The Comanches had another incentive for their attacks: a $50 bounty for the
return of Black Seminoles, offered by the Texas Indian agent, John Rollins, with
tacit approval from Texas Governor Peter H. Bell. In one of the ironies of
frontier race-relations, white Texans paid their most feared Indian enemies to
capture black fugitives.
As individual runaways, Black Seminoles were principally the concern of those
who claimed them as property. This group included Creek and Seminole slavers and
the Seminole subagent Marcellus Duval, who posted reward offers for the
fugitives in Texas newspapers. Collectively, the Black Seminoles threatened all
of the frontier slaveholders. Slaveholders “shuddered,” in the words of
historian Ronnie Tyler, “as exaggerated newspaper accounts aroused fears that
every Negro in the state would try to join the Seminole.”
Duval, who had helped create the hysteria, tried to use it to his advantage. He
wrote Governor Bell and various military officials requesting aid in capturing
the fugitives. By November 12, Army officials ordered the commander at Fort
Duncan to arrest any blacks attempting to cross south of the Rio Grande.
Porter Black 134, Tyler 4-5 citing Fort Smith Herald
July 20, Nov. 8, Dec. 6, 1850, The Texas Monument Aug. 7, Oct.
16, Dec. 4, 1850, Democratic Telegraph and Texas Gazette Nov.
16, Dec. 21, 1850, The Texas Presbyterian Nov. 1, 1850.