The author of this book was born in Clay County, Indiana, on the 18th
day of March, 1863, and was raised in Indiana and Illinois. I came west
in the fall of 1881, and entered the Indian Territory at Cherokee City.
Cherokee City was a small health resort on the Arkansas line in the
Cherokee Country, eight miles north of Siloam Springs. I began work for
a cattleman by the name of Sam McFail. This was my first introduction to
the Indians and to the United States marshals.
I hadn't been at
work for this man but two days when he and his family were called to
Maysville, Ark., by the death of his mother. He took his whole family
with him and left me alone. His was the only white family living in that
part of the country. I had all kinds of wild ideas about the Indians,
and the first night I stand alone I was lonesome, and imagined
everything that a boy in my circumstances would be likely to imagine.
The next morning I was feeding cattle when a man rode up and wanted to
know if Sam had any cattle to sell. I told him I didn't know; that I was
a stranger there.
In the evening two men came and asked me the
same questions. While they were talking they both got down off their
horses and pretended to be fixing their saddle-blankets. Before I
suspected anything wrong they both had their six-shooters leveled on me
and told me I was a prisoner. One of them was a United States marshal by
the name of Andrews.
I asked them what was the matter, and why
they wanted me, and they both looked as mean as they could and said they
wanted me for murder. They said I had killed my brother-in-law up in
Missouri, and that they were going to take me back. I tried to explain,
but they would listen to nothing I said, so I thought they were outlaws
and wanted to steal some cattle or do some other kind of meanness.
One of them locked a trace chain about my leg and then asked me if I
wanted to get any of my clothes. I thought then of some letters I had
that I had received from home, and believed that if they were really
marshals that these letters would be worth something to me now, so I got
the letters and showed them to those fellows. They looked at them and
read them and after questioning me closely turned me loose, and I felt
Afterwards I became well acquainted with these men, and
Andrews was for a long time my best friend. They had been on the track
of a man who had killed his brother-in-law, and as I was a newcomer in
the country they had just arrested me on suspicion.
time on I got along very well until about the middle of April in '82,
when I hired to a man by the name of Carr and started from Benton
County, Arkansas, to Wyoming territory with a bunch of cattle. There
were in the party sixteen of us, including the foreman, and we had about
800 cattle. Except the foreman, we were all green hands. We came out
through Vinita, crossed the Osage line above Bartlesville, passed
through the Osage country, crossed the Arkansas River, and passed out
through the strip. We had had but little trouble up to this time, but we
had gone very slowly and the cattle had begun to mend up, and got so
they would stampede at night. Nearly every night there would come a big
storm, and we would have to work all night.
In those days what a
cowboy got to eat was very common, a piece of tough old bread, baked in
a skillet, a few pieces of what we called "sow bosom," a little grease
or gravy, and coffee strong enough to bear up an iron weight, that was
considered good enough for anybody to eat, and if we got that more than
twice a day we considered ourselves lucky.
There was a bunch of
outlaws living on Salt Fork. They would slip in at night and steal out a
bunch of cattle, then they would come around next day and want you to
give them a dollar a head to bring them back. A cattleman by the name of
Mills had told us about them, and we were therefore as careful as we
could be, but one night they slipped in and stole out about a hundred
head. Early in the morning the boss took ten of the men and started out
to hunt them down. They came soon upon the cabin and dugout. There was a
pasture with a cliff on one side and a creek bank on the other. I was
not with the party; I had been left at the camp with some of the others
to take care of the balance of the cattle. Some trees had been cut down
on each side of the bottom to make a sort of brush fence, and inside
this pasture the cattle were found. The foreman undertook to ride
through the gap, when two men came out and forbade him from doing so,
claiming that it was their field. They told him if he wanted his cattle
he must give them a dollar a head and they would bring them in. After
there had been some words Carr turned and went around the hollow with
his men and then over the bluff to where they could see the cattle. Then
they went down another hollow, through the brush fence, and took
possession of the cattle. Thereupon the thieves came upon them and there
was a shooting scrape, in which two of the boys were wounded. One of
them, named Weaver, afterwards died from the effects of his wound in the
fall of 1905.
I am satisfied that I met one of these same
thieves at the land office in Tahlequah, Ind. Ter. He was a half breed
Cherokee, and had just returned from the penitentiary. I did not let him
know anything about this scrape, but I listened to his talk until I was
satisfied that he was one of the very same men.
