History of Joseph Leonard (1837-1925) of Caddo County, Oklahoma
Joseph Leonard (b. 20 Dec. 1837, m. Na-nia, aka "Minnie", d. 25 Sept. 1925), born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, like his father and grandfather before him, was the sixth of nine children born to William and Mary Van Ort Leonard of Somerset township. Joseph migrated to Indian Territory in the 1860s and married a woman of Caddo Indian and French descent. Her Indian name was Na-nia, her English name "Minnie". A document purported to be in Joseph's own handwriting states that he knew, or at least met, General George Armstrong Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody. (See additional notes.)Census Summaries for Joseph Leonard
1840 - The 1840 census shows Joseph's father William in Somerset township, Washington County, PA. with six children: two below the age of five, one between the ages of five and ten, and three between the ages of ten and fifteen. The 1840 census only lists the name of the head of household, but these numbers are consistent with the birth dates of William (b. 1836 - under five) and Joseph (b. 1837 - under five), Lydia (b. 1833 - between five and ten), and the earlier children Edmund (b. 1825), Isaac (b. 1827 or 1830), and Daniel (b. 1830).
1850 - The 1850 census is the first to list each individual family member, their age at the time of census, their occupations, and the value of their real estate. Joseph's father William, age 43, is a farmer with $1780 in real estate. Joseph is listed as age 12. Sister Mary Jane (b. 1840), brothers James Herron (b. 1842) and Thomas (b. 1844) were born since the last census. James Herron doesn't appear in the 1850 census, but reappears in 1860. [Joseph's father William and the rest of the family, save for older bothers Edmund and Isaac, would move to Delaware County and later Marion County, Ohio in 1854. Siblings who moved to Ohio included Daniel, Lydia, William, Joseph, Mary Jane, James Herron, and Thomas.]
1860 - Joseph, age 23, isn't listed anywhere in US census reports. [Other sources indicate he had already moved to Kansas or Indian Territory, in what would eventually become the state of Oklahoma. Joseph's mother, Mary, died of typhoid in September of 1868 in Ohio. His father, William, remarried Catharine Somerlot in April of 1870. There's no indication Joseph was aware of either event.]
1870 - No listing. [Sources indicate Joseph had moved to the Wichita Reservation near Anadarko, Indian Territory, and married Na-nia, also known as "Minnie."
1880 - No listing. [Joseph's father, William, died on October 26th, 1881, making James Herron Leonard his executor and naming all nine children in his will. William made special mention of Joseph, noting that his share of the estate should be split among the other siblings if Joseph should fail to appear or make his wishes known within three years. Probate records show his address as "Anadarko, Ind. Terr."
1890 - The vast majority of census records for 1890, including those for Indian Territory, were destroyed in a 1921 fire at the Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C.
1900 - Joseph, age 62, shows up in a 1900 census of Oklahoma Territory, on the Wichita Reservation. He is listed as "father-in-law" living with D. John Downing and his wife Margaret. John is listed as a farmer, the couple has three children: James, Howard, and Johnie (sic). Margaret, born Feb. 1872, is listed as the mother of two with two surviving. [The additional child is believed to be that of Mr. Downing and a previous wife, who died in 1897.]
1901 - A 1901 Caddo Indian census shows "Joe" Leonard, age 65, as family #230, allotment #958 (see Additional Notes), on Section 27N-8W NW, Patent in fee issued August 19, 1909. John and Margaret Downing and four children are living nearby as family 191, allotment #s 30, 31, 37, 35, 935, 33, and 936, on Sections 7N-9W and 10N-8W.
1915 - A 1915 census of the Wichita and Caddo Indians on the Wichita Caddo Reservation, by the Kiowa Indian Agency in Anadarko, Oklahoma shows "Joe" Leonard as the head of family #445, born in 1836. Margaret Leonard and John Downing, eight children, and one daughter-in-law are living a short distance away as family #410. Margaret is listed as born in 1875 and John in 1860. [A 1915 obituary for Joseph's brother James Herron Leonard states that Joseph is alive and living in Virden, Oklahoma. Jennie has him buried in a Catholic cemetery in Albuquerque, N.M, in September, 1925.]
Additional Notes on Joseph Leonard
Noted Leonard historian Jennie Leonard Hutchinson may have said it best when she wrote, in a 1932 letter to Harry S. Blaine, "Joseph L., my father’s brother, has had probably, the most spectacular and romantic life of any of the line since Colonial days."
"We knew little of his life," wrote Jennie, "as it was spent among the Indians. He was agent for the Government and a warm advocate and friend of the Indians. He married the daughter of an Indian chief and she died when his daughter was born. Have been told his wife was the daughter of Black Hawk, but do not know that to be correct. His daughter was educated in a convent in New Mexico and he is buried in a Catholic Cemetery at Albuquerque, N.M."
Jennie's nephew, Wilbur Leonard, a grandson of Edmund Leonard, apparently contacted Joseph's daughter, Mrs. D. John Downing, some time later. A note in Wilbur's handwriting, inserted in Jennie's files in the Uniontown (PA) Public Library, lists Joseph's birth date as 10 Dec. 1937 and his death date as 25 Sept. 1925 "in Albuquerque, N.M."
Wilbur wrote that Joseph, "married a Cado [sic] Indian, had one son who died in infancy and one daughter Mrs. Marg't Downing (Mr. Downing was a Cherokee Indian). They have 6 children all grown & I think all are married I know Mrs. Downing has several grandchildren. Mrs. Downing lives 1011 N. Indiana St., Okla. City. She does not know her mother's maiden name, but knows her mother had three brothers - Cado [sic] Indians whose names were Lone Tree, Washington, and Big Man."
That was the extent of our knowledge until December of 2005, when an Oklahoma State Historical Society librarian discovered a document, apparently in Joseph's own handwriting, in Caddo Chief George Washington's file. The account of Joseph's life is undated, unsigned, incomplete, and slightly disorganized, but nonetheless more revealing than anything heretofore discovered:
Joseph Leonard, b. Dec. 19, 1837, Washington County, Pa. moved to Delaware Co. Ohio at the age of 14. District education. Then 3 years later left via Columbus for Cincinnati, where took passage on Jacob Strader (one of the finest boats on the river) for St. Louis. There took passage on the steamer Polar Star for Fort Leavenworth. There entered the Q. M. Dept. and shortly afterward started with an expedition for N.M. taking some hundreds of horses to remount troops there P.Q. Lowe being in charge of the herd. Returned the same fall. From that [unreadable] continued as a civilian employee in the Q.M. Corps until and through the Civil War. Frequently out on the Plains on both the Arkansas & Platte routes. Often trusted with great responsibility. At Leavenworth and on the plains during the Civil War.
Was out at Harker & Hays in 66 & 67-68. Late in 68 Custer came to Hays looking for prairie men but I returned to Leavenworth and went thence to Gibson and Ft. Reno [south side of the North Canadian River] in 69.
Knew most of the frontier characters including Wild Bill and Buffalo Bill. Entered service of Comanche Agency worked for Agent Tatum about 2 years. Then married Minnie - a woman of mixed French & Caddo extraction. Went to raising cattle.
When the Civil War broke out the Caddoes started north with the Wichitas. At that time they lived in log houses had cattle & hogs. When they reached Caddo springs they talked matters over and it was decided that part of them to return and guard their stock so, Geo. Washington, Jose Maria and Jim Pockmark (French-Nadarko) returned.
The Confederates endeavored to get this band into the Confederate Service. Geo. Washington, who was the Webster of the affiliated tribes, demurred, saying that his father had told him never to fight the white men. Finally Gen. Cooper asked if he would not be willing to fight the wild Indians of the Plains to which he agreed. He was appointed commander of the Frontier Guard a squadron of 2 companies.
Wife died about after agency was moved to Anadarko. Came to Cobb from [unreadable] as master of transporation in fall of '69. Lt. Phil Lee in command of post at Cobb. Gen. Hazen special Indian agent. Col. Boone started agency at Sill.
Kicking Bird (Toneonko) riding white mare, a man of genial, modest, retiring disposition. Leonard and Phil Block were present at the Black Kettle interview. Gave BK a horse.
(End... additional pages may have been lost.)
Rarely does a document so short provide so much rich detail. As disorganized and incomplete as it is, the dates and details are too specific, too unique to Joseph Leonard, to have been recorded by anyone else. The references to historic people, places, and events challenge us to confirm Joseph's whereabouts at any given point in his life.
General R.A. Sneed was an Indian trader for the Comanche & Kiowa and Prairie Apache tribes at Fort Sill and Anadarko from 1885 to 1890. He recalled Joseph being one of the earliest white men in the area:
Joe Leonard was another old timer. He came to Fort Cobb with Gen. William B. Hazen, special Indian Agent for the Government, in the fall of 1868, and lived in that section of the country until his death, about fifty-five years later. His wife was a member of the Caddo tribe.
When Joseph applied for citizenship in the Caddo tribe in October of 1900, the Indian Agent in charge of the local reservation named his wife as a Caddo woman named "Na-nia" and his daughter as Margaret Leonard. His claim for citizenship was apparently denied.
Whether Joseph was a "warm advocate and friend of the Indians" or a "notorious mischief maker" (as described in other government documents) depends on your perspective. In one of his earliest adventures, Joseph Leonard escorted a pair of Indian chiefs to Washington, D.C. Their presence was noted as they passed out of Indian Territory and into the state of Kansas.
