Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Study of the Life of Charles Curtis

If you'd prefer to begin by jumping right into the stories of Charles Curtis - scroll down to Article I.

But, first I thought I'd share a bit with you about why I am posting his stories - and that is included in the following paragraphs.

I live on the outskirts of what was once Kaw or Kanza tribal lands.  Well, the truth is all of the land around me was once roamed and claimed by the tribe and many other neighboring and competing tribes. What I am saying is that I live very close to the small piece of ground that was assigned to the tribe in 1847 - to be theirs forever more (or as it turned out, until someone else wanted it).  In 1873, the tribe was relocated one last time - destitute and dying - being sent south to live beyond the borders of Kansas in what was then referred to Indian Territory.....until someone else wanted that too and we began the process of taking it away again and calling it Oklahoma.  So many stories.

But, let's begin.  I have collected so much about him and I do not see it readily available in other places.  I plan to publish the manuscript later this year if there is enough interest in a ebook or amazon printed option.

This is a transcription of a manuscript that is available at the Kansas Historical Museum Archives.  It was donated to the museum archives in 1968 by his daughter or possibly his granddaughter who were both named Mrs. Webster Knight.  Leona, his daughter, passed away in 1965. But Leona's son was named after his father's family line and so her daughter-in-law would also carry the name.

Nowhere in the bound copy of approximately 180 pages does it specifically state that Charles wrote this collection of stories himself.  The originals appear to have been typed on an early technology typewriter, then photocopied and bound into a red cloth cover book with gold lettering on the spine stating, "The Life of Charles Curtis".  The first few pages inside the book are an overview of Charles' life written by someone else - stating all the facts you normally read about him; his accomplishments, his family, a bit about his family of origin.

When I opened the book and read the first few paragraphs, I was sorely disappointed.  I thought I had located the collection of stories rumored to exist.  An autobiography that was never completed.  Instead, I was reading the same list of known facts that are available in nearly every history book that mentions him.  Only later, after going numb leafing through Charles' sister's many, many volumes of scrapbooks of every newspaper clipping ever mentioning Charles - I returned to the red book.  I decided to give it one last look before turning it back into the research desk.  I would open it to one random page and give him one more opportunity to reach out to me and speak.  And that's when it happened.  You see, after the forward -which most likely was written by one of his proud family members, there follows the stories I believe he wrote.  And this is how his story begins..............

Article No. I

In the years when the North American Indian ruled supreme over all of our country there lived west of the Mississippi two strong and powerful tribes of Indians: the Osages and the Kanza (Kansas or Kaw). These tribes had their enemies among the smaller tribes of the Plains but they were dominant over their respective domains until after the Louisiana Purchase by the United States and until the Government began making treaties with them for the relinquishment of their lands which they held by the right of occupancy. History does not tell us from whence they came but they were in possession and each claimed by the right of occupancy a vast domain which by means of many a hard fought battle with the other wild tribes of the Plains, they were able to retain.

No comments: