E.D. Burleson to Governor Pease, September 8, 1855
Violent conflict between Anglo and Mexican settlers and Indian tribes was a constant fact of life in 1850s Texas, as this letter to Pease from Texas Ranger E.D. Burleson shows.
From the time of Spanish rule onward, there had been mistrust and misunderstanding between the Indians and the newcomers who wanted to make Texas their home. While some Indian tribes had intermarried with the Spanish, forming the basis of the Tejano culture, others, such as the Apaches and the Comanches, remained implacably hostile to the spread of Anglo settlements. The response of the Texans towards the Indians varied widely as well. Some leaders, most notably Sam Houston, tried to negotiate peace treaties with the tribes. Other Texans held that the only solution was to drive all tribes from the borders of Texas. Those that would not go must be exterminated.
Statehood made relations with the Indians even more complicated. Legally, the Indian tribes became wards of the United States government, but in reality the federal government provided Texas with little support on the frontier.The 1850s saw escalating hostilities -- settlers were pushing ever westward into tribal territory, land grants were made to the railroads, and buffalo hunters were slaughtering the great southern herd on which the Indians depended. The ever-complicated relationship between Texas and Mexico also entered into the picture. The Apaches used the border to stage destructive raids into Texas, killing both livestock and people, and then slipped back across the border to sell their plunder to Mexicans.
During Pease's term, most of the tribes that had once lived in East Texas had been induced to live on reservations. By 1859 these people had been deported to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). However, raids continued on the western frontier for another 15 years. The Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa held out the longest, not surrendering until 1875.
In Camp near Bandera
I have the pleasure of stating to you that
There was a negro shot last night some twelve miles below
There is any quantity of Indians up here, and I intend to
The horses I have I will advertise soon, also the mules
To his Excellency
E.D. Burleson to Governor Pease, September 8, 1855, Records of Elisha M. Pease, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.