From the March 22, 1882 edition of the Arkansas City (Kansas) Traveler:
"Big Man," of the Caddo Indian Tribe, and "Niasta," of the Wichitas, with Joseph Leonard, scout and interpreter, are in Washington. They want a defined reservation where they are on the Washita river.
Joseph carried a letter of introduction from the Indian agent in charge of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency at Anadarko, dated March 3rd, 1882:
To the Hon. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.
This will be handed you by "Big Man" Caddo Chief and "Niasta" (Wichita Chief) accompanied by Mr. Joseph Leonard, who will interpret for them. Mr. Leonard claims to have been adopted by the Caddoes some years ago and says the records of your Office show it. He has a half breed daughter in one of our Schools.
The principal object of the visit seems to be to set up some sort of a claim to the Country west of their own reservation.
I bespeak for them a hearing.
They are prepared to pay all of their own expenses.
A 12 July 1901 newspaper article in the Minco (Oklahoma) Minstrel entitled "Secured Allotments" notes that "quite a number of whites, principally husbands and wives of those who held rights by birth, sought admission on the rolls for allotment in the Wichita reservation." Joseph Leonard was one of 27 to be granted an allotment. Allotments were a government attempt to create a new role for Indians in American society. Each was given a number of acres of land (160 in Joseph's case) to make them self-sufficient. The General Allotment Act (commonly referred to as the Dawes Act) ultimately failed and was effectively eliminated by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
Joseph is also mentioned as living in Oklahoma in a 1907 biographical sketch of his younger brother James Herron Leonard of LaRue, Ohio.
Sources for Joseph Leonard
Manuscript Collections, Kiowa Agency Files, Oklahoma State Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs from the Wichita Agency.
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 14, No. 2 "Reminiscences of an Indian Trader", June, 1936. Oklahoma State Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
F. Todd Smith, The Caddos, the Wichitas, and the United States, pp. 144-146, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Oklahoma, 1996.
Some Ancestors and Descendants of Avery Leonard of Seneca County, Ohio, Harry S. Blaine, Press of Gordon A Blaine, 1933. Page 18 contains a list of William Leonard and Mary Van Ort's children, their birth dates, spouses, and wedding dates where available. Copies available through the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Ind., among others.
Annals of the Leonard-Hutchinson Families, Jennie Leonard Hutchinson, 1949. Page 44 contains a list of William Leonard and Mary Van Ort's children, birth, marriage, and death dates where available. Jennie was a daughter of Edmund Leonard, William and Mary's oldest child. She was also the children's librarian at the Uniontown (Fayette Co., PA.) Free Public Library founded by her brother McClellan Leonard. Jennie exchanged information with Harry S. Blaine and was duly credited for such in his work. Copies of Annals available through the Uniontown Public Library, Uniontown, PA., among others.
Jennie Leonard Hutchinson Special Collection - Family Notes
Jennie left a collection of letters, photographs, and assorted items to the Uniontown Public Library. Other family members have added notes, transcriptions, and information in the years since her death in 1953. Two pages of hand-written notes, marked as "Informed as of May 1970", contain details on Joseph Leonard.
US Census Reports of 1840-1900: Washington County, PA; Delaware and Marion Counties, OH. Available through LDS Family History Centers, National Archives and Records Administration, most libraries, and online at Ancestry.com.
Caddo Indian Census of 1901, transcribed by Nancy Charlton on the Web site http://www.rootsweb.com/~okcaddo/census/1901cics.txt.
Census of the Caddo and Wichita Indians on the Wichita Caddo Reservation, Kiowa Indian Agency, Andarko, Okla. 1915, microfilm roll 2031240 Okla. 00810 transcribed by Nancy Charlton on the Web site http://www.rootsweb.com/~okcaddo/census/1915cadd.txt.
Arkansas City (Kansas) Traveler, 22 Mar. 1882. Transcribed at http://www.ausbcomp.com/~bbott/cowley/Oldnews/PAPERS/AC15TRA.HTM.
Minco (Oklahoma) Minstrel, 12 July 1901. Transcribed at http://www.rootsweb.com/~okcaddo/newspapers/minm1901.txt.
Probate Records of William Leonard of Marion County, Ohio, 1881.
Leonard Family History, Nine Generations Descending from Solomon Leonard and Sarah Chandler Leonard, Granddaughter of James Chilton, Mayflower Pilgrim, G. Allan Vaughan, 1994-2005. Extensive documentation on the Eighth Generation from Solomon, among others. A work still in progress.
The History of Marion County, Ohio, and its Representative Citizens, Edited and Compiled by J. Wilbur Jacoby, A. M. Marion, Ohio, 1907. Biographical sketch of James Herron Leonard, p. 483.
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