By DAN W. PEERY
In the December 1934 number of the Chronicles of Oklahoma was published a sketch of the life of George W. Steele, the first Territorial Governor, from which these lines are copied "The Governor issued his proclamation on July 8, 1890, calling an election to elect twenty-six members of the House of representatives and thirteen of the Council to constitute the first legislative assembly. The date set for this election was August 5, 1890. The legislature was to have convened Aug. 12, following; but owing to the death of two members elect, a special election was called and the convening of the legislature was postponed until Aug. 27."
In this sketch of the life of the first Governor nothing was said concerning the two members who died in August 1890, the first of whom was C. M. Burke, who died of malarial fever on Friday following the election. He was a Democrat and was succeeded in the second election by Maj. Moses Neal. Burke was an ambitious young man, and his passing so early in life was sincerely regretted by the hundreds of friends he had made in the campaign for his election.
The other member who died before the convening of the legislature was Hon. Milton W. Reynolds, better known as a writer under his nom de plume "Kicking Bird." Mr. Reynolds was elected as the representative at large, his district included the whole of the seven counties constituting the territory. (At the special election to fill the vacancy, A. M. Colson of Kingfisher and Caldwell, Kansas was elected to succeed Reynolds).
There was no other man elected to the first Territorial legislature better known, or who had so wide an acquaintance as did Milton W. Reynolds. Throughout the entire country he was known as a brilliant newspaper correspondent and graphic writer. It can be truthfully said that he was the most prominent and distinguished man who had been elected to either House of the first
Territorial legislature. Much was expected of him in framing the laws for the territory and his untimely death was a loss to the law making body. Every one who had read and kept up with the trend of western development knew of Milton W. Reynolds as he had not only been an editor in two or three states, but was a well known newspaper correspondent under his pen name, "Kicking Bird." He had long been considered the most reliable authority upon Indian affairs and his views pertaining to the opening of the public lands to white civilization were read everywhere. He not only wrote copy, but he wrote as a literary man, and his articles contributed to the press were not only interesting and well written, but they were instructive. There were not many events of great enough importance to be recorded, which had taken place in Kansas, Nebraska or Indian Territory, between the close of the Civil war and the opening of Oklahoma in 1889, that Reynolds did not write about for the papers he represented.
We find Milt W. Reynolds at the Peace Council at Ft. Smith, Ark., in September 1865. This council was held for the purpose of making new treaties between the Government and those Indian tribes that had cast their lot with the South.
As press correspondent for the New York Tribune and other papers, he wrote copiously concerning this council and issues involved. In 1890 Mrs. Marion Tuttle Rock wrote the "Illustrated History of Oklahoma." The introduction to this history was contributed by Milton W. Reynolds, and in this, he stated that he attended the Ft. Smith council and gives in some detail the account of this great event in the history of the Southwest. Mr. Reynolds' story follows:
"The council of 1865 was a notable one. On the part of the Government such distinguished statesmen and generals as W. T. Sherman, General Parker, Governor Stanley, of Minnesota; Senator Henderson, of Missouri, and Judge Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, acted as commissioners. The representatives of the Indian tribe were no less conspicuous and brilliant. Indeed, if the truth must be told, so far as power of expression, knowledge of Indian treaties, and real oratory were concerned, the Indians had decidedly the advantage. Their great leaders, John Ross and Col. Pitchlynn, were still living, and were active participants in
the grand council. John Ross had been chief of the Cherokees for over forty years. He had governed wisely and well, and no one man ever had such a power over the Cherokees as had this noted chief. Col. E. C. Boudinot was then comparatively a young man, but he was then, as now, the most gifted and powerful in eloquence of all the Cherokees. He was just out of the Confederate Congress at Richmond, as delegate from the Cherokees. He was fiery and excitable, but not pyrotechnic and lurid. His eloquence was heroic and impassioned, but not vapid or ebullient. He was a pronounced figure in the convention, and though difficult to restrain, he gradually became conservative, and his ancient loyalty to the Government was restored, and from that day to this no man among the Cherokees has been more loyal to the flag nor more desirous of carrying out the known policy of the Government towards the Cherokees and other Indian tribes. Mayes was then an unknown quantity. Ex-Chief Busheyhead has acquired his fame among his people since the date of that council.
The commissioners on the part of the Government were charged with making known to all the tribes of the Southwest the policy of the Government, who were assembled, it was reported, seventy-five thousand strong, numbering not so many, but a very great multitude of chiefs, warriors, sachems, leading men, women and children. The Cherokees, Cheyennes, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Seminoles, Creeks, and the tribes of the plains, including Kansas Indians, nearly all came. The Indians were told that the war had ended, peace had been proclaimed, that the work of reconstruction and rehabilitation was now being carried on between the North and the South, and that the former relations of the semi-civilized tribes with the Government must be restored; that they had gone into the rebellion, and consequently forfeited all treaty rights, and that all property once owned by them was now under the terrible ban of confiscation. But the Government, the commissioners said, was not disposed to deprive them of a home; that their red brothers who had remained loyal must be provided with homes; that the persons they had recently sold as slaves must be declared freedmen, and, have the same rights as themselves if they chose to remain members of the tribe; and that consequently their former reservations, if restored to them, must be curtailed and restricted in order that the freedmen and loyal red brethren in the North
inhabiting Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas might have homes among them. It was largely a Kansas idea, and prominent Kansas men were there to enforce it. General Blair and Hon. Ben McDonald, brother of Senator McDonald, of Arkansas, Gen. Blunt, Eugene Ware, C. F. Drake, the Fort Scott banker, and others were present as persistent inside counsellors and lobbyists. Kansas was then plastered all over with Indian reservations. She wanted to get rid of the Indians, who owned all of her western plains and her choicest lands in Southern Kansas. It was a matter of compulsion with the Indians. They had lost all rights of property and all title to lands. Consequently they yielded whatever was asked. The Creeks and Seminoles ceded the western portions of their reservations, including Oklahoma—the home of the red man—to the Government, for the purpose, as the Government declared, to colonize friendly Indians and freedmen thereon. Thus title parted from the Indians, and Payne and his boomers declared it was public land and open to squatter settlement. Practically they were correct; technically they were wrong, as the ceded lands became Government lands, as no act of Congress had thrown them open to settlement. Consequently Payne and his followers were technically trespassers, and could not acquire inchoate squatters' rights. Payne was a typical boomer, big-brained, big-hearted, broad-breasted and broad-shouldered. He was built to carry a great burden of responsibility. He was as brave as a Numidian lion. It was his constant agitation of the question of opening Oklahoma to settlement, together with the wise counsels and fearless acts of such dauntless spirits as Captain Couch, that finally compelled Congress to act."
Milton W. Reynolds also attended the Medicine Lodge Council in the fall of 1867. Among other correspondents at that historical council was Henry M. Stanley representing the New York Tribune; the man who afterwards became famous for his exploration of darkest Africa. It was at this council Reynolds first met that good-natured, amiable Kiowa chief "Kicking Bird." They became friends and visited together much of the time while the negotiations were pending. It was after this great Indian Council that he took the name "Kicking Bird" as his pen name and he was more widely known by his nom de plume among newspapers and magazine readers than by his real name.
He visited the International Fair at Muskogee, which was held for the first time in 1874. If we could collect all writings of Milton W. Reynolds, we would have a most valuable contribution to the history of the West.
His whole heart and soul was interested in the opening of Oklahoma to homestead settlement. He was not what was usually considered the type of man for a real boomer, yet he knew all the leaders of the "Boomers" and helped to give the movement the publicity necessary to force the opening of "unassigned lands" in the Indian Territory to settlement. He knew all the objections and understood the difficulties in the way that might prevent the President or Congress from declaring that tract of land known as Oklahoma, as a part of the public domain and therefore subject to homestead entry. He was in Washington representing the "Boomer" movement and had much influence with senators from Kansas, and other western states,
It is to be regretted that the fame of the man who did so much to promote the opening of Oklahoma, which has resulted in the creation of one of the richest and best states that now constitutes the American union, has almost been obscured by the dust of time while the more spectacular type of men have received all the honor.
Two years after the death of Milton W. Reynolds, Joe Quein, a well known newspaper man who was associated with Reynolds at the time of the latter's death, gave out a press interview concerning the life and services of his late partner in the publication of the Edmond Sun.
