Oklahoma Connections to the Lincoln County War

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Mon June 13 2005, 07:36 AM
Oklahoma Connections to the Lincoln County War
Most Oklahombres know Fred Waite and Big Jim French were warriors in the infamous Lincoln County War and at another spot on the board its discussed whether or not Billy the Kid brought a herd of horses into the Territory for sale. Bob Ollinger was supposed to be part Indian from the territory but Lily Klasner insists he was not and most accept that his Territory connection is that the family stopped and farmed for a while in the Creek or Choctaw Nation. The Rev. Taylor F. Ealy taught a school for Negro children at Ft. Arbuckle and then was reassigned to Lincoln, New Mexico, arriving just in time to preach John Tunstall's funeral. The outlaw Jesse Evans, one of Tunstall's killers was supposed to have been part Indian with Territory connections but that has largely been discounted. There was even an effort to assert that the John Middleton who was a Belle Starr consort was the same John Middleton who fought in the Lincoln County War. That one is still up for grabs in some people's mind.
Mon June 13 2005, 05:37 PM
Thanks for opening up this topic. I can't help but comment that Billy the Kid was killed by Pat Garrett. Pat Garrett - MAY - have been killed by Shotgun Jim Miller, although there are other suspects.

Jim Miller is the killer mentioned in my other topic on Gus Bobbitt.

Dee Cordry
Oklahombres.org webmaster
Tue June 14 2005, 07:11 AM
And, Miller was Chickasaw Rancher Bill Washington's paid enforcer. In fact, when Washington went to Ada to make Jim's bail, he was invited to leave town within in the hour--he did. According to Lute Jackson, Washington had a business relationship with John Chisum one of the primo figures of the Lincoln County War.
And, as to other connections, another of Washington's enforcers was Jim Webb, who Bas Reeves had a gun fight with.
Dee Harkey in Mean as Hell states that he knew both Miller and Washington over a long span of years. He gives several accounts of their misdeeds in Texas, New Mexico, and the Territory and insists they were as thick as home made butter. One story involves the movement of stolen horses from New Mexico Territory to Washington's Territory ranch.
Keep this discussion board going Dee--you may find out yet who was the criminal mastermind.
Wed June 15 2005, 01:46 PM
Oklahoma Kid
Could explain a little more on the exploits and history of the notorious rancher Bill Washington in the Chickasaw Nation
Wed June 15 2005, 02:47 PM
Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a single source for facts on Washington, just fragments of stories, mostly bad.
William E. "Bill" Washington was one of four sons of Texas Cattleman, Russell Washington. Russell was running cows on a lease in the territory before the Civil War because Bill admitted to being born in Indian Territory in 1860. The Washington clan more or less took over the southern half of the Chickasaw Nation and in 1881 the Nation decided to evict him but before they could he married Mary Ellen Smith, a Chickasaw and became a intermarried citizen. The following year Richard McLish, a Chickasaw, married Bill's sister, Rosa. Bill, his brother Jerry, and McLish entered partnership and set up an alliance with Judge Overton Love, a prominent Chickasaw. And, then they really did control the southern half of the Chickasaw Nation from the Chisholm Trail to the Washita and everything south of the Arbuckles. Prior to 1883, the Washington Ranch HQ was near Woodford, but they also had camps on Mud Creek and the 700 Ranch (present Ardmore.) The old timer's tales are full of statements that Bill branded everything on the range, regardless of which cow the calf was following. His operation was so big, he employed 100 chuck wagons at round up with each wagon servicing 20 to 30 riders. He once sold a single herd of 20,000 and it didn't put a dent into his operation.
Bill butted heads with practically everyone. The Chickasaw Lighthorse in the mid-1880's, acting under orders from the Governor, arrived to cut a fence he and McLish had strung across Love's Bend of the Red River which effectively gave them control of 200 sections of land. Bill waited until the Lighthorse went into camp, then rounded up their horses and either shot or scattered them. Washington, then, fearful he had put his foot in it, made a dash for the capitol at Tish to see if he could get to the Governor and make amends before the Lighthorse. He killed the first buggy team, he drove them so hard, and then killed one of the team of a second pair he took from a man. He agreed to pay $100 for each animal belonging to the Light Horse and agreed to keep his fence down. Meanwhile, a part of his men were hidden along Pennington Creek ready to fight it out with the tribal police if Bill wasn't successful, and another group was armed to the teeth to keep the police off the ranch.
Dee Harkey says he trailed a band of stolen horses to Washington's Mud Creek place and that when he went to get a warrant at the Ardmore Court, he found Washington had 76 indictments pending at Paris. Washington, according to Harkey, tried to ambush him in Marietta and when that failed, killed the stolen stock rather than return it.
Bill is also known to have winged more than one man himself, sometimes in a stand up fight, sometimes not. Depended on what was expedient. But, usually he hired the hardest cases he could find. One thing about it though, Bill was an EOE believer. As long as the man was mean enough and would follow his orders, he didn't care what flavor the man was or what he was wanted for.
One man Bill ordered off the range he considered his, refused and Bill got into a fist fight with him and lost. But, the fight did not resume or otherwise escalate because other fellow "left in the middle of the night" an expression meaning he left to avoid trouble.
When allotments were made, Bill sent out night riders to tear down camps, cabins, etc and bodily move people off his range. He ofen used Jim Miller to do this dirty work. It was not until the Federal Government treatened to use troops that he quit. Since he couldn't buy the range he had used for nearly 50 years, he pulled up stakes and moved to New Mexico. His behavior there wasn't much better than in Indian Territory and he spent a good deal of his time in court.
Sun August 28 2005, 07:24 AM
Tower I have heard accounts that say the 2 Middletons are one and the same and others that say they are not.Can you reccomed any good refrences that discuss it? I have a court document dealing with John Middleton when he was charged with arson of the Scott county (Arkansas) courthouse.

