By Gen. R. A. Sneed
Editorial Introduction: The following paper was written by the late Gen. R. A. Sneed who was a trader for the Comanche & Kiowa and Prairie Apache tribes at Fort Sill and Anadarko from 1885 to 1890. During that time he made many friends among the people of those three tribes, most of whom remembered him when he came to live in Comanche County in 1901, and, all through his official life in Oklahoma City, he occasionally received visits from some of his old Indian friends.
The following paper was written three years ago for inclusion in a volume of local historical reminiscences published at Lawton. For some reason the copy was not received until too late for its inclusion in that collection, it, therefore, makes its first appearance in print in the quarterly magazine of the Oklahoma Historical Society, of which institution General Sneed was one of the directors until his death March 15, 1936.
—J. B. T.
Forty-eight years have passed since I first visited the Comanche and Kiowa country and forty-three years have elapsed since the termination of my first sojourn there. Great changes have marked the intervening era. It is not vouchsafed unto me to live to see that beautiful country as it will appear, forty-three to forty-eight years hence, though some of the people who now read these lines may do so. It was a land that was good to look upon when I first saw it. The Indians loved it then, as their children's children love it still. Of its people, red and white, who were in their prime when I knew them in those days, few now remain and these few will soon be gone. The legendary and traditional lore, the early history, the songs and the stories of the country and its people are of most fascinating interest and are therefore worthy of careful preservation. Once the field of strife and of many warlike scenes it has long been a land of peace. That it may ever remain the abode of a peaceful, happy and prosperous people, is my most fervent wish.
I am asked to write briefly of the years which I lived in the Comanche and Kiowa country, while I was a Government Indian
trader, at Fort Sill, during the period immediately preceding the opening of the first Oklahoma lands to homestead settlement, in 1889. In July, 1885, I was appointed as Agency trader for the Indians of the Comanche, Kiowa and Prairie Apache tribes, with authority to open and maintain two stores or trading establishments—one at the Fort Sill sub-agency and the other at the Agency, then as now located at Anadarko. Hon. J. D. C. Atkins, who had represented my district in Congress (8th Tennessee district) for many years, had been appointed to the office of commissioner of Indian Affairs, by President Cleveland and it was he who tendered me the position as an official trader among the people of these three tribes. In preparation for this undertaking I effected a partnership with Z. T. Collier, of McKenzie, Tennessee, under the firm name of Collier & Sneed.
I am asked to tell something of my early experiences and observations while engaged in this business during the years 1885 to 1887, together with some account of the people, red and white, civilian and military, with whom I came into contact and association during that period. As the experiences of that part of my life come before me in retrospect, I love to live those years over again. True, life under those circumstances was in striking contrast to that of all of my previous life; yet, even so, it is pleasant to recall to memory the scenes and incidents which impressed my mind more or less in detail.
A native of Mississippi, and long a citizen of Tennessee, I remember wondering if I would find life in a prairie country, tolerable, to say nothing of pleasant. Yet, to my astonishment, I found it not merely tolerable but enjoyable. Indeed, there was something about the primitive, unbroken prairie-land that was positively enchanting, and now, from the viewpoint of a life-time twice as long as it then was, I want to say that the four years spent in the old Comanche and Kiowa country were among the happiest and most satisfactory years of my life. Moreover, my relations with the people whom I came to know there, during that period, were generally of the most friendly and neighborly character. It is therefore a real privilege to be permitted to write reminiscently of the people and associations of those days and something of the lives that they lived—for not many of them are now numbered among the living.
I arrived in what is now Comanche County, in October, 1885—forty-eight years ago. At that time, there was but one railway line that ran across the Indian Territory—the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, which passed through Vinita, Muskogee, McAlester and Durant. The town of Caddo, on this line of railway, had formerly been the nearest railway station to Fort Sill, the distance between the two points being 153 miles. There was regular traffic between Caddo and the military point at the eastern base of the Wichita Moutains—a stage line and freighting trians of wagons—until the construction of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway line reached Henrietta, Texas, in 1885, reduced the distance to rail connection to sixty-five miles, so that travel and traffic between the Fort and Caddo station soon ceased.
When I landed at Henrietta, I found that there was a daily stage line between that place and Fort Sill. This stage carried the mail and such passengers as might be going that way, together with light express. The Red River was crossed at Charley Station, about twenty miles out from Henrietta. The river was ordinarily crossed by fording, but when the current reached a flood stage, a small ferry-boat was brought into service. Another station known as "Grogan's" about 15 miles down the river was later chosen by the stage line as the official crossing place, Charley's being abandoned for the purpose. Midway between Red River and the Fort was what was commonly called the Snake Creek Station, it being located where a small stream of that name—a tributary of East Cache Creek—was forded. At the Snake Creek stage stand, I met the first white man that it was my fortune to come to know in the Indian Territory of that day, in the person of W. G. Williams, then better known locally under the cognomen of "Caddo Bill" Williams. He was driving through to Henrietta, accompanied by his wife, who was a member of the Caddo Indian tribe. He had already lived in the Washita Valley, in the Anadarko vicinity, for more than twenty years. He lived many years afterward, dying at his home in El Reno about 1912.
When I came to leave Henrietta by stage, I was surprised and delighted to find that the driver was none other than "Uncle Jeff" Griffith, a native of Lincoln County, Tenneessee, who had been a stage driver throughout his life since his young manhood. He had been driving the stage between Canton, Mississippi, and Yazoo
City when I was but a young boy. He was a man of fine character, gentlemanly demeanor and kindly disposition and was always deservedly popular among his patrons. He had never married. He continued to drive the stage between Henrietta and Fort Sill until the growing infirmities of age led to his retirement. He was a man of sixty-five or seventy, when I met him at Henrietta, the first time. The vehicle which he drove on that road was of a type known as a "mountain wagon," having four springs. It had three seats and was capable of carrying eight or ten passengers. It was usualy drawn by a team of four mules of light or medium weight.
Uncle Jeff was retired as a driver during the time that I was living at the Fort Sill sub-agency, being assigned to keep the stage stand at the Snake Creek Crossing. Though stage stand-keepers, as a rule, did not attract much attention on the part of travelers, Uncle Jeff was an excepton as to this. In his living quarters at Snake Creek, he kept a small "monkey" stove and, always, when the stage was due to arrive, he would have the water boiling hot and ready to make coffee which he gladly gave to all passengers who were invited to enjoy his hospitality. Needless to say, he was not less popular as a stand keeper than he had been as a stage driver. When he finally became too old to serve as a stand keeper, he took up his residence at the ranch home of Cal Suggs, a well known stockman of that region and there the closing years of his life were spent. Though many years have passed since he died, no one who ever knew him has forgotten him and though his place in the world's affairs was an humble one, he dignified it by his manliness and fidelity so that, even if this brief tribute may seem to be a tardy one, it is abundantly justified.
When I first arrived at Fort Sill, I stopped at a small hotel kept by Tolly Maupin, a Missourian. He had been called back to his old home by the illness of a relative, some days before my arrival, and he had left his hostelry in care of some Mexicans. These people baked big soda biscuit, served black coffee (without cream) and fried fresh beef so burned that it tasted bitter.
A day or two after my arrival at the Fort, I went on to the Comanche and Kiowa Agency, at Anadarko, thirty-five miles farther north up the trail. This agency, which was also the loca-
tion of several trading establishments, was situated in the beautiful valley of the Washita River, adjoining the site of the present county-seat of Caddo County, which is still known by the name that had then been recently bestowed, upon it—Anadarko. It had been so named out of compliment to the remnant of the Anadarko tribe of Indians, which was closely related to and affiliated with the more numerous and powerful Caddo tribe.
There were four trading establishments at the Agency—Frank Fred, Dudley Brown, Cleveland Brothers, and Reynolds. The license under the new administration and the new firm of Collier & Sneed, of which I was the junior partner, was to take over the establishment thus vacated. (The Cleveland brothers—Charles A. and William H. were preparing to open a new store at Doane's Crossing, on Red River in Texas). In all, there were ten or a dozen families, including those of the agent, physician, clerks, teachers, mechanics, farmers and traders. There were no missonaries there then, but several of them came in within the next few years. There were two Indian schools—the Riverside School, on the north side of the Washita, which was maintained for the children of the Wichita, Caddo and affiliated tribes, and the Kiowa school on the south side, which was maintained for children of the, Comanche, Kiowa and Apache tribes. I spent two or three days at the Agency. While there, I made the acquaintance of Lee Hall, then recently of Sherman, Texas. He had just replaced his predecessor, Col. Pleasant B. Hunt. (The latter was from Kentucky, whence he had entered the Federal military service at the outbreak of the War between the States, attaining the grade of colonel before the end of the struggle. A brother of Colonel Hunt who was an officer on the staff of General John H. Morgan of the Confederate Army.)
On my return to Fort Sill, I stayed only a day, or two, going from thence to my home in Tennessee, where I remained during the ensuing winter. Along in the latter part of the winter, (February, 1886), I began to make preparations to move to Fort Sill. Most of the goods for the new store were purchased in St. Louis and Chicago and in Fort Worth. The Indian goods were bought in St. Louis and Chicago. Groceries, meats and provisions, and many other items for the stock were purchased at Fort Worth. The Indians were very fond of fruit, such as prunes, figs, dates, raisins,
etc., and large quantities of these were purchased in nearly every consignment; also the best grade of canned goods.
