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SPECIAL FEATURE FROM FRIO COUNTY HISTORIANS
23rd annual Pioneer Day set for Saturday, March 26 in Pearsall
The Frio Pioneer Jail Museum will host the 23rd Pioneer Day celebration Saturday, March 26, on the grounds of the museum.
The event will feature stories and demonstrations by a group of Lipan Indians and music by The Almost Patsy Cline Band,
storytelling, chuck wagon cooking, arts and crafts and food.
Martin was a frontier settlement on Todos Santos Creek, which flowed into Todos Santos Lake near the Leona River, fifteen miles northwest of Dilley in Frio County.
Early accounts place the lake on the old road from Pearsall. The settlement was probably named for the Martins, who were among the earliest settlers of Frio County.
The area was settled in the mid 1860s and attracted cattlemen and horse traders. Mustangs roamed the area in great numbers at that time.
Todos Santos Lake was described as one and a half miles long and sixty feet wide and became a much-used watering hole for thousands of longhorn cattle and mustangs. At one time a saloon operated at the lake site. A rural school called Todos Santos was established in the community.
Some of the earliest settlers in this area were the Odens, Martins, Dunns, Franks, Hays, Englishes, Burlesons, Carrols and Parks.
Indian raids were one of the many hardships that the early settlers faced. On one such occasion, a family named English, whose menfolk had all gone to take a herd of horses to Indianola to sell to a hide buyer, had left the wife and daughter at home to take care of the ranch. The women – feeling especially vulnerable – gathered the milk cow, the ox, and plow horse into the pens for protection. They arranged the corncrib so there was room enough for them to lie down and hide. They could remain hidden, yet see all around through cracks in the boards.
Both women knew how to use a pistol, rifle and shotgun. They also had an alarm bell they could ring in case of an Indian raid. The women dressed in men’s clothing to conceal the fact that the men were gone. Three days later, while the daughter was picking squash in the garden, two young Indians appeared on horseback headed straight for her. The dogs barked and she ran for the house, yelling for her mother. The Indians rode on either side of her to cut her off, trying to catch her by the arms.
As they lunged, thinking quickly, she dropped to the ground, rolled over and kicked the horse between his rear legs.
The horse bucked; the Indian nearly fell off; and she was up and running. The second Indian turned his horse to catch her; but by now there was enough space that the mother could let go with a blast from the shotgun. The Indian dropped immediately. The second Indian wheeled his horse when the Mother shot again, hitting his horse and bloodying the Indian’s back, but he got away.
They buried the one Indian in a shallow grave in the pens and then they hid in the corncrib until night. Sure enough, three Indians came riding in silently side by side. Both dogs began to bark and run at the intruders and the dogs were quickly silenced with arrows as the Indians circled the house.
The women watched as one of the Indians went into the house. He came out with a shovel of coals from the fireplace and some clothing. He wrapped the clothing around a stick, lit a torch from the clothing and began to walk to the house. The mother took aim and shot the one with the torch. The daughter shot at the other two. The two horses began to buck, throwing one rider to the ground, where he lay and did not move. The third Indian whooped and, holding his thigh, wheeled his horse and rode away. The women continued to hide in the corncrib through the night and into mid-afternoon the next day.
Climbing out of the corncrib with loaded guns, they walked the half mile to the neighbors. They stayed with their neighbors, the Dunns and the Carrols, until their menfolk returned from Indianola.
The 23rd Frio County Pioneer Day will be held on Saturday, March 26 on the grounds of Frio Pioneer Jail Museum. The Frio Pioneer Jail Museum Association encourages the public to bring friends and celebrate the community’s colorful history, recognize the work of the early pioneers and settlers, and enjoy good food, a fajita cook-off, storytelling, contests and games, historical displays, museum tours, re-enactments, and live entertainment. The Almost Patsy Cline Band will perform; Lipan Indians will narrate stories, and arts and crafts will be on display and for sale.