Saturday, April 30, 2011

George Paul

          For those who think my only outstanding family members were those who lived during the 19th century, I want to let you read the story of my cousin George Paul, who may have been the greatest bull rider that ever lived.

          George was killed in a plane crash in 1970, and since that time his brother, Bobby, has sponsored a special rodeo just for bull riders, in Del Rio, Texas, the town where George was raised. Out of all my mother's siblings, she was closest to George's father Bob. My mother said that when she and her brother would slip off to the farm to ride the horses, he could stay on the horse's back "like a flea." I guess Bob's son George inherited his father's gift.

          Anyway, my wife and I are going down to the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding next week. It's May 7 and 8, in Del Rio. You couldn't find a better place to see bull riding. The best in the world go there to compete.

          The following is George's story, from the write-up in the George Paul Museum in Del Rio:

          Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano never had a punch like Cowtown, the Howard Harris bull, and Cowtown ended a never equaled record established in 1968. Oklahoma City, Oklanoma was the setting for the tenth Annual National Finals Rodeo and George Paul could have won the Rodeo Cowboys Association Bull Riding Championship sitting in the stands, George had such a commanding lead for the World Championship that he didn’t even need to go to the World Series of professional rodeo, the 1968 NFR.

          Born March 5, 1947, George Paul grew up on the San Miguel Ranch riding and living the life of a ranch kid. From an early age, if it bucked, George would try to ride it. Perhaps destiny brought Stoney Burke, a fictional rodeo world champion cowboy based on the life of Casey Tibbs, into George's life through the medium of television, but that meeting between George and Stoney changed his life forever. From that meeting over the airways, George never wanted to be anything other than a World Champion Cowboy, and at the age of 14 began his quest, joining the American Junior Rodeo Association. George would go on to win their bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and all around championships.

          Jim Shoulders, the sixteen-time World Champion Cowboy, held a rodeo school and George attended. George counted the experience as one of the most beneficial in his rodeo career and in 1966 he joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association. 1966 was a year that George got his feet wet in the professional business of rodeo and learned the ropes. How to enter, which rodeos to enter and the fine balance of scheduling three rodeos in one day in three different states. 1967 became a revelation for George as he rodeoed hard. Ground travel took time but eagles rode the airwaves. Being a pilot, George knew if he flew he could enter and ride in more rodeos. 1967 was the year rodeo veterans realized that "the kid from Del Rio" was no flash in the pan. His first full year as a professional rodeo cowboy George went to the Ninth Annual Finals Rodeo, rode seven of nine bulls, was the fourth best bull rider in the world, and the thirteenth best all-around cowboy in professional rodeo, all at the age of twenty.

          Traveling in his twin engine Bonanza, George stormed across the United States and Canada entering 150 rodeos and travelling 125,000 miles. No rodeo was too big or too small to enter if he could get "drawn up right" (entered) into his two events, bareback bronc riding and bull riding. Something began to happen about mid-season 1968, and no matter what he drew in the bull riding, no matter how hard they bucked, no matter what rank they were, the bulls could just not get rid of George Paul. It was as if he had super glue on his wranglers. No bull could dislodge George.

          Winning and placing at the greatest percentage of rodeos he entered, George went to the 1968 NFR with the RCA Bull Riding World Championship guaranteed. That was not good enough for George because entering the NFR, he had done what no other bull rider in history had done. George had ridden 79 bulls in a row. That was not like completing 79 passes in a row. That was not like throwing 79 strike outs in a row. That was not like getting 79 hits at bat or kicking 79 extra points in a row. It was like getting 79 knockouts in a row. Bulls will hurt you, throw you into the hard packed arena and then come back and try to stomp on you, hook you, and gore you. They are not just an animal, they are combatants, and George Paul conquered 79 of the toughest bulls in professional rodeo in a row. That feat has never been duplicated.

