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Claim File for Kickapoo Cattle Rustling of a German-Texan’s Herd

Headed for Fort Stockton in 1869

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194.     [FORT STOCKTON, TEXAS]. VANDER STUCKEN, Emile. Archive of about 12 letters and documents relating to Vander Stucken’s 1869 agreement to supply beef to Fort Stockton and the subsequent rustling of the cattle allegedly worth $26,730.60 by Kickapoos. The archive follows Vander Stucken’s claim with the federal government for depredations, from the commencement of the contract in 1869 to 1907. Written from various places, New York, Washington, D.C., Fort Stockton, Austin, Fredericksburg, San Antonio, McKinney, etc. Some in rough condition with stains and losses.

          Vander Stucken was involved in law enforcement and served as a chief justice and county commissioner in Gillespie County in the 1860s. In 1902 he apparently was in Sonora, where he formed the First National Bank of Sonora; about half the town was destroyed by fire in 1902. For some emigrants, the Promised Land was elusive.


ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT TO DELIVER BEEF TO FORT STOCKTON. The papers are documentation gathered by one of Vander Stucken’s successive attorneys (J.S. Clark of Moursand & Moursand in Washington, D.C.) for filing his claim with the U.S. Government. The earliest document consists of the original signed “Articles of Agreement” (November 6, 1869) in which Vander Stucken of Fredericksburg commits to “the beef contract at Fort Stockton, Texas, said contract to commence on the first day of January A.D. 1870, and to end on the thirty first day of December A.D. 1870. The said EVD Stucken to furnish the Troops stationed at said Post with good fresh beef at such times and in such quantities as the Commissary at said Post may direct….” This is a rare type of documentation.

ATTEMPTS TO GATHER EVIDENCE. F.W. Young at Fort Stockton writes to Vander Stucken at Llano on May 31, 1891 (2 pp., 4to) to apologize that he does not recollect the details of the Kickapoo rustling but suggests names of others who were at Fort Stockton in 1869, giving names and present locations. Young’s letter is on his handsome stationery lithographed by Clarke & Courts in Galveston with the writer’s letterhead: Established in 1876. Office of F.W. Young, Dealer in General Merchandise and Ranch Supplies with imprint below: Clarke & Courts, Lith. Galveston. Illustrated on the stationery are branded cattle, mountain scenery, and branded horse and colt. The paper bears the watermark: The Texas House [illustration of Lone Star flag] Clarke & Courts Galveston. Young was post sutler at Fort Stockton. He built his home, wagon yards, corral, and store at the ford over Comanche Creek (the site at Callaghan Street and Spring Drive was given an historic marker by the Texas State Historical Survey Committee in 1966).

FORMAL PETITION. A formal printed petition completed in manuscript (4 pp., folio) in the Court of Claims for Indian Depredations (Claim No. 4581) in 1892, states that Vander Stucken at that time was a resident of Llano County, Texas, on December 14, 1869; and 460 beef cattle worth $26,730.60 were stolen. This is a rare survival, documenting the minutiae involved in the claim process for Indian Depredation Claims.

BUREAUCRATIC FORM RE PROCEDURES. An undated printed form (2 printed pp.) regarding procedure appears to be part of the preceding petition. Here we witness bureaucratic instructions at their most trivial, red-tape level, asking questions twenty-three years after the event, such as:

4. Give a description of the property stolen—if horses he should state how many were stallions, how many were saddle or work horses, how many were mares, how many 1, 2, and 3 year olds and colts; whether American or Spanish or mixed breeds and the value set opposite each class.

5. If cattle, state the number of 4 years olds and upwards, and value; 3 year olds and value; cows or cows and calves and value; and 1 and 2 year olds and value….

7. State the tribes of Indians, and give reasons for the belief that it was Indians; state if any one was killed and scalped or captured on the raid; state if any dead horses or cattle were found on the trail; state if claimant saw any Indians; if any arrows were found where killing occurred, or if any dead stock were found on the trail. How far, if claimant or witness knows the trail was followed, and generally any fact to show that Indians did it, and any fact to identify the tribe of Indians. If the Indians were followed to the reservation by claimant or any witness, that should be stated. If any live or dead stock was found on the trail, that should be stated, and if the stock was identified by brands or marks; state fully your means of knowledge as to all facts.

Added by hand in ink on the above form is the statement: “Claimant should state that he never sought revenge or private satisfaction on account of the loss.”

DISPARAGING ATTORNEY. As if Vander Stucken had not endured enough from the Kickapoo and the bureaucrats, included is a snippy letter from Vander Stucken’s attorney chastising him for inconsistencies (e.g., price of beef in one instance being five cents and two and a half mills per pound in one place in the petition and seven cents per pound in the evidence). The attorney remarks: “Now in your superior wisdom you have occasioned unnecessary delay and have to take chances as to what Clark will do, but remember, you did it.”

WORN OUT & R.I.P. The final communication is a 1907 TLs from Vander Stucken’s attorney in Washington, D.C., to his attorney in Fredericksburg, in which we learn that Vander Stucken’s wife has been substituted as claimant due to his death. No clue is offered as to the outcome of Vander Stucken’s claim that began in 1869 and was still unresolved thirty-eight years later. This last letter does not bode well, and the attorney is pessimistic about perfecting the claim.


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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