Some Indian Problems W/ A Humorous Twist

Kate Campbell

Kate Campbell

In 1856, construction was begun on a new home for the James Cunningham family who had moved to Comanche County, Texas.

This home still stands today on Highway 16 South just a few miles south of Newburg, Texas, and it is known as the oldest home in Comanche County. It is a home that was used many times as a “fort” against the warring Comanches; however, in 1856, that was not necessary.

In fact, two of the first incidents with the Indians in Comanche County are rather humorous, at least they are from the vantage point of 150 years.

When James Cunningham and his family first settled on Mountain Creek, they built a log kitchen. They soon encountered friendly Indians there on Mountain Creek, and the Indians (probably Wacos) were told that they could knock on Mrs. Cunningham’s door, and she would feed them.

This worked quite well until one day a brave was obviously too hungry to knock, and he walked right on into the kitchen. A few seconds later, and with his head still ringing from the blow of a frying pan, that Indian brave realized that Susie Cunningham meant what she said!

A second incident involved the baby daughter of C.C. Campbell, one of the first three commissioners in Comanche County, Texas. According to F.M. Collier’s journal, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell had about 15 children when they moved to the area. (They went on to have 21!)

The first white girl child born in what became Comanche County was born to the Campbell’s in September of 1855; her name was Arcadia “Kate” Campbell.

When Kate was still an infant, (about 1856) a friendly group of Indians, who were probably Wacos, stopped by the Campbell homestead while Mr. Campbell was away in the fields. Kate was sleeping in a basket, and Mrs. Campbell noticed that the Indians seemed to be fascinated with her.

When the Indians took their leave, Mrs. Campbell left the sleeping baby Kate while she went to get water. When she returned, baby Kate was gone, and an Indian baby had been put in her place!

Mrs. Campbell sounded the alarm, and it was not long until Mr. Campbell, along with a group of neighbors, found Kate in the Indian camp, the entire band of Indians gathered around marveling at the white baby. According to the family, little Kate was already dressed in Indian garments with a strand of beads around her neck.

Although the Indians insisted that they had made a fair trade, it did not take Mr. Campbell long to get Kate back home where she belonged!

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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3 Responses to Some Indian Problems W/ A Humorous Twist

  1. missy.jones says:

    Fredda, I do love this story about “Kate” Campbell. the Comanche historical museum has a great display for the Campbell family, including the reconstruction of their fireplace using the original stones. We have the basket on the floor by the fireplace, (remember it was cold and Mrs. Campbell had put the baby by the fire to keep her warm). This is a wonderful story, because it is true. We have an enlarged picture of Arcadia Matilda (Kate) after she grew to a grown woman. Also, Mrs. Campbell has a pot of stew or maybe red beans cooking and hanging above the fire in the fireplace.
    School children love this story, and we love to tell them about this.

  2. Sam Campbell says:

    My grandfather which was a grandson to C.C. Campbell retold the story that the Indians were fascinated with Kate because of her white skin and red hair and thought she was a special goddess. The Indians argued that they had made a fair exchange but were soon convinced that this exchange was not acceptable.

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