Note the errors and differences in accounts.
James Goacher, a native of Alabama, settled on Rabbs Creek, in southern Lee County, Texas. He opened a pioneer trail from his home to Bastrop County in 1828. In 11835 the family moved to Bastrop County, where Goacher planted cotton and raised cattle. He is said to have built the first house in the county. His wife and son were killed and several other members of the family were captured by Indians in 1837. Goacher was killed by the same Indians while attempting to rescue his family.
Bibliography: Frank Brown: "Annals of Travis County and the city of Austin" (MS, Archives Collection, University of Texas Library); J H Willbarger: Indian Depredations in Texas (1889); H W Korges: "Bastrop County Texas Historical and Educational Development" (MA Thesis, University of Texas, 1933).
Goacher's Trace, a pioneer trail laid out by James Goacher about 1828, probably led from the Goacher cabin on Rabbs Creek in southern Lee County to San Felipe and to Bastrop and connected the lower and upper Austin colonies.
During pioneer days in Texas, lead was frequently more important to the settlers than gold or silver because it was molded into bullets which which they defended themselves against marauding Indians. When James Goacher came to Texas about 1835, he settled on a homestead on Rabb's Creek near the present town of Giddings. Before long he was supplying other settlers with almost pure lead, but only three other people knew where he secured it - his sons and a son in law named Crawford. When anyone came to Goacher's place for a supply of lead, he left for a short time and then returned with it, leading to the speculation that the mine was probably located some distance away, but that a supply was kept close to his home. Aware that Gotcher was supplying the settlers with lead, Indians finally ambushed the four who knew the secret of the mine and killed them, taking their women captive. After Goacher's death, many searchers were made for his lead mine but no one ever came close to finding it - unless it was Dr John M Johnson's wife. She was always on the lookout for peculiar rocks, and one day when she and her husband stopped along Rabb's Creek at a place then known as Two-Mile Crossing, she picked up a specimen and threw it in the buggy. This particular rock she used as a doorstop at their home, leaving it there when they moved away. After the passing of many years, Dr Johnson was called to the old home which had been acquired by a jeweler. The doorstop was still there and the jeweler inquired where it had come from because he had recognized it as being almost pure lead. All of Mrs. Johnson's efforts could not locate the spot where she had picked up the "peculiar rock". It is believed that the source of Jim Goacher's lead mine has never been located.
"Squaw Much Brave: Mrs. Crawford Bastrop, 1873" No one knows her first name. She's known only as Mrs. Crawford, a courageous pioneer woman determined to save her children. In the depths of despair a bedraggled woman stood captive surrounded by wild savages. Somehow she and her two small children had been spared when the settlement was attacked by Indians. Six people were killed, and among them was her husband. She had been beaten, kicked, and starved and her two month old baby was crying furiously to be fed. Two Indians tired of the baby's crying and jerked him from his mother's arms and threw the helpless infant into a deep pool. The frantic mother immediately jumped in and saved her baby from drowning. No sooner had she climbed out than the cruel Indians seized the baby and threw it back. As fast as the mother could get her baby out of the water, her tormenters threw it back. When Mrs. Crawford was totally exhausted, the Indians luckily tired of their game. Just as she thought her baby was safe, one of the warriors grabbed it, pulled its head back, and told another brave to cut the infant's tiny throat. It was too much for the distraught mother. Forgetting all danger, Mrs. Crawford picked up a heavy piece of wood, and with an amazing inner strength, the brave woman knocked the bloodthirsty savage to the ground. Clutching the baby and trembling with fear, the mother waited for the death blow that was sure to come. Suddenly, the other Indians started laughing at the warrior she had struck. She couldn't believe her ears. They thought her act of sheer desperation was funny. The leader came to the terrified woman and said, "Squaw much brave". They never touched her or her child again. For two horrible years Mrs. Crawford and her children were held captive, but her story had a happy ending. They were finally ransomed at Coffee's trading post on the Red River for 400 yards of calico and a number of blankets. Among the escort that took her back to friends was a Mr. Spaulding, who was so impressed by the widow's courage, he fell in love with her. After two years of living a nightmare, this indomitable woman faced her frontier again, this time as Mrs. Spaulding.
Precious Lead - No story of the frontier is more common than that about savages extravagantly shooting bullets of silver. Felix Aubry, who, among other exploits, rode eight hundred miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Independence, Missouri, in five days and sixteen hours, claimed to have found Indians on the Gila River who were actually shooting gold bullets. But, after all, lead moulds better into bullets than either silver or gold. A ball of lead was often worth more to a frontiersman than all of the gold and silver in the world. Lead for bullets meant life; lack of it meant death. The pioneers melted bulk lead and molded their own balls. A bullet mould was as necessary as a rifle. It is not strange that even in territory lacking almost altogether in evidences of mineralization, stories of hidden lead mines should have grown up.