          The first bull of the 1968 NFR, Cowtown, ended George's string of successful fides at 79 but he went on to ride the next 8 bulls and not only won the 1968 World Championship Bull Riding title, but won the NFR Bull Riding Average as well. Bull riders will tell you that the World Championship is the most prestigious title you can win. The next most prestigious title is the average at the NFR. The third most prestigious is the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding Championship.

          In 1969 George elected to stay close to home in order to manage his family's ranching business, but in 1970 the lure of the road called and George answered that call and hit the rodeo trail again. On August 2, 1970, near Kemmerer, Wyoming, a rancher found the wreckage of George Paul's air plane, and the body of the 1968 World Champion Bull Rider.

          The airplane accident that took the life of George Paul ended what could have been the greatest bull riding career of all time in professional rodeo. Don Gay, eight-time World Champion Bull Rider said that the greatest natural bull rider ever was George Paul. George is gone now but the things he stood for…the things he is remembered for…death could never kill. This narrative was reconstructed from the memorabilia of Georgia, Bobby, Lee, and Betty Paul, George's mother, brothers, and sister.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Family During the Civil War

                             Mississippia Paul Hull

          As late as 1858, my great great grandparents, Smith and Ellen Paul, were living right next to Fort Arbuckle, one of the principal forts on the frontier. (see posts of March 19, March 25, and April 2, 2011) They had moved there in 1851 for the safety the fort provided from roving bands of  hostile Indians. As a war between North and South became more eminent, living next to a fort wasn't such a good idea, so in 1859 Smith Paul moved about twenty miles north, to a fertile valley located where Rush Creek joins the Washita River. I don't actually know whether Smith Paul was that prescient about the events to come, or if his decision was just a coincidence, but by the time the Civil War started, he had established another farm at a fairly safe distance from the fort.  

          The land that Smith Paul chose for his new farm was remarkably productive. According to my great aunt Sippia, who was 9 years old at the time, her father's farm produced 30 to 40 bushels of corn per acre without cultivation. Smith Paul built a double log cabin for his family. A "double log cabin" was simply two log cabins built close together, with doors opening into a small space between them. Aunt Sippia said that "These houses though they were crude were comfortable." For several years Smith Paul was the only white man living in the area.  

          In 1861, Confederate troops invaded Indian Territory from Arkansas to the east, and from Texas to the south. Federal troops immediately abandoned Forts Washita, Arbuckle, and Cobb with the help of the Delaware chief, Black Beaver. (see post of April 17, 2011)

          For the course of the War, Indian Territory belonged to the South. It is ironic that the Indians would take the side of the same greedy settlers who had driven them from their homes just 24 years before, and if it had been up to the full bloods, Indian Territory might have remained neutral. Cherokee Chief John Ross sent a letter to Chickasaw Governor Cyrus Harris warning him not to enter into "a family misunderstanding" between the whites "in which…we have no direct and proper concern," but many of the mixed bloods owned slaves and shared a life style similar to southern plantation owners. Also most of the Indians blamed the federal government under Andrew Jackson for the suffering caused by the Removal, and more recently several bills had been submitted to Congress proposing to open Indian Territory to white settlement.  

          The Confederacy coveted Indian Territory for its rich farm land, and also for its strategic location between east and west. Confederate representatives promised to continue the tribes' annuities and to guarantee their independence, and possibly of more significance, they now occupied the forts. Aunt Sippia said simply:  

          When the war broke out the Government removed the troops from Fort Arbuckle, taking away the protection of the Indians, so the Chickasaws were compelled through force of circumstances to enlist with the Confederates. 

          Aunt Sippia goes on:  

          When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the friendly Plains Indians came around the locality where my father had his farm. They were Comanche, Caddo, Cheyenne, Osages, and I think some Delaware. One mixed band located at Cherokee Town, another on my father's farm, a band of Osage across the river and a band of Caddo Indians under old lady White Bead, five miles up the river. And the government realized that they must do something for these Indians, so they appointed my father as an agent, to issue them rations. This was one reason that my father did not have to go to war.  

