Transcript of T. J. Essley Interview, 1987.

Transcript of T. J. Essley Interview, 1987.
[Late First Sergeant, Company “B”, Third Oklahoma Infantry Regiment,
Oklahoma National Guard (later Company “L”, 180th U.S. Infantry Regiment)]

[Interviewer unidentified relative.]

Interviewer: OK, go ahead.

T.J. Essley: Oh, ah, when the race riots broke out, I was holding non-commissioned officers’ school at the armory, down on East 6th Street. Uhhh, we had just gotten one light Browning Automatic- that was the first one- and I was the only one who had been schooled on it. So, I was holding non-commissioned officers’ school and was, uh, teaching the, uh, uh, two sergeants and, and the corporals about this, uh, Browning light automatic, when the people began to, uh, crowd in there and asking for arms because of a race riot – race riot on.

So, I run out there and closed the door and told them that we was having school here, a-and, when they’re having military school, civilians are not permitted inside; but, if you’ll please step outside, I’ll get an officer over here in a hurry. They was wanting guns, they was wanting ammunition.

Well, uh, Major James A. Bell just lived across the alley and I sent a corporal across the alley after him and he come over there and he looked out there and by that time, the people had stacked up clear across to 6th Street over to, to Central Park, wanting ammunition. So, he promptly called Major L. J. F. Rooney and, Rooney, uh, a major, er, says, er, a colonel. He called Colonel L. J. F. Rooney.

Colonel Rooney said that, a, “Yes, the-the mayor has called me and asked me to call out the Guard. But I can’t call out the Guard. The governor’s the only one who can call out the Guard. And, I advised him to call the governor.”

Well, the governor told him that he couldn’t.call out the Guard until the sheriff of the county and a judge of the county had called him and told him that things were out of control and they needed, uh, (pause, exhalation) they needed, uh, the National Guard.

Well, uh, the-the colonel told the major to tell the sergeant to get his company together and also to get supply company together. Uh, Captain Frank Van Voorhis was a, was the captain of, of the, uh, uh, supply company. I think I was the first first sergeant of Company L, of the 180th infantry, 45th division after we’ve became part of the 45th division. Well, anyhow, I went out on the first patrol that went out. It, it – about 11: 10 at night. Do you really want me to tell about that thing?

Interviewer: Yeah.

T.J. Essley: Well, uh, we had the old depot down there, the Frisco depot- down – it sat across, uh, Boston Avenue, just south of the railroad track. Now, that is not the, uh, uh, last, uh, uh, depot. The last one was that there Union depot. This was the old, original Frisco Depot. And, uh, about- I went out on the first patrol with Major James A. Bell. He took me and five others in a, an old World War I, uh, army truck, a Liberty truck, sol-solid tire. And, we drove down to just south of the depot and the major said, “Sergeant, you’re the ranking non-commissioned officer. You take two men and go out and see what the, what the, uh, situation is.”

Well, at that time there was trains come through to Tulsa, uh, for St. Louis, headed for St., uh, for Oklahoma City and it had, usually had, from 11 to 13 cars and, it was setting on the tracks. And, on the north side, uh, was an old abandoned, uh, uh, uh, wagon yard and it was full of, of high weeds, way above your head, and the blacks were in that and shooting through that train. They were shooting right on through it. So, I decided the thing to do was to find the conductor and I mounted the train and I run the full length of that train. And, people were laying on the floor and everywhere else begging – Why don’t we stop the riot?- Why don’t you get the train out of here?

I said, “I’m hunting the conductor.” And I went the full length of the train and they, uh, porter told me that the conductor was in the depot. And I got out and went into the depot and he wasn’t sitting in the chairs where they mighta, uh,you’d a chance to get hit- he was setting on the floor with his back up against the walls. The walls on that building was about 14 inches thick. I went up to him- I don’t know where I thought I had the authority- but I asked him, uh, “Why don’t you get that train off the track? These people gonna get hurt and killed in there.” And he said, “Sergeant, I can’t; it’s against the, uh, uh, Interstate Commerce Commission’s rules to leave the station ahead of time without orders. I can leave at- if- If I’m late, I can leave without orders, but I can’t leave ahead of time without orders and it’s not time to leave.”

But, I don’t know where I got that authority, but, I told him to get that train over in the West Tulsa yard and keep it there if he had to, until time to go on. But, uh, uh, “get it outta here now!”

He jumped up and said, “Sergeant, I don’t know if I- you have the authority to tell me that or not. But, I’m not doubting your authority. All aboard- all aboard!” And I mean that train really left there faster than any train – it was a downhill grade anyhow – and it really cleared there fast. I went over to the ticket agent and told him that, uh, I believed you’d better turn out the lights or you wouldn’t have any windows, lights in that building. And, it hadn’t been two minutes till lights all up and down there went out. And, I went back and reported to the major and he said, “Sergeant, you done a, uh, uh, masterful job. Now, get in and we’ll go back down to the armory.”

