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24th annual Pioneer Day set for Saturday, March 25, in Pearsall
Provided by Mona Hoyle
Frio Pioneer Jail
In the post-Civil period, a young family named Bramlette moved to Frio County, along with several other families. They lived along the San Miguel River. These new families saw and endured many hard ships, from floods, droughts, bandits, wild animals and most of all, Indians attacks. The children of these new pioneer families saw and experienced many adventures.
One of those adventures on the San Miguel took place in early spring. As was the custom at that time, when neighbors came by on the way to other parts of the area, they spent the night or several nights. On this occasion, two young men named Max Franks and Frank Webb came to the Bramlette Ranch and spent the night. They were on their way to gather horses up on the Frio that belonged to their ranch. Max Franks was riding a seasoned cow pony and Frank Webb was riding a young fresh broke pony. About an hour after the two young cowboys left the ranch, the family could hear shooting. Initially, the family thought it was the Perriman boys shooting wolves. When the shooting continued and got closer, they knew someone was in trouble.
They soon saw Max Franks riding in, his horse covered in sweat and barely able to stand. Max was white as a sheet and could barely speak.
When he did, he said “Indians.” “They killed Frank and followed me in sight of the house.”
He told how they had been attacked by about fifty Indians and they had started back to the Bramlette Ranch. Frank, who was younger than Max, started out as fast as the young horse could run. Seeing that he was leaving Max behind, he would wait for him to catch up. When Max would get close enough, he would tell Frank to hold his young horse back so that it wouldn’t give out on him. Frank was too excited, however, and would turn his young horse loose. Finally, the young horse stopped and could not go any further. Max tried to get Frank to get up on his horse behind him but he refused, saying “No, if I do, your horse can’t carry both of us back to the Bramlette Ranch, I’m done anyway, and if we double up on your horse we will both be killed.”
Jim Bramlette called all his cowboys in and sent them to the outlaying ranches. He told them to bring men and their families in to his ranch house where they usually gathered when there was danger of an Indian attack. By nightfall about fifteen families had gathered at the Bramlette house. Six of the neighbors were delegated to go after young Frank and bring his body back to the ranch. They filled the bed of the Studebaker wagon with hay and gathered lots of extra ammunition. Max went with them to show them the location where he had last seen Frank.
They found Frank’s body, and as luck would have it, they had turned the wagon around facing home as they loaded Frank. They had just gotten started back when the Indians attacked, coming out of the brush and being a dozen or more of them. The ranchers put their horses in a fast run, shooting as they rode. The Indians followed them within a half mile of the ranch house.
The children were so frightened and were looking for a safe place to hide. The fireplace in the house was a great old-fashioned six-foot wide one and the children all climbed in. They pulled several old cowhides in over the top of themselves. The children thought that any moment the Indians would rush the ranch but suddenly the shooting stopped.
Late that evening twelve Mexican vaqueros, who lived along the San Miguel Creek and who had heard that a large band of Indians were in the area and had also heard all of the shooting, gathered their horses and came riding in to the ranch for safety. With the extra manpower, the entire ranch finally felt safe. The Indians collected their dead and rode away, to maybe come back another day.
The Frio Jail Museum Association will host its 24th annual Pioneer Day celebration on Saturday, March 25, on the grounds of the jail museum. Celebrate the community’s colorful history and early pioneers with lots of storytelling, music by the Cactus Country Band, a fajita cook-off, food and many crafts.