Testimony of John A. Oliphant, 2 Attorney General’s Civil Case Files, RG 1-2, A-G Case no. 1062, Box 25 (Oklahoma State Archives)

 

JOHN A. OLIPHANT

called as a witness on behalf of the State, having been first duly sworn to testify to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, was examined in chief by Mr. Freeling and testified as follows:

Q Will you state your name to the Court and jury?

A John A. Oliphant.

Q Where do you live, Mr. Oliphant?

A Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Q What part of the city?

A I live over near Detroit and Easton, in that block.

Q How long have you lived here?

A A little over sixteen years.

Q How old a man are you.

A Seventy three.

Q Were you here on the night of May 31st?

A Yes, sir.

Q That is called the night of the riot, is it not?

A Yes, sir.

Q What was the first you observed concerning it, judge?

A Well, it was early the next morning, June 1st, just a good daylight when I discovered a lot of men coming up on the hill there east of my place.

Q White men or nigger men?

A They were white men.

Q Armed or unarmed?

A They were armed, they were all dressed in khaki clothing, they looked to me to be oversea soldiers.

Q What did they do?

A They were looking east and I got up and came out of my home and I walked rapidly over to Detroit and they were shooting across Detroit over on Elgin and in that locality on the north

of Easton.

Q I will ask you, judge, if during the morning you got in communication with the police station?

A Yes, I phoned and sent for them several times, I phoned to the police station myself.

Q What time did you phone?

A Well, that was between eight and nine o’clock, but I had sent before that a time or two.

Q A time or two?

A Yes, sir. and to the sheriff’s office also.

jackson.jpgQ Were you acquainted with Dr. Jackson?

A Yes, sir.

Q Is he living or dead?

A He is dead.

Q Did you witness his death?

A Yes, sir, I witnessed the shooting which caused his death a few minutes afterwards.

Q About what time in the morning was he shot, judge?

A Right close to eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

Q Was that before or after you had communicated with the police station?

A The first thing I done I tried to get some policemen. I found there wasn’t any up there and I wanted to get some policemen to help me; I thought I could stop that whole business but I guess I was mistaken.

Q Did you get any help from the police officers?

A No, sir.

Q After you communicated with the police station what did you see with reference to Dr . Jackson?

A I was standing down on Detroit just fronting his house, just right opposite Easton down from where I live. I heard him holler and I looked up and saw him coming about twenty five feet away from me or thirty, with his hands up, and he said “Here am I”, he wanted to go —

MR LEAHY : We object to this statement of what Dr. Jackson said .

THE COURT: The objection will be overruled.

MR LEAHY: We except.

A I said to the fellows, “That is Dr. Jackson, don’t hurt him.”

Q How many were there?  How many men were there there at that time, Judge?

A About thirty or forty or fifty. around there.

Q How many of them were armed?

A Oh, I don’t know, the major portion of them was I presumed armed, they were practically all armed, I think.

Q What did you say Dr. Jackson said?

A He said, “Here am I, I want to go with you”, or something to that effect.

Q Who was he speaking to?

A I don’t know whether he was speaking to me or the other fellows. I was standing immediately in front of him and right on either side of me were three or four or five young fellows, citizens, with guns, and on the other side of the driveway were some more, two or three others.

Q Was Dr. Jackson shot by anybody?

A Yes sir.

Q How many were in the party that shot him?

A Oh, seven or eight.

Q Seven or eight.

A Yes, right in the party, they were all around there then.

Q How many fired?

A Two men fired at him.

Q, Did he fall?

A Yes, he fell at the second shot with the high powered rifle.

Q At the second shot?

A Yes, sir, he fell down.

Q What kind of a looking man was it that shot him?

A A young man with a white shirt and cap on.

Q How long was this after you had communicated with the police station asking for help?

A 0Q, I don’t know, half an hour, maybe an hour, I tried to get them two or three times and got them once or twice.

Q What was done concerning Dr. Jackson after he fell?

