Thomas E. and Andrew A. Berry were the two Berry brothers who left Pulaski County, Illinois, to open up a grocery store in February 1877 in Arkansas City. They also handled queensware and glassware. Their store was located in Pearson’s building, opposite the Cowley County Bank, formerly occupied by Joseph H. Sherburne. The M. E. hall was located over Berry Brothers’ store. Rev. B. C. Swarts sometimes preached at the hall.
In June 1877 the Berry brothers erected a building on the south side of the Arkansas river near the bridge and opened up a branch grocery store.
The Berry Brothers and Tom Finney of Arkansas City were awarded a contract to furnish 2,700 bushels of corn at 58 cents per bushel to the Pawnee Indians at their agency in Indian Territory in August 1877.
Ambrose Gaunt, a brother-in-law from Kentucky, came to Arkansas City to assist the Berry brothers. Due to the fatal disease of consumption gaining a hold on his system, he had to return. Thomas E. Berry took him back to southern Kentucky, and returned with his mother and four more members of the large Berry family: two younger brothers and two sisters. A Traveler reporter commented about Thomas Berry’s trip: “He was away back in that country where they call mush ‘pudding,’ but for all that, the most hospitable people on God’s footstool.”
Isaac K. Berry, generally referred to as “King Berry,” became active with Thomas E. and Andrew A. in the grocery business. In December 1877 the Berry brothers erected a one-story frame grocery store, 24 by 50 feet, on the lot south of Wilson’s dry goods store in Arkansas City. Thomas E. Berry became the proud father of a newborn son in mid-December 1877.
In January 1878 Thomas E. Berry, Andrew A. Berry, and Isaac K. Berry, partners, doing business under the firm name of Berry Bros., sued Loudowick Maricle and David Maricle for $200 plus interest. I. H. Bonsall, at that time the Justice of the Peace of Creswell Township, Cowley County, Kansas, issued an order of attachment for $250 on January 9th. C. R. Mitchell was the attorney for Berry brothers.
An explanation was never given by the Traveler for a shot gun going off in their store a short time later, which resulted in a hole being bored into a shelf and spreading three boxes of boot blacking around the store promiscuously. Furthermore, an explanation was never given why the Berry Brothers’ partnership was mutually dissolved on February 13, 1878, with Thomas E. Berry continuing as sole owner.
In February 1878 national attention was given to an old Pawnee Indian called “Pawnee Pete,” who was willing to sell for $20 a little girl about ten years old. He claimed that in exchange for two ponies given to a Cheyenne Indian about five years before, he took her into his possession. It was believed that the little girl was a white child. Mr. O. P. Houghton, a prominent citizen of Arkansas City, brought this matter to the attention of the Interior Department, who instructed the Pawnee Indian Agent, C. H. Searing, to see that the child was cared for. In March Thomas E. and Andrew A. Berry, joined by James Morgan, took possession of the child. The Indians at first refused to give her up, and when they saw the officers were determined to take her, drew their knives and prepared for a fight. After a parley the Indians finally agreed to the white men taking the girl to Pawnee Agency and having the matter left with a council of their men whether they should give her up or not. Members of the Pawnee council determined that the little girl was not a white child. Her mother was an Indian and her father was an Irishman. She was placed in the care of Battee Beyheylle, a full blood Pawnee, who was the interpreter for the Pawnees.
As a result of their efforts in resolving this case and the close ties established with the Pawnee Indians, Thomas E. Berry became the newly appointed trader at the Pawnee Agency in May 1878. The grocery store in Arkansas City was sold to Frank Speers and Joseph Hoyt. At the time of his appointment, Thomas Berry was a councilman in Arkansas City. The Traveler commented on his removal as a city father on May 15, 1878: “We object to his legislation after he has resided among savages any great length of time. He can’t expect to palaver Pawnee within the sanctity of the council room. None of his ‘skuts-ga,’ etc., for us.”
