New character study painting by Jay Hester for the Parade of Artists, opening next week. This study will be available for sale at the JR Mooney Galleries - Boerne location.
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Flacco was the youngest of two chiefs, father and son, both named Flacco. Flacco the Elder, a friend of Sam Houston, was made a colonel in the Texas Army for services to the Republic of Texas. He could write his name and signed his signature as "Flacco Colonel." His son, Flacco the Younger, led Lipan scouts for Jack Hays' company of Rangers and taught Hays how to trail.
He also taught him Comanche battle tactics. He and Hays were close. Flacco, it was said, constantly watched Hays and nothing the Ranger captain did escaped his notice.
In many of Hays' fights with Comanches from 1840 through 1842, Flacco was there, with his Lipans as scouts and warriors. Several times Flacco saved Hays' life or Hays saved Flacco's. On one foray in search of hostile Comanches, Rangers invited Flacco to share a meal. "No," he said, "warriors never eat much on warpath. Captain Hays is great chief, but Rangers eat much too much on warpath. Too much eat, too much eat."
In 1841 in a battle on the Llano, Hays' Rangers attacked 200 Comanches and during the fight, Hays' horse ran straight at the Indian lines. Thinking that Hays was charging, Flacco rode after him. Both men rode through the Comanche lines and came out the other side untouched. Flacco said Captain Jack was "bravo too much." The Lipan chief added, "Me and Red Wing not afraid to go to hell together. Captain Jack not afraid to go to hell by himself."
In 1842, at some soiree at LaGrange, Flacco was one of the invited guests. He dressed for the occasion, wearing his breechclout and leggings of white buckskin and a string of beads, amulets and silver wrist bands. He was in the company of Capt. Mark Lewis.
A young lady played the piano for the chief's amusement and afterward, someone remarked that the young lady was a particular favorite of Capt. Lewis. "Oh, no," she said, "I am not tall enough for the captain."
Looking over and sizing up the young lady, who was somewhat short and overweight, Flacco said, "You tall too, but the Great Spirit, him put hand on head and mash you down."
In 1842, Flacco joined Jack Hays as part of the punitive Somervell expedition into Mexico that led to the disastrous Mier raid.
When Somervell was forced to turn back, he gave permission for those of his men who needed fresh mounts to confiscate horses from an old ranch near Laredo, since the herds were a source of supply for bandits. Flacco rounded up a caballada of 40 horses, a valuable herd. On the way to San Antonio, Flacco and his deaf-mute companion were murdered and the horses were stolen.
There was no real mystery about who killed Flacco, but Sam Houston, in his second term as president of the Republic, was anxious to prevent hostilities with Lipan-Apaches, should they learn that their young chief had been killed by two white horse thieves. Houston spread the word that Flacco was killed by a Mexican bandit named Agaton. Houston asked Noah Smithwick, who lived near Flacco the Elder, to tell him that Mexican bandits killed his son. Smithwick said it was simply a ruse to prevent the Lipans from going on the warpath. A Houston newspaper added to the misinformation, reporting that the bandit Agaton had been sighted on the Nueces River and some traders said he was responsible for murdering Flacco. Hays' Rangers were sent to capture or kill Agaton.
The real killers were James Ravis and Tom Thernon, the two men helping drive Flacco's horses. They were seen in Seguin with the horses shortly after Flacco's murder. They were not pursued or arrested or changed because their arrest and trial would not fit the concocted story that the Mexican bandit Agaton was the killer.
Flacco the Elder distributed his son's possessions to friends, sending one of his son's prized horses to Sam Houston.
Before it was delivered, pranksters at LaGrange, opponents of Houston, disfigured the horse by cutting off its mane and tail. Houston sent the Lipan Apaches a poem about the young Flacco.
Perhaps no single piece of Houston's writings have been reprinted as often as the words he wrote in condolence to Flacco the Elder on the death of his son, part of which is printed below:
My heart is sad!
A cloud rests upon your nation.
Grief has sounded in your camp;
The voice of Flacco is silent.
His words are not heard in council;
The chief is no more.
His life has fled to the Great Spirit,
His eyes are closed;
His heart no longer leaps
At the sight of the buffalo.
The voices of your camp
Are no longer heard to cry
"Flacco has returned from the chase."
Grass will not grow
On the path between us.Let your wise men give counsel of peace,
Let your young men walk in the white path.
The gray-headed men of your nation
Will teach wisdom.
—Thy brother, Sam Houston.
After the death of their son, Flacco and his wife began to fast, a Lipan custom. When they visited Noah Smithwick, they had starved themselves until, said Smithwick, they looked like mummies. Smithwick convinced them to end their fast and share a meal cooked by his wife.
The name of Flacco the Younger is remembered in large measure due to his connection with two superstars of Texas history — Jack Hays and Sam Houston. He is remembered because of his devoted friendship with Hays and because of the Houston's elegy on his death, who wrote of Flacco that — "His heart no longer leaps at the sight of the buffalo."