There has always been a controversy as to whether Kingfisher Creek, for which the town and county were named, was from the water bird that flies along the creeks and rivers, or was this creek named for a man named Kingfisher. Dr. C. N. Gould, in his splendid little reference book entitled, "Oklahoma Place Names" says, "One of the early day stage stations on the Chisholm Trail south of the Cimmaron River, was opened by a noted plainsman, Kingfisher. He grazed his cattle along a creek, which was afterwards known as Kingfisher Creek."
There has always been some doubt as to the identity of the man named Kingfisher. The writer has never met any old-time pioneer cattleman, or scout, who claimed to have known the man by that name, or had any personal knowledge of the existence of such a man. However, there is an article in the September number of the Frontier Times, a very interesting publication printed at Bandera, Texas, that may throw some light upon the hazy tradition of this man Kingfisher, even though it may not be altogether complimentary to his memory. The article referred to is taken from the San Antonio Express, concerning that notorious character, Ben Thompson. The first paragraph of this story reads: "Fifty years ago on the night of March 11, 1884, Ben Thompson and John King Fisher were slain in the Jack Harris Vaudeville Theater at Commerce and Soledad Streets". Then follows a very sanguinary story of the killing, and a graphic sketch of the lives of these two men. This article quotes from the Express, the morning after the killing: "Ben Thompson, the slayer of Jack Harris and various other victims and John King Fisher, the hero of many bloody battles, are no more."
Concerning the career of King Fisher the article says: "King Fisher was a deputy sheriff of Uvalde County and was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old and had a wife and children living in Uvalde. He was at one time credited with being a member of the Bill Burton gang and many old citizens of Eagle Pass recall the stormy days of that town, when King Fisher's name was a synonym of fear to those, who were not his friends. He is said to have killed at least fifteen Mexicans during his career". Could it have been possible that this was the same man for whom Kingfisher Creek was named?—D. W. P.
The year, 1934, marks the one hundredth anniversary of the first meeting of the white man, that is of the Anglo American, with the Indian tribes of southwestern Oklahoma. Among these tribes may be named the Kiowas and Comanches; however, the tribes that had the greatest interest and the greatest historical significance to the Americans who came in contact with them, were the Caddos and Wichitas and the affiliated bands, such as the Wacos, Keechis and Anadarkos.
This military expedition left Fort Gibson June 1834, under the immediate command of Colonel Henry Dodge, and is known as the "Dragoon Campaign". It is through the report of this expedition that we get our first authentic knowledge of the manner of living and habits and customs of these Indians. These white people came to the conclusion that they were a branch of the Pawnee Indians and refer to them in their report as "Pawnee Picts". The story of this exploring expedition has been told by several writers including the official report of Lieutenant Wheelock. George Catlin, the great artist, who painted pictures of more Indians, buffaloes and wild western scenery than has anyone else, accompanied Colonel Dodge on this expedition and wrote a graphic account of the Indians of the Southwest. He also, painted many pictures of the Indians of the various tribes with which they came in contact while on that exploring trip.
The Oklahoma Historical Society has a reproduction of forty-two pictures, on the wall of the museum, of that historical survey, and also, the descriptive story told by George Catlin, who painted them. But of all the descriptions of that epochal event, none surpasses that of Sergeant Hugh Evans, Company G, United States Dragoon Regiment. It is known as "The Journal of Hugh Evans", covering the First and Second Campaigns of the United States Dragoon Regiment in 1834 and 1835.
This Journal was published in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. III, Number 3, September 1925.
This was one of the most interesting historic stories ever printed in the Chronicles. The original of this Journal was loaned to the curator of the Oregon Historical Society, in whose possession it is now supposed to be, by Miss Amanlo Evans of Portland, Oregon, and niece of Sergeant Evans, and it was from this source that the Chronicles received the copy of the Journal of this rare historical episode.
The Wheelock official report gives the names of a number of officers who served under Colonel Dodge, and afterwards became famous in American history, including Jefferson Davis, who, at that time was a lieutenant in the Dragoon Regiment and afterwards became president of the Southern Confederacy. Captain Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, was an officer under Dodge and later served in the Mexican War, and after that conducted some exploring expeditions.
It has not been definitely determined as to the exact route this expedition traveled, while in what is now Southwestern Oklahoma, but we know that the Dragoons visited the Wichitas on the west side of the Wichita Mountains, where these Indians were engaged in farming, raising corn and melons, and that they were living in grass houses. In a short time after this the Wichitas moved to the north side of the mountains and there set up their village. They were located on Medicine Bluff Creek, and had a large cornfield near the base of Mt. Scott where Lieutenant George B. McClellan visited them in 1852.
Within a short time after the Dodge invasion, if we may call it such, a number of trading posts were set up with the object of securing the trade with the tribes of the plains. One of the early trading posts was that of Warrens, located near the mouth of Cache Creek.
Warren's Trading Post was set up and opened for business about the year 1839 or 1840. A fort and trading post was built on the Red River, in what is now Tillman County, known as the Coffee Trading Post, even before the Warren Post was opened. One of the most important trading posts was established in what is now Cleveland County, northwest of the town of Lexington, Oklahoma. The post was established in 1835, and was located on Chouteau Creek, named for Colonel A. P. Chouteau, who established the trading post. Thus, began one hundred years ago, the invasion of the white man, and the settlement and civilization of Southern Oklahoma.
It would have been altogether fitting and proper for the progressive citizenship of Oklahoma, and especially of southwestern Oklahoma to have in some appropriate manner given recognition to this one hundredth anniversary.
D. W. P.