Earliest History History on the Massacre

Since this came up during a recent exhibit, I am reprinting the entirety of the 1st historical reporting of the massacre published in 1921 in a propaganda piece trying to explain why things turned out the way they did.  Don’t blame me for the content.

The History of Tulsa, Oklahoma A City With A Personality Together With A glimpse down the corridors of the past into Old Indian Territory, The Five Civilized Tribes, The Creek Nation, Tulsa Recording District and Tulsa County How Oklahoma was Created and Something of the Builders of a Commonwealth by Colonel Clarence B. Douglas, vol.1, pages 620-627.

TULSA’S RACIAL WAR

An incipient racial war, the most disastrous in the history of Oklahoma, was initiated in Tulsa on the evening of May 31, 1921, in a most surprising and unexpected manner.

The published report of the arrest of a Negro boy charged with an attempted assault on a white woman occasioned little comment among the white people who fully expected the law to take its course in the matter. Unfortunately, a group of Negros from the Negro section of the city, who according to facts developed after an investigation, had been worked upon by a lawless element of white agitators, reds and. bolshevists and who had been badly advised by members of their own race, were lead to believe that mob violence threatened the Negro prisoner who was in the custody of the sheriff at the county jail;

Without warning a number of armed Negroes under the lead of obnoxious and dangerous men of their race proceeded through the downtown business section of Tulsa to the courthouse and began a demonstration of defiance and lawlessness. They were advised that no attempt was being made to lynch the Negro prisoner and retired from the scene, only to return later with apparent reinforcements, many of them armed with pistols .and guns and one body of them were marching in columns of fours, showing military, or at least recent organization and drill. Insulting demands were made by these Negroes on the peace officers, a shot or two was fired and a race riot immediately started. The Negroes began firing indiscriminately and before they vacated the business section several white men and several Negroes had been killed.

The local police and sheriff’s officials seemed powerless to control the situation and several hundred white men armed themselves and by 10 o’clock P. M. the city was in the throes of a race riot of unparalleled magnitude and several pitched battles were in progress between the· Negroes and the white citizens. Hardware stores and pawn shops in the business section were broken into, arms and ammunition secured by white men and a lawless element of both Negroes and whites quickly joined in the fray, making a situation acute and dangerous in the extreme.

The Negroes were driven back towards their section of the town and half a block of business structures on North Cincinnati between the Frisco railroad and Archer Street, which section had been occupied by Negro pool halls, and other disreputable lins of business, and by restaurants, broke into flames. The Negroes who had taken refuge in these buildings were in a hot battle with the armed whites and were driven farther north to Greenwood, the principal Negro business street of the city, which was soon in flames.

The battle raged throughout the night and the flames of the burning Negro residences and business houses added to the intense excitement. The local companies of National Guard were mobilized, under the command of Maj. L. J. F. Rooney, and did what could possibly be done to stem the conflict, but with little result. With the coming of morning the situation was found to be so acute and danger to the entire city so apparent that the governor was apprised of the situation and the National Guard, under command of Adjt.-Gen. Charles F. Barrett, was ordered mobilized in Tulsa. General Barrett arrived about 9 A. M. with 150 members of the Oklahoma City companies and companies from Muskogee, Bartlesville and Wagoner were quickly brought to the scene.

All morning the fire raged, completely wiping out the entire business section inhabited by Negroes and 860 stores and homes owned by Negroes were totally destroyed together with all their contents. The fire department was helpless owing to the threats of the infuriated whites to shoot any man who attempted to lay a line of hose, and all morning the fire continued with intermittent shooting and scenes of riotous disorder, now practically confined to the Negro section.

The National Guard got into real action about noon and immediately the.process of rounding up Negro men, women and children began, and by night of June 1st probably 6,000 Negroes had been escorted and driven to Convention Hall, McNulty ball park and the Tulsa County fair grounds. The civic societies of Tulsa immediately got busy with preparations for feeding and caring for the homeless Negroes. The Red Cross, Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. agencies were put to work, all of the downtown churches were quickly filled with refugees and substantially the entire Negro population was under guard and .under protection by nightfall of the second day of the riot. Families were separated in the confusion and there was much distress for the first thirty-six hours following the outbreak.