A Well, they loaded him in a car and took him away.

Q Who did that?

A The men there, the white men present.

Q Do you know whether they started to a hospital or not?

A That is where they said they was going, to a hospital.

Q These men that put him in a car, were they armed?

A Oh, yes, they were armed.

Q Were they shooting?

A Well, it was occasional shooting because over on — at that time, oh God, no, sir, there wasn’t a nigger man I suppose within a mile of that except one old man that was sick, and Dr. Jackson.

Q The two?

A They all left out before six, or right at six, there wasn’t a negro man in that locality after that time I don’t think.

Q They had gone, had they?

A Yes, sir. they had either come in and given themselves up, or they had run around the hill beyond the school house there and went out of my eight . I seen three or four or five, they wasn’t but a few negro men there. They was shooting close, from the number of shots; they always went over me. I got down on Detroit where — where they were balls from both sides went over me but I was too low down.

Q Judge, I wish you would tell the Court and jury at this time, at the time Dr. Jackson was shot, as to the degree of excitement, if you can.

LEAHY: We object to that as immaterial and incompetent.

THE COURT: Overruled.

LEAHY: We except.

A There was but little excitement then, the fight was all over and had been over for an hour and a half. There was no shooting at that particular time because there was no negroes over there to shoot at.

Q I will ask you, judge, if you saw any houses burned?

A Yes sir.

Q, Did you see any houses set afire?

A Yes, sir.

ellsworth1

N. Detroit home being looted.

Q Just tell how you saw them set afire, whether it was by one man or two or a party of people?

A Two or three or four did the firing of practically all the buildings there.

Q Explain their operation, would they fire one building and go to another?

A Yes, sir, this was away after ten o’clock, the negroes had been gone five hours from there and the excitement was practically all down, when any of those houses north of Easton, those good houses in the residence district were all burned after ten fifteen or ten thirty.

Q Where were the military authorities then?

A They come in at nine o’clock and I seen them parading, 1 expected the militia over there but they were just parading around the city having a promenade. I don’t know just what they were doing.

Q I will ask you, judge, after you phoned the police station for help, i£ you saw the chief of police or any police officer over there?

A Yes, there was four came over there .

Q What did they do?

A They were the chief fellows setting fires.

Q Were they in uniform?

A No, I can’t say —

Q Did they have on stars?

A They had ·stars, they had badges on: just one man, they called him Brown, l believe, a red complected fellow, I knew him as a policeman but the others I only knew from the badges they wore.

Q You say the red complected man you knew as a policeman?

A Yes.

Q Did you know his name?

A I understood they called him Brown.

A Was he with the party that was setting fire to houses?

A Yes, he and Cowboy Long were the chief burners.

Q Brown and Cowboy Long?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many houses did you see them set fire to?

ellsworth2

N. Detroit home being burned after looting.

A I never seen them actually set the fire to but one, they went in and when they came out the houses were burning, you know. I kept begging all the time to spare the houses because my property was just across the street from there, and when they burned them with the wind blowing as it was strongly from the east, it would burn me out. I was chiefly interested in the fire in that particular . But when they had –

Q You say you saw them set fire to one house?

A Yes.

Q How did they do it , tell the jury.

A They threw a lot of gasoline and coal oil back in the butlery at Dr. Jackson’s, that was Dr. Jackson’s house.

Q Was that before or after he was killed?

A That was after he was killed, that was two hours and a half or nearly three hours after he was killed.

Q These four men that you saw in a party, was there anybody else with them or ·were they travelling from place to place themselves?

riot44

N. Detroit homes being looted.

A They were scattered around there, quite a large number of people looting the houses and taking out everything. There wasn’t no excitement particularly. Some were singing, some were playing pianos that were taken out of the buildings, some were running victrolas, some dancing a jig and just having a rolicing easy good time in a business which they thought they were doing that was upright.

Q Aside from these men that you took to be police officers, the one you have called Brown and the one you have called Cowboy Long that party—

A He wasn’t a policeman.

