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October 22, 2013

YOUR FAMILY: Savagery on Savage Creek

By ERIK J. WRIGHT

Just southwest of Weatherford lies a small stream known as Sanchez Creek. Nearby, Interstate 20 roars west like Manifest Destiny and east to the heart of Dixie.

One hundred and forty-seven years ago, however, in 1866, the quiet stream rambled on with small farms along its banks quiet with anticipation of the next raid by the Comanches. Parker County at that time lay in the heart of Comancheria, but increasing settlements encouraged the Comanches to make more daring and desperate forays into the settled areas of the Texas frontier.

March 2, 1866, marked 30 years after Texas had declared its independence from Mexico. Still, the Texas frontier was a wildly violent expanse largely under the control of the Comanches. As Bolin Savage plowed his small field along Sanchez Creek, three of his boys – Marion, James and Sam – came to help in the day’s duties. However, as the boys approached the field, a band of nine mounted Comanches rode up and instantly killed the Bolin Savage. As the boys fled for safety, James and Sam (ages 6 and 5, respectively) were taken into captivity as shots rang from the Savage cabin from Bolin’s wife, Elizabeth, who had witnessed the death of her husband and abduction of her children.

In an ironic twist of fate, the band of Comanches next raided the farm of Bolin Savage’s brother, James, on Patrick Creek, west of the first attack. Two of James Savage’s children, Jennie, 5, and Jim, 2, were taken into captivity. The captivity of the four Savage children was, unfortunately, a common occurrence on the Indian frontier.

The Comanches trekked west through Palo Pinto County, eventually making their way to the Arbuckle Mountains in present-day Oklahoma, approximately 150 miles north of Weatherford. Discovered by a Texan trader named John Fields that November, the Savage children had, at this point, been completely “Indianized.” With sun-tanned skins and traditional Comanche paints on their arms and faces, the Savage children were soon traded at nearby Fort Arbuckle for a bridle and a saddle, a pony and $414 in cash (almost $6,400 in today’s money).

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