Report of Frank Van Voorhis, Capt. Com. Service Co., 3rd Inf. Okla. Natl. Guard

Frank Van Voorhis, Capt.
Ernest V. Wood, 1st Lieut.
Emmett L. Barnes, 1st Lieut.

SERVICE COMPANY THIRD INFANTRY. OKLA. NATL GUARD.

Tulsa, Okla.
July 30, 1921

To: L.J. F. Rooney, Lt. Col. 3rd Inf. Okla. Natl. Gd.

Subject: Detailed report of Negro Uprising for Service Company, 3rd Inf. Okla. Natl Gd.
1. Reported for duty at 9:30P.M., Tuesday night, May 31st, 1921. 2 Officers and 23 enlisted men.
(a)-Condition of armory:
All arms and equipment under double lock and key.
Armorer on duty uniformed and armed. Telephone in order. Plenty of ammunition in vault.
(b) – Number of fire arms:
45 Springfield rifles, cal.. 30 model 1906, 6.45 colts, auto. pistols.
(c)-Ammunition:
1200 cartridges, cal. 30 ball rifle, 1000 cartridges, cal.. 45 auto. pistol, all in my supply room under double lock and key.
(d)-Location of ammunition:
Supply room, Service Co., 3rd Inf. Okla. Natl. Gd., and Supply room in charge of Regt. Supt Sgt. Clyde Smith.

2. No guns or ammunition of any character or description issued to any person other than National Guardsmen. No guns or ammunition were taken by any one, except those issued to National Guardsmen by proper authority.

3. Order for assembly of men: An order was communicated by Maj. James A. Bell, to me for the immediate assembly of the entire Service Company, about 9 :30 o’clock P.M., May 31st, 1921, and I issued a verbal order for the immediate assembly of the Service Company at the armory, and the telephone was used and runners were sent to the homes of various men who did not have telephones, and in this manner two (2) officers and twenty-three (23) enlisted men were assembled at the armory by 10:30 o’clock P.M. and by 7:00 o’clock A.M. June 1st, 1921, I had forty-five (45) men at my command.

4. General statement by the Commanding officer of Service Company: At 9:30 o’clock P.M., May 31, 1921, was at the armory when the call came from parties connected with the Sheriff’s office and also from parties connected with the Police Department, wanting the Guardsman to assist them to stop the rioting. No one left the armory until I received direct orders from Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney about 10:30 P.M. to take my men, numbering two (2) officers and sixteen (16) men to the Police Station, which I promptly complied with, taking Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney, Maj. Byron Kirkpatrick, Maj. Paul R. ·Brown on our truck to Police Headquarters. I left seven (7) men at the armory for guard duty. Regt. Sup. Sgt. Clyde Smith in charge of the supply room.

About 1:15 o’clock A.M., a machine gun was produced and placed in the rear of the truck with three (3) experienced machine gunners, and with Lt. Ernest B. Wood and six (6) enlisted men in the front end of the truck under Lt. Col. Rooney, and thus equipped I was ordered to various parts of the City where there was firing, until about 3:00 o’clock A.M., Wednesday June 1st, I was ordered by Lt. Col. Rooney to proceed with him and the truck, with my detail to Stand Pipe Hill. Upon arriving there the men were deployed along North Detroit Avenue, extending from Stand Pipe Hill to Archer Street, patrolling back and forth, and disarming and arresting negroes and sending them to Convention Hall by Police cars and trucks.

My orders from Lt. Col. Rooney were not to fire unless fired upon. Southeast of Standpipe Hill and on Cameron Street was a large brick negro Church, with belfry on top, and we soon discovered some negro snipers located in the belfry of the Church, who were firing in our direction. Two of my selected men returned the fire and the negro fire immediately ceased from the Church tower. During this time we took a large number of negro prisoners and after disarming them sent them with police patrol cars to the Police Station and Convention Hall.

About 6:30A.M., June 1st, I left Capt. McCuen and 1st Lt. Wood in command of both detachments with orders not to fire until fired upon, then went for some nourishment and then to the armory to get reinforcements, and with six (6) men returned to North Detroit Street and Cameron Avenue.

