The Story of Edmund Guerrier


Dee Cordry


Stanley Vestal once wrote that when William Bent closed his first adobe trading post on the Arkansas River it was the end of the "old west" and the beginning of the "wild west." William Bent and his friend Kit Carson were among the pioneers of the old west. General Custer, General Hancock, Ben Clark, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, "Wild Bill" Hickok, George Bent, and Charles Bent were among the participants of the Indian wars representing both sides of the conflict. There was a unique frontiersman who knew all of these men well, a man who witnessed first hand the end of the old west and experienced the adventure and hardship of the wild west. He played a part on both sides of the Indian wars and survived the Sand Creek Massacre. His name was Edmund Guerrier, and the town of Geary, Oklahoma is named for him.

Frontier trader Seth E. Ward came to the Colorado region and operated a trading business over a wide area in 1836. Ward and his partner William Guerrier, a Frenchman, built a trading post nine miles above Fort Laramie on the North Platte River. The post was a fort constructed of stone. Guerrier was the son of Charles and Felicite LeGuerrier of St. Louis. William married a Cheyenne Indian woman, and they had a son, Edmund, who was born in 1840. Some reports have Edmund being born at the post on the North Platte River; others report him being born on the Smoky Hill River.

Shortly before Ward and Guerrier had built their post on the Platte River, William and Charles Bent built a trading post on the upper Arkansas River at the crossing of the Santa Fe Trail ford leading to Raton Pass. Bent's Fort would become the largest and most successful trading venure in the old west. William Bent married a Cheyenne, Owl Woman, the daughter of Gray Thunder. After her death, William married her sister, Yellow Woman. These marriages produced Mary, Robert, George, Charles, and Julia Bent. The first child, Mary, was born in 1838.

By the winter of 1844 William Guerrier was working for the Bent trading company. Guerrier and W. M. Boggs spent the winter in the camp of a Cheyenne chief named Cinemo, trading goods for buffalo robes. Boggs described "old Bill Garey" as a trader who could speak the Cheyenne language both by signs and words. According to Boggs, Guerrier had a Sioux Indian wife, and one little boy, and they lived in a lodge near the large teepee of Chief Cinemo. (Other sources identify Guerrier's wife as Tah-tah-tois-neh, a member of the sourthern branch of the Cheyenne.) William Bent expanded his area of operations in 1845 by building an adobe trading post on the Canadian River in the Texas panhandle. The post was named Fort Adobe.

William Bent was urged by the Cheyenne and Arapahoes to begin peace talks with the Kiowa and Comanches at a spot on the Arkansas River near Bent's Fort as early as 1840. In about 1845 Bent was called on to attempt to create peace between the Cheyenne and the Delawares. William Guerrier was chosen to be the interpreter.

Bents Fort was in use by General Stephen Kearny in 1846 for military purposes. Lieutenant James W. Abert, a topographical engineer, was a member of General Kearny's command. Abert noted the activities of Guerrier in excerpts from his official reports: "...Tuesday, September 8 [1846] - I spent this morning employed in taking the dimensions of Bent's fort. It required some time to complete all the measurements.........In the morning Bill Garey arrived here. He was the interpreter last year at the council held in August at this place, by a deputation of Delaware and the Cheyenne nation. He is now engaged in trading with the Indians in the vicinity of Pueblo, or Hardscrabble."

William Guerrier's wife, and an infant child, died of cholera in 1849. It is not known how much contact young Edmund had with his Cheyenne relatives during his younger years. He remained with his father until he was sent back east to school in 1851. The method in which young Guerrier travelled east is unknown, but caravans from the Colorado region frequented the Santa Fe Trail. William Bent travelled from Bent's Fort in 1851 to St. Louis. Perhaps young Edmund was sent east by his father with the Bent caravan.


