By EMMA ESTILL-HARBOUR, Ph. D.
In the southwestern corner of what is now Oklahoma lies the territory formerly called Greer County. This territory contains about one million five hundred thousand acres, the extreme length being ninety miles and the average width nearly seventy miles. Greer County lies between the two forks of the Red River. It is bounded on the north by the North Fork of the Red River and on the south by the Prairie Dog Town Fork,1 since declared to be the main stream. The 100th meridian forms the western boundary and the union of the two forks of the Red River constitutes the most eastern point of the area. The territory so embraced contains over two thousand square miles.
Greer County has a most interesting history inasmuch as it has been under seven flags: those of France,2 Spain,3, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, the Confederacy and Oklahoma. From the annexation of Texas the boundary between that state and the territory of the United States was in dispute. The United States maintained that the South Fork of the Red River was the main stream and consequently formed the boundary. The State of Texas maintained the North Fork of the river constituted the main stream and thus formed the boundary line.
Greer County was for many years the grazing ground of the great buffalo herds and the hunting ground for the Plains Indians, especially the Wichitas, Comanches and Kiowas, who lived on the western prairies and believed this to be their land.
After the Civil War the cattle men of Texas4 began to seek new ranges for their cattle and by 1880, they had located on the grazing land of Greer County. Ranchmen took up a great amount of land, and the beef-contractors5 kept their herds here. In Texas the Day Land and Cattle Company bought up land certificates6 issued by the state to the veterans of the Texas War of Independence (1836) and for them on the twenty eighth of March 1884
3Treaty of Paris of 1763. France ceded all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi and the Isle of Orleans to Spain.
4When the cattle men returned after the war they found the ranches over crowded with cattle and no markets for them.
5Beef-contractors were men who had a contract with the Federal Government to supply the Indian Agencies with beeves for food for the Indians.
there was allotted to the company 144,640 acres of land in Greer County. Under the act of March, 15, 1881,7 a suit was instituted against the company to cancel the patents on the ground that the land in Greer County was not public doman.8 In 1884 the Federal Government took cognizance of the presence of the ranchmen and herders and President Arthur issued a proclamation warning them against trespassing. In 1885, troops were sent out from Ft. Sill to expel the intruders from Greer County. Lieutenant C. J. Crane reported the presence of not more than ten families and 60,000 head of cattle belonging to seven or eight firms, requiring the services of as many as one hundred men.9
For the next four years settlers came to the county from all parts of the United States but mostly from Texas. In 1888 the government of the United States again warned them against trespassing. The settlers paid no attention to the proclamation for they felt that the Texas authorities would protect them. Greer County was organized as a county of Texas, February 8, 1860.10 The legislature of Texas, on February 25, 1879,11 had appropriated money for schools even though the ownership was disputed by the United States and Texas.
The controversy concerning the status of Greer County was carried on between the Federal Government and Texas for many years. Bills were introduced into Congress at various times to provide for the adjudication of the conflicting claims, but nothing ever came of such efforts. Finally the Organic Act for the Territory of Oklahoma was passed by Congress, May 2 of 1890.12 One section of this act made it mandatory that the Attorney-General of the United States file in the Federal Supreme Court a suit in equity to determine the long standing dispute. Then followed several years of careful preparation for the trial on this issue. The archives of Mexico and Spain were searched, an elaborate set of copies of old maps were procured and depositions were taken in many places both in Texas and Oklahoma. Nearly six years passed between the Organic Act, authorizing and directing the beginnings of the suit, and the rendering of the decision of the Supreme Court.
Testimony in the Greer County Case, which is known as
United States vs. Texas, was taken in 1894. The case was argued before the Supreme Court on October 23, 24, and 25, 1895, and the decision was handed down five months later (March 16, 1896). The question of boundaries, construction of treaty, titles, acknowledgment and acquiescence were considered and defined in the case.13
Both Texas and the United States claimed title to the area in dispute under the terms of the treaty of February 22, 1819,14 between Spain and the United States. As this treaty defined the boundary between the United States and the Spanish possessions, it is important to trace the steps leading to its signature. The negotiations upon the subject of the boundaries were more than once suspended because the United States regarded certain demands on the part of Spain as unreasonable.15
After much diplomatic correspondence16 between the Spanish minister, Don Louis De Onis, and John Quincy Adams and after many proposals and rejections were made by both countries,17 the negotiations were closed in 1818. They were resumed on February 11, 1819. The Spanish minister urged Adams to accept the Arkansas instead of the Red River as the boundary.18 In reply Adams made his last proposition19 to the Spanish minister which resulted in the treaty of 1819.
