by Dale Tracy, 2004

There are two rivers, which cross Roger Mills County. One, the South Canadian forms the northern boundary of the county. The South Canadian is sometimes simply called the Canadian because of its superiority over the North Canadian in length and drainage. The Canadian heads in the mountains of th Meridian. Beginning at that point the Canadian makes a large bend of approximately ten miles to the north before returning to the south in preparation for another large bend to the north as it exits the county. This gives the northern boundary of Name Roger Mills County the appearance of a camel with two humps.

One analogy, which has been made of the divide between the Canadian and the Washita is that of a large turtle with numerous legs (creeks) flowing either north or south to one or the other of these two rivers. This divide, being smooth and open, has served as a passage for white settlers to the west since earliest days of exploration. Today highways 33 on the west and 47 on the east follow much the same route as did one branch of the California Trail in 1849. This same trail was proposed as one of two routes for the first transcontinental railroad. However because the north was victorious in the Civil War, Congress could not see building the first transcontinental railroad in the south and a more northern route was chosen.

In the south part of the county, there exists a similar divide bearing southeast between the drainages of the Washita and the North Fork of the Red River.

Feeding these three rivers and providing drainage for the county are numerous creeks. Perhaps the Indians had names for these creeks, but those names have been long forgotten. The early day cowboys and white settlers gave English names to these various drainages with many of the names making reference to the Indian who ranged these lands for centuries before the white man came.

In the list of names of creeks are some with a historical significance or making reference to historical personalities. Some are undoubtedly named for families who lived on these creeks. Several are probably named for plants or animals found on that creek by early day pioneers. Some are poetic, all are picturesque, creating great wonder as to the stories behind the naming of these creeks. Some of these stories are known, many can only be imagined.

It is hoped that this article will aid the historian and genealogist in their research of locations of early white settlements in Roger Mills County. It should be pointed out that the original Roger Name Mills County excluded approximately the northern 1/3 of present Name Roger Mills County.

However, original Roger Mills County included all of present day Beckham, which lies north of the North Fork of the Red River.

The intent of this article is to examine the names and locations of all the named creeks in Name Roger Mills County. This article deals primarily with streams in Roger Mills County following statehood. We will leave it to another researcher to write about the streams of Beckham County Some of these which lie north of the North Fork were Spring Creek, Flat Creek, Indian Creek, Boggy Creek, Sadler Creek an Elk Creek. Several of these names are the same or similar to creeks found in Roger Mills CountySome creeks of which I have seen a reference in Roger Mills County newspapers before statehood but of which I have no knowledge of the location today are the following: Panther, Coffee Bean, Oak, Short, Elm, Little Bear, Sour, Kaffer, Six Mile, Sandy Stone and Deep. Several of these names have a resemblance to some of the previously named creeks. Coffee Bean to Cofer or Caffey and Panther to Wildcat. Sour to Sourdough. Whether these are indeed the same creeks no one knows. Perhaps they are all names of lesser known creeks or perhaps creeks have simply had their names changed over time.

The earliest newspapers of the county often referred to the residence of people as being on such and such creek or the upper or lower Washita, probably with Cheyenne as a reference point. This method of locating people was something the settlers brought with them from the original thirteen colonies as addresses in the east during the 1700’s and 1800’s were given as on such and such river or creek. After Roger Name Mills County had been settled for a while, roads were built mostly on section lines and people’s location began to be given as “four miles north and three miles east, etc.” Giving a location as on a particular creek was not as accurate but would generally get a person in the neighborhood of where he wanted to go.

One would think that with so many named creeks in Roger Name Mills County that the county would be well watered. Such is not necessarily the case. Contrary to what early newspaper articles said about the abundance of water in Roger Mills County while trying to entice prospective settlers to move here, the area is basically an arid one. The creeks named in this article seldom contain running water year round only flowing water following a heavy rain. During extended periods of drought even the major creeks will go dry as well as the Washita and Name Canadian Rivers.

