I believe I told you a while back that Rickey, Missy Jones, and I traveled to south Texas where I was able to do quite a bit of research for Texans United. It was in the yard…yes, yard…of our motel in Barksdale, Texas that I found the historical marker dedicated to the Nick Coalson family.
I snapped a photo of the marker, all the while knowing that I had read the Coalson story somewhere before. Sure enough, when we returned home I pulled out my copies of Wilbarger and McConnell, and there it was. Obviously, if the family has their story on a Texas State Historical Marker we can assume that their tale is tragic. However, when I pick the story up in 1871, it wasn’t all tragic.
In 1871, the Nick Coalson family lived on Copperas Creek, about fifteen miles northwest of Junction, Texas in Kimble County. At this time Frank Harris (or Morris), his wife, and a baby also lived with the Coalson family, and on the day our story begins, Nick Coalson was away from home hunting with a man named Charlie Mann. *
Frank Harris was in the garden when sixteen Indians came calling. The Indians apparently had some fun torturing the farm animals until Harris realized they were there and came running. He was murdered and scalped in front of the families who were watching from the window.
Mrs. Harris screamed when she saw her husband go down, and the Indians turned their attention to the house. Thankfully, Mrs. Coalson had a gun and she shot the first Indian who headed toward them, scaring the others away for the moment.
Then, Nick Coalson and his companion who were about two miles away heard the shot and came flying. The Indians fled.
Now travel with me to June 1, 1877, to what the historical marker calls the goat camp of Nick Coalson…and yet another Indian attack. Three hours later, son Arthur (10) was dead and Johnny (14) was wounded.
One year later the Coalson family was attacked again, costing Nick Coalson his wife, tiny son, and a daughter who was the twin of Arthur who had been killed the year before.
And I’m sure there is no reason to say yet again that those who settled this wild state paid a very, very high price to do so.
*If you will click on the link above (Charlie Mann) you can read the first person narrative of this horrible story.