By JOHN MURPHY1
When I left Louisville, Kentucky, with my father, after he had been honorably discharged from the Federal Army, in the
1John Murphy was born of Irish parentage in New York City, May 2, 1849. The family moved to Baltimore during his infancy and, several years later, to Richmond, Virginia, where most of his childhood and early youth were spent. In the autumn of 1860, his father, who was a stone mason, found business dull and went to Atchison, Kansas, where his cousin, Thomas Murphy (who served as superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Central Superintendency, i. e., the tribes of the Southern Plains, during the Andrew Johnson administration) was living. Before the time came for him to return, the war broke out and the elder Murphy enlisted in the 18th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, at Weston, Mo. This regiment, which was assigned to the 17th Army Corps, saw almost continuous service in the western army and later on with Sherman on the Atlanta Campaign. In the summer of 1863, John Murphy, then just a few weeks past the age of fourteen, enlisted in White’s Battalion, which was eventually incorporated in the 23d Virginia Cavalry and was included in Imboden’s Brigade of the Confederate Army. With this command young Murphy saw active service in the Army of Northern Virginia and with the Confederate forces which operated in the Shenandoah Valley under the command of Generals Breckenridge, Early and others during the spring, summer and autumn of 1864. Quick-witted and active, he was frequently selected for special duty as a dispatch rider or courier. The end of the War found him still a boy, not yet sixteen years old. When Sherman’s army arrived on the James River from the south, young Murphy’s father, who had been absent from home for more than four years, obtained a leave of absence and went into Richmond to seek his family. When he returned to his command, his son, John, accompanied him. Remaining with his father’s company, John Murphy marched with it to Washington, where he participated in the march down Pennsylvania Avenue on the grand review which marked the close of the great conflict. His father was finally mustered out of the service at Louisville, Kentucky, after having served continuously for four and one-half years. He then set out for the west again, John accompanying him. Their first stop was at St. Louis.
Arriving at Weston, young Murphy began work as a blacksmith’s apprentice. After continuing in that work for a year and a half, he entered the military transportation service as a civilian teamster at Fort Harker, Kansas. During the ensuing year he was engaged most of the time in freighting from Fort Harker to Forts Larned and Dodge. In the summer of 1868 he was assigned to the post train at Fort Hays. Late in the following autumn, his train was attached to the Washita Expedition. In the spring of 1869, he entered the service of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Agency, with which he remained for nearly seventeen years. He subsequently conducted a hotel and a blacksmith shop at Darlington. After Oklahoma was opened to settlement, he settled at El Reno, which has since been his home. In 1879, Mr. Murphy was married to Miss Josephine Wiesler, at Darlington. Her parents were employed in the Indian service and she entered the service at Darlington in a subordinate capacity, and worked up to a position as a teacher and, at one time, was acting superintendent of the Agency School. Mrs. Murphy died at El Reno, in March, 1918. John Murphy died at Jenks, Okla., October —, 1919. The accompanying reminiscences were dictated by him in December, 1918.
latter part of 1865, we started to go by steamboat to Atchison, Kansas. Our first stop on the way was at St. Louis. While we were there General William T. Sherman arrived in the city for a brief visit. A public reception was tendered to him at the Lindel Hotel. I went with my father to attend the reception, my father still wearing his uniform as a private soldier. When we appeared in the line of callers, General Sherman instantly recognized my father and, grasping him by the hand and pulled him out of the line, saying, "Paddy, God bless your old soul, come in here and take a seat." I was introduced to the General who greeted me most cordially.2
Leaving St. Louis, our next stop was at Weston, Missouri, from which place my father had enlisted in the Union Army. There I found work as a blacksmith’s apprentice. After working in the blacksmith shop for a year and a half, I entered the military transportation as a civilian teamster with an army wagon train at Fort Marker, Kansas, in August, 1867. Major Henry Inman3 was post quartermaster at Fort Harker. During a large part of the ensuing twelve months the train to which I had been assigned in freighting military supplies from Fort Harker to Forts Larned and Dodge.
While we were freighting from Fort Harker times were
2Although he was only a private soldier, Patrick Murphy had so distinguished himself at the battle of Shiloh that he had attracted the attention of General Sherman, who never forgot him.
3Henry Inman was born in New York City, July 3, 1837. He was of English, French Huguenot and Knickerbocker Dutch ancestry. His father, Henry Inman, was one of the most noted portrait painters of his day and, when he died in 1846, the members of the Academy of Design raised a fund by subscription with which a small farm was purchased near Hemsted, Long Island, and presented to his family. Henry Inman’s education was obtained in private schools and under the instruction of private tutors. At the age of twenty he enlisted in the United States Army and saw much active service in the campaigns against hostile Indians in the Pacific Coast region during the four years immediately preceding the outbreak of the Civil War. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 17th U. S. Infantry, May 14, 1861, and was promoted to first lieutenant, October 24, 1861. March 4, 1864, he was commissioned captain and assistant quartermaster. Not careful in his business methods, his disbursing accounts became hopelesly entangled and he was cashiered from the army, July 24, 1872, though it was never believed that he had been guilty of any moral obliquity in the matter. Thereafter he engaged in the newspaper business at Larned, Kansas, and elsewhere in that state. The town of Inman, in McPherson County, Kansas, was named for him. In his later years his talents were largely given over to the writing of books and stories of the Great Plains, the poetic spell of which held him fascinated. Too careless in his litreary methods to be regarded as an authority on the history of the Plains, he nevertheless to be regarded as one of the best interpreters of life on the Plains as it was before the building of the railways. He was the author of "The Old Santa Fe Trail" (1895), "The Story of a Great Highway" (1898), "The Great Salt Lake Trail" (1899) and several other books. Colonel Inman died at Topeka, Kansas, November 13, 1899.
rather quiet on the Plains and, as a rule, our trains traveled without escort. Our route was by way of Fort Zarah to Fort Larned. At Fort Zarah I met William Matthewson—the original "Buffalo Bill"—who had a ranch and trading station a short distance below that post. In driving from fort to fort we frequently passed through great herds of buffalo; indeed, these herds were sometimes so large that it was impossible to even estimate their numbers.
