Tonk Valley Community Historical Marker
Marker Title: The Tonk Valley Community
Address: SH 67, S of Graham
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: From Graham, take SH 67 about 5 mi south.
Marker Text: Earliest known attempt at permanent settlement in this valley was made in 1851 by Elijah Skidmore, who was killed after a few months on the frontier. Locality takes its historic name from the Tonkawa nation, known in its own language as "The most human of people". In 1855 the Tonkawa were placed in this valley on reservation provided by an act of the Texas Legislature; but in 1859 the tribe was removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). After the Civil War ended in 1865 and especially after the Indian reserve was opened to settlers in 1873, pioneers established livestock farms here. Their children went to school in log cabin with dirt floor and homemade split log benches. Schoolmistress Addie McNabb accepted as salary a gray plow pony and a small amount of cash. In 1877 Baptists organized a church with the Rev. G.W. Black as pastor; also in 1877 Methodists founded Monk's Chapel, with Rev. B.H. Johnson as pastor. The first building strictly for church use was erected 1909. School consolidation (1922) enlarged community and (1948) saw local children transported into Graham. Community life is centered in the churches.
Elijah Skidmore was one of the first settlers to locate in the vicinity of old Fort Belknap. Mr. Skidmore, at that time, lived about one mile north of the present town of Eliasville, and September 14, 1855, was out about one-half mile, cutting poles to floor a crib. Prior to his departure from home, he ordered his African to bring the ox-team and ox-wagon. But Mr. Skidmore was alone, unarmed, and attacked by the Indians before the African arrived. The Indians stripped off all of Mr. Skidmore's clothes but his shoes, wounded his body about seventeen times and took his scalp. Almost invariably the Indians left a sock or shoe on one or both feet. Soon after the ocurrence, the African came slowly driving the oxen, and it is believed that the cracking of his long ox-whip frightened the Indians away.
Ref.: Prior to writing this section, the author personally interviewed F.M. Peveler, whose brothers, Will and John, were beef contractors at Fort Belknap at the time.
Further Ref.: Rep'ts. of Com. of Indian Affairs 1855; Sec. of War. 1858; corresponded with a granddaughter of Mr. Skidmore.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.