Palo Pinto County, Texas
Native American Data
PALO PINTO COUNTY
William J. Hale, 68, an early Texas Ranger who had several skirmishes withthe Indians in the region now known as Palo Pinto County, gives an interesting account of paintings on a groupof large cedar trees in that county. According to his statement, there was a place near Turkey Creek known as PaintedCamp. The name was derived from the fact that hundreds of paintings adorned cedar trees in the vicinity. The treesranged from eight to 24 inches in diameter and covered an area of about four acres. The painted trees were scatteredamong the others. The paintings were on the smooth inner bark, secured by peeling away the outer bark. They werefour to five feet above the ground, and varied from four to 12 inches in length. In some cases the designs formeda band completely encircling the tree.
Hale says he saw the paintings many times in those early days; that they were in variousbright colorsâ€”red and blue being most common; and that the designs were quite intricate. But the painted treessoon were cut.
(Source: "Picture Writing of Texas Indians" by A.T. Jackson,University of Texas Publication, March 1, 1938) - Transcribed by K. Torp)
The following is from the "Annual report of the Commissioner of IndianAffairs to the Secretary of the Interior for 1859", and the topic is "The Indians of Texas". Theletters between the various officials tell an interesting tale of the Native Americans in Texas.
The Indians of Texas
Brazos Agency, Texas, March 2, 1859.
Inclosed please find a communication from Mr. F. M. Harris, a citizen of Palo Pinto county, notifying me of themovements, &c, being made by the citizens of Palo Pinto, Erath, and Jack counties, against the Indians andwhites of this reserve, which I forward for your information. The above statements are corroborated by Mr. Dillingham,of Jack county, and Mr. C. L. Carter, of Palo Pinto county, all reliable gentlemen. No doubt that the threat isbased upon the knowledge of the citizens knowing that the troops have been removed from Belknap, and also thata portion of the warriors had left on the trail of the horses stolen from the reserve; but the majority of theIndians have since returned, who state that Captain Ford is not following the trail, but has gone direct to MajorVan Dorn's camp. The Indians are peaceably at work at their different villages, and are not aware of the threatsrecently made, not deeming it advisable that they should know it, knowing at the same time, that, if they did breakup and leave their villages, they would never return again to them. But should the demonstration be made, I shallnotify them in time. I shall take immediate steps to notify Major Thomas, and make a requisition on him for assistance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. P. ROSS, Special Agent Texas Indians.
R. S. Neighbors, Esq.,
Supervising Agent Texas Indians, San Antonio, Texas.
Whatley's Store, Palo Pinto County, March 1, 1859.
Dear Captain: This will inform you, that, on my arrival at this place, Mr. Whatley informed me that there was anexpress passed this place for Jacksborough, from Stephensville. His mission was to raise men to attack the reserve.They say that the treaty that was made by the peace commissioners has been futile, and they do not intend to standit any longer. They are raising men to drive the Indians and whites off the reservation; the 20th instant is thetime set to make the spread. You, I presume, know your business. If you intend to have any soldiers at the reserve,I think it would be to your interest to get them as early as practicable. You know best. I presume you will actaccordingly. I am satisfied, from what I have heard, that the reserve will be attacked, and that soon.
F. M. HARRIS. S. P. Ross, Esq.,
Brazos Agency, Texas.
Brazos Agency, Texas, March 5, 1859.
Sir: On the 2d instant, I inclosed you a letter received from Mr. Harris, informing you of the movements of certaincitizens. On yesterday gentlemen arrived here confirming the reports, and giving the names of certain officialswho had pledged themselves to render all the assistance necessary, as you will see per inclosed copy of a reportwhich I made to his excellency the governor of the State, and forwarded him this morning per express, believingthat he will render us all the assistance in his power to maintain this reserve. Should Major Thomas decline renderingus the assistance necessary to deter this lawless band, the Indians will be compelled to take to the prairies forthe protection of their women and children.
Your presence is much needed, as it will require all the influence that can be brought to bear to reconcile theIndians. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Special Agent Texas Indians. Roberts. Neighbors, Esq.,
Supervising Agent Texas Indians, San Antonio.
No. 116 A. (Copy.)
Brazos Agency, Texas, March 4, 1859.
Governor : It is with regret that I am compelled to send this express to inform you of the movements being fittedout by certain citizens of Erath, Jack, Palo Pinto, Comanche, and other counties, to attack the Indians now settledon this reserve under the treaty of August, 1855. For further information, I inclose a copy of a letter from Mr.F. M. Harris, a citizen of Palo Pinto county, which has been corroborated by several gentlemen of veracity livingin Jack and Palo Pinto counties.
On the first intimation of the movements of those citizens, I dispatched one of the above gentlemen, and requestedhim to ride around and ascertain what facts he could. He returned to-day, and reported having seen and conversedwith Judge Gormley, chief justice, Artemus Baker, county commissioner, Mr. Bailey, district clerk, H. A. Hamner,assessor and collector, and Mr. Babb, all residents of Jack county, who informed him privately and in secret thatthey, together with others of the above named counties, had pledged themselves to raise seven hundred and fiftyor one thousand men, and furnish the means, if necessary; also, that they were to concentrate their forces at Jacksborough,Jack county, at Loving's store, and Golconda, Palo Pinto county, on the 20th instant, then to make a simultaneousattack on the reserve from three different points.
Upon the information of above, I this day dispatched an express to Major Thomas, commanding 2d cavalry at campCooper, with a requisition on him for at least one company of United States troops, in order to assist in - theprotection of the lives and property of the Indians settled, guarantied them by the general government.
The general impression among those with whom I have conversed on this subject, is, that the citizens having learnedthat a number of the warriors belonging to this reserve had joined Captain Ford in pursuit of the depredators wholately committed depredations on this reserve and the citizens of this frontier, also the removal of the troopsfrom Fort Belknap, no doubt thought it a proper time to make the attack; since which, a portion of the Indiansreturned, who report that the remainder had gone with Captain Ford to join Major Van Dorn's United States troopsin an expedition against the Northern Comanches.
The Indians at this time are quietly settled down at their several villages, preparing their farms for the comingcrop, and are not aware of the existing threats being made against them, believing that the course pursued by themsince the murder of their people will meet the approval of all good citizens, and trusting that justice will bemeted out to those who committed the murder. Under the circumstances, I deem it my duty, as their agent, to calla council of the chiefs on tomorrow morning, and inform them of the facts.
It is also believed that this move is made for the purpose of screening the parties who committed the late murderfrom justice, knowing that writs have been issued for the arrest of all concerned, and placed in the hands of thesheriff of Palo Pinto county.
By yesterday's mail I reported the facts to R. S. Neighbors, supervising agent; also inclosed him a copy of Mr.Harris's letter, for his information, and will also send him a copy of this report.
I have, therefore, thought it proper to notify you, as the executive of the State, that you may take such stepsdeemed necessary in the matter. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. P. ROSS
Special Agent Texas Indians.
His Excellency H. K. Runnels
Department Of The Interior,
Office of Indian Affairs, March 30, 1859.
Sir : From the information communicated in your several reports, and otherwise obtained, it has become painfullymanifest that the colonization of the Indians of Texas on the two reservations heretofore selected, must be discontinued,the reservations abandoned, the Indians removed where they can be protected from lawless violence, and effectivemeasures adopted for their domestication and improvement. Measures for that purpose will, therefore, be adoptedwith as little delay as practicable.
The only place to which they can be removed and permanently located, is the section of country leased from theChoctaws and Chickasaws, lying between the 98° and 100° of west longitude; but some preliminary arrangementsmust necessarily be made before their removal there can be commenced. The country is very much exposed, and theComanches being now in a state of hostility, the movement must be preceded by the establishment of a military postat the proper point, with an adequate force for the protection of the Indians and the agent under whose controlthey are to be placed. It is expected that measures for that purpose will be immediately adopted by the War Department.At the same time, the superintendent for the southwestern superintendency will be instructed to select a propersite for the agency, and to proceed to erect the necessary buildings for the accommodation of the agent, Mr. Blain,who will be required to take post there as soon as it is safe for him to do so, and to proceed to make the necessarypreliminary arrangements for receiving and properly locating the different tribes and bands that are to be placedthere. With every effort that can be made, to be prepared for the purpose, it is not believed to be practicableto commence the removal of the Indians before fall or winter ; and it is hoped that they will be permitted to remainin peace and quiet, where they are, till then.
