T.E. Beck, Jefferson, Okla.
On a little knoll near the Rock Island railroad’s water tank and just south of the old Pond Creek stockade and ranch house, a half mile south of the town of Jefferson, are two graves, upon the rude headstones are inscribed: "Tom Best, killed by Kiowas, 1871." "Ed Chambers, killed by Osages, 1873." Along in the early 70’s the Indians frequently went on the warpath, or a small band would go out on a hunting expedition, and chance to meet a lone cowboy, would deliberately murder him and many are the lone graves scattered over Oklahoma.
The writer has never been able to find out much about how Tom Best was killed, only that a band of Kiowas was roving through the country and killed him. His body was found and buried by the ranch hands.
Some years ago in conversation with Captain J. H. Segar, then superintendent of the Indian school at Seger, Oklahoma, he related the circumstances as to the killing of Ed. Chambers. Mr. Segar said: "I had just come from the East in the fall of 1873 and was on my way to the agency at Fort Cobb and when I reached the Pond Creek ranch in company with a number of freighters. It was reported that a small band of Osages were in the vicinity, and their actions had aroused the suspicion that they were up to some deviltry. The wagon train concluded to remain where there was a strong stockade built for safety in case of an attack by the Indians.
"The Indians had ridden northwest a couple of miles and seemed to be holding a council of war in a valley with a couple of lookouts on a little sand hill. Chambers, returning from his watch of the cattle, rode over towards the two Indians on the hill, not seeing a body of them in the valley beyond. The two Indians went down and met him, one on either side of his horse and while in conversation by sign language with one, the other shot him in the back of the head. The report of the shot brought the other Indians to the scene and seeing what had happened and knowing that the killing would be reported to the soldiers, they mounted their ponies and made a circuitous route back to the Osage reservation, and the ones who did the killing were never found.
"Chamber’s body was brought to the ranch house and
prepared for burial by the cowboys and teamsters and all that had been mortal was laid to rest beside that of Tom Best." Mr. Segar officiated at the burial, by reading a chapter from the Bible and offering a prayer. Although these friends were men of the world yet they did not forget their God, and the dirt which covered him over was sprinkled with tears of sorrow, while perhaps a father and mother never knew what became of their boy, as his past was not known.
T. E. BECK, Jefferson, Okla.