Tell W. Walton.
This story starts with Tell W. Walton, surveyor and newspaper man.
Tell Walton had numerous brothers and sisters. His father, Judge George T. Walton, was the first historian for Oxford, Walton Township, Sumner County. Judge Walton later moved to Burden and became editor of the Burden Enterprise in 1884.
Two years older than Tell, Wirt W. Walton was the Cowley County surveyor for some years. He was the local editor for the Winfield Courier in 1875. In 1876 (Centennial Year) Wirt became the first historian for Cowley County, with his articles printed in the Winfield Courier and Cowley County Democrat. His interest in politics led to his position as Chief Clerk of the Kansas House of Representatives. He became editor of the Clay Center Dispatch in 1880. On September 5, 1886, editor Wirt Walton was riding in the engine of a passenger train on the Fort Kearney branch of the Union Pacific. The engine jumped the track near Junction City, landing on its side, throwing Mr. Walton out of the left side window, and severely scalding him. He died soon thereafter. No other person was hurt. The engineer was discharged by the Union Pacific Company for having violated the rules of the company by permitting Mr. Walton to ride upon the engine.
In 1873, at the age of 19, Tell Walton became the county surveyor in Barbour County. In 1874 Tell was a member of the De Bois’ surveying party from Wichita, which worked southwest of Fort Sill, taking his chance of losing his scalp for $40 a month. While at Fort Sill he was equipped with a Remington rifle, saw General Sheridan take charge, and viewed captured Indian chiefs in the guard house such as Satanta. Soon after news reached Winfield that Tell, while handling a gun, lost part of his left forefinger from one barrel and was struck in the eyes by the contents of the other barrel, when the gun accidentally discharged. Several weeks later Tell contradicted this report and stated his eyesight was all right.
In June 1875 Tell joined with his brother, Peter, who was then living at Parsons, in buying a herd of match ponies at Fort Sill, which they shipped east. While passing through Winfield, they amused the local boys by lassoing and riding the wildest of the ponies.
The Courier commented in August 1875: “And now we learn that Tell W. Walton has been struck by lightning. What with shooting himself, being thrown from Comanche ponies, arrested by the U. S. soldiers, writing for the Plow and Anvil, and now being struck by lightning, all within six months, we begin to think that boy can stand anything. He was a brother of ours before he wrote for the above mentioned machine shop.”
Tell moved to Wellington, where an item appeared in the Wellington Press in February 1876. “The courthouse came near being destroyed by fire Sunday morning. Mr. Tell Walton had taken up the ashes in a nail keg, which he placed in a corner of one of the offices, and then left the room. Returning some time after, he discovered the keg to be all ablaze, and the flames already making rapid progress upon the wooden structure of the building. The alarm was given, water procured, and in a few minutes the would-be conflagration was extinguished. This little accident should serve as a lesson to all who are in the habit of taking up ashes in wooden vessels and not emptying the same immediately. Ashes often contain fire when it is supposed they are entirely free from it, and our advice to one and all is, never habituate yourself to leaving ashes setting in vessels of any kind inside of any building.”
Tell Walton kept busy in both Sumner County and Cowley County as a road surveyor and Deputy Surveyor. He did extensive surveying in the Grouse valley.
Tell Walton was one of the party of white men from whom an Osage mourning party wanted hair. “Walton was in no trouble as his hair was too short to admit of a close cut.”
Tell Walton became county surveyor in Sumner County in late 1878. In 1879 he took a position with the engineering corps of the Santa Fe railroad.
He finally settled down at Wellington, marrying Alice M. Hutchinson on September 22, 1879. Tell Walton and his wife often visited Arkansas City, where she had relatives.
Tell started the Mulvane Herald in March 1880. By December he ceased publishing the paper and filled in for his brother, Wirt, on the Clay Center Dispatch local columns while Wirt was busy at Topeka as a politician.
In April 1881 Tell W. Walton purchased the Caldwell Post from Mr. J. H. Sain.
In June 1881 Editor Tell Walton printed an editorial in the Caldwell Post.
“Last Saturday night, while en route to Oxford from this city, we were compelled to patronize the Kansas City, Lawrence, and Western railroad from Winfield to Oxford. We applied at the ticket office for two tickets to Oxford, and tendered our money, a ten dollar bill. After marking the tickets and passing them over the counter, he found he could not make the change; so he said to get on the train and pay the conductor, or get the tickets after we had arrived at Oxford.
“Thinking it would be all right, and having his assurance that it would be, we boarded the train, and after we got out three-fourths of a mile from the station, the conductor came through the car collecting tickets. We tendered our money a second time, but he refused to even look at it or hear an explanation of any kind, but stopped the train and compelled us to get off where we were, causing us, with our wife and child, to walk nearly a mile over the rough roads and cross the prairie back to the depot. We had some baggage with us, which we were obliged to carry too, or leave on the prairie. . . .”
Tell mentioned other incidents wherein the conductor on the train pulled similar tricks.
Thanks to his efforts and others who joined in with complaints, the railroads were forced to change their policy concerning tickets.
Instead of reporting news, Tell became the “news” in the area newspapers.
The first items appeared in December 1881. They concerned the crooked Caldwell banker, J. S. Danford.
“Tell Walton dropped in Monday morning fresh from the seat of war at Caldwell. Having deposited all his money in Danford’s Bank, it is fair to presume that he walked over. The conductor wouldn’t accept a certificate of deposit as legal tender.”
This was followed up with items that Tell Walton, among others, had been sued by Danford for $100,000.
[J. S. Danford was co-editor and proprietor of the Walnut Valley Times, when the paper was started by him and T. B. Murdock on Friday, March 4, 1870, in Eldorado, Butler County, Kansas. Murdock soon severed the partnership with Danford. In the centennial edition of the Winfield Courier, January 6, 1876, county historian Wirt W. Walton named J. S. Danford as a director of the town company of Creswell. On October 1, 1884, the Arkansas City Traveler commented: “Everybody in the country remembers Danford, the Caldwell banker, who stole a pile of money from his depositors a few years since. He has again come before the public, this time at Cheney, Washington Territory, where he stole $20,000, and skipped out to Victoria, B. C., from which place he openly defies his victims. He ought to be hung.”]
