This story starts with Tell W. Walton, surveyor and newspaper man.
Tell Walton had numerous brothers and sisters. His father, Judge George T. Walton, was the first historian for Oxford, Walton Township, Sumner County. Judge Walton later moved to Burden and became editor of the Burden Enterprise in 1884.
Two years older than Tell, Wirt W. Walton was the Cowley County surveyor for some years. He was the local editor for the Winfield Courier in 1875. In 1876 (Centennial Year) Wirt became the first historian for Cowley County, with his articles printed in the Winfield Courier and Cowley County Democrat. His interest in politics led to his position as Chief Clerk of the Kansas House of Representatives. He became editor of the Clay Center Dispatch in 1880. On September 5, 1886, editor Wirt Walton was riding in the engine of a passenger train on the Fort Kearney branch of the Union Pacific. The engine jumped the track near Junction City, landing on its side, throwing Mr. Walton out of the left side window, and severely scalding him. He died soon thereafter. No other person was hurt. The engineer was discharged by the Union Pacific Company for having violated the rules of the company by permitting Mr. Walton to ride upon the engine.
In 1873, at the age of 19, Tell Walton became the county surveyor in Barbour County. In 1874 Tell was a member of the De Bois’ surveying party from Wichita, which worked southwest of Fort Sill, taking his chance of losing his scalp for $40 a month. While at Fort Sill he was equipped with a Remington rifle, saw General Sheridan take charge, and viewed captured Indian chiefs in the guard house such as Satanta. Soon after news reached Winfield that Tell, while handling a gun, lost part of his left forefinger from one barrel and was struck in the eyes by the contents of the other barrel, when the gun accidentally discharged. Several weeks later Tell contradicted this report and stated his eyesight was all right.
In June 1875 Tell joined with his brother, Peter, who was then living at Parsons, in buying a herd of match ponies at Fort Sill, which they shipped east. While passing through Winfield, they amused the local boys by lassoing and riding the wildest of the ponies.
The Courier commented in August 1875: “And now we learn that Tell W. Walton has been struck by lightning. What with shooting himself, being thrown from Comanche ponies, arrested by the U. S. soldiers, writing for the Plow and Anvil, and now being struck by lightning, all within six months, we begin to think that boy can stand anything. He was a brother of ours before he wrote for the above mentioned machine shop.”
Tell moved to Wellington. The following item appeared in the Wellington Press in February 1876. “The courthouse came near being destroyed by fire Sunday morning. Mr. Tell Walton had taken up the ashes in a nail keg, which he placed in a corner of one of the offices, and then left the room. Returning some time after, he discovered the keg to be all ablaze, and the flames already making rapid progress upon the wooden structure of the building. The alarm was given, water procured, and in a few minutes the would-be conflagration was extinguished. This little accident should serve as a lesson to all who are in the habit of taking up ashes in wooden vessels and not emptying the same immediately. Ashes often contain fire when it is supposed they are entirely free from it, and our advice to one and all is, never habituate yourself to leaving ashes setting in vessels of any kind inside of any building.”
At the Centennial Celebration July 4, 1876, at Winfield, Kansas, Wirt W. Walton read a history of Cowley County.
In his speech he outlined the arrival of the first settlers in the winter of 1869 when the land was still the home of the Osage Indians. At that time the land was neither surveyed nor subject to entry. Claim corners were designated by stakes, and the claim holders’ intentions were set forth on a shingle with letters of charcoal, often in about the following style.
“NOTIS. This klaim was taken by me on the 20th day of January 1869. I am gone after my family. Anybody who dairs to squat on my claim while I am gone will git a load of buckshot when I get back. Plenty of good klaims not taken just south of me. Yours truly, JOHN SMITH.”
Claim disputes were settled by tribunals called “Settlers Unions” or by public meetings before whom the respective claimants presented their cases.
The Emporia News published a letter April 1, 1870, from H. B. Norton, “Creswell,” later known as Arkansas City, in which Norton stated: “Much uncertainty has heretofore been felt as to the exact location of the State line.”
Norton went on to state that the Cresswell Town Company had obtained from the Hon. Sidney Clarke a copy of the field notes of Johnston’s survey of the State line. This survey located the State line as crossing the Arkansas two and three-fourths miles below the mouth of Grouse, and passing from six to eight miles south of the city. He further stated that within the next four weeks the entire southern line of the county would be hunted out.
On October 7, 1870, the Emporia News published another letter from H. B. Norton. By this time the city was named officially “Arkansas City.” Norton stated that no government survey had yet been made. Thanks to the efforts of Max Fawcett and others who joined Mr. Fawcett in the effort, a survey was made in July 1870 which showed that Arkansas City was six or eight miles north of the Kansas State line.
The act of Congress passed on July 15, 1870, opened the county that became known as “Cowley County” for settlement. No one knew where his claim lines would be run due to the fact that there had been no government survey made of the county.
In January, 1871, a surveying party under O. F. Short, began the survey of the county. They were followed industriously by claim-hunters, who hoped the survey would develop unoccupied tracts. The settlers were on the alert, and many lines were run just in front of the deputy surveyor by them. Fifty dollars, and often a less sum, would so influence the magnetic needle of this United States official, that a line would be run cutting the original settler off his particular claim, and leaving it for these unscrupulous land banditti following him. In consequence, the lines of the original survey are very crooked.
Immediately after the government survey, D. A. Millington surveyed and laid out into town lots and blocks the city of Winfield.
The future Arkansas City was surveyed and laid out by the town company on January 2, 1870. They had to wait until mid-January 1871 to report that the government survey was in progress and that they were beginning to know where the claims of its citizens were located. The following comment was made: “Men would rather settle by the lines than risk guessing out their claims.”
A correspondent to the Emporia News from Arkansas City reported in 1871 that a vigorous movement was on foot, and indeed before the Kansas Legislature, to open up a great highway through the Indian Territory to Texas for stages, wagons, horsemen, cattle, and a railroad, that Congress would be asked to neutralize a strip 10 miles in width, more especially for the accommodation of Texas herds, thus shortening the distance as compared to the old trail.
The Emporia News reported on March 3, 1871, that a great deal of embarrassment and trouble had been occasioned among the settlers on the Osage lands by the survey recently made by the engineer corps. They found that their original lines did not fall in the correct places, however pleasant they may have or would have been if properly located. Some found that their improvements were in one section, and the larger part of their original claim in another. The idea prevailed that they must take a particular quarter of one section, and in order to adjust matters by this rule, they were trading off, buying up, jumping, and quarreling. Willis Drummond, Commissioner of the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior responded to a request for information relative to the form of claims made upon Osage Indian Lands as follows in March 1871.
“A claim of 160 acres may be made in one section, or in different sections making 160 acres provided they are contiguous to each other, but not with other lands intervening.”
The article continued. “From the above it will be seen that a man who has made improvements upon his claim does not necessarily lose them if the section or quarter lines happen to divide them from the larger part of the claim. He can retain a forty of one quarter and three forties of another; if it so happens that his claim is divided by the newly established lines; or he can hold his claim if one forty should be in one section and three forties in another, provided, in all cases, that his 160 acres are in one body.”
Much doubt remained about the early surveys. In March 1876 many of the farmers had their “lines” surveyed preparatory to hedge planting.
It is interesting to note that the early surveys caused problems for years in Cowley County. The Cowley County Courant printed an article in April 1882 relative to a shooting which took place due to a survey made in the 1870s.
Henry Causey, an old resident of Cowley County, lived on a farm in Silver Creek Township, adjoining that of Ben Saunders, about four miles west of Burden. In 1874 Mr. Causey had his land surveyed so that he could plant a hedge on the line between his farm and that of his neighbor. Without giving notice to Mr. Causey, Ben Saunders had a new survey made. The new line established ran over onto Causey’s land, taking away his hedge and a strip of cultivated land. Without saying a word to Mr. Causey, Saunders went into Mr. Causey’s field and began plowing. Mr. Causey promptly went out with a shotgun and ordered Mr. Saunders to leave. Mr. Saunders refused to go, and said he had a notion to go and get his gun. Causey said to go ahead and get it. Saunders replied: “If I do, you will run.” Causey replied, “Try it and see.” Saunders started toward his house; but after going about a hundred yards, turned and came back and picked up some stones and threw them at Causey. Saunders then started to plow again. Causey fired at him. It was determined later by Dr. Phelps, who was called to dress the wounds sustained by Mr. Saunders that some fifty-nine bird shot were put into his left leg and thirteen in the right leg. The shooting lessened Mr. Saunders’ appetite for agricultural pursuits the remainder of the day. Mr. Causey came over to Winfield in the evening and tried to have the County Attorney have him arrested for assault and battery, but Mr. Jennings refused to file a complaint against him until he had time to look up the case. Causey retained Henry Asp to defend him, and expected to be arrested at any hour, stating that he would much rather have a preliminary examination in Winfield than over at Burden. He did not get his way. The preliminary examination took place at Burden four days after the shooting before Squire Smith, at Burden. Mr. Causey was then held over to bail in $1,000 for his appearance at court. In May 1882 the papers reported that the case of the State versus Hank Causey, charged with shooting Mr. Saunders, was tried in the Cowley County District Court. The jury returned a verdict of assault and battery. Mr. Causey was fined $100 and adjudged to pay the costs of the trial.
Note: Since nothing further was printed about the two surveys that caused the shooting, we are left to assume that Mr. Saunders was able to demolish the hedge and take part of Mr. Causey’s land.
A report came out in 1876 that the entire State of Kansas had been surveyed by the General Government. The Surveyor-General’s office was discontinued on April 1, 1876.
Questions Posed by Tell Walton, Surveyor.
Tell Walton kept busy in both Sumner County and Cowley County as a road surveyor and Deputy Surveyor in 1876. He did extensive surveying in the Grouse valley.
In June 1876 he posed three questions concerning surveying to Geo. R. Peck, U. S. Attorney at Topeka, about cornerstones. Peck was deemed as the authority on this matter.
Question No. 1 by Walton: Should I not, in determining the true location of effaced, destroyed, or doubtful government corners, be governed wholly by well authenticated lines and corners properly identified by the original plats and notes and re-establish them to correspond therewith, as near as ordinary professional skill admit?
Answer by Peck: I am of the opinion that the true location of effaced, destroyed, missing, and doubtful corners must be determined by the original plats and notes and well authenticated monuments.
Question No. 2 by Walton: In such cases are not the original field notes and plats, or certified copies thereof, my only guide in determining the true location of such lines and corners?
Answer by Peck: Yes, qualified by an observance of the above mentioned rule.
Question No. 3 by Walton: Should a stone or other monument found near the point designated as the original location of a corner be considered as prima facie evidence of its having been thus established by the Deputy U. S. Surveyor, or should the field notes, coupled with properly identified lines and corners, be equally considered in the matter?”
Answer by Peck: To the third interrogatory I reply, always bearing in mind, as a governing rule, that course and distances must yield to undoubted monuments. That much depends upon the circumstances. If the stone or monument is of such type and permanency as to indicate that it was placed there as a monument, it should be regarded as prima facie evidence of having been so established by competent authority, especially if it be near the point designated as the original location of a corner. But if such stone or possible monument is of a movable, uncertain, and doubtful character, the field notes, coupled with clearly identified lines and corners, should be consulted.
Tell’s Hair Not Wanted.
It is believed that Tell Walton was the “Walton” referred to in a letter written by Stacy Matlack July 20, 1877, when he was an Indian Trader for the Pawnees.
[Matlack later became a merchant in Arkansas City at the corner of Summit Street and West Fifth Avenue. Taylor Drug is now at this location.]
“The facts connected with the meeting of Alexander, Broome, and Walton, with a party of Osages, on Gray Horse Creek, June 19th, are as follows.
“Upon approaching the creek, they were startled by yells and running horses from the rear, and were at once surrounded by a dozen Indians, who were mounted, armed, and painted.
“They produced a trade dollar of Dunlap & Florer’s, and from signs made the whites understood that they wanted to trade it for hair. It was thought best to comply, under the circumstances, and Harry Broome, for and in consideration of the dollar check, allowed them to cut from his head a lock of hair.
“The Indians were now satisfied and left while the whites crossed the creek and stopped for dinner. While in camp they discovered an Indian on a bluff in the distance, who seemed to be signaling someone on the opposite side of the stream, and as they were about resuming their journey, they were again approached by Indians; this time three in number. This party was unarmed, and one of the number spoke tolerable good English. They were talkative and said a large party of Osages were mourning the death of a chief. They also stated that they were poor and had no money, but that they, too, wanted some hair, so that they could have a dance that evening. Broome was asked to furnish the article.
“They objected to Alexander’s hair upon the ground that it bore too close a resemblance to the hair of the horse and Walton was in no trouble as his hair was too short to admit of a close cut. I have written a faithful account of the affair as detailed to me by one of the party, in whose word I place implicit confidence. Very cordially, STACY MATLACK.”
[Note: At the time of the “hair cutting,” Dunlap and John N. Florer were the Indian traders at Pawhuska for the Osage and Kaw Indians. Florer later became a cattleman.]
Tell Walton became county surveyor in Sumner County in late 1878. In 1879 he took a position with the engineering corps of the Cowley, Sumner & Fort Smith railroad.
He finally settled down at Wellington, marrying Alice M. Hutchinson on September 22, 1879. Tell Walton and his wife often visited Arkansas City, where she had relatives.
Tell started the Mulvane Herald in March 1880. By December he ceased publishing the paper and filled in for his brother, Wirt, on the Clay Center Dispatch local columns while Wirt was busy at Topeka as a politician.
In April 1881 Tell W. Walton purchased the Caldwell Post from Mr. J. H. Sain.
The Winfield Courier reprinted an article from the Caldwell Post by Tell Walton in June 1881.
“Last Saturday night, while en route to Oxford from this city, we were compelled to patronize the Kansas City, Lawrence, and Western railroad from Winfield to Oxford. We applied at the ticket office for two tickets to Oxford, and tendered our money, a ten dollar bill. After marking the tickets and passing them over the counter, he found he could not make the change; so he said to get on the train and pay the conductor, or get the tickets after we had arrived at Oxford.
“Thinking it would be all right, and having his assurance that it would be, we boarded the train, and after we got out three-fourths of a mile from the station, the conductor came through the car collecting tickets. We tendered our money a second time, but he refused to even look at it or hear an explanation of any kind, but stopped the train and compelled us to get off where we were, causing us, with our wife and child, to walk nearly a mile over the rough roads and cross the prairie back to the depot. We had some baggage with us, which we were obliged to carry too, or leave on the prairie. . . .
“This * * on the same evening beat a poor, lone woman out of the last cent she had, in making change for a ticket. She gave him a silver dollar, the last she had, and in return got a ticket for Oxford, costing forty cents, and ten cents in money. He claimed that she only gave him a half dollar, but the bystanders would swear that she gave him a dollar.”
“John R. McGuire, of Tisdale, says that the other day he applied to the ticket office at Cherryvale for a ticket to Independence, the price of which was forty cents, and offered a half dollar piece, which was refused as not being the exact change. A feeble woman with two small children just then applied for a ticket to Independence, but failed for the same reason. Just then the train for Independence came along and McGuire and the woman got on board. The conductor came along and demanded tickets. The half dollars were offered and refused on the ground that the conductor would not take money but must have tickets. No amount would do. The only alternative was tickets or get off. The train was stopped and McGuire and the woman and her children were put out on the prairie two miles from Cherryvale, to which place they had to walk back. The woman could scarcely walk and her exertions would have been fatal had not McGuire been there to carry her small children.”
Thanks to his efforts and others who joined in with complaints, the railroads were forced to change their policy concerning tickets.
Instead of reporting news, Tell became the “news” in the area newspapers.
The first items appeared in December 1881. They concerned the crooked Caldwell banker, J. S. Danford.
“Tell Walton dropped in Monday morning fresh from the seat of war at Caldwell. Having deposited all his money in Danford’s Bank, it is fair to presume that he walked over. The conductor wouldn’t accept a certificate of deposit as legal tender.”
This was followed up with items that Tell Walton, among others, had been sued by Danford for $100,000. “As Tell lost some money in the bank failure, he is sitting up nights trying to figure the thing out. Can’t you do it, Tell? If in addition to the loss of his $180 deposit, he should have the whole $100,000 to pay, it would cut down his profits for 1881 at least one half.”
[J. S. Danford was co-editor and proprietor of the Walnut Valley Times, when the paper was started by him and T. B. Murdock on Friday, March 4, 1870, in Eldorado, Butler County, Kansas. Murdock soon severed the partnership with Danford. In the centennial edition of the Winfield Courier, January 6, 1876, county historian Wirt W. Walton named J. S. Danford as a director of the town company of Creswell. On October 1, 1884, the Arkansas City Traveler commented: “Everybody in the country remembers Danford, the Caldwell banker, who stole a pile of money from his depositors a few years since. He has again come before the public, this time at Cheney, Washington Territory, where he stole $20,000, and skipped out to Victoria, B. C., from which place he openly defies his victims. He ought to be hung.”]
The second items relative to Tell Walton concerned his involvement with Ike Sherman, more familiarly known as Jim Talbot, considered one of the most desperate cowboys on the border. Mike Meagher, was acting as the City Marshal when he was killed in Caldwell in late December 1881.
