Posts Tagged ‘American Indians’


June 22, 2008


Bass Reeves was born around 1838, in Texas or Arkansas, to Bass reeves, U.S. Marshallparents who were slaves of a Master named Reeves.  It was customary for slaves to take the surname of their master, so the family were known as Reeves also.  Bass’s mother worked in the kitchen, and his father was a house servant.  Bass was an active little boy, constantly underfoot in the big house, and he was a favorite.  When Bass came of age he became the personal servant of Master Reeves.  With the advent of the Civil War Master Reeves assumed the duties of a Confederate Officer, taking Bass with him as his man.

Bass evidently had no fear of his white superiors and evidently was treated almost as an equal.  One evening during the course of a card game an augment arose which came to blows.  Bass threw a punch which left his master out cold on the ground.  As it was a hanging offense for a slave to strike his master, Bass felt it in his best interest to flee the scene.

 Bass fled to the Indian Territories, where he joined the tribes in the Cherokee-Siminole Nations.  There he honed the skills in tracking and scouting that would serve him so well later in life.  He became a proficient shot with the pistols and rifles, in fact later he would be barred from shooting in Turkey Shoots.  One author stated that Bass participated  in the Civil War with the Cherokee Battalions.

When the war ended and blacks were freed he moved to western Kentucky where he married and had a son and daughter.  Bass did a little farming, but supplemented his income substantially by preforming duties for various peace officers as a scout and tracker.  His service also included enforcement things as small as petty misdemeanors to murder.

In 1875 Judge Isaac C. Parker, assumed jurisdiction of  the Fort Smith, Arkansas Federal Court.  This was 75,00 square miles of pure hell.  It was known as “The Indian Territory”, comprising what is now Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.  This was the home of all the Indians who had been transplanted from their eastern homes, and a refuge for criminals of every description.  Towns and villages were few and far between with little in the way of communication.  The Indians had no jurisdiction other than their own.  And the lawless elements were free to roam as they pleased, with no one to monitor them.

Judge Parker began by appointing some 200 Deputy U. S. Marshalls, some we have already met in previous chapters — Heck Thomas (Ned Cristie),  Bill Tighman (little Britches and Cattle Annie, The Doolin Gang).  Judge Parker was eager to enlist good black marshals when he could.  The Indians had a natural distrust of the white deputies, some had abused their powers, and the Indians often trusted Black Deputies more than their white counterparts.  There had been black freemen in the Five Civilized Tribes for years.  In some instances blacks had served as Indian Police, and had served on tribal councils for years.  Even in several towns blacks had been chiefs.

When Bass Reeves was called to Judge Parker’s attention he was delighted.  He felt that as a black marshal this man who boasted that “he knew the Indian territory like a woman knows her kitchen” would be a wise investment.

Bass was a natty dresser, his boots were always polished to a glossy shine, he favored a wide straight brimmed black hat with just slight upturn in the front.  One old timer stated that Bass wore his pistols in different fashions but favored them with the butts facing forward.  He carried a pair of 38-40 Colts, and liked a Winchester Carbine in the same caliber. (more…)



June 18, 2008


Cherokee BillCrawford Goldsby was born on February 8, 1876,  in Fort Concho, Texas.   He was one of four children born to St. George and Ellen Goldsby.   His sisters name was Georgia and the brothers Luther and Clarence.  The father (from Alabama) had been a member of the Tenth United States Cavalry, (The famed Buffalo soldiers).  He claimed to be black, Sioux, Mexican, and white.  He had gone AWOL from the army in Texas because of a fracas of some type.  He fled and found refuge in the Indian Territory .  Bill’s mother was believed to be one half black, one-forth white and one-forth Cherokee.  Born in the Delaware District of the Cherokee Nation, her parents had been slaves owned at one time by a Cherokee, Jeffery Beck.

 Abandoned by her husband in Texas, Bills mother went to her family at Fort Gibson – Indian Territory.  She in turn abandoned her son Crawford, leaving him in the care of a black woman, Amanda Foster.  He remained there until the age of seven, then moved to Fort Gibson with his mother.  He was then sent to the Cherokee, Kansas, Indian School.  He spent three years there, then was sent to Carlisle Industrial School for Indians in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for two years.  Seemingly to no avail, for some sources claim he could barley read or write.

After leaving school he returned to Oklahoma.

Crawford’s mother remarried when he was about thirteen.  He did not like or get along with his step- father.  He began to hang with the wrong crowd and started drinking liquor and rebelling against authority.

At fifteen, he went to live with his sister, Georgia, and her husband.

