The friends of the Rush Springs Library rallied in amazing fashion for John's Chisholm Trail Country-highlighted Oklahoma History presentation and book signing Thursday evening, March 30th. Library Director Tom Gashlin and the good folks of this southwest Oklahoma town of just over 1,000 people filled up most of the library's meeting room.
John signs copies of both his Oklahoma and Civil War history books for Rush Springs folks, including Betty Heilman (left) and Merlene Rust (right).
Rush Springs historical marker commemorating the 1858 Battle of the Wichita Village just southeast of the present town. In a daring ambush, Captain (and future Confederate General) Earl Van Dorn, Texas horse soldier (and future Texas Governor) Sul Ross, Caddo, Tonkawa, and Wichita Indian scouts, and the 2nd United States Cavalry defeated Comanches there during the bloody war in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and Texas that pitted American settlers and allied Natives against Plains Indians.
Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross. While a nineteen-year-old Texas college student and militiaman, Wichita, Caddo, and Tonkawa warrior scouts named him their "War Chief" when his Indian Agent father fell ill. He led these Indians north across Red River to near the modern day Grady County town of Rush Springs as scouts for the U.S. 2nd Calvary against Comanches who had devastated Lone Star settlements. Ross and the Natives caught the large Comanche encampment sleeping and stampeded their horses, a pivotal event in the ensuing Battle of the Wichita Village, which these scouts and the soldiers decisively won. The teenaged Sul Ross gained lasting fame at Rush Springs not only for spearheading the electrifying stampede against the "Lords of the Plains," but by taking an arrow wound to the shoulder and a .58 caliber bullet to the chest while rescuing a captive white girl. He suffered through such agony in the ensuing days that he begged his colleagues to kill him. They didn't and he survived, earned one of the most glittering records of any Confederate officer in the War Between the States, rose to the rank of general, and later became governor of Texas and president of Texas A&M. And he adopted and raised as his own daughter the orphaned girl he rescued near Rush Springs.
U.S. 2nd Calvary Regiment Captain Earl Van Dorn, who led his soldiers to victory over a large Comanche force in the 1858 Battle of the Wichita Village. Typical of the sanguinary shortgrass country Indian wars of the 1830s-1870s, the Comanches had recently conducted peace negotiations with other American officers, but the 2nd Calvary pursued them from Texas with no interest in parleying after the Natives had slaughtered numerous families and kidnapped children from south of Red River.
The Chisholm Trail, the greatest overland stock path in history, rumbled right through present-day Rush Springs.
The Rush Springs, Oklahoma water tower trumpets the town's claim as Watermelon Capital of the World. The annual Watermelon Festival draws thousands of visitors for activities that include carnival rides, arts and crafts fair, live entertainment and stage shows, great food, and a classic automotive show. Here is the "Chickasaw Country" link to this year's August 13th celebration: http:// chickasawcountry.com/events/rush-springs-watermelon-festival, John will be there this year with his family signing books!
Tom Gashlin, talented and energetic director of the Rush Springs Library, who organized John's presentation and book signing.