This picture, a stereo view of the North East corner of 9th Avenue and Main Street in Winfield, KS is from the collection of the Cowley County Historical Museum. A detailed photogrammetric analysis of this photo has established the time as 2:56 P.M. on Oct. 3, 1879. This paper is a study and dramatization of what is happening in Winfield on this day.
This Picture, This Day
When viewed in an old Stereopticon 3D viewer, the lamp post jumps out at you as well as the wooden staved barrel in the street to the left of the lamp post, which states "DAILY PAPERS & CITY NEWS" on two sides. Above the barrel is the hand pump for the public well on 9th Avenue. Below the cloth banner proclaiming "McCommon & Harter Druggists" a carefully printed sign showing "NEWS DEPOT," in front of a roof stretched between the drug store and Sydal's Shop. The News Depot houses a barber shop (indicated by a striped pole around which we see two gentlemen peering. The Drug Store was originally the Walnut Valley House, first hotel built in Winfield by J. P. Short, who received lots 11 and 12, Block 128, from E. C. Manning, head of the Winfield Town Co., in exchange. Short lived in a tent during construction. Foundation rock came from an area near Graham cemetery; lumber from trees on the Walnut, and shingles cut from walnut trees in Island Park. Pine siding, flooring, and finishing lumber was hauled from Emporia. Inside walls were covered with plaster board paper, the partitions made of flooring, and stove pipes ran through the roof. The hotel opened on October 14, 1870. Office, dining room, three bed rooms, and kitchen were on the first floor. The second floor had beds which stood heads to the wall on each side with a two foot corridor between the feet. The mattresses were filled with "Prairie feathers." No springs in these beds. Today, this floor above the Drug Store is occupied by doctors and lawyers. O. M. Seward, City Attorney since March, recently dissolved his partnership with Judge Pyburn. Through some consideration to Short, probably cash, Seward has his name painted on both the side and the front of the building.
Short, who originally served as trustee of Winfield Township and then Deputy County Clerk, is now Winfield City Clerk. He has taken up an office in the Page Building, on Lot 9, along with Judge W. M. Boyer, whose building north of the drug store had been purchased by J. S. Mann, clothier, in May 1879.
We see two men sitting on the third step of the stairs going up to Seward's with their feet on the second of the wooden steps. Upstairs, among others, is the office of Dr. Emerson. Two other gents moving about in front of them are blurred because of the long time exposure of camera. We see one indistinct figure standing still in the darkened entrance to the Drug Store and two or three figures moving about under the shadow of the awning to the left of the lamp post. A gent in dark pants with his left hand resting in the V of his vest is leaning against the flag pole with his hat cocked down, shading his eyes from the bright afternoon sun. The time is mid-after noon and we see the shadow of the lamp post almost reaching the bottom of the store front. Since the side of the Drug Store is on Ninth Avenue, which runs east and west, and the front of the store is on Main Street we can see that the sun is in the west and casting a shadow to the north-east. The shadow cast by the street lamp and the flagpole allow us to establish the date and time of the picture. More detail is shown in Appendix I.
In the previous month, both the Republican and the Democrats of Cowley County held their respective County Conventions. The second plank of the Republican platform states: "The people of this country owe the Republican party a debt of gratitude for having accomplished Resumption." The following week the Democrats, also meeting at Manning’s Opera House, used the 7th plank of their platform to "Condemn the Resumption Act." The Resumption Act of 1875 provided for the redemption of United States paper currency, known colloquially as greenbacks, into gold beginning in 1879.
With "Resumption" accomplished, the local, state and national politicians proceed to "The Prohibitory Laws". One of the leading adherents to prohibition in the state and in the nation is the Governor of Kansas, John St. John. The Governor has accepted an invitation from his friend State Superintendent A. B. Lemmon to speak at the Walnut Valley Fair in Winfield on this day.