Wednesday, June 1, at noon, martial law was proclaimed throughout Tulsa County. The civil officers ceased to function and the military took entire charge of policing the city. Guards were thrown out in the Negro section and whites were ordered to their homes and disarmed, and under the direction of General Barrett the situation was soon taken well in hand.

Asked for a statement of the local situation, President Niles of the Chamber of Commerce furnished to the press associations of the country the following statement, which shows the general sentiment of the best people of this city:

“A minor arrest had been made and publicly announced, the defendant being a Negro boy. Under bad advice and led by a group of Negroes exhibiting a spirit of lawlessness, a group of probably fifty Negroes left the Negro section of the city, came through the business section and marched on the courthouse. There was no occasion for their coming. The member of their race was not in jeopardy at all, but under the inflammatory action of lawless Negro leaders demands were made of the sheriff and insults hurled at the white citizens attracted by the Negro mob. The shooting began and the riot was on.

“A bad psychological condition, occasioned by a spirit of unrest, and some unemployment, dovetailed into the lawlessness which grew like a snowball and rapidly got beyond control of officials. The situation was quickly taken advantage of by some of the lawless element among the whites. Stores were broken open. People with no authority were quickly armed and the situation became desperate in the extreme and wholly out of control.

“The deplorable event is the greatest wound Tulsa’s civic pride has ever received and every right thinking man and woman in the city, white and black, is now doing everything possible to heal the wound as quickly as may be. Leading business men are in hourly conference and a movement is now being organized, not only for the succor, protection and alleviation of the sufferings of the Negroes, but to formulate a plan of reparation in order that homes may be rebuilt and families as nearly as possible rehabilitated. The sympathy of the citizenship of Tulsa in a great wave has gone out to the unfortunate law-abiding Negroes who became victims of the action and bad advice of some of the lawless leaders, and as quickly as possible rehabilitation will take place and reparation be made.

“Tulsa feels intensely humiliated and standing in the shadow of this great tragedy pledges its every effort to wiping out the stain at the earliest possible moment and punishing those guilty of bringing the disgrace and disaster to this city.

“A city which put three military units in the field with more than seven thousand men in the service, which contributed in excess of $33,000,000 for war purposes and which established its reputation as a patriotic city during the recent war second to none on the American continent, can be depended upon to make proper restitution and to bring order out of chaos at the earliest possible moment.”

In the absence of competent authority to take charge of· the relief situation a meeting was called by President Niles of the Chamber of Commerce at 11 a. m., Thursday, June 2d, and after  addresses by General Barrett, Judge L. J. Martin and others the meeting, on the advice of. General Barrett and on his recommendation, selected an executive committee known as the Tulsa Executive Welfare Committee, consisting of seven men, to take immediate control of all civic and civilian operations. The meeting selected as members of this committee L. J. Martin, chairman, and the following named: H. C. Tyrrell, C. F. Hopkins, C. S. Avery, G. R. McCullough, S. G. Kennedy, H. L. Standeven, and this committee immediately went into session in the Chamber· of Commerce rooms and proceeded with the organization of the various civic bodies, the work of the Y. M. C. A. and the Y.. W. C. A., the Red Cross and other associations.

This committee appointed a committee on legal matters to assist in the apprehension and conviction of those responsible for the great outrage and for the arrest of looters and the lawless generally; appointed a financial committee to secure funds for the rehabilitation of the Negro homes; committees to have charge of policing the city and seeing to it that not less than one hundred American Legion men were sworn in as special officers to assist in preserving the peace, and through the action and operations of this committee a semblance of order was soon restored.

Martial law was revoked at 3 p. m., Friday, June 3d, by order of General Barrett and the troops returned tO their respective homes. Members of the American Legion were sworn in as peace officers. Col. P. J. Hurley, cooperating with the sheriff’s office under the direction of the executive committee, organized a force of 100 emergency minute men to act in conjunction with the sheriff’s office, and the civil authorities resumed general jurisdiction over the local situation.

