Tragedy on the Texas Frontier

Comanche Men

Comanche Men

Here is a news account of a family from Kansas, who had just arrived by covered wagon to start a new life on the Texas frontier, when a violent incident changed their lives forever.

Western Texas.
(From the Sedalia Bazoo.)
A family, consisting of a man and wife and three children, passed through this city this morning, slowly wending their way northward to their old home in Ralls county. They were in a covered wagon, and had a team which, some day, had been a good one; but its travel-worn appearance, together with the jaded look of the travelers, attracted the attention of a Bazoo reporter, who elicited the following particulars of their journey to the western portion of Texas — and how their number was now one less than when they started from their Ralls county home:

Mr. Ressler was a well-to-do farmer, who in an early day went to the State of California, and by hard work amassed what he considered a sufficiency for a good start in farming life. He returned home to Missouri, married and settled down to regular farming life.

This spring, when emigration commenced Texaswards, the old fever which had taken him to California in 1851 began to rage, and although he had a good home he grew restless, and concluded to try his fortune in Texas.

He was looking for cheap lands, and passed through Grayson county west into Cook and out into the western portion of Montague county. This country, though wild and subject to frequent incursions of the nomadic tribes of Indians that infest the western border, is rather rich and full of game. Mr. Ressler pitched his camp on a little stream, near a good spring, some four or five miles from any habitation, and little dreamed of danger.

On the fourth day of their stay there, the oldest daughter, a young lady of seventeen, went to the spring for a bucket of water, but, alas! she never came back.

One scream like that of the surprised panther was carried to the ear of the mother, who was at the camp, the father being out hunting. The mother rushed to the rescue of the first-born, only to hear the receding footsteps of the Comanche ponies. The mother was paralyzed with grief and fainted away as soon as she realized the fate of her daughter.

The father returned in a few hours and examined the locality of the spring, and found that about fifteen ponies had been hitched hard by, and the Indians had evidently crept up to the spring and were lying in wait for their victim. Mr. R. cared for his wife, and at once started for the next neighbor, and the alarm was given that a


The frontier Texan is ever ready to jump into his saddle at a moment’s notice, and a party of ten determined men were soon on the trail of the red fiends, which had taken a westerly direction. The superior horses of the Texans rapidly gained on the poor ponies of the Indians, and after traveling all night on a warm trail, came up with the Indians the next morning, just as they had come to a halt, and a fight ensued, in which the object of the chase


And was scalped, all of the Indians getting away but three. One of the three killed had the gory scalp of the young girl attached to his belt. They had killed her just as soon as attacked. The father was almost distracted, and absolutely frenzied with grief, and when the chase was given up by the others he could hardly be kept back. The young lady


In the western wilds of Texas, and the family could no longer remain in the country that has caused them so much misery.
The [Bazoo] reporter asked what became of the scalp. The tear-dimmed eyes of the mother looked in the direction of a substantial chest in the wagon, and she said: “It is there.” We asked if they had any objection to showing it. They said no and the father unlocked the chest and produced a long lock of dark hair, cut from the crown of the head, with about an inch and a half in diameter of the scalp. When this was produced, the entire family gave way to loud sobs; and we wondered why so ghastly a memento was kept, that would ever keep fresh in their memory the tragic end of their beloved daughter and sister.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) 15 Jul 1874

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3 Responses to “Tragedy on the Texas Frontier”

  1. Sue Seibert Says:

    I am writing a pictorial history of Mineral Wells, Texas, and am looking for a good photo of Comanches. I really this this photo. Could I use it. I will give you photo credit. I need 300 dpi. Thanks so much for your time.

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      Hi Sue,

      This is not my image, but here is a link to the larger version. You should probably contact them to find out who gives permission for use. I only “borrowed” it for my post, and linked to the website where I found it.

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      I just went and looked at the website where I found the picture (again) and found this at the top of the pictures:

      “The following are old photos taken from the Smithsonian Institution’s collection within the National Anthropological Archives, except where noted otherwise.”

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