One of the frontier mothers of Southwest Texas, Mrs. Hezekiah Griffin, residing in Devine, Texas, has related to me some of her trials on the frontier and I cheerfully pass them on to Frontier Times. This splendid mother of pioneer days is a fair example of the stock which settled in Texas in that far distant past and helped develop the state. Her boys have both made substantial men, one being a carpenter and the other being a stock farmer. Several of her grand-daughters have become school teachers, one of whom is now teaching in Marfa, Texas. One of her great grand-daughters, fifteen years of age, was in the State debate at Austin two years ago, and should have won in the final contest.
Her maiden names was Mary Jane Stevens. She was born May 16, 1839, at Jonesboro, Washington County, East Tennessee, and when she was two or three years old, her parents moved to Fayettesville, Washington County, Arkansas. She says: ?When I was twenty years of age my parents moved to Cooke County, Texas, near where Gainesville is now located. On December 22, 1861, I was married to Hezekiah Griffin, and we lived in Cooke County until 1865. it was so cold there and the Indians were so bad we moved to Bandera County, and settled on East Verde Creek, seven miles south of the town of Bandera, intending to make that our permanent home. We built a small log cabin, cleared a small field of ten or twelve acres, and felt comfortably situated. We had twelve horses, but the Indians soon stole the entire lot, so Mr. Griffin traded for a yoke of oxen. I had a nice garden on a long narrow strip of made land on the creek, which was so situated that it could not be worked with a team, so I spaded it all myself, and worked it well. I wrote my sister in Missouri to send me some cabbage seed and I planted them in the rich soil. The cabbage grew and produced abundantly, and I never saw finer heads anywhere. When the weather turned dry I would dip water from the creek and carry it to my garden and my labor was amply rewarded with a fine crop of vegetables.
?On Monday morning, September 22nd, 1867, about 8 o'clock, Josiah Griffin, my husband's brother, requested his sister, Amanda Minerva Griffin, aged fifteen, to iron a shirt for him, saying he was going to Bandera that morning. Josiah Griffin, with his two brothers, Spencer and Richard, worked down on the Medina River, about eight miles from home, making cypress shingles. The three would usually come home Saturday evening and return to their work on Monday morning. At this time Richard Griffin had gone to San Antonio with a load of shingles. After telling his sister to iron the shirt, Josiah started out to get his mule to ride to town. This mule was one which had been left in a given out condition by the Indians at the time they took all our horses. He had been gone some ten or fifteen minutes where I heard someone yelling. I spoke of hearing them, but Amanda said she thought it was an old cow. I was not fully satisfied and listened more attentively, and heard the distress call again. About this time my little daughter came running into the house and said the valley was full of Polanders. There was quite a settlement of Polish people at Bandera at that time. Spencer Griffin was lying on the bed reading the Bible, and he jumped up and looked out, and said, ?It's Indians!?
"My step-daughter said, ?Oh, Mamma, the Indians are killing Daddy.' I told her it was not her father, but was probably Josiah, who had gone after his mule. Hezekiah came about this time and he and Spencer went to the assistance of Josiah. There was a ten-rail fence not far away, and i climbed up on it to be able to see what was taking place. The Indians had Josiah surrounded, but only one was shooting at him with a bow and arrows. I saw Josiah stoop down and raise up, and I afterwards learned he was throwing rocks at the Indians. He struck one and came near knocking him from his horse. The Indians, seeing the other brothers coming, hastily left. Josiah was severely wounded, having been shot in the left shoulder blade, left thigh, right hip and right arm above the elbow. In the fight he thought he recognized a Mexican named Antonio. Hezekiah and Spencer carried Josiah to the house and Spencer started to get the doctor, taking a short route across the mountains. After getting upon the mountain some distance from the house he looked back and saw Indians near the house on the side of a mountain, so he came back and told us he thought it best for him to remain there, as the Indians might attack the house. We watched all day, expecting to be attacked, but the Indians did not make a appearance, and after dark that night, Spencer started out again, my husband accompanying him half way across the mountain, leaving me there with the children alone. That was the longest three hours I ever spent. My uncle, Henry Stevens, came and helped nurse Josiah, who suffered greatly from his wounds. In those days it was difficult to get assistance, and we had to do the best we could.
?When Josiah had gotten much better, but was still confined to his bed, the Mexican, Antonio, rode up late one evening to pass the night. I told him to stake out his horse, and then I went in and told Josiah it was Antonio. He said : ?That?s the fellow I came near to knocking off the horse while he was playing Indian. You hand me my six-shooter and place a gun handy for yourself. When he comes in, you bar the door so he can?t get out for he may want to give a signal to the Indians.
