Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 2
June, 1934

Page 214


In that final Judgment Day when the Angel shall come to distribute the rewards to those who have lived here, the names of the most honored ones will not be taken from the monuments we have erected in our parks and on our military reservations, nor from the memorial windows of our public buildings; they will not be taken from a roster of those, who from their surplus wealth endowed the libraries and colleges of the land, that their names might not be forgotten, nor from a list of those who designed silken robes as an evidence of their faith.

He will go out on the frontier of other days and seek those who knew neither wealth nor honor, whose fare was scanty, whose palms were calloused, whose faces were tanned brown beneath the scorching rays of the prairie sun and whose simple faith was the Brotherhood of Man. He will seek those men who digged a well in the wilderness that the thirsty traveler might drink; who planted a tree on the plains that future generations might enjoy its fruit.

He will seek those men who turned a cow-path into a highway; who established standards of character for the government of commonwealths yet to be born and whose reward for that great service to mankind was the consciousness that their lives had been lived for the benefit of their fellow men.

He will not visit the great mausoleums where those who lived in wealth and died in splendor rest in guilded caskets, but will halt his footsteps at some lonely, half-forgotten and deserted country cemetery, carpeted in the golden-rod and adorned by the sun-flower and yucca plant and from thence He will call from their long sleep a sturdy pioneer and his faithful wife and upon their heads he will place the laurel wreaths of honor.

Dedicated to my friend Charles F. Colcord.

Notes—(G. F.)

After one hundred years of service in the saddle the First Regiment of Cavalry has ceased to exist as a mounted organization. It was recently removed by gas power from Marfa, Texas,

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to Fort Knox, Kentucky. The passing of this organization is a matter of peculiar interest to Oklahoma and the Southwest generally. It will be regretted as the breaking of another link that binds us with our early history.

The First Cavalry had its origin in the call in 1832 for six companies of mounted troops to be known as Rangers, for service in the Black Hawk War in Illinois. Before the companies had been recruited the orders were changed and the Rangers were directed to proceed to Fort Gibson to aid in preparing this country for the reception of the tribes about to be emigrated from the East. The company of Rangers in command of Capt. Jesse Bean of Arkansas was the first to reach Fort Gibson, in September. Soon after their arrival they were sent out on a scouting tour of the west that was accompanied by Washington Irving, and the appearance and movements of these frontier soldiers were immortalized by Irving in his Tour on the Prairies.

The next year it was determined to discontinue the ranger organization and merge the six companies with the regiment of Dragoons authorized that year by Congress. This organization in connection with the Seventh Infantry also stationed at Fort Gibson had more to do with the civilizing of the country that is now Oklahoma, and its preparation as the home of the emigrant tribes from the east, than all other military organizations combined. They made important tours on the prairies as far west as the site of Oklahoma City and the present Fort Sill, and were frequently employed in policing the country and in escorting representatives of the wild tribes to Fort Gibson and other accessible places for the making of important treaties with the United States, so essential to the civilization of this western country.

This veteran regiment of frontier soldiers continued to police the West until this service was interrupted by the Mexican War in which they distinguished themselves in several important battles at San Pasqual, California, at Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. After the war they continued as regulators of the wild Indians throughout the whole west. On August 3, 1861 their designation was changed to the First United States Cavalry and they served with distinction in the Civil War; for the next 71 years this veteran organization under the present name has maintained its fine traditions.

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During the 100 years of its career many men served in this regiment who later became identified with the history of Oklahoma and distinguished in that of our country. Henry Dodge early governor and senator from Wisconsin was the first commanding officer of the Rangers and of the Dragoons. Nathan Boone a son of Daniel Boone was a captain of one of the ranger companies and for many years served as captain of the Dragoons. Lieut. Jefferson Davis in 1833 became the first adjutant of the Dragoons. Stephen Watts Kearny, Richard B. Mason, David Hunter, Edwin V. Sumner, and Philip St. George Cooke were officers of the Dragoons who later became known to fame in the service of their country.

At the recent meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society resolutions prepared by Grant Foreman were adopted wherein the society went on record as advocating the preservation of the old buildings at Fort Gibson with the hope ultimately of establishing a state park embracing the site of the old fort and the surviving buildings. It is a matter of much interest and satisfaction that tangible results have so quickly followed the action of society.