In the summer of 1868, I was assigned to the post train at Fort Hays. This train was organized and equipped at Fort Harker and proceeded to Fort Hays, of which post Maj. George Gibson4, 1st U. S. Infantry, was in command. The equipment of this new post train, which consisted of fifteen wagons, with six mules to each team, was brand new—new wagons, new harness and big, well fed mules. Naturally, we were proud of the outfit. Our surprise and chagrin can be imagined, when we arrived at Fort Hays and reported to the post quartermaster, Capt. and Brevet Maj. Amos S. Kimball,5 to be ordered to turn the new wagons and harness and big mules to another train, and to take old wagons and harness and little, scrawny Mexican mules instead. We went on a strike right there and then, utterly refusing to work until our own outfit of wagons, harness and teams were returned to us. The post quartermaster ordered us under arrest and we were confined in the guard house. The next morning we were asked if we were ready to return to work, but all refused unless permitted to resume the use of our own outfit. This was continued each day for four or five days. Finally we secured permission to interview the post commander, Major
4George Gibson was a native of Pennsylvania. He entered the army as a military store keeper in the quartermaster’s department in April, 1853. He was commissioned as a captain of the 11th U. S. Infantry in May, 1861; promoted to major of the 1st Infantry in January, 1868; to lieutenant colonel of the 3d Infantry in March, 1879, and to colonel of the 5th Infantry in August, 1886. He was brevetted as major and lieutenant colonel for gallant and mreitorious services during the Civil War. He died August 5, 1888. He was a son of Gen. George Gibson, commissary general of subsistence, for whom Fort Gibson, the first military post established in Oklahoma, was named.
5Amos Samuel Kimball, a native of New York, entered the voluntary military service as 1st lieutenant of the 98th New York Infantry, in November, 1861. He was commissioned as a captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers, in April, 1864, and served in that capacity until December, 1866. He was commissioned as captain and assistant quartermaster in the U. S. Army, in November, 1866; was promoted to major and quartermaster, in October, 1883; to lieutenant colonel and deputy quartermaster general, in December, 1894; to colonel and assistant quartermaster general, November, 1898; to October 1, 1902, and was placed on the retired list October 2, 1902. He was brevetted major of volunteers for faithful and meritorious services in the quartermaster’s department during the Civil War.
Gibson. He asked why we were unwilling to work. We replied that we were perfectly willing to work. He then asked what the trouble was. We told him that our own teams and wagons had been taken away from us and an old outfit issued to us instead, while our outfit had been reissued to the men who had formerly used the old outfit which was thus palmed off on us—that we had been forced to trade against our will. He suddenly evinced a lively interest in the situation and said:
"I must see about that. Come with me." And, so saying, he led the way to the office of the post quartermaster. Addressing that officer by his brevet title, he said: "Major, these men tell me that they are ready and willing to work; why do you keep them in the guard house?"
The quartermaster explained that he had caused us to exchange teams, harness and wagons with the men of another train, who had been at the post longer than we had, whereupon Major Gibson said he did not blame us for refusing to work and concluded the interview by ordering the quartermaster to return our outfit to us, which was done. We were made to feel the weight Captain Kimball’s displeasure, however, for he saw to it that we were kept constantly on the road between Fort Hays and Fort Dodge. As the distance between the two posts was nearly 100 miles, it required about three days to make the trip each way. We were allowed no rest at the Fort Hays end of the trip.
One Saturday evening, just after we had arrived from Fort Dodge, a telegram was received from the department commander, General Sheridan, ordering that all transportation be turned out for inspection Sunday morning. Needless to say, the men of our train were soon busied in oiling and blackening the harness of their respective teams. The next morning, property was laid out for inspection in front of the line of wagons and the miles were led out for inspection also. General Sheridan approached our train first and, as I was the driver of the "lead team," mine was the first in the line. Pausing, he asked how many wagons there were in our train, to which I replied: "Fifteen, General." Turning to Captain Kimball, the quartermaster, he said:
"You may assign this train to duty as my headquarters train; and you may dismiss the inspection." And so we were chosen
to go with General Sheridan’s headquarters on the Washita campaign, which was just then being organized.
