Murdered and Scalped by the Pawnees

Taken from Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County
Article appeared in The Paris News on Wednesday, July 20, 1921

According to the information which the Wrights have given out, no mention is made of persons composing Judge Martin's party except himself, his son, a negro boy who was killed and a negro man, Hardy, who escaped. It would appear that the information given out by George Wright to John Henry Brown in 1874 should be of the highest possible class, but it must be borne in mind that this was forty years after the murder and that Sawell, Thrall and Wilbarger had already obtained the information upon which they based their statements and it is entirely possible that they secured it from some of the Wrights or others who were in personal touch with the event and that, too, at a time when the details would be more likely to be remembered than at so remote a period. Then, too, there is the further fact that while Judge Martin was a daring and courageous man, we must give him credit for a reasonable amount of prudence. It does not comport very well with reason, when we think of him taking his own son, only about eight years of age, and the two negroes, only one of whom was grown to manhood, and camping out for weeks in a wilderness known to be infested with savages. We, therefore, feel inclined to think and, in fact, to conclude that the earlier historians who name the party at least in part and among them is to be found three reputable white men who lived at Pecan Point and the famous Indian trained negro, Zack Bottom, and then add that there were several other parties.

This is the much more reasonable story. Besides there are other facts immediately associated with the actual killing which very strongly substantiates the existence of the larger party. The information furnished by the Wrights would seem to lead to the conclusion that there was the small party referred to but further that the savages made their attack at night and thus took the judge by surprise, and further that the camp was only 20 miles west of the Kiamitia, while the others relate, though they do not agree in detail, that the party had been in camp several weeks and had not been molested, and very naturally grown careless. That on the very day of the killing all of the party was out hunting except Judge Martin, the little negro boy and Zack Bottom. When the Indians made their attack the judge was killed at once and the little negro fought so stubbornly and cried so lustily that they soon abandoned the idea of carrying him away as a captive and killed him. Zack Bottom made his escape barefooted and according to the Wright statement he eluded his pursuers by crawling into a hollow log; however that statement says the negro was Hardy instead of Zack. The balance of the hunting party were returning to camp and had their suspicion aroused by the mad rush of an excited herd of buffalo coming over a ridge. As they reached the top of the ridge the Indians were in full view and not far away. they at once cut loose their buffalo meat and game, and ran full speed for Red River and all affected their escape and made their way to the settlements—except young Matthew Martin, who had become separated from the others and was soon overtaken by the Indians and captured.

There is some confusion as to who brought the first tidings of the murder to the settlements. It stands more consonant to reason that if there was a larger party that Daniel Davis and his companions all of whom were trained frontiersmen, would reach the settlements on horseback sooner than Zack Bottom could possibly do on foot when the distance to be traveled must have been very nearly or quite a hundred miles. It is certain that Zack Bottom reached the settlement before the pursuing party was organized and ready to go, since it is known that he accompanied it as did also the negro Hardy, of whom mention has heretofore been made. One of the most regrettable things in connection with this historical event is that so little is know of the pursuing party who made such sacrifices and rendered such noble services only to be forgotten.

 


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