Edmund was away from the frontier for over ten years, attending St. Mary's Mission in Kansas and then the St. Louis University in 1856. While he was receiving his education, his father formed another partnership with Seth Ward in 1849. Ward and Guerrier operated a trading post about twenty miles east of Fort Laramie in 1851, then moved to Sand Point in 1852. Sand Point was also known as Register Cliff on the Oregon Trail. Their post at Sand Point is thought by some historians to be the first cattle ranch in the state of Wyoming. William Guerrier was killed in an accident while trading with the Indians in the Powder River country during the winter of 1857-1858.. An open keg of gun powder was in the front of his wagon, left accidentally uncovered by his employees. As Guerrier stepped up on the wagon tongue, sparks fell from his lighted pipe, igniting the keg of powder.

When Edmund returned to the western frontier in 1862, the old west he had left was now the wild west. Tensions between whites and Indians were rising, and Edmund Guerrier, age twenty-two, was the son of a white father and Cheyenne mother. He took a job as a bullwhacker on the trail from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Union, New Mexico. The most common route between these two forts would have been the Santa Fe Trail, and it is possible that Edmund had a chance to visit his father's old friend at Bent's New Fort along the Arkansas River. After reaching New Mexico, he took a job helping transport Apache prisoners from Fort Stanton to Fort Sumner. Kit Carson was in charge at Fort Sumner, and young Edmund may have become acquainted with Carson because of their common ties to William Bent.

Edmund returned from New Mexico to Kansas in 1864 and was present at Fort Larned when William Bent arrived with the Cheyenne Indians for a peace council. Fort Larned had been established on the Santa Fe Trail near the junction of the Arkansas River and the Pawnee River. Edmund had the opportunity to meet many of his Cheyenne relatives at this gathering, and after the peace council he went with the Cheyenne to spend the summer on the Smoky Hill River. If Edmund had not already become acquainted with his father's old employer, William Bent, it is certain that he did so during this time period. Edmund also formed friendships with Bent's children which would be of major importance for the rest of his life. Mary Bent had married R. M. Moore in 1860 at Westport, Missouri, and may not have been present on the frontier. Edmund, however, was certainly acquainted with George Bent and in August 1864 the Cheyenne chiefs called on Edmund and George to act as interpreters and deliver messages of peace to Fort Lyon, Colorado. At age twenty-four, Edmund Guerrier was following in his father's footsteps, enabling the peace process between white men and the Cheyenne. Nineteen years earlier, William Guerrier had acted in a similar role with the Cheyenne and the Delaware.

The Cheyenne chiefs had instructed George and Edmund to write the following message dated August 29, 1864: "We received a letter from [William] Bent wishing us to make peace. We held a council in regard to it. All come to the concluion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahoes, Apaches and Sioux.......We hear that you have some Indian prisoners in Denver. We have some prisoners of yours which we are willing to give up, providing you give up yours....We want true news from you in return."

Edmund spoke often with the captive white women, giving them reassurance of a safe return to their families. Major Wynkoop and his troops went to the Smoky Hill River and were given the white prisoners. Colorado Governor Evans proposed to the Cheyenne chiefs that they surrender to Fort Lyon in return for rations. With winter coming on, Chief Black Kettle and the other chiefs accepted Evans' offer and moved to camp on Sand Creek near Fort Lyon. Charles Bent and his sister Julia were joined at Sand Creek by George Bent and Edmund Guerrier.

Black Kettle and a delegation went to Fort Lyon and offerred to come to terms. Major Anthony told them he had no authority to negotiate. Anthony reported the location of the Cheyenne camp to district headquarters. Colonel Chivington thus learned the location of the Cheyenne camp and proceeded there in November to carry out the instructions of General Curtis: "Iwant no peace until the Indians have sufferred more." To insure a surprise attack, Chivington left twenty armed guards at Bents Fort to prevent William Bent or anyone else from leaving. Chivington's guide, an elderly Jim Beckworth, collapsed at Fort Lyon and Chivington ordered Robert Bent to lead the soldiers to the Cheyenne village. Robert Bent was forced at gunpoint to lead the way against his mother's own people, including his brothers and sister. It would become known as the Sand Creek Massacre.


