The Plains Indians, Kiowa and Comanche, not only took captives from other
tribes, but from Mexicans and whites, as well. Some were cruelly tortured and
killed. Others were kept as slaves, though many of them were adopted by Indian
families and were loved and pampered as favorites.
One story, from the
Kiowa, is the story of Millie Durkin/Durgan, who was taken in a raid when very
young. There are two stories about Millie, two sides of the same coin, which I
will try to present here. This is a mystery that may never be solved.
life story of Millie Durgan, who later became Mrs. Goombi when she married a
Kiowa by that name, is quite unusual, in that she she spent all her life, but
the first year and half with the Kiowa, her captors. When she was 18 months old
she was captured in a raid by the Kiowa, along with a sister and several Negro
slaves, and taken north to the area that is now Oklahoma.
agents and Army officers persuaded and bribed the tribes to give up these
captives and in some instances worked for years to trace their families. Some of
the captives had become so thoroughly "Indian" they refused to return to their
Indian foster families were very reluctant to give up their
adopted captives and concealed them whenever they could. The most outstanding
case of concealment is a part of the history of Kiowa County, OK and the Kiowa
fall of 1864, the Civil War was going on east of the Mississippi and the eastern
part of now Oklahoma,, known as Indian Territory. Men from Texas were occupied
with the war, many were away from home. The Kiowa and Comanche were roaming the
plains. They had signed a treaty with the Confederate States to not attack the
gray-clad soldiers, but were still roaming and raiding.
A Comanche war
Chief, Little Buffalo came to the Kiowa village near Rainy Mountain in the
Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma. He held council with the Kiowa and
persuaded them to go with him to raid the well protected settlements of Texas
along the Brazos River. He stated there was much loot to have, because the Forts
Belknap, Richardson, and other frontier army posts were almost deserted because
of the war in the east. There was little to fear from the soldiers.
Kiowa were at first hesitant about joining because of the treaty with the
Confederates, but the lure of the rewards of the raids soon persuaded them. The
Comanche soon cinched the bargain by presenting the Kiowa with a genuine peace
pipe, if they would join him. This was a strong argument, as a genuine peace
pipe could only be obtained from the vivinity of the Pipe Stone Quarry in Souix
Country in the Dakotas. Many lives had been lost by the plains Indians as they
journeyed north for their pipes..
The school bells were ringing in the
settlements along the Brazos when the 75 men of the raiding party headed south.
They rode one horse and led another, changing off periodically, covering much
distance in a day of hard riding, always ready for quick flight if there was too
much resistance. They moved south, crossing the Red River about where
BurkBurnett, TX is now. On October 13, 1864, Little Buffalo and his band of
raiders arrived at the point where Elm Creek empties into the Brazos.
the mouth of Elm Creek a part of the band, (they had divided into several groups
probably planning to attack several farms and ranches at the same time) ran
across Joel Myers and killed him. A mile and half away, another group attacked
the Fitzpatrick Ranch, while the men were away. At home were Grandma
Fitzpatrick, her daughter Susie Durgan, Susie’s 3 children, Lottie, Millie, and
the baby, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s 15 year old son by another marriage, Joe
Carter. The family was served by a negro family, Britt and Mary Johnson, who
also had 3 children.
Grandma Fitzpatrick, (also known as Mrs. Clifton and
Mrs. Carter, having been married 3 times) saw the Indians at a distance and got
her family and the negro family into picket defense. Mrs. Fitzpatrick yelled at
the Indians to not take her horses, but they ignored her and charged the picket
Sue Durgan took her place at one point and Mary Johnson, armed
with a flint gun, started firing as the Indians were breaking through the fence.
Mary was doing great work with the gun and the Indians opened fire killing one
of her sons, Jimmie, and Sue Durgan. Sue had hidden her little daughter Millie
under the bed in the house. The Indians charged the house, taking anything of
value, those still alive were taken prisoner, and the house was torched. As the
house was blazing, one of the Indians returned to it as little Millie was
crawling out from under the bed. The Indian that returned to the blazing house
became Millie’s foster father.
AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH held her up before him,
and could see her beautiful features, her gray, frightened eys and his sympathy
and interest was aroused. He thought of his wife and decided to take the girl
home. He held her in his arms, took her on his horse and cared for her on the
long furious dash back to the Wichitas.
Taken captive at that time were
Elizabeth Ann Anderson Carter Fitzpatrick; b. 3/29/1825, Charlotte (Lottie)
Elizabeth Durkin, b. 9/7/1859, Millie Jane Durkin, b. 6/30/1862, and Mrs. Mary
Johnson, her 3 children, Jube, Lottie and John. Within a year Elizabeth Ann and
Charlotte Elizabeth were returned by the Kiowa. Charlotte had tribal tattos on
her face and arms. Millie Jane was not returned.