          Smith and Ellen's family included Ellen's older brother Ja-pawne; her daughter Katherine, who was married to an easterner named Tom Waite; a son Tecumseh, who was married to a Chickasaw woman, Mary McKinsey, and two other sons too young to be conscripted into the army. Uncle Ja-Pawne, along with the two older siblings, took their families to Kansas, where they lived with the Sauk and Fox tribe for the duration of the war. Hull may have had Northern sympathies - I don't know. Uncle Ja-Pawnee and Tecumseh, I'm pretty sure, left because they wanted no part in the white man's battles.    

          Although there wasn't much fighting in Indian Territory during the Civil War, at least not as far west as Smith Paul's farm, our family certainly felt the effects of the war. First, the absence of federal troops at Fort Arbuckle exposed them again to raids from hostile tribes. Aunt Sippia: 

          During the time that my father was agent over the friendly plains Indians, there were wild Indians from Texas and what is now western Oklahoma, that came into this section of the country killing and robbing people. We were always afraid they were coming to molest us, but they never did. However, they did come near enough at one time to scalp one of the Courtney boys, whose father had a farm on "Courtney Flats." There were times when we would hear they were coming and would hide out in the corn fields and in the woods during the day and night.          

          The friendly tribes living nearby offered protection and also meat, since Smith Paul was not yet raising cattle. Aunt Sippia recalled: 

          I remember well when the buffalo roamed this country. The friendly Indians always kept us in buffalo meat. The deer, wild turkey, prairie chicken and quail were in great abundance. There was never any need for us to be without fresh meat. 

          According to Aunt Sippia, the family's main hardship during the war was the lack of manufactured goods.  

          During the Civil War we had to spin and weave all of our cloth, to make our clothes, and knit our hose. I was anxious to do what every one else did and they let me, although I was only about nine years old, I wove enough cloth to make me a dress, even though it looked rather knottie, they made me a dress out of it. The cotton from which we spun the thread had to be picked from the seeds with our fingers. We usually did this work at night. The pecans grew in this locality in great abundance as they do today, and we ate nuts and picked the cotton off the seeds and my mother would tell us Indian legends. We learned by putting the cotton down by the fire and getting it warm it was much easier to get the seeds out. It was during those early days that a man came through the country with what he called a miniature gin, similar to a clothes ringer of today, and this helped us to get the seeds out faster. Of course people came in to see how it worked and every one wanted to try and turn the handle and my brother boy-like turned it and broke the handle off. My mother used to make straw hats for the boys out of wheat straw and in the winter they would catch coons and she would make them caps out of the skins. My father would make us shoes out of cow-hide, he could do a little of everything, but this was only in war times. How I disliked them, and how glad I was when we could buy shoes ready made. 

Footnote: The quotations from Aunt Sippia, Mississippia Paul Hull, are from a talk she made in 1929. She was my great grandfather Sam Paul's younger sister.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Black Beaver, Si-ki yo-ma-ker: Delaware chief

          When you read the history of the frontier, a name that comes up repeatedly is Black Beaver, a Delaware chief who served as a guide and a scout on most of the important army expeditions of the mid - 1800's. I haven't been able to find a book about this remarkable man, but I have been able to piece together a few stories from his exciting life.    

          Black Beaver was born in the area of Belleville, Illinois, in 1806. The great Delaware tribe was honored by the other Indians as the most ancient tribe. They had welcomed the first European settlers, and they had sold part of their land to William Penn in 1683 to found the state of Pennsylvania. As the white settlers advanced, the Delaware were pushed west from the Atlantic coast to Ohio, then to Missouri, and finally in 1829 to Kansas. The first reference to Black Beaver that I can find is in a letter that he cosigned addressed to William Clark, Governor of the Missouri Territory in 1824. The Delaware were then living on the White River in western Missouri and they were starving. He was eighteen years old at the time and was already a tribal leader.

