The Lost St. Louis Settlement

The Forgotten St. Louis Settlement of Washington County

By: Roseanne McKee
Part I:

In a series of interviews over the past few months, Bartlesville resident, Jack Short, talked about the forgotten St. Louis Settlement established in the late 1800’s in Washington County west of the Caney River and his own childhood in that area.

Just before statehood the St. Louis settlement, located on Cherokee land, had 75 people, Jack Short said.

No one knows for sure why it was named the St. Louis settlement. “I don’t think any of them had ever been to St. Louis. I asked my dad and he didn’t know,” Short said.

The St. Louis settlement had a school and the Saddle Rock Café. Short’s uncle, Ray Edwards, attended the St. Louis school, and was interviewed at age 12 about the school, Short recalled. The interview is from a book by Bartlesville author, Sue Smith, entitled “Recalling the Past of Copan, Dewey and Wann Areas,” copies of which are available in the Bartlesville Public Library.

According to the book, the school was called the St. Louis Meeting House and also served as the church meeting place. His uncle’s maternal grandfather, named Medlen, was the superintendent of the school. The school was located west of the St. Louis settlement, and a couple of miles north, where the gravel road continues toward Caney and the blacktop turns west toward Hulah. At the foot of the big hill, turn east off the gravel road and the school was about a half mile back down toward the river. The land where the school was located eventually was owned by Amos Busman, the Edwards interview stated.
Shown in photo are members of Jack Short’s family who all lived in the St. Louis Settlement at one time. Front row: Wilson J. Medlen, Emmett Medlen, Nancy Ann Wiseman Medlen. Second Row: Mary Ellen Medlen “Matee”, Sarah Etta Medlen, Grace Belle Medlen, Clara Jane Medlen (Jack’s paternal grandmother who owned the Bar S Ranch and Saddle Rock Café in the St. Louis settlement), Florence Ann Medlen. (All of Short’s great aunts shown in the second row eventually moved to Copan) Back row: Lewis Medlen, Henry Harrison Medlen.

In 1907, Edwards quit school at the age of 12 to help his father in his business making drilling rig and oil derrick timbers for the oil industry, which was in full swing. The interview quotes Edwards as saying, that with a group of six or seven hired men, Edwards father, William “Buck” Edwards, cut cottonwood or oak into logs and then squared them with a broadaxe. “This was terribly hard work … but it was just the way it had to be done,” Edwards said in the interview.

Short’s father, Lewis Hubbard Short, was born in 1887 and moved to the St. Louis Settlement at the age of one. His family oral history is that his great, great grandmother, named Sarah Hale, travelled on the Trail of Tears from Tennessee. On her first trip, she returned to Tennessee, after not getting along with the Osage in Nevada, Mo., he said. Later Sarah Hale set out again and made it to the Oklahoma territory.

Short’s grandmother, Clara Jane Medlen Short, owned the Bar S Ranch and the Saddle Rock Café, which became a gathering place for St. Louis settlement residents. Short showed a copy of a photo of the Saddle Rock Café from that time and another photo of Clara and her siblings and parents. (Note that the family name was spelled Medlen, but Short’s sister’s research indicates that Tennessee records show the name spelled Medlin.)

“St. Louis never became a city because the railroad missed it. Most people moved over to Copan and so the settlement just died out. The railroad went on the east side of the river, so they were on the wrong side of the river,” Short explained.

The family spread out over time. Several of his aunts moved to Copan. Short eventually settled in Bartlesville, where he lives with one of his sons, Mark Short, and his grandson, Kent Short.

Jack Short, shown on the right, with his friend Al Jay Kester.
Jack Short, shown on the right, with his friend Al Jay Kester.

Short wants people to remember the settlement because it documents the lives of pioneers living around the Caney River in Oklahoma territory.
For years after the settlement dissolved, families continued to live around the Caney River.

Short was born in Copan. Speaking of his childhood, Short said, “[t]his was the exciting part of my life. We moved west of Copan out on the [Caney] River. This was before dams and flood plains. When the Caney River got out, it got out for miles. Where we lived was on the river down there west of Copan and when the river got up, we had to go to higher ground. My dad would hitch up the wagon and team and there was about seven families that lived on these little islands with river on both sides. The river never did get in our house. My dad would turn all the pigs and chickens out and they’d roost in the trees and get wherever they could and the river would stay up for about five days.