Also in town this day are three Nez Perce Indians from Indian Territory in the company of Cyrus M. Scott, former editor of the Arkansas City Traveler. Yellow Bull, his brother Red Elk and Yellow Bear are leaders of a family band of the Niimiipu tribe, as the Nez Perce call themselves. The Chiefs, as they are all addressed, have been invited by the Fair Committee. They are to be a major attraction as will the Governor. The Governor however, has his own agenda with Scott and the Indians. For the past year he has employed Scott as his eyes and ears (spy) in Indian Territory. Scott operates in the Territory under the guise of a horse trader. When the Niimiipu arrived from Baxter Springs in June arrangements had been made for Scott to act as their scout and lead them to their new reservation adjoining the Ponca. This was the beginning of what was to be a complex, two-way clandestine relationship between the Niimiipu, Scott and Governor St. John. The Fair is the first time they had all met together. It is noteworthy that Joseph did not come up for this event. It would take at least another paper to analyze why not. Had President Hayes been at the Walnut Valley Fair, Joseph would have been there.
Joseph is the primary leader of the captive Niimiipu in Indian Territory. During the Nez Perce War in 1877 he had earned grudging respect from General Nelson Miles as he helped direct a1600 mile fighting retreat. After the loss of all of the war chiefs and nearly half of the 900 people, Joseph camped in the Bear Paw Mountains, only 40 Miles from the Canadian border. Miles surrounded and surprised the Niimiipu and after heavy fighting they reach a standoff. Yellow Bull acted as the runner between Miles and Joseph and after some days convinced Joseph to seek peace. Gen. Miles had accepted Joseph’s terms that the surviving 400 Niimiipu be returned to their homeland in the Wallowa Valley in Eastern Oregon. Gen. Miles felt that he had the support of both Gen. Howard and the President in accepting Joseph’s terms stipulating that the Niimiipu would be returned to their homes in the Wallowa Valley. At a later date Miles was assured by President Hayes that the executive order on his desk, allowing the return of the Niimiipu to their homeland, would be signed immediately. As soon as Miles left his office, Hayes tore up the order and focused on financial matters such as the Resumption Act of 1875.
In January, 1879, Joseph and Yellow Bull traveled to Washington D. C. to talk to President Hayes and other officials. On the 16th Joseph gave a speech at Lincoln Hall which is quoted by Helen Hunt Jackson and many others as a milestone in the quest for Native American civil rights. Since the War Joseph has launched a public relations effort that is even more sophisticated than his military campaign. Yellow Bull, Red Elk and Yellow Bear are in Winfield as part of this effort. They are on display at the Fair, but they are also on a mission.
Articles appear monthly in the press regarding the many aspects of the Nez Perce War and the treatment of Joseph and his people in the aftermath. In the December, 1877, issue of The Galaxy, a good description of the War itself written by an author who gives only his initials as F. L. M. The surrender was October 5, 1877, so this is very soon after the event. In December, 1878, W. H. Babcock authors "Joseph the Nez Perce" in Harper’s Monthly. The front page of the Jan. 29, 1879, Arkansas City Traveler says "Chief Joseph, in full aboriginal regalia, was the bright particular star at a White House reception on Tuesday evening. Joseph seemed to enjoy it immensely."
In March 1879, Gen. Miles’ article "The Indian Problem" gives his viewpoint in the North American Review. It is followed in April by Joseph’s article, co-authored by Right Rev. W. H. Hare, D. D., "An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs", which is an expansion of his speech delivered in Lincoln Hall. A key statement in Joseph’s article is:
General Miles had promised that we might return to our own country with what stock we had left. I thought we could start again. I believed General Miles, or I never would have surrendered. I have heard that he has been censured for making the promise to return us to Lapwapi. He could not have made any other terms with me at that time. I would have held him in check until my friends came to my assistance, and then neither of the generals nor their soldiers would have ever left Bear Paw Mountain alive.
On the fifth day I went to General Miles and gave up my gun, and said, "From where the sun now stands I will fight no more." My people needed rest – we wanted peace.