You will communicate to the authorities and people of Texas the fact that the Indians are to be removed, and thatthis is to be done as early in the fall or winter as it can be, and use your best exertions to induce them to refrainfrom molesting them. You will also inform the Indians, as soon as it may be judicious to do so, of what is contemplatedin regard to them, and gradually prepare their minds for the change. Meanwhile, it is hoped they will be able toraise.an abundant crop, so as to have sufficient for subsistence in removing to their new location, and for sometime after arriving there, and thus avoid a heavy expense to the government; for the measure must be conductedwith the utmost economy, not only as a matter of obligation, but because of the very limited means at the disposalof the department for the purpose. In view of this fact, you will do all in your power to limit the expendituresfor the Indians on the reservations, during the spring and summer, so as to husband as much of the existing appropriationas possible. To aid in concerting the best plan for relocating the Indians in the proper manner, you will pleasecommunicate to Superintendent Rector, as soon as practicable, the names and number of the different bands, whichof them will agree best with each other and can be colonized together, and about what quantity of land will berequired for actual use and occupancy by each division, together with any other information that will aid in forminga correct judgment as to the proper manner of locating them ; a copy of which you will also forward to this office.As soon as the department can be advised of the arrangements having been so far consummated as to admit of thecommencement of operations, further and full instructions will be forwarded to you in relation thereto.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES E. MIX,
Acting Commissioner. R. S. Neighbors, Esq.,
Supt. Indian Affairs, San Antonio, Texas.
Fort Smith, Arkansas.
San Antonio, Texas, May 12, 1859.
Sir : I much regret to be compelled to report that all of our efforts to pacify the frontier people, and to inducethem to refrain from molesting the reserve Indians, prove abortive, and I have no hope left that will induce meto believe that they can be maintained in peace for any reasonable length of time. Immediately after the receiptof your letter of the 30th of March last, in relation to the removal, I forwarded copies to his excellency GovernorRunnels, and had the same published in all the leading newspapers on the frontier. This appears only to have ledto a change of tactics on the part of the leaders, and to more energetic endeavors to bring about hostilities betweenthe parties. During the sitting of the district court of Palo Pinto county, in place of steps being taken to enforcethe law against the murderers of the Indians, the grand jury found a true bill against one of the principal chiefs,(Jose Maria, chief of the An-ah-dah-koes,) for stealing a mule, and also presented the reserve as a nuisance. Isuppose efforts will be made, under shadow of law, to enforce the arrest of the Indian. This course will necessarilybring on a conflict. It is well known by a number of our best citizens, that the mule taken belonged to a citizenof the reserve, and was legally taken by the Indian; the man Verney, who was before the grand jury, having no claimupon the property, but that the whole scheme was made use of by certain parties to bring about a difficulty. Numbersof our best citizens, amongst them Colonel M. T. Johnson, and almost every property holder anywhere in the vicinityof the reserves, have used every effort to put down these lawless proceedings, but have failed, and in severalcases they have been threatened with violence. I inclose, for your information, the official report of S. P. Ross,Esq., 1st of May, and also a letter from E. J. Gurley, Esq., of Waco, on this subject, to which I would respectfullyrefer you. Notwithstanding that every appeal has been made to the executive of this State, he has thus far takenno measures to preserve order on the frontier, or to control the citizens. The consequence is that every countyon that portion of the frontier is raising and arming a band of lawless men, who term themselves rangers, withthe avowed intention of either forcibly breaking up the reserves, or murdering every Indian they meet, and I fullybelieve, from the threats, that they would also murder the agents, if they had an opportunity.
All these things, together with the unfavorable season, will render it impossible for the Indians to make a cropthis spring, and, in my opinion, it would be folly for the general government to attempt to maintain the Indianson the present reserve until fall, or for a single day longer than necessary for them to pack up their goods andchattels. They cannot be kept on the reserve in peace, or in a state of organization, and it would require thewhole appropriation to feed them and furnish ammunition for their defense until that time, besides a strong militaryforce for their protection. I would, therefore, respectfully recommend and urge upon you the propriety of havingthe Indians at once removed across Red river, near Fort Arbuckle, until such time as they could have permanentlocations selected for them. In addition to the reasons already given for this recommendation, I would urge thefact that they could be led now with much less expense at that point than at the reserves in Texas, as the troubleson the frontier, and the threatening attitude assumed by the lawless bands mentioned, will render it difficultto obtain a good supply at reasonable prices. I would the more strongly urge upon you this measure of removal atonce, as I am certain that the Indians cannot be controlled or confined to their present narrow limits with thepresent threats against their lives ; and, unless prompt measures are taken, they will abandon the reserve andtake the chances for self-defense and a subsistence. There are many other reasons that might be urged, but thosegiven are deemed sufficient to induce you to act promptly in this matter. It is deemed that the funds estimatedby me for the quarter ending 30th June, would be amply sufficient for the removal, if a proper use is made of thetransportation now in the hands of the Indians, and it would require but a few days to furnish the necessary rations; and I believe confidently that it would cost nearly as much to maintain the Indians on the reserve as it wouldto remove them to Arbuckle, the distance being only one hundred and sixty miles. I shall proceed at once to thereserves, and have no doubt but that the Indians will be highly delighted with an opportunity of leaving, and placingthemselves out of danger from the lawless parties who are now threatening them.
May 13.â€”By last night's mail I have received the additional report, May 5, from Special Agent Ross, which I inclose.You will see that the reserve Indians are again assembled at the agency, for self-defense, and that the report,is that those on the upper reserve have already been attacked. There is, then, no other resource left but the courserecommended by me, even if that can be accomplished. I will report from the reserve as soon as I arrive, and shallprepare the Indians for immediate removal as soon as the present excitement subsides. I hope you will give immediateinstructions on this subject. I also inclose, for your information, an extract of a private letter from CaptainJohn S. Ford, Texas rangers. He has expressed the same views to the governor, and yet no measures are taken toprevent the conflict.
I also inclose an extra, from the "Gazette" office, for your information, and also a petition from citizens,all for your consideration. Hoping you will give this whole subject your immediate attention, I am, very respectfully,your obedient servant,
ROBERT S. NEIGHBORS, Supervising Agent Texas Indians. Hon. Charles E. Mix,
Commissioner ad interim, Washington, D. C.
Brazos Agency, Texas, May 1, 1859.
Sir : I have the honor herewith to transmit this my monthly report (with the accompanying papers) of the stateof affairs of this agency for the month ending 31st April, 1859.
The past month has been one of continued excitement among the Indians belonging to this reserve, caused by thefrequent forays of Comanches, and the threatened attack upon the reserve by citizens. 'The citizens of the differentsurrounding counties are kept in constant excitement and hostility by the speeches made by Captain Baylor and others,and by constant rumors of the outrages and depredations said to be committed by the reserve Indians.
I had hoped that, after it was made known that the government intended to move the Indians from Texas as soon aspracticable, that it would quiet the minds of the people, and would stop the mouths of those who have labored soassiduously to break up the reserves; but it seems that in this I am to be disappointed, for only a few days sincethey held a meeting in Golconda, where Baylor and others, as I am credibly informed, made speeches and used verythreatening language against the agents and Indians. I also hear that he is now prowling around the reserve witha body of armed men with the avowed object of taking scalps.
I refer you to the accompanying report of the farmer, as to the condition of the farms, the prospects of makinga crop, &c.; and also to the school teacher's, as to the condition of the school.
It may be proper to here mention that no indictments were found (as I have been informed) against Garland and others,who murdered the Indians in Palo Pinto county. At the last term of their district court they found a true billagainst Jose Maria, chief of the Anahdahkoes, for stealing a mule.
