Friday, October 07, 2016

How did Baby Head get its name?

The men raced toward the large hill, knowing a child’s life lay in the balance. The men, settlers from north of Llano, pursued a group of raiding Indians. The Indians, thought to be Comanche, had taken the little girl during the raid. Native Americans often kidnapped white children, keeping them as their own and raising them as part of their tribe. The men raced along, hoping to rescue the girl. Up ahead, the party of Indians, some on foot and some on horseback, tried to outdistance the settlers. They climbed a hill north of Llano but realized that, at the pace they were going, they probably wouldn't escape their pursuers. Somewhere on the rocky hill among the trees and outcroppings, the Indians realized the child was holding them back. So, according to oral histories, they did the unthinkable: They murdered the girl and left her head on a pole leaning against a rock for the settlers to find. Imagine the horror of the men as they climbed that hill and saw the macabre scene. While not necessarily a ghostly haunt, that hill — referred to as Baby Head Mountain — and the nearby community of Baby Head conjure up the terrifying event from the 1800s that's part of the Highland Lakes' haunted past. But this is just one account of how the Baby Head community, located about 15 miles north of Llano, got its name. Though most of the details are similar, the year and the people involved are a bit different in each telling. In one account, the perpetrators are very different than the ones in the accepted narrative. Most, if not all, of the accounts behind the name come from oral stories. According to the historical marker placed at Baby Head Cemetery, the above incident happened in the 1850s, with one account putting it in 1855. And it’s been pretty much accepted for years. Then, in 1983, John E. Conner’s memoir, “A Great While Ago,” came out. Conner, who was about 98 when he finished his memoirs and spent his boyhood in Llano County, recounted a different take on the Baby Head name genesis. According to Conner, the incident actually occurred in 1873, and it might have involved the group of Indians who fought settlers south of Llano on Packsaddle Mountain. In his account, Conner said the Indians raided the area and kidnapped Bill Buster’s daughter. The Indians raced off with the child, who — depending on the version — was an infant or as old as 4. The settlers pursued the Indians, but it was a few days later, after possibly being alerted by circling vultures, that they recovered the child’s remains with only her head distinguishable...more

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