The Story of Bad Eagle
A Quahada Comanche Band Headman
Compiled by Dr. David A. Yeagley, © 2012
Fifth Generation Direct Descendent
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
President, Bad Eagle Foundation
P. O. Box 75017
Oklahoma City, OK 73147
The following story is based on direct Bad Eagle family oral tradition, historical letters, Ft. Sill military documents, scholarly research and testimony, and historical Comanche records. Not every detail of the life of Bad Eagle is known, obviously, nor is every available detail used in this narrative. This is a simple recounting of the story, presented with the intent of honoring the identity and life of Bad Eagle and his descendents.
The record is presented in good faith, with the understanding that contest and disputation are inevitable. In the case of Bad Eagle, there are numerous Comanche persons claiming descent but with non-demonstrable, or as yet non-demonstrated, blood relations. The issue is ultimately one of honor, and not material property. The purpose here is to honor the truth, and not to offend any uninformed or mistaken individuals. It is a solemn and significant thing to learn one has been misinformed or inadequately informed for a lifetime, and even for generations. Nevertheless, whenever the truth is possible to know, it worthy to be known, and every effort should be made to ascertain the greatest extent of it. Again, the risk of offense is pertinent. Such offense is subjective, personal, and significant, yet, it is the price to be paid for the truth. In the presentation of this narrative, there is certainly no anticipated material loss connected to the revelation of any truth, nor any intent to offend anyone whose blood line may not be what it was understood to be. Family is family, blood is blood. Yet, in the mix, the truth still remains truth.
I can only say that, of all those who claim to be of the Portillo family, or, descendents of Bad Eagle, none of them ever made a point of acknowledging Bad Eagle, never manifested any interest in his life, nor, apparently, even made any overt or publicized claim to be his descendent. It has been as if there story was hidden or kept secret. My mother (Norma Portillo Yeagley) and I decided to go public in 1987. It is as if some shadow or cowl of uncertainty had hovered over the Bad Eagle story for six generations. As will be shown, there were two undocumented children who were enrolled among the Comanche in 1903. One of them, the male child, carried the name “Cruz Portillo,” the Spanish name of his alleged grandfather, Bad Eagle. This second “Cruz Portillo” was better known as “Jack.” The demonstrable descendents of Bad Eagle, however, do not have any documents identifying the origin of Jack, or of his alleged sister, “Linda,” (or of their alleged mother, “Ursula”).
Inasmuch as I, David A. Yeagley, am a direct blood descendent of Bad Eagle, fifth generation, I choose to demonstrate the Bad Eagle genealogy for the sake of not only myself, but for each member of my family and my blood kin—all the known descendents of Bad Eagle. This has become necessary because, in my professional, public career as a writer and speaker, I have had the unfortunate experience of being libeled regarding my own identity. I am currently involved in a libel suit against those who have made the false and egregious claim that I am not who I say I am, and that Bad Eagle did not exist! Most of the defendants in the case are non-Indian, and non-Comanche. However, there is one Comanche member, (of direct Mexican descent, I am told), who has made rigorous efforts to contribute to the libel, and to deny the story of Bad Eagle and his descendents. For this cause also, I present this story. I long ago vowed never to sue another Comanche member (regardless of descent or character); therefore, it is incumbent upon me to make the effort to communicate the true story of Bad Eagle in a concise, accessible form, and to provide it to all Comanche people.
This story, in all the known details, will one day appear in an actual book. For now, this greatly condensed version of the story must suffice. It is not possible to include all the documents, or even refer to all of them, in this short account. Readers may rest assured, however, that all facts referenced are demonstrable, legally, as well as historically. Oral tradition is identified as such, to be distinguished from written record. There are liabilities in both sources, naturally, as there is in all historical process. I remain open to further evidence, pro et contra.
Bad Eagle was born a Quahada Comanche in 1839, according to records he himself left in the latter part of his life. Presumably, this birth date was derived from Spanish records relating to the time he spent in Mexico as a captive. Bad Eagle (quin-ne kish-su-it, as spelled on the Ft. Sill military rolls) was evidently on a raid, as a young brave, and captured by the Spanish military, and taken to Ft. El Conejo, in Coahuila, Mexico. He was there adopted by one Capitán Lopez Portillo, and given the Christian (Spanish) name of “Cruz Portillo.” While a captive, he served the Mexican army, wearing a uniform, and apparently the only full-blood Comanche ever to do so. He served as a reconnaissance officer (a “scout”) for the Mexican army. During this time, he married another Comanche captive, a woman named Herlinda Fernandez, whom he called En-dan-ah. He had two sons, Hermregildo and Ygnacio, both of whom were born Catholic. Apparently, Bad Eagle himself was made Spanish Catholic, else his sons would not have had godfathers. Ygnacio’s godfather was Capitán Don Antonio De Ponce De Leon).
