John Gregory Bourke, 1846-1896 [RG2955.AM]


RG2955.AM: John Gregory Bourke, 1846-1896

Papers: 1869-1898; bulk, 1872-1896
Soldier; scholar
Size: 6.0 cu.ft. and 3 reels of microfilm


John Gregory Bourke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1846. At the age of sixteen he enlisted in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, serving from August of 1862 until July of 1865. Bourke’s first tour of duty was distinguished by action at the battle of Stone River, Tennessee in 1862, for which he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Upon the recommendation of General George H. Thomas, for whom Bourke had served as aid-de-camp, President Lincoln appointed Bourke as a cadet in the United States Military Academy. Upon graduation in 1869 he was commissioned a second lieutenant with the Third Cavalry in the Southwest. As aide-de-camp to General George Crook from 1871-1883, Bourke campaigned against the hostile Indians and was frequently mentioned in orders for valor and for his competence.

When Crook was ordered to Omaha in 1875, Bourke accompanied him and saw action against the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Nez Perce. His fame as an Indian fighter should not overshadow his great contributions in the study of the customs and habits of the Indians. He had an intimate acquaintance with the inner life of the Indians and was in sympathy with them. His fight to preserve the rights of the Apaches and other tribes earned him their respect and friendship, but alienated many people in Washington, as did, apparently his close commission, and from 1882-1886 he was assigned to General Phil Sheridan, at which time he rendered his study of the snake-dance of the Moquis of Arizona.

After taking a prominent part in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, Bourke was ordered to Washington to elaborate the voluminous notes which he had taken in his years of contact with the Indians. He spent many months in research, which yielded his “Medicine Men of the Apache;” a work on ordure rites of primitive peoples; and his “Scatological Rites of all Nations.” He was detailed to work with the Pan American Congress, and later rejoined his regiment in 1891, in command of Fort Ringgold, Texas, where he spent much time in the field against the marauders of Catarino Garza. During the Colombian World’s Exposition he was again on a special duty as translator and interpreter at the Spanish mission of La Rabida. In 1894 he was at Fort Riley, Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Fort Ethan Allan, Vermont, until his failing health prevented him from carrying on with his duties. He died in Philadelphia in June 1896.


This collection consists of twelve manuscript boxes and three reels of microfilm arranged in six series: (1) correspondence, 1873-1896; (2) diaries, 1872-1881; (3) printed matter; (4) manuscripts and research notes; (5) miscellany; (6) scrapbooks. The diaries on microfilm were purchased in March of 1966 by the Society.

The correspondence dates most heavily between 1890-1896, and relates primarily to his research and publications. There is, however, a considerable amount of material containing reminiscences of people and places, the relocation of the Apache tribes, and the World’s Columbian Exposition. The diaries relate to his marches and campaigns against the Indians in the Southwest and Great Plains regions. These diaries are remarkable in the accuracy and detail of the entries. In addition to notes about the march, Bourke gave clear descriptions of the land and the people, often accompanied by maps and sketches. (The originals of these and other Bourke material on film are in the library of the U.S. Military Academy). Series three includes research papers and other printed material published by or submitted to Bourke, and series four includes his research notes and few drafts for manuscripts. The scrapbooks consist in the most part of clipping from newspapers published in Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Illinois between 1870 and 1891.

Correspondents include: A Arnaga, 1891; M.A. Banado, 1892-1893; Sylvester Baxter, 1884-1891; T.W. Blackburn, 1891; Tom Bourke, 1883; James E. Boyd, 1891; Joseph M. Carey, 1891; Eugene Asa Carr, 1873; John Sloan Collins, 1890-1891; George Crook, 1879-1888; Mary D. Crook, 1890-1894; William E. Curtis, 1890-1893; Hayden DeParry, 1887; Havelock Ellis, 1891; M.F. Eggleston, 1886, 1888; David Fitzgerald, 1888-1893; Regulo Flores, 1892; James F. Gregory, 1883; George Bird Grinnell, 1891; George W. hale, 1888; George Herbert Harries, 1891-1894; Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1891; Gilbert Monell Hitchcock, 1891; Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1890; John A. Horbach, 1891-1894; F.D. Jordan, 1891; H.F.C. Ten Kate, 1888; Charles King, 1891, 1893; Henry Cabot Lodge, 1891; James O. Luby, 1892-1894; Thomas C. MacMillan, 1891; Archie McIntosh, 1895; Charles Frederick Manderson, 1891-1896; John Hite Marion, 1891; Stephen O’Connor, 1893; L.M. Oppenheimer, 1894; Santiago Ord, 1893; Francis P. Ornelas, 1892-1893; Algernon Sydney Paddock, 1891; Elisha Parkman, 1893; Francis Parkman, 1885-1891; Richard Henry Pratt, 1894; Frederick Ward Putman, 1891; Frederick Remington, n.d.; Bernardo Reyes, 1891; John G. Richardson, 1893-1894; M.M. Rockhill, 1893; M. Romero, 1892-1895; Theodore Roosevelt, 1891; Al Seiber, 1887-1888; Phillip Henry Sheridan, 1882; E.A. Snow, 1885-1889; T.H. Stanton, 1889-1894; Henry W. Stille, 1892; E.A. Strout, 1882; Warner A. Sutton, 1892; H. Tallichet, 1890-1892; Thomas Henry Tibbles, 1887; H.P. Tuttle, 1892; William Wallace, 1893; J.W. Wallace, 1893; J.W. Watson, 1888; Posey S. Wilson, 1891; and Sammy Young, 1882.

Note: A more detailed index of correspondents is available in the repository.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1873-1896

Box 1

  1. 1873
  2. 1874
  3. 1879
  4. 1880
  5. 1882
  6. 1883
  7. 1884
  8. 1885
  9. 1886
  10. 1887
  11. 1887
  12. 1888
  13. 1888

Box 2

  1. 1889
  2. 1890
  3. 1891
  4. 1891
  5. 1891
  6. 1892
  7. 1892

Box 3

  1. 1893
  2. 1893
  3. 1893, World’s Columbian Exposition
  4. 1894
  5. 1895
  6. 1896
  7. 1898
  8. undated, unsigned and fragmentary letters

Series 2 – Diaries, 1872-1881

Reel 1: Nov. 20, 1872 – Sept. 16, 1876
Reel 2: Sept. 16, 1876 – Aug. 19, 1879
Reel 3: Aug. 19, 1879 – Oct. 19, 1881

Series 3 – Printed Matter

Box 4

  1. “The Medicine-Men of the Apache,” by Bourke
  2. “Arrows and Arrow-Makers”
    “Distillation by Early American Indians”
    “Primitive Distillation Among the Tarascoes”
  3. “Notes Upon the Pottery of the Pueblo Indians”
    “Notes on Apache mythology”
  4. “The Moqui Snake Dance,” by H.N. Rust
    Spanish and Mexican Words Used in Texas, by H. Tallichet
    “Verberteringen En Aanvullingen van Reizen en Onderzoekingen in Noord-Amerika,” by Dr. H.F.C. Ten Kate, Jr.
    Questions on the Manners, Customs, Religion, Superstitions etc. of Uncivilized or Semi-civilized Peoples, by James George Frazer
  5. “Cherokee Mound Building,” by James Mooney
    “Folk-Lore of the Carolina Mountains,” by F. Walter Fewkes
    “The First Notice of the Pine Grove or Forest River Shellheap,” by F.W. Putnam
  6. “Remarks Upon Chipped Stone Implements,” by F.W. Fewkes
  7. “Francis Parkman,” by O.B. Frothingham, Boston, Wilson and Sons, 1894
  8. “The Origin of the Australian Race,” by John Fraser
    “The Moqui Pueblo Indians of Arizona,” by J.A. Monk
    “An Aboriginal Pilgrimage,” by Sylvester Baxter
    Three items concerning the location and confinement of the Apaches.
    John Gregory Bourke, USMA 1869, “Soldier and Student of Indian Folklore,” from Assembly, Association of Graduates, US Military Academy, Fall 1964, Vol. XXIII, No. 3.
  9. “War Against Peace, or, A New Attila,” by the publishers of “El Bien Publico” of Rio Grande City, Texas.
  10. General George Crook’s Annual Report, 1883
  11. Instructions for Court Martials and Judge Advocates
  12. Newspapers and clippings
  13. Newspapers and clippings
  14. Newspapers and clippings
  15. “The Urine Dance of the Zuni Indians of New Mexico” by John G. Bourke
    “Complication of Notes and Memoranda – Human Ordure and Human Urine in Rites of a Religious Character” by J.G. Bourke
    Bourke, J.G. “Mackenzie’s Last Flight with the Cheyennes” from Journal of the Military Service Institution. Vol. XI, No. 42, and 43.

Series 4 – Manuscripts and Research Notes

Box 5

  1. Strange Messmates
  2. The American Congo
  3. Ogallalla Sioux Sun Dance
  4. Scatological Rites; Apache Vocabulary
  5. Mexican Bull Fights
  6. Gentile Organization of the Apaches
  7. Notes on the Cosmogeny and Theogeny of the Mojave Indians
  8. Mexican Cooking
  9. Cavalry Drill and Formations

Box 6

  1. Notes on Catholic Church history, Laws of Neutrality (U.S.)
  2. Manuscript on subject of medicinal uses of human and animal excrement
  3. Notes on Urine Dance and other unusual rites
  4. “The Apaches at Mount Vernon” by S. Shepard. Published in Lend a Hand, Vol. V, No. 5, May 1890.
  5. Manuscript entitled, “The International American Conference”
  6. Notes, articles on world religious rites, customs, games
  7. Notes, articles on world religious rites, customs, games
    Manuscript on Sun Dance
  8. Draft concerning a comparison of the languages and customs of various Indian tribes
  9. Manuscript on Indian, particularly Apache, ways of life

