Richard M. Ware (1828 – )


Came to Texas in 1829.

Mr. Richard Ware was born in Arkansas on the 20th of October, 1828, while the family were en-route to Texas.  His father, Capt. William Ware settled in Montgomery County, Teas, in 1829.  In 1835, when the war between Texas and Mexico broke out, his father raised a company and went to San Antonio and with Gen. Ed  Burleson.  When Gen. Ben Milan called for volunteers to storm the city, Captain Ware and his men went in and materially aided in capturing General Cos and his army.  During the fighting around the Veramendi house, on Soledad Street, Captain Ware was severely wounded in the hand.  After the fall of the Alamo and the settlers commenced their retreat from the Mexicans the Ware family went to Natchitoches, on the Red River, ready to cross if the Mexicans were successful.  Captain Ware and his company was with Houston’s army and fought in the battle of San Jacinto, which gave peace for a time to Texas, which was now organized into an independent Republic.

In 1842, after San Antonio was captured by General Wall, Captain Ware joined the Somervell expedition for the invasion of Mexico, but turned back on the Rio Grande with a great many others.

In 1851 the Wares started west with a drive of cattle.  Winter came on when they were in the vicinity of San Marcos, Hays County, and they concluded to stop  and hold their stock until spring opened.  Some one informed them that if they would go south to the Yorks Creek country, in the Sowell and Turner settlement, they would find some vacant houses which they could occupy and it would be a fine place to spend the winter.  This they did.  Grass was fine and the stock did well, but many of them were lost on account of their mixing with wild cattle in the big thickets.  These wild cattle were not domestic gone astray, but original wild cattle, smaller than the common breeds or home cattle, and all one color–brown.  The writer remembers when a boy and living in Hays County, on the Blanco, of seeing a great many of them.  They were wilder than the deer.

In the spring of 1852 Captain Ware moved his cattle on west and settled in Sabinal Canyon.  The old cabin is still standing, built by himself and his boys, and should be preserved.  The elder Ware did not long enjoy the new home, dying the following year.

In 1856 Richard Ware had his first experience with Indians.  On that occasion the Indians made a raid into Sabinal Canyon and were fought by John Leaky, Gid Thompson, and others, the particulars of which have been described elsewhere.  Mr. Ware joined the force that pursued these same Indians, who were overtaken on the Leona River while in bathing and all killed but one.  They had no chance to make a fight, as the settlers were on the bank right over them before they knew it, and they had to dive in trying to avoid the shots.  Mr. Ware says when it was over the water was very bloody.  This affair has also been described more fully in another article.

In 1859 Mr. Ware was living in the Frio Canyon when a raiding band of Comanches came through, having a lot of stolen horses which they had taken in the Guadalupe valley.  A party of twelve was made up and pursued them.  Of this number John Daughtery, captain; Wm. Russell, Geo. Patterson, John Williams, Dan Turner, Henry Courtney, Richard Ware, and __ Lambert.  The trail of the Indians led west to the Nueces Canyon, and the first night the settlers camped without water.  They were on the trail again early next morning, and when they came to the Nueces found themselves on a high bluff.  It was level on the opposite side of the river and open country for some distance, and the Indians were discovered going across the valley towards the foot of the mountains.  The only chance to continue the pursuit was to go on foot.  It was decided to do this, and Lambert and Courtney were left with the horses.  The other men had some difficulty in getting down the bluff themselves, but finally succeeded and crossed the river without being discovered by the Indians.  They went on about two miles and discovered smoke coming out of a cedar brake, and knew the Indians had camped.  Their plan was to creep upon them and make an attack.  The advanced to a water hole not far from the Indians and discovered some one coming towards them after water.  All lay close in the brush, and as the Indian, as they supposed, came in range two rifles cracked and he fell in his tracks.  A rush was now made for the camp, but the alarm had been given and the Indians were scattering through the brake without attempting to make any fight, and none of them were killed.  Eight head of horses were taken, and the men went back to the waterhole and examined the dead body there.  They now discovered what a sad mistake had been made.  It was a captive white boy they had slain.  Who he was or where he was captured they could not tell.  Evidently he had been with the Indians some time.  He was badly sunburned and his hair very long.  Around his waist was a belt and knife, an he had two bullet wounds in the breast.  By his side lay a water vessel made from the paunch of a cow or horse, and the Indians had sent him to the pool for water.  Even if he had been an Indian the settlers made a mistake killing him at this time, as the fire of rifles alarmed those in camp and spoiled their plans.  Being nearly night and some distance from their horses, and nothing to dig a grave with, the poor unfortunate, whoever he was, had no burial, and was left where he fell by the white man, food for vultures and coyotes.  He seemed to be about 14 years of age.  With some difficulty a place was found by going below and the recaptured stock brought out of the valley to where the two men and horses were.  The return back was made without incident, and the stolen horses returned to their owners on the Guadalupe.