At some point, Bad Eagle returned to the Comanche people. There are at least three accounts of how this happened, from oral tradition. It did happen, and Bad Eagle left his family at El Conejo (Mexico). In time, he began another family, in Comanche land, and it is written that he became a band headman among the Quahada. He married two sisters, the daughters of Horse Back, named Erk-say and To-nar-cy. He had a female child by each, O-da-be-ah, by Erksay, and Pe-se-vony, by Tonarcy. Pesevony was born with bad eyes, and died in her youth. Odabeah was deceased, without issue, by1903.
Bad Eagle was called by many names. Quin-ne kish-su-it, the name he gave as his father’s name on the Ft. Sill rolls (1880’s), was probably a family name, and thus is properly his own, as well. (He gave his mother’s name as Cha-wa-bitty.) However, when he returned to the Comanche, the numunu called him “ko-dose.” Evidently, the Comanche did not pronounce “Cruz” with the rolling Spanish “r,” but instead pronounced “Cruz” as “ka-doos” or “ko-dose.” The English translation of quin-ne kish-su-it is found in the earliest military records as “Bad Eagle.” Of course, the Spanish Christian name of “Cruz Portillo” is also appears on the very same early records. It has been said that Bad Eagle was also called by the name Tu-vi-ai, but this was probably during the 1870’s. It is a name that, together with Wild Horse and Watebi-wit-Kit, was recorded by Dr. Joseph Sturm in his 1875 notes. These three Comanche warriors led Dr. Sturm to Palo Duro, where Quanah Parker and the last of the free Quahada were hiding. Thus, the Parker descendents must have held the name of quin-ne kish-su-it in low esteem, even forgetting Tu-vi-ai altogether.
When land allotments were being given to the Comanche, Bad Eagle began calling for his family in Mexico to come up to Indian Territory. They were Comanche, and therefore had a right to the homeland of their own people. But they were also apparently Mexican citizens. Nineteenth century letters (in Spanish) reveal challenging finances and logistics involved in the move, or perhaps indicate a certain reluctance to change their identity from (presumably) Mexican citizens to Comanche. They had not lived among the Comanche. In any case, in 1903, Ygnacio Portillo made the trip, together with his one known son, Anacleto (“George”). Ygnacio was murdered in the street by a gunman, in the presence of his eight-year-old son, George, in Socorro (New Mexico or Texas?), on the return to Mexico.
George then lived with Bad Eagle, when the Comanche people were still living in camps on their government allotted lands. George lived for a time in the tipi.
Interestingly, by 1903, all other members of the Bad Eagle family were dead, all but Bad Eagle himself. Bad Eagle was apparently poisoned in 1909, at the age of 70. George was sent to Chilocco Indian School. In 1912, his record identifies his religion as “Catholic.” Five years later, on George’s 1917 draft card registration for the United States military, his religion is identified as “Adventist” (Seventh-day Adventist).
A curious array of persons associated with Ko-dose is on record as of 1903. This came about in a curious, suspicious manner. A man from Mexico, Sotero dela Certa (or Dela Cerday) showed up in Comanche land with a woman and two children. He apparently had no documentation for himself or for them, but he identified the woman as the wife of Ygnacio Portillo and the children as his son and daughter. Cerday claimed the woman’s name was Ursula Quiroga (“Rogers”?), the boy’s name was Cruz (“Jack”) and the girl’s name, Herlinda (“Linda”). Ursula was Mexican, and spoke only Spanish. By 1916, in recorded estate testimony, interpreted by Sotero d. Cerday, she swears she was married to Ygnacio in Mexico, and that they had five children. (There was, of course, no documentation for any of this that we know of. There is later written and oral testimony that none of these children were hers, but she only took care of them. However, she had used the name “Ursula Portillo” in letters, before she made any sworn testimonies.)
