This week I received a copy of an article on the Everett family from Patricia Grams, great great granddaughter of Thomas Ewell Everett. In telling of her Everett family Patricia writes "Thomas Ewell Everett purchased 222 acres in Bosque Co. in 1856 for .50 cents an acre. Their relatives, the Woods and Goodalls followed them to Texas a year later. T.E. Everett was one of the appointed Commissioners who chose Meridian for the County Seat. On Feb.4,1854 the Texas legislature passed an act creating the territory into a new county." The article she sent had originally run in 1964 in the Waco Times Herald. They have graciously granted us permission to reprint the article and use it here in the column. It is a fascinating story of some early Bosque County residents.
Famed Family Had Vital Part In Bosque History
by John Banta, Waco Times-Herald Staff
October 26, 1964
reprinted with permission from the Waco Tribune Herald
copyright Waco Tribune Herald, 2001
Valley Mills - It was a beautiful rifle, with fancy brass work on the stack, and it's heavy steel barrel must have felt cold to the fingers of 19 year old Pleas Everett that January day a hundred years ago as he drew a bead on the Indian who had just killed his cousin.
But young Everret's aim was good. He killed on of the 11 Kickapoos who died that day on the bitter cold battlefield out where Dove Creek runs into Spring Creek, 15 miles southwest of San Angelo. It was one of the fiercest Indian battles ever fought on Texas soil.
The Indians won.
Today the rifle with the fancy brass work still on it's stock is the favorite piece in the gun collection of 19 year old Bobby Everett of Valley Mills, great grandson of the youth who killed the Indian in the Dove Creek battle.
The name Everett is one of the oldest family names in Bosque County.
It was Ewell Everett who operated what is believed to have been the first grist mill in the territory now known as Bosque County. He brought the mill stones from Marion County Arkansas in 1849 when he moved his family to Texas.
Ewell Everett's grandson, 78 year old Pleas Everett Jr. of Valley Mills, now owns the millstones. He keeps them in a little shed in his backyard. They have been handed down through the generations. One has been broken.
Claude Everett, coach at Valley Mills High School, a great grandson of Ewell Everett, and Mrs. Lavelle Smith also of Valley Mills, Ewell Everett's great granddaughter, say the Everett's left Marion County Arkansas after a bitter feud.
"The way we heard it, a family named Tutt bought land from the Everetts and built a barn over some of the Everett graves that were on the land. The Everetts wanted the barn moved off the graves. The Tutts wouldn't move it," says Mrs. Smith.
The feud started between the two families, says Claude Everett, but before it was over it engulfed most every family in the county and became known as the Marion County War.
In 1849 Ewell Everett and his family left and
headed for Texas. They settled in what is now Bosque County, just across
the North Bosque River from where Valley Mills is now located. There
have been some reports that Pleas Everett, son of Ewell, was the first
white child born in the Valley Mills area, but Pleas Everett JR. says this is not true, that his father was 3 years old when they moved to Texas. The family Bible, now in possession of Mrs. Smith bears this out, it shows Pleas Everett was born May, 16, 1846.
Ewell Everett set up his grist mill on Hornbeak Hollow. R. E. McCorkle of Valley Mills, 89 years old and a son-in-law of Pleas Everett, says it was about half a mile west of the road from Valley Mills to Cayote, and about 3 miles north of Valley Mills.
Pleas Everett Jr., says his understanding is that the mill was water powered. McCorkle says the same. But Claude Everett has a letter written by Frank Frazier, son of James Frazier, one of the early settlers of Northern Bosque County. In the letter is a description of a trip that James Frazier made in 1851 in which he stopped at the Everett place and saw the mill being operated by hand.
Here is part of the letter that Frank Frazier
wrote, based on a journal that his father kept.
"My father came to Texas in 1851, walking all the way from Jacksonville to Austin, Texas where he arrived with sore feet. He was to deliver 100 head of what he said was the very finest cavalry horses he has ever seen in all his life, from Austin to Fort Graham. (note Fort Graham was located on the east bank of the Brazos River, about 16 miles west of the present town of Hillsboro.) They got to Valley Mills where there was nobody at all living,
in March 1851; found the Bosque River on a big rise and had to wait 3 days to cross. Then went on, saw their first Indians at Fort Graham where they were having a council with the Army.
On their return trip when they got to the Bosque River is was higher than ever seen, covering the whole valley to the foot of the hills on the east side.
"My father left a handwritten journal about all this and here is what he said about the Everetts, whom he met for the first time on his way to Fort Graham: "After we finally got across the Bosque River and out on the prairie 2 or 3 miles, saw a house of a new settler who I afterwards learned was named Everett. Ewell Everett I think was his name."
"After we delivered the horses and were on
our way back when we got to Valley Mills we were waterbound 7 days. We
had been issued rations for only 2 days and I don't know what we would
have done if it had not been for the Everetts. They gave us mile, butter,
eggs, chickens, and ground cornmeal. They did this with a big stone
on which was mounted another stone with a handle on it. Mr Everett would
turn the top stone with one hand and feed corn between the stones with
the other hand. Something that I had never seen
before was that Mr. Everett had a corn crop growing without the signs of a fence around it.
"..I think I told you about the English colony that was settled in the gap of the mountains between Kopperl and Kimball and where they had laid out a find city they called the city of Kent. The colony went to pieces and was a failure. Here is something further that my father had to say: "While we were waiting for the Bosque some Englishman form the colony came along afoot wanting to go to Waco or Belton, insisted on getting on of the Everett boys to take a big horse they had and set them across the river. One of the Everett boys undertook it and he and the Englishman both like to have drowned. The Englishman lost his fine double barrel shotgun."
"Mr. Everett raised a good crop of corn on sod land without the sign of a fence around it. " I thought this might be of interest to you, your children and grandchildren. My father always said Mr. Everett was one of the best men he ever knew in his life."
The Everetts are mentioned in an number of places in William C. Pool's recently revised book, "Bosque Territory". The family Bible lists Ewell Everett as Thomas Ewell Everett, born in 1800 and died in 1870. He is buried in Valley Mills cemetery.
When the Civil War broke out, his son, Pleas, was only 15 years old. He joined one of the militia companies guarding the border against Indian raids. The North had equipped and stirred up the Indians, encouraging them to raid the frontier settlements.
A marker on his grave in Valley Mills Cemetery indicates that Pleas was a member of Company B, Texas Cavalry, Confederate States of America.
In December 1864, word came that a large party of Indians was moving southwestward through Texas. The militia set out to find them. Pleas Everett and a cousin were in the bunch, a total of about 370 men.
They caught up with the Indians on Dove Creek, just west of San Angelo, on Jan. 7, 1865. It was cold and snowing and 1400 Kickapoos were camped there. The battle was fought the next morning.
Some of the militia had to wade the ice cold
water of Dove Creek during the battle.
According to a story handed down through the Everett family, young Pleas saw an Indian kill his cousin during the hottest part of the battle. Pleas shot the Indian with the rifle with the fancy brass work on the stock.
Pool has a good account of the battle in his book on Bosque County. Among the casualties he lists is A. E. Everett, possibly the cousin of Pleas Everett.
Pool writes that the battle raged all day on Jan. 8 and the rain turned to snow. By daylight the next morning the ground was covered with snow. The Indians had 11 dead, 36 wounded. The Texans had 36 dead, 60 wounded. The Texans retreated to the settlements. The Indians went on to Mexico.
Some interesting stories of the battle are still told in the country around Dove Creek. One account is that he Kickapoos, with all their women and children, were trying to move peacefully throught Texas to Mexico, when the Texans met them on Dove Creek. These accounts say, Chief NoKo-Wat and the Texan officers were fixing to have a parlay and maybe depart when a trigger-happy Texan shot one of the Indians. That was all it took to touch off the bloody battle.
Pleas Everett came back to Valley Mills and lived to be 88 years old. He died on Sept. 11, 1934. Later the Valley Mills Tribune said he was the last survivor of the Dove Creek Battle. He was buried in Valley Mills Cemetery and Central Texas had another name to add to it's list of "last survivors" who slept in it's burial grounds.
Others are Elijah Goodnight, last of the Mexican war soldiers, buried in Concord Cemetery just north of Waco; Alfonso Steele who Belton Historian Dayton Kelly says was the last soldier of the Battle of San Jacinto, buried in Mexia; and Walter Williams, last of the Civil War soldiers, buried near Franklin.