Return to Great Escape description                 return to KIAANAFH main page



CHIEF R. PERRY BEAVER  go to photograph   (Photo by Willard R. Johnson)  Muskogee (Creek) Principal Chief R. Perry Beaver, giving the keynote address at the   Humboldt History Days’ “Tracing ‘Trails of Blood on Ice’” commemoration of  “The Great Escape.”  This is a story of  thousands of Muskogee ("Creek") and other Native Americans, along with hundreds of African Americans, who escaped from Confederacy  controlled Indian Territory into Kansas during the winter of 1861/2. They were  led by the “Upper Creek” leader Opothleyahola.

CHIEF BEAVER AND WILLARD R. JOHNSON  go to photograph   (Photo by Willard R. Johnson)  The two principal speakers of the Ceremony are pictured preceding the event.

THE GOUGE COUSINS   go to photograph   (Photo by Joe Capolino) Mr. Felix and Mr. Thompson Gouge, direct descendants of Opothleyahola, beginning the procession  to honor the resolve, resilience, and  triumph of their own and the other families, including African-Americans,  that came to Kansas in the Great Escape. After Indian Territory (that later became Oklahoma) was liberated, most of these  Indian families returned to their homes. Many of the  blacks also returned to Indian Territory to become Creek and Cherokee citizens, in accordance with the promises made to them during the Escape, and in the Treaty of  1863, as well as in new  laws passed by the National Councils in 1865, and in the treaty to settle the Civil War in 1866. Chief Beaver is from Tulsa, and the Gouges live in Oklahoma City. 

MARY ATKIN    go to photograph   (Photo by Joe Capolino) Mrs. Mary Atkin, participates in the procession to  represent the Cherokee People who joined the Escape. She is a direct descendant of the inventor of the Cherokee writing system, Sequoia.  She was raised at the family compound in Oklahoma, and  now resides in Kansas.

MRS. CAROLYN GREEN, Chair of the Humboldt Historic Days Committee, spoke about the use of quilts to convey information to escaping slaves during the period of  Underground Railroad activities.  go to photograph  (Photo by Joe Capolino)

MR. ERIC KIRKWOOD, member of the KIAANAFH Board of Directors, recounts the rise and role of the Indian Home Guard as well as the Kansas Colored  military units that included warriors, black and Indian, who came in the Great Escape, and fought with the Union army  to help liberate Indian Territory and in other Civil War battles in the region. go to photograph
For copy of his presentation  click here

Mrs. CHARLOTTE GOODSEAL   in the Procession  go to photograph    (Photo by Joe Capolino) Charlotte Goodseal, born in Humboldt and now residing in Grand View MO connects to one of the several Landrums that were  born in the Creek Nation and  that came in the Great Escape to the Neosho Falls area. One of the Landrums served in both the First Indian Home Guard and the Second Kansas Colored regiments. Two other Landrums also served in the Second Kansas Colored.

REV. BAYNHAM, CHIEF BEAVER,  and CHARLOTTE GOODSEAL     go to photograph (Photo by Willard R. Johnson)     Charlotte Goodseal  recounts the story of her own family.  Master of Ceremonies, and Vice President of the KIAANAFH, the Rev. Robert L. Baynham also wrote the pledge of unity that all the participants and audience recited at the end of the procession. 

BILL LINDE    go to photograph   (Photo by Joe Capolino)   Bill Linde, President of the Southeast  Kansas Association of Counties,  instigator of the successful project  to have the State Legislature designate the Opothleyahola commemorative highway, and a tireless advocate of awareness and appreciation of Native American culture and history, speaks about the legacy of  Opothleyahola and the Great Escape in the Woodson county area, where Opothleyahola is buried. 

JAMES BOYD  photograph in procession (Photo by Joe Capolino)   go to photograph speaking   (Photo by Willard R. Johnson)  Life long resident and community leader of Humboldt, James Boyd, recounts the story of Aunt Polly Crosslin (later named Crosby) who was one of the earliest black settlers in Humboldt, and who likely came to Indian Territory with her parents who, according to early Humboldt newspaper accounts, had been slaves to Cherokee in Florida. Her first husband, Edward Crosslin, was an interpreter for the Seminoles. They likely came to Kansas during or very soon after the Escape. She was a real pillar of the colored community (black and Indian) in Humboldt during the Civil War, was one of the principal founders of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church (which celebrated its 121st birthday on the day following this ceremony) and was  active in the  underground railroad activities for which the town was known.


MARJORIE HARPER    Photo of Marjorie Harper in the Procession (Photo by Joe Capolino) photograph of Majorie speaking   (Photo by Willard R. Johnson) Now a resident of Kansas City, MO, Marjorie Harper, also a member of the Boyd family, commemorated Andrew and Sarah Tecumseh. Andrew  was born in Indian Territory and likely came to Kansas in the Escape. Sarah  was one of the early members of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church. 

REV. OTIS CRAWFORD   go to photograph   (Photo by Willard R. Johnson)  The former Pastor of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church, life long Humboldt resident, the Rev. Otis Crawford Jr. recounted his own family history, which descends from one of the earliest and largest of the black families in Humboldt, that of Rufus and Caroline Anderson. He also commemorated the family of Elizabeth Payne, herself an Indian (probably Creek) who was the wife of Rev. D.D. Payne, the first Pastor of the church.

WILLARD R. JOHNSON   go to photograph  (Photo by Joe Capolino) Organizer of the Ceremony, and President of the KIAANAFH, Willard R. Johnson, recounted the long history of the connections between persons of African descent and the Native peoples of the Southeast U.S., especially the so-called Creeks (Muskogee). He also explained the special role Humboldt had played in the events and planning preceding the Great Escape. In the procession, he also recounted the story of his own family, that included a Cherokee Freedman, Charley Davis, who was born in Tahlequah (capital of  The Cherokee Nation) around 1846 and was in Humboldt by 1870.

PARTICIPANTS   go to photograph  (photo by Willard R. Johnson)

 Background and map click here  Explanation of  sites   click here

Return to Great Escape description                 return to KIAANAFH main page