?When Antonio came in he appeared to be very much under the influence of whiskey. He had a large bottle about half full, and asked me to take a drink. I told him I never drank, and he insisted, but when he saw I would not drink, he sat the bottle down on the floor. He was sitting directly in front of the fire and soon began to nod, and I took the opportunity to slip the bottle away and hid it. In a short time my husband came and I felt very much relieved. We gave Antonio his supper, and Mr. Griffin made a pallet on the floor with some saddle blankets in front of the fire-place, where he soon went to sleep and slept through the night. One of us watched to see that he did not slip out.
?Policarpo Rodriquez, a Mexican missionary who lived on Priviledge Creek northeast of Bandera several miles, was of the opinion that Antonio was standing in with the Indians.
?One very cold morning the following February Mr. Griffin went out to hunt his oxen, and he was gone so long I became very uneasy about him, knowing we were living in a country infested by Indians. I looked out and saw ten men riding toward the house. I recognized two of them, Mr. Duffy and Mr. Hicks. It was extremely cold and they asked if they could come in and warm. I told them they were quite welcome to do so. They inquired for my husband and I told them he had gone away early that morning to look for his oxen and had not returned. They informed me that Indians were in the country, and had passed down toward Castroville. They added to my alarm for Mr. Griffin had gone in that direction. These men soon departed in pursuit of the Indians, leaving me worried and nervous. I was so timid I did not venture to ask one of them to stay with us until my husband returned. My aged father-in-law, Spencer Griffin, Sr., a step-daughter, Amanda, and my three small children comprised the family. When dinner time came I prepared the meal and called them to eat, and they, not realizing the perilous situation, portook heartily of the repast, but I had no appetite for I fully thought I would never see my dear husband again. About dusk, however, he came in with the oxen. I then told him of the killing of Mrs. Moore, who had started from John Walker?s to Bill Walker?s some three hundred yards distant, and when about half way was killed by the Indians. This was about ten miles from our home. Then I recalled about them killing Bill Hardin, a young man on Indian Creek. The Indians cut his heart out, and they also wounded an old bachelor named Barnes up in the Hondo Canyon, twelve miles from Bandera. We talked the situation over, and decided to leave at once, that very night, for Bandera. He had left the oxen in the field over a half mile away, and felt very uneasy about venturing out after them, but finally decided he would go, and told me to have everything ready to place in the wagon when he returned. While he was gone I packed up our bedding, some clothing for the children and some bear bacon, a bacon you don?t know anything about, sweeter than hog bacon and it would keep longer. We had told Father Griffin of the plan to move, and when my husband returned with the oxen we called for father, when lo and behold he had quietly gone to bed, insisting there was no danger, and we could not move him. We then decided to wait until morning, and one of us would watch through the night. I told Mr. Griffin I would take the first part of the night, and he told me to be sure to call him at 12 o?clock. I sat by a little window, which closed with a shutter, listening intently for any sound of approaching Indians, with the coyotes howling and hooting out there in the dark. I suspected those were Indians, but had no way of determining, so I remained watchful. At 3 o?clock I awakened Mr. Griffin, and he remonstrated with me for staying up so late and not calling him sooner. I told him that was all right for I wanted him to be fresh and strong, he being all the protection we had. Just at daybreak he came and quietly called me, saying that a large body of Indians was camped at Black Jack Springs, about half a mile from our home. He said he could see the smoke rising from their camp fires. You can imagine my feelings. My first thought was for the old father, and those four little children. ?Oh, what will we do?? I cried. My husband replied: ?Just be quiet. We are going to defend ourselves.? So we barred the doors which were made of heavy cypress boards, and loaded our guns, five in all, and single-barreled all the time keeping a keen watch on Black Jack Springs. In time it was broad daylight, and the sun came up in all its splendor, and then my husband discovered that which he took for smoke was a fog.
?I told my husband I had enough of Indian fights and frights, so we loaded our wagon and went to Bandera, taking the whole day to make the seven miles, the roads were so bad. We rented a house close to Bandera and Mr. Griffin left me and the children there while he worked the little farm the next year. He made more than 300 bushels of corn and had gathered and cribbed it, but the Indians made a raid and burned all of it. They broke the points off of several scythe blades, and all of the prongs from the pitchforks.
?We moved from Bandera to Medina county in 1874, where I have continued to live. My husband died May 22, 1910.?