The first stock of goods was opened out in an old building down near the East Cache Creek, on the bank of that stream. In fact, this structure had been built some years before, the material being what was known in those days as "raw-hide" lumber, i.e., native lumber sawed out of cottonwood logs. This was in March, 1886. At the same time, I was making preparations for the erection of a new building near the old sub-agency and school, two and a half miles south of the military post. This building was occupied when completed, and the stock of good being transferred thither on the 17th of July, following. It was commonly known as the "Red Store." It was two stories high, the upper floor being finished as a residence for my family. The lumber for this structure was hauled from Henrietta, Texas, a distance of sixty-five miles. My family did not join me until November, 1886.
The new business house was thirty-six by seventy feet in dimensions and, even at that, the stock of goods which was installed, used up the floor space to such an extent that only convenient passage ways were left open. The stock included staple and fancy groceries, canned goods, cured meats, etc. Of course the dry goods included robes, blankets, shawls, silk handkerchiefs, red flannels, blue broadcloth, etc. All had to be of the best quality, as the Indians would not buy cheap imitations or goods of inferior material. We also handled high grade saddles and bridles, and all kinds of harness. The hardware was all of good quality though the stock was not a large one. The hardware which was in demand among the Indians was chiefly axes, hatchets, saws, files, etc.; also kettles, frying pans and other cooking utensils, especially coffee pots. Most of the kettles were of the best grade of brassware and were sold at good prices.
One of the main articles of trade was tanned and dressed buckskins of which a large quantity was always carried in stock. This was in keen demand for making moccasins, leggings and clothing. Most of this buckskin was purchased in Chicago. It was listed as "black-tail" buckskin and was assumed to be from the Rocky Mountain country. Practically every Indian had a complete buckskin wardrobe which was kept for ceremonial and state occasions.
One item of hardware that was in more or less constant demand was a type of hatchet which was known as the "hunter's ax." It was of good metal and had a short handle. It was accounted as especially useful in trimming and making teepee poles. These poles were always made of red cedar. The trees from which they were made were always selected in the cedar brakes, in the northern part of the Wichita-Caddo reservation, and were carefully selected, each being tall and straight, with few, if any, large limbs. The Indians used to go in large parties for the purpose of securing pole timber. Only one pole was made from a tree. This necessitated a lot of trimming and shaving, the work being done by the squaws. When the poles were first brought in, they were green and heavy with sap, so that four to six of them were a load for any Indian pony to drag. Securing and bringing in these teepee poles and making them by the laborious methods and means in use among the Indians made them expensive and high-priced. An ordinary family domicile, or lodge, was twelve to fifteen feet high, with poles fifteen to eighteen feet long. Of these, there would be fifteen to eighteen or twenty. Some of the larger lodges, which were used for ceremonial or tribal gatherings, council meetings, etc., were as much as twenty feet high, with poles twenty-four feet in length and as many as thirty in number. These large teepee poles were valued at $4.00 or $5.00 each. When I came among the Indians, the teepees were mostly covered with 12-ounce duck, though some of the smaller lodges used 8-ounce or 10-ounce duck coverings. Down to a dozen years before I went among them, their lodges were covered with buffalo hides, with the flesh side out.
When a band of Indians moved their camp or village, before they began to use wagons, many of their movable belongings were transported in bundles which were fastened between the trailing lodge poles dragged by the ponies. This vehicle was called a "travois," among the northern Indians such as the Sioux. Naturally, a well traveled travois trail soon came to have its paths deeply worn in the soil. In driving across the country with a team and buggy or other light conveyance, if I overtook or passed a travois train, I always turned out of the road and gave it a wide berth, as most horses other than Indian ponies were always easily frightened at the sight of that sort of transportation.
Although my headquarters were at the Fort Sill sub-agency,
I made numerous trips to the other store, at the Agency on the Washita, usually going up once each week. With a team of good horses and a buggy, it ordinarily took three and a half or four hours to make the trip. Once, when there had been some trouble with a Kiowa Indian who rallied a lot of his fellow tribesmen to his support, Webb Hendrix, who was manager of the store at the Agency (a brother-in-law of Mr. Collier, my partner, by the way) sent a telegraphic message to me, reading: "Come at once; important." That time, I made the drive in three hours—a good record, over roads that were none of the best. I seldom made the journey both ways in the same day, usually staying over night and returning the next day.
The Comanche language was not a difficult one to learn and, since it was in reality the court language of the Southern Plains tribes, many Indians of other tribes learned to speak it. Many white men learned to speak Comanche but few could master the Kiowa lingo. While I might have leraned to speak Comanche, I did not do so for it was best for the manager of the trading establishment not to speak or understand the vernacular of his Indian patrons, as, otherwise, they would have monopolized too much of his time holding converse with him. So, when an Indian wanted to talk with me I would answer, "Kay M'swaveti," meaning, "I do not understand." Or, sometimes, I would say, "No hockin," meaning, "I do not know." I did learn the name for money and for prices and for numbers, however, and I had the reputation of being able to sell as many goods as any clerk about the establishment.
