Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 16, No. 4
December, 1938

By C. Ross Hume

Page 410

Anadarko looks back almost four score years to the location of the original Wichita Indian Agency, in 1859.1 The first white men of English speech who traversed the region embraced in the present Caddo County area were the officers and men of the Dragoon expedition commanded by Capt. Nathan Boone, which, returning from Central Kansas, on a route which entered the extreme northwestern part of the country, followed the valley of Deer Creek eastward toward its confluence with the Canadian, in 1842. In 1849, Capt. Randolph B. Marcy of the United States Army,2 with a detachment of troops, escorted a large party of California Argonauts westward over a route some miles farther south, toward the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, thus marking out across the northern part of Caddo County, the course of the California Road which was so largely traveled during the ensuing decade. In 1854, the Government caused a survey for the construction of a Pacific Railway to be made westward across Caddo County, under the direction of Lieutenants A. W. Whipple and J. C. Ives of the Army Engineer Corps. The

Page 411

course of this survey approximated very closely that of the California Road. At that time, the whole of Caddo County was included within the scope of the wilderness range of the Comanche and Kiowa Indians, subject also to the temporary occupancy of the people of the Wichita Indian tribe. For many years prior to this time, a number of small and, in some instances, somewhat fragmentary bands and tribes of Indians had lived along the western frontier, between the boundary of southern Kansas and Central Texas. These included the Absentee Shawnees, the Southwestern Delawares, the Wichitas, the Wacos, the Towakonies, the Anadarkos, the Kichais, the Tonkawas, a band of Kickapoos, the White Bead, or Northern, Caddos, and possibly several smaller groups. Nearly all of them were or had been more or less nomadic and unsettled as to fixed places of residence, industry, sources of livelihood, engaged in hunting, fishing, and trapping in a small way and the object of suspicion on the part of the Indians of settled tribes, pioneer settlers, and of Indians of wild or roving tribes alike.

It was partly to adjust and dissipate such misunderstandings that the Federal Government had negotiated with the State of Texas for the establishment of two small Indian reservations, on the Brazos River, in the state of Texas, in 1855. Most of the Indians of the tribes and bands already enumerated were settled upon these two reservations; the Wichitas and White Bead Caddos, of the Indian Territory, however, were not thus relocated. It became evident that it would be the part of wisdom to abandon the reservations on the Brazos River and relocate them elsewhere, where they would be free from molestation by outside influences. To this end, Major Elias C. Rector, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, who was superintendent of Indian Affairs, for the Five Civilized Tribes, was directed to visit the region adjacent to the 98th Meridian which was traversed by the Washita River and inspect the same with a view to its availability for selection for assignment of one or more reservations for the relocation of these tribes that had been temporarily located in Texas, after which he was asked to arrange to meet with Major Robert S. Neighbors, Supervising

Page 412

Agent of the two small Brazos Reservations, at Fort Arbuckle. In the course of this conference between the two Indian Service officials, it was agreed that if possible, all of the tribes and bands should be brought to the Indian Territory and settled in or near the Washita Valley in what is now Caddo County. Their joint report making this recommendation was approved by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and by the Secretary of the Interior and preparation for the removal of the Indians was immediately inaugurated.

The final removal of the Indians from the two Texas reservations started on August 1, 1859, those of each reservation moving out separately and the two joining at the crossing of Red River, six days later. There were 1430 Indians in all, with military escort of two troops of Cavalry and two companies of Infantry, under the command of Major George H. Thomas, who later became "The Rock of Chickamagua." The expedition arrived on the Washita on August 16th, near the site of the present town of Verden. Encamping there for the night, the next morning camp was moved four miles up the valley, to remain there until the arrival of Superintendent Rector. There had been one birth and one death among the Indians during the course of the 170-mile march from the Brazos. Agent S. A. Blain, of the Wichita Agency, selected a site for the erection of a temporary agency, near the site where the troops and the Indians were encamped. The arrival of Superintendent Rector having been prevented by the hostile demonstrations of a Comanche war-party, Major Neighbors turned the Indians of the Agency over to Agent Blain, who also receipted for all public property held by the Agency. Because of the resignation of Agent Ross the Wichita and Lower Brazos Agencies were consolidated under the administrative supervision and control of Agent Blain. The escort under the command of Major Thomas, being under orders to return immediately to Texas, the reservation Indians and their agency were left exposed to the predatory activities of the wild Comanche and Kiowa warriors.

Page 413

The site for the erection of a military post for the protection of the new Indian reservations along the Washita, west of the 98th Meridian, was selected by Lt. Col. William H. Emory of the 1st U. S. Cavalry, shortly after the settlement of the Indians in their new locations. Colonel Emory, who was in command of all of the Federal forces stationed in garrison in Forts Smith, Washita, Arbuckle, and Cobb, at the outbreak of the Civil War, was the only officer of his rank and responsibility who succeeded in taking his entire command back into the Federal lines, without the loss of a single man. He subsequently reached the rank of Major General and was accounted a successful brigade, division, and corps commander, during the war between the states. The buildings and defensive works of Fort Cobb were constructed under the supervision of Capt. W. S. Cabell, A. Q. M., U. S. A., who reached the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate military service in Texas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory during the War between the States. Fort Cobb was abandoned by its Federal garrison, Mar. 5, 1861. Although there was no official announcement in the naming of Fort Cobb, it is generally believed to have been named for Howell Cobb, who had represented a Georgia district in Congress, had served as governor of that state and had subsequently won promotion to the rank of major general in the Confederate Army.

The permanent site of the first agency, selected near the bank of Leeper Creek, was not far from its confluence with the Washita River, where it continued to be maintained under Confederate auspices for a year and a half after its abandonment by the Federal Indian Service. Matthew Leeper had been appointed to fill a vacancy as agent of the Upper Brazos Reserve, a few months before the removal to the Washita, and was retained in the service at the time of the removal and was continued in charge after the Confederate authorities took over the Agency. After the withdrawal of the Federal garrison from Fort Cobb, most of the Indians at the Wichita Agency, frightened and confused by the outbreak of the war, and very suspicious of the significance of the Confederate movement, possibly because of their own exile from

Page 414

Texas less than two years before, abandoned their homes, and their little fields, and fled in the wake of the retreating Federal troops, most of them seeking refuge in Kansas, until after the War had ended. The Tonkawas and the Peneteka, or Honey-Eater Comanche band, together with the White Bead Caddos, remained on the Washita throughout that period, however. The Wichita, Waco, Towakony, and Kichai tribes located at the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas Rivers, where the city of Wichita, Kansas, was later founded. The Southern or Texas Caddos found a location on the Arkansas River, in western Kansas, later making their way down to the Wichita settlement. The Absentee Shawnees located for the time being in the valley of Walnut River, in Butler County, Kansas. The Southwestern Delawares were slow to leave and most of them went north with the pro-Federal Creek and Seminole refugees into Eastern Kansas, late in the autumn of 1861. Nearly all of the Delaware men saw service as volunteer soldiers in the Union Army, as did many of the Shawnees and Wichitas, also. Black Beaver, the most noted leader of this band of Delawares, acted as guide for Colonel Emory and his retreating column of troops.

General Albert Pike, Confederate commissioner to the Indian tribes of the entire Southwest conducted negotiations with all of the tribes and bands in southwestern Indian Territory, so far as they could be reached, in endeavors to win them to alliances with the seceding states, and much time was spent at or near the trading posts located in the vicinities of Fort Cobb and the Wichita Agency. Early during the War, a Confederate cantonment designated as Camp McIntosh,3 was established near the river between Anadarko and Verden. A military order dated April 23, 1862, contained the following:

"Lieutenant Colonel Harris, commanding the Chickasaw Battalion, will station four companies at Camp McIntosh and do everything possible to protect the Agency and the peaceful Indians."

