Fatal Indian attack near Uvalde

May 16, 2024

Edited by Jim Fish

Ozona—The following account was taken from an old Uvalde, Texas, newspaper, the Weekly Hesperian in 1878, written by W.W. Arnett:

“In the year 1855, Fort Inge (near Uvalde) had been abandoned by US troops and local businesses dwindled to near nothing. Edward D. Westfall had only recently retired from Texas Ranger service as a Lieutenant in Captain William A. A. “Big Foot” Wallace’s company of rangers. Westfall had located and settled on a place about thirty-five miles below the fort on the Leona River. He had three companions, “a Frenchman named Louie, his dog [named] “Ketchum,” and his gun, “Fetchum.”

“In July of that year, marauding Indians surrounded his house unseen by any of the inhabitants of his solitary ranch. Louie was fixing dinner; Ketchum was taking his morning nap on the floor in the house.

“Westfall went to the door, not aware of the danger lurking so near at hand. Just as he reached the door an Indian shot him, the ball taking effect in the upper part of his body. The faithful dog, true to his name and master, sprang out and caught the Indian and brought him to the ground. During the struggle the dog received a fatal lance wound, causing him to let go of his hold and flee into the house, where he fell dead.

“Westfall was so enraged, and believing he had received a mortal wound, snatched up his gun and started out the door to fight them with whatever life remained in his body. Louie implored him to remain in the house, proposing to take a hand himself and taking deliberate aim, he fired at an Indian, then opened the door to ascertain, if possible, the effect of his shot when a rifle ball passed through the poor fellow’s body. He sat down, pulled off his boot and fell dead.

“Westfall took position at a crack in the wall to fire at the Indians, but they soon left the premises. He was now entirely alone, thirty-five miles from the nearest settlement, and choking with his life’s blood. In this critical condition he laid four days, envying the Frenchman and Ketchum, who lay dead a short distance from him.

“At the end of the four days, the stench from his former companions became unbearable and he was compelled to leave the house. Although he had four head of horses staked within a few hundred yards of his house, he was so sure the Indians had taken them he did not think it was worthwhile to check. He filled his canteen with water and started to Uvalde. Four days later, he arrived at Henry Livering’s where he remained and recovered over the next few weeks.

“Big Foot Wallace and his company of Texas Rangers just happened to be in the vicinity of Westfall’s ranch several days after Westfall was shot and decide to go by and visit his old comrade-in-arms. On approaching the house, they found the horses still staked. Big Foot shook his head, sniffed the air, and said, “Boys, there’s something wrong and rotten here.”

In a few minutes the “wrong and rotten” was found. He knew the dead man was not Westfall, the body was too small, but he recognized the dog as Ketchum. In examining the place, they found a man’s footprints heading away from the house. Big Foot said the prints were Westfall’s and added that he was evidently wounded because his footprints never measured ground in that manner and style when he walked normally.

“The party followed Westfall’s tracks and arrived at Livering’s in the evening of the eighth day after the attack and Westfall had arrived there the morning of the same day. My pen is entirely inadequate to describe the glad and joyful reunion of those old comrades on that momentous occasion, but I will leave it to the imaginations of all those who may be endowed with similar feelings of the solid friendships of those brave Texas Rangers and frontiersmen of former days.”

Ozona July