The diplomatic correspondence shows the circumstances under which the treaty of 1819 was signed, and clearly reveals two facts: "First, the negotiators had access to the map of Melish, improved to 1818 and published in Philadelphia; and second, the river referred to in the correspondence as "Red River" was believed by the negotiators to have its source near Santa Fe and the Snow Mountains.20
Prior to Melish's map of 1818, it was believed that the Red River which passed Natchitoches had its source in the mountains
1316 United States Statutes, 725. The attorney, General Harmon, Assistant Attorney General Conrad, and Edgar Allen, for Complainant, George Clark, M. M. Crane and A. H. Garland, for defendant.
near Santa Fe. This is manifest from Melish's own publication.21
The treaty of 1819 declared that the boundary lines between the United States and Spain were to be the same as Melish's map of 1818, and that this map fixed the 100th degree of longitude west of Greenwich, below and east of the mouth of the North Fork of the Red River as now known.
This was conclusive upon both governments, and the precise location of that meridian had not been Left in doubt.22
Texas had by legislation often recognized the true 100th meridian as located by the United States. For on February 8, 1860, when there was no reason to suppose that the United States had given up any claim to the territory, the legislature of The State of Texas passed an act creating Greer County23 with the following boundary;
Beginning at the confluence of Red River, thence running up Red River, passing the mouth of South Fork and following main or North Red River to its intersection with the 33rd degree of west longitude, thence due south across Salt Fork and to Prairie Dog Town River, and thence following that river to the place of beginning.24
21In 1816 Melish published a book entitled A Geographical Description of The United States, in which it appears to use Humbolt's map of 1804 and Pikes Travels. He said, "The Red River rises in the mountains to the eastward of Santa Fe, between north latitude 37 degrees and 38 degrees, and pursuing a general southeast course makes several remarkable bends. Following the course of the Red River as laid down on the Melish map of 1818, it is impossible to doubt that in the mind of Melish the Red River was the stream represented by Pike as having two prongs, Rio Rojo and Rio Moro, near Santa Fe, and as running without break, first easterly then southeastwardly, then eastwardly for a comparatively short distance, and then southeastwardly to its mouth near the Mississippi river. On the north and east of Red River, as thus marked, there was no stream connected with it that was marked by any name.
"From the Melish map of 1823, it appears that a line up the Rio Rojo, or Red River, from the nor eastern corner of Texas to the 100th meridian is substantially an east and west line, and that west of the 100th meridian it is westward and northeastwardly to a point near Santa Fe and the Snow Mountains.
"If the case depended upon that map, it could not be doubted that the territory in dispute is outside of the limits of Texas. The direction of the treaty is to run westward, not northwestwardly, on Red River, to the 100th meridian. According to the view pressed by the state, the true line extends from the junction of the North Fork of Red River with Red River, northwardly, then easterly, then northwestwardly up that fork, although at such junctions there is another wide stream, coming almost directly from the west, and which fully meets the requirements of the treaty to follow the course of the Red River, westwardly to the 100th meridian."—Supreme Court Reporter, XVI, 741.
22The United States had erected a monument at the point where the 100th meridian is intersected by the parallel of 36 degree and 30 minutes north latitude.
Texas claimed that Captain Marcy believed the North Fork to be the main Red River and that Prairie Dog Town River was the longest tributary of Red River.25 Up to the time of the Marcy expedition, no one had any definite knowledge of that part of the country. Marcy gave such a grand description of the country that some citizens of Texas decided to settle the land west of the 100th meridian. They began their surveys on Red River and at that point took up a great amount of land and filed their field notes with the General Land Office of Texas.
