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Chief
By Donna Flood
Chapter 36 - Along with Murderers


“Weldon doesn’t have any quitin’ sense,” Leon always made the observation.

There must have been truth to the uncle’s knowing first the boy and then the man.

The young man worked alone and with the strength of a tiger. Driving trucks, dozing the ponds, building fence and roofing the house was pulling him along in a daily kind of a marathon. His efforts weren’t being missed by the people who lived around him. Leon, Joe and Dean earlier had worked each in their own way to bring order to a strip of prairie that was barren of any civilization. If Dean had adhered to the lifestyle of the German immigrants in the area by staying free of the organizations or association to make him a spectacle, possibly, the hard work might have gone unobserved. The Germans stayed to their business of land and family. Their association with anyone other than that was almost like a wall to separate them from anyone who might walk through for destruction. They would have been the example to follow.

“Gossipers will be judged along with murderers,” so the Christian scriptures tell us and in Weldon’s case the prophesy would be played out in a final way.

The men in Bartlesville who were friends with Weldon’s wife’s first husband made it their business to talk about what was happening.

“You know that big dumb Indian has a lot of nerve!” One of them might be heard to say.

“Meaning?” Another joined in the conversation.

“He’s got that Osage money, you know that, and now he thinks he can just walk in here, take another man’s wife and all.” The man slammed his bottle down on the table in a gesture to indicate righteous indignation.

“We ought to do something about it.” Around the table the men deliberated while they worked their courage up along with their drink’s help.

“He’s at home this morning, probably getting ready to take her kids to church.

Someone call him and get him over here. He loves to play poker.”

“I’m not calling him for Poker. You know he takes the pot, every time, and I’m not crossing that big son of a gun. You know he’s as strong as an ox,” one of the cowardly men said.

“I’ll call him,” who knows he might need two women and my wife could be next. That money sure is like a lollipop on a stick to a poor woman who can’t even afford to buy shoes for her kids.

When the phone rang Chief rolled over in bed to answer before Gwen could be awakened. Sunday was the only time she had to rest and he didn’t want her bothered.

The man on the other end of the line was using his most persuasive voice.

“Say Chief, why don’t you take a day off. The boys and I are having a friendly game of Poker. We thought you might like to come on over.”

“I don’t know, the kids are expecting me to take them to church, you know.”

“Aw hell, man, you know you’ve been working too hard. Come on, take a break, it’ll do you good.” He was winking at the men around the table.

“I’ll think about it.” Weldon told the conniving person on the other end of the line.

This was a crude form of psychological warfare but certainly could be used to the advantage of men who were stressed and whipped by their fear of succumbing to failure in their own lives. Fear of failure, anger
without management, being called white trash all gave them a belief that someone less than they would have to take the goat’s position to pay for their own misery. Who else but an Indian man who happened to be Osage, too.

Weldon rolled out of bed and went about his Sunday routine of dressing the children, feeding them and then getting dressed himself but today he stayed in his comfortable, everyday clothing.

“I’m dropping you kids off at the church door, today. You know how to go in there and behave yourself. I’m taking a day off. Is that okay? Can you do that?

Weldon questioned his charges. “Are you big enough to do that?”

That morning their card game went as usual. Weldon had been taught to play Poker by his Grandfather Joe from the time he was a child. He, indeed, knew the game.

“Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch. Don’t ever shoot the moon, take ‘em a bit at a time.” Joe could be heard to advise.

If the men were upset before now they were hot in their rage with their losses.

“Come on, man! You need another drink. Give us a chance at some of this.”

In a joking way they poured him drink after drink. The bits of a powdery, substance, could easily be doctored into those drinks, too.

“Say! What time is it. I’ve got to pick up the kids.” Weldon was trying to regain his balance but as he began to rise from the table he was aware something was very wrong.

“I’m just a bit unsteady!” He tried to laugh it off. “I think I’ll go by the house first. Gwen may have to pick up the kids.”

“Better call first. Your women has her first old man in when you’re not there.”

Ordinarily Weldon would have been calm enough to ignore the jabs of a bunch of vengeful men but today he was drugged by alcohol and possibly some other substance. What should have been caution was now covered over with raw, intense rage as only those of the American Indian can experience.

The drunken man slammed through the door. It was a questionable how he managed to get into the right house.

When Gwen saw him, instead of retiring as a Native woman would have done, she confronted him. Her ignorance of this dangerous action was tendered by having known him to always be a “happy drunk.” She had never seen him like this.

