An Article from
The Stockman Family Newsletter
Vola 9 No 1, March 1994
    The information in this article may be used for personal family research.  It is Copyrighted by The Stockman Family Newsletter, and may not be used for any other purpose without written permission from the Publisher.

The Killing of Burrell Brown
In McCulloch County, TX in the early days lived several Brown families. One was the family of Mary Jane Norris (James Claiborne Norris, Mary Sarah, Frederick Stockman and Katherine Disponet of the Texas branch of the Stockman Family) who married Albert Berry Brown. Albert Berry Brown was the son of Albert Burleson Brown and Susan Elizabeth Upton. Albert Burleson Brown known as Burrell was killed by Indians in Coleman County, TX and following his death Susan E Brown moved to McCulloch County.

Another Brown family living in McCulloch County, was that of Julia Ann Norris (Mary Sarah, Frederick Stockman and Katherine Disponet of the Texas branch of the Stockman Family) who married James Walker Brown.

A third Brown family living in McCulloch County was that of George S Brown who lived in Voca, TX. George S Brown's son, John Wilson Brown was the father of Wesley Brown who married Lillian May Ellis (Flora Etta Stockman, William Bonapart, Young Hardy, Hardy Francis, Henry, Frederick Stockman and Katherine Disponet of the Texas branch of the Stockman Family).

So far as is known to family researchers at this time these three Brown families are not related.-lts-

In the year 1868 quite a number of families were "Forted up" at a place known in those days as Flat Top, on Elm Creek in Coleman County, TX. Among those there were Rich Coffee, Bart and Bill Guest, the Beddo brothers, the Wiley brothers, the Garden brothers and a number of cowboys among whom were Dick, Sug and Pick Robinson, and Bob Hysaw.

In June 1868 the Indian raid occurred. Those who were at home to Flat Top had tied up their saddle horses for the night after having taken their herd of loose horses out some three or four miles to where there was good grass. Bart Guest had ties his horse to a small tree outside the house and sometime later heard a disturbance and going out he discovered that his horse had broken loose and was running away. It later developed that the Indians, some fifteen in number and all afoot, had given the horse a scare to cause him to break down the tree to which he was tied and to dash off dragging the tree after him in mad flight. However, he did not go far until the Indians secured him.

Bart Guest and Bill Beddo immediately mounted and went in pursuit and after crossing a ravine about a half mile from the ranch came to the small tree to which Guest's horse had been tied. The moon was shining, although somewhat dim as it was cloudy. Guest inspected the tree and found that his lariat used to secure the horses had been cut, he remounted and about this time the two heard a sound coming from a nearby grove of trees. The two men understood its importance. They were nearly surrounded and cut off from escape back to the house. They had between them and safety a ravine with one particular crossing these men had to reach. Cut off from this their chances of escape were hopeless. The Indians, all on foot except two riding guest's horse, and the two cowboys raced for the crossing. The two on horseback set out to flank the two white men. As they were nearing the crossing of the ravine the Indians on horseback rode up beside Guest on his right side. He being left handed fired his pistol at point blank range and the Indian toppled from his horse. Guest and Beddo made their way safely back to the ranch house.

The next morning they found Guest's horse standing near by and the Indian on the ground. By sunup sixteen men, mostly from the Flat Top Ranch were in the saddle and hot on the trial which led up Elm Creek in a northerly direction. Guest and Beddo had two fine dogs trained for the purpose and they led the trail allowing the men to make good time.

Six miles from the ranch was a canyon which headed up against the mountains. In the head of the canyon were shelves of rocks forming cavernous shelter. Here the Indians sought refuge. When the dogs reached the brink they stopped, hackles up and began to fret and growl. Bill Guest and Burrell Brown were in the lead and within forty steps of the dogs. Bill and Bart Guest, Burrell Brown, and Bill Beddo at once sprung forward. In their front was a bank about 18 inches high and as they jumped over it the Indians opened fire from a distance of about 30 feet. With the remainder of the pursuers still far behind the four front men, Bill Guest said, "Boys there are too many for us, let us get out of here."

