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George Washington Saunders
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- LKat
 Added: Jul. 17, 2014
 

- Searchers of our Past
 Added: Jun. 7, 2014
 
WHEN GEORGE SAUNDERS MADE A BLUFF "STICK" By T. T. Hawkins of Charlotte, TexasDuring 1882 and 1883 I worked in the Panhandle of Texas, but in 1884 1 went on the trail again with a horse herd owned by H. O. Williams and bossed by Bill Williams. On this trip, somewhere in the vicinity of Abilene, Texas, we came up with George W. Saunders' outfit as they were going up to Kansas. Here we had a stampede, our horses mixed together, so we just let them stay together and drove them from there to Dodge City. On this trip several things took place that should be mentioned for the benefit of the readers of this book, for they give a clear idea of some of the dangers that beset the men who traveled the trail in those old days. When we reached the Comanche reservation, the Indians demanded horses and provisions from us. As George Saunders could talk Spanish fluently, and was good at making a bluff stick, our outfit and Carroll Mayfield's outfit, which had overtaken us, decided to appoint George to settle with the Indians as best he could. Accordingly he accompanied the chiefs and some of the bucks to a tepee and held a council with them. The old chief could speak Spanish, and when he learned that George was familiar with his old raiding range, he became quite friendly and told him that he knew every trail on the Rio Grande from Laredo to E1 Paso, knew all of the streams by name, the Nueces, Llano River, Devil's River, Guadalupe River, Pecos River, the Concho and Colorado Rivers, besides many creeks. He became very talkative and, going to a rude willow basket he had in his wigwam, he brought forth several burrs which he said he had taken from cypress trees of the head of the Guadalupe River. He told Mr. Saunders that he had killed "heap white man" on his raids, but that he was now "heap good Indian, no kill no man." Saunders offered to make settlement by giving them one horse and some provisions, and the Indians seemed well pleased with this offer. When we started our herd about twenty young bucks riding on beautiful horses, came and helped us swim the cattle across the Canadian River. A number of our horses bogged in the quicksand and had to be dug out, which sport the Indians enjoyed immensely. They fell right in with our boys and helped in every way they could to pull the horses out, and when this work was finished they gave us an exhibition of their riding. Some of the bucks would run by our crowd and invite us to lasso them. Saunders finally decided to rope one of them, a tall young fellow who was mounted on a well-trained horse, so getting his lariat ready, he waited the coming of the Indian, and as he passed, laying fiat on his horse, George threw the rope and it encircled both horse and rider. The Indian's horse shied around a tree and the Indian and his horse and George and his horse were all thrown heavily to the ground when the rope tightened. The Indian was painfully injured, but when we ran to their assistance we found no serious damage had resulted, although it was a narrow escape for both of the performers. The rope had been drawn so tight around the Indian that it required some time for him to get his lungs in proper action. We thought the Indians would be offended by the accident, but they laughed and guffawed over it in great fashion, and we left them in fine spirits. As we proceeded on our way we heard the Kiowas were in an ugly mood, and Bacon Rind, and about 200 came to us and they, too, demanded horses and provisions. We sent them to Saunders, of course, for he had so successfully managed the we trusted him to handle these Indians the same way. We told them Saunders was "heap big boss," and to talk to him. Saunders parleyed with them for some time, finally telling them to come back the next day. They left grudgingly and came back that evening, renewing their demands, so Saunders had all of the wagons drawn up together, and offered the Indians a small amount of flour, some sugar, coffee, bacon, prunes, beans and some canned goods out of each wagon. All of this stuff was placed where they could see just what he was offering to give them to depart in peace, and he also told them two horses would be given in addition to the provisions. Some of the Indians seemed satisfied and were willing to accept the offer, but others wanted more. In the band of Indians was a pockmarked half-breed who had been the most insistent that more be given them, and he finally got all of the stuff back in the bunch demanding more. Saunders finally lost patience with them and told the cooks to put all of the stuff back in the wagons, and the men to straddle their horses and start the herds. As George mounted his horse and started off the pockmarked half-breed and a dozen bucks made a dash at him, and before he realized what was happening they had grabbed him by the arms and caught his horse by the bridle. He had drawn his pistol, but was unable to use it because of the vise-like grip that held him. At the same time forty or fifty buffalo guns in the hands of the Indians were leveled at his head, and for an instant things looked bad. The half-breed, who spoke