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1866 Indian raid on Sullivan & Blackwell home on Rock Creek
East of Whitt & West of Slipdown Mountain, Parker County, Texas

1866 Indian raid on Sullivan & Blackwell home on Rock Creek
East of Whitt & West of Slipdown Mountain, Parker County, Texas

Parker County Texas and joining Counties were the center of Indian raids by the Kiowa and Comanche Indians between 1855 and 1875, they came south from the Oklahoma and Indian Territories usually when there was a full moon, they usually followed the Brazos River and its tributaries because the rivers and creeks offered more cover and shelter from the settlers.

Of the two tribes the Comanche were the most brutal and bloodthirsty, at times they killed and scalped with out provocation, in twenty years time they killed, scalped and abducted several hundred men, women and children, they also stole and destroyed several million dollars worth of horses, livestock and property.

When pursed they had but to ride north and cross the Red River into Oklahoma and Indian Territory where by law they could not be pursed.

Upton Oregon Blackwell was born in 1834 at Clarksville Tennessee he married Charlotte Wixson Gordon on 17 May 1855 at Collin County Texas she was born on 12 September 1835 in Missouri, they moved to Parker County Texas in 1856/1857, family oral history tells us that Upton Oregon helped to survey the original town-site of Weatherford Texas.

H. Smyth records on page 199 in his Historical Sketch of Parker County that in 1867 Upton Oregon Blackwell and Thomas Sullivan were appointed Justice’s of Peace for precinct #2 Parker County.

The Parker County Court House fire in 1874 destroyed almost all pioneer records previous to that date, so there isn’t much to go by except oral history, and recorded works of several different writer’s and authors in later years, all of which in telling the same story or incident vary vastly in what took place, and when and where it happened.

So in an effort to set the record straight, as myself, Everett L. Austin and Dorothy Edith Clay “a Gordon descendent” heard it beginning in about 1933 I will relate the story about the capture of John Charles Fremont and Thomas Jefferson Sullivan by Comanche Indians in 1866 and the killing and scalping of Upton Oregon Blackwell in about 1872.

Upton and Charlotte had five children William Joel born in 1857 Parker County Texas, John Charles Fremont, born in 1859 Parker County Texas, Mary Salard born in 1861 Parker County Texas, Emily B. born and died in 1862 Parker County Texas, Benjamin Huston born 9 May 1863 at Whitt, Parker County Texas.

Thomas Sullivan was born 11 March 1823 in London England he married Margaret Gordon [sister of Charlotte “ Gordon” Blackwell] on 23 December 1852 in Lamar Texas, she was born 2 September 1830 in Vandalia, Fayette Illinois,

In 1866 when the episode I am going to relate took place Thomas and Margaret had six children, Robert Harvey {Harve} born 1852 in Lamar Texas, Charlotta Catherine {Sis} born 1855 in Lamar Texas, Temple Jane {Tempie} born 1857 in Parker Texas, Thomas Jefferson {Tommy} born 1860 in Parker County Texas, Willis Joel born 1863 in Parker Texas and John Wright {Johnny} born 1865 in Parker Texas.

After the Civil war started in 1864 Upton Oregon Blackwell enlisted in Company L 14th Kansas Cavalry, Union Army and Thomas Sullivan enlisted in Company H 16th Kansas Cavalry, Union Army, where they served until the war was over, both with Distinguished service.

According to Family oral history Charlotte and the Blackwell children moved in with Margaret and the Sullivan children where they lived on Rock Creek east of Whitt and west of Slipdown Mountain for better safety and security while the men were at war, Charlotte and Margaret’s Father John Gordon also moved in with them.

Upton and Thomas had returned from the war in the spring of 1866 in time to plant a patch of sorghum cane and other crops that were necessary for the families to survive, a patch of black-eyed peas were planted close to the house on one side of Rock Creek and sorghum cane was planted on the opposite side of the creek and some distance from the house, in the fall of 1866, probably about October the peas were mature and dry enough to pick and store for the winter and the cane was ready to squeeze “or press” and cook off to make the winters supply of sorghum, a sorghum mill of those days was quite labor intensive it took a husky boy or a grown man or sometimes a horse or mule depending on the type of mill, to turn the crank that squeezed the juice from the cane while others fed the cane stalks in, it also took a couple of people to tend the fire and continually stir the sorghum to keep it from scorching.

