Friday, October 24, 2014

Launching My Second Term

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as State Historian of Texas. During the last two years I’ve had a grand time traveling throughout the Lone Star State as an ambassador for Texas history. I’ve had the delightful assignment of visiting – or revisiting – one historical site after another, and of interacting with old and new friends who agree with me that Texas has the richest and most colorful history of any state in the Union.

Dr. Powell opens the ceremony.
My two-year term as State Historian was scheduled to end on August 22, 2014, and I was not eager to lose the position that has brought me so much sheer joy. But in July I was contacted by Larry McNeill, chairman of the Selection Committee, to see if I might consider a second term. I was thrilled and flattered, and after August 22 I continued my State Historian activities while ceremonies were planned for my second investiture.

With Chris Paddie and Karon
My first investiture in 2012 was held in the State Capitol, where I was sworn in by Governor Rick Perry in the presence of my family and friends. Those in attendance included Dr. Greg Powell, President of Panola College, where I joined the faculty in 1970. Although I had retired as a teacher a year before my appointment, Dr. Powell provided an office on campus, so that the State Historian would be headquartered at Panola College. Furthermore, since the office of State Historian is unfunded, Dr. Powell arranged to cover my travel expenses through Panola’s Murphy-Payne Foundation. Years ago Mr. and Mrs. Foster Murphy, who are history enthusiasts, generously established a foundation that would enable Panola College to host a history lecture series each year. Mr. Murphy often mentioned to me that if our history department ever needed additional funding for more activities to let him know. Two years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy readily agreed to provide travel funding for the State Historian through their foundation.

It is fitting, therefore, that the ceremony launching my second term as State Historian be held in the Murphy-Payne Community Room on the Panola College campus.  Our state representative, Chris Paddie, agreed to administer the oath of office. KGAS Radio in Carthage broadcast the event and interviewed participants. The ceremony was open to the public, and close to 200 friends and colleagues and family members were in attendance. My brother Mike drove to Carthage from Denton. My daughter Berri came from Irving. My daughter Causby and her family – husband Dusty and daughters Bailey and Kendall – came from Van Alstyne. My wife Karon teaches math at Panola and already was on campus. Many of those in attendance were former students of mine. Mr. and Mrs. Foster Murphy were honored guests.
With Mr. and Mrs. Murphy and granddaughter Ryan Murphy

At three o’clock on the afternoon of October 22 – exactly two years and two months since I was sworn in at the State Capitol – Dr. Powell began the second investiture with a gracious introduction of State Representative Paddie and State Historian O’Neal. Karon stepped forward with a Bible which my mother gave me more than half a century ago. With my hand on the Bible, Representative Paddie administered the oath of office. I made a few remarks, expressing my gratitude to Representative Paddie, Dr. Powell, and most especially to Mr. and Mrs. Murphy. Afterward a reception was held, featuring a table piece of Yellow Roses of Texas – and appropriate refreshments of pecan pie and peach cobbler – with Blue Bell ice cream.

Receiving a plaque from the History Department
 That evening I drove to Austin in order to conclude the investiture on Thursday morning. The Texas State Historical Commission was in session on October 22 and 23, and half an hour before nine o’clock on the 23rd I was greeted in the Capitol by Vaughn Aldredge, Government Relations Specialist of the THC. Vaughn coordinated my appearance at the THC meeting. August Harris III presided over Thursday’s session, and he provided a generous description of my background, before delivering a public proclamation of my appointment for a second term. Commissioner John Crain, president and CEO of the Summerlee Foundation, is also a member of the State Historian Selection Committee, and he took the opportunity to add extremely kind remarks about my performance in office. I was allowed to offer a brief response, and a photo-op followed. THC members were most cordial to me, and I left Austin almost overwhelmed by events of the past two days. Certainly I’ve been inspired to fully embrace the duties and activities of the historian of the Lone Star State!
Dr. Powell, Mike O'Neal, Causby Henderson, Kendall,
Karon, Bailey, Dusty Henderson, Berri Gormley
John Crain, August Harris, Mark Wolfe
With Mark Wolfe and August Harris



Friday, October 17, 2014

1902 Corsicana Oilers

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Wearing my replica cap of the 1902 Oilers
During a recent trip to Corsicana I drove to the site of the old Oil City Ballpark. There is only an open field now – the grandstands and fences were torn down in the late 1950s. But for more than half a century the little stadium hosted Corsicana’s professional teams (1902 through the late 1920s) and high school clubs (through the 1958 season). 