In 1858 a stockman named I.C. Isbel, who lived on the Frio at the foot of the mountains, had eighty head of horses stolen by Indians.  The alarm was given and twenty-one men assembled at the Isbel ranch to go in pursuit of them.  In the party were six Unites States soldiers from Fort Inge, under the command of a sergeant.  The settlers were commanded by Capt. Henry Robinson.  The trail of the Indians led in a northerly direction toward the divide at the head of the Sabinal and Frio rivers.  The country there was open postoak and blackjack.  The Indians ket  spy back to watch for pursuers, and Captain Robinson, knowing they were in the habit of doing this, made a wide circle to the left so as not to be seen, and came upon the Indians between two noted watering places called the Postoak and Frio waterholes.  The white men outnumbered the Indians, but in their first onset made a mistake by all firing their guns at once.  The Indians took notice of this, and turning, boldly charged  the settlers.  The writer has heard men say that Indians in the early days had a poor chance in fighting men who were armed with rifles and they only using bows .  This is a mistake, and until repeating arms were invented the Indian had the advantage.  A brave when on the warpath carried from forty to sixty arrows in his quiver, and if he could by dodging and the use  of his shield avoid the shot which the white man fired at him from a muzzle-loading gun, would then boldly charge him.  If the settler did not happen to have a brace of pistols, he was bound to run or be stuck full of arrows unless he could take shelter some where until he could reload.  This was the situation in this case.  The settlers ran and took shelter among the trees until they could reload their rifles.  A crisis was avoided by John Leaky and some others who had revolvers and met the charge with a rapid fire.  Two Indians were killed on the spot at this place, and John Cook was wounded with an arrow.  He was on horseback when hit, and the arrow went through his thigh and pinned him in the saddle.  Two of the Indians’ horses were also killed.  One Indian was shot through both hips and fell in a sitting position on the ground, but pulled an arrow and was about to shoot when a soldier fired at him with an army gun carrying a buck-and-ball paper cartridge.  The shot struck the Indian high up on the forehead, tearing off the top of his skull and exposing the entire brain.  During the battle the loose horses were badly scattered, and some of the men who dismounted to fight let their horses get away from them.  One Indian displayed great bravery and a tenacity of life that was remarkable.  He came close to the white men and was twice shot down, but regained his feet each time and continued to battle until the other Indians ran off and left him.  He was shot six times by John Leaky with a revolver, and as he went off on foot to follow his comrades was fired at by every man who had a loaded gun.  He was very active, and could dodge many shots aimed at him.  Henry Courtney followed him on horseback and fired a load of buckshot at him from a shotgun, but the Indian kept on.  John Daughtery now mounted a horse and with a loaded revolver in his hand once more caught up with the brave to give him battle.  The badly wounded Indian was still game, and turned back on Daughtery, uttering a warwhoop and sending his arrows with such precision that the settler dismounted behind his horse to avoid them.  An exciting and strange battle now took place.  The Indian advanced until nothing but the horse  separated him from his foe, and both used the animal for a breastwork.  Daughtery tried in vain to bring the Comanche down with repeated shots from the pistol until the chambers were empty.  He had thus far avoided being hit himself, but was now at such disadvantage without a load left, and the Indian with arrows yet in his quiver, that he turned and ran to some trees for better shelter, and the redskin mounted the horse and rode off.  This Indian had on during the most part of the fight a large piece of cloth, like sail duck, closely wrapped around his body, which he now threw off, and it was picked up by the white men.  It was covered with blood and had many bullet holes through it.  He also lost his shield, which was spattered with blood.

Richard Ware was in this fight, and came near killing one of his comrades while they were at close quarters and men hurrying here and there and passing in front of one another.  He aimed at an Indian, and when about to pull the trigger saw a white man’s head through the sights of his gun, but lowered it in time to save him.  The man had stepped directly in front of him.  The Indian who got off with the horse and saddle also got a good overcoat and a canteen full of water.  Several Indians were killed on the ground and most of the balance went off wounded.  The horses stampeded badly during the fight, but were collected and driven back to the settlement.

In 1866 Mr. Ware was again, living in Sabinal Canyon, but in the meantime he had married Miss Slaver, stepdaughter of Mr. Gideon Thompson.  Mrs. Thompson and she were the first white women that saw Sabinal Canyon.   Captain Ware’s family were the first here, but his girls were small, and Mrs. Ware died in eastern Texas.  Mrs. Richard Ware saw Mrs. Bowlin after she was killed by the Indians, and helped wait upon Mrs. Kinchaloe, who was wounded at the time.