Quein and Milt W. Reynolds only a few days after the opening, April 22, 1889, started the Guthrie Herald, but in a few weeks they moved to Edmond where they founded the Edmond Sun which paper is now in its forty-fifth year. Quein was president of the Oklahoma Press Association for the year 1892-1894. He died July 8, 1907.
The interview with Quein is, in part, as follows:
"It was at Medicine Lodge that Milt Reynolds came near losing his life at the hands of Black Kettle, the most blood-thirsty of all the plains Indians. He became offended at Reynolds, and
was in the act of tomahawking him, when old Kicking Bird, another Cheyenne chief,1 interfered and saved Reynolds' life. Kicking Bird and Reynolds became great friends after that, the old chief calling Reynolds "The Paper Chief", a name by which he was known to many of the Indians. After the death of Old Kicking Bird, Reynolds adopted his name in all his newspaper correspondence and the name "Kicking Bird" became as well known to the reading people of the west as was the original of the name among the Indians of the plains during the days of Indian warfare.
"The writings of Milt Reynolds were widely copied, and as his great forte was sketches of a historical nature, it is to be regretted that some of the papers containing his write-ups of what is now western Oklahoma are not safely preserved among the archives of the historical society. These writings are now in the possession of his daughter who lives at Hamburg, Michigan, and should be secured, if possible as they tell a tale of the Cheyenne and Arapaho country and other portions of Oklahoma which will never be told as truly or graphically by ony one else.
"Milt Reynolds was truly the paper chief of Kansas and Oklahoma he being a pioneer newspaper man in the west. His last and best newspaper work was done in Oklahoma, and today his body lies in the cemetery near the town of his choice, Edmond, Oklahoma. His grave is well cared for, but a monument should mark his last resting place and this monument will, sooner or later be placed there by the newspaper boys of Kansas and Oklahoma, aided by the men in the former state that he did so much to make."
The passing of Milt W. Reynolds, so soon after his election, was a great shock to the people of the new Territory. Many people attended his funeral services which were held from a church at his home in Edmond on the afternoon of August 10, 1890.
1Joe Quein was in error when he refers to Kicking Bird as a Cheyenne as he was a Kiowa. The old Chief Kicking Bird had a son who was also known as Kicking Bird. This son, was a Christian and did much missionary work among the members of his tribe. The son lived near the Wichita Mountains South of Carnegie and his death, only two or three years ago, was mourned by his people. He had the respect of bothhis Indian and white neighbors. The statement made in regard to Black Kettle being the most "blood-thirsty" of all the plains Indians might also be challenged.
The funeral oration was delivered by Hon. Sidney Clark of Oklahoma City. The following is an excerpt from his address:
"For the second time since my residence in Oklahoma I am called upon to say a word at the grave of a dead friend. In this hour of grief, when death has come all unwelcome and unbidden to a friend of more than twenty years, I wish I had had time to prepare to speak of him as I know he would speak of me if he was standing in this presence today and it was my lot to be borne to the solemn silence of the tomb. In an hour of triumph conspicuously honored by his party and by the people of Oklahoma, a loving husband, a devoted father, a respected citizen, a faithful friend, a man of the people and for the people, a man of commanding ability and high personal honor, has suddenly closed the battle of life and while we weep and mourn with feelings of unutterable sorrows he has stepped without fear and without remorse on the other shore. Death has come to him as it will come to us all, but as I believe in the nobility of man, in the immortality of the soul and in the justice of Almighty God, so I believe that our dead friend—this man of acute intellect, of varied learning, of rich experience, of cheerful heart—the well wisher of his race, has trod the royal road from earth to heaven.
