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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Captured by a band of Comanche raiders near Center Point around 1870

One of the history resources I’ve really enjoyed exploring are the oral histories recorded and preserved by members of the Kerr County Historical Commission. (An oral history is basically a structured interview of a person, where they tell about their life, their community, or of a specific event.)
The KCHC has conducted many, many of these interviews, and a lot of them are now available online at the Portal to Texas History (texashistory.unt.edu), which is curated by the University of North Texas. Contributors from all over the state of Texas provide invaluable historical items, including many from our own community.
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed reading several of these histories, often focusing on folks I know. It’s fascinating learning about people you’ve known for decades, and discovering something new about them.
Take, for instance, Raymond Hardee. I feel like I’ve known Mr. Hardee all of my life. I remember he was in Kiwanis with my father. His late wife, Billie, worked alongside my wife at Starkey Elementary years ago. I went through 12 years of Kerrville Independent School District classes with one of his sons, Todd; we graduated from Tivy together in 1979.
So I was delighted when I found the interview Mr. Hardee gave in 2016 to Francelle Collins and Bonnie Florie.
Mr. Hardee was born in Kerrville in 1938 at home. The authors write: “He was born at home because blacks were not allowed in hospitals at the time.”
Likewise, because of his race, he was not allowed to attend public schools with white children; he attended the Doyle School, a separate campus for African-American children, at the corner of Paschal and West Barnett. Though the school, through the leadership of its teachers, including Mr. and Mrs. B. T. Wilson, provided an excellent education – the very fact of segregation and its unequal facilities was shamefully wrong. Despite these obstacles, students at Doyle received a firm educational and social foundation, and still have a strong attachment to their school.
For many years Mr. Hardee was a local Allstate insurance agent, and later worked for the Kerrville Independent School District. He’s retired, now.
There is one story in the interview I found particularly interesting: the story of Raymond Hardee’s great-grandfather, Jack Hardy. (The spelling of the last name Hardy was later changed to Hardee.)
As Mr. Hardee told the story, “There was one Saturday around noontime, they had a sawmill down in Center Point, and [Jack Hardy] was walking home, and these Indians came by and captured him and took him with them as they raided ranches and homes. They also got a little white girl, he stayed with them for a while and he freed that little white girl, and they went around counties here robbing and killing and everything and he stayed with them so long, he learned the language.”
Jack Hardy’s story is recorded in several other places, too. It is featured in Andrew Jackson Sowell’s book “Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas,” which was published in 1900.
“After the Civil War, when all the slaves were freed, Jack lived near Comfort, below Center Point. On one occasion, when he was about 12 or 13 years of age, he was sent to the mill with a turn of corn, and it was then the Indians got him.”
(I think this took place around 1870; at the time of the publication of Sowell’s book, Jack Hardy was 42.)
Because some of the Indian riders wore hats, Hardy thought they were settlers, and he continued on his way home from the mill unconcerned. “Up to this time he had never seen Indians,” Sowell reports. There were around 15 riders, with long hair, shields, bows and arrows. They captured Hardy, and initiated him to captivity among the Comanche “with a severe whipping with a live oak stick, the scars of which are still to be seen on Jack’s head.”
He was taken with the party on many raids, including one on the Terry family, along a tributary to Verde Creek. It was from this family the young girl, about 8 years old, was captured; her father was murdered by the Indians in the raid.
During his time with the Indians, Hardy saw many violent scenes. The raiding party seemed to be unconcerned with their own capture or even of being pursued.
Hardy eventually escaped through a brave act of deception while most of the raiders were involved in stealing a herd of cattle; he was saved by a kind rancher, John Dickson, who took the boy to his house, gave him warm clothes and plenty to eat, and saw to it he returned home safely.
Jack Hardy survived because he kept calm and avoided the ire of the warriors, and was very brave each time the Indians threatened him. And because he survived, he went on to found an important Kerr County family, the Hardees, who have made our community a better place.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has enjoyed the many oral histories recorded and shared online by the Kerr County Historical Commission. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 8, 2020.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.






1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. It's great to see someone of my generation who owns the injustices of the past in a clear manner. It's interesting to read about Hardee's experience. I've read a lot of Comanche history and find it ironic how Europeans often view them as savages, conveniently ignoring our own similar history. As an example of how little we understood their culture: We considered them lazy for not working the land (Some did but were far and few across the landmass.) and instead raiding yet they considered many captives as cowards, saving those like Hardy IF they put up a fierce defense, and IF they were worth the time and trouble to train or use for ransom and/or domestic 'slavery'.

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