The Haunted House on Red River

Hunter, J. Marvin. "The Haunted House on Red River," Frontier Times Vol. 2 No. 3 (December, 1924), pp 17-19, 31. Bandera, Texas.

From the days of the earliest settlements in the northern portion of Grayson county, the peninsula-shaped point of land between Choctaw and Red River had borne the euphonious "Thief Neck" from the inherently perverse character of the first families. At the time of which I write two "scions" of those pioneers, Lee Langford and his cousin, Thede DeGraffenreid, were notorious outlaws along the line of Texas and the Indian Territory, with headquarters near their old home in Thief Neck.

I remained in the Chickasaw Nation till the first days of 1881. At that time I left young Larkin and his mother on the old Dock Carter place and moved into Texas, stopping for a year in Wolf City.

During the spring of 1881, early one morning a prepossessing young man rode up to the gate of the old Carter residence and accosted a neighbor named Henry, who was a farm hand employed by young Larkin. He was leading a fine young horse, which he said he wanted to leave with the negro till he should return from a short trip into the Choctaw Nation. The pay being to the negro's satisfaction, the man rode away leaving the horse in Henry's care. When young Larkin came out and was told of the matter, he realized that a stolen horse had been left on Henry's hands. Acting upon his first impulse, he carried the horse to Carpenter's Bluff, two mile distant, on the Texas side of the river, and telling the men of that place of the circumstances, he was advised that the horse had been stolen, and from the description of the stranger everyone said he was Lee Langford.

Upon the advice of the business men of the place, a notice was inserted in the Denison papers, with the hope of finding the owner. But days lengthened into weeks and weeks into months without one whisper from the owner of the horse or the thief who had left the animal with Henry.

Young Larkin was cautioned by everyone to be on guard constantly, for sooner or later, Langford and DeGraffenreid would make a desperate effort to take the horse. Accordingly the animal at night was carried into the yard and locked to a large catawba tree at the window of the bedroom of young Larkin.

At that time I returned to the nation and stopped with Larkin and his mother in the old Carter house. Shortly after my return to the territory, rumors were afloat that a band of horse thieves had come into the country, and were at the time encamped in a dense cedar brake near the farm of Colonel Lem Reynolds, a wealthy and prominent Chickasaw.

About ten days after that time, I was under the necessity of going to Denison on business. I remained over night in the city. Late at night, I met a man from the Nation who admonished me for being away from home at night and said that I had met Choctaw Bell as I came to Denison and had been recognized by him; that he did not harbor a doubt but that the band had already raided the place and carried away the horse and perhaps slain Larkin and the negro Henry.

About 3 o'clock the following morning I set out home and arrived at the ferry on the river at sunrise. When I reached that place I was told that the Dock Carter place had been raided by Lee Langford and his band and that young Larkin and a band of citizens from the Texas side of the river had gone in pursuit of the gang.

Some time after midnight Lee Langford and his band had gone to the Carter place. Two with Winchesters in hand had gone to the rear of the hallway, two to the front of the door, while the fifth man, Mack Stephens, had boldly entered the hall and knocking on the door of Larkin's room called on him to come to the door. Half asleep and thinking that it was I, just returning from Denison, the young man arose from the bed and staggered into the hall clad only in his night clothes. When he reached the hall he was covered with five guns in the hands of desperate and vindictive men. The leader ordered him to unlock the horse at once, and to facilitate his sluggish motions he was punched a number of times with the gun in the hands of his captors.

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