Graveyard Name

The Army has agreed the name Indian Agency Cemetery is the historically correct name for the cemetery. The cemetery was part and parcel of the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Agency (and after 1879, the Sub-Agency) that existed just southeast of the cemetery. It was just one element of the Agency infrastructure.

The Indian Agency Cemetery has been known by a variety of names over the years.[1] In recent times, it has been commonly known as the Comanche Mission Cemetery.

It is documented that the cemetery was in use as early as 1895. Ample evidence also exists that burials occurred there well before that date. Historical documents reveal the cemetery was called an “old cemetery” in 1917. The intervention of a mere 22 years does not seem to class the cemetery as “old.” The year 1895 merely represents the earliest known burial date and not necessarily the earliest burial.

It can not be disputed the cemetery was in existence long before the Dutch Reformed Comanche Mission (now known as the Comanche Reformed Church) was organized in 1907. This church did not receive title from the Government to the reserve land on which it was built until 1910.

In November 1881, the Methodists sent Harrison Sterling Price Ashby to minister to the Indians.[2] Indeed, the Methodist Mission, built later, was less than a mile east of the present site of the Comanche Mission Church. The stories told in the References Section of this web site vouch for the Methodist Church using the Indian Agency Cemetery.

Morris (Mike) Swett’s 1955 internal Army memorandum about this cemetery shows in the upper right-hand corner a lined-through subject matter, viz. “Methodist Mission.” While the lined-through notation peaked my curiosity earlier, it was not until later that I connected it with the Methodist Mission. This discovery lends credence to the notion that the cemetery was not created by or necessarily for the Dutch Reformed Mission.[3]

The simple fact the cemetery was nearby the Dutch Reformed Church dictated it would likely become the burial ground for the members of that church. And, by or about the time of the Dutch Reformed Church’s organization (1907) the Methodist Church had burned and ceased to operate.

It is debatable just how much care and maintenance the Dutch ReformedComanche Ladies at Deyo Cemetery ca 1940 Church may have provided this cemetery since early records suggest the cemetery was in less than a pristine condition even prior to the Army’s beginnings of the airfield in 1915.[4] Long before the introduction of powered mowing devices, it was not uncommon for many cemeteries to be un-kept except for special occasions such as Decoration Day (now known as Memorial Day). Lifetime experiences in the mid-1940s verify this as the norm. Our family picture album of 1940 shows the Comanche ladies (L-R: Wockvitta, Waumaconie aka Mrs. E.L. Clark, Tillie Topatchy, Carrie Ross Winnerchy, Ora Ross Hernersey) at the Deyo Mission Cemetery preparing for Decoration Day with crude equipment including Agency issued trade hoes.

The Indian Agency Cemetery was used by the Comanche Mission more than maintained.

While the preponderance of the bodies in this cemetery are Comanche, there are Mexican and persons of Kiowa lineage and a suggestion that some Apaches are buried there too.[5]

There were many Agency cemeteries all across the land and available documents identify other Agency cemeteries within the Wichita Agency.

The cemetery has been variously called the Methodist Cemetery, the Indian Graveyard, Comanche Mission Cemetery, “part of Agency at Fort Sill”, Government Cemetery, Comanche Indian Mission Graveyard, “little government cemetery for Indians”, Pia-tha-see-ah; and Koy Mo-red-die.

Thus, the cemetery is historically and appropriately the Indian Agency Cemetery on Henry Post Army Airfield.

[1] Work Paper of Wahnne Clark on the Indian Agency Cemetery, Henry Post Army Airfield, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, December 17, 2008. Back to Reading

[2] Hugh Corwin, Civilian Pioneers at Fort Sill, vertical file # 22. Back to Reading

[3] Now known as the Comanche Reformed Church. Back to Reading

[4] See Harper’s 1917 comments. Back to Reading

[5] See Mochorook and Tabbytite. Also see Polly Lewis Murphy, So Linger Memory: Fort Sill Post Cemetery Inventories. Back to Reading