          Last summer a number of our people died just for the want of something to live on … We have got in a country where we do not find all as stated to us when we was asked to swap lands with you and we do not get as much as was promised us at the Treaty of St Mary's neither (In the treaty of St. Mary's, the Delaware agreed to move from Ohio to land in Missouri Territory west of the Mississippi River)… Father - we did not think that big man would tell us things that was not true. We have found a poor hilly stony country and the worst of all no game to be found on it to live on. Last summer our corn looked very well until a heavy rain come on for 3 or 4 days and raised the waters so high that we could just see the tops of our corn in some of our fields and it destroyed the greatest part of our corn, punkins and beans and a great many more of my people coming on and we had to divide our little stock with them. Last summer there was a few deere here and we had a few hogs but we was obliged to kill all of them and some that was not our own but this summer there are no game nor no hogs and my old people and children must suffer. Father- You know its hard to be hungry, if you do not know it we poor Indians know it. Father - If we go a great ways off we may find some deere but if we do that we cannot make any corn and we must still suffer. Father - We are obliged to call on you onst more for assistance in the name of God.

          The Delaware got no help from Governor Clark, so they had to go into Osage country to hunt. There Black Beaver took part in a bitter struggle with the Osage that prompted him to reflect later: I have brought home more scalps from my hunting expeditions than one of you could lift. Finally, after forging an alliance with the Cherokee immigrants the Delaware were awarded a portion of the Cherokee domain for their home.

          When the US Army started trying to assist the immigrant tribes in making peace with the indigent tribes, Black Beaver was there to represent the Delaware. He went on General Leavenworth's expedition of 1834. (See posts of Jan 24 and 30, 2011) He led a company of Delaware and Shawnee volunteers in the Mexican War in 1846. He guided US Cavalry troops under Captain R. B. Marcy as they escorted 500 settlers to California in 1849. He guided Marcy again in 1850 on an expedition to determine the location of a new fort to protect the migrating gold seekers.

          Black Beaver was described by Baldwin Mollhausen, who sought his help on an expedition to plan a route for the transcontinental railroad: "A stunted little Indian … mounted on an extremely swift and powerful horse, and armed with a six feet long rifle on his shoulder."   

          Of all the American officers, Captain Marcy probably spent the most time with Black Beaver. He said of him:

He proved to be a most useful man. He has travelled a great deal among many of the western and northern tribes of Indians, is well acquainted with their character and habits, and converses fluently with the Comanche and most of the other prairie tribes. He has spent five years in Oregon and California, two years among the Crow and Blackfeet Indians; has trapped beaver in the Gila, the Columbia, the Rio Grande, and the Pecos; has crossed the Rocky Mountains at many different points, and indeed is one of those men that are seldom met with except in the mountains.

          Black Beaver taught Captain Marcy how to differentiate the Comanche, the Wichita, the Kickapoo, the Delaware, the Shawnee, and the Cherokee by how they made their tents and how they built their fires. When Marcy's party met a band of Indians, Black Beaver could usually speak to them, and he frequently knew some of the warriors personally. He not only spoke several Indian languages, but also English, Spanish and French, as well as sign language, the universal means of communication on the plains.    

          By 1853 Black Beaver was chief over about 500 Delaware who lived on the Canadian River at the site of old Camp Arbuckle. Lt. A. W. Whipple sought him out that year to lead an expedition to plan a route for the transcontinental railroad. Whipple found Black Beaver sitting:

           crosslegged, smoking his pipe, and awaiting his visitors in perfect tranquility. He was a meagre-looking man of middle size, and his long black hair framed in a face that was clever, but which bore a melancholy expression of sickness and sorrow, though more than forty years could not have passed over it. ... after the first salutations and expressions of welcome, a tempting offer was made to him to induce him to accompany us. For a moment the eyes of the Indian gleamed with their wonted fire, but they soon became clouded over again, and he answered:

           'Seven times have I seen the Pacific Ocean at various points; I have accompanied the Americans in three wars, and I have brought home more scalps from my hunting expeditions than one of you could lift. I should like to see the salt water for the eighth time; but I am sick - you offer me more money than has ever been offered to me before - but I am sick. ... if I die, I should like to be buried by my own people.'

