In addition to this story, Mr. Hancock is said to have sold Big Tree his first pair of white man’s pants.
The Caddo Herald
September 10, 1948
Caddo Was Great Trading Post Years Ago
An incident of early days in Caddo is brought to light by the Golden Jubilee committee which is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of Caddo come November 26-7-8. It tells of the time when great wagon train loads with goods for the settler and for the wild Indian tribes on the western reservations left Caddo for Ft. Sill.
Big Tree was a Comanche chief who had taken part in a number of raids into Texas and had been captured and confined at Huntsville. Thru intervention of Federal authorities he was released to be returned to the reservation near what is now Lawton. The Comanches and Apaches of the area were great buffalo hunters so after a good season they would load the hides on the big prairie schooners and come to Caddo overland to trade for white man’s goods.
Big Tree had three wives who had ample girth and weight. He brought them to Caddo on one of his trips, there being room for them to ride in the wagons.
After trading his hides to the merchants for goods, he asked if he could haul back goods to Fort Sill. They told him they would pay $2.00 a hundred pounds. He said, “weigh squaws”. Finding a combined weight of 900 pounds, Big Tree inquired “How much it pay to haul 900 pounds back to Fort Sill?” When told $18.00 he laconically remarked, “Humph! Squaws walk back!”
Some early day Christian women had prepared a quantity of ice cream for sale and induced Big Tree to try it. He ate the luscious cold cream in stolid silence, then said “Fill up squaws and cedar bucket”. He ordered the women to take the bucket of ice cream to his tent.
In the evening great throngs of people, traders who had come from many places to trade, gathered on the hill where the grade school is now, to watch the Indian warriors give a war dance. Beeves had been donated for this purpose. As the nearly bare braves danced around the beef, with incantations and gyrations, they would cut the throats of the animal, drink the blood as it was gushing from the dying animal, skin and serve the beef, and eat it. A ghastly sight. Dogs, women, children gnawing the bones and entrails.
The war dance would start at sundown and continue until almost daylight. Exhausted after a night of such savage revelry carried on with intense activity the Indian visitors slept until late next morning.
Didn’t Keep Overnight
Big Tree indulged like the rest. Upon awakening he had a great thirst, such as comes the morning after the night before. He remembered the good “cold puddin’” and told his wife to bring the bucket to him. It being July, and hot of course, the cold pudding was not as cold nor refreshing. After taking a deep draught Big Tree spat out all he could, saying with disgust “White man’s cold pudding like white man’s promise; it won’t keep over night.”
Many stories are told of these visits of western tribes to this important trading post in the 70s. General Frederick Grant was one of a distinguished number who had to come thru Caddo enroute to Fort Sill. Troops of soldiers in ’76 were summoned from Ft. Sill after the Custer massacre on the Little Big Horn, coming to Caddo by foot, thence north by train to avenge the massacre. C. A. Hancock, whose wife now lives here, was one of the horseback riders who carried the news which came to Caddo by wire to Fort Sill. He said the soldiers lost no time getting ready to come to Caddo.
Much historical data is being gathered for the Caddo Golden Jubilee and anyone who has an early day picture is invited to make them available to the Jubilee committee. Already there is a display of such pictures in town and they draw much interest.
From the Oklahoma Historical Society:
BIG TREE (ca 1850–1929).
A Kiowa war chief, Big Tree (A'do-eete), was probably born circa 1850 somewhere on the plains of western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, or southwestern Kansas. The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 placed the Kiowa on a reservation in the Leased District of Indian Territory. From there Kiowa warriors launched raids into Texas. On May 18, 1871, Big Tree, Satank, and Satanta were among the leaders of a multitribal war party that attacked the wagon train of freighter Henry Warren in Young County, Texas, near Salt Creek.
On May 27, 1871, Big Tree was arrested at Fort Sill for his involvement in the Salt Creek Massacre, in which the wagon master and six teamsters were killed. He, Satanta, and Satank, all implicated by Satanta, were transferred to Fort Richardson at Jacksboro, Texas. There Big Tree and Satanta (Satank had been killed) became the first American Indians to be tried by a civil court and were convicted of murder. Their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, and they were transferred to the Texas state prison in October 1871. Removed to Fort Sill, both were paroled in October 1873.
Big Tree rejoined Kiowa raiding parties in late 1873. He surrendered at the Darlington Agency in September 1874 and was incarcerated at Fort Sill until 1875. He adopted Christianity and became a peace advocate and an assimilationist. Big Tree died at Anadarko, Oklahoma, November 13, 1929.
Jon D. May