Ken Elkins, Frontiersman, Is Living at 92

Recites Indian Raids in Jim Ned Valley

by Ralph Terry

(This article appeared in my Looking Backward column
of the Coleman County Chronicle and Democrat-Voice Newspaper, July 10, 2001.)

Here is an interesting article I came across in the May 2, 1924 issue of the Coleman Democrat-Voice newspaper.

     Mr. G. K. Elkins, former Coleman county pioneer and brother of Captain J. M. Elkins yet living in this county, is still active at age of 92 years and manages his own ranch in McKinley County, New Mexico. With his family he recently made an extended visit with relatives at Colorado City, and an gave out an interview that will be read with interest by many of his old Coleman County friends.

     The interviewer says of Mr. Elkins: “Uncle” Kin Elkins, venerable West Texas empire builder, was born in Jefferson County, Illinois, September 23, 1832.  In 1853, when 21 years of age, he came to Texas and settled in Dallas county. The following year he moved to Parker county and made his home there until 1869 when he again answered the call of the undeveloped West and migrated on to Coleman County, settling near Camp Colorado.  Here he settled on a claim and moved his family in 1872.  Seven years later, he again sought the frontier and moved to Kent County where he settled on a homestead and engaged in at the cattle business.

     Soon after making his home in Kent County, Mr. Elkins began to be rewarded with prosperity and within a few years was one of the leading cattlemen of that part of the State. In latter years, however, he has faced disappointment and witnessed the passing of his large property and livestock holdings to others.  Being of the indomitable type peculiar to the true westerner who accepted no defeat, he “came again.”

     Always following the call of the west he again turned toward the setting sun and leaving the Lone Star State, which meant so much to him, behind, moved to New Mexico and settled on a claim in McKinley county, where he now lives and is regaining some of his lost fortune.  Mr. Elkins is the father of 19 children, 13 of whom are living today. He has 44 grand children, 80 great grand children and seven great great grand children.

Indian Raids in Jim Ned Valley

     Reciting the incidents of Indian raids in Jim Ned valley, Mr. Elkins said: “The Indians had raided the valley and made away with many horses belonging to the settlers. An expedition to run down the Indians and return the horses to the settlers was organized by Sam Gholson of old Camp Colorado, in Coleman county, and we came upon the redskins in Nolan County. When pursued, the Indians took refuge in a small creek and an intermittent battle between them and the white men continued several hours.  Several horses and mules, which had been stolen by the depredators, were retaken and returned to their owners.

     As the Indian began to disappear from West Texas and the frontiersman believed at last they could turn their attention to peaceful pursuits, the cattle rustlers began to appear.  Mr. Elkins had a conspicuous part in ridding West Texas of this disturbing element, the same as ridding the country of fear of Indian massacres.

Exciting Bear Hunt

     “And we had a number of trying experiences and went through some narrow escapes at times when not looking for the Indians.  We vied with the Indian in bagging bear, deer and other wild animals to furnish our meat supply and often passed through such close places as to be fortunate to escape with our lives.  One of the most narrow escapes I ever had was while on a bear hunt in the Jim Ned Mountains.

     “It was in 1871 when I was living near Camp Colorado in Coleman County,” he said. “I formed a party of myself and six other men for a bear hunt in the Jim Ned Mountains, and arriving there we camped in a clump of post oaks some two or three miles from Buffalo Gap in Taylor County.  The next morning after arriving and making camp, we started out up the mountain side in quest of the coveted bear. We had ridden but a few hundred yards when we discovered a band of some forty Indians racing upon us. We made a break for the mountain top but finding that the Indians were riding fleety horses and probably would cut us off, turned and ran our horses into a nearby dogwood thicket.  We immediately dismounted and leaving our horses, crawled to one side a short distance and fell on our stomachs in the tall grass.  By this time our pursuers had arrived within firing distance and opened barrage upon our mounts, believing we were close to them. They never stopped firing until every horse had been killed, and then continued to fire at frequent intervals into the clump of trees until nightfall.  We did not return the fire believing that in case we did the Indians thus learning our place of concealment, would fire upon us and massacre the last in the party.  Late in the afternoon chief and one other of the band came down to the edge of the thicket, passing within a few feet of where we were concealed in the grass and set it on fire.  It appeared that a divine providence was shielding us from harm, as the dry grass burned to within a few short feet of where we lay and died out. As the smoke over the clump of dogwood evening shadows began to gather we scampered back to camp and made our escape.”

     Mr. Elkins stated that he and his party had a large pack on hounds with them on this hunt and that during the attack by the Indians the hounds ran up and down between the place where the horses were tied and the small clump of live oak trees from which the Indians directed their fire.  Fortunately for the white men, the dogs never at one time came to the place where the Indians’ quarry lay hidden in the grass.

     Among the most interesting stories, perhaps, recalled by him while visiting in Colorado last week, was a vivid account of the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker.  Mr. Elkins was a citizen of Parker County at that time and a member of a company of frontiersmen organized by his brother, Captain John M. Elkins, himself a noted Indian fighter, and now living in Coleman County.

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