Q I am not saying, judge, that he was, I say, in the party where you saw one man you called Brown, you knew he was a policeman—

A Yes, he had been.

Q —and in the party you saww a fellow by the name of Cowboy Long?

A Yes.

Q Did you see any other party or any other police officers over there that morning?

A There were four police officers there, three with this other one and Brown.

Q What were they doing, the three that were with Brown’?

A They were working in conjunction with that outfit there.

Q Doing what?

A Doing burning and looting or carrying out things and doing that which was as they said they were ordered to destroy— that ain’t the word they used. I don’t remember the word he used but it was to the effect that they was going to make the destruction complete.

Q Did you make any effort to prevent them?

A I did all the time I was— I had really protected the property from three or four crowds of fellows there that morning and this last crowd made an agreement that they would not burn that property because I thought it would burn mine too And I promised that if they wouldn’t, they made the promise if they would leave it I would see that no negroes ever lived in that row of houses any more. I promised all right.

Q You promised all right?

A Yes, sir, I promised, I didn’t know whether I could make good or not but I was going to try it.

Q Did you see any other police officers there that morning?

A No, sir, 6h, no, there wasn’t any others all the morning I seen anywhere.

Q Did you see any taking property out of houses.

A Oceans of it, they absolutely sacked all the houses and took everything out.

Q What was the nature of the property that was taken out?

Q Well, pianos, victrolas, clothing, chairs, musical instruments, clothing or all kinds, men, women and children would go in the house end fill up pillow cases, sheets and clothing and carry them out and carry them away.

Q Judge, how far was Dr. Jackson from you when he was shot?

A About twenty five, between twenty five and thirty feet.

Q How was he walking?

A He was walking right straight towards us, me and the other two fellows that was at my left and the other fellow that was at my right·, he was coming directly to me , I think.

Q Was he making a demonstration with his hands?

A No, he had··his hands that way (indicating). He says “Here am I, take me”, or something to that effect.

Q About what time, judge, did the trouble end, the burning?

A The burning?

Q Yes. sir.

A About ten thirty, a little after, it was all destroyed and the best of those houses were practically burned down all right through there at ten thirty.

Q At ten thirty?

A And at eleven thirty, about eleven o’clock the militia come over, marched over that way

Q And there wasn’t any disturbance after that, was there, along about eleven o’clock?

A No, no.

Q Did you see anybody else shot except Dr. Jackson?

A No, I am not certain that I did.

Q Sir?

A I am not certain that I did . I seen them shooting at each other, some in the windows of the school house I took to be colored men and probably one or two in the Baptist Church there in the window above.

Q Did you see any colored men or negro men shooting from the Baptist Church over there?

A No, I didn’t see them shoot, I heard the reports from that locality and I heard the balls whistle over my head as I passed.

Q About what time was that?

A Oh, this was early in the morning, about — between four thirty and five o’clock or five thirty, just about an hour’s time, right early in the morning.

Q Just about eight or nine o’clock what was the condition, was there a raging battle between a large number of armed people, or was it this looting by individuals?

A There wasn’t anything at all going on but the looting at that time, they were all gone, the niggers run away and give themselves up there in an hour’s time after I was up after the thing begun at four thirty in the morning.

Q Judge, when you phoned the police station what reply did you get?

A He said — somebody in there, I thought I knew the voice but I am not certain, he said “I will do the best I can for you.” I told him who I was, I wanted some policeman, I says, “If you will send me ten policemen I will protect all this property and save a million dollars worth of stuff they were burning down and looting.” I asked the fire department for the fire department to be sent over to help protect my property and they said they couldn’t come, they wouldn’t let them.

Q Did the policemen ever come that you called for?

A Well, I don’t know, those policemen, those four came over, I don’t know whether they came in obedience to my request. If they did I am mighty sorry they came, I wish they hadn’t come.

Q They are the ones you said were looting?