[Mike Meagher was City Marshal in Wichita, Kansas, at various times, being first appointed in 1871. Meagher was re-elected City Marshal on April 4, 1876, in spite of the difficulty his policeman, Wyatt Earp, had caused shortly before the election by striking the rival candidate, William Smith. In 1879 Meagher served as a government scout and rode for awhile with C. M. Scott.]
“It seems that Tell Walton, of the Caldwell Post, was slightly mixed up in the Caldwell trouble. Friday night before the affray, during the rendering of the play of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Jim Talbot, the man who shot Meagher, indulged in obscene remarks, and was requested by Walton to desist. Talbot cursed and threatened to ‘fix’ him next day.”
“Will give twenty-five cents for authentic information as to the whereabouts of one Tell W. Walton while the cowboy fight was raging in Caldwell.”
Tell W. Walton was a man of some standing among local cattle interests, and under his direction the Caldwell Post grew in influence. The Caldwell Commercial, a rival paper, appeared in May 1880 under the editorship of William B. Hutchison, a veteran Wichita newspaperman and a charter officer of Payne’s boomer organization. At first he assumed a moderate position on the question of opening the Indian Territory to settlement. Gradually his editorial policy shifted away from the homesteaders’ cause. Perhaps he was wooed away by the Outlet ranchers’ money. Cattlemen’s range and brand advertisements began to appear with increasing regularity during the period of the Commercial’s editorial transformation.
Both Caldwell papers merged in May 1883 under the control of the Caldwell Printing and Publishing Company, a joint-stock venture headed by Benjamin S. Miller and John W. Nyce. They published only one paper, the Caldwell Journal, edited by Hutchison. It was solely a cattlemen’s paper, supported almost exclusively by advertising from Outlet ranchers. On October 3, 1883, the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association announced that the Caldwell Journal would be its “official paper.”
Thus ends the background on Tell W. Walton, who became an integral part of the “cattlemen” story.
The Santa Fe Reaches Cowley County.
The Cowley, Sumner & Fort Smith railroad, a branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, commenced laying track in Cowley County on Wednesday, August 5, 1879. A grand jubilee took place at Winfield on September 30, 1879, to celebrate the railroad reaching that place. The Santa Fe railroad reached Arkansas City on December 23, 1879.
Prior to the coming of the railroad, there were few cattlemen in Cowley County. One of these was County Commissioner R. F. Burden from Windsor township, who started a home on the broad, rolling prairies in 1871. By 1879 he had 40 acres given to forest trees and another 40 acres devoted to orchards. He had over six miles of fine hedge fence. His pasture and feed lots were enclosed in stone and plank. Transportation limited the number of cattle buyers willing to offer prices which suited feeders such as Burden. It was noted in March 1879 that he had sold about $3,000 worth of stock (hogs and cattle), all “to the manor born.”
The Cherokee Outlet, Commonly Called the “Cherokee Strip.”
Located between the 96th and 100th parallels of west longitude, the Cherokee Outlet, commonly known as the “Cherokee Strip,” was bordered by Kansas on the north and Indian Territory on the south.
Numerous requests for information about this land became common.
In February 1878 the Emporia News presented the facts that they had obtained about the “Cherokee Strip,” obtained from what they believed was a reliable source.
The “Strip” consists of a somewhat wedge shaped tract of land along the south line of the State some 200 miles from east to west and varying from about one and a half miles in width at its eastern and to some four and a half miles at the west end. It lies between the south line of the Osage Diminished Reserve and the Indian Territory. It was caused by a defective survey of the north line of the Indian Territory some years ago.
Some four years ago the “Strip” first came into market by an act of Congress and by the terms of the law, was to be sold to actual settlers only at $1.50 an acre for all east of the Arkansas river, and $1.25 for all west of that river, for one year, after which it was to be sold under sealed bids to the highest bidder, regardless of actual occupancy. Under this law, the land was settled and all the best portion of it taken as far west as the west line of Sumner county.
This past winter by the efforts of our Congressman from this district, Hon. Thomas Ryan, practically the old law for the sale of the strip was re-enacted, and the land is now open for sale to actual settlers in tracts not exceeding 160 acres to a settler, at $1.25 per acre. But all the best land has been culled out and taken as far west as the west line of Sumner County, beyond which we should not advise settlers to go on the strip except in the few favored parts where it is coursed by creeks.
[Note: The above article reflects the biggest problem. What was the length and width of the “Cherokee Strip?” Different figures were given. I have seen it described as 200 miles in length in most publications. I have also seen it described as 250 miles in length. As to the width, I have seen it described as “56 miles in width,” “60 miles in width,” and “57½ miles in width.” Most of the early publications referred to it as being 57½ miles in width.
Ownership of the Cherokee Strip Lands.
In 1871 or 1872 the Cherokee Strip lands were opened for settlement; until 1875 it so remained, during which time nearly all of the valuable land was occupied by actual settlers. Most of them proved up, some did not. The land was then offered for sale to bidders. In this way some of it was sold. In 1876 it again became open to settlement with the passage of an act by Congress.
Between 1876 the political winds changed. The Cherokees prevailed in claiming ownership of the Cherokee Outlet (commonly called the “Cherokee Strip.”)
Cherokee Indians Charge for Use of “Cherokee Strip.”
On June 9, 1880, the Arkansas City Traveler wrote about taxation on cattle.
There was a convention of stock men at Caldwell last Thursday, called for the purpose of taking some action with reference to paying taxes on cattle held in the Territory. After organizing and passing a series of resolutions, they appointed a committee of three to wait on Major Lipe, treasurer of and collector for the Cherokee Nation, informing him that the stock men were willing to pay twenty-five cents per year on every head of cattle held by them in the Territory, but that any heavier tax was considered exorbitant and more than they could afford to pay. Major Lipe, however, refused to entertain their proposition, saying that fifty cents per head was the least he could take, and for all through cattle he should charge at the rate of five cents per head a month. We are informed that this decision will be the cause of many cattle men leaving the Territory: the larger holders driving their cattle further west, while the smaller dealers will probably hold them in some of the border counties, preferring to do a little feeding rather than pay such a high tax. In view of the fact that there is some doubt as to the legality of this tax, and when we think of the great number of cattle on these lands, we think Mr. Lipe will be making money enough at twenty-five cents.
Scott-Topliff Sheep Ranch.
In August 1880 Capt. C. M. Scott (then working as a special scout for the Kansas Governor) and his partner, James C. Topliff, purchased 500 acres of land near the mouth of Grouse creek four miles south and two miles east of Arkansas City, with a view of making it a sheep ranch.
New U. S. Government Regulations.
In October 1880 the U. S. Government came up with new regulations involving the grazing of cattle or other stock upon Indian reservations in the Territory. This ended the use by unauthorized persons of grazing stock and forced stockmen to obtain approval of the Indian agent and agency Indians after determining payment for leasing their land. Further, it restricted cattle trails to be used crossing Indian reservations.
In March 1881 a meeting at Caldwell gave stockmen the privilege of driving through Texas cattle west of the west line of the Nez Perce Agency, and in any direction to shipping points upon the strip of country lying north of that Agency and south of the State line.
This hurt all cattle stockmen owning native stock in the vicinity of Indian Territory.
Had the “dead line” been placed ten miles south of the State line, with a drive limited to one mile in width, and leading directly north to the various shipping points, this danger would to a great extent have been avoided.
Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association.
In April 1881 the Caldwell Commercial published a stock and brand book, containing the laws of the Association, cuts of all the brands, and location of cattle camps of the western part of the Indian Territory, and with the post office address of the owners.
It was decided by the convention of stockmen at Caldwell that the round up would commence on the first day of May 1881. The range was divided into six districts.
Cowley County Cattlemen.
In May 1881 the Traveler reported that the following Cowley County men were holding stock in the Territory: On Red Rock and Black Bear creeks, Messrs. Eaton, Potter, James Estus, H. S. Libby, A. A. Wiley, and Drury Warren. In other parts of the Territory stock was held by R. A. Houghton, Henderson, Capt. Nipp, Walker Brothers, Berry Brothers, Dean Brothers, Shriver, and others. Stockmen talked of holding a meeting for the purpose of protecting native cattle from the Texas drive in Indian Territory.
Also in May 1881 Hackney & McDonald, attorneys from Winfield, sold to Illinois parties through Alex Fuller their tract of Cherokee land in southern Cowley County (3,154 acres) for $2.50 per acre cash. The purchasers were proposing to buy even more land in that neighborhood, which they would fence, and then stock it with short horned cattle.
Area cattlemen were concerned about the Texas drives of cattle, but due to the spring round ups, were unable to confer with Texas cattlemen and take any action.
