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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 19, No. 1
March, 1941
GOVERNOR WILLIAM MALCOLM GUY

BY JOHN BARTLETT MESERVE.

Page 10

An interesting and worthwhile character was William Richard Guy, a native of Tennessee, who came west with a contingent of the Chickasaws in 1837. He had served as an officer in the Florida War and functioned as a commissary and assistant conductor of one of the Chickasaw removal parties and settled at Boggy Depot in what is today Atoka County, Oklahoma, where he constructed and operated a saw mill. During those early years, he acted as a sub-agent for the Government and when the postoffice was established at Boggy Depot on November 5, 1849, William R. Guy was named the first postmaster. He passed away at Paris, Texas about 1859. William R. Guy married Jane Aldridge nee McGee at Boggy Depot, where she died about 1857. She was a daughter of Malcolm McGee, a Scotchman who was born in New York City, and Elizabeth Harris nee Oxbury, his wife and was a half sister of Gov. Cyrus Harris of the Chickasaws.

William Malcolm Guy, a son of William R. Guy and Jane Aldridge, his wife, was born at Boggy Depot, Chickasaw Nation, on February 4, 1845. After the death of his father, he lived at the home of his uncle, Cyrus Harris and attended the tribal schools until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 when he enlisted as a private in Company F in the 17th Mississippi Regiment for service in the Confederate army, on April 29, 1861, at North Mount Pleasant. Col. Winfield S. Featherstone commanded the regiment which was assigned to the Barkdale Brigade and attached to Longstreet's Division.1 His military career was most remarkable. He was in the battle of Bull Run and was severely wounded in the left shoulder and head during the second day at Gettysburg where he was taken a prisoner and held as such for a brief time, being subsequently exchanged at City Point, Virginia. He participated in the Seven Days battles near Richmond, the battles of Harpers Ferry and Antietam and the two engagements at Fredericksburg. He was with the army of General Lee at the time of the surrender at Appomattox. His record as a soldier, faithfully performed, has few equals.

Upon the conclusion of the war, he returned to Mississippi and entered Marshall Institute, at Early Grove, where he resumed his education under the tutilage of his old army captain, D. W. Steager and where he remained for two years. He rejoined his uncle Cyrus Harris at Mill Creek, Chickasaw Nation in 1868 and assisted his uncle in the stock business.

The political career of William M. Guy modestly began in 1870 when he was appointed secretary of the Chickasaw senate, which



Gov. William Guy

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position he occupied for six years. In 1883, he became a member of the lower house of the legislature and in 1885 was chosen to the senate. His public life was influenced by his illustrious uncle, Gov. Cyrus Harris. The influx of white settlers among the Chickasaws began to assume proportions and to bear heavily in their influence upon the political affairs of the Nation. The issue became highly controversial in the summer of 1886 when William M. Guy became the candidate of the Progressive Party for the governorship of the Chickasaw Nation to succeed Gov. Jonas Wolfe. In this campaign, he was pitched against William L. Byrd of the Pullback or Full-blood Party. The result of the election held in August was close and was thrown into the legislature where the election of Guy was declared by a majority of one vote.

The political situation in the Chickasaw Nation became tense during the administration of Gov. William M. Guy, provoked largely, it seems, through the lack of cooperation by the Byrd faction. A campaign to defeat his reelection two years later was inaugurated by the Byrd adherents, immediately after his induction into office. The efforts of Governor Guy for reelection in August, 1888, were defeated by William L. Byrd in a campaign which is memorable for its bitterness. For some unexplained reason, Governor Guy approved an act of the legislature passed on April 8, 1887 which disfranchised the adopted and intermarried white members of the tribe. The aftermath of this action was evident in his campaign for reelection. On the face of the returns, Governor Guy had a clear majority of the votes cast but the controversy again was thrown into the legislature when that body undertook a canvass of the returns. The Byrd faction controlled this body and the legislature, in order to accomplish Byrd's election disregarded certain of the election returns which were favorable to Guy. Armed members of both factions gathered at Tishomingo and trouble was averted by a reference of the dispute to the Secretary of the Interior who recognized the declaration of the legislature and Governor Guy was ousted from office. Said the Indian Chieftain, of October 4, 1888, "If Guy had been an aggressive or quarrelsome man, many lives might have been sacrificed, but the nephew of old Governor Harris partakes of the kindly and peaceful disposition of his uncle and we look for nothing less than a satisfactory settlement." This appraisal of his character, contemporaneously written lingers as a tribute to his high, sterling worth. Governor Guy acknowledged his defeat with a moral heroics only to be met in men of superior courage.