During the past month, about fifty Indians from this reserve have joined Major Van Dorn as guides, and five havegone to act as guides to Captain Bracket, with the promise from me that their women and children should be protectedin their absence. All of which is respectfully submitted.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. P. BOSS, Special Agent Texas Indians. Robert S. Neighbors, Esq.,
Supervising Agent Texas Indians, San Antonio.
April 25, 1859. Gentlemen : Your course and conduct for the last eighteen months having utterly failed to givesatisfaction to the citizens of the frontier of Texas, and for the reason that the opinion prevails generally inall the frontier counties that you have acted in bad faith to the Indian and white man, and having been disappointedin the long cherished hope that you would be removed from office, but, on the contrary, having learned that youhave lately been reappointed, we take this our only method to make known to you our unqualified disapprobationof your course as agents, and to demand your immediate resignation.
F. W. Fauntleroy, John Taylor, F. L. Denison, Lewis P. Strong, W. S. Carpenter, J. R. Waller, J. N. Stanley, J.F. Pollard,
W. W. Cochran, Jno. R. Baylor, W. H. Cowdon, J. P. Davidson, Wesley Nelson, F. B. Powers, Fuller Millsaps, AllenBrooks,
J. W. Estes, Wm. G. Martin, Wm. Niel, A. F. Turnban, R. Y. Powers, Reuben Vaughan, J. D. Neel, James M. Bell, CharleyTurnblain, Washington Halburn, E. F. Spencer, Hiram Barber, Riley Hubbard, M. Rolston, J. L. McCracken, A. J. Stephens,
M. V. P. Easterwault, J. A. McLaren, E. H. Fireash, A. C. Bingham, John Foille, B. F. Harris,B. B. Meadows, J.W. F. Stow,
Levi Ford, James Roberts, J. S. Whitmore, Joel Counts, C. Vernoy, James Jeffreys, W. W. McNeill, John Danisly,B. F. Mullins,
A. Lane, J. W. Price, W. M. Peters, W. J. F. Lundy, A. Nelson, J. C. McClure, Benj. Harris, Wyatt Williams, J.G. Belile, Saml. Orford, John Funderburgh, J. C. Carpenter, jr., John Hillson, William R. McGlothlin, N. V. Hillinsgrann,Cornelius McGlothlin,
T. J. Simons, J. Stephens, Saml. F. Stone, Wm. McGlothlin, J. L. Davis, G. R. Jowell, John N. Ganney, Samuel Fruit,J. B. Harris,
O. W. Neel, A. J. Steward, E. T. Jeffery, Levi Current, W. J. Councill, Robert Martin, J. W. Lynn, J. W. Burket,G. W. Greer, Squire Robson, P. S. Jones, J. C. Blair, W. L. Lasater, Oliver Loving, T. J. Lindsey, M. Maris, Wm.B. Ewbank, J. B. Bradley, George Lemons, G. W. Derasett, John Bloker, L. P. Bise, Joseph Smith, W. G. Roberds,L. J. Chamberlain, H. H. McLean, A. Russel, J. B. Pollard, N. M. Morris, G. T. Condon, P. M. Crouch, R. W. Pollard,J. P. Brown, J. J. Cureton, Wm. N. Blare, J. N. Walker, J. E. Harrington, S. Branan, G. P. Barber, G. W. Slaughter,M. B. Loch, G. Porter, Wm. S. Evans, R. S. Porter, L. B. J. Clayton, E. H. McRae, J. C. Carpenter, J. Wright, J.H. Baker, E. W. Coffelt, Samuel P. Woodward, Nathan Blackwell, James A. Pody, L. C. Barton.
Messrs. R. S. Neighbour, Supervising Agent Texas Indians;
S. P. Ross, Special Agent, Brazos Agency; and Leeper, Special Agent, Comanche Agency.
Department Of The Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, May 28, 1859.
Sir : I have the honor to submit, for your consideration, copies of instructions given on the 30th of March, toSuperintendents Rector and Neighbors, in relation to the removal of the reserve Indians in Texas to the tract ofcountry leased of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and also of a report and accompanying papers just received fromMr. Neighbors respecting the critical and unsafe condition of the Indians on the reservations in Texas.
It was hoped that when the instructions to Messrs. Rector and Neighbors became known in Texas, the excitement respectingthe removal of the Indians would be quieted, and that they could peacefully remain on the reservations until fall,giving time for them to raise another crop, and for the government to make the necessary arrangements for removingthem safely and economically, and establishing them in a proper locality in the country where it is designed toplace them; but, from Superintendent Neighbors' report, it would seem that this reasonable expectation is not tobe realized; that certain lawless persons are determined to persist in their outrages upon the Indians ; that thelatter are consequently in an unsafe position; will not be able to continue their agricultural operations and raiseanother crop ; and if they remain upon the reservations, will have, therefore, to be subsisted. Under these circumstances,Mr. Neighbors recommends their immediate removal north of Red river, to the vicinity of Fort Arbuckle, where hestates they can be subsisted as cheaply as on the reservations in Texas.
There are two objections to the removal of these Indians to the point recommended by Mr. Neighbors: First, it wouldbe an infraction of our treaty obligations to the Choctaws and Chickasaws ; and second, it would be only a temporaryarrangement, as they would soon have to be again removed, and taken to their place of final destination in theLeased District of country, thus incurring the trouble and expense of a double removal, instead of but one. Underthe circumstances, however, I am disposed to recommend their immediate, removal to the leased country, providedit will be in the power of the War Department to furnish a military force to protect their persons and propertyfrom attack and plunder by lawless white persons on the route, and to station a sufficient force in the LeasedDistrict to keep them under proper subjection and control, and protect them and their agent, and other governmentemployees, from molestation by such lawless persons and the hostile Comanches.
Prior to coming to any final decision on the subject, I would therefore respectfully suggest that an inquiry bemade of the War Department as to its ability and willingness to furnish such force ; and particularly what progresshas been made towards the establishment and garrisoning of the new post near the Wichita mountains, to enable thisdepartment to carry out its policy of colonizing certain tribes in the leased portion of the Choctaw and Chickasawcountry. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. B. GREENWOOD,
Hon. J. Thompson,
Secretary of the Interior.
Department Of The Interior,
June 9, 1859.
Sir: Herewith is inclosed, for your information, a copy of a letter addressed to this department on the 7th instant,by the acting Secretary of War, from which it will be seen that orders are to be sent to the commander of the departmentof Texas to furnish an escort to the Indians now on the reservations in Texas, as requested in your letter of the28th ultimo.
It would be proper, under the circumstances,that detailed instructions should be immediately sent to SuperintendentsNeighbors and Rector, for their guidance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. THOMPSON, Secretary.
Hon. A. B. Greenwood,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
No. 132 a.â€”(Copy.)
War Department, June 7, 1859.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 30th ultimo, asking an escort for the Indiansabout to be removed from the Texas reservations.
The commanding officer of the military department of Texas will receive immediate instructions to furnish the necessaryescort, and to protect the Indians after their arrival in the Wichita country while the troops remain there.
The subject of establishing a post in that vicinity is now under consideration, and you will be advised as soonas a decision is reached. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. R. DRINKARD,
Acting Secretary of War. Hon. J. Thompson,
Secretary of the Interior.
Brazos Agency, Texas, June 10, 1859.
Sir : I have the honor to report, that since the date of my last, transmitting a copy of Captain Plummer's officialreport in relation to the attack on this reservation, no movement of the Baylor and Nelson party has been madecalculated to endanger the Indians on either reserve.
On the third instant, Lieutenants Eagle and Crosby, second cavalry, arrived here from Major Van Dorn's camp, witheighty men. On the 5th we received intelligence that a portion of the citizens, numbering about five hundred men,had started for the camp fifteen miles from here, to attack the Comanche reserve.
I proceeded with Lieutenant Eagle and sixty cavalry to that point, but found that it was merely a feint made toenable them to scatter for fear of an attack from the cavalry. On my arrival at Comanche agency, I learned thattwo additional companies of cavalry had arrived at that point, which gave us ample force to defend the reservesagainst the lawless mob, even if they had reached the number anticipated, viz., one thousand men.
