by Linda Kirkpatrick
Woman of the Apache
accounts are told of the April
18, 1881 incident at the McLaurin Ranch in the Frio Canyon of Texas.
Kate McLaurin and Allan Lease were killed but the raiders had compassionately
left the McLaurin children alive. But you must understand that the
story does not begin nor does it end on this day. Many historical
accounts are linked to one another and a small glitch in history could
have changed many of the outcomes. This particular raid occurred a
few miles north of the town of Leakey,
Texas. Just one small change could have altered the lives of many,
including one Apache woman. In a few of the accounts of this tragedy,
it is mentioned that an “Indian woman” rode with the Buffalo Soldiers
and the Black Seminole Scouts as they tracked these raiders into Mexico.
The “Indian woman” had to have a name, she had to have a family and
she had to have a story. All did emerge, but to understand her story
you must know the situation in Texas at that time.
Chief Costelitos, Teresita, and unidentified Black Seminole woman
Photo courtesy Daughters of the Republic of Texas
Indian Wars of Texas
Ulysses S. Grant was convinced that he could calm the conflicts between
the settlers and the Indians in the West. He put together what would
be known as “Grant’s Peace Policy”. The consensus of the policy states…
“the old ways of dealing with the Indians was not working, new ways,
which emphasized kindness and justice, must be tried.” The ideas of
the policy would later die, along with many settlers and Indians,
on the plains of Texas.
In May of 1871, on a Texas plain known as Salt Creek Prairie, a group
of Kiowa attacked and killed the teamsters of a wagon supply train.
The Indians bypassed a smaller wagon train that carried the General
in Chief of the U. S. Army, William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman knew
that something had to change. The grave results of Grant’s Peace Policy
and the Salt Creek Massacre would impact the history of the West until
the late 1880’s.
Sherman realized the strength of the Apache, Comanche, Kiowa and Kickapoo
in Texas. In April of 1873, General Belknap, the Secretary of War
and General Philip Sheridan arrived at Fort Clark, Texas, supposedly
to inspect the troops. However, a secret meeting was held with Captain
Ranald Mackenzie. His orders were to control the situation and to
do it his own way. The troops stationed at Fort Clark knew that they
were not supposed to pursue the Indians into their strongholds in
Mexico but McKenzie, in charge of troops at Fort Clark, felt that
he would be supported in making this one raid.
Lapham Bullis and thirty-four Black Seminole Scouts joined the six
troops of the 4th Cavalry under Mackenzie. They left Fort Clark under
a cloak of secrecy. The secret was reveled as they crossed the Rio
Grande into Mexico.
On the morning of May 18, 1873, McKenzie led the attack on the Indian
village of Remolino, Mexico. What happened that day would eventually
become part of the McLaurin
tragedy. The troops had moved fast to reach the camps. They pushed
hard through the heat, dust, mesquite and prickly pear. It was early
morning when they thundered down on the sleeping village. From Mackenzie’s
view, the surprise attack had been a success. He ordered the village
burned. Renty Grayson, a Black Seminole Scout, roped the Apache Chief,
Costelietos. The exact number of how many were killed that day is
unknown. The wounded were left to die. A few escaped and those who
could travel were taken captive. One of the captives was young woman
named Teresita, the daughter of Costelietos.
The trek back to Texas was long and hot but Costelietos and Teresita
endured and eventually made their home in a jacal on the compound
of Fort Clark.
peered out from the door of the jacal to see what the disturbance
could be. Several of the men were coming back from the main compound
in Fort Clark. Her husband, Black Seminole Scout, James Perryman,
told her to get ready. Teresita was a good scout and tracker. She
assisted the Scouts on several occasions. Even though she was unsure
of his demand, she packed supplies and left the children with a woman
from a near by jacal. Where they were going and what they would
be doing, she was afraid to ask.
Teresita loved to track. She felt honored that she was allowed to
ride along with the men. As the daughter of a chief her life had been
better than that of the other captives.
The posse from the Frio Canyon had brought the news of the
raid on the McLaurin homestead. These determined men had been
trailing the Apache who had killed Kate McLaurin and Allan Lease.
They reached Fort Clark after days of riding in wet weather. The posse
then turned the pursuit over to the troops. It was obvious that the
Apache had retreated into their safe haven in Mexico.
The troops followed the trail into Mexico. Teresita realized that
this was her tribe being pursued. She attempted to ride away. Her
goal was to either warn the Apache or lead the soldiers off of their
trail. Eventually she was subdued. The soldiers tied to her saddle
to prevent her escape and it was there she remained until they returned
to Fort Clark.
The quest of the troops was successful. The Apache were found. Clothes
and items in the camp were later identified by John McLaurin as those
belonging to his family. When all was said and done only one Apache
woman and a young boy survived, they would live the rest of their
life on a reservation.
It is possible that this was the last trek into Mexico for the troops
and that the incident at the McLaurin’s was the last conflict in Texas.
Accounts are sketchy at best.
It has been written that Teresita died in 1881, the same year as the
McLaurin incident. It makes one wonder why she died so young. Was
it natural causes or a tragic death? Her life was greatly altered
the day of her capture in May, 1873. It is believed that she was the
mother of two sons. There are people walking the streets of Brackettville,
Texas carrying the Perryman name. Could these be her descendents?
Teresita is supposedly buried in an unmarked grave in the Black Seminole
Cemetery at Brackettville,
The story of the Last
Indian Raid in the Frio Canyon and possibly the entire state of
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