Early on the morning of November 29, 1864 Chivington and his soldiers arrived at the Cheyenne camp. They were spotted by a Cheyenne woman who sounded the alarm. Edmund Guerrier was alerted. Black Kettle raised an American flag and a white flag. Guerrier and a trader, "Blackfoot" John Smith, went toward the soldiers who were lined up on the low bluff above the Cheyenne lodges. The soldiers fired on Guerrier and Smith, launching the attack. "It seems incredible that we were not killed," said Guerrier in a later interview. John Smith's son, Jack, was quickly captured and then shot down in cold blood. Charles Bent was taken captive. George Bent was shot in the hip but managed to escape, as did Julia Bent and Edmund Guerrier. George Bent estimated that 163 Cheyenne had been killed in the attack, 110 of them women and children.

Guerrier and other survivors travelled through the bitter cold toward the camp of Little Robe on the Smoky Hill River, arriving the next day. Chivington released Charles Bent at Fort Lyon, and he quickly rejoined the Cheyenne. When George's wound healed, he joined Charles and a band of Cheyenne "Dog Soldiers" on raids up and down the western plains.

Later that winter, Colonel Kit Carson led soldiers in an attack on Indians near Fort Adobe, the abandoned trading post of William Bent in the Texas panhandle. In the spring of 1865, Carson was ordered by General Carlson to establish a camp on the Cimarron cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail to give protection to travellers. Carson built Camp Nichols half way between Fort Dodge and Fort Union, about a mile north of the Trail and two miles from the Cimarron River. Carson was summoned in August 1865 to Fort Lyon where a congressional investigation of the Sand Creek Massacre was being held. Also present was William Bent, who was instructed to bring the Indians together in October for a council on Bluff Creek. William Bent and Kit Carson were present in October at the Treaty of the Little Arkansas, along with Colonel Leavenworth. Leavenworth employed Edmund Guerrier as a courier and interpreter. The government made it's apology to the Indians for Chivington's attack, and under article 5 of the treaty, each half-breed child of John Poisal, Thomas Fitzpatrick, William Bent, John S. Smith, William Guerrier, John Prowers, John Y. Sickles, Lieutenant Crocker, and A. T. Winsor were given a section of land by the United States.

Edmund Guerrier spent 1866 working for traders in the Indian camps, possibly in the employ of William Bent. Edward Wynkoop, identified by one reference as a Colonel at Fort Zarah and by another as the Indian agent at Fort Larned, recommended Edmund Guerrier as scout to General Hancock in April 1867. Guerrier had been employed by Wynkoop as an interpreter. Guerrier was fluent in English, Patois French, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. He was familiar with the great plains and trusted by many of the Indian tribes.

General Hancock's army included cavalry, infantry, artillery, and a lieutenant-colonel of the Seventh Cavalry named Custer. Guerrier's first assignment as a scout for Hancock was to locate a band of Cheyenne who were to meet with Hancock. Guerrier brought in Bull Bear, Tall Bull and White Horse on April 12th, 1967. (Other reports have about 150 Cheyenne arriving to meet Hancock.) General Hancock was pleased with Guerrier's ability to bring in the chiefs but was unhappy with the small number of Indians. Hancock also did not think these chiefs were high enough in rank for negotiations. Hancock demanded to see the Cheyenne camp but the chiefs protested, fearing another Sand Creek Massacre.

Despite the protests, Hancock moved his command along the Pawnee River toward the Indian camp, led by Guerrier. Present with the command was a courier named James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok. As the troops neared the Cheyenne camp they encountered the warriors of the camp, mounted and ready for war. Custer had his Seventh cavalry deployed in a skirmish line. As the two sides faced each other, Guerrier and Wynkoop rode over to speak with chief Roman Nose. Roman Nose was married to a cousin of Guerrier. Guerrier persuaded Roman Nose and the other chiefs to meet Hancock.

Stories conflict as to what exactly happened next. A meeting took place that night. Present were Hancock, Custer, and other officers. Guerrier was the interpreter. The Cheyenne were represented by Roman Nose and Bull Bear. Roman Nose apparently agreed to the meeting that evening in order to keep Hancock busy while the women and children fled the Cheyenne camp. Roman Nose, the senior chief of the Cheyenne, had decided to kill Hancock if his demands to Hancock were not met. Guerrier was standing at Hancock's elbow, and near to Guerrier was Bull Bear, who knew what Roman Nose intended to do. Roman Nose faced Hancock, who he felt "is the cause of all our trouble." Bull Bear sensed the moment was near and pulled Guerrier away from Hancock so that he would not be injured in the attack. For reasons unknown, Hancock tugged Guerrier by the sleeve back to his side. Guerrier continued to be pulled back and forth. Roman Nose changed his mind about the attack. Hancock demanded the women and children be returned to the camp and assigned Guerrier to return to the camp with the Cheyenne. He was ordered to report to Hancock every two hours on the status of the camp.

