The Race of Gray Eagle

NOTE: The story concerns W. W. Baker who was married to Isabel Frances “Fanny” Hackney, daughter of William Hackney and Sarah Shannon. Unfortunately, the below article does not reveal the Sac Indian with whom W. W. Baker had formed a partnership in the training of the horse, Gray Eagle, for a run against the Fox.

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April 13 1903

It is the popular impression that the native Indian pony could outrun anything on earth. In connection with this W. W. Baker, who spent many years in this vicinity when it was part of the Indian reservation, tells a story which seems to prove that the Indian pony wasn’t in the same class with the fleet-footed Kentucky racer. Shortly after the Indians were removed to Des Moines Tom Foster, father of Mrs. C. T. McCarroll, 726 West Second Street, got possession of a Kentucky racer called Gray Eagle. Baker purchased this horse, took him to Des Moines and took in a Sacs Indian as a partner. A match race was arranged between Gray Eagle and a field of horses belonging to the Fox. Gray Eagle was kept as much in the dark as possible. His training was all secret. So far as the Fox Indians knew he was simply a Sacs pony. By the time the day for the race arrived the interest and excitement in the outcome was intense. The Foxes were confident of winning. They bet every pony, saddle, blanket and treasure in their camp. There was hardly an article of any value whatever in either camp which was not “up” on one side or the other. The Indians were wild bettors and upon this race they had bet their all. The day came and the race was run. When Gray Eagle finished there wasn’t a Fox pony within a quarter of a mile. Baker and his friends made a killing and the Fox nation was “strapped”.



Recollections of Lloyd McKENNEY
29 January 1979

…I had graduated from high school…had to stay in Sedan the first two years…no high school closer…my grandparents (CROCKETTS) had moved there to take care of children of a son whose wife had died (George CROCKETT). I stayed with them. A consolidated school had been completed by then at Chautauqua, which was a good farm and oil town then, had a railroad station, etc. So my junior year was there…and was sent to Bonner Springs, Kansas, to live with an aunt and uncle…the FLEMINGS, my mother’s sister and her husband who now lives in Rogers, Arkansas…he is 90, for my senior year. Their daughter, my cousin, called me yesterday.

The fall of 1925, had graduated from high school at Bonner Springs, where my uncle was the superintendent, was enrolled in business college at Coffeyville, Kansas…graduated following spring, went to work for Santa Fe at Chanute, Kansas, quit after a year to attend college at KSTC, now a University, and after acquiring nearly two year’s credits in summer and August sessions and the following year in the college, went back to work for the Santa Fe, and we were married that summer. I had a job, Gram had things she had acquired before and while in college and we got on the train, with railroad passes and went to Ottowa, Kansas, where I again had a job with the Santa Fe…worked there a while, went back and completed some work at college, then back to the Santa Fe at Emporia…worked as a secretary to the superintendent for a while and travelled on the private railroad car, and lived there about half the time….Gram was then caring for Jim. The depression hit, employees were moved back to prior jobs, we were found an office job in Enid, Oklahoma about 1930 and moved there…from there went to Continental Oil and Ponca City, your father was born and knows family happenings to some extent since then.

When we were in Ponca City, and war was imminent, took a night class course in radio communications…then started working part time at KBBZ (first letter W stations are nearly all east of the Mississippi…K’s west). There was no record industry at that time, nor was there a radio news service…the station was financially broke…I worked for nothing for a number of months at first…no pay check of any kind…and did everything because there was at one time only three of us…one full time boy, part time engineer and myself…were the staff. I programmed it with what was available…a very few albums of classical and semi-classical music. The popular recorded industry was yet to develop, the radio news wire was yet to come…we wrote our own news, or would “rip and read” part from newspapers.

Then, a few more recordings meant alot…we used live talent, live emceed all the live talent we could muster, and used what we could get to help radio become better, and many others did the same, and it did.

It has been my experience that most people want to help and many have helped me, and your grandmother had to carry much more of a load, and Joel and Jim carry more, for us to move ahead, and that we did…through a concerted effort. It wasn’t something each necessarily preferred to do, it was what each did that counted…and each certainly did help, and did develop abilities and the character to do what needed to be done, and what each wished to do in a proper and sincere manner.

I have great pride in what each has done…and it has been a concerted effort and continuing effort…quite possibly something each more or less had to do…and is still doing…and which you will do…and keep on doing.