The Red Cross work under the direction of Clark Fields, the Women’s Relief Corps under control of Mrs. A. W. Roth, the Y. W. C. A. under Mrs. J. A. Hull and other patriotic women began a systematic campaign for the relief of the sufferers; and an identification bureau was established at the Y. M. C. A. for the purpose of reuniting and locating families, and under the direction of

Maj. C. F. Hopkins and C. A. Border the construction of tents for the homeless was begun in the Negro settlement. N. R. Graham was in charge of the detention camp at the fairgrounds where probably 3,500 Negroes had been mobilized. J. Burr Gibbons was active in the work at Convention Hall, which was packed with sweltering humanity, and the local ministers of the city and patriotic business men took charge of the work in the churches ·and at the ball park, and the Negroes were fed and provided with bedding during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights.

The wildest rumors were given general circulation and as usual were believed in preference to the real facts and the statement was made even by officials that 25,000 white lawless men were running rampant through the city armed and pillaging, which was of course not true, and the statement was also made that machine gun fire had mowed down the Negroes by the score. A checking up of the fatalities brings the number of white dead to ten and the number of Negro dead is placed at twenty-four. The burned district included a portion of blocks 43, 44, 45 and 46, practically all of block 47, a portion of blocks 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58, between the Frisco railroad and the M. K. & T. railroad; also a portion of blocks 23 and 50 and half of blocks 15 and 17, in the original plat of Tulsa; also substantially all of blocks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Washington Addition, and blocks 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Gurley Hill Addition; also blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Skidmore Addition and portions of blocks 1, 2 and 9 in Fairview Addition, and some residences in Liberty and Rose additions, with the occasional loss of a house in Greenwood Addition. The greatest loss was in the Negro business section on Greenwood Street for a distance of four blocks, which was totally destroyed on each side of ‘the street.

The Associated Press and the United Press sent special men to Tulsa and many of the large newspapers of the Middle West were represented by special writers. Numerous telegrams were received by the executive committee from various cities in the Union offering aid, but the policy was quickly adopted that this was strictly a Tulsa affair and that the work of restoration and charity would be taken care of by Tulsa people. ·

There are reasons to believe that previous to the outbreak, perhaps for the past year, a vicious white influence has been at work among the Negroes aided and abetted by vicious members of the Negro race; that meetings were held, incendiary speeches made and that preparations for racial trouble had been made by the assembling of a large amount of high powered ammunition and modem weapons of offense. The consensus of opinion is, on the part of those who have made the most careful investigation, that through such meetings and through such bad advice a number of the Negroes were led into committing this great crime and that as a result of those teachings, as must inevitably happen, the Negro race was in the final analysis the greatest sufferers and in every way the losers in the conflict.

It is thought that out of Tulsa’s greatest tragedy will come a better understanding between the races and that in the future the lawless white element or the lawless Negro element which preaches race equality and racial hatred and incites the Negroes to revolt, rebellion, lawlessness and disorder will be promptly dealt with by the best citizenship of both white and black and that a recurrence of this deplorable event is practically impossible.

REPORT OF BOARD OF PUBLIC WELFARE

Under date of June 7th, the executive committee of ·the Board of Public Welfare issued the following statement:

To the Citizens of Tulsa:

The undersigned members of the Welfare Executive Committee of Tulsa desire to make the following statement:

On Thursday,  June 2d, while martial Jaw was in effect in Tulsa, following the race riot a meeting was called by President Niles of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce at II o’clock A. M. for a conference with Adjt.-Gen. Charles F. Barrett in command of the troops in this city. General Barrett addressed that meeting and recommended that the citizens of Tulsa organize an effective piece of machinery to immediately take charge of the situation and bring order out of chaos and assist in restoring the local situation to a normal condition. That meeting elected the undersigned members of Tulsa’s Executive Welfare Committee to take immediate control and get into action.

