Mt. Pleasant Journal July 23, 1869
Henry County Indian Agent - Isaac T. Gibson, of Salem, this county, has been appointed agent for the Osages and other Indians of the Heath agency. Mr. G. is an excellent man, of the society of Friends, and will make an honest and capable officer.
Emporia News, November 25, 1870.
LETTER FROM THOMAS H. STANLEY.
A Trip in Hunt of a Home for the Kaw Indians.
AMERICUS, 11 mo., 15th, 1870.
ESTEEMED FRIENDS, STOTLER & WILLIAMS: On the 26th of last month I joined the company that were going to look out a new home in the Indian Territory for the Kaw Indians, consisting of their agent and farmer,six of the prominent Indians (four of them that are part French), one Frenchman who had married a half-breed, and Carlos Bridges, our cook. Two of the party acted as interpreters when occasion required it. The first night most of the party camped near Soden=3Ds mill. The night was quite wet. The next day, being still wet, we got a late start, and when we reached Eagle Creek, near Elmendaro, it had risen so that we could not cross with safety for near two days. Then by going up the creek neartwo miles, we crossed it and went over to the Verdigris, and followed iton the east side to near the Falls, where we camped for the night. The day following we pursued our journey down the Verdigris, passing near Virgil and Sheridan, which are very small towns. At the latter there is a steam saw mill and a little grocery. The next town we came to was Toronto, which had about fifteen or twenty new houses on it. It is situated on a nice elevated prairie, about seventy feet above the bottom land, andnear one mile and a half from the river, and ten miles northwest from Coyville. Several of the settlers are from Canada, and our Indians appeared to be rather a curiosity to some of them. Some of the partywere not pleased with being looked at so much. A little beyond this town we camped for the night in a little grove of timber.
Early in the next day our company divided, as the river was too highto be forded. We left the wagons and all of the party but Mahlon Stubbsand myself, to wait until they could cross the river, and then go nearly south to the south line of the State, where we would meet.
And Mahlon and I followed the road down the river, passing Guilford,near the center of Wilson County. Our friend, Akin, formerly of Council grove, has a mill at this place. About six miles further down the river, near the mouth of Cedar Creek, is the new town of Altoona, with about thirty houses in it. It is handsomely located near the river. Our son, William F. Stanley, lives about five miles nearly east of this place. We were much pleased with the appearance of this county. It appeared to be settled with an enterprising class of people.
After a short visit with my son and family, we went on south near twenty miles, to Morgan City, and then four miles east, and called on our friend, Isaac T. Gibson, the agent for the Osages, whom I was well acquainted with in Iowa. We called on him in order to ascertain where he had located the Osages, so that we might know how to proceed with our business. We had an interesting conversation on Indian matters, in comparing views, etc. Our dear friend has formerly bee a devoted laborer among the freedmen, and we heard some speak of him in our travels inhigh terms. I felt a sympathy with him in his arduous field of labor. He appears to be doing all he can to improve the condition of the Osages, and has a general interest in the welfare of mankind, particularly those that need encouragement to improve their condition.
After this interesting visit with this devoted Friend, we proceeded on our journey through Independence, the county seat of Montgomery County. It is handsomely situated on the west side of the Verdigris, and contains nearly 200 houses. There is said to be twelve towns and about 15,000 inhabitants in this county. The land is handsomely rolling, and mostly good soil.
From Independence we went nearly west about ten miles, to a small settlement of Friends, and from there struck across to Little Cana, near the west side of Montgomery County. Here we came up to the rest of our party, and proceeded on down the Cana to St. Paul, a town of about six houses, near the southeast corner of Howard County; and about three miles further on is Euniceville, very near the south line of the State, onthe east bank of Little Cana. Nearly one mile west of this little town the 96 w. l. and 37 n. l. cross each other.
The agent had been instructed to look out a home for the Kaws west of 96 w. l., and south of Kansas, which is said to be 37 n. l. We then proceeded at once to examine the country, by taking a western course, as near the south line of Kansas as we could come at from all the information we could obtain.
After traveling about five miles over a handsome, rolling prairie, we ascended a stony hill about 100 feet high, timbered with scrubby oaks. We then had a hilly and rocky country, with but little valley land for about ten miles; when we came to the Big Cana, which is nearly as large as Cottonwood.
We then followed this creek, examining the country. There were several deers seen by our party, but none of us succeeded in killing any, though there was considerable anxiety manifested to have some deer meat to eat. We met several Osages out hunting, and some of them had been more successful than we had, as we saw the venison dangling by the side of the ponies. They had set fire to the prairie in many places, which sweptover the hills in a terrific manner, roaring very much like distant thunder. At times our Indians were kindly treated by the Osages, and some of them eat with our party. They had no difficulty in talking with each other, as their language is very near alike.