That whole party appears now to have disbanded, after stealing a number of horses on the reserve and from the citizensimmediately around it, waylaying the roads, stopping travelers, robbing wagons, and stopping the mails for aboutfive trips, with the avowed intention of reorganizing within ten days, or as soon thereafter as an opportunityoffers to make another attack with a probability of success, or, as is said by some of our good citizens, as soonas the troops now assembled on the reservations leave for their stations. The troops that are now here only considerthemselves authorized to defend the Indians in case of attack within the limits of the reserves; but consider thatthey have no authority to go outside, into the disaffected district, even for the purpose of gaining correct information.We have consequently to rely principally upon the Indians themselves, who have been sent out as spies, and upona few citizens who have volunteered to give us information, for all the intelligence that we could receive in relationto the movements of this party of marauders.
The State government, as yet, have taken no action, as far as I can learn, and the citizens here who own property,have been so seriously threatened by the mob, both in life and property, that they are afraid to testify in a courtof justice against the offenders. (I make this statement upon the authority of Parson Tackitt, the Methodist circuitpreacher for this district.) At my solicitation, United States Commissioner Chesley Dobbs, Esq., has taken theaffidavits of the United States officers here, and is still engaged in taking evidence to forward to the UnitedStates district attorney, so as to endeavor to bring the leaders in this foray on the reserve Indians, and themurderers of the old Caddo Indian and Indian woman mentioned in Captain Plummer's report, before the courts ofthe country.
It is unfortunate at this time that we have in the State of Texas a governor who appears to be afraid to enforcethe laws of the State, to arrest criminals, or to endeavor to put down a mob, although it is apparent that almostevery property holder, or those who may be classed as good and responsible citizens, are not in any way engagedin this foray, and do not sympathize with it, and, if sustained by the executive of the State, would, in a veryshort time, arrest this band of lawless marauders. They acknowledged, in the town of Belknap, after the attackon the reserve on the 23d, that there were about fifty horse-thieves and notorious desperadoes in their party.
It is truly unfortunate for the Indians that the general government, upon my suggestions, after the demonstrationsin March last, did not either remove the Indians across the Red river, or make some provision for their defense.As it is, they have in this last foray lost a large portion of the remnant of property, stock, &c., left atthat date, have received no redress, made no crops, and are in every way ten times worse off than they would havebeen if they had taken to the prairies and subsisted themselves. They have, owing to the presence of the forcewhich threatened them for the last five weeks, been compelled to abandon every comfort, shut themselves up in theirfortified camp with two companies of troops, with such shelter as could be temporarily provided. The consequencewas, that on my arrival here on the 2d instant, I found many sick, with three or four deaths per day, and the wholecamp, both Indians and whites, seriously threatened with an epidemic.
With the assistance and counsel of the officers stationed here, we have been compelled to send the Indians outto camp near pure water, in an exposed situation, laying themselves liable to an attack at any moment from thesmall scouting parties of these marauders, who are reported to be prowling around the reservation.
The reserves may be considered virtually broken up; all work is suspended. The Indians will not even cultivatetheir small gardens, and the agents can do nothing more than to keep the Indians in something like a state of organization,ready for removal to a place of safety.
I had a talk with the chiefs yesterday; they will urge no serious objection to an immediate removal to a placeof safety, although they think themselves badly treated.
I shall make no new suggestions. I have conversed freely with the military officers, both at this and Comanchereserve. They are unanimous in the opinion that the Indians should be at once placed across Red river, so thatthey can be protected in their lives until the general government can relocate them permanently, and provide thema home in which they can live and become a civilized people.
The Indians, one and all, are still under good control, and express full confidence that the general governmentwill do them justice, and protect them in this unequal contest.
With the same belief, and hoping, if you have not already done so, you will direct the immediate removal of allthe Indians on the reserves east of Red river, so that they may avoid another demonstration such as the one nowpassed, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT S. NEIGHBORS, Superintendent Indian Affairs, Texas.
Hon. A. B. Greenwood,
Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.
Department Of The Interior, Office Indian Affairs, June 11, 1859.
Sir: Under the instructions sent you on the 30th of last March, you were directed to communicate to the authoritiesand people of Texas the fact that the Indians were to be removed from the reserves upon which they are now locatedas early in the fall or winter as it could be done, and to use your best exertions to induce them to refrain frommolesting them. The department entertained the hope that the Indians would be permitted to remain in quiet andpeace where they are till then, and would be able to raise an abundant crop, so as to have sufficient for theirsubsistence in removing to their new location, and for some time after arriving there. Your report of 12th ultimo,however, in which you state, that on account of the hostility evinced by the whites against the Indians, the lattercould not any longer remain in safety and peace upon the reserves, nor cultivate their lands and raise the desiredcrop, has influenced this department to modify its instructions bearing date as aforesaid, and you are now authorizedto take measures forthwith for the removal of the Indians to the section of country leased from the Choctaws andChickasaws, and lying between the 98° and 100° of west longitude, provided the same necessity should existat the date of the reception of these instructions that existed at the date of your communication to this office.The Secretary of War has been requested to furnish a strong military escort for your protection, and this departmenthas been officially informed that " the commanding officer of the military department of Texas will receiveimmediate instructions to furnish the necessary escort, and to protect the Indians after their arrival in the Wichitacountry, while the troops remain there." You will therefore, on receipt of this communication, proceed atonce to arrange and pack everything movable belonging to the two reserves and to the Indians; collect the latterinto one body, and make everything ready to start them as soon as the military shall arrive. You are authorizedto take Agent Leeper along ' with you as your aid. Agent Ross, if his services are not urgently required for theremoval of the Indians, is to remain with the employees upon the reserves, to guard and take care of everythingof an immovable character belonging to the government until it can be finally disposed of. You are required tomake an inventory of everything belonging to the government or the Indians, which is to be taken along from thereserves on your journey, with the valuation of each item annexed. You are further required to make an inventoryof everything belonging to the government and which you leave behind you on the reserves, with a valuation of eachitem.
If, of anything not required, or not capable of removal, you can make a sale before your departure, either to themilitary authorities stationed in your neighborhood, or to private individuals, on advantageous terms, you areauthorized to do so; reporting to this department each item thus sold, to whom sold, and the amount received. Thiswhole transaction being placed under your control, you will exercise a sound discretion as to its details, observingthe strictest economy compatible with the best interests of the public service.
On your arrival at the Wichita agency you will meet either Superintendent E. Rector, or an agent deputed by himfor the purpose, to either of whom you are directed to transfer the Indians, till then, under your control. Youare then, conjointly with Superintendent Rector, or his deputy, to proceed to the selection of locations suitablefor Indian settlements, establish the different bands thereon, having in view their present comfort and their futureadvancement in the arts of civilization, report, as early as practicable, the results attained, and wait for furtherorders from this office.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. B. GREENWOOD,
Commissioner. R. S. Neighbors, Esq.,
Supt. Ind. Affairs, Comanche Agency, Texas.
P. S. Since the foregoing was prepared, yours of the 27th has been received. Nothing contained therein to changethe above instructions.
Department Of The Interior, Office Indian Affairs, June 15, 1859.
Sir: Referring to the communication of this office of March 30th, requiring you to make such an examination ofthe country leased from the Choctaws and Chickasaws as would enable you to determine upon the proper places forlocating and colonizing the Texas Indians, and containing a copy of the instructions to Superintendent R. S. Neighbors,in relation to the removal of the said Texas Indians early next fall or winter, I have now to state that the reportof Superintendent Neighbors, of May 12, a copy of which herewith, has influenced this Department to modify itsinstructions to Superintendent Neighbors, who has been directed, under date of June 11, a copy herewith, to proceedforthwith with the removal of the Texas Indians to the Wichita agency, under a strong escort of United States troopsfor his protection, provided the same necessity should exist at the reception of the modified instructions thatexisted on the 12th of May last.