There were six boys and two girls in the Berry family. At first the younger Berry children attended school in Arkansas City, where their mother resided. At times they visited Pawnee Agency, where their older brothers were engaged in business. In January 1880 Andrew and King Berry escorted Susie, George, and Robert Berry to Lawrence, Kansas, where they attended school.
Visits by Thomas E., Andrew Berry, and Isaac K. Berry to their mother were not frequent due to the work they were engaged in. Andrew Berry made a trip in May 1880 in order to visit with his mother and the Berry children who had returned from school for the summer.
In May 1881 Thomas E. Berry was reappointed as the Indian trader at Pawnee Agency.
He established a branch trading post at Pawnee ferry, located on the Arkansas river, for the accommodation of the Osage Indians, camped nearby at that time. He put Daniel Grant of Arkansas City in charge of the new post.
Along with his duties as Indian trader, Thomas E. Berry joined with two of his brothers, Andrew A. and Isaac K. Berry, in holding stock in the Indian Territory.
The following advertisement appeared in the October 5, 1881, issue of the Traveler.
I. K. BERRY THOS. BERRY A. A. BERRY
P. O. Pawnee Agency, Indian Territory.
Raisers and Dealers in
CATTLE, HORSES AND HOGS
Cattle Brand: Cross on right side and B on right hip.
Horse Brand: B on Left Shoulder.
Brands as above; any information of missing stock will be rewarded.
On October 17, 1881, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Berry, of Pawnee Agency, became the parents of another boy.
The Berry Brothers began to obtain thoroughbred bulls in April 1882 to add to their large herd, determined to keep up the grade of their stock. They transported large numbers of cattle to the Kansas City market in June 1882, in charge of King Berry.
Stacy Matlack became licensed by the U. S. Department of the Interior in June 1882, which gave Pawnee Agency two traders: Thomas E. Berry and Stacy Matlack.
A town called “Shawneetown,” became established on the Pawnee Reservation, from which Andrew Berry and a younger brother, George, brought a herd of good average Indian ponies to Arkansas City and Winfield for sale in September 1882. They had no trouble in selling them and returned in October. In the latter part of November 1882 Thomas E., Isaac K., and George Berry drove up 154 head of fat steers and 340 hogs from Shawneetown, Indian Territory, to be fed in the vicinity of Searing & Mead’s Mill during the winter.
In December 1882 the Berry Brothers placed an ad for 600 bushels of corn at Searing & Mead’s Mill, offering to pay the current prices at Arkansas City. This was followed by more ads by Berry Brothers (T. E., I. K., and A. A.), showing their post office address as Pawnee Agency, Indian Territory. The following ad was placed by Thomas E. Berry.
Arkansas City Traveler, December 27, 1882.
THOS E. BERRY
-Jobber and dealer in-
HORSES, HOGS, CATTLE, AND
General Merchandise, etc.
Will put up stock for drovers.
Shawneetown, Ind. Ter.
In February 1883 King Berry shipped 182 head of cattle and two car loads of hogs, fed near Searing & Mead’s Mill, to Kansas City, selling them at good prices.
A month later Thomas E. Berry, of Shawneetown, Indian Territory, came to Arkansas City with a number of teams, which he loaded up with products for the Indian country, and to attend the marriage of his brother, Isaac K.(“King”) Berry.
Isaac K. Berry was married to Miss Laura B. Nipp, daughter of Captain J. B. Nipp, at that time the Creswell township trustee and owner of a livery stable in Arkansas City. They were married by the Rev. W. H. Harris in Arkansas City on March 8, 1883. After their honeymoon Mr. and Mrs. King Berry settled at Shawneetown, Indian Territory.
In June 1883 it was noted by the Traveler that Thomas E. Berry had sold 300 head of stock to Col. J. C. McMullen, of Winfield.
King Berry visited in Arkansas City in June 1883, after taking in the Stockmen’s meeting at Caldwell. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac K. Berry took up residence in Arkansas City in August 1883 after he retired from the firm of Thomas E. Berry and Brothers. The business continued under the name of Thos. E. Berry & Bros.
