Ann Whitney’s Murder Near Hamilton, Texas

The following happened in Hamilton County, Texas. After the Civil War, Texas was still plagued by Indians; however, with cattle roaming free on the range, many were willing to take their chances with the Comanches. Men began to flock to the area, seeing fortunes to be made by rounding up beef and driving them north.

It was perhaps this very thing that was at least indirectly responsible for the success of one of the most frightening Indian attacks in the history of Hamilton County, Texas.

The day was Thursday, July 9, 1867, the time 2:00 P.M….just another school day for the children who attended what was called a border school on the Comanche/Hamilton County line.

The schoolhouse was a one-room log house, the logs unchinked with the spaces between them left open so that a least some breeze might find its way through the spaces.

It was an easy matter for someone to look inside the building from the outside…or shoot inside for that matter. There was also one very small window cut into the north side of the building.

On this hot afternoon the young daughter of Alex Powers walked to the door of the schoolhouse which faced south; as she stood there, she saw a party of men on horseback riding rapidly toward the school. She called to her teacher, Miss Ann Whitney, that she could see Indians riding toward them.

Miss Whitney, who believed that the men were rounding up range cattle, told the girl to return to her seat. The Powers girl took one more look out the door, and crying out that it was indeed Indians bearing down upon them, grabbed her little brother and the two of them went out the back window.

Miss Whitney then ran to the door and seeing Comanches racing toward the schoolhouse, she quickly shut the door and began to help the children escape out the back window. Soon painted red skins were looking in through the spaces between the logs, and Ann Whitney could read her future in their faces.

It is thought that the leader of the group had at least some white blood in him, but this may have been an assumption since he knew some broken English. He said to the teacher, “Damn you, we’ve got you!”

According to a student who had hidden under the schoolhouse, Miss Whitney began to pace the front of the room, begging the Indians to kill her and let the children go. The leader then held up three fingers and the Indians began to shoot through the cracks, riddling her with arrows.

At this time there were still three children inside with the teacher: Mary Jane Manning and two small sons and a daughter of James Kuykendall (Coo Ken Doll).

The Manning girl refused to let go of her teacher’s skirts as Miss Whitney paced up and down the room bleeding profusely and pleading for the lives of the children. When the Indians began to break through the schoolhouse door, the teacher helped the two girls through the back window. However, the little Kuykendall girl was shot in the back as the Comanches managed to get into the schoolhouse.

This left Ann Whitney and the two small Kuykendall boys in the room; as the Indians gained entrance to the school the brave Miss Ann Whitney fell dead, leaving two little boys alone with the savage Comanches.

For reasons no one understands only John Kuykendall was kidnapped by the savages. One Indian found some of the children hiding under the floor of the building and pulled out a little girl named Olivia Barbee, intending to steal her. However, one of the other Comanches called out to him and while his attention was diverted, the girl escaped into the woods. It would be many months (Some accounts say two years.) before young John Kuykendall was rescued.

Both Comanche and Hamilton Counties lay claim to this brave schoolteacher. Miss Whitney taught for several years in Comanche County where the rest of her family lived. I assume that she was in Hamilton County only to teach this summer session; however, I could easily be wrong about that.

The marker on the Ann Whitney Elementary School in Hamilton, Texas reads: “…Pioneer schoolteacher of Hamilton and Comanche Counties…”

To get the rest of the story and what happened to the others, be sure to watch the videos on Amanda Howard and Margaret Massey. The stories of these young ladies will captivate you!

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About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for and marketing small-town Texas.
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10 Responses to Ann Whitney’s Murder Near Hamilton, Texas

  1. Sharon McKinzie says:

    In paragraph 11, you mention there were 3 children left in the room with the teacher,
    but you list four children: Mary Jane Manning, two sons and a daughter of James
    Kuykendall. Just a minor correction….thanks for the article.

  2. eddie thomason says:

    I like reading this kind of history do you have a book to purchase

  3. mellissia slawson says:

    I was recently doing family history research on my family and came across your website. I am a distant relation to Amanda Howard. She was my great grandmothers aunt on her fathers side. I had heard the story before and I have article and other stories from books about her. However I have never seen an actual photo of her. And to also get to see her head stone was also very unexpected. Can you point me in the direction of where you got access to her photo and where her gravesite is located??
    I am trying to piece together as much information as possible, so any information you can give will be greatly appreciated. My great grandmothers name was mollissie howard by the way.


    Mellissia Slawson

  4. Mickey Holland says:

    Fredda, I just wanted to let you know I have been doing a family tree and have always heard my mother tell the story about her Great Great Grandmother warning the town when the schoolhouse was attacked. She told me the whole time that this ride was happening Amanda Howard, was riding side saddle. Wow What a cowgirl!!!! I have the original paper that was printed May 2nd 1941 by the Comanche Chief. Jewell Massingill is my mother and has just turned 90 years young. Just trying to learn all I can so that we can fill out our family tree{Heritage}. We would like to thank you for all that you have done to tell this story. It’s good to know that one of our family members helped save a community. Without Amanda Howard doing this I Might not be here. Im still in search her of son Gayle or Gaihouse Massingill. We have just started this project but i’m sure we will find him and maybe some we don’t know about.
    Thank You,
    Mickey & Connie Holland

  5. Dorothy Grayson says:

    I am temporarily in Stephenville to set up an archeological society for the Texas Historical Commission, Archeology Division, for Erath and surrounding counties. The first meeting was held last Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 to see if there was enough interest. 21 individuals, from Comanche, Dublin, Hamilton, Hico and Stephenville, signed up for membership. I’d call that very encouraging.

    One lady mentioned wanting to locate the school house where the Indian massacre had occurred. Not being from this area of Texas, all help would be appreciated. Is its exact location known,and is there a marker there? Or do we need to find it? Thanks. Dorothy Grayson

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      The school was located in what was called the Worleen Valley, and I’ve seen it spelled Worlene and several other spellings. I cannot remember the name of the man in Hamilton who has done so much study on this, but I would think anyone in their historical society or on the historical commission could provide it to you.

      The only marker I have seen is in the cemetery where there is a grave dedicated to AW. I would doubt very, very seriously that she actually rests in that grave, but, of course, I could be very wrong. Please keep me informed. I am very interested in your progress, and would love to do a story on it at some point.

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