Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 4, No. 1
SOME LEGENDS OF OKLAHOMA.
WALTER E. SMITH, JENNINGS, OKLA.
(Paper Read Before the Oklahoma Education Association)
It had been my intention when first notified that I could have this time on the program to collect legends of the naming of
several places in Oklahoma, but because of the inaccurate information available I decided to give instead some legends of
buried treasure. I have found in all my investigations that we are about five years too late to get the best of Oklahoma folk-lore
because so many of the old timers are dead. Consequently it is possible that I will not only give you a few treasure legends
but if my time has not expired when the treasure tales are done, I will briefly outline a few legends surrounding the names
of places in Grant County near my old home.
Near the central part of Grant County there is a towering red hill surrounded by low lying land that is very rough and shaley
in appearance. The hill is of such height and appearance that it is known over the entire county as the Red Hill. It is in
the sight of anyone in most any part of the county.
There is an old legend that a tribe of Indians once made that section of the country their headquarters, and that one of their
chiefs by the name of Wakita died and was buried on the top of the Red Hill. Many are the people who drive mile after mile
to view the mound on the top of the hill, which legend claims is the grave of the buried chieftain.
About six miles north and one and one-half miles west there is a little Plains village known as Wakita, supposed to have been
named for the old chief who is buried on the Red Hill.
South and west of the town of Wakita in Grant County there is a creek known as Dual or Duel Creek. I have been as yet unable
to satisfactorily collect details but the legend of the naming is mainly as follows: In the early days of the Territory when
the cattle men were plentiful, a group of drivers camped for the night at the head of a small creek. The
legend does not clearly explain how the trouble started. It may have been an old feud or it may have been only a result of
heated argument, but the fact remains that a duel was fought on the creek. The duelists were on horse-back and armed with
pistols. Back and forth among the trees they rode following the bed and banks of the creek for a distance of about one and
one-half miles. Finally, one of the men was killed. He was buried on the side of the creek about three hundred yards south
of the bridge which now stands close to the corner two and one-half miles west of Wakita and three miles south.
Since that time the creek has been known as Dual or Duel Creek for one of two reasons. Here again the legend is not clear.
Either the name of the creek is D-u-e-l because the duel was fought on its banks or the name is D-u-a-l because the dead man
was named Dual.
Due south of Wakita about five miles there is the beginning of another creek. The naming of the creek is still further clouded
than that of Duel Creek. According to the hazy legend there was once a negro who committed a heinous crime in that section
of the country. He was captured by the early settlers—and since they could find no better place for justice—they decided to
hang the offender on a cottonwood tree that grew on the banks of the creek. Accordingly the negro was hanged and the creek
has since enjoyed the name of Lynch Creek.
Through legend, at least, Spanish influence connects itself with northwestern Oklahoma. In eastern Ellis County almost directly
west of the little town of Vici, so legend has it, a treasure of Spanish gold is buried.
The dry canyon along the sides of which the gold is supposed to be buried first attracted the attention of the settlers who
came into this section about 1900 because of the quantities of human bones found there. Skulls, and even entire skeletons
were found scattered about in profusion. The legend of the buried treasure comes from the Indians. They are reported to claim
that years and years ago a party of Spanish were crossing the country toward the east with several burros loaded with gold.
The Indians harrassed them continually and the whites made their last stand in the canyon which held the evidence of their
annihilation. The In-
dians claim that they were never able to find the gold which the Spanish had evidently buried.
The whole thing sounded too improbable for much credence, and little was given to it until about 1912 when it was reported
that several small Spanish coins were found in the canyon. A fever of excitement resulted. But it soon subsided when nothing
further was found. Seemingly if a treasure ever was buried there, it still remains.
According to another legend three men were making their way to Texas after robbing a bank in Kansas. They had eluded all pursuit
and were nearing their goal when attacked by hostile Indians of an un-named tribe.
At the time of the attack the men were in the foot-hills of the Wichita Mountains. There they fought valiantly and finally
repulsed the Indians. Two of the men had been killed and the other severely wounded when the battle was over. The remaining
one buried his treasure and succeeded in escaping the Indians.
The next chapter of the legend shows the sorely wounded man in a Dallas hospital where he told a nurse of the treasure and
its location. A day or two later he died leaving only the woman with the knowledge of the treasure.
The woman later organized a party of men and tried to recover the loot. The hiding place seems to have been about four miles
west and two south of the present town of Geronimo. The expedition was a failure.
It was not until a few years ago that the story was revived. It seems that a hired man while digging post-holes struck something
which aroused his suspicions and he called his employer who unearthed a gallon bucket which seemed unduly heavy. It was removed
to a bank at Lawton where a committee opened it a few days later. What the bucket held was not made public, but it did not
hold the treasure.
Somewhere near 1873, an Indian by the name of Lindsay, lived 16 miles southeast of Claremore, on a mountain known among the
Indians as the Scaley Back Mountain.
Lindsay owned a great number of cattle which he herded over the prairies east and south of the mountain. Some Indian tribes
living on Claremore Mound, some six or seven
miles northwest of Claremore would come down to this mountain and hold a pow-wow, drive off a great number of his cattle,
and eat them during the feast.
Lindsay finally decided that at some time they would probably kill him and all of his herd would be lost, so he drove them
out in the night, and after some scheming, he got them to Denison, Texas, where he sold them to some large ranch owners there,
the sum has been unknown for certain but according to tradition, Lindsay must have realized somewhat over twenty thousand
dollars, a large part of which was paid in gold.
He made his way back home, and buried the treasure in a ravine overlooking the present prairie where Choteau stands. The next
morning he was found by an uncle from Kansas who came to see him. Lindsay was dead. He was buried on the mountain, but his
treasure was never found.
Just west of the town of Jennings, Oklahoma, are a couple of low, rock strewn hills which bear a marked resemblance to each
other. Around these centers a legend of buried treasure.
With a cavalry escort a government paymaster on his way to Fort Sill camped for the night between these Twin Hills. Rumors
of Indian troubles which had caused the escort to be sent along were confirmed when the camp was suddenly attacked that night
by a band of Indians. A defense was hurriedly formed in the rocks on the hills and the party prepared to hold out until a
messenger could break through and bring help. All efforts to slip by the Indians were unsuccessful and the diminishing party
was forced to the decision that the only chance for anyone lay in a bold dash through the approaching circle of savages.
The money, $11,000 in gold, was hastily buried where it could be found by those who should escape, and then the dash for freedom
was made. Only five of the entire party succeeded in breaking through the net drawn about the camp, but when they returned
with the party which came in pursuit of the Indians, they were unable to find a mark which revealed the location of the buried
money. Appearances indicated that the money had not been discovered by the Indians, and it is said that it has never been
it is believed that when Custer marched down the Washita he came as far as Panther Creek in the vicinity of Clinton. It was
there that a group of the soldiers started to gamble and after a long session found all their money in the possession of one
The fortune was buried by the side of an old oak tree and a map drawn to show the location. The map showed the tree as being
on a certain side of a road and having a certain side practically devoid of limbs.
When a later expedition was organized they failed to find the treasure because the road had been changed and consequently
the tree was not located.
It is believed that the treasure was unearthed a few years ago. The basis for the belief is as follows: One day a man by the
name of Redman and one of his friends were driving past the old oak, when Redman said, "If I thought that there were a treasure
buried by that old tree I’d take an end gate rod and run it down there."
The friend says he tried the experiment and finally found the hole where he believed the treasure had been buried before it
was taken out. Further basis is that the man bought a, farm shortly thereafter and paid for it in cash.
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