In January 1886 C. M. Wood wrote a series of articles in the Winfield Courier, detailing the events which occurred when he became the first settler south of Timber Creek on the Walnut River north of the future city of Winfield. On April 20, 1869, Wood, accompanied by a small party of white men, built a log cabin and used part of it as a store to trade with the Osage Indians, beginning his efforts on June 16, 1869. Soon he became embroiled with different factions of the Osage tribe: the Bill Hills and the Little Osages. The Big Hills insisted that Wood should leave. The Little Osage chief, Chetopa, through the Osage interpreter, Bill Conner, sent written instructions to C. M. Wood that he and his party must leave, go up the river, and when the Osage Indians had departed on their hunt, come back. Wood was told his cabin would not be burned providing he brought more goods. Wood and his party were assisted by the Osage chief, Hard Rope, in crossing the swollen river. After getting fresh goods and drivers for his wagons, Wood learned on his way back to his claim that it had been burned down. Undaunted he continued, leaving his trade goods at Douglass, and built another cabin. Thanks to the timely arrival of Chetopa and his party, Wood and his companion, Patterson, were assisted in saving the second structure by an elderly member of Chetopa’s party after the Osage Indians returned from their hunt. However, this time Wood also left with the other claim jumpers. Only T. B. Ross and his family stayed.
By November 1869 C. M. Wood was once more back in Cowley County and was part of the group that started the “Cowley County Citizens’ Protective Union.” This association was formed to provide mutual protection to citizens, both in claims and property. At that time the settlement of numerous squatter cabins was known as Lagonda, an Osage Indian name for “clear water,” but most of the settlers used the old name, “Dutch Creek.”
C. M. Wood never obtained a license to become a trader. In late November 1869 the Osage Indians asked him to get them a trader. He wrote to T. H. Baker and E. C. Manning, who had previously located a store at Augusta and had a permit to trade with the Indians on the Walnut river, stating facts in the case, and telling them that they could depend on Wood for any help he could render. A few days later Mr. Baker came down with one wagon load of goods to see what he could do. Wood went with him on the next day down the Walnut river about four miles where Baker traded off nearly everything he brought for buffalo robes. Baker arranged with Wood to build at once a log house for a trading post and claim house. Wood built a neat log house 14 by 22 feet, 30 rods due south of his cabin. Manning at this time was at Manhattan. Baker wrote to Manning what he was doing, telling him that Wood was holding his claim for him and that he must come on at once.
The above statement made by C. M. Wood in 1866 contradicts the statement made in the Centennial Issue of the Winfield Courier on Thursday, January 6, 1876, concerning the history of Winfield. E. C. Manning was the editor at the time.
“In November and December of 1869, E. C. Manning erected a small log building on the claim south of C. M. Wood. It was designed for a claim house and store. During the winter of 1869 and 1870 Baker & Manning kept a small stock of goods therein for trade with settlers and Indians. At that time there was no land surveyed in the county and the settlers marked the boundaries of their claims with stakes driven at the corners, and claim disputes were settled by tribunals, called settlers’ unions, or by public meetings before whom the respective claimants presented their cases. C. M. Wood had taken the claim immediately north of where Winfield now stands, which he occupied until he left the county last fall.”
E. C. Manning arrived in late December 1869 with Mr. A. A. Jackson. Mr. Jackson built a foundation and then secured some lumber with which to build a frame house. While at work on his material in front of Baker & Manning’s store, where he was employed by them to look after the store, sells goods, etc., some parties hailing from Topeka took Jackson’s claim by hauling logs onto the land and putting them up for a house. The settlers called together members of the “Protection Union” and notified the claim jumpers to appear and show cause for such a proceeding. They did not come. As a result a committee composed of C. M. Wood and others was sent to tell the claim-jumpers they had until 9:00 a.m. on the following morning to vacate the claim or face the consequences. The committee was met with hostility, one man pulling his gun. However, they moved on down the river and took up some good claims in what became known as “South Bend.” They soon sold their claims to good advantage and departed. Jackson went on with his building and sold his claim on August 20, 1870, to J. C. Fuller and D. A. Millington for $1,000, who, with E. C. Manning, made arrangements to lay out more territory as a town site, which became Winfield.
