Murdered and Scalped by the Pawnees

Taken from Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County
Article appeared in The Paris News on Friday, July 22, 1921

DeShields gives a very graphic picture of the recovery of Matthew Martin; it is evidently taken from Col. Dodge's report under date of July 22, but the year is not given. This date would seem to be too early if the child was in captivity six months and it would contradict the Wrights if it was either 1835 or 1836. So here seems to be a fact that cannot well be reconciled.

Col. Dodge was making a tour among the wild Indians having talks with them and trying to induce them to enter into treaty relations with the United States. July 22—At the Toyah Village, Col. Dodge and several of his officers met, agreeably to previous notice. The Toyah chiefs and warriors were in council. Council being in order, Col. Dodge proceeded to speak as follows: “We are the first American officers who have ever come to see the Pawnees. To meet you as friends, not as enemies, to make peace with you. The great American captain is at peace with all the white men in the world; he wished to be at peace with all the red men in the world; we have been sent to view the country, and invite you to go to Washington, where the great American chief lives to make a treaty with him, that you may learn how he wishes to send among you traders who will bring you guns and blankets and everything you want.” As the council proceeded Dodge referred to the foul killing of Judge Martin and the capture of his little son—also the capture of one Abbe, a ranger, the previous year. Evading reply as to the killing of Martin, the chief Wa-ter-ra-Shah-ro a very dignified warrior of more than seventy years, replied that he had learned “the Indians who lived near San Antonio captured Abbe and that they killed him on Red River; the white boy is here.” To which Col. Dodge replied, “I wish the boy brought to me,” at the same time informing the chiefs that as evidence of his friendly intentions toward them, he had on starting, purchased at a very great price, from their enemies, the Osages, two Pawnees and one Kiowa, girls which had been held by them for some time as prisoners and which he had then ready to deliver to their friends and relatives in exchange for white prisoners held by the Pawnees. The Martin boy was now brought in from the middle of a corn field where they had hidden him. He was entirely naked, except the scant dress worn by the children of the tribe. His appearance caused considerable excitement and commotion in the council room, and as the little fellow gazed around in great surprise, he exclaimed “What, one them white men here?” To which Col. Dodge replied by asking him his name. “Matthew Wright Martin” was the prompt reply. He was then received into the arms of Col. Dodge and the captive Indian girls brought in and soon recognized by their overjoyed friends and relatives who embraced them with the most extravagant expression of joy. From this moment the council, which before had been a very grave and uncertain one took a pleasing and friendly turn. The heart of the venerable old chief was melted at the evidence of the white man's friendship. He at once embraced Col. Dodge and each of his officers in turn with tears streaming down his cheeks. Further quoting Catlin: “August 13—reached the settlements at the north fork of the Canadian—informed by a citizen that the child's mother had offered $2000.00 for his recovery; she will soon be made happy by his restoration without ransom or reward. The boy was brought the whole distance to Ft. Gibson in the arms of the dragoons who took turns in carrying him and after the command reached them he was transmitted to the Red River settlements by an officer who had the enviable satisfaction of delivering him into the arms of his disconsolate and half distracted mother.”

Catlin, the artist, who by courtesy was permitted to enjoy the hospitality of Ft. Gibson, turned out to be a most excellent press agent for Col. Dodge. He nowhere makes mention of Capt. Travis Wright who accompanied the expedition for the purpose of identifying the boy if he should be found. He it was who bought the captives which were exchanged for the boy and there was also secured from the Indians by him the old negro man who was also a captive and who had so signally and kindly befriended the boy during the whole of his captivity. It was Travis Wright also with an escort from the garrison who delivered the boy back to the arms of his mother. The thread of real history is often hard to follow; there are so many selfish people who are anxious to become the hero of every event in which they participate.

 


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