“Most families, we’d go to Reuben Wilson’s,” who was a Delaware Indian, Short said. “They’d camp there and have a stomp dance.”

“After the river went down, these big fish would get trapped in the weeds and the grass and dad and these other guys would take gigs and flat bottom boats and catch ‘em and come back and we’d have a big fish fry.

“This was on the west side of where the Copan Dam is now located in 1940 to ‘45.

During those days, neighbors came together to make ends meet for their families.

“These same people would gather in the fall because of the pecan trees. These were huge pecan trees. We didn’t get a sackful, we’d get like a pickup load. The native pecans are not as big as paper shells, but they were big for natives; these were humongous trees. We had one guy who would climb these trees, his name was Ardel Large; he would climb these trees and hook a rope up and hook it to the bumper of the truck and shake ‘em. We got new shoes and stuff because pecans was five cents a pound. The feed stores bought ‘em.

During his childhood, Short also spend a lot time with his maternal grandparents, Jim and Meadie Gaddis at their home in Copan. They were born in Kentucky and married there and then travelled to Oklahoma Territory with Jim Gaddis’s parents. Jim Gaddis became a developer/builder in Copan. The first rodeo arena in Copan was on his land.
In Photo: Jack Short’s maternal grandmother Meadie Gaddis, age 18, feeding chickens in Oklahoma Territory.

Here is an account of some of Short’s memories with them:

“I stayed with my grandparents a lot. We would get up. We’d go and do the chores. This was Sunday morning. Then my grandpa and I would sit in his big chair and listen to southern gospel music.

“Grandpa always drank tomato juice with his breakfast every morning. Me and my cousin would go to the store and on the list there would be tomato juice. I seen V-8 and I thought that would be a lot better. When my grandma took it out of the sack she said ‘What’s this?’ I said, ‘They didn’t have tomato juice so I got this.’ She called the store, Crawford’s, and said, ‘well, they have tomato juice now so get some and you can keep this for yourself and drink it.’ She could’ve called me a liar, but she didn’t. I wish everybody had good grandparents like that.”

Look for Part II of this article about Short’s childhood, cowboy days and adult life.

American Plains Artists Signature Member Show Coming to Pawhuska


The American Plains Artists (APA) Signature Member Show will be hosted by Preserving Arts in the Osage at the Ole’ #1 Firehouse Art Center in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, March 24 – May 7.

The show will open with an Invitation Only Meet and Greet event, featuring Western entertainment and barbecue on Fri., March 24, from 6 – 8 p.m. 

To make reservations for this Meet and Greet event, e-mail Bruce at no later than Feb. 20.  

The public is invited to attend this celebration of “Art of the Plains” featuring realistic and representational artworks in traditional media that depict the American Great Plains region — its landscape, wildlife, people, and way of life in historical or modern times. 

Works of art in the show will be provided by nationally recognized, award-winning artists who hail from across the United States.  The approximately fifty-five pieces being exhibited and for sale at this event will be by the APA Signature members, who were elected to signature status status due in part to the continual high quality of their artwork.  

For more information about the APA and Preserving Arts in the Osage please visit: and  

The show is open to the public March 25-May 7, 2017.

Photo from APA website.

Osage Nation makes historic switch from BIA land management to Osage land management


Key BIA personnel retained by Osage Nation equals consistency and experience for current Osage landowners and Osage land lessees

By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (December 13, 2016) –On Thursday, December 1, the Osage Nation under the Osage Nation Self- Governance program, assumed the Real Estate Services and Natural Resources programs and the related federal funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Osage Agency.  The purpose of the Self-Governance program is to allow Native Sovereign Nations to take over federal functions and funding and provide the flexibility to build and develop programs to fit the needs of the Nation rather than continue with a one size fits all federal model.    

The Nation will now provide real estate and natural resource services for restricted Osage landowners and lessees under a new Department, Osage Nation Real Estate Services. The program also oversees Osage Nation trust lands and the Fee-to-Trust applications. A letter of notification will be in the mail before the end of the year to all restricted landowners and lessees to inform them of the transition and contact information. 