The second items relative to Tell Walton concerned his involvement with Ike Sherman, more familiarly known as Jim Talbot, considered one of the most desperate cowboys on the border. Mike Meagher, acting as City Marshal, was killed in Caldwell in late December 1881 by the Talbot gang.
[Mike Meagher was City Marshal in Wichita, Kansas, at various times, being first appointed in 1871. Meagher was re-elected City Marshal on April 4, 1876, in spite of the difficulty his policeman, Wyatt Earp, had caused shortly before the election by striking the rival candidate, William Smith. In 1879 Meagher served as a government scout and rode for awhile with C. M. Scott.]
“It seems that Tell Walton, of the Caldwell Post, was slightly mixed up in the Caldwell trouble. Friday night before the affray, during the rendering of the play of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Jim Talbot, the man who shot Meagher, indulged in obscene remarks, and was requested by Walton to desist. Talbot cursed and threatened to ‘fix’ him next day.”
“Will give twenty-five cents for authentic information as to the whereabouts of one Tell W. Walton while the cowboy fight was raging in Caldwell.”
Tell W. Walton was a man of some standing among local cattle interests, and under his direction the Caldwell Post grew in influence. The Caldwell Commercial, a rival paper, appeared in May 1880 under the editorship of William B. Hutchison. Both Caldwell papers merged in May 1883 and only one paper, the Caldwell Journal, edited by Hutchison, survived. It was solely a cattlemen’s paper.
Tell W. Walton kept involved with cattlemen affairs.
The Santa Fe Reaches Cowley County.
The Cowley, Sumner & Fort Smith railroad, a branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, commenced laying track in Cowley County on Wednesday, August 5, 1879. A grand jubilee took place at Winfield on September 30, 1879, to celebrate the railroad reaching that place. The Santa Fe railroad reached Arkansas City on December 23, 1879.
Prior to the coming of the railroad, there were few cattlemen in Cowley County. One of these was County Commissioner R. F. Burden from Windsor township, who started a home on the broad, rolling prairies in 1871. By 1879 he had 40 acres given to forest trees and another 40 acres devoted to orchards. He had over six miles of fine hedge fence. His pasture and feed lots were enclosed in stone and plank. Transportation limited the number of cattle buyers willing to offer prices which suited feeders such as Burden. It was noted in March 1879 that he had sold about $3,000 worth of stock (hogs and cattle), all “to the manor born.”
Cherokee Indians Charge for Use of “Cherokee Strip.”
The Cherokee Indians took advantage of stockmen holding cattle in the Territory due to their claim of ownership of the Cherokee Outlet (commonly called the “Cherokee Strip”). Located between the 96th and 100th parallels of west longitude, the “Cherokee Strip” was about 200 miles long and 57˝ miles wide. It was bordered by Kansas on the north and Indian Territory on the south.
Paying Taxes for Cattle Held in the Territory.
On June 9, 1880, the Arkansas City Traveler wrote about taxation on cattle.
There was a convention of stock men at Caldwell last Thursday, called for the purpose of taking some action with reference to paying taxes on cattle held in the Territory. After organizing and passing a series of resolutions, they appointed a committee of three to wait on Major Lipe, treasurer of and collector for the Cherokee Nation, informing him that the stock men were willing to pay twenty-five cents per year on every head of cattle held by them in the Territory, but that any heavier tax was considered exorbitant and more than they could afford to pay. Major Lipe, however, refused to entertain their proposition, saying that fifty cents per head was the least he could take, and for all through cattle he should charge at the rate of five cents per head a month. We are informed that this decision will be the cause of many cattle men leaving the Territory: the larger holders driving their cattle further west, while the smaller dealers will probably hold them in some of the border counties, preferring to do a little feeding rather than pay such a high tax. In view of the fact that there is some doubt as to the legality of this tax, and when we think of the great number of cattle on these lands, we think Mr. Lipe will be making money enough at twenty-five cents.
Scott-Topliff Sheep Ranch.
In August 1880 Capt. C. M. Scott (then working as a special scout for the Kansas Governor) and his partner, James C. Topliff, purchased 500 acres of land near the mouth of Grouse creek four miles south and two miles east of Arkansas City, with a view of making it a sheep ranch.
New U. S. Government Regulations.
In October 1880 the U. S. Government came up with new regulations involving the grazing of cattle or other stock upon Indian reservations in the Territory. This ended the use by unauthorized persons of grazing stock and forced stockmen to obtain approval of the Indian agent and agency Indians after determining payment for leasing their land. Further, it restricted cattle trails to be used crossing Indian reservations.
In March 1881 a meeting at Caldwell gave stockmen the privilege of driving through Texas cattle west of the west line of the Nez Perce Agency, and in any direction to shipping points upon the strip of country lying north of that Agency and south of the State line.
This hurt all cattle stockmen owning native stock in the vicinity of Indian Territory.
Had the “dead line” been placed ten miles south of the State line, with a drive limited to one mile in width, and leading directly north to the various shipping points, this danger would to a great extent have been avoided.
Cowley County Cattlemen.
In May 1881 the Traveler reported that the following Cowley County men were holding stock in the Territory: On Red Rock and Black Bear creeks, Messrs. Eaton, Potter, James Estus, H. S. Libby, A. A. Wiley, and Drury Warren. In other parts of the Territory stock was held by R. A. Houghton, Henderson, Capt. Nipp, Walker Brothers, Berry Brothers, Dean Brothers, Shriver, and others. Stockmen talked of holding a meeting for the purpose of protecting native cattle from the Texas drive in Indian Territory.
Area cattlemen were concerned about the Texas drives of cattle, but due to the spring round ups, were unable to confer with Texas cattlemen and take any action.
Washington Declares Cherokees Can Collect Tax on Cattle on Strip.