In the above named year Mr. Ware was living on Onion Creek, in the canyon, and was engaged in opening a ditch to irrigate a small piece of land situated some distance below his house.  While here alone he was attacked by six Indians.  He heard the Indians coming through the brush, but thought it was cattle, as they watered near here.  When he looked around the Indians were in ten feet of him, and one was aiming his gun to shoot.  Mr. Ware had no gun with him, but he had his pistol, and being quick to draw and fire, got in his shot with the Indian, who missed Ware, but was himself badly wounded.  He then started for the house, shooting as he went, followed by the Indians, who yelled a good deal but did not crowd him close.  There were several men living near Mr. Ware, and some at his house at the time, and all heard the yelling and shooting, but no one got to him except his brave wife and John Ware.  The wife met him with his gun, knowing he had only a pistol.  The Indians got five head of horses and took their departure.  At this time there was a boy named Buckaloo captive among the Indians, who was taken from this country, and knew the horses when they were brought in.  They said they lost one man in the fight when they go the horses.  This was the first one Ware shot.  Mrs. Ware saw the Indians when she came to her husband with the gun, and said the hair on their heads, which was very long, ‘flopped up and down when they galloped their horses.’

In this same year Mr. Ware and Charles Durbin went to Handera after meal.  The distance was forty miles, and it was the nearest mill from this canyon.  On the way back, and when nearly home, in the lower part of Seco Canyon, they saw a drove of horses coming up the valley towards them, driven by a band of Indians.  Just ahead of them, about where the old Bandera road crosses Seco, a man named Myrick had built a house, but it was now vacant.  To get to this house for shelter was the best thing to do, and the horses were whipped into a run to reach it.  The Indians saw them and came yelling to cut them off.  The white men beat the race and got inside.  Mr. Ware could not find a crack inside the house that he could see through, and after waiting awhile ventured outside to take a view of the situation.  Now the Indians were sharp and thought that one of the white men would do this very thing, so posted one of their men behind a tree near by with a gun to shoot anyone that ventured out, while the others drew back and kept silent.  After Ware got outside he looked cautiously around the corner of the house to see what had become of the Indians, and was startled by a loud report of a gun very near and a ball passed just over his head.  Smoke from a liveoak told him where the shot came from.  The Indians was lying behind it waiting for this opportunity.  Ware came to the corner of the house handling his gun as if about to shoot, and the Indian shot too quick, thinking likely he was discovered.  The tree stood on the brink of a ravine, and just the glimpse of the Indian’s black head was seen as he went over into it after shooting.  Mr. Durban, who could not see very well and remained in the house, was under the impression when he hear the loud report that it was Ware who shot at an Indian, and exclaimed, ‘Did you hit him, Richard?’

The Indians kept them here all night but did not venture near enough to get the horses, which were tied near the door; but they go the sheet from the wagon, which was left further away.  The besieged men left next day, without seeing any more Indians.

On one occasion Mr. Ware and some others were in Nueces Canyon looking for some white men who had killed another and were hiding out.  At this time there were scarcely any settlers in this far western valley.  A few daring men had brought their families there and were living in camps preparatory to forming a settlement.  Among these were in the Cox family, on Westprong.  Ware and his party went to the Cox camp, and found everything torn up and the people gone.  To the practiced eye of these frontiersmen it was soon apparent there had been a battle here.  Among other things they found a newly made grave, and digging into it with their knives they found the body of a little girl, one of the Cox children, who had been killed in the fight,  In a waterhole near by they found the dead body of an Indian.  Blood and many other signs of the fight were there.

Mr. Ware has had many reverses in life, but he and his wife at this writing (January, 1900) still live in Sabinal Canyon.

Mrs. Ware was born in Shawneetown, Ill., in 1839.  Her father’s name was David Slaver, and he died when she was quite young.  Her mother then married Mr. Gideon Thompson, with whom she came to Sabinal Canyon in 1852.”

Source:  Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas, by Andrew Jackson Sowell, Ben C. Jones and Co. Printers, 1900, Austin, Texas, 1900, pages 284-290


Richard M. Ware (1828 – ) — 1 Comment

  1. I truly enjoyed reading this article. Richard Ware fought and survived during a very difficult time in the history of our country. His battle record shown here is remarkable. Many articles are written about our Civil War, but the battles that went on in Southwestern Texas were just as important, if not more so, to the rise of our great nation. Superbly written Vickie. Thank you.

    C. Wayne Ware
    Cedar Falls, IA

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