On this particular morning Harvey and Tommy Sullivan and cousins Joel and Fremont Blackwell were instructed to pick peas for winter storage the rest of the family [except old John Gordon who stayed in the house] crossed the creek to tend the sorghum mill, the women took every thing necessary to have dinner on the ground [Picnic].

The children that went with their parents were Mary and Benjamin Blackwell, Charlotta, Tempie, Joel, and Johnny Sullivan.

 At about noon Mary Blackwell was sent to the house to tell old John Gordon and the boys that dinner was ready, several Indians arrived there at the same time that Mary got there, she ran for the house with an Indian in pursuit he grabbed her sun bonnet but the bonnet strings broke and she made it to the house, at the same time the boys run for the brush, before they made it, Joel was shot in the hip and Harvey was hit in the arm by an arrow, the smaller boys being slower were caught by the Indians just as Joel and Harvey went into the brush. The Indians never rode into the brush because it was to thick for a horse to run in. Old John Gordon came out of the house with a shotgun in time to see the Indians riding away with Tommy and Fremont, he did fire at the Indians but the range was to far to be effective.

Upon hearing the rifle shot and the shotgun blast the rest of the family at the sorghum press rushed to the house to find Joel and Harvey severely injured, Joel was shot in the hip and Harvey was hit in the arm by an arrow, as soon as their wounds were tended Upton Oregon and Thomas Sullivan rode to the nearest neighbors and organized a search party to pursue the Indians and rescue their sons, the search party trailed the Indians for about 20 miles until it became to dark and difficult to follow tracks, and then they resumed the search at daylight.

Shortly after resuming the search they came upon little Tommy’s body, he had been killed and mutilated beyond recognition, and could only be identified by the red gingham shirt that he wore. Tommy was buried at the location where he was found.

Years later J. C. Fremont stated that Tommy couldn’t stop crying and when they camped the first night Tommy wasn’t there the next morning.

The rescue party pursued the Indians to the Red River, which was the south boundary of the Indian Territory, here the search party was forced to stop because it was illegal to pursue the Indians into Indian Territory, where the Indians were protected by the Federal Government, ironically it was also illegal for Indians to plunder and raid into Texas.

The following day Upton Blackwell and Thomas Sullivan rode to Jacksboro to report to the military at Fort Richardson that their children had been abducted and that Tommy had been killed.

Up to this point most of the reports about this incident and the articles written in History books were basically correct, although with little detail, except one.

The West Texas Frontier
by Joseph Carroll McConnell

The different authorities are not in accord concerning the date of this circumstance. But it probably occurred near the close of the Civil War, and will be reported at this time. Blackwell and Harve Sullivan were out in a watermelon patch on Rock Creek in Parker County, about two miles east of the present town of Whitt. When Indians charged upon them, Ben Blackwell was captured, and Harve Sullivan, two or three years older, and about twelve years of age, successfully made his escape. One Indian, however, caught him by his home-knitted yarn suspenders. But Harve seemed to be in a hurry. So he broke his suspenders, outran the savage and was home in a short time. Dole Miller reported that David White and Negro Brit Johnson were instrumental in recovering Ben Blackwell from the Indians, and returning him to his people.

Note: Author personally interviewed: Doyle Miller, A.M. Lasater, and others who lived in Palo Pinto and Parker counties at the time.


Joseph McConnell did get one thing right Harvey Sullivan was there, but it wasn’t a watermelon patch, it was a pea patch and Harvey was hit in the arm by an arrow, not caught by his suspenders, and Ben Blackwell was only three years old in 1866 not nine or ten as McConnell states.

Maybe those that were interviewed sold him a story.

Texas Indian Papers
Texas State Library and Archives Commission

On 1 May 1867 A.J. Hunter County Judge of Parker County Texas reported to the State of Texas that Thomas Sullivan and J.C. Fremont Blackwell were captured and Thomas Sullivan was killed by the Indians, in the18 months previous to the 1st of May 1867.

 This information is recorded in the Texas Indian Papers Volume 4, # 148, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Snakes Chiggers and Indians
by Toni Sanford

 Article in the Athens Daily Review by Toni Sanford 1 July 1990. {Snakes, Chiggers and Indians}

Indian raid in October 1867, Fremont Blackwell was attacked by Indians near his home in Parker County, Texas, and was taken Captive, the first night they made camp Fremont removed his overalls as they bedded down for the night, the next morning he was forced to ride behind an Indian brave with his lower body naked. He rode all the way from Palo Pinto County, Texas to Big Bend of the Arkansas River in Kansas with no clothing; When they arrived at the permanent Indian encampment in Kansas, he was in great distress from his very sore behind. The Indian Squaws were considerate to him, treating his sores until he recovered. After about a year with the Indians Fremont was ransomed by the U.S. Government and returned by train to his family in Texas. {Source: Double Log Cabin by G. A. Holland, 1935}


Toni Sanford was right, the Indians did take Fremont to their reservation at the big bend of the Arkansas River in Kansas, this story I had never heard before, although it is a good one. I find nothing in G.A. Holland’s Double Log Cabin that could be used as a source for this story.