A letter by T. S. Parvin, a cattleman residing in East Bolton township, to the Secretary of the Interior was answered by Hiram Price, Indian Commissioner, on June 30, 1881. Price stated that the right of the Cherokees was fully recognized by Congress and the Interior Department, and that the Cherokees could lawfully collect a tax on the “Cherokee Strip.”
Price also stated in this letter: “In the event of the imposition of any unreasonable or oppressive tax by the Cherokees, the United States will intervene and afford the necessary relief, but so long as the tax is reasonable, and does not exceed the penalty imposed by the act of June 30, 1834, for grazing stock on the Indian lands (which is $1.00 per head), it is considered that the Cherokee Indians are fully justified in imposing it, and should be sustained by this Department.”
The Cherokees found that collecting taxes from parties holding cattle on the “Cherokee Strip” was difficult. In July 1881 they reported that only about forty of the two hundred persons holding cattle on the “Strip” had complied with the law. A list of about 100 who had not paid was sent by Chief Bushyhead to the Interior Department.
In mid-October 1881 the Topeka Commonwealth received word from Caldwell.
“There is great excitement here, and all over the Cherokee Strip today. The strip extends from where the Arkansas River strikes the Indian Territory, to the Panhandle of Texas. On this it is estimated there are 300,000 head of cattle on which the Indians levy a tax of one dollar per head, they having that right according to the decision of the Department at Washington. About one-half of these cattlemen have paid the tax, the owners of the other half refuse to do so. Indian Agent Tufts, with United States soldiers, leave here today to drive the cattle off the strip. Many owners of cattle, this morning and yesterday, offered to pay the tax, but were told it was too late. The Agent says, not only that the Indians will not receive the tax of those who have heretofore refused to pay, but that these recalcitrant men will not in the future be allowed to herd their cattle on the Cherokee Strip.
“The cattle now on the strip are not in a condition to ship to market, and as they cannot be driven to the south on the Indian reservations nor to the north, because of the law of Kansas, the owners are forced to sell them at such prices as they can get for them. These cattle are actually worth $15 per head on an average, or an aggregate of $1,500,000.
“Cattle buyers who have heretofore paid the taxes enforced by the Cherokees, will be allowed, if they purchase these, to keep them on the ‘strip.’
“Speculators and others are raising all the money they can with which to make purchases. Men started last night for Emporia and other money centers to raise money to buy cattle with. Many are willing to mortgage farms and everything else they have to get money.
“The last train of cars loaded with cattle to be shipped this year started today, cattle shipping being mostly over for this year.”
Farmers providing cattle feed began to get good money for it in late 1881. The farmers around Maple City sowed large quantities of millet at a great profit that winter when stock men from Missouri, Arkansas, and Indian Territory drove in their stock.
In January 1882 stockmen began buying galvanized and painted wire for their ranges. Howard Brothers, Arkansas City merchants, sold over 45,000 rods of barbed wire to the Dean brothers (Albert and Cal) to fence in their stock range in Indian Territory.
Final Notice by Cherokees to Pay for a License.
Final notice was sent out by the Cherokees and John McNeil, U. S. Indian Inspector, to all parties holding cattle, sheep, horses, hogs, or other stock on the “Cherokee Strip” that they were intruders and trespassers unless they had a license from the Cherokee Council. The order to remove all parties who had not paid for a license was to take effect March 29, 1882. Removal of non-licensed parties by U. S. soldiers began in April 1882.
In July 1882 large tracts of land were purchased in Cowley County by cattlemen.
Windsor & Roberts.
At a special meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association in Caldwell on October 24, 1882, Col. J. H. Windsor and Major G. Gore were elected members of the Association. Members were assessed to create an inspection committee empowered to offer $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of stock thieves and to hire detectives.
The Caldwell Commercial of October 26th commented: “Col. J. H. Windsor and Major J. Gore of the Pennsylvania Oil Cattle Company, were in attendance at the meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stock Association on Tuesday. The company have their ranch south of Arkansas City, and sufficient pasture room for 10,000 head of cattle. The company’s brand will be P on left shoulder, O on the side, and Co on left hip. Senator Roberts, of Pennsylvania, is a member of the P. O. Company, and takes a great interest in it.”
Editor Standley of the Arkansas City Traveler wrote an editorial December 6, 1882.
“There is an enterprise going on below us in the Indian Territory that is bound to interest every farmer and stockman along the entire line of the State, from the Arkansas river to the west line of Sumner County. We allude to the fencing of nearly 200,000 acres of land that is now claimed by stockmen as their range, and for which they have paid the Cherokee Nation a tax for the privilege.
“Looking at the matter as a disinterested party in so far as our patrons and friends are concerned, it does seem to us where the parties have held the range for years, and for which they have never refused to pay, that they should have the first preference, if any privilege or preference is given, and the matter should be acted on at once if the parties interested mean to do anything to protect themselves.
“We have heard many violent and determined threats that if the rights they have paid for are ignored, that the posts and wire will be torn up and the whole country fired, the latter having already been carried into execution, and mile after mile of nicely cured grass has gone to the flames.
“We condemn this act as infamous beyond expression, for while it did not materially injure the monopoly that is causing the trouble, it damaged numbers of stockmen within the limits who were not in sympathy with the movement in any manner.
“Better come together like men and adjust the matter, if it can be adjusted; and if not, then go to work legally to test the authority of the men who claim the right.
“Unless the Cherokee Council decide that the wire is an ‘improvement,’ the fence is illegally there, and from the tenor of the Chief’s message to the Council, we think it is not an ‘improvement,’ and believe it what the Chief terms it, ‘an unbridled enterprise of some citizens that have led them into error, and requires the interposition of the Council to defend the common rights.’”
C. M. Scott Goes to Washington.
Editor Standley also noted that C. M. Scott had taken a train to Washington, D. C., on December 4, 1882.
It turned out that Scott lit the match that resulted in an explosion of activity among the cattlemen of this area and the members of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association.
Col. Windsor, of Titusville, Pennsylvania.
The Winfield Telegram told its readers that Cowley County Surveyor, Capt. North A. Haight, known as “Ed,” had informed them that he was called into the Territory in mid-December 1882 to settle a boundary line between two large pastures. One of them was the pasture containing 190,000 acres just south of Arkansas City, which was being fenced with barbed wire. This was being done by Col. Windsor, of Titusville, Pennsylvania, under the cover of the names of two Cherokee Indians.
The Burden Enterprise had the following to say about the fencing by Col. Windsor: “It would please us to hear of a nice little rebellion and uprising of the people along the line of the Territory on both sides. A company in Pennsylvania is fencing in large tracts of land already occupied by settlers, to the exclusion of any who may choose to cross the border. Barb wire fences twenty-five miles long are being stretched all along the line. . . .”
Stockmen’s Meeting at Arkansas City December 18, 1882.
While Scott was gone, a stockmen’s meeting took place in Arkansas City at which thirty area cattlemen met. Mr. W. J. Hodges of Winfield was called to the chair, and O. O. Clendenning, a visitor from Baxter Springs, was appointed as Secretary. Chairman Hodges read an article from a Cherokee paper, stating what the Cherokee Council had done to prevent Eastern Companies from fencing, and thus depriving the stockmen of the several ranges for which they had paid and held license to in the Indian Territory.
Mr. J. E. Snow, Attorney of Winfield, then read a series of resolutions prepared by himself and W. P. Hackney, the acting attorneys for the stockmen. The stockmen pledged themselves to abide by and aid each other to the utmost extremity in resisting the action of the fencing monopolies attempting to illegally force them from their ranges.
The resolutions were adopted and signed; and the following gentlemen, Messrs. F. M. Stewart, Drury Warren, and W. H. Dunn, were appointed a committee to act in the premises and decide as to the action necessary to be taken to enforce the resolutions as adopted.
Scott’s Meeting With Price.
C. M. Scott had a consultation on December 22, 1882, with Hiram Price, commissioner of Indian Affairs. Scott claimed that part of his Outlet range had been illegally fenced by a Cherokee citizen acting in behalf of the Pennsylvania Oil Company. “The company’s wire,” Scott said, “threatened to close United States mail routes across Indian Territory.”
On the day following Scott’s visit with Price, Standard Oil Company representatives met with Henry M. Teller, Secretary of the Interior, who declined to approve their lease to the land they proposed to fence south of Arkansas City at the Kansas State Line.
The Winfield Courier on December 28, 1882, had the following item: “A Washington special says that Capt. Scott, of Arkansas City, Kansas, is there to consult with the interior department respecting the conflicting leases of land in the Indian Territory made by the Cherokee Nation to various cattlemen of Kansas and Missouri for grazing purposes. This is the inauguration of a big fight between the original lessees, who are small cattle owners, and the large companies, who are striving to acquire control of these lands to their prejudice.”
On January 4, 1883, the Caldwell Commercial reported that the Globe-Democrat had received the following special from Washington, D. C., on December 30, 1882.
“Reports have reached the Indian Bureau from Cherokee County, Indian Territory, to the effect that the white men are erecting buildings and fencing off pastures in the ‘Cherokee Outlet.’ Commissioner Price today addressed a letter to Agent Tufts at Muskogee to warn the white herders to remove with their stock from off the reservation, allowing twenty days for the exit. If the herders fail to get out at that time, the agent is authorized to call on the military to eject them.”
Teller Rescinds Order for Removal of Stockmen from Cherokee Strip.
The order for removal of stockmen from the Cherokee Strip was rescinded by Secretary of the Interior, Henry M. Teller, on January 5, 1883, when he was approached by B. H. Campbell, who represented a syndicate of Chicago capitalists desirous of obtaining a lease of a tract of land thirty miles square in the Indian Territory belonging to the Cherokee and Cheyenne Indians. They proposed using the land for grazing cattle and agreed to cut only such timber as necessary to provide posts for wire fences to enclose the land. They offered $50,000 rental for the land.
The situation was summed up by The Commonwealth in Topeka later that month.
“The Chicago capitalists who are negotiating with the Secretary of the Interior for a lease of 2,400,000 acres of land in the Indian Territory, are under the leadership of B. H. Campbell, late United States marshal for the northern district of Illinois. They offer the magnificent sum of two cents an acre for the richest land in the west. The scheme goes on all fours with Uncle Rufus Hatch’s offer to take the Yellowstone Park off the government’s hands for a hotel site, or that other proposition of the Standard Oil Company to ‘freeze out’ all the small cattle men in the Territory.”
Arguments against such a lease were many. “The Cheyennes did not control any lands in Indian Territory; even if they did, neither they nor the Cherokees, jointly or separately, had anything to say about leasing lands in the Territory for grazing purposes; Secretary Teller had no authority to lease lands in the Territory for any purpose whatever. To acknowledge the authority of the Secretary to give a lease to Mr. Campbell’s Chicago syndicate, is practically an assertion that the land in question belongs to the government, and therefore is subject to settlement. Certainly no one assumes that to be the case.”
Standard Oil Fencing Condemned At Special Meeting of Stockmen’s Association.
A special meeting was held by the Stockmen’s Association of the Cherokee Strip in Topeka on January 8, 1883. Its members owned over ninety percent of the livestock grazed upon the Cherokee Strip. At this meeting they expressed unanimous disapproval of the Standard Oil Company or any other corporation or company of individuals in fencing up the grounds known as the “quarantine grounds,” said grounds having been set apart by the association, by and with the consent of the Cherokee authorities, for the benefit and use of persons driving cattle from Texas and other points for shipment.
Editor Standley of the Arkansas City Traveler alerted stockholders and citizens of recent events on January 10, 1883.
We have discovered the following in the Washington letter of the Kansas City Times. “By the Cherokee law each Indian has been allowed to appropriate a given quantity of land suitable for grazing purposes in the Indian Territory. It appears that the rich and powerful corporation known as the ‘Standard Oil Company,’ have gone into the speculation of cattle raising, and the better to serve a monopoly, have hired Cherokee Indians at nominal rates to take up grazing lands for the benefit of the company. Heretofore the people of Missouri, Kansas, and Texas have been able to graze their cattle in the Indian Territory by paying so much a head, but the plan of the Standard Oil Company is to drive out all those engaged in raising cattle in a small way. . . .”