In consequence of the premises, you are directed, on receipt of this letter, to proceed without delay to the Wichitaagency, or, if unable to do so, to empower Agent Blain to accept the transfer of the Texas Indians from SuperintendentNeighbors, and, conjointly with him, to make selection of localities suitable for Indian settlements, which shouldbe situate as near to the agency as circumstances will admit, bringing the Indians under the immediate supervisionand control of the agent.
The Secretary of the Interior having directed that the selection of locations, and the establishment of the Indiansthereon, should be done conjointly by Superintendent Neighbors and yourself, or your deputy, it is hoped that thoseduties will be performed with zeal and in perfect harmony, having nothing else in view than the interests of thegovernment and the welfare of the Indians.
Superintendent Neighbors having been authorized to take along Agent Leeper, as his aid, you arc authorized to makeuse of his services in the location of the Texas Indians, and he is to remain with Superintendent Neighbors untilfurther orders from this office.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. B. GREENWOOD,
Elias Rector, Esq.,
Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Fort Arbuckle, June 15, 1859.
Sir: Having come from Fort Smith to Fort Washita, and there turned over to Douglas H. Cooper, Esq., agent for theChoctaws and Chickasaws, the moneys in my hands for those tribes, I have thought it advisable to extend my journey,in order to look in person into the condition and inquire as to the wishes of the bands of the Wichitas and Caddoesnow encamped on Caddo creek, eighteen miles from this post; which I have done.
I find that the contract for feeding these Indians has been, in all respects, faithfully complied with. They arepeaceable and obedient, but of course doing nothing whatever, having come in temporarily, as you are aware, throughfear of the Comanches. I found them exceedingly anxious to go to their permanent home in the Wichita country, thattheir lands there should be assigned them, and they be enabled to begin providing for their future subsistence.I have fully explained to them my instructions in that behalf, and the views of the government ; and have toldthem that, until a military post should be established in their new country, they were not required to remove thither,nor had I any authority or wish to compel them to do so ; but that if it was their desire, they were at libertyto go, and I would advise them to do it, and that I should proceed to select the lands to be occupied by them.
They still desire to remove; and the lawless acts of violence of certain persons in Texas render it, in my opinionand that of the superintendent of Texas Indians, highly expedient for those Comanches and others known as the ReserveIndians in Texas, to be also removed to the country leased from the Choctaws and Chickasaws, as soon as practicable.The acts of violence in question, the excitement in that part of Texas against those Indians, and the determinationof a part of the people to expel or exterminate them, make it useless to await their making a crop before removal,since it is apparent that they will not be allowed to make such crop.
By my instructions from your office, the removal of all these Indians is made contingent upon the establishmentof a military post in the country to be occupied by them, which has been so long and often urged upon the Departmentof War, is imperatively required by the exigencies of the public service, and still unaccountably delayed.
Major Emory, commanding at this post, has sometime since explored that country, and indicated to the War Departmenta proper site for a post; but I am not advised what action, if any, has been had upon his report.
I had expected, also, to have received instructions from your office, induced by the unexpected events and actsof violence that have occurred in Texas, but, as yet, I am in receipt of none.
I have, after anxious consideration of existing circumstances, determined that I may with propriety proceed tothe leased country with a small party and an escort, and select the tracts of country to be occupied by the Wichitasand Caddoes, now encamped in this vicinity, and the several bands of the reserve Texas Indians; and to that end,Major Emory furnishing an escort, I shall proceed to that country on Saturday next, the 18th instant, and shallremain there long enough to make a sufficient exploration.
In selecting the locations, I shall have due regard to the site for a post selected by Major Emory, and to thesecurity of the Indians by means of that post.
Even if it did not seem to be entirely uncertain whether the War Department will establish any post at all in thatcountry, and, if so, at what remote period, still I think it not only advisable, but eminently just and mercifulto afford these Indians the means of defense and self-protection. Those now here are armed with bows and arrowsand spears alone. I earnestly advise that each warrior be at once furnished with a rifle and a moderate supplyof ammunition, which are equally indispensable with the implements of agriculture in my possession to be deliveredto them. Besides, their intended country abounds with game, and they will be thus enabled, in great measure, tofeed themselves, and to lessen the expenses of their subsistence. I understand that many, perhaps most of the TexasIndians, are also unarmed; and I therefore submit to your better judgment the propriety of immediately placingme in possession of two hundred and fifty rifles, with six pounds of powder and ten of lead for each, for distribution.
A proper number of the leading men of the Wichitas and Caddoes will accompany me, and I shall, as far as it mayconsist with my judgment, consult their wishes in regard to the location of the country to be occupied by them.
I have sent, by express to Major Neighbors, superintendent of the Texas Indians, a communication requesting himto meet me at this place on my return. I shall then confer fully with him, and inform him of the result of my expedition;and should nothing then come to my knowledge to change my present convictions, I shall advise the immediate removalof the reserve Indians, as I now do that of the Wichitas and Caddoes, encamped here, to their new country. TheChickasaws desire that these latter should remove, and, I presume, have the right to insist upon it; and the soonerall these Indians are gathered together upon lands of the United States, where they will be secure from violenceand outrage, prompted by cupidity and self-interest, the better.
Should the order for their removal be given, I have to ask that explicit instructions may be given me in regardto the amount of subsistence to be afforded them, and the time of its continuance. It will be indispensable toaid them in that respect until their crops mature next year, and to supply them in proper time with the properagricultural assistance in the way of seed, and with competent persons to instruct them in farming. Major Neighborsthinks that those now with the reserve Indians should be continued, and in that opinion I concur.
On my return I shall make, as instructed, to your office a detailed report; and I have only to add, that I trustthat the Department of the Interior will strenuously urge upon the attention of the War Department the great necessityfor the immediate establishment of a post in the Wichita hills, which I supposed, from personal conference withthe Secretary of War, had long ago been finally determined on.
I have the honor to be, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
ELIAS RECTOR, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, S. S.
Hon. A. B. Greenwood,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.
Elias Rector, Esq.,
Superintendent Indian Affairs, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Fort Arbuckle, Chickasaw Country, July 2, 1859.
Sir: On the 18th of June last, as I had advised your office I should do, I proceeded to visit and explore the countrylying in the vicinity of the Wichita mountains. Major Emory, commanding at this post, furnished me a cavalry escortof fourteen men, under Lieutenant Stanley, and I was also accompanied by Mr. Quesenbury, of Arkansas, as my clerkand assistantâ€”my regular clerk having been taken sick at this post, and being unable to go furtherâ€”and by one otherassistant, with Mr. Samuel A. Blain, agent for the Wichitas, and I-sad-o-wa, the chief, and A-wa-he, the war chiefof the Wichitas, Fai-o-tun, chief of the Caddoes, also employed by me as a guide, the head-man of the Kichais,Se-ket-tu-ma-qua, Delaware interpreter, with other Delawares, and Chim-ma-sha, employed by me as Caddo interpreter.Three gentlemen desiring to visit the same country also accompanied me. A single wagon furnished the transportationof my own party.
On the 22d, we reached the site indicated for a fort by Major Emory, being that of the old Wichita village, onthe Clear Fork of Cache creek, south of the Blue mountain, a principal peak of the Wichita range, and immediatelybelow the volcanic hills that lie along the south side of that range. After exploring the country in that direction,to the base of the Blue mountain, and obtaining sketches of the mountains and the water courses to northeast, east,and south, from the summit of one of the subordinate hills, near the site of the old village, and becoming satisfied,for reasons to be hereafter stated, that the country near and around those mountains was unfit for the purposescontemplated by the department, I proceeded to a low range of hills northeast of the Blue mountain, and about fortymiles from it, near the sources of the Little Washita, at the head of a small tributary of the Fausse Ouachita,and about twelve miles from that river. Thence I proceeded to the river itself, and explored a portion of the countryon each side, returned to the hills last mentioned, and by the way of the Little Ouachita, to this post, whichI reached on the 30th ultimo.
