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The Western Star, January 23, 1920.


The Last Indian Raid in Kansas

(T. A. McNeill in Topeka Capital)

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On Tuesday, September 17, 1878, a horseman rode down the valley of the Medicine, his horse covered with foaming sweat.

He carried the news that there had been an Indian massacre on the Salt Fork of the Cimarron river in the southwest part of Comanche-co., in which two persons had been killed outright, a baby mortally and two other persons, seriously wounded. The attack, according to the report brought by the horseman, had been made at Sheet's cattle camp near the state line by a party of Cheyenne under the command of a daring young Cheyenne chief, called Dull Knife.

The Northern Cheyenne had been moved from their northern hunting grounds against their will. They chafed under the restrictions of the agency and the young warriors plotted to go back to the land where they were born and where they and their fathers had hunted for many generations. There had been an impression that the entire tribe of Northern Cheyenne were engaged in this raid. The fact is that not more than a hundred of the young warriors followed Dull Knife in his journey north. From the Sheets ranch the horseman reported that the Indians had traveled on to the Payne ranch. Payne was afterward president of the Comanche Pool and was killed by bank robbers at Medicine Lodge in the spring of 1883. The rider went on to say that Payne had been shot in the neck. Mrs. Payne had been shot in the thigh and their baby had been shot through the breast. Tom Murphy, a cattle herder, had been caught out alone and true to his race and name he had died fighting. It may not be out of place here to publish the following brief but touching tribute to the Irish herder written by Capt. Byron P. Aryes (sic - should be Ayers), of whom I have made former mention, and published in a subsequent issue of the Barber County mail. "In your paper of last week you told that Tom Murphy was dead. The boys who knew him have asked me to say something about him and have you print it. I do not know what to say, except that he was a good man, always sober, told the truth, loved children and fought bravely to the last."

I have always considered it as fine and comprehensive tribute as I have ever read. A few hours after the report of the massacres reached Medicine Lodge, 40 or 50 determined well armed men were mounted and on their way to intercept the savages. They were not trained soldiers, but I question if a nervier set of fighters ever rode out to battle. I have some personal pride in the expedition because a brother of mine rode with them, a young and stalwart man, quiet, cool, never given to boasting, never reckless, but who, had been given command of a forlorn hope, would, I am certain, have ridden to death as coolly as rode the troopers of the "Six Hundred" at the fatal charge of Balaclava. His body lies buried in an Oklahoma burying ground, and I trust that I may be excused for inserting this tribute to his memory. Some forty miles south of Dodge City the Barber County scouts joined a force of United States regulars and the combined force succeeded in intercepting Dull Knife and his band. They in fact, practically, surrounded the Indians in a canyon in what is now Clark county. The regulars and scouts together considerably outnumbered the Indians and might have either captured them or exterminated them. The scouts, however, had put themselves under command of the United States regular officer in command of the troops and he refused to attack. They asked to be permitted to attack, tried to convince the officer in command that while an attack might mean the loss of a few men they certainly could stop the further progress of the Indians. The officer refused, threw out pickets, and ordered that no attack be made until the next morning. Under cover of darkness the wily savages slipped away and when the morning came the regulars and scouts found they were guarding an empty canyon. The scouts were humiliated and disgusted and always regarded the the regular officer in command of the troops as a coward who was responsible for the trail of blood and fire afterward made by Dull Knife and his band before they were finally captured.

They had entered at the southwest corner of what is now Comanche county and crossing the state came out of it on the north line of Decatur county. The number of persons murdered by them in Kansas was variously estimated at from seventy-five to one hundred. The failure of the regulars to stop them before they had done any considerable amount of damage called forth this editorial reference from Medicine Lodge editor in his paper of October 17, 1878.

"Poor Lo has outgeneraled the U. S. troops and Dull Knife has shown himself entitled to a name among the great warriors of the red braves."

The band was finally captured in Nebraska. Some of them were killed before the capture and Dull Knife and a number of other warriors were put in jail. My recollection is that none of these were finally executed for their crimes. It is not at all improbable that even yet there is preserved in some Cheyenne teepee a scalp lock or two gathered on that last Indian raid through Kansas.

For several years after, the border was troubled with a fear of another outbreak and during the administration of Governor St. John a border patrol was established, an organization something after the fashion of the Texas rangers. A few armed and well mounted men rode the southern line of Kansas from the Cowley county border to the Colorado line, but there was no other Indian chief with the daring and organizing ability of Dull Knife to lead the young braves on another expedition of pillage and massacre.

Also see:

The Indian Scare
The Western Star, July 4, 1885.

Asenath/Acenith Caroline (Bailey) McIntire, wife of Davis Taylor McIntire: "On October 6, 1876, Mr. McIntire was married to Miss Acenith C. Bailey, who was born in Indiana in 1861. A very young bride to cope with the wilderness but born with the foundation of a true pioneer, one whose name will go down in history of Comanche County as being the first white woman in the country and who went through the Indian uprising of 1878 and assisted in caring for the wounded victims of the Redman." -- -- Diamond Jubilee Historical Souvenir Program, Coldwater, KS: Western Star, 1959.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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