The Indian people were remarkable for their truthfulness and honesty. I seldom had occasion to go to their camps to make collections—they always came in and settled their own accounts. Their sense of honor and honesty and their regard for their word when they had made a promise were almost universally above question. If an Indian died owing a debt, his relatives always paid it. The lowering of their morale did not come until the white people came to live among them. They were keen traders and did not hestitate to take advantage of the other party to a deal if opportunity was afforded, but once they gave a promise, its performance was regarded as a sacred obligation. Though they
were unable to read and write, many of them seemed to be skilled in the art of diplomacy.
Of course, most of my personal associations were with the Comanches, though I came to know many of the Kiowas also. Of the Comanches, I recall especially Quanah Parker, the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white captive who had been carried away from a Texas pioneer settlement in her childhood. Quanah's father was Pete Nocona, a Comanche war chief. Quanah never recognized the obligations of any treaty between the Comanches and the Government, until after the last Indian war of 1874-5. He was quite a young man at that time. When he surrendered, in June, 1875, it was in good faith and he was ever after a man of peace. He was the leader of the Quahada band. Other leaders included Taba-nannika of the Yampa-rika (root-eater) band; Otter Belt of the Pennataka (Honey eater) band, White Wolf (Quahada), Wild Horse (Mow-way), and several others of minor importance and influence. Among the Kiowa leaders, easily the most prominent at that time was Stumbling Bear, who was the last surviving signer of the Medicine. Lodge treaty. He was a man of strong personality and was both popular and influential among his people. He was a man of imposing physique. Other Kiowa chiefs were Big Tree, Sun-Boy, Hunting Horse, White Horse and Apeatone. The latter was a young man who afterward became a very influential leader among the Kiowa.
George Washington, the Caddo head chief, was one of the most noted Indian leaders of his time. He was a man of progressive views, a successful farmer, a keen trader and had an acute sense of humor. Many humorous anecdotes concerning his quaint sayings still circulate in the old Caddo country to this day. He had been the chief of the White Bead, or Indian Territory Caddo, before that band and the Texas band were merged, in the autumn of 1859. These two bands had always maintained a separate existence, though always on friendly terms, frequently visiting each other and with many intermarriages. The two bands had been temporarily separated again during the years of the War between the States, the Texas Caddoes taking refuge on the Arkansas River, in Kansas, while George Washington and the White Bead band remained on the Washita. During the closing years of the War, George Washington and most of the men of his band were induced to form an
organization known as the Caddo Frontier Battalion, a two-company organization of which George Washington was the commander with the rank of major. However, he had entered the service of the Confederate Army in that capacity with the express understanding that under no circumstances should he and his command ever be sent into action against any white troops. Consequently, his battalion was kept on frontier scouting duty as a sort of buffer between the outlying settlements of the Creek and Chickasaw nations and the wild tribes of the Southern Plains region. He built a fine big frame house on his ranch, in the valley of the south Canadian in the northern part of the Caddo Country. He was an extensive farmer, had large herds of cattle and many horses and was said to have been the first to introduce the raising of swine in the Caddo country. The Chisholm trail, from Darlington to Anadarko crossed the Canadian at his ranch, the ford being known as the George Washington crossing.
Traders were allowed to buy corn, yearling cattle, horses or Indian ponies, and hogs, but they were not permitted to run their stock on the Indian reservations. There was generally a local demand for corn but livestock had to be sold elsewhere. I accumulated a drove of 125 head of hogs in the course of my dealings with the Caddoes. Hog raising had been introduced among the Caddo people by their principal chief, George Washington. These hogs were of the type known as the "mule-foot" breed, the animals having a solid, single hoof on each foot, instead of a divided hoof such as those which distinguished practically all other breeds of domestic swine. A few of these were killed and the meat was cured, but most of the drove was sold to Jules Doss, of the Chickasaw Nation. Some of these weighed as much as 250 pounds each and the drove averaged nearly 190 pounds. These hogs were mostly of the unmixed "razor-back" stock. Most of the yearling cattle were sold to some of the cattlemen who held leases in the Comanche-kiowa reservation—practically all of them to Pres Addington, whose ranges were in the, lower Cache Creek country. Indian ponies that were secured in barter with the Indians, were driven to Henrietta, Texas, whence they were shipped in car-load lots to Tennessee. My partner, Mr. Collier, received and disposed of them on their arrival there—they were in keen demand for saddle animals for boys and children.
In and around Anadarko there were a number of white men who had married Indian women. The one who had been longest with the Indians was Dr. J. J. Sturm, who had come to the Washita country with the Texas bands, in the autumn of 1859. His wife was a member of the Anadarko tribe and he had been a Government Agency employe at the Lower Brazos Agency, near Fort Belknap, Texas, for some years before the removal to the Indian Territory. He was fairly well-to-do and was distinguished for his liberality and generosity in the way he treated the Indians. He was personally acquainted with all of them and was very popular and influential among them.