While often overlooked by historians, this statement clearly says that Joseph expected to kill Miles before the fight was over. The phrase "…what stock we had left" refers to the 1300 Indian ponies remaining from the initial herd of 4000. Most of these were the renowned Appaloosa horses that the Nez Perce had bred for centuries. All of this stock was "disposed of".
In July, Gen. O. O. Howard wrote "The True Story of the Wallowa Campaign" generally supporting Joseph, but takes issue with his claim to the Wallowa land.
Yellow Bull will stay on Joseph’s three points: they deserve their freedom, they want the same rights as all men, they pose a threat to no one. Scott and the Governor will not miss the irony as this message is delivered by the translator Chapman. In the past month the Arkansas City Traveler has reported that Chapman has left the Nez Perce Reservation for good because he believes they will kill him if he returns. He did. They didn’t.
The completion of the Railroad from Mulvane on Tuesday, September 30, adds an extra day to the Fair and at least 4000 extra people that day. Although the Fair Association has been boosting the Fair for six months, they have no idea how BIG a crowd is coming until they get a telegram from Mulvane at 8:30 am 1600 people are headed for Winfield on the first of the three trains. The plan starts to fall apart immediately. The call goes out for wagons and carriages to get to the depot on 14th Avenue. The train arrives thirty minutes early and after a mad scramble, rides are provided for most of the 400 ladies. The men, after riding faster than a galloping horse for two hours on open flat cars, are on their own. On foot, on dusty streets, they head to the Fair Grounds north of Island Park. They may pass three well stocked Saloons, or, maybe not.
A free barbeque has been arranged to feed the crowd, but people must buy a ticket to the Fair to get the barbeque. A lot of people are upset when they pay and don’t get fed! By chance, the dam for Bliss’s Mill is being rebuilt at the time of the fair and the water level in the Walnut River and Timber Creek has dropped about 5 feet below normal level. Fair goers have easy access to Frank Manny’s Brewery and Ice House south across the lowered creek at the north end of Harter St., beyond 3rd Avenue. The creek will rise ten feet after completion of the new dam.
By Friday, the day of the Governor’s visit, everyone’s patience has been tested. Friday night Mr. and Mrs. Bliss will hold a gala party (dry, of course) for the Governor. Charles Bliss and his sister, Jennie Rigby, wife of Rev. N. L. Rigby are staunch prohibitionists as are surely most of the attendees at the party. This will be a key event in planning the upcoming campaign to make Winfield a dry city. William Hackney, today in charge of the horse races and the speed ring at the Fair, is deciding if he should run for State Senator and go to Topeka on the prohibition ticket. Yellow Bull, during his day in Winfield will have an up close view of how political action is organized and energized in this society. In the Winfield Courier, Mr. Millington mentions that Yellow Bull was in town for the Fair and spoke for 10 minutes.
October 8, 1879 Arkansas City Traveler:
Yellow Bull's Speech at the Cowley County Fair.
At the request of the fair managers, Yellow Bull, 2nd chief, Red Elk, chief of a band, and Yellow Bear, a young chief, all of the tribe of the Nez Perce Indians, were escorted to the grounds of the Cowley County Fair by Mr. C. M. Scott, on Friday last. They were invited to the platform with the Governor, and after the Governor's speech, Yellow Bull responded through his interpreter, Capt. Chapman, saying that he was glad to meet the people there. Last summer he fought the whites, but wanted them to know now that he knew how to make friends. The Great Spirit made this world for them all to stand on, and he wanted to live like one people, under one roof, with one law to govern them all. He said that he knew that the people were friendly towards him because they did not turn away from him as though they were mad.
The Chiefs took a great interest in the display of fine stock, especially horses and cattle, and showed their appreciation of the same. In the fine art hall the things that called out the most praise from Yellow Bull were a tanned dog skin, and a variegated rug, which he remarked would make a good saddle blanket.
We hope that each fair may be visited by a delegation of Indians, and that every delegation will be treated with the same respect that was shown to these, and have no doubt but that it will reach our neighboring tribes with a civilizing influence.
The Full Paper: