TexasEscapes.comWe Take Texas Personally
A Texas Travel, History & Architecture Magazine
SITE MAP : : NEW : : RESERVATIONS : : TEXAS TOWNS A-Z : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : ::ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES
HOME
SEARCH SITE
RESERVATIONS
Hotels
Cars
Air
USA
World
Cruises
TEXAS TRAVEL
TOWNS A to Z
Towns by Region
Ghost Towns
TRIPS :
State Parks
Rivers
Lakes
Drives
Maps
LODGING
TEXAS
FORUM
FEATURES :
Ghosts
People
Historic Trees
Cemeteries
ARCHITECTURE :
Courthouses
Jails
Bridges
Theaters
Churches
Gas Stations
Water Towers
Monuments/Statues
Schoolhouses
Post Offices
Depots
IMAGES :
Old Neon
Murals
Signs
BOOKS
COLUMNS
TE Site
Site Information
Recommend Us
Newsletter
About Us
Contact TE
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : "Texas Tales"
SARAH

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox

"Son," a wise old man once said, "always marry a Texas girl. No matter what happens, she's seen worse."

Few Texas women ever saw any worse than Sarah Creath McSherry Hibbens Stinnett Howard. A woman with true grit, the way she came by her long name is one of Texas' more gripping tales.

She was born Sarah Creath around 1812 in Jackson County, Ill. Described as "a beautiful blonde...graceful in manner and pure of heart," as a teenager Sarah married John McSherry. Not much is known about the young couple's life in Illinois, but in 1828 they came to Texas and settled in Green DeWitt's colony along the Guadalupe River.

As one writer later put it, "They were happily devoted to each other." A year later, they had a son. Around noon one day, McSherry grabbed a bucket and walked to a nearby spring for water. Hearing her husband screaming, Sarah opened their cabin door in time to see him killed and scalped by Indians.

She ran back inside with her baby, barred the door and prepared to use her husband's rifle to drive off the Indians. For some reason, the Indians opted not to attack and left. A neighbor happened by that night and took the young widow to safety.

Sarah and her little boy lived with the Andrew Lockhart family for a time before she found a new husband, John Hibbens. In the summer of 1835, Sarah -- who by now had a child by Hibbens -- traveled with her two children to Illinois for a family visit.

When she returned to Texas early in 1836, accompanied by her only brother, Hibbens met them with an ox cart at Columbia, not far up the Brazos from the coast. The reunited couple, their children and George Creath began the trek back to the Guadalupe Valley. Fifteen miles from their home place, in present Lavaca County, Comanches attacked. The Indians killed Hibbens and Creath and took Sarah and her two children captive.

Riding northwest, the raiders headed toward the Plains with their captives. The second day out, tiring of Sarah's crying infant, they killed it by smashing its head against a tree.

They were in what is now Travis County when a strong norther blew in. The Indians made camp on the south side of a cedar brake to wait out the harsh weather. On the third night at this camp, Sarah lay awake as her captors slept. Knowing she could not travel with her son, she made the excruciatingly hard decision to leave him behind while she went for help. Wrapping him in a buffalo robe, she slipped into the cold darkness.

Late the following day, a company of Texas Rangers were sitting around their fire about to eat their supper when a nearly nude, bleeding and bruised woman staggered into their camp. After hearing Sarah's story, the men saddled up immediately to take up the trail after the Indians. The next day, after a hard ride and a harder fight, they succeeded in rescuing the child.

That summer, the twice-widowed Sarah married again, this time in Washington County. Her new husband was a former neighbor, Claiborne Stinnett. Later elected sheriff of Gonzales County, Stinnett was murdered a short time later by two runaway slaves who then fled to Mexico.

Only 25, Sarah had outlived three husbands, her only brother and one of her children, all of them having died violently.

It took only a few years before a fourth man, Phillip Howard, decided to take a chance on marrying Sarah. They tied the knot in 1840 and eventually settled in Bosque County. Thirty-six mostly good years passed before death again ended a marriage for Sarah. This time, though, she was the one who died -- of natural causes. The year was 1876, making her about 64 when she left Howard a widower.


She had lived in Texas for nearly half a century, but not long enough to see the end of the Indian wars in her adopted state. But the long conflict was nearly over. Rangers tangled with Comanches for the last time in 1878, and in January 1881, Texans had their final fight with the Apaches in far West Texas.

Sarah's last husband, about her age, eventually married a woman named Rebecca. About seven years younger than her new husband, she and Howard were together until his death on Jan. 6, 1894. His family buried him in the Meridian Cemetery, where, only a little more than a month later, Rebecca joined him in a state more enduring than any marriage.

If Sarah is buried in Bosque County, her tombstone either has been lost or the devoted genealogists and grassroots historians who have recorded most of the inscriptions in the county's 126 cemeteries somehow have missed her. She needs to be found and a historical marker placed at her grave.

Maybe Thomas Rusk, once the Republic of Texas' Secretary of War, had Sarah's trying life in mind when he said:
"The men of Texas deserved much credit, but more was due the women. Armed men facing a foe could not but be brave; but the women, with their little children around them, without means of defense or power to resist, faced danger and death with unflinching courage." No Texas woman ever had a better claim than Sarah Creath McSherry Hibbens Stinnett Howard of being one tough grandma.

Mike Cox
February 5, 2004
HOME
Privacy Statement | Disclaimer
Website Content Copyright 1998-2004. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: February 5, 2004