Tom Woodward, was of Quaker extraction and came to the Wichita-Caddo Agency with Agent Lawrie Tatum, in 1869. He marred a Kiowa woman. He was a prominent member of the Agency community before the opening of the Comanche-Kiowa lands and he was recognized as a community leader even after that community was superseded by the municipality of Anadarko in the early years of the 20th Century, serving for years as president of one of the local banks. He had resided at Anadarko for nearly if not quite fifty years at the time of his death, a few years ago.
William G. Williams, a genial Kentuckian, better known as " Caddo Bill" Williams, arrived on the Washita, in what is now Caddo County, in 1859. He was in the employ of the traders during his first years there. During the War between the States he served with George Washington's Caddo Frontier battalion. His wife was a member of the Caddo tribe and he soon embarked in cattle ranching on his own account. He died at El Reno, about 1912.
Another early settler was Jimmie Jones, who married a member of the Kiowa tribe. They reared a large family in their home near Cottonwood Grove, in the vicinity of the present village of Virden.
Joe Leonard was another old timer. He came to Fort Cobb with Gen. William B. Hazen, special Indian Agent for the Government, in the fall of 1868, and lived in that section of the country until his death, about fifty-five years later. His wife was a member of the Caddo tribe.
George Conover, a soldier in the 6th U. S. Infantry, was sta-
tioned at Fort Arbuckle from the time that post was reoccupied by Federal troops, a year or two after the end of the Civil War, and was subsequently stationed at Fort Sill for a time after its establishment, until his discharge, when he entered the service of the Government Agency for the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache Indians. He married the widow Chandler, who was a native of Mexico who had been carried into captivity by the Comanches while she was a child. Conover is still living at Anadarko, having been a resident of the community for over sixty years.
E. L. Clark, commonly called "Doctor" Clark, was an intermarried member of the Comanche tribe. His wife was a daughter of Moxe, who was of mixed Mexican, Spanish and Comanche extraction, and who had saved Clark's life during an Indian War in 1874. The Comanches always called Clark by the name of Nockatoua, meaning "Little Ear." He was native of Missouri and had been a soldier in the Federal Army during the Civil War. He was proverbial for his deliberate slowness of speech and movement.
Emmet Cox, a native of Missouri, whose family had been driven out of that state during the Civil War, seeking refuge in Texas, came among the Comanches in the early 80's. He married a daughter of Quanah Parker. As a man, he was distinguished for his fine sense of honor, honesty and truthfulness. He was especially valued as an interpreter, for this reason, and the Indians respected him and were readily influenced by him.
One of the most notable figures in and around Fort Sill, from the days of its establishment until the final opening of the Comanche-Kiowa reservation was Horace P. Jones, scout and interpreter at the post. He was a native of Missouri and was said to have been a scion of very respectable stock and was reputed to be closely related to the well-known Ewing family of Springfield, prominent in the social register of that state. Just why he abandoned the scenes of his early life and took to the wilderness and its ways was never explained, though it was supposed to have been because of a disappointment in love in his young manhood. At any rate, it seemed that he had become associated with the Caddo Indian Agency about the time of its establishment on the Washita, in 1859. He remained with it in the change from Federal to Confederate relations, in the spring or early summer of 1861 and he
was still employed there at the time of its destruction in the autumn of 1862, when he narrowly escaped with his life. From that time on until the end of the War, he was in Texas.
When Fort Arbuckle was reoccupied by troops of the Regular Army, a year or more after the end of that conflict, he showed up there and was given employment because of his ability as a scout and interpreter where his services were regarded as indispensable, there and later, at Fort Sill, until his death, several months after the opening of that country to white settlement, in August, 1901. He was a man of few words and he had the most scrupulous regard for the truth. For this reason, he gained the absolute confidence of the Indians, who were always willing to trust him as an interpreter. It was noticeable, too, that army officers, many of whom were sticklers for lines of social distinction, always treated him as a social equal—a mark of respect which was not accorded to many of the civilian scouts who were attached to the military service. Stories of Horace P. Jones—Colonel Jones, as he was popularly known—deserve to have an enduring place in the traditions of Fort Sill.
There had been another rather notable scout stationed at Fort Sill and who was still living on the occasion of my visit there, in the autumn of 1885, but who met his death by freezing while serving as a courier between that post and Henrietta, in the great blizzard of January, 1886. This was Phil McKusker, who had been discharged from the Army at the end of his term of enlistment, a few months before the end of the War between the States. He had remained on the Texas frontier where he was serving when discharged. He was reputed to have been one of the captains of the Caddo Frontier Battalion under the command of Major George Washington, the Caddo chief, and, like Horace Jones, drifted into scout service with the regular army, after the end of the War. He was said to have been a dare-devil in disposition and had many friends though he was never able to command the confidence and respect of either the Indians or the Army officers that Horace P. Jones did. He was said to have been a native of Scotland, though comparatively nothing is known as to his antecedents.