Our wagons were loaded and we moved over to Fort Dodge again. There we unloaded and loaded up again with different stores, after which we proceeded southward toward the site of the proposed new camp at the junction of Beaver and Wolf creeks, where we arrived about the first of December. General Custer’s 7th Cavalry had returned from its successful raid against the Cheyenne village of Black Kettle, on the Washita, only two days before. Several weeks were spent in reorganizing the expedition at the new post, which was named, Camp Supply, after which preparations were made to move the main body of the command over to the valley of the Washita at the scene of the Black Kettle fight and thence down the valley to Fort Cobb. The morning we were to leave Camp Supply, I was directed to load up General Sheridan’s mess outfit in my wagon. I had done so and then went over to one of the large camp fires to get warm, for the weather was extremely cold. There was a crowd around the fire, so I had to take the smoky side of the circle. General Sheridan saw me standing there and asked, "What are you going to load up with?" to which I responded, "I am to take your mess outfit, General." The General evidently was not pleased, for he asked where the wagon master was. I pointed to the latter, who was standing near by. The General then spoke to him, saying, "Joe (his name was Joseph Perkins) you have selected a boy to drive my mess wagon. I would prefer an older and more experienced man." To this Perkins replied, "All right, General, I can give you an older man, but I can’t give you a better teamster. That boy is the lead driver in my train. He has always driven my mess wagon and I assigned him to drive yours for the reason that he is the best I have." The general seemed satisfied with this explanation, merely saying, "That is all right, then."
He then came over to me and asked, "What is your name?" I answered, "John Murphy, sir." With a twinkle in his eye, he then said, "You are a Frenchman?" to which I responded, "Yes, sir." He then said, "We are to travel over a country where there are no roads and we must take it as we find it. If you upset my mess wagon on this trip, I will hang you to the wagontongue." I answered, "All right, General; I’ll take the chances."
The story of the journey from Camp Supply to the scene of
the Washita fight, of the finding of the bodies of Major Elliott, Sergeant-major Kennedy and their fallen comrades, of the discovery of the remains of Mrs. Blinn and her little boy (who had been killed by the Indians of one of the villages below that of Black Kettle), and of the march down the valley to Fort Cobb, has been told by others. We remained encamped at Fort Cobb for several weeks. It was while we were in camp there that I had one very unpleasant experience.6
We had been traveling and marching through a country that was alive with game and we had feasted on venison, and buffalo meat and wilk turkey and prairie chicken until we had been surfeited with game. So, a day or two before Christmas, it was proposed that we "throw in" and buy a yearling from a ranch which was located several miles below camp in the valley of the Washita, and have fresh beef for our Christmas dinner. With one of the other teamsters who belonged to my mess, I was chosen to go and purchase the yearling and bring it to camp. Between our camp at Fort Cobb and the cattle ranch there were two villages of friendly Indians—Wichitas, Caddoes and other fragmentary tribes. The troops of the command had been ordered to keep away from these Indian villages. The teamster who was to go with me after the yearling had mounted and started on ahead while I was saddling the pony which I was to ride. I started out to overtake him, but was stopped just outside the camp by a provost guard, who asked where I was going and, upon being informed of the object of my mission, demanded my pass. As I had no pass to leave camp, he arrested me and took me up to General Custer’s headquarters and reported. General Custer did not come out of his tent, but I heard him give the order to take me to the guard house and make me carry a log in language that was more forcible than elegant.
The guard house was not a house at all—just a vacant place in the camp. I was taken there, where I selected a stick of green cottonwood, which did not look very heavy then, but which seemed to grow heavier afterward. As the weather was cold, I did not feel like standing still and so, shouldering the chunk of wood, I began marching around in a circle. The wagon master
6Custer’s "Wild Life on the Plains," pp. 253-66; Keim’s "Sheridan’s Troopers on the Border," pp. 128-60; "The Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry," by Horace L. Moore, Kansas Historical Society, Vol. VI., "Collections," pp. 40-43; "The Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry and the Conuest of the Plains Indians," by James Albert Hadley, ibid., Vol. X, pp. 443-5. Consult also "Personal Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan"
of our train (Joe Perkins) came to see me and he went to the master of transportation in my behalf, but that functionary was drunk and refused to interfere. I kept on tramping around in a circle, all that night and all the next day, with intermission for meals. Christmas eve passed and the little cottonwood log continued to grow heavier as I tramped on through another long night. I was wearied beyond expression and both shoulders were blistered and raw. The larger part of Christmas day was celebrated in the same seemingly endless tramping around the circle with the log still on my shoulder. Then General Sheridan, who happened to be passing, saw me. To say that he was surprised would be putting it mildly.
"Johnny, what does this mean?" he asked and, before I could answer, "How long have you been here?" By way of reply, I unbuttoned my shirt and showed him two lacerated shoulders. His exclamations which followed would not bear repetition here. Things happened pretty fast then. I never saw the General walk as rapidly, either before or afterward, as he did when he went to call successively on the wagon master, the master of transportation, the officer of the day and General Custer. He even reproached me for not having sent for him, instead of waiting for some one else to take the matter up in my behalf. Boy that I was, I naturally appreciated the championship and friendship of such a man.
After remaining several weeks in camp at Fort Cobb, the command was marched over to General Grierson’s camp, at Medicine Bluff, near the eastern base of the Wichita Mountains.
While we were at this camp some soldiers exploring the basaltic cliff which is known as Medicine Bluff found near its base a den of rattlesnakes. A large number of the venomous reptiles, which were in a semi-torpid condition, were killed. In fact, to tell the truth about the number and size of the rattlesnakes which were found in that den and killed would be a snake story that would tax the credulity of any person who did not see the results of the slaughter with his own eyes.7
7The story of the rattlesnake den at Medicine Bluff was related by De B. Randolph Keim, in his book, "Sheridan’s Troops on the Border," as follows:
"In the absence of other excitement the volunteers (19th Kansas Cavalry) pryed into every nook and corner in all the country round and frequently found marvelous things. Among these was a rattlesnake den. One afternoon early in February, in company with several of the officers at headquarters, I visited this latest wonder.