One of the nation’s oldest professional leagues – the Texas League – was organized in 1888. But baseball’s early minor leagues had a difficult time maintaining play, and the Texas League did not operate during the 1900 and 1901 seasons.
Standing L to R: Belmont Method, P: J.J. Clarke, C Bob White, P;
Big Mike O'Connor, 1B and mgr; George Markley, 3B;
Walter Morris, SS (later Texas League president.
Middle row: Frank Ripley, RF; Upton Blair, president;
Curley Maloney, P-CF. Bottom row: Alec Alexander, 2B-C;
Lucky Wright, P; Ike Pendleton, LF.

When the Texas League resumed play in 1902, businessman J. Doak Roberts, a native Corsicanan who had managed numerous semi-pro teams, organized a professional franchise for his home town. Backing came from the Oil City textile mill: Corsicana professional clubs would always be dubbed the Oilers, and baseball was played in the Oil City Park in the south end of town. Big Mike O’Connor, who had played and usually managed in the Texas League every season since its formation in 1888, was secured as player-manager. Between O’Connor’s practiced eye for talent and Robert’s budding gifts as a baseball executive, a memorable team was assembled. 
J.J. Clarke (8 HR)
Rosters were limited to eleven men. The bellwethers of the 1902 pitching staff were Bob White, Belmont Method, and Lucky Wright (who made such an impression that for years most Texas Leaguers named Wright were dubbed “Lucky”).The catcher was a nineteen-year-old Canadian, J.J. Clarke, whose professional career would span a quarter of a century, including nine major league seasons. The six-foot-five-inch O’Connor stationed himself at first; he had won the Texas league batting title in 1896 with a .401 average, and Big Mike still hit with authority. The second baseman was Alec Alexander, who occasionally spelled Clarke behind the plate. Walter Morris, a brilliant shortstop, was signed out of amateur ball; he enjoyed a long playing career, then spent the rest of his life as a manager and baseball executive. The third baseman was George Markley, a fine fielder who had broken into the Texas League in 1895. Ike Pendleton was in left field; he was a swift baserunner who filled in at second base when Alexander “donned the mask and pad.” The center fielder was James J. “Curley” Maloney, a Texas League fixture since 1889 who could also pitch and play third. Frank Ripley was in right most of the year.

In those days managers set a batting order and stuck with it. A man hit leadoff or fifth spot in the order just as he played center field or catcher. The Corsicana order throughout most of 1902 was Maloney, leadoff; Alexander; Ripley, Pendleton; Markley; O’Connor; Clarke; Morris; and the pitcher. It proved to be a sensational combination.

Opening day in 1902 was April 26. Corsicana ripped the league to shreds, from June 8 through July 5, reeling off 27 consecutive victories. Thirteen of these games were on the road, although the June 15 contest against Texarkana was supposed to be a home game. Corsicana ordinances prohibited Sunday baseball, and the game was transferred to Ennis. The fences at the Ennis field were short, but Corsicana and Texarkana agreed beforehand that any ball hit out of the park would be a home run. C.B. DeWitt, one of the Texarkana owners, took the mound, but the powerhouse Oilers scored six runs in the first inning and turned the game into a rout. The Oilers battered DeWitt for 53 hits, including 16 homeruns, and won, 51-3.

The 1902 Oilers are featured in the
1903 Guide.
There were many hitting standouts in this landmark game, but perfection was reached by catcher Clarke, who came to the plate eight times and hit eight roundtrippers. Clarke’s eight home runs in a single game set an all-time record for professional baseball. Big Mike O’Connor hit three home runs and went seven for eight. Two other Oilers besides Clarke went eight for eight, another was six for eight, and still another was six for seven. Every man hit safely, and the Oilers stranded just five base runners. Corsicana’s defense did not commit an error and clicked of four double plays. The 51 runs and 53 hits, Clarke’s eight home runs, eight runs scored, 16 RBIs – these and other marks all are records which still stand. During the 27-game winning streak (another all-time record which the New York Giants matched in 1916), Corsicana outscored its opponents 287-77, recorded six shutouts, and won five games by one run. The lineup and batting order went virtually unchanged during the streak, and Lucky Wright (10 victories, one shutout), Belmont Method (nine victories, three shutouts), and Bob White (eight victories, two shutouts) did all of the pitching. On Sunday, July 6, the Oilers were scheduled to host Waco, but because of Corsicana’s blue laws the game was moved to Waco. Lucky Wright was defeated 3-1 by Dad Ahorn, bringing the incredible streak to a close.