"My acquaintance with Mr. Reynolds commenced in the spring of 1865 at Lawrence, Kansas. He was of English descent, and was born in Elmira, N. Y., May 23, 1833. At four years of age he came to Michigan with his parents. His ambition as a boy was to obtain a liberal education, and he struggled for it with all the energy which characterized all the efforts of his after life. So diligent was he in the pursuit of his studies that he mastered and taught Latin and Greek before he entered the University of Michigan in 1853. He graduated in 1856 with high honors. Among his classmates were many men of whom I have often heard him speak, and who have since risen to fame and fortune in all the walks of life. He had editorial experience in Michigan, removed to Nebraska and became editor of the Nebraska City News, which he conducted for several years with signal ability. While yet a young man he wrote with a ready pen, incisive and vigorous to a remarkable degree. At that time there were many able men in Nebraska, but the young editor and speaker was in the front ranks of thought and action. He belonged at that time to the Douglas
school of politics, and was twice elected to the legislature of Nebraska. He was intensely loyal to the country in its hour of danger, and his appeals in behalf of the Union in the press and in his public speeches were most eloquent and effective. For two years following 1862 he was the commercial editor of the Detroit Free Press, which position he filled with distinguished ability. From the time he came to Kansas in 1865 up to the time he came to Oklahoma his life was an indissoluble part of the history of the state. He was proud of its rapid growth, jealous of its honor, a friend of all that was good and progressive in its civilization, and tremendously in earnest in promoting its development and prosperity. I can hardly recall any notable public event during his residence in Kansas of which he did not speak and write, and with which he was not in some way identified. He was a born journalist. At different times he published some of the ablest newspapers in the state, and there are many men now in public life who are indebted to the vigor of his pen for the reputation they now enjoy. He was a member of the legislature, a regent of the state university, and held with honor to himself many other positions of trust and responsibility. He was broad and Catholic in his views on all great questions of the day."
Mr. Clarke went on to speak in the most affecting manner of Mr. Reynolds' life in Kansas and in Oklahoma. He described many incidents in his public life. "Among all the men I have known connected with the Kansas press, I can recall none," said Mr. Clarke, "who wielded a more fertile pen or who wrote with more effective vigor in the clash of a political battle. But there was nothing of malice in his nature, and when the conflict was over he was kind and generous to a fault." Mr. Clark also spoke of the able articles written by Mr. Reynolds for the Kansas Magazine in behalf of the settlers on the Osage ceded lands, and of the powerful effect they had in determining that great controversy in favor of the settlers. "He was intensely interested in the development of the public domain and in consequence early here on this soil a new commonwealth was to be born, and he worked and espoused the cause of those who demanded the opening of Oklahoma to homestead settlement. In fact, he was among the first to clearly discern that struggle for the day when it should spring into life. He was here at the birth, and it was his laudable
ambition to be a leading factor in building on foundations safe and strong the new state of Oklahoma. Because of his marvelous abilities and intense nature his services in our first legislature would have been of great value to the territory he loved so well. In the providence of God he has been taken from us, and we know not why. While we bow in humble submission to the will of Him who doeth all things well, and mourn our irreparable loss, let us cherish his memory for what he was on earth—one of the ablest and best and bravest of men. To his stricken family, his devoted wife and invalid daughter, let our hearts go out in profound sympathy as the mortal remains of the husband and father go back to dust. The brilliant intellect, noble life and surpassing love of that husband and father will be the pride of the future and will grow brighter as the years go on."
Most of the leading newspapers of the West published accounts of the death of Milton W. Reynolds, and many of them gave a synopsis of his life and public service. Some of the leading editors wrote editorials in which high tribute was paid to him as a newspaper man, and a leader of public opinion. I think it but just to his memory to republish some of these editorials in the Chronicles, so that his history may be preserved in the annals of Oklahoma.
"The young territory of Oklahoma lost a loyal and helpful friend when Milton W. Reynolds passed away. By one of those strange decrees of fate which so often disappoint and thwart human purposes, the same week which witnessed his election as a member of the territorial legislature witnessed his death. His taking off in the full flush of his well-earned honors exemplifies in an impressive manner, the uncertainty of life and the feeble tenure by which men hold the gifts of this world. Oklahoma and Kansas are joint mourners at the grave of Milton Reynolds. He was all to Kansas in the time of her need that he was to the young territory which owes its existence largely to his efforts. Courage and romance blended in the nature and made him pioneer. There was that in his soul which made him delight in the constructive processes which enter into the work of civilization and his splendid
talents appeared to find their most congenial exercise in that line of effort. He was called away while all of his faculties for usefulness were unimpaired and at a time when the future seemed to be opening up to him a larger field for achievement than he had yet known. But in all that went to make up a noble and symmetrical manhood, his life was complete and his character thoroughly rounded out. Length of days would have added less to his moral stature than the world and society, which he illuminated and made better."
