Unsolved Mystery of the Dowdy Family Massacre

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Thomas A. Dowdy wanted a better life for his wife Susan and their eight children when he decided to move from Goliad to a small town named Eura in Kerr County, TX.  Today, Eura is known as Mountain Home. In 1878, the family packed up their belongings and headed off to start their homestead in the hills of the Texas Hill Country. However, their dream of starting a new life quickly turned into a nightmare when four of the Dowdy children were brutally murdered. This unfortunate event is known as the Dowdy Family Massacre.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Darrylpearson

On October 5, 1878, still in the midst of unpacking their belongings, the Dowdy family was going about their normal day. Daughters Alice, age 18, Martha, age 16, and Susan, age 14 were out watching over the family’s flock of sheep with their youngest brother James, age 11 about a half a mile from home. The oldest brother, Richard, was at home with a friend, who was engaged to one of the girls, to eat an early lunch. They finished their lunch around 11 a.m. and headed to the spot where the Dowdy girls and their brother were tending the sheep. They were nowhere to be found.

Richard and his friend arrived back at the homestead and informed his parents the children were missing and the sheep were scattered about. Mrs. Dowdy rushed to the hillside and found her children pierced by arrows, mutilated by tomahawks, and shot. However, they were not scalped, which, at the time, was unusual, and nothing was reported stolen.

Photo: Max Pixel

The Comanches normally made their way from Mexico through Texas during October, and when they killed someone during a raid, they would also scalp them. Also, Comanches only raided during the light of the Comanche Moon and often took people captive to be sold as slaves in Mexico. Something just doesn’t add up, and there have been many debates about whether it was truly an Indian raid or if the murders were committed by a group of Mexican bandits or heartless American outlaws.

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