Guerrier discovered the camp was almost deserted and that the few remaining Cheyenne were preparing to leave. Roman Nose told him "go back and say that we are going, every one of us." Guerrier did return to Hancock, and while one source reports that he returned quickly, another source reports Guerrier taking his time in returning, perhaps to give the Cheyenne more time to flee. At the army camp, an Indian voice could be heard in the distance singing a song. Some historians speculate it was the voice of Roman Nose, singing to create the impression that the Indians had not yet left their camp in order to protect Guerrier from suspision of cooperating with the Cheyenne. Another member of the camp said it was a song the Indians sang when they were afraid.

When Guerrier reported to Hancock that the Cheyenne had said they were going to leave the camp, Hancock immediately ordered Custer and his cavalry to surround the Indian village. Custer did so, accompanied by Guerrier. The camp was deserted except for a girl and two Sioux who were too old to travel. Hancock ordered Custer and the Seventh Cavalry to pursue the Cheyenne and return them. Guerrier was ordered to convince them to return voluntarily. Joined by Wild Bill Hickok, they set out on April 15th, 1867 along the Pawnee River and up Walnut Creek. Custer wrote about Guerrier in his autobiography, "The opinions of Guerrier, the half-breed, were eagerly sought for and generally deferred to."

Custer's attempt to capture the Cheyenne were unsuccessful. Some historians are of the opinion that Guerrier may have led Custer away from Roman Nose and his band on purpose. This opinion is also held by descendants of Guerrier. He may have wished to protect the Cheyenne, or he may have wished to protect the soldiers from a possible Cheyenne ambush. Having begun his government service as an interpreter at a peace council, and following in his father's footsteps, Guerrier may have worked to keep both sides from fighting each other. Perhaps another clue to the motives of Guerrier can be found in an incident that took place when the Seventh Cavalry reached the Smoky Hill River. In an area that may have been near Downer's Station on the Smoky Hill trail, Guerrier was riding ahead in the prairie when he discovered the bodies of Lieutneant Kidder and his men, killed by a Sioux war party. Also killed was Kidder's scout, Red Beads, who was a Sioux. Perhaps Guerrier did not wish to meet the same fate as Red Beads.

The Hancock campaign was a failure and Custer was arrested for ordering the shooting of deserters. Custer was relieved of command. Hickok served as a deputy U.S. marshal in Hays City during 1867 and 1868. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who had been a guide for Custer, joined Hickok in the Spring of 1868 in transporting prisoners from Fort Hays to Topeka.


The government tried to find a peaceful solution to the hostilities in the summer of 1867. Guerrier was sent to the camps of the plains Indians to learn the chances of making peace. Guerrier was then sent to invite the Indians to the council for peace on Medicine Lodge Creek. General Sanborn of the Medicine Lodge Treaty commission sent Guerrier down on Sleeping Bear creek and to persuade the Cheyenne to come in for a talk. Edmund was reunited with his friend George Bent and in September 1867 they described the Sand Creek Massacre to the Medicine Lodge council. Also present was George's sister, Julia Bent.

