riding side by side, were
making this turn an Indian raised up, probably eight yards off, and fired. Kaufman and I wheeled to the left and chased him
jumped into the creek. We were then at the lower end of the hackberry and rattan thicket. Instead of turning back, not knowing
the length of the thicket, we headed our horses between it and the creek and ran the gantlet of the fire of the Indians at
short range the whole length of it; but neither of us was ininjured nor were our horses. Just as we were turning the head
of the thicket, Dr. Rogers, of Nacogdoches, approached—he belonged to Rusk’s command—and was hit by three shots and killed.
Others were coming on at the same time, among them Colonel Crane, of Montgomery County, who stopped his horse near us. I cried
out to him, ‘Colonel, don’t stop there.’ At that moment a shot passed through both his arms and body. He said to me, ‘Call
Robbins,’ who I believe was his brother-in-law. Robbins came promptly and Colonel Crane rode by him for two or three rods,
telling him what messages to bear to his family and then fell from his horse quite dead. In this engagement we lost six men
killed and a few wounded. We camped on the battlefield."
Regarding the camp on this battlefield it is evident that it was named Camp Carter, as will be seen later in the report of
General K. H. Douglass, of July 16th, 1839, and made on the following day after the first battle. In recent years considerable
confusion has arisen as to the time and precise location of the first day’s battle with Bowl and the Cherokees, some parties
being of the opinion that it occurred about twenty miles or more further south than was the case. As has been previously mentioned,
it is very clearly stated in the report of General K. H. Douglass: "The enemy was engaged on the 15th, about sixteen miles
from Camp Johnson" (doubtless Johnston—W). To determine the question accurately as to the precise location of the battleground
of the first day, the writer, in the summer and fall of 1920, made two visits to this battleground and had pointed out to
him the exact place where it occurred.
In addition, the writer has conferred with probably the best living authorities on the subject, and those who for many years
have lived or are now living in the immediate vicinity of this battleground and who, by personal conversation (sometimes with
those who, were in this fight), and by tradition, have perfected their knowledge of the encounters with Bowles. My informants
were such reliable citizens as Messrs. Preston Parker, Bum L
Walker, Henry Beckham, Tom Ingram and others. Mr. Ingram had resided within two or three miles of this first battleground
for a period of twenty-four years; Mr. Preston Parker had resided within one and a half miles of this battleground for a period
of thirty years, and Mr. Henry Beckham within a mile or so of the battleground for four years, and within about ten miles
of it for some sixty-two years; while Mr. Bum L. Walker had resided within about ten miles of it for a period of about fifty
Mr. Preston Parker obtained his information from Major Walters, who was in the first day’s fight with Bowles; Mr. Bum L. Walker
obtained his information from Mr. Isaac Hamilton (an uncle of Mr. H. V. Hamilton, formerly an editor of Tyler) who was with
Rusk’s command; Mr. Tom Ingram obtained his information from Messrs. A. Angling, Mr. Eubanks and John Lollar, all of whom
were in the battle with Bowles and his associates; and Mr. Henry Beckham obtained his information from Mr. Preston Parker,
Sam Hines and Gus Bell. Mr. Hines had resided in the neighborhood of the battleground for possibly thrity-five years. All
of these credible citizens agree that the battle of the first day occurred at a point in Henderson County, Texas, on "Battle
Creek" about three and a half miles northwest of what is now Chandler and about two miles south of the Van Zandt County line.
Skirmishing evidently began slightly south of this point, as shown by bullets removed from pine trees along this route. Mr.
Preston Parker pointed out to the author the exact spot where the principal fight was said to have occurred, which is at that
point in Battle Creek, which flows southward, and makes a sudden bend toward the "east" as referred to by Reagan. I stepped
off the length of this bend in the creek, and found the distance to be about one hundred and fifty feet in length. The place
where the principal fight of the day, as pointed out to me, is situated in what is now the J. Powell survey, adjoining the
Bayliss Allen (colored) lived on this tract of land, in September, 1920, his house and what was said to be the graves of two
officers (probably Colonel Crane and Doctor Rogers) killed in the battle, being situated about two hundred yards due west
of the bend in the creek. The graves of these two soldiers were said to be about forty feet due northwest of Bayless Allen’s
house. The writer has had these two graves marked by large iron pins driven into the ground.
