Posts Tagged With: Cherokee

Will Rogers Born 134 years ago

On this day, the cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers, one of the most beloved entertainers of the early 20th century, is born on a ranch in Cherokee Indian territory.

The son of a respected mixed-blood Cherokee couple, William Penn Adair Rogers grew up riding and roping on the plains of Oklahoma. An indifferent student, he earned only average grades in school, but he was by no means the ill-educated common man that he later liked to pretend. He was, in fact, highly literate and well read. In 1898, he left his family ranch to work as a Texas cowboy, and then traveled to Argentina where he spent a few months as a gaucho. But Rogers discovered his real talent when he joined Texas Jack’s Wild West show in 1902 as a trick roper and rider under the stage name “The Cherokee Kid.” For all his skill with ropes and horses, Rogers soon realized that audiences most enjoyed his impromptu jokes and witty remarks. Eventually, Rogers began to focus on making humorous comments on world events and created a popular vaudeville act with which he traveled the country.

In 1919, Rogers’ first book, The Peace Conference, was published. In the 1920s, he achieved national fame with a series of movie appearances, radio shows, lecture tours, magazine articles, and regular newspapers columns. Amazingly prolific, Rogers eventually wrote seven books, an autobiography, almost 3,000 short commentaries called “daily telegrams,” more than 1,000 newspaper articles, and 58 magazine articles. Rogers’ warm, folksy manner and penetrating wit were hugely popular during the Depression, and his concern for the welfare of average folks was genuine. He contributed frequent charitable performances in support of the victims of floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes worldwide.

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Will Rogers, photograph taken before 1900

 

Hollywood discovered Rogers in 1918, as Samuel Goldwyn gave him the title role in Laughing Bill Hyde. A three-year contract with Goldwyn, at triple the Broadway salary, moved Rogers west. He bought a ranch in Santa Monica and set up his own production company. While Rogers enjoyed film acting, his appearances in silent movies suffered from the obvious restrictions of silence—not the strongest medium for him, having gained his fame as a commentator on stage. It helped somewhat that he wrote a good many of the title cards appearing in his films. In 1923, he began a one-year stint for Hal Roach and made 12 pictures. Among the films he made for Roach in 1924 were three directed by Rob Wagner: Two Wagons Both Covered, Going to Congress and Our Congressman. He made two other feature silents and a travelogue series in 1927, and did not return to the screen until his time in the ‘talkies‘ began in 1929.

He made 48 silent movies, but with the arrival of sound in 1929 he became a top star in that medium. His first sound film, They Had to See Paris (1929), finally gave him the chance to exercise his verbal magic. He played a homespun farmer (State Fair) in 1933, an old-fashioned doctor (Dr. Bull) in 1933, a small town banker (David Harum ) in 1934, and a rustic politician (Judge Priest) in 1934. He was also in County Chairman (1935), Steamboat ‘Round the Bend (1935), and In Old Kentucky (1935). His favorite director was John Ford.

Rogers appeared in 21 feature films alongside such noted performers as Lew Ayres, Billie Burke, Richard Cromwell, Jane Darwell, Andy Devine, Janet Gaynor, Rochelle Hudson, Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Joel McCrea, Hattie McDaniel, Ray Milland, Maureen O’Sullivan, ZaSu Pitts, Dick Powell, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Mickey Rooney, and Peggy Wood. He was directed three times by John Ford. He appeared in three films with his friend Stepin Fetchit (aka Lincoln T. Perry): David Harum (1934), Judge Priest (1934) and The County Chairman (1935).[15]

With his voice becoming increasingly familiar to audiences, he was able to basically play himself, without normal makeup, in each film, managing to ad-lib and even work in his familiar commentaries on politics at times. The clean moral tone of his films led to various public schools taking their classes, during the school day, to attend special showings of some of them. His most unusual role may have been in the first talking version of Mark Twain‘s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His popularity soared to new heights with films including Young As You Feel, Judge Priest, and Life Begins at 40 with Richard Cromwell and Rochelle Hudson.

On August 15, 1935, Rogers was on a flight to Asia with the famous pilot Wiley Post when the craft developed engine troubles and crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. The crash killed both men. Rogers was only 55.

Categories: History, Western, Western Authors, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legend Series Captain Sam Sixkiller Indian Territory

The History of Sam Sixkiller an outstanding lawmen of the Indian Territory.

Researched By Shotgun Bo Rivers @shotgunborivers

I read in a recent comment somewhere, some questions raising about who Sam Sixkiller was, and decided since I am also Native American that I would do some searching online about the man. I thought what a name to use as a character in a story Sam Sixkiller, however it would be hard to use a true outstanding lawman in a story, if I knew nothing about him. So far this is what I have found, some of which I have quoted, so not to mislead the story of such a wonderful icon of the wild west, and of the Indian Territory.

