Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Clash Of Cultures And The Webster Massacre

Historically, the Comanche did not make many friends, even among fellow Native Americans. The Comanche were a force to be reckoned with, however, for hundreds of years in what is now the American West and Mexico.

Skilled with horses, the Comanche were both proficient traders and brave warriors. The Comanche traded and fought with a host of diverse people and political powers from around 1700 until the late 1800’s, but were finally overwhelmed by the expansion of the United States as it pushed west.

One of the most famous and bloody clashes involving the Comanche occurred in Texas in 1839 (the exact date is disputed). The Webster family, along with some traveling companions, left Virginia for a new life in the West. While heading through Texas, they were attacked by Comanche warriors along Brushy Creek, in what is now Williamson County, just east of present day Leander, Texas.

The attack left all the men in John Webster’s party dead. Webster's wife and two children, one boy and one girl, were captured. The wife and daughter later escaped, and his son was safely ransomed. This was a happy ending, perhaps, to a not so happy confrontation between two very different cultures.

Although John Webster lost his life in the Comanche raid in 1839, his daughter, who survived the attack but was captured, lived until the age of 93, before passing away in California in 1927. The last Comanche warriors finally surrendered to authorities in the 1870’s.

While many pioneers continued to move west to eventually establish the western boundry of the United States in California, most of the remaining Comanche eventually settled in Oklahoma. During World War II, like the Navajo code talkers who befuddled the Japanese military, and made such an important contribution to this country in the Pacific, the Comanche code talkers were equally important in Europe confusing the German military.

The violent struggles in Texas of long ago, which helped produce events like the Webster Massacre, emanated from collisions of much different cultures. Today, the victims of the massacre lie peacefully in a common grave in a cemetery along the eastern edge of the hill country, a mile or so due east of Leander.

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