A They were helping burn, they were working in conjunction with the fellows there that were burning.

Q They were helping burn?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did any policemen come in response to your request that assisted in preventing any looting or burning or killing?

A Not one single one, not one. I got no assistance or encouragement from anyone, sheriff’s office or them either.

MR FREELING: I believe that is all.

CROSS EXAMINATION BY MR. LEAHY:

Q, Where do you say you live?

A I live over there on Easton close to Detroit.

Q I don’t know where that is.

A That is right on stand pipe hill, I live there and there is where my property is.

Q You live on stand pipe hill?

A Yes, sir, I have lived there for sixteen years.

Q How far do you live from this district that was burned out?

A My property lies right across the street from that, right up to it, that is, part of it, I have got two houses there.

Q When was it that the shooting first commenced over in that neighborhood.

A Oh, about four thirty, between that, four and five o’clook.

Q Just about daylight?

A Yes, just good daylight, they come up there in uniform, I took them all to be ex-service men.

Q In uniform?

A Yes, they had the khaki uniform on. all except two boys that I seen, two or three boys.

Q Were they armed?

A Yes, sir, those boys were armed all right .

Q What kind of guns did they have?

A One of them had a high powered gun.

Q What do you mean by a high powered gun?

A One of these rapid shooters.

Q How is that?

A I call them rapid shooting guns, I thought he had a Henry, it might have been a Winchester. I don’t know, I didn’t take it only just seen it, seen it was a high powered gun.

Q You mean they were rifles?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many of those men did you see first?

A Well, there was about forth or fifty of them there right on the hill when I came out — just coming up on the bill when I came out and came down on the park.

Q Did they appear to be in command of anybody?

A No, I can’t say about that, they all seemed to be looking over there to see somebody shooting out across Detroit.

Q Were this party on the hilltop?

A They were forming along on the east side of the hill, right along the hill, the hill runs clear down to Detroit along back of my houses, they were forming along there, some forty or fifty of them.

Q Do you know whether they were the officers or not?

A No, sir, I don’t know anything about it.

Q Did you see anybody among them that appeared to be an officer?

A No, sir, I didn’t see anybody that appeared to be an officer, I knew some of them.

Q How is that?

A I knew some of them but they were—

Q Who did you know?

A I knew Voorhis.

Q What does he do?

A He was an overseas— I knew him because I know his father well and his father is a friend of mine, his father is dead now.

Q Member o£ the national guard here?

A Yes, he is a member of the national guard because he was a policeman after the war was over, he was in the service then.

Q Wasn’t this bunch of men you saw there members of the national guard?

A Well, I don’t know, they all had on khaki uniforms , I took them to be overseas soldiers and they may have been a part of the national guard, not— those that came from Oklahoma City you mean?

Q I mean the company that lives here.

A Well, some of them were, I think.

Q Did they have a machine gun there with them?

A The machine gun was just down on Detroit just below me there.

Q You know where the machine gun was, do you?

A Yes, sir.

Q How far were they from where the machine gun was?

A Oh, they were a block and a half or two blocks from the machine gun.

Q You say they were shooting from both ways?

A Yes, they— I heard the balls whistle from both ways from over there on the— early when the fighting begun, they was fighting there, shooting and quite a number of shots from each side.

Q You couldn’t say which side— you mean the negroes were firing?

A Yes, sir, across there on Elgin, Elgin and Frankfort, along in there you know they had some high powered guns, and the balls carried clear over to my home pretty near a quarter of a mile away.

Q How frequent was the firing, judge?

A It could be a half a dozen shots, then be intervals and then you know two or three other shots. .

Q How long could the intervals be?

A Two or three shots, sometimes, you know, getting ready— I suppose they were looking to see them appear at the windows in the brick buildings, that is what 1 judged.

Q How frequently was the shooting that came from the negro settlement?

A Well, as I told you, two or three shots, maybe a half a dozen shots, and two or three or four shots; you know, but it soon ended.

