Who Was Pat Hennessy

 

 

Pat HennesseyWho was this young Irishman, and why is a town named for him?  Sometimes, a life is more than the statistics of birth, the living of life, and death.  Sometimes, a single event in the life of an ordinary person can open History's door and allow Change to come flooding in.  The death of Pat Hennesseyin Indian Territory-- here, in this place --brought about just such an event.

Vital Statistics
Patrick Hennessy
Born March 9(?), 1837
Parish of Ladybridge, Cloyne Diocese
County Cork, Ireland.
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Baptized by Reverend M. Power
Catholic Church, March 12,1837
Sponsors:
Patrick Plavin and Frances Walsh
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Parents:
John and Norry Walsh Hennessy
Brothers:
John, Maurice, Martin
Sisters:
Johanna and Mary
_________________
Schooling:
Ballymacoda Primary School
Middleton Secondary School
St. Colman's College--2 years
_________________
Died Violently: July 4, 1874
Oklahoma Territory
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(from Hennessey Clipper 8/17/1967)
Ireland and Emigration
 
Pat Hennessy was born in 1837 in Ireland, the son of John and Norry Walsh Hennessy of County Cork. He was baptized on March 12, 1837 by the Reverend M. Power, C.C.in the Parish of Ladybridge, Cloyne Diocese. Sponsors at his baptism into the Catholic Church were Patrick Plavin and Frances Walsh. Frances Walsh was almost certainly a relative of his mother.
Born in the month of Ireland's patron saint, Patrick, he would later die in the month of his adopted home's independence and, ironically, it would be his death which would place his name in history.
Hennessy's home in IrelandHis childhood seems a favored one, spent on his parents' 100 acre farm, a rather unusually large farm for Ireland in the 1800s. Typically, however, the family, too, was large with four boys --Patrick, John, Maurice, and Martin--and two girls--Johanna and Mary. Whether the family had some wealth or was simply determined to secure an education for their children is unknown, but Pat not only attended Ballymacoda Primary School and completed secondary at Middleton, but he also spent two years in Fermay at St. Coleman's College.
Why a young man of such promise should leave home and family for an uncertain fortune in North America can only be a matter of conjecture, but for whatever reason, it was at the yearning age this educated young Irishman of 23 years turned his heart toward the Americas and, with two of his brothers, emmigrated to Canada in late 1860 or 1861. The American civil war drew him to Springfield, Illinois where he enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of the Illinois Artillery on a hot July 7th in 1862. July would be a fateful month for him just fourteen years later far from Springfield and farther still from the green, green shores of home.
But on that first July, his life was charmed and, though he undoubtedly saw action in the bloody days that followed, he survived and, after the war, moved west.
It is supposed that Hennessy joined other Irishmen in working on the Santa Fe or Kansas Pacific railroads and that the railroads brought him to Kansas. However, payroll records for both railroads have been lost to floods and no confirmation exists for this conjecture.
His presence in northwest Kansas is noted in police records which indicate a minor violation on a Saturday night and a fine of $2.00, but no other indications of misbehavior have been found recorded. At the time of this misstep, he was living in a area where several freight haulers, "mule skinners" were known to reside. He himself was a freight hauler at the time of his death, and it is supposed that he probably became employed in this profession at some time during his stay in Kansas.
Freight hauling was lucrative in the west during this period. With the number of Indian tribes relocated to Indian Territory and the settlers crowding the boundaries, the need for supplies was severe. Wichita, Kansas was a shipping point for freight sent to Anadarko, Fort Reno, and the Darlington Indian Agency.
Seeking his fortune, Pat Hennessy joined other muleskinners as a freight hauler employed by two firms, Piper and Laflerie. But where other immigrants found their fortunes as wagon masters for the government on the old Chisholm trail, Hennessy found his fate.
 
July 4, 1874
Summers on the plains are hot, dry, and volatile. The soil dries and cracks. Water holes, creeks and rivers shrink to still reflections of the spring's turbulence. Wind blows dust particles sharp as stinging glass and insects feast on blood of man, beast, or vegetation. Game is scarce, panting under cover or moved on to cooler more vegetative climes. Modern farmers of the 1900s spray, irrigate or pray, begging for moisture during the scorching summers, cursing the rain at harvest. And then there are the tornados...
In the summer of 1874, western plains Indians forced from their homes by white settlement and held in Indian Territory suffered severe deprivation. There was little game to hunt. The promises of farm implements, seed, and livestock in return for their forfeited homes had not been kept. Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche,  and the Osage camped in close proximity on land that had traditionally supported only the Wichita and Caddo. Shelters had been blown away by spring storms. Native vegetation had been decimated by grasshoppers. In a land dubbed "The Hot Place" by native tribes, this summer was particularly virulant. Buffalo hunters killed both illegally and indiscriminately and poor quality food supplied by government contractors and hauled in by wagon trains from outside the territory was a meager means of subsistence. White settlers in Kansas were begging for assistance or packing the wagons and returning to more hospitable climes, but the native tribes were not allowed to escape. The Indians were forcibly detained to face starvation and malaria. The sacred burial grounds grew fat and long, and the tribes died, oldest first, and then the young, the future. Braves with the energy for anger were desperate.
Pat Hennessy's Mule-Drawn WagonWagonmasters from Kansas had long provided supplies for Fort Sill, and the various tribal agencies in Indian Territory. Business was brisk and increased with the growing white presence along the Chisholm trail which cut through the area. Cattle drovers along the trail stopped at government stations like Rock Crossing, Kingfisher Creek, Red Fork, Bull Foot, Buffalo Springs, Skeleton and Pond Creek. Here also stagecoaches traveling across the territory stopped to change teams and rest. Keeping these outposts in supplies was a lucrative source of employment for stout young men unafraid of snakes, storms, or the occasional Indian uprising.  Pat Hennessy counted himself amongst those men. In late June of 1874, despite reports of renegade outbreaks in Texas and tribal unrest in the territory, Hennessy turned three mule-drawn wagons toward the Kiowa and Comanche Agency in Indian Territory.
He would take the Chisholm Trail.
On a Sunday, 8 miles southwest of Wichita, George Laflin gave Hennessy a Winchester, warning him to not let any Indians get it from him. Hennessy is reputed to have replied, "Not as long as I have a load to throw into them."
As Hennessy moved south, bands of Cheyenne and Arapaho were spotted near Kingfisher Station, Red Fork Ranch, Baker Ranch and Bull Foot Ranch. Warning reached him on July 3rd as he laid over at Buffalo Springs in Indian Territory. Indians had killed a man named William Watkins just south of the Cimarron river on July 2nd. Determined to get the much needed supplies to their destination, Hennessy decided to risk moving on.
On July 4th, Independence Day, Hennessy and his wagons moved directly into the path of the renegades.
The Death of Hennessy
Independence Day, 1874 was hot and dry. Lazy whorls of dust lifted from the trail and clung to man, beast and wagon. Having been warned of hostile Indians, Pat Hennessy, George Fant, Thomas Calloway, and Ed Cook were probably watchful, listening for the silences on the prairie that accompany the presence of intruders. Or perhaps--confident of their safety, believing that the death of William Watkins would have satisfied the renegades--perhaps they were not watchful enough. No reliable witness lived to tell.

