"I HAVE BEEN TOLD that it was in the battle of Bandera Pass that the Colts revolver was first used against the
Indians, and it is likely due to the consternation the rapid firing produced among the savages that this battle was won."
These words are from "Reminiscences of a Centenarian," the life story of Amasa Clark. And for the few folks around here who don't know who Amasa Clark was, let it be said briefly that he was a New York state boy, born in 1825, was a soldier with the American armies that took the City of Mexico in 1847. He came into the San Antonio region in 1849,first passing through it as a soldier with the armies in 1848. That time he was sent to El Paso.
In 1852 the young ex-soldier had settled in Bandera, and his book of recollections records that he recalls seeing signs of the Battle of Bandera Pass, fought in 1843, particulary seeing the grave of an Indian, said to have been a chief. Also he recalls that some vandal minded sort of person dug the grave open and left the bones exposed, and that finally Fabian L. Hicks, a settler, put the bones back in the grave and covered them over. A lot of beads had lain around among the bones.
Settled in Bandera
Well, the impression one gets from all that is that those were rather raw days. Further, it gives you a good line on the kind of man Hicks was. No doubt other men had said to themselves that it was savage and degrading to expose those ghastly remains that way, but didn't do anything to remedy the matter, but figured that the man who did it was a bad sort, one who might go around the country making insulting remarks about a person who would act even so humane about an Indian as to cover up his bones and they didn't want to be in the position of haivng to stand that sort of thing or get in trouble.
A Hicks Now Sheriff
But Hicks was different. He was a kind that didn't anybody try any nasty slurs on, or if they did, they learned it didn't work easy. Later on in his book, Amasa Clark paid high tribute to this Fabian L. Hicks as one of those who did great work in ridding the country of lawless characters; robbers, thieves, etc.
Well, the Hicks family is still that way. The present sheriff of Bandera, he is that way, which is, what you might expect, him being a son of the Fabian L. Hicks just mentioned. He don't let nobody, no matter who, spit in the face of Sir John Law when is around - and he is most generally around.
Amasa Clark gives us a line on the character of one Indian as regards his love for a horse. First thing you'd think that the Indian loved a good horse fervently - and maybe they all did, but with different ideas of love. Anyway, you'd think that after traveling, say, 500 miles to steal a horse they would give the horse a break, when needed.
Indian Killed his Horse
At a point about 25 miles north of Bandera, a band of white men, says Mr. Clark, overtook a band of marauding Indians, and got into close quarters with them. One Indian was riding a beautiful white horse, and when the whites overtook them, the Indian killed the horse and dived into the brush and made his escape.
That was in 1854 and among those in the white party Mr. Clark names Gidion Carter, Irvin Carter, O.P.Miles and Dan Turner, saying there were several others.
And here's another little, grim chapter out of those grim days. "One morning I yoked up my oxen and started up the river. When I got to where Ed Mansfield's house now stands I met Richard Davis and his family who were bringing in the body of their daughter Amanda Davis, who had been killed by Indians the day before".
Grim Frontier Pictures
A father and mother and their two little daughters alone, riding in a wagon bringing with them the body of the third child, slain by an Indian when she went to a spring near the home.
The frontier often saw the picture duplicated, differing only in details. It wasn't pleasant reading, but here's how young Theo Kindla died over in Sabinal canyon.
While herding sheep for Judge Booker Davenport, a band of Indians attacked him. They roped him, as he probably was not armed at the moment, then they shot him full of arrows and thrust him with spears. After they scalped him, and peeled the skin from the soles of his feet.
When they left him, the boy - he was 25 - rose and walked 200 yards toward his camp before he gave up to die. A Mexican had seen the Indians kill him, he himself being hidden in the brush, unable to aid.
Bandera was full of that sort of thing in those days evidently, for there are numerous other cases of Indian slaughters.
A Great Narrative
It's a great narrative which Amasa Clark set down. In his very declining years, after he passed his hundreth milestone, he began relating these tales to his daughter in law, Cora Tope Clark. Together the two worked at it, little by little, and when the great, kindly old veteran died, at near 102 years, the book was practically finished.
These were the opening and closing chapters, but if he had lived doubtless, in between, there might have been more chapters written than have appeared. The daughter in law did a splendid job of the writing; evidently her heart was in it.
Trails knew Amasa Clark quite well; was present at his home at the celebration of his one-hundredth birthday, and saw him after that, even. Many times Trails talked with him in the last few years of his life. Truly he was quite a gentleman, neat in his personal appearance, clean in his language and thought, polished in is manners and style.
He Had Many Friends
To the end he retained his mental faculties, meaning that he never broke, faltered, or fumbled. There was no touch of the tough in him, no uncouthness, no buffoonery, no irrationality. Just a fine little old gentleman to the end.
At past a hundred he could, and did, sometimes talk from a platform to the public, and there was never a hint of anything of brag, bluster or boasting in what he said. Instead, he was cultured, refined, humble, thankful that he had lived, and thankful for the courtesies that came to him.
The coming of J. Marvin Hunter into Bandera was the turning point, most likely, in his life as applied to old age. Hunter brought him out to public knowledge, and caused high military leaders of the nation to visit him with honor.Hunter and Capt. William B. Krempkau of San Antonio did a great deal to make the closing years of the old veteran happy, and the closing years were happy for him.