Captain R. B. Marcy and Captain Geo. B. McClellan, an engineer officer of the army under the direction of the War Department, explored the Red River in 1852 and gave the first accurate knowledge of the North Fork and Red or Prairie Dog Town Fork in a report to Congress.26 On the expedition they crossed Red River below the mouth of the Big Wichita and proceeded up the north side of the river until they reached the North Fork at the mouth of Otter Creek. They remained here for several days and during that time Captain McClellan established the point of intersection of the 100th meridian with Red River, which point he located about six miles below the junction of the Prairie Dog Town River.
Texas claimed that Captain Marcy evidently recognized the North Fork as the main fork for he explored it to its head spring. From there he took a southerly direction until he reached the Prairie Dog Town River which he reported as the longest tributary of the Red River. Captain Marcy and McClellan made a serious mistake in their maps which accompanied the report. They located the 100th meridian just one degree too far east.27 This error was discovered by Jones and Brown, United States surveyors in Indian Territory, soon after the Marcy Report was published in 1853. The surveyors found that by the mistake there were about two million acres claimed by Texas that belonged to the United States Government. In order to make it clear that this territory belonged to the United States it became necessary to show changes in the boundary. Believing that the treaty of 1819 meant the North Fork of the Red River, they could not claim the Prairie Dog Town River as the boundary. However in all their reports, letters and maps to the government they called the Prairie Dog
Town River, "Main Red River," "Main Branch of Red River," and South Fork of Red River.28 Up to this time, Texas thought the boundary line undisputed but with reports of the two surveyors, it became necessary that something must be done to defend their territory. Governor E. M. Pease in 1854 got the Texas delegation in Washington to demand a joint commission to run the boundary line between the United States and Texas. But it was four years later, June 5, 1858 before the law was passed, for the appointment of such a commission.29 The joint commission was organized and Honorable Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior, was appointed to see that the law was carried out. The commission began work in 1858 but instead of beginning on Red River as the law intended, Thompson directed John H. Clark, the United States Commissioner and Surveyor, to commence on the Rio Grande and gave instructions to first run the boundary defined by the 32nd parallel of latitude: then the 103rd meridian; then the boundary defined by 36 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude. After marking this boundary, then take the 100th meridian, west longitude, as marked by Jones and Brown. After observing the 100th meridian at its intersection with the Creek boundary proceed rapidly over the remaining part of the meridian to Red River.30
From these instructions it does not appear that the commissioners were to determine which was the main Red River or to designate the 100th meridian. They were eighteen months on the survey which they failed to complete and separated without making a joint report.
From this time on the dispute involved the territory known as Greer County, which was between two forks of the Red River.
In March 1860, the Secretary of Interior, Thompson, wrote to Governor Sam Houston that a commission would be at Fort Arbuckle in May to start marking the boundary line between the United States and Texas and asked him to have a boundary commissioner from Texas there. On April 28, 1860, Governor Houston appointed William H. Russell, with instructions, "to insist on the North Fork as the main Red River, and as described in the treaty of 1819, but if this cannot be done, cooperate with the commissioner, but do it under protest."
Mr. Russell reported that very little attention was paid to him by the commissioner and that he surveyed the 100th meridian to the North Fork or Main Prong of the Red River, and there he placed a wooden shaft marking the boundary.31
John Clark, the United States Boundary Commissioner, reported that he had been instructed by the Secretary of Interior, Jacob Thompson, to accept the line marked by Jones and Brown in 1859 and to mark the meridian where they stopped, which was to the parallel 36 degrees and 30 minutes.32
After the act creating the boundary commissioner the interest of Texas did not receive any attention from the United States Government.
In 1876, the State of Texas created certain counties adjacent to this land. They were Lipscomb, Hemphill, Wheeler, Collingsworth, and Childress. The 100th meridian formed the boundary for each of the five.33 Thus by the act creating Lipscomb county, its boundary immediately south of the parallel 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude began at a monument at an intersection on the 100th meridian and the thirty six and a half degrees of latitude." The boundary of Childress County follows Prairie Dog Town River—which river, the United States insisted, constituted the southern boundary of the territory in dispute—to the initial monument on the 100th meridian.34 It appears that the two governments, with knowledge that the treaty of 1819 referred to Melish's map of 1818, had by official action, declared that the 100th meridian was located on the line that marks the eastern boundaries of the counties of Lipscomb, Hemphill, Wheeler, and Collinsworth, in the State of Texas. So that the real question for solution was whether, as contended by the United States, the line "following the course of the Rio Roxo westward to the degree of longitude 100 degrees west from London," met the 100th meridian at the point where Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River crosses that meridian, or whether, as contended by the State of Texas it went northwestwardly up the North Fork of Red River, until that river crossed the 100th meridian, many miles due north of the initial monument established by the United States in 1857.
