A place which has always been associated with Old Greer County was actually located on the
Texas side of the Red River. One thing that most early Greer County Pioneers had in common
was the fact that they entered their new home through Doan's Crossing. Our old newspapers
are probably our best source of history. Although they were notorious for making mistakes,
they give us an account of events written at the time they happened or described by eye
witnesses. We are borrowing these accounts to present here.
The Mangum Daily Star
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 1932
Corwin F. Doan Tells Experiences
At the Gateway To Greer County
(Doan's Crossing was the Gateway to Old Greer County, Corwin F. Doan sat there in his
little trading post and saw the trail driver, the ranchman, and the settler come into
Greer County. The following article was written by Mr. Doan and published by George W.
Saunders, Cookesbury Press, 1925.)
I am now 74 years old and looking back over my life, I find the main part of it being
spent near the old Chisholm Trail, or on the Dodge City Kansas trail.
My first introduction to the old Chisholm Trail was in 1874, when in company with Robert
E. Doan, a cousin, and both of us from Wilmington, Ohio, we set out for Fort Sill, Indian
Territory, from Wichita, Kansas. We made this little jaunt of 250 miles by stage coach
over the famous trail in good time.
In 1875, very sick, I returned to my home in Ohio from Fort Sill, but the lure of the west
urged me to try my luck again and October 10, 1879, found me back in the wilds and ever
since, I have lived at Doan's, the trail crossing on Red River known far and wide by old
trail bosses as the jumping off place into the great unknown, the last civilization until
they hit the Kansas Line.
Traded With Indians
While sojourning in the Indian Territory in 1874 and 1875 with Tim Pete, Dave ?, And J.
Doan, I engaged in trading with the Indians and buying hides at a little store on Cache
Creek, two miles from Fort Sill. Our life at this place was a constant thrill on account
of the Indians. During the month of July, 1874, the Indians killed 13 hay cutters and wood
choppers. Well do I remember, one day after a hay cutter had been killed, a tenderfoot
from the East with an eye to local color, decided to explore the little meadow where the
man had been killed, expecting to collect a few arrows so that he might be able to tell
the loved ones at home of his daring. But the Indians discovered the sightseer and with
yells and his collection of arrows whistling about his ears, chased him back to the
stockade. Terror lent wings to his feet and he managed to reach safety, but departed the
next day for the East, having lost all taste for the dangers of the west.
January 9, 1875, found me caught in a blizzard and I narrowly escaped freezing to death at
the time. Indians around Fort Sill demanding buckskin, as their supply had run low, I was
sent by the firm on horseback to the Shawnee Tribe to buy a supply. This was my second
trip. After my departure the blizzard set in and I was warned by the mailman, the only man
I met on the trip, to turn back, or I would be frozen. But, the thoughts of the buckskin
at $4.00 per pound caused me to press on. I managed to reach Conover Ranch badly frozen. I
was taken from my horse and given first-aid treatment. I was so cold that ice had frozen
in my mouth. The mail carrier, who had advised me to turn back, never reached the fort,
and his frozen body was found some days after the storm.
For two weeks I remained in this home before I found the strength to continue the journey.
I was held up another week by the cold near Paul's Valley, but I got the buckskin, sending
it back by express-mail carrier and returned on horseback.
Indians during this time were held in concentration camps near the fort, both Comanches
and Kiowas, and beeves were issued twice a week. A man by the name of Conover and myself
did the killing and about seventy-five or eighty head were killed at one time. The hides
were bought from the Indians and shipped to St. Louis.
After the bi-weekly killings, the Indians would feast and sing all night and eat up their
rations and nearly starve until the next issue day came.
Met Quanah Parker
It was at this time that I met Quanah, chief of the Comanches who was not head chief at
that time, and Santanta, chief of the Kiowas. I was warned during that time by Santanta
that the Indians liked me and they wanted me to leave the country because they intended to
kill every white man in the Nation. I rather think that the friendly warning was given me
because I often gave crackers and candy to the hungry squaws and papooses and of course
Santanta's family received their share.