The committee went into session on the afternoon of that date and has been in practically continuous session ttp to the present time. Systematic organization of relief forces was perfected through the Red Cross, the churches and by and with the co-operation of hundreds of patriotic citizens, control was assumed of the burned area, provisions made for properly policing and protecting the city against sporadic outbreaks, conferences were held with judicial officials relative to the immediate· calling of special grand jury to investigate the causes of the riot and to initiate the punishment of those guilty, the work of the charitably inclined was systematized, headquarters established for the Red Cross and the working forces in the schoolhouse and in tents in the burned district, tents were secured and an erecting organization perfected, a grocery store was opened in the burned district where supplies could be secured, a medical corps perfected and a sanitary detachment organized, labor was furnished to those seeking work, at living wages, the removal of the debris from the burned area begun, a strong legal committee appointed to handle the cases which might be presented to the Police Court and for their fuller prosecution in the higher courts, the Real Estate Exchange was organized to list and appraise the value of properties in the burned area and to work out a plan of possible purchase and the conversion of the burned area into art industrial and wholesale district, and a detention and sustenance camp established at the fairgrounds, dozens of automobiles assigned to Red Cross service, identification bureaus for the search and identification of separated families were established, thousands of articles of wearing apparel and household utensils were assembled and distributed to the needy, a Negro publication resumed to quiet the Negroes, a dominant and effective emergency police organization was perfected, the avenues leading to the city were patrolled, properly guarded and protected and a strong finance committee organized to take charge of the necessary financial requirements.

The committee has selected a public safety committee of minute men of Tulsa, consisting of 250 leading and representative business men and taxpayers to respond to call to meet any emergency that might arise and to serve for an indefinite period, and all of those things apparently necessary to be done have been taken charge of and performed by this committee to the best of their ability.

The civic organizations of Tulsa and the various church congregations of the city have given their unqualified approval of the work of this organization and have tendered their earnest support in carrying out such further duties as may arise and this committee now asks and has a right to expect the earnest and active co-operation of every good citizen of Tulsa, white or black, when called upon to act in any emergency.

The headquarters of the committee are in the executive offices of the Chamber of Commerce where its membership may be reached at any time during the present crisis, and it will continue to function as long as may be thought necessary in restoring Tulsa to normalcy. The committee feels that with the assistance of the other forces co-operating splendid results have been secured to date and accepts the authority to act in this great emergency conferred on it by the citizenship of this city and pledges the continued performance of its manifold duties to the extent of the ability of its individual membership.

IN CONCLUSION

EXECUTIVE WELFARE COMMITTEE,

L. J. MARTIN, chairman.
H. C. TYRRELL.
C. F. HOPKINS.
C. S. AVERY.
G. R. McCULLOUGH.
S. G. KENNEDY .
H. L. STANDEVEN.

 

Special Collections Open House

It’s still in the negotiation process, but the first week of October, The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives will be holding an Open House to exhibit the collections of materials relating to the 1921 Race Massacre and aftermath, as well as the rebuilding.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Beno Hall, a second look at the records

In 2015, I wrote a piece on the location of Beno Hall.  Since then more information has been coming up, so I thought I’d share it as well.  New Facts are always helpful to building a more complete picture.

This morning, a helpful gentleman sent me some different records from the now digitized County Clerk records.  According to those, rather than a Creek Allotment, Block 12, lot 4 was a Cherokee Allotment, still not to Brady.

The various additions have different block numbers, so a really detailed map of Tulsa’s blocks is helpful.

NORTH+TULSA+-BLOCK+12_Page_01

N.G. Smith  10-1-06

John H. Baker et ux. To S. W. Mann  5-15-03

Smith, Newton J. w to M. E. Church  9-7-07

M. E. Church (South) to Bd. Of Church Extention 9-7-07

M. E. Church (South) to Trustees Tigert Methodist Episcopal Church (South) – which makes more sense.

NORTH+TULSA+-BLOCK+12_Page_02

Wright, G. M. Jr. et al. to Board of C Extension. (no date)

Wright, G. M. Jr. et al. to Board of C Extension. (no date)

1st M. E. Church to Galt, Thomas T.  5-11-09

Bd of Church Extension to Wright G. M. Jr. 5-22-09

Jones, P. C. et ux to Church of Board Extension 5-22-09

Note that Brady, T. W. to Fink F. D.  is listed as selling part of lot 1 W 40 on 9-9-11, but not Lot 4.

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Galt, Thomas F. to Episcopal Church 7-8-14

Wright, G. M. et al. to Board of C Extension  7-10-14

Ernslerger, A et al. to Board of C Extension 1-11-15

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Board of Church Extension to Jones, P. L et al  10-30-19

Gardner, James H. to International Life Insurance Co.  11-13-19

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Tulsa Benevolent Association to Farm Home Saving and Loan 4-20-23

Gardner, James et al to Tulsa Benevolent Association 4-23-30

International Life Insurance Co. to M. E. Church 4-23-23

The Tulsa Benevolent Association is of course the name under which the Ku Klux Klan established itself in Tulsa

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Philosophical quandry

As I have mentioned on my other blog,  a year and three quarters ago, my life was altered irrevocably and it caused me to pull back from a lot of things.  That is starting to clear up and I will be getting back to research again.