34"The initial monument" was erected in 1857 under the authority of the United States to mark the place where, as its representatives then and have ever since claimed, the line, "following the course of the Rio Roxo westward," cross the 100th meridian.
It was claimed by Texas that the United States had in many ways recognized the claim of Texas to Greer County, and that upon principles of justice and equity, should not question the title of the state to the territory.35
"Is there any basis for the suggestion that the United States has ever acquiesed in the claim of the state that the treaty line westward along Red River to the 100th meridian follows the course of the North Fork from its mouth northwardly and northwestwardly until that meridian is reached at a point north of the thirty fifth degree of latitude?"36 Long acquiescence by the Federal Government would entitle Texas to the claim. Much significance was attached by the state of Texas to the fact that as early as 1860 by legislative enactment, that state created the "County of Greer", with boundaries that included the whole of the territory in dispute, and that it had since asserted its jurisdiction over both that territory and the people in it, and by an inadvertence, not singularly in our legislative history, the United States, by an act of Congress approved February 24, 1879, included Greer County as a part of Texas in the northern judicial district of that State, not annexing it for judicial purposes, but recognizing it apparently as an integral part of Texas. However, it must be remembered that during all this time the authorities of Texas were aware that the United States regarded the territory in dispute under its exclusive jurisdiction and as a part of what was known as the Indian Territory.37
Much testimony was offered by the United States to show that the Indians had long been accustomed to occupy the disputed area—evidence that Spain had not claimed it. This was shown by evidence of hunters and cattlemen who had encountered the Indian there, and by other evidence of teepee and village sites shown by the marks on the ground—circles of burnt off teepee piles, piles of crushed buffalo bones from which the Indians had extracted the marrow for their winter supply of butter substitute, arrowheads, pottery, ashes, and embers of old fires and caches in which the Indians stored their grain; and stumps of trees cut in a way characteristic of the Indians—circling around the tree and leaving a pointed stump.
Among the many interesting maps in the records were several sketched extemporaneously by Indian witnesses to illustrate the
testimony given by them concerning location of the Indian villages,38 streams and other physical features. The Indian possessed unusual facilities in delineating, these things on paper and their maps were lucid and to the point. One Indian witness, Chaddle—Kaungky or Black Goose, a Kiowa made a map on which he showed the location of the Wichita Mountains, north and south forks of Red River, Indian villages, traders stores, etc. He labeled Turkey Creek and then drew a picture of a turkey. By Owl Creek, he drew an owl. At one place he indicated "Heap houses" at another "stone store".39
Texas contended that the North Fork of the Red River is the Red River of Natchitoches mentioned in the treaty of 1819. Captain Marcy speaks of it in a report at least eight times as the Red River and he called it Red River before there was any evidence of the Prairie Dog Town River, or long before it was ever thought of as a boundary between Texas and the United States. Also Texas claimed that in no way could the treaty of 1819—in determining the boundary, call the Prairie Dog Town River the Red River for it was not discovered by any explorer until thirty-three years after the treaty of 1819 was made; and that the Red River on the Melish map must be the North Fork of Red River. Therefore, Greer County belongs to Texas based on the treaty of 1819.
The following opinion was handed down by Mr. Justice Harlan of the Supreme Court, March 16, 1896:
This case having been submitted upon the pleadings, proofs and exhibits, and the court being fully advised, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the territory east of the 100th meridian of longitude, west and south of the river known as the "North Fork of Red River," and north of a line following westward, as prescribed by the treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain, the course, and along the south banks both of Red River and of the river now Known as the "Prairie Dog Town Fork or South Fork of Red River" until such line meets the 100th meridian of longitude, which territory is sometimes called " Greer County", constitutes no part of the territory properly included within or rightfully belonging to Texas at the time of the admiss-
38The Wichita Indians were a tribe who had in ancient times two villages and fields in a canyon in the North Fork of Red River.
ion of that state to the union, and is not wthin the limits nor under the jurisdiction of that state, but is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States of America.40
By this decision the south fork of Red River was declared the boundary line and Greer County became a part of Oklahoma.
At the time this decision was made, the court of the Forty-sixth Judicial District of Texas was in session at Mangum. Justice G. A. Brown, the district judge, was presiding over a trial, when the news arrived that the Supreme Court had given 4the decision that Greer County was a part of Oklahoma. Judge Brown knowing that he had no jurisdiction in Oklahoma did not continue the trial, but returned immediately to Texas.41
Four days after the decision, John F. Lacy introduced in the House a bill42 to provide for the government of Greer County, Oklahoma.43 The bill was amended,44 debated and passed.45 It was sent to the Senate as an emergency measure and passed the same day it passed the House. It was signed, May 4, 1896, by the President.46
Immediately after the bill providing for the government of Greer County was passed, a bill was introduced by Jeremiah V. Cockrell of Texas to provide for the opening of the Greer County land to homestead entry under the United States land laws.47 This bill passed and one of the purposes of it was to give the settlers, already on the land, a preference right to any quarter section within the limits of land so occupied, the land to he free except for the land office fees,48 and at the suggestion of Judson Harmon, each settler was to have the privilege of buying an additional quarter section of land at one dollar per acre, this to be paid in five equal annual payments. The act49 also provided for a Government Land Office at Mangum; sections 16 and 36 for
4062 U. S. 255, United States vs. Texas, March 16, 1896. The decision contained over fourteen hundred clearly printed pages and there were many cources of information.
46Greer County did not have any officers from March 16 to May 4th, when Congress provided that those in office should stay in office until the next election in November, 1896. This election was to be held under the laws of the Territory of Oklahoma. All public property of Greer County Texas, became the property of Greer County, Oklahoma.
school lands, sections 13 and 33 to be used as the legislature of Oklahoma would designate and for a Federal Land Bank at Mangum.
By the decision of the United States Supreme Court, there was added to Oklahoma Territory one million five hundred thousands acres of land out of which in 1907 the Constitutional Convention of Oklahoma organized Greer County and Jackson County. Harmon County was created in 1909 and Beckham County in 1907. Harmon County is located south of the North Fork of the Red River, and also the southern half of Beckham County. These four counties are very prosperous.50 They are made up largely of farming lands under cultivation. Cattle raising has always been one of the chief interests of that part of the state.
The county seats and their population in 1930 were: Altus, 10,000, Jackson, County; Hollis, 2000, Harmon County; and Mangum, 7500, Greer County. There are no important towns in southern Beckham County.
Altus51 is the largest and perhaps the most important of western Oklahoma Red River towns. The land in Jackson County around Altus is excellent cotton land and much of it lies between three rivers, North Fork, Salt Fork and Red Rivers. The farms in this section are very large. One farm is 999 acres on the Oklahoma side of the Red River, but the farms on the Texas side are much larger. The Lugert Dam on Lake Altus52 is the basis for an extensive irrigation project in the county.
The Greer County controversy had attracted attention for a number of years. Because of the reports of the fine grazing land and the future possibilities of the country, many settlers had gone to that part of the territory and established homes expecting the Texas authorities to protect their interests.
The great question had been: Is it United States territory or is it Texas territory? It looked as if Texas took it for granted it was hers. She had enacted legislation that affected it, created
50 County Valuation Population
Greer $10,726,715. 20,282
Jackson 17,363,690. 38,190
Harmon 8,502,740. 13,834
Part of Beckham 5,000,000. 8,000
51Altus, Jackson County, has nine cotton gins and three compresses, one of which is the second largest inland cotton compress in the world.
counties and appropriated money for schools and by acquiescence claimed it. On the other hand the United States had always claimed it as a part of Indian Territory, although she had included "Greer County" as a part of Texas in the northern judicial district of that state. The United States Government repeatedly had ordered settlers from there and sent troops to keep them out. Then when the Organic Act was passed, it was decided that the boundary line must be agreed upon.
