I thought everyone knew that the last man killed by an Indian (1874) was related to Curtis and Royce Lesley. Then, back when we had the John Wesley Hardin Days festival, I began to hear all kinds of talk about how that festival couldn’t be held because it would offend the Lesley family, and suddenly, Bob Lesley (born February 25, 1828, in Henry County, Georgia) was murdered by Hardin and not an Indian.
Of course, not once did I hear any of this discussion from any member of the Lesley family. Today, I have a statement written by Royce Lesley and given to me by Missy Jones. It should once and for all clear up the confusion.
The following is an account of what I believe to be the last Indian raid in Comanche County. This raid resulted in the death of my great-great grandfather, Robert “Bob” Lesley. This account was told to me many times by my grandfather, Lynn Lesley, who was born only nine years after the event and who spoke directly many times to Robert’s oldest daughter, Arizona, who was the one who found him after he had been shot.
Also, the account has been verified by Mr. H.C. Heath in an article , which was a reprint of a previous article, that appeared in the December 21, 1995, issue of the DeLeon Free Press. The account also appears in the West Texas Frontier: A Descriptive History of Early Times In Western Texas by Joseph Carroll McConnell, copyright 1939. There are other verifications as well.
Before daylight on the cold and snowy morning of November 24, 1874, Robert Lesley left his home on Duncan Creek, less than a mile west of what is now Par Country Club, to gather his horses for a trip to Comanche. He was due in court later that morning.
His wife, Adealine, was preparing breakfast for him and the rest of the family. When he became very late returning, his oldest daughter, Arizona, and another daughter went to look for him. They soon found him lying in a pool of blood, with a gunshot wound to the head. He had been shot at such close range that there were powder burns by the wound.
Though mortally wounded, he was conscious enough to ask for water. Arizona brought him a small amount of water in the only container that she had, which was her shoe. They then sought help and soon managed to bring Robert back to his house. Neighbors began to arrive. Although they did all they could for him, within about two hours, he died.
The citizens then organized and began an attempt to follow the trail left by perhaps a dozen Indians. According to Mr. Heath, who was about fifteen at the time, the trail was easily visible, and they followed it north, up Armstrong Creek, and on north toward the Palo Pinto mountains, where the trail was lost.
My grandfather, Lynn Lesley, told me that they got close enough to the Indians at one time for them to discard their water supply, which was carried in the stomach of a cow or buffalo. I later learned that this was a common way for Indians to carry water.
This is a story that I was told many times, and it has been verified by several other individual reports. I have no doubt about its authenticity. In the book, Nine Years With The Indians, Herman Lehman describes the year 1874 as being their most productive, that is he and his band of renegades killed more settlers that year than any other year.
There were several other bands of young 12 to20 year olds that would slip off of the Fort Sill, Oklahoma reservation, with the only purpose being to kill settlers. I suspect my great-great grandfather, Robert Lesley, was victim to one of those bands.
Robert Lesley is buried at Zion Hill Cemetery. It appears that he was the second person buried there. He was placed there in November of 1874, and a child was buried there in August 1874.
And there is positively no reason for anyone to believe that Hardin reentered Comanche County in November and selectively killed Robert Lesley!