On behalf of Suzanne Bellsnyder of the Spearman Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Plains Trail Region, and the Quanah Parker Trail, we are delighted to announce the installation of a QPT Arrow for Spearman, Texas. We'll gather at 1 pm Tues., Mar. 17, at the little triangular city park located across the street from 305 West Kenneth St., Spearman, TX 79081.
Hope to see you there!
For those interested: excerpts from the history of Hansford county that give a glimpse of its association with the Quanah Parker Trail, the hsitory of the Comanches and the Quanah Parker story, below. -- Holle Humphries, Quanah Parker Trail facilitator
History: The link of Hansford county to the story of Quanah Parker and the Comanches is one characterized by a history of trails, trading posts, traditional bison hunting grounds for Indians, and the catalyst for ending the nomadic Comanches' way of life ushered in by buffalo hunters, in particular two who established a trading post near the present-day vicinity of Spearman, Texas.
Comancheria: As we all know, the county of Hansford was once subsumed within the territory referred to as "The Comancheria" -- the territory of the Comanche people.
Indian trails followed by the Comanche and other nomadic tribes criss-crossed the region, fostering an effective highway of barter and trade. The Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache among others, and all those preceding them, hunted the plentiful bison in the area and conducted commerce with Comancheros who traversed the region in their carteras.
Several of these well-established Indian trails later became subsumed by and re-named as: The Old Tascosa Trail, the Jones Plummer Trail, and the Adobe Walls Trail. Of these, the latter two crossed lands of present-day Hansford county.
It should be remembered that all these trails were first incised upon the land by the hooves of migratory game, followed by the sandaled and moccasined feet of Indians, both prehistoric and historic. These first foot trails upon the land either logically followed paths-of-least resistance on higher ground through very rough country, provided the one way and the only way to cross a treacherous river, and/or linked one water site to another, like beads on an Indian necklace.
Such was the prosperity in economic trade to be had due to the volume of travel on these trails and the relative ease by which game could be harvested in the bison abounding in the lands all around them, that the immigrant British Cator brothers, James and Bob, who came to Kansas from England in 1871 ostensibly to farm, eventually set themselves up as buffalo hunters and eventually followed the Mooar brothers into the Texas panhandle to hunt bison in what had been reserved as Indian hunting grounds by the dictates of the Treaty of 1865 (signed at Medicine Lodge in 1867).
They did so only after J.W. Mooar first asked the U.S. Army what it might do to them if they dared to cross the Kansas border and come into the Texas panhandle to hunt the buffalo in lands reserved for Indians. They obtained as their answer an implied oblique assurance by the U.S. Army that it would ignore such transgressions on Indian lands (as Scurry County Historical Commissioner Drew Bullard pointed out in his paper on J.W. Mooar presented at the Texas Plains Trail Region board of directors meeting in Snyder on February 19, 2015).
And so they crossed the border into the Texas Panhandle to being to establish themselves as buffalo hunters in the area.
On December 25, 1873, while out hunting, a severe snowstorm caught unaware one hunting party led by the Cator brothers. They hunkered down in a rude and quickly erected shelter along the North Palo Duro Creek in today's present-day Hansford county. Apparently having survived this, the brothers realized that the area provided opportunities not only to survive but to thrive in the heart of Indian buffalo country and conduct trade with all who coursed through the area following the well-established Indian trade routes. And so their hastily constructed shelter erected on an older Indian trade site subsequently became known as the Zulu Stockade.
The resulting rise in hunting and trade, illegal or not, according to the Texas Handbook, "led to the establishment of the [second] Adobe Walls trade site the following spring in 1874" by enterprising merchants capitalizing on the collateral trade engendered by buffalo hunters beginning to arrive into the area to take advantage of the plentiful buffalo awaiting to be harvested all around them.
According to the Texas Handbook, a second Adobe Walls trade site was built by merchants 4 miles east of the ruins of the first Adobe Walls site. This older site consisted of the remains of William Bent's abandoned adobe fort near the Canadian River in what is now Hutchinson County.
William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain in 1845 had constructed an preliminary log fort on a site where Indians had long gathered to trade before the arrival of Europeans. Mexican adobe makers eventually surrounded the fort with adobe brick. William Bent eventually blew up the fort after it had become a frequent target by Comanches and Kiowas who apparently resented its incursion on their territorial hunting lands. Referred to today as the "first" Adobe Walls site, it lapsed into final ruin after the Comanche and Kiowa Indians deflected an1864 attack in the vicinity led by Kit Carson, commanding the First Cavalry, New Mexico Volunteers. Carson had been ordered to lead an expedition against the Comanches and Kiowas in their winter campgrounds believed to be somewhere on the south side of the Canadian. He was not successful.
Despite the seeming victory by the Comanches and Kiowas in the first battle of Adobe Walls in chasing invaders out of their territorial lands, this did not keep the hunters nor the U.S. military out of territory that by treaty at one time had been reserved for Indian hunting only.
Within a decade, the arrival of the buffalo hunters like the Mooar and Cator brothers to the area precipitated the wholesale slaughter of the bison.
This incited once again the anger of the Comanche and Kiowa Indians whose nomadic cultural lives depended upon the beasts for their very existence. In growing alarm, they met in council to determine what they needed to do. They retaliated with an attack on buffalo hunters ensconced in the newly reconstructed adobe fort, culminating in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874.
The Texas Handbook tells us that the Cators in fact, entered the post from their camp on Aroja Bonita Creek in Potter County twelve miles away the day after Quanah Parker led the Indian attack on Adobe Walls on June 27, 1874.
It is to be wondered how closely Quanah Parker in fact might have galloped past the Cator brothers' trade post in present-day Hansford County along one of the trails so familiar first to Indians of the area.
On that note, the Adobe Walls Trail, as it came to be known, ran from Dodge City, Kansas, to the vicinity of Adobe Walls, Texas. As described by the Handbook of Texas, "the success of the buffalo hunters encouraged a group of Dodge City merchants in March 1874 to establish Adobe Walls as a trading center on the Canadian River in Hutchinson County, located four miles east of Bent's Fort, the original Adobe Walls trading post. The route established by the merchants and other buffalo hunters," such as J. Wright and John Mooar and the Cator brothers, "was heavily used by hunters and hide freighters even after Quanah Parker's raid."
"The Adobe Walls Trail ran due south out of Dodge City....traveling west of the Beaver River in Oklahoma and entered Texas just east of Palo Duro Creek, then continued to Adobe Walls on a nearly straight line south through Hansford County east of Horse Creek. It entered the breaks of the Canadian River west of Adobe Creek and followed that bank to Adobe Walls, where it extended south a few more miles to connect with the east-west Tascosa Trail."