The treaty of 1819 was studied, reports of expeditions were examined, the Texas side of the question and that of the United States was thoroughly reviewed. It was plain that the treaty of 1819 called the Prairie Dog Town River the boundary on the basis of the Melish map and yet Marcy made the big mistake by locating the one hundredth meridian one degree too far east. However after a great deal of investigation, and study, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the decision that automatically gave to Oklahoma one million five hundred thousands acres of fine land by holding the main branch to be the south fork of Red River. Agriculture is the most important industry and the cattle business has always played an important part in this section of the state. Some of the oldest settlers and best cowboys were from the southwest corner of Oklahoma.
The old settlers under the Greer County Homestead Law were fortunate in being able with only a small amount of money to acquire one hundred and sixty acres of land to add to their original one hundred and sixty acres. They also found themselves living in another territory under a new government. Their status was changed from that of a citizen of Greer County Texas to that of being a citizen of Greer County Oklahoma.
This southwest corner of Oklahoma is indeed an historic place for it is here that the Indians had hunting grounds and the buffalo roamed in great numbers. In the early eighties the first cattlemen came to Greer County seeking ranges for their herds. The beef-contractors held their cattle here before delivering them to the Indian Agencies. One of the earliest trading posts on the Red River was known as Doan's crossing, one of the resting and trading places of the cowboy on his northern drive. Oklahoma might well be pleased that the decision was handed down in her favor because it added to the state a million and a half acres of rich farming land, settled the question of ownership of land in Greer County and defined the southwest boundary of Oklahoma.
AN EDITORIAL NOTE:—The above article written by Dr. Emma Estill-Harbour concerning S. W. boundary lines of Oklahoma as they relate to Greer County, contains much concise history and valuable data. The citations are from official and authentic sources and can be relied upon by all research students. It is, also, a most valuable supplement to articles that have here-to-fore been published in the Chronicles. The libraries and public schools of the state will find in this article facts concerning the boundary lines of Oklahoma that can only be found by diligent research, even though the student has access to libraries and government documents.
Concerning the Greer County case that was settled by a decision of the Supreme Court; it was the pleasure of the writer of this note to have been with the commission while it was taking depositions and to have heard the testimony of a number of the witnesses in this historic case forty years ago this spring. This testimony was certified directly to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case made, no lower courts having jurisdiction. The depositions of witnesses were taken in a number of places, usually before U. S. Commissioners. At the time (1894) these depositions were being taken in Oklahoma the writer was associated with Mr. T. F. Hensley as editor of the El Reno Democrat and acting as staff correspondent of that paper, I joined the commissioners at the old Anadarko Indian Agency. The depositions here were taken out of doors in the shade of the trees. Tom Woodward, who had married into the tribe, and a man of intelligence and thoroughly reliable, was the interpreter while the Kiowa and Comanche Indans were testifying.
I am giving herewith some copious excerpts from the story that the writer published in the El Reno Democrat after attending the hearings and having taken notes on the depositions given at Anadarko and El Reno.
This story of the Greer County case was published in full at that time; not only in the El Reno Democrat, but in other papers, including the Kansas City Star. The writer was the only person present at the Anadarko hearing that was not directly connected with the case, and it is probable that he is the only person now living that heard the testimony of these old Indian witnesses, first, of which, I would place Chaddle Konkie.
UNITED STATES vs. STATE OF TEXAS
"The taking of depositions in the case of the United States vs. the State of Texas, involving the ownership and title to the land being between the North and South forks of the Red River east of the 100th meridian and designated on the map as Greer County was concluded in this city (El Reno) last Friday. The only witness examined at this place and perhaps the last to testify in the case was Judge Stilwell. Asistant Attorney General Allan represents the United States in the case and Judge Geo. R. Freeman is attorney for the state of Texas. This is decidedly the most important case to the Territory of Oklahoma that has ever been submitted to the Supreme Court, for if the United States is successful it will add 2,500,000 acres of land and about 20,000 additional population and more than $5,000,000 worth of taxable property to the territory. But the filing of this suit by the United States may also place in jeopardy the title to more than a third of the entire territory of Oklahoma . . . .