Returning from Texas, A. A. Wiley reported that Messrs. J. Smythia, H. Endicott, A. J. Gilbert, J. W. Ledlie, and James C. Henderson, with 1,100 head of cattle, were on Deer creek, where cattle would be held till disposed of. Mr. Wiley was on his way to the Nation with supplies to establish a ranch. The Fairclo Brothers soon returned after purchasing stock. They were followed by John W. Ledlie, of Winfield, who was holding stock south of Arkansas City in the Territory. Ledlie reported Texas stock were cheap and in good condition. R. A. Houghton returned from the Territory attending to the rounding up of his stock. He lost forty head during the winter. Other cattlemen such as T. A. Gaskill were just starting to Texas to purchase stock. Henderson and others began to advertise their brands.
Washington Declares Cherokees Can Collect Tax on Cattle on Strip.
A letter by T. S. Parvin, a cattleman residing in East Bolton township, to the Secretary of the Interior was answered by Hiram Price, Indian Commissioner.
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 30, 1881.
Thomas S. Parvin, Esq., Arkansas City, Kansas.
Sir: In reply to your letter of the 28th ult., addressed to the Hon. Secretary of the Interior, and by him referred to this office, inquiring whether the Cherokee National authorities have the right to collect, from U. S. citizens, tax on cattle, sheep, etc., grazing in the Indian Territory south of Arkansas City, I have to state that such right has been fully recognized by Congress, and by this Department, and that the properly constituted Cherokee collectors or agents can lawfully collect such tax. In the event of the imposition of any unreasonable or oppressive tax by the Cherokees, the United States will intervene and afford the necessary relief, but so long as the tax is reasonable, and does not exceed the penalty imposed by the act of June 30, 1834, for grazing stock on the Indian lands (which is $1.00 per head), it is considered that the Cherokee Indians are fully justified in imposing it, and should be sustained by this Department. Very respectfully, H. PRICE, Commissioner.
Cattlemen Experience Trouble on the Cherokee Strip.
The Cherokees found that collecting taxes from parties holding cattle on the “Cherokee Strip” was difficult. In July 1881 they reported that only about forty of the two hundred persons holding cattle on the “Strip” had complied with the law. A list of about 100 who had not paid was sent by Chief Bushyhead to the Interior Department.
In mid-October 1881 the Topeka Commonwealth received word from Caldwell.
“There is great excitement here, and all over the Cherokee Strip today. The strip extends from where the Arkansas River strikes the Indian Territory, to the Panhandle of Texas. On this it is estimated there are 300,000 head of cattle on which the Indians levy a tax of one dollar per head, they having that right according to the decision of the Department at Washington. About one-half of these cattlemen have paid the tax, the owners of the other half refuse to do so. Indian Agent Tufts, with United States soldiers, leave here today to drive the cattle off the strip. Many owners of cattle, this morning and yesterday, offered to pay the tax, but were told it was too late. The Agent says, not only that the Indians will not receive the tax of those who have heretofore refused to pay, but that these recalcitrant men will not in the future be allowed to herd their cattle on the Cherokee Strip.
“The cattle now on the strip are not in a condition to ship to market, and as they cannot be driven to the south on the Indian reservations nor to the north, because of the law of Kansas, the owners are forced to sell them at such prices as they can get for them. These cattle are actually worth $15 per head on an average, or an aggregate of $1,500,000.
“Cattle buyers who have heretofore paid the taxes enforced by the Cherokees, will be allowed, if they purchase these, to keep them on the ‘strip.’
“Speculators and others are raising all the money they can with which to make purchases. Men started last night for Emporia and other money centers to raise money to buy cattle with. Many are willing to mortgage farms and everything else they have to get money.
“The last train of cars loaded with cattle to be shipped this year started today, cattle shipping being mostly over for this year.”
Fire on Cherokee Strip Ranges.
In late November 1881 cattlemen were alerted that it was Indians who had been causing so much trouble near the Cimarron river lately. They had been corralled at last, and taken to Fort Reno. The Caldwell Post commented: “A killing bee would have done a power of good about the time they were setting fire to the ranges on the Cherokee strip. The cattlemen pay their tax for the privilege of this range, and should be protected from other bands roaming around and burning off the ranges.”
Cattle Feed, Wire, and Brands.
Farmers providing cattle feed began to get good money for it in late 1881. The farmers around Maple City sowed large quantities of millet at a great profit that winter when stock men from Missouri, Arkansas, and Indian Territory drove in their stock. On Grouse creek the stockmen bought every ton that could be purchased, paying $2.50 per ton for millet hay.
In January 1882 stockmen began buying galvanized and painted wire for their ranges. Howard Brothers, Arkansas City merchants, sold over 45,000 rods of barbed wire to the Dean brothers (Albert and Cal) to fence in their stock range in Indian Territory.
In March 1882 stockmen on the Cherokee Strip attending the meeting at Caldwell decided to have a brand book published and set the time for the spring “round-up.”
Cherokee Get Tough on Unlicensed Stockmen.
Final notice was sent out by the Cherokees and John McNeil, U. S. Indian Inspector, to all parties holding cattle, sheep, horses, hogs, or other stock on the “Cherokee Strip” that they were intruders and trespassers unless they had a license from the Cherokee Council. The order to remove all parties who had not paid for a license was to take effect March 29, 1882. Removal of non-licensed parties by U. S. soldiers began in April 1882.
In July 1882 large tracts of land were purchased in Cowley County by cattlemen.
Messrs. George O. Saunders and Jordan, authorized agents for the Cherokee Nation to collect the tax due the Cherokees for holding stock on the Cherokee Strip in the Territory south of the State line, were in Arkansas City in the latter part of September 1882.
Windsor & Roberts.
A special meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association was held in Caldwell on October 24, 1882. Members were assessed to allow creation of an inspection committee empowered to offer $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of stock thieves and to hire detectives.
Col. J. H. Windsor and Major J. Gore were elected members of the Cherokee Strip Association upon paying the requisite admission fee.
The Caldwell Commercial of October 26th commented: “Col. J. H. Windsor and Major J. Gore of the Pennsylvania Oil Cattle Company, were in attendance at the meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stock Association on Tuesday. The company have their ranch south of Arkansas City, and sufficient pasture room for 10,000 head of cattle. The company’s brand will be P on left shoulder, O on the side, and Co on left hip. Senator Roberts, of Pennsylvania, is a member of the P. O. Company, and takes a great interest in it.”
Editor Standley of the Arkansas City Traveler wrote an editorial December 6, 1882.
“There is an enterprise going on below us in the Indian Territory that is bound to interest every farmer and stockman along the entire line of the State, from the Arkansas river to the west line of Sumner County. We allude to the fencing of nearly 200,000 acres of land that is now claimed by stockmen as their range, and for which they have paid the Cherokee Nation a tax for the privilege.
“Looking at the matter as a disinterested party in so far as our patrons and friends are concerned, it does seem to us where the parties have held the range for years, and for which they have never refused to pay, that they should have the first preference, if any privilege or preference is given, and the matter should be acted on at once if the parties interested mean to do anything to protect themselves.
“We have heard many violent and determined threats that if the rights they have paid for are ignored, that the posts and wire will be torn up and the whole country fired, the latter having already been carried into execution, and mile after mile of nicely cured grass has gone to the flames.
“We condemn this act as infamous beyond expression, for while it did not materially injure the monopoly that is causing the trouble, it damaged numbers of stockmen within the limits who were not in sympathy with the movement in any manner.
“Better come together like men and adjust the matter, if it can be adjusted; and if not, then go to work legally to test the authority of the men who claim the right.
“Unless the Cherokee Council decide that the wire is an ‘improvement,’ the fence is illegally there, and from the tenor of the Chief’s message to the Council, we think it is not an ‘improvement,’ and believe it what the Chief terms it, ‘an unbridled enterprise of some citizens that have led them into error, and requires the interposition of the Council to defend the common rights.’”
C. M. Scott Goes to Washington, D. C.
In another item on December 6, 1882, the Traveler noted that Messrs. N. T. Snyder, C. H. Searing, and Capt. C. M. Scott had left on the train two days previously for the East and that before returning all three of the gentlemen will visit Washington, D. C.
It turned out that Scott lit the match that resulted in an explosion of activity among the cattlemen of this area and the members of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association.
Windsor of the Pennsylvania Company.
The Winfield Telegram notified its readers that the Cowley County Surveyor, Capt. North A. Haight, known as “Ed,” had informed them that he was called into the Territory in mid-December 1882 to settle a boundary line between two large pastures. One of them was the pasture containing 190,000 acres just south of Arkansas City, which was being fenced with barbed wire. This was being done by Col. Windsor, of Titusville, Pennsylvania, under the cover of the names of two Cherokee Indians.
The Burden Enterprise had the following to say about the fencing by Col. Windsor: “It would please us to hear of a nice little rebellion and uprising of the people along the line of the Territory on both sides. A company in Pennsylvania is fencing in large tracts of land already occupied by settlers, to the exclusion of any who may choose to cross the border. Barb wire fences twenty-five miles long are being stretched all along the line. . . .”