Page 415

An order issued by Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of Gen. Albert Pike, June 8, 1862, included the following:

"The Choctaw Battalion is to take position at Camp McIntosh 17 miles this side of Fort Cobb, where Hart's Spies, 40 in number, will send out parties to the Wichita Mountains and prevent depredations on the frontiers of Texas."

The Tonkawa Massacre, October 23, 1862, was one of the bloodiest incidents ever witnessed on the Western frontier. The identity of the perpetrators was never definitely determined, but it is evident that members of several tribes were actively concerned in the affair. They were believed to have belonged to tribes that were known to have been attached to the Federal cause, and several lives were reported to have been lost in the destruction of the Wichita Agency. Agent Leeper was reported to have been killed but the Penetaka Comanche chief, Tosheway, found him a day or two later, in a destitute and almost exhausted condition. He lived many years afterward, but the agency, thus destroyed, was not re-established by the Confederate Government. Horace P. Jones, the noted scout and interpreter, also narrowly escaped with his life, when the agency was burned in the night. With the destruction of the agency and the massacre of most of the Tonkawa people, those of the tractable Peneteka Comanches drifted out on the open range with the roving bands of the wild Comanches.

When the agency buildings were burned, the Tonkawa Indians fled down the Washita valley, crossing to the south side of the River, west of the site of Anadarko, with the raiding force in pursuit. The Tonkawas were driven southward up the first ravine and most of the killing was done about two miles southwest of Anadarko. The survivors fled to Fort Arbuckle for refuge.

Early in 1865, with those Indians of the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations that had been in alliance with the Confederate States greatly discouraged by the outlook, it was proposed to hold an inter-tribal council and arrange for peace between all of the Indian tribes. It was first proposed to hold this inter-tribal gathering at Council Grove, a few miles west of the site of Okla-

Page 416

homa City in April, but, for some reason, it was postponed and, eventually held a month later, at Camp Napoleon, located at Cottonwood Grove, adjoining the site of Verden. It was here that the Camp Napoleon Compact was formulated and solemnly signed.4

Prior to this, in the autumn of 1863, three Indians from the Washita settlement—doubtless, Peneteka Comanches or White Bead Caddos, appeared at the temporary trading ranch of Jesse Chisholm, on the site of Wichita, Kansas, with their horses heavily laden with buffalo robes and other primitive products to barter for needed goods and supplies, stating that there were no longer any traders among their people on the Washita, as traders were unable to purchase the needed wares and supplies for the Indian trade in Southern markets. One of these Indians wanted more goods than his own stock in trade would pay for, and James R. Mead, another trader, let him have what he wanted, when he offered to bring additional Indian products to pay the balance due, a year later. The following autumn, the visiting Indian group was twice as large as the first. Two of the original three, were there to trade again but the one who had owed an unpaid balance to the trader, was not numbered among them this time, for the reason that he had died several months previously. Before his death, however, he had exacted a promise from his former fellow travelers that they would take to the white trader in Kansas the products furnished by his family, sufficient to discharge the obligation thus contracted.

Early the following spring (March, 1865), Jesse Chisholm, James R. Mead, and William Mathewson, three of the traders from the Wichita Indian Village at the mouth of the Little Arkansas River, loaded their wagons with wares and goods for the Indian trade, followed the dim traces of the trail made by the column and wagon train of the retreating Federal troops, nearly four years before, veering southwestward from the crossing of

4Anna Lewis, "Camp Napoleon," Chronicles of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), IX (1931), 359-364; Annie Heloise Abel, American Indian Under Reconstruction (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1925), pp. 138-140.