"In order that people of Oklahoma may have an intelligent idea of the questions involved in this celebrated case and of the probability of the United States winning it, I will give a brief history of the boundary lines dispute beginning at the time the United States made the Louisiana purchase in 1803 up until the present time.
"If the boundary lines of the possessions of France and Spain in the New World had been definitely known there would never have been a boundary dispute between the United. States and Texas, but the treaty made at Paris in 1803, simply states that France cedes the province of Louisiana with the same extent of territory that was in the possession of Spain when ceded it to France. Texas was not included in the purchase and the boundary lines between Jefferson's Louisiana purchase and Texas, which was then a province of Spain, is the present boundary line between Texas and Oklahoma.
"In 1818 a man named Melish made a map of the United States published in Philidelphia in which he established the 100th meridian 90 miles east of the present 100th meridian. This would make this line instead of the west boundary of Oklahoma, as it is at present, go somewhere east of Ft. Sill, leaving more than one third of the entire territory on the west side of Melish's 100th meridian.
"In 1821 the original treaty was made between the United States and Spain and the boundary line was established for the first time. It was agreed in this treaty that the boundary line should start at a point on the Red River where the 100th meridian crossed that stream and thence due north to thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, "according to Melish's map," which of course made the boundary 90 miles east of where it is at present.
"By the treaty of Aquala in 1821 Mexico was declared an independent state and in the year of 1828 a new treaty was made which named the 100th meridian as the west boundary "according to Melish's map".
"In the year 1835 Texas seceded from Mexico and set up the Republic of Texas and in December 1836 by an act of the Texas congress it was declared that 'civic and political jurisdiction of the Republic should be as defined in the treaty between the United States and Spain in 1821'.
"This was the last reference made in any treaty to Melish's map and if Texas should stand upon that meridian made by Melish it would eliminate the Red River dispute entirely as there is but one Red River at the point where this 100th meridian crosses that stream as it is below the forks.
"On September 9th 1850, Congress passed an act declaring "The state of Texas will agree that her boundary on the north shall commence at a point at which the 100th meridian from Greenwich is intersected by parallel thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude." Article 2, of the same act cedes to the United States all her claim to territory to the limits of boundaries which she agrees to establish by this act." On November 25 of the same year the legislature of the state of Texas accepted this proposition and by proclamation of the President dated December 13, 1850, the act became operative. But at the time these acts were passed the true meridian was not known for in that year Gen. Marcey established the 100th meridian about 30 miles west of the meridian established by Melish and yet more than 60 miles east of the true meridian.
"But it is certain that neither the United States nor the state of Texas considered this 100th meridian definitely established for the legislature of the state of Texas passed an act authorizing the appointment of a boundary commission citing as the boundary, from the point where the 100th meridian leaves the Red River. In 1858 congress empowered the president to appoint a commission to act with the Texas commission. The work started and continued until some time in May, 1859 when, owing to a disagreement between the surveyors, the Texas commissioners under Wm. R. Scurby withdrew and nothing was accomplished.
"In 1857 Jones and Brown made a survey and established the true 100th meridian and it was recognized by the United States as the boundary line established by the act of congress of 1850. This line was never questioned by either party until 1882 when the legislature of Texas passed an act to provide for marking the boundary between the state and the United States from the northeast corner of the state at the 100th meridian, "as said line is described in the treaty between the United States and Spain of 1821." Congress authorized the president to appoint a commission to act with Texas in establishing the boundary but nothing was accomplished. Texas as well as the United States continued to recognize the true 100th meridian as the boundary line ***
"The immediate cause of action of the United States vs. the State of Texas is upon the ground that Texas had occupied Greer County and had located what was known as Texas Veteran Certificates in that county which land belonged to the United States by the agreement of 1850. The agreement act of congress of that year cited, as had every other treaty, that the boundary line commenced at a point where the 100th meridian, crossed Red River and as the true meridian crossed two branches or forks of that stream Texas assumed that the North Fork was the river referred to and that the land lying between the forks belonged to the sovereign state of Texas.