Britt Johnson was
instrumental in obtaining the release of the captives near where the town of
Verden, OK is now. He traded food blankets and other things for his wife and
children, mrs. Fitzpatrick and Lottie. Millie was kept secluded. Th captives
were then taken to Pauls Valley where the settlers and government officials
helped them get home.
Millie's foster father was a noted Kiowa warrior
named AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH, who was a partner of the famous chief, SET-ANKEAH
(Sitting Bear) or SATANK, as he was known to white people. Both of these men
were members of the Ko-eet-senko, which was a warrior society, composed of the
ten bravest members of the tribe. AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH and his wife apparently had
no other children than the foster child. It was customary that captives,
especially Mexicans, led a rather hard life, and were not much better off than
Millie, however, happened to become the foster child of a couple
who treated her better than usual. They were exceedingly fond of the little
girl, and gave her the same consideration which she would have received if she
had been of their own flesh and blood. The foster father was a man of
considerable wealth in the tribe. AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH was a mighty hunter and brave
in battle. AH-MATE was an excellent mother. The adopted child lived in
AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH had plenty of horses of the best
stock, a good teepee, and fine clothing and weapons. Nothing was too good for
his foster daughter. She always had a fine pony to ride and the best clothing to
wear. Her foster mother on one occasion even injured herself in scraping cedar
poles in order to purchase for her a fine garment which she especially desired
for the girl.
Millie's grandmother, her sister Lottie and the Negro
slaves captured in the Elm Creek raid were all ransomed at Camp Napoleon, near
the present town of Verden, in 1865. Millie, however, was not given up. Her
foster father asked the other members of the tribe to promise to keep it a
secret from the white people that the captive girl was still alive. Grandma
Fitzpatrick returned to Texas, married Mr. Clifton, moved to east Texas. Lottie
married Dave Barker and Britt and Mary Johnson had 2 more children. They had
been told Millie was dead.
Mrs. Clifton made several efforts after this
to get information on the child, but agency officials and others were alwaysmet
with the response that the child was dead or they knew nothing of her.. The file
at the Oklahoma Historical Society contains considerable correspondence
concerning these efforts in 1871, 1878 and 1879. Her foster mother used to keep
the child's face painted when she was near Ft. Sill, so that authorities would
not know she was white. As the families took on other interests, Millie was
given up for dead and further efforts to locate her ceased.
was far from dead. Her identity as Millie Durgan was erased. One day her father
asked a friend to name her. According to Kiowa custom, it was believed to be
good medicine to name a child after some remarkable feat of valor. The Indian
God-father thought for a long time. Finally he said: “Once when I was out in
battle, I used up all my arrows except one, with a broken head. But, I used this
arrow, shot my enemy and killed him. I suggest you name her SAIN-TOH-OODIE
(Killed with Blunt Arrow), so Millie Durgan became SAIN-TOH-OODIE, the only name
she ever had. Family names did not start until after the enrollment of the
Millie grew up the daughter of wealthy, respected Kiowa.
She always had the best of everything. This did not prevent her from learning
all the domestic duties which an Indian woman had to know. She was taught as
Indian children had always been taught. She could tan hides, she learned to make
mocassins and clothing from the hides of the animals; cook meat just as her
parents liked it best and was especially good at handling stock. She learned to
ride and care for herself under all conditions.She learned to pack and unpack
hurriedly as the Indians were swept from one section of the country to the other
before the invading white men.
She was fond of animals, and in this the
Indians say that she showed her Texas ancestry. Even when she was a young girl
she gave a striking demonstration of this. A deer came charging through the
camp, chased by some boys. It was tired, but still able to defend itself by
striking with it's sharp front hoofs. Millie dived at the deer, caught hold of
it, and threw it just like a Texas cowboy bull-dogging a steer. After the deer
had been killed she claimed and received the hind quarter which she was the
first one to touch. The hide was also tanned for her to be made into a buckskin
She had no memory of the days before she lived with the Kiowa.
Early in life she was told she was white and was referred to sometimes
slurringly as “that Captive” She resented this very much, as her father stood
high in the council. Her mother guarded her carefully and even refused
permission to the young men of the tribe to take her to the Sun Dance. This
was an annual event when the young men were allowed to take young ladies to the
ceremony. AMANTHY told them she was not like the rest of them, and she didn’t
know what they might do to her.
SAIN-TOH-OODIE married a young man named
GOOMBI, who was one of the outstanding young men of the tribe and was from one
of the best honored families. GOOMBI became a government scout and helped to
trail the Cheyenne and other Indians who had raided during later years. He even
led the soldiers against renegade Kiowa.
When she married and had her
first child, the foster parents were extremely proud. They took charge of the
infant, so that Millie scarcely had any care of it at all. Later, when her
father was in his last illness, she nursed him tenderly, and prepared for him a
special dish of which he was fond, meat made tender by pounding and mixed with
tallow. The old Kiowa said she had been a good daughter to him. She said she was
lucky to have such kind, fond parents, who never whipped her or been unkind in
any way. She doubted that her own mother and father could have treated her
better. She never regretted her Indian life.
Millie was brought up in the
Indian religion and had a firm belief in the old medicines, the Grandma Gods,
and the Taime. She believed in the old prophesies of the Kiowa religion which
told of the day when the Great Kiowa would come to the rescue his people and
drive the white man back across the waters. She believed in the Indian Messiah
told of in the Ghost Dance ceremony introduced by Sitting Bull among the Kiowa
in the 11890's. She clung to her Indian Ways and religions long after the last
of the tribesmen gave up resisting.
When the Baptist missionaries came
to Rainy Mountain she steadfastly refused to take up the new religion. However,
she did enjoy going to sewing circles held by the missionary women. Soon,
however, she learned that the Kiowa women were jealous of her, because of the
special attention showed her by the missionaries. She promptly stopped going to
the missionary's house, for she did not care to have hard feelings with the
other women of the tribe.
She was always very shy when in the presence of
white people. This may have been due to the fact that when she was a child, her
foster parents always kept her concealed from the whites. All her children
adopted the Christian religion, but she refused until the death of her youngest
son, when it suddenly come to her that her religion gave her no comfort and
little hope of meeting her children in the next life. So she became a Christian
and was a very strong one at the time of her death. She then began to reverse
her opinions of the white man and desired learning more about herself and her
people. But, she didn’t know where or how to start.
She settled on her
allotment in the Rainy Mountain area near Mountain View. She lived in a little
home on the side of a hill, and outside was the brush arbor that was always
found near any Indian dwelling.
SAIN-TOH-OODIE grew up among many
hardships. She saw history unfold as the influence of the agency was spread
among the Plains Indians. She saw the passing of freedom of the plains and the
establishment of reservations where the Indians were placed. Her father was one
of the last to come in and surrender. When the influence of the army spread to
his camp, with a group of irreconcilables, he retreated to the far places of the
Staked Plains in Texas and braved the cruel winter to avoid captivity.
history of Millie Durgan/Sain-toh-oodie was written by Mr. George Hunt, a noted
Kiowa historian, who though he did not mention it in his writing, was Millie’s
son-in-law. The man most responsible for putting together the mystery of Millie
Goombi was Harry A. Stroud from Lawton, OK.
The search for Millie’s past
began at the unveiling of the Quanah Parker monument at Post Oak Cemetery near
Cache, OK, in 1930. Some visitors from Quannah, TX were talking to George Hunt
about Cynthia Parker’s life, Quannah’s white mother and also a captive of the
Comanche. Mr. Hunt introduced Ben Brothers to his mother-in-law, Mrs.
Sain-toh-oodie Goombi, who’s life was just as interesting. She, also, was a
white captive and had spent her life, since she was 18 months old, with the
Kiowa. He asked the visitors from Texas to help him in trying to find out who
her white relatives were and where they lived in Texas.
This began the
search. Mr. Brothers contacted Uncle Billy Ratcliff who had lived near Fort
Belknap, an old army post near Graham TX. The old man had an excellent memory
and remembered well a raid in 1864, new the date, how many people were killed by
the Indians, remembered the captives taken and was certain one was a little
girl, who was never returned. Brothers then wrote Uncle Henry Williams, a
pioneer of Newcastle, TX who was well informed on Indian Raids. Through this
correspondence came the first information of value to start unwinding this
Brothers then called upon George Hunt and his mother-in-law at
their home near mountain View. With an interpreter Mr. Brothers talked to Mrs.
Goombi. She did not remember any of the early details, only what her father and
other members of the tribe had told her. She said she had been told the she was
captured on Wooden Spear Creek in Texas. She was under the impression that her
mother and several others were taken at the same time. She said her mother died
later, but the investigation showed that her mother had died in the raid, her
grandmother was captured and evidently the Indians thought she was the
Mr. Hunt became more deeply interested as one clue after the
other tallied with the information from Billy Ratcliff. He suggested they visit
MO-KEEN an aged Mexican captive, who had been adopted into the tribe and was on
that raid. MO-KEEN was a 15 year old warrior at the time. He corroborated the
details of the story.
Mr. Brothers then visited with George Poolaw an
aged Kiowa who custodian of the Kiowa Calender. He found in the calender
information describing the raid in 1864 in Texas, showing several captives
taken, including the Negro captives and one captive that was never returned. He
identified Mrs. Goombi as the captive child and said it was common knowledge
among the old people the she was the girl.
