last Indian battle in Hood County

BATTLE SITE: In 1988 historians Gene Foster Lee (left) and Lipan resident Winford Spencer survey the limestone ledge where the last Indian battle in Hood County took place (1869).

BRIDGE STREET HISTORY CENTER

Roger Enlow is the editor of the Hood County News, and a board member of the Bridge Street History Center

A company of opportunistic Indians wandering the banks of the Paluxy River spotted some fresh laundry drying in the brush. Perhaps realizing the need to practice better hygiene, they swiped the clothes and killed a woman in the process.

Thus began their thunderous raid through Hood County in the fall of 1869 that didn’t stop until they accumulated a herd of more than 200 stolen horses.

“The Indians’ luck ran out shortly afterward, however,” wrote late Hood County News reporter Leland DeBusk in 1988.

The settlers, understandably, didn’t take kindly to the marauders’ actions. They formed a posse, gathered their trusty Remingtons and galloped after the felonious Indians.

Just before dawn the posse tracked the Indians to timber near Lipan known as Lookout Point. Panicked by the large number of settlers, the Indians abandoned their horses and ran for their lives.

The posse chased the Indians about four miles where they ran into a stream bed near present-day Starr Hollow Country Club north of Tolar. The seven Indians took cover under a limestone ledge.

“The settlers soon surrounded the Indians’ shelter but most of them had never fought Indians before and they had no stomach for flushing the desperate group out of its hiding place,” DeBusk wrote.

The settlers sent in a particularly vicious dog to flush out the Indians, but the dog returned bristling with arrows.

The settlers then decided to starve out the Indians.

Word of the trapped Indians quickly spread, and about 80 men and boys soon circled the location as thunderstorms threatened overhead. The weather sealed the Indians’ doom.

A cloudburst accompanied by jagged lightning and deafening thunder dumped rainwater that began pouring over the ledge, flooding the ravine and rock shelter where the Indians were hiding.

The rising water forced the Indians out in the open where they were easy targets for the posse. E.P. Ware, a Thorp Spring settler, shot the Indian chief but in turn was shot in the chest with an arrow by the Indian squaw. Ware died two weeks later. He’s buried in Thorp Spring Cemetery.

The remaining demoralized Indians offered no resistance, and all were killed. The settlers chose to break a long-standing tradition and scalped their fallen enemies.

The battle has drawn several names over the decades — “Point of Timbers Fight,” “Battle of Lookout Point,” “Ravine Slaughter.”

It’s known as the last Indian fight in Hood County.

DeBusk’s sources included “Glancing Backward, a History of Lipan, Texas” by Iris Williamson Hubbard, “Hood County History” by T.T. Ewell and “Indian Depredations in Texas” by J.W. Wilbarger.