A small band of Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa and Osage had encamped near the present town of Watonga and then, led by Bear Shield and Tall Meat, had moved north and east as Hennessy's train was rolling south. Indian Agent John Miles later reported the intersection of the two parties, 44 miles north of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency and 70 miles south of Caldwell, Kansas near the south line of the Cherokee Strip.

The raiders saw Hennessy before Hennessy saw them.

As the wagons approached with the coveted cargo of supplies, the decision was made to raid the train, and the braves hid themselves in the rough canyons of the shale beds west of the present town to wait. The wagons had to move to the west along the shale to skirt the dangerous swampy area where wheels would stick and wagons would sink. They moved straight into the ambush.

Pat Hennessy was walking alongside the lead wagon when the attack was made, and attempted to fight off the raiders while the others turned back toward Buffalo Springs. However these wagons were overtaken within 200 yards of the trail and all were killed. A cartridge was later found jammed in the action of Hennessy's rifle, giving rise to the claim that he could have fought off his attackers had his rifle been more reliable. Considering that the little band of Indians was numbered as around a hundred, this is doubtful, but he probably was able to stand and fight for a time.

In one account, Hennessy was shot by a brave named Littlehand and, dying, was dragged by his stampeding mules beside the wagon which overturned and pinned him under a sack of oats where he died.

In this account, Fant, Calloway, and Cook were scalped and the wagon was burned, either over Hennessy or with him tied to a wheel. According to one of the various stories, the raiding party was made up of Cheyenne and before they could plunder the wagons, a band of Osage ran them off and took what they wanted, setting fire to the rest.

Witnesses to the scene were few and unreliable and the story deciphered from the physical evidence was embellished with disputed details; therefore, there are many interesting but conflicting reports of the event. Two witnesses were Hamp Meredith, a mail coach driver for the Southern Stage Co. between Caldwell Kan. and Fort Sill, Indian Territory, and William Mattson, a worker. As the stage followed the train at some distance, the men observed the attack, turned the stage and ran for Buffalo Springs. Another witness was Howling Cloud, a Cheyenne chief who participated in the raiding party. After the fact, Agent John Miles , J. A. Covington, Covington's wife and daughter, J. S. Brink and William Malaley came upon the scene July 6th.

Malaley found Hennessy under a pile of grain, his right arm, face and head burned, one leg broken, possibly by a bullet. He had not been scalped or mutilated. The men of Agent Miles' party buried the body as best they could in the hard earth, piling stones over the grave to protect it from foraging animals. Later, at Buffalo Springs, they met men named Mosier and Brooks who had buried the other victims of the disaster. Mosier and Brooks claimed they had seen boot prints around the bodies and that the men had not been scalped.

As time passed, the conflicting stories, the bootprints, and other evidence incongruous with an Indian attack created a mystery unsolved to this day.

Who Really Killed Pat Hennessey?

Did the Indians really kill Hennessy and his party or was it white men taking advantage of the native unrest?
 

     There are two theories debated locally about the death of Pat Hennessey. The official reports given by Indian Agent John Miles indicate that Hennessey was killed by Cheyenne Telegram from Indian Agent John Miles, Letter from Indian Agent John Miles). However, two curious footnotes to the story have given rise to a second theory. First, the text of an impassioned letter written by John Miles laments the lack of troops to make Indian Territory safe for Indian tribes and decrys the depredations of white buffalo hunters and thieves, detailing the existance of a band of horse thieves hiding in the black jack oaks along Turkey Creek. This area is near the site of the massacre. Also, there were reports of white men selling supplies taken from the wagons in Wichita soon after the event.
   Annette B. Ehler, a frontier journalist resident in Hennessey at the turn of the century championed the whites-as-Indians theory, donating Pat Hennessey Memorial Park to the town of Hennessey and causing a standing stone boulder to be inscribed as a memorial to Pat Hennessey massacred near the spot by white outlaws masquerading as Indians. Tom McGee, Kingfisher County Superintendent of Schools in the 1930's, maintained the official version of the massacre and immortalized it in the Pat Hennessey Massacre Pageant presented from 1939-1948. McGee weaves a plausible explanation for the possession of Hennessey supplies by white traders into the text and adds the romantic notion of Hennessey being a friend to the Indians.
   Whatever occured that fateful day, Pat Hennessey remains immortalized by the town named for him, a symbol of the indefatigable frontier spirit that is the legacy of Hennessey today.

 

Why is Pat Hennessy's name spelled Hennessy while the town named for him is spelled Hennessey?
 

     Actually, the spelling of Pat's name is in dispute. The earliest records at the library show the -sey ending, but the genealogical record uses the -sy ending. According to family members researching the spelling, the -sey ending indicates a Catholic heritage, the -sy ending is Protestant. Since Hennessey was Catholic, the -sey ending seems more logical; however, the genealogical research file is the current authority.

