Joseph William "Peter" Gardner (2022)

NameJoseph William "Peter" Gardner

Birth23 Mar 1810, Tennessee

Death13 Sep 1869, Sandies Creek, TX Age: 59


1Martha Anne Stacy 342, 1C3R

Birth10 Jun 1822, New Market, Madison Co AL876

Death7 Feb 1882, Bigfoot, Frio County, TX Age: 59

FatherAlexander Franklin Stacy Sr. (1798-1865)

MotherRebecca Hathcock (1805-1830)

Marriage16 Feb 1838, Louisana876

ChildrenSarah (1840-)

Alexander Franklin (1844-1932)

John Edmund (1845-)

Rebecca Catherine

Mary Elizabeth (1849-1917)

Joseph William (1851-)

Nancy Jane (1853-)

Thomas Henry (1856-1924)

Martha Josephine (1859-)

Charles Alfred


Priscilla Anne Amanda (1865-1940)

Notes for Joseph William "Peter" Gardner


The father of Mrs. Ethel Gardner Dubose (Mr. Milton Dubose) had a very narrow escape in an Indian attack in 1868 near Cotulla. Peter Gardner was only seventeen years old when he was hired by Simpson McCoy to drive cattle out of the Nueces River near where Cotulla now stands, or to be more exact, seven miles above the Lago Cochina, or Hog Lake. About one week after he arrived, the Indians made a raid in the vicinity of the ranch. This was about the middle of the summer. The residents were not aware that Indians were in the country and were not as alert as they would have been otherwise. Early one morning Peter left on foot to hunt some horses which were to be used that day in herding cattle. The men at the ranch at this time were Simpson McCoy, Alex and John Gardner, John DeSpain, W.M. Wilkins, Joe Cult, Howell and Burk. Besides these men there were the families of McCoy, Alex Gardner, John DeSpain, and Duncan Lemons, the latter being absent at the time. When Peter was about a half mile from the ranch house, he noticed a man on horseback ahead of him, coming in his direction. He was a curious looking fellow, and Peter, thinking he was an lndian, turned to run; but the man said in a loud voice in Spanish, "Esperate! Esperate!" (Stop! Stop!) Thinking he was a Mexican, because of his hat, Peter stopped and looked back, but discovered that the supposed "Mexican" was drawing an arrow from the quiver at his back, and had a bow in the other hand. Now thoroughly frightened, Peter turned and fled, pursued by the Indian, who adjusted an arrow to the string as he ran. On coming within range, the Indian let the arrow fly at Peter, who was about seventy-five yards from the starting point. This arrow passed through his arm, inflicting another wound in his side. By this time, twelve more Indians had shown themselves all on horseback, closing around Peter in a circle. Seeing there was no chance to get through them, he ran into a thick clump of persimmon bushes and stopped. One Indian rode up to him and by sign demanded his hat. Peter promptly complied with this demand; then other signs were made, commanding him to run in a certain direction. Looking that way, Peter saw an Indian sitting on his horse, whom he supposed to be the chief because his headdress was covered with feathers. Until this time, the Indians had been quiet, not wishing to alarm the men at the ranch, for no doubt they had investigated and knew the situation. They were looking for the ranch horses and also expected to catch some settlers alone and kill them. The latter plan seemed to be the fate of Peter. He had called several times for help but was silenced by the Indians. Several of the Indians stopped a short distance off, some of their horses' heads turned one way and some the other, leaving an open space between them of ten yards or more. Peter, although badly wounded and bleeding, fully took in the situation at a glance, and made up his mind to make a desperate run through the open space between the Indians and try to get to the ranch.

In an attempt to carry out this plan, he darted forth, calling loudly for help. The Indians followed on horseback. One of them shot him with another arrow, striking his right side just under the shoulder blade; then the Indian ran his horse over Gardner, knocking him down. Peter got up and still attempted to flee, calling at the top of his voice for help. The men at the ranch heard the cries and soon McCoy, Culp, Howell, DeSpain and Alex came to his assistance. The Indians, seeing the white men coming, no longer tried to conceal their presence, but began to shout and fire pistols at Peter. The one who ran over him came close and aiming a pistol at the back of his head, fired at close range. The ball struck on the side of the neck, barely missing the neck bone and came out under the jaw. Many other shots were fired, but this was the only bullet that hit him. By this time the ranchmen were on the scene and commenced firing at the Indians. When Peter was struck by the pistol ball he fell to his knees but regained his feet and ran thirty yards further before he staggered again. "The earth, trees,everything faded from sight," and Peter felt that he was going down. "The yelling of the Indians and the firing of guns sounded so far away, although they were so near." About this time Peter was jerked clear off the ground, grasped tightly by a strong arm. His brother, Alex, had made his way to Peter; and taking him up under his arm and holding his gun in the other hand, he made his way back amid a shower of bullets and arrows, to the men who were fighting the battle. The Indians nearest Alex when he picked up his brother were within thirty steps; although he was fired at repeatedly, only his clothing was touched by the bullets. He had no time to shoot until he reached McCoy's position.

The Indians soon gave up their fight and left and the settlers went back to the ranch with the wounded young man. Peter had three wounds on his body and seventeen holes in his clothing made by bullets and arrows. Seven of the settlers soon obtained horses and went in pursuit of the Indians and overtook them twenty miles from there on the Nueces River. Another fight ensued with neither side claiming a victory. The guns of the white men were in poor condition; in fact, some of them would not shoot at all. During the fight Burk was hit in the shoulder by a bullet, which penetrated the neck and was lodged against the neck bone. The ball was cut out by John Gardner with his pocket knife. Peter' s hat was finally recovered from the Indians. After the Indians left the place where they wounded Peter they crossed the Nueces River and killed a Mexican who was herding horses for Jesse Laxon. His body was not found immediately as he made a run and was killed in the brush.

It took Peter six weeks to recover sufficiently to be taken home. A runner was sent to notify his mother who lived in Frio County near Big Foot and she left at once to go to her wounded son. In the meantime a great rain had fallen and the Nueces River was one half mile wide. Mrs. Gardner was forced to stay on theopposite side of the river from her sons. There she stayed day and night but due to continuing rains there was no chance to cross the river. However, men swam back and forth each day to let her know how her boy was doing. When Peter was on the road to recovery and out of danger, she went back home to care for the younger children.

The Comanche arrow and spike that was removed from the shoulder of Peter Gardner has been preserved and handed down through the family. At the present it is in the possession of Peter's great grandson, Franklin Gardner of Marfa.

This encounter with the Indians seemed to arouse Peter's adventuresome spirit even more. As soon as he recovered he made his first trip up the Chisholm Trail. He and John Gardner drove to Wichita, Kansas for Joel Collins in 1872 and 1873. Peter became eligible for membership in The Old Trail Driver's Association of Texas and his picture hangs in the Witte Museum in San Antonio. Peter's real name was Joseph William Gardner but was always called Peter.

In the late 1870's Peter married Jennie Holmes a cousin to La Salle County's Amanda Burks. Jennie Gardner died in 1882 leaving a son, William Thomas. Later Peter married Lucy Lincoln Wingate whose cousin was the wife of Peter's younger brother, Thomas Henry. The two families ranched side by side in Frio County. Lucy and Peter had seven children, one being Ethel Gardner (Mrs. Milton Dubose) who has been a resident of Cotulla since 1930.

Notes for Joseph William "Peter" Gardner

Based on the Land Grant files and the Tax Rolls, the Joseph William Gardner, Sr. family was living in Atascosa County from 1855 to 1860. Also supporting this is the 1860 Census of Atascosa County with the whole family listed. It shows Nancy J. Gardner age 7, born Louisiana, and Thos. Gardner age 4 born Texas. This indicates that they did not leave Louisiana before September 1853 (Nancy's birthday) and he and two witnesses swore he was in Texas by February 1854 in the Land Grant files. Several sources including the tax records indicate that they left Atascosa County in 1861 for Frio County. According to the book "Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas" by A.J. Sowell, in about 1865 they moved to Guadalupe Co., 15 miles south from Seguin in the Sandies Country. This information would place the births of the children born in Texas as follows:
Thomas Henry Gardner and Martha Josephine Gardner born in Gates Valley, Atascosa Co., TX
Charles Alfred Gardner and Willis Gardner born in Old Frio Town, Frio Co., TX
Priscilla Anne Amanda Gardner born in Sandies Creek, Guadalupe Co., TX 884

1960 Census of Pleasanton, Atascosa Co TX; Dwelling 194, Family 169
Name Age

Joseph Gardner50
Martha A Gardner38
A F Gardner 17
John E Gardner15
Mary A E Gardner11
J W Gardner 9
Nancy J Gardner 7
Thos T Gardner 4
Martha J R Gardner 1

Last Modified 21 Nov 2020Created 15 Jun 2022 using Reunion for Macintosh

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