From the best evidence that the government has been able to secure, this
man was born somewhere in western Texas before the Civil War. Whether he
has any living relatives or not will probably never be known, and what
his real name is will also remain veiled in mystery. Whether he had
father, mother, brother, sister, massacred by the red men, no one knows;
or perhaps, he was torn from his mother's breast, leaving her to lament
and bewail his loss.
In all probability, however, he was stolen
by a warrior named Toey, since the warriors always kept the captives
they took on a raid, and Ora's first recollections are of lighting
Toey's pipe or doing other small chores for him about the camp.
Doubtless, therefore, he was a captive secured in some manner by Toey on
But from this point Ora shall tell his own story:
As soon as I was large enough I began bringing in wood and water,
herding ponies, and so on. As soon as my age permitted, I was placed,
with the other warriors, at the pleasant tasks of learning to ride
horseback, learning to swim, and jumping on and off a horse while it was
on a dead run. I was shown how to defend myself with a shield. This
shield was made of the hide of an old bull, sometimes of the thick part
of a buffalo hide. A piece cut from the neck or shoulders was thrown
over the fire and heated while green, and when it was as hot as it could
be without burning-it was rubbed on a rough rock until all the meat had
been scraped off. Then a smooth, stone was used until the hide became
smooth, soft and pliable. A hickory withe is then made into a hoop and
the raw hide is strapped on and sewed with thongs of leather. It looks
like the head of a Mississippi banjo when it is finished and put away to
dry. After it is thoroughly cured it is set up as a target, and if an
arrow pierces it or a bullet goes through it, it finds a place among the
debris of the camp. If, however, it proves war-proof, a string is placed
through each side, so it can be worn on the arm, and it is never far
from its warrior-owner thereafter. The hairy side is next the arm and
the smooth side faces the enemy. The moon, stars, serpents, turtles and
other things are painted on the shield, in such way that it serves as a
compass to guide and direct its owner on a rainy day.
given one of these shields and placed about fifty yards from four
braves, who took bows and blunt arrows and opened fire on me.
knew what I had to do, for I had seen the performance before. I began
moving the shield with all the caution I could, while the arrows rattled
against it. I managed to ward them off for a while, but they were coming
so fast that finally one of them passed just over the shield and took me
squarely in the forehead. I saw stars, not those painted ones on my
shield, but real fiery, flashy ones. It downed me, and my comrades
ceased fire for a while. As soon as I was up again, however, they began
at me again, and I simply had to learn my lesson. I was knocked down
several times before I became an adept, but I finally learned. All the
Indians are trained in this same fashion.
After this they taught
me how to ride in horse races. I was tied on the horse in the way in
which I was expected to sit, nearly straight, leaning a little forward,
with my knees clamping the horse so as to cut the wind. After they quit
tying me on I fell off several times. The horse sometimes would fly the
track and have to be run down on the prairie, with me sometimes swinging
beneath his belly. When I was tied on in training horses they would run
around a lake, but in the gambling races a straight track was used, so
neither horse would have the advantage.
When I had learned to
ride a horse I was given a shield, made to mount a horse, and then to
run between bunches of Indians with bows and blunt arrows, who would
fire at me in volleys as I went by. Many times I was knocked from my
horse, and I have several scars on my head yet to remind me of this part
of my schooling.
I was next taught the Indian religion, which'
is about as follows: The Great Spirit collected dust from the four
corners of the earth to make man, so that when he died the earth would
not refuse him a burial place. He said to man, "Thou hast not been taken
from me, hence I cannot receive you into my bosom." When the Great
Spirit created man the earth shook and trembled, and said unto the
spirit, "How can I feed the vast multitude of men that will issue from
this first created man?" And the spirit replied, "We will divide, the
maintenance of man during the day time with all that thou producest,
while when the night comes I will send my sleep upon man and he will
rest and be fed by me with the peace of slumber and will awake refreshed
in the morning."