Corsicana’s record was a sizzling 58-9 by July 8. The league declared a split season to rejuvenate fan interest, but Corsicana continued to lead the field. Late in July, however, Walter Morris, Bob White, and George Markley clashed with management and bolted the club to play independent ball. Hunter Hill, an aggressive, hot-tempered infielder who was a deadly bunter, filled in well, but the Oilers were not as dominant after their original combination was broken up. The league voted to end play on August 1, a week ahead of schedule. Corsicana led with a 30-14 mark, and since the Oilers won both halves, no playoff was necessary. Their complete record was 88-23, for an unequaled .793 season winning percentage, and their first half .866 percentage also still strands unmatched by any professional club in a split season.

My centennial history of the Texas League
was the first of six minor league books.
The early Texas League was a Class D circuit, the lowest classification in professional baseball. Most of the members of Corsicana’s 1902 championship team moved up in pro ball, and the 1903 Oil City club had a losing season. But in 1904 Corsicana bounced back, winning another Texas League title behind batting champ Trapper Longley (.372). In 1905 Corsicana again was without their best players, and a few weeks into the season the last-place Oilers, unable to draw crowds like Dallas and Fort Worth, disbanded.

With two Texas League pennants and records that would never be surpassed to their credit, the Oilers reappeared in several professional loops. Corsicana was part of the short-lived North Texas League in 1906, then the Central Texas Trolley League in 1914 and 1915 and the Central Texas League in 1917. The Oilers joined the Texas-Oklahoma League in 1922, the Texas Association, 1923-1926, and the Lone Star League, 1927-1928. Old timers may remember the fading sign on the red brick building beyond the right field fence. The sign on an upper story window read: “Any player who hits a home run through this window wins $25.” The last team to play at the historic old ball park was the Corsicana High Tigers of 1958, coached by Jess Cummings (who had a brief stint with the Fort Worth Cats in 1938) to a second-place finish in the state playoffs.

Friday, October 10, 2014

ETHA Fall Meeting

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 



The East Texas Historical Association held its Fall 2014 Meeting on October 2-3-4 on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University. Participants totaled 256, just five short of the all-time record. Dr. Scott Sosebee, ETHA Executive Director, and Secretary/Treasurer Christal Gill worked on arrangements that greatly aided the large crowd. 
Scott Sosebee, ETHA Executive Director and
Secretary/Treasurer Christal Gill


Meetings were held at the Baker Patillo Student Center on the SFASU campus. The Board of Directors met on Thursday morning, and sessions began that afternoon. One of the opening sessions was Remembering Archie McDonald: A Panel of Friends Reminisce. Dr. McDonald was a highly regarded author and teacher, and the longtime director of the ETHA. Panelists were associates and friends of McDonald: Portia Gordon, Dan Utley, and Richard Berry, Provost of SFASU. Late in the session there was time for audience members to relate their own stories about a remarkable historian and friend to us all. 
Dan Utley, Portia Gordon, and Richard Berry
reminisce about Archie McDonald.


JoNeita Kelly mans the TSHA table.
The Max and Georgiana Lale Lecture was held on Thursday evening. The speaker was Paul Carlson, Emeritus Professor from Texas Tech University. A distinguished historian, author, and speaker, Dr. Carlson’s topic was “Painting Tom Sawyer’s Fence: Lessons from Literature, History, Sports, and the Humanities.” Friday evening activities were held at historic Millard’s Crossing, and began with the Fellows Reception. Yvonne Frear, Robert Robertson, and Paul Sturdevant were named as new Fellows of the ETHA. The Reception was followed by a barbeque supper and the Presidential Address. ETHA President Gene Preuss spoke on “East Texas and the Battle for Texas’ Past.” 
Ron Chrisman at the UNT Press table

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there were 26 sessions featuring nearly 80 speakers and panelists, a splendid history buffet. The Fall Meeting ended with the Awards Luncheon and Business Meeting. Two Ottis Lock Book of the Year Awards were presented, each with a $500 stipend: Lens on the Texas Frontier, by Lawrence T. Jones, III, and The Other Great Migration: The Movement of Rural African Americans to Houston, 1900-1941, by Bernadette Pruitt. The Educator of the Year Award, carrying a $1,000 award, was presented to Rajonia Carnley, a dedicated and gifted teacher of fourth grade Texas history at Van Alstyne Elementary School in the Van Alstyne ISD. Mrs. Carnley’s students stay busy with a number of imaginative ad stimulating assignments, and each year she leads a field trip to Austin, a walking tour of the historic sites and architecture of Van Alstyne, and a visit to the Mesquite Rodeo while studying Texas cowboys (two years ago the State Historian was invited to present a program on cowboys just one day prior to the Mesquite Rodeo visit). 
Debbie Liles presenting at the West Texas
Historical Association session


