Welcome back. It seems that every week there is something going on in Pawhuska and this past weekend I was there once again to check out all the action. Many of you may be familiar with Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann which was published in 2017 and is now being turned into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. For those of you who haven’t read the book, it is the story of the Osage murders which took place in the 1920s when oil leases had made the tribal members rich. Unscrupulous white men began marrying Osage women and many of those women disappeared or were found murdered enabling their husbands to get control of their money. Grann’s book reexamines these crimes while describing the early days of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover through the experience of Tom White, the investigator assigned to the cases. Grann also provides a detailed portrait of Pawhuska and Osage County in the 1920s. Auditions were held on Saturday at the Osage County fairgrounds for Osage men and women who were interested in working as extras in the movie. I was curious about the turnout and when I got there the line to apply was two blocks long. The application process itself was simple, fill out a form and get your picture taken, then wait for a call. I’m currently talking with a couple of the people involved so I’ll keep you up to date on the progress of the project. Since I’ve been in Pawhuska so much lately I thought a little more history of the area might be appropriate for you readers. The year was 1867 and with the surrender of General Lee’s forces to General Grant at the Appomattox County Courthouse, any threat of an invasion of Indian Territory by the south was ended. However a few years later an invasion of a different kind took place in the Osage in the form of cattle. Thousands of them were being driven up from Texas along the now famous Chisolm Trail to be fattened up on the rich grass in the Osage before shipping out to the Kansas City stockyards. With the expansion of rail service in the area by 1892 cattle shipment records were broken on virtually every trip, the largest being a shipment of 800 cars all full of cattle. Over the years dozens and dozens of ranches popped up in the Osage, some came and went with the ups and downs in the industry but others lasted and grew. In 1965 the Tulsa Tribune published an article proclaiming that four of these ranches were “veritable empires.” The Chapman Barnard Ranch, part of which is now owned by the Nature Conservancy, had over 100,000 acres under the hat brand. In the 1950s the owner of Adams Ranch, Phillips Executive Boots Adams was buying as much land as he could. Even after his death in March of 1975 his heirs continued to expand the ranch in the Osage. The original Drummonds came to the Osage from Scotland. After first opening a successful trading post or mercantile as Ree calls it, the family became involved in ranching. Today the Land Report lists the family’s holdings among the top twenty largest in the country. One of the largest ranches at the time started with the Cherokee Land Run of 1893 when brothers John and David Mullendore staked their claim over by Cleveland. It would be Gene Mullendore, together with his son E.C., who would go on to create what the Tribune called the largest ranch in the country operated by one man. Estimated at 375,000 owned or leased land, the Cross Bell continued to grow until E.C. was murdered in 1970. A bankruptcy followed but even today the family owns one of the largest ranches in the area. I’m just scratching the surface in the history of the Osage but I’m out of space so till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..
November 23, 2019 Leave a comment