"I wasn't but 145 pounds but I had a good pistol" T.W."Buckshot" Lane, Sheriff Warton County Texas
Mon August 29 2005, 02:38 PM
A lot of folks have tried to link John Middleton of Lincoln County fame to the John Middleton that's part of the Belle Starr story mainly because the Starr Middleton was killed about the same time that the Lincoln County Starr dropped off the map. Edwin Hicks, in "Belle Starr and her Pearl," for instance, repeats the general nonsense, by saying Middleton was the same age as Billy the Kid. The thing is that most if all these claims never have a reference associated with them. My sense of it is that they were not the same person. My reasoning: John Middleton of Lincoln County was described by Dr. Hoyt in his book "A Frontier Doctor," as "a middle aged man who had been an outlaw for years." And, Robert Utley, who wrote two books on the Kid legend, has Middleton at age 23 in 1877 and Nolan has him at 26 in 1880. The Starr Middleton was between 25 and 27 years old in 1885. Shirley, in "Belle Starr and her times," describes Middleton of Starr fame as of medium build, with a heavy sandy mustache and weathered complexion...the tip of one ear missing. The Middleton of Lincoln County was described by his brother in law, Charles Colcord, as a big, beefy guy with dark hair and black sweeping mustache. Colcord also said Middleton had a "bleeding in the lungs" from the gunshot he received in Lincoln County that kept him from doing much riding. The Coe cousins of Lincoln say that Middleton was a Kansas raised boy; the Middleton of Starr fame was definitely from Arkansas. And, finally, the body of the Starr Middleton identified was badly decomposed when found and had it's face either half eaten away or blown away. The body was then dug up after burial and identified by the articles it carried. Fred Nolan, in "The Lincoln County War" and "The West of Billy the Kid," advances the theory that Middleton killed a man at Weaver's Ranch in Texas and had a $1000 price on his head. And, that he died at San Lorenzo, N. M. on Nov. 19, 1882 of Small Pox. But, the source for that tale has proved inaccurate in other events. No one really knows what happened to Middleton of Lincoln County other than he disappeared around the time the Colcord family left Kansas and moved to Arizona.
Mon August 29 2005, 04:40 PM

Is this CHARLES COLCORD (mentioned above) the one we know of from Oklahoma history?

