OK Two historic items removed from the final resting place
of the Chickasaw Nations 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
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
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
Centers 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.
About Cyrus Harris
A businessman, interpreter, and first Governor of
the Chickasaw Nation, Cyrus Harris was born August 22, 1817, in
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.