C. M. Wood farmed and participated in activities in Winfield: the veterans’ meetings and the start of fair grounds (24 acres on the east side of Main Street just south of the city) in 1872. In August 1873 he was required to give a $2,000 bond to obey an injunction brought against him by J. W. Millspaugh, receiver. A suit against C. M. Wood by Millspaugh dragged on for a number of years. Mr. Wood was forced to sell his farm adjoining the townsite of Winfield for a reputed $4,000 in September 1875 to the father of Mrs. W. P. Hackney, Mr. Barnett B. Vandeventer of Versailles, Iowa. Cliff Wood moved his family to Point Marble Head, Ottawa County, Ohio, where he became a senior member in a firm dealing largely in Government contracts, furnishing heavy block stone for public parks. Wood returned to Winfield in December 1875, purchasing two additional lots from the Winfield Town Company adjoining his residence in Winfield, paying cash for them.
On March 16, 1876, the Winfield Courier announced that Cliff Wood was coming back due to the Democratic Congress busting those government contracts. By April 20, 1876, the C. M. Wood family had returned to Winfield.
Before the return of C. M. Wood to Winfield in 1876, other events occurred.
A. A. Jackson was the Cowley County Clerk from November 8, 1870, until January 11, 1874. He established and operated the first furniture store in Winfield during October 1870. By 1872 Jackson had a partner, Capt. T. B. Myers. This partnership was dissolved in August 1872. A. A. Jackson constructed a building on the east side of Main Street, three doors south of the Lagonda House, which was soon occupied after its completion in 1873. Presbyterian services were held for some time in the Jackson building. Jackson became involved in civic events. He joined up with L. J. Webb in giving a ball at the Lagonda House in July 1873. Jackson, who had served in the Illinois 12th Voluntary Infantry, called a meeting of soldiers who had served in the Union Army living in Cowley and adjoining counties to a meeting at Winfield on October 18, 1873, to get acquainted. As a result, about 150 veterans showed up and a permanent organization was started in Cowley County. Jackson and Webb put on a soldiers’ ball in December 1873 attended by about 90 couples, who stated “the courtroom makes a splendid dancing-hall.” Soon the team of Jackson and Webb put on another benefit for Adelphi Lodge, A. F. & A. M., in the same location.
Mr. W. L. Mullen was a veteran, serving with Co. I, 16th Illinois Infantry. In 1873 at the age of forty-six, Mr. Mullen was a merchant in Winfield, handling groceries and provisions. He went back to Illinois in 1873 and married a lady he had known in his youth, Mrs. Anna Doane, also forty-six, who was a childhood sweetheart. The couple returned to Winfield, where he continued in business as a grocer. Mrs. Anna Mullen was the mother of A. H. and F. W. Doane, both of whom at a later date settled in Winfield. Mrs. Mullen devoted herself to assisting in the local Ladies’ Library Association.
A. A. Jackson acquired 200 head of hogs in October 1874, putting the fat on them at the rate of 2½ pounds a day each. In November 1874 Mr. Jackson became a partner of W. L. Mullen, who often paid cash for hogs and by 1874 owned over 1,000 hogs. Jackson and Mullen established an extensive pork packing house in Winfield in November 1874, having on hand 500 head of fine porkers to slaughter, and bought and packed pork all winter. They advertised that they would have constantly on hand for sale bacon, hams, shoulders, and lard at the lowest rates, calling attention to their hog’s heads, pig’s feet, spare ribs, and back-bone. Their venture started when feed for hogs was cheap. The packing house was discontinued after one season.
W. L. Mullen announced that he would retire as a grocer in October 1875. In June 1876 Mullen sold the remainder of his stock of goods to Messrs. McGuire & Smith. They took over Mullen’s old stand, and began selling dry goods and groceries.
C. M. Wood’s First Partner in Handling Hogs: W. L. Mullen.
After his return to Winfield in 1876, C. M. Wood became a partner of W. L. Mullen. The partners established a feed lot for their hogs. On August 17, 1876, the Winfield Courier announced that Messrs. Mullen and Wood had sold their drove of fat hogs to a Kansas City buyer. On October 5, 1876, they placed a card in the Courier. “Mullen & Wood, Dealers in Hogs, Winfield, Kansas. Have some thoroughbred Berkshire and Poland China shoats on hand which they will dispose of at reasonable figures, for breeding purposes.”