           Whipple argued with Black Beaver and when again he was about to yield to the lure of travel and adventure, his wife, who was sitting nearby playing with their only son and a black bear cub, spoke to him in her native tongue and he again declined.
          Black Beaver's illness must not have lasted long, because he still managed to get himself into the history books a few more times.

          First, he was the guide for the Chickasaw volunteers who pursued the Comanche raiders in 1858 (see post of April 2, 2011). Then in 1961 when confederate troops were advancing from Texas and from Arkansas he led the Union soldiers from the forts Cobb, Washita, and Arbuckle out of Indian Territory to the safety of Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Finally, in 1872, when the federal government was trying to convince the remaining plains tribes to give up their resistance and locate on reservations, Black Beaver was called upon to be chairman of the council.

          It's difficult to sum up Black Beaver's accomplishments. He certainly helped win peace and a certain amount of prosperity for his people. He managed to excel in a time when survival depended not only on intelligence, but also courage, strength and frontier skills. He made a wise choice in choosing sides in the white men's conflicts, and made himself useful and respected by the U. S. Army officers. But what stands out to me is what an amazing life he led: the places where he travelled, the people he met, the experiences he must have had. I wish I could have been with him.

          Black Beaver died in 1880, at the age of 74, in Anadarko, Oklahoma, with his family.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back from the Chickasaw Nation

          Well, I'm back home now. I've been to the Chickasaw Nation.

          My son in law, Kevin, got a job working for the Chickasaws, and I went down with him, Therese my daughter, and their five kids to help with the transition from Spokane, Washington to Indian country. It was exciting for them and for me. In this economy, it's hard to get anything more exciting than a job, and they'll get the secondary benefit of becoming more familiar with their Chickasaw heritage.

          I took them to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, and my grandson, Anthony decided right away that he wanted to become a cowboy. I went to the store to buy him a cowboy toy: a cowboy hat, a lariat rope, a pair of chaps, spurs, anything, without luck. I guess kids don't play cowboys and Indians anymore. When I was a child every little boy had a complete cowboy outfit, complete with six guns, that really popped when you pulled the trigger. I was about his age when I decided that I would rather be an Indian, but I'll give him a little time.

          It was nice to see signs on the road saying: "You Are Now Entering the Chickasaw Nation," "The Kickapoo Nation," "the Seminole Nation," etc. To see buildings labeled Chickasaw Nation Health Service, Hospital, Library, Housing Service. The kids are living in Stonewall, Oklahoma, near Ada, the current headquarters for the Chickasaw government offices. They are staying in Chickasaw housing: a nice house with a big yard. The neighborhood has a play ground, and no through streets. The brand new Chickasaw hospital is right across the road.

          After Therese and Kevin got settled, I couldn't resist going to Tishomingo, the old Chickasaw Capital. "Tish," as it is called, is only 40 miles south of Ada. The old capital building was built of native stone back in 1898, the year my grandparents were married. Ironically it was also the same year that Congress voted to dissolve the Governments of the Five Civilized Tribes. The tribe sold the building to Johnson County in 1910 for $7500. The county charged the Chickasaws $575,000 to buy it back in 1992, over 76 times what they paid for it. "Highway robbery" is a term that comes to mind.

          Anyway, the Chickasaws have converted it into a museum and a park. There are commemorative bricks laid out in front with the names of people who contributed to the renovation. My parents, my uncle Haskell and his wife Carrie, and my grandmother are all included. The building is beautiful. I'll include a picture:

          Outside the building is the original bell that was rung to call the legislature into session, and also upon the death of anyone in the community. The site of the old well is marked as well as the jail. The Chickasaws had no jail until late in their history. There was no need because no one would dishonor himself or his family by failing to appear for his punishment, no matter how severe. The main punishment was whipping, and in the museum one of the old whipping posts is preserved. 

