Collections in the Indian Territory Category

Act to Define the Status of Freedmen and their Descendants – ca. 1881

The Act to Define the Status of Freedmen and their Descendants sought to establish the rights and privileges of African Americans within the Cherokee Nation. The document defined freedmen as those who resided in the Cherokee Nation at the commencement of the American Civil War, those who were at that time slaves of any Cherokee or other citizen, those who were liberated by voluntary act or by law, and those who had not return to the Cherokee country within the time specified within the Treaty of 1866. These men became adopted citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and were granted the corresponding rights and privileges as adopted citizens. The Act was written after 1880, and a proposed date of 1881 has been established, but it has not been possible to define an exact date.

Captain Maxwell Phillips Order Book

Captain Maxwell Phillips served in the Third Regiment Indian Home Guards, part of the Kansas Infantry during the Civil War. He was commissioned on May 28, 1863. Phillips recorded in great detail the official procedures and events that took place at Fort Gibson. Phillips described obstacles the regiment faced; such as desertion, cattle rustling, and improper processing of paperwork. The letters contained in this collection reveal the close ties between the Federal officers and the Native Americans that they lived and served with. Phillips stressed the importance of the Native Americans to the Union’s cause and how invaluable they were as allies for the servicemen stationed in the Kansas Territory.

Chester White Papers

Chester L. White enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry on October 10, 1861. This letter, dated June 14, 1862, describes and engagement with Stand Waite and the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles in Indian Territory. The 2nd Ohio Cavalry was organized in Cleveland Ohio, but was sent to the Missouri-Kansas border for duty. The regiment participated in numerous military engagements in the Trans-Mississippi including, capture of Fort Gibson, occupation of Newtonia, and skirmishes at Carthage, Cow Hill, Cow Skin Prairie.

Clinton Owen Bates Memoir

“Old Age,” written by Clinton Owen Bates in 1949, reflects on the life of a young boy growing up in Arkansas during the Civil War, and his career as a teacher. Bates was born in 1857, and grew up on a farm in Fayetteville. The Bates family had split loyalty among the North and South, and even as a young child, Bates remembered the tension that the War brought into their home. Bates recalled the bloody conflict along the border of Missouri and Kansas, encounters with runaway slaves, and various Trans-Mississippi Theater battles. After the War, Bates began his career as a teacher. He taught at the Cherokee Headquarters on the Tahlequah Indian Reservation and later held a position in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Enrolled Missouri Militia, 4th Military District, Order Book

On August 17, 1861 Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble ordered a proclamation establishing the Missouri State Militia for defense of the State against guerrilla activity. Gamble soon realized the need for additional troops, and on July 22, 1862 he issued General Order Number 29 organizing the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). General Colley B. Holland assumed command of the 4th Military district, consisting of the counties in southwest Missouri, on October 30, 1862. Based in Springfield, Missouri, roughly 2,500 men reported for duty, operating under the jurisdiction of the State of Missouri. Holland’s documented all activities related to his command in the enrolled Missouri Militia order book for the 4th Military District in Southwest Missouri, from November 1862 through May 1863. His reports cover the Battles of Springfield and Hartville and also include details about depredation in Southwest Missouri and the extensive guerrilla activity that took place in the region.

George Falconer & Albert Ellithorpe Diary

This extraordinary diary contains entries written by both Union and Confederate soldiers. It originally belonged to George Falconer, enrolled in Col J. J. Clarkson’s Confederate Cavalry. During the Battle of Locust Grove, 3 July 1862, Falconer was taken prisoner, and Maj. Albert Ellithorpe, Indian Home Guards, 1st Kansas Infantry, captured the diary. Most of the entries are written by Ellithorpe, who described engagements with Confederate soldiers, Kansas politicians and bushwhackers. Ellithorpe participated in several battles including Locust Grove, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove and a smaller engagement with Thomas Livingston’s bushwhackers.

George Fine Papers

George Fine was born in Mississippi in 1835, and resided of Washington, County Arkansas before the Civil War. Fine was part of the 19th (Dawson’s) Arkansas Infantry Regiment, which was stationed at Fort McCulloch in present day Oklahoma. The fort was created by General Albert Pike, but was quickly becoming dilapidated and the soldiers there would soon be relocated to Fort Gibson. In Fine’s letter to his father he was optimistic about the Confederacy’s position in the East and believed that the soldiers in the west would soon be sent East to help support General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson. Although George closes his letters using the last name Fine, he is listed in the 1860 U.S. Census as having the last name Carroll. Further investigation into this subject matter is needed

Isely Family Papers

The Isely Family Papers contain correspondence and other documents dating from the late 1850s through the 1930s. A significant portion of the collection consists of letters written during the Civil War between Christian H. Isely and his wife, Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach. Christian served in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry and they traveled throughout Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; which was then Indian Territory. During the war, Eliza went to live with Christian’s parents in Ohio, rather than stay with her father in Willow Dale, Kansas, due to the unstable conditions in the Kansas-Missouri border region. The Isely’s were a profoundly religious family and their correspondences depict the deeply rooted connection between religion and political convictions and how their beliefs often divided their family.

The Lyman Gibson Bennett Collection

Lyman Gibson Bennett enlisted in the 36th Illinois Infantry in 1861. Prior to the War he trained as a surveyor and civil engineer, working for the railroad. The military utilized Bennett’s skills as a cartographer, and assigned him to survey battlefields, road systems, and fortifications. Bennett’s diaries document his daily duties as both a soldier and an engineer for the military. His regiment participated in the Battle of Pea Ridge, which he describes in vivid detail. Bennett was discharged from the military in August 1864.

In 1865, Bennett joined the engineering department of General Samuel R. Curtis as a civilian. He mapped the 1864 battlefields of Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition. Bennett was then assigned to survey fortifications in Nebraska and Colorado, and eventually served as an engineering officer on the Powder River Expedition of 1865. Bennett’s diaries provide colorful insight to his perception of the Ozarks and its inhabitants.

Ozias Ruark Collection

The Ozias Ruark collection contains correspondence and a diary detailing the service of a captain in the 8th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Throughout his diary, Ruark comments on four underlying themes: the impact of the war on civilians, foraging, engagements with guerrillas and the daily routine of camp life. He also notes weather, towns and the Ozarks landscape. Ruark’s perspective as a soldier provides a valuable portrait of military life in the region.

Partheny Horn Memoir

Partheny Horn was a strong southern supporter who in 1863, who along with a group of other Missouri women left the state seeking refuge in Texas. Partheny and her family lived in Cedar County, Missouri before the war. She recalled her brother’s departure into service and the trials she and the other woman faced on their harrowing journey to Texas. Horn’s memoir provides a fascinating account of their experiences and documents the physical and mental strength of women during the War. Horn authored the memoir fifty years after the war ended, thus her description are not entirely historically accurate. The memoir does, however, offer a very unique and invaluable perspective of the war’s impact on southern women in Missouri.

Peter Wellington Alexander Papers

The Peter Wellington Alexander papers contain a significant collection of documents from Thomas C. Hindman’s military service from 1862-1863. Hindman assumed command of the Trans-Mississippi District on May 31, 1862, and his papers cover actions in southern Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory; including battles at Newtonia, Missouri and Cane Hill and Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The collection consists of military orders, telegrams, correspondence, military reports and other documents.

Quarter Master Records- Deposition of Edward Bates

Edward Bates testified regarding the destruction of 1,000 tons of hay under the control of A.W. Robb, Quarter Master of the 3rd Indian Home Guards. Bates testified that Robb left the hay stacks unguarded for several months in the fall of 1864, allowing African American and Native American refugees to steal the property. Furthermore, Bates reported that Robb left the hay stacks uncovered and they became ruined by the weather. Robb was removed from his position on March 1, 1865 and the United States Army inventoried the property in his office. The inventory team, which included Bates, found only 50 tons of hay remained and all of it was unfit for use.

Rebecca Stirman Davidson Family Papers

The Stirman Davidson Collection is a spirited group of letters written to Rebecca Stirman Davidson, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. The bulk of the letters are from her brother Erasmus “Ras” Stirman, while serving in the Civil War. The letters tell the story of Erasmus service in the Confederate Army, his fears and doubts about winning the War, and leading his company of sharpshooters into certain death. Erasmus loved meeting new women, and his letters to Rebecca are full of candor and humor, often telling a larger tale of the social and cultural customs of the era to which he opportunistically flaunted. Erasmus’ successes in the military, coupled with his family’s access to political and societal privilege, combine to tell a wonderful story of upper class life in the Civil War of the Ozarks.

United States Colored Troops 79th Infantry Order Book

The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was one of the earliest African-American regiments organized during the Civil War. This regimental order book documents correspondences, general orders and special orders between 1863 and 1864. During this period the 1st Kansas Colored was stationed in southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, western Arkansas, and Indian Territory, Oklahoma.

In October 1862, Soldiers from the regiment engaged Rebel troops at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, MO. This skirmish earned them the distinction of the first African-American troops from a northern state to see action as soldiers. The 1st Kansas Colored became seasoned veterans by the end of the war, participating in several battles and engagements. On December 13, 1864, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was re-designated as the 79th U.S. Colored Troops.

Young-Corman Family Papers

The Young-Corman Family Papers are the culmination of the marriage of James B. Young and Alice Corman. Young served in the 9th Kansas Cavalry with Isaac and Edward Corman, Alice’s brothers. The three men wrote Alice and the rest of their families throughout the Civil War. Young and the Corman brothers saw little military combat, but heavily patrolled the western frontier. Their letters reveal the political atmosphere of the time and difficulties faced by citizens who remained on the Kansas-Missouri border.