Stockmen’s Meeting at Arkansas City December 18, 1882.
While Scott was gone, a notice was published in the Arkansas City Traveler that a stockmen’s meeting would be held at 1:00 p.m., December 18, 1882, at the Central Avenue Hotel in Arkansas City. About thirty stockmen responded. Mr. W. J. Hodges was called to the chair, and O. O. Clendenning was appointed as Secretary.
Chairman Hodges read an article from a Cherokee paper, stating what the Cherokee Council had done to prevent Eastern Companies from fencing, and thus depriving the stockmen of the several ranges for which they had paid and held license to in the Indian Territory.
Mr. J. E. Snow, Attorney of Winfield, then read a series of resolutions prepared by himself and W. P. Hackney, the acting attorneys for the stockmen. The stockmen pledged themselves to abide by and aid each other to the utmost extremity in resisting the action of the fencing monopolies attempting to illegally force them from their ranges.
The resolutions were adopted and signed; and the following gentlemen, Messrs. F. M. Stewart, Drury Warren, and W. H. Dunn, were appointed a committee to act in the premises and decide as to the action necessary to be taken to enforce the resolutions as adopted.
A motion was put and carried that the minutes of the meeting be published after which the meeting adjourned subject to a call of the committee.
Scott’s Meeting With Price.
C. M. Scott had a consultation on December 22, 1882, with Hiram Price, commissioner of Indian Affairs. Scott claimed that part of his Outlet range had been illegally fenced by a Cherokee citizen acting in behalf of the Pennsylvania Oil Company. “The company’s wire,” Scott said, “threatened to close United States mail routes across Indian Territory.”
On the day following Scott’s visit with Price, Standard Oil Company representatives met with Henry M. Teller, Secretary of the Interior, who declined to approve their lease to the land they proposed to fence south of Arkansas City at the Kansas State Line.
The Winfield Courier on December 28, 1882, had the following item: “A Washington special says that Capt. Scott, of Arkansas City, Kansas, is there to consult with the interior department respecting the conflicting leases of land in the Indian Territory made by the Cherokee Nation to various cattlemen of Kansas and Missouri for grazing purposes. This is the inauguration of a big fight between the original lessees, who are small cattle owners, and the large companies, who are striving to acquire control of these lands to their prejudice.”
On January 4, 1883, the Caldwell Commercial reported that the Globe-Democrat had received the following special from Washington, D. C., on December 30, 1882.
“Reports have reached the Indian Bureau from Cherokee County, Indian Territory, to the effect that the white men are erecting buildings and fencing off pastures in the ‘Cherokee Outlet.’ Commissioner Price today addressed a letter to Agent Tufts at Muskogee to warn the white herders to remove with their stock from off the reservation, allowing twenty days for the exit. If the herders fail to get out at that time, the agent is authorized to call on the military to eject them.
“If we understand the above rightly, the attempt will be made to remove the stockmen from the strip, or ‘outlet,’ as it is termed in the dispatch. Should such be the case, the move will be an outrage upon the stockmen, for which no excuse whatever can be offered. For they have paid taxes to the Cherokee Nation and received a permit therefor to hold their stock on the strip. In addition to paying taxes, many of them have also bought and paid for such right as the Cherokees could give to fence their pastures and to erect suitable buildings for the shelter and accommodation of their employees. They, therefore, have an equitable right to remain undisturbed so long as they do not violate the laws of the United States and the regulations of the Cherokee Nation governing the occupancy of the lands.
“But, it will be urged, the Cherokee have no right to grant pasture-fencing privileges on the Strip. Why not? It is not worthwhile to quote extracts from their treaties at this time, for they have been published so often as to be familiar to everybody who has taken the least interest in the Territory affairs. It is only sufficient to state that these treaties convey to the Cherokees, in fee simple, the lands in question, and that, until paid for by the United States, the Cherokees have the sole control of the lands, with the undoubted right to secure from them the largest revenue possible. No one who thoroughly understands the full merits of the question will argue differently. Therefore, it seems to us that if complaint has been made against the stockmen, it comes from envious or malicious parties, parties who cannot occupy the country themselves and are not willing to allow others to do so.
“The stockmen, in their own interests, should take steps to ascertain the full meaning of the dispatch, and if there is anything in it, adopt a course that will protect their rights.”
Teller Rescinds Order for Removal of Stockmen from Cherokee Strip.
The order for removal of stockmen from the Cherokee Strip was rescinded by Secretary of the Interior, Henry M. Teller, on January 5, 1883, when he was approached by B. H. Campbell, who represented a syndicate of Chicago capitalists desirous of obtaining a lease of a tract of land thirty miles square in the Indian Territory belonging to the Cherokee and Cheyenne Indians. They proposed using the land for grazing cattle and agreed to cut only such timber as necessary to provide posts for wire fences to enclose the land. They offered $50,000 rental for the land. The Indians were represented as being anxious to enter into the arrangement.
The situation was summed up by The Commonwealth in Topeka later that month.
“The Chicago capitalists who are negotiating with the Secretary of the Interior for a lease of 2,400,000 acres of land in the Indian Territory, are under the leadership of B. H. Campbell, late United States marshal for the northern district of Illinois. They offer the magnificent sum of two cents an acre for the richest land in the west. The scheme goes on all fours with Uncle Rufus Hatch’s offer to take the Yellowstone Park off the government’s hands for a hotel site, or that other proposition of the Standard Oil Company to ‘freeze out’ all the small cattle men in the Territory.”
Arguments against such a lease were many. “The Cheyennes did not control any lands in Indian Territory; even if they did, neither they nor the Cherokees, jointly or separately, had anything to say about leasing lands in the Territory for grazing purposes; Secretary Teller had no authority to lease lands in the Territory for any purpose whatever. To acknowledge the authority of the Secretary to give a lease to Mr. Campbell’s Chicago syndicate, is practically an assertion that the land in question belongs to the government, and therefore is subject to settlement. Certainly no one assumes that to be the case.”
Standard Oil Fencing Condemned At Special Meeting of Stockmen’s Association.
A special meeting was held by the Stockmen’s Association of the Cherokee Strip in Topeka on January 8, 1883. Its members owned over ninety percent of the livestock grazed upon the Cherokee Strip. At this meeting they expressed unanimous disapproval of the Standard Oil Company or any other corporation or company of individuals in fencing up the grounds known as the “quarantine grounds,” said grounds having been set apart by the association, by and with the consent of the Cherokee authorities, for the benefit and use of persons driving cattle from Texas and other points for shipment.
The Arkansas City Traveler began to alert stockholders and citizens of events. Editor Standley wrote the following in his January 10, 1883, editorial.
We have discovered the following in the Washington letter of the Kansas City Times. “By the Cherokee law each Indian has been allowed to appropriate a given quantity of land suitable for grazing purposes in the Indian Territory. It appears that the rich and powerful corporation known as the ‘Standard Oil Company,’ have gone into the speculation of cattle raising, and the better to serve a monopoly, have hired Cherokee Indians at nominal rates to take up grazing lands for the benefit of the company. Heretofore the people of Missouri, Kansas, and Texas have been able to graze their cattle in the Indian Territory by paying so much a head, but the plan of the Standard Oil Company is to drive out all those engaged in raising cattle in a small way. The leases or contracts made with these Indians by the Standard Oil Company have been submitted to Secretary Teller, and to his credit, be it said, he has peremptorily declined to approve them. This evidences the fact that the Secretary appreciates the interests and wants of the western people, and is not to be dragooned into injustice by even so powerful a corporation as the Standard Oil Company.”
On January 17, 1883, the Traveler had more information.
“The Secretary of the Interior has called upon the Secretary of War for troops to tear down the wire fences in the Indian Territory, and the fence will have to go.
“Major Lipe positively refused to grant the Oil Company any license on the country below us known by the Cherokee Strip Stock Protective Association, as ‘quarantine grounds,’ and says, (speaking of those who have paid the tax): ‘When anyone of them comes forward next spring to renew their license, he proposes to accept the money and issue the permit.’”
John Q. Tufts, the Indian Agent at Muskogee, was chosen by the Secretary of the Interior in January 1883 as special agent to investigate the rights of the Cherokees and cattlemen in fencing of the land west of 96. As a result, a special meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association was held in Caldwell, Kansas, January 27, 1883. The object of the meeting was stated by the chair and letters were read by Mr. Tell Walton from E. M. Hewins concerning matters pertaining to the vital interests of the association. A committee of five was appointed to make a draft of the Cherokee Strip, showing the quarantine grounds, trails, fencing, etc.
