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The Great American Western

Discussion in 'General Bass Fishing' started by Gridleak, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. Gridleak

    Gridleak Well-Known Member


    By 1842 the great American western expansion had begun. The western frontier lay at the Arkansas River and was marked by the establishment of a far-flung outpost called Fort Smith. Beyond Fort Smith lay Indian Territory and over the next twenty years many other forts would be established to protect the civilized tribes, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole, as well as the settlers pushing their way towards Texas, and California, from the marauding plains Indian’s. The fiercest of the Indians included the Kiowa, Comanche and the Cheyenne and Apache.

    Fort Washita would be establish in the southern part of Indian Territory north of the Red River and by 1851 Fort Arbuckle paved the way for the opening of the Chisolm Trail. Both forts would be abandoned by the North during the War Between the States and occupied by Confederate troops from 1861 to 1865. After the war both forts would be occupied again by Federal troops, primarily Buffalo Soldiers. The Buffalo Soldiers were all black companies of the U.S. 9th and 10th Cavalries. An Indian missionary would coin a word while writing the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty of 1866. The word combined two Choctaw words: 'ukla meaning "person", and humá meaning "red"); thus eventually, Oklahomans meaning "red people."

    As the Indian Wars moved into full swing both forts would become strategically obsolete as the frontier was pushed farther and farther west. By 1869 Forts Washita and Arbuckle would be abandoned. The site of a new fort was staked out at Medicine Bluffs, Indian Territory, on January 8, 1869 by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan who led a Campaign to stop hostile tribes from raiding border settlements in Texas and Kansas.

    Sheridan's campaign involved six cavalry regiments accompanied by frontier scouts such as "Buffalo Bill" Cody, "Wild Bill" Hickok, Ben Clark and Jack Stilwell. Troops camped at the location of the new fort included the 7th Cavalry, the 19th Kansas Volunteers and the 10th Cavalry. The new fort would later be named for a classmate of Sheridan’s at West Point who had been killed during the so-called “Civil War”. The new fort would be named after Brigadier General Joshua W. Sill and would be called Fort Sill. The first post commander was Brevet Maj. Gen. Benjamin Grierson and the first Indian agent was Colonel Albert Gallatin Boone, grandson of Daniel Boone.

    In May of 1869 President Grant approved a peace policy placing responsibility for the Southwest tribes under Quaker Indian agents. Fort Sill soldiers were restricted from taking punitive action against the Indians who interpreted this as a sign of weakness. They resumed raiding the Texas frontier and used Fort Sill as a sanctuary. In 1871 General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at Fort Sill to find several Kiowa chiefs boasting about a wagon train massacre. When Sherman ordered their arrest during a meeting on Grierson's porch two of the Indians attempted to assassinate him. The results were a campaign against the marauders over the next three years and in June 1874 the Comanche, Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne went on the warpath. The Southern Plains would tremble beneath the hooves of the ponies of the Indian raiders. The resulting Red River Campaign, which lasted a year, was a war of attrition involving relentless pursuit by converging military columns.

    Without a chance to graze their livestock and faced with a disappearance of the great buffalo herds, the hostile tribes eventually surrendered. Quanah Parker and his Quohada Comanches were the last to abandon the struggle and their arrival at Fort Sill in June 1875 marked the end of Indian warfare on the Southern Plains.

    Until the territory opened for settlement, Fort Sill's mission was one of law enforcement. Soldiers protected the Indians from outlaws, squatters and cattle rustlers. In July of 1876 my Great Grandfather, Michael Christopher Reynolds, from Virginia, arrived at Fort Sill, Indian Territory. It would be 13 years before Indian Territory was officially opened for settlement on April 2, 1889, and 31 years before Oklahoma became a state. My Great Grandfather was a Sooner. My Great Grandfather was also a mean ol’bastich.

    Michael soon met up with another fellow named Sherman Joines. He and Mr. Joines would form a partnership that would create one of the largest cattle ranches in existence. Before it was said and done “The Ranch” would cover a great swath of the Arbuckle mountains of the southern Indian Territories. The ranch was mostly unoccupied and therefore “unowned” by anyone, but Michael and Sherman would defend it and claim it for many years at the point of a gun. They hired many men to help them with this work, and with the work of claiming new land on an on-going basis.

