a chance to talk to anyone
from Texas history I would not pick Sam
Houston, Davy Crockett or even Bigfoot
Wallace but instead I would like to hear the stories of Creed
Taylor because he saw more of the most interesting pieces of Texas
history than anybody else. He was one of the fortunate few who
grew up with Texas and one whose personal
history most closely matches the state’s.
Born in Alabama in 1820, he came to Texas
when he was four years old. Creed was 15 when he defended the “Come
and Take It” cannon at Gonzales,
one of the earliest skirmishes in the fight for Texas independence.
By the time he was 16 he had served as a soldier and scout in the
revolution, led his family to safety during the Runaway
Scrape following the fall
of the Alamo, and hooked up with the Texas army again in time
to fight at the Battle
of San Jacinto.
With independence won, Creed Taylor turned his attention to fighting
the Comanche. He was at the pivotal Battle
of Plum Creek, the beginning of the end of the Comanche reign
in Central Texas. He was with Matthew Caldwell at that battle and
also fought Comanches with Col.
Jack Hays at Bandera Pass and participated in many other skirmishes.
When a renegade soldier of fortune gathered forces to take back
Texas for Mexico, Taylor volunteered for duty again and turned back
the advancing troops at the battle
of Salado Creek near San
Antonio. There, Hays and 50 or so men lured the Mexican soldiers
from the confines of the Alamo
into a trap set by Caldwell. Taylor, Henry McCullough and half a
dozen other men covered Hays’ furious race back to Salado Creek.
During the chase the 20-year old Creed Taylor and McCullough escaped
an estimated 100 to 200 shots without a scratch, though Taylor was
wounded later in the battle.
see Taylor in the historical record again in 1846 with the Texas
Ranger during the Mexican War, where he served with Samuel
H. Walker, who is perhaps best known as the namesake of the
Walker firearm. In 1864, at the age of 44, he signed up with
Col. John S. “Rip” Ford, another man who got to see a lot of Texas
One of the stories
for which Taylor is known today concerns his role in a grisly prank
played by Bigfoot
Wallace and recorded for posterity by J. Frank Dobie. An erstwhile
officer in the Mexican army known as Vidal used the ruse of being
a Texas patriot to establish a horse-stealing ring. The thefts were
invariably blamed on the Comanches. One day when Creed Taylor was
away fighting a band of marauding Comanches, Vidal and his gang
gathered up a bunch of horses and headed off toward Mexico with
Among the horses thus obtained were some that belonged to Taylor
and some more than belonged to a Mexican rancher named Flores; Taylor
and Flores set off in hot pursuit. Along the way they met up with
Wallace, whose heart overflowed with joy at the prospect of
chasing down some horse thieves.
The three men eventually caught up with Vidal and killed him and
his compadres. They cut off Vidal’s head and tied the rest of the
former rustler onto the back of a mustang and sent the horse and
rider off into the world to establish the enduring story of the
headless horseman of South Texas.
As for Taylor,
he returned to ranching and was present for the entire Taylor-Sutton
feud, the longest running and bloodiest feud in the history
of the state. The killing and counter-killing and collateral damage
went on for the better part of two decades but Creed Taylor lived
Late in his life he supposedly told his story in the book “Tall
Men With Long Rifles” but the title alone suggests there may
be problems with the narrative. Historian Charles M. Yates has studied
the manuscript and correspondence relating to the book and concluded
that there is no evidence that the author, James T. DeShields ever
actually talked to Taylor.
If I could, I would.
9, 2011 Column
More "Letters from Central Texas"