In the mean time there has been an alteration in terminology that I need to look at.  This is the use of the word Massacre to refer to the events of May 31-June 1, 1921 in place of Riot.

Now, allow me to start by saying that the People of Color in Tulsa not only have the right, but also the obligation to take ownership of their history and if that involves changing what the events are called then that’s what should happen.

The term ‘riot’ has been used to try to force those events into a specific format, which among other things has curtailed insurance policies and reparations.  Altering the terminology might help free things up a bit.

It does generate a number of quandaries for me, personally, starting with the name of this web site and all the references in this site to the event as a riot.  Also, professionally, since the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Tulsa maintains the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 archive, 1920-2007 and that’s actually my job.  Other organizations will need to come to their own conclusions.  So let me address these in reverse order:

The University will not be change the name of the collection as it’s bad archival practice., however we acknowledge the evolution in terminology, as we will continue to do so should things change again in the future.

Now for this website, I’m not certain if I can change the name or even if I should.  That’s the philosophical dilemma.  Well that and the fact that there actually -was- a race riot during those events – lasting about 2 hours on May 31st from about 10 – midnight.  What happened after that was not a riot.

The older material will remain as it has been since that’s the history of the research.  I am sorry.

 

North Detroit Ave.

I find that I need to note that I have found an analytical issue, and I wanted to share it..  There are some issues regarding  identifying the houses on Detroit.

detroit1915

1915 Sanborn Map, Sheet 4, courtesy of the Tulsa City County Library.

You will notice on this map, dated 1915, there are only a few houses and addresses shown.  One of them is 523, which is Dr. Jackson’s house.    I recently received a more clear version of Beryl Ford collection A2455, thanks to Ian Swart of the Tulsa Historical Society.

A2455

Beryl Ford, A2455. Tulsa Historical Society.

You will notice it depicts the back side of Detroit, and clearly shows the foundations of the houses – including the unfinished foundation that was not burned.

We know that one of the lot borders comes down, just south of center of Easton coming over the hill.  Another is halfway between that and the portion of Easton that runs along the south of the block (at the edge of the photo).

We know this because of this version of the same photograph:

riot165

A slightly different angle from one of the panoramas:

RiotPanorama.jpg

From that we can make some estimates of width of the lots.

newA2455

Which means we can place 503 and 523.

Looking at the Census, the Directories, and the Events of the Tulsa Disaster, we get:

503 N Detroit Wright, Mary Alice Wid: Arthur.  2 story frame with basement
505 N Detroit
507 N Detroit Bridgewater, Robert T. Wife: Mattie M. Physician 103 1/2 N Greenwood  1 frame story with basement
511 N Detroit Bridgewater, T.R.(owner) Smitherman, Andrew J. Wif: Ollie Editor, Tulsa Star 1 frame story with basement
515 N Detroit McKeever, Joseph J. Wife: Myrtle Dentist 1 frame story with basement
521 N Detroit Woods, William H. Wife: Eliza pastor Union Baptist Church 1 frame story with basement
522 N Detroit Digney, Mary A.
523 N Detroit Andrew, Andrew C. Wife: Julia A. Physician 503 N Greenwood. 1 frame story with basement
527 N Detroit Stovall, Jesse Wife: Birdie Janitor
529 N Detroit Magill, Harrison M. Teacher BTW HS 1 frame story with basement
531 N Detroit Woods, Ellis W. Wife: Anna Principal BTW HS 1 frame story with basement
533 N Detroit Stoval, Jesse (See above) 1 frame story with basement
537 N Detroit Gentry, Thomas R. Wife Lottie E. W. Gentry, Neeley & Vaden 1 frame story with basement
541 N Detroit Brown, Curtis D. Wife: Alleze. Porter 1 frame story with basement
602 N Detroit Beard J, L
625 N Detroit Hughes, John W. Wife: Jessie M. Principal, Dunbar Grade School 1 frame story with basement
627 N Detroit Singer, Charles E. Wife Pearl. Blacksmith at Tulsa Boiler & Mach Co. 1 frame story with basement

Taking a look at the aerial drawing (1918) we see:

greenwoodmodified.2jpg

503 is 2 stories.  Unfortunately the drawing has some scale and placement issues, and the buildings are oversized for the block.  But we do see a second 2 story building.