Burrell Brown was riding immediately next to Bill Guest and as they turned and leaped their horses back over the ledge, and while the Indians were pouring shot and arrows among them, Burrell Brown fell shot through the body. He fell on a large flat rock on the bluff overlooking the gorge where the Indians lay, and his horse ran off some distance. Bart Guest secured the horse, after which the three fell back about 40 yards, dismounted, and the fight began with desperate earnestness. When the Indians saw these men fall back they rushed forth and surrounded Brown's body, removing his scalp and mutilating it in the most sickening manner, then with defiant yells they turned their attention to the men in front.

These three men, the two Guests and Beddo, armed with Spencer rifles and six shooters stood their ground for 30 minutes keeping up a rapid fire on the savage band which outnumbered them five to one. When their fire would become too hot, the Indians would fall back into the gorge, carrying their dead and wounded, and after a brief respite would charge again. In these charges sometimes only six or eight would constitute the charging party, and this gave the boys encouragement as these small parties showed the they were being badly crippled. An Indian armed with a six shooter advanced and engaged in a regular pistol duel with Bill Guest.

Beddo asked the boys about their ammunition and finding that their supply was low he said, "I have only three shots left and you had better save what you have. We will go back on the hill where the other boys are, and if they will assist us we will return and recover Brown's body if they refuse to aid us but will divide ammunition we will come back and get the body at any and all risks."

While this battle had been in progress, the remainder of the pursuers had remained safely on top of a hill while the gallant four went forward. Guest and Beddo were unable to persuade them to come join the fight or to share their ammunition with them. Failing to obtain the desired aid and being almost without ammunition, Bill Guest said, "Bart, my horse is shot, let me have Brown's horse and while you are taking my horse home I will ride to Home Creek and get men who are not afraid to go with me and get Brown's body tonight." This was readily agreed to and Bill hastened away to the Home Creek settlement where he was joined by Ans Wildrip, Bill McCollum and one other settler. They proceed to the Flat Top Ranch where they were joined by Bill Beddo, Rich Coffey, and Bart Guest. They went to the battle ground, reaching there after nightfall and found the body of Brown, as before stated, horribly mutilated. The Indians had disappeared. The remains of their comrade and neighbor was tenderly carried to the ranch and on the day following were interred on a little point overlooking the Flat Top Ranch.

Burrell Brown, the victim of the Comanches, was a brave, generous upright man and his loss was keenly felt at a time when the frontier needed men of his courage. He left a widow and four little children.

The information in this article was provided by Evalyn Watson (Mabel Brown, Mary Jane Norris, James Claiborne Norris, Mary Sarah, Frederick Stockman and Katherine Disponet of the Texas branch of the Stockman Family). It is from an article published in 1912 in Hunter's Magazine. Mr. J. M Hallcomb of Ozona, TX was the source of the information and provided it to John Warren Hunter for his magazine in 1912.

Albert Burleson (Burrell) Brown was born 8 Sep 1832 and was killed in the incident just described 11 May 1870 on Elm Creek in Coleman County, TX. He is buried as described on a hilltop overlooking the old Flat Top Ranch. his wife, Susan Elizabeth Upton is buried in the cemetery in Robert Lee, Coke Co, TX. Evalyn Watson has a baby brother buried beside her.

Mary Jane Norris was born 23 Oct 1860 in Nacogdoches the daughter of James Claiborne Norris and Margaret Amazon. Her mother, Margaret, died about 1862 and James Claiborne married Virginia M Thomas in 1866. Mary Jane Norris married Albert B Brown, the son of Burrell Brown in 1877.

Mary Jane was often called Mollie and one of their daughters was Mable, Evalyn Watson's mother. Evalyn writes, "They lived near the Bonds at Stacy so we can be pretty sure this was the Mollie and Mable in the letter from Emma Bond to Ada Oxsheer." which was reported in the Stockman Family Newsletter Vol 7 No 3 page 51.

John Childs and Sophia Childs Kelley have provided additional letters from this same time period which will appear in a future issue of the Stockman Family Newsletter -//-