This battle took place in late 1837 in North Texas involving a group of Texas Rangers and a number of mostly Keeci Indians. According to the various accounts, a Lt. Van Benthuysen was searching the area looking for some stolen horses. After several weeks of scouting, the Rangers encountered the Keeci (also spelled as Kichai and Keechi) at a place known for its appearance, mounds of rock described as rock teepees or rock houses. According to all accounts, the Keeci outnumbered the Rangers several times over, with the Indians amounting to an estimated 150 and the Rangers numbering seventeen or eighteen. The Rangers held out after losing four of their party. Also during the battle, the Indians set off a ring of fire around the troops who escaped on foot through the smoke, but not until having lost ten men, over half their number. Out of their eighteen, four were killed in the battle and six were killed during the escape. They walked and foraged for ten days until reaching a friendly Kickapoo camp near the present city of Dallas where they stayed for a while before returning to safety near Houston.
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(Image credit: Waco Tribune Herald)
George Bernard Erath was born in Vienna, Austria in 1813. He was educated at Vienna Polytechnic Institute where he studied liberal arts. Young Erath lived on his own and worked for a few years in Europe, eventually setting sail for America. One of the reasons given for his departure was that he did not want to be drafted into service for the Austrian Army. Whatever his justification for not wanting to serve in Austria, he would show no reluctance whatsoever to fight for the State of Texas. In fact, he spent years doing just that. He arrived in America in the summer of 1832 in New Orleans. He then worked in Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the South again in Florence, Alabama for a short time. Erath then relocated to Texas in 1833 where he would remain for the rest of his life, entering at Brazoria on the Gulf and settling in Robertson County.
Jackson was a Texas Ranger during most of his law enforcement career, serving in the Uvalde area and later in Alpine. He was born in 1935 and hired on with DPS briefly before becoming a Texas Ranger. He served a total of 27 years with the Texas Rangers before retiring in 1993.
The 1935 election of James V. Allred as governor of Texas marked a turning point for the Texas Rangers as a law enforcement organization. For several decades, the force had not kept up with the growth of crime in the Lone Star State. There were a few bright spots, however, such as former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer’s 1934 stakeout and ambush of outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Although it had the effect of boosting the image of the Rangers that had deteriorated under earlier governors, the crime problems in the state still existed.
John Horton Slaughter, nicknamed “Texas John” Slaughter was born October 2, 1841 in what is now known as Sabine Parish, Louisiana. His parents, Benjamin and Minerva Mabry Slaughter were living on a plantation there, before relocating to Texas. He was raised in Texas and grew up working on a ranch with his father and brothers. He joined the Texas Rangers shortly before the outset of the Civil War. He then enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862 and served until 1864 when he was sent home due to an unspecified illness. Once he was able, he returned to serve in the Third Frontier Division of the Texas State Troops in Burnet County until the end of the war.