So, well, about daylight, we had about 50 percent of our men present, but the two lieutenants were out of town. And, Captain John W. McCuen said, uh, “Sergeant, I’ll command A platoon and you command B platoon.” And, at daylight, we’re leaving to march up Main Street to, uh … What’s that street up there?

Interviewer: Uh, Archer?

T.J. Essley: Archer, Brady, Cameron, uh … I can’t think of it, then. There’s something in the telephone book, something that gives ….

Interviewer: Never mind, not important, go ahead.

T.J. Essley: Well, let’s see, uh, (blows into microphone) could be King. So, we march up to King Street, then go east and go down off a road where, uh, uh, go do-down off of a hill there to a- there’s a brick plant down below- and, uh, says, we’ll go … The, the orders from the governor was to not shoot the blacks, but to protect them, uh, the best you can and. and keep the whites out of the black, uh, what do they call it? Niggertown, then – but, it, uh, uh, we called it Negros- and uh send the blacks over to what is now, uh, to the old Convention Hall, which is now, uh, uh, the Brady theatre.

There’s been two different kinds on channel 11 of the race riots, but it was both by black people and nothing could be more misleading than what that was. Uh, we were, uh, told to send these people back to the Convention Hall and it was – held around 4,000 people and, uh, we would round up maybe 25 of them and they’d be whites over there by that time and in order to get them out of there, we’d ask them to please take these people over to the Convention Hall for us. And we’d send as many of them as we could with them. And, we didn’t know it, but we’d filled Convention Hall clear full. And, uh, the parties that told about the, uh, uh, riot on the, on the, uh, tv was telling how that they paraded the blacks up and down town on, on, uh, trucks. Well, it wasn’t till after the riot was over that, uh, we found out we filled the Convention Hall clear full and Mr. Cosden sent his trucks from the refinery over there and picked the blacks up, the surplus, and held them down – hauled them south to the First Methodist Church south, which is on the southeast corner, intersection corner of, uh, Boston and, uh, 5th Street. And we filled that place up, too.

And, finally, about three in the afternoon, when we had our last battle, uh, Captain McCuen told us that, uh, he had got orders to, take, er, send the blacks down to McNulty Park, which is on the northeast comer of 11th and Elgin. And that’s where we took ours to, from that last battle.

Well, from the time we left, uh, we’re down over the hill on King Street. We saw many things and, uh, and, uh, we-we were not to shoot at any of the blacks unless they had a gun and, and, and, wouldn’t uh, drop it when we ordered them to drop the gun.

And, we got down to the comer of Latimer and, Latimer and, uhhh, what was it? (break) Well, the comer of Latimer and Lansing where I was ready to, uh, uh, firing there.

The blacks were firing at us. And, we had quite a, a skirmish there. In the old days why, er, – when the oil fields was drilling around here, there was a boiler repair shop there. Joe, Joe Ord, you know, had a boiler repair shop and it was quite a few old, uh, fire boxes and things laying around there and we was hiding behind those for protection. And, just, uh, north of the intersection of, uh, uh, uh, Latimer and, and, uh, King, er, uh, Latimer and, uh . ..

Interviewer: Lansing?

T.J. Essley: Lansing, uh, there was a house there with a basement underneath it. And, uh, the, the entrance on the left side of the house faced the east and it was an outside entrance. And there was a black in there, uh, with a brick knocked out of the foundation and he was knocking off the white people. He, he, uh, had knocked off three that I, uh, saw.

And, then, uh, when we finally got the things quieted at, at the intersection of, uh, uh, uh, Latimer, and uh, a-and, what’s that again?

Interviewer: Lansing?

T.J. Essley: Lansing. Well, then, I took one private and went north to, to this house and, uh, put, put the private in front and said, “I’m going through this house and go back there and, and, uh, stop this man. And, uh, I had to – It was a duplex and I had to search every room before I went down there. I didn’t want them on both sides of me. B-By the time I got to the back of the house, three white people had come up, uh, to, to the, uh, god dang it! I can’t say it again.

Interviewer: Lansing?

T.J. Essley: Lansing. And, uh, told that little pr, er, young fella that I’d left here to get out from under there in front of the house or we’ll kill you, too. And he says, “Well, now my sergeant’s in there. Said he told me to not have anyone shoot in there until he got out.”

He says, “Get out of the way, or we’ll shoot you, too, you nigger-loving son of a bitch.” And boy, he got out of there.

Now, I’d left the company with, uh, with Corporal Lookeville (sp?), and he went, he went down after the corporal. We’ll I finally, I had to knock, on account of those, uh, those houses didn’t have plaster, it was wooden partitions and splinters was flying out of there; uh, some of them six to eight inches long. And I had to get outta there. So, I took my pistol and knocked the window glass out of the window just over where that man was and put my gun on him and told him, “Throw that gun away, or, or, you can’t live any longer. I’ll, I’ll blast you.” And, he threw that gun away and, uh, every one of them we, we was putting them out of commission. It’ll usually break the stocks on it but it will bend the barrel, uh, so it won’t be any good. So, uh, that’s what I done. I-I bent that that gun, ruined the gun.

