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Information on Victor Daniels is confusing and sketchy, and the following is my summation of what has been generally reported in various books, articles, and such:

Profiles on Chief Thunder Cloud have him born Victor Daniels on April 12, 1899 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and he was the oldest of nine children and a full-blooded Cherokee. Supposedly, he received his public schooling in Texas and Arizona, and studied (mining?) for two years at the University of Arizona. Prior to entering films, he worked on cattle ranches, was a mining foreman, a guide, boxer, rodeo performer, and even did a tour performing Indian songs and dances. Daniels entered films as a stunt man around 1929, and doubled for many of the top stars.

However, biographies on Hollywood film personalities were often incorrect or exaggerated, and developed more for the benefit of the studios or the performer.

In checking the background of Victor Daniels, I have been able to determine / not determine the following:

 If he was born circa 1899, his correct birth place would be Indian Territory or Oklahoma Territory as Oklahoma did not become a state until 1907. In most of the records at the bottom of this webpage, Daniels lists Oklahoma as his birth location ... except for his Social Security application which has Santa Cruz County, Arizona.

 In May, 1998, the Office of the Registrar at the University of Arizona kindly checked their databases which contain student names back to the initial opening of the school. They were unable to find any attendance record for Victor Daniels ... and they did check several spelling variations.

 In 1998, I obtained a copy of Daniels' death certificate from the Ventura County Recorder (California). Under the first name / last name field on the death certificate is: Chief Thunder Cloud AKA Victor Daniels; no middle name is listed. Date and birth place is April 12, 1899 in Oklahoma. Daniels' father is listed as "Joseph Mahawa", but there is no entry for his mother's name. He had surgery on November 30, 1955 for stomach cancer at the General Hospital, Ventura County, California. He was hospitalized for thirteen days and passed away at the hospital on December 1, 1955. The name of Daniels' wife is Frances (Daniels married Frances Courtright in 1933). Their home address was Corrigan Ranch, Route 1, Santa Susanna, California.

 Thinking that Daniels may have registered at the University of Arizona using his father's surname, I asked the Registrar to re-check their student database for a last name of "Mahawa" or "Mahewa". Again, there were no matches.

 I had hopes that we would be able to obtain more on Daniels' birth place and Cherokee lineage. Martha Redus is an expert in Cherokee Indian genealogy and has the "Cherokee Cousins" website.  Martha volunteered to see if she could find any information on Daniels. She checked records at the National Archives branch in Atlanta, and looked for Daniels in the index to the 1900 US census of Indian Territory (eastern Oklahoma) and Oklahoma Territory (western Oklahoma) as well as the 1910 US census of Oklahoma (which became a state in 1907). She also checked the Dawes Roll and the Miller Roll. Martha was unable to find any reference to the elusive Victor Daniels / Chief Thunder Cloud.

Martha referred me to a Cherokee expert located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and his e-mail response to me says (quote) " ... I have not been able to find any information in Cherokee records on Victor DANIELS. There are many DANIELS in the Cherokee Nation, however. My guess is that he is of another tribe, rather than Cherokee, at least his enrollment." (Sad to report that Cherokee Indian genealogy expert Martha Redus passed away on June 3, 2002.)

 My opinion follows on the issue of whether Victor Daniels was or was not Cherokee. Back in those ol' days of Hollywood westerns, the production people simply wanted "Indians" whenever they had a film requiring those roles.  And those "Indians" could be real or players with makeup. At that time, no one cared whether a person playing an Indian role was Cherokee or from another tribe ... all they had to do is "look/act the part". Thus, there would be no reason for Daniels to fib about his Cherokee lineage since that would not be important to his film bosses ... all they wanted was an "Indian", and he fit that bill. However, we'll probably never confirm that Daniels was Cherokee.

 In late July, 1998, western film fan Minard Coons visited my website, and we exchanged some e-mails. He was friends with Ray "Crash" Corrigan and Max Terhune, and both of these western performers had been members of Republic's Three Mesquiteers and Monogram's Range Busters. Additionally, Corrigan was the owner of the Corriganville movie ranch, where thousands of films and TV shows were made (like the Range Busters' films, the Columbia JUNGLE JIM series and TV shows SKY KING and THE ADVENTURES OF RIN TIN TIN).