Mullen and Wood were rarely mentioned in the Winfield Courier, whose editor was E. C. Manning, replaced temporarily during his attempt to become elected as a state senator again by Wirt Walton. Only after Manning resigned as editor on August 23, 1877, did the newspaper give proper coverage to the hog partnership of Mullen and Wood. An accident that occurred to C. M. Wood was covered after the fact.
Winfield Courier, January 4, 1877.
Cliff Wood is again able to walk without a cane.
Winfield Courier, February 22, 1877.
Messrs. Mullen & Wood have gone to Wichita with their hogs. It will cost them over two hundred dollars to drive them to that point. But for all that Mr. Wood is opposed to changing the law so that we can get a railroad.
Winfield Courier, February 22, 1877.
J. H. Saunders, who lives six miles northeast of Winfield, brought us by wagon one Poland China shoat on the 3rd day of January, weighing 27½ pounds. We fed the same on corn and water, until January 30th, at which time it weighed 330 pounds. This we think a pretty good gain, but we have quite a number of hogs in our feed lot which have done as well and some much better. MULLEN & WOOD. Winfield, February 16, 1877.
Winfield Courier, April 19, 1877.
The war prospect in Europe stiffens the market for pork and breadstuffs. Exchange.
There, that’s just our luck. We have sold our last pig to Cliff Wood and now a foreign war sends pork sky high.
Winfield Courier, October 4, 1877.
On last Friday we met Mr. C. M. Wood on the way to Wichita with a drove of fat hogs.
C. M. Wood became a city councilman in April 1878. His actions soon brought comments from Editor Millington of the Winfield Courier to which Wood, a member of the Railroad Committee of the City Council, responded.
Winfield Courier, May 30, 1878. C. M. Wood has returned from Topeka. He has not yet displayed the contents of his gripsack.
Winfield Courier, June 6, 1878. Editorial.
The following letter has been addressed to each township trustee in the county. We hope they will take action at once, and send a representative man to meet with the committee.
Winfield, Kansas, May 30th, 1878. Dear Sir: Your attention is called to the fact that the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. company has made some advances toward building a railroad through this county. A committee has been appointed by the citizens of this place to confer, and take such steps as may secure the construction of said road. Your township is respectfully requested to send a delegate to meet with the committee at this place on Saturday, June 8th, at 2 o’clock p.m., at the Courthouse.
By order of committee. C. M. WOOD, Secretary.
The above letter is not as explicit as it might be. The committee think the time has arrived to strike for the extension of the Santa Fe road into this county, and desire to lay before committees from other townships such facts as they have, and consult with them as to what course is the best to pursue. We do not understand that a road is promised this year, but that the company require plenty of time for all emergencies, placing the time of completion at August 1, 1879, at farthest.
City Commissioner Wood responded on June 1, 1878. “Brother Millington: That little joke you attempted to perpetrate on me last week about bringing the A. T. & S. F. R. R. to Winfield in my gripsack is pretty thin. Had it been a narrow gauge railroad that I had been after, it would not have been unreasonable that I should have brought it home in a gripsack.”
Winfield Courier, August 8, 1878.
C. M. Wood has bought a Poland-China pig less than five months old that weighs 248 pounds. Sire and dam both imported from Illinois.
Winfield Courier, August 22, 1878.
Mullen & Wood are “rounding up” for another drive of fat hogs. They will have about 300 in this drive and will take them to Wichita. They are buying stock hogs also.
Winfield Courier, August 29, 1878.
Mullen & Wood are paying 2½ cents for hogs in round lots. There has been a break in the market, hogs one-half cent off.
Mr. C. M. Wood on last Sunday morning was attacked by a 250 pound boar who seized him by the leg, threw him down, and commenced “chawing him up” in the most ferocious manner. R. B. Waite came to the rescue and saved C. M. from being turned into pork. It seems the hog fortunately was not equipped with tusks and therefore his victim was not torn but only bruised.
