Brinton Darlington and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Agency

President Grant’s Peace Policy marked a profound change in Indian-white relations after the Battle of the Washita in 1868.  Brinton Darlington, a Quaker through his membership in the Society of Friends was appointed agent of the Upper Arkansas Agency.  Darlington arrived at Camp Supply on July 6, 1869, and began looking for an appropriate location to establish the agency complex.  Brinton Darlington’s strong convictions in the scriptures of his faith caused him to adhere to the principles of the Peace Policy.  He refused to accept a military escort into the interior of Indian Territory.

Through negotiations with the military and the Cheyenne’s, it was agreed that the new agency would be located on the North Canadian River.  In May 1870, the agency was located within the newly established Cheyenne and Arapaho reservation created through Executive Order by President Grant.  The agency was located near an adequate timber and spring water supply across the river and to the east of present-day Fort Reno.

Work at the agency was challenging for Darlington as he was responsible for issuing the Treaty guaranteed annuities of goods and regular food rations.  Many of the Indian camps preferred living near the buffalo range near the western border of present-day Oklahoma.  Thus, the number of Cheyennes and Arapahos living near the agency was small during the Darlington’s three years as agent.

The ultimate goal of the Peace Policy was to educate and christianize the Indians.  The school established for the children at the Cheyenne-Arapaho agency by Brinton Darlington was part of the United States Indian policy.  Many Cheyenne and Arapaho children in the 1870’s began formal education at the agency.

Darlington spent close to three years as the Agent for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people.  He died on May 1, 1872 and the reports of his funeral indicate that large number of Cheyennes and Arapahos openly mourned as they passed his open coffin while paying their last respects.  During the funeral a Cheyenne Chief spoke about the loss of this great man to the assembled group.

The agent succeeding Brinton Darlington was John D. Miles who had served as the agent for the Kickapoo’s.

Information above taken from the 1999 Fort Reno Tombstone Tales booklet.

Darlington History

Darlington is the name of a historic piece of land near the intersection of the Old Chisholm Cattle Trail and the North Canadian River.  This piece of land was named Darlington in honor of Brinton Darlington, who first founded it as an Indian Agency in 1870.  Later this land was to become the home of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Oklahoma, later a rehabilitation institution, then the location of the Oklahoma State Game Farm, and is presently home to a Redlands Community College Research Program and Grade ‘A’ Goat Dairy.

Brinton Darlington, the senior in age among the persons recommended, was appointed as agent of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.  After his appointment, Agent Darlington selected a site on Pond Creek to be the new reservation.  The Indians were moved to this site, where one building was erected and 60 acres of land were broken, because of bad relations between the Cheyenne’s and Arapahos on one side and the Osage and Kaws on the other.  In the spring of 1870 Darlington received instruction from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington to select a site for the new agency in the vicinity of the intersection of the old Chisholm Trail and the North Canadian River.  This new location was to remain the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Agency until 1908.  Darlington died due to an attack of brain fever in the spring of 1872 and at his special request was buried at the Agency.

In 1874 there was an outbreak of the last general Indian wars in Indian Territory.  Most of the Cheyenne’s who were attached to the Darlington Agency went to the warpath after riding to the Agency and telling Agent John D. Miles they were going to kill the buffalo hunters.  John D. Miles was appointed Indian Agent upon Darlington’s death.  Word was quickly sent to Fort Reno and two troops of cavalry, under the leadership of General Phil Sheridan, were sent to protect the Agency.

In 1909 the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Agency moved from the Darlington site to a location about two miles north, named Concho.  This was by no means the end of Darlington’s gift of history to the state of Oklahoma, but merely the relocation of the Indian Agency.

In April 1937, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians had launched a movement to change the Cheyenne and Arapaho school and agency at Concho to “Darlington School and Agency,” but a petition sent to Congress was rejected.  Darlington won their affection, which continued on after his death.

in 1910 the Masons of Oklahoma purchased the Darlington site from the El Reno Chamber of Commerce which held an option secured from the United States Government.  For $78,000 the Mason’s bought this tract with the 22 buildings which stood there.  Many improvements were made to the site, probably the most important being the laying of the pipeline from Caddo Springs to a pump house at Darlington transporting pure spring water (this pipeline is still used today).  As a result, in September 1922, the home left Darlington for Guthrie, where it has since remained.  Some of the beautiful Masonic Buildings remain at Darlington today.

Across the river from the Fort Reno Research Station is the state operated quail and pheasant hatchery.  Here about 160,000 birds were hatched and shipped to all sections of the state.  The Darlington Game Farm has been closed since 1996.