On the Way to Enchanted Rock

by Annie Simms Walker

 

In 1860, at the home of my father, Captain J.M. Sims, in Lavaca County, I was married to Joseph H. Walker of Llano County. He was young, handsome, and wealthy, and I was a very young and happy bride. A short time after our marriage we moved to our home in Llano, accompanied by my married sister and her husband. After a short stay they bade us farewell and returned home.

 

For several weeks we spent most of our time visiting the friends and relatives of my husband and looking at the county. Those tall and rocky mountains were a curiosity to me and I thought it was the roughest part of the world. The mountains all covered with cedar trees and grass, the level valleys covered with green grass, mesquite timber and dotted with cattle and horses were a beautiful sight for me, and I felt then as though I would always be young and happy: but alas, how different was the stern reality that followed.

On Saturday, December 15, we started on a visit to another sister of my husband who lived some distance off, near the "Enchanted Rock." This rock enclosed a large basin on the top of a huge mountain, which is filled with sparkling clear water, wherein all kind of fowls drink and bathe, and I was very anxious to see it. That evening we went about 15 miles to Legion Valley, where we had a delightful time with friends. The next morning early, a beautifully clear but cold Sabbath morning, we continued our journey, each of us being mounted on a fine mare with fine new saddles and bridles.

We rode along the public road about six or eight miles, talking and laughing as gay as could be, we came to where the road made a long curve around a large rugged mountain, when my husband said to me "Annie, how would you like to ride the cutoff?" This being a pathway between two mountains intersecting the road again in about two miles.

"Alright, just as you think best."

We had gone about half a mile when we heard someone yelling frightfully, again and again. On looking up we saw six frightful looking men riding shabby horses and coming on slowly and still yelling. They were dressed in buckskin suits all fringed and tagged, and each wore a tall cap with feathers.

"Oh, Mr. Walker," said I, "who are these men? Are they cowboys?"

"Oh no," said he, "they are Indians."

I asked him what they would do.

"They will try to take our horses," he answered.

By this time they began to crowd us, and Mr. Walker drew his revolver and said to me: "Annie, can you run your mare?"

I told him I could.

"Well hold our bridle tight, for the road is rough. Run around that knoll there, and there is the road we left. I will then run straight across and join you and we can outrun them."

I made a good dash, but to no avail, for as soon as we separated the Indians began shooting and yelling and two of them dashed between us. Mr. Walker waved his hand at me and I halted. In one moment he was by my side, the Comanches all around us, shooting as fast as a man could snap his fingers, with their long bows and sharp arrows and with such force as to send an arrow deep into our poor horses.

Mr. Walker had killed one of them and they were wild with rage, but the pistol held them back. But alas, now we saw one with a gun, ready to shoot. Mr. Walker opened fire again wounding one with his first shot, the second failed, because he himself was shot in the back by the Indian that had the gun. Our horses were very restless, pitching and pawing. Mr. Walker's horse was standing straight up on his hind feet when he was shot. I was just behind him, and saw him fall. I saw the blood gush from his body and mouth. Of course I thought he was killed. With a loud shriek I fell backwards to the ground. The savaged immediately ran over us, driving our horses off, theirs stepping on my body. When I got up Mr. Walker was sitting up with pistol in hand. One of the Comanches shot an arrow into his leg as they rode off, and he returned fire, slightly wounding one of them. He asked me if I could load his pistol. I could hardly walk, but I went to him and sat on the bloody ground beside him. He pulled the arrow out of his leg leaving the spike in the bone. He said it was very painful, though it bled little.

The savages halted on a hill a hundred or more yards off, tied their horses, put the dead man on a blanket, the severely wounded man sat down beside him, and the other four came toward us.

"Oh, my God," exclaimed I, "what can we do?"

"Nothing, my darling," said he. "Only I will keep them from capturing you if God spares my life. See the wind is blowing too hard for them to shoot their arrows with force, and I will kill the last one of them as I can shoot so much further then they can."

But they halted and formed a circle around us, one in a place, and again began to shoot at us.

Their bows were as long as themselves. They had them in their left hands. They would throw their right hand over their shoulder, pull an arrow from the quiver on their back and shoot almost as fast as you could snap your fingers. They shot hundreds of arrows at us. Some of them sticking in our clothes. But doing no serious harm. I took several from my clothes and laid them in my lap. Many did not reach us, as the hard wind made them flutter and fall short. Every few minutes they would stop shooting and jabber with one another.

After about half an hour they stopped shooting, and one of them picked up a gun, walked a few steps to a tree which forked about waist high, then stooping so as to hide most of his body, he laid it in a fork and took aim at Mr. Walker.

Who can imagine my horror? My feelings were indescribable. My poor husband laid the pistol on the ground and put his cold, trembling arms around my shoulders and said, "Kiss me good-bye, dear wife, may God protect you now, for I must go."

I could not cry, nor sob. I kissed him and took the pistol and put the muzzle to my heart.

"Oh, Annie, what are you going to do?" he asked. I told him I intended to go with him. In case he was killed, as he had told me the savages would carry me off if they could kill him, and I did not want to go with his murderers.

"Oh, my brave and true little Annie!" he exclaimed. "Please do not commit such a deed. Oh, God stay her hand that she may not take her own life."

During this time, which was only a few seconds, everything else was perfectly quiet. What caused that Indian not to shoot is more than I can tell.

I had held my breath till I was all a tremble. As he did not shoot, I arose and laid the pistol on the ground, and went towards him. I went within a few yards of the savage and could see his dark clear eyes, and into the muzzle of his gun. I then threw up my hands and cried out loud, "Oh, gracious God of heaven, have mercy and protect a poor helpless woman."

I begged the hostile Indian to please spare my poor husband, that he was already deadly wounded and to please not shoot him in my presence. He took down his gun, stood it against the tree. After pleading, I sank to the ground almost lifeless, my head up but saying nothing. They all went back to their horses. They laid the dead man across one horse, the others mounted their horses and led our poor bleeding animals away, disappearing over the hill.

Now I returned to my poor husband where we talked over the situation quite a while. Going to the brow of the hill I could see them plainly but a long way off, travelling slowly through the valley. On returning to our bloody battle ground, Mr. Walker advised me to leave him and try to save myself. Told me how to find the road, that about a mile from here I would find a house, if any one was there I would of course bring help, if not, to go on to where we started from that morning. After becoming convinced that it was the only means of relief I agreed to leave him, but the very thought caused me to cry bitterly, taking new courage, however, I found a thick cluster of bushes by a cliff of rock to hide him and protect him from the cold drizzling rain that had now begun to fall. From my riding habit and shawl I made him a bed to lie on. Then I helped him to his feet, but he could not step and almost fainted.

He begged me to leave him there, but I said "No." He put his arms around my shoulders and I carried him twenty steps at a time until he was on the spot. Giving him the pistol and taking his quirt and bidding him a loving farewell, I left him without water, help or doctor and almost no bed. It was after three o'clock and I started on a run, asking God to protect him. Hearing him crying aloud, I stopped a moment and heard him say, "Oh, my God, how can I bear to see her go."

I dashed off again like mad through the thorny brush, tearing my flesh and clothes in numberless places. I soon reached the house but not a soul was there. (Mr. Walker heard me hallooing and thought the Indians had caught me.) So on I ran. There were a great many cattle near the road. They scented the blood on my dress and followed me in droves, bellowing, screaming and fighting. Often I had to strike them with the quirt to make them give the road: after running a long time I came to a creek which must be crossed. It was waist deep and my clothes were so wet and heavy that made running very difficult. I broke loose my clothes and dropped them in the road. My shoes becoming untied were also dropped. Travelling was easier for awhile, but soon my feet began to hurt for they had been cut on sharp stones. Nothing could stop me however.

Just before dark I reached deep creek on the other bank of which stood the house where help was certain. Oh how glad I was. I hallooed again and again, the answer that came was the barking of a pack of fierce dogs, that ran down to the crossing. What could be done? I found a long pole with which to steady myself in the water, crossed over, the dogs did not even growl at me. I reached the house, pushed open the door, but found nobody at home. Tired and weak I sank upon a chair. Darkness was fast approaching, and it was three miles to the next house where lived Mr. Walker's sister. A little after dark I reached the house and found help, and told what had happened and where.

The neighborhood was soon wild with excitement, and a party was organized to search for my poor husband. I wanted to go along but they forbade me, saying they knew the spot better than I. They reached the place by two o'clock, but as they had no idea of finding him alive, search was deferred till daylight. Then they started out in different directions. Tom Cox, one of the party called out "Oh, Joe." Immediately he answered, "Here I am Tom!"

He was sitting up against the tree. He shook hands with them, and asked "Is Annie safe?"

"Yes."

"Thanks be to God. He has answered my prayers. Now lay me down and let me die."

They brought him home alive, but he died that day before sunset.

We buried him in a pretty green valley where the long green mesquite grass would wave over his grave.

In 1865 I was married to N.G. Edwards and have lived happy.