John Stink

The Man Who Returned from the Grave

John Stink

John Stink was an Osage Indian and a member of the Thunder Clan. His real name was Ho-Tah-Moie (Rolling Thunder). John turned away from civilization and lived a life alone in the Osage Hills. Born in Kansas, he moved to the Osage Reservation with his people in 1872. His campsite was near an Osage Catholic School, and he lived with his dogs away from prying eyes of society. Wearing his blankets and a headscarf, he went to town many times. Though he was wealthy, he gave no outward indication.

Rolling Thunder was caught between ancient ways and the new times where money flowed like black gold. During the times of Osage History where guardians were required by the government, he had a guardian. His guardian provided food and supplies in exchange for an oil royalty payment. John Stink required little since he lived as a child of the earth among the trees and under the stars.

In 1906, at allotment time, Ho-Tah-Moie received his allotment land. Though there was a house built for him, he would not live inside. He said ‘white man house make me sick,’ and he did not let his dogs live in the house either. He spoke Osage, and he visited with those who could understand him, as he lived across from the Pawhuska Country Club Golf Course.
Once, it is told that he bought a car, but he did not drive. He would sit in his car, but he would not ride in it. In truth, he desired nothing that money could buy other than bare necessities and a fence for privacy. He was a generous man, and he gave $1,000 to the American Legion Post 97, and he gave $1,000 to each of the local churches. Born in 1863, Rolling Thunder wanted nothing to do with civilized ways.

Nearly freezing to death, he was found by the Sisters of Loretto, Catholic nuns from a school nearby. Thought to be dead, yet he miracuously revived. Another time, he was thought dead, and he was buried on Bacon Rind Hill east of Pawhuska. He was buried in the traditional Osage manner with rocks surrounding him, and he again revived. He and his dogs were later regularly seen walking downtown, and he was considered a ghost. Rejected by most who saw him, he became a legend. During a rabies outbreak, the police shot two of his favorite dogs, and he went home to the hills never to return to town again. Some say one can hear his dogs baying in the valley on certain mystic nights near his old campsite, but who knows for sure?

Having supposedly returned from the dead twice, he was buried one final time in the Pawhuska Mausoleum in 1938, where the wealthiest people of town were buried. John Stink lived to be 75 years old, and he had seen the Oil Boom, the Osage Reign of Terror, the end of the Indian Wars, Wounded Knee, Geronimo’s surrender, cars, airplanes, telephones, trains and World War I. More information can be found in “The Legend of John Stink” by Kenneth Jacob Jump.

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