The Medicine Lodge Treaty did not last and General Philip Sheridan, commander of the Department of the Missouri, developed a strategy in 1868 to conduct a winter campaign against the Indians south of the Arkansas River. Sheridan hoped to attack when the Indians were at their weakest during the dead of winter. Camp Supply was established on November 18, 1868 at the junction of Wolf Creek and the Beaver River. Sheridan had returned Custer to command for the winter campaign. While Colonel Custer moved toward Camp Supply, General Eugene A. Carr began assembling his command at Fort Lyon on the Arkansas River near Bent's new fort in the Colorado Territory. Carr completed the preparations on December 1, 1868 not knowing that Custer had already attacked Black Kettle's band in the "Battle of the Washita" on November 27th. Carr and his troops headed southeast from Fort Lyon led by scouts Edmund Guerrier and William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

Carr's expedition encountered extreme winter conditions. Carr joined Captain Penrose on December 19th near San Francisco Creek and then established a supply depot along Palo Duro Creek, described as being a few miles north of the Beaver River. Carr intended to meet Colonel Andrew W. Evans and his Third Cavalry Regiment, which was heading east from Fort Bascom, New Mexico along the Canadian River. Evans travelled far enough to establish his supply depot on Monument Creek near Fort Adobe, Bent's abandoned trading post on the Canadian River also known as Adobe Walls.

Carr sent his scouts, mostly likely including Guerrier, to locate Evans. Evans' depot was soon discovered by the scouts. When Cody arrived he met his old friend Wild Bill Hickok, who was employed by Evans as a scout. Cody and Hickok returned to Carr's camp on Palo Duro Creek. Carr assigned Guerrier and Hickok to head for Camp Supply and determine the number of Indians along Wolf Creek and the Beaver River. They reported back to Carr that the few Indians were found. Carr's orders were to stop the escape of Indians fleeing other commanders such as Custer, so he was forced to maintain his position. The severe winter conditions took a toll on Carr's troops. He was forced to send Cody with twenty wagons on a buffalo hunting trip. Cody was successful, returning with over one hundred processed bison and saving the soldiers from starvation. Carr's camp on Palo Duro Creek finally received word of Custer's attack on Black Kettle and Carr's command was ordered back to Fort Lyon. The mules and horses were so weak that Carr was forced to cache most of his supplies.

At some point during this winter campaign Carr sent Edmund Guerrier on a mission which almost cost Guerrier his life and is one of the great stories of survival in the wild west. Guerrier was sent from Adobe Walls to Camp Supply with dispatches for General Sheridan. Sheridan had left Camp Supply and was south of there along the Washita River. Guerrier joined with some of Custer's scouts - Jack Stillwell, Jack Corbin, Jimmy Morrison, and the Osage scout Hard Rope - and they headed south in search of Sheridan. Some time in January 1869 Sheridan established Camp Wichita south of the Washita River on Medicine Bluff Creek. The camp later became Fort Sill. Guerrier delivered the dispatches to Sheridan and then returned to Carr's camp with a scout named John Hanley.

When Guerrier and Hanley arrived at Carr's camp, described by one source as being on the "Palladora," it was the dead of winter and the camp was abandoned. Carr's command had already left for Fort Lyon. Guerrier and Hanley were without food and were depending on Carr's depot for supplies. They observed a arrow pointing down but did not understand that it marked the spot where Carr's supply cache was located. A blizzard trapped them for three days on Palo Duro Creek. Then they set out for Bent's new fort on the Purgatoire River in Colorado Territory. Hanley's horse soon gave out. Walking across the frozen prairie, Hanley's boots were "run over" so badly that his ankles were bleeding. Guerrier placed Hanley on his mule and tried leading the way on foot. When his trousers ripped loose at the seems Guerrier tied a buffalo robe around his waist. The two scouts became weaker and weaker. Once, the mule with Hanley wandered off into a canyon and Guerrier almost didn't find them. Guerrier gave up trying to lead the mule and instead got behind the mule and drove it forward at a trot. After eight days with no food across the frozen wilderness, Guerrier and Hanley arrived at Bent's fort. In a few days they were fully recovered. Edmund had sought the help of his good friends, the Bent family, instead of returning to his commander at Fort Lyon. In May of 1869 William Bent died, ending an era.