 

Where is Hennessy's grave?

 
     We don't know. Pat was buried hurridly near the place of his death in a shallow grave dug with hands on the spade (ax?) and eyes over the shoulder watching for a renewal of attack. Stones were placed over the grave to keep wild animals from getting to the body, and it was some time before a more appropriate grave was found. Teamsters passing the site left rocks in his memory, some inscribing their own names into soft stone. A cairn developed over time at the original site. At some time, still undetermined in our investigations here at the library, the body was moved, first to the Boy Scout Park and then to the Pat Hennessey Memorial Park which is still maintained by the town. One story has it that the body was moved because highway 81 was going to pass over it. Another maintains that Pat's kinfolk came from Ireland and took the body home. Wherever his remains lie, the legacy of his determined spirit lives on daily in the lives of the people who make Hennessey home.
Annette B. Ehler's Answer

(from Ehler's interview with William E. Malaley, former U.S.Marshal who buried Hennessey)

"For years after Hennessey's murder, the freighters going over the old trail would stop and put a bit more dirt upon his grave or place upon it a rock or so to keep the winds from blowing away the sands which covered him. Then, sometime after the Town of Hennessey was established, the women of the town placed an iron fence around his grave with an arch upon which was inscribed his name." (Malaley)

As the town grew larger and it became necessary to open a street along the old Chisholm Trail, it was necessary to remove this grave, as it was directly in the center of the new street, and the grave with its fence was moved about one hundred and thirty feet west of its original place.

About thirteen years ago the City sold the plot of ground to which they had moved the Hennessey grave when the street was opened, and they again moved the grave about one-half mile away from its original place. The State Historical Society objected to the removal of this historical marker and I [Ehler]asked permission of the City Council to take it back at my expense as nearly to the original spot as it was possible. In 1939, when Hennessey celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and put on a "Pat Hennessey Pageant," I purchased the plot of ground around this grave and proceeded to build a memorial to the Memory of the man for whom our town was named.

I built a rock lighthouse twenty-four feet high in the top of which is a large light, and out of many little windows from the top to the bottom of this lighthouse shines electric light through bulbs of all colors, thus lighting that end of town. Built a rock fence around the plot, erected a five-ton granite slab upon which I have the history of this massacre, showing that Hennessey was not killed by the Indians but by White Outlaws. In the corners of the lot I built pergolas and covered them with vines and roses; built an out-door oven, and the Study Club placed a cement table nearby. I had a nurseryman landscape the place, filled it with trees, shrubs and flowers; erected a flag pole; placed over the entrance an archway upon which are the words, "Pat Hennessey Memorial Garden." All of this surrounds the grave of the Irish freighter who was massacred here on the old Chisholm Trail in 1874, and in whose honor the Town of Hennessey was named.

One evening after I had finished the work, and was standing in this garden looking across the valley below the Hennessey Bluffs and on to the sinking sun, there yet seemed something lacking. Ah, yes, it was music!

So I placed a beautiful musical set up, with automatic control, in the top of the rock tower. At seven o'clock each evening, the chimes peal out over the countryside for miles around, and thus the memory of Pat Hennessey lives on, and we hope the world will help us to lift the charge of this murder from the long accused Indian race.

On Decoration Day, 1941, I presented this Memorial Garden to the City of Hennessey. There are so many tons and tons, and tons of rock in this Garden, that I feel Pat now has a final resting place.

(excerpt from Echoes of the Chisholm Trail by Annette B. Ehler)

The Hennessey Inland Lighthouse

The Hennessey Lighthouse is located in Memorial Park at Iowa and Arapaho.





The Lighthouse in the Pat Hennessey Garden 
 
I built a rock lighthouse twenty-four feet high in the top of which is a large light, and out of many little windows from the top to the bottom of this lighthouse shines electric light through bulbs of all colors, thus lighting that end of town. Built a rock fence around the plot, erected a five-ton granite slab upon which I have the history of this massacre, showing that Hennessey was not killed by the Indians but by White Outlaws. In the corners of the lot I built pergolas and covered them with vines and roses; built an out-door oven, and the Study Club placed a cement table nearby. I had a nurseryman landscape the place, filled it with trees, shrubs and flowers; erected a flag pole; placed over the entrance an archway upon which are the words, "Pat Hennessey Memorial Garden." All of this surrounds the grave of the Irish freighter who was massacred here on the old Chisholm Trail in 1874, and in whose honor the Town of Hennessey was named.

One evening after I had finished the work, and was standing in this garden looking across the valley below the Hennessey Bluffs and on to the sinking sun, there yet seemed something lacking. Ah, yes, it was music!

So I placed a beautiful musical set up, with automatic control, in the top of the rock tower. At seven o'clock each evening, the chimes peal out over the countryside for miles around, and thus the memory of Pat Hennessey lives on, and we hope the world will help us to lift the charge of this murder from the long accused Indian race.

On Decoration Day, 1941, I presented this Memorial Garden to the City of Hennessey. There are so many tons and tons, and tons of rock in this Garden, that I feel Pat now has a final resting place.

(excerpt from Echoes of the Chisholm Trail by Annette B. Ehler)




The Lighthouse in the Pat Hennessey Garden
Ehler vs. McGee

Of almost as much interest as the tale of Pat Hennessy with all its mystery and inevitable myth is the story of dueling historians that emerges from the writings of Annette B. Ehler and Tom G. McGee. Mrs. Ehler was the editor of The Hennessey Clipper, a poet and author, the first woman mayor of Hennessey, and a historian inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  Mr. McGee was the county Superintendant of Schools, author of several historical plays, the creator of the Pat Hennessey Pageant, and a historian.  Articulate and deeply committed to their opposing views of the massacre, Ehler and McGee picked up their pens and spilled much ink in the battle for history. Their literary duel is the story within a story that still enlivens the debate.

Annette B. Ehler

Coming into Hennessey, Oklahoma Territory, on January 26,1900, with the "training of a journalist and a nose for the unusual in the new country," and finding at that time that the grave of Pat Hennessey was the shrine to which all new-comers were directed, and to which I, too, wended my steps. I naturally asked, "Who was Pat Hennessey and what is the history of this grave?"

