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Famous Chiefs

Famous Chiefs, Cabin #5

When one talks of the most notable Indian chiefs to roam the area of Young County and Wildcatter Ranch, the tribes of the Comanche, Kiowa and Kiowa Apaches are first and foremost.

We will talk of these chiefs in a moment, but first let’s mention the first deeded owner of this ranch. He did not belong to the above-mentioned tribes but was a Delaware Chief named John Conner. He was in fact the son of an Anglo pioneer trader named William Conner and a full-blooded Delaware Indian woman named Mekinges.

Growing up in Indiana in the early 1800s, there were few white settlers, so his main companions were Delaware, Miami and Shawnee Indians. He was to learn their ways very well.

Conner would eventually become a well-known Indian scout and interpreter, working with such notables as Randolph B. Marcy and Robert Simpson Neighbors. In June 1853, for services rendered, Conner was deeded a large tract of land, part of which is now Wildcatter Ranch.

Eventually the land was sold by his heirs but he left his namesake legacy in an early settlement called Conner’s Creek and, of course, the creek, which today is the eastern boundary of Wildcatter Ranch.

Speaking of Conner Creek, the earliest known site of Indian artifacts is located just off of Highway 16 on the creek. This site is dated to be older than 5,000 years. A copy of the archaeological study is in our library.

Back to the Comanche, Kiowa and Kiowa Apache chiefs who wreaked havoc across North Texas in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. We will first list the Kiowa and Kiowa Apache chiefs featured in our theme room, with a short discussion of each.

Kicking Bird was a Kiowa who mainly served as head of the Kiowa peace faction. In 1870, Kicking Bird organized his own raid that resulted in the Battle of Little Wichita River, where Captain Kerwin B. McClellan lost three men and had 12 wounded. He regretted that foray and was instrumental in negotiating the release of Satanta and Big Tree, both serving life sentences for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre.

In 1875, the military asked Kicking Bird to choose which Kiowa troublemakers would be incarcerated in Florida. Among others, he chose Lone Wolf and Mamanti of the Warren Wagon Train Massacre and Britt Johnson massacre fame.

On May 4, 1875, Kicking Bird was poisoned by a cup of tainted coffee. The Kiowas claimed he was killed by witchcraft from the evil Mamanti.

The next Kiowa chief is Lone Wolf, one of nine signers of the famous Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. In 1872, he actually headed a delegation to Washington, D.C. In 1873, his son was killed by Texans and thus he became one of the leaders of revenge raids in 1874 and 1875. In 1875 he was incarcerated in Fort Marion, Florida, where he remained for three years. He returned to the Fort Sill area in 1879, but died shortly thereafter.

One more famous Kiowa chief was Satanta, the well-known orator who participated and claimed credit for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre and who was known to carry a bugle to start raids. Also called White Bear, he and Big Tree were the first Native Americans to be tried by a federal court.

Satanta was also a signer of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. He died in Huntsville on Oct. 11, 1878, by jumping out of the second floor of the hospital building. This was similar to the death of the character Blue Duck in Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry.

Satank was the Kiowa Chief who was part of the Koitsenk faction of the Kiowas, known for their bravery and fearless actions during battle. He also participated in the Warren Wagon Train Massacre. In 1870 his son was killed by a Texan and for the rest of his life he carried his son’s bones with him constantly. He was killed himself in an escape attempt while being taken to Fort Richardson to be tried for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre.

Pacer was the leader of the Kiowa Apace tribe. Although no relation to the Apaches in New Mexico or Arizona, they often raided with the Kiowas and Comanches. Actually, Pacer was part of the peace faction and kept the main group of Kiowa Apaches on the reservation during the Red River War of 1874-75.

We do not have a painting of Big Tree in the theme room, but he was involved with Satanta and Satank in the Warren Wagon Train Massacre. He, too, was sentenced to death but his sentence was later commuted to life. He went to prison for a short time but upon being released he converted to Christianity and became a deacon in the Baptist Church. He lived a long and productive life thereafter.

We have saved the most famous for last. He was not Kiowa, Kiowa Apache or Delaware, but was a Quohada Comanche. His name was Quanah Parker.

Quanah Parker’s mother was Cynthia Ann Parker, who was captured by Comanches in a raid in 1836 near Groesbeck. Later Cynthia Ann was to marry Peta Nocona, the son of the famous Comanche Chief Iron Jacket. One of their children was Quanah Parker.

Quanah would be noted as the last great Comanche chief, well known for his bravery and leadership. He would be one of the last Comanches to surrender to authorities at the reservation at Fort Sill in 1875. After that he assimilated well into the Anglo society and became an even greater leader of the Comanches.

He later became friends with President Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Goodnight, Burk Burnett and so many other famous people of the pioneer era. He and his father, Peta Nocona, have towns in Texas named after them.

Quanah made many business deals, which greatly helped his tribe in his last years. He died in 1911 and is still revered as the last great Comanche chief.

To see photos and learn more about the historical themes of our rooms, click on a room name below.

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Wildcatter Ranch Resort & Spa     6062 Hwy. 16 South   Graham, Texas 76450   888-462-9277 or 940-549-3500