1. Bad Eagle & Endanah: sons, Hermregildo, Ygnacio
2. Ygnacio (& wife): son Anacleto Cerday’s claim: Ursala (wife of Ygnacio)
3. Anacleto Cruz (Jack), Herlinda (Linda)
Remember: Cerday had no identification of himself (though he claimed to be a federale of Mexico), and no identification of the woman or the two children. No documents are known to have existed, none known to the knowledge of the Bad Eagle family.
It appears that Sotero dela Certa (who call himself many names, but finally “Dave Cerday”), a Mexican, from Mexico, conspired to thrust himself into Comanche affairs. This intent was continued from the time he appeared in 1903 until he died in 1946. He even claimed to be Comanche in 1907, seeking enrollment for himself and three children. He was finally denied enrollment. The details of his exploits and pretenses are exhausting. He changed his name many times, and claimed different places of origin, different nationalities, and different races, in nearly every document he made. Suffice it to say, he was successful in obfuscating the identity of the Bad Eagle family and direct descendents, and in confusing other Comanche about it. He essentially attempted to usurp the Bad Eagle family, and the name “Portillo,” and to substitute his own blood line in it, and to avail himself of Comanche identity, land, and to accomplish whatever other conspiratorial designs he had, such as perhaps obfuscating his own identity as a criminal or fugitive.
The Bad Eagle family, and its demonstrable descendents, have lived with the dubious stories and confusion Dave Cerday brought to the family in the early 1900’s. The Bad Eagle family possesses numerous 19th century letters that indicate that Sotero dela Cerday was plotting this venture into Comanche land as early as 1903, the year Ygnacio Portillo was murdered. Letters between Sotero dela Cerday and Antonio Ponce de Leon, regarding Ygnacio Portillo, indicate that a certain meeting was to take place between Ygnacio and Cerday. Ygnacio was murdered in Socorro (Texas or New Mexico?). Ponce de Leon was involved in the El Socorro Coach company, and the letters indicate a certain route, involving celadores (Mexican watchman) or armed guards. In happens that Ygnacio was a successful “bronco buster” and cattleman, and did much travelling. The relationship between the travelling, the stage coach, and the guards, is not yet understood completely. (George’s testimony to his children was that his father, Ygnacio, was murdered (by a gunman) in the street, in cold blood, in Socorro, as he was returning to Mexico. George was eye-witness, at the age of eight.)
The only son mentioned in the letters of Ygnacio Portillo is Anacleto “George.” In a letter of 1899, Ygnacio writes from El Conejo, Mexico, to his father Cruz Portillo, in care of Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Anacleto, born in 1895, would have been four years old at the time. We do not possess any other letters of Ygnacio which mention any other children directly, or by name. If any were born between 1899 and the year Ygnacio was murdered, 1903, those children or their descendents must provide the evidence themselves. The two children Sotero dela Cerday brought to Comanche land in 1903 could not have been more than three years old. One would have been much less, if they were both born from the same mother, if indeed they were both born of Ursula.
The plain fact is, we do not know who Anacleto Portillo’s mother actually is. We know that it was not Ursula, by oral and written testimony of family, including Anacleto himself, his wife, daughter, and a half niece-in-law, from the 1940’s and from 1988. Ygnacio’s letter of 1899 mentions “my wife and son Anacleto,” but does not name the wife. Further research might reveal it, however. Ygnacio was a Catholic in good standing, with a responsible professional person as his godfather. He would have been legally married, and there must be record somewhere in Old Mexico.
Young George (as Anacleto was later called) was greatly influenced by Sotero “Dave” Cerday. Cerday had claim for himself a different race, different parents, a different place of origin, on every record he made of himself. He was highly manipulative, if not outright dishonest. It appears that he managed somehow to take young George’s land, or to have it taken. It took years of effort and a literal act of Congress for George to get his allotment back. Our family possesses all the Congressional correspondence. While George (Anacleto) was originally heir on all three allotments (of Ygnacio, Erksay, and Odabeah), he finally was made heir only to Odabeah’s allotment. She had no children from her marriage to Chi-me-bitty (Max). She was deceased, as stated, in 1902.
The effect of Cerday was long range in George’s life. That effect started when George was only eight. By the time George was in Chilocco (1912), Cerday had already been “married” twice, that we know of. His wife at that time, the second “American” wife, was Delia Boyer. By her he fathered Clay, Ray, and brought to that family his two children from the first marriage, Juanita, and Frank. Interestingly, he put on Juanita’s birth certificate that her name was “Juanita Portillo.”