I was informed that William E. Malaley, at that time a resident of Hennessey, had assisted in burying the man, and that he was in a position to know more of the episode than any living man, and that if I desired the correct information, he would give it to me. Soon after this I made an arrangement with Mr. Malaley for an interview. I found him a most interesting man, whose experiences had been many and varied. An Alabaman by birth, son of a slave owner and who, at the age of fourteen years, ran away from home and enlisted in the Union Army, then at the close of the war located first in Wabash City, Indiana, but in 1870 the western fever seized him, and he came west, taking up his residence on a stock farm near Burlington, Kansas. Soon afterward he was given an appointment by the U.S. Interior Department, handling livestock for the Indian Agent, with headquarters at Darlington Agency, Indian Territory, (now in Canadian County, Oklahoma.) Later the Interior and War Departments gave him the position he held for several years. Mr. Malaley talked the Indian tongue fluently and was always in most cordial relation with the various tribes with which he came in contact. It was during his service as Deputy U.S. Marshal, that he in company with John D. Miles found and helped to bury the burning body of the Irish freighter, Patrick Hennessey.

In 1889, after the opening to white settlement of the six counties first known as Oklahoma Territory, a townsite was established by the Rock Island Railroad just three miles south of the northern border of this new territory on what has become known as the Hennessey Bluffs--as the grave of Pat Hennessey was the crowning peak of these bluffs, they naturally took his name, and likewise the town located on these bluffs was named for Hennessey.

I interviewed Mr. Malaley as to the murder of Patrick Hennessey, and as to conditions in the territory at that time, which I used in a newspaper article later. The correctness of my statement was questioned by an Oklahoma would be historian. Then I returned to Mr. Malaley for further approval of my story, and verification of my statements, and found him very emphatic as to the truth of all the data he had given me, and the statements I had made in my story of the death of Hennessey. Thinking the matter over, I realized that there must be some record of this matter in the Department of Indian Affairs at Washington. So I wrote for further information and received from Chas. H. Burke, Commissioner, a copy of a letter written by Agent Miles, from Atchison, Kansas, dated July 10, 1874, and also an excerpt from Miles' Report, dated September 30, 1874. Giving the history of the Indian Uprising, and the killing of several white men, mentioning, also, the Hennessey matter. I found in his story a discrepancy that might be construed either one or two ways. But Mr. Malaley's story never wavered. He never deviated from his first statement--that "No Indian ever killed Pat Hennessey."

In this article I will give in detail the story as told to me by Malaley and will likewise give the excerpts from Agent Miles' letters relative to the killing and you can draw your own conclusions as to whom killed Pat Hennessey and why?
 

STORY

Doubtless, if the Great Spirit of the Chisholm Trail could speak to us today, it would tell us that the cruel murder of Hennessey and his comrades was the most terrible of its history.

"Who killed Pat Hennessey?" has been a mooted question since 1874 with those in our territory and state, that know least about the affair, but to the men who helped to bury the victim of that terrible crime, there was not the least doubt, although positive proof was, perhaps, lacking.

It is necessry to have the history of the condition existing in the old Indian Territory at that time to be able to understand why there was a doubt as to whom killed Hennessey.

Originally the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians were located in the northwestern part of the Indian Territory with headquarters at Fort Supply, but Burton Darlington, the Quaker Indian Agent, deemed it advisable to have a more central location and accordingly established the Agency, in 1870, near the center of the Reservation, close to the Chisholm Trail and only a short distance from the banks of the Canadian River, where two years later he died.

John D. Miles, another Quaker, was appointed to succeed Darlington. The change of management, of tactics and conditions created dissatisfaction among the Indians. To add to this local disturbance, the Cheyennes had many and more serious grievances: The curtailing of the food allowances by Uncle Sam's employees, the encroachment on their grazing lands by frontier cattlemen; the unlimited and unwarranted slaughter of the buffalo herds by white hunters, and the wholesale stealing of their herds of cattle and horses by the thieves that infested the Indian Territory. All of which was deemed sufficient cause for them to rise in self defense and make one last stand against the injustice of the white man.

The history of old Indian Territory is replete with stories where even the anger of the Red man was used as a cloak by the white rogues to pull off some of the most dastardly crimes. These outlaws took the precaution to disguise themselves as Indians, donning the war paint and the dress of the Red man. Truly, the Indian bore the brunt of many an evil that he did commit. The Territory was a good hiding place for evildoers and fugitives from justice.

Time after time the Indian Agent had promised the Indians that their property would be protected, and appealed to the government for such aid, but failing to get this protection, the Indians in the spring of 1874 arose against these atrocitites and the Cheyennes justly went on the war path.

On the 27th of June of that year occurred the memorable fight of "Adobe Walls." The stories of which were soon wafted to all the white settlers at the Agencies and the big cattle ranches. Agent Miles of Darlington had his fears aroused for the safety of his friends, who were there at the mercy of the Reds. He was urged to remove the women from the Agency and to order troops sent in to quiet the disturbance.

On the morning of July the fourth, the Indian Agent and his clerk, J. A. Covington, with Mrs. Covington and their daughter, Katie, all in a light spring wagon, accompanied by three horsemen, W. E. Malaley, Deputy U.S. Marshal; H.S.Brink, and a lieutenant from Ft. Sill, as an escort, started northward along the Chisholm Trail, across the prairies to Wichita, Kansas. This entire party was then in the employ of the government. Their first night out they reached the relay station located on the present site of Kingfisher, where they spent the night. The following morning they proceeded on their way, with great speed. On reaching Red Fork, where the village of Dover is now located, they found a much excited crowd at Charles Russell's store. They stopped for information and learned that this store had been bombarded that morning by mounted men, garbed as Indians, and it was presumed that they were such.

