The National Archives at Fort Worth

Records of the Fish and Wildlife Service: Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge

Records Available at the National Archives at Fort Worth


In 1901, Congress placed 61,500 acres within the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache Indian Reservation under control of the Department of the Interior establishing the Wichita Forest Reserve.  Four years later, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the area a game preserve as well as a forest reserve and transferred it to the Department of Agriculture.  Designated “the Wichita Forest and Game Preserve,” plans immediately began to relocate buffalo to the land which had once been their natural habitat.  Dr. W. T. Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological Park and President of the American Bison Society, offered animals from the zoo to begin a herd.  Mr. Charles Johnson started to prepare for the arrival of the animals by overseeing the installment of a buffalo-proof fence for over 8,000 acres (which ultimately cost $15,000). 

In 1907, Mr. Frank Rush began his long tenure as superintendent of the Preserve.  That same year, the name of the facility was changed to Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve.  Mr. Rush received the first shipment of 15 bison on October 9, 1907.  The herd thrived, doubling in size in five years and obtaining a six-fold increase in ten years.  In 1921, Supervisor Rush recommended distribution of twenty bull buffalo, noting that there was no longer any danger of the species becoming extinct.  Subsequently, annual programs to improve the herd and maintain it at an optimum size resulted in donations and sales of many hundreds of bison.  Other species, in addition to buffalo, were placed in the Preserve including partridge, elk, white-tailed deer, antelope, wild turkeys, grouse, fish and longhorn cattle.  Only those species native to the area were developed.

In 1935, the Preserve transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to the Bureau of Biological Survey and renamed the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.  Since that time, the same name has been kept for the facility although three administrative changes have been implemented.  In 1939, the Bureau of Biological Survey was transferred from the Agriculture Department to the Interior Department and in 1940 the Bureau was combined with the Bureau of Fisheries to become the Fish and Wildlife Service.  A combination of the Service with the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in 1956 placed the Refuge under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to serving as a wildlife refuge, the Wichita Mountains facility has fulfilled other purposes since its beginning.  Cattlemen received permits to graze cattle on specified pastures within the area.  The severe drought of the 1930's necessitated withdrawal of this privilege in order to preserve the range.  Personnel from the Fort Sill Army base, which is adjacent to the Refuge, have been permitted to use the area for bivouac sites and training maneuvers for many years.  An effort by the military in the 1950's to annex 10,500 acres of the Refuge to be used as a missile range resulted in joint use of the southern portion of the area.  Although the title to the land remains with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Defense is allowed an artillery buffer zone from which the public is excluded. 

Accessioned by the National Archives in 1980, these records are part of the Records of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Record Group 22, and cover the period from 1899 to 1976.  Among the records are administrative subject files, biological correspondence and research files, engineering records and public relations files.  The biological files contain significant materials such as mammal lists, bird lists, plant lists, herd records of bison and original information about plants and animals native to the region.  Related records are in RG 95, Records of the Forest Service.

Records of Superintendent

The Superintendent held the primary responsibility for the entire management of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge including game and range management. After 1937, a biologist was appointed to assist the Superintendent. 

Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Subject Files of the Superintendent, 1908 - 1970 642123 22-1
Correspondence Relating to Fort Sill, 1940 - 1968 721295 22-2
Transcript of Public Meeting and Correspondence Relating to an Elk Hunt in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, 1969 - 1969 749180 22-3
Annual Statistical and Narrative Reports, 1918 - 1941 749185 22-4
Reports, 1923 - 1943 765331 22-5
Diaries of Superintendents, Rangers, and Guards , 1906 - 1934 765336 22-6

Records of the Biologist

Prior to 1937, the Superintendent was responsible for biological duties and research at the Refuge in addition to all of his administrative duties; but after that year, a full-time staff member was appointed assist the Superintendent.

Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Correspondence and Research Files of Charles H. Rouse, Associate Biologist, 1937 - 1944 789100 22-7
Correspondence and Research Files of Frank B. McMurry, Junior Biologist, 1938 - 1943 789101 22-8
Correspondence and Research Files of Arthur F. Halloran, Wildlife Management Biologist, 1954 - 1969 789104 22-9
Field Notes of O. J. Murie, Biologist, 10/1935 - 11/1935 789125 22-10
Field Notes of Arthur F. Halloran, Associate Biologist, and Frank B. McMurry, Junior Biologist, 1938 - 1963 789128 22-11
Statistical Forms Relating to Animals and Fowl, 1926 - 1931 1166928 22-12
Forms Relating to Seeding Areas, 1910 - 1934 1167037 22-13
Forms Relating to Census Counts of Birds, Mammals, and Fish, 1930 - 1944 1167038 22-14

Engineering Records

Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Surveyors' Notes , 1901 - 1905 1167039 22-15
Correspondence Relating to Boundaries , 1906 - 1933 1167040 22-16
Records Relating to Construction Projects, 1915 - 1964 1167041 22-17
Engineers' Field Notes, 1933 - 1940 1167042 22-18
Construction Files for Mount Scott Road, 1931 - 1936 2305993 22-19
Records Relating to Projects Funded by the Works Projects Administration , 1935 - 1941 1167045 22-20
Narrative Reports Relating to Projects Funded by the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1936 - 1941 1167048 22-21


Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Reference Papers Relating to National Forests, 1902 - 1904 1167043 22-22
Bulletins and Circulars, 1905 - 1906 2314529 22-23
Reference Maps, 1905 - 1905 2314533 22-24
Resources Records Relating to Forestry, 1902 - 1944 2314540 22-25
Technical Pamphlets, 1901 - 1940 2314738 22-26
"The Service Survey", 1933 - 1945 2314922 22-27
Wildlife Leaflets, 1936 - 1963 2314987 22-28

Public Relations Files

Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Public Relations Files, 1928 - 1938 2315003 22-29
Reference Files, 1939 - 1974 2315010 22-30
Historical Files of Edna Sater, 1939 - 1968 2315013 22-31
Records Relating to Briefing Information, 1978 - 1978 2315015 22-32

Administrative Records

Series Title NARA ID Local Identifier
Grazing and Branding Records, 1907 - 1919 2315017 22-33
Office Records of Sales and Permits, 1951 - 1970 2315019 22-34
Grazing Permits, 1909 - 1923 2315020 22-35
Special Use Permits, 1909 - 1923 2315023 22-36
Claims and Related Correspondence, 1904 - 1935 2315029 22-37
National Forest Travelers' Registers, 1932 - 1932 2315035 22-38
Allotment and Expenditure Records, 1907 - 1960 2315031 22-39
Investment Records, 1931 - 1936 2315037 22-40
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