John Swanson Yarbrough Archives Court Records
Last Updated on Monday, 18-Jul-2005 18:47:34 MDTBexar Co., TX - 6 April 1912 - Deposition of Eleanor C. Benavides, for claimant, taken at San Antonio, Tex.
COURT OF CLAIMS OF THE UNITED STATES
Indian Depredation, No. 6929
William J. Askins v. the United States et al.
Deposition of Eleanor C. Benavides, for claimant, taken at San Antonio, Tex., on the 6th day of April, A. D. 1912.
Claimant's counsel, Harry Peyton, Esq.; defendants' counsel, Ellsworth Ingalls, Esq.
The said ELEANOR C. BENAVIDES, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:
Direction Examination by HARRY PEYTON:
Question. Please state your name, age, residence, and occupation.
Answer. I was born in 1853; I live at No. 318 West Zavala Street, San Antonio, Tex.; I am a housewife.
Question. What relation was William J. Askins to you?
Answer. He was my brother.
Question. Do you know whether or not William J. Askins is living?
Answer. I know that he is dead.
Question. Did you write to make inquiries?
Answer. Yes, sir; I wrote to the sheriff of that place where he was-Howe County, in the Indian Territory-and also to the postmaster, who reported that he was dead.
Question. I note that William J. Askins brought suit for the property claimed as having been taken by the Comanche Indians. Did he own that property?
Answer. No, sir.
Question. To whom did it belong?
Answer. It belonged to my father, Charles M. Askins.
Question. From what place was this property taken?
Answer. From McMullen County, Tex.
Question. Do you remember when the war was going on between the North and South?
Answer. I don't remember the dates exactly.
Question. I only asked if you remember the fact of the war?
Answer. Oh, yes, sir; I remember well. My two brothers fought in the Confederate Army.
Question. Do you know whether the depredation was committed while the war was going on?
Answer. I know that it was after the war closed. My brothers had come from the war. All of the soldiers were turned loose. It was some time in the same year. My brothers were at home.
Question. Do you know how long they had been at home, out of the army, at the time the depredation was committed?
Answer. I don't know exactly how long, but the horses were stolen some time in August after the war. The 19th of August.
Question. Where were the horses at the time they were taken?
Answer. They were in a pen.
Question. How far from the house?
Answer. Not a great distance from the house. Right in front of the door. The pen was a short distance, 25 or 30 steps.
Question. Were they taken in the daytime or at night?
Answer. They were taken just after dusk.
Question. Did you see the Indians when they were taken the horses?
Answer. Just as the bell started my father said: "My God, they have got my horses,"
Question. What did you all do?
Answer. We ran to the front and saw them driving them off.
Question. Do you know about how many horses were taken?
Answer. Yes, sir; there were 35 mares and 1 stallion, and a little colt; not a very little colt, about 6 or 8 months old.
Question. Do you know whether or not anyone was killed by the Indians about the time that this raid was made on your father's horses?
Answer. Yes, sir. Just the night after old man Hinds was killed.
Question. How far did Hinds live from your father?
Answer. About a mile and a half.
Question. Had you and others gone over to Mr. Hind's place that day for protection?
Answer. No, sir. We went late in the afternoon; when the neighbors took their horses over there we went to Mr. Hinds's.
Question. Did you go to Mr. Hinds's the day after the Indians took your horses at the house?
Answer. Yes, sir. In the evening after; the evening he was killed. He was killed after night.
Question. Were you at Mr. Hinds's house at the time he was killed?
Answer. No, sir; I was at home.
Question. You say there was a fight with the Indians at Mr. Hinds's house?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Was Mr. Hinds who was killed the father of Mr. George Hinds, at Pearsall?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. who is there living now that you know of who may know about this depredation and the taking of these horses?
Answer. Well, George Hinds, at Pearsall, Tex.; Billy White, at Campbellton; Jim Tope, at Crown; Earldom Lane, at Austin; and Amanda Walker, at Tilden. All these points are in Texas.
Question. From your testimony you have stated that you were born in 1853; you were about 12 or 13 years old when this depredation was committed?
Answer. Yes; about 13 years old.
Question. Was William J. Askins younger than you?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. About how much younger?
Answer. About 3 years younger.
Question. Do you know where your father had lived before he moved to this section of Texas?
Answer. He lived in eastern Texas; in Nacogdoches County.
Question. About when did he leave Nacogdoches County and move to this section of Texas?
Answer. I don't exactly remember how long.
Question. Do you know about how many years it was that he moved before this depredation was committed?
Answer. He lived in McMullen County about 112 years.
Question. Do you know or did you learn where your father came from when he first came to Texas?
Answer. Well, I head him say he came from Tennessee and my mother from Missouri.
Question. Did you ever hear him say how old he was when he came from Tennessee?
Answer. No, sir; I never heard him say, only I heard him say he was young when he married the first wife.
Question. Do you know where your father was born?
Answer. No, sir; I don't remember.
Question. You only heard him say that he had come from Tennessee and your mother from Missouri.
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Do you know where the stock of horses came from that he owned at that time?
Answer. They came from eastern Texas, Nacogdoches County, where we lived before we came to McMullen County.
Question. Do you know whether or not your father owned any property in east Texas?
Answer. Yes; I know that he owned farms in east Texas.
Question. Do you know or did you ever hear whether or not your father sold his property in east Texas?
Answer. Yes, sir; I knew that he sold his property in east Texas.
Question. Do you know whether or not he got his stock of horses in part payment for the land that he sold in east Texas?
Answer. Yes, sir; I know that he got the horses in part payment for the land.
Question. Did you at that time know the difference between a Texas-raised horse and an ordinary Spanish horse?
Answer. Yes, sir; I knew the difference.
Question. Were these horses that were lost Texas-raised horses or what were commonly known as Spanish horses?
Answer. No, sir; they were American horses. They were brought from the East, largely.
Question. Did you understand from others at the time the depredation was committed by what Indians the same was committed?
Answer. Well, the neighbors and all said they were Comanche Indians.
Question. I will ask you, Mrs. Benavides, if you are now, so far as you know, the sole surviving heir of your father and mother?
Answer. Yes, sir; so far as I know I am the only one living of the name.
Question. Have you heard anything from any of your brothers, of whose death you do not personally know, for a number of years?
Answer. No, sir; I haven't heard from the one that I supposed was living for awhile, in over six years.
Question. Have you endeavored to get in communication with him?
Answer. Yes, sir; I have written to different places to find out his whereabouts.
Question. Do you know whether or not this property that they lost was acquired by your father during the time that he was married to your mother?
Answer. Yes, sir; I do know that it was.
Question. Can you state positively that this property did not belong to your brother, William J. Askins?
Answer. Yes, sir; I can state positively that it did not belong to him.
Question. Do you know whether or not two or three years before this depredation that your father had divided up his property among his children and given these horses to William J. Askins?
Answer. I know that he never had divided up his property.
Question. How long after this depredation was it that your father died?
Answer. It was only about a year and a half.
Question. How long after the depredation was it that your mother died?
Answer. It was about 11 years after my father died that she died.
Cross-examination by ELLSWORTH INGALLS:
Question. Do you know whether William J. Askins was married?
Answer. He was.
Question. Do you know whether his wife or any of his children are alive?
Answer. I don't think they are. we wrote to Howe and made inquiries about his family and couldn't hear anything from them.
Question. That doesn't necessarily mean that your brother and his wife and children are dead, does it?
Answer. Well, it doesn't necessarily mean that the wife and children are dead. He didn't have any children. He had a wife and he lived in the Indian Territory, in Howe County, and he worked in a coal mine, and there was an explosion there, and we never could hear from him any more. We supposed he was dead.
Question. Did anyone write you that he was dead?
Answer. No, sir; no one wrote me he was dead, but we wrote to the sheriff who lived out there, and couldn't find out anything about him.
Question. How old were you at the time these horses were lost?
Answer. About 13 years old.
Question. When your father exclaimed that the horses were being taken did you go to the door?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. What did you see?
Answer. I saw the Indians driving off the horses, and they passed our door, right between the house and the lot, and running.
Question. What time of day was it?
Answer. Just after dusk.
Question. Was it light enough for you to distinguish the Indians?
Answer. Yes, sir; it was the light of the moon.
Question. How many Indians did you see?
Answer. Well, there were quite a bunch of them. I don't know exactly how many.
Question. In what part of McMullen County was it?
Answer. It was at Tilden, McMullen County.
Question. Do you know in which direction the horses were driven?
Answer. They were driven west of the Frio toward the Nueces.
Question. Was the trail followed?
Answer. It was
Question. Who followed it, and how long were they gone?
Answer. They were gone three days. I don't know exactly who all did follow it, but the Lawhorns, Frank Askins, the Oden boys, and the Lanes.
Question. What did they report when they got back?
Answer. Well, they reported that VAN ODEN was killed on the trail, and also that they had seen where the Indians had eaten the colt on the trail.
Question. Did any of your neighbors lose horses at that time?
Answer. Yes; the Hindses lost horses, and old man Hinds was killed.
Question. Do you know how many horses Hinds lost?
Answer. No; I don't know.
Question. How is it that you fixed so positively the date of this depredation?
Answer. Because it has been told me so many times that I got to believe it. I don't know it myself, because I don't think much about dates.
Question. When did you first learn your brother had filed a claim for this loss?
Answer. Mrs. Georgia Hinds was a friend of ours when we lived at Pleasanton. She came once to visit us at the fair and said Mr. Hitt had written to her about this case, and she brought all the papers Mr. Hitt had sent her and gave them to me. Mr. Hitt wanted Mrs. Hinds as a witness in this case.
Question. Did your father serve in the Confederate Army?
Answer. He did not.
Question. Mrs. Benavides, I hand you a letter written to you, dated August 1, 1909, by G.W. Barlow, deputy sheriff, from Howe, Okla., regarding the whereabouts of William J. Askins. I will ask you to identify this letter as the letter received by you from him, and to file it as Exhibit A to your deposition, which letter is now offered in evidence.
Answer. Yes; this is the letter that I received, and I hand it to the notary public to be marked "Exhibit A" to my deposition and to be filed as evidence in this case.
ELEANOR C. BENAVIDES
Barlow Grocery Company, staple and fancy groceries, butchers and manufacturers of fresh and cured meats.
Howe, Okla., August 1, 1909
Mrs. Benevides, San Antonio, Tex.
DEAR MADAM: I have made inquiry as to your brother's whereabouts. Can't find anyone by the name of Askins in this county.
G. W. Barlow, Deputy Sheriff
Recieved from Melody Askins