It recently developed that the old barracks building at Fort Gibson was on the point of being torn down and the material used in the construction of a house. The owner however, upon being approached by representatives of the society agreed to turn the building over for the sum of $400.00, the amount of his investment. While those interested were trying to solve the problem of raising the money for this purpose the matter was presented by Mr. John B. Meserve of Tulsa, to two loyal friends of the society who very generously supplied the necessary funds. Mrs. J. Garfield Buell of The Homestead, Muskogee, wrote her check for $200.00, and Mr. John G. Catlett of Tulsa, contributed an equal amount. A deed was prepared and signed on May 4, by the owner of the property, conveying it to the state. The deed recites that the consideration was advanced by Mrs. Buell and Mr. Catlett for the purpose of conveying the property to the state for the use, benefit and control of the Oklahoma Historical Society in such manner as may be provided by law.

The construction of this building began in 1845 when Quartermaster General Thomas S. Jesup came from Washington

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to Fort Gibson and approved plans for the building. It has had an interesting and distinguished career but because no one has been interested in preserving it it is in a dilapidated condition and funds will have to be provided for restoring it to preserve it from further decay and destruction. The substantial stone walls are intact, and much of the wood work in the building constructed of walnut timber is in place; but it is a constant temptation to vandals who have already carried away some of it for fuel. The roof should be recovered and the windows and doors nailed up to keep out trespassers.

The meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society at Muskogee in April was one of the most stimulating and interesting in the history of the organization. The council chamber in which it was held was filled with ardent members and friends who left that meeting with feelings of the most profound interest in Oklahoma history. There was something particularly appropriate in the setting in which this meeting was held as the country surrounding Muskogee is so filled with historical sites, buildings and traditions.

The acquisition of the barracks building at Fort Gibson and the donations by Mrs. Buell and Mr. Catlett that made it possible commemorate a notable awakening of interest in the history of our state aroused at this meeting.

The historical tour on April 18, preceding the meeting of the society at Muskogee on the next day, was participated in by nearly one hundred members and friends of the society who were unanimous in their approval and enthusiasm. The high spot of this trip, of course, was the visit to the modest log home of the great Sequoyah. The resolutions adopted at the meeting the next day embrace the hope and ambition to acquire this historic structure in the name of the state as a shrine.

On March 27, 1934, the President of the United States signed House Bill No. 5631, entitled, "An Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to place with the Oklahoma Historical Society, at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as custodian for the United States, certain records of the Five Civilized Tribes, and of other Indian tribes in the State of Oklahoma, under rules and regulations to be prescribed by him."

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This is the bill offered by Congressman W. W. Hastings in behalf of the Oklahoma Historical Society authorizing the transfer to the society of the large collections of tribal records in the custody of various federal agencies in the state. The most extensive of these is the collection in the office of the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes at Muskogee. For nearly five years these have been in the process of calendaring by Mrs. Rella Watts. These records number nearly 100,000 manuscripts and approximately 1000 bound books in manuscript, originating in different branches of the tribal governments, administrative, executive and judicial. They have been classified and arranged according to subject and chronology and have been calendared upon more than 40,000 cards. The cards are systematically arranged in eighteen two-drawer steel card cases, and the manuscripts, with numbers corresponding to the card numbers, are arranged in eight large four-drawer steel filing cases. The other tribal records embraced in the bill are deposited with a number of tribal agencies over the state, and not being of current use and value are much in need of a safe depository such as the Oklahoma Historical Society has to offer. The bill enumerates the following tribal records as included in its scope: "Any records of the Five Civilized Tribes, including, the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles, which may be in the custody or control of the Secretary of the Interior and the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes; also of the Wichita, Kiowa, Comanche, Caddo, and Apache, Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Anadarko, Oklahoma; also of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Concho, Oklahoma; also of the Sac and Fox, Pottawatomie, Kickapoo, and Iowa Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Shawnee, Oklahoma; also of the Wyandotte, Seneca, Quapaw, Peoria, Modoc, and Miami Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Miami, Oklahoma; also of the Tonkawa, Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe, and Kaw Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Pawnee, Oklahoma; and of the Osage Indians that may be within his custody or control or of the agent at Pawhuska, Oklahoma."

A survey of the tribal records in which the historical so-

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ciety is interested was published in the Chronicles for March 1933, Volume XI, page 625.

Inasmuch as the bill provides that these records shall be removed under rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, Judge R. L. Williams, at the recent annual meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society at Muskogee, Oklahoma, offered a resolution which was adopted, naming Judge Williams, Judge Thomas H. Doyle and Grant Foreman, a committee to confer with the federal officials and cooperate with them in the preparation of the necessary rules and regulations to the end that the transfer of the records may be made as soon as may be.