          There is a museum in the capital building, but the main museum is in the old Council House next door. There is a re-creation of a Council room inside, Stick ball sticks, a Choctaw Bible and hymnal (the Chickasaws for many years didn't want their language written down), a large rock that originally marked the boundary of the Nation, arrow heads and bows, authentic clothing, and cases with pictures of outstanding Chickasaw citizens, with their stories.

          The main reason for my trip however was to look at the material donated to the museum by my mother and by my Uncle Haskell. I spent the better part of one day there, going through the pictures and documents and artifacts. Most of what they have, I had seen before, because my mother kept copies. They also have Grandmother's wedding ring and her shotgun - I didn't realize it was so old - 1897. I wish they had her side saddle. Haskell donated an old Indian bow made of bois d' arc - I saw it when he got it - during the 60's, I think. Engraved on the inside of Grandmother's ring is Vic and Bill, 1898.  

          I guess the most exciting find for me was an Oklahoma History book, written by Luther B Hill in 1920. It is a two volume set and they are engraved on the covers with William H. Paul, my grandfather. What I was after was an article about my grandfather.  My mother told me it was there, and sure enough, I found it. It occupies about a half a page. Amazingly, he's the only Paul who is profiled. I was hoping that it would mention something about him serving in the Chickasaw legislature, but it doesn't. It does give some specifics about his education. I copied several pages out of the book. It profiles Sam Garvin - I didn't know that he died in 1910. Peter Maytubby is profiled, and it mentions his mother, Kaliteyo, my great great aunt. I would like to spend a few days with it, looking up other family members and seeing the author's description of historical events. It should give me an idea of the opinions current in 1920.

          The other thing my mother donated was a lot of newspaper clippings, and some of the articles I hadn't read before. One story in particular that was told by my uncle Haskell about a Mr. J. F. Trimmer. It was published in the Pauls Valley County Advocate in 1990 by Adrienne Grimmett, the president of the Pauls Valley Historical Society. My mother had also told me a story about the Trimmer family. Their house was by Rush Creek, which flooded annually, and she and her brothers stayed there once when the Creek was too high to cross, but back to Uncle Haskell's story.

          Mr. Trimmer was the first Treasurer of Garvin County, and a highly respected man. Haskell described him:

          Mr. Trimmer was a "fleshy" man; and when we saw him drive by our house in his one seated buggy he always sat right in the middle and the springs showed they were carrying some weight; if Mrs. Trimmer, or one of the boys was with him, then the side Mr. Trimmer was on would be pushed down so low that it made the buggy appear as if it had a strong spring on one side and a broken spring on the other.

          In addition to his court house duties, Mr. Trimmer kept a good large number of hogs on the then vacant half block at the rear of his house. He also kept a green Mexican Parrot in a cage on the back porch. And this parrot was profane! It learned its profanity from Mr. Trimmer. It happened this way: When Mr. Trimmer would go into the feed shed to get feed ready for the hogs, the hogs would start squealing which is a manner hogs have of telling that they are hungry. Every time a feed bucket was banged, or any sound whatever that came from the feed room, the pigs would squeal all the louder, and the longer they had to wait the more insistent they became.

          Usually, before Mr. Trimmer could get his hogs fed, they had set up an incessant din -- and for anyone at all with nerves it was enough to bring a loud vocal response from the feeder; and it helps more if some profanity is mixed in with good plain English. This is the way Mr. Trimmer responded to the greedy noisy shouts. He not only mixed profanity with plain simple English, but sometimes it sounded the other way around. He mixed plain English with the profanity.

          The Mexican green head could see and hear all these "goings on" from his perch on the back porch-- and he thus learned the good art of purposeful profanity. He (or she) could do it just about as well as Mr. Trimmer. The only thing was the parrot would not cuss unless the pigs squealed first.