WASHITA  Some early maps will have the name False Washita attached to the stream which we today simply call the Washita. During the 1700’s when the French explorers were expanding the holdings of in the New World they named a river in   James W. Abert, in his 1845 journal of his exploration through this country, said the Indians called the Washita by the name of Cut-Nose Creek.  In Josiah Gregg’s journal, the Washita is called the Rio Negro bv the Spanish traders.

BEAVERDAM CREEK  Heads in the red hills three miles southeast of Cheyenne and flows eastward for six miles where it joins the Washita. The creek was undoubtedly named for a number of beaver dams found on the creed at one time.

BIG KIOWA CREEK  Had its origin in the rough red hills of northwest Name Beckham County. It enters modern day Roger Mills in Section 17 of township 12-21, flowing north for eight miles before joining the Washita four miles southwest of Hammon. Undoubtedly named for the Kiowa Indian Tribe.                                          

BLACK BULL CREEK Located in northeast corner of township 16-22 and southeast corner of 17-22. Flows to Canadian River from about six miles northwest of Red Name Star Church. A little imagination allows the naming of the creek for a black bull located on the creek by cowboys sometime in the past.

BOGGY or BUGGY CREEK  Another creek flowing into the Canadian River from the south side of Township 16-23. Located seven miles east of Name Pack Saddle Bridge. Some maps name this creek Buggy Creek. However, the actual name seems to have been Boggy as nearby landowners state that in the past the creek was filled with quicksand and people and livestock would bog down when crossing. A buggy certainly could have bogged down here.

BOIS D’ARC CREEK  A short creek on the eat side of township 16-24 which flows north to the Canadian River. Located on the east side of Pie Flat about one and one-half miles east of 283 highway. Della Cann Young says a couple of cowboys from Horse Shoe Ranch across the

BROKEN LEG CREEK  This creek is found southwest of Cheyenne. It is about six miles in length, flows north to the Washita River and is crossed by Highway 47 four miles west of Cheyenne. It most likely was named for an animal or man who broke their leg on this creek.

BUFFALO CREEK  Begins one and one-half miles east of Dempsey. It flows southward for six miles in Name Roger Mills Type County before crossing into Name Beckham County and continuing that direction for eight more miles before joining the North Fork of Red River.  Buffalo Creek was named for the large herds of buffalo once found ranging in the vicinity.  In fact, it is said that so many buffalo grazed in that vicinity that they devoured all the vegetation so that they left nothing but starvation in their wake. Because of this, the area became known as Starvation Flats and lent its namesake to a sister creek of the   In his journal of his expedition across the plains, James W. Abert, mistakenly called the North Fork of the Red River by the name of Buffalo Creek.

BULL CREEK  This creek heads just north of Crawford and flows north to the Canadian across the west portion of township 16-24. The creek was possibly named for the Bull family who had land on the lower end of this creek.

COFER CREEK  Only three miles long and flows from the east before joining with Caffey Creek one-half mile southeast of Strong City. It was named for an early day pioneer family of the same name.

CAFFEY CREEK or MUSTANG CREEK  In early days of white settlement, this creek was called Mustang Creek. Its early name was probably taken from the fact that some wild mustangs found it a suitable grazing ground. At the land run in 1892, three brothers, Jim, John and Shell Caffey located on this creek and caused a name change The creek flows from the north and joins the Washita a half mile southeast of Strong City.                                                                                                                             

CAMP HOLLOW CREEK Five to seven miles northeast of Reydon lies a short creek which runs eastward to Rush Creek. Maps do not show this as a creek but simply call it Camp Hollow. It is about two miles in length and it lies in sections 16,17 and 21 of township 14-25.

CORNELL CREEK Another creek flowing north to the Canadian River through township 16-24. Heads about a mile and a half east of Crawford.

COTTONWOOD CREEK Located in south part of township 17-25, in the “bend” of the Canadian River. Flows eastward to the Canadian River. Named for large Cottonwood timber found along its banks. This creek is located about six miles northeast of Durham.