Juanita Portillo (Cerday) was his daughter from his first marriage to one Ella Gover (daughter of Amanda Hayes, Chickasaw, and ____ Gover). Juanita (b. 1896) was also sent to Chilocco, indicating that Cerday had managed to pass her off as Comanche Indian. Naming her “Juanita Portillo” was a successful ploy.
Cerday was “married” three times according to census records. The last of these marriages was in fact to one of the little children he had brought to Comanche land in 1903, claiming that she was a child of Ygnacio. It was little Linda. (One oral tradition says that she was born in1901.) Cerday waited until she was old enough, (not likely more than 15, if that), and then began having children by her. They were: Maryetta, Marie, Bertha, Edgar, and Naomi. (Marie is the daugter who married James M. Cox, of the direct Quanah Parker line.) Cerday was careful to have little Jack and Linda enrolled as children of Ygnacio (who was dead and could not verify their identity), so they would be heirs to Ygnacio’s land. So, all those children of Linda are understood by many to have been Comanche, when actually there is no verification known. What is verified is the fact that Cerday was a dubious character and whose word is not always untrustworthy. The identity of these children (and their children) rests on Cerday’s assertion alone, without documentation prior to their enrollment among the Comanche. Their Indian identity is based solely on his word. (In childhood photographs, Linda did not look Indian at all. She was too fair, and without obvious Comanche physiognomy.) Originally, Cerday claimed he himself was a Mexican, from Mexico. He would later claim he was Indian, from Texas.
On a 1910 Census, Cerday was married to Delia (n. Boyer), and had at that time five children listed: Juanita and Frank (from the previous marriage to Ella Gover), Grace, Savina, Clay and Ray, and one Eddie “Bayer.” The oral testimony of Savina (in my and my mother’s hearing) was that there was yet another child coming, but Cerday kicked Delia in the stomach and killed the unborn infant. Savina was psychologically affected after witnessing this.
George Portillo, the only known, documented son of Ygnacio Portillo, therefore only known grandson of Bad Eagle (Cruz Portillo), later married Juanita Portillo (Cerday). Both had been placed at the Chilocco school, and that is where they had met.
This is the point of solidified confusion. This was the work of Sotero dela Cerday. He succeeding in blending his blood with a special Comanche name (Cruz Portillo), by: 1.) having one of his daughters (Juanita) marry a real Portillo (George), and 2.) himself marrying a child (Linda) whom he claimed was Ygnacio Portillo’s daughter. This way, he was assured of land, and of having children who were nominally Comanche. As stated, he even tried, unsuccessfully, to claim that he himself was Comanche.
It was all a stunning, artificial reversal of what had happened to Bad Eagle, the generation before. Bad Eagle was a real Comanche, who was taken captive into Mexico, and became a professional success in Mexico. Sotero dela Cerday, by his own aggressive, manipulative, deceitful initiative, came to Comanche land, and through sexual relations and the manipulation of documents, became essentially Comanche, having one daughter who actually married a grandson of Quanah Parker, and another who married a real Bad Eagle Portillo. In all probability, it was a case of personal, ethnic revenge. Sotero was about the same age as Ygnacio; and, as stated, by 1903, all the family of Bad Eagle was suddenly deceased (--except for the old Bad Eagle himself). The family was wiped out. It is a terrible surmise, but all points suggest a planned, intentional elimination of an entire family, and the usurpation of that family’s identity. It was an unusual case of identity theft, on a family scale. It apparently began as a conspiracy, and continued as a life-long, determined purpose.
George Portillo and Juanita (Cerday) had six children: Virginia, Raymond, Edna, Norma, Louise, and Ernestine. They are all direct descendents of Bad Eagle, through George; but also, through Juanita, descendents of Sotero dela Cerday (“Dave Cerday”). In reality, Juanita was likely over a quarter Chickasaw, if not half, but, because of Cerday’s manipulations, she was known as a Comanche, and served often as a Comanche interpreter. Cerday even had her put on the Comanche rolls. This had to involve two falsehoods: 1.) her birth certificate name of “Juanita Portillo,” implying that she was a blood Portillo; 2.) one of her parents was Comanche.