Dee Cordry
Oklahombres.org webmaster
Tue August 30 2005, 07:14 AM
Yep, one in the same. Chief of Police and deputy US Marshal (Kansas court) at Oklahoma City and later deputy US Marshal (Oklahoma Territory) at Perry. Went on to become excessively wealthy in the oil business. In fact, items from his office building in OKC were recently auctioned.
The Colcord family was a founding member of the famed Comanche Pool of South Central Kansas. Charley's daddy, in fact, was one of the people who recommended Henry Brown to the Caldwell, Kansas folks as town Marshal. They had no idea he would later rob the Medicine Lodge, Kansas bank and kill another the founding member of the Comanche Pool, the bank president.
John Middleton married Maria Colcord, Charley's sister, but the marriage did not last and the Colcord family, old south aristocracy, did every thing in its power to stymie historians researching the Lincoln County war from connecting Middleton to them. If you've ever read Charley's biography you may have noticed that Middleton is not mentioned by name.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Tower,
Wed August 31 2005, 07:38 AM
Charles F. Colcord was also the uncle of one of the two cowboys who were killed north of present-day Freedom, OK supposedly by Cheyenne Indians during the Dull Knife Raid in 1878. Several Oklahombres members visited the cowboys' graves at what is known as "The Cowboy Cemetery" located within yards of the spot on which they were killed. This visit was during the recent Oklahombres Rendezvous at Woodward.

On the Trail
Diron Ahlquist
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
Wed February 01 2006, 02:12 PM
Just recently, I've been able to confirm this little connection. One of the characters named Joe Bowers moved to Comanche County, Kansas where in 1885 he was elected as the first Sheriff. Another candidate for office was J. D. F. Jennings for probate judge. Jennings was the father of the infamous outlaw, Al Jennings.
Wed June 27 2007, 05:02 PM
C J Glass
I've been working recently on census reports and doing other Internet research in an attempt to document a chain of descendancy for the family of Charles Francis Colcord and his wife's family (Thomas Smith Scoresby Jr. of Reno county Kansas). In the process, I have been picking up related items of interest as they turn up on other peripheral members of the family - siblings, parents, in-laws, etc. This discussion page popped up when I did a search query for "John Middleton + Colcord".

In response to the person whose ID is called "lawandorder":
Working strictly by census research, on the 1880 census, where John "Middelton" shows up with the Colcord family in Comanche county Kansas, it indicates he was born in Texas and his age (26) suggests an 1854 birth date. A survey of earlier censes reports for the Middleton name in Texas reveals a family with a child named John W living in Erath county Texas who was 9 years old on the 1860 census. This was the only male child who came close enough in name/age/location to match up with the Colcord son-in-law. Another census in 1870 has J W Middleton, age 20 born in Texas, working as a stock raiser and living with a Jane Middleton, also age 20 born in Missouri.
So far, there have been no John or J W Middletons / born in Texas @ 1850 found on any censes later than 1880 that indicate there might be a later match.

If there is anyone who would care to comment on whether this information is accurate or not, I would like to hear from them. My file at this point includes the varying theories of his cause, date, & place of death, as well as some of the conflicting ideas of his lifestyle, habits, and the people he associated with.
Thu June 28 2007, 06:57 AM
John Middleton's birth and eventual fate are still an open question. Using a census record as one's sole base is chancy as such records were solely at the whim of the information giver and/or the recorder.
A couple of things which might help you on your quest are, one: the Colcord Collection at the Western History Museum, University of Oklahoma. The other is an article I did on Middleton, addressing this very issue, as well as looking at his association with the Colcords and the Evans/Hunter outfit. In the article I also pursued the "If" that Middleton simply faded into obscurity rather than the traditional deaths attributed to him.
Thu June 28 2007, 11:40 AM
Several Oklahombres members visited the cowboys' graves at what is known as "The Cowboy Cemetery" located within yards of the spot on which they were killed. This visit was during the recent Oklahombres Rendezvous at Woodward.

