Massacre of the Hunter Family, Fannin County, Texas

 

By Judge J. P. Simpson

Mr. George Dameron was the first settler on Caney Creek, six miles west of where the city of Bonham now stands. He settled there in, 1838, but owing to the danger from the Indians, had to leave his home and move off. In 1842, he proposed to Dr. Hunter, then at Fort Inglish, that if he would settle on Caney, he (Dameron) would also go back there, and the two families would form a nucleus for protection and build up a settlement. The matter was arranged and the two families accordingly moved and settled there. Dr. Hunter built a house for his family, and he and his two sons left on business. His wife, two daughters, and a Negro woman were occupying the house. That day, at about 11 o'clock, one of the daughters went about fifty steps from the house, to get some water, and was attacked, killed and scalped by the Indians, who were laying in ambush at the spring. The Indians then charged upon the house, killed Mrs. Hunter and the Negro woman and took the little girl prisoner. The Negro woman had probably fought like a heroine, for she was found dead with a stick in her hand, with marks on it, as if it had been used on the Indians' heads. They were scalped and tomahawked, and the bodies mangled in a most barbarous manner. The Indians ripped open the beds and emptied the feathers on the dead and bloody bodies, which adhered to them and made a most appalling sight. They then took as much bed clothes and clothing as they could carry, and having lariated a wild mule, took the little girl and started for their homes. The little girl stated, after her return from captivity, that they halted on the high point where E now live, as from this point they had an extensive view of the surroundings and could see if any danger was approaching. One Indian attempted to ride the wild mule while here, but the mule threw him and dragged him some distance. The Indian lost his tomahawk and scalping knife, which were afterwards found. They then traveled with the little girl, treating her well. When tired of walking they carried her on their backs (for captives are worth more than scalps) until they reach their village. In about eight months she was purchased by some Indian traders, and brought home and ransomed by the government for $300, grew to womanhood, married a Mr. Jeffrey and became the head of a family.

The day the Hunters were killed, a man named Alonzo Larkin left my house to go to Hunter's and reached it late at night. He hailed it several times, but getting no answer, turned his oxen out to grass and entered the house. Stumbling over some object on the floor, he discovered that it was a dead body and supposing the Indians still in the house, thought he too would be scalped and tomahawked. He at once started through the dark creek bottom to Damron's house, a mile distant, found Dameron unconscious of danger and unaware of the murder of their neighbors. When informed of it they became alarmed and kept guard all night. Mrs. Hunter, the little girl and Negro woman were buried on Caney next day the second burial there. Reader, in those days many family circles were broken and firesides made vacant by the ruthless savage foe, a marked and unpleasant contrast to the peace and security now enjoyed by us.

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