"At the base of the cliff, opposite the most lofty portion of Medicine Bluff, reached only by a narrow and dangerous ledge, sometimes but six inches in width, (cont.)
While we were in camp at Medicine Bluff, General Sheridan approved of the selection of the site of the new post, which had been made by General Grierson. It was still called Camp Wichita, but was subsequently named Port Sill by the War Department. Pat Byrnes, who was the driver of the General’s ambulance, was sick the day that General Sheridan was to set the stakes for the parade ground and he asked me to take his place, which I did. General Sheridan remarked the change in
leading down to the water’s brink, was an opening underlying the large masses of superincumbent rock. The crevice ran horizontally, being about twelve feet long, and in height or width about twelve inches. At one end was an elongated opening of about two feet. In front was an immense barren rock which extended to the water. Farther down was a small space of soil, covered with grass. The cliff here had a slight concavity, the extremities abutting abruptly upon the water. The space thus cut off from all access, except by water or the ledge already mentioned, did not cover an area of over fifty feet in length and, at its widest part, six feet wide. The cliff rose fully a hundred feet above. What inducement could ever have tempted any one to make this perilous descent in the first instance was a mystery to me. It was with extreme difficulty, after having first climbed down a scraggy cedar which obstructed the upper end of the ledge, that I could make it. I managed it only by getting down on all fours, sometimes lying flat out and by degrees working down. But one of my companions followed.
"The space below was covered with a sickening spectacle. A mass of enormous ‘diamond’ rattlesnakes were lying in all states of mutilation. Some were without heads; all without tails. The largest and, in fact, the majority, were completely skinned. As I learned afterward, the hideous skins were used by the ‘Kansas boys’ for belts. The skins and rattles were also considered as possessing mysterious medical agencies. It was rather appaling to be in the midst of such a population of the most dreaded and venomous reptile of the plains, even though lifeless. My imagination would sometimes invest the horrid mass with motion. The effect was startling. I invariably felt a proclivity to get on the high ground overhead.
"Several of these largest reptiles, poked out laid at full length, measured not less than eight feet from head to tail—that is, what was left of these extremities—and, at the thickest part, were six inches in diameter. It may be imagined what a sight a knitted mass of raw, purplish flesh, and such shapes, must have presented. The main pile of defunct reptiles would have made a cart-load and, besides, the rocks and crags had been elaborately decorated by the ‘boys.’
"The space leading to the den had the appearance of having been the scene of hibernation of the snake family for centuries. The hard rock was worn and slimy. When these indications of some sort of a creature making the den its abode were discovered, the adventurous explorers secured a long pole. While one was poling up the unknown occupants within, the others stood around the entrance with pistols and carbines loaded, ready to greet the first appearance of the denizens, whatever they might be, of that inaccessible abode. After a few minutes poking, a huge old monster of a rattlesnake, which seemed to be the patriarch of the community, crawled out in a semi-torpid condition.
"His snakeship was promptly dispatched, and his enormous length drawn out of the den. Not supposing that this was the rightful possessor of the premises, a little more lively poking brought to light a few more offended monsters, which were likewise dispatched. The business, according to these invaders of the snake dominions, now became quite lively. The snakes on top, exposed to the rather chill atmosphere of the den, dragged themselves along slowly. Those that came after were a little more active and kept the besiegers quite busily employed.
"Over two hundred snakes were thus drawn from their comfortable quarters and promptly dispatched. I saw, at the time of my visit, the remains of one hundred and forty-eight. A number had been thrown into the stream and not a few had been packed off to camp by the discoverers as trophies of the engagement. Subsequent visitors carried off a snake or two as a souvenir."
drivers and I explained how I happened to be on duty instead of his regular ambulance driver. After driving over the ground and selecting the site, General Sheridan alighted from the ambulance and, stooping down, held a stake to be driven into the ground as a marker for one angle of the parade ground. Several members of his staff were present and some one seized an ax to drive the stake into the ground, when General Sheridan said, "Hold on, I want Johnny to drive this stake." And so it happened that I had a part in marking the site of Fort Sill. The new post was named at the General’s suggestion in honor of Gen. Joshua Sill, who had been a classmate of the General’s at West Point, and who was killed in action while in command of a brigade in General Sheridan’s Division at the battle of Stone River.
Along in the latter part of February, General Sheridan received orders by courier to report at Washington. Before starting for the railroad at Hays, Kansas, by way of Camp Supply and Fort Dodge, he made me promise that I would go to his headquarters, in Chicago, where he said he would have a place for me. At the time, I fully intended to go, but the frontier life held such a charm for me that I never went to Chicago. I did not see the General again until after the lapse of more than sixteen years, when he came to Darlington and Fort Reno, at the time of the threatened outbreak of the Cheyennes, in the summer of 1885, and then I came in for some good-natured scolding for having failed to keep my promise to go to Chicago.