Not feeling safe to proceed further with the women, the men of the government party left them at Rusell's store while they went out into the sand hills and timber in search of the marauders. No Indian was to be found, but instead they found traces of where horses had been tied to trees and the ground was trampled as though the horses had stood there for a considerable length of time. Here, too, were tracks made by men's high heel boots, which were then never worn by Indians. The signs found at this place led those men to believe that the store had been bombarded by outlaws masking in Red men's clothing, thus taking advantage of the troubles with the Indians the outlaws were commiting many depradations for which the Indian must suffer.

Returning to the store where they had left the women, the Miles' party proceeded northward and between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, they came upon signs of trouble. Along the trail sugar, coffee, empty boxes and barrels were scattered. They scented trouble and dismounted. Mr. Malaley and the lieutenant took their guns and began an investigation. They had gone but a short distance when they came upon a most gruesome sight. Lying on the east side of the Chisholm Trail, covered with burning corn and oats, lay a man, with only his feet visible. The ashes of a wagon were about him--its tires alone were left. The position of the burning body gave evidence that its murderers had tied their victim to the wheels of the wagon with his head to the southwest and his feet to the northeast, then covered him with grain and set fire to it while he was still alive, as there was evidence of his struggle. The men of the government party stood for a moment in speechless awe!

"Something must be done," suggested Mr. Malaley, then pointing to the edge of a bluff at the west of the trail, which commanded a good view of the surrounding country said to Brink: "Stand upon that hill and when you begin shooting it will be time for this crowd to seek shelter," Turning to the lieutenant he asked: "Will you help me bury this man?" They took the remnant of the burning grain off of him, and found that his face was burned beyond recognition; his body was a charred mass from the chest to below the knees; his ankles and feet upon which he wore coarse hose and shoes were uninjured. "But he had not been scalped," said Mr. Malaley, emphatically, "and all about the place were the same tracks of high heel boots."

The only implement in the Miles' spring wagon was an axe. This Mr. Malaley and the lieutenant used to chop a hole in the ground in which to bury the charred body. Having carved the ground with the axe, the two men threw the loosened dirt out with their hands, making a rude hole, perhaps eighteen inches below the surface, in this they placed the dead man and covered him over with fresh soil. During all this time they saw no signs of the Indians.

Again the Miles' party proceeded northward, making their next stop at Buffalo Springs now called Bison, which was another relay station. Here a man by the name of Mosier and his small boy took care of the stage horses and ran a wayside inn. Upon their arrival here the party told of having found the murdered man. A bystander by the name of Brooks, who had been staying for some time at this little inn, spoke up, saying: "Why that man is Pat Hennessey, the freighter. He and three other fellows stayed all night here on the night of the third and started on down the trail on the fourth. I had been down Turkey Creek hunting, and on my way back I heard shooting in that direction, and running to the point where I could see, I saw the Indians and freighters in a fight. I watched them until they were through, then I came back here and Mosier and I went out to the place in a wagon. We found all of the freighters had been killed. One fellow lay southwest of Hennessey and the other two southeast of him on the east side of the trail just a few rods apart. We brought the other three in and buried them out there in the little graveyard."

"Why didn't you bring Hennessey, also?" asked Malaley.

After a brief pause, Brooks in a confused manner, replied: "Our wagon would not hold them all."

"Why didn't you go back after Hennessey?" inquired Malaley.

"We hadn't time," he answered.

"Why didn't you pull him out of the fire, not leave him there to burn up?" continued the interrogator. To this he made no reply. These government employees were not slow in noting the evasive replies, the shifting glances and restless maneuvers of the man, who had been so quick to furnish information. Brooks' mission at the little inn was at an end, he now sought out other fields.

Agent Miles and his party went on their way and two days later telegraphed the news of the Indian troubles to Washington, and on the 10th of July Agent Miles followed this with a letter to the Department of Indian Affairs in which he spoke at length of the Indian uprising, which must be quelled before they could handle the chief cause of this trouble. In this communication he said: "I do not hesitate to say that had we been furnished with a detachment of troops sufficient to have protected their own (Indians) reservation from buffalo hunters and the continuous incursions from white horse thieves, all of which was promised them (and my records show that these troops have been earnestly appealed for), I do not hesitate to give it as my firm conviction that our present troubles would have been avoided. But now it will not do to stop and ask 'whose cow it was that kicked over the lamp that burned up Chicago,' the hostile movement must be controled and at the proper time when order is restored, deal out justice to the original cause. I claim to know almost every whiskey-horse-thief in this country and hope to be able at some future day to bring them to justice, as they are the parties who have set the match on fire."

In speaking of the exit of his party from the territory, Agent Miles would leave the impression with the government that Indians had been the murderers of Hennessey and his comrades. He said they found "the wreck of Pat Hennessey's train, which consisted of three wagons drawn by mules, and loaded with sugar and coffee for Agent Haworth, said "two of the wagons were burned and the other some what depradated upon. The sugar and coffee had been taken and destroyed. No doubt they had taken all they could carry with safety. The body of Hennessey was still roasting in the fire. Indications were that he had been tied and sacks of oats and corn piled around and on his person while he was yet alive; his feet and ankles were out of the fire and indicated a death struggle. The other three men, George Fand, Thos. Callaway and one (name unknown) were lying in the vicinity of the wreck, horribly mutiliated and all scalped, a solemn and hasty burial was given the dead and we proceeded to the next ranche, Buffalo Springs where we were informed of the latest movements of the hostile party.        J.D.Miles."

At this time I desire to call attention to discrepancies in Agent Miles story to the government. He says they found and buried the four men. Malaley says "only Pat Hennessey was there," and the residents of the town for the past fifty-seven years, and cowboys who rode the range since 1874 know that there has never been but the one grave on the Hennessey Bluff, and that was the grave of Pat Hennessey. Miles says "they were all scalped." In a report to the government made September 30, 1874, Agent Miles again refers to the Hennessey murder as though he believed this to be the work of the Cheyennes, but again in this report he says: "During last fall and winter I became aware of a number of notorious horse thieves who had their headquarters established in the black jack woods, bordering on Turkey Creek, a small tributary of the Cimarron river, and made several ineffectual attempts to capture or drive them from the country feeling well assured that their frequent depredations on the herds of Indian ponies would sooner or later bring on trouble with the Indians of this reservation. But my efforts in that direction were unsuccessful, owing to lack of the necessary force to warrant their successful arrest. A few thieves only have been arrested and one killed in his attempt to resist the marshal, who had demanded his surrender."

