Major Robert Simpson Neighbors – A True Texan

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the tall tales. Those malleable stories build the pedestals, materialize the laurels, and fabricate the “facts” of the state’s iconic founding fathers – individuals whose sacrifices and servitude reward their memories with stained-glass images and names on universities.
These rough and tough Texans’, who lost and won, stole and gave, gained independence, then gave it away, histories are as dynamic as the shifting sands of Monahans.
Okay – I will stop.
Texas is fantastic, and the history is just great. I would not change a thing unless that thing would make history more extraordinary and the state that much more wonderful.
Sorry – I will stop.
Not all Texas history heroes have to have their stories inflated. One such fellow is Major Robert Simpson Neighbors. Neighbors was an Indian Agent, a significant player in the relocation of Kiowa and Comanche throughout Texas. Neighbors believed in going out into Commancharia and making connections with each tribe. This proximity allows a personal relationship with the tribes. Unfortunately, his modus Operandi caused many Anglo settles grief – as they felt his connection to the “savage” tribes inappropriate. Nevertheless, he continued to do his duty with fidelity and respect.
Neighbors ultimately helped create a reservation along the Brazos River just south of present-day Newcastle, Texas. This location was also a stone’s throw from Fort Belknap. Unfortunately, this was not a good location for the reservation.
The settlers’ outcries of Indian depredations rang out across the prairie, echoing off the hills. The heated exchanges between the groups exploded into violence. Something had to change. In attempting to do what was right, Major Neighbors organized the tribes and delivered them from Texas to an Oklahoma reservation.
Undefeated, Neighbors returned to Texas with the expectation to keep serving with consistent fairness. Instead, a bullet awaited him on his return to Fort Belknap. The shooter disagreed with Neighbor’s ideas.
Then, this true Texan was taken to the town cemetery and buried without much honor. Major Robert Simpson Neighbors rests in an unkempt cemetery in a cow pasture. An individual whose history is not inflated or fabricated. A Texan who sacrificed his life in an attempt to maintain peace.

The road – to the gate – through the cow pasture – to his grave.
Restored 1960
Major Neighbors’ Stone – leaning against his raised grave?

2 thoughts on “Major Robert Simpson Neighbors – A True Texan

  1. I read of him some years back, then his literary trail went dry. Edwin Shrake uses him as a basis for a character in his novel “The Boarderland” and Paulette Jiles does as well in The Color of Lightning, but briefly. My Cherokee grandmother’s uncle was a Simpson, and a US Marshall based out of Ft. Smith AK, and being Cherokee, was also an agent. Texas history runs deep in my soul. I haven’t visited the family tree in a while, but Chief Quanah Parker is hanging in there somewhere. Good read.

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