The result of my examination is, that the ninety-eighth parallel of longitude is, in a direct line, forty-threemiles west of this post, beyond the waters of the Wild Horse and Rush creeks, and the Cross Timbers; so that, westof that parallel, there are no streams with arable valleys of any considerable extent running into the Washitaor Red river, in the whole country leased from the Choctaws and Chickasaws, except those in the immediate vicinityof the Wichita mountains, west of the ninety-eighth parallel. The country consists, in the main, of a prairie composedof hills and undulations of sandstone, the soil of which is not at all fertile, interspersed with extensive beltsand ridges covered with dwarfed oaks, with a few creeks flowing in channels cut deep in the red earth of the prairie,and rising in the rainy season from ten to forty feet. Along these creeks are narrow lines of timber, mostly Cottonwood,with a few gnarled and stunted oaks.
It is to be regretted that the country in question contains so little land of any value except for grazing purposes,and so very little timber of any worth. It is understood, I believe, that the ninety-eighth parallel is much furtherto the westward than was supposed when the treaty of 1855 with the Choctaws and Chickasaws was made. It would havebeen far better if the United States had procured the cession of all the Choctaw and Chickasaw country betweenthe Fausse Ouachita and Red river, since it is of little value to those tribes, is almost wholly unused by them,and will be absolutely needed, if many more Indians are to be settled and colonized in the leased country.
So far as the Wichita mountains are concerned, and the country in and adjacent to them, I regret to say that allmy expectations were disappointed, and that my ideas, founded on the reports and glowing representations of others,proved to be totally and astonishingly incorrect. The mountains consist of a range of rugged hills, the highestprobably one thousand feet above the general level of surrounding prairie, running east and west some twenty-fiveor thirty miles, with lower and chiefly hemispherical hills and some ridges on the north and south. The mountainsthemselves, from the report of Mr. Quesenbury and others of my party, who went to their base for that purpose,are granitic, with ample evidence of upheaval; and the outlying hills are partly, at least, composed of igneousor metamorphic rock. I am myself wholly ignorant of geological science; but, from his report, and that of othergentlemen who accompanied me, and from specimens obtained from them of the rocks composing the hills and mountains,it is evident, I am assured, that they were elevated by volcanic action, confined to a limited area. On the flanksof the space thus elevated, red sandstone occurs, and at greater distance the magnesian limestone, whilst, abouttwenty miles to the northeast, an immense area is composed of pure white gypsum, or sulphate of lime, rising inhigh ridges of dazzling whiteness, and depressed into valleys, in which the streams have cut through this depositto a depth in places of twenty to forty feet. These small streams, impregnated with this unpleasant mineral, flowinto Cache creek.
To the south of the mountains, two streams flow off to Red riverâ€” Otter creek and Cache creek; the former at thewestern, and the latter at the eastern extremity of the mountains. I am assured, by those thoroughly acquaintedwith the country south of the mountains, that between these two is no stream whatever, and that on Otter creekthere is no land of any value. Cache creek is composed of a great number of branches draining a vast extent ofprairie, most of which rise far to the east and northeast of the mountains, and, flowing round in a half circle,unite about fifteen miles north of east of the Blue mountain, and wholly outside of the hills, with the principalbranch that comes from the prairie north of the hills flowing first east and then south. Just below this junction,the banks of the creek, of deep red earth, are forty feet in height above the water, and in rainy seasons it rises,as the mark evidently shows, to the very top of the bank. From this point, the stream runs somewhat west of south,and just below the old Wichita village receives, on the west side, a small, clear stream called Clear creek, thatrises among the hills at the base of the mountains, several miles above. Below the junction of this branch, thewhole bottom of the creek is subject to inundation, the water annually covering it to the depth of many feet, andbecoming deeper the nearer you approach Red river; so that the lands on all that part of the creek to the southwardof the mountains is worthless for the purposes of cultivation.
The outlying hills are chiefly bald, or entirely naked of timber. The Blue mountain, and some other of the pointsof the mountains, are thinly covered with a scattering growth of stunted oaks, while the rest are bald like thehills. I shall transmit from Fort Smith, on my return there, sketches of the mountains and water-courses, takenfrom different points, by Mr. Quesenbury, which will give a correct idea of their contour and appearance.
On the west of Clear creek, upon a high level of prairie, on the north and east of which that branch sweeps ina semicircle, is the site of the Wichita village, and the locality indicated by Major Emory for a military post.Of its advantages in a military point of view, I am not competent to judge ; but in other respects, and as a situationfor an agency, it is subject to serious and, I think, insuperable objections. On the west, northwest, and southof it is a wide slough, or channel, through which, at every freshet, a heavy body of water runs, leaving Clearcreek above the site and entering it again below ; after which remain shallow ponds, to be gradually dried up byevaporation, producing an abundant supply of miasma, to be conveyed by the south winds, continually prevalent inthe hot season, to those who may be unfortunate enough to inhabit the island (for such it is) above. To an agencyunprotected by a military post, the facility with which an enemy could approach unperceived on three sides, wouldbe a serious disadvantage ; but, apart from that, the malaria from the slough and from the overflown bottom tothe southward, known to have more than decimated the Wichitas while they resided there, forms an insuperable objectionto the location of an agency at that point.
The sketches which I shall transmit from Fort Smith, on my return to that place, will show not only the profileand appearance of the mountains, but the course of Clear creek, and that of Cache creek and its affluents on thenortheast, east, and southeast of the mountains, and will, I hope, with the brief description which I have given,be found to afford a sufficiently clear idea of the part of the country in question.
On the branch of Cache creek which comes from the east,and about fifteen miles to the northward of east of theBlue mountain, between four small streams flowing into it perpendicularly from the east, are these bodies of levelalluvium and washings from the prairie, of tolerably fertile soil; but there is no timber, except a narrow fringealong the edges of the streams, of cottonwood, with a few gnarled oaks. Some three miles below is a limited extentof bottom, with some walnut timber ; but I do not think even this part of the creek a suitable location for anypeople who are to subsist by agriculture ; and above this point are no available lands of any extent, and verylittle timber.
West of the mountains, and north of them until you reach the Fausse Ouachita, there is no inhabitable country.No streams flow off to the northward or westward.
There are no springs to be found in this region. I suppose that the nature of the formation, upheaved and contorted,forbids it. I was led to suppose there were springs at the old village, but, on reaching the place where they hadbeen, at the foot of a steep bank of Clear creek, they were found to be there no longer. The earth and gravel hadslid down and obliterated them.
In short, to my extreme surprise and disappointment, I found these mountains to be rugged and frowning masses ofprimitive, metamorphic, and igneous rock, with barren hills of upheaval around them, all naked, or scantily clothedwith stunted trees. The fertile and beautiful valleys of which I had heard, the clear streams flowing through them,and the gushing springs, have no existence. The streams that flow past this barren and desolate region are prairiestreams of impure water, discolored with red earth and impregnated with lime, except Clear creek, which has novalley of arable or grazing land, and, except as a hunting ground, I consider the whole region to be utterly worthless,and unsuitable for human habitancy. This is not only my deliberate judgment, but that of all who accompanied me;the expectations of all of whom were as grievously disappointed as mine were.
In corroboration of these conclusions, I beg leave to refer you to the report of Lieutenant Stanley of the resultof his observation of the country in question, which has been or will be forwarded to the War Department, and towhich the intelligence and practical knowledge of that officer must give great weight.
Finding myself thus compelled to the conclusion that another locality must be looked for, since this is whollyunfit for the purposes intended, and that the War Department, when fully advised, will certainly not select, asa position for a military post, the site of the old Wichita village, or any point in its vicinity, I had to turneither to the main or little Fausse Ouachita, and accordingly proceeded to the former.
