Title: Sophie Toclanny Photograph Collection
Creator: Toclanny, Sophie, approximately 1880-1917 Inclusive dates: 1910-ca. 1960 Bulk dates: 1910-1913 Extent: 25 postcards, 1 albumen print, and 1 platinum print Abstract:
The Sophie Toclanny Photograph Collection consists of 25 postcards (including 15 real photo postcards and 10 color printed cards) and 2 photographic prints, most of which were sent by Chiricahua Apache woman Sophie Toclanny to a white American family living in Pennsylvania in the early twentieth century.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Sophie Toclanny (also known as Sophie To-clanny and Sophie Toclanny Evans) was born around the year 1880 to a Chiricahua Apache family that appears to have belonged to the same band ( Bedonkohe ) as Geronimo. Her father Toclanny (ca. 1863-1947) was also known as Roger Toclanny, Rogers Toclanny, Boglani, Doglani, Toclaney, Tocklarmy, Toklanni, Tucluny, Tuhclanni, Tuklanni, Tuklas, and Tulane. He was the longest serving Apache scout in the history of the United States Army, having served 25 years. Sophie’s mother appears to have been Toclanny’s first wife Dolores Noche (birth and death dates unknown), while her siblings Britton (1903-1922), Edith (1905-?), Emma (1889-?), Jennie (?-1899), Lawton (1900-1911), Norman (?-1899), Oliver (?-1902), Ruth (?-1896), and Peter (1905-1922) all appear to have been born to Toclanny’s third wife Syekkone (ca. 1866-1949). Syekkone was also known as Siki, Syokonne, and Tsekan.
Following the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, Sophie and her family were forcibly relocated to Mt. Vernon Barracks in Alabama along with many other Chiricahua Apache families. In 1894, Sophie and four other Chiricahua Apache girls were sent to the Hampton Institute in Virginia while their families were relocated again, this time to Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory. After departing from the Hampton Institute in 1897, Sophie was reunited with her relations at Fort Sill. They were relocated once more (possibly in 1911), this time to the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico Territory, after unsuccessfully holding out for land at Fort Sill that had been promised by the United States Government. Sophie’s work history included occupations as a dressmaker, homemaker and hospital matron. While living in Fort Sill, she was employed for a time in the Indian hospital there.
Sophie married three times over the course of her life. Her first husband Francis Corbett (ca. 1874-1909; also known as Francis Goulche) was a Chiricahua Apache graduate of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her second husband Oliver Bitchaiet (ca. 1870-1924) was also a Chiricahua Carlisle graduate; their children Fannie and Wilmot tragically both died on December 14th 1906, and Sophie and Oliver appear to have divorced soon after. Her third husband Burt Evans was likely a Mescalero Apache. The precise dates of Sophie’s marriages and divorces have not been determined.
Sophie Toclanny died on March 22nd 1917 in Whitetail, New Mexico, on the Mescalero Apache Reservation following complications from an unidentified illness.
The Sophie Toclanny Photograph Collection consists of 25 postcards (including 15 real photo postcards and 10 color printed cards) and 2 photographic prints, the majority of which were sent by Chiricahua Apache woman Sophie Toclanny to a white American family living in Pennsylvania in the early twentieth century.
The collection contains postcards and photographs sent by Sophie to the family of George K. (1870-1937) and Susan E. Geiser (1871-1939) living at 731 Moss St., Reading, Pennsylvania. It is unclear how Sophie came to know the Geiser family; it is possible that she made their acquaintance through either of her first two husbands, both of whom graduated from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her messages to the Geiser family indicate that she had a close, ongoing relationship with them. Sophie inquires about Geiser family members including their son William “Bill” G. Geiser (1891-1924), refers to gifts she is sending them such as a traditional Apache cradleboard, and expresses dismay that they are not writing her as often as she would like. One undated real photo postcard bears an image originally taken by Edward Bates of an unidentified Comanche woman carrying a child in a cradleboard; Sophie's message states that “They [the Comanche] dress all to gather [sic] different from the way we dress. I am sending you one of my self in Indian dress too.” In another undated real photo postcard showing another Bates photo captioned “Apache Babe and Cradle”, Sophie writes that she is “sending you a cradle like the Apache make for their babies. On this card a real one. This was taken out in their hay camp. I am so sorry that I was so long in sending it. But hope you will like it.” A number of postcards show wear or damage on the corners, suggesting that they were likely kept in an album for some period of time.
Sophie identifies herself and other family members in several of the real photo postcards. In one photograph showing six people posing on rocks near a dam waterfall on the Mescalero Reservation, Sophie identifies herself as the individual at left “sitting down by my little sister.” The young girl in this photograph is likely Sophie’s younger sister Edith, while the “married sister” standing at right is likely Emma. Both Edith and Emma appear in multiple photographs. Unidentified individuals in the family photos include an uncle, a cousin, the husband of said cousin, and a white woman who apparently married another one of Sophie’s uncles.
Other items of particular interest include postcards with images of Apache camps in Oklahoma and New Mexico; the Apache mission at Fort Sill; the funeral of Comanche chief Quanah Parker; portraits of Indian families (including a group portrait of a Sac & Fox family by W. H. Martin), mothers, and women; and portraits of famous Native American chiefs including Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Eagle Feather, and Red Cloud. The Red Cloud postcard bears the message “From a friend you have forgotten. But she never will forget you. Ft Sill Friend.”, while the Geronimo postcard reads “I received the pretty card to-day. I was glad to get it. So in return I thought I will send you one of Geronimo. I guess you all heard of him. What ever became of William. How is little girl now. From Sophie.” The postcards bearing images of Red Cloud, Eagle Feather, and Sitting Bull are all based on reproductions of original paintings by L. Peterson that were photographed and copyrighted by H. H. Tammen in the early twentieth century. Other color printed postcards include images of Pueblo Indians selling pottery, a Pueblo Indian infant, an Indian camp scene at the 101 Ranch in Bliss, Oklahoma, and an illustrated scene of an Indian woman going over a waterfall in a canoe titled “Red Man’s Fact.”
One color printed postcard bearing a portrait of Mohawk chief Bright Canoe was produced in the 1960s and thus could not have been included by Sophie.
Several real photo postcards include photographs taken by Edward Bates (1858-1941). Based in Lawton, Oklahoma, Bates took numerous portraits of Native Americans living at nearby Fort Sill. Bates is known to have produced at least one portrait of Edith Toclanny, and it is possible that he photographed other members of the Toclanny family.