And then, I run around the corner just as fast as I could so they’d be sure and see me. And they did and took a shot at me and they, uh, and they, what do you call it? Uh, it just skinned my neck; it, uh, it knocked me to the ground. It, uh, it- as hard as you’d hit me with a, with a ball bat and it was just as hot as any poker you ever felt. And, uh, the guy said, “I missed him.” And, uh…

Interviewer: Who was this that shot at you? A white or a black?

T.J. Essley: No, it was a white man.

Interviewer: White man.

T.J. Essley: And, uh, this in not being recorded, is it?

Interviewer: Yeah.

T.J. Essley: Oh, hell, no, you’ve got to get that off…. (break)

Interviewer: This is not going anywhere. I’m not going to publish this, so…

T.J. Essley: Well, uh, anyhow, 1-1 rolled right up on my knees and the guy says, “Well, I missed him.” And he started at me again and I hit him with a .45, .45, uh, uh, automatic with dum dum bullets and stopped him. And, the other two men didn’t shoot. And, that feller had shot at me with a .45-70 Krag-Jorgensen- that’s what knocked me to the ground. And, uh, we went up there and I took, uh, by that time, uh, uh, Corp … , uh, Lookeville (sp?) had got up there with the other men. And, uh, they were about to kill those two men for shooting at me. And, uh, he would if I’d been hit; they’d killed those two men right then and there. And, L we, uh, took their guns away from them and their revolvers. The guns we’d wrap them around that tree that was right there. And the revolvers – we’d take the pin out that the cylinder spin on- throw then gun one way, the cylinder another way, and the pin another way. And, they just hollered their beads off. “Oh, we’ll get killed, oh, we’ 11 get killed with nothing to protect us with.”

I said, They’re all up and down the railroad track with loudspeakers telling you not to come over here. Now, you just get back the way you got over here.” And, uh, then we went on east from there, on Latimer, crossed the Katy track …

And, just as we’s crossed it, er, one of the captain’s boys come a-arunning down to me; we’d got separated. And, uh, he says, uh, “The captain’s pinned down up there just, a, north of Pine Street and just east of Peoria.” Well, uh, I went on over to, uh, east to, uh, uh, to Peoria and there was one store built there and I climbed a shed and I climbed up on it and looked over and you could see it just as plain as could be. From the northeast corner of the intersection of Pine and, uh, and, uh, Peoria, they’s putting on a new addition there and the trees had been pulled over and there was a street just one, one block east of Peoria – was – McCuen was behind those trees and the blacks was be-between that street and the Santa Fe railroad.

Well, if we woulda just went running straight down Peoria, we’d a got there the quickest, but we’d been in plain sight of, of the blacks and they woulda seen what few number I had. I had 22 men and myself. So, there’s a fence on each side of Peoria at that time and Nellie Bullette- I don’t know if you’d ever got acquainted with Nellie Bullette or not- she knew your dad real well and both the girls and John. Uh, she owned 80 acres over there. And, uh, they was a draw that run from there, uh, east and north, and it crossed, uh, Pine Street right at Utica. There’s streets there now and you’d never even notice it. But, uh, I-I told them, “Now, we’ ll climb over the fence and get over there and we’ll run down that thing till we get east of ’em.”

And, we did. When we got about where that, uh, uh, Buddy’s, Buddy’s, uh, Auto Salvage was, we turned north, climbed over the fences on, on Pine Street, turned north and we’d just about where Bill, Bill Bearden’s, uh, present, uh, Auto Salvage is, we went in there about maybe 100 feet and stopped and I said, “Now, we’ll a, we’s east of the Katy track.”

We, we was in a, a, in a cow pasture- what it was. There’s was a dairy there, Willard used to run it. I said, “Men, we’re getting low on ammunition. Let’s don’t do any shooting and give ourselves away. And, uh, let’s, uh, spread out in case we are seen, so they won’t be shooting into, uh, a crowd.” And, we run, bent over, till we get to the, to the, to the …

Interviewer: Katy pass?

T.J. Essley: fence along the track and this time we won’t climb over it. We’ll climb under it, while one of ’em hold’s it up. (break) and uh, (break) I commanded them right away to surrender. I said, uh, “The, uh, governor’s told us to protect you. Now, if you’ll throw your guns down, we’ll protect you, we’ll take you to safety.”

“Now,” I says, “We’ve got a machine gun and if you don’t, uh, if you don’t throw your guns down, you’ll all be dead within a minute.” So, uh, it didn’t all sound like one bullet (machine gun noise).

Interviewer: Uh huh.

T.J. Essley: It did sound like a machine gun and, uh, it, it took them by surprise and they, they, they throwed down their guns and some of them stood up and held their hands up and others went down praying and I shouted at McCuen to cease fire.

Boy, his head stuck out from behind a stump over there; I never was so relieved in my life. He motioned for his men to come on up. And, I got my men up there then. I said, “Now, keep your guns at ready. We’ll stay here and we’ll watch while McCuen and his men come in.” McCuen disarmed all of them and we moved on up, up the track just a little ways north and he’d send the men through and the women, too; they’ s women with them. And the women shooting just as good as the men was, too. And, uh, they’s standing on that track. They kept looking for that machine gun. (Laughs)

Ah, well, anyhow, finally I-I was talking to Sergeant, uh, Corporal Lookeville and I didn’t see McCuen when he come through the fence; he’s about as close to me as I am to you when I saw him. And, I went up to salute him and he said, “Sergeant,” said, “you pulled a brilliant maneuver.” And I said, “I pulled a Jeb Stuart.”

Conversation continues about General Jeb Stuart, Gettysburge, General George Custer, etc.

 

Just a few notes

Just a few notes

As interest in this blog is slowly growing, I have opted to make a change in formatting, nothing major — the static top page has been changed to a more standard blog format, with the latest entry appearing at the top.

Some may have noticed that the most recent entries have been the official reports from the National Guard and the newspaper interview with T.J. Essley.  This is because I am attempting to just lay the information out as objectively as possible, however, as we move to more of a straight blog, I will be posting other things as well.  Ideally this will still retain the sense of objectivity that has gone before

One of the things that comes up regularly when dealing with the Riot and the aftermath, including the invasion of Greenwood, the looting and burning is that most people have a view, a perspective.  I just finished a talk with some people who are researching the events, and I likened this to the story of the blind men and the elephant.

Essentially this is that there were a group of men blind from birth who had heard that a creature called an elephant had come to town.  They went down to inspect this creature.  One man felt its nose and called it a snake.  One felt an ear and determined the creature was a large soft fan. One experienced the tail and determined it to be a hard whip.  One a the side felt a large rough wall in front of him.  The last felt the tusk and decided it was hard and sharp, like a spear.

Studying history can be very much like this at times.  With the Riot and the events around it, there are a wide array of perspectives, and we are trying to find a sense of the objective truth behind what we are perceiving (at least I am).

Now, I maintain that the essential elements that are inarguable are as follows:

The

  1. The elevator incident between Sara Page and Dick Rowland. Something happened between these two people which was then reported as an attack.
  2. Rowland was arrested and taken in to the Sherriff’s department.
  3. The inflammatory newspaper account was published.
  4. People gathered at the Court House, whites first – almost certainly to lynch Rowland or to watch the lynching.
  5. Armed men came down from Greenwood to help protect Rowland.
  6. An attempt was made to disarm someone and a shot went off.
  7. A riot broke out in which weapons were taken from local sporting goods stores, and people tried to arm themselves from the national guard armory.
  8. The blacks withdrew to set lines along the tracks and side streets.
  9. Skirmish cars were used.
  10. That night fires started.
  11. The local National Guard started to round up people in Greenwood, disarming those with weapons and moving them into custody.
  12. The next morning, an invasion followed into the Greenwood district, with shooting, looting, and burning.
  13. Airplanes were used somehow.
  14. A machine gun was present.
  15. People in numbers greater than 1 were killed. (The minimum number based on the death certificates is in the 30s. The Red Cross, the funeral home reports, the newspaper reports and the anecdotal evidence increase the numbers.)
  16. The Greenwood population was marched through downtown and incarcerated first at the Ball Park.
  17. The Greenwood district was effectively burnt to the ground.
  18. Many people left afterwards.
  19. Greenwood rebuilt.

Pretty much everything else is opinion, politics, or folklore.

I know there will be a disagreement to this, but certainly everything else is argue.

 

Muskogee Phoenix, 2 June 1921

BOY STARTED FIRE TO AVENGE MOTHER SHOT BY NEGROES

GUARDSMEN TELLS SENSATIONALLY GRAPHIC STORY OF ARSON MOBS AND AWFUL TERROR

WOMAN SAW CHURCH IN GREAT EXPLOSION

SNIPING PARTIES ATTACKED WHITES FOLLOWING TROOPS AND SHOOTING BECAME GENERAL IN ‘LITTLE AFRICA’

By Phoenix Staff Correspondent

TULSA, June 1 – Within a few blocks of the business heart of Tulsa, to the northeast just a little ways across the Frisco railroad tracks, a devastated battlefield smoulders and smokes tonight.  Here a small flame still flickers lighting the desolation, there a blackened chimney stands gaunt against the sky. Strewn about in the streets, untouched by the flames, lay shattered bits of furniture.

The desolation is all that remains tonight, save the deserted streets and the military patrols, to remind a visitor in Tulsa of last night’s debauchery of fire and murder.

3,000 Homes Razed

The ruins of today, yesterday were Tulsa’s negro district, ‘Little Africa.’  Three thousand homes are in ashes, many of them splendid residences.  Blocks of the negro business district are smoking piles of wreckage.

Out in that field of horror still remain the bodies of many of Tulsa’s unknown dead, the military authorities believe. Complete search of the ruins have been impossible for they have not yet cooled.

It is for this reason that the death list may never be accurately known.  Tonight it ranges from estimates of 500 given on the streets and little credited, to police estimates of 125.  Among them are blacks and whites, men, women and children, babies murdered in their mothers’ arms, women shot down as they sat in their homes, men killed as they sought to kill.

Burned After Daylight

“Little Africa” was burned this morning in th broad light of day by an infuriate mob of white men, many of them only boys armed, some say, by the police, whose way was unavoidably blazed for them by the local companies of the national guard.

Many stories were being told tonight of deeds of gallantry, of wilful slaughter, [stories … and pathetic].

The Temper of the Mob

The national guard armory, first stormed by a mob in quest of ammunition, tonight in a military camp, this morning was an emergency hospital for the negro wounded.  Three scores were treated and their wounds dressed by white nurses.  There a dozen died.

There this morning lay a negro woman of 92 years, shot three times by white rioters.  There an old man, deaf, dumb, and paralytic died of his wounds. It was the armory that a rioter, a rifle upon his shoulder, came this morning with a market basket in his hand. In the basket, wrapped in an old lace curtain, lay the body of a negro baby, not more than a foot in length.

“I don’t know who its people are.” The rioter told Major Paul R. Brown in charge. “I just found it lying out there in Africa and brought it here.”

“Such”, Major Brown said, “is the temper of the mob, a man, his hands red with murder, rendering a final deed of mercy.”

As the correspondent stood on King’s Hill this evening looking out upon the ruins of Little Africa, Mrs. A. Germine, a white woman, approached.

Saw Church Explode

“I saw them set fire to these homes.” She said.  “And they were pretty houses here along the street.  As the men searched the houses for arms and warned the people left the others, the riff-raff, came along and set them afire.

“I saw that church over there—the negro Methodist church ‘explode.’ It was a big explosion.  It was there they had their ammunition and rifles stored.”

In the ashes tonight lay the charred and burned stocks and barrels of many score of rifles giving the truth of her story.

The early rioting of the night from the time a negro fired point blank into a crowd of unarmed whites, and negroes in motor cars began to run down all the white people on the streets until daylight was bad enough, but the annihilation of “Little Africa” was almost unparalleled.

Let First Sergeant T. J. Esley of Company B tell the story.  Esley was attending a non-commissioned officer’s school at the armory when a crowd of several hundred white men attempted to batter down the doors, clamoring for rifles and ammunition, shouting that a mob of negroes was killing white men and women in front of the courthouse.

It was upon word that came to them in such a dramatic manner that the officers of the Tulsa guard, acting on their own responsibility, began to summon their men.  The mobilization in itself if an interesting story, but it must be passed over.

Shortly before midnight, Sergeant Esley and fifteen or more of the guardsmen who had assembled hurried to police headquarters./

“For blocks around the streets were dammed with people,” the sergeant said. “Everyone was in hysteria.  Motor cars loaded with a dozen or more men, their rifles sticking up in the air, dashed back and forth in and out of the crowds.

“For an hour we attempted to patrol police headquarters. Then a call came that the negroes, who had retreated across the tracks into their own part of town, were firing on the Frisco station.  Captain McCune took a detail of about twelve, of whom I was one, and we went to the station.  We stopped about a block away and marched to the depot.

Just Good Targets

“The negroes were firing all right. The captain sent me with three men around in front to make a report.  The Oklahoma City train was standing there, between the station and the negroes.  The blacks were pouring a regular volley through the train windows.

“Passengers in the train were lying flat on the floor on their faces.  The lights were on in the station, while on the other side it was dark and there were lots of signboards.  We were nothing but good targets, so we went back and I told the captain.  He then decided that we could do nothing until daylight.”

It was after the break of the day that the blackest of the great tragedy was enacted, for it was then that the white mob, their way blazed by the national guardsmen, “mopped” the negro section.

The best of the negro residence section-nestled in a valley at the foot of King’s hill.  Here yesterday stood splendid homes that tonight are smouldering ashes.  It was to this crest of King’s hill that Sergeatn Esley and his company were detailed. Down below, in their homes and in the shelter of their outhouses, the negroes lay entrenched.  From their windows rifles flashed and shots fell as hail upon the white section of the hill above.