Am I missing something? After joining Hombres coming up on a year now,have been waiting to attend a Rendezvous to meet members, discussions, etc. The reference to "recent Oklahombres Rendezvous" was it in the last year? If so how do members find out about such meetings? Or is it just for a select few? I know the Guthrie Rendezvou planned for May 07 was cancelled. Explain.
Thu June 28 2007, 11:42 AM
C J Glass
It was very last night when I put the inquiry up on the post, consequently I seem to have left out details. I got into the habit of doing genealogy research when it's really late & I'm very tired because when I lived in the old homestead house out in the county, it seemed easier to find things that way. The material I present here has a random quality to it - but I have tried to put it into a logical sequence wherever possible. Your opinion as to my tentative finds would be appreciated.

Presently I have an article by M Tower - you? - and also have a couple of others found on the Internet during a quick search. It appears that the published autobiography on Colcord doesn't contain any information at all on Middleton, at least by name, but I saw something that indicated Middleton was mentioned in one of the drafts for the autobiography. If I try to hunt down the draft/s, it will probably require that trip you recommend to the Western History Museum in Oklahoma City. I might be able to do this when we pass through OKC next month on a planned quick trip to Texas to attend to business. Nothing I have found so far has shown the names of any children Middleton might have had with the Colcord wife, but one source indicates there were three. Do you have anything to support this contention?

Middleton wasn't my initial research focus, but the fact that the information seems to be so obscure, for whatever reason, he began to attract my attention. If at all possible, I would like to find out what happened to him and determine if there actually were any children through his marriage to the Colcord woman. Let us hope that whatever influences my late-night finding ability will smile upon the effort to discover where he's gone, if the information is out there to be found.

My interest in this general topic originated with the Samuel Slack family. They, and the family of Thomas Smith Scoresby Jr., are credited with being the first two families to settle in Troy twp, Reno county Kansas (1872-1873). Samuel Slack's daughter, Ruth Ellen, was one of my husband's ancestors. Because a sister and a brother of Ruth Ellen Slack married into the Scoresby family, and because of the historical interest of both of these families to our local genealogy group, I started trying to see if I could discover where all the descendants went.

Harriet Scoresby was one of the children of T.S. Scoresby, a Methodist Episcopal minister who was born in England. She was married to Charles Francis Colcord, and is said to have eloped with him over the objections of her family to her proposed marriage to "a mere cowboy". If the Scoresby family had been favorable to the union, her father would probably have officiated in the marriage ceremony, but I don't recall seeing his name on the marriage record.

Research eventually circled around to John W Middleton, in building the background foundation for the Colcord family in my research base, because of his association with C F Colcord's sister. The distinctly absent quality of information on him gives the impression there was a deliberate effort was made to obliterate the man's record of existence in his later life, although one can't rule out the fact that people did disappear or die unrecognized.

From the Reno county perspective, in April 1873 Samuel Slack arrived and made a homestead claim in Troy township (Reno county KS). Sam Slack kept a journal for most of his life. It included mention of what he was doing from day to day, and made note of important events and people (family, friends, neighbors) that he knew.

On March 27, 1880, his journal notes that he took out a claim on some land in Barber county KS near Medicine Lodge where he built a dugout and moved in during Nov 1880. He later built a cabin. The family ran a herd of cattle there between 1880-1887, and he traveled back and forth between Reno and Barber counties with astonishing frequency. Israel Slack, who also was married into the Scoresby family, moved to Barber county, too, in order to help work with his family's cattle operation in that area. He lived in Barber county for a while before going to Oklahoma. It seems likely that T. S. Scoresby and his family would have regularly gone out to where the Slacks were living near Medicine Lodge to visit with the daughter, Ella A (Scoresby) Slack, and the 5 grandchildren before her untimely death in 1888.

When I was first reading the journal, I thought of it as nothing more than general history, but the name Briley kept appearing and it was an unusual name. Then, last night, I saw the name again in association with a 21-yr-old female who turned up on the 1885 Kansas state census in Kingman county. She was born in Georgia, is listed with the name 'M (L or H?) Briely', and is living in the W L Colcord household. The age, gender, and location of birth gives the distinct impression that it was Mariah H Colcord, remarried. No names of young children appear in the household. Out of curiosity, I checked on the name Briley and found that on the same 1885 Kansas census, Lee Briley (b. 1863, same approx. age as Mariah) is living in Barber county/Medicine Lodge area, noted as "married" but without any spouse with him. In 1880, he was listed as Jonathan L Briley, a son in a Medicine Lodge household.

