BY W. C. RIGGS
When the Choctaw people were removed from Mississippi to their reservation, in what is now southeastern Oklahoma, they maintained a tribal government, patterned in part after our own state and national governments. They enacted their own laws and enforced them, and their treaties with the United States gave them the right to eject outlaws and fugitives from justice from their country which was known as the Choctaw Nation.
Their chief executive was called the Principal Chief, he was also commander-in-chief of the mounted police and other military bodies that the Choctaw Nation might deem necessary to, raise.
Their legislative body was called the Tribal Council, and was divided into two houses similar to Congress or our state legislature.
The Choctaw Nation for legislative purposes, also, judicial, was divided into fourteen counties, of which our state only saw fit to retain the name of two, and their borders do not conform to the old ones either. The two county names retained by the Oklahoma legislators are Atoka and Coal; Coal County, however, under Choctaw administration, was called Tobucksy instead of the English name. The old county names, such as Sans Bois, Skullyville, Nashoba, Shukalaf, Bokhoma, etc., went into discard. The Choctaw Nation was again divided into three senatorial districts and instead of being numbered were named in honor of former Choctaw Chiefs who had distinguished themselves years ago east of the Mississippi River: these districts were Apuckshanubbee, Mosholatubbee and Pushmataha. The modern legislators had forethought enough to name one county for Pushmataha. The tribal council was composed of two senators from each district, and one councilman from each county; their elections were usually held by the men of eighteen years of age and older assembling at some point, usually county court grounds, and a line was drawn, and one side of the line was chosen for one candidate and the other side for his opponent, and the voters lined up on the side they wished to vote for until their noses were counted.
NO BALLOT BOX STUFFING
There never was any ballot box stuffing at an election of this kind, however, during the last few years of the Tribal Government the ballot box was introduced for their major elections.
The Choctaw County organization consisted of a County Judge, County Clerk, County Attorney, County Sheriff and County Ranger, the ranger was something similar to our township constable, except that his jurisdiction was only in civil matters of the court.
The year 1850 the office of District and Supreme judges were created, the Supreme Court meeting once a year, namely: October. There were seventeen counties, and seventeen County Judges, three Circuit Judges and three Supreme Judges, the Circuit Court was changed to District Court about the year 1884.
In lieu of a regular organized military organization, the Choctaw Nation maintained a body of mounted police, known as the Light Horsemen, and they were officered by a captain and under officers usually called captain, but subordinate to the commanding Captain.
THE LIGHT HORSEMEN
The light horsemen were what the name indicates; they were a hard riding, straight shooting, hard fighting body of men, who carried no excess equipment such as militiamen carry; a horse, saddle, rifle and revolver were the regular equipment, while a few hands full of parched corn and some jerked beef in their pockets or saddle bags, was the ration this army subsisted on while they moved swiftly from place to place. During the eighties various bands of outlaws infested the Indian Territory. It was often necessary for the United States deputy marshals to join their forces with those of the Choctaw Nation, (the Light Horsemen) in an attack on the outlaws, as both had the same object, that of ridding the country of renegades and tough characters.
In the spring of 1883 or 1884, the Christie gang, a noted gang of desperadoes, had planned to rob the early morning M. K. & T. passenger train as it stopped at the Reynolds tank to take water. This place is about five miles north of Limestone Gap, at that time the residence of Captain Chas.
Leflore,1 who was on the police force, and also member of the Choctaw Light Horsemen; news reached the Captain of the contemplated hold-up, and he immediately called the members of his force into action. They went to the tank and secreted themselves under the structure of the huge tank and awaited the approach of the would be robbers; Captain Leflore had about twenty-five men in his company, and the supposition was that the band of outlaws had about the same number, but Leflore reasoned that if they had possession of the place they would have the advantage. A short time before the passenger train was due to arrive, the outlaws made their appearance, and thinking every thing was O. K. they started to occupy the position already taken by the posse.
Captain Leflore had given his men instructions not to move or fire until he signaled and allowed the outlaws to come within a few steps of the tank before he and the troopers opened fire. As the outlaws had been under fire before they soon rallied and offered a strong resistance and during the battle the Katy passenger approached from the north, but the engineer, ever on the alert for danger and trouble, brought his train under control and stopped a safe distance until the fight was ended. In this battle was a young Indian who had just recently joined the Light Horsemen, and you might say this battle was his baptism of fire. Some one of the outlaws using a powerful rifle shot a splinter off one of the upright supports of the tank, and the splinter hit the young trooper in the eye, knocking it out. He observed the Captain looking at him he called out, "Captain, we have them
1November 23, 1866, the General Council of the Choctaw Nation, granted Chas. Lefiore the privilege of erecting a toll bridge across Clear Boggy where the Fort Smith and Boggy Depot road crossed the stream. This bridge was operated for several years by Chas. Leflore. On December 14, the same year, the council granted Greenwood Thompson the privilege to erect a bridge across the stream at Limestone Gap, Chas. Leflore purchased this bridge in 1876, he was living here when he had the little affair with the outlaws mentioned above. Captain Chas. Leflore was one of the most valuable citizens of the Territory, he raised a nice family, one daughter became the wife of Lee Cruce, who was the second governor of the State of Oklahoma. The old Leflore home and the bridge are still in use. This road is spoken of as the road leading from Boggy Dept. C. N., to North Forktown. Creek Nation; North Forktown was on the North Canadian, northeast of where Eufaula is located.
J. Y. B.
whipped, they are out of ammunition and are now shooting at us with bows and arrows." I have heard the Captain tell this with quite a relish for the amusement of others many times.
OUTLAWS WERE WHIPPED
The result of the battle was two of the Captain’s men wounded, four or five of the outlaws killed, as many wounded, the balance fleeing when they realized that the gage of the battle had gone against them. The prisoners and the dead were loaded into the baggage car of the Katy passenger which came up to the tank as soon as they saw the Light Horsemen were victorious. The prisoners were turned over to Federal authorities for attempted mail robbery and possibly many other similar crimes already against their records. This battle broke up the major operations in the Choctaw Nation, but of course, small detached bands of criminals existed for several years afterwards, but nothing like they formerly were.