Wood was again in trouble when he was a city councilman, as a suit was brought, charging him with drunkenness in office. The suit was dismissed in court.
Winfield Courier, September 12, 1878. Editorial.
Last week, under the head of “District Court,” we announced that the case of the State vs. C. M. Wood was dismissed. This action was brought with the view of ousting the defendant from his office as Councilman of the City of Winfield on the charge of taking too much whiskey. The dismissal of the case for want of evidence is as complete a vindication of Mr. Wood as would have been a trial and acquittal. C. M. Wood has been peculiarly energetic, efficient, and valuable as a member of the city council and has always had the welfare of the city at heart. We can point with pride to our miles of fine stone sidewalks, among the best in the state, and to many other valuable improvements and regulations, most of the credit of which is due to him, and we are not among those who are always ready to “sit down on” every man who has labored earnestly and efficiently for the good of our city and county.
Winfield Courier, September 19, 1878.
We are informed that at the suggestion of Acting Mayor Wood, card tables have been abolished from the saloons of the city. This we believe to be a good move, both on the part of the city and the saloon men, as nearly every difficulty that has occurred has been over a game of cards. This is, we understand, a mutual agreement between the city and the saloon men.
Winfield Courier, September 26, 1878.
We have to call attention to the notice of Mullen, Wood, Lynn, and Waite in regard to trespasses on their feed lots. These gentlemen say that they have had quite a number of hogs shot and killed by some malicious or careless persons. They intend that if there is a law in this country for the protection of stock to enforce it.
All persons are forbidden from entering our feed lots or traversing the Walnut River between them with or without fire-arms of any kind. Any such trespassers will be dealt with according to law. MULLEN & WOOD, J. B. LYNN, R. B. WAITE.
Winfield Courier, February 20, 1879. Cliff Wood returned from Wichita last Sunday night, where he has been selling hogs. He reports the hog market tolerably dull.
Winfield Courier, February 27, 1879. Mullen and Wood started to Wichita with another drove of hogs last Tuesday.
Winfield Courier, March 13, 1879. Mr. C. M. Wood returned from Kansas City on Sunday evening, having disposed of his hogs. He reports the hog market is “down.”
Winfield Courier, May 8, 1879. Mullen & Wood are making preparations for another drive of hogs in a few days. It will be the largest drive this season, as they have about eight hundred head of very fine hogs, and are receiving others every day.
Winfield Courier, May 15, 1879. Owing to the low prices of hogs in the market, Mullen & Wood have put off their drive for awhile. Their stock is doing well, and in case there should be no advance, they will get well paid for their care and attention. They have on hand 700 head and more to come in when called for, all in splendid condition.
Winfield Courier, May 29, 1879. Mullen & Wood started yesterday morning driving 800 of the finest hogs ever driven out of this county. We think they will strike a good market.
Winfield Courier, June 26, 1879.
W. J. Hodges started to Wichita today with another large drove of hogs, some 700 in number. Messrs. Mullen and Wood will also start about July 1st with a drove of 1206. The total of the many droves which have been taken out since Jan. 1st will be over 4,500 and the average price paid has been about $2.50 per hundred pounds. The price is now $2.90, nearly equal to Wichita prices. The gentlemen above named have been dealing largely in hogs and have been content with a small margin, thereby making a good market at home and keeping money here that would otherwise be carried out of the county.
Winfield Courier, July 31, 1879.
Wichita Herald: Twenty-four car loads of hogs left this point by the Tuesday morning’s train consigned to the popular commission house of Jas. Telley & Co., Kansas City. The hogs belong to Messrs. Mullen and Wood of Winfield and M. H. West of this city. This, we believe, is the largest consignment of stock to one house that has left here for some years.
It was thought after Mullen & Wood had forwarded their late enormous shipment of 24 car loads of hogs that on account of the decline they would lose $2,000 at least, but before they sold the prices had so far recovered that they cleared about $500.
Winfield Courier, August 21, 1879. Mullen and Wood shipped by wagon 141 fat hogs to Wichita for shipment to Kansas City, on the 17th. This makes 2,600 fat hogs that they have sent to market in the last six months.