The spirit took eight parts to form man: the
body from the earth; bones from the stones; blood from the dew; the eyes
from the depth of clear water; beauty from his own image; the light of
the eyes from the sun; thoughts from the water falls; breath from the
wind; strength from the storms. The first man was of such gigantic size
that his head reached to heaven and his eyes looked from one end of the
earth to the other. But manual labor and unwholesome food diminished his
size and made him vulnerable. By proper food and the right kind of
habits a warrior may become invulnerable, a medicine man.
the Great Spirit created man he told all the inhabitants of the happy
hunting ground to go and present themselves before him as one of his
creation. All went except one, and he was cast out of the happy hunting
grounds and made to range around on earth. This demon took refuge in the
tooth of the serpent, the fang of the spider, the legs of the centipede,
and other poisonous animals, insects and reptiles.
To an average
ear Indian music has neither melody nor rhythm nor harmony, but that is
because he who hears does not understand. If he would study Indian music
and learn to understand and appreciate it he would find that it does
contain as much melody, rhythm and harmony as any music, and anyone who
studies the Indian religion and philosophy would know that we are not
pagans nor savages, but that we know about as much of the unknowable as
he does, and have seen perhaps even deeper. Perhaps we are from the same
ancestors as the Comanches, and they also believe that when the great
spirit is made the sun betrays it, and for the sun to set behind a
cloud, or to have bad dreams, are sure signs of trouble, and that spider
webs thick and low mean rain, and that spider webs high and thin mean
dry weather, and that for a bunch of ponies to be unusually restless,
throwing their heads, stomping and switching their tails, is a sure sign
of an electric storm.
When all these facts have been closely
observed, the instruction of the young warrior is complete. Herman
Lehmann, the author of Indianology, gives about the same account as this
in his experience with the Apaches. As the Apaches and Comanches were
together a great deal he and I were boys together and were trained in
exactly the same way. In my judgment it has not been many years ago that
the Comanches and Apaches were one tribe. My first name was Two Braids.
That was the name my master gave me, but time rolled on, and at last
I put in most of my time hunting, fishing, and
breaking horses for the tribe. Cowhides, horsehides and buffalo-hides
were used in making tepees or wigwams. A deer's blades were used for
writing paper, after it was well dressed, and was always given in charge
of the chief. Our chief was named Council Chief, as he transacted all
the business between the white men and the tribe.
When we killed
a horse the meat was eaten just as any other meat would have been.
Friends, I would like to say that horse meat is very good to eat. You
eat lots worse meat every day. Horses' bladders were used for knapsacks
for carrying meat. When we killed cattle the meat was packed in this way
and the substance would stay with it. Cows' bladders were dressed and
used for water sacks. I have seen some so large that they would hold
almost a barrel of water. In making long marches we would eat cactus, as
it would serve for water many hours. In this way the Indians could
travel for hundreds of miles without finding a water hole. When we did
find a water hole we would remain there for several days. Water was very
scarce on the plains of Texas, New Mexico and Indian Territory. The
other tribes considered that this country belonged to the Comanches.
Sometimes bands of other tribes would range over our hunting
grounds, and then a fight would follow. Sometimes we were victorious,
sometimes the enemy. If they outnumbered us we would gather more of our
warriors and run them off, and if we could capture them we took all
their belongings away from them and divided them among all those of our
warriors who were in the fight. When we returned to camp there would be
a big stomp dance. If we lost the battle the squaws would mourn for
three or four days. They would cut big gashes on their arms and legs.
The old men who had lost sons in the battle would also cut big gashes in
their legs, in order that the evil spirit who was working against them
might cease his work.
In this life I continued until after the
treaty was signed with the western tribes. After the Comanches were
shown their land there was no more fighting. The tribe seldom left the
reservation without the government's consent. If they did they were
punished by the government. After the treaty had been signed and the
Indians had given up, an effort was made to restore to the white men all
their property in the possession of the Indians. The white men came to
Fort Sill and claimed their horses by the brands. The government took
charge of the white children, three in number, a girl and three boys, of
whom I was one.
We were taken by a troop of soldiers back to
Texas and an effort was made to find our parents. The other boy's mother
was found near Corpus Christi, but the parents of the girl and myself
were never found. We were bound out in Eratha County, she to a man named
Heack, I to a man named Bybee. She remained there for some time
afterwards, and then went to live with a family named Stevenson, where
she remained until she married a telegraph operator, with whom she now
lives at Las Cruces, N. M.
