Elizabeth Ann Carter remained strong even though tragedy and danger dogged her life at Fort Belknap. She ran a boarding and trading center at Fort Belknap and managed the ranch of Edmund J. Carter, her father-in-law. Carter, who was a "free black man," became the richest man in Young County, according to Barbara Ledbetter in Fort Belknap A Frontier Saga. In addition to a prosperous freighting business, he owned land, oxen, mules, wagons, money, horses and 700 head of cattle. The status of the rich African-American dramatically set him apart in a county and state where most African-Americans were slaves. Elizabeth Ann proved to be exceptional herself. While the Carter men expanded their cargo and freighting business in North Texas, she managed the ranch and ran the Carter Trading House near Fort Belknap. Their good fortunate came to a halt in 1857. Elizabeth's husband and father-in-law were both shot and killed, and, even though both men were free citizens, no law officials investigated the mysterious murders. In fact, Young County records down played the event, referring to the murders as their "untimely deaths." The elder Carter had signed a will on his death bed, but it didn't prevent those outside the family circle from gobbling up the Carter estate. A succession of estate executors, three county commissioners, acting as appraisers, and numerous lawyers took huge slices of the estate. Elizabeth Ann's married daughter, Suzanne, and her young son inherited what was left of the estate. Because women in Texas had few legal rights, Elizabeth Ann did not protest the will. Instead, she continued running the trading house and ranch. In 1858, Elizabeth Carter was briefly married to Lt. Owen A. Sprague, but he disappeared with no explanation eight months later. The trading house prospered after the Butterfield Overland Mail began stopping at Fort Belknap in 1858. Her third marriage to Thomas Fitzpatrick, a cowhand who worked for her, ended when he was murdered 18 months later. The deaths of her three husbands would pale in comparison to the next calamity in her life - the Elm Creek Raid on Oct. 13, 1864. Her Young County ranch and other ranchers' families were attacked along a creek that was too far from Fort Belknap to receive help in time. Elizabeth's daughter, Mildred Susanna Durkin, and son were murdered in front of her and her grandchildren. The Indians abducted Elizabeth Ann, her 13-year-old son and Elizabeth's two surviving granddaughters, Charlotte Durkin (Lottie), 5, and Mildred Durkin (Milly), 2. Her son, Elijah, was killed shortly after his capture because he was too frail and sick to ride. Elizabeth Ann was taken captive by Plains Indians led by Comanche chief Little Buffalo. She was held 12 months and 20 days in Kiowa Chief Sun Boy's camp on the Arkansas River in northwestern Kansas. Her granddaughter, Milly, and several other children held in Comanche Chief Iron Mountain's camp apparently froze to death early in 1865. However, Elizabeth never gave up hope that Milly remained hidden and alive in captivity. The other grandchild, Lottie, spent nine months as captive of Comanches. Elizabeth Ann was finally rescued in November 1865 but had to wait many more months at the Kaw Mission. No relatives survived who could make the long ride from Texas to Council Grove, Kan., to retrieve her. Typically, for the hard-working woman, she cared for other released captives and fought to make arrangements for transportation home. Eventually she returned to Fort Belknap where she was reunited with her surviving granddaughter, Lottie. This reunion would be one of the few bright moments of happiness for the rest of her life.