John Breckenridge

This is one of three stories I have heard about the circumstances regarding the death of John Breckenridge. This is most likely the closest to the truth. This version is taken from the Downing Genealogical publication, Roots.

"As she was about to return home from her visit up in the mountains one summer day in 1863, a young woman by the name of Miss Bacon turned to a gentleman standing nearby and smiled over in his direction. Mr. J. B. Breckenridge was the young man's name. And, he hailed from Eshom Valley. Now, up until then, Mr. Breckenridge, it seems had been a confirmed bachelor, but it was quite obvious that day that young Mr. Breckenridge just might be falling under the spell of a young lady's charm for his face had turned a dangerous crimson; his lips refused to move; his breath was all but gone. Finally, somehow, Mr. Breckenridge managed an awkward smile. But, Miss Bacon seemed not to notice for her face had become sober. Then, she whispered, 'Mr. Breckenridge, I am afraid of the Indians. If you don't drive them away, I won't be back...' Mr. Breckenridge gave a shy nod of acknowledgement and raised his hand in a timid wave as the young lady's buggy headed down the dusty wagon road.

A few days later, Breckenridge chanced upon an old Indian chief called Cho-o-poe. The old man, who was unaware of an approach by Breckenridge, was peacefully engaged in picking up acorns that had fallen under an oak tree at the south end of the valley. Still bolstered by Miss Bacon's parting words from a few days before, Breckenridge fell soundly upon the old Indian and beat him unmercifully. Then, when he had finished, Breckenridge rose to his feet and sternly ordered the old man out of the valley and angrily added over his shoulder, 'Stay out forever!'

That evening about dusk, the battered old chief, accompanied by three of his sons and seven stalwart braves, approached J. B. Breckenridge's cabin door. But, as they did so, Breckenridge, somehow sensed their presence and sprang to his feet to check. As he warily opened the cabin door to peer outside, it was John, , the eldest son, who stepped though the doorway to demand why Breckenridge had beaten his father so. Before Breckenridge could answer, Cho-o-poe's head appeared over the son's shoulder. Whereupon, without conscience and hoping to scare the Indians out of the valley once and for all, Breckenridge grabbed up a gun and shot the old chieftain dead. Though grief stricken over his father's death, John answered Breckenridge's call with a powerful blast from his own six-shooter. The discharge left Breckenridge with a serious wound to the side. Seeing a chance for victory before them, the Indians, ten in all, fell onto the ailing white man and ended his life with their clubs.

Word of the tragedy traveled throughout the valley and down the foothills. However, it took 'Hud" Barton's own father, twenty-two year old Hudson Barton from 'Slick Rock' (now Auckland) and two of his friends to answer the call to bury J. B. Breckenridge. J. B.'s coffin was one of simplicity; it was constructed by Hudson Barton from rough pine boards.

Upon its completion, Hudson, joined by his two friends, lowered the box into the grave just above the Breckenridge/Hard cabin up a knoll overlooking the beautiful Eshom Valley. A simple epitaph placed there reads:

'Breckenridge - 1864; killed by Indians: first grave in cemetery.'

This was the first grave on the knoll, which is the Eshom Valley Cemetery. Breckenridge's grave marker can be found at the SW corner of the old section.