The troop of soldiers remained in
camp for some time. I did not like the man to whom I was bound out, and
I could not understand English very well. The man was always trying to
get me to work around the place, so I got homesick to be back with the
Comanches. Finally I ran off and went to where the soldiers were camped
and told them that I wanted to go back to my people. But two of them
took me back to the old man, and when they had returned to their camp he
took a stick and, motioning like a medicine man, called upon the name of
God and the devil, until I thought he was praying for me and having
trouble with the Great Spirit. I had seen Indians sacrifice their
children to the Great Spirit, and I thought that was what he was going
to do with me. As he had no children, I thought he had sacrificed them
all. He finally wore himself out trying to make me understand what he
wanted me to do, and quit trying for a while. I was very well satisfied
that I had been spared for another time.
I meant no harm; I
simply wanted to go back to the Comanches, and this I thoroughly
intended to do, no matter at what cost. I would dream at night of the
Wichita Mountains and their clear running streams; of the deer and the
rabbits and the horse races and the big Indian camps. And then, when I
would wake to find myself on an old bedstead, shut up in a tight house,
away down in Texas, well, this might have suited some people, but it did
not suit me. So I watched the soldiers' camp, and early one morning I
discovered that they were preparing to move. I knew that they were going
back to Fort Sill, so I slipped around them and got on the road ahead of
them four or five miles. When they came up to me I went to the wagon,
and they said I had to go back. But I. told them I was going to my
people. They said I had no people. I told them that the Comanches were
my people. Finally, after some rough words, they agreed to let me go
back with them, that is, if I would take care of the horses and do other
work around the camp. If ever you saw a fellow tickled, that was I. When
they bound' me out to the old man the soldiers gave me the name of Ora
A. Woodman, and I still go by that name. When we got back to Fort Sill,
in the fall of the year, none of the Indians were living about the
forts; they were all living back in the mountains, camped around the big
spring. I hung around the fort for about a month, waiting for some
Indians to come in. One evening I was standing on the west side of the
fort, looking across the flat between the fort and the sentinel, out on
a high hill, when I saw, about two miles to the west, a cloud of dust
rising. I knew it was either a bunch of Indians or a herd of buffalo, so
1 waited and watched the dust-cloud closely. As they passed through the
gap the sun was very low, and I could see by the way the sun shone on
them that they were sure enough Indians. So I took after them, following
them on foot until night. Then I came upon them, camped on Beaver creek,
and I could tell pretty well which tepee belonged to the chief. They
were all laughing and talking, and I was so overjoyed that I ran and
jumped right in the middle of the chief's tepee. They all jumped up and
ran out of the tepee, and there was a big stir among them for a while.
But they soon found me and knew me, and they caught me and rubbed and
petted me and I was indeed the center of attraction for some time. The
whole camp listened to my story and shared in my joy. When they had
finished rejoicing over my return two old women took me and scrubbed me
and put a buckskin suit and moccasins on me and gave me a bow and some
arrows, and I was a heap big Indian again.
One of these two old
women was noted for her kind-heartedness. Once two Mexican gamblers, who
had come to the camps and won about all that the Comanches had, were
accused by the Indians of having played unfairly. So the Comanches
caught the Mexicans and took from them all the possessions they had won,
and, when they got ready to move camp, hung the Mexicans to a tree. But
the tree was small, and the feet of one of the gamblers touched the
ground. The old woman, after the crowd had left, slipped back and cut
the Mexicans down. One of them revived, but the other was dead. The one
made his escape, is alive to this day, and has in just the last few
years visited the old woman and thanked her again for saving his life.
When the Comanches found out that she had cut the Mexicans down they cut
off the end of her nose. She lives on Cache creek, and is known as the
The year that General Sherman
was visiting all the western forts a small band broke out and burned a
wagon train and its contents. He came, past a short time afterwards, saw
the remains of the wagons, and reported the affair to the government.
