From Texas: The Land of Beginning Again, The Romance of the Brazos
Published in 1952
Transcribed by Linda J. Nichols
At last we come to Hood County. The waters of the Brazos wind through the middle of it, passing Granbury, the county-seat, where one remarks the ancient court-house in the plaza. Pausing by the banks of the Brazos where the steel bridge crosses we gaze upon the magnificence of Comanche Peak.
It is an awe-inspiring pile of masonry, high and visible for miles around. It is a long, flat mountain with a leveled top. Much history has been made on and about it. Little of it has been recorded.
Back in the 1830’s on the earliest maps of this country, the surveys showed the peak. It acted as a marker and aiming-point for the surveyors and cartographers. The Santa Fé Expedition guided on it and crossed the Brazos near it.
The county was not created until 1866. Lipan in the northwest corner was named for the Indians who dwelt near here…Thorp Springs [sic], an early college town, was where the foundations of Texas Christian University, now at Fort Worth, were laid…Cresson is a rancher’s cross-roads town…Acton has the cemetery where Davy Crockett’s widow lies buried…Tolar is where the Norse folk abound to indulge in hard-ground agriculture…Mambrino is a farmer’s hamlet nestling among the high oaks.
The Texas Republic Congress on January 14, 1843 passed a law setting up a military post near Comanche Peak and Torrey’s Trading Station on Tehuacana Creek. This was done in 1844 and Fort Spunky came into being. An Indian agent was stationed here and it was used as a fort-settlement until Fort Belknap came along farther west in the 1840’s.
They claim that Indian smoke-signals went up often from Comanche Peak and were visible for a great distance away. The Indians could do strange things with smoke…make it go straight up despite a cross-wind that was blowing at the time, or make it spread out, or spiral flat at the top, or disappear in a sudden puff.
“If you’d see one of them signals,” says Uncle Ed, wrapping his thin legs about each other and crossing his elbows on his knees, “you wuz boun’ to see another un answerin’ him from a hill way off yonder.”
“Did they ever teach y’all how to handle smoke, Uncle Ed?” a goggle-eyed youngster at the Reunion asks.
“Nope,” the old man spits emphatically. “The redskins war plenty particular not to learn no white man them tricks. But we got so we could figger them out after we’d see’d them purty often. They could say anything they wuz a mind to. I’ve see’d three or fo’ signals in the air at one time.”
Hood County is in the very heart of the Grand Prairie. The oaks and sturdy pecans abound. Mesquite in the flats and cedar on the bald knobs…hardy land with many a bare stretch…treeless for miles and then thick woods. High hills…Johnson’s Peak, Top Mountain and Little Round Top…but none as high and imposing as old Comanche!
They have drilled and drilled in Hood for oil and sometimes they get “showings.” The wild-catters still persists [sic].
We pick up Indian lore as we go along. Flacco, Chief of the Lipans, was a brave and friendly ally of the whites, but Castro was a mean and unreliable old redskin who followed along after him…They had a fight near Hanna’s Mill on the Paluxy when fifteen settlers shot it out with twenty Indians and the whites won—with not a dead man on either side! Nathan Holt in 1859 was out looking for his cattle on the bank of the Brazos and the murdering Indians killed him and shot his horse full of arrows, just for meanness, sending the crazed animal galloping home to the cabin with the terrible news to Nate’s little family. The Indians did really scalp a Negro here once, no matter what the tradition says, for back in 1863 when Jeremiah Green and five white men were out hunting cattle and were set upon by sixteen Indians every white man was killed. Jerry, the Negro slave, was found wandering about, his scalp lifted. He died a few days later. Seven Lipans came through here heading down east on Squaw Creek and gathered up about two hundred settlers’ horses, but a posse of settlers came out of Thorp Settlement and pursued them. They came up on them in a ravine, where they had taken refuge, surrounded and killed every last one. Wilbarger says they scalped every dead Indian except a squaw who was discovered disguised in man’s clothing. Two whites were wounded and one of them died later on. They named Squaw Creek after this occurrence.
Today it is pleasant and peaceful along the banks and you can find many a good fishing-spot or swimming-hole in old Hood. The pastures are green and the shade of the trees inviting. No great industry, just a seasonal income for farmer and rancher.
Texas: The Land of Beginning Again, The Romance of the Brazos. Written by Julien Hyer. 1952: Texian Press, Waco, Texas.