On January 17, 1883, the Traveler had more information.
“The Secretary of the Interior has called upon the Secretary of War for troops to tear down the wire fences in the Indian Territory, and the fence will have to go.
“Major Lipe positively refused to grant the Oil Company any license on the country below us known as ‘quarantine grounds,’ and says, (speaking of those who have paid the tax): ‘When anyone of them comes forward next spring to renew their license, he proposes to accept the money and issue the permit.’”
John Q. Tufts, the Indian Agent at Muskogee, was chosen by the Secretary of the Interior in January 1883 to investigate the rights of the Cherokees and cattlemen in fencing of the land west of 96. As a result, a special meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association was held in Caldwell, Kansas, January 27, 1883. The object of the meeting was stated by the chair and letters were read by Mr. Tell Walton from E. M. Hewins concerning matters pertaining to the vital interests of the association. A committee of five was appointed to make a draft of the Cherokee Strip, showing the quarantine grounds, trails, fencing, etc.
The Cheyenne Reporter in February stated that eastern capitalists and stockmen gained the consent of the Cheyennes and Arapahos to fence the western and southwestern portions of their reservation. Leases had been signed covering bodies of grazing land of about 500,000 acres each, with the privilege of fencing the same and erecting the necessary ranch buildings and improvements. It was pointed out that the Interior Secretary would have to approve the unanimous action of the Indians for this grass-rental, which would bring in nearly $10 per capita for every man, woman, and child on the reservation.
Windsor & Roberts.
On February 14, 1883, the Traveler had the following item: “Major Gore, [?] one of our stockmen, returned to the city last week.” One week later the Traveler announced the arrival of Windsor and Roberts. “Senator Roberts, of Pennsylvania, accompanied by Mr. Windsor, arrived at this place Tuesday of last week, and remained several days looking up their interests in the stock speculation they are about to engage in, in the Territory south of this place. It was the intention of these gentlemen to fence in all that country west of the Arkansas River, and north of the Ponca Reserve, as far west as the Shakaska [Chikaskia] River; but another Cherokee, Mr. Mills, laid claim to the range as far east as Bitter Creek, and that portion of it was abandoned. The original intention as suggested by Mr. Gore, superintendent of the company, was to run the fence on the divide between Deer Creek and Chilocco, leaving a strip about four miles wide on the State Line. After losing the Shakaska country, he was overruled in this and the posts were set about one mile below the line, cutting off the ranges of Mr. Chambers, Mr. Hill, Scott & Topliff, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Parvin along the State Line, who had paid the Cherokee tax, besides a number who hadn’t paid, and several in the Territory who had paid. This wanton overriding of the rights of these gentlemen naturally produced trouble and the Secretary of the Interior interfered and stopped it. Mr. Roberts then came out to see what had been done, and returned with the conviction that the people had not been treated fairly, and with the determination that they should be, and the result is that the rights of all those who have paid the tax will be respected. C. M. Scott’s range will be left entirely out, as well as all of his neighbors, and the fence placed west of the Ponca road and south of Chilocco Creek.
“There is a disposition with some to crush out the company entirely, which is wrong. These gentlemen have the same right to the unoccupied range as anyone when they have paid the tax imposed by the Cherokees, and as long as they hold themselves within the bounds of right, without infringing on others, we would rather have them there than not have them. That the Cherokees have a right to impose a tax is recognized by the Department of the Interior, and having that right, it is clearly a matter for them to decide the terms and the parties to whom the grazing permit is granted. Those having paid the Cherokee tax are protected, and we cannot well see what more could in justice be demanded.
“It begins to look now as though the wire fence will be built in accordance with the wishes of stockmen and the usages of the country. Time will tell.”
A week later Tell Walton and Marion Blair were in Arkansas City as a committee of the Stock Association to confer with local stockmen regarding wire fences.
John Q. Tufts, U. S. Indian Agent at Muskogee, Indian Territory, wrote a letter to C. M. Scott, asking that the grievances of the several parties in the Indian Territory, south of Arkansas City, be written and sent to him as he was unable to meet the parties at this place.
Stockmen’s Meeting in Arkansas City at Office of C. M. Scott.
On February 28, 1883, the Traveler reported on a recent stockmen’s meeting in Arkansas City at the office of C. M. Scott. John H. Tomlin, of Winfield, was called to the chair and C. M. Scott acted as Secretary. The following stockmen attended: W. J. Hodges, John Myrtle, John Love, J. M. Love, J. C. Weathers, J. A. Tipton, H. J. Chinn, W. W. Wicks, Drury Warren, Hugh McGinn, J. H. Saunders, W. L. Moorehouse, Dr. Zach Carlisle, and others.
On motion a committee of three (W. J. Hodges, chairman; Drury Warren, and C. M. Scott) was appointed to settle all claims of stockmen with the parties proposing to fence, or any other whose interests might conflict.
Mr. Weathers thought the Oil Company had no right in the Territory, and did not believe in adjusting matters with them. Thought they should not be recognized in the meeting at all.
Mr. Hodges thought if they paid the tax and complied with the law, they had as much right as anyone to the unoccupied range, and that we should not expect the range to lay idle, and that it would not, and anyone claiming it and paying for it would be protected, whether they were of Kansas, Pennsylvania, or England.
Mr. Chinn said if a man paid, he had no protection against Texas cattle, to which Mr. Hodges replied; only through the Stock Association.
Mr. Warren didn’t see any harm in the Oil Company occupying the range as long as they interfered with the rights of no one legally there.