Whatever uncertainty and falsehood Cerday brought to the Bad Eagle family line, that line is nevertheless still in tact. Yet, from the facts available, it is a very narrow line, since most of it was eliminated, and that part of it that was living before 1903 was not prolific. Anacleto “George” Portillo was the only known, documented son of Ygnacio. Thus, his children and their descendents are the only known, documented descendents of Bad Eagle.
Now, Linda (whom Cerday alone claimed to be the daughter of Ygnacio), had children who were understood by many to be Comanche, and they all have had many children. But even prior to this, there are ambiguities on the census records in southwest Oklahoma Indian country. These ambiguities result from the land laws, and the laws of heirship. The original allotee, we are told, had the right to bequeath his land to whomever he desired. After Ygnacio was murdered, Sotero immediately began the task of getting as many children connected with Ursula as possible, so that their names would be associated with Ygnacio. She claimed to be his wife, as the conspired tale of Cerday dictated, and therefore, any of her children would be heir to his allotment. By 1916, five children were listed as her children, children of Ygnacio: Anacleto, Mary, Frank, Herlinda (Linda), and Cruz (Jack). Who these children are, (other than Anacleto), and where and by whom they were born, is not known to the George Portillo family descendents. They were on the “Ygnacio” allotment (510) then. We also know that census records were taken house by house, and whoever was living in the house was generally counted as family, parent or offspring. This was yet another way that manipulation of identity could be easily accomplished.
By 1920 (US Census), Cerday (b. 1878) was 41 years old. “Linda” (Herlinda) would have to have been still a teen-ager. (One 1920 census record says she was 17; that would mean she was born in 1903—and that would mean she was brought up by Cerday as an infant. In turn, that fact would mean that Cerday’s claim would also be that she was born to Ygnacio the year he was murdered.) Those were “lawless” days, of course, and many people did whatever they could get by with. Indian country, in particular, was subject to the social agonies of lawlessness. The fact is, there is no documented evidence that the infant was related even to Ursula, let alone Ygnacio.
Ella Gover, the mother of Juanita Portillo Cerday, remarried after Dave Cerday’s cessation of his marriage to her. She married a well-known Comanche named Teh-su-da. (Tehsuda had a large, perhaps cancerous growth on the side of his nose.) She had four children by him: Ossie, John, Ted, and Suda. (Ted married a woman named Nee-mah-to-na.) These would be blood kin to the George Portillo children, through Juanita, having the same mother, but not Comanche kin. Ossie married twice, one brother (Wallace) after the first brother (Carney) died. Of Wallace she had Hellen, John, and Sid. (We know of one child of Sid: Flint, whom I met years ago.) Of Carney, she had borne Rudolph and Virgil.
Frank Cerday (sister of Juanita), son of old man Cerday and Ella Gover, married a woman named Aima. They had three children: Wival, Bill, and Esthergene.
Old man Cerday later had children by Ursula herself: John, Spino, and Louis Clark, and Sophia. There was also a white girl named Veva, who died early, and one named Lina (Mexican). Again, they are blood kin to George Portillo’s children, through Juanita, having the same father, but definitely not Comanche, and certainly not Bad Eagle descendents.
Cruz (“Jack”) Portillo married Mae Joshua (Me-su-ah) and had two daughters, Mary and Eva, and a son, Buster. Eva married Black Moon, the artist (Leonard Riddles). Mae Me-su-ah was the sister of a Mah-set-ka women, whose daughter is Marcelene, and there is a son, Mike Mahsetka, who is an attorney. Some Comanche today remember Eva and Mary, but do not know of the completely uncertain lineage of Jack.
After the Cerday marriage, Linda re-married. She married Wade Stoneman, a businessman in Walters, Oklahoma. She had three daughters by that marriage.
There are other names more distantly involved in the story. “Shirt tail” relatives they might be called. This is oral tradition in the George Portillo family.
Oral tradition (in my hearing) from Clifford Seymour says the Bad Eagle was cousin to both Ishatai (Es-chit-i) and Mumsekai (Mum-soo-ka-wat).