About 7:30 o’clock A.M. moved to the brick kiln located in the northwest part of the negro settlement. After ordering the men not to fire until ordered to do so, I proceeded East on Cameron Street with a civilian driver in a touring car; had not gone far when I was convinced that the troops under Capt. McCuen and Lt. Wood had not gone that route, so I continued on to Greenwood Avenue, turned north on Greenwood Avenue, and proceeded north three (3) blocks when I discovered negroes fleeing to the northeast. We immediately proceeded to overtake them and when overtaken they were commanded to halt and put up their hands, which orders were promptly complied with. I detailed two (2) men to disarm and guard them until further orders. A few blocks further north I discovered more armed negroes, and having overtaken and disarmed them, sent my men in various directions with orders to search all houses for negroes and fire arms. Had between twenty (20) and thirty (30) negro prisoners under guard when the white civilians on Sun Set Hill opened fire on us and caused us to suspend operations at that point. Ordered men with the prisoners to double time south about one-fourth block and halted them behind a new concrete building for protection. Firing shortly ceased somewhat and we double timed further south on Greenwood Avenue, out of range and waited until police patrol cars arrived. I turned prisoners over to the deputies, about thirty- five or forty (40) in number, with orders to take them to Police headquarters. Then with my six (6) men marched north on Greenwood Avenue three (3) blocks. We then proceeded up Sun Set Hill, and when about two-thirds (2/3) of the way up the hill, the negroes to the north opened fire on us, slightly wounding Sgt. Len Stone and Sgt. Ed. Sanders. We continued our march without returning their fire and upon arriving at the crest of the hill found Service and Co. B, deployed there in a prone position with old machine gun in position. I then called for volunteers to accompany me down the hill when my attention was drawn to the white civilians to the northeast of me who had opened fire again on the negro settlement. Halting my men, I returned to where Capt. McCuen and 1st Lt. Wood were and ordered Capt. McCuen to see that the civilians immediately ceased firing.

After the firing ceased, with my detail, I went down into the negro settlement, about 8:00 o’clock A.M. deployed my men along Davenport Street, with orders to search every house to the right and left for negroes and fire arms. About two (2) blocks from there we established a post (receiving station for prisoners) this was located at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Davenport Streets, and after taking thirty (30).or forty (40) prisoners, they were placed under guard and marched to Police Headquarters by a detail of my men. I then proceeded with a portion of my detachment north on Greenwood Avenue, taking prisoners all along the street.

Among the first prisoners captured by my men was a negro doctor named Chas. B. Wickham, who proved to be a very valuable aid in having the negroes surrender to me, which they willingly did upon finding out we were there to protect them and to preserve order and after getting together about one hundred fifty (150) negro prisoners, I detailed Sgt. James N. Concannon, with four (4) men to proceed north to the negro park as I had been informed a number of negroes had gathered there, with orders to take all prisoners, disarm and bring them to Convention Hall where prisoners were being held at that time. Sgt. James N. Concannon accounted for one hundred seventy- on.e (171) prisoners, all of whom were turned over to the civil authorities. Then with seven of my men I proceeded with negro prisoners to the number of one hundred and fifty (150) to the Convention Hall by going south to the foot of Sun Set Hill, west to Main Street, south to

Boulder to Convention Hall, to avoid having to pass thru a large number of civilian rioters. After turning over the prisoners to civil authorities at Convention Hall, returned with my men to the negro district, where I took more prisoners and when I got them to Convention Hal l was told that the Convention Hall was full and that I would have to take them on to McNulty Park, which I did. There turned them over to the civil authorities and at about 11:00 o’clock A.M. again returned to the negro district.

On Wednesday afternoon and night, my lieutenants, my men and myself did patrol duty and guard duty in various parts of the city, having different men on different posts at various times and places, which was continued until Thursday night about 9:00 o’clock P.M., at which time I started preparations to leave for the annual National Guard Encampment at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, by order of the Adjutant General, dated May 25, 1921, and on June 3rd, 1921, left Tulsa with fifteen (15) men for Ft. Sill.

I carried fifty (50) rounds of pistol ammunition with me at all times during the Negro Uprising but did not fire a single shot.

Frank Van Voorhis,
Capt. Com. Service Co.,
3rd Inf. Okla. Natl. Gd.


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

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