Oen Edgar Noland
Last week I spelled Noland's name Owen but what hurts is I knew better. His name was Oen Edgar Noland.
I love how others write. They are descriptive and detailed at times. The following comes from just such a man - William T. Lockett.
It was December and 11 Indian children were on their way to school at Fort Lewis. They had no bedding and their meager supply of food would not last the day. Alejandro cursed under his breath when he learned the truth about their desperate journey.
Like too many Indian agents, this one was shiftless and had no thought of the children's welfare or safety. Alejandro was a poor man from a big family. He had a wagon and a team of horses but he dared not speak out. If the children must go, he knew he must go also.
A young man, age 10, among the 11 children that Alejandro trusted as his lieutenant was called Gato - Bobcat - but his given name was Kee. Kee sensed danger - the horses were old and might die and he felt one of them going lame. He sat silently as the self-appointed leader of the children. And they, half frozen, watched closely as the day wore on for any sign from him.
The wayfarers made 20 miles that first day exhausted, hungry and cold. Alejandro wondered if this would be his last. It was there he and Gato and the children would spend the night. Throughout the night, Alejandro tended the fire and tried to keep the children from freezing under the two blankets. The meager supply of food had been consumed before they made it to their rest stop and now the cold and hunger tugged at the children.
It was late the next day when a strange cargo drifted into Mancos. Alejandro stumbled from the wagon, fell and rose again. The Man (Oen Edgar Noland) rushed the children to the hotel where they were given hot baths and clothing. A feast was hastily prepared and plates were heaped with hot food. Alejandro bathed and shaved with eyes red from lack of sleep.
The Man (Oen Edgar Noland) had train tickets ready and swung each child up onto the train. From there they would continue their journey to Fort Lewis where they would pursue their great adventure in the world of the white man.
Every able-bodied citizen of Mancos was at the railroad station to cheer as the last "All Aboard" sounded. Before the train would reach its destination, the Navajos would learn all - down to the minute detail - of what had transpired, from the beginning of the journey until its end. They would learn how the Agent had failed his trust and how Alejandro and the Man had rescued the precious cargo. It was the year of our Lord, One thousand nine hundred and two.
Darrel Ellis is a long-time historian of the Mancos Valley. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.