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Texas Ranch House -- Susan Newcomb


Susan Newcomb (1848-1921) and her husband Samuel lived in Fort Davis in Stephens County, Texas, during and after the Civil War. In her diaries, she describes the lonely, difficult and perilous existence of the frontier wife living among the buffalo and predatory Indian tribes.

Tuesday, October 24th, 1865
The people of this place seem to be very well satisfied. Some times they are as merry as the spring birds. Then again they are sad and low-spirited. We often hear of our friends or relatives being killed and scalped by the wild Indians. They are continually roving through our country killing our comrades here and yonder. We have no troops stationed around to drive them away they know that we are few in number and they are trying to kill and drive us away from our country. But I hope the watchful eye of our great God is over us and his strong arm, our protector.

Sunday, December 31st, 1865
I have been permitted to see the last day of the year eighteen hundred and sixty-five but how many more days I may live to see it is hard to tell. Life is very uncertain but death is very certain, every body knows that death is sure to come at some hour but still some of them do not try to prepare for death although they know that they will be lost forever and ever if the don't turn to God. He says turn to me and I will turn to you. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. What makes man so foolish, so hard to turn when they know that they are traveling the broad road that leads to destruction. ...Since my baby has been sick I have not had many leisure moments. The little fellow has had a hard time for the last four weeks. It seems to me like he never will get well, but if it be the will of God to take him from us we will have to give him up as cheerful as we can. I know it would be hard but we all have to see more or less trouble on this earth. It would be hard to live in much trouble here and die without hopes of seeing any better times hereafter.

Wednesday, February 21st, 1866
Ma is worse today, she has not set up any, she is salivated very bad and her mouth is very sure, she has had a fever all day. I have been making soap today and I tell you it has kept me busy to wait on Ma nurse a cross baby and tend to the soap.

Friday, October 19th, 1866
A man that drives cattle can't stay at home with his family much. The time passes slow and lonesome with me while he is gone, one reason is we live so far from any one, 18 miles from a living being I get very lonesome sometimes when I think about being so far from anyone in an Indian country; I hope that I will not have to live out here always where I can never go to church or go to see a friend. It is true that I can see the little birds warbling their sweet songs in the branches of the green trees, I can see large herds of cattle feeding upon the rich green grass that grows upon the valleys. And in the autumn I can see the big ugly buffalo that fairly blacken the valleys and hillsides, I have not said anything about the antelope, the wild deer, and the cunning mule-eared rabbits that gallop over the hills of this country.

Thursday, April 4th, 1867
William Reynolds and John Anderson came in about one o'clock this evening, they say that they had a fight yesterday evening near the double mountains in the Brazos. They got three Indian scalps: and got two of their own men wounded. John was shot through the right arm with an arrow. George was shot in his bowels and they say the spike is still in him. The boys rode all night and they look nearly worn out for want of rest. The rest of them are with George, they are going to try to bring him home some way, the boys said he was very sick when they left. Mr. Newcomb started after a doctor a little after two o'clock P.M. I expect he will have to go to Weatherford to get one.

I dressed John's arm for him, after he had taken a long nap of sleep. I had to rip his sleeves to get them up. He had not washed his arm since it was shot, the blood was dry and his under-sleeve stuck fast to his arm I know it must have hurt him while I was working to get it loose, but he did not flinch; he said it was very sore. It being the first wound I ever dressed, I expect that I was a little awkward but I worked as tender as I could with it. He said that it felt a great deal better after the blood was washed off.

Saturday, June 22nd, 1867
After baking a great deal of bread this morning, we again parted with the boys. Such a country as this I almost wish I had never seen it, if I had wings I would abandon it forever, it surely is the last place on earth for a women to live, or anyone else, I don't believe it ever was intended for civilized people, it was made for wild Indians and buffalo. As my companion pressed me to his bosom and bade me goodbye, I could hardly restrain my feelings, and as soon as his back was turned on the dwelling, I let the tears come freely that had been almost blinding me all day.

Source: Samuel P. Newcomb Papers, 1865-1873, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. http://library.ttu.edu/ul/


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