CROTON CREEK This creek has its headwaters three miles northwest of Dempsey or six miles southeast of Reydon. It flows northeastward for approximately ten miles where it joins the Name Washita River. About halfway down it has an eastern branch which runs north for five miles before joining its main stream three miles above the mouth. Some have said that this stream was named by a Texas cowboy who after stopping to take a drink of its gippy waters, “came up croakin’” This could well have been the case but it seems the creek was named for the weed, Woolly Croton, most likely seen growing along its bank by the early cowboys. Before the land run, there was located on East Croton Creek the headquarters of one of the largest ranches in the area, Taurus Cattle Company, 1878-1885. After the run this area remained an ideal location for a ranch headquarters as it furnished water and shelter for man and beast; wood, and plenty of grazing for several miles either side of the creek for its entire length.

CURRANT CREEK Begins about one mile west of Highway 283 and six miles south of Cheyenne. It flows eastward past Highway 283 and on for six more miles before joining Sandstone Creek in the very northwest corner of Name Beckham County. Most likely named for wild currants, which were found growing along its banks.

CYCLONE CREEK Located in southeast corner of township 16-22. Flows into Quartermaster Creek in the northwest corner of township 15-21. Found three and one-half miles west of Red Star. Must have been named for damage done to the timber on the creek by a tornado (cyclone).

DEAD INDIAN CREEK Della Cann Young writes that this creek was named for the fact that two cowboys, Bee Hopkins and Dave Caudill in the winter of 1881-1882, found an Indian burial bier on the upper end of this creek. These are the same two cowboys who on the same day are credited with naming Bois D’arc Creek just over the divide northeast from Dead Indian Creek. This creek has its headwaters three miles west of Roll and it flows to the Name Washita River a little more than a mile northwest of Name Strong City. A recreational lake is located on this creek two and one half miles south of Roll.                                                                                                                                 

DRY BRANCH A short creek only four miles long located in the northeast corner of township 14-21. It flows to the east toward Quartermaster Creek and joins it in its lower third. Compared to the flow of Quartermaster, this small creek was dry most of the time, thus its name.

DUGOUT CREEK Flows from the east side of township 16-25 across the north west corner of township 16-24 before emptying into the Canadian River five miles north of Crawford. Undoubtedly named for a dugout located on this creek in early days.

FLYING V CREEK Located on west side of township 17-21. Flows northward into the Canadian River. Named for the early day Flying V Ranch, which had a headquarters located on this creek. Prior to this in 1878, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Cattle Company maintained a line camp here for their Box X Ranch. Heads about six miles north of Red Name Star Church (Angora)

FREEZEOUT CREEK A short creek only about four miles in length, which begins three miles northwest of Sweetwater and flows southwestward to its confluence with Sweetwater Creek. This point is four miles west of Sweetwater and about a mile north of Highway 152. Named after a severe blizzard when the creek froze solid and two men were found frozen to death in their dugouts along the banks of the creek.

GYP CREEK One mile east of the Cheyenne Red Rocks formation begins a short creek with three branches, this being the first or west branch. Two other branches begin on the south side of the Square Top Road and run north to the main branch, which then flows northeast to the Washita. A resident living on this creek for many years says the creek was aptly named as the water has a high gyp content.

HAY CREEK  This creek heads in the southeast corner of township 16-21 and flows south fro six miles across the east central part of township 15-21 before flowing into Quartermaster Creek seven miles north of Hammon and a mile west of the Custer County line. Named for the sizeable flat creek bottoms where early day ranchers were able to put up large quantities of grass hay. These bottoms still produce even larger quantities of hay, though it is alfalfa.

LITTLE KIOWA CREEK  It is a short tributary of Big Kiowa Creek. It is only about three miles long. It parallels Big Kiowa on the east and meets that stream two miles above its confluence with the Washita.

LONG CREEK  Originates east of Grimes and flows south to the North Fork just west of Sayre. It most likely obtained its name from the fact that it is one of the longest creeks in its immediate area, being about fifteen miles in length. Not to be confused with another creek by the sane name which lies northwest of Reydon.                                                                                                                         5

LONG CREEK  The June 23, 1904 issue of the Cheyenne Star makes mention of this creek. The Long Creek community published a short article of news about themselves and described Long Creek as flowing north and empties into the Washita above   In 1904 the article described Long Creek as being in the northwest part of Name Roger Mills Type County but one needs to recall that at that time the county line between Day Type County and Roger Mills County was the township line between townships 14N and 15N.