Minard confirmed that Chief Thunder Cloud was one of the Hollywood screen veterans who were performing/helping at Corriganville when it was open to the public.  Max Terhune was another that worked there. This is the reason that the death certificate of Daniels has a Corrigan Ranch home address (since he lived on the Corriganville premises). Later, make sure you visit the Trail Blazers and Corriganville Movie Ranch sections on the Old Corral.

Minard searched through his extensive picture collection and found the following action scene from one of the staged shoot-em-ups that entertained audiences at the Corriganville movie ranch.


On it's own, this fight scene isn't important ... but when you enlarge the small sign hanging off the roof directly above the hitchin' post, you find "CHIEF THUNDERCLOUD'S PICTURES Here".

This further confirms that Victor Daniels worked for Ray "Crash" Corrigan and Corriganville where he operated the photo shop and sold Indian memorabilia, pictures, etc.  In early December, 1998, Ed Phillips sent me an e-mail.  He had talked to some of the folks that used to work at Corriganville and confirmed that Daniels ran the photo shop and lived on the movie ranch.


(Courtesy of Minard Coons)


 In early July, 1998, I sent a US Mail letter to Tommy Corrigan (Ray Corrigan's son), who has a restaurant in Thousand Oaks, California. I asked whether he had any remembrances or pictures of Daniels working at the movie ranch. However, that letter went un-answered. (Sad to report that Tom Corrigan passed away on March 14, 2018.)

 In March, 1999, Larry Blanks and I connected via e-mail.  Larry's buddy, Clarence Schwab, visited Corriganville as a child and had some pictures of Chief Thunder Cloud working at Corriganville. One of the photos is below, and shows Ray "Crash" Corrigan and his pal Chief Thunder Cloud corralling the bank robbers in one of the action-packed shows staged for the visitors at the movie ranch. Date is probably circa 1953.



(Courtesy of Clarence Schwab and Larry Blanks)


 Norman George lives in Oklahoma and e-mailed with some info on Victor Daniels in October, 1999: "... can confirm a few things for you. We lived in Ventura County (Oxnard) from 1952 until I began my military career in 1963. I have many fond memories of weekend visits to Corriganville in Chatsworth. I recall one visit (I was only about 7 years old at the time) when my Grandfather, a full-blood Seneca Indian (born 1862?) was with us. This would have been around 1953. Gramps was way up there in age, but didn't act or appear more than late 50s - early 60s. I did go to the photo concession that Victor Daniels was running there at the time and got an autographed photo of him. Later in the day, Thunder Cloud closed his concession temporarily to go to the western saloon (it was fully operational then) and have a cold beer. He spied Gramps. Both knew they had something in common and they sat together for quite some time, talking. It was so long ago, I cannot remember all that was said, but I do remember distinctly Daniels stating that he was Cherokee, with some German, Scotch, and Irish in his background ... so not full blooded Cherokee Indian. This could be the nature of the problem in tracing his Cherokee heritage. My Grandfather was full blood Seneca, yet I have encountered MANY problems tracing his heritage, since, unlike depicted in movies and novels, the Indians did travel from tribe to tribe ... my Gramps having lived with the Menomonee and Cheyenne among others at various times."


On the left is a mini-bio of Daniels that I found in March, 1999 while rummaging through some movie pressbooks.  This is from the pressbook for THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1939) serial.

Other biographies have have Daniels as Cherokee, but this pressbook biography states his Muscogee tribal heritage. It also includes a mention of his time at the University of Arizona, (and which we were unable to find any records on him from that school). If he did attend the University of Arizona at Tucson, he did so under a different name.

How much of this is true versus studio publicity ... I dunno.



In June, 1999, I obtained a copy of Daniels' application for a Social Security number (under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)). Chief Thunder Cloud / American name of Victor Daniels applied on January 12, 1937 and identifies himself as "Cherokee Indian". He was born April 12, 1899 in "Santa Rita Mountains, San Cruse County, 75 miles SE of Tucson, Arizona". Parents were Jesus F. Daniels and Tomaca Daniels. (San Cruse County is Santa Cruz County, Arizona.)



On the trail of Chief Thunder Cloud / Victor Daniels ... since 1998.
Current status: still searching.
Last update: December 7, 2018
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Fold3 Military Records, Arizona Department of Health Services, death certificate, Social Security application, California Death Index, newspapers, and other sources provide more on Victor Daniels and family.