In late August Thomas E. Berry and another citizen from Arkansas City, R. E. Grubbs, were involved in a narrow escape from death when the passenger train they were on collided with a freight train at Osage City, badly injuring the engineer and fireman, and demolishing the baggage and express car. Thomas Berry spent some days visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Isaac K. Berry before returning to Shawneetown, Indian Territory. Soon after his departure Mr. and Mrs. King Berry moved to the Pottawatomie Agency, where Mr. Berry began to run the trading store at Sacred Heart Mission.
George Berry took charge of the stock held by the Berry brothers. The following ad appeared in the Traveler on October 10, 1883.
AD. T. E. BERRY & BROS. (Geo. Berry in charge.) P. O. Address, Shawneetown, Indian Territory, or Pawnee Agency, Indian Territory.
Cattle Brands: Cross and bell on left side.
Young cattle brands: With cross and bell on both sides.
Old stock: B cross on right side and cross bell on left side.
Other brand: bow and arrow on right side.
Horse Brand: Cross bell on left shoulder.
From time to time the Berry brothers visited in Arkansas City with their mother and friends. In April 1884 the Traveler commented about one of the Berry brothers.
“That puny specimen of manhood, Andrew Berry, whose life in the Territory has so worn upon him that he only weighs about 200 pounds, dropped into the city of surprise last Wednesday and spent a few hours looking up old friends. Andrew says he has been sick, which in a measure accounts for his present condition.”
In July 1884 Capt. J. B. Nipp returned from an extended trip to Winfield and Indian Territory in order to visit with his daughter, Mrs. I. K. Berry, of Osmit, Indian Territory. By this time Capt. Nipp was in the process of divesting himself of his stable in Arkansas City and purchasing a home in Winfield, where he would take up his duties as Cowley County Treasurer in October 1884.
Thomas E. Berry sold his trading store at Shawneetown, Indian Territory in July 1884 to Adam Clark. He began to visit Arkansas City and vicinity in search of a different business. It appeared for awhile that he might open up an elevator at Udall.
In August a Kansas City newspaper heard from one of its correspondents that Thomas E. Berry was going to devote his time exclusively to cattle and that King Berry had shipped five car loads of beef steers from Tulsa, Indian Territory, to St. Louis, getting his cattle through for $50 per car from the Territory, while shippers in Kansas had to pay $40 to Kansas City. King Berry became the postmaster at Osmit, Sacred Heart Mission, in addition to handling his duties as trader. He also succeeded in establishing a mail line to Osmit.
Thomas E. Berry settled in Wellington, Kansas, in September 1884.
King Berry moved to the new town of Ashland, in Clark County, Kansas, in November 1884. This town was laid out by a group of businessmen from Winfield in October that year. It was reported that there were thirty houses up and foundations laid for others in November. Ashland was located on Bear Creek, at the intersection of two of the western trails. The following report about Ashland appeared in the November 20, 1884, issue of the Winfield Courier. “Already a newspaper is running in full blast. It has hotels, restaurants, and almost every modern convenience. Every deed given by the Town Company provides that should intoxicating liquors be sold on the premises, the deed becomes null and void. It is to be emphatically a temperance town. Mr. W. R. McDonald, of this city, is president; and Messrs. Fipp, Hughes, Cooper, Taylor, Averil, Gibson, Bullene, Kinnear, Hall, Berry, Gridley, Hudson Bros., Greer, and several others constitute the town company. It is located near the center of Clark County, and will be the county seat when the county is organized. The settlers are pouring into the county and claims are being taken rapidly. The land is good and the general lay of the country smooth. A very large number of Cowley County people have taken claims around the new town. Many other persons from this vicinity are going out to take claims or engage in business.”
Thomas E. Berry testified in Washington, D. C., in January 1885 concerning the land lease cases being investigated in the Indian Territory.