Q Probably a few hundred shots in an hour?

A Yes, sir; I should judge that anyhow, I should judge a few hundred shots.

Q These men that were stationed on the hill there, they were answering back the shooting that came from the negroes?

A Yes, they were shooting back at each other all right.

Q You say that was about four thirty in the morning?

A That is when that commenced, yes, sir.

Q How long before it stopped?

A It was all over before five thirty anyhow.

Q You mean the shooting right in that immediate neighborhood?

A Yes, sir.

Q When you say the shooting was over you don’t mean the shooting was over throughout the city at that time?

A I think that is the last place where there was any shooting or any consequence occurred that morning because they had been driven out down below there.

Q How many armed negroes did you see around there that morning?

A I couldn’t tell, I only seen them across there, a black or two you know at the windows two or three times.

Q In your judgment about how many armed negroes did you see over there that morning?

A I seen four or five running around the hill you know, there wasn’t many there that I seen.

Q, How many places did you observe they were shooting from there?

A About three places.

Q How many armed white men did you see over there?

A There were quite — there was a hundred or two or three perhaps.

Q Were they all stationed on the hill?

A Well, they came up on the hill and then went around down north of Fairview and then some of them came down to where I was on Detroit.

Q Those men were shooting back and forth at each other, the negroes and the white people you spoke of, was that the time you phoned to the police station?

A I did before that and since.

Q Did you during the time that shooting was going on?

A No, sir, I couldn’t get away from where 1 was just then, I didn’t go to a phone at that time, I thought I could stop the business when I went down there but I wasn’t able to do it.

Q What time was this that Dr. Jackson was shot?

A Just about eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

Q These men that were with you at the time the shooting occurred, were they part of the same men that were on the hilltop?

A Well I expect that some of them were but I am not certain whether they were or not.

Q How were they dressed?

A Some of them had on khaki uniforms. some of them in citizens clothes, the two young men that done the shooting of Jackson didn’t have on uniform of any kind.

Q They didn’t have a uniform?

A No.

Q Did you know them?

A No, sir, I did not.

Q Had you ever seen them before?

A I couldn’t say, I don’t know anything about them.

Q Have you’ ever seen them since?

A No, sir.

Q Did you know the men that were in uniform along with the boys that did the shooting?

A No, sir, I didn’t. I probably knew some of them because I am well acquainted here, but I don’t remember, judge, I don’t remember the individual person. The excitement was pretty heavy and I had so many things to think about and try to do that I couldn’t [c]harge.judge. I couldn’t remember just who was in the party.

Q How long had they been with you at that place before they shot Dr. Jackson?

A Well, not very long.

Q Ten minutes?

A I had been right around there for a couple of hours but they hadn’t been there but very few minutes, they just came in a gang.

Q You had talked to them before Dr. Jackson came up there, hadn’t you?

A Sir?

Q You had talked to these boys that were there before Dr. Jackson came up?

A Yes, I kept telling them all the time not to burn the houses there because they would burn me up if they did.

Q About what time in the morning did you say it was Dr. Jackson was shot?

A Right close to eight o’clock, between seven thirty and eight o’clock.

[Page 17 is missing]

part

A Yes, they were only three places, the school house and the Baptist Church and a brick grocery store.

Q What kind of buildings were those, brick buildings?

A Brick buildings.

Q From those buildings they were shooting?

A Yes, sir.

Q And that was about all the brick buildings there were in that section?

A There was a few others, but they were prominent, they were where they could be seen easily.

Q Those were the prominent buildings in the negro section?

A Yes, sir, that part of it, in the residence portion.

Q What did you say to whoever you got in touch with at the police station when you phoned?

A I wanted them to send me up about ten policemen and help me protect that property, judge. I guess I said my property and I said we could care for all that property if I had them, I had watched it for two or three hours.

Q Did you know to whom you talked in the police station?

A No, I am not certain.

Q You didn’t ask any name?