Parker County Judge A. J. Hunter’s official report to the state of Texas, states that Tommy Sullivan and J. C. Fremont Blackwell were captured in the 18 months previous to the 1st of may 1867, not October 1867.

Unless I am badly mistaken, there were no trains across Oklahoma and Indian Territory’s and into Texas until 1872 when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company, known as the M.K.T. or Katy Railroad, laid tracks across the Red River. This would indicate that Fremont was not ransomed until after his Fathers death and at the very least some six years after his capture.

The Double Log Cabin
by G.A. Holland

Sullivan And Blackwell Children

Parker County continued to suffer at the hands of the government paupers, who most always selected the light of the moon for their depredations.

In October 1867, four little boys [cousins] named Harvey and Tommy Sullivan, aged 14 and 4 years, with Joe and Fremont Blackwell, aged 10 and 8 years, were gathering peas near the Sullivan home, in the north part of Parker County, 1 1⁄2 miles from Slipdown Mountain. The older members of the family were away from home. Five Indians appeared on the scene, one of whom took the horse from the lot, while the other four chased the children.

They captured Tommy Sullivan and Fremont Blackwell; shot Joe Blackwell in the hip with a revolver, and wounded Harvey Sullivan in the arm with a steel-tipped arrow. The two wounded boys escaped by running through the brush. They both recovered from their wounds.

The two smaller boys were carried away, screaming for help. After going about seven miles, two of the Indians, with little Tommy, dropped behind; when they rejoined the party they did not have him. Later the mangled body of the child was found. He had been murdered because he cried. Fremont was carried to the agency at Fort Sill. Later some parties who went there hunting stolen children, found and ransomed him and brought him to Gainesville. He could not tell who his people were and it took five months to locate them. Four years later Hugh O. Blackwell, father of the boys named above, was coming from the government fort at Jacksboro. He was chased, killed and scalped and his horse taken by Indians.

Through the kindness of Mrs. Harve Sullivan of Carpenter, Oklahoma we have this story. Also the steel spike, with which her husband when a boy, was shot. The spike is shown in the picture. It is also on exhibition in the Double Log Cabin at the lake.

Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas

Indian Massacres in Parker County Texas

In 1865, shortly after his return from the Confederate Army Mr. Hugh O. Blackwell was killed by Indians while returning home from the post-office at Jacksboro.

Mr. Blackwell had a child captured by Indians, which was later recovered in the Indian Territory.

West Texas Frontier
by Joseph Carroll McConnell

Upton Blackwell

During 1874, the Indians killed Upton Blackwell, about two miles from the present town of Perrin, while he was returning to his home, on Rock Creek, in Parker County, Upton Blackwell was traveling alone and had been to Jacksboro.

Note; Author interviewed A. M. Lasater, James Wood and others, in that section.

A New History of Parker County
by John S. Grace and R. B. Jones

(Page 100)

The Savages were next heard of at Mr. Blackwell’s where they made captives of two children. There the trail was lost, as they had scattered so as to throw the pursuers off the track. The day was now so far spent that farther pursuit in the darkness was useless.

Next morning it was learned that they were several miles west of Weatherford and had killed one of the children and were making their way back to the reservation. They were pursued no farther.