Machine Gun In Action

At the break of day the battle opened from the hill, the guardsmen lying on their faces poured volley after volley into thehomes below.  A machine gun was brought into action “but it [?ald] “Now and then you could see and then the shots from negrow town grew fewer and fewer finally giving way altogether. I […] the signal for the […] advance.  Home after home […] sometimes […] found […] back behind […]

Vets Follow Troops

[…] They […] further out- […] came the […] or more […] looted the homes the guardsmen had searched carrying off every article of intrinsic value.

The advance into “Little Africa” had [little more than] begun than the flames [followed in] its wake.  There is no  […] fire to that first […] Esley told. It was a [?] year old boy.”

“The captain went back to remonstrate with him to ask him why.  And the boy told him. His name is Dreary or something like that.” The sergeant said.

“His home stands on the hill overlooking ‘Little Africa.’ His mother was sitting upon the front porch of her home last night, her husband at her side, when a negro slipped up behind her and shot her through the back. She died in her husband’s arms.  It was then that the boy joined the mob.  He saw red, he defied the captain and the whole state miltia.”

The spark had been kindled.  A hundred militiamen might be able to battle an army of negroes at their front but they could not rout two thousand heavily armed white men, their red blood lust aroused at their backs.

As the troops pressed forward every home was fired.  But it was not long before they again met armed resistance.

Let the story again be told as it came tonight from Sergeant Esley’s lips:

“You see,” he said. “We were getting out of the range of our first fire, we had passed the zone we had silenced. They began sniping at us from every house it seemed.

Fired at Negro’s Feet

“After we had gone aways I noticed Bame of the service company and another man trapped a little way off.  They signaled to me and I went with a civilian who had been helping me in searching the houses to help them. They were under a cross fire.  I could see that.

“I could see where the shots were coming from, but I couldn’t see the niggers.  Then I looked under a shack and saw the big feet of one nigger who was doing the shooting.  I shot at those with my .45 and I could tell I hit them by the way he first picked up one then the other.  He started to run and Bame got him.  We ran around the corner of the house and a big nigger, one of these who were in the twenty-fourth infantry, good soldiers, stepped in front of us and shot my companion in the stomach.

When he stepped out Bame could see him and he shot him twice, once in the shoulder, and once in the breast.  You know that nigger just kept on firing.

“I shout and hit him in the stomach and thigh, tearing half of it away and he started to run, shooting backward under his arm as he did it.

“Pretty son he came back from around a nearby house, his hands above his head.  I could see he was staggering.  He came up to us and said, “Well you boys give us more than we got overseas.  I’m from the twenty-fourth.  I just wanted to shake hands with you and tell you you’re there.”

And then, Esley said, “he dropped forty dollars, two tens and a twenty at my feet.  I picked it up and gave it to him. “You better take it, you might need it.”

“’No boys,’” he told me, “I’m afraid I’ll never need this money.” We carried him back and he died just about five minutes after my companion who had been shot in the stomach.

A little further on the sergeant said four negroes were sniping from one house.  They guardsmen fired at the puffs and then rushing the building broke in the door.

While the troopers were inside arresting the negroes, the white mob opened fire on the house, rending its walls with a terrific volley.  Esley jumped through a window pane, sash and all, and escaped with a “scratch” made by a bullet that seared the back of his neck.

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

 

 

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.

 

Report of LT. Roy R. Dunlap, Batt. C, 2nd FA, Okla. Natl Guard

Battery “C” 2nd, F.A.
July 1st, 1921
Tulsa, Okla.

From: Lieut. Roy R. Dunlap
To: Lt. Col. Rooney

Subject: Report on Negro Uprising, May 31st, 1921.

  1. I was notified about seven A.M. (7. A.M.) June 1st., to hold the battery in readiness for assignment to duty. And about seven-thirty (7:30) A.M. the battery was assembled and were issued arms and ammunition the same being in first class condition.
  2. 2. About fifty percent of the battery reported for duty of which some of these men were assigned for duty at the armory and others on sentry duty in various stations in and about the city.
  3. On or about June 3rd., 1921 the battery was relieved from duty. I would say that Battery “C” obtained the fullest co-operation from the infantry units stationed in Tulsa and the conduct of Battery “C” was most commendable.
  4. My command, as you are aware, has not been Federalized and is not uniformed, or equipped. I did the best I could under the circumstances and all· my men exhibited a fine spirit.

 

Roy R. Dunlap
1st Lieut. Battery “C”
Commanding Battery “C” 2nd.F.A.


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

Report of Major C. W. Daley

Tulsa, Okla.
July 6, 1921.

From: Major C. W. Daley
To: Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney

Subject: Information on activities during Negro Uprising May 31, 1921.

1. Pursuant to communication of June 27, 1921 from the Adjutant General I beg to submit the following report:

On May 31st, 1921 about 8:30 P.M. as near as I can find out the first inkling of trouble between the black and whites was noticeable. At this time I was out of the City, being called to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, 14 miles distant. Upon leaving the City I left a memorandum on the Chief of Police’s desk stating I would be out of the City for a few hours. I left Sapulpa about 11:10 P.M. by auto and arrived at West Tulsa Bridge at 11:45 P.M.