General Sheridan submitted a report to General Sherman dated November 1, 1869 describing the military operations in the Department of Missouri from October 15, 1868 through March 27, 1869. The report included a sworn statement from Edmund "Guerriere" which was titled "In the field, Medicine Bluff Creek, Wichita Mountains, February 9th, 1869." Guerrier's statement was this: "I was with Cheyenne Indians at the time of the massacre on the Solomon and Saline rivers in Kansas, the early part or middle of last August, and I was living at this time with Little Rock's band. The war party who started for the Solomon and Saline was Little Rock's, Black Kettle's, Medicine Arrow's and Bull Bear's bands; and as near as I can remember, nearly all the different bands of Cheyennes had some of their young men in this war party which committed the out rages and murders on the Solomon and Saline. Red Nose, and The-man-who-breaks-the-marrow bones, [Ho-eh-a-mo-a-hoe] were the two leaders in this massacre; the former belonged to the Dog Soldiers, and the latter in Black Kettle's band. As soon as we heard the news by runners who came on ahead to Black Kettle - saying that they had already commenced fighting, we moved from our camp on Buckner's Fork of the Pawnee, near the head waters, down to North Fork, where we met Big Jake's band, and then moved south, across the Arkansas river; and when we got to the Cimarron, George Bent and I left them and went to our homes on the Purgatoire." Sheridan seems to use this statement, in part, as justification for Custer's attack on Black Kettle.

Guerrier appears to have given up scouting and he became a trader. He was a trader for Tracey & Tappan & Lee & Reynolds at Fort Supply for several years. At some point in time Edmund was advised not to interpret for the plains Indians because they might become angry with him and his life would be in danger. He is reported to have moved his family and ponies to Camp Supply for protection. During July of 1873 Guerrier and plainsman Ben Clark reported to Agent Miles that New Mexican whiskey peddlers had packed 200 kegs of whiskey into the Cheyenne camps near Camp Supply.

About a year later, in June 1874, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians attacked the buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls, near the old trading post established by William Bent. And in September 1874, Billy Dixon and five other scouts were attacked enroute from McClellan Creek to Camp Supply. The scouts forted up in a buffalo wallow and held off the attack. Guerrier's knowledge of these events is unknown.

A new Cheyenne & Arapaho agency had been established in 1871 at Darlington, across the North Canadian River from Fort Reno. About eight hundred Cheyenne surrendered at the Darlington agency in March of 1875 and the war against the Cheyenne was thought have come to an end. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Neill with "Headquarters Troops in the field Camp near Cheyenne Agency, I.T." described the events which occurred on April 6th, 1875 that later became known as the "Sand Hill Fight." Cheyennes considered to be hostile had been arrested on the 4th and placed in the guard house. On the 6th at 1:45 p.m. the blacksmith was in the process of rivetting iron leglets on Black Horse when the Indian broke and ran toward the Cheyenne camp near by. He was chased and killed by a Captain and six soldiers. Fighting broke out, and when Captain Rafferty's "M" Company arrived they found over one hundred Cheyenne warriors occupying a position on an isolated sand hill on the south side of the North Canadian River. When the battle was over, the soldiers had the bodies of six Cheyenne men and one woman. Nineteen soldiers were wounded. George Bent was present and witnessed the shooting of Big Shell. The escaping Cheyenne made it to the camp of Little Bull, about 25 miles away on the North Canadian. Captain Rafferty reported that when the hostile Indians left the sand hills they went west up the North Fork of the Canadian and joined those who had not surrendered to the agency.

Guerrier's knowledge of or possible involvement in the Sand Hill Fight is unknown. Sometime in 1875 he married Julia Bent, George's sister. It appears that the Bent family by 1875 had relocated to the Darlington agency from their home in Colorado. As stated earlier, under article 5 of the Treaty of the Little Arkansas, a section of land was given to survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre and Julia Bent had received 640 acres of land which included Bent's Fort. Julia lived there until at least 1872. She sold 300 acres to her brother-in-law, Judge R. M. Moore of Las Animas, Colorado.

George's brother, Robert, led a party of Cheyenne hunters in July 1876 on a buffalo hunt to the western part of the Cheyenne-Arapaho reservation. The Cheyenne needed the buffalo skins for their lodges because government supplies were inadequate. Problems grew worse. The occupants of the reservation included Northern Cheyenne, or Sioux, who camped by themselves and did not socialize with the Southern Cheyenne. The Dog Soldiers, a Cheyenne military and police society, wanted to be responsible for issuing government rations, but Agent John D. Miles found that they took an unequal share of the beef. Miles ordered only his employees to issue rations. Following complaints about the food, and investigation was conducted. The rations were found to be "entirely insufficient and of poor quality." Agent Miles testified that the supply of rations was only three-quarters of the full amount guaranteed by the treaty.