The story of the frontier Indian police in the history of Oklahoma is very important. It is one of the unsung stories in the annuals of law enforcement in the Wild West. Oklahoma, prior to statehood, was known as Indian Territory, and after 1889, Oklahoma Territory was added. Today, the most commonly thought of lawmen who worked the territories were deputy U.S. marshals. However, the Indian police were there and were probably as important if not more so.

Longhorse Police Captain Sam Sixkiller

As early as 1808, the Cherokee Nation passed an act appointing “regulators” to suppress horse stealing and robbery, to protect widows and orphans, and to kill any accused person resisting their authority. This action was taken when the Cherokees were located in the South U.S., before the “Trail of Tears.” Indian Territory, later Oklahoma, initially was made up of the Five Civilized Tribes: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole. After the move to the west, during the 1830’s and 1840’s, the Indian nations set up their law enforcement system and judicial courts similar to what they had in the East. The Indians were called the Five Civilized Tribes because they had adopted many of the customs and traditions of the Europeans, including African chattel slavery for agricultural development. The only nation that had a different scenario initially was the Seminole Nation which had embraced African fugitives slaves as their allies against the U.S. government.

One of the first outstanding Indian police officers was the legendary Cherokee, Sam Sixkiller. Sixkiller at the age of nineteen joined a Union Indian artillery company under the command of his father, 1st Lt. Redbird Sixkiller, during the Civil War. In 1875, Sixkiller was appointed high sheriff of the Cherokee Nation and warden of the National Penitentiary. On February 12, 1880 Sixkiller became the first captain of the United States Indian Police headquartered at Muskogee, Indian Territory. As captain, Sixkiller had forty men under his command. Besides this position, Sixkiller also held a commission as a deputy U.S. marshal and a special agent for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Sixkiller’s duties included policing the streets of Muskogee, one of the most dangerous towns in the “Wild West.” There were more lawmen killed in a fifty mile radius of Muskogee than anywhere west of the Mississippi River during the frontier era.

Sixkiller’s main problems were the whiskey bootleggers, cattle thieves, murders, rapists, timber thieves, land squatters, train robbers, card sharks, and prostitutes servicing the railroad towns. During his six years as captain, Sixkiller was wounded once. It is reported that he killed a bootlegger from Missouri named Solomon Copple. Copple was attempting to peddle whiskey in and around Muskogee. Sixkiller cornered him outside of town. Copple tried to resist arrest and Sixkiller using his pistol, killed him.

The most famous Indian Territory outlaw that Sixkiller subdued was the notorious Creek Freedman, Dick Glass. Glass had a gang that operated throughout the Indian Territory. They stole horses in the Indian nations and exchanged them for illegal whiskey in Texas, bringing the contraband back across the Red River to be sold at a substantial profit. In June of 1885, Sixkiller put a posse together that included the equally renown Indian lawman Charles LeFlore. They set an ambush for Glass and his gang near Colbert in the Chickasaw Nation. The gang had a full supply of whiskey and were northbound. They rode tight into the trap set by the lawmen. Glass pulled his pistol, but caught a full charge from Sixkiller’s shotgun that put him out of action, permanently. The rest of the gang were either killed or arrested shortly thereafter.

On Christmas Eve, 1886, Sixkiller was off duty and unarmed. Feeling a little under the weather, he made a trip to downtown Muskogee to pick up some medicine. He was met by two dastardly malcontents bent on mayhem: Dick Vann and Alf Cunningham. Sixkiller was stepping up on the platform on the north side of the Patterson Mercantile Store. Vann and Cunningham, with a shotgun and pistol, fired on him without notice; supposedly they held a grudge for a previous run-in they had with the lawman. Sixkiller fell to the ground mortally wounded, and Vann and Cunningham made good their escape on fast ponies.

After the death of Captain Sixkiller, the United States legislature passed a bill, signed by the president, which made assault on an Indian federal policeman a federal crime. The document signed March 2, 1887, stated: “…any Indians committing against the person of any Indian policeman appointed under the laws of the United States, or any Indian United states deputy Marshal, any of the following crimes, namely, murder, manslaughter or assault with intent to kill, within the Indian Territory, shall be subjected to the laws of the United States relating to such crimes and shall be tried by the District Court of the United States.” It was a landmark case which increased the stature of Indian police officers in Indian Territory and elsewhere in the United States.

Credit to this story goes to By Art T. Burton from Lest We Forget and also to Legends of America.

 

I hope you enjoy the story as I did. Like I said, I left the story, and history alone, mostly to keep the truth and speculations in history intact, and to give credit to the author. Will I give Sam Sixkiller a spot in the Laramie’s Series, hey we’ll never know until it’s finished.  Happy Trails to all, Happy Monday.

Categories: History, Legend Series, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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