The career of Milton W. Reynolds was associated with a period which will never cease to be regarded with historic interest, and among many other notable figures which appeared in the same arena; he will ever occupy an honorable and conspicuous place. The world will remember him as one of its sincerest benefactors, and will bestow upon him the praise which belongs to a good man, a true patriot, a loyal friend and a noble and genial spirit whose light should have gone out later."—Kansas City Star.
"A feeling of deep sadness will be felt all over Kansas upon the intelligence of Milt Reynolds' death. Bright and versatile,
he was unfortunate in all his ventures. Always true to Kansas, the last years of his life were faithfully devoted to the opening
and the development of Oklahoma, which he regarded as a Kansas colony. He would have doubtless become an important factor
in the history of the territory as his worth and ability became better known. As a newspaper man, Reynolds was a model paragrapher,
and his sentences were often epigrammatic and forcible. He will be long remembered as a brave bright son of Kansas.
"The lamp of life warm true and strong went out when Milton Reynolds died. His was a sturdy and patriotic heart. He was a type of what is best in Kansas. He loved Kansas and he labored for her. His devotion was unselfish and in her prosperity his was a reward sufficient for his endeavor. Nature endowed him well and circumstance polished and equipped an understanding whose keen strength was apparent in whatever undertaking he embarked.
Reynolds was a high bred gentleman and scholarly collegian. With the pen he was incisive, epigrammatic, fruitful of original thought. As a speaker he was polished, ready and felicitous. Friendship was a thing dear to him, and for a friend he would stand fast any time against odds. As an editor in Lawrence and Parsons and a writer for the Times he worked with diligence and accomplished much for Kansas, acquiring a powerful influence in the state, earning well and holding fast the affections of its people. He was one of the original advocates of the opening of the Oklahoma Territory, a member of the convention held in this city which memorialized congress upon the subject and a delegate to Washington in that behalf rendered great and not forgotten services. When the territory was opened he became a first settler there and the same indefatigable capacities he had before given to Kansas were spurred afresh in the interests of the rising state. Had he lived he would doubtless have reaped something of those fruits he merited so well. This man had been given office, but he was in no sense a politician. Neither his nor his training knew those arts which win the herd. The regrets for this genial, cultivated gentleman will be as broad spread as the prairies he knew and loved. An honest man and a staunch heart answered, "I am here," when Milton Reynolds met his summons."—Kansas City Times.
"The lovable and genial nature of Milton Reynolds was conspicuously illustrated in his newspaper work. He was constitutionally
opposed to the argument of abuse. He abhorred a personal "newspaper fight". He would submit to columns of abuse and say never
a word in answer though his defense was perfect. He himself seemed constantly to strive to say of all the best he could. He
was generous and enthusiastic in friendship and more than just to his enemies. His fine observance of the courtesies and amenities
of journalism might well be imitated by the profession."
In securing data for the compilation of material which the writer is using in this sketch of the life of Milton W. Reynolds, I paid a visit to the cemetery in Edmond hoping that I might find the grave wherein his mortal remains had been laid some forty-five years ago. I thought there would be some dates concerning the life and death of Reynolds, or else some epitaph worthy of this great man, carved in the stone that might be used in writing
up this historical sketch. However, I was disappointed, there was no stone erected, and I could not find the grave, nor did I find anyone in Edmond who knew where he was buried, although at one time he was the best known newspaper man and journalist who wrote frontier history. Having failed to find anyone now living in Edmond who had personally known Reynolds or was present at his funeral, I then referred to the first Directory of Oklahoma to find the names of those who resided in Edmond in 1889-1890.
In "Smith's Complete Directory of Oklahoma Territory 1890", under the caption EDMOND, I find the following entries:
"Reynolds, W. M. propr. Edmond Sun, r nw 30 14 2 w. Another entry reads: "Howard, E. B.—works in Sun office, r NE 14 3-1".
The writer, at once, recognized that this E. B. Howard who worked for the Edmond Sun some forty-five years ago, was none other than the Hon. E. B. Howard, of Tulsa, Oklahoma who has held prominent positions under the state government, and has served several terms in congress, and has long been recognized as one of the leading men of the State.