We followed the Big Cana bottom around to the Little Cana, which brought us back to about eight miles south of the place where we struck west. The Kaws like the country as well as we could, except the rocky hills. We then struck south, on a plain road, to Shotoe=3Ds store, nearly twenty-three miles south of Kansas, and one mile west of 96 w. l. The Osage agent met us at this place to counsel with his Indians about their choice of a home. We also met with two of our Eastern friends, Wm. Nicholson, from North Carolina, and Edward Earl, from New England, who are on a visit to the Indians, agents, etc., in the Central Superintendency. We saw some Delawares and Cherokees while here, anda part of them appear to be doing quite well, and others poorly. Our Indians did not wish to go any farther, and informed us that if they could not get their reserve next to Kansas and on the Cana, they didn=3Dt wish any. So we could not prevail on them to go any farther, and after visiting there about two days the agent thought best for us to come home, and he would endeavor to get the land for them that they had chosen.But there are some doubts about his success, as it was said that the Osages had included that in their choice of a reserve; and there is also some other difficulty to be adjusted before they can get it. If they succeed in getting the promise of this land, then they will likely sell their land to their great father at Washington, as they do not wish to trade with any other person.
The land west of the Cana and east of the Arkansas, from what we sawand heard, is very rough and broken, with hills nearly 200 feet high. The good land is confined to the valleys, but from the Cana to the Verdigris is mostly nice, rolling land.
On our way home we passed through St. Paul and Elk City. This last town, situated on Elk River, is quite a thriving place, and has a good country around it. From thence to Fredonia (near Fall River), the county seat of Wilson County, is handsomely located near a mound on nice, rolling prairie. From thence to Coyville, on the Verdigris, which has been quite a trading post. We then followed up the Verdigris, passing through Greenwood, Sheradin, Madison, Emporia, and Americus.
We had a very satisfactory trip with but little exception. We had several very interesting talks with our Indians relative to their future course and best welfare. They behaved themselves throughout the trip quite well, and at times were very lively. Some of us had considerable conversation relative to the best plan to be adopted to promote the improvement of the Indians. This is a subject that has long been much on my mind, and of late I find many others that are feeling much interested in their improvement, and I feel encouraged, believing that there will be a gradual improvement in most of the tribes.
During the rebellion there was many things calculated to make the Indians worse. They were also neglected by the better class of the community, as the freedmen seemed to claim nearly all the energies of the Philanthropist until recently; but of late they are becoming wakenedup in regard to our duties towards the aborigines of our country. It ismy desire that we may not overlook any class in our country, but labor earnestly and prayerfully for the advancement and improvement especially of the most neglected classes.
I was considerably interested in the Geology of the country over which we passed. The stones or rocks in Lyon County are mostly of limestone formation.
But over on Verdigris we soon came to sandstone, which continues until we come about Fall River, and from there to Elk River we see limestone,and from that southward sandstone until we get about 20 miles south of the State of Kansas, where we come to limestone again. In Wilson County I heard that they had a thin vein of coal cropping out, and I think likely that coal will be found in other places in the southern part of the State.
The timber appeared to be rather thicker and more of it as we went southward. In many places there was considerable timber on the hills. Last summer in my visit to the northeastern part of our State, I observed many new improvements going on, but not to the same extent that there is south. Respectfully, T. H. STANLEY.
In the annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to Congress, report No. 73 was included. This report was written by the United States Indian Agent to the Osage, Isaac T. Gibson, and dated October 1, 1871. The report was as follows:
"Esteemed Friend: As the Quapaws, and other small bands heretofore connected with this agency, have been formed into a separate one, this report will refer alone to the Osages, who are now the only tribe inmy charge. At their general council in Ninth month, 1870, they acceptedthe "Congress bill," by which all their lands were conveyed to the government in trust. They also appointed a delegation to select a suitable tract of land in the Indian Territory for a new home. The greater portion of the tribe then went to the plains on their fall and winter hunt.