From the sandstone hills before mentioned, about forty miles northeast of the Blue mountain, and in the countryto the northward, a number of small streams, draining the prairie, with barren ridges between, thickly coveredwith stunted oaks, uniting together, flow northward to the Fausse Ouachita, which is about twelve miles in thatdirection from those hills. A mile or two further to the westward, is another similar system of drainage, terminatingin another small stream. The most easterly of these systems, at its lower end, opens out into an open valley ofmoderate width, covered with rich grass and in places with large trees. Here was the old Kichai village; and alittle way below, the valley debouches into that of the Fausse Ouachita, extending above and below some eight orten miles, bounded on the south by a range of low barren hills, the lower half about one and a half miles in width,and round the upper half, the hills retreating still further back and forming almost a semicircle, enclosing betweenthem and the river a broad level plain from two to two and a half miles in width, a large part of it of great fertility,and covered with the thickest and finest grass. The most westerly valley, towards its mouth, is wide and fertile,and covered with a thick growth of timber. My guides informed me that above this river valley are three otherson the south side of the river, after which there are no more.
Crossing this alluvial plain, passing through a body of timber some bundled yards in width, I reached and fordedthe river, here of a deep red color, about three feet in depth and thirty yards in width, and emerged from a similarbelt of timber, on the north side, into another wide and level alluvial plain, round which, on the north and east,ran Sugar Tree creek from the northwest, flowing into the river below. This plain, between the creek and river,some two and a half miles in width in its widest part, is bounded by a high ridge on the west that runs slopingto the river. The soil of the plain is light and sandy, that along the creek probably far superior to that nearthe river. Further up in the hills are sugar maple trees, from which the creek takes its name. Here, on this creekand plain, the Delawares and Caddoesâ€”now encamped near here with and as part of the Wichita tribeâ€”had told me,before we commenced the journey from Fort Arbuckle, they desired to settle. The Wichitas and Kichais desired tosettle in a similar small valley on the south side of the Canadian, about twenty miles to the northward. I haveconsented to these locations.
I have selected as the site for the Wichita agency that of the old Kichai village, on the south side of the river,near the mouth of the valley already mentioned ; and there I propose to erect the permanent agency-house and out-buildings,as soon as I can close a contract for the same on reasonable terms, and in the meantime to erect a cheap, temporarycabin for the agent, to be afterwards used as a kitchen or other out-building, and a shed to protect from the weatherthe goods and articles in my hands to be furnished the Wichitas and affiliated bands; and the Texas Indians, Ipropose to place on the south side of the river, above and below the agency, allowing them to select the site fortheir respective towns, unless the Shawnees, Delawares, and the Caddoes among them desire to settle with, as theyshould do, the Delawares and Caddoes now here, on the north side of the river, and the Huecos and Ta-wa-ca-nos,who speak the same language as the Wichitas, with that people and the Kichais, on the Canadian; in which case,the wish of each should of course govern.
Of the country on the Canadian selected by the Wichitas and Kichais, I obtained accurate information from Se-kit-tu-ma-qua,my Delaware interpreter, who is thoroughly acquainted with it, and I therefore did not deem it necessary to examineit in person. The Wichitas and Kichais all desire to settle there; and as they have resided in this region froma time beyond any one's memory, and have a better claim to it than any other tribe, they ought, I think, to havethe privilege of selecting their home. Moreover, I desired, before coming to a final conclusion, to see the countryon the Little Washita, west of the ninety-eighth parallel, which had been mentioned to me, and accordingly I returnedby the way of the upper waters of that creek, but found no country there, beyond the ninety-eighth parallel, comparableto that on the main river.
On my return to this post, on the 30th ultimo, I found Major Neighbors, superintendent of Indian affairs for Texas,who had arrived earlier on the same day from the Texas reservations, with the head men of the Comanches, Huecos,Tonka-hnas, Ta-wa-ca-ros, Caddoes, and An-ah-dah-kos, there settled; and I at the same time received your instructionsof 15th June, and furnished him with a copy of those addressed to him of 11th June, not known to him until hisarrival here. The same condition of affairs in Texas, and the same imperative necessity for the immediate removalof all the Texas reserve Indians, continued to exist when he left the reserves, five days before, as when his previousadvices were transmitted to your office ; and the necessity had indeed become more urgent. Your office was merelyjust, in taking it for granted that, actuated solely by a sincere desire to do all in our power for the interestsof the unfortunate people under our respective charge, we should heartily cooperate with zeal and harmony. No admonitionto that effect was needed.
After being fully informed by myself and Lieutenant Stanley, commander of the escort, Mr. Blain, and the othergentlemen who accompanied me, of the character of the several portions of the country explored by us, with whichalso some of the head men with him are familiar, Mr. Neighbors has entirely concurred with me in regard to thefitness of the place selected by me whereon to locate such of the Indians under his charge as may not readily affiliatewith those now in my superintendency, and will proceed, at the end of three days from this time, to the reservesin Texas, and immediately carry out your instructions, by forthwith removing all the Indians there, with theircattle, horses, and all other moveable property, to the site selected for an agency, and there proceed to selectthe locations for the several bands.
After Mr. Neighbors and myself had fully conferred together, the head men of all the bands, of those here and ofthose in Texas, met in council, and were informed by him and myself of the selections which had been made for theirfuture homes. We explained to them the great pain and regret felt by the government at being compelled so hastilyto remove those in Texas to another country; but assured them that they would be paid for all losses thus incurred,and that, after removal, they would occupy a country belonging to the United States, and not within any State,where none could intrude upon them; and they would remain, they and their children, as long as the waters shouldrun, protected from all harm by the United States. We advised them to become acquainted with each other, and toprepare to live near each other as friends and neighbors, and promised to use every effort in our power to seejustice done them. To the Wichitas we also promised to endeavor to obtain remuneration for their losses incurredin consequence of the hostility of the Comanches, provoked by the slaying of so many of their people, encampedwith peaceable intentions, by the troops of the United States, and the consumption of their corn by the troops.
The Indians declared themselves entirely satisfied with the country selected for them, well known to many of them,and ready to remove at once.
The Indians now encamped near here are preparing to remove, and will be ready to do so in fifteen, or, at furthest,twenty days from this time ; by which time, also, those from Texas will be on the road, and the implements andgoods purchased for the Wichitas will have arrived here from Fort Smith. In their forced abandonment of their homeson Rush creek, these Indians lost many of their horses, and most of them are wholly unable to remove themselves,as your office has suggested they might do. I shall, therefore, be compelled to furnish them five wagons and teamsfor that purpose. This transportation will be sufficient; but, embarrassed as I am by want of express authority,and the very little discretion vested in me, I do not feel that I can, in justice to myself, and without takingmore responsibility than I care to incur, furnish more.
It is the settled opinion of Mr. Neighbors and myself, that, beyond all possible doubt, it will be found whollyimpracticable, for many years to come, to assign to any of these Indians distinct parcels of land, by metes andbounds, in severalty for each family, and to confine their right of occupancy and possession to only so much landas shall be thus covered by individual reservation. They need far more land for grazing than for cultivation. Theyare not prepared to become land-owners and individual proprietors of the soil. They are, and will long be, farin the rear of that point. If that system is tried, the whole plan of colonization will prove a disastrous andmelancholy failure. In a few months the reserves would be abandoned. It has always been the habit of most of themto live in towns, each staking off and cultivating a portion of one common tract, contained in a single inclosure.It has been found necessary to adopt this system on the Texas reserves.
It was the system of the Mexican Pueblos; and there can, it is certain beyond all peradventure, be no other pursuedwith profit in the case of any of these Indians.
Each band, to make the present experiment, in which the good faith and honor of the United States are so much concerned,successful, must be put in exclusive possession of a much larger tract of country than is needed for cultivation,and, when part of it has been inclosed, be left to subdivide that part among themselves each year, as the needsof each may require. This is always done among themselves equitably and justly. We have proceeded upon these principlesin selecting the country to be occupied by these bands, and earnestly hope that our views and action may be approvedby you and the Secretary of the Interior. The plan of assigning to each head of a family his forty or eighty acrelot, to be his own, would not succeed for a day or an hour.
As to the country around the Wichita mountains, it ought to be reserved as common hunting grounds, for which alonenearly the whole of it is fitted.
I shall furnish the Indians that will move from this vicinity with twenty days' rations upon their departure; andshall cause them, and those who shall have removed from Texas, to be supplied with rations for forty days longer,after their arrival in their new country, by the present contractor, and at the present price of thirteen centsper ration of beef, corn, or flour, and salt.