Dr. Mary L. Scheer of Lamar University assumed the ETHA presidency at the close of the meeting. After receiving the gavel from outgoing President Preuss, she issued an invitation to the Spring Meeting, February 27-28, 2015, at the Sam Houston State University Center at the Woodlands. 
Dr. Eric Gruver of Texas A&M University
introducing the  TAMUC session on
their new "East Texas War
and Memory Project"

President Gene Preuss conducting the business meeting
With Educator of the Year Rajonia Carnley
Incoming President Mary Scheer

Friday, October 3, 2014

Governor Beauford Jester of Corsicana

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 



Kinsloe House
On the first day of October I drove to Corsicana, my home town, to deliver a program at the Kinsloe House. For more than seven decades the Kinsloe House has been the home of several women’s organizations. The Kinsloe House also has hosted countless wedding receptions, high school reunions, banquets, and assorted other social and cultural events. I had been contacted by Margaret Thomas on behalf of Navarro County Women's Club. Margaret asked me to present a program on some aspect of Corsicana history, and I suggested Gov. Beauford Jester, a native son of Corsicana and the only Texas governor to die in office.

Nearly 100 people jammed into the Kinsloe House dining area. The crowd included many old friends, as well as my daughter, Dr. Shellie O’Neal, chair of the Drama Department at Navarro College. The event was scheduled for noon on Wednesday. I arrived early, and I had a grand time visiting with everyone. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, and Margaret provided me with a gracious introduction.
With Dr. Shellie O'Neal
With former schoolmates
Introduction by Margaret Thomas
I prefaced my remarks, as I often do, with an explanation about the office of Texas State Historian. I was proud to relate that the Selection Committee has asked me to serve a second term. I will be sworn in at a public ceremony on the campus of Panola College on Wednesday at 3 PM on October 22. I pointed out that my love of history was developed in Corsicana, with excellent school teachers and a welcoming public library staff. My great-grandparents brought their family from Mississippi to a new home in Navarro County in a covered wagon in 1881. My grandmother, who was seven years old during the wagon train trek, repeatedly told me the story of the great adventure of her childhood. Her older brother, R.R. Owen, grew up to become a Corsicana attorney and county judge.

During the 1890s the first oil field and oil refinery west of the Mississippi River was developed in Corsicana. Desperado John Wesley Hardin, hiding out with relatives near Corsicana, taught a term in a rural school. The home of Major John B. Jones, commander of the famed Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers, was a horse ranch in western Navarro County. The Corsicana Oilers won the 1902 Texas League championship, establishing records that still stand in professional baseball. Victorian homes, commercial structures, and historic churches offer tangible reminders of the past. And Corsicana was the home of a handsome and able governor.

Birthplace of Beauford Jester, no longer standing
Beauford Jester















The father of Beauford Jester was a Navarro County pioneer, George Jester, who came to Corsicana as a child in 1858. His father recently had died, and his mother brought her six children in a covered wagon to Corsicana, where her father had helped to found the town a decade earlier. Growing up in a new town and county, George was enterprising and industrious, and he prospered rapidly. He founded and served as president of the Corsicana National Bank, he acquired land, and he was active in civic affairs. George Jester was elected to the Texas State House and Senate, and he served two terms as lieutenant governor during the 1890s.

George Jester
George Jester had five children, including Beauford, born in 1893. Beauford graduated from Corsicana High School in 1911, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, and enrolled in Harvard Law School in 1916. But with United States entry into World War I in 1917, Beauford enlisted in the U.S. Army. As an infantry captain he led his company into combat during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Following his discharge, Jester entered the University of Texas Law School, and after graduation he established a successful law practice in Corsicana. He married Mabel Buchanan of Texarkana in 1921, and they became the parents of two daughters and a son. Like his father, Beauford took a leadership role in civic and religious activities (the Jesters were Methodists). He was chairman of the U.T. Board of Regents, a director of the state bar, and a member of the powerful Railroad Commission. Elected governor as a Democrat in 1946, he was progressive and popular, and easily won re-election. But in 1949 Jester suffered a massive heart attack on a train. He is buried in Corsicana beneath an impressive grave stone.

