seven photos by Janet Gregg
Your Hotel Here & Save
page] ... Some of the women screamed as the Indian ran toward
them. The Indian, who spoke no English, tried to get them to take
a path less traveled, the path to the left. They balked at first but
he would not let them pass and they eventually gave in, believing
they were going to die either way. A short way down the path they
came into a clearing where about 200 Indians were camped. They were
put in a hut and the Indian who found them sat in front of the door
holding his gun.
The encampment was about four miles West of where Rusk
now stands. They had traveled roughly 20 miles.
A negro woman came in and fed them, but refused to answer their questions.
It was the first food they had eaten in two days. Eventually an interpreter
was brought to them and he explained that they had been found by friendly
Indians and were safe. They also learned that had they gone a half
mile down the path to the right, they would have been killed, as a
band of unfriendly Indians on the warpath, including some of the same
group who had attacked them, were camped there. The interpreter also
told the women that the friendly Indians had placed guards all over
the county trying to find them before the renegades did.
They were given blankets and slept in the hut that night, with the
Indian who found them rolled up in a blanket across the door. The
next morning they were given horses and continued on their way to
When they reached the fort it was night. The exhausted women were
hailed three times and were about to be shot when they finally identified
themselves as “women from Saline”. They stayed in the fort for a month
then went to old Douglas.
of the family tombstones.
always maintained there was one white man with the renegade Indians.
She said when the Indians tried to make her little group go to Chief
Sam Bengs, one rode up to her and tried to assure her the women and
baby would not be harmed. Narcissus said through the paint and Indian
clothing, she could tell he was a white man, and when he realized
she saw that, he turned and rode away.
She recognized him as a man named Hawkins, who was from their old
hometown in Alabama. He had migrated to East Texas earlier, had joined
the tribes and gained a position of prominence among them. The survivors
believe he spurred the Indians to attack. He was reportedly the first
of the settlers who had migrated to East Texas, to return to Alabama
to report the tragedy. Narcissus returned there later with her baby
boy and that’s how the settlers learned Hawkins had reported the news
Hawkins involvement though, was never confirmed by General Thomas
J. Rusk, who, five weeks later, guided by Nathaniel, led a detachment
of soldiers to the site of the attack to bury the victims. The four
bodies they found were buried in wooden boxes under a large oak tree,
which no longer exists, a few hundred yards east of where Samuel’s
home stood. The graves were given rough stone markers.
soldiers found the settlement’s homes ransacked with beds ripped up
and belongings turned upside down or thrown into the yards. Samuel’s
home had been torched, but it only partly burned because it had been
built with green wood. next
Your Hotel Here & Save
and photos © Janet Gregg
November 8, 2005
Ghosts of East Texas and the Pineywoods