MERIDIAN CREEK  Originates in the sand hills of th Meridian it is fitting that this creek be named for that geographical line.

MIDDLE BUFFALO CREEK  The branch of Buffalo Creek which begins four miles west of its larger sister and flows southward as well until joining with that stream four miles south of Highway 152. There is a shorter branch of the Buffalo, which lies entirely in Beckham County. It crops up just southeast of Sweetwater and joins Buffalo, a mile east of Mayfield. This stream is West Buffalo Creek.

MUSTANG CREEK  {See Caffey Creek}

NINE MILE CREEK  This creek has its headwaters near the center of township 15-22 and flows southeastward to the Washita Type River, having its mouth four miles due west of Hammon and a mile upstream of the Highway 33 bridge. It is unclear how the stream received its name as it is more than 9 miles in length and the mouth is less than that from Hammon. However, the mouth lies approximately nine miles from Strong City; but the possibility exists that the creek was named before Name Strong City came into being.

PLUM CREEK  Two and one half miles west of Cheyenne, Highway 47 crosses Plum Creek. This creek is a short three and one-half miles in length and flows northward to the Washita. Probably named for the native plum bushes of which many thickets are found in Roger Mills County. One contingent of Custer’s troops used this creek as concealment as they made their attack on Black Kettle’s unsuspecting village on November 27, 1868.

POW WOW CREEK  Found in the east side of Townships 17-21 and 18-21. Flows north into the Canadian in the bend west of Leedey. One can imagine the name was given due to our Indian Pow Wow being held on this reek in times past.

QUARTERMASTER CREEK  Headquarters are located five miles west of Red Star on Highway 47. This is in the south side of Township 16-22. Creek then flows southeast across township 15-21, crosses into Custer County to join the Washita five miles northeast of Hammon. It was near this juncture that the Old Cheyenne and Arapaho Cattle Company had its main headquarters camp. The C&A or Apple Ranch (named for its brand) claimed 40,000 head of cattle on its leased pastures of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Indian Reservation. Quartermaster Creek was named for U.S. Army Quartermasters who supplied army troops at a location on this creek.

RED CREEK Located in far southeast corner of township 17-21. Only a mile or two of this creek lies in Name Roger Mills County. It flows into Name Dewey County before emptying into Canadian River north of Leedey. Found six miles northeast of Red Star. Most likely named for the color of its water caused by sediment from the red hills, which it drains.

RUSH CREEK This creek heads at the Texas line southwest of Reydon and flows northeast through Reydon and northeast across township 14-25 before joining the Washita on the west side of township 14-24. It could have been named for the fact that during a heavy rain the runoff flows with a rush. Such was the case during one night in the spring of 1954 when the Rush Creek drainage area received as much as fourteen inches of rain. Needless to say, the creek flooded out of banks, washed out several county road bridges and the Name Santa Fe Railroad Bridge on Rush Creek and deposited untold tons of sand in the bottom land of the Washita River just below where the creek met with the Washita. In 1928 the Santa Fe Railroad Company chose to follow Rush Name Creek from the Washita River in order to gain elevation as climbed toward its end at Pampa,

SANDSTONE CREEK  About three miles north of the Beckham County line and one mile west of Highway 283 is where this creek heads. After flowing eastward for six miles it nicks the northwest corner of Beckham County before going northward eight miles to the Washita River. The upper reaches of this stream are the site of the World’s First Upstream Flood Control Project. Most likely named for the red sandstone outcroppings found along much of its drainage.

SANDSTONE CREEK – EAST FORK  It begins in the red hills of northwest Beckham County, northeast of Berlin and flows northward for three or four miles before meeting the larger stream of that name.

SERGEANT MAJOR CREEK  Closely identified with the town of Cheyenne, it flows northward to Washita River on the west side of the city limits. It heads in the sand hills about six miles southwest of

SERGEANT MAJOR – EAST FORK  As the name implies, this creek begins about one mile east of the head of its main branch and runs parallel to it for about four miles before joining the same.

