Friday, December 21, 2012

Why Carper

It's no secret that LK and I went round and round about names for baby #3. We feel like we did really well with GEO and ISH and didn't want to mess up the streak with #3.

But then, while talking through family stories with my dad, we came across the life (and the name) of LK's great-great-great grandfather: Arthur Green Carper.

Account of Arthur Green Carper’s Civil War and “Pony Express” Service 

Taken from a letter written to Michael Cummings by Lloyd George Melgard, 17 December 1979
“Your great great grandmother, Francis Elmira Iona Carper, had a brother, Arthur Green Carper, b. 8 December 1851, d. 3 Nov. 1934 in Sayre, Oklahoma, who escaped the stockaded school of Notre Dame where his Mother, Mariah Cline Firestone Carper, had placed him to keep him from joining the Civil War volunteers. He bribed a negro washerwoman to carry him out on her head with the dirty laundry and he worked his way south to join the union forces as a drummer boy and saw much action.
When the Civil War was over he was too scared of his Mother to return home so he joined the Pony Express and on one of his runs he decided to cross the Oklahoma Indian Territory to save time and was captured, stripped, tied to a stake, had slivers of wood stuck in his flesh by the Indian women and set afire.
He showed no fear and such bravery that the Indian chief had the fire doused and had him brought to his tent where he was treated for burns all over his body and he was out of his head for weeks. He became the chief’s slave or personal servant and had to sleep at his feet each night.
After many years,he began to think of his Mother and his family in South Whitley, Indiana, and he planned his escape. One night when all were asleep, he dragged the end of his lariat through the camp fire’s coals and loosening the tether rope for the horses, he got on the chief’s white horse which was the fastest and whirled his flaming lariat over the horses causing them to stampede and then he set out for the territory’s boundary.
It took time for the Indians to take chase and they pursued him shooting him so full of bullets and arrows that he was able later in life to pass knitting needles through his arms and legs without feeling any pain.
The next morning a doctor married to an Indian woman and living on the border came out of his home to find a white horse covered with blood and a man hanging under his belly. He brought him in and worked to save him and he was delirious for months.
Finally he learned that he was from South Whitley, Indiana, so we wrote a newspaper there asking if anyone knew of a man of such a height, weight and facial features and his Mother read and realized that this must be he son so she hired two of the best doctors and set out in a stage coach for the Indian territory but the closer they got, the more frightened the doctors became and they both left her.
She brought him home and it took a long time before he realized he was no longer an Indian with Indian ways. He married and returned to Oklahoma when it was opened and had a farm there”
But the story doesn't end there. LK's great grandfather, in an interview for the Oklahoma Historical Society, tells of a time when Carper and the Indians were reunited.

LK's great grandfather:
... But anyway, after that, they were, my father and my Grandpa Carper were, in Filley, Nebraska, and they was having one of these, what did they call those ... medicine shows, and they had a bunch of Indians were putting it on. And one of the old Indians that uh, was helping to put it on was one of the main guys that helped capture Granddad that time.
And it come out in the paper that this medicine show was comin’ to town and so everybody had horses then to get around in and wagons and my daddy said to my grandpa said,“Carper, let’s go up to Filly Saturday evening they’s gonna put on that medicine show. There’s that old man’s name that you called, uh, you called his name that you knew that help capture you.”
And Granddad, course he was more than willin’ to go and so they took off and went up to the show and when they got up there there was quite a big crowd around there and course these Indians was up on the stage they had built for show that evening; they’s gonna put on an advertising show and they was up there dancing around and getting the crowd all up there. And when my grandpa and my dad walked up pretty close, well, I guess they was out in the crowd about 15 or 20 foot, or 30, and my granddad hollered at him. I believe his name was Rain In The Face.
And he said, “Hello there Rain In the Face.”
And when Granddad, I think, hollered at him again, and he heard him. And he recognized my granddad’s voice and that was, oh…. I guess 15, 20 years after he had been captured.
And he said, “Arthur Carper is that you out there?”
He hollered at him and told him it was.
Said, “You come up here.”
So they went up on the stage and my Granddaddy Carper, that old Indian just grabbed my Granddad Carper and hugged him up and they just took hands and they put on one of the awfullest dances there on that platform and all the hollerin’ that you ever heard. That crowd put it on. He said that was the biggest show that was on that evening all right, but it was a good show.
But anyway, after they’d been to that show and Granddad would tell my Daddy anything about the happenings that happened when he was with the Indians, said he’s sure believe that because that old Indian recognized my granddad fifteen years or longer after they’d had that skirmish.

And so we welcome Carper (CAP) into our family.  May you have both the bravery and the outlook that life is a grand adventure that your namesake had.



Gena said...

I meant to tell you when I read this the other day that I love the name you picked and the history behind it. That is such an unusual story, and to have the documentation of it? Priceless.

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