Knowledgeable and experienced former BIA personnel have been employed by the Osage Nation to assist with a smooth federal to tribal transition. Melissa Currey, a former Osage Agency BIA Superintendent, and Leslie Holloway, long-time BIA Program Analyst, are two familiar faces that will be leading the latest self-governance endeavor by the Osage Nation.  Katie Yates, former Assistant to Assistant Chief Raymond RedCorn, now the Real Estate Specialist, is another new staff addition.

“Ms. Holloway has 28 years of experience working in Individual Indian Monies, Real Estate Services, Probate, and Executive Direction,” said Currey, Osage Nation Real Estate Services Director. “The BIA still retains the federal trust responsibilities under the Self-Governance program and has final approval authority on all real estate transactions.

The important message to Osage landowners and lessees, everything will be managed under the same regulations, according to Holloway. “The Nation will continue to service the same landowners and lessees. The new department will strive to provide improved services and to create a more efficient service to all.” 

Osage Nation Office of Self-Governance Director Candy Thomas said, “The assumption of real estate and natural resources functions is historic for the Osage Nation and a move in the right direction with the right people.  We are fortunate to have two valuable former BIA employees with years of experience in real estate services, Melissa Currey and Leslie Holloway. It is our goal to grow and improve the programs and be responsive to all the concerns and transactions for our restricted landowners.”    

For more information: Osage Nation Realty Services, P.O. Box 57, Pawhuska, Okla. (918) 287-5257

Osage Nation Museum to hold Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop


By: Hallie Winter, Osage Nation Museum Curator

Pawhuska, OK—The Osage Nation Museum is happy to announce the award of a Charitable Grant from the Osage Nation Foundation. This grant will be used to fund the 1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop.

The ONM will host their first annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop during the month of December. Starting on December 1st the ONM will have their Imagination Station set up with materials for visitors to make a holiday ornament. The Imagination Station is an engaging, interactive area in the museum’s exhibit gallery that is geared towards our youth visitors. However, visitors of all ages are welcome to participate. The ONM staff select activities that correlate with current exhibits and special programming to facilitate the hands on participation of visitors in a meaningful, creative and educational way. The activity for the month of December will be a simple paper cut out ornament with Osage designs. By using Osage themes and motifs this will help visitors learn about Osage culture while connecting with the Museum’s collection. Visitors can either take their ornament home or leave it with museum staff for inclusion on the ONM’s Holiday Tree.

Another station will be set up in the museum’s gallery that will tie into the Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. We ask visitors to add to our paper chain garland, using the theme: #weloveonm. We invite visitors to write down what they love about the ONM, these written comments will make up the paper chain garland that will decorate the ONM holiday tree.
On Saturday, December 10th the ONM will host a 6 hour pop in event, no registration required. The event will be held from 10:00am – 4:00pm. This will be open to the public and all ages are welcome. The ONM will be collaborating with Osage Artists, the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM department to produce unique, thoughtful and educational ornaments. We will have four craft stations set up, each with an Osage artist and teaching assistants to help visitors create one of a kind holiday ornaments. Each of the four stations will have a holiday ornament craft that is geared towards youth and easy to make.

The ONM will have two ornaments that visitors can make which tie into the Museum’s collection and mission statement. The Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM program will also have tables set up with one ornament each for visitors to make. We will ask the patrons to leave their ornament at the museum when it is complete. Participants will also be able to leave their hand print for the ONM’s Holiday Tree Skirt. We will be procuring enough materials to produce 200 of each ornament.

On Friday, December 16th from 5:00-7:00pm the ONM will host the first annual Creative Community Holiday Tree Lighting. Visitors will be able to come and see our holiday tree that has been decorated with the ornaments produced throughout the month of December. Santa will be at the museum for a photo op.

Participants will be able to pick up their hand made ornaments the following week from the museum.

Hallie Winter, Curator at the Osage Nation Museum said, “The staff at the ONM would like to thank the Osage Nation Foundation Board for approving our grant application to create the1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. This workshop will engage and enhance relations with our local community while providing a fun filled, ONM collections related activity. While the target audience for participation is the youth in our community this event is all-inclusive and we hope to connect with a multitude of individuals of all ages. This workshop and resulting event will not only engage the youth but their parents as well, leading to return visits and reinforcing the museum’s “brand” as a welcoming, engaging and educational resource for our community and tourists alike. We are happy to be collaborating with the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education Department on this endeavor. ”

About the Osage Nation Museum:

The premiere destination to experience Osage history, art, and culture
Visit the Osage Nation Museum (ONM) in historic Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Our continuously changing exhibits convey the story of the Osage people throughout history and celebrate Osage culture today. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, and traditional and contemporary art. Founded in 1938, the ONM is the oldest tribally owned museum in the United States.

