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At the Top of Erna Hill
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 • Posted May 2, 2012

Many may be wondering how I can get to the story of Erna when I am going back to the days of the fight for Texas Independence in 1836. I found that I needed to lead into the exploration of the area prior to the settlement, which I will try to do in a couple more articles as I try to bring an end to the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas was invited to become a State of the United Stats of America and the 9th Legislature was to make the call but in the mean time, President Houston continued peace talks with the Indians, which continued to be trouble for the Frontier of Texas.

In 1843 and ’44, Houston was in talks with the Indians and he agreed to a boundary line of sorts and from the Waco area north would be considered Indian Territory, but east and south was TEXAS. Well, there were 10 tribes and they could not settle a line and wanted all to the south as their hunting area, so the raids continued south with many of the Indians joining the bandits along the Rio. Chief Buffalo Hump, a semi-friendly foe of Cap’t. Hays lead a party to the Nuesus area and the Hays Ranger group met with the Chief and persuaded him to go back to the north, which he agreed to do.

However, Hays invited the Chief and his braves to San Antonio for a feast and friendly contests, which was what I would consider to have been a Rodeo, in retrospect. Hays and the Chief were the judges and they played the role fair and square. The contest consisted of bronco riding, and the rangers using the pistol and the Braves using the arrow, the Indian came out winners in marksmanship. After the festivities, the Chief gathered his Braves and proceeded north as agreed. Chief Buffalo Hump’s Indian name was Potsanaquahip, which in Indian, meant “ Long Time Erect Penis”.

About the last major Indian battles that Hays and his unit were involved in while still a Republic was fought on what Hays called Walker Creek between the Pedernales and Llano Rivers in 1844. A raiding party raided a settlement west of San Antonio and began driving the stolen horses north and they were overtaken on what Hays named Walker Creek. For a couple of days, each group played cat and mouse, trying to gain the advantage, as the Indians did stop to do battle. Late the second day, the Indians did rush the rangers in a clump of woods and eventually did force the rangers into open field and the fighting came into close quarters. Hays commanded all to throw away the muskets and go for the Patterson Colt pistol and the Colt 36 caliber repeater, 5 shooter broke the rush by killing and wounding over half of the band of 80, including the Chief, so, the Braves retreated without the horses. Hays group suffered one dead and four injured.

Walker Creek area is confusing as five Walker Creeks have been found in the areas of the Llano and Pedernales and some have told that the encounter was near the Painted Rocks (Paint Rock) and some say it was near the Enchanted Rock, however, no records show where the battle might have been fought.

It was after this battle that was won by the use of the Colt Patterson 5 shooter that Sam Walker, a ranger of the Hays unit, wrote Samuel Colt and advised him of the worthiness of the 36 cal. Colt 5 shooter but suggested some changes to make the pistol more reliable. In 1845, Colt wrote the State Attorney Gen. and asked that he send Sam Walker back east to advance his theories on the changes to the Colt pistol and the changes were made and the 5 shooter now becomes the Walker Colt 6 shooter, 44 caliber and the Walker became the standard issue of the ranging forces in 1846 when the State bought 365 and for the first time, the State furnished a weapon. Previously, the ranger had to furnish his horse, feed, guns and pistol ammo and his pay was on average, $ 20 a month, while on muster, with few per diem expenses paid. About 3 months at a time was all a ranger would serve on muster and then go home subject to recall.

September of ’44 was election year and Anson Jones defeated Ned Burleson to become the President in Jan. of ’45. Sam Houston gave his final address to the Nation, the Republic, Dec. 4, 1844 at Washington on the Brazos stating that Texas had been free of Mexican incursions for two years and the Indian peace talks were yielding results and the Republic had been invited to join the Union “To a full Participancy in all of its Privileges and to a full Community of Laws and Interest”. Houston then retired to his home in Liberty County and established his law firm.

In 1845, the 9th Legislature accepted the invitation to join the Union and plans were being made for the transformation and this was the last to meet at Washington on the Brazos. Texas President Jones stayed in contact with the U. S, President Polk advising him of the constant threat from the Mexican Army southwest of Corpus and the San Antonio areas. On Feb. 1, 1845, the legislature authorized Cap’t. Hays to form a new Ranger Company for the San Antonio area and four others to the south to Corpus. Cap’t. Hays was in command of the four units and the newly formed Bexar unit of 30 men and among the muster were the former rangers, Sam Walker and Big Foot Wallace, who were returnee’s of the Mier Expedition from the Mexican prisons. Little in the way of action was reported in “45 but Hays received word that his friendly foe, Chief Buffalo Hump had lead a party to the south near the Rio. Hays confronted the Chief, where he was raiding the defenseless Mexicans on the border and Hump replied that the Rangers had the freedom to kill the Mexicans so he should have the same rights. The two agreed not to challenge each other so The Chief returned to the north beyond the LINE. By mid ’45, the Dallas area had become settled to some extent, at what was Fort Buckner and the 6th ranger unit was formed. This unit had the responsibility to patrol the area from Dallas to Waco till the end of the Republic.

After the acceptance of Statehood in ’45, federalization began in Texas by President Polk marching 4,000,(about half of the Union Army) from Louisiana to the Austin— San Antonio areas under the command of General Zackery Taylor. In Jan. of 1846, the first legislature of the State of Texas came into session when the outgoing President Jones uttered these words to the delegation. “The Final act in the Great Drama is now performed and the REPUBLIC OF TEXAS IS NO MORE”. He then handed the reign of government to the Governor elect of the State of Texas, James Pinckney.

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