Report of Bryon Kirkpatrick, A.G. Dept., Okla. Natl. Guard

Tulsa, Okla., July 1, 1921.

From: Byron Kirkpatrick, Major, A.G . Dept. Okla. Nat’l Gd.

To : Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney, 3d. Inf. Okla. Nat’l Gd .

Subject: Activities on night of May 31, 1921, at Tulsa, Okla.

  1. On the night of May 31, 1921, at the hour of approximately ten o’clock P. M. I was sitting on my porch, which faces south, at 514 South. Elgin Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma, with members of my family. At said time a young man named Brewer, who rooms· at .my house drove up in his car and reported that a large number of armed negroes, approximately 150 had congregated at the corner of 5th and Elgin. Within a few moments, possibly five, my attention was attracted to a number of trucks ·and automobiles, heavily laden with armed men, driving at a high rate of speed, in an easterly direction on Sixth Street. At the same time a number of shots were fired from the mob at 5th & Elgin. These shots, so far as I can learn, were fired into the air, and no casualties occurred therefrom. I at once went to the telephone and called Col. Rooney, and explained the situation to him, so far as I was advised at that time. At the direction of Col. Rooney, I placed a long distance call for the Adjutant General at Oklahoma City. At about the hour of ten o’clock, and ten minutes, an automobile containing Col. Rooney, Capt. Vann, and others drove up in front of my house, and not having completed my long distance call, I asked Col. Rooney, to have the car return for me at once. At 10:13, I reached the Adjutant General on the long distance wire, and explained briefly the situation to him. Advising that in my judgment great disorder was to be apprehended, and was instructed by him to report to the Armory and assist in mobilizing the troops and render such assistance to the civil authorities as might be required, when legally called upon.
  2. At approximately 10:20, the car returned and I was driven to the Armory, I found several members of the guard, possibly 25 or 30 already assembled, and strenuous efforts being made to get in touch with other members in the city. At this time the service truck of the Service Company was being loaded to go to the City Jail, it having been reported by the Chief of Police that a large mob had surrounded the jail. The truck was loaded with a squad of men, the exact number of which I do not recall. Probably ten, or fifteen. The truck was driven to the Police Station, and Col. Rooney reported personally to Chief Gustafason, who verbally instructed to hold his men about the station, and assist in removing the crowd from the street. I accompanied this party to the police station.
  3. Under your direction, sentinels were established at 2nd and Main, and at Boulder & 2nd for the purpose of holding back crowds, and preventing traffic from using the street . Also at your direction I assumed charge of a body of armed volunteers, whom I understand were Legion men, and marched them around into Main Street. There the outfit was divided into two groups, placed under t:he charge of officers of their number who had all had military experience, and ordered to patrol the business section and court-house, and to report back to the Police Station at intervals of fifteen minutes.
  4. It being reported that a mob had broken into McGees Hardware Store, in company with yourself and other members of the guard, I went to this point and assisted in removing the mob from store, and locking the doors. To the best of my judgment, our forces arrived at the police station about 10:45 but I cannot be positive as to the time.
  5. After patrols had been established, as set out in paragraph three, at your directions I established your headquarters in the office of the Chief of Police. My orders were to remain at that point in order to keep in touch with Oklahoma City.
  6. At 12:35 A.M. June 1, 1921, I succeeded in again getting General Barrett on the phone and reported to’ him the conditions as I knew them. At your direction I recommended that two rifle companies, and one machine gun company be sent at once. In this conversation I also talked with the Governor, who was on the line.
  7. In the conversation above referred to, I was instructed by General Barrett to prepare and send a telegram to the Governor, asking for the National Guard to be called out, and to have the same signed by the Chief of Police, a District Judge, and by the Sheriff of the County, Mr . McCullough. In accordance with this order I prepared the telegram, a copy of which is attached, had the same signed by the Chief of Police, who was present at his office, then took the telegram to the court-house to have it signed by the sheriff. I had great difficulty in getting to him, he and his deputies being barricaded in the jail on the 4th floor of the building. He signed the telegram and I then took it to the residence of Hon. V. W. Biddison, District Judge, 1215 North Cheyenne, and secured his signature. I then returned to the police station, and had the message sent. It shows to have been received at 1:46 A.M. June 1, 1921.
  8. At 1:15 A.M. June 1, 1921, I again talked with General Barrett, along the same lines as previously stated, advising of the general situation, so far as known to me at that time.
  9. I also talked with General Barrett at 2:15 A.M. June 1, 1921, in which conversation he stated that our telegram had been received, and the Governor had authorized the calling of the guard. That B Company, and Service Company had been called, and that he would leave Oklahoma City by special train at 5:00 A.M. with approximately 100 men. He further directed me to remain at the police station and report developments at once.
  10. There were other calls from the Adjutant General during the early morning, one advising of time of arrival of special train ·at Tulsa. I have no record of these calls, the same having been placed in Oklahoma City. At all times, after 11:30 P.M. May 31, 1921, I remained at the Police Station, in charge of your headquarters, being only absent therefrom.to secure the signatures to the telegram referred to.
  11. At 9:15 A.M. June 1, 1921, General Barrett, with National Guard Troops, arrived from Oklahoma City, by special train, and upon his arrival I reported to him for duty in my department, remaining in charge of his headquarters until Friday, June 3d. at 5:00 P.M. at which time I was relieved.
  12. I wish further to state that at no time during the day or night of May 31st, 1921 did I receive any intimation of trouble to be apprehended. I am well acquainted with police and county officials of Tulsa County, Oklahoma. None of these said anything whatever about mobilizing the guard or getting ready for possible trouble. If such information could have been had, I have no doubt that we would have mobilized a sufficient force to have handled the situation. Coming as this order did, after 10:00 at night, after the men had gone home, it was a matter of great difficulty to get word to them, and secure their attendance. I am sure that officers in charge of this work are entitled to great credit for mobilizing such force as we were able to get together, under the circumstances

(Signed) Byron Kirkpatrick.


Extracted from: Halliburton, R. The Tulsa race war of 1921. San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1975.

 

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