"Escape From Murderous Yocum Gang Recalled," Beaumont Enterprise,
December 25, 1977. The principal source of Seth Carey's life was his
own memoirs, titled "A Tale of A Texas Veteran," published in Galveston
Daily News of Sept. 21, 1879, which is reprinted verbatim in W. T.
Block, "Emerald of The Neches: The Chronicles of Beaumont, Texas etc.,"
pp. 158-163 at Tyrrell Historical Library. From about 1845 until 1880,
Seth Carey and his wife farmed, and raised livestock near the mouth
of Cedar Bayou in Harris Co. In 1859 he was also running a 20 hp.
circular sawmill there, that cut 5,400 cedar and cypress logs into
1,878,000 feet of lumber, worth $28,000. See 1860 Harris Co. Sched.
V, Products of Industry - on microfilm.
|Parts of this
story will coincide with another named "Yocum's
Inn: The Devil's Own Lodging House." However, Seth Carey's encounter
with the Yocum murderers is so unique a tale of frontier violence
that it deserves retelling as a separate story. The main source is
Carey's own long memoirs in the Galveston Daily News of Sept. 21,
old Seth Carey looked back on any portion of his life with something
less than nostalgic feeling, it was during the year 1841 when he fell
into the clutches of the notorious Thomas D. Yocum gang of Pine Island,
Just another fly caught up in Yocum's web of murder and intrigue,
Carey not only survived his slated assassination and dismemberment
in Yocum's alligator slough, but he lived instead to finger the gang
and account for its destruction. It was an episode, however, that
he was always reluctant to discuss and one that "cost him in one way
or another at least $5,000."
When Carey told his life story to a newspaperman in 1879, he was already
in the 73rd year of his life, silver-haired and partially bald. Small
of stature, he had already lived most of his life as a farmer and
livestock herdsman near Cedar Bayou in Harris County. His looks and
gentle demeanor would wholly camouflage the fact that he had once
killed a man and had participated in some of the most violent moments
in the history of early-day Texas.
in Vermont in 1806, Capt. Carey had migrated at an early age to Boston,
and later to New Orleans, where for several months he was employed
as a laborer on the waterfront. It was early October of 1835 that
the first news from the Mexican province of Texas heralded the impending
revolt against the Mexican oppressor and begged for volunteers and
supplies sufficient to guarantee its success.
Everywhere in the saloons and coffee houses, there were speakers and
solicitors for the Texas cause, and when Captain William G. Cooke
approached Carey about joining the Texas-bound "New Orleans Grays,"
the young New Englander enlisted.
The "Grays" traveled first by steamboat to Natchitoches, La., overland
from there to Pendleton Ferry on the Sabine River, and thence to Nacogdoches,
Texas, where they were royally welcomed. At Nacogdoches, the citizens
outfitted them with muskets, ammunition, and Bowie knives before the
"Grays" departed en route to San
Antonio. Upon nearing that Mexican stronghold, they then joined
the main force of Col. Ben Milam's command, and on Dec. 7, 1835, helped
storm the citadel known as the Alamo
and wrest it from Mexican control. When Gen. Perfecto de Cos surrendered
the city, and later he and his army were allowed to retreat toward
the Rio Grande River, the Texans hailed the success of their revolution
and considered it as already ended. Unknown to them at that moment,
Mexican Generals Santa Ana and Urrea were advancing on the Rio Grande
with a large army of the enemy.
The "Grays" were then transferred to Col. James Fannin's command at
and except for a quirk of fate, Carey's bones, because of the Goliad
Massacre, might have been left to bleach on the prairie there
as were those of most of his comrades in the "Grays." But before leaving
New Orleans, he and a friend named Moser had shipped a trunk via schooner
to Brazoria, Texas, and they were granted furloughs to go there and
While en route, Carey was stricken with the first attack of a recurring
malady, probably malarial fever, that for the next three years was
to leave him often upon the threshold of death, and Moser left him
to recuperate at the log cabin of a Captain Hatch. In the meantime,
the Alamo and
fell to the Mexican armies, and after his initial recovery, Carey
and Hatch rode on horseback to Harrisburg, seeking the main body of
the Texas troops. After joining General Sam Houston's army, he suffered
a relapse of fever, and was placed aboard the wagon of a refugee fleeing
in the Runaway
Scrape toward Louisiana.
Carey was left in the custody of an old ferryman named Joel Lewis,
who soon nursed him back to health. Later, when a small company was
mustered at Beaumont
for Indian service on the western frontier, he enlisted again, but
upon reaching Lynchburg the malady struck him for the third and last
time. For most of the next eighteen months he remained bedfast and
a virtual invalid, at first in the care of Dr. Harvey Whiting, and
later on Cedar Bayou at the residence of an old man named Benjamin
Page, whom Carey had known before he left Boston.
By the time he recovered from his last and worst attack of malaria,
he had been in the Page home for fourteen months and had become an
adopted member of the family. Page had already exacted a promise from
Carey that the latter would marry the old man's only child, a 13-year-old
daughter, when she reached her sixteenth birthday. That union would
bring to him the title of Page's league of 4,428 acres received from
the Mexican government. But shortly after his recovery, Carey took
complete possession of the place anyway, tending its cattle herds
and supervising the cotton fields, because Page had grown too infirm
and feeble to do so himself.
Carey received a 640-acre bounty grant from the Republic of Texas
and a 1,200-acre land certificate from his county's Board of Land
Commissioners, which he soon located on unclaimed public domain adjacent
to Cedar Bayou. And in 1838, he acquired valuable business property
near the waterfront in Galveston.
By 1840, he had channeled about $4,000 of his own wealth into improvements
on the Page place, knowing that the title to the league of land would
soon be his.
1839, Carey's troubles with a neighbor named Whitney Brittain had
already begun. The initial outburst resulted from a quarrel over a
dog, but long before and without his knowledge, he had already become
the victim of Britton's intense jealousy, hate, and violent temper.
Originally, Brittain had accompanied the Page family from Boston to
Texas, built his cabin on neighboring property, and enjoyed the same
position in the Page household that Carey would later assume. And
as Carey's stature in Page's affections increased, Brittain's resentment
and hate mounted in like proportion until he used every means short
of murder to vent his spite. Page