I requested Mr. Howard to contribute to this write-up, or sketch, his personal recollections of Milton W. Reynolds. The following contribution is very much appreciated as it is written by one who had the opportunity of knowing Reynolds, as no other, now living, has had.
About two months after the first Oklahoma opening to settlement on April 22, 1889, it was announced by the enterprising and progressive citizens of the then village of Edmond that a deal had been made with a famous journalist and editor to begin the publication of a newspaper in the thriving little village.
A few years previous to that, in my home down in Kentucky, I had learned the art of setting type. I was living with my father and family on a "claim" three miles north of Edmond. This announcement gave me an opportunity to seek my first employment in Oklahoma and also to meet, become acquainted with and work
for the man who, aside from Payne and Couch, had done more to bring about the opening to settlement of this great virgin country than any other. Hearing that this editor had arrived in Edmond and was arranging the details of publishing his first issue I sought an interview with him, and obtained employment.
As a boy in Kentucky, owing to the fact that for several years my father had been waiting and watching for the opening of Oklahoma, I had learned somethng of the greatness of this man by reading a considerable number of his now historic writings which had helped to force the day when Oklahoma, "The land of the fair God" as he saw fit to call it, was opened to white settlement. Consequently, being a boy in my early teens, I approached timidly and almost in fear. However my timidity and fear soon disappeared as I found him to be a very broad-gauged gentleman with an overflowing amount of humanity in his heart and a desire, evidenced by my first interview with him, to encourage and be of benefit to all.
Thus it was that very shortly after the beginning of my interview with him, I found myself in the employ of "Kicking Bird" **, who in private life was Milton W. Reynolds, who will always stand out by reason of his record, and amongst those who knew him as one of Oklahoma's first and best citizens. I continued in his employ, working for him both in Edmond and Guthrie, until his death, and I learned to know him and admire him for what he was.
Mr. Reynolds bore a reputation to those who did not know him intimately as being austere, cold and hard to become acquainted with, but when you knew him, you soon learned that his appearance as such was but on the outside and that he was, as a matter of fact, a kindly, tender hearted, charitable man, loving and interested in the betterment of all humanity. In those early days he especially impressed me by my observation of his actions as to the fact that he was a genuine home-loving family man and never was happier than when he was doing things to add to the comfort and pleasure of his immediate family. One of the finest illustrations as to this was impressed upon my mind indelibly when I observed his tender care of an invalid daughter in his family. He seemed to be at his happiest when he was doing some thing, large or small, that would add to her comfort and pleasure. I think that one of the happiest moments I ever observed him in
was about six weeks after he had established the newspaper—The Edmond Sun, which is still being published. He had finished building a home for his family in Edmond and had brought them there to be with him.
Mr. Reynolds was not only a benefactor in helping to secure the opening of Oklahoma to settlement, but he seemed to live every day the life of dreaming of and doing things to make Oklahoma a better place in which to live. He was a journalist of the old school; his writings were based on the highest plane, based on fundamentals, and he never stooped to take advantage of the fact that he was of the press in order to punish or persecute a political or social opponent. He belonged to that school of journalists of those days, composed of such men as Greeley and Watterson, who knew the power of the press, used it for the benefit of the community and the people and gave little, if any, consideration to the cash-drawer or their own personal interests in discussing and molding opinion as to public problems, questions and policies. It seemed to be his special delight in his writings and lectures to take the side of a common man and to fight for his rights without regard to the demands of the special few who existed in those days and sought to dictate, as they do in these days. Some of the most beautiful articles which it ever fell my lot to put into type, or to read in print, came from his pen when opportunity presented itself for him to defend or make apologies for the acts of a fallen human being, be he man or woman.
Mr. Reynolds was, in addition to being a journalist of the highest calibre and standing, a Statesman in action and thought, and his life in Oklahoma in its earlier days and his efforts on behalf of the then Territory were an inspiration to many a man both old and young to do all things and every thing to lay a foundation in the right manner for the great State which he, in those days, prophesied Oklahoma some day would be. All of the people of the then Territory soon learned to know him or to know of him and his work, and almost universally at that time looked upon him as our greatest and leading citizen.
In politics Mr. Reynolds was a Republican and of the old type that then existed in that party and was dominant in it. He respected the rights of all citizens, and evidenced a desire to pro-
tect these rights at any and all times, and by reason of this had a very strong support regardless of class or politics.
