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BATTEY, THOMAS C. (1828-1897)

Quaker schoolteacher and friend to the Caddo and Kiowa Indians, Thomas C. Battey was born on February 19, 1828, in Starksboro, Vermont, to Joseph and Rebecca Starbuck Battey. Battey was raised on an uncle's farm, and as a youth he became enamored with the frontier. A Quaker (member of the Society of Friends), he studied to become a teacher and accepted his first teaching post on the Canadian border before moving to an Iowa farm.

In 1871, when the U.S. government adopted a new peace policy for American Indians of the West, Battey accepted a teaching position at the Wichita Agency in present Anadarko, Oklahoma. Among the pupils at the agency were Caddo Indians who had suffered terribly during their relocation from Louisiana. Battey was instrumental in helping the group settle peacefully. While stationed at the Wichita Agency, he wrote many journal-type letters home to his children and second wife, Lucinda Hampton Gregg.

Two years later Battey followed what he believed to be his calling to a position as a field agent with the Kiowa Agency located north of Fort Sill. In 1874, through his friendship with Chief Kicking Bird, he facilitated a settlement agreement between the U.S, government and a band of hostile Kiowa, thereby successfully averting a larger war in the southern plains. Around 1875 Thomissey (as the Kiowa called him) Battey returned to his Iowa farm and then to Ohio, where he died of cancer in Middleton in October 1897. His letters, edited and published in 1875 as The Life and Adventures of a Quaker Among the Indians, are an important source of information on the Plains Indians.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thomas C. Battey, The Life and Adventures of a Quaker among the Indians (1875; reprint ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968). Thomas C. Battey Collection, Western History Collections, Bizzell Memorial Library, University of Oklahoma, Norman. Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962).

Beth Anne Doughty

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