Sarah wanted to visit some of her Lawton relatives so I dropped her off so she could do that. I decided to head over to the Deyo Mission Cemetery (DMC) that wasn’t far away. DMC is located a bit west of town. It’s another one of the KCA Intertribal Burial Grounds cemeteries.
The Deyo Baptist Church is to the right of the church’s parking lot. Because they were having an activity that day and members were present outside, I didn’t photograph it. So I headed over to the cemetery, which is on the far left side of the parking lot.
Deyo Mission History
The Deyo Mission’s history was documented online, thankfully. I don’t always get that lucky. Here’s what I found in The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (EOHC):
The Deyo Mission, also called the First Comanche Mission, was established by Elton Cyrus Deyo in late winter 1893 near Cache. Deyo, a Baptist and 1893 graduate of the Colgate Theological Seminary, arrived at the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation in October 1893 with his wife, Anna. The Comanche gave them a cool reception. Indeed, church construction began at three or four different sites before the Deyos finally found one that was acceptable to the Comanche (five miles east and two miles south of Cache). Formally organized in November 1895, the congregation struggled in its first years, and the Deyos claimed only 13 Comanche converts by 1901. Between 1902 and 1911, however, Deyo converted 150, with 36 in 1903 alone.
E. C. Deyo was also an outspoken promoter of development in the region, and he gained a reputation for supporting the opening of reservation lands to non-Indians on the grounds that it would hasten the conversion of the Comanche. He reported his own efforts “to prepare the Comanche to meet his God, and dwell with him in heaven forever,” and he looked forward to the time when “these broad prairies may be settled by industrious Christian whites, who will help to roll onward the Grand Old Gospel Car.”
The Deyo Mission, now the Deyo Baptist Church, has been in continuous use since its founding and since the middle of the twentieth century has had a succession of Comanche pastors. Like many other Indian churches, it has often provided Comanche a way to maintain elements of their traditional culture through the use, for example, of native hymns.
I’m not sure how most people, Native American or white, would feel today about E.C. Deyo’s philosophy on converting Native Americans. Regardless, the church seems to be thriving and is an integral part of the community. Pictured above is the first building of the Deyo Mission, borrowed from the EOHC website. Today, it is a brick building.
Find a Grave reports about 770 memorials for Deyo Mission Cemetery. It looks like it has more than that there. But what I did see was fascinating. In the picture below, on the left behind Sarah’s car, you can get a glimpse of the side of the church with Mount Scott in the background.
“Sun Rays Shining Through the Clouds”
If you go looking for information on John Tabbytite, you won’t find much. There’s an article about him on JSTOR.org about him but you have to pay money to read it. Fortunately, I found a 1960 newspaper article about him in The Lawton Chronicle that helped me. His Comanche name means “Sun Rays Shining Through the Clouds”.
Born on August 2, 1872 in Texas, John Tabbytite belonged to the Seventh Cavalry, Troop L. You might remember that group from my post a few weeks back about Fort Sill’s Apache South Cemetery. Clarence Bailsto was a member, along with many Apache and Kiowa. The article says John’s father, Hoawah, was a Spaniard captured by the Comanche in the 1840s, and his mother was half Comanche, half Crow. His family ended up in Oklahoma on the reservation and John worked on a nearby ranch. But he longed for a better life.
When he was 18, John and one of his cousins joined the all-Native American Troop L of the Seventh Cavalry, led by Lt. Hugh Scott. Scott was well respected by Native Americans. John and the soldiers drilled and learned marksmanship.
According to John, he was among the soldiers when Geronimo and the Apaches moved from Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama to Fort Sill. In fact, John was the first soldier among Troop L to ride up to Geronimo to welcome him to Fort Sill. It was not a task he was happy about due to Geronimo’s reputation. He described him as a “tough, mean looking old man.”
John enjoyed his days in Troop L, living in the barracks as a single man. Married soldiers lived with their families on the reservation. The Troop disbanded in 1897. John would eventually marry his wife Wickkie, at the Deyo Mission Chapel (as it was called then). She was living with an uncle when he met her, Comanche Chief Paddyaker. John became a farmer, working the land alotments he acquired over the years, and eventually farmed over 1,000 acres in the Cache Creek area. The Depression nearly wiped him out but he and Wickkie survived.
When John died on Aug. 27, 1961, he was 89. He was also the last surviving member of Troop L.
Buried beside John is his and Wickkie’s son, Lester Tabbytite. Born in 1929, Lester served in the 97the Signal Battalion during World War II. He returned home to Lawton after the war. Sadly, he died on Feb. 4, 1947 from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was only 20 years old.
Wickkie Tabbytite died in 1977 at age 93. I found an article that said she traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to visit her granddaughter, Ladonna Crawford, who was then the wife of Oklahoma state senator Fred Harris. It was Wickkie’s first plane ride. President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, whom Wickkie had met the year before during a campaign stop in Oklahoma, gave her a tour of the White House. Wickkie is buried at DMC but I didn’t get a photo of her grave.
Wife of Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker, whose grave is at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery, had several wives. I was surprised to find one of them buried at DMC.
I could find little information about To-Nar-Cy. There was a HistoryNet.com article I tried to access but again, payment was required (sigh) so I skipped it. All I could see was that the article alleged that she was “considered “the “show wife” who often traveled with him”. Certainly she was much more than that. I believe she may have been sixth out of the seven wives he married. She and his last wife, To-pay, were living with him when he died in 1911.
To-Nar-Cy died at age 66 in 1931. Her birth year is not exact.
I was able to find out more about her monument thanks to a June 14, 1953 article in the Daily Oklahoman. A woman who knew her as a child, Lena Banks, was already concerned about the fact Quanah only had a wooden cross to mark his grave at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery. I didn’t know until I read this article that Lena wrote to four senators asking for help. Thanks to her efforts, the senators gave $1,500 to pay for the obelisk that now marks his grave.
Lena wasn’t aware that To-Nar-Cy’s grave at DMC was also unmarked for many years. When she did, she contacted her friend’s family members to ask what might be done. The wheels were set in motion and the marker, which is pictured below, was placed on Memorial Day 1953.
Another Native American grave marker got my attention. Wookvitty Lusio’s marker has her last name spelled “Lusio” but when I went to find information on her, I came up empty. I found her listed as Wookvitty Lucio instead. I think that’s the correct spelling.
Born in 1864, she married Tomas Lucio in 1919 at age 50. I don’t believe she had any children. She was an active member of the Deyo Mission Chapel for many years. According to her obituary, she took part in Lawton’s anniversary celebrations ever year, wearing her buckskin attire.
Join me next time for Part II of my visit to Deyo Mission Cemetery.
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