I was stopped by several men on the bridge and informed that hell was breaking loose and that the negroes were trying to take the City. I immediately drove to the Court House and upon arriving there, there was between two and three hundred people gathered in front. I talked to the crowd a few moments and requested them to disperse and go home. I then drove to the Police Station and upon arriving took charge of the situation in the handling of the crowd and other details. At this time which was about 12:05 A.M. several people were gathered in front of the station running with guns of all kinds. It was at this point that I requested all men to stand still and I picked out a half dozen ex-service men to act as my assistants. Separating the crowd placing men with pistols on one side and men with rifles on the other, and gave final instructions that all men under 21 years of age be disarmed as the City would not be responsible for any accidents that might occur in the discharge of firearms in the hands of boys.

At this point I discovered Lt. Col. L.J.F. Rooney in the middle of the block on Second Street with several members of the Guard standing beside a truck belonging to the Service Company National Guard. I immediately reported to Col. Rooney. I was directed by Col. Rooney to continue as I had been and to organize the automobile patrols and keep them organized and report the number available.

At this time I was informed by Col. Rooney and Major Bell, and Capt. McCuen were on duty at the Armory as there had been an attempt to secure the rifles and ammunition. Major Kirkpatrick was on duty in the Chief of Police’s office. Capt. Van Voorhis and Lieut. Wood were on duty with the troops under command of Col. Rooney. Upon receiving these instructions and Col. Rooney notifying me he would remain with the troops I again assumed charge of the crowd gathered at the station. At this point runners were sent out by me to assemble all automobiles at the Police Station as I had been informed they had been running wild over the City without any

head or any one to give instructions.

While this was being done there was a mob of 150 walking up the street in a column of squads. That crowd was assembled on the corner of Second and Main and given instructions by myself that -if they wished to assist in maintaining order they must abide by instructions and follow them to the letter rather than running wild. This they agreed to do. They were split up at this time and placed in groups of from 12 to 20 in charge of an ex-service man, with instructions to preserve order and to watch for snipers from the tops of buildings and to assist in gathering up all negroes bringing same to station and that no one was to fire a shot unless it was to protect life after all other methods had failed.

The patrols were assembled and distributed over the City in automobiles with instructions to pick up all negroes on the streets and to go to servants quarters and gather them in, for I thought some of the bad negroes may set fire to homes of white people causing a lot of destruction to property and a possible loss of life. The instructions to the men in patrol cars were the same as above stated to the walking patrols in regards to the discharge of firearms. In each patrol car was placed an ex-service man and where it was possible an officer from the Police Department for the purpose of having some semblance of po1ice authority, thereby helping to maintain order. With the result that the negroes were gathered in.

About 2:30 A. M. a patrol of cars which numbered over a hundred and patrols of men were very well organized. Upon receiving information that large bodies of negroes were coming from Sand Springs, Muskogee and Mohawk, both by train and automobile. This information was imparted to the auto patrols with instructions to cover the roads which the negroes might come in on. At this point we .received information that a train load was coming from Muskogee so Col. Rooney and myself jumped into a car, assembled a company of Legion men of about 100 from among the patrols who were operating over the city, and placed them in charge of Mr. Kinney a member of the American Legion and directed him to bring men to the depot which was done in a very soldierly and orderly manner. Instructions were given that the men form a line on both sides of the track with instructions to allow no negroes to unload but to hold them in the train by keeping them covered. The train proved to be a freight train and no one was on it but regular train crew. I then informed Mr. Kinney to take his men and use them to the best of advantage in-maintaining order throughout the City. Just prior to going to the M.V. depot Col. Rooney had with Capt. Van

Voorhis and Lieut. Wood and men of the Guard with a truck established a guard line on Boston Avenue and Brady Street for a period of about two blocks. There was a large crowd gathered at this time. There were two small buildings burning and some damage had been done to a few stores on Boston Avenue north of the depot. Fire Department had been called to handle the fires and at this point had been fired on, the firing coming from the interior of the black belt. The Fire Department returned as I understand after many shots had been fired at them making their work very dangerous.

At this point I arrived and found Col. Rooney in command giving instructions and maintaining order among the mob. After investigating around the fire I discovered on the inside of a small shack just adjoining a large brick building that an additional fire had been started which might terminate in a great amount of damage by continued fires. I notified the Chief of the Fire Dept. of this finding and requested one truck be sent there which was done and upon arriving a guard of six men were placed around the firemen and they with fire extinguishers entered the building and put out the fire. · This was about 3:15 A.M. At this time heavy firing started over by the Frisco depot. I immediately went to the depot and found a large crowd gathered on the platform of the Frisco station also on the Frisco tracks where several of the men were firing over into the black belt. At this point I called for volunteer guards to handle this crowd and to prevent further shooting. About twenty men with rifles stepped forward. They were placed in a triangular formation from Boston Avenue to the end of Frisco platform on Cincinnati Avenue, and back across the Frisco tracks with instructions to keep the crowd back and to prevent any further firing over into the negro district.

