From the book, A History of the Osage People, by Louis F. Burns.

Published in 1989 by Ciga Press.


In the area near Newkirk, Oklahoma, a cluster of Pawnee villages stood at the historic crossing of the alternate Continental Indian Trail. The French built a stockaded trading post here in September of 1719 and named it Ferdinandina. This post was a barrier to the Osage advance as long as it existed. The Osages could have destroyed the post, but diplomacy of the time dictated otherwise. Destruction of Ferdinandina would have cut off the supply of trade goods and guns entering the eastern borders of their domain. Not only was Ferdinandina a barrier to their westward expansion but it was also a breech in the Osage blockade of trade goods to the Indian Nations of the Plains. So, Ferdinandina had to be either eliminated or reduced to a post of no consequence.

With typical Osage "searching with the mind," they conceived a strategy to reduce Ferdinandina without rupturing relations with the French. Since an open assault on the post would disrupt trade with the French, this was to be avoided until a later time. Between the establishment of Ferdinandina in 1719 and its fall in 1757, the Osages concentrated their expansion southward. They crossed the Arkansas River between Arkansas Post and Ferdinandina at many points. River traffic between these two points was severely disrupted and the Caddoan peoples were pushed to the south side of the Red River. By 1749, the Osages had virtually cleared the Caddo out of the area between the Red River and the Arkansas-Canadian Rivers in Oklahoma and Western Arkansas. French traders of the Caddo followed them and founded the twin villages of San Bernardo and San Teodoro on the Red River.

Ferdinandina never became a major trading post because its shipments of hides and tallow as well as trade goods were often seized by the Osage. This was an over-riding factor in the decision not to reopen Ferdinandina after the Osage took the post in 1757. By this time the post was so unimportant that the French ignored the seizure. This would have been the attitude of the French even if France had not been involved in the French and Indian War. The French could ill afford to alienate the most powerful military force in mid-America over an insignificant trading post. The Osage were well aware of this when they seized the post. Their strategy had ultimately yielded their objective.

Notes by Richard Kay Wortman.

Over two centuries ago on the banks of the Arkansas River, near the present Chilocco Creek, stood Ferdinandina, home of the first white settlers to follow the prairie trails, who braved the perils of the middle west to establish a trading post in the lush Arkansas Valley region.

Present day maps carry no evidence that the settlement of some 300 French traders and explorers, who had apparently roamed northward from Louisiana, had ever existed.

This tiny finger of civilization had stretched into this area more than half a century before Napoleon had begun his trek across Europe. The American Revolution was still in the future and the Latin American countries still maintained their alliance with Spain.

While the floods of time have hidden Ferdinandina from the eyes of present-day citizens, researchers have ascertained the position of the site at a point between the place where the Arkansas River passed approximately five and three-fourths miles east of the Santa Fe depot and U. S. Highway 77 at Chilocco, making the location a mile south of the Kansas line.

The point is at the southwest juncture of section 13 in Dale township and the river, three miles east of the present Grey Noret community. On the opposite east bank in Beaver township is the Warren Ranch.

Old timers talk of the historic big spring on the old Gillig place in the Grey Noret community, two miles east of Chilocco. This spring was the largest in the area, and fed a branch running south to Chilocco Creek. This also was a favorite camping ground of Indians and later of white settlers. Before the land was settled, the spot also became notorious as a hideout for cattle rustlers.

James A. Gillig, owner of the property, died in Arkansas City on February 2, 1948. The Grey Noret rural school is situated on one corner of the farm and the Grey Noret church is just east of it. Maps show the land in the name of G. A. Gillig.

The Grey Noret community was named after an early settler. Records in the office of the County Clerk at the Kay County Courthouse show Graham M. Noret was a landowner in the neighborhood, which leads historians to believe that Grey Noret was named for him.