Another rather noted scout who was stationed at Fort Sill, though not so continuously nor so long as the others, was Jack Stilwell, who had had a rather picturesquely romantic career. He
left the service, however, to become a lawyer, after the settlement of Oklahoma and was located at El Reno for a number of years. For several years he served as police judge of that city. He died at the home of Colonel William F. Cody ("Buffalo Bill") at North Platte, Nebraska, about thirty years ago.
The garrison at Fort Sill, like those of other Government military posts, was changed at intervals of not less than once each three years. Throughout its earlier history, it was strongly garrisoned, with from four to eight companies, with both infantry and cavalry troops in its composition. At the time I was there, the garrison consisted of detachments of several companies each from the 7th Cavalry, Custer's famous command, and the 13th Infantry.
During the residence of my family and myself at Fort Sill, it was our pleasure to meet and mingle with many of the army officers stationed at the post and to find some delightful friendships among them and the members of their respective families.
In the course of time I became quite well acquainted with some of the officers of the garrison at Fort Sill, mostly those who had been in the service since the days of the War between the States. Of these one of the most notable was Col. Edward P. Pearson. He had enlisted in the 17th Infantry at the outbreak of that conflict but was promoted from the ranks within a few weeks, and was promoted to the grade of captain in 1862. He reached the rank of major in 1881 and was promoted to the lieutenant colonelcy of the 24th Infantry in 1886. (The enlisted personnel of the 24th has always been composed of negroes but the officers were and are white men.)
Captain T. A. Baldwin of the 7th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Sill when I first went there and was promoted to the grade of major in that same noted regiment in 1887. He had entered the Regular Army from the volunteer service, at the end of the Civil War, in 1865-6. He was promoted to higher grades afterward, being retired with the rank of major general, a few years after the Spanish-American War.
Captain J. W. Clous was a native of Germany, who had entered the service of the 9th Infantry, in 1857. He was promoted from the ranks and given a lieutenant's commission in the 6th
Infantry, in 1862. He became a captain in the 38th Infantry in 1867 and was transferred to 24th Infantry in 1869. He was promoted to the rank of major in 1886, while stationed at Fort Sill, and was assigned to duty in the Judge Advocate General's department.
Captain Alfred C. Markley enlisted in the volunteer military service from Pennsylvania, in 1861, and was later commissioned from the ranks. He became a lieutenant of the 41st Infantry in 1866 and was transferred to the 24th Infantry in 1869, reaching the rank of captain, ten years later. He subsequently reached all of the higher regimental grades.
Captain B. L. Guthrie, a native of Ohio, had entered the Federal military as an enlisted man in the 1st Kentucky Infantry, where he was promoted from the ranks. He was commissioned to a lieutenancy in the 13th U. S. Infantry in 1866, and reached the grade of Captain in 1882. He was promoted to the grade of major and assigned to the 15th Infantry, in 1898 and died in January, 1900.
One of the finest officers stationed at Fort Sill while I was there was Major George A. Purington, of the 3rd Cavalry. He entered the military service as 1st sergeant in the 19th Ohio Infantry, in April, 1861. Four months later, he was commissioned to a captaincy in the 2d Ohio Cavalry, in which organization his service was sufficiently distinguished to enable him to reach the grade of lieutenant colonel, in July, 1863. He was brevetted colonel, at the end of the war. He was commissoned captain of the 9th cavalry at its organization, in 1866, promoted to major of the 3d Cavalry, in 1883 and to lieutenant colonel of the same regiment in 1892. He was retired from the active service in 1895 and died less than a year later. Major Purington and his family were especial friends of my family and we frequently visited each other. His son, George A. Purington, Jr. was a mischievous scamp of about thirteen when I first went there, in 1886. He entered the military service as a second lieutenant of the 2d U. S. Volunteer Engineers, in 1898, and was promoted one grade before being mustered out of the service in 1899. He then enlisted in the 47th U. S. Infantry (volunteers) for service in the Phillippines, rising through the grades from private to first sergeant, in the course of two months,
when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 6th Cavalry, and was promoted one grade in less than six months. He became a captain in 1911 and served as a major and lieutenant colonel during the World War. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1920, was shortly afterward transferred to the quartermaster general's department and, a month later, was placed on the retired list for disability incurred in line of duty. He died within the last two or three years.