So I went back to read Slack's journal. The names Lee and Scot Briley, and several references to the Briley family in general, turn up in Sam Slack's journal when he is writing about Barber county events in the vicinity of Medicine Lodge. Slack surveyed for the Brileys at the "Holcum Mound". Shortly after that, and Lee and Scot Briley were both brought to trial on June 12, 1883 for a shooting incident in which "Holcum was shot" on May 16th, 1883. The trial continued into March 1884. In May 1884, Slack's notes indicate Scot Briley's baby died, and in Nov 1884 Lee Briley's first boy was born. There is also a reference to a flood after which, "on April 20, 1885, 20 persons were found and buried". On May 7, 1885, "Sno fell 2 inches deep in Barber county". On "May 11, 1885, T. S. Scoresby went to the lodge to prove up" - this would be Medicine Lodge KS, which would very likely have been the where and the how Harriet Scoresby met C F Colcord. Makes one wonder, doesn't it?

The LDS Pedigree Resource File places the birth, marriage & death of William R Colcord as: 26 Nov 1826 in Bourbon county Kentucky, m. Maria E Clay, died in Wichita KS on 10 Jan 1901 (submitted by Patricia Wetterman in Brunswick OH). In I have not yet found the death record or obituary. In 1870, W R Colcord was living in Jefferson county, Louisiana; in 1880 he was in Comanche county KS; and in 1885 he was in Kingman county KS. I haven't located him on the Kansas 1895 or the Federal 1900 census yet.

Familysearch.org's Ancestral File shows John Whitfield Middleton, son of John Middleton & Mary Ann Chalk with a 30 Sept 1851 birth date (born in either Bell county or Hood county Texas) and a 3 Sept 1941 death date (place not shown). The name of the contributor was given as Eloise Talley in Safford Arizona - she appears to have been a member of a local history group, as her name turns up on a <history of the Safford (AZ) fire brigade> publication. Her Middleton contribution was made 'after 1978'. According to LDS, she submitted a book or manuscript on the Middleton family which they have in their library on microfilm.

The list of cowboys given by the Comanche county KS historical organization for the Comanche Pool shows a "Jack" Middleton, but they appear to have no further information.

The only John Middleton I have found in that era on any of the census, with a birth place in Texas, who doesn't appear to be too old or too young to have been here in Kansas doing the kind of work he did, and whose family's work with horses and cattle would have prepared and led him into cowboy work, is the one whose family was living in Shelby and Erath counties in Texas om 1850-1870. In 1860, this John W Middleton was 9, and his father (also a John W Middleton) was a stock raiser in Texas. In 1870, a 20-year old J W Middleton is found in Erath county TX with a wife named Jane, but neither of them were found in TX in 1880. It seems likely that this John Middleton who married the Colcord woman might have fudged his age - it doesn't look quite so bad for a 15- or 16-yr-old girl to marry a man who is 25-26 as it does if the man she marries is 30-31.

Some of this seems like random coincidence, but I've learned to pay attention to stuff like this. Let me know if you can help me put this into more manageable form. Thanks - Claudia Glass
Sat June 30 2007, 01:05 PM
Jim Avance
Frawg, The renedezvous referred to by Diron was in 2005. Diron's post is dated Aug 2005.
Sat June 30 2007, 02:15 PM

Thanks. I guess I missed the date when I was reading the board. That particular message popped up on my initial screen as being a recent post. I'm fairly new to all this (under a year) and this board takes a little getting used to.

Again, thanks.

Mon March 19 2012, 01:29 PM
John Harnish
Is any one in this group still active, as I have some new imformation on a John A Meddleton.
This meddleton would have been alive in 1880, and may have been an attorney and later a Jayhawker.
Sat March 24 2012, 06:38 AM
John, I, and Claudia Glass, have learned the fate of the John Middleton attached to the Lincoln County War. His real name was Jesse Dancer and he did die of small pox in 1882. I doubt there is any connection to John A and the Lincoln County Middleton.