Our train returned from Fort Sill to Camp Supply by a different route from that which we had traversed in coming from the last mentioned post. We went westward along the southern base of the Wichita Mountains to the valley of the North Fork of Red River, which followed northward through the present Kiowa County and thence across to Major Inman’s supply camp on the Washita, near the site where Black Kettle’s village had been destroyed, and on across the Canadian toward Camp Supply. From thence we drove on to Forts Dodge and Hays. At the last mentioned post we turned in out outfits and were lined up to receive our pay when John Curley, master of transportation, came down the line and, stopping in front of me, asked, "Young man, do you want to work?" I replied, "Yes, sir," whereupon he took me to the post quartermaster (Captain Kimball) and said, "Here is the young man I have selected to take charge of the herd." If Captain Kimball recognized me as one of the
men who refused to work unless their own teams were given back to them, he gave no indication of the fact. I was given entire charge of the herd of 500 mules that were not needed for further service at that post and I employed ten of the teamsters of my own train to help me. When I was relieved of that work as the result of the disposition of the animals, I went back to Camp Supply as assistant blacksmith. Unfortunately for me, Major Kirk,8 the post quartermaster at Camp Supply, had been instructed to find employment in the post blacksmith shop for Dick Curtis, who had been the Government interpreter for the Cheyennes while the Agency was at Fort Larned. As I was the last man to be hired, this let me out. However, I was offered a position as herder for the cattle which had been brought to Camp Supply to be issued to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, which I accepted. Captain Kimball sent word that he would find a place for me at Fort Hays but, as I had already taken charge of the beef herd, I decided to remain at Camp Supply. Eventually, this led me into the permanent service of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Agency and so I have been living in Oklahoma ever since.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency had been removed from Fort Larned, Kansas, to Camp Supply, Indian Territory, immediately after the establishment of the last mentioned post. By the terms of the treaty which was negotiated with the chiefs and head men of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes at the Medicine Lodge peace council, in the autumn of 1867, the people of those tribes were to have a reservation between the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers. A site for the Agency was selected by Agent Darlington on Pond Creek, where one building was erected and sixty acres of land were broken. But, because of the strained relations then existing between the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes on the one side, and the Osage and Kaw tribes on the other, the Cheyenne and Arapaho people refused to settle on the reservation which had thus been assigned to them and so they were assigned to the one south of the Cherokee Strip
8Ezra B. Kirk entered the volunteer military service, April 20, 1861, as an enlisted man in the 71st New York State Militia. He was commissioned a first lieutenant of the 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, August 15, 1861; was promoted to captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers, December 5, 1863, and was commissioned captain and assistant quartermaster, U. S. Army, July 28, 1866. He was brevetted major and lieutenant colonel for faithful and meritorious services in the quartermaster department in the field. He was promoted to major and quartermaster, August 31, 1883, and was placed on the retired list August 8, 1894.
by executive proclamation. The Agency was located temporarily at Camp Supply and the site for its permanent location, where the Chisholm Trail, or Fort Sill Military Road crossed the North Canadian River, was occupied in the spring of 1870.
I came down from Camp Supply to the site of the new Agency in company with the chief clerk, arriving in the latter part of April. In May, I returned to Camp Supply for the agent On the way back to the new Agency in company with Agent Darlington, we camped at a place known as Cottonwood Grove, which was on the North Canadian River, some distance above Sheridan’s Roost. Black Crow, an Apache Indian, ate dinner with us the day we reached Cottonwood Grove. When he left, he repaid our hospitality by stealing our wagon sheet. I followed him, took it from him and upbraided him for his meanness. He then dogged our trail and, that night while we were asleep at Cottonwood Grove, he sneaked in and stole three of our four mules. Leaving the agent alone with the wagon, I trailed the missing animals for many miles but, in the end, I had to return without them and then leave the agent again, to ride to the agency for another team. Agent Darlington stood the hardships and exposure of his long, lonely wait without complaint. Several months later, the stolen mules were recovered at the Wichita Agency where they were found in the possession of the Kiowas.
At the new Agency I strove to make myself generally useful. I ran the saw-mill, did some blacksmithing, acted as cook, teamster, herder, etc. At one time the chief clerk of the Agency became dissatisfied with the manner in which my duties were performed and he attempted to discharge me, but his action was disapproved by Agent Darlington. The cattle which were purchased for issue to the Indians were delivered in lots of as many as 1,000 at a time. With two men to help me, I had charge of this herd, which was kept in the vicinity of the Agency. In the summer of 1871, while thus engaged caring for the herd, we made our headquarters in a shack or shanty made of slabs of cottonwood lumber and located at a distance of two or three miles from the Agency.
A little Arapaho boy, not over ten or eleven years old, became very frindly with the herders and spent much of his time around this camp. He had his own pony and, as he was bright,
active and of an obliging disposition, he made himself very useful, running errands or otherwise aiding us in our work. He often ate with us and sometimes stayed all night at our camp. After some weeks he disappeared. We missed him and wondered at his absence but supposed he would soon return. Several days later a band of Arapaho Indians came to our camp. They could not talk and were evidently in an ugly humor. With them was Mrs. Mary Keith, an intelligent woman of mixed Arapaho and white extraction. Everything about our camp was scrutinized with great care but none of the Indians would talk. We asked what was wanted and tried to find out what the trouble was but even Mrs. Keith, who was their interpreter, was non-communicative. We realized that we were under suspicion but were in the dark as to its cause. Although we knew we had not wronged the Indians in any way, we became very anxious. Finally they left us without enlightening us as to the cause of the visit. Later on, they found the remains of the little Arapaho boy in a ravine a mile or two farther from the Agency. His body was taken up and carried to the Arapaho village amid great lamentations. He had been murdered and his pony was missing Apparently the Arapahoes did not think that we would have killed the boy for his pony, though they still avoided us. Some months later, some Arapahoes who were visiting at the Wichita Agency found the pony that had belonged to the little boy who had been killed. It was in the possession of some of the Indians there and they said they had bought it from a Mexican. The Arapaho visitors waited until the Mexican appeared, when they promptly shot and killed him and started for home. Shortly after this, we received a visit from the father and mother and some of the other relatives of the murdered lad, who greeted us with every demonstration of friendliness in an evident effort to make amends for having unjustly suspicioned us.
