The following happened in Hamilton County, Texas. After the Civil War, Texas was still plagued by Indians; however, with cattle roaming free on the range, many were willing to take their chances with the Comanches. Men began to flock to the area, seeing fortunes to be made by rounding up beef and driving them north.
It was perhaps this very thing that was at least indirectly responsible for the success of one of the most frightening Indian attacks in the history of Hamilton County, Texas.
The schoolhouse was a one-room log house, the logs unchinked with the spaces between them left open so that a least some breeze might find its way through the spaces.
It was an easy matter for someone to look inside the building from the outside...or shoot inside for that matter. There was also one very small window cut into the north side of the building.
On this hot afternoon the young daughter of Alex Powers walked to the door of the schoolhouse which faced south; as she stood there, she saw a party of men on horseback riding rapidly toward the school. She called to her teacher, Miss Ann Whitney, that she could see Indians riding toward them.
Miss Whitney, who believed that the men were rounding up range cattle, told the girl to return to her seat. The Powers girl took one more look out the door, and crying out that it was indeed Indians bearing down upon them, grabbed her little brother and the two of them went out the back window.
Miss Whitney then ran to the door and seeing Comanches racing toward the schoolhouse, she quickly shut the door and began to help the children escape out the back window. Soon painted red skins were looking in through the spaces between the logs, and Ann Whitney could read her future in their faces.
It is thought that the leader of the group had at least some white blood in him, but this may have been an assumption since he knew some broken English. He said to the teacher, "Damn you, we’ve got you!"
According to a student who had hidden under the schoolhouse, Miss Whitney began to pace the front of the room, begging the Indians to kill her and let the children go. The leader then held up three fingers and the Indians began to shoot through the cracks, riddling her with arrows.
At this time there were still three children inside with the teacher: Mary Jane Manning and two small sons and a daughter of James Kuykendall (Coo Ken Doll).
The Manning girl refused to let go of her teacher’s skirts as Miss Whitney paced up and down the room bleeding profusely and pleading for the lives of the children. When the Indians began to break through the schoolhouse door, the teacher helped the two girls through the back window. However, the little Kuykendall girl was shot in the back as the Comanches managed to get into the schoolhouse.
This left Ann Whitney and the two small Kuykendall boys in the room; as the Indians gained entrance to the school the brave Miss Ann Whitney fell dead, leaving two little boys alone with the savage Comanches.
For reasons no one understands only John Kuykendall was kidnapped by the savages. One Indian found some of the children hiding under the floor of the building and pulled out a little girl named Olivia Barbee, intending to steal her. However, one of the other Comanches called out to him and while his attention was diverted, the girl escaped into the woods. It would be many months (Some accounts say two years.) before young John Kuykendall was rescued.
Both Comanche and Hamilton Counties lay claim to this brave schoolteacher. Miss Whitney taught for several years in Comanche County where the rest of her family lived. I assume that she was in Hamilton County only to teach this summer session; however, I could easily be wrong about that.
The marker on the Ann Whitney Elementary School in Hamilton, Texas reads: “…Pioneer schoolteacher of Hamilton and Comanche Counties…”
To get the rest of the story and what happened to the others, be sure to watch the videos on Amanda Howard and Margaret Massey. The stories of these young ladies will captivate you!