One of the most distinguished officers who was stationed at Fort Sill while I was there was Captain Charles King, of the 5th Cavalry. He was retired later because of physical disabilities incurred in one of the campaigns against the Apaches, in Arizona. Thereafter he became best known as a writer of military fiction, having a considerable number of Army novels to his credit. He returned to active service as a brigadier general of volunteers for a brief time during the War with Spain.
Lieutenant Hugh L. Scott, of the 7th Cavalry, was one of the younger officers, having graduated from West Point in 1876. He had been commissioned to another regiment but, when the news of the loss by death of so many officers of the Seventh Cavalry in the battle of the Little Big Horn, was received, he immediately applied for a transfer to that noted organization, which was granted. He joined that regiment a few weeks later when it was reorganized at Fort Lincoln, Dakota. He then began to cultivate the acquaintance of the Indian prisoners, soon won their confidence, gained their friendship and learned their sign language. Down through the years, he became a most valuable officer. After his troop was stationed at Fort Sill, a troop of Indian Scouts was recruited among the warriors of the Comanche and Kiowa tribes and was attached to the 7th, with Lieutenant Scott as troop commander. Through this medium, he became very influential among the people of those tribes, who hold him in peculiar respect and veneration to this day. He became noted as a peacemaker and was often sent by the Government far from his regular station to talk malcontent tribesmen out of the notion of resorting to hostilities. He served with conspicuous ability and valor during the Philippine campaigns. He reached the grade of brigadier general about the time that Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated and was appointed chief of the General Staff of the Army, shortly afterward. He was
retired from active service a few months after the United States became involved in the World War. He has long been a member of the U. S. Board of Indian Commissioners and, since his retirement from the military service, has had an extended and useful career as chairman of the State Highway Commission of New Jersey.
Assistant Surgeon Marcus E. Taylor, was the medical officer stationed at Fort Sill while I was there. He was our family physician during that time. A native of Mississippi, he had been commissioned from that State to the Army Medical Service, in 1875. He was placed on the retired list in 1894 and died in 1896.
Post Quartermaster Sergeant John C. Hewitt had been at Fort Sill for many years. He and his wife became very close friends of my family. He died at Santiago, Cuba, December 29, 1898, while on duty at that place. His remains were laid to rest in the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. His daughter, Hope, then a little slip of a girl, is the wife of Judge Frank M. Bailey, of Chickasha.
The big stone school building, which had been erected for the benefit of Comanche children, in 1870-71, had long been in disuse, though it could have readily been made habitable again. It was still standing when I visited the sub-agency, in October, 1885, but it was destroyed by fire between that time and my arrival there again, in March, 1886. The Riverside School, across the river from Anadarko, was in operation, but the Kiowa School, near the Agency, on the south side of the Washita, had been destroyed by fire some time previous to my first visit there. Lewis Hornbeck, a recent arrival from Missouri, was the superintendent of the Riverside School, which was maintained for the benefit of the children of the Wichita, Caddo and affiliated Indian tribes. Mr. Hornbeck engaged in the newspaper business at Minco, after leaving the Indian School Service, in 1889. He was the editor and publisher of the Minco Minstrel for many years and was regarded as one of the ablest and brightest editorial writers in the two territories during the 90's.
Without official permission range cattle interests began to move in and occupy portions of the Comanche and Kiowa Indian reservation, within two or three years before my arrival in that country. These were virtually invited to bring their cattle into
the Indian country by the Indians themselves. The Indians were compensated by direct payments of money for range rent by the cattlemen. This was known as a "brush-payment" because the transaction took place at a point distant from the Agency or sub-agency and without official cognizance or participation. Among the ranchmen who took cattle on the reservation at that time were the Addington brothers, Pres and Zach; the Suggs brothers, Cal and Ickard; S. Burke Burnett, Herring & Stinson and Dan and Tom Wagoner. (Of these men, Tom Wagoner, now a resident of Fort Worth, is the only survivor of this group of cattle ranchmen who held cattle in the Comanche and Kiowa reservation fifty years ago.) In 1886, the Interior Department took official notice of such occupancy, formulated rules for leasing the ranges and, thereafter, all matters pertaining to grass or pasture leases passed through the hands of the Government Agency, at Anadarko.
The rent for this grazing land was called "Grass Money" and was paid to the Indians twice yearly, being equally apportioned among them by the Indian Agent. That was one time a large family was counted an asset, as the head of the family got all the money and did with it as he pleased. These semi-annual "paydays" were the important events of the year and the Indians dated other happenings from them so many days before or so many days after payday.
