Saturday, August 29, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 30

Reverend John McGee’s Son Killed by Indians August 31, 1855

The Texas Conference appointments for 1855 show that John McGee was appointed to San Antonio. On August 31 of that year tragedy struck when his son was killed by Indians. McGee wrote the following letter to the editor of the Texas Christian Advocate:

MR. EDITOR : Our home is filled with sorrow ; grief, sad, heart-rending grief, such as we never before experienced, has fallen upon us like a dark cloud, shutting out, almost, the light of heaven.
My second son, Jouette Fletcher McGee, aged 14 years and 11 days, was killed by the Indians, on Friday morning, the 31st of August, 1855, about 9 o'clock a.m.
On the evening before (Thursday) I had sent him down the river (Cíbolo) about ten miles, to Bro. Pendleton Rector’s to bring home a cow and calf. On the morning of Friday, after breakfast, Bro. R. started with him to help drive the cow a short distance; when about a mile from Bro. R.'s and about halt a mile from Mr. Applewhite's house, on the stage road from San Antonio via Sulphur Springs to Victoria, my son discovered some men in the distance driving stock, and called Bro. R.'a attention to it; but they supposed they were Mexicans with a caballado. After passing some two hundred yards further on the road, some six or seven warriors, that had covered their advance with some musquitte bushes, came out suddenly upon them. Bro. R. at once discovered that they were Indians, and remarked to my son that they must save themselves by flight; my son was on a small Mexican mule, and remarked to Bro. R. that he would be killed. Bro. R. told him no, they would not kill him : he was still urging his mule, and crying to Bro. R. not to leave him, but could not get the mule ten steps from the place. Three warriors took after Bro. R., and the other three or four came upon my son ; they threw a lasso upon him, and jerked him to the ground ; he freed himself from it, and sprang to his feet; they threw it upon him again, and again he threw it off, and ran in the direction that Bro. R. had gone ; this party then left him and took his mule. My son ran some two or three hundred yards up a sloping ridge, and had reached the top, when he was met by the Indian who had followed^ Bro. R., who, as he passed him, struck him with a spear at the lower edge of the right shoulder-blade, ranging down, and came out just above his left hip.
Bro. R. after crossing the ridge, in looking back reined his horse out of the road ; his horse bogged and fell with him ; he sprang to his feet and ran, hallooing and motioning as though there was help at hand. The Indian came up to his horse and took him and turned back, and murdered my child.
I suppose the reason why the other party left him, was because of his expertness in freeing himself from the lasso; he had learned this from a Mexican that I have had in my employ for some time. I gather these facts from Bro. R., and a young man, who at the time was sitting on his horse a few hundred yards distant, and witnessed the whole scene.
The Indians had commenced their operations the night before, in the neighborhood of Hillsborough, at the foot of the mountains, passing down the valley of the Cibolo, stealing horses all the way down. After passing some four miles below me, they came across a negro girl of Mr. Elam s, going out to work, and killed her.
Our community was wholly unprepared for a thing of this kind ; in fact we supposed that we were as safe from Indian depredations as you are at Galveston. Our men hastily gathered up their rifles and started in hot pursuit. The Indians passed down near the Sulphur Springs ; there they run Mr. Irvin in, who was out looking for horses. Some five or six men hastily gathered up some guns in the store of Mr. Irvin, and started in pursuit ; they overtook the Indians in about three miles; they had just passed through a bog, and were changing saddles. Col. Wyatt attempted to shoot, but found that he could not without getting off his horse. When he dismounted, the Indian that was on my son's mule jumped off and ran back some fifty yards—shot four or five arrows at him. Mr. Irvin came up and shot twice at another Indian that was coming to the rescue of the one on foot, but with what effect is not known. The party of whites who were behind, coming upon the trail, turned off to intercept them at the crossing of the San Antonio river ; but the Indians crossed some distance below,
Capt. McCollouch (sic) and a party of men from Seguin, started in pursuit ; after crossing the San Antonio river, they got on a trail of some white men, going into Mexico, and followed it for a considerable distance before they discovered their mistake : then it was too late, with broken-down horses and hungry men, to attempt any further pursuit.
The party of Col. Wyatt brought back some twenty or twenty-five horses, and my son’s mule and saddle. I did not learn the sad news until about 3 o'clock P.M., having been out in pursuit of the Indians. Mrs. McGee was some twenty miles from home at the time. I arrived at the house of Mr. Applewhite about sun-down, and found my poor boy cold in death. Kind friends had spared me the affliction of seeing him all bathed in his blood ; he was neatly shrouded, and his bloody clothes washed : but when I knelt by the side of my poor child, and put my hand on his cold brow, and called his name, and no response—may kind Heaven spare the parent from such awful anguish as I then experienced. He was the idol of his mother. At the still hour of midnight a messenger broke the sad intelligence to her, which was like the pouring in of the cold waters of death. This world is clothed in drapery to us it never wore before. He was a kind-hearted, dutiful child—loved his mother most fondly. Under other circumstances it would be afflicting to part with a child ; but to think of the awful excitement and agony of my poor child in the bands of savage brutes, is almost more than I can bear. God alone can sustain us. He alone can make the darkness light about us ; " He doeth all things well." May we have grace to say, " Thy will be done."
I can not close this article without a reflection or two. There is an awful responsibility resting some place with our governmental affairs. Here we have a General and Staff, Depots of Ordnance and Subsistence, hundreds of government horses, forts, stations, and soldiers, agents with tens of thousands of dollars to feed the poor Indians, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent annually by our government for the defense of the frontier; and yet, from the Gaudaloupe to the Rio Grande, the country is overrun with murderous bands of thieving savages, and no security of either life or property. My case is not the first and only one: poor Forest's family, Judge Jones' overseer, strangers found here and there, besides many more carried into captivity; and many that the light of eternity alone will discover. They come within four or five miles of the sleeping cannon of the Alamo, and steal horses; penetrate the interior, rob and murder, go back untouched and unscathed. Things are in a worse condition now than when Texas stood alone. Who is to blame? People and press of Texas, speak, and speak boldly; who is to blame? Where and with whom does this blood rest?
In deep affliction, your brother, JOHN S. MCGEE


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