WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)— 144 years ago today, Congress passed an act that allowed the Black soldiers to serve in the Peacetime Army giving them the distinction of being the first professional African American soldier in the United States Military.
In honor of National Buffalo Soldier Day, the community is shining a light on Felix L. Lindsey who moved to Wichita Falls in 1893.
According to the Wichita County Historical Commission, Lindsey was born in Gallatin County, Kentucky on October 10, 1847.
His mother was Mulatto and his father was full-blood Creek Indian. He was sent to live with a white family named Meeks when he was seven years old and was provided a small amount of education so that he could help with the family’s business.
During the Civil War, Lindsey was tasked by the family with carrying food to Union soldiers camped nearby and he developed a fondness for the uniform.
In 1882, Lindsey joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment of “Buffalo Soldiers” at Fort Davis, Texas.
In 1885, his unit was sent to Arizona to pursue Apache tribe leader Geronimo. In later accounts to interviewers, Lindsey recalled pursuing Apaches along narrow canyon trails, witnessing soldiers being shot from their horses and a brief encounter with Geronimo as he was negotiating his surrender.
Lindsey suffered three wounds in the Apache campaign, including a leg wound that ended his military career at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1893.
Shortly after Lindsey moved to Wichita Falls, he married Mary Tillman and raised their family of nine children.
Lindsey lived and worked in the African-American community, operating a drapery cleaning service and house cleaning service.
Physically limited by his military service wounds, Lindsey employed family members in his business ventures and earned respect among his clients.
Lindsey died in Wichita Falls on September 14, 1939, at the age of 92.
The life of Felix Lindsey is a testament to the passion and perseverance of African Americans after the Civil War to prosper and earn respect during a turbulent time in Texas and our nation.