Brown County Historical Society Scrapbook

1876. R. Cheatham was a pioneer of Blackwood, Coleman County. He went on several Indian chases, made eventful trips through West Texas, and helped arrest many frontier outlaws while he was a Texas Ranger from June 1874 to September, 1876. He served in Company E and most of the time during his service had head quarters at Camp Mud Creek, seven miles north of Santa Anna. Mr. Cheatham was wagon boss and pack mule foreman of his company.

One night a band of Native Americans stole some horses from the Rangers near the Mud Creek camp and, when the theft was discovered, several of the Rangers set out in pursuit. The Native Americans were overtaken six miles west of Brownwood and a fight followed. Three Native Americans were killed and two others were taken to Brownwood where they were hanged in a tree on the south side of the courthouse square as a warning to others not to attack Anglos.

The same day, when the Native Americans were hanged in Brownwood, Major Jones of Mr. Cheatham’s company went across the Colorado River and had a fight with another band of Native Americans.

Another time Mr. Cheatham and a fellow Ranger, Webb Arnett, were in Brownwood when a man reported he had seen 22 Native Americans with 75 horses near the town. The Rangers went back to Mud Creek Camp and reported what that had heard. That night at 10 o’clock, Lieutenant Foster called for volunteers to follow the Indians and 18 men volunteered. Mr. Cheatham, Mose Israel and Frank Nelson were among those who volunteered.     

Reaching Santa Anna Mountain at day break, the Rangers found the trail of the Native Americans three miles south of Santa Anna. They traveled all that day and, when night fell, they camped north of San Angelo about one mile behind the Native Americans. Most of the Rangers were anxious to go forward and attack the Native Americans, but, after scouting trips to see what they faced, three of the leaders decided the Native Americans too greatly outnumbered the Rangers, and on the next day, the officers turned back toward camp.

At the time of this chase there was not a house in the present cities of Santa Anna and Coleman. Two pioneers, a Mr. Barton and Mr. Waldrip, lived on Home Creek. The town of Waldrip, 23 miles south of Santa Anna in McCulloch County was named after this Mr. Waldrip.

Mr. Cheatham went with part of his company on a scouting trip one time to Jacksboro. After reaching that town they decided to go farther and cross the Red River and went north up the Pease River, staying 17 days and coming back by way of the Brazos River. The Rangers had to lead their horses for several miles before reaching Jacksboro again. Large herds of buffalo had eaten all the grass and the mounts of the Rangers were so weak from the lack of food that they could not carry the men.

The chief occupation of the Rangers during Cheatham’s service, according to Mr. Cheatham, was protecting the frontier from attacks by Native Americans, and, also, from gangs of thieves and outlaws. Mr. Cheatham, during his time as a Ranger, helped arrest many of these outlaws and bring them to justice.