Those Indians were hunted down and punished by the law, serving a long
sentence. Lone Wolf was the war chief on that occasion. He was sent to
the penitentiary, where, two weeks after his incarceration, he hung
I was kept by first one and then another of the
Comanches, until finally, like all the other white children in the
Comanche tribe when they had nowhere else to go, I wound up at Quanah
Parker's. Here I put in the time breaking horses and hunting for game.
We had two modes of hunting, one by day, and one by night, with a light.
The light was made by taking an old dry cow chip and pouring warm tallow
over it until it was thoroughly saturated. Then it was placed on a stick
and wrapped well in green bear grass. It was then ready to light. At the
tepee one piece would last for several hours, and would make a big light
all around. When hunting one person would carry the light and the other
the gun. You could see the eyes of any animal that was anywhere in
gun-shot by this means, and you could kill wild cattle, deer, antelope
and even bear. The peculiar feature is that the light seems to take
complete control of the bear. In looking at the light he forgets that he
is a bear, or that he ever has been one and you can go right up to him
and shoot him wherever you want to.
The Indians spent the winter
in the Wichita Mountains on account of the abundance of game. In the
spring the game would follow down the streams to where they would raise
their young, as wild game of every kind takes to running streams and
small creeks during the summer season. So the Indians did likewise,
following up the same. During the summer the Indian squaws would cure
and dress the hides that had accumulated throughout the winter, making
the hides and furs into clothing for the coming winter. The meat that
had been killed during the winter season was dried and served the same
as bread. When we killed a deer or game of ally kind we drank the blood,
filled our hides with raw meat, and then dressed the game, tied it on
our horses, and pulled out for camp.
I stayed with the Indians a
great deal, and especially with Quanah Parker, until the year 1889, when
old Oklahoma was opened for settlement. I was stationed at Fort Reno,
and the boomers were camped in big squads along the border of the
promised land. They held a boomers' meeting on April 21. I had been
invited to attend the meeting several times but I had told them that I
was not very well acquainted with the ways of the white man and didn't
care to attend. The leader said, "Scout, there are lots of pretty girls
"That's what I am afraid of," I said. On the third,
they sent a party of ladies to see me. They talked and talked, and
finally, when I got a chance to say something, I said, "Well, I will go,
just to get rid of you."
So we went, a distance of about nine
miles. I never had a chance to put in a word edgeways. When we reached
the camp we were met by about five hundred people. They threw their hats
in the air and yelled and whooped, and the old women shook their aprons
and laughed at the girls.
My feelings at this moment no human
tongue could tell. I was just about to put spurs to my horse, in order
to escape from such a mob, when two of the leaders made their way
through the crowd and came up to me, as I was sitting on my horse. I
guess I must have been frozen there. One of the men said, "I am Wagon
Spoke Jim and that is my friend, Boomer like." The men showed the effect
of a long camp life. They invited me to dismount, saying that supper
would soon be ready. Pretty soon I began to wish that I was back in my
own camp. Wagon Spoke Jim mounted the front end of an eight horse trail
wagon and, with a wagon hammer, began pounding on the wagon. When there
was a fair degree of quiet he said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this
young man is Scout Woodman, or Two Braids, as he is called by the
Indians. He knows every cow trail in this part of the country. He was
recommended to us by the officers at Fort Reno. It is to our advantage,
friends, to gain what information we can concerning the lands to be
opened on the 29th."
I was then asked to get up and tell them
something about the lands in the new country. This I declined to do. I
told them that I could not talk English very well, and that I did not
care to talk. About this time dish pans began rattling and dogs began
barking, and Wagon Spoke Jim said, "All hands to supper."
about 5 o'clock in the evening. I was invited to take supper with them,
and I sat down on the ground between Wagon Spoke Jim and Boomer Mike. I
could see nothing but my plate, for every time I looked up every-body
was looking at me. I sat there, having no appetite. They looked at my
buckskin suit and moccasins and asked all sorts of questions. When
supper was over and the ground had been cleared Boomer Mike jumped out
in the cleared space, cracked his heels together, and shouted, "All
hands for the dance."