Admission and parking is free.

Contact Information:

Phone: 918-287-5441
Fax: 918-287-5227

819 Grandview Avenue Pawhuska, OK 74056 

Exciting Changes Continue at Woolaroc


Press Release By: Green Country Marketing

Four years ago, Woolaroc decided that it was time to give Frank Phillips’ wonderful museum a nice touch up. That “touch up” turned into new state of the art lighting throughout the entire museum, new wall colors, new staging of the art, new exhibits and room by room by room from the Dome Room to downstairs in Gallery 9, this graceful national treasure was carefully updated. In the process, something really special became even better.

On November 23rd, the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place — Gallery 10, which use to house the Phil Phillips Colt Collection before it was relocated to Gallery 8, has been transformed into something very special. A guest touring Woolaroc will see one of the world’s finest collections of southwest art, Native American blankets, the famous Woolaroc airplane, the incredible gun collection and the reproduction of Uncle Frank’s New York City office….. your tour of this museum will conclude with a combination of nostalgia, fun and smiles.

As you enter Gallery 10, you will find a large scale, double-tracked miniature train exhibit that is complete with stores, shops, animals, lakes, tunnels and much more. Surrounding this train exhibit will be the wonderful doll collection of Woolaroc, staged and displayed along with a new series of old toys dating from as early as 1917. Along the walls you will see other unique exhibits from toy soldiers to wagon trains to a wall of old vintage Phillips 66 oil cars. “We are proud of the improvements that we have made over the last four years” said Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser. “Many of these things have been made possible because of the great success and support from our annual Cow Thieves & Outlaws Reunion party and our semi-annual Best of the Best National Art Show….without them, the depth and scope of these improvements would not have been possible.”

Once again, the staff at Woolaroc has turned a concept and a dream into reality. Through the leadership of Museum Director Shiloh Thurman and the construction skills of Woolaroc carpenters Tim Sydebotham and Chris Buchanan, Woolaroc “magic” has happened once again. According to Thurman, “once we came up with the idea and got it approved in concept, we spent months researching the various sizes and types of trains we should have, how to maintain them, how to wire them, how to design the set and how to build the support structures around the set. We are very pleased with the final product and think that kids and adults will all love the new room…..while a bit different than the usual Woolaroc exhibit, it stays true to the mission of all that we do.”

“Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Dolls” is the perfect ending to a magical tour through this national treasure…..the employees of Woolaroc invite you to come see this newest addition.

Woolaroc is open Wednesday thru Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and beginning November 25th, Wonderland of Lights will be open from 5-9 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday thru Friday, December 23rd.

A Guided Tour of the Osage Nation Museum with Curator, Hallie Winter

Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter
Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter

By: Roseanne McKee

Curator Hallie Winter, who became the museum’s curator in May 2016, spoke to Pawhuska People about the updates she and Collections Manager, Callie Martin, are making at the Osage Nation Museum.

Describing her vision, Curator Hallie Winter said: “What we wanted to do was make the place more warm and inviting and feel like home. That had a lot to do with our color choices for the walls.

Some lighting and fire system improvements have also been made.

“We’re getting new LED track lighting; there is a new fire suppression system, not utilizing water; it doesn’t remove all the oxygen, so it’s still safe, less harmful to the art and a lot better than water,” Winter explained.

Display cases have gotten a facelift as well.

“We to wanted stay true to the original case that’s here so we played up that. We’ve redone a lot of our other display cases to match. They were covered in paint, so we’ve stripped them, and tried to match them the best we could. We also had some cases donated by the other museum in town, the Osage County Historical Society Museum.”

In the main gallery is what she described as a semi-permanent exhibit, which beautifully tells Osage history chronologically through artifacts, text and photos.

“It’s is a loose timeline of Osage history. The objects will change periodically for object safe-keeping and to give them a rest … and bring out new ones.