In this report he gives the name of the fourth man in Hennessy's party as "Ed Cook."

Returning to Mr. Malaley's narrative we learn as a result of this trouble with the Indians and outlaws, Fort Reno was established near the Darlington Agency. There was but little said and little known by the great busy world of this tragedy of the Indian prairies, yet all this time there were quiet forces at work on this matter.

One morning long afterwards the town of Wellington, Kansas, was startled by the news that a man had been found dead, hanging by the neck to a limb of an elm tree on the bank of Slate Creek, near that village. He was identified as Brooks, the man who had "seen the fight between the Indians and freighters," and who said he had hauled three of the freighters to the neighboring burying ground and left Patrick Hennessey lying beneath the burning grain.

"Who killed Pat Hennessey, Indian or outlaw? Who hung Brooks and why," I asked Mr. Malaley at the close of his long and carefully detailed recital of all these experiences. He looked out into space as if living over the experiences of the thrilling seventies and finally shook his head and emphatically replied: "NO INDIAN EVER KILLED PAT HENNESSEY, he was murdered for loot, can't you read between the lines for your answer to your last question. The outside world knows but little of the laws of justice that our people were forced to use in the Territory and along the frontier in those days."

"They seem to have followed the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," I suggested. He smiled his assent...

Tom McGee

Back in those romantic years of the history of our state following the civil war, when there was no railroad through the Territory and the Chisholm trail echoed to the bawling of the herds of longhorns being driven marketward by those weatherbeaten, happy and hardy cowboys, the government established outposts here and there through the Indian Territory to check Indian raids, to look after the welfare of the Indians and to handle the other duties of the government.

Some of these outposts were forts, such as Fort Sill. Some were agencies established to care for the Indians, such as Anadarko.

These outposts were kept in supplies by freight wagons pulled usually by four or six mules to each wagon, and driven by strong fearless frontiersman such as was Pat Hennessey, a freighter whose home was in Wichita and whose route began at Wichita and ended at Anadarko and Fort Sill.

No information seems available of the earlier life of this great freighter of the plains, and that is a part of his life which is, no doubt, quite as interesting as that of which we are familiar.

Pat Hennessey is described to us as a rather old man, redheaded, bewhiskered, always ready for a good laugh, always cheerful and one knowing no fear.

In the early 1870's the buffaloes were fast becoming extinct on the plains and, as this was the Indian's chief source of food, they were fast becoming desperate and savage.

Several times they raided during these years to avenge their wrongs and to plunder the whites.

In the last of the raids, a band, supposedly the Dog Soldier Cheyennes, killed Pat Hennessey and his two helpers, George Fant and Thomas Caloway.

Pat and George and Thomas, each driving a six mule team hitched to a wagon loaded with supplies of mostly grain, set out in the waning month of a hot June for Fort Sill. Five days later they camped at Buffalo Springs Station and heard the rumor of Indians on the war path.

Pat Hennessey feared no Indian and would not heed the warning to stay at the station where a greater degree of protection was to be had than the open country to the south could offer.

He and his drivers moved on southward.

On the morning, reported as July fourth, 1874, he and his helpers set out for the next stations down the trail, which were Bull Foot, somewhere just south of Hennessey and Red Fork, where Dover now stands. At Dover the old trail divided and one branched off to the south east, swinging around later to the main trail somewhere near the South Canadian river.

The station stops from Caldwell, Kans., to Kingfisher follow in order from north to south: Polecat Creek, Pond Creek, Skelleton, (Near Enid), Buffalo Springs (near Bison), Bull Foot (near Hennessey), Red Fork (In Dover), and Kingfisher. At these stations the stages changed teams, camped and so forth. The government mail carriers, whose stages passed up or down the trail three times a week made much use of the stations.

One William Matteson was one of these mail carriers. He came to Buffalo Springs shortly after Pat Hennessey and George and Thomas had left that morning. As the mail had to go on, he induced one of the attendants at the station to go with him as a guard and started on down the trail. After they had ridden but a few miles they heard gunfire and from their far place, sa the short battle between Pat Hennessey and the raiders.

There is an old story we have heard from childhood that if Mr. Hennessey's Winchester had not jammed, he would have been able to have fought the raiders off, and another story that his helpers at once deserted when the fight began, leaving Pat alone. These are quite probably just stories and one does not like to believe that a frontiersman would desert in time of danger, so we say the desertion charges are very false.

George and Thomas were shot down a short distance from Pat Hennessey. Pat was killed, we believe, before he was tied to the two wheels on one side of the wagon and the torch was applied to the wagon. One who passed two days later stated that the grain was still smouldering in a heap over poor Pat's charred remains and his limbs were almost burned from his sturdy body as he lay spread there between the two charred wheels. The wheel on one corner of the wagon had burned down and spilled the grain over Pat.

Pat was not removed and buried for a few days. Why, no one seems to know. Perhaps it was because the sight of this charred man, whom they all knew so well, was so gruesome that no one wished to attempt the task of his burial. He was buried close to the spot where he fell.

George Fant and Thomas Caloway were taken to Buffalo Springs and buried in shallow graves in a ditch somewhere north and west of the station house. Graves, reported at various times as from three to five, were at Buffalo Springs. Mystery surrounds the origination of three of the graves, if they did exist. A trail driver I have known remembers three, but the graves of George and Thomas were in a ditch and might not have been easily seen.

A flat stone carved "P.H. 1874" was the only marking at Pat Hennessey's grave for years, so one report goes.

There is a tale the old drivers tell which states that each freighter who passed the grave of Pat Hennessey and of the boys at Buffalo Springs tossed a small stone on them. The reason for the stone I have forgotten.

Greatest monument to the memory of Pat Hennessey is the thriving town of Hennessey, Oklahoma, whose sons and daughters are scattered throughout the nation and the ends of the globe. The name and the fame of the one who was to die in the last of the major Indian disturbances in Oklahoma, shall live forever; the fame of the Old Trail, marked in the early sixties by Jesse Chisholm, shall be remembered, for on it, came the ancestors of Central Oklahoma, Our Oklahoma.

(by Tom G. McGee)

Transcription of Telegram from John Miles Telling of Hennessy's Death
 
The Western Union Telegraph Company
Dated Osage City, Kansas July 7, 1874
Received at N. E. Corner 14th St. and Penn. Ave. 12:30 P.M.
To Honorable E.P. Smith, Indian Commissioner, Washington, D. C.
 
Just arrived from Agency.  One 2nd instant hostile Cheyennes Comanches and Kiowas made their appearance in vicinity of Agency.  Same day killed and scalped William Watkins thirty miles north of Agency on the road.  Five war parties seemed moving in the direction of the Trail from Agency to Caldwell, Kansas.  I at once dispatched a carrier to Fort Sill for troops to protect Agency which was temporarily granted.  on morning of fifth we mustered a small party of employees to escort me through to Caldwell.  Hostile Indians had been seen at Kingfisher Ranche.  Proceeding north we took all the men and stock to Lee and Reynolds Ranche on Turkey Creek.  On Second Instant Indians attacked this ranche but were repulsed getting only some horses.  Proceeding to Baker's Ranche we found it abandoned.  Four miles north of this ranche we found four men.  Pat Hennessey, Geo. Fand, Thos. Calloway and one more unknown lying in the road murdered.  They had three waqons loaded with sugar and coffee for Agent Hawroth all of which was destroyed or taken away.  All of the men were scalped.  Hennessey had been tied to his wagon and burned, fire still burning.  We gave them a hasty burial and proceeded to next ranche.  Here we found teamsters stages concentrated and they report there was party about one hundred as having that morning sabbath fifth passed north and east the ranche.  Men had stood them off from this place.  We took a woman and child and gave the men all the ammunition we could spare.  next ranche we reached after dark.  The Indians had gone into camp four miles east on the creek Skeleton.  I advised all the ranchmen and freighters to abandon their places which they did and by making good use of the night we reached Caldwell on yesterday noon.  LaFlerie's ox train we halted at Pond Creek twenty-five miles south of Caldwell.  We saw nine hostile Indians in that vicinity and we fear his train loaded with subsistance for the three agencies will be captured as the party only had three guns.  My chief clerk is in command of the party.  There is now but the two ranches occupied on this road and we fear their fate before help can reach them though my clerk Covington will do all in his power with the force at his command.  I have no doubt but they will clean everything until repulsed, this to save others and now I ask and shall expect to receive at once two or three companies of Cavalry, one to be stationed at the Baker ranche on Turkey Creek to protect Govt. interests on this road and one at the Agency.  These troops should be transported as quickly as possible to Wichita by rail thense to the field as quickly as possible.  No hostile Indians shall be quartered at the Agency and I must have the troops to back it up.  Let the hostile element be struck from every point at once and with such power as shall make the move quick and effective.  I will awaiting instructions and ready to consult with Gen. Pope.
                                                                    Jno. D. Miles
                                                                    U.S. Ind Agt
                                                                    565 Collect sn.
Copy of the Telegram

Copy of 1st page of John Miles' telegram

July 10, 1874

 

Lawrence, Kansas
7th Mo. 10th 1874
 
Enoch Hoag, Supt.
Lawrence, kansas
 
I have to report that on the 6th inst. I passed the wreck of a train loaded with subsistance for Jas. W. Haworth U.S. Ind. Agt. for Kiowas and Comanches.  The train consisting of three (3) wagons drawn by mules, was in charge of Pat Hennessey and accompanied by Geo. Fand, Thos. Calloway and one unknown, --making four in company.
 
The men were killed and scalped by Indians on the 4th inst. --Hennessey had been burned alive.
 
The sugar and coffee (the contents of the train) were all taken by the Indians or destroyed.
 
The wagons were, two of them burned and the one somewhat depredated upon.
 
The point at which this train was captured is on the line of travel from Caldwell, Kansas, to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe and other Agencies in the Indian Territory, and forty-four (44) miles north of the Chey. and Arap. Agency, and seventy (70) miles south of Caldwell, Kansas.
 
I believe the train was captured by hostile Cheyennes and perhaps accompanied by a few Comanches, Kiowas and Osages.
 
Respectfully,
Jno D. Miles
U.S. Ind. Agt.
Cheyennes and Arapahoes
P.S.
The remains of Hennessey were very much charred except his ankles and feet which were recognized as belonging to the person of Hennessey.
 
I also picked up from the immediate vicinity of his person a pocket book and memorandum all of which were the property of Hennessey,--and as further evidence of identity, the other three men were identified as being the persons named,--which leaves no doubt in my mind that the man burned was Hennessey.
J.D.M. Agt
Impassioned Letter
Hon. E. P. Smith
Indian Commissioner
Washington, D.C.
 
On the 7th Inst. I telegraphed thee of hostile demonstrations on the part of Cheyennes, Comanches and Kiowas and I think I might safely included [sic] some of the Osages.
 
It stated in the telegram we found the presence of the war parties in the vicinity of the Agency, on the evening of the 2nd inst.  My information was from "Peg Leg" a Cheyenne Indian whom I had sent to the main Cheyenne camps seven days previous who retd to Agency about dusk on evening of 2nd.
 
This was the first messenger that had made his escape from the main camps for about two months.--He informed me that five (5) war parties were out, and that we would soon hear from them.--
 
At 12 o'clock that night our true and faithful friend "Whirlwind", Cheyenne Chief, came to my house and informed that three young Cheyennes and one squaw had arrived at his lodge at about 10 o'clock that night and had given him information of the movements of the hostile bands and that they, themselves were "Raiders". --First that they had helped to kill and scalp a white man that day a few miles north of the Agency.
 