Brinton Darlington was an old man when he was appointed agent for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. He did not bring his family with him to the Territory, though two of his daughters (Mrs. Townsend and Mrs. Covington), whose husbands were employed at the Agency, made their homes there for the time being. Agent Darlington won the confidence of the Indians to a most remarkable degree and, when he died, they
mourned for him as they would have mourned for one of their own leaders. John Smith, the Agency interpreter, who had been with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes for forty years, said he had never witnessed such manifestations of affection and respect by them for any white man before.
In the spring of 1871, Left Hand, who was one of the war chiefs of the Arapaho tribe, asked permission of Agent Darlington to go to Colorado on a hostile raid against the people of the Ute tribe, who were the hereditary enemies of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and other tribes of the Plains. Of course, the agent was opposed to anything of that kind, yet, not wishing to offend Left Hand9 by an arbitrary refusal, he promised to refer the request to the Interior Department, at Washington, in the hope that, by delaying the matter, the project might be given up. Left Hand waited a reasonable length of time for a reply from Washington, as he thought, and then, with a party of 150 young Arapaho braves, he left the reservation and set out on the long journey across the Plains toward the haunts of the hated Utes. He had been gone three days when a letter was received from the Commissioner of Indians Affairs, instructing Agent Darlington to prevent the raid by all means. The agent called for volunteers to follow Left Hand and his band and bring them back to the reservation. I agreed to go with Yellow Bear,10 one of the other war chiefs of the Arapaho tribe, and
9Left Hand, who was long regarded as one of the leading chiefs and counselors of the Arapaho tribe, was born about 1838. In his young manhood he distinguished himself as a leader among his people, especially in war. He was generally reputed to have been one of the principal actors in the scene in the valley of Sergeant-Major Creek, Roger Mills County, which culminated in the death of Major Joel H. Elliott, four noncommissioned officers and ten privates of the 7th U. S. Calvary, during the battle of the Washita, November 27, 1868. In later life he became converted to Christianity and was a devoted member of the Baptist Church, in which he was as much marked for his humility and gentleness as he ever had been for his bravery and endurance on the war path in the turbulent days of his young manhood. In his old age he lost his eyesight and became totally blind, an affliction which he accepted with patience and resignation. He was a man of great dignity and strong character, was respected by the white people who knew him and was revered as a patriarch by his own people. He died at his home, near Watonga, Oklahoma, in 1913. The other war chiefs of the Arapaho tribe at that time were Big Mouth, Powder Face, Yellow Bear and White Shield. Little Raven was the head council chief and was generally looked upon as the leading man of the tribe.
10Although he was numbered among the war chiefs of the Arapaho tribe, Yellow Bear seemed to have been a man of pacific disposition, especially in his attitude toward the whites. He took an active part in aiding the attempt of Generals Sheridan and Custer to open negotiations with the hostile Cheyennes during the Washita Campaign and was regarded with confidence by them, as evidenced by General Custer’s account in his "Wild Life on the Plains," pp. 176-329. He was recognized by the Arapahoes as a chief second in rank only to Little Raves.
endeavor to bring Left Hand and his followers back to the Agency.
As already stated, the raiding band had been gone three days, so it promised some hard riding to overtake them. Yellow Bear could not speak English and I could not speak Arapaho, hence all of our communication had to be by means of the sign language. Our course led almost due west from Darlington and, after crossing the South Canadian River, we followed the divide between that stream and the Washita beyond the confines of the Territory into the Texas Panhandle. At every creek crossing were to be found certain signs marked in the sand by members of the raiding party. Yellow Bear was always able to read and understand these signs. We kept on our course to the west, still following the trail of Left Hand and his war party until, after having traveled eight or nine days, we overtook them.
When we came in sight of the runaways, Yellow Bear would not consent to approach their camp in daylight, saying that they might mistake us for enemies and fire on us. After dark, however, we rode boldly into the camp and were well received. Supper was served and pipes were smoked. Yellow Bear broke the news concerning our mission in pursuing and overtaking them. Then Left Hand insisted that I should tell it. I explained by signs that it was difficult for me to do so. Then, to my amazement, a young brave came up and said in good English, "Tell me; I will interpret it." So I told my story in English and it was duly interpreted into Arapaho. Strangely enough, I never saw that young brave again, or, if I did, I failed to recognize him.
Left Hand was then in the early prime of manhood, about thirty-two or thirty-three years old, handsome, lithe and athletic, and a man of strong personality and possessed of a large measure of magnetism when it came to enlisting the support and following of his fellow tribesmen. Before we lay down for the night, Left Hand came and shook my hand and informed me that they would let me know their decision the next morning. They counselled over the matter that night and, when morning came, they told me that they had decided to obey the agent’s directions and that they would start back to the reservation without delay. They were in sight of the Rocky Mountains
when they were thus turned back. The return trip was made much more slowly, as there was much hunting done along the way.
