Millie Durgin


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.

The life story of Millie Durgan, who later became Mrs. Goombi when she married a Kiowa by that name, is quite unusual, in that 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.

Early Indian 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 own people.

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 People.

In the 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.

The 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 vacinity 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.

At 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 fence.

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. The captives were then taken to Pauls Valley where the settlers and government officials helped them get home.

Millie's foster father, a noted Kiowa warrior named AU-SOANT-SAI-MAH, 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 slaves.

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 comparative splender.

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 always met 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.

But, Millie 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 tribes started.

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 garment.

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 1890'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.

The 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 story.

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 mother..

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.

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.

Being 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 Ledbetter.

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 traveling winter".

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 capture.

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 captives.

At this 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!

This 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 National Archives


A Tale of Two Sisters

Charlottie Durgin (left) was captured by Kiowa Indians as a child and was later released. Younger sister, Millie Durgin (right) was also captured by Kiowas as a child and raised as a Kiowa near Mountain View.

Descendents of the Durgin Sisters Finally Meet at Reunion.

A reunion over a century in the making was held for the family of Kiowa captive Millie Durgin Goombi and the descendents of their grandmothers' Irish Family. The meeting took place at 2013 Durgin Family Reunion, June 14-16 at Rainy Mountain Kiowa Indian Baptist Church south of Mountain View. Descendents of Millie and Charlottie's families met for the first time at the Durgin Reunion.

James Hewitt of Roseburg OR and Jerrianne Meyers of Kernville, CA are the great grandchildren of Charlottie. They spent years researching their Kiowa Cousins and represented Charlottie's side of the family at the Reunion.

(Reunion information written by Candy Kauley Morgan, courtesy Hobart Democrat Chief )

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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Updated 7-7-2013

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