English fluently, was cursing and abusing Saunders, and telling him they were going to kill him right there. The squaws had all vanished, nobody knew where. Harry Hotchkiss and several of the other boys, including three of Saunders' Mexican hands, ran to his assistance, and their bravery no doubt saved his life. They leveled their pistols on the Indians, the Mexicans in a rage screaming, "Dammy you, you killee Meester George, me killee you." This was a critical moment for George Saunders, but he kept his nerve, for he realized that if there was one shot fired he would be a "goner." He talked to the Indians in every language except Chinese, telling them they were making a serious mistake, and that he would send to Fort Sill and get the soldiers to come and protect him. This talk had the desired effect, and they lowered their guns and departed without provisions, although Saunders gave them a stray horse in our herd which I think belonged to the Comanches. The Indians were in an ugly mood when they left, the pockmarked Indian swearing vengeance and saying, as he rode away, "We will come back and take all we want from you when the sun comes up." While parleying with the Indians, Saunders offered to give them orders for provisions on men behind, who, he told them, were rich men and would gladly give them cattle, horses and money, naming Bell, Butler, Jim Blocker, Jim Dobie, Forest, Clark, King, Kennedy, Coleman, O'Connor and many other prominent trail men of that time. But the Indians said, "All no good. Pryor man give order last year; no good." Saunders was worried and told us we had given him a h--l of a job, but he was going to play it strong. That night Saunders put on only two reliefs, some of them to hold the herd and the others to reconnoiter and give the alarm at the first sign of Indians. He told all of the boys to get their shooting irons in good shape, for there was likely to be trouble. The Indians did not molest us during the night, and early next morning Mr. Saunders told us they would probably show up in a little while, and he gave us instructions as to what to do. He told us to congregate behind this herd when the Indians appeared, keep in line and not mix with the Indians, for in case of a fight we should not run the risk of shooting some of our own men. We were to keep cool while he was parleying with the Indians, and if he saw that a fight could not be avoided he would give a keen cowboy yell as a signal, and every man was to act. Just after sunrise we saw the Indians coming across the plain in single file and in full war garb, headed by two chiefs, Bacon Rind and Sundown, and the pockmarked half-breed. The Indians came right up to us, and as they were approaching Saunders said, "Remember, boys, we must win the fight. If I give the signal each of you must kill an Indian, so don't make a miss." They looked hideous in the war garb, and as they rushed up one of the chiefs said, "How, big chief bad man, no give poor Indian horse or grub. Indian take um." Saunders told them they would get nothing. They began to point out horses in the herd which they said they were going to take, and George informed them that he would shoot the first Indian that rode into the herd. The pockmarked Indian held a short whispered conversation with the two chiefs and started towards Saunders, seeing which the boys, who were already on their mettle and tired of waiting for the signal, began pulling their guns, and the Indians weakened. They instantly saw that we were determined to give them a fight, and withdrew. Saunders had to do some lively talking then to hold our crowd back. There were about thirty-five men in our bunch, including the cooks and wranglers, and the Indians numbered about two hundred warriors. As they left the pockmarked half-breed showed the white feather, and Saunders called him all the coward names in the Indian, Spanish and English language that he knew, but the rascal knew he had lost and his bluff was called. In resentment the Indians went to Neal Manewell's herd, which was nearby, and shot down ten beeves. Saunders and several of our boys went over to the herd and offered assistance to the boss, Mr. Cato, but he said they were too late to save the beeves, and it was best to let the Indians alone, as we could all drive out of their reservation that day. We pointed our herd up the trail and had no further trouble with them. The pockmarked Indian was known to most of the old trail drivers. He was an outlaw and thief, and was regarded as a desperate character all around. I learned that he was killed by a cowboy in 1886. George Saunders had lots of experience in dealing with Indians during those days, and he often told me that when he made a bold bluff, if it did not stick he was always ready to back it up with firearms or fast talking.
- Gary Sanders
 Added: Jan. 12, 2013
 
You are among the most appreciated of old trail drivers of Texas. Your high regard for fellow trail drivers and the history that all of you created along with the records you created for us all are a treasure. Texas is a better place because of your work and influence.
- Drover
 Added: Aug. 31, 2010
 

- Gary B. Sanders
 Added: Jul. 17, 2010
 
Rest in Peace Cousin
- Charles W. Sanders
 Added: Apr. 19, 2009
 
 
 
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