After the death of Agent Darlington, John D. Miles,11 agent for the Kickapoo Indians in Kansas, was transferred to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency. He was a man in the early prime of life and he brought energy and zeal and tact and wholeheartedness to the discharge of the duties of his new position. His wife and young children accompanied him. The village which had grown up at the Agency became known as Darlington, having been so named in honor of the agent who established it.
Each year the Indians were permitted to go out on the Plains to hunt buffalo. As the buffalo decreased in numbers, the Indians became more restless and dissatisfied. The extension of the railways from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains had made the buffalo ranges easily accessible to white hunters and also offered a cheap and easy means of transportation for hides, tongues and meat. Convinced that the buffalo herds would soon be exterminated unless something was done to put a stop to the wanton slaughter, certain bands of the Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowa tribes finally decided to go on the war path in the summer of 1874.
A short time before the time set for the outbreak a band of young Cheyennes, led by a son of Little Robe, were up near the Kansas line, where they came in contact with some whiskey
11John De Bras Miles was born at Dayton, Ohio, June 7, 1832. His father was of English extraction and his mother’s family was of French origin. He was reared on a farm in Miami County, Ohio, where he received a common school education. This training was afterward supplemented by a full course in a business college at Richmond, Indiana. At the age of seventeen, he engaged in teaching school and, at the age of twenty, entered the merchandising and milling business at Wabash, Indiana. In the winter of 1868-9, he was appointed U. S. Indian agent for the Kickapoo tribe, then living on a reservation near Atchison, Kansas. In 1871, he was sent as a special commissioner to the Republic of Mexico to secure the removal of the Mexican Kickapoo band back to the United States. In 1872, he was transferred to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, at Darlington, Indian Territory, as agent to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Brinton Darlington. In 1877, he was sent as special commissioner to the agency of the Uncompahgre Utes, in Colorado, to adjust the differences between the Indians of that tribe and the white settlers who were at war over a disputed boundary line. After holding his position as Indian agent at Darlington for twelve years, he resigned in 1884, and accepted the position of attorney for Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. After the opening of Oklahoma to settlement, in 1889, he took an active part in the movements incident to the proposed organization of the Territory. His home was at Lawrence, Kansas, for many years, but in recent years he has made his home on a ranch near Sutherland Springs, Texas, where he still lives (1919).
peddlers. The latter secured possession of young Little Robe’s horses without paying for them. He attempted to recover them by force when his demand was refused. In the melee which followed, he was wounded and the report was brought back that he had been killed. At once there was turmoil in the Cheyenne camps and they prepared to leave the reservation at once without further delay. Before leaving, the warriors came in a body to the Agency where they stated that they would not hurt any one or destroy any property there, but that they were going out to make war on the white buffalo hunters. Agent Miles asked me to carry a dispatch to Fort Sill, which was then the nearest military post. I left Darlington at 9 p. m. (as soon as it was dark), and I arrived at Fort Sill at sun-rise the next morning, covering the entire distance of seventy miles on one horse. Col. W. J. Davidson, the post commander, immediately ordered two troops of the 10th Cavalry to prepare to march to Darlington. The column started about 9 a. m. I rested at Fort Sill all of that day and started back to Darlington that night. I passed the troops in camp on the South Canadian about 4 a. m. the next morning and rode on in to the Agency, the troops following and arriving about 9 a. m. I had made the entire trip both ways on the same horse—a small sorrel Texas bronco, weighing a trifle less than 900 pounds. After eating my breakfast I remounted the little sorrel and, just at noon, on the day following, I dismounted at the telegraph office at Wichita, Kansas, to file dispatches to the Army headquarters and to the Indian office. I had covered the distance of more than 200 miles from Fort Sill without changing my saddle. The little sorrel never seemed to tire and he was ready to start on the return trip long before I was.
There was a white man who loafed about the Agency and who took a fancy to this horse. Alhough we knew nothing of this man’s antecedents, he was supposed to be a renegade. He insisted that I should put a price on the animal. Naturally, I did not want to sell. Finally, he offered to trade me another horse and give me $150.00 "to boot." Reasoning that the fellow would probably steal the horse if I refused to sell and that the cash consideration would indemnify me in case some one else put in an appearance to claim ownership to the other horse, I made the trade. The new owner rode the little sorrel away and
that was the last I saw of him. Later, I learned that the man was killed in a battle with peace officers just across the Red River, in Texas, while riding this horse.
The Northern Cheyenne Indians were brought to the Darlington Agency in 1877 and 1878. The Cheyenne tribe had been divided for more than forty years, a minority of its people refusing to go with the majority when it moved from the region of the Black Hills and the Platte over to the region of the Arkansas, in Colorado. During all that time the two divisions had lived as distinct tribes, though occasionally acting together in war. At the conclusion of the Sioux War of 1876-7, during which the Northern Cheyennes had been overpowered and captured, the War Department arbitrarily decided to forcibly reunite the Northern Cheyennes with their kinsmen of the Southern Cheyenne tribe. The Cheyennes are by nature a proud and high-spirited people and, in this the Northern Cheyennes were not exceptional. They naturally resented the policy which would force them to merge their separate tribal identity of more than a generation with that of the other branch of the tribe, not through any feeling of enmity toward their Southern Cheyenne kinsmen, but rather that they felt that they were entitled to be consulted in the matter. For this reason they were more than dissatisfied with their lot and situation at the Darlington Agency. Moreover, as their southern kinsmen had been drifting southward during the years of separation, they had been drifting northward and their range had been in Montana and adjacent parts of Wyoming and Dakotas, in a semi-mountainous region the climate of which was quite different from that of the Indian Territory, hence there was much sickness and a number of deaths among them and this added to their discontent and smoldering resentment.