[In February a report came from the Cheyenne Reporter that several heavy eastern capitalists and stockmen gained the consent of the Cheyennes and Arapahos to fence the western and southwestern portions of their reservation. These eastern capitalists had signed leases, covering bodies of grazing land of about 500,000 acres each, with the privilege of fencing the same and erecting the necessary ranch buildings and improvements. It was pointed out that the Interior Secretary would have to approve the unanimous action of the Indians for this grass-rental, which would bring in nearly $10 per capita for every man, woman, and child on the reservation.]
Windsor & Roberts.
On February 14, 1883, the Traveler had the following item: “Major Gore, [?] one of our stockmen, returned to the city last week.” One week later the Traveler announced the arrival of Windsor and Roberts. “Senator Roberts, of Pennsylvania, accompanied by Mr. Windsor, arrived at this place Tuesday of last week, and remained several days looking up their interests in the stock speculation they are about to engage in, in the Territory south of this place. It was the intention of these gentlemen to fence in all that country west of the Arkansas River, and north of the Ponca Reserve, as far west as the Shakaska [Chikaskia] River; but another Cherokee, Mr. Mills, laid claim to the range as far east as Bitter Creek, and that portion of it was abandoned. The original intention as suggested by Mr. Gore, superintendent of the company, was to run the fence on the divide between Deer Creek and Chilocco, leaving a strip about four miles wide on the State Line. After losing the Shakaska country, he was overruled in this and the posts were set about one mile below the line, cutting off the ranges of Mr. Chambers, Mr. Hill, Scott & Topliff, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Parvin along the State Line, who had paid the Cherokee tax, besides a number who hadn’t paid, and several in the Territory who had paid. This wanton overriding of the rights of these gentlemen naturally produced trouble and the Secretary of the Interior interfered and stopped it. Mr. Roberts then came out to see what had been done, and returned with the conviction that the people had not been treated fairly, and with the determination that they should be, and the result is that the rights of all those who have paid the tax will be respected. C. M. Scott’s range will be left entirely out, as well as all of his neighbors, and the fence placed west of the Ponca road and south of Chilocco Creek.
“There is a disposition with some to crush out the company entirely, which is wrong. These gentlemen have the same right to the unoccupied range as anyone when they have paid the tax imposed by the Cherokees, and as long as they hold themselves within the bounds of right, without infringing on others, we would rather have them there than not have them. That the Cherokees have a right to impose a tax is recognized by the Department of the Interior, and having that right, it is clearly a matter for them to decide the terms and the parties to whom the grazing permit is granted. Those having paid the Cherokee tax are protected, and we cannot well see what more could in justice be demanded.
“It begins to look now as though the wire fence will be built in accordance with the wishes of stockmen and the usages of the country. Time will tell.”
A week later Tell Walton, editor of the Caldwell Post, and Marion Blair, were in Arkansas City as a committee of the Stock Association to confer with local stockmen regarding wire fences.
John Q. Tufts, U. S. Indian Agent at Muskogee, Indian Territory, wrote a letter to C. M. Scott, asking that the grievances of the several parties in the Indian Territory, south of Arkansas City, be written and sent to him as he was unable to meet the parties at this place.
Stockmen’s Meeting in Arkansas City at Office of C. M. Scott.
On February 28, 1883, the Traveler reported on a recent stockmen’s meeting in Arkansas City at the office of C. M. Scott. John H. Tomlin, of Winfield, was called to the chair and C. M. Scott acted as Secretary. The following stockmen attended: W. J. Hodges, John Myrtle, John Love, J. M. Love, J. C. Weathers, J. A. Tipton, H. J. Chinn, W. W. Wicks, Drury Warren, Hugh McGinn, J. H. Saunders, W. L. Moorehouse, Dr. Zach Carlisle, and others.
On motion a committee of three (W. J. Hodges, chairman; Drury Warren, and C. M. Scott) was appointed to settle all claims of stockmen with the parties proposing to fence, or any other whose interests might conflict.
Mr. Weathers thought the Oil Company had no right in the Territory, and did not believe in adjusting matters with them. Thought they should not be recognized in the meeting at all.
Mr. Hodges thought if they paid the tax and complied with the law, they had as much right as anyone to the unoccupied range, and that we should not expect the range to lay idle, and that it would not, and anyone claiming it and paying for it would be protected, whether they were of Kansas, Pennsylvania, or England.
Mr. Chinn said if a man paid, he had no protection against Texas cattle, to which Mr. Hodges replied; only through the Stock Association.
Mr. Warren didn’t see any harm in the Oil Company occupying the range as long as they interfered with the rights of no one legally there.
Mr. Love is on the west side of the range they propose to fence. He hasn’t paid his tax. When he stopped there, he did not expect to remain long—was going farther west, but finally concluded to remain. He then rendered payment to the Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, and his offer was refused, although he was first on the ground, and had conflicted with no one; and after they had refused, the grant and privilege was given to Mr. Gore. He did not believe in discriminating in favor of a monopoly, and that too, when they were not on the ground, and have not yet a hoof of stock on the range. He said there was no fairness in it, and that the Oil Company were only acting fair since they could do no better. That they had tried to shut out all alike and would have done it if they could, and he appealed to the stockmen to stand by him as he had stood by them. Mr. Hodges thought Mr. Love’s case one of merit, and that his right would not be ignored. On motion the meeting elected Mr. Tomlin, Mr. Love, and C. M. Scott a committee of three to forward the grievance to Major John Q. Tufts at Muscogee [Muskogee], Indian Territory.
On motion Drury Warren, Mr. Wicks, and Mr. Weathers were appointed a committee of three to attend the meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stock Association, to be held at Caldwell March 6, 1883.
The following resolutions were introduced and passed.
Resolved, That it is the sense and desire of this meeting that no quarantine ground be established east of Bitter Creek.
Resolved, That no through Texas cattle be permitted to be driven along the State Line east of Bitter Creek, or within four miles of the line during the summer months and that we will use our best endeavors to prevent such doing.
Resolved, That each and everyone of us become a member of the Cherokee Strip Association, and that we stand by one another in the protection of our rights.
Tufts Report to Interior Secretary Relative Wire Fences.
On March 1, 1883, John Q. Tufts, U. S. Indian Agent, in charge of Union Agency at Muskogee, Indian Territory, responded to a letter written by Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Hiram Price, January 6, 1883, asking questions about cattle and fencing conditions on the Cherokee Strip.
Tufts stated that he had visited the lands known as Cherokee land, west of 96 degrees, and found there a large number of cattle, estimated to be 300,000, ranging on the Strip. “About 200,000,” he stated, “are there by and with the consent of the Cherokees, and on which there was paid a grazing tax to the Cherokee authorities of about $41,000 during the year. About 100,000 cattle on these lands belong to citizens of Kansas, who turn them loose on these lands and pay no tax.”
Questions were asked by Teller, to which Agent Tufts answered.
How much fencing has been done?
To whom do the fences belong?
To citizens of the United States and a few citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
Name each and all companies or organizations to own fences and the quantity of wire in each.
Answer. Comanche pool, 55 miles; Bollinger & Schlupp, 60 miles; Drumm & Snyder, 50 miles; Miller & Pryor, 45 miles; B. H. Campbell, 30 miles; George Thompson, 40 miles; S. & Z. Tuttle, 58 miles; Bridge & Wilson, 45 miles; Bates & Co., 33 miles; Hewins & Titus, 60 miles; Cobb & Hutton, 56 miles; C. H. Moore, 24 miles; George Miller, 72 miles; H. Hodgson, 35 miles; Dean Bros., 40 miles; E. M. Ford, 87 miles; C. H. McClellan, 72 miles; G. Greever, 60 miles; and T. Mayhew, 37 miles.
How long since fencing was commenced?
Answer. During the spring of 1882.
What effect has such fencing had upon legitimate travel and upon mail routes?
Answer. There are but two mail routes through the land in question: from Caldwell, Kansas, to Ft. Reno and points beyond; from Arkansas City to Nez Perces Agency. There are no fences within two miles of either road. There are no other roads for legitimate travel across these lands. Pastures are supplied with gates for the use of parties traveling through. The fences do not interfere in any manner with legitimate travel or mail routes.
What effect has the wire fences on the reservation of destruction of timber on said lands?
Answer. Timber extended only along the water courses, and for miles into the Territory along the state line of Kansas, has been destroyed by parties from Kansas, who have used it for fuel and fencing. Much of this valuable lumber has been taken from the Cimarron River, a distance of sixty miles from the Nation line. Unless this wholesale destruction of timber is stopped, it is safe to state that all timber on these lands will be destroyed within three years.
While the value of this timber to those who steal is not great, its value to the country can hardly be estimated, and whatever disposition is made of these lands ultimately; the supply of water will determine its value for any purpose.
