A Buffalo Hunt in Fannin County, Texas

 

By Judge J. P. Simpson

In 1838, the writer of this article, with five other citizens of Bois d' Arc, were eager and anxious for a buffalo hunt; so in the month of May we got our wagons and oxen, guns and ammunition in readiness for the trip, not deeming it advisable to take horse teams for fear of being left afoot in the wilderness by the thieving Indians.

We traveled by Pilot Grove, where Kentuckytown now stands, kept the divide between Red river and Trinity until we reached the Cross Timber west of where Whitesboro now stands, and found immense herds of buffalo. We killed five that evening and camped for the night, feasting on fine buffalo beef and roasting the the marrow bones, cracking the same and eating the marrow out of them. In the midst of this delicious feast we were suddenly alarmed by the sound and rush as of a mighty engine and cars on a railway, which was a new thing in those days, thirty eight years ago. We all sprang to our arms, ready for battle not knowing, from the heavy tramp, sound and snort of animals; but that the whole Comanche nation were charging upon us. Our alarm was soon relieved by ascertaining that it was an immense herd of traveling buffalos. Thoughts of our oxen then engrossed our mind. We supposed they had gone with the buffalo, and most of the night was spent in consulting how we should get our team and escape from the wilderness country.

Next morning all hands turned out hunting for the oxen. From the trail of the buffalo it appeared that several thousand head had passed. At 2 o'clock that clay, myself and another man started on the wagon trail we had made in going out and followed the same until we could ascertain whether our team had gone home or not. Traveled ten or fifteen miles; found no sign of oxen; camped for the night; did not sleep well for fear of Indians. Next morning the man who was with me started for home, leaving me alone in that Indian country. You cannot imagine my feelings under those circumstances, but I can, and further on in this faint sketch you may form your conclusions relative to my feelings. I do not make any pretensions to be brave, for I can truthfully say I was greatly excited and felt afraid of the scalping knife and tomahawk of the savage foe.

I started for camp and had not traveled far when I heard a strange sound and saw a distressing sight. Three mounted Indians, armed and equipped for battle with guns, bows and arrows, charged from the brush about sixty yards from me and halted for a moment, when one of them galloped his pony around me and came to my left; the other two charging up to me on my right and halted. I asked them if they were Shawnee, Delaware or Kickapoo. One replied Keachi, which still increased my fears. When I first saw them I had strange feelings. It was not a chill, but a trembling sensation ran over my system and shook me from head to foot as though I had a hard hake of ague. My voice trembled. I have heard of some being frightened so that the hair of their heads stood on end, but my experience proved the doctrine false.

It was my scalp that drew close to my skull, for my head ached. After talking to themselves a few minutes in Indian, one asked me in English what I was doing there. I replied as well as 1 could that I was buffalo hunting and had a camp about fifteen miles off. At this he made a, grunt and pointed at a path for me to take. I quickly obeyed and started, one Indian on my right, one on my left and one in my rear. We went a few hundred yards when I discovered some buffalo on the right, which I pointed out to the Indians, who hesitated a moment, then wheeled their ponies and started for the buffalo. I kept my eye on them until they could not see me, when I can tell you I did some pretty tall running for a number of miles. My breathing apparatus was as good as a greyhound's; my body felt light as a feather; I neither tired nor halted for miles; marching as a captive, guarded by three Indians, expecting every moment to be shot in the right, left or rear, not being the most pleasant feeling out.

I killed a fine buffalo, left it lying on the prairie, and went for camp. Reached camp safe, oxen found and a fine quantity of meat barbecuing; which had been killed by my colleagues in the hunt. We secured our load of meat, and were to start for home in a few days, when about forty Indians came and camped by us, killing meat and drying for themselves. When we came in on the third evening after the encamping of the Indians, our camp keeper (who was James Carter. father or the widow Russell who lives near Bonham) informed us that the Indians had that day made preparations to take our scalps at night. Our meats went into the wagon, the oxen yoked and we started in haste for home. We traveled fifteen or twenty miles that night, freed from the Indians, and on our way rejoicing, none of us wounded, killed or scalped. Spent the summer in eating delicious buffalo meat; made no corn scarcely, it being an excessively dry year. Thus ended our buffalo hunt from Bois d' Are, Fannin county.

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