Randy Willis in Sisterdale, Texas

Texas Ranger Jack C. Hays influenced every western novel and movie I read, watched, and wrote.

This is the story of a battle near present-day Sisterdale, Texas, that led to the creation of Samuel Colt’s six-shot revolver. It was when the Comanche controlled the Texas Hill Country that I live in today. Although there are laws about their removal, Indian Mounds and arrowheads can still be located near my home. John Coffee “Jack” Hays is one of my heroes.

He became legendary around this time of the year (June 1844) on the Pinta Trail during the Walker’s Creek fight. The battle was also known as the battle of Pinta Trail Crossing, Cista’s Creek, or the battle of Sisters Creek. The location was where today’s Sister Creek flows into the Guadalupe River next to Sisterdale Road (FM 1376), one mile south of present-day Sisterdale, Texas.

When I write a story, I like to visit the location around the time of year the event took place. This is because I want to experience the colors of leaves on the trees. And the beauty of the flowers at that time of year. Also, I want to know what they saw and felt. And in this case, I ride my horse down the creek as the rangers and Comanche must have and climb the steep bluffs as I watch a Morning Dove and a Red-tailed Hawk.

As I smell the grass and watch the whitetail deer drink from the creek and observe the breathtaking views, the story begins to come to life in my mind. This day causes me to meditate on the penman’s words in Psalms 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” I believe it was written by David (although this psalms doesn’t mention that) when he sought to find a place of solitude. But unfortunately, David seems to be heartsick.

But oh, how wonderful being still and alone in nature and away from the clamoring crowd brings clarity to one’s mind. But most of all, in seeking the Lord’s face, all that matters comes into focus. And just as necessary are the things in life that don’t matter become clear too. The Texas Hill Country, with its rivers and views, are my sanctuary of peace. Here, I seek His face, His peace, His wisdom, and yes, His joy!

And it is here that I write words that may only matter to me and perhaps a few others one day. Captain Jack C. Hays left San Antonio in June 1844 with fourteen men of his ranger company to scout for a Comanche war party led by Yellow Wolf, which had recently been raiding into Bexar County. The rangers camped on the Guadalupe River and present-day Sister Creek on June 9.

It was there one of the rangers, Noah Cheery climbed a cypress tree for honey and yelled from atop the bee tree, “Jerusalem, captain, yonder comes a thousand Indians!” The rangers quickly saddled and mounted while the Comanches, estimated at 80, knew the rangers were no match. The rangers were outnumbered 5 to 1.

The “Houston Morning Star” characterized the fight as “unparalleled in this country for the gallantry displayed on both sides, its close and deadly struggle, and the triumphant success of the gallant partisan captain of the West.” “This fight marked the first time an entire company of rangers used Colt revolvers in combat, and a Comanche who had taken part in the battle later complained that the rangers ‘had a shot for every finger on the hand.”‘

The Comanche was right. Hays was the first to use the Colt Paterson five-shot revolver. The odds seemed now to be even. However, the Comanche would soon discover they were no match for the Texas Rangers.

Later, Hays expedited ranger Samuel Walker to meet with the then bankrupt Samuel Colt, which led to the design of the legendary Colt Walker six-shot revolver used in the novels and movies based on the Old West. It also made Colt wealthy and one of the most famous inventors in American history.

Every time John Wayne reaches for his six-shooter and says “pilgrim” 25 times throughout The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, I think of that. Although it was a Winchester rifle Wayne used to shoot Lee Marvin.

You may read about all of this and more in my new book Texas Wind, a novel of Texas, available at https://www.amazon.com/Texas-Wind-Randy-Willis/dp/B09QF44H7H/

Randy Willis, aka Pilgrim for a day





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