Box 7

  1. Various notes on the subjects of religion, names, numbers, agriculture, color symbolism, animal and nature worship, et. al.
    Letter from J. Owen Dorsey, Takoma Park, D.C. to Capt. Bourke, May 9, 1889.
  2. Notes and clippings on subjects of religion, human sacrifice, cannibalism, sun-dance, fire dance.
  3. Clippings relating to Arizona
  4. Notes, clippings on war customs, arms and armor
  5. Miscellaneous notes and clippings on subjects of Indian religions, epidemics
  6. Notes on the subject of folklore, religion, Apache Indian life.
    Letter from E.A. Snow, E. Boston, Mass. to Capt. Bourke, Feb. 23, 1889.
  7. Notes concerning folklore, religion, superstition, Rio Grande Valley, Mexican Cuisine.

Box 8

  1. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
  2. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
  3. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
  4. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
  5. Miscellaneous drafts and notes

Box 9

  1. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
  2. Miscellaneous drafts and notes
    Extracts from G.W. Steller’s “Beschreibung von dem Laude Kamtschatka” by B. Bunnemeyer.
  3. Notes entitled “Popular Medicine, Customs and Superstitions of the Rio Grande.”

Series 5 – Miscellany

Box 9 cont.

  1. Petition from the citizens of Duval Co., Texas to the Texas state senate requesting troops for protection against the Garzistas, 1892 (copy).
    Two poems manuscript in Spanish; and manuscript of what appears to be some sort of manifesto, also in Spanish, unsigned and undated, and bearing the notation “Taken from Antonio Zapata’s hos(sic) is(sic) Los Owhalis Ranch–W.C. Short 2nd Lt. 6th Cav.”
    “A Brief Review of the Circumstances Connected with the Killing of Captain Emmit Crawford, 3d Cavalry, In an Encounter with Mexican Troop near Teopar, Mexico, January 11th, 1886, together with the Investigations had by the Mexican Authorities.”
    A twenty-four page telegram filed with the Association Press which erroneously reported the assassination of Capt. Bourke.
  2. Receipts for properties returned by Bourke for the Monastery of “La Rabida” during November, 1893.
  3. A series of photostats of hand-drawn maps, presumably all of terrain in Texas and Arizona, undated.
  4. Note-book on military campaigns, inscribed “John G. Bourke Cadet Class U.S.M.A. West Point, N.Y. March 25, 1869.”
  5. Notes, receipts, etc.
  6. Biography and a copy of an obituary of Bourke, content notes and physical description notes of the complete Bourke diaries.
    “A Dedication to the Memory of John Gregrory Bourke, 1864-1896” by William Gardner Bell. Published in Arizona and the West, Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter 1971.

Boxes 9A and 9B

Typescript copy of “John Gregory Bourke, Victorian Soldier scientist – The Western Apprenticeship, 1869-1886” by Joseph Charles Porter (1980)

Series 6 – Scrapbooks

Box 10

  1. Railroads in Nebraska, 1870-1883
  2. Social affairs among the military in Omaha; Indian affairs and wars in Arizona; General Crook, 1870-1875
  3. Battle of the Little Big Horn from the Chicago Times, 1879.

Box 11

  1. Red Cloud Agency, Indian policy, Indian wars, 1876
  2. Social events in 1875; Spotted Tail, 1877; Crazy Horse, 1877; General Crook, 1877-1878; Indian Agents, 1878; Bannock Indians, 1878; Cheyennes, 1878-1879.
  3. Folklore, witchcraft, scatological rites
  4. Sioux War, 1876; Red Cloud Agency, 1876; Frank Grouard, 1876- some pages mutilated

Box 12

  1. Folklore, witchcraft
  2. The Garza Revolution, 1892; correspondence and reviews re. On the Border With Crook, 1891; Folklore.
  3. Army orders, 1883-1887

Box 13

Carol J. Condie (ed.), Vocabulary of the Apache or “Inde” Language of Arizona and New Mexico Collected by John Gregory Bourke in the 1870s and 1880s.
Occasional Publications in Anthropology, Linguistics Series, No. 7. Greeley: Museum of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, 1980.

Subject headings:

Bourke, John Gregory, 1846-1896
Crook, George, 1829-1890
Indian art
Indian mythology
Indians — Antiquities
Indians — Languages
Indians — Religion
Indians — Reservations
Indians of North America — Wars
United States. Army. 3rd Cavalry
United States. Army — Handbooks, manuals, etc.

nd 06-02-1997
03-02-2010 Revised TMM

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