Governor Guy again became a candidate for the governorship in 1890 but again suffered defeat by Governor Byrd who ran for reelection. He was elected to the senate in 1892 and succeeded himself in 1896. He represented the Chickasaws as a delegate to Washington in 1895 and 1897 during which years he also visited the States of Tennessee and Mississippi in the interest of his people. The matter of education enlisted his interest. He established the Sulphur

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Neighborhood School at Sulphur and from October 18, 1900 to May 3, 1902 served as trustee of that institution. The name of this school was subsequently changed to the Guy National School and later to the Sulphur National Institute.

The governor was a progressive in his concept of the social and political life of his people and opposed all discriminating policies affecting the tribal members because of their quantity of Indian blood. In his official career, he invited the counsel and support of the dependable white members of the tribe but in no sense was he unmindful of the best interests of the full blood members. The Chickasaws had made wonderful progress after their removal to the West and had assumed an engaging posture among the Five Tribes. Governor Guy was unwilling that this advancement should be halted and insisted that his people should be prepared for the individualistic life of participating American citizenship, which was approaching. He actively supported the ratification of the Atoka Agreement of April 23, 1897 and the Supplemental Agreement of March 21, 1902. He was an active supporter of Palmer A. Mosely for Governor in the fall of 1902.

The fidelity of Governor Guy to the welfare of his people is reflected in his fearless denunciation of October 27, 1888 addressed,

"To the non-citizens residing in the Chickasaw Nation;

"In reference to the anonymous call made by some of you and now in circulation throughout the Nation, for the non-citizens to meet in convention at the town of Purcell, I. T. on the 31st day of October, 1888, to organize a so-called Protective Association, I am forced to say in behalf of the truth, that it is an injustice to my country and people, that the representations made in that call are infamous lies fabricated for a purpose, by a lawless class of intruders in Pickens County, who had orders to get out of the limits of this Nation by the first day of November, 1888 or be forcibly ejected therefrom. They have decided a cunning scheme with the hope of delaying the execution of that order and gaining time to better organize and strengthen their lawless band of mischief-makers, between the citizens and non-citizens, with a view of a final disruption of our national government. In short, it is another Oklahoma move and as the chief executive of this Nation, I deem it my duty to enter my protest against such an uncalled for move on the part of a class of people who voluntarily placed themselves here amongst us and are not here by compulsion or solicitation on our part. Our treaties and laws of intercourse with the United States Government amply provide for the protection of their lives and property while they choose to temporarily sojourn amongst us and cultivate our soil and if such protection is too meager and the restrictions too great for comfort and happiness to them, they are not compelled to remain, but can return from whence they came without hinderance or restraint. I shall lay the matter of this call at once before the Department in all its meaning and purport and shall further make it a special point to obtain the names and location of all the non-citizens participating in this mischievous scheme and report them to the Indian Agent as intruders for immediate removal. Our local and intercourse laws in regard to non-citizens will be strictly enforced without respect to persons or position."2



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The governor maintained his interest in the political affairs of the Chickasaw Nation until all tribal affairs were folded up and its membership absorbed into American life. Upon the advent of Statehood for Oklahoma, he entered into retirement upon his farm near Sulphur, in Murray County, Oklahoma. He was accorded recognition by Gov. C. N. Haskell, who on February 20, 1908 appointed him to his personal staff with the rank of Colonel. The governor belonged to the Masonic and Knights of Pythias secret societies.3

Governor Guy married Maggie Lindsey at Ardmore on June 25, 1890. She was a daughter of John Lindsey and Frances Simms, his wife, and was born at Oxford, Alabama. The governor passed away at his farm home near Sulphur on June 2, 1918 and is buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery at that place where his grave is marked by a plain marble slab.



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