A No, I asked if that was the police office and he said it was. I don’t think it was Mr. Gustafsen, it didn’t talk like him.

Q You don’t think it was Mr. Gustafsen?

A No, I don’t.

Q They did tell you they would try to send you help?

A Yes, sir, they said they would do the best they could to send me somebody to help.

Q, Now after that you phoned again to the police station?

A Yes, sir.

Q, What time?

A That is, there was some fellows came there about nine o’olock and began talking about burning and then I phoned again but didn’t get anybody.

Q You didn’t get anybody?

A I sent two or three fellows over there and to the sheriff’s office to tell them to come over and help me, just to give me ten fellows.

Q You sent some men to come over to the sheriff’s office?

A To the sheriff’s office and to police headquarters.

Q But you didn’t get in touch over the phone any more with the police headquarters?

A No, I don’t think I did, I don’t remember now that I did.

Q These men that came over there about nine o’clock, how many were in that crowd?

A Well, that wasn’t the last crowd, that wasn’t the crowd that done the burning. They came there about ten or ten fifteen, the crowd that done the burning.

Q How many of them were there?

A There was twenty five or thirty in the gang.

Q How many gangs?

A There was only the one gang came then and they had been three a time or two. Some others had talked about burning but these fellows came there—

Q Hadn’t there, judge, early that morning, been hundreds of men over through that section of town?

A They came through, the home guards marched up there at eight o’clock up Detroit in single file at eight o’clock and I thought they was going to help us, I thought that would end the trouble and it would have done if they had stayed there, but they marched up there on the hill, Sunset Hill and stayed up there where they could do no good on earth.

Q That was the national guard that did that?

A Yes.

Q The local company that is located here?

A Yes, sir .

Q Do you know whom they were in charge of?

A No; I did know at the time, sir, but I don’t remember now. They marched in single file with their guns.

Q Do you know Colonel Rooney?

A Oh, yes, I know him very well, I don’t think he was in command, yet he may have been, I know colonel very well. He was over there in that locality before and I think after .

Q He had been over there that morning?

A Yes, sir, and 1 think he rendered good service too.

Q He was the officer that has control of the local company here, isn’t he?

A Yes, he is the officer, I understand so, but I don’t know whether he was in charge of the company at that time.

Q How long did the company stay over there?

A They went up on the hill and I didn’t watch them, I didn’t have time to watch them, I don’t know what became of them.

Q You don’t know how long they stayed there?

A They didn’t come back, I thought they were going to stay there.

Q In addition to that company there were other men went over in uniform?

A Oh, yea, they were gathered around there pretty thick, every once in a while a squad came over.

Q Would it be safe to say, judge, that men were over there that appeared to be officers to the number of one hundred that morning, including the national guard?

A Well, there was a hundred, over a hundred that were in uniform, khaki uniforms: I don’t know whether they pretended to be officers or what office they performed but they were there all right.

Q You say the negroes left that section there near you early that morning?

A Yes, about six o’clock — a little before five or about five or shortly afterwards I saw a negro groceryman over on Elgin, I hollered to him and told him if they didn’t come out of there and get protection they would every one be killed and for him to tell them so and he did so. All up that street then, Professor Hughes and all them folks came out and gave themselves up, to our fellows that were taking— conducted to the—

Q The officers that were over there did take charge practically then of the entire negro population that was in that section?

A The men in khaki uniforms did, yes.

Q Before the negroes had been run off?

A Yes, yes, every one of them, they brought them off and brought them down to Convention Hall.

Q And they were taken charge of by officers that were there?

A Yes, about six o’olock they got hold of them.

Q During ‘the time you say the buildings were burned over there, the negro population had all been removed to Convention Hall?

A Either that or they had left, run east around the hill; there wasn’t any neggers there at all.

4, Did you know any of those persons that did any of the burning?

A I know the faces of some of them but I don’t know of anybody.  I can’t tell of anybody except what I have already testified to.