The resourceful pioneers had more lead mines, now lost, scattered over the country than Indians ever had. James Goacher, so history relates (Wilbarger, J. W., Indian Depredations in Texas, Austin, 1889, pp. 15-19; De Shields, James T., Border Wars of Texas, Tioga, Texas, 1912, pp. 212-215. "The Legend of Goacher's Mine" appeared under the title of "The Legend of a Lost Lead Mine," by John Knox in the Houston Post-Dispatch, Sunday August 29, 1926.) came to Texas from Alabama in 1835 and settled on Rabb's Creek, near the present town of Giddings, in Lee County. On the way up from Austin's coastal settlement to his wilderness home he blazed a way that was long known as Goacher's Trace, but his name is kept alive now by his supposed connection with a deposit of lead, which he not only used but sold and traded to others. When settlers came to Goacher's home to buy lead, so legend remembers, he would, if he did not have sufficient supply on hand, insist upon their staying at the house while he went for some. He always reappeared in a quarter different from that in which he had gone out. Sometimes he would be gone for hours; again, only a short while. He guarded the secret of his leaden ore as jealously as though it had been a trove of precious gems. Only three souls shared with him knowledge of the whereabouts of the mine; they were his two sons and a son-in-law named Crawford. One day about two years after the family had settled on Rabb's Creek, all four of the men met death while rushing to the house, unarmed, to repel a horde of savages. Those savages, so it was claimed, knew the whereabouts of the lead, knew the fatal worth of lead bullets, and in annihilating the Goacher men and carrying off the women and children they did not kill, were but following a plan to render the colonists less formidable. Perhaps, after the massacre, they covered up all trace of the lead mine; so remote was the Goacher homestead that other settlers knew nothing of the havoc until several days later. Certainly the mine has never been found, though more than one sign pointing to it has been glimpsed, always, however, in such a manner as to foil arrival at the goal.
One fine morning thirty-five years ago Doctor John M. Johnson and his newly wedded wife drove out of Giddings in their buggy to spend the day at Rabb's Creek. They stopped at Two-Mile Crossing, fished until noon, and ate lunch. Then, gun in hand, the doctor struck afoot down the creek after squirrels, leaving Mrs. Johnson to drive the horse. There was no hurry, the road was rocky, Mrs. Johnson had a fancy for pretty rocks, and several times she stopped to pick some up and put them in the buggy. At Five-Mile Crossing the couple met and drove back home. A few days later the young housewife arranged the rocks to border a flower bed - all but one. She thought that it would be suitable for a doorstop; so she took it inside to use for that purpose, and for many years it kept the door from slamming. Then the Johnson family - there were three children now - moved to a new home. A few days later Mrs. Johnson found her old doorstop had been lost in the move; she was regretful, but it was only a rock, no particular search was made for it and it was soon forgotten. More years passed. Then one morning Doctor Johnson was called in to see the town jeweler. The jeweler and his family were living in the house formerly occupied by the Johnsons. After prescribing and talking for a while, the doctor picked up his case and was leaving the room when his glance fell on a rock beside the door. "Why," he exclaimed, a tone of friendly pleasure in his voice, "there is Mrs. Johnson's long-lost door stop." The sick man, failing to grasp the meaning of the remark asked: "What door stop?" The doctor pointed to the rock by the door and said: "Mrs. Johnson and I began married life in this house, and she used that rock for a door stop just as your wife is using it." Then he went to his office. He had scarcely arrived when he was again summoned to the jeweler's home. Fearing that his patient had suffered a sudden attack, he hurried into the sick room without knocking. "Where," the jeweler eagerly greeted him, "did that chunk of lead come from?" "What chunk of lead?" "That door stop you call a rock. After you left just now I cut into it and found it to be pure lead. Here, see for yourself." The doctor looked. The familiar door stop was indeed lead ore, almost pure. But the doctor had forgotten where it had come from. He took it home to his wife. Of course she recalled instantly how she and her lover had brought it in from a honeymoon excursion to Rabb's Creek so many years back. The couple drove again to Two-Mile Crossing and then slowly, examining many rocks, on down to Five-Mile Crossing. But Mrs. Johnson could not recall at what particular place she had picked up the heavy rock, and no other rock resembling it could be found. This is just one of the stories that hinge on Goacher's lead mine.
A Mrs. Goocher from close to where Giddings now stands was captured by the Indians. The Goochers, two brothers, one with a family and one a bachelor were working a lead mine on what was known as Goocher's Chace. [sic] They had no near neighbors and lived in a one room hut. The men always went armed to work but this morning they had some fence to build. They were busy laying the rails, their guns near when the Indians slipped up and killed one before they knew that they had been attacked. The other started to run and was killed. They captured a son about nine years old, went on to the house and captured a wife and an infant about three months old. I think they tied her to a horse but she still held on to the baby. They put the boy on another and lit out. If any of you have ever tried to ride bareback on a horse through black thorn bush and trees have an idea what she suffered. The band of Indians separated the next day and the prisoners were divided. She and the baby with one and the boy with the other. She was half starved and when they camped her baby cried and she had no milk to give it. They took it away from her and took it by its heels and knocked its brains out, threw it in the brush and rode on. Grandmother knew her after she came back. Said she was so sad and would not talk much about her capture. It was several years before the White and Indians had a treaty. The Indians brought their prisoners in to trade or exchange. This man saw Mrs. Goocher and she had no relations there to pay for her so he paid for her and then they were married. I can't recall his name. I have heard Grandmother call it, she knew him well. The boy was with another band and was free earlier and had gone back to the states with kinfolks. Grandma said she was one of the saddest women she had ever known. Said she would sit and sew for hours without speaking. That her husband loved her and was good to her and the only time she smiled was when he spoke to her. She all but worshiped him. [This is a published work of the memories of Rosa Berry Cole]
Burleson, having heard nothing from the Gotier family in some time, grew uneasy, and went to see about them, fearing Indian assault. A terrible sight met his eyes upon arriving there. Five members of the family lay dead, and the rest gone, supposed to be prisoners. I will give the particulars of the horrible affair just as they were given to me by a surviving son, who was among the captives and still relates the tragic story. Old James Gotier [James Goacher] and two sons were at work in the field a short distance from the house. Mrs. Jane Crawford, a widowed daughter of Gotier, was in the house while the old lady was rendering out lard in the yard; the children were at play nearby. She sent a little boy and girl to the creek after water and very soon she saw an Indian coming from the creek holding the girl by the throat to prevent her from screaming. They had choked the girl until she was bleeding from the nose. The old lady screamed to Mrs. Crawford, "Jane, the Indians have got your child!" and running into the house she seized one of the guns, which the men had carelessly gone without. Jane begged her mother to let the gun alone, knowing that if the Indians saw her with it, they would kill her, but she raised the gun to fire and was killed in the act. The men in the field, hearing the gun, rushed in upon the scene unarmed and were also killed. The Indians then captured Mrs. Crawford, two brothers, and a little girl three or four years old, and struck out on foot for their village, making the captive woman carry her child and a bundle of salt. She became so tired that she concluded she would have to leave her child, and putting her down, started on, but hearing her call, and looking around, she saw the little one tottering along, trying to follow her. She turned to go back, and the Indians whipped her with quirts, or bowstrings, to her child and back, literally cutting the flesh with their blows. They kept the unfortunate woman with her two children for several years, often treating her most cruelly. At last, however, deliverance came for them. An old trapper by the name of Spaulding found her, bought all of the family from the Indians, and married Mrs. Crawford - bringing them all back to Bastrop.
James Goacher, a native of Alabama, settled on Rabb's Creek in Lee County in 1828. Early in 1835 he and his family moved to Bastrop County where he opened a large cotton plantation. In February of 1837, the family was attacked by Indians; Goacher, his son, and son-in-law, Jane Crawford's husband, were killed while cutting wood. One of Mrs. Jane Crawford's little sons was caught by an Indian while running away from the house. He grabbed the Indian's thumb with his teeth and bit it so hard and long that the Indian beat him over the head with a ramrod. Once, while Mrs. Crawford was a captive, the Indians took her little daughter and threw her into a stream to drown. Mrs. Crawford jumped in and saved her, whereupon, the Indians grabbed the child and threw her in again. This continued for some time, Mrs. Crawford retrieving the child each time she was pitched into the water. Finally the savages tired of the game and one of them started to stab the girl when Mrs. Crawford picked up a log and hit the Indian over the head, knocking him out. This amused the rest of the tribe and they laughed loudly at their felled comrade. They finally gave the child to her mother, saying, "Squaw too much brave. Damn you, take your papoose and carry it yourself - we not do it." Mrs. Crawford and her children were taken to Holland Coffee's trading house on the Red River to sell. Charles Spaulding, a trader, bought them for 400 yards of calico, some blankets, a quantity of beads, and other articles. He married Jane Crawford and they moved to Bastrop, where in 1850 the family consisted of five Spaulding children and two Goacher boys aged 21 and 25. The name Goacher was pronounced "Got-cher" by the early settlers and has been variously and incorrectly spelled Gotier, Gocher, Goucher, and Gotcher. (Brown, "Annals of Travis County," IV; DeShields, Boarder Wars, 212-215; Korges, "Bastrop County, Texas: Historical and Educational Development" (Master's Thesis, University of Texas, 1993), I, 72-73, 130; Sowell, Rangers and Pioneers, 42; U.S. Census, 1850, Bastrop County, 194; Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas, 15-19.)
Murder of the Gotcher Family - Capture of Mrs. Crawford and Three Children
Among the valuable and prominent accessions to Austin's Colony, was James Gotcher,* a native of Alabama, who emigrated in 1835, settling with his family and son-in-law, Crawford, at a point on Rabb's Creek, near the present town of Giddings, in Lee County. Erecting comfortable cabins, opening farms, and accumulating ample and increasing stocks of cattle, horses, and hogs, these settlers were prosperous and happy. Other families soon located in the vicinity, and for a time all went well. But alas! they, too, were destined to meet a fate - the common fate befalling so many of the brave pioneers in the settling and reclaiming of Texas. On the same day, and by the same party of Indians who had murdered Congressman Robinson and his brother, the Gotcher home was attacked. At the time Mr. Gotcher, with one son, and Crawford, were away, cutting and hauling wood from the bottom. The Indians approached the house in two parties, one of which came upon a little son and daughter of Mr. Gotcher near the dwelling, killing and scalping the boy, and making a prisoner of the little girl. In the house were Mrs. Nancy Gotcher, her married daughter, Mrs. Jane Crawford, and several children. Seeing that they had only to contend with women and children, the Indians disregarded their usual mode of attack and rushed directly upon the cabin, expecting to meet with little or no resistance. They were mistaken in their calculations. Both the women inside seized the few guns that were there, and discharged them, one after another, into the midst of the yelling mass of assailants. There was no time to reload. The savages burst into the room, and one of them, armed with a gun, shot and killed Mrs. Gotcher, whose body was already dotted with arrows that had been fired into it. Mrs. Crawford was overpowered and she and her two children (one of them two months old) were made captives. A little son of Mr. Gotcher attempted to make his escape but was seized, as he turned the corner of the house, by an Indian. He caught one of the Indians thumbs in his mouth and bit it until the warrior forced him to let go by beating him with a ramrod. Mr. Gotcher, and his son, and Crawford, ran to the house when they heard the firing; but in the excitement of the moment forgot to bring their guns with them from the woods. The arrived upon the scene while the tragedy was being enacted. There was neither time nor opportunity for them to return for their weapons, their dear ones were being murdered, or taken prisoners, and were appealing to them for succor. They made a bold and desperate dash for the house, intending to secure the guns from there, and make battle. The chance was not only a forlorn, but hopeless one, and fighting gallantly as best they could, they soon fell beneath the fire and spear thrusts of the Indians, before going many steps. The son fought desperately, almost amputating the throat of a warrior with his teeth. Another son, after being mortally wounded, crawled to a clump of trees, unobserved, pillowed his head on a rock, and expired. Thus the bloody tragedy was soon over. The Gotcher home, being somewhat isolated, the occurrence was not known for some days later when the casually visited by Gen. Ed. Burleson, too late for successful pursuit of the Indians. But the news soon spread far and near, filling every heart with indignation and horror. "This," says Willbarger, who furnishes the only details of the horrible affair, "was indeed one of the bloodiest tragedies that had ever occurred up to that time in the settlement. A father, wife, son and son-in-law and two children, lay cold in death, and mingled together their kindred blood, where but a few hours previously, they had assembled in fancied security, within the walls of their once happy home." But, gentle reader, the sad story stops not here. After plundering the house and mutilating the victims, the fiendish murderers departed, carrying as captives, Mrs. Crawford, her two children and the little daughter of Mrs. Gotcher. They suffered, as the prisoners of Indians usually did, all the hardships and indignities their barbarous captors could inflict. The Indians, annoyed by the crying of Mrs. Crawford's two month old babe, threw it into a deep pool, to drown. The desperate mother plunged into the water, seized the child, and swam with it to the bank. Again and again they seized and tossed it back, and as often the determined mother rescued her child. For a time this was sport for the cruel fiends, but tiring of their deviltry, a brave lifted the child in his hands and bending back its head, told a companion to cut its throat. As the knife was raised, and the diabolical deed about to be consummated, the frantic mother felled the fiend with a billet of wood. As the Indian lay motionless at her feet, as a result of the blow she had dealt him, she expected only death as her fate. But instead, the Indians merely laughed at their fallen comrade, and expressed much admiration for her bravery, and now returned the child, saying, "Squaw too much brave. Damn you, take your papoose and carry it yourself - we will not do it." After a captivity of two or three years, during which time Mrs. Crawford was subjected to the most shameful treatment, she and the children were brought into Holland Coffee's trading house on the Red River. Here Mr. Spaulding, a trader, formed an attachment for the unfortunate young lady and purchased the captives - the ransom being 400 yards of calico, a large number of blankets, a quantity of beads, and some other articles. Mr. Spaulding married the widow and brought them all back to Bastrop County. Children born of this union yet survive in Texas. *Gotier, pronounced Gotcher by Texans of that day, and so spelled in some accounts. Enroute from the lower colony, they first marked, and afterwards cut out, the trail or road since known as the "Gotcher Trace" - once much traveled.
James Goacher 1837 - This venerable pioneer was a native of the State of Alabama. He emigrated to Texas in the years 1835. He it [sic] was who opened the first traveled trace to Austin's new colony. He had several persons with him to assist in marking out this trail, which is to this day known as Goacher's Trace. In the performance of this work he encountered many difficulties and dangers. He afterwards settled in what is now Bastrop County. Being an enterprising man of industrious habits, it was not long until he had built comfortable logs cabins for the protection and safety of his family and had opened a good farm for cultivation. The new county in which he had settled was an excellent one for raising stock, and he soon had a large stock of cattle and horses around him. Fortune seemed to smile on all his efforts. Others soon moved in and settled in his vicinity, and the county where a short time before nothing was heard but the war whoop of the savage, the tramp of the buffalo and the howling of wolves, resounded with the hum of a busy and prosperous people, pursuing in peace their various avocations. Alas! how soon were they to be rudely awakened from their dreams of peaceful security by the war whoop of a merciless foe. In 1837, while Mr. Goacher, his son-in-law and one of his sons were away from the house, cutting and hauling firewood, a large party of Indians surrounded it, approaching it from two directions. One of these parties came across two of Mr. Goacher's eldest children who were playing near the house, and fearing they might give alarm the brutal wretches thrust a long steel spear through the little boy's body, killing him instantly. After scalping the little fellow they seized the other child, the little girl, and made her a prisoner. After this both parties united and made a furious onslaught on the house. The inmates at the time were Mrs. Nancy Goacher, her daughter Jane, and one or two small children. The Indians seeing there was no man on the premises made a vigorous assault, expecting, of course, an easy victory, but Mrs. Goacher was a lady of great courage and determination, and as there was several loaded guns in the house she resolved to sell the lives of herself and children as dearly as possible. She seized one gun after another and emptied their contents among her assailants. This made the Indians more furious than ever, as they had expected no resistance to their diabolical work. They shot Mrs. Goacher until she was almost literally covered with arrows. Still this brave and heroic woman stood at the door and defended her helpless children to the last. At length one of the savages who was armed with a gun fired upon her and she fell dead on the floor. Brave, noble woman! A monument should be raised to her memory, on which should be inscribed, "A mother's deathless valor and devotion." Mr. Goacher and his party heard the firing of the guns and hastened with all possible speed to the assistance of his family. In the hurry and anxiety of the moment they forgot to bring the arms they had with them in the woods, and when they reached the scene of disaster they were unable to render any assistance to the family or even to defend themselves. Their only chance was to make a bold rush for the house, get possession of the guns inside and then defend themselves as best they could. This they attempted to do, but alas! the Indians were too strong for them. Mr. Goacher and his son-in-law were shot down and killed. His little son endeavored to make his escape by flight, but as he turned a corner of the house he was met by an Indian who seized him and gave him a terrible shaking. This little fellow caught one of the Indian's thumbs in his mouth and bit it severely. The Indian endeavored to extricate his thumb from the boy's mouth, but failing to do so, he drew his ramrod from his gun and beat him terribly before the little fellow would let go his hold. Another son of Mr. Goacher, after he had been mortally wounded, crawled away unperceived by the Indians, to some trees, where he laid his head upon a stone and breathed his last. This was indeed one of the bloodiest tragedies that had ever occurred up to that time in the settlement. A father, wife, son and son-in-law and two children lay cold in death, and mingled together their kindred blood, where but few hours previously they had assembled in fancied security, within the walls of their once happy home. But, gentle reader, the sad story stops not here. Mrs. Crawford, the now widowed daughter of Mr. Goacher - the wife of his son-in-law who had just been murdered - her two children, and the little girl who was captured by the Indians before they attacked the house, as previously stated, were all carried off captives. They suffered, as the prisoners of Indians usually do, all the insults and indignities their barbarous captors could heap upon them. One of this lady's children was a little daughter about two months old, and as the Indians were tired of hearing it cry, they determined to kill it. Accordingly, one day when the famished little creature was fretting and crying for something to eat, an Indian snatched it from the arms of its mother and threw it in a deep pool of water with the intention of drowning the poor little innocent. The heroic mother, caring more for her tender offspring than her own safety, dashed boldly into the stream to save it from a watery grave. The Indians were amused by her frantic efforts to save her child from drowning, and as soon as she reached the bank with it they threw it in again, and continued the sport until the child was nearly drowned and the poor woman was almost exhausted. At last one of them seized the child, drew back its head and told another to cut its throat. The frantic mother seeing the dreadful order was about to be executed, caught up a heavy billet of wood, and with the strength born of desperation, with one blow she laid the Indian who held the knife in his hand prostate upon the ground. The poor woman expected that instant death would be her fate, but on the contrary the Indians seemed to be favorable impressed by her heroic defense of her child. They laughed loudly at their fallen comrade, and one of them stepped forward, picked up the child and gave it to her, saying: "Squaw too much brave. Damn you, take your papoose and carry it yourself - we will not do it." They never attempted to injure the child afterward. Thus by her heroic bravery the lady preserved the life of her infant. No doubt the Indians would have killed both mother and child had it not been that they hoped to get a good ransom for them when they reached the trading house. After having been a prisoner among the Indians for nearly two years, and treated by them in a manner too shameful to relate, she and her little children were taken to Coffee's trading house, on Red River, and bartered off for four hundred yards of calico, a large number of blankets, a quantity of beads and some other articles. These goods were all furnished by Mr. Coffee, the trading agent. Having released the unfortunate lady from her brutal captors, and also her two children, Mr. Coffee furnished them an escort under the control of a Mr. Spaulding, who conducted them safely to Texas. On the journey to Texas, Mr. Spaulding became much attached to the lady and eventually married her. This brave and heroic woman has long since passed "beyond the river," but her memory still lives fresh and green in the hearts of all who knew her. Mr. Spaulding also had been dead for many years. Her children, born to her after her marriage to Mr. Spaulding, are still living in Bastrop County on or near the old Goacher's Trace. Reader, think of it! What indignities, hardships, privations and suffering this poor woman, tenderly raised as she had been, had to endure. Her hands were tied fast behind her every night and in that condition she was fastened to a tree to prevent her from escaping. Her children also had their little hands and feet tied together every night, and were left upon the ground without any covering to protect them from the inclemency of the weather, and scarcely received sufficient food to keep them alive. But He who notes the suffering of all His creatures, preserved her and her children and restored them to their friends and relatives. This lady had two sons now living on the identical place where she was captured. They are worthy descendants of a heroic mother. The writer recently visited the locality where this terrible tragedy occurred. What a change has come over it! As he looked around on that Sabbath morn, and saw in every direction comfortable homes and cultivated fields and people everywhere wending their way to "meeting," in perfect security to the sound of the "church going bells," he could but contrast the present peaceful scene with the one presented in those stormy days when the rude log huts of the pioneers were the only evidences of civilization, when on these same smiling fields, the war whoop of the savages, the scream of the panther and the howling of wolves were the only sounds to greet the ears of the terror stricken settler in his lonely home.
James Gotcher - Since the early days of my childhood, I have known the story and events of my forefathers, the Gotcher family of early Texas history. My grandfather was Riley C. Gotcher. His father was William Riley Gotcher. William Riley Gotcher was the son of James Gotcher who was a very early of my early days with or in the nearby vicinity of my Grandfather, Riley C. Gotcher and it was he who related the family history to me. My years of research in public records have proven the verbal accounts to be quite accurate. Variant spelling of the family name has been a problem of research. Some of the ways I have found the name spelled are, Gotcher, Gotier, Goucher, Goacher, Goachier, and Gotchier. I am convinced that the proper spelling is "Gotcher" and I have copies of early historical documents to support my statement. James Gotcher came to Texas from Alabama in the year 1829 and by agreement with Stephen F. Austin, founded and marked a road or "trace" from San Felepe to the "colony on the Colorado" or also known as Bastrop. James led several wagons of settlers along this route and it was later known as the Gotcher Trace, or Gotcher Road. Many original surveyors description of property in Lee County today contain reference to the Gotcher Road. Along the Gotcher Road near Serbin are two distinct small peaks which were known as the Gotcher "knobs." Mr. Gotcher returned then to his family in Alabama. In January 1834, the James Gotcher family immigrated to Texas. The Stephen Austin Papers contain an entry of their immigration on this date. James' family consisted of his sons Samuel, Nathaniel, James Jr., and William Riley. Mrs. Gotcher's name was Mary Nancy. With the family also was their one daughter Jane, and her husband, Lemuel Crawford. The Crawford and Gotcher families settled and erected buildings very near the Gotcher Road on Rabb's Creek. Mr. Gotcher was a very industrious and enterprising person. For farming purposes, he built a second home in the Post Oak Community, a very few miles from his first home on Rabb's Creek. Several historical accounts indicate that James either mined lead along Rabb's Creek or was dealing in imported lead. Such an occurrence would support his need for two places to live. His home by the Gotcher Road on Rabb's Creek would also afford more security if required. In the winter of 1836, General Santa Anna was approaching San Antonio with his Mexican Army. David Crockett was at this time in the Alamo at San Antonio and had previously sent for the "Tennessee Volunteers" to come to the Alamo to join the new Republic of Texas Army. The "Tennessee Volunteers" with their Captain William B. Harrison, stayed with the Gotcher's on their way to the Alamo. James supplied Captain Harrison with a large quantity of food and provisions to take to the defenders of the Alamo. Lemuel Crawford, husband of James' daughter, Jane, volunteered to go with Captain Harrison and his men and was killed in action at the fall of the Alamo. The date was March, 1837, when Indians approached the home of the Gotcher's and their now widowed daughter and her young daughter, Margaret Elizabeth Crawford. James, the two sons, Samuel and Nathaniel were cutting wood. Mrs. Gotcher and James Jr. were at the cabin, while Jane, her daughter Margaret, and the youngest Gotcher son William Riley were gone to bring water from the creek. Mrs. Gotcher killed five of the attackers before she died. Mr. Gotcher and the two sons, Samuel and Nathaniel were killed as they ran to help their family. Jane knowing immediately what was taking place, attempted to escape with her daughter and William Riley. However, they were captured and along with James Jr. were forced to take part in the "victory ceremony" with the Indians. Traveling along the Gotcher Road several days later, General Edward Burleson found the massacred family and buried them near their home by the Gotcher Road. Jane (Gotcher) Crawford, her daughter, Margaret, and two brothers, James Jr. and William Riley were forced to walk behind the Indians who were on horses. They were treated with extreme cruelty and were made to work for their captors who tied them each night. Upon reaching the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma, they were traded to a Choctaw Indian village chief. The Choctaw people were not cruel to them, but did require them to perform hard work. Near the present city of Sherman, Texas, was an Indian trading post operated by Colonel Coffee. In January, 1838 through the efforts of Colonel Coffee and Mr. Charles Spaulding, Jane, her daughter and two brothers were bought from the Choctaws. Charles Spaulding married Jane and brought them all back to their old homes in Post Oak Community. James Gotcher Jr. enlisted in the Texas Rangers when he was of age, never married, and died of natural causes in 1846. Jane (Gotcher) (Crawford) Spaulding died March 27, 1851. Her daughter Margaret Elizabeth died in 1852. William Riley Gotcher, youngest survivor of the massacre, being the only one left, inherited his brothers "headrights" of land. Nathaniel and Samuel being of age when they immigrated to Texas, received land as colonists. The Nathaniel Gotcher headright was the land along the Gotcher Trace at Rabb's Creek where James built their first cabin. The Samuel Gotcher headright was the land upon which the State Capital building rests and extended to the Colorado River. William Riley married Rhoda Margaret Hancock and built their home in Sugar Loaf Mountain Community, Coryell County. Their family consisted of five sons, John, Lloyd, Joel, Nathaniel, and Riley. Mr. Gotcher was a teamster and rancher, and made one of the very early cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene. His last years were spent in his new home in May, Texas, where he was buried on March 20, 1897. Source: David O Emison, Houston.
In the same fall of the Indians attacked the home of Mr. Gotcher east of Bastrop, killed him, his wife and two sons, and carried off Mrs. Crawford, his widowed daughter, one of his little sons, and a little son and daughter of Mrs. Crawford. This tragedy was discovered by Col Burleson some days later, when too late to pursue the murderers. Mrs. Crawford and the children, after several years of captivity, were bought by Mr. Spaulding, a trader, who married the widow and brought them all back to live in Bastrop County.
Mr. Emison was often in the company of his grandfather, Riley Carrol Gotcher. Riley Carrol's father was William Riley Gotcher who was kidnapped by a group of Comanches in 1837. Mr. Emison recorded the account told him by his grandfather. I am indebted to Mr. Emison for allowing me to reprint this portion of his book. Following Texas Independence in April 1836, one of the sons (of James Gotcher), Samuel Gotcher, enlisted in the Texas Rangers and served under the command of Captain Billingsley. Samuel obtained his land grant from Texas which was due him, having been of age and a single man when he immigrated to Texas. Single men were granted one third of a league of land as their headright. The one third league given to Samuel was Certificate No. 50 and was located in the downtown area of Austin, Texas. The present Capitol building rests on the Samuel Gotcher land grant. The approximate north-south center line of the grant is Congress Street in Austin, and extended south to the Colorado River. It is the same land that Great-Grandfather William Riley (Gotcher) later inherited. In November 1836, Samuel returned to his home in Bastrop. (Bastrop on that day denoted a very large area, generally encompassing present Bastrop, Lee, Williamson, and part of Travis County). The following March 1837, was the date of the tragic event in the story of the family of James Gotcher. The family was in their home on Rabbs Creek in present Lee County. The home was located on a hill about 400 yards east of Rabbs Creek and 100 yards north of the Gotcher Trace. Their now widowed daughter Jane Crawford, and her baby girl, Margaret Elizabeth were living in their household also. Mrs. Gotcher, Jane, her baby, William Riley and James, Jr., were at the homesite. Mr. Gotcher and his oldest sons being Samuel and Nathaniel were in the forest preparing firewood. Jane and William Riley went to a small creek nearby to get water for the family use. Comanche Indians were then approaching the Gotcher home and when Jane and Riley saw them, they immediately attempted to return and warn Mrs. Gotcher. However, the Indians