This man Carr
got a cattleman by the name of Miller and some more cowboys and went
back and burned up the cabin and destroyed everything that could be
found, and they stuck up notices on the trees warning the thieves what
they might expect next time.
We then started on west, carrying
the wounded boys in the wagon. One of them soon got well, but the other
one was placed on the stage and sent up into Kansas, where he could be
sent back home. I afterwards heard, however, that he died before he
I soon got enough of this kind of living. I told
the foreman that he could get another hand in my place, and he picked up
a couple of Mexicans. So when we came to the trail leading south from
Caldwell, Kan., to Fort Reno, and met a bunch of freighters, I went to
Port Reno, where I staid a short time.
There I fell in love with
a Cheyenne girl. Her father wanted two ponies for her, so I tried to get
her to run off with me, but this she refused to do. Then I fell in with
an outfit that had a bunch of ponies going to Missouri. This was about
the toughest outfit that I ever struck. It was about the first of August
that I landed back in Vinita. We had about three hundred head of ponies
when we left Fort Reno and about four hundred when we reached Vinita.
There were but six of us in all, and two or three would stay with the
herd while the others would be out "rustling" as they called it. I was
afraid to stay with these fellows, and was also afraid to quit them
until we got to Vinita, where I demanded my pay and gave up my job.
I then staid around Vinita a few days until I fell in with some
white people from Texas who claimed to be Indians looking for a chance
to make a place. I told them of the hills that I had seen southwest of
Vinita, and we located nine miles southwest of the town on the -eth day
of August, 1882, on what was afterwards known as the Billings cow ranch.
I didn't stay long with this man, however, but went to work at
the U bar 2 ranch, which was on White Oak between Billings' and Vinita.
It was owned by Dave Allen, a white man, who was at that time married to
a Cherokee woman. Allen himself lived in Vinita, but he had a
brother-in-law who was exactly my age, and one of the best-looking
Cherokee boys I ever saw. At that time he and I used to stay on the
ranch together. His name was Cude Gillis, and his present address is
Catoosa, Ind. Ter. We used to have a pretty good time batching together.
We would get along very well in the day time, but in the night when
there would come up big storms we would both be nearly scared to death,
and, putting a big quilt over our heads, would run out to the creek bank
and stay there until the storm would blow over both getting wringing wet
before we went back into the house. There were many cyclones in those
days, but the country was thinly settled, and there was never much
We hunted more for watermelons than we did for
cattle. There was no place to go for amusement, except about five miles
northwest, where, on the edge of the Shawnee hills, there was a stomp
ground where the Shawnee and Delaware Indians used to go at that season
of the year and camp and dance for weeks at a time. We would go there
once in a while and see four or five hundred of the old "stick-shines"
as we called them, dressed in full paint and feathers and stomping
around and acting-the fool. But we became acquainted with some of the
young folks until we would enjoy ourselves very much.
we would have to gather cattle and get them in shape to ship. Then we
would have to work very hard for a few days. Afterwards, though, we
would have a good time again. Allen would come out on Sundays and tell
us good stories and would sing and pick an old banjo that we had about
the place. I never thought then that he would ever be the cowboy
preacher of the Indian Territory. He had been raised in Memphis, Tenn.,
by wealthy parents, but, like many other wealthy families of the south,
the Allen family had been broken up by the Civil War. Allen was an
inspector in the Confederate Army in the department of Texas and Indian
Territory during the rebellion. This threw him in contact with the
Indians and cowboys. He had a good education and could adapt himself to
every condition. He had a peculiar way about him of being able to compel
the respect of even the toughest men by simply using kind words.
Vinita at that time was a very small place, with probably five or
six hundred inhabitants. The population was composed of cowboys and
gamblers from everywhere, and of Shawnee, Delaware and Cherokee Indians.
There was not a brick building in town. There were probably half a dozen
stores, two blacksmith shops, several gambling houses, and a Methodist
Winter came, and, growing tired of the cold, windy
prairies, I decided to go back to the Spavinaw hills. About the middle
of November I settled up, and, catching a wagon in Vinita that had come
in from Arkansas with apples, I soon found myself back among the flint
hills. I put up with a man that everybody called "Uncle Jeff" Beck. He
was a good old man and had quite a fortune. He had lived for 47 years in
one door-yard. His place was on the road from Maysville to Tahlequah,
and just outside of his door-yard was a grave-yard where some thirty odd
men lay who had died with their boots on. They were buried there as many
as eight at a time.