So much interest was aroused in the historical tour participated in by the members of the Oklahoma Historical Society on April 18, that another tour was arranged from Muskogee on May 6, in which two bus loads and two private cars of enthusiastic lovers of Oklahoma history took part.

A visit was made first to the historic Three Forks where a number of early traders established themselves more than one hundred years ago; where the first Creek immigrants landed; where the Creek Agency and the Osage Agency, on opposite sides of the Verdigris River, were located; where Washington Irving crossed the Verdigris River in October 1832 on his memorable Tour on the Prairies; where the celebrated Texas Road passed with its caravans of emigrants, freighters and trading expeditions for more than fifty years.

The company then visited the site of Union Mission and the Campbell Salt Works nearby, the oldest operated salt work positively known in the history of Oklahoma. They then proceeded to Salina and were shown the location of A. P. Chouteau's wilderness establishment where he lived with his Osage wives and ruled as a feudal lord over the Indians. They were shown also the site of the pretentious home of Lewis Ross which later became the Cherokee Orphan Asylum and was afterward destroyed by fire. They then visited the salt works a mile south of Salina that were conducted by Capt. John Rogers at the time Washington Irving saw them in 1832.

After lunch on beautiful Saline Creek we proceeded eastward over Route No. 11 and turned off to visit the site of the

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Moravian Mission established about 1842. Here are visible only the old parsonage with its quaint architecture and two stone walled spring houses in their beautiful setting. Nearby is to be seen the huge stone that marks the site of the front door of the old school and chapel in this settlement, the remainder of which has entirely disappeared. Near is also the Moravian cemetery containing the bones of Miles Vogler and other pioneer missionaries, marked by the peculiar Moravian monuments lying flat on the tomb. Nearby is the old Military Road over which troops came from St. Louis through Tahlequah to Fort Gibson and to Texas and on this road near this place is the site of one of the old toll gates. The company stopped at the Lutheran Mission half a mile from the remains of the old mission. This flourishing school contains several substantial buildings and is under the superintendence of Rev. C. A. Vammen who very graciously showed us over the place.

From here they continued east past the Hildebrand mill on Flint Creek and Dripping Springs, both of which they were obliged to omit from the stops on account of lack of time. They then continued to the Arkansas line and turned south, visiting the site of old Fort Wayne at Watts, and the Baptist Mission where Rev. Jesse Bushyhead set up his mission establishment and where, on the Baptist Mission Press, the first newspaper of Oklahoma was printed in 1844, a few weeks before the appearance of the Cherokee Advocate. Here in the cemetery is to be seen the monument to Jesse Bushyhead whose death in 1844 deprived the Cherokee Nation of one of its brightest ornaments.

The company then proceeded to Westville and returned home by way of Tahlequah and Fort Gibson. Every member of the party was delighted and enthusiastic over the experience and expressed a desire to take other trips to historic spots in the state.

On a recent visit to the site of Union Mission a search was made for several heaps of stones that had been fireplaces and foundations of some of the houses of this once active little settlement. These stones bad been concealed by brush and trees and had enabled the visitor to comprehend the distribution of the houses over the place. It is a matter of great regret to notice that several of these places had been cleared up, the stone re-

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moved and the land all plowed and thus every vestige of these houses erased.

Accounts have been written for the Chronicles and for the newspapers of Oklahoma describing this, the earliest mission in the State of Oklahoma, with the hope of arousing interest enough in our people to acquire the land in the name of the state or historical society, and thus preserve it against further vandalism. Attention has been called to the fact that at this place where the mission work was begun in 1819, the first school in Oklahoma was opened in 1821, the first Protestant wedding in the State of Oklahoma was held here on March 10, 1821, the first church in the State of Oklahoma was organized here on May 26, 1821, the first printing press in Oklahoma was set up here and began publishing books and tracts for the Indians in 1835. The one hundredth anniversaries of these events have passed and it remains next year to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the work of the first printing press in Oklahoma.

It is gratifying to note that the teachers and pupils of the Northeastern State Teachers College at Tahlequah have rescued the broken pieces of the monument to Rev. Epaphras Chapman, one of the founders of Union, and embedded it in enduring concrete over his grave where his bones have reposed since his death in 1825; this is undoubtedly the oldest monument in Oklahoma. It is hoped that these evidences of interest in our history will stimulate others to similar efforts.

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