As it will be absolutely necessary to provide subsistence for all until their crops are made next year, a contractfor that purpose must be speedily concluded. No one, I am satisfied, can afford to furnish, or will furnish, therations at a price less than that now paid; and to receive proposals after public advertisement would probablyresult in the payment of a higher instead of a lower price. In such cases, combinations are almost always formed,by which exorbitant prices are secured; persons disposed to make lower bids being bought off. The government, underthis system, last year, paid for corn furnished a quartermaster on the Arkansas frontier just twice the price forwhich the contractor purchased it within seven miles of the place of delivery; and I should not be surprised, if,giving this contract out to the lowest bidder, the rations should cost the government over fifteen cents each.At the reserves in Texas the rations cost ten cents, each; at Camp Radziminski beef is furnished at twelve anda half cents per pound, and the corn ration, of a pint and a half, at six cents. To the troops that lately marchedfrom Fort Smith to the Antelope hills, the beef rations on foot were furnished along the road at eight cents apound; and, until within the last four or five months, the beef ration alone at this post was furnished at twelveand a half cents a pound, (or only half cent less than pay for the whole ration of a pound of beet, a pint anda half of corn, and one twenty-fifth of a quart of salt,) by the same individual, who represented that he wouldhave taken the contract to feed the Wichitas at ten cents a ration of beef, corn, and salt.
If, therefore, no representations had been made to your office in regard to the existing contract, I should unhesitatinglycontinue and extend it at the present price, which I can effect, notwithstanding the increased distance and costof delivery. As it is, I do so for a limited time only. Submitting the whole matter to you, and asking such explicitand positive instructions on this point as shall leave me no discretion, and relieve me of all responsibility.
The Indians now in Texas having, most of them, at least, erected dwelling-houses for themselves, which they mustabandon, the most ordinary justice requires that the government should erect others for them in their new country,in the stead of those abandoned. It being the intention of Mr. Neighbors to turn over all these Indians to me sosoon as they arrive at the Fausse Ouachita, and also to turn over to your office, and recommend to be placed inmy hands for disbursement, with the same ample and necessary discretion as is possessed by him, all the moneysremaining in his hands, or appropriated to be expended by him, he will not undertake to have these buildings erected.
We have promised the chiefs to recommend their immediate erection; and I would submit to your better judgment thatthe most economical and judicious course will be to authorize the immediate employment by me of a competent andactive person, with at least twelve hands under him at reasonable and fair compensation, to proceed to the countryselected, and erect houses or cabins of moderate cost, in place of each of which those Indians will have been dispossessed.Houses of rather a better kind should be put up for the chiefs, and for the principal persons also among the Wichitas,Kichais, and Caddoes, now here.
If the Indian Bureau chooses to authorize me to do so, I can effect a contract, without advertising, for the erectionof the agency buildings at a very moderate and reasonable price. These buildings should certainly be erected beforethe cold season commences; and I shall be glad to be advised whether I shall effect a private contract, or receiveproposals and let out the work to the highest bidder; in which case, it may very well chance to be badly done,unless a constant supervision is maintained during its progress, if not, even then, since, when the amount of thebid governs, the good faith and honesty of the person can have no influence in the selection.
The grounds to be cultivated ought to be broken up this fall, or the government will have to feed these Indianstill the year 1861. The Texas Indians have a sufficient number of work-oxen; but the Wichitas, Kichais, and Caddoes,in this vicinity have none. It will be necessary to purchase for them twenty yoke of oxen in time to break up theirgrounds; and it will also be necessary to employ, for all the Indians, at least ten industrious and intelligentfarmers, who will be expected themselves to labor, and by example, as well as precept, to teach the Indians howto maintain themselves by agriculture; and I ask authority to employ so many of such persons as may be needed,in addition to those in Texas now with the Indians, so as to make ten in all.
It will be necessary, at once, to establish a blacksmith's shop at the agency, with a blacksmith and assistantstriker, and to furnish it with tools and with a sufficient supply of iron and steel.
I renew my recommendation that the warriors not already armed with rifles, be so armed, in order that they maybeenabled, not only to protect themselves against hostile and marauding Indians, but that they may have the benefitof the game with which the country abounds.
To arm them well is to make them self-reliant; without which quality, all attempts to civilize them will proveunavailing.
They should also be encouraged to lay aside their Indian clothing and adopt the order of the whites. To lead themto this, a limited supply of clothing ought to be furnished them; for which I hope provision may be speedily made.
A single trading-house ought to be permitted to be established near the agency. Not more than one is needed, orshould be allowed.
It should be required to exhibit all its invoices to the superintendent and agent, who should establish a fairtariff of prices, allowing a reasonable profit per centum; and they should also fix, from time to time, the pricesto be paid to the Indians for all articles purchased from them.
The success of this experiment, will, to a very great extent, depend upon the energy, industry, fidelity, and judgmentof the agent or agents under whose immediate charge these Indians are placed. I shall use every exertion in mypower to induce the punctual and efficient discharge of all the duties that that office imposes, and shall notsee in silence any want of energy or neglect of duty. With proper management, the experiment will succeed. If eitherjudgment, or energy, or active industry is wanting, it will inevitably fail.
If it succeeds, all the roving bands of the Comanches and other prairie tribes, will soon be induced to adopt asettled life, and exchange the chase for agriculture and the raising of stock The war with the Comanches is whollyunnecessary, if that can be called a war, which consists almost exclusively in pursuing, surprising, and slayingIndians when in their camps with their wives and children. I am satisfied that if the government now acts generouslyand judiciously towards these Indians already colonized, it will find no difficulty in pacifying the hostile bands,to pursue and exterminate which will be found a much more costly operation than to civilize and for a limited timefeed them ; and I again urge the appointment of a commission to treat with the hostile Comanches, to explain tothem how by mistake it chanced that they were attacked when encamped for peaceful purposes under a guarantee ofprotection, and to induce them to settle with their brethren in the country selected for and assigned to them.
If it should be your pleasure to continue Agent Leeper permanently in charge of the Comanches, it will be necessaryto select a site for an agency for him, and to erect the necessary buildings. I have no means of judging as tothe necessity of two agents more or other than those possessed by yourself.
The War Department will, I trust, on application from the Secretary of the Interior, instruct the commanding officerat this post to lend myself and the agent or agents of these Indians whatever assistance we may ask in enforcingin the leased country the laws of the United States and the regulations of your office.
It occurs to me to add only this : that in providing for, and vigilantly geeing to the peace and welfare of thesedifferent bands of Indians, it will be necessary to maintain, by all proper means, the power and influence of thechiefs, on whom alone we can rely to carry into full effect the humane desires of the United States. We must conciliatethem by suitable marks of distinction, that shall give them importance and consequence in the eyes of their people,and satisfy them with themselves. In these and many other matters that may actually arise, and cannot be dealtwith at a distance, but must be met and provided for or against on the instant, if little is left to the superintendent'sdiscretion, no confidence reposed in his judgment or honesty, and he hampered and fettered by instructions andrestrictions and limitations, which impede and hinder efficient and prompt action, the purposes of the governmentwill not be effected, and its scheme of colonizing these Indians will fail, unless he assumes a responsibilitythat may be made to ruin him. I shall not be willing to assume such responsibility, and therefore ask and trust,that if your office and the Department of the Interior are satisfied with the mode in which I have exercised otherpowers, where much if not all was left to my discretion, I may be invested with the same latitude of discretionin regard to all matters that concern these Indians, as has been vested in and exercised by Mr. Neighbors, as supervisingagent and superintendent for Texas. If the confidence is reposed in me, I have every hope that the humane and beneficentintentions of the government will be carried into effect.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ELIAS RECTOR, Superintendent Indian Affairs.
Hon. A. B. Greenwood,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
[Note: There is much more to this publication, but it tends to wander from the original focus of Palo Pinto countyNative Americans. For further reading, the publication is available on googlebooks. "Annualreport of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for 1859", Washington, GeorgeW. Bowman printer, 1860 -- and the particular topic is "The Indians of Texas". - Submitted by K. Torp]
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