Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Rebecca J. Gilleland Fisher ~ Texas

 

Mrs. Fisher gives the following facts regarding her life and harrowing experiences as a daughter of pioneer parents:

"I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 31, 1831, and came to Texas with my parents, Johnstone and Mary Gilleland, and two little brothers, about 1836 or 1837. My father was one of the bravest, most conscientious and active soldiers of the Republic of Texas, and had come home for a few days to look after his family when a cruel death awaited him.

"The day my parents were murdered was one of those days which youth and old age so much enjoy. It was in strange contrast to the tragedy at its close. We were only a few rods from the house. Suddenly the war whoop of the Comanche burst upon our ears, sending terror to all hearts. My father, in trying to reach the house for weapons, was shot down, and near him my mother, clinging to her children and praying God to spare them, was also murdered. As she pressed us to her heart we were baptized in her precious blood. We were torn from her dying embrace and hurried off into captivity, the chiefs wife dragging me to her horse and clinging to me with a tenacious grip. She was at first savage and vicious looking, but from some cause her wicked nature soon relaxed, and folding me in her arms, she gently smoothed back my hair, indicating that she was very proud of her suffering victim. A white man with all the cruel instincts of the savage was with them. Several times they threatened to cut off our hands and feet if we did not stop crying. Then the woman, in savage tones and gestures, would scold, and they would cease their cruel threats. We were captured just as the sun was setting and were rescued the next morning.

"During the few hours we were their prisoners, the Indians never stopped. Slowly and stealthily they pushed their way through the settlement to avoid detection, and just as they halted for the first time the soldiers suddenly came upon them, and firing commenced. As the battle raged, the Indians were forced to take flight. Thereupon they pierced my little brother through the body, and, striking me with some sharp instrument on the side of the head, they left us for dead, but we soon recovered sufficiently to find ourselves alone in that dark, dense forest, wounded and covered with blood.

"Having been taught to ask God for all things, we prayed to our Heavenly Father to take care of us and direct us out of that lonely place. I lifted my wounded brother, so faint and weak, and we soon came to the edge of a large prairie, when as far away as our swimming eyes could see we discovered a company of horsemen. Supposing them to be Indians, frightened beyond expression, and trembling under my heavy burden, I rushed back with him into the woods and hid behind some thick brush. But those brave men, on the alert, dashing from place to place, at last discovered us. Soon we heard the clatter of horses' hoofs and the voices of our rescuers calling us by name, assuring us they were our friends who had come to take care of us. Lifting the almost unconscious little sufferer, I carried him out to them as best I could. With all the tenderness of women, their eyes suffused with tears, those good men raised us to their saddles and hurried off to camp, where we received every attention and kindness that man could bestow.

"I was seven years of age when my parents were murdered. Over seventy years have passed since then, and yet my heart grows faint as that awful time passes in review. It is indelibly stamped upon memory's pages and photographed so deeply upon my heart that time with all its changes can never erase it."

In 1848 Rebecca J. Gilleland married Rev. Orceneth Fisher, D.D., a prominent and distinguished minister of the Methodist Church. For over sixty years they served the church in Texas and California, organizing it in Oregon. Dr. Fisher died in Austin, Texas, some years ago. Mrs. Fisher has been president of many church associations, was Acting President of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for twelve years, and is even yet in the evening of a long and honored life, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the distinguished member or guest of many patriotic clubs and societies.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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