Santanta escaped soon after that and near where El Reno now stands, at the head of his
warriors, captured a wagon train and burned men to their wagon wheels. He was captured
again and taken to the penitentiary where he committed suicide by opening a vein in his
After moving to Doan's of course I saw a great deal of Quanah who at that time had become
chief. He told me that he had often been invited to return to his white relations near
Weatherford but he had refused. "Corwin," he said, "as far as you see here
I am chief and the people look up to me, down at Weatherford I would be a poor half breed
Indian." Perhaps he was right.
Big Bow Took Goods
Big Bow, another Kiowa Chief, often followed by his warriors, rode up to the little store
on Cache Creek one day and arrogantly asked, would we hand over the goods or should they
take them? We told them we would hand over the goods as he designated them. Later when Big
Bow and I became friends he said, "Us Indians are big fools, not smart like white,
cause you handed over (paper torn) but Washington (Uncle Sam) took it out of our
pay." It was quite true for as soon as the wards of the government had departed, the
bill had been turned in to the guardian, Uncle Sam.
We had one big scare at Doan's and that date, April, 1879, is indelibly fixed on my
memory. The Indians came close enough to the house to be recognized by the women and they
ran our horses off. I was up in the woods hunting at the time and reached home at dusk to
find three terror stricken women, a baby and a dog for me to defend. All the other men had
gone to Denison for supplies and our nearest neighbor was fifty miles away; so, thinking
discretion the better part of valor, we retreated to a little grove about a half mile from
our picket house and spent the night, expecting every moment a "hair- raising"
experience. The Indians proved to be a band of Kiowas returning from where Quanah now
stands where they killed and scalped a man by the name of Earle. Three days later the
soldiers came through on the trail of the Indians expecting to find our homes in ashes and
the family exterminated. The Kiowa Indians told me afterward quite coolly, that they would
have attacked us that night but believed us to be heavily garrisoned with buffalo hunters
--- a lucky thing for us. This was the last raid through the country. The Indians after
that became very friendly with us and told me to go ahead and build a big store, that we
would not be molested. They had decided this in council.
Saw Herds In 1879
The Spring and Summer of 1879 I saw the first herds up the trail, though the movement had
started two years before. My uncle, J. Doan, who had been with me two years in Fort Sill,
had established the post at Doan's April 1879, and we had arrived, that is myself, wife
and baby, and the Judge's daughters, that fall. So we had come too late to see the herds
of 1878. One hundred thousand cattle passed over the trail by the little store in 1879. In
1881, the trial reached the peak of production and three hundred and one thousand were
driven by to the Kansas shipping point.
In 1882, on account of the drought, the cattle found slim picking on their northern trek
and if it had not been for the "butter weed" many would have starved to death as
grass was all dead that year. Names of John Lyttle, Noah Ellis, Ab and John Blocker,
Harrold and Ikard, Worsham, the Belchars Ligon and Clark, Wiley Blair, the Eddlemans, and
others come into my memory as I write this, owners and bosses of the mighty herds of
decades ago. One man, Dubose, complained that he never in all those summers had a mess of
roasting ears, of which he was very fond, as the corn would be about knee high when he
left Corpus Christie and as he came up the trail he would watch the fields in their
various stages but by the time he left Doan's and civilization it was still to early for
even a cob.
Captain John Lytle spent as high as a month at times in preparing for his onward march.
Accompanied by his secretary, he would outfit his men and have everything shipshape when
he crossed the Red River. He was a great man and his visits were enjoyed.
Built Branding Pens
Wichita Falls failed to provide suitable branding pens for the accommodation of the trail
drivers - pens were provided at Doan's. Furnaces and corrals were built and here Charley
Word and others fitted with cartridges, Winchesters by the case, sow bosom and flour, and
even to Stetson hats, etc.. This store did a thriving business and thought nothing of
selling bacon and flour in carload lots, though getting supplies from Denison, Sherman,
Gainesville and later, Wichita Falls.
The rest of this article is missing, except for a few words which appear to be about the
post office and the Doan's Crossing picnic which was a big event in Southwest Oklahoma,
even when there was no Doan's Crossing or Doan's Store.
We also know that for several years mail was picked up at the post office at Doan's
Crossing and distributed to the ranches in Old Greer county.
Even though the trail drives stopped after the railroads came to Texas, pioneers from
Texas crossed the river at Doan's crossing for many years before a bridge was built across
the Red River.
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