Q Have you seen any of them since that?

A Not a single one, and not one; I have looked for them too.

Q You haven’t seen any of them?

A No.

Q You don’t know anything about what they were doing there except that they were burning the property?

A No. that is all; they seemed to be having a good time in their proper element. They burned the houses after they were all robbed you know, looted.

Q You say that women and children were looting the houses as well as men?

A Sure.

Q Did you know any of the women and children?

A I knew the faces of some of them but I couldn’t tell the names.

Q You couldn’t tell the names?

A They got considerable of that property back that they taken over there, I helped to get some of it.

Q You say there was a fellow by the name of Brown?

A That is what they said, I don’t know his name. I know the man all right if I would see him, he was a red complected fellow.

Q Have you seen him around the court house here?

A No, sir, I haven’t seen him here.

Q Have you seen him since that day?

A I haven’t seen him since that day.

Q Have you been to the police station since that?

A No, I haven’t.

Q Will you go there and see if you can find him and report back here?

MR FREELING: To which we object as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q This Cowboy Long, what about him, who was he?

A I only know him by what they said his name was, they threatened that when he come he would fix them houses quick, and he did.

Q Did you ever see him before?

A I think I have seen him before but I don’t know.

Q Have you seen him since?

A I haven’t seen him since.

Q Read about him in the newspapers?

A Yes, sir.

Q For years?

A For years.

Q You have read about him in the newspapers?

Yes, I knew the reputation of the fellow.

Q He is a notorious bootlegger, isn’t he?

A Yes, no question about that; I knew that at that time. When they called his name I feared him because I had heard about him .

Q Did you talk to him over there?

A Yes, and he and Brown were the fellows I made a dicker with to save the houses if they wouldn’t burn them I would prevent any negroes from living in them.

Q  At the time they were burning these houses where was the national guard, still on the hill?

A No. They had gone I guess. You see that was nearly five hours after the fight was over, over there, the real fighting, pretty near five hours.

Q, The national guard had left the place?

A I think so entirely, I don’t think there was any of the national guard there, I don’t remember any of them .

Q There wasn’t anybody in an official capacity there at that time?

A Yes, there was one. This man Voorhis. One fellow threatened me and he said to him– I know hie father, he is a Missourian, so am I, he says, ”If you hurt that man there will be something doing damn quick here”, I heard that. I heard that and walked away.

Q Voorhis is a member of the national guard?

A Yes, sir.

Q And working with the police at that time?

A He was working there and trying to do something He is a good fellow too.

Q He was doing all he could to protect property?

A I don’t know what he was doing really, I knew he protected me all right.

Q He protected you?

A Yes, he did that.

Q He was the only one there at that time, you say?

A There might have been others, judge, but I don’t remember.

Q Do you know when the city was put under martial law?

A I think it was about twelve o’clock, I think, I don’t know—

Q You know it was put under martial law?

A Yes, yes, I know.

Q And that the officers came from the state capitol here?

A Yes, they come but they didn’t come over there.

Q They didn’t come over there?

A No, sir, they got off of the train at nine o’clock, I had sent for· them, I see the train pull in, I said “We are safe now.” An hour and a half after that all those buildings were standing there. I sent for them, I sent for the militia to come, send over fifteen or twenty or them that is all I wanted.

Q Who did you send to?

A I sent to the—directed it to Charlie Barrett and an old friend of mine.

Q Did you get in touch with General Barrett?

A No, I didn’t get— I don’t know whether they did, he said they were coming over.

Q Did you talk with somebody on the phone or did you go to see them?

A I sent a man over, I sent a man to see the mayor and have the soldiers come over there immediately after they arrived, and he told me he would try to have them come.

Q Who was the man ths.t you sent?

A Well, air, I don’t know, I sent several fellows.

Q Did you tell them to go to General Barrett?

A I told them to go over there and have the soldiers come over here at once .

Q You knew General Barrett was there?