    One of these men was a particularly abrasive fellow by the name of Newt Gann. Newt didn’t care for ranching or farming, he preferred to spend his days pointing his gun at people, and Michael and Sherman soon cut a deal with Newt to help them “acquire” more land from particularly troublesome, no good, squatters. The deal was simple, for every acre that Newt “acquired” Michael and Sherman would pay Newt a nickel. Additionally one quarter of an acre per acre acquired would be set-aside in a parcel for Newt to use as he saw fit. Most usually this meant offering a share cropping deal to whomever he’d just “acquired” out of their land. That is, if whomever he’d just “acquired” land from was still breathing. It has been said that the most Newt Gann ever paid for a piece of land was the bullets from his gun. You could have the bullets one of two ways.

    Not far from the town of Apache, near the western end of the Arbuckles at the edge of the ranch was one such squatter who Newt offered a deal. Being a farmer with no “feel” for a six-gun, and having no place to go, he took Newt up on his offer to sharecrop and moved to Newts parcel. Newts deal was again simple; he wanted cash money for one out of three bushels of crop. The farmer agreed. However, come harvest time the deal changed. Newt wanted cash money for two out of three bushels of crop. The farmer pleaded his case that Newt had taken his land and left him with only a small sharecrop and that he couldn’t survive on one bushel of three. Newt told the farmer, “When you harvest either pay me for two bushels of three or be wearing your gun the next time you come to town”. The farmer at a loss for what to do harvested his crop, took it to Apache and sold it. He then went straight to the U.S. Marshals office and asked for help.

    Apache, though rough and tumble, was not Dodge City, and the Marshal was not Wyatt Earp. The Marshal, not particularly interested in going up against Newt Gann, told the farmer the best he could do was take him out back and teach him to use a gun. The Marshal loaned the farmer a Colt pistol and explained to him that to use it simply grip the handle, pull back the hammer, lay his index finger alongside the barrel, point his finger at what he was going to shoot, and pull the trigger. The farmer fired several practice rounds and walked back inside with the Marshal. At this point the Marshal decided the farmer needed a holster but besides the one he was wearing he only had one other.

    The Marshal had recently received for field trial a new holster said to be more “civilized” then the “standard” issue hip holster. He had found it to be bulky and uncomfortable and was more at home with his own. Pulling the new holster out of a drawer he gave it to the farmer and helped him strap it on. Having never worn a holster the farmer had no preconceptions about how a holster should feel or misgivings about being able to draw from it so wearing the new holster felt fine. He put on his coat and he and the Marshal walked out of the office and down the street together. Newt Gann sat on the courthouse steps.

    The farmer and the Marshal walked up to within four paces of Newt. Newt looked at the Marshal and then turned his attention to the farmer. Newt asked the farmer, “You come to pay me”?

    “Yes”, said the farmer and reached inside the breast of his coat. Newt, having never even heard of a shoulder holster, never expected the farmer to come out of his breast pocket with a gun. The farmer “paid” Newt Gann six rounds from his colt, right there on the courthouse steps. The Marshal declared it self-defense, retrieved his gun and shoulder holster declaring it “field tested”, and walked away.

    A few short years later, my daddy, Robert, was born just a few miles away in Ringling, Indian Territory, 1906. He was born just one year before Oklahoma became a state and was raised on “The Ranch”. He was born into a more “civilized” world. It would be another 45 years before I was born in Oklahoma City and that has been 66 years ago. I have yet to decide if our world is more “civilized”. Perhaps what the world needs is a good shoulder holster.



    I attended school with a great many Natives, one of which was a tall lovely Princess named Quanah Parker, Great Granddaughter and namesake of the great Comanche warrior.

    Another point of interest is that as mean as my Great Grandfather Michael was in regard to squatters; at one corner of his property having later been deeded to him and Mr Joines by the United States Government, lived a squatter. This squatter showed up on the property one day, and at my Great Grandfathers direction, lived there unhindered for many years until his dying day. The squatters name was Nachite. Nachite, a Chiracahua Apache, having surrendered at Skeleton Canyon, New Mexico in September of 1886 was imprisoned at Fort Sill with his leader. Nachite once wrote a true story called - I Rode With Geronimo.

    Nachite died on his one hundred and eighth birthday in a car wreck near Apache Oklahoma.
    TFishin1, Mudman and Charlie T like this.
  2. oznog

    oznog Well-Known Member

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  3. Charlie T

    Charlie T Well-Known Member

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