Page 417

the North Canadian River, and making their way to the Indian camps in the vicinity of Fort Cobb and the site of the former Wichita Agency which had been destroyed, nearly two and a half years earlier. The end of the Civil War, then approaching, found conditions among the Indians of the Washita River country, in a very chaotic condition; with their life reduced to practically primitive terms. Many months were destined to elapse before the abandoned military posts could be reoccupied or the ruined Indian agencies could be rehabilitated and restored. Naturally, the Government's first major restorative task, was the re-establishment of safety and security to communications, traffic, and travel on the overland transcontinental routes across Kansas and Nebraska to the northward. The only transcontinental route across the Indian Territory was the California Road. The military effort at the pacification of the Central Plains Indians in the western portions of Kansas and Nebraska had the effect of tending to drive the wild tribes of those areas south of the Arkansas River, while, simultaneously, the reoccupation of military posts in Central and western Texas was tending, likewise, to drive the wild tribes of the Southern Plains north of Red River; consequently, it was not until more than two years after the end of the War between the States, that Western Oklahoma received much if any attention at the hands of the Federal Government.

For the first time in their history the Arapho Indians had come south of the Canadian River to pitch their winter camps in the valley of the Washita. So, too, practically all of the Comanches and Kiowas were encamped North of Red River. Oddly enough, this seemed to fit in with the governmental policy which looked forward to the consolidation of the untamed Indians of the Central and Southern Plains in the western part of the Indian Territory. About the same time General William B. Hazen, a distinguished military commander, was appointed as special U. S. Indian Agent, superseding the civilian agents of all of these tribes, with headquarters at Fort Cobb. Several leading Indian chieftains called to see General Hazen within a few days after his arrival at his new station. Black Kettle, the noted head chief

Page 418

of the Cheyennes, visited Fort Cobb to talk matters over with the new special agent, just two days before the massacre of many of his own people, and his own death, Nov. 27, 1868. A large store of rations and other supplies was accumulated at Fort Cobb. The Washita Expedition, under the command of Generals Sheridian and Custer, arrived there from Camp Supply, in December and remained in camp there for some days while the matter of selecting a site for a new military post was under consideration. When the site of the post, afterward named Fort Sill,5 was definitely determined, the command marched over to Medicine Bluff Creek, where it went into winter quarters. A few days later, a detachment was sent back to reoccupy Fort Cobb, which was not finally abandoned until the spring of 1869.

Under the terms of a treaty negotiated and signed at the Medicine Lodge Peace Council, in October, 1867, the Comanche, Kiowa, and Plains Apache Indian tribes were jointly assigned a reservation extending from the 98th Meridian westward to the North Fork of Red River and from the Washita River, southward to Red River, and the agency for the tribes on this reservation, was established just south of Fort Sill. As Special Indian Agent, General Hazen remained on duty with this extra-professional assignment for the greater part of a year, being succeeded by several of President Grant's Quaker Indian agent appointees. He was aided and supported by a staff of assistants and employes. One of these who was deserving of mention was Col. Albert Gallatin Boone, grandson of Daniel Boone, the noted Kentucky-Missouri pioneer, long an Indian trader, who was serving as Indian Agent at the Fort Wise, Colorado, Agency. Another efficient helper was young Henry E. Alvord, who had risen to the rank of major of volunteers in a Massachusetts regiment in the Federal Army, later accepting a commission as a captain in the Regular Army, in which he saw service with the earliest garrison at Fort Sill. Along in the early '70s, he came back to the same region again, as a special commissioner to treat with semi-hostile Indians. Then,

Page 419

nearly a quarter of a century after that, he was called back to Oklahoma again as an early president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Lawrie Tatum was the first Quaker Indian agent at the Fort Sill Agency.6 Unlike the Comanche and Kiowa tribes, the Wichita and affiliated tribes did not have a reservation conferred upon them, but were provided with an agency, which was located on the lower slope of the hill across the River north from the site of Anadarko. This agency was established in 1871 and Jonathan Richards, another Quaker, was appointed as its first Agent. There were two trading establishments, the proprietors being Shirley and Spooner. William Shirley applied for the establishment of a postoffice but submitted no name by which it should be designated. The Postmaster General's office proposed to call it Shirley, in honor of the petitioning citizen but he modestly declined the honor, suggesting, rather, that it be named Anadarko, in honor of the Ahnadahko Indian tribe, of which his wife was one of the few surviving members. Jonathan Richards, tribal agent, was appointed postmaster. The agency warehouses, traders' establishments, dwelling houses, blacksmith shop, and stables, made a noticeable settlement in the wilderness. The original name of Wichita Agency was restored. That same year the Wichita School was erected and opened to the attendance of pupils.7 It has been in operation throughout the intervening years. It is called the Riverside school.