"Uncle Jeff" had a son about the same age as
I, and we used to take in all the dances and other gatherings. One night
we went to a dance at the house of a white man who had married an Indian
woman. I was soon talking with the owner of the house, trying to get his
idea of civilization. He said there was no harm in a good dance, and
that he always had a good one. Noticing that the lamp was sitting on a
high shelf I mentioned the fact. He said he always set it up high that
way so that if any of the boys happened to want to take a shot at it
none of the ladies would be hurt. I had not been there long when Henry
came, called me to one side, and said he wanted me to chip in a quarter
to buy a white mule. On inquiry I found that a white mule was colloquial
for a pint of white whisky, and that the whisky-peddler was called a
mule man. They all wore big six-shooters, which they called their
killing-machines. There are but two tunes that the fiddlers ever play in
the country; one of them is Indian Glory, or Black Jack Grove, The words
to it are as follows:
"I am goin' to see the widder,
And black my boots and git 'er;
can git 'er, yah, ho!
I have killed another nigger,
I first took
sight, then pulled the trigger.
Yah, ho, done come a nigger."
The words to the other are:
"Saddle old Spike, I tell you,
Spike, he be a race horse,
Saddle old Spike and give me my gun,
The marshals is a-coming, and I've got to run,
I tell you."
These are the only two tunes that were recognized as being up-to-date in
the country. The fiddler would generally sit in the corner on a wooden
stool with his face turned to the wall, while a girl or a boy would
usually sit on a back log and with two small sticks or knitting needles
play second by beating on the strings just above the left hand of the
fiddler. This made good enough music for a king. On the occasion of
which I am telling, it wasn't long till Henry wanted another quarter for
another white mule. I told him that we might get in trouble; that we had
better not drink so much. Just then a bunch of long-haired Indians got
around me, stuck their killing-machines up in my face, showed me that
they were loaded plumb to the muzzle, and told me not to be a bit
scared; that they would stay with me no matter what happened. After this
experience I cheerfully gave up another quarter. I then tried to slip
off, but every time I got out-doors they gathered around me and told me
how they loved me, how they would fight for me, and then how much they
wanted another quarter. Then they would all take another drink.
At first we had good order, but towards the last they danced with their
hats on, turned their belts around so that their six-shooters were in
front, tucked their pants inside their boots, and those who had taken
off their spurs put them back on. Our fiddler was a long-haired Indian
called Apple Jack. Occasionally one of the boys, would call Apple Jack
out of the house and give him a drink, and then the fiddle would take on
new life, and then, with heels popping, spurs jingling and skirts
crackling, they would loose themselves to the fancy of the mad music of
All at once there came in a long, lean Arkansaw
looking fellow, the mule man. He had sold all his white mules, and after
searching all about until he was satisfied there were no marshals there
he came ' in the house and began to take part in the dance. He asked
Pennison to call one set in Arkansaw style, and asked me to take part
with him. I selected a little Cherokee girl, Rosie Wolf. He said that
when he said to swing your partners, to swing them by the waist. Then it
was swing your partners, change partners and swing, and then swing your
partners. In the change I ran against a big fat old Indian girl, threw
my arm around her waist and tried to swing her, but she was too heavy
for me. Then I took both hands and managed to swing her around, then
crippled back to my partner. Just then he howled, "We are all done now.
You can all go home and kill old Towser if he goes bow-wow." Bang, went
the guns, and out went the lights, Indians yelling, guns popping. I
almost ruined my shins running over the wood-pile, but I got to my horse
and went down that hill with the bridle-rein in one hand and my hat in
the other, and didn't draw a good breath until 1 got home. Henry didn't
come in until almost daylight. He said they had a good time after I
left. An Indian by the name of Little Father was killed and two or three
others had their heads pretty badly beaten up.