Then came an old gray-bearded man and took a seat on a wagon-tongue. He
bowed his head towards his toes and began working his head and fingers,
playing some kind of music. I had never seen such a thing before, nor
heard such music. Then Boomer Mike began shouting, and they all whirled
around and around in a circle, the men kicking first forwards and then
backwards, and the girls sort of pausing and then going ahead again, and
laughing all the time. After while they all stopped and Wagon Spoke Jim
came up to me and I said to him, "What are all you people doing?"
I was somewhat better acquainted with him by this time than with any
of the others, so I asked him, "What is that old man doing?"
explained that they were dancing, and that the old man was playing the
fiddle. That was the Arkansaw Traveler he had just played, he said, and
Boomer Mike did the calling.
They danced until midnight, and
then the women went to bed in the tents, or rag houses, as they called
them, the men went to sleep in their wagons, and I wrapped myself in my
saddle blankets and slept on the ground with my saddle for a pillow.
Next morning we held another meeting, and for seven ponies I agreed to
take them to the big flats known as the nine-mile flats and the 7-C
flats, where the entire party afterwards located.
country had been opened, and I had filled my contract with these people,
I returned to the reservation. I would like to say that I was
well-treated in every respect by these people. The following fall and
winter I trapped and hunted until spring, when I was called to the
headquarters of the United States marshal at Guthrie, Oklahoma. From
there I guided Captain A. Tilley and his posse to Sod Town in No-Man's
I remained in that line of business sixteen months.
Finally, growing tired of it, I quit, and went back to the reservation,
where I remained, hunting and trapping, until the spring of 1893. Then
Buffalo Bill came to Fort Sill for Indians, cowboys and guides for his
big show, which was then in Chicago, for the World's Fair. I entered his
employ, and in Chicago saw many sights. When the show season closed the
Indians and I returned to the reservation.
In the spring of 1894
I secured a job as deputy United States marshal for Oklahoma. That was
the year that the Dalton gang and other outlaws were so active, holding
up trains and robbing banks along the border. It was on September 9 that
the Dalton gang held up a passenger train for an hour and a quarter. The
chief marshal received a telegram from the station, saying that the
train had been robbed. I happened to be in the office when the telegram
was received. There was no chance to back out. The chief marshal said:
"Scout Two Braids, I am going to send nine of you men up there."
So eight more of the best men were called into the office. Said our
chief: "I have received a telegram from Red Rock telling me that the
Dalton gang has held the train there for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Get your guns and horses ready, and I'll have a car to load your horses
in. You can start inside of forty minutes."
While we were
waiting for the engine to get our car ready, the chief gave us our
instructions. He began by asking us what we expected to do when we got
there. From our answers you would have been led to believe that our
little party could have whipped a hundred men. Finally he said, "Scout
Two Braids, what are you going to do?"
''Well, captain," I said,
"I know those men, and I had rather hunt them two months than find them
in two minutes, for I don't think it would take over a minute and a half
to wind up all the business that we have with them."
our horses and started, but fortune seemed to favor us, for hardly had
we gone half a mile when the engine jumped the track. There were nine of
us and five of the outlaws. They were the most dreaded gang in the
On October 9, they were killed at Coffeyville,
Kansas, a border town. They had just robbed two banks there, and were
killed by citizens while trying to escape.
During this time the
territory was full of outlaws. Some were caught and some were brought
in. Often we got into tighter places than we had ever figured on.
During the following winter we took a trip to the Texas Panhandle.
We were expecting serious trouble, but didn't happen to meet it. The
Guthrie Capital thus described the result: "A Grand Round-Up. Deputy
United States Marshals brought back a bunch of westerners. Deputy United
States Marshal Lilley and his outfit, C. W. Russell, Scout Two Braids,
Judge Mosley, John Day, brought from the Cheyenne and Arapahoe country
yesterday afternoon six-teen prisoners, charged with almost every kind
of offense, from petit larceny to highway robbery. They had a rather
interesting time taking their men out of the country, as they ranged all
the way from a horse thief to a county clerk. When the officers were on
their way here with their prisoners they were followed for three days by
a mounted gang, but which never came close enough to make an attack.
"On the third day they suddenly approached on the top of a
neighboring hill, their guns and revolvers glistening in the sunshine.
Two men rode forward and demanded the release of the prisoners. They
were told that it would take a fight to get them released, and if the
gang thought they had better men than the posse, then they could take
the prisoners and turn them loose. So the fight never came off. It was a
test of nerve, however. They say that Judge Mosley crawled into a bread
box and pulled the lid down after him, when the glistening of the
enemy's guns blinded him. Threatening letters had been sent that the
officers would be attacked and would not be allowed to take the
prisoners out of the country, and trouble was expected at any moment."
Judge Mosley was a government inspector. One trip of this kind
satisfied him. As soon as he got back to the railroad he took a train
for Washington, D. C, and I have never seen him from that day since.
I served my time as a deputy United States marshal until my term was
up. Then I returned to the reservation. In the following spring the
troops left Fort Sill to go to the Sac and Fox agency. I was detailed to
pilot the troops through. We remained at the agency for some time, until
the troops were ordered back to Fort Sill. I was not ready to go back
with them, for during the time that I was stationed there I met one of
the prettiest cowgirls that ever rode the range. She was a white girl,
and we were married the following winter, on February 16th.
was in the following spring that a city election was held at Chandler,
Oklahoma. I attended it, for it was the first election I had the chance
to see. First one and then another and another was nominated, until
finally the mayor of the town said, "Gentleman, I place in nomination O.
A. Woodman, better known as Two Braids, for the office of city marshal,
to be voted for at the city election on the first clay of May, 1895."
Every man that had been nominated had to make his little speech.
They told what they would do if they were elected. Finally it came my
turn to talk. I said, "Gentlemen, I appreciate all that you have done
for me. I am no orator, so I haven't much of a talk to make, but if I am
elected marshal of this city I will do my duty as a marshal and carry
the law out to the letter."
They stamped the floor and shouted,
"He is the man for the place." I was closely followed down the street by
the mob until we reached Mayor Reeves' saloon. Here they all turned in.
I told the saloon-keeper to give them what they wanted, and said that I
would pay the bill. There were three of us in the race, a gentleman by
the name of Lawn Polen, on the Independent ticket, and Billy Randolph,
on the Democratic ticket. When Election Day came I was elected by a
large majority. After I had taken the office nothing of interest
occurred until June 19, when the Cook gang rode into town and robbed the
bank. A fight followed. It was almost seven against nothing. I was
standing almost opposite the bank when Jim Frank and Tulsa Jack rode
down the middle of the street. Bill Cook and the Kid, as he was called,
and Sam McWilliams, entered the bank from the back way. The first that I
knew they were in town was when Jim Frank called in a loud voice, "Scout
Two Braids you, we've got you this time."
At the crack of his
gun I must have jumped fourteen feet, and immediately I started on the
run for my house, about a block and a half away. My wife met me with my
Winchester and two boxes of cartridges, and then she went back to the
house, and with our seven months old baby lay flat on the floor until
the fight was over.
Tulsa Jack told in jail after his arrest
that he took two straight shots at that woman, my wife. That house
seemed to be a target for the gang, for they shot volley after volley
into it. They lost three men in that battle, and there was one citizen
killed and four wounded. I also received a wound in my side during this
engagement. The gang was followed to the Creek nation, where they were
captured the following winter.
After the fight things were very
peaceable for a frontier town. So, when I had served my term as city
marshal, I returned to the reservation. Then I. joined the buffalo show
that traveled during the summer in the Northern and Eastern states. I
came back to the reservation and hunted and trapped until the year of
the St. Louis World's Fair, when I took a bunch of Comanches and cowboys
to Colonel F. T. Cummings' Wild West show, stationed at St. Louis. We
remained there until the fair was over. We then went back to the
reservation, where we remained until April 1, 1906, when I took a bunch
of Indians and cowboys to Younger Brothers' Oklahoma Wild West show
opening at Dallas, Texas.
On August 12, 1906. Two Braids was
living at Lawton, Oklahoma.
History of Oklahoma, Indian
Territory and Homeseeker's Guide
Source: History of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and Homeseeker's
guide, By J. L. and Ellen Puckett, Vinita, Oklahoma, Chieftain
Publishing Company, 1906