Besides the "grass money" the Indians were issued supplies twice a month from the Government Commissary. Although not such big events as the pay-days, these issue days provided plenty of interest to keep the life of the Red Man from becoming too monotonous. The most exciting feature of the day was when the beeves were issued. The tribe was divided into groups and to each group was assigned a beef. (Each Issue Day.) The steers were penned in a big corral and the braves sat on horses outside, with their Winchesters resting across their saddle horn. When the big gate was opened and a steer came bolting out, they all started after in hot pursuit, thus reproducing to some extent the thrill of the old buffalo hunting days. When a bullet from one of the Winchesters had brought the quarry to earth, the squaws of that warriors group immediately appeared to "do the dirty work" of skinning and dressing the carcass. A most remarkable feature of this custom was that there was never any dispute as to the division of labor on
the beef after it was cut up. There was perfect understanding among the members of the tribe as to whose was what. The meat was cut into strips and hung from poles, where it soon became hard and dry, but never the less, the favorite fare of the red man. Also one reason for their splendid teeth.
Shortly after my arrival at the Fort Sill Sub-agency, I met a young special agent or inspector of the Indian Bureau, by the name of J. George Wright. He seemed to have considerable ground to cover but usually visited the Agency at Anadarko and the subagency at Fort Sill at stated intervals. How long he had held that position before my arrival there, I do not know, but I understood that he had been there often enough so that he was generally known and respected; it was generally understood that he was devoted to his work, was very efficient and thoroughly incorruptable. No change in the political complexion of any national administration seemed to affect his status. He was plainly too valuable a man to be spared. Years afterward, when Oklahoma became well settled, Inspector J. George Wright was still a fixture in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Finally, many years ago, he was sent as superintendent of the Osage Agency, at Pawhuska, where he continued to render efficient and honest service until arbitrarily retired for age, within very recent years. If all of the Indian Service officials had been of the stamp of J. George Wright, the history of the affairs of the American Indians during the past half century would have been much more creditable than it is.
Rev. J. J. Methvin, a Methodist missionary, came from Georgia to Anadarko, in 1887. He had previously been superintendent of the New Hope School for Choctaw girls, in the present LeFore County, near Skullyville. The Baptist and Presbyterian mission stations at Anadarko were not established until several years later and the Catholic mission still later. Mr. Methvin gained great influence among the Indians because of his sincerity, honesty and unvarying kindness. Indeed, they became so attached to him that they adopted him as a member of the Kiowa tribe and saw to it that he received an allotment of 160 acres of land.
When my family came out, in the fall of 1886, two of our old servants—a cook and a nurse—came along. In 1887, when I had been to St. Louis and Chicago to buy goods, I took a trip around
by my home at Jackson, Tennessee, for a brief visit. When I left there on my return to the West, William Davis, a young negro, accompanied me. He had worked for me at various times before and was industrious and trustworthy, so I offered him employment around the store at the Fort Sill sub-agency. Of course the trip west was a great event in his life as he never traveled very much. After we had crossed Red River and the road led out across the unbroken prairie, I noticed that he appeared to be greatly interested in all that he saw. Finally, I asked him what he thought of the country, whereupon he said:
"Mr. Sneed, who cleared all this land? It sure must have been during slavery times—there hain't no stumps. It look like old fields that's been long turn out."
The fact is that, though he was thirty-five years old, he had never before seen prairie lands, so he supposed that it had once been covered with timber.
Texas ranchmen used to bring watermelons from south of Red River by the wagon load, to the Agency and to Fort Sill. I used to buy many of them but was never over-stocked. The Indians were as fond of melons as negroes possibly could be. One time, when an Indian payment was under way, I bought 1300 water melon, all of which I sold, mostly to the Indians, though some were sold to white people. Wild game was still plentiful. Deer and antelope were abundant. Feathered game, especially wild turkeys, prairie chickens and quail fairly swarmed. The Indians would not eat anything that had feathers or scales or fins but all was game to them that had its skin covered with hair. Beef from the Agency issue pen, of course, was their staple meat diet but it was varied with the venison of deer and antelope, as well as the flesh of smaller game animals. If a horse was accidently injured or disabled, it was killed and skinned and its flesh was accounted a great delicacy. But all of the Indians of the Southern Plains region were deeply prejudiced against eating the flesh of birds. They would kill wild turkeys and bring them to the agencies, forts and trading establishments to trade or to sell to white men, whom they doubtless despised for eating the same. Turkeys, prairie chickens and quail were all accounted cowardly, hence it was "bad medicine" to eat their flesh. At first, they did not care for pork, so
they used to throw away dry salt pork when it was issued to them but they subsequently overcame that dislike. Of fish, they knew nothing and consequently they paid no attention thereto.
Thus briefly have I tried to tell of the Comanche and Kiowa country, and especially of the settlements at and surrounding Fort Sill and Anadarko, as I found and came to know the same, nearly half a century ago. It has been a pleasure to live over again in retrospect the life of those years and the pleasant memories with which they were filled. While I have enjoyed telling of some of these people as I knew them—white and Indian, civilian and military, frontiersmen and trader—the limited space available for such a reminiscent paper imposes limitations which I would gladly overstep if I could, for there were others who were deserving of notice.