          It was real funny to me and my brother Homer. As soon as Mr. Trimmer came into view, the hogs would start coming from all directions toward the feed troughs near the shed. Then as soon as the first bucket was banged, the squealing started-- then in a few moments when the crescendo reached a certain pitch, the "cussin" started on the part of both Mr. Trimmer and the Green Headed parrot.

          Some mischievous boys in our neighborhood learned that the parrot would swear if the pigs would squeal; and that all they needed to start the chain reaction of squealing and "cussin" was to knock two of Mr. Trimmer's feed buckets together. When this happened the pigs would squeal and the parrot would "cuss" -- and it would last for 10 or 15 minutes -- especially if it was late afternoon.

          Once Mr. Trimmer was real bad sick and the minister was there to visit. My mother was there too. Before the minister left, he of course said a prayer for Mr. Trimmer's speedy recovery. About the time the preacher was well into his prayer someone outside hit a feed bucket. It was close to feeding time in late afternoon. The squealing started and the parrot started in dead earnest. The prayer was brought to rather an abrupt close. The visitation was ended too. My mother said it was "distracting" to have to listen to that vile, cursing parrot with the pigs squealing while the minister was trying to pray -- and especially realizing how sick Mr. Trimmer was.

          As you can tell, I had a great time in "Tish." I hope I can go back again soon and look into more history.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Smith, Ellen and the Comanche

          The Chickasaws took heart after the building of Fort Arbuckle. For fourteen years since their removal, they had been living in the Choctaw district, unable to move onto their own land to the west. Fort Arbuckle, although built for the protection of the gold seekers, gave the Chickasaws the protection they needed to move into their own district, and it gave them the strength and the incentive to reclaim their identity as a separate tribe. They were tired of being a minority party in the Choctaw Nation as stipulated in their removal treaty. Finally, in June of 1855 the Chickasaws negotiated an agreement to form their own separate government. They wrote a constitution, elected officials, created their own school system and police force. Chickasaw and Choctaw citizens were still free to live in either district, but they were once again separate tribes.

          One of the first acts of the Chickasaw legislature was to order the plains tribes off their land. Since the federal government had leased a portion of the Chickasaw-Choctaw land for these tribes at the request of the Comanche chief Tibbalo (see post of March 25, 2011) the plains tribes now had a place designated as their home.   

          In October 1857 the Indian agent over the southwest reported that about 5000 prairie Indians lived in the Chickasaw territory. There were 900 Wichita and 300 Kichai living along Rush Creek, 50 miles west of Ft. Arbuckle. 300 Waco and Tawakoni lived on the Canadian River 50 miles northwest of Ft. Arbuckle. 365 Caddo, Anadarko and Hainai, five miles southeast of Fort Arbuckle, were destitute and waiting on government support. 2500 Delaware, Kickapoo, and Shawnee were living on the Canadian and Washita Rivers. There were also 600 Comanche at about 100 longitude. At time of the report the warriors of these tribes were hunting in the Leased District.

          The massacre of the Comanche by Texas Rangers in May of 1858 (see post of March 25, 2011) occurred just after the troops at Fort Arbuckle had been sent to Utah to put down the Mormon revolt (see post of March 19, 2011). The Comanche, aware that the fort was now deserted, began to gather around the fort, and to raid the surrounding farms for horses. It was estimated that there were several thousand Comanche camped near the Canadian River. At that time there were 18 Chickasaw and Choctaw families living near Fort Arbuckle, including my great great grandparents, Smith and Ellen Paul. One day in June of 1858, several of their horses were stolen, and several others returned home with arrows sticking in them.

