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.

Having forced young Larkin to unlock the horse, the band mounted their horses and rode away, taking the old Fort Smith trail. Before leaving, however, the leader of the party in derision and contempt paid Larkin for the notice inserted in the newspapers and very plainly told him not to stand in their way in the future.

As soon as the band left, young Larkin rode with all speed to Carpenter's Bluff, aroused the little village and told the inhabitants of the attack. Within an hour some twelve or fifteen men, heavily armed and well mounted, crossed the Red River and gave chase to the retreating band. The posse had been gone from the ferry about an hour when I arrived on the ground.

The news had traveled rapidly, and soon there were scores of Indians on the ground ready to follow any leader in pursuit of the horse thieves. John Mashburn, a white man who had an Indian wife, was at that time sheriff of Panola County. When he reached Carpenter's Bluff he proceeded to select a posse of ten or twelve Indians and myself to go in pursuit of the outlaws.

The party of whites never succeeded in finding the trail of the fugitives, but crossed the line between the Chickasaw and the Choctaw nation, entirely above the trail taken by Langford and his band, and continued the journey two days travel into the Choctaw nation without coming in contact with the thieves.

Early in the morning our party struck the trail of the band, leading between the bayou on one side and the river on the other. During the entire morning, we followed the trail through the long prairie grass. As the noon hour approached, we had reached a narrow nook of land covered with wild collards and sumac, lying between the creek and the river, about one mile from the confluence of the streams. Just as our party came around a grove of blackjacks and dwarf oaks, we saw the band in a grove of trees busily engaged in preparing dinner. When Langford and his band saw us, they caught up their guns and hastily took protection behind trees near their campfire. Realizing our danger, as if by a common impulse, our party left our horses and also ensconced ourselves behind small trees near us. Even before we reached the shelter of the trees, we were greeted with a discharge of Winchester balls passing alarmingly near our heads. In less time than it takes to relate it, the battle was on in earnest.

An arm, a hand, a foot or leg exposed for a fraction of a second was greeted with dozens of leaden missles. During the fusillade, I managed to empty my gun, the magazines of which carried sixteen cartridges. John Mashburn, Bud Kemp, Jim McLaughlin and Dave Kemp were busy with both guns and pistols.

Jim McLaughlin was a full-blooded Choctaw. Having become desperate from the persistent firing of Langford and his band, he boldly stepped from the shelter and defied Lee Langford to single combat. At that moment, Langford stepped from cover and discharged both barrels of a shotgun charged with heavy shot at the Choctaw.

Although the distance was more than 100 paces, one of the shot found lodgement in young McLaughlin's thigh. With an oath he fell and was unable to regain his feet. At that moment the entire band of thieves gave up their positions and fled precipitately to a deep ravine in the rear of their position some 10 or 12 rods. In the fight Langford's arm was broken by a Winchester ball. Wilbur was wounded in the hand. Mack Stephens was shot twice in one leg, above the knee. Choctaw Bell was shot in the back, and Thede DeGraffenreid escaped unhurt.

Following in hot pursuit, we reached the ravine after the fugitives had concealed themselves in the woods. Every horse and every man had escaped. After searching in vain for men and horses, we returned to the battle ground. We found McLaughlin able to ride home. After making a meal at the camp of the renegades, we returned home.

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