Murdered and Scalped by the Pawnees

Taken from Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County
Article appeared in The Paris News on Thursday, July 21, 1921

The wild grief of Henrietta Martin upon the receipt of the shocking news that made her realize that she was widowed and deprived of her first born in a single hour by savage atrocity can better be imagined that described. Her pathetic appeals for the rescue of her child and for a decent burial of the body of her mutilated husband did not fall on deaf ears. A company composed of thirty men was soon organized. Richard Stiles was chosen captain. The only names given by George Wright to John Henry Brown were those of himself and Captain Stiles, from Robert E. Frazier DeShields learned that the two negroes, Hardy and Zack Bottom, both accompanied the party. According to Brown's history this company of neighbors and friends of Judge Martin marched at once to the scene of the crime and there found the bodies of both Judge Martin and the little negro boy and buried them and began the pursuit of the savages with the hope of recapturing the boy Matthew. How far this trail was followed and for what length of time does not appear. But according to Catlin a detachment of troops were sent at once to the scene of the crime upon the receipt of the information and that these troops buried these remains. If a reconciliation is to be affected here it would most likely be that Captain Stiles' company found the bodies and buried them, went at once in pursuit of the murderers and later the troops of which Catlin speaks arrived and seeing thee new made graves may have opened them to verify the report they had received and to be able to make a definite report of what they had found. The company under the command of Captain Stiles encountered a large party of Indians somewhere north of Red River and west of the Washita and were compelled to fight against heavy odds. They defended themselves on that occasion with the loss of one man killed and one horse killed, and one man had a thigh broken. Though still harassed by the Indians they retreated across the Washita near which point they fell in with one Captain Dean who was in command of a company of United States dragoons with whom they camped for a few days and then returned home. The man whose thigh was broken was taken in charge by Captain Dean and carried to Fort Gibson where he recovered in due course of time.

It seems hardly less than pitiful that the name of the man who have his life towards the rescue of the child and also the one suffering for months with a broken thigh should be consigned to utter oblivion. In fact, every soldier who went out as a volunteer with Captain Stiles on such a dangerous mission deserved to be remembered. The Historical Society should leave no stone unturned to discover and perpetuate the memories of these patriotic heroes and sympathetic neighbors. It would not require any very considerable stretch of the imagination to see the well know forms of Daniel Davis, the two Gamble brothers, old Captain Burkham, Josh Robins, Henry Stout, J. J. Ward, and several others who always answered ready when an emergency arose. John B. Denton was probably there. But these are idle speculations with which history cannot content herself. No section of Texas was richer in heroic achievements than the old Red River District, but no man among them all ever gave himself over to the task of recording a single one of them. All that have been preserved to date have just been gathered up piece by piece and fragment by fragment and these are so disjointed and incongruous that the work of evolving a systematic and reasonably intelligent story out of them is almost impossible. But there are other difficulties in this story that are not easy to reconcile. The Wrights say Matthew Martin was only in captivity about six months; others hold that he was captured in May or June of 1834 and was not recovered until during the year 1836. This is a matter where we must defer to the Wrights since they were of blood kin to the child and must have know when he was returned to the arms of his mother who was their sister. But the historians point out that Col. Dodge did not take command at Ft. Gibson until 1836 according to records in the War Department. Against this I can only say that somewhere I have seen but I cannot find it as I write this story that Dodge was a captain at Ft. Gibson for some time before he assumed the command as a colonel. This may account for this discrepancy, as it would be easy and natural for Travis Wright, who accompanied Dodge to refer to him in after years as Col. Dodge which he was then, though he may have been only a captain at the happening of the event.

But historians do not agree among themselves since some of them say Captain Dean recovered the child. This only proves that the Dean and Dodge expeditions have simply been confused. Travis Wright says Dodge recovered him.

 


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