Winfield Courier, October 9, 1879.
The Fair. The thoroughbred Poland China boar, owned by Mr. Wood, carried a whole tail full of blue ribbons, and was a magnificent hog.
Soon after the railroad came to Winfield in 1879, the situation changed. Winfield began to receive shipments of hogs.
Winfield Courier, January 27, 1881. Fourteen wagon loads of hogs came in Monday and were readily disposed of at $4 per hundred. Five or six loads of wheat also came in; 85 cents was the highest bid. Wood is worth $5.00 per cord.
Winfield Courier, September 22, 1881.
The writer was among the hundreds of Cowley County people who spent last week at the Topeka State Fair, and unlike Cliff Wood and R. B. Pratt, he is glad of it. They had their pockets picked. He didn’t. Topeka pickpockets have long ago learned to know newspapermen and respect them. They never try to get a nickel out of one.
C. M. Wood and W. L. Mullen did not advertise that their partnership had ended. The only item concerning this appeared in the following newspaper.
Cowley County Courant, November 17, 1881.
C. M. WOOD, LIVE STOCK DEALER AND SHIPPER. Office two doors south of the banks, Winfield, Kansas.
C. M. Wood’s Second Partner in Handling Hogs: George W. Miller.
George W. Miller was born in Crab Orchard, Kentucky, in 1841. His parents were G. W. and Elmina Fish Miller. His father died when Miller was three and he was raised by his grandfather, John Fish. (He had a brother, Walter T. Miller, born in 1837, who lived in Tisdale township in 1911-1912. W. T. Miller was admitted as a patient in 1912 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Winfield, where he died in 1917. The family never mentioned him even though they attended and paid for his funeral.)
According to a story supplied by the Miller family, George W. Miller inherited his grandfather’s plantation, operated by slaves. After the Civil war it could not be run profitably. Mr. G. W. Miller married Mary Ann (Molly) Carson in 1866. Their first child, Joseph Carson Miller, was born March 12, 1868, in Crab Orchard. In 1870 the Miller family sold their interest in the plantation in order to move to California, stopping in the fall of 1870 at Newtonia, Missouri, where G. W. Miller started buying hogs for slaughter, and making bacon and smoked hams. He also started a store in this town of 200 inhabitants. Mr. Miller learned that he could trade 100 pounds of bacon in Texas for a marketable steer. He left his wife in charge of the store on February 16, 1871, as he loaded 10 wagons with 20,000 pounds of slab bacon and ham and started on the trail to Texas. He found in San Saba County, Texas, that he could get one steer for 50 pounds of bacon. He acquired 400 steers and drove them over the eastern trail to arrive at the south border of Kansas near Baxter Springs, Kansas, after Easter Sunday. He obtained permission from the Quapaw Indians to graze his cattle on their reservation near Miami, Oklahoma. This was his first cattle ranch and it was so successful that he gave up all thought of going to California.
The first mention of George W. Miller in the Winfield Courier appeared in its November 24, 1881, issue. “Mr. Geo. W. Miller has bought the Lindsey property in this city and located here as a permanent home. He is one of the leading cattle kings of this country and has now about 5,000 head of cattle on the range in the Territory. He has selected Winfield as his headquarters, because it has good society, churches, and schools, and a wide awake people, making it the most desirable place for his family, consisting of a wife and four children.”
The partnership of George W. Miller and C. M. Wood as hog buyers was first mentioned by a correspondent of the Winfield Courier in the December 22, 1881, issue of the paper.
[BEAVER TOWNSHIP CORRESPONDENT: “GRANGER.”]
Winfield Courier, December 22, 1881. Quite a number of fat hogs have been delivered at Winfield during the week. Mr. Miller being a new buyer, bought the most of them at good prices. Miller and Wood made things lively last week.
Winfield Courier, December 29, 1881.
The premium lot of hogs that have been put on the market this year was brought in by Mart Mull, of Tisdale Township, Tuesday. There were fifty-eight hogs in the lot, and they weighed 17,450 pounds, an average of a little over three hundred each. The lot brought $985.92. Mr. Miller was the purchaser at $5.65 per hundred. Mr. Mull was offered eleven hundred dollars for the lot at the pens, but preferred to weigh them.
