Often while researching one topic I unexpectedly discover information about another. This happened again when I stumbled across a 1912 article that said a Carlisle Indian School alumnus was granted a patent and was the first American Indian to hold a patent. Nicholas Longfeather, Apache, studied forestry at Syracuse University after leaving Carlisle. The patent was said to cover “a preparation for doctoring trees.” The article also said that Nick was profitably engaged in his profession of forestry in a large southern city.
This discovery whetted my appetite for more information about Mr. Longfeather. A couple of quick searches located some more information about him. A 1911 Atlanta Georgian article announced that the firm of Longfeather & Shepard, experts in forestry and landscape, as well as doctors of diseased trees, was opening an office in the Argyle Bldg at 345 Peachtree St. He was working on a project at the Adair estate and liked Atlanta so well that he was going to live there. The article also said that he was born in a wigwam and had a most interesting history but did not share that history.
The Adair estate meant Forrest Adair’s 15,082 sq ft mansion, 2,800 sq ft carriage house and swimming pool (the second one in Atlanta) on 15 acres of gardens and lawns in the new Druid Hills subdivision, the last one designed by Frederick Olmstead before his death in 1903. A February 1911 Syracuse Herald ad for Longfeather & Shepard described themselves as “CARLISLE AND YALE, EXPERTS IN forestry, landscape architecture” located at Syracuse University.
According to Ford R. Bynum in Clara: Mrs. Henry Ford, Nick was brought up to analyze the condition of the trees at the Ford home, Fair Lane, in Dearborn, MI. Someone – a student perhaps – looking for an interesting project might want to research Nicholas Longfeather’s life.