At this point I made an investigation of the interior of the Depot and around the baggage room to see that there was no danger of fires being started, following which I reported back to the police station and found things running along in good shape.

I have received information from different quarters that the guard rendered a splendid service in the protection of life and property at the time the attack was made by the negroes on the white section on Sunset Hill. On many other occasions the officers and men were exposed to rifle and pistol fire both from the arms of the blacks and stray shooting from portions of the whites.

The local American Legion men and sixty-two from Cleveland, eighteen from Drumright and seven from Broken Arrow rendered invaluable service at all times. Many splendid citizens of the city also volunteered the use of their automobiles and did other patrol and guard work.

In my judgment at least 5,000 people were under arms in this city between the hours of 9 P.M. of May 31st and 9 A.M. June 1st.

On the arrival of the Adjutant General and Col. Markham with the troops from Oklahoma City at 9:10 A.M. June 1st I found Col. Rooney and Major Kirkpatrick at the railroad station to meet the Adjutant General and Col. Markham. When these troops arrived I reported to the Adjutant General and escorted Col. Markham to the police station, Col. Rooney’s Hd. Qrs., and from that time forward was with him until he left the city. My actions can be best covered from this time by a report from Col. Markham as I took direct orders from him immediately upon his arrival.

Respectfully submitted,

Chas. W. Daley
Maj. I.G.D. Okla Nat’l Gd.


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

Report of Paul R. Brown, San. Det. 3d INF, Okla. Natl. Guard

July 1st, 1921.

From: Paul R. Brown, Maj M.C. Commandg. San Det. 3rd Inf.

To: The Adjutant General of Okla.

Subject: Work of the San Det. During Riot in Tulsa.

1. In compliance with letter of the A.G.O. dated June 27th, 1921, the following report is submitted.

2. I was in the Armory in Tulsa when the Riot broke out and upon becoming convinced of the seriousness of the trouble about 9 or 9:30 P.M. ordered two of my Sergeants who were at the Armory to get the men of my detachment together at the Armory. As soon as I saw Maj. Bell shortly after this, I told him what I had done and he agreed with me that it was the proper thing and told me to go ahead.

3. When the troops left the Armory I took a Sgt. and two men and accompanied them, leaving a Sgt. in charge at the Armory with instructions to get in the rest of the men and to hold them there.

4. I was told by Maj. Bell that application had been made to him for help by the Civil Authorities, and knew that shortly after this he was in communication with the Adjutant General in regard to this.

5. The Armory at the start of the riot was in its usual condition, the arms in the Arms Racks and the Ammunition in the Magazine.

6. I do not know personally whether or not any Arms or Ammunition were issued to the Civil Authorities but Capt. McCuen told me that he had been ordered to turn over some Rifles to them.

7. As there was only one slightly wounded man among the troops I started to dress the Negro wounded who had began to come in, at first at the Police Station and later at the Armory to which place I later removed all Negro wounded. As soon as it was possible to obtain Hospital operating facilities at one of the Hospitals, I asked some of the leading Surgeons of the City to take over this end of the work, which they did: Three operating teams were at once organized and went to work on the most seriously wounded whom I had already sent in.

The wounded were given first aid at the Armory, tagged according to the seriousness of their wounds, and removed to the Hospital in this order. In the meantime a number of Physicians who had reported to me had been set to work as dressers as had the members of the San. Det. and some Nurses who had been sent in by the Red Cross.

8. Upon the arrival of the Adjutant General ·I was put in charge of the Medical and Surgical situation in the City with authority to take over whatever Hospital facilities needed . Acting under this authority I took over the old Cinnabar Hospital then in use as a Rooming House and with the help of the Red Cross cleared it of its occupants and furniture and at 5 P.M. had it equipped as a Hospital to which all the seriously wounded Negroes were removed the next morning. At the same time I took over a house in the Negro section and fitted it up as a station for walking wounded. I also took over 6 beds in the Okla. Hospital and 6 in the Tulsa Hospital for Negro Women who were about to be confined.

At 5 P.M. the day following the Riot all cases had been removed from the Armory to Hospitals, and I then took up the question of the sanitation of the Refugee camps at the Ball Park, the Fair Grounds and the Churches leaving them in fair shape when they were turned back to the Civil Authorities at the termination of Martial Law.

9. The men of the San Det. of the 3rd. Inf. reported promptly and worked hard and faithfully as Dressers and as men in Charge of Trucks used as Ambulances and are all entitled to a great deal of credit.

PAUL R. BROWN

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