Mr. Love is on the west side of the range they propose to fence. He hasn’t paid his tax. When he stopped there, he did not expect to remain long—was going farther west, but finally concluded to remain. He then rendered payment to the Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, and his offer was refused, although he was first on the ground, and had conflicted with no one; and after they had refused, the grant and privilege was given to Mr. Gore. He did not believe in discriminating in favor of a monopoly, and that too, when they were not on the ground, and have not yet a hoof of stock on the range. He said there was no fairness in it, and that the Oil Company were only acting fair since they could do no better. That they had tried to shut out all alike and would have done it if they could, and he appealed to the stockmen to stand by him as he had stood by them. Mr. Hodges thought Mr. Love’s case one of merit, and that his right would not be ignored. On motion the meeting elected Mr. Tomlin, Mr. Love, and C. M. Scott a committee of three to forward the grievance to Major John Q. Tufts at Muscogee [Muskogee], Indian Territory.
On motion Drury Warren, Mr. Wicks, and Mr. Weathers were appointed a committee of three to attend the March 6, 1883, meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stock Association.
The following resolutions were introduced and passed.
Resolved, That it is the sense and desire of this meeting that no quarantine ground be established east of Bitter Creek.
Resolved, That no through Texas cattle be permitted to be driven along the State Line east of Bitter Creek, or within four miles of the line during the summer months and that we will use our best endeavors to prevent such doing.
Resolved, That each and everyone of us become a member of the Cherokee Strip Association, and that we stand by one another in the protection of our rights.
On March 1, 1883, it was estimated that 300,000 head of cattle were being herded on the Cherokee Strip. The owners of approximately 100,000 of these were not paying taxes to the Cherokees. During 1882 over 950 miles of fencing, belonging in the main to citizens of the United States, had been put in. These parties supplied gates for through traffic so that the fences did not interfere with legitimate travel or mail routes. Agent Tufts, believing fences would be of incalculable good in restraining the cutting of timber, submitted a report to Hiram Price, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in which he stated: “I respectfully recommend that the fences now on these lands be permitted to remain, and other parties desiring to fence be permitted to do so subject to the following conditions.
“1. Permission from the Cherokee Nation must be obtained.
“2. That no fences shall be erected within two miles of any post road.
“3. If any parties fencing their range cut or permit any timber to be cut within their pastures, they shall be subject to removal from the Territory and the fences destroyed.
“4. All fences shall be removed at once from the Territory whenever those in possession shall be notified to do so by the department.
“The effect of a settlement of this matter in this way will be that the Indian office will not be called upon every few months to remove from the Territory cattlemen who refuse to pay tax. The Cherokee Nation will collect double the tax; the destruction of the timber will be effectually stopped, and the young timber protected from fire.
“The only opposition I found to this fencing was from those who claimed that the timber on these lands belonged to anybody that got it, and from those who live in the States and own large herds of cattle on these lands and refuse to pay taxes.”
Fencing Without Permission By Pennsylvania Oil Company.
Agent Tufts also pointed out the following: “The Pennsylvania Oil Company, who attempted to fence without permission from the Cherokee authorities and enclose the ranges, and owners of small herds of cattle on which they had paid Cherokee tax, have agreed to settle with those whose ranges they had intended to enclose in their pasture, and obtain permission of the Cherokee authorities, or go elsewhere for their range.
“This arrangement satisfies Mr. C. M. Scott, and others, who complained to the Department of the action of the Oil Company, and if permitted to do so, will fence their ranges during the coming summer.”
Agent Tufts named the companies or organizations claiming to own fences and the quantity of wire in each. [Note: George W. Miller, and C. H. McClellan each had 72 miles that were fenced; they were exceeded only by E. M. Ford, who had 87 miles fenced.]
Third Annual Meeting of Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association.
March 6, 1883, marked the date of the third annual meeting of the Cherokee Strip Stockmen’s Association in the Opera House at Caldwell, called to order by the president, Ben S. Miller, who made the following remarks.
“It becomes my painful duty to call this Association to order again. Painful, because it will be a rehash of what we have done, the past year, some of which has come to light, and some of which may never show up. On looking to my right, I miss the face of one who, in life, was one of the best supporters the chair had, and whose council and suggestions were always so timely. I refer with sorrow to our friend and brother, A. H. Johnson, who was stricken down in the prime of life last summer, without a moment’s warning, by the Power that controls the elements. He has gone to a place where ‘scattering,’ ‘gatherings,’ and ‘round-ups’ are no more. Whether to a range that is fenced or open, we know not; but we do know that if it is fenced, no Congress, Secretary of the Interior, or Indian Commission can tear it down at their pleasure.”
The following points were covered in a lengthy resolution: keeping trails open and free from all barriers such as fences to all shipping points in Kansas; ground set apart as quarantine grounds for through Texas cattle or shipment of Territory cattle; title and control of the Cherokee Strip definitely settled.
The committee on round-ups designated the three divisions of the Cherokee Strip.
Division No. 1. The Red Rock and Salt Fork country, including the territory of, and then to the south line of Kansas, and thence west, including all tributaries of the Salt Fork, in the west line of the Comanche County Pool. Said division to meet at the Red Rock crossing of the Arkansas City road.
Division No. 2. Country lying south of division No. 1, extending as far south as the division between the Cimarron and the North Fork of the Canadian, and to commence work at McClellen’s pasture, and, if necessary, to work on the North Fork, east of the crossing of the Chisholm trail, and work west as far as the west line of the Comanche County Pool. This division to meet where the Arkansas City wagon road crosses the Skeleton Creek.
Division No. 3. Country lying south of division No. 2, and as far south as the Washita River; and to extend as far west as A. J. Day’s range. Said division to meet at the Chisholm trail crossing of the North Fork of the Canadian.
Among the new members the following were located in Cowley County or nearby: Frank M. Stewart, W. J. Hodges, W. W. Wicks, John Myrtle, Tomlin & Webb, E. P. Fouts, C. M. Scott, H. P. Standley, H. W. Roberts, D. Roberts, J. N. Florer, Drury Warren, W. H. Dunn, J. Love, Johnsons & Hosmer, J. C. Weathers, and S. P. Burress.
Mr. Hodges asked leave to file paper for consideration of the convention at the proper time concerning Oil Company troubles. Paper was read and discussed. No action was taken.