At seventeen, he worked on a ranch where it was said he was liked by all.

At eighteen  he attended a dance at Fort Gibson.  A fellow by the name of Jake Lewis beat up his little Bill Cook of The Cook Gangbrother.  Crawford shot him twice and, feeling that discretion was the better part of valor, he headed for the Creek and Seminole Nations.   There he would meet the Cook brothers Jim and Bill. 

( Oklahoma was not just the home of the Cherokee, this was where the government was trying to cram all the eastern Indians at the time.  This was land originally thought of as no one would want, but now the whites were eyeing large parts of it, wanting it for themselves.)

The Cooks were already wanted by the law.  In the summer of 1894 they persuaded a restaurant owner to go and collect some money that was due each of them from as payment for some land, in the sale of the Cherokee Strip.  She did collect the money for them, but was trailed by a  sheriff’s posse attempting to apprehend the Cook brothers.  There was a gunfight as a result,  with one wounded and one killed.  The restaurant owner was later questioned and asked if Crawford was one of the three.  She replied no that the third one was “the Cherokee Kid”.  This is where Crawford obtained his nickname of Cherokee Bill.

Now with a string of robberies and murders across the Cherokee and Seminole Nations in July of 1894, TCook Gang with Cherokee Billhe Cook Gang had made itself known.

Here biographers differ in belief, some do not think Crawford began his trail of exploits until his eighteenth year when he joned forces with the Cook’s.  Others believe he killed his first man at twelve – Supposedly his brother-in-law over something to do with feeding hogs.  

Also they do not agree on how he got the name Cherokee Bill.  The number of people he killed ranges from seven to as many as thirteen.  But all agree that by eighteen he had joined the Bill Cook Gang .  Bill later formed his own gang.  Some claim he rode with Henry Star, Belle Star’s son.  Others claim he only met Henry Star in Jail.  He claimed to have ridden with Billy, The Kid, but no one really belives that statement.   (more…)


June 10, 2008


 When I left off last time I had taken the tale to the point Judge Parker Quotewhere Ned had fled to the remote area of the territory in an effort to give the Fort Smith crowd a time to cool of in their fervor to capture him.  At this time I belive I should give cause as to the U. S. Marshall’s office and the Hanging Judge Parker’s belief in his guilt.  First, Ned’s jacket he Painting Of Hanging Judge Parkerhad on the night of his drunken stupor was found near where he had passed out.  In the pocket was found the broken neck of the whiskey bottle from the night before.  Also found was the strip of cloth torn from Nancy “Old Lady” Shell’s apron, used to stopper the drink.  Near the scene of the shooting were the broken remains of the whiskey bottle.  This was enough to convince the investigating officers of Ned’s guilt.  So the warrant and order for arrest was issued.

     After Ned fled the area, John Parris and a second drinking parner of the night, Charlie Bobtail,  were confined to jail in Fort Smith.  They were both charged in the murder of Maples along with Christie and Bub Trainor.  However Trainor claimed that he was eating supper at Nancy Shell’s and well before the shooting, so he was released on bail.  He continued to raise hell, and appeared in court on various other charges.  Judge Parker ruled that the case could not go forward without the apprehension of Christie.

Image of Deputy Marshall Dan Maples On May 18, 1889,  Jacob Yates took over the duties of marshal.  A man of strong principles, he started to clean up the back log of cases before him.   The thing that most bothered him was the unsolved case of the killing of Deputy Marshal Dan Maples (image of maples in B&W, at left).  He called upon his most trusted Deputy Marshall – Heck Thomas, reminding him there was a $500 reward for Ned Christie.

    Heck Thomas was one of the most active officers ever to join the U. S. Marshals office.  In November of 1887 he is Deputy Marshall Heck Thomasreputed to have brought in a record 41 fugitives on one trip.

   Thomas enlisted the skill of a well known tracker one L. P. Isbell, also a marshal ,and started his usual circuit of the territory.  At Muskogee, they turned over 13 prisoners under guard, and met Bub Trainor.  Trainor knew Ned Christie and also knew his habits and haunts quite well.  Trainor claimed he wanted Christie captured to clear his own name.

   In late September of 1889, Heck Thomas with a posse of 13 men located Ned Christie at his home in Rabbit Trap.  In the early dawn of the 26th, they surrounded and crept near the house.  Suddenly the large pack of dogs Christie kept began to bark and give the alarm.  Thomas gave the order to rush the cabin.  They could hear Ned scramble into the loft.