In various records, Daniels was consistent in identifying Oklahoma as his birth location. Yet on his 1937 Social Security application, he lists Santa Cruz County, Arizona. And there's confusion on his birth date - in many records, he was born March 12, 1899. But his Social Security application and death certificate have April 12, 1899.

He was married twice. His first wife was Mildred Ann Turner (1907 - 1993). They tied the knot in 1925 and had two sons, Victor (1926-2006) and Norman (1927-1999). In 1933, he married Frances Courtright (1901 - 1982), and they were together through his death in 1955.

Several interesting things in his 1925 marriage license and the 1926 and 1927 birth certificates of sons Victor and Norman. He is "Victor Vasquez" in that 1925 marriage license. And in that marriage license and the birth certificates of his two sons, his occupation is "Plasterer". He becomes an "Actor - theatre" in the 1930 census.
Victor's parents ... and early records. But no Victor Daniels.

There are several records from the early 1900s for Jesus Daniel and his wife Tomasa / Tomas Acuna / Tomasa Acuna. They were living in Arizona for the 1900 and 1910 census and married in Tucson in 1902.

There is no "Victor Daniel / Daniels". But there is a son named Leonardo born circa 1897.

  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in San Xavier Precinct, Papago town, Pima, Arizona Territory are 40 year old Jesus Daniel (born Mexico; occupation "Day Laborer"), his 20 year old wife Tomasa Daniel (born Mexico), 3 year old son Leonardo (born Arizona), newborn daughter Guadalupe (born Arizona), and 45 year old brother Guadalupe (born Mexico). They've had two children, and two children are still living: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9VC-V81
  • 1910 census summary - and the census takers worksheet on Family Search and Ancestry.com is in poor shape and difficult to read. Living in Oracle, Pinal County, Arizona are 52 year old Jesus Daniel (born Mexico; occupation "Laborer ???"), his 30 year old wife Tomas Acuna Daniel (born Arizona), ? year old son Leonardo (born Arizona), 10 year old daughter Guadalupe (born Arizona), 4 year old daughter Maria (born Arizona), and newborn son Pascual (born Arizona). They've been married for 14 years and had 8 children and 4 children are still living: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MVVZ-PX8
  • Marriage application, ledger, and license on the March 19, 1902 marriage of 43 year old Jesus Daniel and 22 year old Tomasa Acuna in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona:
    Application / marriage notice: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQ2J-7HZ
    Register / ledger: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQK1-8VW
    Marriage license: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QG1X-N96Q

His parents ... and more confusion.

Based on the above census and marriage records, Jesus Daniels was born circa 1858 - 1860, and Tomasa was circa 1880.

The State of Arizona has death certificates on Jesus Daniel passing in 1941 and Tomasa Daniel in 1960. But their birth years on the death certificates are not in synch with the above census and marriage records:

  • The Arizona Department of Health Services has a death certificate for 105 year old Jesus Daniel. He was born December 24, 1836 in Sonora, Arizona. He and wife Tomasa Daniel were living in Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, and he passed away on December 6, 1941 from heart problems and senility. His occupation was "Laborer"; parents were Francisco Daniel (born Mexico) and Perez Valuezula (born Mexico). You can view / download the birth certificate in pdf format by doing a search for Jesus Daniel who died in 1941 at: http://genealogy.az.gov/
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services has a death certificate for 93 year old Tomasa Daniel. She was born June 15, 1864 in Mexico and passed away from heart problems and senility on February 27, 1960. She was widowed and resided in Litchfield Park, Maricopa County, Arizona. You can view / download the birth certificate in pdf format by doing a search for Tomasa Daniel who died in 1960 at: http://genealogy.az.gov/

Ancestry.com had Phoenix, Arizona City Directories from the early 1930s showing Tomassa / Tomasa as a widow:

  • 1930 - Tomassa Daniel (widow of Jesus) is living at 1630 East Jackson, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 1931 - Tomasa Daniels (widow of Jesus) is living at 274 South Hibbert, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 1932 - Tomasa Daniels is living at 274 South Hibbert, Phoenix, Arizona.
Victor's sister Anita:

Over the years, I've had contacts with family members who indicate that Chief Thunder Cloud had a sister named Anita and her married name was Flores.

To date, I've not found any records which tie Victor to a sister named Anita.

