There's a lot of history between the settlers of the Texas panhandle and the tribes of indigenous people in the area. None of it though comes close to the insanity of something that went down in history known as "The Great Panhandle Indian Scare."

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Imagine You Took Y2K And Mixed It With An Old John Wayne Movie

In order to start even attempting to understand exactly how this happened, you have to go back to 1891. More specifically, January 29, 1891.

Now, in the decade prior many of the native population had already left most of the Texas panhandle. That didn't stop settlers from being scared of attacks.

In a weird way, it's like if you took Y2K and mixed it with an old John Wayne movie. Lots of doomsday rumors, but in the old west.

This fear of attacks is what led to an event so insane, it has its own historical marker.

Remember Kids, Spreading Rumors Willy-Nilly Never Ends Well

On January 29, 1891 the rumors of Indians making their way throughout the area were spreading like wild fire. Settlers were left terrified at the prospect of being overwhelmed by some kind of war party.

So, for the next three days settlers barricaded themselves in their homes. They prepared themselves to defend their homes and communities from impending doom.


People were making bullets day and night. Towns were wiring each other with the message, "Send all the guns you can!"

Supposedly, the message came back that weapons couldn't be sent because, "...the Kickapoos have just taken over Miami."

The Texas Rangers even got involved.

There Never Was An Attack, Just Some Hungry Cowboys

What caused these rumors to spread was the fact that some people, specifically a woman named Mrs. Johnson, swore they heard the yelling and they saw the smoke signals. Armageddon was at the door, and wouldn't spare a soul.

Except, it was all nonsense.

The actual source of these war cries and smoke signals was a group of cowboys. Imagine that. A group of rowdy cowboys making the locals nervous.

Pardon my sarcasm.

The yelling and smoke were just these cowboys chasing down a steer. It was a steer that they caught and then cooked over an open fire.

Turns out, "The Great Panhandle Indian Scare" was nothing more than some hungry cowboys.

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