The Riggs Massacre

Henrietta Embree writes of the The Riggs Massacre, a “Comanche Raid” on settlers near Noland Creek in western Bell County, in the spring of 1859. While her fear is palpable in her writing and she explains her connection to the Riggs family, who may have been serving as caretakers of Embree land–though this is not substatiated in accounts of the event.

Mr. John Riggs and his unnamed wife, their children Rhoda, Margaret,  William and John as well as their neighbor, a Mr. Pierce, were attacked by a Comanche raiding party. Pierce, Riggs and his wife were killed, the daughters stolen, and the two boys left behind to be found later by a neighbor. The daughters managed to escape and were also late found.

The story is retold in both The History of Bell County written by Bertha Atkinson (1929) and The History of Bell County by George Tyler (1936) using the William C. Riggs’ statement published by the Belton Daily News, February 17, 1886. Margaret Benton reported, in the same paper March 2, 1887, that she had, in the events surrounding the aftermath of the attack, had identified a white man named Page as one of the perpetrators of the alleged “Comanche” attack. He was “immediately caught, confessed to being one of the cuthroat mob, gave the names of two other whites who also took part in the murdering of [her] parents. This villain, whose name was Page, was hung by the people. The others were also executed, but their names were never known to us.” (Tyler, 184).

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