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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 19, No. 1
March, 1941

Page 99

Park Hill monument

The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Oklahoma has planned for a number of years to erect an appropriate monument to mark outstanding historical events and locations in the eastern part of the state. After much study of the history of this region they reached the conclusion that the neighborhood of ancient Park Hill was the most interesting historically and was more intimately associated with the early progress and culture of the state than any other. They therefore concluded that their monument should be erected in that vicinity. It was decided to locate it on the highway in view of passing travelers and a location was therefore selected on the brow of a little hill three miles south of Tahlequah, that gave an extended view of the ancient settlement of Park Hill and the surrounding country.

The inscription on this monument stands out so clearly in the subjoined photograph that it is unnecessary to repeat it here. On this monument one will learn that Park Hill was regarded as the center of Cherokee culture for several reasons; it was here that Rev. Samuel Austin Worcester located in 1837 and established his mission press. Here also was the home of Cherokee Chief John Ross, which was the center of much interest, and the objective over many years of numerous visitors come to see the chief of the Cherokee Nation and to observe the printing press in its useful occupation of turning out a great mass of printed material for the benefit of the Indians.

Directly east of the monument in the little woods that crowns the ridge are graceful brick columns, now surrounded by brambles and brush, all that remains of the Cherokee Female Seminary, where many Cherokee women received their formal education. About two miles northwest of this mission was the male seminary.

This monument was dedicated by the sponsors on November 16, 1940. The exercises were presided over by Mrs. Andrew R. Hickam, president, of Oklahoma City, who was introduced by Mrs. Jason C. Clark, chairman of historic activities of the Society. After an introductory address explaining the aims of the society, Mrs. Hickam introduced Grant Foreman, who made an address explaining the historic significance of the grounds commemorated by the monument. Mrs. James B. Diggs of Tulsa, chairman on the historical committee for Eastern Oklahoma, devoted much time and thought to the planning of the monument and its erection, and the dedicatory exercises.

Page 100

The greatest battle of the Civil War in the Indian Territory in which the largest number of men participated, involving the greatest loss of life, was fought July 17, 1863, between the Confederate and Federal forces about seventeen miles south of where Muskogee now is. This was called the Battle of Honey Springs from the fact that nearby Honey Springs, two or three miles south of Oktaha, was the headquarters of the Confederate forces under command of Douglas H. Cooper.

The battle began on the prairie north of the site of Oktaha and from there the Federal troops forced the Confederates south over the site of that town and finally across Elk Creek. Soon after this stage of the battle the Confederates retreated, leaving on the battle field 150 dead, who were buried by the Union troops. In this battle there were about 10,000 troops engaged on both sides. The official reports showed that the Confederate troops, who were mostly Indians, were greatly handicapped by lack of arms, and damp powder that often would not discharge in the guns. While they slightly outnumbered the Federal troops, the latter had the advantage of better training and equipment, and especially in artillery.

Since the battle the burial place of the dead was unmarked for these many years; but the General Forrest Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Muskogee determined to make amends for this long neglect and caused a handsome Vermont granite marker to be erected northeast of Oktaha within the probable limits of the battle field. This monument bears the following inscription: "To honor the Confederate soldiers of the Honey Springs battle, July 17, 1863. Erected by the General Forrest Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Muskogee, Oklahoma, 1940."

This monument was dedicated on the afternoon of September 15, 1940, in the presence of visitors from points over the eastern part of the state. The exercises were presided over by Mrs. Hugh Lewis, president of the Chapter. They included a bugle call at the opening; a salute to the flags; ritual reading by the chapter president; a prayer by Rev. Virgil Alexander, pastor of the St. Paul's Methodist Church, Muskogee; a tribute to the members of the Sam Checote Camp who took part in the Battle of Honey Springs, by Roland Bailey; a solo, "The Soldier Sleeps," by Mrs. William A. Green; and an address by Grant Foreman, who traced the history of the battle commemorated by the monument. The exercises were closed by taps.

Honey Springs monument

Page 101

Recalling the days when huge herds of cattle roamed the ranges and the arrival of the stage from Quanah, Texas, was the big event in the life of Mangum, hundreds of Greer County pioneers gathered Wednesday at Harmon Field for their eighth annual reunion.

Since organization of the pioneers' group, all settlers who came to Old Greer County before March 16, 1896, have been eligible for membership. Wednesday, the pioneers advanced the date to March 16, 1900. The new date will admit hundreds of persons formerly excluded from the association.

Officers elected Wednesday were G. B. Townsend, Mangum, president; Louis M. Tittle, Mangum, vice president from Greer County; Jeff Price, Delhi, vice president from Beckham County; Carl Putman, Gould, vice president from Harmon County; F. B. Baker of Altus, vice president from Jackson County.

Approximately 850 pioneers registered Wednesday for the reunion, Zearl Lowe, registrar, reported. A large number of pioneers, their children and guests enjoyed a barbecue Wednesday noon at Harmon Field.

Opening the program Wednesday afternoon, Wade Shumate, Mangum chamber of commerce secretary, introduced Townsend, who gave the welcome address. L. F. Martin of Hollis, retiring president, gave a talk.

Other talks were made by Mrs. Sam Holmes, Eldorado; Rev. J. H. McCuistion, Hollis; F. B. Baker, Altus; H. J. Banks, Willow; Wheeler Paxton, Jester. Elmore Dodson of Dodson, Texas, presented early day recollections mentioning many families he had known in the pioneer period.1

Among those who contributed to the success of the Cherokee Strip celebration at Ponca City, Oklahoma, on September 16, 1940, were Senator Charles B. Duffy; Joe McFadden, chairman of the Cherokee Strip celebration committee; President Harper Baughman and Secretary H.L. Schall of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce. Among those attending the impressive exercises and luncheon on that day were Lieutenant. Governor and Mrs. James E. Berry; Budget Officer R. R. Owens and Mrs. Owens; Hon. George Meacham of the State Highway Commission; Mrs. Blanche Lucas, Postmaster at Ponca City; President and Mrs. Loren Brown, University Preparatory School and Junior College, Tonkawa; President H. G. Bennett, Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, Stillwater.

Reliance on the living philosophy of the Cherokee Strip pioneers will strengthen Americans in the trying times which now confront us, Dr. Henry G. Bennett told the audience at the statue of the

Page 102

Pioneer Woman. At the conclusion of his address the Ponca City Kiwanis Glee club sang "Old Faithful" and "God Bless America." Senator Charles B. Duffy, master of ceremonies for the program, introduced the Reverend V. A. Hargis, pastor of the First Methodist church, who delivered the invocation. Wreaths of flowers were placed at the foot of the statue by former Governor E. W. Marland (the donor) and by James W. Moffitt, Secretary of the Oklahoma Historical Society and representative of the State of Oklahoma.

An impressive parade was one of the highlights of the day's celebration. An elaborate float entered by the National Youth Administration project at the 101 Ranch symbolizing the famous ranch from its beginning in 1889 to the present day was judged first in the historical float division of the parade. A small replica of a covered wagon drawn by oxen was mounted on a white crepe paper float.2

Interested audiences watched the impressive and solemn story of the life of an Indian Warrior, Eagle Nest, unfold at the American Indian Exposition pavilion in the presentation of "Tepee Tales," the pageant written and directed by Mrs. Margaret Pearson Speelman, August 14, 15, 16, 1940.

Mingling the lively and "un-modern" dances of the Plains Indians with the rites and ordeals of an Indian's lifetime from birth until death, the pageant moved without hesitation from one sequence to another in the "tales" of tepee life.

The cast of the pageant—250 Comanches, Kiowas, Caddoes, Delawares, Wichitas, Apaches and representatives from Cheyenne, Arapaho and other plains tribes—performed in a round dance around the council fire and the audience moved into the proper mood to appreciate the solemn yet colorful program to follow.

Matthew Botone, Kiowa orator, offered the invocation at the start of the pageant in his native tongue. Father Al of St. Patrick's Mission delivered the opening prayer in English.

The chiefs of many tribes danced following the opening narration by Frank Jones, Kiowa. Maggie Tahone bathed in a golden light and standing to the left of the pageant's council fire told the story as Jones read in signs.

Drawing the greatest ovation was the "rabbit dance" presented by the stripling children of tribesmen in native dress.

The "war dance" performed following the "reaching of manhood by Eagle Nest" was the wildest ritual during the ceremonial. The band of 125 feathered and painted warriors—young and old—hurled themselves into the fury of the dance and to the fast rhythmic

Page 103

beating of the tom-toms and the screeching of war cries practically exhausted themselves in the traditional ceremony.

And as life of "Eagle Nest" progressed through the years portrayed in the story, the dances became more reserved as he reached a venerable age. And in the closing moments, Albert Attocknie, venerable Comanche tribal member, sang the "Death Song" in a quavering voice denoting the last preparation of the Indian for his death.

At the close of the pageant, all Indians in the cast, children, women and men joined in the Buffalo dance.

The Princess of the Exposition, Miss Madeline Frank, was presented with William J. Karty, president of the exposition. The band played and the audience sang "God Bless America." The national anthem was the closing ceremony.3

At the annual meeting of the Old Settlers Association held October 4, 1940, at the Oklahoma Free State Fair at Muskogee, the following officers were elected: Mrs. R. L. Fite, Tahlequah, President; Hon. John Gulager, Vice-President; Mrs. Troy Arrington, Secretary. They succeeded Nate Gibson, Jr., retiring President; Mrs. John Dills, retiring Secretary; and Mrs. F. B. Fite, retiring Vice-President.4

The Latimer County Historical Society was constituted at Wilburton, Oklahoma, on October 18, 1940. The following officers were elected: Professor James D. Morrison, President; Mr. Hobart Boggs, Secretary; County Superintendent of Schools; E. T. Dunlap, Membership Vice-President; City Superintendent of Schools, E. G. Stevens, Program Vice-President. Among those participating in the discussion upon the organization of this Society were President C. C. Dunlap, Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College; Professor James D. Morrison, Dean R. B. Mitchell, Professor M. E. Derrick, Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Tripp, Dr. J. M. Harris, Superintendent E. T. Dunlap, Superintendent E. G. Stevens, Ray P. Boyce, and the Secretary of the Oklahoma Historical Society, James W. Moffitt. An interesting program of activities for the ensuing year has been outlined by this strong new organization.

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