SKIP OUT CREEK  A short tributary of Rush Creek being only about five miles long. It has its headwaters east of Reydon on Highway 30 and flows northeast to Rush Creek, crossing Highway 47 about a mile east of the 47/30 intersection. A mile north of highway 47 is Skip Out Lake, a flood detention dam, which also serves as a recreational reservoir. The creek takes its name from a nearby early day school of the same name.

SOURDOUGH CREEK  This creek runs north to the Canadian River. Located eight miles east of Pack Saddle Bridge in the southeast corner of township 1623. Della Cann Young states that the creek was named for Charles Dietrich, better known as Sour Dough Charlie. Charlie maintained a cow camp there some ten years before the land was opened for settlement. Charlie lived in a dug out. There is another creek in Roger Mills, which also goes by the name of Sour Dough Creek. Its head waters are in the red hills northwest of Cheyenne and the drainage flows eastward past the intersection of highways 283 and 33 and on to the Washita Type River a couple of miles further. This second possibly creek was named by Scotty Falconer who had a ranch on the lower end of the Creek which he called Sour Dough Ranch.

SPOTTED DEER CREEK   A short creek located in north side of township 16-22, nine miles north of Red Star. It flows into the Canadian River. Probably named for a fawn seen by early cowboys on this creek.

SPRING CREEK  This creek heads two miles west of Crawford in the south side of township 16-25. It flows southward through the center of township 15-25 to the Name Washita River. It was named for the numerous springs, which feed this creek from the sandy soils of its drainage. Today, about a mile above its confluence with the Washita, lies a recreational lake by the same name. During the years 1878-1885, a line camp for the Cheyenne and Arapaho (C&A) Cattle Company was located on this creek.

STARVATION CREEK  Begins just north of Grimes and flows southward through that community and continues four miles to the south where it crosses into Beckham fro eight more miles. It joins the North Fork about six miles west of Sayre. Old timers say  “anyone who settled on this creek had starved out”, thus its name.  Another story is that the area was so over-run with buffalo that they left behind only starvation.

SWEETWATER CREEK   A larger stream which finds its origin west of Mobeetie,   was applied because of the better quality water it contained, thus Sweetwater. Good water was a rarity in Roger Mills County because so many creeks and streams had their origin in the red hills, which contain a high content of iron and gyp. U.S. Army Post, Fort Elliott was located on its east bank just west of Mobeetie,   The first irrigation project in Northwest Texas or Western Oklahoma was with water from Sweetwater Creek.  It is unclear as to which of two men built the project.  Separate accounts report that either Mark Huselby, a mess sergeant at Fort Elliot, or Hughey McKay built a canal to divert water from the creek around a four-acre vegetable garden.  The soldiers at Fort Elliot were the beneficiaries of this effort.

TIMBER CREEK  In early day Roger Mills County this stream was well known as many settlers found homesteads on its drainage. Basic requirements for a homestead were wood and water and this creek offered both. This drainage begins between

TRAIL BRANCH Located on south side of township 16-23. Flows north into the Canadian River.  Probably named for a branch of the Great Western Trail which passed down this creek or camped here.

TRUNK CREEK  The headwaters of this creek lie just south of Highway 33 about one and one-half miles east of the

TURKEY CREEK The headwaters of this creek lie between

WAGON CREEK  Found in the central portion of township 16-24, three miles east of Crawford, this creek flows northward to the Canadian River. The name has perhaps been shortened from Wagon Sheet Creek as no other modern day creek in this county is known by either name. Wagon Sheet Creek was named by a cowboy from Tony Day’s Cattle outfit who built part of his abode on this creek from the sheet of a wagon. This is according to Della Cann Young.

WHITE SHIELD CREEK  A stream originating about two miles north of Carpenter and parallels Highway 34 for six miles before passing through Hammon and on north for two more miles before hitting the Washita River just east of the Custer County line. This creek was named for the major Cheyenne Indian Chief, White Shield.