captured them both and Mrs. Gotcher heard them. She then very bravely defended her home and her loved ones inside as best she could. Before she fell dead, her body pierced by many arrows, she had shot and killed five of the attackers. Mr. Gotcher and his sons, hearing the shots, quickly ran to defend their loved ones, however, they were all quickly killed. Jane struggled to free herself that she might comfort one of her dying brothers nearby, but her captors would not permit. The Indians scalped Mrs. Gotcher. She had long beautiful hair which they placed on a pole for their ceremonial. The survivors, Jane, her daughter Margaret Elizabeth, James Jr, and William Riley were forced to participate in the Indian ceremonial dance around their mother's scalp. Immediately afterwards the captives were forced to leave with the Indians. Besides the survivors, horses, hogs, and salt were the only things the Indians took from the Gotcher home. Before the day ended, some settlers took chase to the Indians, unaware of the Gotchers being among them. The settlers soon lost track and had to return to their homes. That night, the Indians ate the hogs they had taken and became violently ill from fresh pork and their hard ride from the settlers. Three days after the tragedy, Colonel Edward Burleson came upon the Gotcher home and found the terrible scene. He buried them directly across the Gotcher Trace from their home. A Texas State Historical Marker has been placed on the burial site. Colonel Burleson buried the Indians which Mrs. Gotcher killed near a very large oak tree between the homesite and the family graves. For the survivors, life was completely miserable on the trail. Their food consisted of whatever could be found, or a morsel occasionally tossed them by an Indian. William Riley remembered having some skunk to eat. Jane learned to prepare a broth made from acorns. The Indians treated them with extreme cruelty, and on one occasion tried to kill Jane's daughter. Being a baby, no doubt hungry and weary, she cried very much. This annoyed the Indians. One of them took her and threw her into a stream of water to drown. Jane immediately retrieved her and the Indian moved to take the baby again. Jane hit him over the head with a stick of wood. The Indian leader observed this and intervened. He gave Jane her baby, admired her bravery and told her that her baby would not receive such treatment again. Onward in a northerly direction the party went, with the Indians on ponies and the Gotchers on foot. Jane obviously was a remarkable person to keep her daughter and two brothers alive. At night they were closely guarded or tied securely to prevent their escape. It was near the present Oklahoma border that escape did occur only to be captured again. The Comanche party encountered another party of Indians and a skirmish between them began. During the skirmish Jane with her daughter and her brothers did escape only to be captured by the other party of Indians who were Choctaws and who resided in Oklahoma. The Choctaws took the little family of Gotchers to their camps in the Arbuckle Mountain area of Oklahoma. During this period of Texas history, it was very common for Indians to take captives to the Red River area of Texas where they were able to trade them for their desired bounty to other Indians, or to white traders at trading posts. It is believed that this was the Comanche's intent as they approached the Red River area and encountered the Choctaw party. No doubt the captured family was considered by the Indians to represent very attractive trading possibilities. The Choctaws were not cruel to the family. They were required to work for them as servants and they were closely guarded to prevent escape. It became William Riley's chore to keep the camp fires burning. The village chief would wake him with the exclamation "Sosh-comma-rye-ah", being their language for "get wood on that fire!" Quite obviously William Riley was a fearless and actually a wild lad who at first was in disfavor with the Choctaws. In their games that he was forced to participate in, he was usually the winner. One game involved sticks in the hand of each player within a marked off area on the ground. Players would be required to be within the "ring" and attempt to hit the other player or cause him to leave the ring. An opposing player would ward off the other player's attack with his stick. William Riley became an undisputed winner, and even injured an Indian lad. Many in the camp were opposed to his action and his obvious superiority over the Indian lads and were annoyed by his presence. However, the chief was attracted to William Riley, admired his bravery and skill. With his influence, the chief won the acceptance of all the acceptance of all the Indians for William Riley and although he was a captive, he became one of them. On one occasion, the chief kept him hidden for several days in a buffalo hide to protect him from the village people. In January 1838, the Choctaw chief and his party took the family to Coffee's trading post on the Red River to negotiate a trade with the whites or some other Indians. Colonel Coffee was the owner of the trading post and he and his wife, "Aunt" Sophia Coffee resided in the post. When the Indians approached the post with their captives, "Aunt" Sophia saw the pitiful little family and pleaded with the Colonel to negotiate for their release. Charles Spaulding was also in the post and was there in search of the family. He and Colonel Coffee traded with the Indians for their captives. Many stories have been given as to the actual trading items, but no doubt the family brought a handsome amount of goods, trinkets, and usual items desired by Indians. Charles Spaulding was very attracted to Jane and after a short romance, married her on February 1, 1838. Charles and Jane with the children then left for Bastrop.