TPWD News Release — Sept. 30, 2013
WICHITA FALLS – Seventy-four years after he was laid to rest in a crudely marked grave in Riverside Cemetery, a slave-turned-vaunted-Indian fighter who made his home in Wichita Falls will finally receive official state and military recognition on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Buffalo soldier Felix L. Lindsey, who died at the age of 92, received three wounds in the Indian Wars while fighting for the 10th U.S. Cavalry during the U.S. Army’s pursuit of hostile tribes on the Western frontier. Lindsey later recounted how in 1885 after his regiment captured Geronimo in Arizona, he had a face-to-face confrontation with the elusive and feared Apache chieftain as Geronimo negotiated his surrender. A leg wound led to the end of Lindsey’s 11-year military career in 1893, while he was serving in the Hospital Corps at Fort Sill, Okla.
A Community Memorial Service will be held at 9:15 a.m. at 800 Jalonic St., the site of Lindsey’s Wichita Falls home in the African-American neighborhood, where he and his wife Mary Tillman raised nine children. The former Army sergeant, whose mother was mulatto and father a full-blood Creek Indian, was a respected member of the community who along with family members operated a drapery cleaning and house cleaning service. The memorial service will include the laying of a wreath and placing of a U.S. flag, as well as a presentation by Rosieleetta Reed, president of the Texas Buffalo Soldier Association.
“The amazing part of this story is the perseverance of two white men, the Greenwoods, who helped bring recognition to a black man, Felix Lindsey, who was a slave and became a buffalo soldier,” Reed says. “Felix was a humble man, who didn’t brag on what he did, such as helping capture Geronimo. He served his country and community with quiet grace.”
At 10 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery, 1810 Seymour Hwy., members of the association, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s state parks, law enforcement, wildlife, and the inland and coastal fisheries divisions, and Sheppard Air Force Base Honor Guard will pay homage to Lindsey at a military honors ceremony, followed by the State Historical Marker unveiling. The marker is the result of a tireless campaign for Lindsey’s recognition by Wichita Falls resident Mark Greenwood, whose father Arch interviewed the then 90-year-old Lindsey for a story that ran in the Wichita Falls Times-Record in 1937. On hand for the marker unveiling will be Lindsey’s granddaughter Doris Ford and great granddaughter Ann Wyatt.
Following the graveside ceremony, a reception will be held at the Museum of North Texas History, 720 Indiana Ave. Representatives of Fort Richardson State Historic Site will host a Buffalo Soldiers exhibit and the museum theater will show a Buffalo Soldiers documentary.
The public is invited to attend any of the Lindsey commemorative events.
Buffalo soldiers, so-called by Indians because the black soldiers’ hair reminded them of bison, were former slaves and freedmen who comprised the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments formed in 1867 after the Civil War. Buffalo soldiers, reputed to be fierce and skilled fighters, served at frontier military posts from Texas to the Dakota territories to help with the westward expansion of the United States.
Ken Pollard, former president of the Texas Buffalo Soldier Association and founder of TPWD’s Texas Buffalo Soldier program in the mid-1990s, is the coordinator of the Lindsey project that shines a light on the forgotten legacy of the African-American military experience. Pollard helped secure legislative support for the designation of July as Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Month and creation of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Trail that incorporates historical sites operated by TPWD and the Texas Historical Commission.
“Felix Lindsey’s accomplishments after his Army service demonstrates his determination to succeed when he started his own cleaning business and was well liked by those who used his services,” Pollard says. “All was good until the Great Depression hit, but the old sergeant held true to the 10th Cavalry’s ‘Ready and Forward’ motto by taking a job as a special delivery agent for the Wichita Falls post office.”
Pollard says two of the primary goals of TPWD’s Buffalo Soldiers Program headed by Luis Padilla, are to tell the buffalo soldiers mostly forgotten story and add more inclusiveness in the activities and workforce of the agency.
The Felix Lindsey Memorial Project is being made possible through the local support of the City of Wichita Falls and the Wichita County Historical Association.
For more information, contact the Texas Buffalo Soldier Association at (817) 719-5216.
Editors: To download an archival photo of Lindsey as well as other Buffalo Soldier images, please visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=buffalo_soldiers