George Washington, chief of the White Bead Caddo Indians, was one of the notable figures in the Washita River country, long before the establishment of the first Agency. He was accounted a successful farmer and stockman, and was noted for his keen shrewdness in business, foresight and management. He was noted for his well-developed sense of humor, and many amusing anecdotes are still related concerning his quaint sayings and com-

Page 420

ments. During the last year of the Civil War, in 1864-5 his people formed the basis and nucleus of a unique Confederate military organization which was called the Caddo Frontier Guard, a two-company squadron of mounted troops of which Chief Washington was major and commandment. The two captains were Jose Maria, second chief of the White Bead Caddo band, and Phil McCusker, a white man who had served in the United States Army before the Civil War and who was subsequently a civilian scout attached to the regular military service. Most of the rank and file consisted of Caddos and Indians of pure or mixed blood belonging to other southwestern tribes.

A most unusual experiment in the effort to help get the Indian people to learn to travel "The White Man's Road" was the undertaking of Thomas C. Battey, a Quaker school teacher, who lived in the camp of a band of Kiowa people of which Kicking bird, was the chief. As an educational expedient it was not a pronounced success but the influence which the kind-hearted, gentle-spirited follower of William Penn exerted upon the people of that band of Indians through the medium of the progressive and well-meaning Kicking Bird was such that it helped to hold a majority of the Kiowa people in peace on their reservation throughout the last outbreak of Indian war in the western Indian Territory, in 1874-5. The last Indian war on the Southern Plains was due more to the ruthless slaughter of buffalo by professional hide hunters than to any other cause. It was sternly suppressed and punished by the Government, and though there was still much dissatisfaction and unrest among many of the Indians, they gradually found their way into the paths of peace. During the course of that last outbreak a large war party of hostile braves made an attack on the Agency settlement at Anadarko, on August 28, 1874. Six civilian citizens were killed and four white soldiers were wounded. The attacking party also raided the homes of friendly and peaceable Wichita and Caddo Indians, north of the Washita River, destroying buildings and running off stock. The Comanche and Kiowa Agency was removed from Fort Sill on Sept. 1, 1878, and was consolidated with the Wichita Agency

Page 421

at Anadarko, the whole establishment being relocated, south of the river, at that time. The Wichita-Caddo school, known as the Riverside School, which had been destroyed by fire a few months previously, was rebuilt on a new site half of a mile west of the original site.

After the change of the combined agencies to the new site, south of the river, the buildings as rearranged and reconstructed, consisted of the agent's office, two commissaries, physician's office, saw-mill, shops, with dwelling houses for the employes half a mile distant. Eventually there were added to these, four traders' stores, two churches, and the Masonic Lodge. The Agency remained in the building thus removed, repaired and restored, for seventeen years. Then, about 1895, Major Frank D. Baldwin, of the Army, who had been assigned to duty as agent, arranged for the erection of a new building for the housing of the agency offices. It was the large frame building that faced east, between the Traders' Row and the agency residences. Ten years later, that building was superseded by the erection of the large brick office building which was located on the south side of the park, and where the agency and its offices were located for the ensuing twenty years. After the completion of the Federal Building and the installation of the postoffice with its beautiful and appropriate Indian mural paintings, the agency and its offices were moved to the business district of the city and permanently located in the second and third stories of that substantial structure.

When Colonel Henry Dodge and his Dragoon expedition visited the Wichita Mountains and the Wichita Indians, in 1834, a young Delaware Indian scout, named Black Beaver,8 was with the expedition as a guide, scout, and interpreter. He was a sober, thoughtful man of wide experience, even then, having spent several years in the Rocky Mountain fur trade. More than a dozen years later, he commanded a company of Indian scouts with the American Army, in the War with Mexico. In the Indian

Page 422

Territory he was generally recognized as a fellow trader, friend, and compatriot of Jesse Chisholm. He was with Captain Randolph B. Marcy as chief scout, while that officer was post commander at Fort Arbuckle. In 1859 he served as a guide, scout, and interpreter with the exploratory survey of the Washita Country by Superintendent Elias Rector, of the Indian service. His service as guide for the retreating Federal garrison, under the command of Colonel Emory has already been mentioned. He settled at Fort Cobb when that post and the neighboring Wichita Agency were established. Already well advanced in years, he remained in Kansas with the refugees from the Washita country during most of the Civil War period. After the end of the War, he returned to the Washita and rebuilt his home, south of the river and not far from the site of the present city of Anadarko, where he died in May, 1880. His was a noble and notable type of manhood, whose memory should ever be cherished. His grave, modestly marked, is near the site of his home.

The Anadarko Masonic Lodge No. 21, was chartered in July, 1884, and its organization antedates that of any similar institution in the western half of Oklahoma. The two-story frame building which was erected in its earliest years stood for many years in the old agency group. Two years ago, the Dixon Memorial Hall was built and dedicated, and in addition to the quarters of the Lodge and its affiliated organizations, this building also houses the Anadarko Public Library.

The old Kiowa school, which was built in 1878, after the consolidation of the two agencies and the consequent abandonment of the original Comanche school was located south of the River about one mile northwest of the city limits, until abandoned about 1893.

The Baptists were the first religious denomination to send missionaries to the Indians in the vicinity of Anadarko. The old church and a community house, located about four miles north of the city mark the site of the beginning of their work in this field, among the Wichita and affiliated tribes. Subsequently, Baptist

Page 423

workers went among the Kiowa people, south of the River, and erected a church at Red Stone, two miles north of the Y on Highways 62 and 9.

In 1886, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, sent Rev. J. J. Methvin, who opened a school on lands that are now a part of the site of the city of Anadarko. Mr. Methvin is still a resident of Anadarko.

The Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., sent Rev. S. V. Fait, who established the Mary Gregory Memorial School, near the site of Camp McIntosh and a church at the Agency. The congregation of this church is the oldest religious organization now existing in Anadarko, and will have a semicentennial in 1939.

In 1891, the Roman Catholic Church sent Rev. Father Isadore Ricklin to Anadarko, where he founded a church and school, both of which are still in operation. The Catholic Mission Chapel has a notable collection of mural paintings.

Such was the historical back-ground when the Indians received individual allotments of land and the surplus lands were thrown open to white settlers. The county-seat town was platted on a half-section which had been reserved for that purpose, adjoining the agency reservation and to the town was given the same name that the agency settlement and postoffice had borne. The county was named Caddo in honor of the Caddo Indian tribe, all of the members of which are included in its citizenship. The history of the sale of the sub-divisions of the townsite, the story of the organizations of town and county and the development of its present civilization, cultural and institutional life, is largely in common with the rest of Oklahoma. From the foregoing outline it may be noted that Anadarko and its environs are rich in the elements of pioneer history, to which may be added a wealth of legendary and traditional lore such as is seldom equalled and possibly unsurpassed by that of any area of like extent in the United States. Most of its historic spots and those of sentimental interest have been located and identified; though, as yet, few have been appropriately marked. One notable exception is that of the

Page 424

Camp Napoleon site at Verden, which was thus made known to an interested world by the History Department of the Oklahoma College for Women, several years ago.

Interested visitors at Anadarko may always find a cordial greeting and guide service at the hands of the local Chamber of Commerce. The present Indian Agency which has supervision over the business, industry, education, and general welfare of more than 6700 Indian people, a Government Boarding School in continuous session, a mission school, the development and perpetuation of Indian arts and crafts under competent direction, an annual Indian Exhibition and other facilities ever welcome visitors.9

Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site