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(Many Paths)
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Historic Governor Cyrus Harris Items Returned
by Chickasaw Times

Wynnewood, OK — Two historic items removed from the final resting place of the Chickasaw Nation’s first governor were returned to the tribe March 17 by officials of the Wynnewood Historical Society.

The stem of a common tobacco pipe and an 1886 dime were removed from Cyrus Harris’ grave site May 31, 1961, when a flooding creek threatened to destroy his burial site in old Mill Creek Cemetery. The raging creek also threatened the final resting place of his daughter, Lucy Harris Lael and her infant son, who were interred together.

Wynnewood Historical Society officials said five individuals – Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Shirley and Leroy DeArman, of Wynnewood; Ludie Kinney, of Oklahoma City, and Wilbur White, of Tishomingo – moved the remains of Gov. Harris, his daughter and grandson. Historical records note a coin purse with the lone 1886 dime was located in Harris’ grave. The record does not mention the pipe stem.

Mrs. Lael and the remains of her son were transferred to Oaklawn Cemetery in Wynnewood. Gov. Harris’ remains and his original Mill Creek headstone were relocated to Drake-Nebo Cemetery, seven miles south of Sulphur, Okla.

Wynnewood Historical Society officials Nicholas Waters, president; secretary Luann Waters, and Wynnewood author and historian Dr. Michael Lovegrove presented the items to Chickasaw Nation Executive Officer of Historic Preservation and Homeland Affairs Kirk Perry.

Mr. Perry delivered the artifacts to the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s Holisso Research Center along with the deed of gift from the Wynnewood Historical Society. The items will be housed in the Chickasaw Nation collection for safekeeping and care, according to Mr. Perry.

The artifacts are deemed associated funerary objects and will not be displayed publicly.

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About Cyrus Harris
A businessman, interpreter, and first Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Cyrus Harris was born August 22, 1817, in Pontotoc, Mississippi.

A descendant of James Logan Colbert, Gov. Harris attended school in Mississippi and Tennessee and returned home in 1830. In 1835, as the Chickasaws were preparing to remove to Indian Territory, Gov. Harris, who spoke English and Chickasaw fluently, served as an interpreter at a government land office established at Pontotoc.

In 1837 Gov. Harris and his mother, Elizabeth Colbert Oxbury-Gunn, left for Indian Territory and arrived at Blue River in present Johnston County, Oklahoma, in 1838. Gov. Harris moved three more times before settling at Mill Creek, where he resided until his death. He began his political career in 1850. He was twice sent as a delegate for the Chickasaw Nation to Washington.

Cyrus Harris was elected the first governor of the Chickasaw Nation in 1856, and was reelected in 1860, 1866, 1868, and 1872. In 1872 he approved the establishment of a boarding school at Wapanucka.

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