|This story is similar to the story told by Mrs. John Baggett published in the Old West Magazine, only more bloody and vicious, a horrible experience for the family. John had gone to mill, which took about three days, returning some time after dark that night.|
During the first week in March 1857, a large band of marauding Indians came down and simultaneously entered Brown, Erath, and Comanche counties, and subsequently began depredating in the most daring and alarming manner. Three different squads of Indians began depredations at the same time in different parts of Comanche County.
One squad of ten passed down the South Leon Valley in open day gathering what few horses they could find on the third day of March 1857. Four miles below Old Cora (now extinct), about four o’clock in the afternoon, they came upon Gid Foreman and killed him, taking off every vestige of hair with his scalp. Foreman had red hair, which is a great trophy among Comanche Indians. After butchering the unfortunate man and tying his reeking bloody scalp to one of their belts, they proceeded down the valley and crossed North Leon. About five o’clock they approached John Baggett’s ranch, near the present town of Hazel Dell, driving up into the yard and catching the only horse Baggett had left. At the time, Mr. Baggett was not at home and there were no neighbors nearer than four miles.
Now come along and view with me this terrible tragic scene. A lone woman with nine helpless children, with no chance of escape and no means of protection, not even a gun (Mr. Baggett had taken it with him). They were surrounded by ten steel hearted, fiendish savages, in whose veins the milk of human sympathy had never flowed. Their hideous visages were made doubly frightful by being daubed all over with war paint, and uttering fiercely their most diabolical war whoops with their dark bodies besmeared and their hands still dripping with the life blood of Foreman. Seemingly each Indian’s greatest delight was in torturing his most innocent victim, while the excruciating pain and suffering and agonizing cries served only to increase his merriment.
Mrs. Baggett had succeeded in getting seven of the children into the cabin while the savages were catching the horse. But alas! Oh, horror of horrors! Two of the children, little Joel twelve, and little Bettie ten years old, were under the live oak tree playing some sixty yards from the cabin. They were intercepted, caught and four of the savages proceeded to strip off every vestige of clothing that the children had on. They proceeded slowly, so as to prolong the sufferings of little Joel and to increase and intensify a mother’s agony, in torturing the little fellow to death by lancing him with arrows in every conceivable way to produce the most acute and excruciating suffering. One of the savages, to whose belt poor Foreman’s gory scalp was still hanging, proceeded before life was extinct in little Joel to scalp him and hung the scalp on the opposite side of his belt. And if possible, they proceeded to add additional pain and to make little Joel’s lifeless form appear more ghastly and horrible while his plaintive, piteous shrieks and cries were still audible to a mother’s ears. This was an additional trophy to heighten the pleasure of their fiendish war dance. But is this all of this frightful tragedy?
No! Not at all content with torturing, then scalping and killing little Joel! But if it were possible to add to a mother’s already overflowing cup of sorrow and grief, mentally equal to a Spanish Inquisition, those barbaric and unfeeling savages proceeded to lance little Bettie in twenty places, in three places to the hollow. They then turned her loose to go bleeding, staggering and fainting twice before she reached the house. On reaching the house, Mrs. Baggett still had the presence of mind to say: “Bettie, go around to the other door, they will kill all of us if Mamma opens this door.”
Four of the Indians had followed the child to within twenty paces of the door, thinking, no doubt, that Mrs. Baggett would be imprudent enough to come out and meet the child. But she well knew her own life and that of her other seven children depended upon their remaining in the house. So, failing this, the savages remounted and rode off just before dark. Mrs. Baggett told Sarah to get upon a chair and look over the door to see if the Indians came back. As soon as she knew they had left, Mrs. Baggett asked Bettie where Joel was, and she said: “He is dead! I called to him and he did not answer.” When it was dark, Sarah and Mrs. Baggett went to get the lifeless body of her darling little boy. She carried the lifeless and mangled body of his to the cabin and had it washed and dressed before the father’s return after dark.
John Baggett, little Joel’s father, and John’s brother Joel, as soon as it was light, went to Old Cora (south of Gustine and east of Comanche) to let people know what had happened. About noon there came twelve Rangers and five other men and started out to trail the Indians. (The story never tells if they found them.)
To attempt to describe the feelings of Mrs. Baggett on this occasion would be an utter failure, and a mockery of the most sublime fortitude and courage known alone to mothers. Indeed, no language, except it be that of angels, is capable of describing such a scene, or a mother’s love. Little Bettie got well, grew to womanhood, married, and is now the wife of a wealthy and respected gentleman, living at Abilene, Texas.
(This Editors Note: Mr. John Baggett, at the time this article was written, was already deceased. Mrs. Elizabeth Baggett had moved from that part of the State and was living in Wilson County, Texas.)
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