          After the attack, the Chickasaw agent, Douglas Cooper, requested troops from Fort Belknap in Texas, and also sent out a call for volunteers to pursue the Comanche horse thieves. The Chickasaws were so eager to volunteer for the honor of defending their land that Cooper had to limit the volunteers to 25 from each district. On June 29, 75 Chickasaws, along with a company of troops under Lt. James Powell sent from Fort Belknap, set out from Fort Arbuckle. They searched in vain for twenty days, as far away as the Wichita Mountains in the Leased District, but found no Comanche.

          On July 25, a Sunday, just a few days after the Chickasaw volunteers had dispersed, things had almost returned to normal around the fort. Lt. Powell and his 100 men now occupied the fort. Smith and Ellen Paul and their neighbors had moved back into their houses. There had been  a camp meeting that night and Robinson Thompson, one of Smith and Ellen's neighbors, dropped by the Paul house afterwards to visit. Smith came in after Robinson arrived, and mentioned that there were a lot of horses tied under the trees near his fence.

          When Mr Thompson left, he decided to visit the Indians camped nearby. He assumed they were Wichita, some of whom he knew. When he got closer he recognized them as Comanche, so he mounted his horse to go warn the soldiers at the fort. No sooner had he got on his horse, than some Comanche stepped out of the brush and called to him in Caddo asking if he was an American. Thompson replied, "No, I am Chickasaw." One of the Comanche struck his breast and shouted that he was Comanche, and the party began shoot arrows at Thompson. Thompson's horse fell dead under him, and he took off running. Thompson managed to reach some brush nearby where he hid until morning. 

          The next morning the Comanche were gone, but there were several reports about their activities of the previous night. In addition to Mr Thompson, there were several others including Smith Paul who came in to report horses missing. Mrs. Hall, a Choctaw citizen who lived 4 miles from the post, told the story that she had heard some noise the previous evening and had hidden in her corn field. From there she had watched as 15 Comanche whooped and yelled and danced a war dance in her yard, and then stole all of her horses. For the next few nights most of the farmers in the community stayed in the fort.

          Lt. Powell sent out 25 men to follow the Comanche party on foot. The troops arrived at the Comanche's camp the next morning while their campfire was still warm, but never again got close, although they followed the trail for 50 miles.

          Soon after this incident, the principal chief of the Wichita, Lasadovah, came to Lt. Powell, complaining that the Comanche were raiding their villages on a regular basis. The Wichita had permanent settlements and farms more like the Chickasaws. Lasadovah said that he had met with the Comanche, and they had promised not to steal again, but the raids continued anyway. He said his tribe wasn't powerful enough to defend itself, and there were other tribes in the same position. Lt. Powell advised them all to camp together at Rush Springs, about 40 miles from the fort, for protection.

          Meanwhile Lt. Powell invited the Comanche chief to meet with him and leaders from the other tribes at Rush Springs. At the meeting the Comanche chief, Parracoonanup, claimed ignorance of the raids, but said that the young warriors had been enraged by the attack of the Texas Rangers of the month before. He promised that he would return as many horses as he could find, and that he would punish the warriors responsible. He also asked to be given land in the Leased District so that his tribe could settle down and farm like the Wichita.

          Several weeks later, as a large party of Comanche were driving a herd of horses toward Fort Arbuckle, they were intercepted by a Texas Indian Agent, Capt. S. P. Ross, who was 
illegally patrolling Indian Territory with a unit of troops. Ross stampeded the horses, and then sent for reinforcements from Texas. Major Earl Van Dorn, with 400 cavalry troops, then marched north, following the Comanche's trail to Rush Creek, where the Comanche were meeting peacefully in a Wichita village with Chickasaw and Choctaw representatives. Van Dorn attacked the Comanche camp the next morning while they slept, killing 60 Comanche and 4 Wichita.

          That ended the Comanche's attempt to settle down peacefully. They restarted their attacks on the Wichita, whom they blamed for tricking them into trusting the white man. The Wichita's crops were also ruined by the invading Texans, and they were forced to flee to Fort Arbuckle for safety and for food. The Comanche continued their war against the white man for another fifteen years.