Assistance Rendered to a Boomer.
George Berry maintained the Berry Brothers’ ranch in Indian Territory. On January 18, 1885, it was visited by Frank Martin, of Hutchinson, Kansas, who was part of the Boomer group under Capt. Couch. Martin got lost while out hunting, and after traveling for two days and nights without fire or food, completely exhausted, fell asleep. When he awoke he found that his feet were frozen. Determined to save his life, Martin pushed forward till he came to the Berry ranch, where he was provided with a pony. He reached Couch’s camp on the same day. He received medical treatment for two weeks and then came to Arkansas City and placed himself in charge of Dr. Sparks, who amputated four of his toes.
Trespassing Upon the Indian Territory.
In answer to a telegram from the secretary of war, relative to the exact condition of affairs in Oklahoma, Gen. Hatch telegraphed from Caldwell, Kansas, that no trespassers were now on the Indian Territory. About 1,200 settlers, he said, were camped in Kansas, near the territory border. They were threatening to go over the line, but as yet had taken no steps of that kind. Troops are stationed in the territory, the general said, and will drive out any invaders who may attempt to settle on the lands.
At a meeting of the cabinet, the Oklahoma question was considered at length. It was said the impression prevailed among those who contemplated an invasion of the territory that President Arthur’s proclamation relative to the trespassing upon the Indian lands had become inoperative with the end of his administration. To prevent such action by the invaders as would naturally arise upon the prevalence of such impression, it was thought best that President Cleveland should issue a proclamation similar to that issued by President Arthur while chief executive. As a result, the following proclamation was made by President Cleveland on March 13, 1885.
WHEREAS, It is alleged that certain individuals, associations, persons, and corporations are in unauthorized possession of a portion of the territory known as the Oklahoma lands, within the Indian Territory, which are designated, described, and recognized by the executive authority thereto, as Indian lands, and
WHEREAS, It is further alleged that certain other persons or associations within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States have begun and set on foot preparations for organized and forcible entry and settlement upon the aforesaid lands and are now threatening such entry and occupation, and
WHEREAS, The laws of the United States provide for the removal of persons residing or being found upon such Indian lands and territory without permission expressly and legally obtained of the interior department.
Now, therefore, for the purpose of protecting the public interest, as well as the interests of the Indian nations and tribes, and to the end that no person or persons may be induced to enter upon said territory, where they will not be allowed to remain, without the permission or authority as aforesaid, I, Grover Cleveland, president of the United States, do hereby warn and admonish all and every person or persons now in occupation of said lands, and all such person or persons as are intending, preparing, or threatening to enter in or settle upon the same, that they will not be allowed to remain thereon, and that if due regard for, and voluntary obedience to the laws and treaties of the United States this admonition and warning be not sufficient to effect the purposes and intentions of the government as herein declared, the military power of the United States will be invoked to abate all such unauthorized possession, to prevent such threatened entry and occupation, and to remove all such intruders from said Indian lands.
Boomer Resolution Names Berry Brothers and Other Cattlemen.
At the time of Cleveland’s proclamation, the Boomers were headquartered at Arkansas City, Kansas. Over a thousand colonists held a meeting at their camp ground in Arkansas City, and adopted the following resolution on March 14, 1885, without a dissenting voice.