This we learned next day was correct and proved to be Wm. Watkins and that he was killed and scalped between the King Fisher Stage Ranche and the Cimarron Rover.--
 
They also informed that five war parties were that night camped in vicinity of the Agency and State Ranches along cattle trail north of the Agency, and that we would "hear from them" very soon.
 
The next day (the 3rd) two of these raiders came in to the Agency and displayed a finger ring which they said was taken from the person of the man they had killed the day previous.
 
This insult was only permitted from the fact of our helpless condition.  In the presence of other Hostile Bands--I at once sent a courier to Fort Sill for troops to protect the Agency interests until I could get information of our situation to thyself.
 
The commanding officer at Sill informed that our Agency was not in his Dept. yet he very promptly decided to send us a company until we could be accommodated from The Department of Missourt.  On receiving this information, I decided to proceed north along the line of travel to Kansas, expecting that we might encounter some of the Hostile element.  On arriving at the Turkey Creek Ranche (Lee and Reynolds) we found that they had been attacked on 2nd but had been able to hold their Ranche, had killed one Indian pony and wounded one Indian. --The Indians succeeded in killing three good horses for the firm and wounding one other and I believe ran off one or two, all of which was reported as true by the Raiders who reported same night at "Whirlwind's" Lodge.

 

On arriving at the "Baker Ranche" on Turkey Creek we found it abandoned.  Just four (4) farther north from this ranche we found the "wreck" of Pat Hennessey's Train, which consisted of three wagons drawn by mules and loaded with sugar and coffee for Agent Haworth. --Portions of packages being marked plainly for "J.M. HAWORTH U.S. INDIAN AGENT".
 
Two of the wagons were burned and the other somewhat depredated upon.  The sugar and coffee had been taken or destroyed. --No doubt they had taken all they could carry with safety.--
 
The body of Hennessey was still roasting in the fire.-- Indications were that he had been tied and sacks of oats and corn piled around and on his person while he was yet alive.-- His feet and ankles were yet out of the fire, and indicated a death struggle.--
 
The other three men--Geo Fand, Thos. Calloway and one (name unknown) were laying in the vicinity of the wreck, horrably mutilated and all scalped.--  A solemn hasty burial was given the dead and we proceeded to the next Ranche, "BUFFALO SPRINGS",--where we were informed of the latest movements of the hostile party,--that they had passed (that day(5th)) north, and as it was now growing late in the day, we had every reason to believe had gone into camp for the night, and if not already satisfied, would renew their raid next day.--
 
The smaller parties no doubt had consolidated in the vicinity of the captured train as there was now about one hundred in the party.--
 
From appearance of fires...we believe they were in camp on night of the 5th about four (4) miles east of Skeleton Ranche on the creek of same name.
 
We continued our journey that night--taking all the ranche men with us-- arriving at Caldwell at noon on the 6th inst.
 
At Pond Creek--25 miles out from Caldwell we met La Flerie's train with subsistance for the three agencies, --They went into camp intending to wait an escort, as they had but three (3) guns, to defend themselves.
 
At this point we saw a small party of Hostile Indians in the distance evidently watching our movements.
 
On arriving at Caldwell my first object was to organize a small party to return to the relief of LaFlerie's Train loaded with subsistance for the three southern Agencies.  My Chief Clerk Covington took the situation in hand and I left for Wichita.--Have heard nothing from them since.
 
Our Agency was destitute of all subsistance except beef and have been for some time.  In addition to this we had borrowed all the sugar and coffee from our traders, and unless the above train can be got through soon our employees must suffer for some of the necessities of life.
 
In the first place I desire to say that at the present time I believe it necessary to put a sufficient force at the Agency to protect the lives of loyal Indians and employees as also government property, and also to station troops along the line of travel from Agency to Caldwell, Kansas to guard Govt. trains and also the mail service from Caldwell to Fort Sill.--a very important line to these Agencies.  And I would even go beyond this and suggest that these Hostile Bands be looked after in just such manner as many seem best to thee--just so they are punished sufficient to make a permanent peace on the frontier.--
 
Gen. Pope informs me that he is ready to inaugerate a campaign as soon as he can get the permission of the Indian Dept.--
 
I have seen Supt. Hoag.  He does not seem disposed to assume such responsibility--  For the present we are to have a detachment at the Agency.--Beyond this I suppose instructions must come direct from Thyself to Gen. Pope.  It is needless for me to reiterate the causes that have brought these present troubles as they have been presented from time to time, together with my apprehensions of serious troubles!
 
In the event of inaction, and today I do not hesitate to say that had we been furnished with a detachment of troops--sufficient to have protected their own reservations from buffalo hunters and the continuous incursions from white horse thieves,--ALL OF WHICH WAS PROMISED THEM!  (And my records show that these troops have been earnestly appealed for),  I do not hesitate to give it as my firm conviction that all our present trouble would have been avoided.--BUT NOW IT WILL NOT DO TO STOP TO ASK "WHOSE COW IT WAS THAT KICKED OVER THE LAMP THAT BURNED UP CHICAGO"!
 
The hostile movement must be controlled and at the proper time, when order is restored, deal out justice to the ORIGINAL CAUSE!
 
I claim to know almost every whiskey-horse-thief in the country and hope to be able at some future date to bring them to justice, as they are the parties who have SET THE MATCH ON FIRE.
 
I think that thou will find that the present hostile feeling is pretty general and not confined to the YOUNG BUCKS alone.  I am keeping a record, so far as I can learn, of the leading raiders among Cheyennes.  Thus far, none of our Washington Delegation have been engaged in raid except the "YOUNG MEDICINE MAN".  He headed a party of forty-two, and I have reason to believe was the party who CAPTURED HENNESSEY'S TRAIN, as he was known to be in that immediate vacinity.--"Stone Calf", "White Horse", "Pawnee", "White Shield"--have been out in the main camps, but talking for peace--have made several attempts to get away and return to Agency, but have been prevented by the Cheyenne Soldiery, who have shot down their horses and cut up their lodges.
 
"Whirlwind" and his band are at the Agency--our firm friends--his last request was that I should convey to thee his warmest feelings of friendship.
 
In haste I am respectfully,
                                    Jno. D. Miles Agt.