Peace, Amity, and Friendship
Bonham Daily Favorite, April 24, 1994
A semblance of peace finally returned to the Red River Valley in late 1842 with at least a sharp decline in the number of Indians depredations in the area embraced by the limits of the present day Fannin County. A complete cessation of the hostilities was not to come for several more years for a scattering of incidents occurred throughout the north Texas area through the 1840's. In addition the Civil War and its aftermath produced a sudden increase in Indian raids particularly in those counties to the west of Fannin County.
On July 5, 1842, the following commission was issued from the office of the President: "Be it known that I, Sam Houston, President of said Republic of Texas, reposing special trust and full confidence in the honor, patriotism, fidelity, skill, and capacity of Col. Henry E. Scott, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint him, the said Col. Henry E. Scott, in conjunction with Ethan Stroud, Esqr., Joseph Durst, Esqr., and Col. Leonard Williams to the office of Commissioner to treat with any and all Indians on the frontiers of Texas."
These newly appointed Indian Commissioners lost no time in implementing the policy Houston had inaugurated soon after the founding of the Republic. A little less than two months after receiving their commissions, a report arrived at Fannin County dated September 10, 1842 stating that on August 24th a treaty of "peace, amity, and friendship was concluded" between Commissioners Stroud, Durst, Williams and the chiefs, headmen representatives, and warriors of the Caddo, Ioai, Anadarko, and Boluxie Indians. The enacting of the treaty took place at the Chickasaw Depot in the Chickasaw Nation.
One of the principle chiefs at the meeting was Red Bear, of the Caddo Tribe. Red Bear exerted great influence over many of the tribes except the Comanches and Kiowas. During the negotiations Red Bear acted as spokesman for the other three tribes.
One account describes the chief as being about 45 years of age, rather below the ordinary height of his tribe. He was very dignified in demeanor and his countenance indicated a sterness and inflexibility of purpose. He was also described as having no ordinary degree of cunning and was raher forbidding and preposessing .
Red Bear enjoyed a reputation of being a great warrior and he was always consulted by other tribes in any plans of war where a coolness of character and wide range of experience was required.
At the negotiations the warriors were ranged in an outer circle. The chiefs and headmen of the tribes were in the center facing the commissioners, their staff and a number of unidentified Texans who "chanced" to be there.
A man named Louis Souchey acted as interpreter for the group and introduced each of the speakers from the Indian Commission. Colonel R.M. Jones opened the meeting with what was described as a very forceful and impressive manner. He was followed by a Colonel Love. Neither man's remarks are a matter of record. Witnesses later reported that the talks seemed to have a powerful influence on the Indians. Commissioner Stroud then followed with yet another talk.
After hearing from the three white men, Red Bear rose and answered the charges and statements that had been presented. His course was to vindicate ail the Indian tribes for their hostile course toward Texans. Red Bear maintained that the white men were the first aggressors.
After making clear his position, Red Bear then indicated that despite the view that the white men were the aggressors, he had become very weary of war and wished to make peace.
In all previous meetings Red Bear had steadfastly refused to shake hands with any of the representatives of the Texas government. After completing his defense of the Indian actions he then turned to Colonel Stroud and extended his hand. Then he shook hands with the each of the commissioners and staff, and the other Texan who were in attendance. Red Bear was followed by the other chiefs, headmen, and warriors, and finally by the squaws who were present. All showed a great relief at the prospect of peace .
Next, a message from Sam Houston was read to the assemblage and explained and interpreted for the Indians. Then the articles of the treaty were spelled out.
The Indians were to remain at peace with the white settlers of Texas, cease all thievery, and to regard as a common enemy, with the Texans, all the tribes who refused to enter into treaty negotiations with Houston's Indian Commissioners. They were also strongly urged to induce all other tribes to follow their examples.
Other reports and records give extensive credit to Ethan Stroud for his untiring efforts in effecting this treaty. Stroud, an immigrant from Georgia had a long history of friendly dealing with various Indian tribes. He and his brother established a trading post on the falls of the Brazos in 1843.
Over the next several months treaties with various tribes were effected and at last a sense of calm descended over the Red River Valley. For four long and bloody years those settlers looking for a new and better life on the Texas frontier had survived day to day with the seeming certainty of sudden and swift death.
The exact tally of those slain in Indian raids throughout the old Fannin County will never be known Several writers of the 19th century have stated that more than 200 lives were lost. This figure seems high in light of the fact that more than one person, who lived through that desperate time, recorded their experiences with some clarity of recall. And other witnesses corroborated those descriptions.
Certainly some individuals, trappers, hunters, and the like probably died at the hands of renegades and their deaths were never known. In that vast territory along the Red River only about twenty five deaths were recorded. Some of these were so unsettling as to magnify the reactions of the survivors and the number of deaths increased.
Probably the first deaths were those of Samuel Washburn, his brother Josiah, and an unnamed companion who were killed near present day Trenton in the Spring of 1838. The last deaths were those of a Mr. and Mrs. Monsey and a Mr. Jamison who died in February 1844 in what is now Collin County.
Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas