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Lee & Reynolds

Albert Eugene Reynolds - the Other Half of L&R

by Jerry Adams,  NTCA member 105

copyright ã 2003

(For the story of William McDole Lee, and more on Lee and Reynolds, refer to February 1998 issue of Talkin' Tokens, pages 43-45)


For coin collectors, a U.S. coin from 1875 will produce little or no visceral reaction, the collector doesn’t know where the coin was in 1875, perhaps it was in a bank vault in Philadelphia, New York, or perhaps New Hampshire, who knows? We token collectors generally know the locales where the tokens were actually used. As token collectors we seek to understand (or to imagine) not only the times in a social sense, but the physical surroundings present when the tokens were in use. Studying the historical settings of these tokens enable a certain amount of appreciation for those wild and wooly days. However, now in 2003 as we sit in our air conditioned suburban homes, with con trails of jumbo jets streaking the sky thousands of feet above us, big screen televisions and satellite dishes on every rooftop, it is increasingly difficult, for us to imagine the harsh life on the plains of Indian Territory in 1873. Much as our soldiers now in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Indian traders were surrounded by indigenous peoples who spoke different languages, and the traders could not always tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys”. They were living in a hot, semi-arid land, with little medical or social amenities available. The few that ventured there to seek their fortunes were true pioneers, risking everything for their futures.

The tokens:



[brass, round, 25mm, reeded edges; circa: 1873-1881] Estimated value: $150-$325, circa: 1873-1881

(note: reproductions exist)

This token is listed on page 40 of the "Catalog o Oklahoma Tokens by Lloyd C. Walker (1978) and is listed as Curto #69 in his 1951 listing of post trader tokens. Dr. B. P. Wright in his "American Business Tokens" lists another variety as his number 590:


(American bison, buffalo, charging to left)

[nickel, round, 31mm; circa: 1873-1881] Estimated value: $250-$475 (likely intended for use at the Darlington, Okla. location, of the Cheyenne & Arapahoe Agency, and used there mainly)

Since the stories of Lee and Reynolds are so intertwined, it is impossible to not repeat some of the information from the 1998 article, but generally I will focus only on A. E. Reynolds and new information.


Albert Eugene Reynolds was born 13 Feb.1840 in Newfane, Niagara County, New York as the first son and second child to his parents, Henry A. and Caroline Van Horn Reynolds. His parents had ten children who survived infancy to adulthood. As the eldest male child, Albert was a born leader, ambitious, self confident, aggressive and competitive. Although Albert did not participate in the 1861-65 war of the rebellion, he left home just after the end of the war with $80 in his pocket to seek his fortune.


He first went to Junction, Kansas where he found work in a mercantile store, frugally saving every nickel he could spare. He soon had enough saved that he opened his own store in Richmond, Missouri as a joint venture with his brother George. After about a year, A.E. returned to Junction, Kansas and from there went to Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory. There he found work manning a post trader store for a local merchant. He soon (1867) bought out his employer's store, and ran a store at both Fort Lyon and the town or Las Animas, Colo. Territory His work branched out as opportunities presented themselves, as when he contracted with the government to furnish the lime for constructing the new Fort Lyon when it was moved to higher ground.


In 1869 A.E. surrendered his sutler license, transferring the Las Animas business to his cousin D. W. Van Horn.

There had been "Indian problems" in the region, especially since the battle at Sand Creek Colo. Terr. in 1864. There were treaties, one in Oct. 1865 was the "Treaty of the Little Arkansas River" and later, the 1867 "Medicine Lodge Treaty" in which the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes agreed to surrender their lands in southeast Colorado, and remove themselves to the reservation in what was then Kansas, but later became Indian Territory.

A. E. had grown to like the tribes, and sought to follow them to the reservation location, and open a trading post for them there.


The Indian treaties, were largely unsuccessful in stopping the violence between the frontiersmen and the native Indians.

In early 1868 the Texas frontier was plagued by raiding parties of Kiowa and Comanche. In May of 1868 the Cheyenne warriors had burned Council Grove, Kansas, and by August were raiding freely though the Saline and Soloman valleys in eastern Colorado. This was in addition to the opportunistic preying on overland wagons of settlers found on the Santa Fe Trail and Cimarron Crossing.

General Sheridan had approved a military campaign against the Cheyenne, and the establishment of a military post for supplies in northwestern Indian Territory. Comp Supply was formed in November 1868. The location was at the junction of Wolf and Beaver Creeks, where they form the North Fork of the Canadian River.

In the early fall of 1869, A. E. Reynolds and William McDole Lee formed a handshake partnership, to open a trading store at the newly founded Camp Supply. Their business was licensed by the government on Nov. 15, 1869, and was a virtual monopoly on retail merchandising in the vast frontier south of Fort Dodge, Kansas. While at the Indian trade in Indian Territory, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe called him "Red Beard" for his long flowing reddish beard.

The actual fort in December of 1869 was an authentic log palisade fort, and this was what Lee and Reynolds found when they set up the first trading post there in late 1869. It was a large vertical log palisade fortification, with log buildings and tents, picket building outposts, campfires, shanties, stables, and nearby camps of Indians and hunters.

Camp Supply was the temporary location for the Cheyenne and Arapahoe agency.


This didn't last long, by 1870, the war department allowed the Secretary of War, William Belknap, to appoint a single sutler at each military post. Belknap appointed Edwin C. Latimer as the sutler at Camp Supply. Thus Lee and Reynolds lost their government license in 1870. A.E. was not about to let this go unchallenged, and he made a trip to Washington to see if he could do what he could to have their license reinstated.

After discreet inquiries, A.E. found he should contact General J. M. Hedrick of Ottumwa, Iowa, and he made the trip to Iowa for this purpose. General Hedrick agreed to influence Sec. Belknap to allow Lee & Reynolds to be the post traders if L&R would pay Hedrick the sum of $5,000 per year. This was agreed upon, and A.E. returned to Camp Supply. On November 17, 1870, the War Department ordered that Lee and Reynolds were the sole licensed traders at Camp Supply.

Six years later, A.E. was called before a congressional hearing on graft and corruption in the War department, and he willingly testified that he indeed agreed to pay Gen. Hedrick $5,000 per year, but that in fact L&R paid the General only $4,500 over three years, and nothing more. He stated that he and Mac Lee decided that they could not justify paying the man any longer, and stopped the payments, risking their license.

As a result of those congressional hearings, Lee and Reynolds were allowed to continue their trade, their license was renewed in 1876. In fact only one trader license was revoked that of the trader at Fort Sill.

Camp Supply was considered a great location for a trading post in the 1870s, with between three and six companies of either infantry or cavalry stationed there at minimum. During the Red River War of 1874-75, the numbers of troops there increased, and stayed at a higher number until about 1880. Lee and Reynolds operated Indian trading posts at Camp Supply, I.T., the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Agency, I.T. (near Darlington) and Fort Elliot, Texas. They also ran retail stores that catered to civilian employees of the posts, and military enlisted men and officers.

The military retail stores dealt in such goods as military clothing and accoutrements, bugles, knives, field glasses, saddles & harnesses, clothing of all types, farm equipment, household items, fresh fruit and vegetables, processed foods, patent medicines, tobacco, candy, newspapers, magazines, books, musical instruments, playing cards and games, ammunition, field supplies such as canteens and tents.

Attached to each retail store was a saloon. These saloons typically sold ale, beer, wine and whiskey. The L&R retails store-saloons also had billiard tables for amusement, and their billiard equipment was purchased from the Brunswick Company, thus there may be Brunswick tokens with their marks out there somewhere. The L&R billiard tables were heavily used by the soldiers, requiring often recovering, new cues, new billiard ball sets, etc.


At first, the trade with the Indians was mainly in the form of trade goods. Indians would bring in buffalo hides or robes, and receive trading goods. As an example, at the Cheyenne Arapahoe agency store near Darlington, in March of 1873, the going rate for one quality buffalo robe cured by the Indian women, was this: 30 cups of sugar and coffee, and their choice of 16 braces of calico or 12 braces of sheeting. As the years went on, trade tokens took the place of direct trading, thus introducing the token currency system with the Indians of the region.

As a historical note, at the Darlington store, the main clerks and interpreters in those early days were George Bent, who was the son of William Bent, for whom Bent's Fort, Colorado is named, and his Cheyenne wife, in addition to Ed Gurrier and Ike Alfrey.

Other trading items the area Indians preferred were colored beads, silver trimmed saddles of two grades, and "hair pipes". Hair pipes, were tubular beads about 1.5 inches long, originally made from West Indian Conch shell, later from animal bone. The Indians were quite fond of these, and used them for hair decorations, earrings, chokers, necklaces, and breastplates. They were considered a sign of wealth and status among the Indians, and are often seen in period photographs of Indians.



Some of you may be familiar with the story of the battles of Adobe Walls, Texas. There were two battles of Adobe Walls. The original Adobe Walls was built in the 1840’s on the Canadian River in the Texas panhandle, as a trading post, and was an adobe wall enclosure of no more than about 80 square feet (very small). It was soon abandoned because of constant pressure from Indians. The crumbling adobe walls, soon became the only recognizable landmark for travelers in that area of the barren flat land. In 1864 when Kit Carson led an Army expedition against winter quarters of Kiowa and Comanche tribes, he used the ruins as a defensive position, and held off large numbers of Indians, this was the first battle of Adobe Walls. The episode concerning Lee and Reynolds concerns the second battle of adobe walls. By the spring of 1874, a larger fortified settlement had grown up not far from the original adobe walls. This second adobe walls, consisted of at least four businesses, including Meyers and Leonard Mess Hall and store, O‘Keefe‘s Blacksmith shop, the Rath and Wright Store, Hanrahan’s Saloon and various corrals and outbuildings. The community did well until June of 1874, when several hundred Comanche, Kiowa and Cheyenne Indians descended on the position, forcing the 28 men and one woman there to hunker down in the saloon, repelling attacks for five days.

My research into the life of A. E. Reynolds, has turned up an surprising theory put forth by the author of the book on Reynolds. It has been suggested that “Mac” Lee wanted to prevent rival merchants from competition in the buffalo robe trade from the Indians. Therefore, when rival buffalo robe merchants Charles Rath, Robert M. Wright (the firm of Rath and Wright) and A. C. Meyers opened a remote trading post in the Texas panhandle, Mac Lee informed the Cheyenne that ponies stolen from them, could be found at the location called “Adobe Walls”. When the large group of Cheyenne and Comanche arrived at Adobe Walls, what they found was not the ponies, but the trading post of Rath and Wright. From the Indians viewpoint, they had no right to have a post at that locale, and no right to kill the buffalo in such a slaughter. Therefore, the Comanche and Cheyenne attacked the post at Adobe Walls, triggering what was called the “Red River War.”



One of the more interesting western history ventures of the careers of Lee and Reynolds, occurred in December of 1876, when the joint venture of Charles Rath, William McDole Lee and A. E. Reynolds outfitted a huge wagon train of white hunters, skinners and such, they left Dodge City in Dec. 1876 heading south to Texas. By mid January 1877 they had established a buffalo hunting town, ten miles south of Double Mountains in north central Texas. The huge wagon train had brought everything! They had a dismantled saloon and brothel, including forty women to staff aforementioned brothel, and the saloon keeper. Reynolds City as it was named, soon had a dancehall, restaurant, mercantile store, and of course the saloon/brothel. Shanties were everywhere, and as the hide hunters came in, huge stacks of buffalo hides were scattered about amongst the shanties, and wagons. Wagon trains carried the hides to markets, at Fort Worth, and Fort Griffin. This hunt and shanty town lasted for a year, until the spring of 1877, when most of the residents shut down shop and moved to more promising ventures.



L&R erected a new store building in 1877, and converted the old store building into a very spacious saloon, with a separate room for billiards.

The store at Darlington ( the Cheyenne and Arapahoe agency store) was without a saloon, it served mainly the two tribes resident, as well as the agency employees and dependents.

The store at the Cheyenne-Arapahoe Agency was about 150 miles southeast of Camp Supply, and near what later became Darlington, Okla. At first the C-A agency store was open only from late Dec. until late April each year, and by the mid 1870s, it remained open year round.

L&R had other sources of income, as they hired workers, to cut hay and wood, to sell to the government and Indian agents at various reservations. During the first five years in business, L&R annual gross earnings from wood was $12,862.38, and from hay was $7,853.80. Keep in mind that was annually. However, the most lucrative portion of the L&R business was from the Indian trade. In nine years, Lee and Reynolds marketed approximately 79,000 buffalo robes.

Repeated here only for entertainments sake, is the story of Bill Gibbs. Camp Supply had few murders, and only one bad troublemaker in those early years, by the name of Bill Gibbs. Bill Gibbs was a 24 year old Negro wagon boss working for Lee and Reynolds. About August 3, 1877 while driving a wagon train to Fort Elliot, an argument erupted solidly between Bill Gibbs and the Mexican cook, Joe Campo. The gruff resulted in the dismissal of Campo, who took off for Supply. Gibbs followed him shortly and demanded satisfaction, whereupon both drew revolvers and fired, resulting in a dented scalp for Campo, and a pistol ball through the lungs for Gibbs. Both men recovered. Gibbs was not finished raising Cain though. He made numerous derogatory remarks about the wife of one George Thomas. This resulted in George Thomas approaching Gibbs as he sat in a wheelbarrow just outside the butcher shop at Camp Supply on March 23, 1878. Both men produced pistols, Gibbs a small revolver from his back pocket and Thomas a large navy Colt, when the smoke cleared Thomas had been hit numerous times as he staggered into the butcher shop, where he expired.


Lee and Reynolds sold the Cheyenne-Arapahoe Agency store at Darlington to George Reynolds in December of 1878 for $15,000. George remained at Darlington until July 1881, when he sold the store to Charles T. Connell.


One of the men who marketed the buffalo robes for L&R was E. H. Durfee, and Durfee also supplied L&R with trade goods such as beads and hair pipes. For those unaware, E. H. Durfee issued tokens "Durfee and Peck" in different metals, in denominations from 25 cent, to $1 as maverick tokens, but issued from July 1867 through August 1869 at Fort Union, N.M. at which time they relocated to Fort Buford.

After the breakup of the firm of L&R in 1882, A.E. Reynolds invested money into two mercantile firms, becoming a silent partner, one of these was at Fort Elliot, Texas, the other at the Cheyenne-Arapahoe agency. The mercantile store at the Cheyenne-Arapahoe agency was run by D. H. Doty and Weller N. Hubbell (noted as an experienced Indian trader) who is no doubt kin to the famous Arizona Indian trader who issued numerous tokens, J. L. Hubbell, although I have been unable to find the exact kinship.


A.E. was always a good family man, helping out his brothers and sisters when he could. Three of his brothers, Andrew, Charles and George all worked for him at one time or another in the Camp Supply stores. Later in 1885, A.E. signed a note backing Andrew when he got a license to trade with the Kiowa, Wichita and Comanche tribes.

Andrew Reynolds bought goods and set up a trading post at Anadarko, I.T. and it lasted only three years, due to mismanagement on his part, and he sold the store in 1888, leaving his brother A.E. to pay off his creditors.


By the time A.E. was 41 years of age, he had decided it was time to get married to a lady who could be a lifelong companion and have children. Through some various connections and letter writing he managed to meet and marry Dora Earll of Columbus, Wisconsin. They were married on April 25, 1883 in Wisconsin. At the time of their marriage she was 31, and he was 43. They had only one child, Anna Earll Reynolds born on Jan. 26, 1884. She was afforded the finest education, graduating from Smith College in 1907. The A. E. Reynolds family lived most of their lives in Denver, Colorado, and rented houses for 20 years in the Capitol Hill area. They lived at various addresses, 1756 Grant St, 1620 Grant St. , 1555 Sherman St. By 1913, A.E. agreed to buy the house at 1555 Sherman in his daughter’s name, for the sum of $25,000. His daughter Anna, met and married Bradish P. Morse, businessman and partner in the Denver firm of Morse Brothers Machinery and Supply. They produced three grandchildren for A.E., one of whom was named Albert Reynolds Morse was born in 1915. Sadly Dora Reynolds, wife of A.E. died of pneumonia in 1916.


A.E. was heavily involved in gold and silver mining, ranching, farming and acquiring real estate in the period from 1883 onward. The various mining ventures were numerous. He invested heavily in silver mining, and to a lesser extent gold mining, mainly in Colorado, but also in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Ontario, Canada. Among his various mining holdings over the years included the “Virginius Mine” near Ouray, Colo., and the “Revenue Tunnel” also near Ouray. Other mines included the “Smuggler Mine” near Aspen, the “Commodore mine” at Creede, and the “May Day” mine near Hesperus. Some of his failure mines included the “Belle of the West” and “Palmetto” both near Lake City, the “Et Cetera” and “Tarifa” near Aspen, the “Senate”, the “Forest King”, the “Platoro”, the “Golconda”, and “Emma”.


A.E. was forced into fighting for to support the price of silver, due to the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act, and the financial panic of 1893. In 1883 the price of silver was at $1.04 per ounce, and by the 1890’s it had dropped to between $0.50 and $0.70 per ounce, and stayed there until about 1900. A large group of influential politicians supported only gold, and not silver as a backing for U.S. currency. Reynolds view of this, since his heavy holdings in silver mining, was toward “bimetallism”, which A.E. envisioned as a 16:1 ratio of silver to gold price. A Nebraska democratic congressman, William Jennings Bryan made this his campaign centerpiece, and stumped across the states in support of silver. In gratitude, in March of 1894, A.E. had a ring custom made for William Jennings Bryan, of amalgam of silver and gold, with a setting of quartz, all from Reynolds’s “Cimarron Mine” near Telluride, Colorado.




On the morning of March 22, 1921 the sun rose over the misty hills of eastern Tennessee just as though nothing of note had happened the previous day. But it had, Albert Eugene Reynolds died, on March 21, 1921 at the Tennessee home of his beloved daughter Anna Earll Reynolds Bradish. By all accounts, he had been more of a businessman than anything else, he was a millionaire by age 50, by 1910 his worth had grown to $3 million, and by his death in 1921 was still worth $2 million, he had raised a family, accumulated wealth, experienced much of the opening of the west from frontier log forts, saloons and Indian trading posts.


references: Albert Eugene Reynolds by Lee Scamehorn, 1995; The story of W.M.D. Lee by Donald F Schofield; Fort Supply Indian Territory by Robert C. Carriker ; Traces of Texas History by Daniel E. Fox

























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updated : 25 jan 2004