If we look at the satellite map we see:

elgin2.JPG

The shift from Easton west of Detroit to east of Detroit is about hundred feet which means that we have to fit eight addresses in that distance, technically seven since 522 would be on the west side.

So what do we see from the other side?

 

 

 

rough.png

If the 2 story building is 503 then unfinished house must be 505, particularly as there is only one two story house listed in Events of the Tulsa Disaster on the 500 block.  Or if we look at the aerial drawing (1918) then the two story structure might be 523.

I believe this may actually be the case because of this image.

3a34285r.jpg

The two building fronts remain and the gray patch at the bottom of the picture may be Easton.   This means that what I believe we are looking at is this:

elgin2a.jpg

Why is this important? Because previously I had previously placed 523 a bit further north (about a hundred feet further north).

A Simple Experiment regarding fire in a open cockpit aircraft

One of the questions regarding the Riot and the burning is whether burning materials were thrown from the aircraft. This has nothing with any of the other theories about how the aircraft could have been used.

It occurred to me that this is actually easily testable, and testable without access to fancy equipment. And we performed the experiment today. Feel free to reproduce the results if you want.

The aircraft most likely to have been used during the Invasion the morning of June 1, 1921 was the Curtis Jenny, an open cockpit aircraft. The stall speed of the Jenny is about 45 miles an hour. That means the slowest the plane could travel and not fall out of the air.

IMG_0152We chose to reproduce that speed in the back of a pick up truck driving down a road. We elected to see if we could light a match, a lighter, and if using a lit cigar we could light a fuel soaked rag.

Safety precautions were taken, including a fire extinguisher and a bucket full of water to take the burning rag if necessary.


The lighter. We used a Zippo, which was a more advanced lighter than those available in 1921, but based on similar principles. It would not light at speed.
IMG_0163
The matches. We used a cluster of three wooden strike anywhere matches. They lit perfectly and were immediately extinguished in the wind.


Finally, lighting a fuel soaked rag with a cigar. We could not get it to light.

Analysis is that it is unlikely that burning materials could have been lit and thrown. If somehow lit, they would have been extinguished leaving the plane.

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.

Report of L.J.F. Rooney

Military Department
State of Oklahoma
Office of the Adjutant General
Oklahoma City

July 29, 1921 .

From: Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

To: Gen. Chas. F. Barrett, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Subject: Submitting Reports Race Riot, Tulsa, Oklahoma

  1. In compliance with yours of the 27th in the matter of “conduct of the Tulsa National Guard during Riot at Tulsa”: Herewith I hand you reports of Major Byron Kirkpatrick, Major Chas. W. Daley, Major Paul R. Brown, Major James A. Bell, Capt. Frank VanVoorhis, Capt. John W. McCuen and Capt. Roy R. Dunlap. My personal report I have nearly completed and expect to mail it to you in a few days. I regret that owing to various conditions at my home station I have been unable to submit these reports at an earlier date. More accurate data seemed to develop as time wore on and in consequence I found it necessary to direct the several officers, above mentioned, to add to or change slightly their submitted report. This accounts in a good measure for the delay in forwarding these reports to you. Because of the many developments that may occur in this whole matter in days to come I figured that these reports should be as accurate as the elapsed time could make them.

 

L.J.F. Rooney

Attached copies
Tel. to Gov. fm. Police Dep’t.
Tel. Gen. Barrett calling out Tulsa Gd.
Tel. Gen. Barrett, Special Train of Gd.
Casualties, Maj. Brown.
Machine Gun report.


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

 

Report of John W. McCuen, B Co, 3d Inf. Okla. Natl. Guard

“B” COMPANY 3d INFANTRY OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD

TO: Lt Col L.J.F. Rooney

SUBJECT: Duty performed by Company 3d Inf Okla National Gd at Negro Uprising May, 31st, 1921 .