A No, I hadn’t seen him, I supposed he would be here but I didn’t see him.

Q You understood he was adjutant general of the state?

A I knew he was.

Q He was an old friend of yours?

A ‘Yes, sir.

Q You wanted him to understand about this matter and you sent to him telling him you were wanting some men to come out and help protect your property and their property?

A Yes, sir, that is a fact.

Q And that train came in at about nine o’clock?

A Yes, sir.

Q How long was it before you saw any of the militia over there?

A About eleven o’clock.

Q About eleven o’clock?

A They came over the hill at eleven o’olock when everything was burned.

Q, Between the time the militia arrived and the time they got over to your place this burning took place?

A Yes, sir.

Q When you spoke of the burning there do you mean the negro district that was burned out was adjacent to you?

A I mean all that good residence district north of Easton and east of Detroit, of course. They had burned down about the main part of the city, they had been burning that before they commenced on this property up there, the good residence portion wasn’t burned until nine or ten fifteen or ten thirty.

Q And that property was burned, notwithstanding there was a lot of militia on hill previous to that?

A They bad been there previously, yes, sir, the militia had, but they wasn’t there then, they had perhaps gone,

Q How many people were engaged in the burning of property there?

A In that property there burning north of—

Q, Yes.

A Oh, there wasn’t over eight or ten or fifteen.

Q Eight or ten or fifteen did all that burning?

A Yes, sir.

Q, Was there any other people there armed?

A Yes, there were, I understood that— I don’t know how armed they were but they were there.

Q How many?

A Say one hundred or two, most of them was carrying away goods, and furniture and so forth.

Q ·Now at ten to ten thirty, the morning of June the lst, how many men would you say there were in your presence or in your neighborhood there that were looting or burning or armed men, people running around there?

A There wasn’t over ten or fifteen or twenty of the men who were armed doing the burning or destroying.

Q, How many were doing the looting?

Q Oh, a hundred or two, they kept coming and going, judge; I couldn’t tell how many there were, both men, women and children, boys and girls carried away things.

Q Where they people that lived in the neighborhood?

A Some of them were, yes, sir.

Q You mean to say you could see the people on stand pipe hill from where you lived?

A From where I lived?

Q Yes.

A I am right there on the hill, right on top of it.

Q This national guard that was up there, how close were they to your house?

A Passed right by my house. part of them come right on the walk there right close there.

Q Did they take a station there somewhere?

A They kept going there and forming along on the east brow of the hill, and that is when— that was early in the morning you know, just daylight.

Q This machine gun, where was it?

A That was down on Detroit.

Q How far from your house?

A Oh, that was three or four blocks from my house, but only about two blocks from where I was when I got over on Easton and Detroit.

Q How many men were there when the machine gun was there?

A I didn’t go to the machine gun. They told me that was a machine gun, I heard it shoot. I knew it was an extraordinary shot but it didn’t shoot very fast.

Q Judge, are you friendly or unfriendly to the present city administration?

A Well, sir, I helped to put them in, I guess I am friendly.

Q You know whether you are or not, don’t you?

A Yes, I know I am so far as— they are my personal friends, all of them. Of course I don’t like the way they done on that day but that don’t knock out our friendship.

Q I don’t mean your personal friendship for the men, you are not friendly to them as officials at this time, are you, judge?

A I can’t say but what I am, sir.

Q How do you feel toward Chief Gustafson?

A I think he didn’t do his duty and of course I am not so very friendly to him as an officer.

Q You are not friendly?

A No, sir, I say that frankly.

Q LEAHY: That is all.

3a34285r

N. Detroit in ruins.

RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. FREELING:

Q Why are you not?

A Because I don’t believe he done his duty there in protecting me and property.

MR MOSS: Comes now the defendant and moves the Court to strike out the answer of the witness on the ground and for the reason that the same in incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

THE COURT: Overruled.

MR MOSS: Exception.

MR FREELING: That is all.

Witness excused.

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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.

 

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.