Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Battey, Thomas C.

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

BATTEY, THOMAS C. (1828–1897).

Quaker schoolteacher and friend to the Caddo and Kiowa Indians, Thomas C. Battey was born on February 19, 1828, in Starksboro, Vermont, to Joseph and Rebecca Starbuck Battey. Battey was raised on an uncle's farm, and as a youth he became enamored with the frontier. A Quaker (member of the Society of Friends), he studied to become a teacher and accepted his first teaching post on the Canadian border before moving to an Iowa farm.

In 1871, when the U.S. government adopted a new peace policy for American Indians of the West, Battey accepted a teaching position at the Wichita Agency in present Anadarko, Oklahoma. Among the pupils at the agency were Caddo Indians who had suffered terribly during their relocation from Louisiana. Battey was instrumental in helping the group settle peacefully. While stationed at the Wichita Agency, he wrote many journal-type letters home to his children and second wife, Lucinda Hampton Gregg.

Two years later Battey followed what he believed to be his calling to a position as a field agent with the Kiowa Agency located north of Fort Sill. In 1874, through his friendship with Chief Kicking Bird, he facilitated a settlement agreement between the U.S, government and a band of hostile Kiowa, thereby successfully averting a larger war in the southern plains. Around 1875 Thomissey (as the Kiowa called him) Battey returned to his Iowa farm and then to Ohio. In October 1897 he died of cancer in Middleton. His letters, edited and published in 1875 as The Life and Adventures of a Quaker Among the Indians, are an important source of information on the Plains Indians.

Beth Anne Doughty


Thomas C. Battey, The Life and Adventures of a Quaker Among the Indians (1875; reprint ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968).

Thomas C. Battey Collection, Western History Collections, Bizzell Memorial Library, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Beth Anne Doughty, “Battey, Thomas C.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BA036.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.