Mumsekai first marriage produced a son, who had a daughter Helen. Helen married Burt Treetop Seymour. They had four children: Willie, ____, Cook (Clifford), and Birdie. Mumsekai gave a testimony about Ko-dose (Bad Eagle) in 1916, the same time Ursula did. (Cerday was the Comanche interpreter for Mumsekai, and the Spanish interpreter for Ursula, or so the record says.) Mumsekai knew Bad Eagle for many years, he said, and confirmed many things known in the Portillo family about Bad Eagle. Mumsekai was a friend of the George Portillo family, and often visited them in the Walters area. (Mumsekai was still MC at pow-wows in 1936.)
Clifford Seymour married a woman named Minnie who was the granddaughter of Tabbitai (Tabbytite, or To-mo-tse-cut), who was a Mexican captive of the Comanche. He was also called Black Beard, or Black Moustache. He was a good warrior. Tabbitai had married a woman named Red Elk, who was said to be half Mexican and half Comanche, or Mexican and half white, or half Comanche and half white. In any case, they had three children: Lilly, Clifford, and Maria(?). Lilly at some point had a child, a girl named Billie. Lilly apparently got her grandfather Tabbitai on the Comanche rolls in the 1940’s. Lilly later married the businessman (furniture store owner) Wade Stoneman. (This was the same Stoneman that Linda Cerday married—her second marriage). They had a daughter, probably the most beautiful woman in all Comanche country: LaDonna. LaDonna lived mostly with her grandparents, however. She later married Fred R. Harris. They had three children, two daughters (Katherine and Laura) and a son.
Ishatai married a woman who was reportedly very mean. They had two sons, apparently both deformed. The first one disappeared in private circumstances (which, out of respect, shall remain untold). The second son, Jimmy, was born with some degree of phocomelia. “Cripple Jimmy” he was called. He married a woman named Lina (a Mexican, it was said).
There is abundant written record as well as oral tradition about Bad Eagle and Quanah Parker. Some time in the early 1880’s (?) Quanah actually stole one of Bad Eagle’s two wives, To-nar-cy (sister of Erk-say, the other wife). It is said that Bad Eagle was away from his home (or camp), and it happened at that time that Quanah came and took her, and ran. Naturally, upon his return, Bad Eagle (called Cruz, or Ko-dose in written accounts of the incident) immediately sought to retrieve her, not knowing that it was Quanah who had absconded with her (perhaps intending to run to Mexico).
Bad Eagle, however, must have suspected Quanah, because he went to Charlie Hart, the white government man who was in charge of looking after all of Quanah’s wives. Hart would not say where Quanah was, but Bad Eagle knew he knew. Bad Eagle went to the Anadarko Indian agent, and apparently made an ultimatum: Quanah would return with the women, or Bad Eagle would gather his band, mount up, and go after him.
As it turned out, Quanah quickly brought Tonarcy back, but was still determined to have her. After all, he was the new government appointed chief (1900), having out-manœuvered Eschiti (who already had the commission). Quanah thought he could have anything he wanted. That’s what chiefdom meant in the new era of white greed and grabbing. “Leadership” was a totally self-aggrandizing and materialistic opportunity. Quanah had no respect for the fact that Tonarcy was another man’s wife. And Quanah was half-white. That made him even more self-conscious of authority and superiority over all Comanche.
Quanah made it known that he intended to have Tonarcy, and threatened to kill any white man who tried to stop him. This troubled Hart, who immediately reported Quanah’s intent to the Agency. The Agency saw a Comanche war in the making and quickly worked to assuage the fervor. (It would have been the first such inner-Comanche strife in known history.) It was suggested that Quanah might offer to buy the woman, and that Bad Eagle might be willing to sell her. This suggested solution proved salvific. Quanah would offer to buy.
The price was incredibly high (for those days): a buckboard wagon (or buggy?) with team, more horses, a good head of cattle, a lot of cash, new Winchester rifles, and who knows what else? Quanah paid it all.
Bad Eagle had had one child, a girl, by Tonarcy: Pe-se-vo-ny. She was born blind (or with very bad eyes), and she died young. Tonarcy was apparently unable to have any more children by Bad Eagle. Therefore, he considered her barren, and this was no doubt the real reason that he decided to let her go.
The Parker descendents may say that Tonarcy had more children by Quanah, but, the Bad Eagle family knows of no such children, or their documentation.