Mr. Gore, representing the Company, supposed to be the Pennsylvania Oil Company, stated that it was not a part of said company, but was a private enterprise, and that they were willing to agree to anything reasonable concerning the ranges.
On March 8, 1883, two days after the annual convention, the name of the Association was officially changed to “Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.” A Board of Arbitration, consisting of three members, was appointed.
Pennsylvania Oil Company.
Before the annual meeting took place on March 6, 1883, a resolution was adopted by officers of the Association and telegraphed to Governor Glick of Kansas.
Resolved, That this convention tender their thanks to Messrs. Plumb and Ryan for the able manner in which they defended the rights of the cattlemen on the Cherokee strip, and sat down on the Pennsylvania Oil Co., and all other monopolies.
The Caldwell Commercial commented on this about a week after the convention.
“This resolution adopted by the Live Stock Association, thanking Messrs. Plumb and Ryan, could have been very properly amended by striking out that portion relating to the Pennsylvania Oil Company. That company took their range on the same plan and under similar conditions to other cattlemen who had fenced. It did not attempt to take any advantage of those rightfully holding cattle on the range which they had hired; on the contrary, the company had offered to buy out all such parties, if said parties would sell. Those who did not want to sell were given to understand that they could remain, without interference on the part of the company, so long as the Cherokee authorities were satisfied.
“Since the above was put in type, we have learned that there is no such organization as the ‘Standard Oil Company’ or the ‘Pennsylvania Oil Company’ laying any claim to a range or doing any business on the Cherokee Strip. The firm all the fuss has been kicked up about is composed of W. B. Roberts and J. H. Windsor, and their cattle business has no connection in any way with any oil company on the face of the globe. As individuals, they have put their own money into the stock business, secured a defined range from the Cherokee Nation, and they have not sought in any way to infringe upon the rights of others. When they obtained the privileges of the range they now hold, Messrs. Roberts & Co., were informed by Major Lipe that the range was unoccupied, or if it was, the parties so occupying it were intruders, because they had never paid any tax to the Cherokee Nation.
Roberts & Co. and Pink Fouts.
Shortly after the Caldwell meeting March 6, 1883, Messrs. Hays and Fouts sold the Willow Springs Ranch to Roberts & Co. That firm began to run the stage station at the Springs. They further stated they were going to build a bridge across the stream at that point for the accommodation of travel.
On May 2, 1883, the Traveler commented: “It is said that the Oil Company will brand their stock O I L on the side. Everybody will know who it belongs to. But it occurs to us that this is Moffitt & Co.’s brand at Kiowa, Kansas.”
On the same date the Traveler announced that Tell W. Walton had severed his connection with the Caldwell Post.
On May 30, 1883, the Arkansas City Traveler ran the following ad.
WILLOW SPRINGS STOCK RANCH.
Sheep, Horses & Cattle.
PINK FOUTS, MANAGER.
Horse Brand: O I L on left hip. Cattle brand: O I L on either side.
Information given of strays of above brand will be rewarded.
P. O. Address, ARKANSAS CITY, KS.
Ranch at Willow Springs, Indian Territory.
Cherokee Lease to Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.
In May 1883 in anticipation of a lease by the Cherokee Nation to the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for five years, for a consideration of $100,000 per annum, the Association began making changes. A different chairman was appointed for the Board of Arbitration. The lands leased were divided into three divisions. Surveyors were hired to ascertain the amount of territory occupied by members. The expenses of surveying each range had to be paid for at the time the surveying was done by the person occupying the range.
The eastern division extended from the 96th meridian on the east to the Chisholm trail on the west and from the state line on the north to the southern line of the Cherokee Territory.
The middle division extended from the Chisholm trail on the east to a line running north and south on the west line of the Texas Land and Cattle company on the west.
The western division extended from the line running north and south on the west line of the Texas Land and Cattle Company to the 100th meridian west, and from the south line of Kansas on the north to the south line of the Cherokee country.
Tell Walton came up from the round-up in early May, announcing that work on the first division had commenced. During the first week of June, Walton sold his mares and colts to parties who shipped them north and began to buy and sell more until he was hired to be the surveyor for the middle division.
Windsors and Roberts in Attendance at Arbitration Board Meeting.
On June 12, 1883, the Arbitration Board of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association met with the stockmen. Some of those in attendance were listed. Among them were W. B. Roberts, J. H. Windsor, A. D. Windsor, of Titusville, Pennsylvania (the two former were accompanied by their wives); W. J. Hodges and J. H. Tomlin, Winfield; Capt. Nipp, C. M. Crocker, D. F. Fagins, Tipton Brothers, Arkansas City; W. W. Wicks, Hunnewell; and Pink Fouts, Willow Springs.
After the meeting on June 12th, Dr. and Mrs. Roberts, and Col. and Mrs. Windsor, and son, of Titusville, Pennsylvania, spent several days on their Territory ranche at Willow Springs, after which they took the train at Arkansas City and returned to their eastern home. Col. Windsor accompanied them as far as Wichita, and then returned to Arkansas City to look after business interests.
On June 15, 1883, the case of Windsor & Roberts vs. Hodges & Stewart, owing to the absence of the defendants, was continued until the next meeting of the Board.
The case of John Love & Son vs. Standard Oil Co., Pink Fouts, Manager, was next heard. Plaintiff moved for a continuance. Motion refused, and the Board decided that as plaintiff had no tax receipt, or other evidence that they had paid for range privileges, and there being nothing to show that they had a range, therefore, plaintiffs had no rights before the Board. The representatives of the defendants protested against the name “Standard Oil Co.” It was therefore ordered by the Board that the same should be changed to “Roberts & Windsor.”
Cherokee Strip Lease.
On July 5, 1883, the “Cherokee Strip Lease” was made by and between the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association. No reference was made to wire fences.
Windsor & Roberts.
Cases that had been appealed to the Board of Directors were handled. The case of Windsor & Roberts vs. Love & Son, on appeal of the latter from the decision of the Board of Arbitration, the Board of Directors sustained the decision of the Arbitrators, to the effect that Love & Son, having failed or refused to pay taxes to the Cherokee Nation for pasture privileges, had no range rights.
