Friday, October 14, 2011

Oakley, Kansas

The town of Oakley is not named after Annie Oakley, the cowgirl sharpshooter turned entertainer. She joined Bill Cody's Wild West Show in about 1886. Before Wild Bill Cody started his Wild West show he was a military scout working out of Fort Hayes, Kansas. In 1886 he and his partner Nate Salsbury loaded up their Wild West Show on the S.S.Nebraska and headed for England. They took quite a menagerie with them; 18 buffalo, a small herd of longhorn cattle, 200 horses and 12 elk. The show toured Europe for 10 years. Annie Oakley, the star of the show, was with them from 1885-1902. My posting today is not only about cowboys, but also of Native Americans. Our second stop of the day yesterday was at Battle Canyon.
 The site of this Native Indian battle is advertised as the place where the last officer was killed in military action in Kansas. There is ever so much more to the story which speaks to a desperate situation that led to this battle. In 1878 a group of Northern Cheyenne chose to leave their reservation in Oklahoma because of the lack of food and malaria which was depleting their people in large numbers. The Cheyenne, which included 94 warriors, 120 women and 141 children, escaped the reservation. In that group was a squaw of General Custer and their son. The Native Indians were chased by the military to a canyon in Kansas. Here the Cheyenne women and children hid in the natural cave at the end of this dog-leg canyon, now know as Battle Canyon. A battle ensued until darkness fell and the soldiers retreated to re-group. The Cheyenne escaped in the middle of the night, leaving their pack horses laden with supplies and their lodge fires still burning. About one half of them did reach their northern destination, the other half were eventually captured.

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