Historical Sketch by Henry Smythe 1877

More Indian Massacres
(Page 190

Hugh O. Blackwell

Although free from the scenes of carnage witnessed during the rebellion, some of the Confederate soldiers returned home to participate in protecting lives and property placed in greater jeopardy by the miserable governmental paupers, in the shape of Indians, kept in idleness, encouraged in vice and hideous crimes, solely to benefit and enrich Indian agents. Day after day depredations were brought to public notice. Roving bands of these wicked tribes were raiding, promiscuously, throughout Parker and other counties                            and the services of the experienced warriors were eagerly sought after. Among the slain, during this year, was Hugh O. Blackwell, who was killed, just before reaching his place of abode on Rock Creek. A party of savages pursued him as he was returning from Jacksboro, killed and scalped him, and took his pony. Four years previous an interesting child was taken from Mr. Blackwell’s home by the miscreants, It was recovered at Fort Cobb, in the Indian nation. ,

Indian Depredations in Texas
By J.W. Wilbarger published 1888

Murders in Parker County, 1863-1873

Hugh O. Blackwell was also slain by a party of Indians while returning from Jacksboro to his home on Rock Creek. He was killed, scalped and his horse taken. A few years previous to this, the Indians made a raid in that section of country and captured a little boy of Mr. Blackwell’s and a little girl of ----Sullivan’s. They then went to the house of Samuel Hartfield while he and his family and a number of other persons who were assisting them, were engaged in making syrup.

As soon as the Indians were discovered, the whites being unarmed all fled to the house. One lady, who had a child in her arms, begged the others not to leave her, whereupon a gentleman ran to her assistance, took the child from her, and by doing so, enabled her to escape.

The Indians then un-harnessed the horse that was working in the sugar mill and made off with him. After going about ten miles, the little girl they had captured, becoming troublesome to them, they put her to death. Her body was found some days afterwards much decayed, but it was identified beyond all doubt. The little son of Blackwell was retained a captive for several years, after which he was purchased by an agent of the United States Government at Fort Cobb and restored to his friends in Parker County.

Commentary on the 1866 Raid
by Everett L. Austin

These are but a few of the stories that have been written about this episode, some in history books others bordering on fiction, some only a paragraph and others a chapter of several pages, such as Doyle Marshall’s, A Cry Unheard, which was well researched and documented, but he never located the dozens of descendants that heard those stories all of their lives.

My sister Maxine and I went to live in the Benjamin Huston Blackwell household in 1930, we were there with our Grandparents Embree and Julia “Blackwell” Woods, our Great Grandparents Benjamin and Mary “Broom” Blackwell and our Aunts Truba and Frances Woods and our Uncle Edgar Woods, we were there in 1943 when Benjamin died and we were there in 1946 when Mary Frances “Broom” Blackwell died.

We have heard this story from our parents our Grand Parents and Great Grand Parents as well as Aunts and Uncle’s. There is one thing that we all agree on, that is that Fremont Blackwell was captured at 6 years old and ransomed when he was about 15 years old, we don’t all agree on where he was ransomed, but we do remember that he was traded to a store keeper at a trading post for tobacco and that he had to be restrained and locked in a storeroom to keep him from leaving with the Indians.

Several years ago I met for the first time Dorothy Edith “Saunders” Clay who is the Great Granddaughter of Alford Moses Gordon, the brother of Charlotte “Gordon Blackwell. She told me that the Blackwell, Sullivan abduction was the one thing that sparked her interest in genealogy research, which lead to a life long passion for family genealogy, and as we compared notes we discovered that we both had heard the story of Fremont and Tommy Sullivan related the same way. {Sadly Dorothy “Saunders” Clay died in February 2006.”

Upton Oregon Blackwell was killed by Indians in 1871-72 as he was returning home from Jacksboro and Fort Richardson where he had been to check on the identity of a boy that had been ransomed or found, it wasn’t his son, this was at least five years after Fremont had been captured.

None of us that are living can recall how Fremont was returned to Parker County but one writer suggests that he was sent or brought back by train, which would have been possible in 1874 but not until after 1872 because there were no trains from Oklahoma or Indian territory until 1872.

We will probably never know for certain how he was returned, but he was and we know that 0n 27 September 1877 he married Eva Emeline Blevins in Parker County, he is listed in the 1880 census in Burnett County with wife Eva and first son Charles Daniel, who lived in Duncan, Stephens, Oklahoma from 1915 until his death in 1959, and is buried with his wife in the old Municipal Cemetery in Duncan, his second son Dan B. Blackwell was born in 1881 and is listed in the 1900 census Jack County Texas with his Mother, and in the 1910 census in Comanche, Stephens, Oklahoma with wife Myra,  a daughter Jane Charlotte was born 12 March 1884 in Parker County, she Married Frederick Jefferson Brannon in 1911 in Parker County, they had eight children, Charlotte is listed in the 1880 census in Jack County Texas and the 1910 and 1920 census in Clay county Texas, she died 20 March 1950 in Los Angeles California.

I have heard this story the way I have related it here beginning in about 1933, from my Great Grandfather, my Grandmother, my Mother, my Aunts and Uncles, and Cousins. I have told it to my five children, my ten Grandchildren and I plan on telling this same story to my ten Great Grandchildren. It would be a shame if I had it all wrong.

Who was Blackwell Killed by Indians
By Evlyn Broumly

During the 1860’s according to history books, Hugh O. Blackwell was killed by Indians as he returned from Jacksboro to his home west of Slipdown Mountain in northwest Parker County. Also in the 1860’s, stories say that two sons of Blackwell and a Sullivan boy, cousins were attacked near their home. Joe Blackwell, age 10, and Harvey Sullivan, age 14, were wounded but escaped from the Indians. Fremont Blackwell, age 7, was taken captive and months later ransomed and returned to his family. Tommie Sullivan, age 5, was killed by the Indians as they left Parker County, his body found by the search party.

The name Hugh O. Blackwell was first used by Henry Smythe in his book “Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford Texas” written in 1877. The name has been used in all other history books of Parker County and the surround area histories. Yet no legal or official documents can be found with this name on them. No Blackwell researchers claimed him. This puzzle has led me to collect bits and pieces for several years about this incident in Parker County history.

I have found evidence about this family and would like to correct an error begun over 100 years ago. The man was given the wrong name! The Hugh O. Blackwell was Upton O. Blackwell! I believe that Mr. Smythe made a phonic error that has been repeated thru the years. As time passed, as the story was told and re-told, the U. O. became Hugh O.

Upton O. Blackwell was born in Tennessee about 1836, the son of Benjamin E. and Rebecca S. Blackwell. This family arrived in Collin County, Texas before 1848 and Benjamin received a land grant there. In Collin County on May 17 1855, Upton O. married Charlotte Gordon, the daughter of John and Charlotte Gordon of Illinois. The next year, Mrs. Rebecca Blackwell married Robert Skaggs after the death of Benjamin. Another Gordon daughter, Margaret, married Thomas Sullivan and they were the parents of the Sullivan cousins of the Blackwell children.

Upton O. Blackwell, Thomas Sullivan and John Gordon brought their families to Parker County in 1856-57, and in the 1860’s Mrs. Rebecca Blackwell Skaggs moved here. The fire in May 1874 of the Parker Court House has lost many records pertaining to these families, but copies of the Parker County Tax Rolls in Austin show them paying taxes here during these early years. At no time does the name Hugh O. appear on these lists.

After 1962, Upton O. Blackwell’s name disappears from the rolls, perhaps he was away fighting in the Civil War. The Voters Registration list of 30 July 1867 contains the name Upton O. Blackwell, stating that he was born in Tennessee, had lived in Texas 19 years, in Parker County 11 years. Also registering and living in Precinct number 2 is Thomas Sullivan, and John and Alfred Gordon, father and brother of Charlotte. In 1875 Charlotte Blackwell received a land grant of 160 acres on Rock Creek about 17 1⁄2   miles north and west of Weatherford. Adjoining her land are grants of Thomas Sullivan and John Gordon. With her husband dead, Charlotte would have patented the land in her name as many widows did.

In 1880 Charlotte Blackwell is still in Parker County with her father John Gordon age 70 and a son, Benjamin age 17 living with her. Nearby lives another son William J. who was married to Matilda Sistrunk and a daughter Mary S. married to Charles Wohlenberg. The names of Joe and Fremont are not found, it is possible that they were the second names of these two sons. The Thomas Sullivan’s are close neighbors, as was Harvey Sullivan, 26 years old then and a married man. No evidence has shown the Upton O. Blackwell family to be closely related to other Blackwell families that came to Parker County, nor was Thomas Sullivan kin to the Sullivan’s from Tennessee that settled old Carterville.

Charlotte sold her land to R. W. Sistrunk in1884, she was living in Polk County Arkansas at that time. No effort has been made to follow up the family from that time, no known descendants are now living in Parker County. In the 1830’s when G.A. Holland was writing his book, Mrs. Harvey Sullivan living then in Carpenter Oklahoma, sent the spike that Harvey had been wounded by as a child and

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Family Group Sheets Joseph Embree Woods Family History
Photographs 1866 Parker Co. Texas Indian Raid
Descendants of Joseph Woods Payne School
B. H. Blackwell Genealogy Prairie Dale School
Robert Blackwell (1620-1164) through
B. H. Blackwell (1863-1943)
B. H. Blackwell Interview
Email Everett Home Page

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