N. B. (Nathan Benjamin) SELF

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

Accounts of Indian Woes in 1868 & 1871

EARLY SETTLEMENT, Wm. V. Ervin, P.W., Hood County, District #8, No. words 970, File No. 230, Page No. 1, REFERENCE, CONSULTANT: N.B. Self, Lipan, Texas

(This report is supplementary to one submitted several weeks ago based on information furnished by Mr. N.B. Self, Lipan, Texas; native of Hood County. The name given by Mr. Self which appear in this report are the names of the people who were in the Indian raids told of in the first report.)

The initials of Mr. Self’s father were D.S.

Mr. Self’s uncle, Jackson Holt, with two other white men, William and John Clark, trailed and routed the Indians who had stolen a horse belonging to Mr. Self’s father as well as horses belonging to other settlers. The first fight was at Elm Crossing on the Brazos river.

Some of the settlers who took part in the fight with seven Indians on Robertson Creek in which all the Indians were killed were: Mr. Self’s father, and his uncle S. M. Self and Jackson Holt; other settlers were John and [Wm.?] Formwalt, A. Z. and Florence Carpenter, Wm. Johns, [?.] J. W. Powell, and —- are, who was killed. John Mitchell, Andy Harris, Wm. Weldon, Jacob Harris, [iley?] Clark of Thorp Spring and father of Wm. and John Clark were also Indian fighters. When it was necessary for these men to band together and ride after Indians, horseflesh was not considered. When one horse gave out, they got another one. They rode in a lope nearly all the time and carried their pistols almost all the time. They expected to have to fight the Indians most any time. The seven Indians killed were Comanches. “I can’t see,” said [Mr.?] Self, “what inducement there was for the early settlers to come here. All risked their lives. I was so young then it did not bother me much, but I can’t see how it was that the Indians let me get by. I have stood in the door of our cabin and heard the Indians hollering so they could get together: Comanche Peak was the lookout place for them.

“Mother and myself and my little brother, four years younger than I, stayed by ourselves many a night when father would be out on the cattle range. We lived in a little log house about sixteen feet square, with one door and no windows: there were small holes, one on each side. I have seen mother stand up at these holes nearly all night watching and expecting Indians. We had a watchdog, and the way the dog was barking would be the side mother would watch on. She was well armed with two pistols and a Sharp’s rifle, and she was a good shot. [e?] had a fireplace in the house. When we were expecting an attack by the Indians we would cover the fire and blow out the lamp, and use little [tallow?] candles for light.

“This country was full of all kinds of wild animals. It was hard for us to tell the difference between a panther hollering and the Indians. [e?] were always glad when we could hear panthers plain enough to tell it was not Indians.

“We never opened the door until it was daylight enough for us to see all around the place, and see that there were not any Indians about. Mother was a brave woman. She seem not to be afraid in the daylight.

“Mother would start her spinning when she got her work done of a morning. I would have made a good-sized man if mother had not worked me so hard those days. We made out own clothes. We wove two pieces of cloth a year, one to make our heavy clothes from, and the other to make shirts, sheets and underwear. I can remember the first suit of store bought clothes that I ever had. I was nearly grown, and I sure stepped high.

“One of my cousins by the name of Nathan Holt was killed by the Indians in 1868. He and his brother, Jackson Holt, went about a mile and a half from their home one Sunday evening to get two milk cows. The brothers lived about a mile apart. They found a cow each and started to drive them home. The cow Nathan was driving had a very young calf, and Nathan got off his horse and walked to drive the calf. The cow Jackson found had a large calf which traveled faster than the small calf, and Jackson driving the cow and calf went over a ridge out of sight of his brother. It was not known by Jackson until eight days later when he went to his brother’s home that Nathan had not returned. A search was made, and Nathan’s body was found about two hundred yards from where Jackson had left him. His horse was gone. Signs showed that Indians had been near the brothers when they found the cows and had killed Nathan. He was scalped, and it looked like he had been knocked down, and died later.

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers’ Project Collection