Winfield Courier, December 29, 1881.
A neat little swindle was perpetrated on Cliff Wood and a hog buyer of Arkansas City last week. A fellow claiming to be J. Parr, of Grouse Creek, went to Arkansas City and sold a lot of hogs at a fixed price to be delivered at a certain time and secured twenty dollars down to bind the bargain. He then came to Winfield and repeated the sale to Cliff Wood, getting sixty dollars down. When the time came for delivery, the hogs were not brought in, and an officer was sent down to Grouse Creek to see about it. He found Mr. Townsend Parr, who was somewhat astonished to learn that he sold eighty dollars worth of hogs and got the money for them. He came to Arkansas City; but as soon as the hog buyers saw him, they said he wasn’t the man. It was afterward learned that the fellow was a slick swindler.
Cowley County Courant, January 12, 1882.
Miller & Wood seem to lead Southern Kansas in the purchase of hogs for shipment. They shipped Wednesday five carloads from Oxford, one from Winfield, one from Cambridge, and one from Burden. They have, during the past thirty days, shipped about forty carloads. While Miller remains in our city looking after the business here, Cliff Wood is out in the country buying all the hogs he can find.
Arkansas City Traveler, January 18, 1882. Cliff Wood, ex-mayor of Winfield, visits this place occasionally to purchase and ship porkers.
Winfield Courier, May 17, 1883.
Mr. Spruens, of Beaver Township, sold thirteen hogs Saturday to Cliff Wood, averaging 367 pounds, for which he received $6.60 per hundred.
[AKRON CORRESPONDENT: “ZEBIDEE.”]
Winfield Courier, October 18, 1883.
Gammon Brothers marketed 48 head of hogs at Seeley last Wednesday. They were sold to Miller & Wood of Winfield for $4.12½ per hundred and averaged 340 lbs. a head.
Cliff Wood retired in June 1884. This brought an end to his partnership with Miller. The following announcement was made that month.
Winfield Courier, June 19, 1884.
Master Joe. Miller, son of Geo. W. Miller, our stock dealer, has returned from school at Richmond, Kentucky, and taken charge of his father’s business in this city, Cliff Wood having retired. Joe. shows more manliness and business than many boys very much older.
Joseph Carson Miller, oldest son of George W. Miller, was born March 12, 1868. Joe Miller was 15 years of age when he started handling hogs in Winfield for his father.
The following facts were given in Volume II—The Indians, History of Cowley County, Kansas, compiled and edited by Richard Kay and Mary Ann Wortman and Dr. William W. Bottorff.
“Arkansas City Traveler, May 15, 1878. About three hundred and fifty Ponca Indians had a grand war dance in the streets of Chetopa, Labette County, last Saturday. They were on their way to their new reservation west of the Arkansas.”
“Arkansas City Traveler, July 24, 1878. Gen. McNeil has been ordered to Fort Leavenworth, to superintend the removal of the Nez Perces Indians to their future home near Baxter Springs, formerly occupied by the Ponca Indians, who are now on their way to their new agency near Dean’s ranch, thirty-five miles south of this place.
The commissary at Ponca Agency was completed last Thursday evening, the total cost being $1,850. The building is 24 x 70 feet, ten feet high, and contains five rooms—two offices, store, council room, and storeroom. The balance of this tribe, numbering some 350, arrived on the same day, and their new agent, Mr. Whiteman, is expected this week.”
Chapter II of the book, “The 101 Ranch,” by Ellsworth Collings and Alma Miller England, first copyrighted in 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press, begins with the following events covering the journey of young Joe Miller to Ponca Chief White Eagle.
