An Old Bachelor Out Witted, Fannin County, Texas


By Judge J. P. Simpson

In 1839, the Indians in the territory of Fannin County had reduced horse stealing to a science so perfect that the most watchful and adroit citizen was duped and deceived by their cunning. Wm. Rice, an old and talented bachelor, owned the house and land where Dority and McCarty's son were killed, near where Orangeville now stands. Rice, having no help mate to enjoy his pleasures and profits, or divide his sorrows, determined to live on his land and enjoy all the felicity arising from such a course of life, supposing that he could out-wit and manage the dexterous savage in his plans and purposes of rascality. Having but one horse, he determined to keep him secure, and arranged his feed-box on his porch by the side of his horse, fastened his lariat around his neck, deposited the feed in the box, and would lariat himself to the other end of his rope until his horse was done eating. He would then unlariat himself and lead his mustang to his meat-house, which was close by, put him in the house, fasten a heavy slab door-shutter with chains and lock, then retire to his bed of sweet repose, composed of buffalo hides and bear skins, confident of his success. His arrangements succeeded admirably for some time, and he was elated with the thought that he had outwitted the wily savage. But how quick the success and fortunes of life can be changed and thwarted, and the party left to look on the scene of disappointment with regret.

Mr. Rice, having one night gone through his process of caution and vigilance, lariated himself to the opposite end of his rope, he being in the house, and after fastening his cabling around his waist retired to his bed scaffold, and laid down to rest until his horse would be done eating, after which he intended to secure him in his fortress of safety. Thinking over the peril and danger to which he was exposed (which he afterwards told me) his horse suddenly stopped eating he hesitated a moment could hear nothing of his horse, and drew his cable to shore but he found only anchor at one end and that around himself. His lariat had been cut on the outside of the house by the Indians who had taken his horse and gone. He left afoot, and had to make the acknowledgement that he was duped and outgeneraled by the savage foe.

It certainly was a fortunate circumstance for Mr. Rice that the Indians did not draw the anchor to shore if so, he would have been scalped and tomahawked by the red man of the forest.

Mr. Rice made his first crop of corn in this section of the country in 1837, above the mouth of Choctaw Creek on Red River with a plow made of Bois d' Arc timber.

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