“We start with the origin story in this corner,” Winter said, pointing to the northeast corner of the main gallery.

A print of the mural showing Osages descending to earth and landing is part of the display. The original mural is located at the Osage Congress, located just south of the museum.

“If guests want to see the full-sized mural, they can go next door to the [Osage Congress] Chambers to see it.”

Maps are an important part of telling the Osage history story.

“Then we move to our ancestor lands in pre-history. This shows our migration patterns,” Winter said.

Winter pointed out the time period from 500 to 900 A.D.

“Those are different routes we took and then you can see as it goes down after 1350, when we were in the Missouri River Valley; then we started moving out. The Osage Historic Preservation Department has been working really hard on this. The information for these maps comes from them. They keep adding to it as they are making more discoveries,” Winter explained.

The orange portion of one of the maps shows Osage ancestral territory. The map shows as far east as Pennsylvania and north into Illinois.
The displays also feature artifacts or objects and tools the Osage would have used, Winter said, — “flutes, pipes and also some of the stones for grinding corn and grain for food preparation and before leather how they made pouches.”

When the display describes contact with Westerners, artifacts that resulted from trade are featured.

“We tell the story of when the explorers first came into contact with the Osage and what happened as a result of that, which is trade; so we have trade tokens, early trade beads and metal products. We have a photo of one of the first trading stores in Osage County in Fairfax.
Museum guests are encouraged to share what they know about photos and displayed items, Winter added.

“We are still fine tuning the information. People come in, they may know information and that’s been really helpful,” Winter said.

One case showcases Osage art and traditional forms of artwork.
“We have a little bit of everything: ribbon work, finger weaving, moccasins, designs on old parfleches.” Parfleches are bags made of different materials, such as bison hide, Winter explained.

There is a display case devoted to describing what Osages did with the wealth derived from the Osage oil and gas estate. International travel became an Osage leisure pastime.

Next, was a display describing Osage treaties.

“When we were doing treaties, we would pass the pipe. When we travelled to Washington D.C., we’d dress in our finest,” Winter explained. “In a lot of the treaties, the government was supposed to give us tools for farming as a condition,” Winter said.

The government display case “tells a little about the Osage government and how it’s evolved over the past few hundred years,” Winter said.

Part II of the Winter Interview Coming Soon!

WWI Osage Code Talker to be Honored at Veteran’s Day Celebration

Press Release By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (Tuesday, November 8, 2016) – The oldest living relative of a WWI Osage Code Talker will receive a proclamation and a silver medal recognizing her grandfather’s wartime contributions, at this year’s Veterans Day Dance in Pawhuska, Okla., on Friday, November 11. The special recognition has been made possible by diligent efforts by the Osage Nation Office of the Chiefs to finally recognize the historic contributions of Osage Code Talkers.

Augustus Chouteau was confirmed as a WWI Osage Code Talker by the Department of Defense.  To mark this fact, the United States Mint created a sold silver duplicate Osage Code Talker medal to be presented to the Chouteau family. Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear will read the proclamation and present the medal to Chouteau’s granddaughter, Francis Chouteau Jones, at 2 p.m.

“My grandmother told me that those boys [Osage enlisted] spoke to each other over there in the native language so no one could understand them.  It was one of the few things I knew about my grandfather and I made sure to tell all my daughters,” said Francis Chouteau Jones.  When asked how she felt about this Department of Defense certifying her grandfather as a Code Talker she said “I was so very proud, it was something that we knew all along.”   

The timing for the events leading up to this occasion perfectly coincides with the traditional honoring of Osage veterans that takes place every year at the Post Legion 198 Veterans Day Dance. The Hominy War Mothers are hosting the dance this year and are providing a program with a list of Osage family songs and the day’s agenda.

It is a long-standing Osage tradition for the families of Osage veterans to donate beautifully decorated Veterans Day cakes with the name of their family member written on the cake. These cakes will be available for everyone attending to enjoy along with a traditional Osage meal at 5p.m.

The dance will begin at 11 a.m. by raising the flag at the WahZhaZhi Cultural Center at 1449 West Main Street in Pawhuska. The afternoon program begins at 1 p.m., supper break is at 5 p.m., and the evening’s dance program begins at 7 p.m