Beauford and Mabel Jester built their family home in 1923.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Battle of the Neches

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Chief Bowl
Sam Houston
Last week Karon accompanied me to Van Zandt County, where we sought out the site of the Battle of the Neches. Since the 1970s I had taught Texas History classes about the Cherokee in East Texas under Chief Bowl and about the Cherokee War. Through the years I have seen several historical markers about the Cherokee, Chief Bowl, and the Battle of the Neches. A visit to the climactic battle site was long overdue.


Gen. Edward Burleson
Gen. Thomas J. Rusk
Born in 1756 in North Carolina, Chief Bowl led his Cherokee band west of the Mississippi River in 1810, seeking better hunting grounds and attempting to escape the encroachments of white settlers. Bowl’s Cherokees were in Missouri for a time, then northwestern Arkansas, before moving into East Texas above Nacogdoches in 1819. Soon there were several Cherokee villages in the area, represented by Bowl as their peace chief. Chief Bowl tried to negotiate for a large land grant from the Spanish government in 1827 and from the Mexican government in 1833. With the outbreak of the Texas Revolution in 1835, Mexican agents tried to incite the Cherokee to war against the Texans. But in February 1836 General Sam Houston, an adopted Cherokee son, led negotiations with Chief Bowl, a longtime acquaintance. Houston presented Bowl a sword, and promised lands from the new Republic of Texas. Now safe from a war with the Cherokee in the north, General Houston took up action against Santa Anna in the south.

Vice President David G. Burnet
Secretary of War Albert S. Johnston

After Texas won independence from Mexico, President Houston could not persuade the Senate of the Republic of Texas to ratify the treaty. Houston was succeeded in December 1838 by President Mirabeau B. Lamar, a lifelong Indian hater who ignored the 1836 treaty and ordered the Cherokee and other nearby tribes to leave Texas. Negotiations toward this goal were arranged by the government with Chief Bowl in July 1838. Intending to negotiate from strength, Chief Bowl gathered the Cherokee, as well as allies from smaller tribal bands, in a large encampment. There were more than 700 warriors.


A Texas army of 500 soldiers, led by Generals Thomas J. Rusk and Edward Burleson camped nearby. Chief Bowl, now in his 80s, dressed in a silk vest, military hat, sash, and the sword presented by Sam Houston. The Texas government offered to compensate the Cherokee, who were industrious farmers, for whatever property was lost during the move, but not for the land they had worked for two decades. Negotiations broke down and Chief Bowl led an evacuation of the encampments on July 15, heading north on the west side of the Neches River.

The Texas army soon organized a pursuit, and late in the day caught up with the Indians in northeast Henderson County, several miles west of present-day Tyler. Chief Bowl established a defensive position on what became known as Battle Creek, while the women and children were sent to the north. Rusk and Burleson launched attacks at the front and rear of the warrior position, but the action was indecisive. Darkness soon fell, and Chief Bowl fell back to a position in a wooded ravine, near the headwaters of the Neches in Van Zandt County.

The Texas force pursued at dawn, and when the Indian position was located, a three-pronged attack was launched. Among the Texan leadership were David G. Burnet and Albert Sidney Johnston, serving the Republic respectively as vice-president and secretary of war. Cherokee raiders nearly succeeded in stampeding the Texas horse herd, before another major assault dislodged the warriors, who scattered into the woods. Chief Bowl was the last Cherokee to leave the field, riding away with a wound in the thigh. But his horse was shot down, and when Bowl tried to limp away, he was struck in the back. Defiantly he sat up to face his attackers. An officer walked over to give a merciless coupe de grace, firing a pistol ball into the back of his head. The rationale of the attacker was that the twice-wounded old man had not surrendered nor asked for quarter, and he was still armed – with the sword that was a gift from Sam Houston.

There were at least 100 Indian casualties, while five Texans were killed and two dozen wounded.  The Cherokee survivors and their allies retreated beyond the Red River into Indian Territory. The American Indian Cultural Society identified 13 tribes that contributed warriors to the Battle of the Neches: Cherokee, Shawnee, Delaware, Kickapoo, Quapaw, Choctaw, Biloxi, Ioni, Caddo, Alabama, Coushatta, Tahocullake, and Mataquo.

To find the battlefield, Karon and I drove west on Highway 64 out of Tyler. Ten miles past Loop 323 a sign on the right side of the highway indicated that we should turn right at the next road. We followed this blacktop for 2.5 miles, then a sign indicated a turn to the right on a dirt road. At the end of this road is a parking area, and from there we followed a path about 200 yards to the state marker. The wooded path was lined with stones, each of which carries the name of a tribe which participated in the battle. The site is secluded and, for history buffs, well worth a visit.