Whatever their argument involved will never be known. Did she rise up to him and try to justify her children’s father’s visits? Was she adamant about not wanting to live on the ranch lands? At any rate, she did not get away from him or treat her place as an Indian woman would have done. These women were well knowing that if they put their selves in the way of the man, one of them would have to die.

So it was the children walked onto the scene.

“Who is this women wearing Mommy’s clothes?” One of them remembered, thinking as she saw a woman whose face and head were swollen as big as a bowl.

“Why did Daddy do this? He’s been our happy, big man. Why would he do something like this to our Mommy?” And so it went for the rest of their lives, the questions never to be answered. Bless the beasts and the children, so tells the popular tune, “for they have no choice.”

Weldon was unconscious in the back bedroom after Gwen had hit him with an iron. A neighbor called Dean at Ponca City and when Dean finally brought him around, Chief told him of the accusations the men made against his wife.

Gwen was home in her Mother’s home at Missouri, swollen from the beating, and now under the protection of her family. There was the district attorney, an Uncle from California and others there for her, when the calls started. Once Chief was begging for her to return, the next he was threatening to come to Mansfield, Missouri to kill her, along with his son, who was only ten days old and for that matter, her whole family.

The children were hiding in the back bedroom and could hear gunshots outside of their grandmother’s home in Missouri. Adults called the police but when they came Weldon fired at them. This was when the cruiser parked around the corner and would not come upon the scene.

“I’m taking my son with me to meet our Maker, this very night!” Weldon called out as he stepped up on the porch.

The man who was defending the family was told to be a lawman and if he was this must have been what caused him to be able to try to reason with the this crazed Indian man for over an hour, it was told.

The man inside the door kept asking for Weldon to give up his weapon.

“I can’t,” Chief replied. “I can’t give up my gun.”

When Weldon tried to open the door and fired through it, the Uncle inside returned fire from an old shotgun he was afraid would not even shoot.

So ended the hopes and dreams of not one family but of more, that of Weldon’s and Gwen’s and then, of their ten day old son.

Uncle Dean did, indeed, keep the case in court for eight years. Why they finally settled out of court is anyone’s guess. Was it because the 50,000.00 dollars in the bank was finally used up by Gwen’s attorney? Maybe Gwen was tired of doing all the things she had to do for court proceedings. She did have to take her child to Oklahoma City for blood tests to determine if there was a tie there with Chief’s blood.

The records are all there to read if anyone has the inclination or desire to learn of this saddest of stories. There was 300,000 cash saved at the agency and Mariah probably inherited that. The new car Gwen and Weldon bought together had to sit in her drive way for eight years. She wasn’t allowed to drive it until the case was settled. Weldon’s son inherited 21,000. to be paid when he was 21 years old. The oil royalties and land were left in the estate for the family.

The generations of cattlemen knew each other and may have reasoned that Dean would never quit. There were other testimonies that were kept off the records, too, by settling out of court, one of which was that of Peter Big Heart. He knew the relationship of the Osage. Dean wasn’t going to have any further dispersions be cast on his family. He was not totally innocent in his manipulations, either. Dean was intent that the holdings go to his own grandchildren, Mariah’s second family.

Mariah and Uncle Dean seemed totally defeated, though. My cries for having an autopsy went ignored and went unnoticed. This nineteen year old at the time, didn’t have the clout to push for something like that on my own. An autopsy would have told of any foreign substance involved to create and make a monster out of a fun-loving, gentle, man.

Today I finish this history with the help of the descendants of Weldon’s step children. They have filled in the awful details of what they tell, and in a way after 53 years I’ve been able to weep and am free from the sorrow of my cousin’s loss.

I don’t doubt that my Uncle Dean did know about the ways of men. He was a United States Marshall. There are people who are masters at manipulation and we will never know what or who was really involved. Murder of the Osage was practiced for money, for land, or for their oil royalties and that is just history. The family of Gwen’s were as much a victim as Weldon. Even for people in this state who have never walked into those dark areas where these plots are possible it is sometimes hard for them to believe or understand.

There was a positive thing to come out of the happening for me. Early on, I realized materialism at the best is not a trade for happiness and at the worst, can bring the deepest, saddest, grief, to so many.

I do pray that the authorities of the tribe can forgive whoever or whatever entity was involved and go forward to see that Weldon’s heirs are given their inheritance according to Osage bloodline in spite of what agreement was made behind closed doors of the court room shutting Weldon’s heirs out. Let the terrors of vengeance, anger and greed be at last buried with that one, who I only knew as a loving protector.

“There is a final judge,” my dear Brother, “we wait upon him.”


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