By Linda Stewart, 17 March 2019
Susan, William, and John Paschal are buried to the right of the fence under the tree in the Keenan Family Cemetery, Forestburg, Montague Co., TX. Picture courtesy of Brett Fishburn, http://www.findagrave.com
Last year I wrote an article entitled “Just the facts, ma’am”. I will re-post part of that article.
One of John T. and Mary’s son’s abandoned his young wife and four children. He moved on and a couple of years later had a new family and children. The facts say that the son and his first wife were married two years when he went off to war leaving her, now 18 years old, with a one year old baby and a farm to run. The regiment he was in remained fairly local to the area they lived in. He received furloughs and came home long enough for her to get pregnant and he returned to his regiment. In 1865, she was 22 years old, had been married for five years, had four children, and a husband who had been basically absent for three years due to the war. He came home from the war, but two years later they were separated. He abandoned her and the children and moved 200 miles away. Of course we will never know the cause of their separation, but I can only imagine what emotions this young woman felt … anger, abandonment, grief for a dying marriage, frightened for the well being of her children. I found documents where she told people she was widowed. I am sure in her heart he was completely dead to her. Her parents were both deceased so where was she to go. She did have siblings, but I did not find any records that she lived with any of them. I did find a records of her living with two different local families in the county where her brothers lived. The records were sparse for a two year period, then I find birth information of a fifth child. I am sure people will gasp at the thought of an illegitimate child, but don’t we all want love and compassion even if that decision is not a wise one? Her story does not have a happy ending, she was killed a year later.
The man was Montgomery Pike Paschall and his wife was Susannah A. “Susan” Willingham Paschall. Their four children were Benjamin Franklin “Ben”, William “Billy”, John “Johnny”, and Mary Josephine. Montgomery abandoned Susan in Fort Worth, TX, and was living in Hays Co., TX by August 1867. In 1868, Montgomery, his second wife Ann Brock and their baby daughter Ada Ann Paschall were living in Austin, Travis Co., TX. With Susan’s parents deceased, and her husband gone, Susan moved to Montague Co., TX where her siblings were living.
In the spring of 1868, Susan and the four children were living with Levi Perryman and his wife. On 26 November 1869, Susan’s 5th child, Melinda Katherine Paschal was born. By the fall of 1870, they were living in the household of John and Anna Keenan, when Susan, William, and John were killed. Mary, and probably Benjamin, were raised by Susan’s brother John J. Willingham after her death.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Indian Raid story, below is an article that appeared in the newspaper shortly after the incident occurred.
The Daily Express, (San Antonio, TX) – Wednesday, January 18, 1871, Vol. V, No. 15, Page 4, and The Juniata Sentinel, (Mifflintown, Pennsylvania) – Wednesday, 22 February 1871, Volume XXV, No.8, Whole Number 1249, Page 1.
Indian Outrages. From the San Antonio (Tex.) Express, Jan. 18.  From a letter received by a gentleman in this city, from Lieutenant A. C. Hill, we learn of further Indian outrages in the upper country.
In Montague County near Denton Creek, while the man of the house was from home, a party of nine Indians broke down the windows and doors of the house at about 10 o’clock at night, where two women and eight children were sleeping. They killed Mrs. Susan Paschal, aged about 35 years. They killed Billy, her son, or rather mangled him so that he died the next day. A boy 7 years old named Johnny, was dragged into the yard, scalped, shot, and his bowels cut out while his sister Mary, only 4 years old was shot in the breast with an arrow and severely wounded. Ben Paschal, age 12 years, was beaten with clubs and left for dead, but both he and Mary are now slowly recovering. Another of the children was killed by having its head smashed with a stick, and was then brutally thrown into the yard.
Mrs. Ann Kenan, the lady of the house, was shot through the breast with two arrows, beaten with clubs, scalped, and left for dead. She lived four days, and then died. Miss Ann Kenan, her daughter, was horribly outraged, and then killed. A child, 5 years old, was wounded in the bed. The blood of the victims ran through the beds to the floor – in fact the whole house was covered with blood and hair, and gory clubs, used in the hellish work of these fiends. The writer adds: “This same party of Indians, after committing these murders, went on down the country, and stole a lot of horses, on which they made their escape back to their homes. There have been several families murdered besides this mentioned, and, if possible, with more brutality than above described. I will tell you my honest opinion. These marauders are the reserve Indians using the Comanche arrows and signs, to mislead the country into belief that they are Comanche’s who commit these outrages.”
Lieutenant Hill, who seems to understand the whole question, continues: “The eight of hundreds of lone chimneys now standing on the whole line of the frontier, from the Rio Grande to Red River, the great number of decaying fences and houses: and houses in this vicinity, stained with the blood of men, women, and children of all ages, is truly a shame to any nation on earth. You would shrink and shudder if but half were told of the horrid murders committed.” In regard to the reception of rangers Lieutenant Hill continues: “I am very successful in all my dealings with the whole people: we are gladly received by the citizens and soldiers of all this country.”
The story of the Indian Raid has appeared in numerous publications over the years. Here are a few of those publications:
Wilcox, Jerry S., H. G. Bedford’s Texas Indian Troubles. “The Scalping Knife”, Hargreaves Printing Co. Inc, Dallas, Texas: 1905, pp. 26-18.
Potter, Mrs. W. R., History of Montague County. “Fate of Keenan and Paschal Families, Winter of 1870”, Austin, Texas, E.L. Steck: 1913, pp. 87-92.
Perryman, Levi., Victims of the Kenon Massacre. Forestburg, Texas: 1919.
London, Marvin F., Indian raids in Montague County. S. J. T. Printers, Saint Jo, Texas. N.D.: 1977, pp. 71-74.
In each of these stories there are small discrepancies that can probably be contributed to folklore. For example, the London account says that Susan Paschal and Ann Kennan were sisters. This is incorrect. Per the 1860 US Census, Anna was born in 1823 in New York, 7 years prior to Susan’s parents marriage in Missouri. As family researchers, we are to tell the stories of our ancestors. The facts tell that story. Family folklore which is the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth, can be included in your research, but always make it understood that the story is family folklore and may or may not be factual. Many times researchers are hesitant to include folklore because it is usually a scandalous account, but nevertheless the story exists. Not only do families have folklore, but counties have them as well.
The Montague County folklore regarding who the supposed father of Susan’s 5th child Melinda Katherine Paschal, has two accounts. The first account, says that Melinda was the supposed daughter of the local sheriff, Levi Perryman. It was said that Perryman was known to be a womanizer assisting the widow ladies with all their needs. Supposedly it would not bode well for Perryman’s political career to have an illegitimate daughter. The “Indians” were not Indians at all, but white men dressed as Indians hired to kill Susan and Melinda. The second account, says that Melinda was the supposed daughter of William M. Fanning, who raised her after Susan’s death.
Ancestry DNA testing has been conducted on a great granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin Paschal, as well as a great granddaughter of Ada Ann Paschall Cannon. Both granddaughters were a match with Montgomery Pike Paschall as their common ancestor.
It would be prudent for the descendants of Levi Perryman and Melinda Katherine Paschal to also have Ancestry DNA testing performed. The results could possibly finally prove or disprove the Montague County folklore.