"The United States sets up in her pleading that the south fork of Red River is the principal stream and the one that the agreement of 1850 referred to and that the north fork is only a tributary of Red River. Several reasons are assigned to sustain this position of the United States. First: South Fork runs in the same general direction below the conjunction of the two streams. Second: South Fork is much the longest branch of the river as well as the widest stream.
"Texas sets up in her answer that if the true meridian is the boundary line, that it begins at the line where it intersects what the United States designates as the North Fork of that river, but what is really the main channel of the river. To sustain their positions Texas denies that the south fork is the longest branch of the river; claim that there is running water in the south fork only a portion of the year while the north fork has running water the year around. They also have attempted to prove that the old Spanish trail ran up the north fork and it was always considered both by the Mexicans and the Indians as the main stream and that they called the south fork Prairie Dog Creek ***
"The attorneys have been taking testimony in this case for over two years, but a large part of the evidence will have but little bearing on the case. Some of the more important depositions were taken last week. Several Indians were examined at Fort Sill and Anadarko in the Comanche country. As they could not speak a word of English it was necessary to emply an Interpreter. The Indians proved to be most valuable witnesses for the U. S. Ta-wok-o-nee Jim a Wichita chief was placed on the stand and
proved to be a disciple of Demosthenes or a near relative of Logan. His testimony strengthened the case of the United States, but it was largely of an historic nature nad as such it will prove a valuable acquisition to the history and traditions of the Indians of the plains. The writer is under obligations to Mr. Pierce, the official stenographer of the United States in this case for a complete copy of Ta-wak-o-nee Jim's speech which we may publish.
"The United States placed on the witness stand also a Kiowa Indian named Chaddle,Konkie. He is the judge of their tribe, or as he expresses it, "who straightens out their crooked paths". A great many questions were put to whether or not he understood the nature of an oath, but he proved to be about as well informed upon a man's responsibility to the Great Spirit as any ,of the orthodox theologians. Chaddle Konkee swore that the Kiowa and Comanche Indians have always called the south fork of Red River "Pa-pau-edle" or "big sandy river without water". Witness produced a map that he had drawn himself and it was permitted to be filed in evidence, upon which Owl creek was designated by the picture of an owl, and Turkey creek by the picture of a turkey. Witness pointed out and named creeks and mountains on the map. He made prairie dog houses on his map along Pease River Texas and said that the Indians have called that river Prairie Dog River for a hundred winters. This was a fatal blow at Texas claims, as they claimed that the south fork of Red River was Prairie Dog Creek and the north fork was the river proper.
"Judge Stilwell deposes***
"The last witness that testified in behalf of the United States, was S. E. Stilwell at present police judge of the city of El Reno, his deposition was taken in this city last Friday before N. B. Wass, United States Commissioner for the second judicial district of Oklahoma. Judge Stilwell's deposition covers more than twenty pages of typewritten matter. He proved to be one of the very best witnesses the United States has yet placed upon the stand and we are sorry we have not space to reproduce a considerable portion of his testimony in this article. The Judge went out on to the frontier in 1863 when he was but thirteen years old and was employed as interpreter, guide, scout and United States marshall until Oklahoma was opened to settlement. He was thoroughly
familiar with all of the rivers, creeks, mountains and old trails in the entire section of controversy.
"The Judge's testimony strengthened every material allegation made by the United States in this case. In reply to a question by the council for the state of Texas if there was an old trail made before then it was leading down the north fork of Red River. Judge Stilwell said, 'I know no trail from Santa Fe to Texas except the old Santa Fe and San Antonio route.' The witness testified that he had never seen an old trail leading up the north fork of Red River, but that he himself had laid out a trail for Gen. Custer up that way in 1869.
"This celebrated case will be submitted to the United State Supreme Court next October and will be argued before that body at that time, and in the opinion of Gen. Allen a final decision will be reached before next Christmas.
"He says that if the United States does not win upon the evidence submitted he will be willing to quit practicing law. The writer is under obligations to the attorney in the case for courtesies shown both at this place and Anadarko, and especially to Frank C. Pierce for information in relation to the case.
D. W. P.