On the 26th of Tenthmonth, their principal chiefs formally selected a tract of country, which the tribe had frequently occupied temporarily, and had for years regarded as their future home. A special survey, however, made by advice of the commissioners, and the urgent requestof the Osages, proved this selection to be partly east of the ninety-sixth meridian. The Cherokee government refusing to sell any land east of that line, the Osages reluctantly accepted a tract lying west of the contiguous to it, and extending from the south line of Kansas to the north line of the Creek country. This selection was approved by the Department, and the President fixed the price at 50 cents per acre, the two parties in interest having failed to agree upon the price. The tract contains 560,000 acres, being 160 acres for each member of the tribe. A large proportion of it, however is broken, rocky, sterile, and utterly unfit for cultivation; and the best portions of the remaining were already occupied, and some improvements made, by about 150 families of Cherokees, Delawares, and Shawnees. These occupants believed that they were living east of ninety-six. The ground of their belief will be found in the following extract from a message of their chief to the Cherokee council, delivered Eleventhmonth 19, 1870:
It appears the Osages have selected the country of the Cana, or Little Verdigris, and Bird Creek, containing the best lands in the Cherokee Nation. A line purporting to be the meridian line of the 96 degree west longitude has been run without the official knowledge of the Cherokee authorities-a line that is in notorious variance with the official maps furnished this nation by the Indian Department, and every map known to exist. By this surreptitious survey many of our citizens are thrown west of the 96 degree, and their valuable farms and improvements are within the country assigned to and claimed by the Osages. You will therefore take such action as will secure a remedy, if possible.
The settlers were impatient for full possession of their country in Kansas, and, having confidence in the correctness of the survey of the 96 degree, I advised the early removal of the tribe. Some of the Cherokees sold their improvements to the mixed blood Osages, but the majority protested against our occupation. These facts were reported to the Department, and a survey in a manner that could not be objectionableto the Cherokee government, and the removal of the remainder of the Cherokee settlers, was urgently requested. Congress promptly appropriated $5,000 for determining the location, and marking with suitable monuments this line.
Desiring to commence the work of civilization at once, in early spring I had a saw-mill erected; purchased oxen, and wagons, and farming implements, and endeavored to make all the necessary arrangements for the erection of school houses and other agency buildings during the summer. A few temporary buildings for immediate use were erected, from material made by the saw-mill, though the laborers had frequently to abandon their work to avoid a conflict with their Cherokee friends, who resisted the necessary appropriation of timber.
The Osages mostly returned from their hunt about the middle of Thirdmonth, much disappointed at the unsettled condition of their affairs. I assured them the 96 degree would be located without further delay. I felt authorized to make this promise, for the honorable Commissioner at Washington, from whence I had just returned, gave mean unqualified promise that the survey should be made at once. Some weeks elapsed, and the chiefs protested against further improvements being made. When the planting season arrived they would not permit me to plow them fields of corn, nor their women to plant patches, because the line had not yet been run.
It must be borne in mind that their tillable land consists, mainly of a narrow strip adjoining the line in dispute, and if the official survey proves the Cherokees to be right, the land thus assigned to the Osages would be quickly abandoned by them, as I believe they would not accept it a gift for the a future home. I had before this suspended improvements except to get out fencing to inclose 50 acres of sod corn planted for the use of the Osages; but the appropriation of material was resisted until the Cherokee stock had destroyed the crop.
At this writing, the Osages have again mostly returned from the plains. If they had not been taught by years of experience that there was little faith due to the promises of their agents, they would be unable to restrain their indignation, for the survey has not yet been made, nor can I give them any reason why it has not been done.
When the Congress bill was offered to the Osages last fall, the mixed bloods of the tribe opposed its acceptance, on the ground that many of them had improved "claims", which they feared would be immediately "jumped" by the settlers. To remove this opposition, a large mass meeting of the settlers was held at the council, at which strong resolutionswere passed, with great unanimity, promising protection to all Osages having claims, and guaranteeing an opportunity to enter and enjoy their homes, or sell them, as they might elect. A strong committee was appointed to see that these resolutions were faithfully executed. Relying upon all this, the mixed bloods withdrew their opposition, and the bill was accepted. Nineteen of these half-breeds filed their intentions with the proper court of becoming citizens, desiring to remain on their farmsand claims, and enter them. But their claims were soon occupied by white settlers and a series of outrages and persecutions perpetrated upon them that shames humanity. All except eight have abandoned their homes, or taken what they could get for them. Some of their houses were burnt by mobs of white men; one half-breed died from injuries received and exposure on such an occasion. These murderers were arrested, went through the forms of a trial, and were discharged. The eight still remainingwill probably lose their land, as they have not the means to engage in a long contest at law; and if the past is an earnest of the future, they can hardly hope that an Indians's rights will be protected in a Kansas court.
Last fall the military removed a number of white settlers who had intruded on the lands of the Indian Territory bordering on Kansas. Most of them returned promptly when the soldiers had left. Early this spring I asked for the removal of nearly one hundred families from the Osage lands; then applied to the officers in command at Fort Gibson, then at Fort Scott, but the necessary assistance could not be obtained. Immigration has continued to pour in even more rapidly than it wouldon lands that it was lawful to occupy. My unaided efforts to remove them and prevent immigration have been futile. The Osages feel that their newhome is being wrested from them even before they have got possession.