  • The Arizona Department of Health Services has a (handwritten) birth certificate and amended / corrected record for Anita Daniel (not Daniels) who was born October 6, 1911 in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona Territory. Parents were 54 year old Jesus Daniel (born Sonora; occupation "Minero") and 31 year old Tomaso Acuna (born Arizona; occupation "Washerwoman"). Her parent's names closely match that of Victor's parents in his Social Security application shown above. The record was amended and there's some handwritten notes - her original birth name was Marianna Daniel but was changed to Anita Daniel and the date of change appears to be May, 1968. You can view / download the birth certificate in pdf format by doing a search for Anita Daniel, born 1911, at: http://genealogy.az.gov/
  • California Death Index has a record for Anita Daniel Flores, born October 6, 1911 in Arizona, mother's maiden maiden name of Acuna, and she passed away in the Los Angeles area on June 8, 1983: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP6X-QG8
Records on Victor Daniels begin in the mid 1920s:

  • May 26, 1925 Los Angeles marriage license of 25 year old Victor Vasquez (born Oklahoma) and 17 year old Mildred Turner (born Missouri). He is Indian; occupation is "Plasterer"; and his parents were Sava Vasquez (born Oklahoma) and Telmas Daniels (born Oklahoma). Mildred was a minor and her father Clarence A. Turner had to approve the marriage, and this was the first marriage for both parties: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8NZ-RGZ
  • May 7, 1926 Los Angeles birth certificate of Victor Junior Daniels, born to 27 year old Victor Daniels (Cherokee Indian; born Oklahoma) and 18 year old Mildred Turner (born Missouri). Victor's occupation is "Plasterer": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGL7-2VBF
  • September 5, 1927 Los Angeles birth certificate of Norman Daniels, born to 28 year old Victor Daniels (Indian; born Oklahoma) and 20 year old Mildred Turner (born Missouri). Victor's occupation is "Plasterer": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGLW-ZFW2
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 33 year old ThunderCloud (born Oklahoma) is a roomer in the home of Emma J. Weatherford at 1642 1/2 Cahuenga Avenue, Los Angeles. He is single, "Full blood Cherokee", born in Oklahoma, and occupation is "Actor - theatre". He also identifies himself as a World War I veteran: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCVM-W99
  • April 26, 1933 marriage license of 34 year old Victor Daniels (born Oklahoma; occupation "Actor") and 30 year old Frances Courtright (born Tennessee; occupation "Actress") in Santa Ana, Orange County, California. His parents were Joseph Daniels (born Oklahoma) and Thomasha Vascuihas (born Oklahoma): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8FD-BYL
  • Social Security Application (shown above) dated January 12, 1937 for Chief Thunder Cloud / American name of Victor Daniels. He identifies himself as "Cherokee Indian" and born April 12, 1899 in "Santa Rita Mountains, San Cruse County, 75 miles SE of Tucson, Arizona". Parents were Jesus F. Daniels and Tomaca Daniels. He was living in Los Angeles and working for RKO at the time of the application. (San Cruse County is Santa Cruz County, Arizona.)
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 41 year old Victor Daniels (born Oklahoma) and 36 year old wife Frances (born Tennessee) are renting at 821 South Grand View Street, Los Angeles, and they lived in Los Angeles in 1935. Victor identifies himself as Indian; occupation is "Actor - Movie industry"; and in 1939, he worked 25 weeks and earned $2590.00. No occupation listed for Frances. The Daniels have a lodger named Otto Brezina whose occupation is "Carpenter - Movie studio": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9C4-HD3
  • 1940 census for Daniels first wife Mildred Turner who has re-married, and sons Victor and Norman are living with her. Owning their home at 6745 Alvena Avenue, San Antonio Township, Los Angeles County, California are 33 year old Russell Shuler (born Illinois), his 31 year old wife Mildred (born Oklahoma), 13 year old stepson Victor Daniels (born California) and 12 year old stepson Norman Daniels (born California): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9W8-RBT
  • Ancestry had a 1941 Los Angeles, California City Directory - Victor Daniels (actor) and wife Frances are living at 821 Grand View, Los Angeles.
  • World War II draft registration - could not find on Family Search, but Fold3 Military Records had his WW2 draft registration - 42 year old Victor Daniels was born March 12, 1899 in Musako, Oklahoma. He is Indian, 6 feet, 1 inches tall, and weighs 205 pounds. He and wife live at 821 South Grandview, Los Angeles, and his occupation is "Free Lance Motion Picture Actor". (I did check an Oklahoma towns, cities and counties listing and "Musako, Oklahoma" was not found.)
  • Ventura County, California death certificate - 56 year old Chief Thunder Cloud AKA Victor Daniels was born April 12, 1899 in Oklahoma. His father was "Joseph Mahawa", but no entry for his mother's name. He was not a military veteran. Was hospitalized at the General Hospital, Ventura County, California for 13 days and had surgery on November 30, 1955 for stomach cancer. He passed away at the hospital on December 1, 1955 and the cause of death was "shock following operation". Daniels' wife is listed as Frances (Daniels married Frances Courtright in 1933), and their home address was Corrigan Ranch, Route 1, Santa Susanna, California. Burial at Forest Lawn - Glendale, California.
  • Confirmation from Forest Lawn:  "Victor Daniels is entombed in Crypt 7355, Corridor of Mercy, Fuschia Terrace, in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Glendale."
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate, and there are dual records, one for Victor Daniels and another for Thundercloud Daniels. Both have him born April 12, 1899 in Oklahoma, father's last name was Mahawa, and he passed away on December 1, 1955 in the Ventura, California area:
         Thundercloud Daniels: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPFR-K3Y
         Victor Daniels: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP7B-W3K
  • UPI and AP syndicated death notices appeared in many December 2-3, 1955 newspapers including the New York Times, and his name was listed as Victor Daniels and Victor Daniel (without the ending S).
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Chief Thunder Cloud is interred at Forest Lawn - Glendale: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/2081/chief-thundercloud