When Dull Knife, the Northern Cheyenne chief, and his band broke away and left the reservation, Major Mizner,12 the post commander at Fort Reno, sent two troops of cavalry, un-
12John K. Mizner, a native of New York, was appointed as a cadet and entered the United States Military Academy in 1852. He graduated in 1856 and was commissioned a 2d lieutenant of the 2d Dragoons. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant, May 9, 1861, and to captain of the 2d Cavalry, November 12 of the same year. During the latter part of the Civil War, he was colonel of a Michigan cavalry regiment. He became major of the 4th Cavalry in 1869, lieutenant colonel of the 8th Cavalry, in 1888, and colonel of the 10th Cavalry in 1890. He was retired, June 7, 1897, and died September 8, 1898.
der Captains Rendelbrock and Gunther, but the fugitives succeeded in eluding pursuit, although the troops seemed to have them headed off several times. They committed no depredations when they first started, but began active hostilities when they reached the cattle ranges of the Cherokee Strip and they left a trail of death and destruction behind them as they raided northward across the state of Kansas.
When John D. Miles became agent for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, the nearest railway station was at Wichita, Kansas, which was 160 miles distant from Darlington. All goods and supplies destined for the Agency, therefore, had to be hauled by wagon upon contract. The Indians were commonly regarded as being too indolent to work. As a matter of fact, there was little or nothing for most of them to do. At Agent Miles’ suggestion a number of the Indians were induced to draw the amount due them in annuities in the form of wagons and harness—they had horses. When they had broken their horses to work in harness, they were ready to drive to Wichita for a load of goods. Thereafter the business of hauling supplies from the railway to the Agency was almost entirely done by Indians, who received the same compensation that white contractors had received for the same service. The Indian wagon train became known as the Cheyenne & Arapaho Transportation Company. I had charge of this train as wagon master for several years, during the course of which I had many very interesting experiences with the Indians. On one trip, all of the teamsters would be Cheyennes and, and on the next trip only Arapahoes were taken along as teamsters.
For some years after the Agency at Darlington was established, the sole source of revenue to the Indians (aside from their annuities) was the buffalo robes which they secured each year. When the buffalo herds finally disappeared and the hunts had to be discontinued, this source of revenue was gone. After the lands of the Cherokee Strip and the Unassigned District had been occupied by cattle ranges, the leasing of Indian lands for use as cattle ranges began to be agitated. The people of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes finally leased their lands to cattlemen. The agent and the authorities of the Indian office had nothing to do with it, the proceeds of the leases—$87,000.00 per annum—being paid directly to the Indians. I know personally
that Agent Miles had flattering offers made to him if he would use his influence in favor of this, that or the other party who wished to secure a lease, but he absolutely and positively declined to take any hand in the matter other than to advise and counsel the Indians to lease for the best price. Ultimately, the leases thus executed led to trouble and were the cause of great excitement in the summer of 1885, when the danger of an alleged Indian uprising caused the shipment of a large body of troops to the border of the Indian Territory. As a consequence, General Sheridan recommended that all cattle should be ordered to be removed from the Cheyenne and Arapaho reservations, which was done under a proclamation by President Cleveland.
I continued to live at Darlington until the opening of the Oklahoma country to white settlement. I had often been urged to embark in the cattle business during the later ’seventies and early ’eighties, but only once did I essay such a venture and then I lost all that I put into it, because I placed too much confidence in the man with whom I became associated as a partner. With the opening of the country to white settlement, my lot became that of other pioneers of the time.
Most of the men with whom I was associated while in the Indian Service have long since crossed the Great Divide. Ed Guerrier, the French-Cheyenne half-breed, for whom the town of Geary, in Blaine County, was named, still lives at Porcupine, South Dakota. His wife was a daughter of Colonel William Bent, of Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas. Her brother, Robert, died just at the time of the opening of Oklahoma to settlement, in 1889. Her brother, George Bent, died at Colony, in May, 1918. Dick Curtis, whose wife was a Sioux woman, but who was an adopted member of the Cheyenne tribe, died about 1872. Phil McCusker, who was a noted scout, lost his life during the great blizzard, in Jauary 1886. But little is known of his antecedents and early life, though he was said to have been a soldier in the Regular Army, before the Civil War, and was reputed to have been an officer in the Confederate Army. Jimmie Morrison was another old timer who died long since. He had been a clerk and interpreter for Agent Wynkoop, at Fort Larned. His wife was a daughter of Big Mouth, a leading chief of the Arapahoes. Jimmie was a prominent cattleman during the early ’eighties. David Tramp, a Creole-French trapper, one
of the last survivers of the Rocky Mountain fur-trade era, died at Colony, about twenty-five years ago. John Seger still lives at Colony and Agent Miles is yet living in Texas. Practically all of the leading men of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of forty years ago are dead.