There is no law in the statutes of the United States to punish for stealing timber from the reservations of any of these five civilized tribes, and it is very evident there never will be any, and these people from the states will continue to destroy this timber as they are now doing until it is all gone.
Where ranges have been fenced, the cattlemen neither cut timber themselves nor do they permit anyone else to do so; and in my judgment, if the fences now on these lands are permitted to remain, and others are permitted to fence under proper instruction, it will put an effective stop to the destruction of the timber on these lands, and as these cattlemen place fire-guards around their ranches, the young growth of timber will add much to the value of the lands.
I respectfully recommend that the fences now on these lands be permitted to remain, and that others desiring to fence their range have permission to do so subject to the following conditions.
1st. Permission from the Cherokee Nation must be obtained.
2nd. That no fences shall be erected within two miles of any post road.
3rd. If any parties fencing their range cut or permit any timber to be cut within their pastures, shall be subject to removal from the Territory and the fences destroyed.
4th. All fences shall be removed at once from the Territory whenever those in possession shall be notified to do so by the department.
The effect of a settlement of this matter in this way will be that the Indian office will not be called upon every few months to remove from the Territory cattlemen who refuse to pay tax. The Cherokee Nation will collect double the tax; the destruction of the timber will be effectually stopped, and the young timber protected from fire.
The only opposition I found to this fencing was from those who claimed that the timber on these lands belonged to anybody that got it, and from those who live in the States and own large herds of cattle on these lands and refuse to pay tax.
The Pennsylvania Oil Company, who attempted to fence without permission from the Cherokee authorities and enclose the ranges, and owners of small herds of cattle on which they had paid Cherokee tax, have agreed to settle with those whose ranges they had intended to enclose in their pasture, and obtain permission of the Cherokee authorities, or go elsewhere for their range.
This arrangement satisfies Mr. C. M. Scott, and others, who complained to the Department of the action of the Oil Company, and if permitted to do so, will fence their ranges during the coming summer.
[Cattlemen from Cowley County who had fences erected on the Cherokee Strip were George W. Miller, a resident of Winfield at that time, and the Dean Brothers (Albert and Calvin), who lived on their ranch south of Arkansas City at this time.]
Third Annual Meeting of Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association.
March 6, 1883, marked the date of the third annual meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association in the Opera House at Caldwell, called to order by the president, Ben S. Miller, who made the following remarks.
“It becomes my painful duty to call this Association to order again. Painful, because it will be a rehash of what we have done, the past year, some of which has come to light, and some of which may never show up. On looking to my right, I miss the face of one who, in life, was one of the best supporters the chair had, and whose council and suggestions were always so timely. I refer with sorrow to our friend and brother, A. H. Johnson, who was stricken down in the prime of life last summer, without a moment’s warning, by the Power that controls the elements. He has gone to a place where ‘scattering,’ ‘gatherings,’ and ‘round-ups’ are no more. Whether to a range that is fenced or open, we know not; but we do know that if it is fenced, no Congress, Secretary of the Interior, or Indian Commission can tear it down at their pleasure.”
A lengthy resolution was adopted by the Association. Portions of it are as follows.
The Association position was to keep all trails across the Cherokee Strip leading to all shipping points in Kansas and the northwest left open and free from all barriers such as fences, specifying the ground set apart as quarantine grounds for through Texas cattle or for shipment of Territory cattle. They wanted the title and control of the Strip definitely settled.
A report was given by the committee on round-ups designating three divisions of the Cherokee Strip.
Division No. 1. The Red Rock and Salt Fork country, including the territory of, and then to the south line of Kansas, and thence west, including all tributaries of the Salt Fork, in the west line of the Comanche County Pool. Said division to meet at the Red Rock crossing of the Arkansas City road.
Division No. 2. Country lying south of division No. 1, extending as far south as the division between the Cimarron and the North Fork of the Canadian, and to commence work at McClellen’s pasture, and, if necessary, to work on the North Fork, east of the crossing of the Chisholm trail, and work west as far as the west line of the Comanche County Pool. This division to meet where the Arkansas City wagon road crosses the Skeleton Creek.
Division No. 3. Country lying south of division No. 2, and as far south as the Washita River; and to extend as far west as A. J. Day’s range. Said division to meet at the Chisholm trail crossing of the North Fork of the Canadian.
Among the new members the following were located in Cowley County or nearby: Frank M. Stewart, W. J. Hodges, W. W. Wicks, John Myrtle, Tomlin & Webb, E. P. Fouts, C. M. Scott, H. P. Standley, J. N. Florer, Drury Warren, J. Love, Johnsons & Hosmer, M. S. Snyder, J. C. Weathers, and S. P. Burress.
Mr. Hodges asked leave to file paper for consideration of the convention at the proper time concerning Oil Company troubles. Paper was read and discussed. No action was taken.
Mr. Gore, representing the Company, supposed to be the Pennsylvania Oil Company, stated that it was not a part of said company, but was a private enterprise, and that they were willing to agree to anything reasonable concerning the ranges.
On March 8, 1883, two days after the annual convention, the name of the Association was officially changed to “Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.” A Board of Arbitration, consisting of three members, was appointed.
Pennsylvania Oil Company.
Before the annual meeting took place on March 6, 1883, a resolution was adopted by officers of the Association and telegraphed to Governor Glick of Kansas.
Resolved, That this convention tender their thanks to Messrs. Plumb and Ryan for the able manner in which they defended the rights of the cattlemen on the Cherokee strip, and sat down on the Pennsylvania Oil Co., and all other monopolies.
The Caldwell Commercial commented on this about a week after the convention.
“This resolution adopted by the Live Stock Association, thanking Messrs. Plumb and Ryan, could have been very properly amended by striking out that portion relating to the Pennsylvania Oil Company. That company took their range on the same plan and under similar conditions to other cattlemen who had fenced. It did not attempt to take any advantage of those rightfully holding cattle on the range which they had hired; on the contrary, the company had offered to buy out all such parties, if said parties would sell. Those who did not want to sell were given to understand that they could remain, without interference on the part of the company, so long as the Cherokee authorities were satisfied.
“Since the above was put in type, we have learned that there is no such organization as the ‘Standard Oil Company’ or the ‘Pennsylvania Oil Company’ laying any claim to a range or doing any business on the Cherokee Strip. The firm all the fuss has been kicked up about is composed of W. B. Roberts and J. H. Windsor, and their cattle business has no connection in any way with any oil company on the face of the globe. As individuals, they have put their own money into the stock business, secured a defined range from the Cherokee Nation, and they have not sought in any way to infringe upon the rights of others. When they obtained the privileges of the range they now hold, Messrs. Roberts & Co., were informed by Major Lipe that the range was unoccupied, or if it was, the parties so occupying it were intruders, because they had never paid any tax to the Cherokee Nation.
Shortly after the Caldwell meeting March 6, 1883, Messrs. Hays and Fouts sold the Willow Springs Ranch to Roberts & Co. That firm began to run the stage station at the Springs. They further stated they were going to build a bridge across the stream at that point for the accommodation of travel.
On May 2, 1883, the Traveler commented: “It is said that the Oil Company will brand their stock O I L on the side. Everybody will know who it belongs to. But it occurs to us that this is Moffitt & Co.’s brand at Kiowa, Kansas.”
On the same date the Traveler announced that Tell W. Walton had severed his connection with the Caldwell Post.
On May 30, 1883, the Arkansas City Traveler called attention to the brands of the Willow Springs horse, sheep, and cattle ranch in an ad that appeared on that date.
WILLOW SPRINGS STOCK RANCH.
Sheep, Horses & Cattle.
PINK FOUTS, MANAGER.
Horse Brand: O I L on left hip.
Cattle brand: O I L on either side.
Information given of strays of above brand will be rewarded.
P. O. Address, ARKANSAS CITY, KS.
Ranch at Willow Springs, Indian Territory.
Cherokee Lease to Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.
In anticipation of a lease by the Cherokee Nation to the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for five years, for a consideration of $100,000 per annum, the Association began making changes in May 1883. A different chairman was appointed for the Board of Arbitration. The lands leased were divided into three divisions. Surveyors were hired to ascertain the amount of territory occupied by members. The expenses of surveying each range had to be paid for at the time the surveying was done by the person occupying the range.
The eastern division extended from the 96th meridian on the east to the Chisholm trail on the west and from the state line on the north to the southern line of the Cherokee Territory. The middle division extended from the Chisholm trail on the east to a line running north and south on the west line of the Texas Land and Cattle company on the west. The western division extended from the line running north and south on the west line of the Texas Land and Cattle Company to the 100th meridian west, and from the south line of Kansas on the north to the south line of the Cherokee country.
Tell Walton came up from the round-up in early May, announcing that work on the first division had commenced. During the first week of June, Walton sold his mares and colts to parties who shipped them north and began to buy and sell more until he was hired to be the surveyor for the middle division.
Windsors and Roberts in Attendance at Arbitration Board Meeting.
On June 12, 1883, the Arbitration Board of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association met with the stockmen. Some of those in attendance were listed. Among them were N. B. Roberts, J. H. Windsor, A. D. Windsor, of Titusville, Pennsylvania (the two former were accompanied by their wives); W. J. Hodges and J. H. Tomlin, Winfield; Capt. Nipp, C. M. Crocker, D. F. Fagins, Tipton Brothers, Arkansas City; W. W. Wicks, Hunnewell; and Pink Fouts, Willow Springs.
After the meeting on June 12th, Dr. and Mrs. Roberts, and Col. and Mrs. Windsor, and son, of Titusville, Pennsylvania, spent several days on their Territory ranche at Willow Springs, after which they took the train at Arkansas City and returned to their eastern home. Col. Windsor accompanied them as far as Wichita, and then returned to Arkansas City to look after business interests.
On June 15, 1883, the case of Windsor & Roberts vs. Hodges & Stewart, owing to the absence of the defendants, was continued until the next meeting of the Board.
The case of John Love & Son vs. Standard Oil Co., Pink Fouts, Manager, was next heard. Plaintiff moved for a continuance. Motion refused, and the Board decided that as plaintiff had no tax receipt, or other evidence that they had paid for range privileges, and there being nothing to show that they had a range, therefore, plaintiffs had no rights before the Board. The representatives of the defendants protested against the name “Standard Oil Co.” It was therefore ordered by the Board that the same should be changed to “Roberts & Windsor.”
Cherokee Strip Lease.
On July 5, 1883, the “Cherokee Strip Lease” was made by and between the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association. No reference was made to wire fences.
Windsor & Roberts.
Cases that had been appealed to the Board of Directors were handled.
The case of Windsor & Roberts vs. Love & Son, on appeal of the latter from the decision of the Board of Arbitration, the Board of Directors sustained the decision of the Arbitrators, to the effect that Love & Son, having failed or refused to pay taxes to the Cherokee Nation for pasture privileges, had no range rights.
The Board of Arbitrators began settling up eighteen more disputes about ranges on July 5, 1883. The first case, Windsor & Roberts vs. Hodges & Stewart, was compromised.
The following cases before the Board were continued until its next meeting: the case of Mr. Chambers vs. Windsor & Roberts; Windsor & Roberts vs. Beach & Welch; Windsor & Roberts vs. W. W. Wicks; Windsor & Roberts vs. Estus Bros.; Windsor & Roberts vs. Tomlin & Webb.
The Arkansas City Democrat commented in the latter part of July: “The indications are now that there will be trouble in the Indian Territory between the “small stockmen” and Pennsylvania Oil Company. Already things are assuming a war-like appearance; so far we have been unable to learn any facts in regard to affairs, but next week we will try to give our readers some light.”
On July 26, 1883, the Caldwell Journal began to receive reports that parties had been killing sheep and driving stock off the range of Roberts & Windsor, on Willow Creek, south of Arkansas City. “Mr. Fouts, manager of the above firm, received a telegram stating that a party of men had driven the stock off the range.” If these reports are correct, the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association will be compelled to take some action for their own protection, for the reason that if lawlessness of that kind can go unpunished in one single instance, it will be but a very short time before others will suffer, and the fact of being a member of the Association will be no protection whatever.
It would seem now that the Strip is made a part of the U. S. District of Kansas, there should be some way of punishing those who commit depredations upon the property of persons occupying the Strip in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States and the Cherokee Nation. If not, a range on the Strip is not worth a song, and if any man undertake to hold one, he will have to do so through force. No argument is necessary to show that if such a condition of affairs is brought about, the Strip will become a strip of terror, where no man’s life or property will be safe for a single moment.
The Caldwell Journal reported the return in early August of Tell Walton to take a little rest and renew his acquaintance with his wife and baby. “In forty days, the time employed until he left the range, he has run over 400 miles in surveying the lines for pastures in the middle division of the Strip. He has considerable more work to do, and will return next week.”
Windsor & Roberts Cases Before Board of Arbitration.
C. M. Scott went to Caldwell to appear before the board of arbitration of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association at their August session.
The Board of Arbitration decided the following cases.
M. Chambers vs. Roberts & Windsor. Settled by compromise, defendants giving plaintiff all the range he claimed.
Roberts & Windsor vs. Beach and Welch. The latter were given a range 3½ by 4 miles on the head of Wolf Creek.
Roberts & Windsor vs. W. W. Wicks and same against Estus Bros. The Board gave defendants in these two cases a combined range of 24,000 acres.
The case of Roberts & Windsor vs. Tomlin & Webb was compromised.
The Arkansas City Traveler on August 29, 1883, commented, “The board of arbitration, recently in session at Caldwell, allowed Mr. Chambers his range on the state line, but cut the Estus brothers’ range down nearly one-half, as they also did that of Mr. Wicks. Mr. Beach was allowed nearly all of his. We learn that several of the cases will be appealed to the board of directors.”
Cherokees Threaten Removal of Unlicensed Cattlemen.
The treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, D. W. Lipe, sent out a notice to occupants of Cherokee Strip Lands, advising that all persons not having a licence by September 26, 1883, would be reported by him to the Interior Department as intruders; furthermore, their range rights would be disputed by him before the board of directors of the Cherokee Live Stock Association at their meeting on the next day at Caldwell, at which time more arbitration matters were to be settled.
Problems on the Cherokee Strip.
In September 1883 stockman holding cattle between Chilocco Creek and the State line were very uneasy about Osage Brown bringing a herd through that vicinity for fear that Texas fever would appear among their herds.
Roadways through the strip became a subject of much importance. Complaint was made by a number of papers about a lease by a company of stockmen (Drumm, Hewins, Eldred, and associates) of about six million acres from the Cherokees for grazing purposes, with no material restrictions except as to timber and the three salt springs and their approaches on this land. One newspaper commented about this lease to directors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association. “This company acquired the right to utilize, for their own benefit, every foot of land on which they paid a rental fee. They have no right to close up a well established highway such as a mail or military route, of ordinary width, but it is entirely optional with them whether they do more. An open way four miles wide would contain 2,560 acres per mile, or 128,000 acres for 75 miles—a district capable of sustaining upwards of 8,500 grown cattle or horses at the low estimate of 15 acres per head.”
The fear of prairie fires kept cattlemen constantly busy plowing fire guards around their pastures on the Cherokee Strip.
Survey Results from the Three Divisions.
On September 27, 1883, the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association received reports from the surveyors selected to run the lines of the pastures in each of the three divisions, and to fix the amount to be assessed against such holder, and make a levy to raise the first semi-annual payment to the Cherokee Nation.
It was learned that S. T. Wood, surveyor of the eastern division, had not completed his survey of 1,909,000 acres in order to obtain the exact number of acres in that division.
Tell W. Walton completed his job of surveying the ranges in the middle division. His survey showed an area of 1,764,446.49 acres with 23 ranges in the middle division, running from 8,500 to 299,526 acres. All but three ranges were entirely enclosed with barbed wire fencing, and those were fenced on each side.
Mr. C. H. Burgess had the east half of the western division; Fred Erkhart, in charge of the west half of the western division, had not completed his survey, which comprised 1,108,390 acres.
The reports showed a total of 4,781,865.49 acres surveyed and platted on the Strip. It was contemplated that when all the surveys were completed, there would be a total acreage that would exceed 6,000,000 acres.
From these reports, the Board levied an assessment of two cents an acre upon each occupant, in order to meet the first semi-annual payment to the Cherokee Nation, and to meet other expenses.
The Burgess & Walton Map.
Messrs. C. H. Burgess & Tell W. Walton prepared a map of the ranges on the Cherokee Strip, made up from surveys by the various parties engaged in that work. The Caldwell Journal notified the public about the map on October 4, 1883. “No time should be lost in making subscriptions, as no extra copies will be published. If the plats made and submitted to the Directors are any criterion, the map will not only be a beauty, but a necessary adjunct to every well governed ranch.
Board of Directors, Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.
In the cases of Windsor & Roberts vs. Estus Bros., and Windsor & Roberts vs. W. W. Wicks, the Board decided as follows on November 13, 1883.
That the ranges of Estus Bros., and W. W. Wicks shall commence at a point on the north line of the Ponca reservation half way between Bodark and Deer Creek; thence running north, or nearly so, to a point eleven miles north, and half way between Bodark and Deer Creek; thence east to East Bodark, and down East Bodark on the west side to where Miller’s branch empties into East Bodark; thence east to the Ponca trail, and south along said trail to the Ponca reservation; thence along the north line of the reservation to place of beginning; and that the Black Dog trail shall be the dividing line between said Estus Bros., and W. W. Wicks.