In the mid to late 1800s, settlers streamed west across North America in great numbers. There were various reasons for this exodus from the east: gold was discovered in California, land on the frontier was cheap - if not completely free - and the belief in Manifest Destiny had taken root deep in the American psyche. Texas was considered a prime location for refugees from the east. The climate was good and the soil fertile. Stephen F. Austin, Green DeWitt, Martin De Leon, and other empresarios secured land grants - first from Spain, later from Mexico - parceled the property, and sold it off in large tracts to eager settlers. Once Texas won independence from Mexico, immigration increased dramatically. One area that attracted both Anglo and Native American settlers was in East Texas in an area that today makes up Tyler and Polk Counties. The reasons these pioneers chose this area west of the Sabine River were obvious to anyone who visited. The region was rich in timber and water resources, the land was good for farming, and the forest was teeming with all types of game. It was a virtual paradise.
In the summer of 1846, something altogether new was introduced to the area’s settlers: fear. This fear motivated the pioneers to eschew the dog-run-style cabins preferred in other parts of Texas and instead construct homes of the thickest logs that resembled miniature forts. Students of Texas history might assume the source of this fear was tension between the settlers and the Native American tribes in the area. Such was not the case as the dominant tribe of the area, the Alabamas, were presided over by a Chief named Colita who generally preferred a peaceful, even friendly, relationship with the white settlers.
Despite the friendly relationship between the area’s pioneers and the Alabamas, the settlers never felt completely comfortable with their Native American neighbors and rumors of marauding Indians from the outer edges of Colita’s Kingdom spread like wildfire from time-to-time. (Colita presided over the Alabamas, but also acted as Chief over a loose affiliation of tribes that included the Coushattas, Creeks, and Kickapoos) When such rumors surfaced, settlers would appoint a family member to serve as a watchman so that they would not be caught flat-footed by renegade Indians during the dark East Texas nights. It was during one of these times, when bands of marauding tribesman were said to be in the area, that the legend of the pebble thrower of Peach Creek was born.
The George Caudill family lived on Peach Creek, about a half mile from a settlement called Peachtree Village. Having heard the rumors of roaming hostile Indians, George charged his eighteen-year-old son with taking the watch one hot night in August of 1846. The nervous youth began to hear movement sounds in the forest surrounding the family’s cabin during the wee hours of the morning. The young Caudill could not see anything unusual in the dark woods but continued to hear someone, or something, moving about. Suddenly, an object of some kind struck the roof of the cabin. The teenager heard the object slowly roll down the eaves of the house and land on the sandy ground outside.
Fearing this was some sort of Indian attempt to probe the cabin’s defenses, the young man rushed to wake his father. Within minutes the entire family was up and expecting the worst. A bit later, another small object struck the roof, rolled slowly down the sloped structure, and landed with a thump outside the cabin. This action was repeated multiple times throughout the night and was heard by the entire family. Mercifully, as the first rays of dawn began to break through the towering trees of the East Texas forest, the activity ceased.
Once it was fully daylight, the Caudill’s carefully stepped out of their cabin and inspected the area around the structure. The trees had long been cleared from the area immediately surrounding the home, making it impossible for anything to drop from them onto the roof. The front “yard” – as was the custom in those days – was kept grass and weed free, and provided a sandy record of the tracks of any person or animal that visited the cabin. On this morning, there were no tracks of any kind. A search for the objects that had struck the roof turned up nothing. The family was completely baffled.
Around midday, George paid a visit to his nearest neighbors, a family by the name of Burchman. Caudill shared the story of the creepy goings on of the previous night with his friend. Mr. Burchman replied, “That’s funny, we had the same experience and at about the same time. We couldn’t find any tracks but felt sure it was Indians.” The two men proceeded to the home of another neighbor, the Keys family. They, too, reported having endured a barrage of pebbles during the previous night. Upon further inquiry, families up and down Peach Creek reported having experienced the shenanigans of the “pebble thrower” at some point in the recent past.
Over time, the stone-throwing continued. Annoyance replaced fear among the pioneers as it became clear that whomever the pebble thrower was, he was more prankster than marauder. All assumed that some mischievous Indian was the culprit and it was decided a visit to Chief Colita was in order in the hopes that he could put a stop to the disturbing incidents. Upon hearing the testimony of the settlers, Colita seemed strangely unsurprised and more than a little amused at the plight of the homesteaders. He stated that it was highly unlikely the pebble thrower was an Indian. He acknowledged there were probably a few unsavory characters among his tribal coalition, then added, “But, the Indian does not poke fun at the white man. If he likes you, he will not do that. If he does not like you, he has a better way of letting you know than throwing pebbles on the roofs of your homes.” Colita convinced the settlers that there was nothing he could do to stop the stone thrower but that there was likely nothing of which to be afraid. While the pioneers believed Colita’s assertion that Indians were not responsible, several left with the feeling that the Chief knew more about what might actually be happening than he let on. Whatever the case, the rock throwing continued. Week after week, month after month, and year after year, the assault continued on the cabins of settlers up and down Peach Creek. The pebble thrower never left tracks and the projectiles themselves were only rarely found.
The pebble thrower of Peach Creek might have been a mischievous youth of Indian or Anglo origin. That would be the simplest and least disturbing explanation. It is worth mentioning, however, that the heavily forested regions of East Texas, West Lousiana, Southwest Arkansas, and Southeast Oklahoma have long traditions of wildman/sasquatch encounters. Too, bigfoot lore is rife with incidents where these North American wood apes have reportedly hurled projectiles at or near people. The most famous example is, no doubt, the Ape Canyon incident that allegedly took place in the remote forest of Washington in 1924; however, literally hundreds of other projectile throwing events have been documented over the years. Incidents that are eerily similar to those experienced by the homesteaders along Peach Creek so long ago continue to be reported to this very day. Could the pebble thrower of Peach Creek have been a sasquatch? Many would find such a hypothesis laughable, but as someone who has been holed up inside a cabin in a remote and heavily wooded location during such a barrage of rocks, I do not. If there is anything to the bigfoot phenomenon, the possibility should be considered.
Should you ever find yourself awakened in the middle of the night by a loud impact on the roof of the cabin in which you are living or vacationing, you likely have nothing to fear other than the loss of a good night’s sleep; however, I would recommend inspecting the roof of the structure the next morning. Should you find rocks resting there, you might reconsider your plans before staying a second night. After all, rocks cannot fly onto roofs and they do not fall from trees.
Those rocks were thrown up there.
*SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT* - If you are intrigued by the idea of wood apes hurling stones at remote cabins, you would likely enjoy my book, Valley of the Apes: The Search for Sasquatch in Area X. In it, many such incidents – along with a wide variety of other ape-related weirdness – are documented. You can purchase here or, if you would like a signed copy, contact me directly at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.
Combs, J. F. (1965). Chapter 5. In Legends of the Pineys (pp. 55–61). essay, Naylor Co.