BY DAVID PERRYMAN
Most people know that Washington Irving passed through what is now Oklahoma in the fall of 1832. What is less well known is that he crossed the Mississippi 75 years before statehood for the sole purpose of exploring deep within the heart of our great state and that he used Fort Gibson in its heyday as the beginning point and, 30 days later, the ending point of his expedition.
Irving’s tales of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle had only been published a dozen years before his foray into the heart of the frontier but his fame intrigued a couple of young men whom he had met while returning from Europe in the Spring of 1832.
Through a series of unanticipated events, the two men – a Swiss and an Englishman, both of French descent – found themselves at the fort near the Neosho River readying for an excursion deep into present day Oklahoma.
The journey took them up the Arkansas and the Cimarron near current cities of Stillwater and Guthrie before turning southwesterly across the North Canadian close to where Oklahoma City and Norman are now located. The party had camped at the headwaters of the Little River [near Indian Hills Road and I-35] when Count Albert de Pourtales, the Swiss companion, was chasing buffalo and wild turkeys and became separated from the group.
According to a centennial account in the September 1932 edition of the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Pourtales in the excitement of the chase did not realize that he had traveled over a low rise into another valley drained by a creek about five miles to the west. He vainly sought his friends and they searched for him, but nightfall came and he and his horses spend a very long and sleepless night with a continuous serenade by wolves.
Without doubt, Washington Irving’s “headless horseman” was less frightening than the count’s lonely Halloween night on the creek about two miles east of Newcastle that is, to this day, still named “Lost Creek.”
Count Albert de Pourtales was not the first person, nor the last, to become distracted and become lost in Oklahoma.
Today, citizens and the elected officials who represent them receive constant distraction and misinformation because of the massive amounts of money that are directly and indirectly injected into candidate campaigns and ballot questions.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a corporation that spends money in a campaign is exercising its constitutional “freedom of speech” and cannot be limited. The richer the corporation the louder it may speak. When unlimited corporate money influences your vote, you are being led to “Lost Creek.”
To save our country, we must amend the U.S. Constitution. Be active, be vocal and hold your elected officials accountable.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, serves District 56 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives