VISIT PAWHUKA and look for copies of OUR Visit Pawhuska Magazine throughout town...
Pawhuska is located in central Osage County and is the county seat and largest community. The town began in 1872 when Osage Agent Isaac T. Gibson established the Osage Agency on Bird Creek in what was then, Indian Territory. The settlement was named in honor of
Pa-hu-scah (White Hair), a chief of the Osage Tribe. The Indian Herald, the village’s first newspaper, was started in 1875, and the Pawhuska post office opened in 1876. America’s first Boy Scout Troop was organized at Pawhuska in 1909. Pawhuska is the Capital of the Osage Nation and is home to the Osage Nation Museum which is the oldest tribally owned and operated museum in the United States. Annual community events are the Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping and the International Round-up Club’s Cavalcade, the world’s largest amateur rodeo. Also, home of the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.
Born June 13, 1918 at Foraker, Oklahoma / Died April 8, 1996 at Mesa, Arizona
WWI was drawing to a close at the worst of times for America when the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 had killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. It was about this time on June 13, 1918, that 16 year old Ollie Johnson gave birth to Ben Johnson Jr. at Foraker, Oklahoma. Ben’s younger years on the Chapman Barnard Ranch were spent learning how to do ranch work and ride a horse and rope. Ben grew long and lean and tough as leather.
Western movies were gaining in popularity when Ben Jr. was offered the job of taking a string of horses to Hollywood. While there tending the horses, Ben was watching the filming of a movie when a buggy ran away with a woman. Ben, knowing what to do, rushed to stop the runaway buggy. The director asked Ben if he could be a movie star, and Ben replied he did not know, he had never tried it. The rest is history. Ben was a stuntman, and he was good at it. When Ben married, he continued his movie career. While some people dream of becoming a movie star, Ben Johnson Jr. traded his “stars at night are big and bright” to become a Hollywood movie star. Not many actors take their own horse and saddle with them on their road to fame.
Being a rodeo champion roper, and the son of Ben Johnson Sr., who was a World Champion Steer Roper, Ben continued his work to become World Champion PRCA Steer Roper. He once said that he was prouder of that than anything he ever did in the movies. Promoted by the famous Director John Ford, Ben starred in over 200 movies, ending his career late in life with an Oscar and BAFTA award.
Ben always loved children and he had a big heart. He started a charity for kids, and he helped many young kids get a start in life. Ben always loved to come back to Pawhuska, and he did so often. When he returned to Pawhuska, he was always at home in his boots, jeans, ironed shirt, and cowboy hat. He never met a stranger, and he would visit “down home style.” Ben never liked cussing in movies, and he turned down some jobs because he felt bad language should never be spoken around women and children.
Being a favorite son of Pawhuska, the town decided to have Ben Johnson Day and show some of his old movies at the Constantine Theater. Ben spent the day laughing and talking with friends, and just shortly after he returned to visit his mother at their Arizona Ranch, Ben Johnson had a heart attack and passed away. Ben was carried home to rest in a modest grave on the Oklahoma prairie that he loved so much. He is buried in the Pawhuska Cemetery. Around Pawhuska, Ben Johnson’s name stands for all that is good and honorable.
Born November 21, 1887, near Pawhuska, Osage Reservation
Died June 7, 1942, Battle of the Midway WWII, Pacific Ocean
Clarence Leonard Tinker was the eldest son of George Edward Tinker and Sarah (Schwagerte) Tinker. He was raised Osage and spoke the Osage language and grew to be the highest ranking Native American officer during WWII. He was the Commander of the Seventh Air Force in Hawaii. He personally lead the Battle of Midway, and when his plane went down, the bodies of Tinker and his 8 crew members were never recovered.
Elementary education for Clarence was at Hominy and Pawhuska Catholic Schools as well as public school at Elgin, Kansas. Tinker idolized the Osage Indian Scouts he studied about who served the US Cavalry, and he served the US forces in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.
As a youth, Clarence worked in the print shop of his father, who published the Wah-sha-she News, which was one of the first newspapers on the Osage Reservation. He attended Haskell Institute at Lawrence, Kansas, but he withdrew from school to attend the Wentworth Military Institute in Lexington, Missouri. From there Tinker was commissioned a third lieutenant during the Philippine Constabulary serving until 1912.
In 1913, Tinker was transferred to Hawaii where he met and married Madeline Doyle. Clarence served in the southwestern United States, and during World War I, he was promoted to Major.
Tinker began flying lessons with the ROTC at Riverside, California, and when his father came to visit, they spoke Osage to each other. Tinker established his identity as Osage, and he was transferred to the Army Air Service on July 1, 1922, in the same class with Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1927, he became Commander of the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, and he continued his career as a soldier and was steadily promoted until he was a Brigadier General in 1940. After the attack of Pearl Harbor, Tinker became the Commander of the Seventh Air Force in Hawaii. Tinker flew an early model of B-24’s at Midway, and while chasing the Japanese his plane with a crew of eight, plunged into the sea. General Tinker’s son was also lost at sea in 1944 while in a dogfight with the Germans in 1944.
Tinker became the first General to die in WWII. He received the Soldier’s Medal in 1931, and posthumously was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In October, 1942, Oklahoma City Air Depot became Tinker Field and was later named Tinker Air Force Base. Personal papers and property were donated by his widow, Madeline Tinker McCormick, to Tinker Air Force Base, and a bust of Tinker resides there.
The Osage honor Tinker every year at their In-Lon-Schka dances, and there is a special song dedicated to honor Clarence Tinker and other veterans, and men dance and sing to it. It is the only song when all Osage stand in honor.