Three hundred and fifty-three Northern Cheyenne left the reservation on September 9, 1878 under the leadership of Little Wolf and Dull Knife. According to one source, Dull Knife said "I would rather die in freedom on my way back home than starve to death here." In what is known as the Dull Knife Raid, they battled their way across Oklahoma, Kansas, and into Nebraska. Many of the Northern Cheyenne died and others were eventually returned to the reservation.

The Cheyenne began to graze cattle on their vast reservation, and in December 1882 George Bent, Robert Bent, and Ben Clark spoke to Agent Miles on behalf of the Cheyenne. Miles was authorized by the Cheyenne to lease the grazing lands and tentative agreements with seven cattlemen were signed. The seven cattlemen were Lewis M. Briggs, Hampton B. Denman, Albert G. Evans, Robert D. Hunter, Edward Fenlon, William E. Malaley, and Jesse Morrison. They leased grazing lands in size from 140,000 to 570,000 acres at an annual rate of two cents per acre. Some members of the Cheyenne did not approve of leasing tribal lands to white cattlemen, and on July 17, 1885 General Sheridan gathered the leaders of the dissident Cheyenne at Darlington to hear their complaints. Stone Calf demanded that George Bent, Robert Bent, Ben Clark, Edmund Guerrier and all others cooperating with the cattlemen be removed from the reservation. Later that year, President Cleveland ordered the leasing be stopped.

Famous artist Frederick Remington was touring the west in about 1888 when he visited Fort Reno. Ben Clark was assigned to take Remington to the Cheyenne & Arapaho agency and assist as an interpreter. When Remington wrote about the visit, he described "a son of old Bent, the famous frontiersman, and an educated Indian do the clerical work...." Remington was indeed describing George Bent, who was an employee of the agency. Perhaps the person he described as an educated Indian was Edmund Guerrier.

Before the reservation was opened by the government to white settlement in 1892, each member of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes received an allotment of 160 acres. The Indians generally chose allotments in the eastern half of the reservation in the valleys of the Washita, Canadian, and North Canadian rivers. George Bent, whose Indian name was given as Do-hah-en-no, received allotment number 227 located at Section 20, Township 13, Range 12. Edmund and Julia Guerrier received allotments number 366 and 367, and their children William and Anna received allotments number 368 and 369. Between them, they owned lots 5 through 9 on Section 20, Township 14, Range 10. Edmund Guerrier lived there on the southern bank of the North Canadian River in far northwest Canadian County. He operated a trading post for many years. In 1893 the post office was opened in the nearby village which is named for him, Geary, Oklahoma.

Mrs. Mary Hudnall of Las Animas, Colorado once visited the Guerrier family. She described their home as a two-story house in which the children lived. Julia and Edmund took pride in living "Indian style" and lived in a tent in the yard, according to Hudnall. When Guerrier was interviewed by Fred S. Barde of Guthrie in about 1920, they visited under a "brush tepee." Edmund Guerrier passed away on February 22, 1921 and is buried in the Geary cemetary.

Guerrier's old companion, Buffalo Bill, brought his wild west show to Oklahoma City in about 1900. Buffalo Bill sent passes to all his old frontier friends ahead of time, including Guerrier and Ben Clark. When Clark came across Guerrier in El Reno, he asked Edmund if he would attend the show. Guerrier replied no, he did not feel up to it, and then he told Clark to pose a question to Buffalo Bill when he attended the show: "Ask Bill if he remembers the night when we stood guard duty together on the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas River." Guerrier continued: "If he does remember, ask him if it isn't a fact that he was afraid of me that night, just because I was half Indian, and if he wasn't on guard all night against me lest I should stick a knife in his back."

When Ben Clark posed the question to Buffalo Bill, Cody's eyes filled with tears and he replied: "Yes, I was afraid of him that night. I didn't know him before then but I never mistrusted a truer friend in my life, for no truer heart ever lived that Ed Guerrier."


You can reach me at