The Board of Arbitrators began settling up eighteen more disputes about ranges on July 5, 1883. The first case, Windsor & Roberts vs. Hodges & Stewart, was compromised.
The following cases before the Board were continued until its next meeting: the case of Mr. Chambers vs. Windsor & Roberts; Windsor & Roberts vs. Beach & Welch; Windsor & Roberts vs. W. W. Wicks; Windsor & Roberts vs. Estus Bros.; Windsor & Roberts vs. Tomlin & Webb.
The Arkansas City Democrat commented in July: “The indications are now that there will be trouble in the Indian Territory between the “small stockmen” and Pennsylvania Oil Company. Already things are assuming a war-like appearance; so far we have been unable to learn any facts in regard to affairs . . . .”
On July 26, 1883, the Caldwell Journal began to receive reports that parties had been killing sheep and driving stock off the range of Roberts & Windsor, on Willow Creek, south of Arkansas City. “Mr. Fouts, manager of the above firm, received a telegram stating that a party of men had driven the stock off the range.” If these reports are correct, the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association will be compelled to take some action for their own protection, for the reason that if lawlessness of that kind can go unpunished in one single instance, it will be but a very short time before others will suffer, and the fact of being a member of the Association will be no protection whatever.
It would seem now that the Strip is made a part of the U. S. District of Kansas, there should be some way of punishing those who commit depredations upon the property of persons occupying the Strip in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States and the Cherokee Nation. If not, a range on the Strip is not worth a song, and if any man undertake to hold one, he will have to do so through force. No argument is necessary to show that if such a condition of affairs is brought about, the Strip will become a strip of terror, where no man’s life or property will be safe for a single moment.
The Caldwell Journal reported the return in August of Tell Walton to take a little rest and renew his acquaintance with his wife and baby. “In forty days, the time employed until he left the range, he has run over 400 miles in surveying the lines for pastures in the middle division of the Strip. He has considerable more work to do, and will return next week.”
Windsor & Roberts Cases Before Board of Arbitration.
C. M. Scott went to Caldwell to appear before the board of arbitration of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association at their August session.
The Board of Arbitration decided the following cases.
Matthew Chambers vs. Roberts & Windsor. Settled by compromise, defendants giving plaintiff all the range he claimed.
Roberts & Windsor vs. Beach and Welch. The latter were given a range 3˝ by 4 miles on the head of Wolf Creek.
The case of Roberts & Windsor vs. Tomlin & Webb was compromised.
Roberts & Windsor vs. W. W. Wicks and Roberts & Windsor against Estus Bros. The Board gave defendants in these two cases a combined range of 24,000 acres.
The Arkansas City Traveler on August 29, 1883, commented, “The board of arbitration, recently in session at Caldwell, allowed Mr. Chambers his range on the state line, but cut the Estus brothers’ range down nearly one-half, as they also did that of Mr. Wicks. Mr. Beach was allowed nearly all of his. We learn that several of the cases will be appealed to the board of directors.”
Note: Roberts & Windsor vs. Wicks and Estus Bros. was appealed to the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association. On November 13, 1883, they changed the ranges of Wicks and Estus to commence at a point on the north line of the Ponca reservation half way between Bodark and Deer Creek; thence running north, or nearly so, to a point eleven miles north, and half way between Bodark and Deer Creek; thence east to East Bodark, and down East Bodark on the west side to where Miller’s branch empties into East Bodark; thence east to the Ponca trail, and south along said trail to the Ponca reservation; thence along the north line of the reservation to place of beginning; and that the Black Dog trail shall be the dividing line between said Estus Bros. and W. W. Wicks.
Roadways Through the Cherokee Strip.
Roadways through the strip became a subject of much importance. Complaints were made about the lease made by directors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association with the Cherokees of about six million acres for grazing purposes, with no material restrictions except as to timber and the three salt springs and their approaches on this land.
One paper stated: “This company acquired the right to utilize, for their own benefit, every foot of land on which they paid a rental fee. They have no right to close up a well established highway such as a mail or military route, of ordinary width, but it is entirely optional with them whether they do more. An open way four miles wide would contain 2,560 acres per mile, or 128,000 acres for 75 miles—a district capable of sustaining upwards of 8,500 grown cattle or horses at the low estimate of 15 acres per head.”
Cherokees Threaten Removal of Unlicensed Cattlemen.
The treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, D. W. Lipe, sent out a notice to occupants of Cherokee Strip Lands, advising that all persons not having a licence by September 26, 1883, would be reported by him to the Interior Department as intruders.
Survey Results from the Three Divisions.
On September 27, 1883, the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association received reports from the surveyors. From these reports, the Board levied an assessment of two cents an acre upon each occupant, in order to meet the first semi-annual payment to the Cherokee Nation, and to meet other expenses.
It was learned that S. T. Wood, surveyor of the eastern division, had not completed his survey of 1,909,000 acres in order to obtain the exact number of acres in that division.
Tell W. Walton completed his job of surveying the ranges in the middle division. His survey showed an area of 1,764,446.49 acres with 23 ranges in the middle division, running from 8,500 to 299,526 acres. All but three ranges were entirely enclosed with barbed wire fencing, and those were fenced on each side.
Mr. C. H. Burgess had the east half of the western division; Fred Erkhart, in charge of the west half of the western division, had not completed his survey, which comprised 1,108,390 acres.
The reports showed a total of 4,781,865.49 acres surveyed and platted on the Strip. It was contemplated that when all the surveys were completed, there would be a total acreage that would exceed 6,000,000 acres.
The Burgess & Walton Map.
Messrs. C. H. Burgess & Tell W. Walton prepared a map of the ranges on the Cherokee Strip, made up from surveys by the various parties engaged in that work. The Caldwell Journal notified the public about the map on October 4, 1883. “No time should be lost in making subscriptions, as no extra copies will be published. If the plats made and submitted to the Directors are any criterion, the map will not only be a beauty, but a necessary adjunct to every well governed ranch.