While the principal focus of the battle was as stated above. I was also informed that skirmishing first began at a point about
where Battle Creek flows into Kickapoo Creek, a mile west of Chandler, and where the St. Louis Southwestern Railway now crosses
Kickapoo Creek, there being a running fight from there for a distance of three or four miles up Battle Creek, and
in the woods, to the principal battleground as stated above, and shown by the accompanying map. The place where the principal
fight occurred seems to have been called "Camp Carter." The writer, as well as others with him, picked up arrow heads, and
a buck-shot on the battlefield in September, 1920.
The Second Day’s Battle with Bowles (July 16th, 1839);
The Death of Bowles
After the Indians under Bowles were routed in the late afternoon of July 15th, I have been informed that they retreated northwest
up Battle Creek some two or three miles, then turned northeast (towards the Delaware village, as mentioned by Reagan) until
they reached a point in Van Zandt County, about six miles distant, and slightly northwest of the first day’s battle and where
the second fight occurred on the following day, an account of which is given in Report No. 8, dated August, 1839, of General
Kelsey H. Douglass on the "Campaign Against the Cherokees," and as follows: "Headquarters Camp Carter, 16th of July, 1839:
On the morning of July 16th, 1839, two regiments (about 500) under Rusk and Burleson, left Camp Carter. Orders were sent to
Colonel Landrum to continue his march up east side of the Neches River (which it was understood he had crossed) and join the
main body on its march to Harris, the main body moving up on the west side. The two regiments had proceeded about five miles
when met by one of the spies of Captain Carter’s company, who reported the enemy to be a short distance in advance. Colonel
Burleson was ordered to sustain the spy company and General Rusk to sustain Colonel Burleson in case the enemy should make
battle. This order being communicated to the command, the whole force advanced. Burleson briskly detaching, and leading the
two, regular companies of his regiment, commanded by Captains Jordan and Howard, to the brow of the hill overlooking the ravine
in which the enemy formed and prepared to dismount his men for action, at which time a detachment of the Indians had engaged
the spy company and commenced firing upon his men before they had dismounted, wounding seven horses and killing one man. They
were soon repulsed by Colonel Burleson and the spy company and took refuge in the ravine to the left, where the main body
of the Indians were. The position the enemy occupied was a very favorable one for defense, they occupying a ravine and thicket
and our troops having to advance upon them through open woods and down a considerable hill. General Rusk then formed his regiment
and occupied the point of the hill on both sides of the road, when the action became general. The enemy kept up a brisk fire
for about an hour and a half, which was returned by the Texan troops who containued to advance upon the enemy until a concerted
signal of charge was given, whereupon the enemy was driven from its stronghold and forced to retreat into a dense thicket
and swamp in the bottom of the Neches, about half a mile from where the enemy were first engaged. The enemy made no stand
in the bottom and swamp.
"Recent development have convinced the commanding general that the force which engaged us on that day was not less than seven
or eight hundred. The enemy suffered severely—their own report is a loss of one hundred killed and wounded—amongst their slain
left on the field was their arch chief and the long-dreaded Mexican ally, Colonel Bowles. Our loss was two killed and thirty
wounded, three mortally. The engagement lasted an hour and a half and closed in the Neches bottom at the crossing to the Great
saline and the Sabine River." Reagan states "That Colonel Landrum, it was said, was misled by his guide, and did not reach
the balance of the command until after the battles."
Since there is considerable confusion as to the exact location of the battleground of the second day (July 16th) and as to
where Bowles met his death, the writer, in the summer of 1920, made a visit to this battle ground, and had it pointed out
him the exact place where the battle is said to have occurred, and where Bowles was killed. In addition, the writer has had
lengthy conferences with those who have lived many years in the immediate vicinity of where the battle occurred, these including
Messrs. Preston Parker, Jim Ingram and Al Hill (the latter being colored). Mr. Jim Ingram has lived within a distance of about
four miles from this battleground for some seventy years, and All Hill has lived within a distance of two miles of same for
the past sixty-three years.
The precise location of the battleground of the second day is situated in what is now Van Zandt County, about four miles north
of the Henderson County line, in the North Hambrick
tract, about half a mile west of the Neches river, about half or three-quarters of a mile north of what is now known as "Battle
Spring" and about one-fourth mile south of the Neches River, which here bends toward the east, thence southward, or southeast.
Veasy Prairie is situated about one and a half miles toward the southeast. The spot pointed out to me as benig the place where
the battle raged the greatest was on a slight knoll, said to have been possibly a clearing, or Indian farm, or "patch."
On the west side of the battleground is a ridge or small hill, some forty feet in height, extending north and south and sloping
both toward the Neches bottom on the east and also toward the Neches bottom on the north side. Along the south side of this
ridge or hill there is a ravine some ten feet in depth and possibly fifteen feet in width, and draining toward the east, becoming
gradually shallower as it extends onward into the Neches bottom. A rather bold spring is situated on the west bank of this
ravine near the ridge, and near the bed of a small branch which flows down the ravine toward the east. The small knoll where
it was said the principal fight occurred, and where the last stand was made by the Indians, is about two hundred yards northeast
of the spring and about one hundred and fifty yards from the ridge on the west. The writer has in his possession several flint
arrow heads, a large leaden slug, a large flattened lead bullet, which were found on this knoll; some of the arrow heads were
found near or on this knoll, and another arrow head found some 200 yards south of this knoll. These were presented to me by
Mr. R. S. Cauthron, of Edom, Texas, one of the present owners of the battleground tract. It is said that leaden bullets have
been dug out of the trees adjacent to this knoll.
The Neches bottom on the east side and one the north side extends to the edge of the battleground. The spot where the rugged
old Chief Bowles laid down his life in defense of his tribe, now marked close by with the willow and the sweet gum, was pointed
out to be as being situated about forty or fifty feet north of the lower end of the ravine extending eastward from the spring,
and where the ridge flattens out into the Neches bottom, about fifty yards due east of the slight knoll mentioned, and about
two hundred and fifty yards slightly northeast of the spring. In June, 1921, the writer marked this spot by means of three
rocks and a large iron rod driven into the ground. To further confirm the accuracy of this location of the battleground of
the second day (July 16th) reference is now made to a deed
on record at Canton, the county seat of Van Zandt County, and as follows: Mr. W. R. Hall purchased a tract of land from Patrick
Gormley, as shown by warranty deed dated January 1st, 185g; filed January 23d, 1855, recorded Vol. D., p. 133, Deed Records
of Van Zandt County, Texas, and called the "Battle Ground Place." Mr. Burwell H. Hambrick purchased this tract of land from
Mr. W. R. Hall, as shown by warranty deed dated April 8th, 1859, filed. July 14th, 1860, recorded Vol. I, p. 504, Deed Records,
Van Zanda County.
The tradition of Bowles’ sword has been furnished me by the following citizens of Henderson, and Rusk County, Texas, namely:
Mr. John Arnold, Dr. W. P. White, Prof. C. A. Lanier, and Capt. W. A. Miller.
When Bowles was slain upon the battlefield of July 16th, 1836, his sword was awarded to Capt. Robert W. Smith on the same
day, and Smith afterwards turned this sword over to Clinton Lodge, No. 23, A. F. and A. M., of Henderson, Texas, where it
was used as the tiler’s sword of that lodge. Afterwards this sword was loaned or presented to Colonel James H. Jones of Henderson,
Texas, who carried it with him through the Civil War, and who later returned it to the lodge at Henderson from whom it had
been obtained. About the year 1890, or 1891, this sword was presented to judge Will H. Barker of Oklahoma, to be turned over
to the Cherokee Nation, the capital of which in 1890 and 1891 was Tahlequah.
After receiving the sword Judge Barker who was then speaker of the lower house of the Cherokee legislative council, presented
the sword to the Cherokee Nation, his eloquent orationbeing printed in both the English and Cherokee languages. The sword
was subsequently placed in the archives of the Cherokee Nation, probably Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
A description of Bowles’ sword has been given me by John
Arnold, Esq., and Dr. W. P. White of Henderson, Texas, as follows: The sword of Bowles was made of steel and was about three
feet and two or three inches in length, the blade being dull and about one and one-quarter inches in width. It was not a double-edged
sword, the back of blade being thickened. The point of the sword was dull and had a long tapering tip or curve to it. The
hilt of the sword was made of brass with a brass shield of about three inches in length, the hilt of the sword being somewhat
enlarged inside the shield so the hand could graps it the more tightly.
There were no inscriptions or decorations on the sword. It was a military sword, and somewhat tarnished by age.
Death of Bowles
As to the death of Bowles, the Hon. John H. Reagan possibly gives the best and most accurate account, as follows: "Chief Bowles
displayed great courage in these battles. In the second engagement he remained in the field on horseback wearing a military
hat, a silk vest and handsome sword and sash which had been presented to him by General Sam Houston." ("He was mounted upon
a very fine sorrel horse ‘paint horse’ with blazed face and four white feet—" History of Texas, by John Henry Brown, p. 163).
"He was a magnificent specimen of barbaric manhood and was very conspicuous during the whole battle, being the last to leave
the field when the Indians retreated. His horse had been wounded many times and he shot through the thigh. His horse
was disabled and could go no further and he dismounted and started to walk off. He walked forward a little and fell and then
rose to a sitting position facing us and immediately in front of the company to which I belonged. Then as he sat up with his
face toward us, I started to him. with a view to secure his surrender. At the same time my captain, Bob Smith, with a pistol
in his hand, ran toward him from farther down the line. We reached him at the same instant, and realizing what was imminent,
I called ‘Captain, don’t shoot him.’ But he fired, striking Bowles in the head and killing him instantly. (Note—the pistol
used teas a single barrel pistol with flint-lock—W). I had been so impressed with a manliness and dignity of Chief Bowles
in the Consultation which preceded the war, and with his conspicuous bravery in battle that I did not want to see him killed,
and would have saved his life if I could.
"It ought to be said for Captain Smith that he had known of the many murders and thefts by Indians and possibly did in
Note—In the compilation of this contribution the writer extends sincere thanks for many favors to the following named: Mrs.
W. F. Partlow, of Mt. Selman; Mr. T. H. Singletary, of Rusk. Mr. Preston Parker, of Chandler; Mr. Tom Ingram, Mr. Joe White
and Mr. Alf Loftin, of Tyler; Mr. Jim Imgram, of Chandler; T. O. Woldert, Esq., of Houston; Colonel Andrew J. Houston, of
LaPorte; Mr. Ludwig Anderson, of Bullard; Mr. Wentworth Manning, of Wills Point; Mr. J. E. Bean, of Kilgore. Dr. Alex. Dienst,
of Temple; Katherine Elliott (State Archivist), of Austin; Dr. Emmet Starr, of Claremore, Okla.; Mr. Joseph B. Thoburn, of
Oklahoma City; Reverend George L. Crocket, of San Augustine; Mrs. John Henson, Albert Blackwell, J. E. Arnold and Dr. W. P.
White, of Henderson. Mr. Gus J. Woldert, of Ft. Smith, Ark,, and also to Will A. Woldert, Sr., of Tyler, for his painstaking
care in drawing the maps.
the heat of battle what under other circumstances he would not have done, for he was esteemed as a worthy citizen.
"That night (after the battle) we could hear the hum and bustle of their camp the greater part of the night and the next morning
they were gone."
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