In 1909, Bad Eagle was apparently poisoned, and died. The story is that he was eating from a can of bad sardines. But, the Comanche never ate alone, and they always shared. Others therefore would have died also, or at least become gravely ill. But there are no such accounts. Therefore, we surmise that it was yet another murder. All other members of the Bad Eagle family, except George and Bad Eagle himself, were either murdered or mysteriously deceased by 1903—the year Sotero dela Cerday showed up at Ft. Sill with an unidentified woman and two unidentified children. Now, in 1909, Bad Eagle himself was gone. All that remained of his blood line was his grandson, Anacleto “George” Portillo
All but one of George Portillo’s children married and had children:
Virginia (& US Army Sgt. Charles Dunbar):
USMC Col. Raymond (& Lucile Stark)
Bruce, Randy, Denise, Renee, Nanette, USMC Lt. Col. Dave
USNavy Lt. Edna (never married)
Norma (& Ned Yeagley)
Frederick, David, Jonathan, Susan
Louise (& Leslie Thorne)
James, Edward, Thomas
Ernestine (& USMC Col. Ballard Graves)
Jimmy, Georgia, Mona, Tina
I, David A. Yeagley, am the son of Norma and Ned Yeagley. I was born in Oklahoma City, as were my siblings.
George Portillo was a carpenter, an oil field worker, and an iron worker (and a Mason—member of the Carpenter’s Union). He raised his family in Comanche land, and most of the girls graduated from Walters High School. George once played baseball for Magnolia Oil (Mobile), and contracted to play on a major league farm team in Florida. Because of his wife’s illness, however, he did not move from Oklahoma.
However, during WWII, George moved to Hayward, California, with his wife and two daughters. He worked in the shipyards, building the battleships. In the 1980’s, he, his wife Juanita, and daughter Edna, moved to Kileene, Texas, a few houses away from his eldest daughter Virginia (d. August 29, 2001) and her family. Juanita passed away in Kileene ( , 1982) as did George ( , 1987) and finally Edna (d. May 23, 2007). As of 2012, only two of George’s children are living, Louise and Ernestine, the two youngest.
Interestingly, there are many other names that appear on the single land allotment to which Anacleto (George) Portillo was restored. It is the allotment of O-da-be-ah, daughter of Bad Eagle and Erksay, No. 509. She died without a will, and, on the “Report on Heirship” record (1903), Anacleto, Mary, Frank, Herlinda (Linda) and Cruz (Jack) were all listed as “issue of deceased brothers or sisters.” This is incorrect, of course, and no doubt again the work of Dave Cerday. Odabeah was the half sister of Ygnacio (both children of Bad Eagle), yes, but none of the others were demonstrably related to Ygnacio. It was only Cerday’s claim.
In time, a good number of other names evolved on the list of land sharers. As of 2011, there are names like Johanna Big Bow (Tarcypokedooah), Edgar L. Cerday Estate, Joyce Connahvichnah, James Cox, Jr., Joseph, Robert, Warren, and Jasmine Kassanavoid, Naomi Cerday Harrington, Robert, Edwin, Billy, Pauline, and Glen Komahcheet, Maudean Tabbytite, Carrie Wahnee, Dorney Riddles, and others. These names come through willed heirship or marriage, and don’t necessarily have any blood relation whatsoever. It is simply the way the land laws are laid down. The laws are curious, and a continual source of confusion, as they are significantly revised nearly every year.
None except those names related to Anacleto (George) Portillo are part of the Bad Eagle blood line, according to demonstrable record. Many are obviously Comanche, but some may not be at all.
It appears that the government devised laws that would create the possibility if not the likelihood that the land would pass out of Indian hands. There is the crippling stipulation that no development or use of the land is permitted except as every share holder agrees to it. When most of the interest holders have no idea who the others are, it is not likely anything will be done, so then the tribal leadership leases out the land to the highest bidder for grazing. This has been the BIA tradition.
I and my remaining siblings were not placed on the land until after our mother, Norma Portillo Yeagley (daughter of George) passed away (April 9, 2005). Our initiative alone procured our inheritance. Our mother had left a will, but it was not acted upon by the BIA (except to cut off the annual land lease payment), and we obtained our estate through our own initiative. Our names were listed as of 2011. We are the only direct blood line of Bad Eagle on the land, unless Erksay had other children after Bad Eagle was gone. Of these descendents, we have never known anything. They have not contacted us.
There is much oral tradition in the George Portillo family about the behavior of our Cerday relatives toward us. This material will appear in a future book, as indicted above. There are striking verbal testimonies that tend to verify the story told here, and allow the facts to make sense. One peculiarity is the fact that the Seventh-day Adventist religion, which George and Juanita cherished, and to which his children and grand children have, to the most part, adhered, is said to have come to the family through old man Dave Cerday himself. The irony is unspeakable, obviously. There is written testimony of this, but also oral contradiction. Our great aunt, Grace (daughter of Cerday and Delia Boyer Cerday) wrote the old man brought it to the family. My mother said it was Delia. In any case, to cover his tracks with such a serious, sincere religion is most telling. If all the family was Adventist, they’d all be good Christians and be quiet about all that they knew—about him. Juanita herself (Cerday’s daughter by Ella Gover) was apparently the peacemaker of the two family lines.
All the original players are gone, and those who remain deserve to know the truth, and must be brave and strong enough to bare it. I would encourage each concerned individual to do his own research, to share it, and to improve the knowledge of the family wherever possible. The Bad Eagle line is clear and established. It is the identity of Ursula, Jack, and Linda that is wholly uncertain. This is where the research needs to be done, and it needs to be done in Mexico, in Coahuila, and probably in military records, as well as in the standard civic records. The Catholic Church may be of help. Personally, I doubt that such research will render any useful information. The character of Sotero dela Cerday is what it is. In all likelihood he buried much truth, and it is buried with him. He did say, on his hospital death bed, speaking to Raymond C. Portillo (my mother’s brother), “Your grandfather [Bad Eagle] was a great and famous man. There is a book written about him, in Spanish.”
Liars don’t always lie. They can tell the truth.
Once again, the presentation of this story is without malice or revenge. (And parts of it may be subject to correction or addition.) It is not intended to offend or alienate or in any way adversely affect any relatives, Comanche members or others. The intent is to maintain the honor of the Bad Eagle name and true family members, and to restore the integrity in the name. The Cerdays were made blood kin, through Dave Cerday’s efforts, but not demonstrably Comanche kin, and certainly not Bad Eagle kin. The records do show a rather dark side of Dave Cerday, and most of this has been kept hidden and disguised for generations. In fact, many Cerdays were taught that Jack and Linda were the true Comanche, and the George was not. Thus, many Comanche people were given the impression that the real, actual Bad Eagle line, through George, was not Comanche! For this grave error, I offer the contrary facts in this presentation. The Cerdays are the foreign element. I am happy to consider any legal documentation of Jack and Linda, and I will gladly retract my statements pertaining thereunto. Any documentation about Jack and Linda would have to be historical, from Mexico, in Spanish. If they were the son and daughter of Ygnacio Portillo, from an alleged marriage between Ygnacio and “Ursula,” there would be Catholic record of them, and of that marriage. At present, the Bad Eagle family knows of no such records, nor has access to them if there are such. We don’t know who Jack and Linda really were. We know Cerday often lied, and manipulated and falsified records. So it appears. They were either unrelated orphan children, illegitimate children—who may or may not have been related to Ygnacio, or to Ursula.
This presentation is a corrective effort. It is not meant to incite resentment or hostility. There are no doubt Cerday descendents who have lived with misconceptions of who and what they are—for generations. Doubts, uncertainties, and confusion were all created, intentionally by Sotero dela Cerday. “Oral tradition” was created by Cerday, bequeathed to his children, and no doubt unknowingly perpetuated through his descendents. That is the historical fact. The Cerday descendents are not so much to be blamed for this as to be instructed otherwise. It is an awesome thing to be Comanche. It must also be a devastating thing to find out that you are not—when you thought you were, believed you were, and lived in your mind as though you were, and had everyone thinking that you were. Yet, this is the case for many, if not all Cerdays—except for the children of George Portillo who, through Juanita, are nevertheless related to Cerday, much to their frustration and regret.
The George Portillo family maintains the only known bloodline of Bad Eagle, notwithstanding the affrontous invasion of Dave Cerday. Perhaps there would have not been any significant identity issue but for the fact that many Cerdays have believed and asserted that they were the real Comanches, and that George’s family was not, and led other Comanches to believe that misinformation. But this historical fantasy has now all come to an end. And the presentation of this family story is just the beginning of revelations of the truth. The George Portillo family is most willing to consider the evidence about Jack and Linda which living Cerdays may provide. Until that time, the fact is that the Cerdays are simply another group of aliens on the historic Comanche rolls. George Portillo was the true Comanche.