Last spring a gang of seventeen border men made an unprovoked, murderous assault upon ten unarmed Osages, killing one and severely wounding others, and robbing them of several ponies, blankets, and robes. I applied at once for assistance to arrest the guilty parties. That request was responded to a few days since. On preliminary examination, threeof the party were placed under bonds of $250 to appear at some future time. This is gratifying evidence that the life of an Indian is regarded as of some value.
Owing to causes, some of which have been referred to, such as proximity to border settlements, the presence of intruders, the undetermined lines of jurisdiction, and the mixed population, violations of law are frequent and flagrant-more especially in the introduction of whisky, with its endless train of evils; and, with all this, an utter want of judicial machinery to arrest or punish evil-doers. If an arrest be now made, the offender and witnesses must be taken nearly 300 miles for an examination. Anticipating these troubles at the time of our removal, I then askedfor the appointment of a United States commissioner and deputy marshal for this locality; later, for a police force of ten soldiers; and , last, for permission to equip and use twenty Osages to enable me to preserve order and enforce the intercourse laws. To none of these have I received advice or response. I now entreat those whose duty it is to establish the boundaries of this reservation, and to remove trespassers therefrom,and to provide for the enforcement of the laws in the Indian country, not to neglect longer the sacred obligations the Government owes to these Osages.
The work of the year has been mainly the removal of the Osages to their present location without expense for transportation; issuing subsistence to about 500 of the tribe during the winter and spring; erection of a saw-mill; sawing over 150,000 feet of lumber; erection and repairs of buildings for the Osages, and temporary ones for agency purposes; inclosing with a good plank fence 100 acres of prairie land, one-half of which is now being sown in wheat; breaking 350 acres of prairie, and making about 1,000 tons of hay. This labor was performed almost wholly by numbers of the tribe, and largely by unlettered blanket Osges. This class of labor was used during the last month's run of the saw-mill, with the best results. They also made the greater part of the hay, laboring continuously from day to day, improving in skill. They also learned quite readily to hold the plow and drive the oxen. Not one has been discharged for idleness or disobedience. They are quite emulous, and certainly possess all the elements of character necessary, if kindly and carefully developed , to make them a community of industrious and enterprising citizens. Scores of them are importunate for houses and furniture, even under present discouragements; of course these cannot be gratified until they have a settled home. I designed having at least three schools during this summer, but owing to our suspension one house only was erected for that use, in which a school of 37 pupils have been taught for four months with a success that confirms the opinion that the common school is better than any other system for educating the tribe. About 60 pupils have been in attendance the past year at the Catholic mission school, Kansas.
A good physician has also been employed, who has succeeded well in restoring health, and introduced favorably our system of medicine among the blanket Indians, who have heretofore avoided the white man's medicine. The smith-shop has been in operation about six months, andis well patronized.
Nothing is wanting but reasonable attention to the needs of the Osages from the proper authorities, to render their civilization an easy and pleasurable success. But these long and inexplicable delays, which they attribute to neglect, do aggravate and dishearten; and while such feelings prevail their wild natures are insubordinate, and good impressions cannot be retained."
Salem News Jan. 27, 1898
Founder of Present Osage Annuities.
Mr. A. H. Gibson, of Claremore, in the Cherokee country, Indian territory , was a visitor in the city last week. Mr. Gibson's father, Hon. Isaac Gibson, of Salem, Iowa, many years ago in charge of the Osage agency, was practically the founder of the present system of Osage annuities. The Indians had contracted their lands at 18 cents an acre to a railway company. Agent Gibson broke up that treaty and after much effort secured action by congress by which the government bought the lands at $1.25 an acre, issuing 5 per cent bonds therefore and paying the tribe the interest from year to year. The arrangement now nets the Indians about $6,000 or $7,000 per annum per capita and the tribe is immensely wealthy. The plan, while saving each member from poverty,can hardly be said to be to the moral and physical benefit of the individual members as many of them lead lazy, aimless lives, squandering their money for whiskey and in dissipation. The money, however, is justly theirs and they have a right to do with it as they please. The ultimate outcome will be the extinction of the tribe. White people inter-marry and share in the annuities of the government and a race of half-breeds is growing up to add to the social complexity. This situation in Indian territory is not an ideal one for modern civilization, but it is difficult to change present conditions by any other than educational and moral influences. - Hawk-Eye.
The Free Press (Mt. Pleasant, Ia.) Sept. 30 ,1915
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