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Monday, March 18th is the 147th anniversary of a battle that many in Lubbock may not know anything about.

Mackenzie Park in Lubbock is a great place for activities and for families to spend a day. On nice days you will see people riding bikes, jogging, fishing, exploring nature, and playing different sports. But long ago, before Lubbock was actually Lubbock, the area around the Canyon Lakes was much different. And on March 18th, 1877 a battle began in what's now known as Mackenzie Park.

History at the Canyon Lakes and Mackenzie Park

The battle occurred on March 18, 1877, according to the Texas State Historical Association  and it ended an Indian uprising that was known as the "Staked Plains (Hunters') War". It's also known as the final fight with hostile Indians on the High Plains of Texas.

Drive through the Canyon Lakes System in Lubbock and you will see signs and markers that detail sites of the battle including the Indian camp ground where in the early morning hours of March 18, 1877 over forty buffalo hunters attacked a Comanche camp in retaliation against the Indian raids on their camps. That location is actually close to the Mae Simmons Community Center.

Chad Hasty, KFYO.com
Chad Hasty, KFYO.com

Lead Up To Battle

In December of 1876 when a group of Quahadi Comanches led by a Comanche was chief known as Black Horse, left Fort Sill to hunt buffalo. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Black Horse also wanted to "make war on any White hunters they saw". This lead to the the death of a buffalo hunter named Marshall Sewell. Those who witnessed the murder and scalping of Sewell rode back to then Rath City, which was close to present day Hamlin, to tell others what had happened.

The Battle of Yellow House Canyon

The battle that began in the early morning hours of March 18, 1877 began near what is now East 19th Street and Canyon Lakes Drive. The TSHA reports that the battle continued north through modern day Mackenzie Park.

During the early hours of March 18 they reached the canyon fork (in present Mackenzie State Recreation Area), mistakenly followed the north fork, then turned south to the Long Water Hole (where University Avenue in Lubbock now crosses the canyon). Moving west, they found Black Horse's camp in "Hidden Canyon" (now the site of Lubbock Lake). The day was advanced, but the buffalo hunters decided to attack. They divided into three groups. Smith and Campbell each led mounted men onto the plain on the sides of the canyon, while Freed took the dismounted men along the creek in the center. When they were within rifle range, Campbell ordered a charge. The Comanches, frightened momentarily, started for their horses, but quickly discovered their attackers were a small force, and rallied. Indian women ran toward the charging horsemen firing pistols, while the warriors took a defensive position on a slope northwest of their camp.

History is all around us. And Lubbock is full of history. You just have to know where to find it. Keep your eyes open and ready. That park you enjoy? Something historic may have happened there.

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