WILD HORSE CREEK  This creek heads on State Highway 47 four miles east of Roll. It flows south from this point to the Washita Type River directly across north from Name Strong City. Evidently named for some cowboy’s wild mustang, which hid out on this creek. A second Wild Horse Creek is found in western Custer County and flows into the Washita Type River at the mouth of Quartermaster Creek.

WILDCAT CREEK  Its origin in the southeast corner of township 13N-22W. It runs for about three miles northward before joining Sandstone Creek about a mile south of where Sandstone joins the Washita. Probably was named for a wildcat found on this creek in its early history.


The red shale rock in this exhibit is what the old timers called a “Corner Rock.” It  (This one) was placed at the corner of Townships 14 and 15 north, Range 24 and 25 West in 1875 by surveyors contracted to the Government.

Similar rocks or other marks were placed at each corner of every section in the surveyed area. A marker was also placed at the one-half mile line.

This rock was removed in 2004 for the purpose of this exhibit and replaced by a long steel pipe. Prior to that time it had remained in place for 129 years.

The Government contracted with survey parties to survey the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Reservation and the surveying began in 1875. This was only seven years following the “

To mark all of present day Roger Mills County would have taken approximately 2000 of these rocks.

Few of these markers remain in place as most have been covered by section line roads, destroyed by farming or carelessness in replacing fences. These markers would have been used by land runners seventeen years later in 1892, to locate the boundaries of their homesteads.

The Roger Name Mills County Clerk’s office contains the field notes of the original survey made in 1875. There are two volumes of these notes. The first vlume contains notes taken in surveying the township lines, which were done prior to surveying the section lines. The second volume contains the notes taken when surveying the section lines of each township. When surveying the section lines, the survey crew used their original township markers as a reference point for the marking each section.

Not every section was marked with a rock. Where red shale rocks were not accessible nearby the surveyors used other means to mark the corners, though not as permanent.

The field notes, one for each marker, sometimes state the surveyors “deposited charred stake, set post, built mound and dug pit.” Evidently a stake charred in a fire for a short period of time served as a permanent marker, the charring having made the stake resistant to decay.

The surveyors gave three rankings to the land they found during their surveys: First Rate, Second Rate and Third Rate. First Rate land was bottomland with plenty of wood and water. Second rate was upland suitable for farming or pasture and Third Rate was the red hills which they sometimes wrote off as worthless.

I find it interesting that today we can touch and handle these very same markers which were placed nearly 130 years ago by a group of men using what today we would call primitive instruments and tools. These same markers are still used today as reference points when modern surveyors can find them. This attests to the accuracy which the early crews were able to obtain.

A little imagination allows one to pictue the survey crew with a wagon loaded with hewn red rocks, charred stakes, sledges, axes, files, saws, shovels, picks and measuring chains, along with their survey instruments, creaking along over the tall grass prairie, picking their path over the rough terrain an crossing ditches, creeks and rivers wherever possible. Perhaps a second wagon and crew would be sent ahead to find and cut rocks ad stakes to be used as markes. At night while the camp-fire was blazing, the stakes which had been cut that day could be charred. A third wagon might serve as a chuck wagon and supply for the numerous crew members.

From the field notes we find that the Name Washita River was commonly found to be 40  links wide with an average of 50 links. A surveyor’s chain was 66 feet containing 100 links making each link .66 feet or 7.92 inches Thus the Washita was less than 30 feet wide. Another unusual thing about the Name Washita River in 1875 is that the channel is described as being narrow with very steep banks and the current being swift and deep.



The Canadian River which bounds Roger Mills County on the north derived its name from a Canadian.  According to a story from history, in 1741 a young Frenchman was sent by his government from the French colonies in Illinois on a secret mission.  The purpose of the mission was to find the shortest route to move an army from the French colonies to the Spanish settlement at Santa Fe whom the French thought planned to encroach upon their territory.  The young Frenchman and his party took with them several large boats and a number of canoes and were to travel when possible by water and then make the rest of the trip by land. The historical story records that they traversed the St. Andre River until they came to where it was nothing but sand.  This was the Canadian River and the party is supposed to have gone as far as the present site of Lexington, Oklahoma.  The chronicler of the story was a young Canadian and somehow from that time forward the St. Andre River became the Canadian.