WHEREAS, Payne’s Oklahoma colony in Arkansas City have received with surprise and astonishment the full text of the proclamation issued by President Cleveland on the 13th inst., wherein it is asserted that we have organized for a forcible entrance upon the aforesaid Oklahoma lands; and
WHEREAS, The law of the United States which provides for the removal of persons residing upon Indian lands, cannot in any way apply to the aforesaid Oklahoma lands; and
WHEREAS, At the present time large numbers of cattlemen and cattle syndicates are occupying these same lands with permanent improvements, for grazing and farming purposes, among whom might be mentioned Berry Bros., Burke & Martin, Fitzgerald Bros., McClellan Cattle Co., Hewins & Titus, Williams Bros., Standard Oil Co., B. H. Campbell, J. Sanderson, Belle Plain Cattle Co., John Purcell, Butler Co., Ben Keith, Quartermaster Clerk Hauser, and the same are not, nor have been disturbed or ejected from the lands, we can see no justice or reason for the enforcement of the order in the case of actual settlers which is not enforced upon the cattlemen who continue to hold thousands of cattle upon these lands; therefore be it
Resolved, That in our opinion President Cleveland has not been made acquainted with the full status of the situation which we had hoped and believed would be done before he made any public utterance, and we yet demand a thorough and speedy investigation and explanation as to why the settlers are ejected and the rich syndicates allowed to remain, and further we condemn the misrepresentation of Gen. Hatch in stating to the secretary of war that there were no trespassers now in the Indian Territory. To our knowledge and also to that of General Hatch, the above named cattlemen are holding large herds upon these lands.
Be it further
Resolved, That we demand of President Cleveland an explanation of the laws and treaties governing said Oklahoma lands by which he claims said lands are Indian lands and we impatiently await a most speedy reply, and we instruct our president to forward these resolutions by telegraph to President Cleveland.
These resolutions were immediately forwarded to President Cleveland.
Isaac K. Berry paid for the job department of the Arkansas City Traveler to produce some work for Berry Bros., of Ashland, Clark County, Kansas, in mid-March 1885. King Berry came to Arkansas City when the job was completed to pick it up and return to Ashland.
Improvements by Berry Bros. and Other Cattlemen Destroyed.
On March 25, 1885, the Kansas City Times printed a report from their correspondent in Arkansas City, who telegraphed that Gen. Hatch had ordered a troop of cavalry to proceed at once to Oklahoma and destroy the permanent improvements of the ranches of Berry Bros. and Burke & Martin. Furthermore, Hatch ordered that they must leave Indian Territory. The Times reported that this action should be construed as the inauguration of the policy of the interior department for the removal of all unauthorized stock men in Oklahoma.
This action brought about the demise of the cattle business conducted by the Berry Bros. in Indian Territory.
Thomas E. Berry and Isaac K. Berry Reunite in Ashland.
In mid-November, 1885, the Clark County News, of Ashland, Kansas, announced the following: “Mr. E. S. Miner has sold out his stock of dry goods to Thomas E. Berry, who will hereafter conduct the business at the same place. We are sorry to see Spence go out of business. He has been a pillar of strength to our town, and we hope he will yet conclude to remain with us.”
In mid-December 1885 the Ashland Herald noted that Capt. J. B. Nipp, treasurer of Cowley County, came in on the coach from Dodge to visit his son-in-law, King Berry, for several weeks.
Andrew A. Berry.
The March 31, 1886, issue of the Arkansas City Traveler had an article about the upcoming round-up work to be done starting May 1, 1886, by the Sac and Fox Agency Live-stock Association through its executive committee. Andrew A. Berry was a member of that committee. Regulations were outlined by the Association: “There is to be no card playing or gambling of any kind, no horse racing, no buying or trading in cattle by anyone, unless he be a member of the association or an employee.”
The Berry Bros. did not lose their ranch. On February 12, 1887, the Arkansas City Republican had the following item: “Geo. Berry came up this morning from the Berry Bros. Ranch down on the Cimarron River. He brought 150 head of hogs up with him. He will take them over in Sumner County to feed.”
[Note: The Berry Brothers originated the Cross-Bell Brand. This brand, and the Berry ranch, were mentioned in the book, “The Mullendore Murder Case,” by Jonathan Kwitny. In the book George Berry is prominently mentioned. It turned out he was farming near Stillwater, Oklahoma, when he brought his sister, Jennie, to the farm to serve in the capacity of his housekeeper. George was later elected Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma and served for eighteen years. His sister, Jennie, married Erd C. Mullendore in 1897.]