“It was in Baxter Springs that the long and happy association between the Millers and the Ponca Indians began and it was Colonel Miller and his eldest son Joe who converted what appeared to be a Ponca trail of tears into a happy journey to a new home in the present state of Oklahoma. The government had removed the Poncas from their northern home with the intention of exchanging that land for new land in the immense holdings of the Cherokee Nation in the Cherokee Strip. Unfortunately, the tribe was moved before arrangements with the Cherokees had been completed and then it was that Chief White Eagle and his tribe were waiting disconsolately at Baxter Springs, homesick for the north and increasingly uneasy as sickness afflicted many of the tribe, a sickness attributed to the new climate. Colonel Miller and Chief White Eagle had many conferences over the plight of the tribe and from those conferences arose a mutual and life-long respect. While inspecting land in the Cherokee Strip with a view to acquiring ranging rights for his cattle, Miller, Joe and a number of cowboys found themselves near the proposed Ponca reservation. They made camp and the father and son thoroughly investigated the new land. From his explanation Miller was satisfied that if White Eagle would visit the country he would accept the offer of the government and that after the natural homesickness of the Indians had been overcome they would find health and happiness in their new home. Knowing that White Eagle intended to leave soon for Washington to make final refusal of the land and to attempt once more to induce the government to return them to the north, Miller realized that it was imperative to convey what he had discovered to the chief. To send a written message under the circumstances would be worse than useless. Not wanting to abandon his own trip, Miller decided to send Joe as his messenger. Many fathers would have hesitated to send a mere boy on such a trip but Miller knew that his son was fully competent to care for himself under all conditions to be met in the open, as he had observed from the constant companionship of his son, and furthermore, Joe possessed other qualifications for the mission, for not only did he speak the Indian language with considerable fluency, which he had learned from Indian boys at Baxter Springs, but also he was thoroughly familiar with his father’s arguments and desires with regard to Ponca settlement in the Cherokee Strip. If Joe felt any hesitancy in starting upon the long ride to White Eagle’s camp at Baxter Springs, it was not evident as he rode away from his father’s camp with a boyish smile upon his face and a parting wave of the hand. He rode early and late through the Osage country and through the Cherokee Nation and arrived at the Ponca camp in less time than his father had expected. He was just in time, for White Eagle was planning to leave for Washington the next day. The chiefs and head men of the Poncas gathered that night in the tepee of White Eagle and for the first time in the memory of the tribe a white boy sat in the center of the council and answered their questions in their own tongue. Little did anyone in that council realize that in the years to come this boy, grown to manhood, would be in the council circle at White Eagle’s right hand and the Poncas would call him chief. Far into the night the Indians smoked and talked. The boy, hesitating at times as he searched his memory for the best word to use, answered their questions with a frankness and directness which convinced them of the truthfulness of his answers. With a stick Joe drew upon the dirt floor of the tepee a rough map of the country. He showed them where the Chicaskia met the Salt Fork and where that river ran into the Arkansas; where the valleys widened and where the high prairie was to be found. He told them of the horse high bluestem grass in the valleys and the heavy vines of wild grape in timbered bends; of the tall pecan trees and the thickets of wild plums; of the prairie chickens which flew from under the pony’s feet, and of the deer and turkey which ranged through the timber; of the red bluffs of the Salt Fork River, and the streams of water where a pony could always drink. They wondered when he told them how sand bars in summer whitened with salt. To the Poncas, homesick and famished, stricken with fever and with no land to call their own, the picture of the country made in their minds by the report of young Joe was that of the Promised Land. After this description, the Indians smoked in silence. With a look White Eagle questioned his chiefs; he found his answer in their eyes. Knocking the ashes from his pipe as a sign that the council was ended, the chief spoke to the boy, saying: “We have listened to you because you speak the words of your father. Your message is good and we knew him for our friend. Tomorrow I will ride with you and we will see this country of which you speak. I hope we will find a home for our people. You have ridden far to bring us this word and the Poncas do not forget. Now you shall sleep.”
The above story was footnoted. The source: 101 Magazine, April, 1925, p. 9.
This story was followed by a date: 1879.
“The next day Joe led White Eagle and a group of observers toward the land which he had so vividly described. The Indians found it so much to their liking that they returned to their people and advised that they accept the offer of the government. This was done and the Poncas moved in 1879 to their new home. There they still reside and they have not only found contentment and health but prosperity. White Eagle died February 1, 1914, at the age of ninety-seven years, but he lived to see his statement that the Poncas would not forget proved true.”
Joe Miller’s ride to White Eagle in 1879 is pure fabrication. Evidently someone did not check the date on which the Ponca Indians settled on their reservation.