The following is a fictionalized account of a true story. I first heard the story of the Edens-Madden Massacre from fellow writer Pat Haddock and I thought she was putting me on. I did some research and…turns out she was right. This is my version of Lucy Madden’s story, a Texas pioneer woman and survivor of the Edens-Madden Massacre, San Pedro Creek, Houston County, Texas.
October 28th, 1838
Frost rimed the banks of San Pedro Creek on that blackest of moonless nights. Screams echoed through the forest of evergreen sentinels, shrouded with needles and indifferent to the blood soaking their roots. Blazing pyres soared, illuminating the pines with a flickering orange glow, before subsiding to embers and returning the forest to darkness.
~ ~ ~
Stuffed in one room of drafty dogtrot cabin, fifteen women and kids slept. Their menfolk had gone to answer President Lamar’s war cry. Lucy, along with her sister-in-law, Nancy, moved to John Edens’ house to fort up with the other wives and children. Four men, asleep on the opposite side of the dogtrot, protected them from the angry Kickapoo war parties.
Lucy stiffened at the sound. Her skin crawled as though covered in spiders.
~ ~ ~
Inkinishit’iti, so-called Little White Man because of his mixed parentage, detailed four men to guard the room where the white men slept. Inkinishit’iti towered over his fellow Kiikaapoa warriors, his face hacked from mahogany and his eyes imbued with the spirit of Nenemehkia, Thunder Beings.
He commanded respect.
His remaining warriors gathered close, muscles flexing, weapons honed, teeth gleaming, breath quickened by the promise of blood.
A solid kick splintered the door, sending it crashing open to swing from broken hinges.
~ ~ ~
Mary Sadler died first.
“No,” Lucy screamed. She scrambled from the floor, hands extended. “Not my children!”
Women’s shrieks and Indian war cries battered her ears. A tomahawk split Lucy’s collarbone and she collapsed. Sarah Murchison implored her with dead eyes, her face in a pool of blood, her hair cut away. Lucy tried to get up. A blow to her back knocked her down again.
A devil from Hell, maybe Lucifer himself, loomed in the door, arms braced to the frame, legs spread. He laughed while women’s screams called the tune and murder danced a jig. Blood splattered the walls, soaked the floor.
Another powerful strike slammed the back of Lucy’s head, setting off an explosion of white light behind her eyes. Sounds came and went, blurred scenes flashed through her eyes, but none of it penetrated the ringing in her head. Mercifully, she didn’t hear or see the Kickapoo hacking apart her sons, Seldon and Robert, or witness the infant, Sophia Sadler, gutted with a butcher knife.
Like a wounded animal, Lucy crawled through the gap between the devil’s legs. His booming laugh vibrated her nerve endings, more felt than heard. If he saw her, Ol’ Scratch gave no indication. Maybe he let her go, knowing her time was short. Lucy made it outside, then to the fence, where she buckled.
Cold. So very cold.
~ ~ ~
Lucinda Edens Madden survived that night and lived to the age of 77. A broken collar bone, split ribs and a massive head wound caused severe blood loss, and it was likely Mrs. Madden passed out, but she was often heard saying she’d never had a better night’s sleep than after she crawled between the Devil’s legs and escaped from Hell.