This fact was demonstrated when in 1890 an election was called for the election of Oklahoma's first Territorial Legislature. By an act of Congress the Territory had been divided into Representative and Senatorial Districts, with one Representative to be elected at large. In those days nominations for public offices were made by conventions instead of the primary. Mr. Reynolds had not announced his candidacy for Representative-at-Large but was drafted by the Convention of his party and in the election, owing to the general knowledge that the settlers had of his great work in bringing about Congressional action that permitted white settlers to come into Oklahoma, there was little effort made to defeat him by the opposing party. However, although elected Representative-at-Large by a large majority, Mr. Reynolds never knew of his election, for the reason that just a day or two before the election he took seriously ill, was at the point of death on election day, and four days after passed away without knowledge of the results. His death was a shock to the young territory, as everyone realized that a man whose services were sorely needed in those pioneer days had been called by death from the land he loved, and that especially were we to feel the lack of his services in those formative days when the foundation for the great State of Oklahoma was to be laid.
At that early day few, if any, communities had arranged for cemeteries. Consequently he was laid to rest beneath a Blackjack tree in the school section adjoining the then town of Edmond by his pioneer neighbors. I was one of the pioneers who helped dig his grave on this school section, and as we deposited his remains in the grave most of the people of the territory felt that, by reason of his character, his love of mankind and the great work that he had done, to Okahomans this grave in the future would be a shrine to which people would come to pay respects to the memory of a great benefactor.
The day of his funeral in Edmond was one never to be forgotten by those who were there and witnessed it. The Hon. Sidney Clark, also another Oklahoma benefactor and an orator of ability, came to Edmond to deliver the oration at his bier. It was a
characteristic pioneer audience that assembled to pay its last respects to Mr. Reynolds. The orator, the preacher and the professional man were there from all parts of the territory, dressed in their garb of that day; the working man was there in his work clothes, the farmer was there in what he wore as he tilled the then new and virgin soil of Oklahoma Territory; they were there because each class and every one of them realized that this man had been foremost and never failing in the battle that had finally been won to provide for them homes, and to many of them a new start in this new country.
Truly "Kicking Bird"—Milton W. Reynolds—was among one of the great men that Oklahoma ever knew or will know. The work that he did redounded to the benefit of all, and Oklahomans today owe much to his efforts and memory; he was a leader of the newspaper fraternity of that day, and no doubt the course he pursued as a journalist in the pioneer days has had much effect upon the success of the fraternity in Oklahoma during the subsequent period and at the present time.
His efforts, his courage and the results thereof, warrant me, and every other citizen cognizant of the history of those days, in suggesting that the citizenship of Oklahoma will not have done their duty towards this great man until they have erected an appropriate monument to his memory and in recognition of the great work that he did in life, and although owing to the moving later of the remains of those buried in the school section, we are not sure as to just where he found his last resting place, the news paper men of this State, in my opinion, should co-operate with every citizen who has benefited by coming to the State in proceeding, as soon as possible, to reward this great pioneer Oklahoman with a fitting recognition that will recall to the people of this State at this time and to those of the future a very important period in the history of Oklahoma.
The following words of cheer are taken from the last editorial written by that brilliant journalist, Hon. M. W. Reynolds, whose death occurred on the 9th day of August, just four days after his election as a member of the Council of the Territorial Legislature. From Edmond Sun:
"A few, a very few, people have become a little discouraged because this season's crops do not seem to justify and verify the
great anticipations last year. But it is so everywhere. Texas and Kansas are not doing what they did last year. The fact is, both last year and this year were phenomenal years. Last year, all things considered, was the most productive season for sod crops on both upland and valley we have known in our experience of thirty-three years in this western country. And this year is unusually, we may say phenomenally, dry here and all through the vast plain region west of the Missouri River. We have known dryer years, but it is dryer here this year than usual. We want to say to the brethren that Oklahoma is all right. Ten years from now Oklahoma will be one of the brightest states in the Union. Ten years from now there is not a settler upon a claim in Oklahoma who, if he is industrious and sober and has his health, will not be worth from $10,000 to 15,000. Our lot is cast in a goodly land and there is no land fairer than the Land of the Fair God."