The Two Old Guards, Fannin County, Texas


By Judge J. P. Simpson

While the white people were forted at Warren, in 1839, Daniel Dugan and Henry Green two old men volunteered their services to guard the horses at night. The young men had become worn out by incessant watching and guarding the horses of those citizens who were forted, being kept in an enclosure for safety, where they had to be guarded at night. In the center of this enclosure, a stable had been built which answered for a guardhouse, and was surrounded with shade trees. The stable loft was partly laid with rails, which projected over the center joist, and which was for the guard to occupy while watching for the Indians.

The two old veterans took their stand in the guardhouse, on the rails, watching vigilantly for the foe, who true to their instincts for stealing, made their appearance in the horse lot, secreting themselves behind and in the shade of the trees. The moon shining very bright, gave the old men a chance to see; but the shadows of the Indians as they passed suddenly from one tree to another, gave them no chance to get a shot. They being extremely anxious to sun the Indian moccasins, and in their eagerness to get a position to do execution, they reached beyond the balance on the joist, when their footholds gave way, the rails turning end upon end, and away went the old men, guns, rails and all, with a great crash in the stable, making a great noise. The Indians did not take time to see what was the matter, nor what was done, but ran and made their escape to the brush, not being accustomed to such charges in warfare. The old men were somewhat bruised by the fall, but had the honor of inaugurating a new way of scaring off Indians.

Some time after this, three men left the fort to go to Preston; Bushnell Garner, David Alberty and Isaac Camp. Two going on horseback and one on foot. When three miles west of the place where Denison now stands the Indians ambushed and fired on them, killing the two horsemen instantly, pursued Alberty, the footman, some distance, caught him, stabbed him in the heart with their knives and then scalped him, and broke his skull in small fragments with their tomahawks. The two other men, who were shot, were scalped and tomahawked in a similar manner to Mr. Alberty. They also stripped them of their clothing and mutilated them in a shocking manner.

After these murders were committed, the citizens ceased to travel in daylight, but traveled at night. I know that J. P. Simpson, the then Sheriff of this county, did all his traveling in the west portion of Fannin Territory, in discharge of the business connected with the office, after night. Then in passing over these lonely prairies he became accustomed to hearing the scream of the pannier, the howl of the wolf and the hoot of the night-owl. Many times was he alarmed by these, taking them for the savages.

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