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Sunday, the dogs and I hiked down to Apache Canyon on “Old Route 66” to where it ends. The only nearby exit is Sleeping Dog Road, which crosses a cattle guard to the entrance ramp of IH25. This section of Hwy 66 is where the Santa Fe Trail emerges from Glorietta Pass.

Famous explores like Charles Bent, John Fremont and his protégé, Kit Carson, forged the trail that John Rowland, William Workman and thousands of others followed west. Here in the summer of 1841, a tired William Smith would have stopped on his way to Santa Fe. The lone horseman was searching for the savages that captured his nine year old nephew, Fayette Smith. Comanche Indians killed Fayette’s father, Judge James W. Smith and captured Fayette in Austin, Texas on January 21, 1841 near Shoal Creek, where Camp Mabry is now.

William sought the five savages that killed and mutilated his oldest brother. His nineteen year old brother, Fenwick witnessed the brutal attack, but was able to escape and run back to Austin for help. William followed the circuitous trail of the Indians for eight hundred miles to Santa Fe. No one had seen a white boy with Indians. William told everyone he met that there was a reward for Fayette’s safe return.

William left Santa Fe thinking his mission a failure, but word of the missing Fayette reached the Trading Post of John Rowland in Taos. The Rowland’s paid for the boys release and return to his family.

Arriving back in Austin, William learned that his father, Thomas W. Smith, the first Travis County Treasurer, had been killed and scalped by Indians on the outskirts of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas. He assumed his father’s position as County Treasurer, until the end of his term.

Santa Fe Trail

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