Daniels' second wife, Frances C. Courtright Daniels (1901 - 1982), is also interred at Forest Lawn - Glendale: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85375388/frances-daniels


Lots of confusion with the names of his parents.

In the records above and below, there are various - and UNIQUE names - for his mother and father.

Father's name:

Sava Vasquez
Jesus Daniel
Jesus F. Daniels
Joseph Daniels
Joseph Mahawa
Mother's name:

Tomaso Acuna
Telmas Daniels
Thomasha Vascuihas
Tomaca Daniels
Tomassa Daniel
Victor's two sons, Victor and Norman:

Victor:

Norman:

  • September 5, 1927 Los Angeles birth certificate of Norman Daniels, born to 28 year old Victor Daniels (Indian; born Oklahoma) and 20 year old Mildred Turner (born Missouri). Victor's occupation is "Plasterer": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGLW-ZFW2
  • Ancestry.com had the U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File - Norman Daniels was born September 5, 1927 in Los Angeles and passed away August 7, 1999 in Kerby, Josephine County, Oregon. Appears he did two enlistments in the Navy, the first in 1944-1948 and the second in 1950-1954.
  • Social Security Death Index for 72 year old Norman Daniels - he was born September 5, 1927 in California and passed away August 7, 1999 in Josephine County, Oregon: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JGWV-ZZN
Speculation that Victor Daniels / Chief Thunder Cloud may be "Leonardo" who was born circa 1897 to Jesus and Tomasa Daniel.

Chief Thunder Cloud was tallish - on his World War II draft registration, Victor Daniels was 6 feet, 1 inches in height and 205 pounds.

There was speculation that Victor Daniels may be Leonardo, the son of Jesus and Tomasa Daniel. Not so based on recent information finds.

Appears Leonardo got into trouble and wound up in prison in 1919. Police and prison records indicate that he was 5 feet, 3 3/8 inches tall and 141 pounds, significantly smaller in height and weight from Victor Daniels / Chief TC.

  • Ancestry.com had several police / prison records:
    Mug shot of prisoner 32600, L. Acuna / Leonardo Acuna Daniel. He's 21 years old and born in Mexico.
    A prison log has Convict 32600 as L. Acuna / true name of Leonardo A. Daniel. He's 21 years old, born in Mexico, and began serving a 1-10 year sentence for Grand Larceny on April 30, 1919.
    Details with the mug shot and prison registry indicate he was 5 feet, 3 3/8 inches tall and 141 pounds.
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 22 year old Lenardo Acuna was born about 1898 in Mexico; he is single; and a prisoner at San Quentin Prison, Marin County, California: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH7J-RVR
If anyone would like a copy of that Leonardo mug shot, send the Old Corral webmeister an e-mail.


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