With the information obtained
through the interviews, Mr. Brothers returned to Texas, interviewed Uncle henry
Williams, one of the pioneers. They checked every detail of the story
completely. Mr. Williams was thoroughly convinced there was no error . With all
the evidence complete, they were able to announce that Mrs. Sain-toh-oodie
Goombi, 69 years old, was the child, Millie Durgan, stolen in a raid by Indians
on a settlement in Texas.,br>
The white relatives of Millie Durgan Goombi
have spread to the four winds. Millie Died January 14, 1934, at the home of her
daughter Mrs. Lillian Hunt near Mountain View, OK She is buried in the Old
Rainey Mountain Indian Cemetery south and west of Mountain View. Mrs Goombi had
a large family, nine children, 32 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren when
she died. Her children were: George Goombi; Mrs. Minnie Oybei; Mrs. Lillian
Hunt; Mrs. Jane Poolant; Mrs. Ellen Sator, Mrs. Mary Poor Buffalo; Jennie
Goombi, Mrs. Sarah Tanahood’e and Joseph Goombi.
raised in Kiowa County, the above is the story that I have always heard. This
second story is widely believed, that little Millie Durgan died about a year
after being taken captive. This story, if the true one, asks the question, who
was the lady, SAIN-TOH-OODIE-GOOMBI, that said she was Millie Durkin? The
picture shows she is up in years. If not Millie, she could have been one of any
number of children that were captured by Indians or reported missing during
Indian raids that took place in the late 1800's
Another story says that a
friend of the family, Christopher Kit Carson’s raids into the homeland of the
Kiowa and Commanche, caused widespread hunger and famine. And during the winter
of 1864-65 Millie Jane died. This is in a book by Barbara
There are a number of reasons that Millie Durgin's great grand
niece and nephew, descendents of her sister Charlotte Elizabeth Susannah Durgin
believe that Mrs. Goombi was not Millie.
Millie's grandmother, Elizabeth
Fitzpatrick, taken with her in the raid, was separated from Millie and Charlotte
Durgin after their capture. She and Charlotte were not released at the same time
or from the same tribe. Charlotte Durgin was turned over to Indian agents for
ransom from a Comanche band led by Chief Silver Broach (To-Si-Wa) by Chief Milky
Way (Esa Havey). The exchange took place on August 15, 1865 at Cottonwood Grove
(Camp Napoleon) Oklahoma.
Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Millie's grandmother,
was rescued from a Kiowa band by Colonel Leavenworth and his troops on the
prairie north of Fort Zarah on Walnut Creek, between Fort Dodge and the Cow
Creek Ranch in Kansas on November 2, 1865.
Millie was reported to have
died in the 1864 winter of starvation and exposure, by Kiowa Chief Little
Mountain (To-Hau-Son). He reported that the death occured during the "muddy
It is believed that Millie Durgin was somewhat younger
than Mrs. Goombi said she was at the time of the capture. At the time Mrs.
Goombi came forward, the only living person who personally knew Millie was an
elderly man who knew Millie as a young boy at the time of the
Millie Durgin, was described by her grandmother to the
government as being 1/4 African descent, having a dark complexion, dark brown
eyes, black hair and still having Negro features. (Note: In this time period
this would have been a rare occurance. ET) Mrs. Goombi was a woman of fair
complexion, light hair and blue eyes. Millie was taken at the age of 18 months
and very likely would not have remembered her name or where she came from.
Indians on a raid, would not have a personal knowledge of their
point in time, both stories are believed and no evidence has been found to
dispute either one. My personal thoughts are that Millie did not die in 1864-65,
that the Kiowa story is true. It was told with such persuasion that it was
believed. But it is not for me to say. Only diligent research by the descendents
of the family will provide the answers. And, I am a romanticist!
information, that the lady was Millie Durgin/Durkin, came from the history of
Kiowa County and also submitted by Penny
Barker Owens, great grand daughter of Charlotte Elizabeth, and great grand
niece of Millie Durkin/Durgin. Penny would very much like to contact her Kiowa
Cousins. Two other family researchers believe the information that young Millie
died are Sally Leonard and James Hewitt, Jr., who is a great
grandson of Charlotte. Their information came from Military reports in the
Information about Millie Durgan/Sain-toh-oodie Goombi
Came from various sources; Carbine and Lance by W. S. Nye; George Hunt;
“Millie Durgan, Chronicles of Oklahoma, (Vol. 15, No. 4, 1937, p. 480-482) Harry
A. Stroud, “Captive for 66 years” (Historical Romances, Lawton, OK, September,
1931, p. 1-4) and Comanche and Kiowa Captives, Chapter 12.
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