  1. Reported for duty at Armory at 11 :00 PM May 31st. All arms and equipment under double lock and key. Armorer on duty uniformed and armed. Telephone in order. 16,000 rounds of rifle ammunition in vault. Eighty Springfield rifle Cal.30 Model 1906. Six .45 Colts, auto pistols and necessary ammunition. Six Browning automatic rifles.
  2. None of my guns or ammunition had been issued or were afterwards issued to any person other than National Major Bell ordered me to report with 20 of my men who had come in, to Col. Rooney’s headquarters at police station. These men were fully uniformed, armed and equipped for riot duty. On reaching the police station I reported to Col. Rooney and was assigned to posting guards to keep people from entering 2nd street between Main and Boulder Ave. This duty required continual attention from me for several hours when I was ordered by Col. Rooney to proceed with him to the vicinity of Elgin and Detroit Ave on the Service Co army truck. From this point we advanced east to a depth of two blocks taking a few negro prisoners. While surrounded by negroes near Gurley hotel on Greenwood Ave Sgt. Hastings of “B” company was wounded by rifle fire, the bullet inflicting a scalp wound. After some scouting work in this vicinity we fell back to Detroit Ave in order to establish a base line and await reinforcements from the Armory. We formed a skirmish line on Detroit Ave. We executed a flank march to the right at this point and halted with our right flank at Archer St thus throwing our left flank midway between Brady Stand Cameron St. This skirmish line moved north and south continuously from Archer St to Cameron St. The army truck was with us and had an old machine gun mounted on it, but it was not fired, for the reason that it was in bad shape. It was an old machine gun that I understood some ex-service officer had brought from Germany as a souvenir.
  3. While patrolling Detroit Ave a large number of negro prisoners were taken by us from the houses on Detroit Ave, Elgin Ave, Cameron Stand the rear out-houses of this area, and these negroes were turned over to the police department automobiles that kept close to us at all times. These cars were manned by ex -service men, and in many cases plainclothes men of the police department.
  4. Some time after day light, it may have been 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, by urgent request of the police department the service Company and “B” Company moved north to Sunset Hill to stop negroes from firing into white peoples’ homes on Sunset Hill from the Negro settlement further northeast. We advanced to the crest of Sunset Hill in skirmish line and then a little further north to the military crest of the hill where our men were ordered to lie down because of the intense fire of the blacks who had formed good skirmish line at the foot of the hill to the northeast among the outbuildings of the negro settlement which stops at the foot of the After about 20 minutes “fire at will” at the armed groups of blacks the latter began falling back to the northeast, thus getting good cover among the frame buildings of the negro settlement. Immediately we moved forward, “B” Company advancing directly north and the Service company in a north-easterly direction. Little opposition was met with until about half way through the settlement when some negroes who had barricaded themselves in houses refused to stop firing and had to be killed. At the northeast corner of the negro settlement 10 or more negroes barricaded themselves in a concrete store and a dwelling and stiff fight ensued between these negroes on one side and guardsmen and civilians on the other. Several whites and blacks were wounded and killed at this point. We captured, arrested and disarmed a great many negro men in this settlement and sent them under guard to the convention hall and other points where they were being concentrated.
  5. From the time “B” Company reached Detroit Ave as earlier mentioned herein until we were relieved about 11 :00 A M Jun 1st, fires were started in all parts of both negro settlements and a continuous discharge of fire arms was in progress. Very often it was difficult to tell where bullets came from owing to the fires and also to the fact that so much ammunition exploded in the building as they were being consumed.
  6. I did not have all of my company with me for the reason that a number of them reported at the Armory and were held there by Maj Bell for various duties. At all times our men were under close control and acted like veteran soldiers, as many of them were. At all times I warned them not to fire until fired upon as we had been ordered by Col. Rooney to fire only when absolutely necessary to defend our lives.
  7. To the best of my knowledge all firing and raiding had ceased by 11:00 A M Jun 1st in this area although it had begun to diminish along about 9:30AM. The reason for this, of course, was that practically all of the negro men had retreated to the northeast or elsewhere or had been disarmed and sent to concentration points.

[signed] John W. McCuen

Capt “B” Co 3d Inf