    Deputy Thomas shouted for Christie to surrender.  The outlaw kicked a plank off the end of the loft and opened fire with his deadly Winchester.  Thomas then shouted that” if he was going to fight to first send out his women and children”.  Christie continued to fire.  The next move of the posse was to set fire to a small out-building near the house, hoping the smoke might flush out the occupants of the house. The desired effect was achieved – Nancy Christie soon ran out of the house.  Young James remained behind, scrambling into the loft to reload his fathers guns. (more…)


February 24, 2008


      Her life was to suffer two tragic incidents.  Born the daughter of a hard-shell Baptist pioneer from Illinois, later to become wife to a Comanche Chief for almost twenty-five years.  Her oldest son became a decatated enemy of the white man.

    The Parker family migrated to Texas in 1833.  They no doubt felt safe on the fringe of the Comancheria the homeland of the Comanche.  The Parker clan built a log stockade, and cleared land near by for farming, along the Navasota River.  Located in East Texas , near modern day Groesbeck, they called their settlement Parker’s fort.

      As stated they felt safe being just out side the usual Comanche raiding range.  But on May 19, 1836, the Comanche struck.  Most of the men were in the fields working, and the rest of Texas were buzzing about Sam Huston’s defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto less than a month before.

      It is unclear whether the Comanche came to trade for horses or to raid, but the seized the opportunity when it presented its self.  Benjamin Parker and his brother      Silas went out to parlay with them when they were struck down by lances.  the party of more than one-hundred Comanche and Kiowa’s rushed into the fort.  they quickly struck down the other two men inside.  Granny Parker was pinned to the ground with a lance and quickly killed and scalped Elder John Parker.  Granny was then stripped and raped. 

     Taking nine year old Cynthia Ann and her six year old brother John captive.  They prepared to flee after also grabbing Elisabeth Kellogg, Rachel Plummer and her small son, James.  The war part rode out of the fort just as the men from the fields ran up with their rifles.  the short savage attack left five white men dead, two women later died of their wounds.  Granny Parker with true western grit pulled the lance from her body and survived.

     The captives were split up among the various bands that participated in the raid.  The Parker children went on west to Eastern Colorado.  they were adopted into the band of Pete Nacona’s band.  Here they learned to ride and dress as Comanche and soon forgot their English.

     The Parkers and agents made exhaustive efforts to find the children.  Eventually John was recovered but attempts to find Cynthia were unsuccessful.  the Comanche refused all offers of ransom and in 1840 they received a message from Cynthia Ann that she did not want to be rescued.  she now called herself Nauda, and considered herself a true Comanche and was happily Married.

    Peta Nacona (The Wanderer) had taken Cynthia as a wife, and contrary to Comanche custom refused to take any others.  He was a respected warrior and chief of his band.  Their first son, Quanh, was born in 1847.  they had two other children a son named Pecos and a daughter named Topsanna (Flower).

     After twenty-five years her world was turned upside down once again.  On December 17, 1860, while Nacona was off hunting with his warriors and sons, tragedy struck.  a force of Texas Rangers augmented by 2nd Calvary troopers, civilian volunteers and Tonkawa scouts led a raid against Nocona’s camp near the Pease River (near present Quana Texas).

     Though Indian women and children were permitted targets, Texas Ranger and future cattle baron Charles Goodnight recognised blond hair under all the dirt and bear grease and held his fire.  the woman and her eight-teen month daughter were spared.  Although she could speak no english and call herself Nqaduahh she did recognise her name as Cynthia Ann. (more…)


February 1, 2008


      The story of Fanny Kelly’s capture and captivity sounds like a modern day fictional account, however the principal events in her narrative actually occurred.

     With the assurance of army at Fort Laramie that they would not experience any trouble from Indians, Fanny, a bride of nine months at the age of 19 and her five year old adopted daughter Mary, along with a handful of other emigrants- set out in July of 1864.  Eighty miles west of the Fort the party was surprised by a band of 250 Oglala Sioux.  Fanny’s husband escaped the attract as he was off chopping wood.  the other three men were killed on the spot and Fanny, little Mary were taken captive along with Sarah Larimer, and her eight year old son.

     In her written account of her ordeal Fanny wrote, “Many people earnestly assured me that they would have killed their-selves rather than be taken captive to Lord knows what fate.”  Her reply was, “But it is only those who have looked over the dark abyss of death, Who know how the soul shrinks from meeting the unknown future.”  Experience had taught her that, While hope offers the faintest token or refuge, we pause upon the fearful brink of eternity, and look back for rescue.” (seems like Fanny had a ear for words).

     Fanny Kelly had a unique blend of  courage and shrewdness, to substain her.  But it seemed she was headed for martyrdom rather than survival.  The Sioux raided the wagons smashing all they did not want Sarah Larimer screamed and howled as the Indians smashed her  daguerreotype equipment.  she had planned to earn money in Idaho by taking pictures of the miners.  She made such a fuss that one Indian became angered by her noise and pulled his knife and prepared to shut her up.  Fanny rushed over and pleaded for Sarah’s life to be spared.

     “Perhaps it was the selfish thought of future loneliness    in captivity which induced me to intercede.”  She conceded in her narrative.  The Indian was so impressed with her act that he removed his headdress and presented it to her.  Only later did she learn it was a symbol of his personal favor and granted her his personal protection.  He was Ottowa, chief of the band.  “Very old, over seventy, partialy blind, and very savage looking.”  Fanny would become his property for her stay with the Oglala.

     Setting of toward the Sioux camp at night, Mrs. Kelly shredded small pieces of paper as a trail and instructed little Mary to silently slip off the horse and follow the trail back to safety. Fanny said she would try to do the same and join her.  this ended in tragedy for little Mary she was caught almost immediately and killed and scalped.  Fanny was beaten and threatened with death if she ever made such attempt again.

     Fanny headed the threat but was i trouble  almost immediately, she lost the peace pipe the old chief had entrusted to her care.  This was a travesty of decorum and Ottowa was incised and determined she was to die.  She was to be tied to a unbroken horse and set loose and the warriors would then shoot arrows at her until the wrath was appeased.  Once again Fanny’s resourcefulness prevailed.  pulling her purse from under her skirt, she began passing out $120 worth of paper money with pictures on them.  The Indians were intrigued and after examining the bills demanded she show how much each was worth by a show of fingers.  The weapons were forgotten and no further mention of killing her again.

     Fanny strove to be very careful after that, especially after Sarah Larimer and her son disappeared.  though she did not know it they had managed to escape. (more…)


January 31, 2008


     The dread of all women in the old west was being captured by Indians.  I have no records showing how many women actually suffered this fate.  In fact out of my three books I can only find the accounts of three incidents.  The one great fear of a army wife was capture by the  “Red Horde”, in fact there exists no recorded account of a woman ever being taken from a military base in any of my books, and one boldly states it never happened.  That aside I will give you  what I have on the three events I have access to.


     One of the wests most famous Indian captives, Olive  Oatman probably had more difficulty resuming her white identity than losing it.  Olive, was California bound with her immigrant father in 1851, he pushed ahead alone and was ambushed by Yavapia Indians (part of the Apache tribes).  The attack occurred in a desolate part of the Gila River Valley.  Everyone fell to the war clubs, except for Olive and her younger sister Mary Ann, aged 7.  They were carried off to serve as  slave labor.  A year they were sold to some Mojaves, who walked the girls north to their  settlement on the Colorado River (near present day Laughing Nev. across the river from Laughlin  in Ariz.  is a old gold mining town named Oatman, located in Oatman Flats.). 

     Here the girls faired some what better receiving fewer beatings and were allowed to grow their own corn and melons.  In 1853 a terrible drought struck and frail Mary Ann, along with many of the tribe died of  starvation.

      Olive’s older brother Lorenzo had survived  the attack, left for dead, he survived and made his way to safety.   Immediately he launched a dogged five year search for his sisters.  At last he finally found a Yuma Indian who knew of Olives location.  For a consideration he arranged for her release.  (one account on google states she was sold for a horse and a blanket and a few trinkets).

     On her arrival at Fort Yuma, she was barley recognisable.  Her skin was burned a dark brown, and was dressed in a bark skirt.  She would not speak but turned her face away and covered her lower face with her hands.  It would be discovered later that her chin and arms had been tattooed by the Mojaves, as was a custom for the tribe.  (photo’s are available on google.).

     Olive eventually came out of her daze, and regained the ability to speak English.  She even toured on the lecture circuit, and submitted to being stared at.  But as a close friend later stated “Olive was always quite and reserved. The great suffering of her early life set her apart from the world.”  For the rest of her life she carried on her beautiful face the emblem of her former bondage.

      Olive later on did marry a Texas Banker, who it is said bought every volume of a book written about her that he could find and burned them.  I do not know if she bore children or not, only that she is buried in the Texas town where she lived.  Other stories about her abound, more so than I care to get into here.  My main source of material for this narrative has been The Time/Life, Old West series in the The Women volume and several of  the sites on google.

       If I have perked your interest, please drop over to Google and type in Olive Oatman, and enjoy.

Another Gal next time. 

Thanks for dropping by