This was about
the roughest dance I went to, but the old man always claimed that there
was no harm in a good dance. I was very glad to see the red buds in
bloom once more, and to know that the grass was getting green again, as
I had rather be on the range in front of a herd of stampeded cattle and
hear the roar of their feet and see the lightning playing on their
horns, and know that if my pony fell with me I would be run over, than
to be at one of those dances in which there is no harm.
the middle of April I put in appearance in Vinita, where I met Dave
Allen, my old boss. He was glad to see me, and said that I had come just
in time. He was going to start in a few days to meet a big herd of
cattle coming up from Texas, which he expected to meet in the Seminole
country. So we made ready and were off in a few days. The first night we
stopped near Claremore, on the Verdigris River. One of the boys had
lived in this neighborhood before, and he told me' of a widow woman down
on the river who had two grown daughters, so we shipped off after supper
and went down there. At that time the Creeks were having a little civil
war. Spy Eachy and Schoatey were at war over the chieftaincy. Spy Eachy
had all the Indians, while Schoatey had all the Negroes and mixed
bloods, and they were having some pretty hot times. The only talk you
heard anywhere was about this Creek war.
A sixteenth Creek Negro
named Dick Glass was a terror to the country. He had just made a raid
through that country, and came very near stirring up a war between the
Cherokees and Creeks. It was reported that he had been seen in that
neighborhood with a bunch of Creek Negroes, and when we got to the widow
woman's house where the girls were, the first thing they told us was a
big, scary story about Dick Glass. But we had our killing machines with
us, and we assured the girls that they were not in the least danger as
long as we were there. We told them that we did not ask for any better
luck than to kill a bunch of Creek niggers. We believed it, too, and the
girls looked as if they also believed it. So, after we had talked until
we grew tired, and after the old lady had told us it was bed-time, my
partner and I lay down to sleep on the porch. It was a hewed log house
with a porch facing east. The moon was just rising. We piled up some
benches and a box or two on the edge of the porch and then lay down to
sleep. These folks had a pet deer that had a habit of going into the
woods with the wild deer and staying for a week at a time, and then,
when he came in, he generally had a fight with the dogs. They had about
half a dozen dogs that staid around in the yard.
All of a sudden
we were wakened from sleep by the noise of the dogs barking, and there
they were, coming right for the porch. And down went our pile of boxes
and benches, and something jumped right over them and ran into the
house, and every dog doing his best in the way of howling. We jumped up,
and I thought the whole place was full of Creek niggers. So around the
house we went, pell-mell. The smoke house door was standing open, and my
partner bolted into it, while I ran around behind. I thought I could
hear horses running, and was afraid to go any farther, but I soon
discovered that the sound I had heard was my heart, not horses' hoofs.
I was just in the act of throwing up my hands and howling for
mercy when the good woman came and called us and said it was nothing,
only Billy, the pet deer, that had come in. We went back, but we didn't
go to sleep. We left next morning before it was daylight, and we never
went back there again.
We got back to where Allen and his men
were and started on our way. We were soon in the Creek nation, and
crossed the Arkansas River at Wealaka Mission. From there we headed
towards Wewoka, never seeing any sign of a war party until we had gone
75 miles. Then, across a little river, we began to meet bunches of armed
men. Everybody we met warned us to be on the lookout. We boys were
scared and wanted to stop, Taut Allen always told us some story of how
he had out maneuvered big parties of wild Indians, and so reassured us.
Sometimes he would tell such a fearful tale that the hair would stand up
on our heads.
One day we came to a little country store, and
were told that a hard battle had been fought just ahead of us. But Allen
was in a hurry to get on and meet his cattle, so we kept on. We had gone
but a short distance when we met a party of Indians. They rode up close,
then stopped, and one of their men rode forward. Allen went to meet him.
"Who are you?" asked the Indian, in a friendly manner.
"Cowboys," was the answer.
"Where are you from?"
Cherokee country," replied Allen.
"What are you doing here?" asked
"We are going to Wewoka to meet a bunch of cattle."
Then the Indian motioned to the balance of his men and they all came up.
They told us that they were Spy Eachy's men and that Schoatey's men were
on ahead of us. They sent one man with us until we had passed the hne.
We saw lots of Indians, but we never did get to see the main body. After
we had gone to the outside lines this man that was with us turned back,
and we asked him how far it was to where we could stay all night. He
told us that there was a cow ranch not far ahead, but never a cow ranch
did we see.
Finally we came to a creek, and as we were afraid to
travel on the road in the dark we went off the road and traveled down
the creek a ways. We listened a long time, and could hear nothing save
the soft breeze that stirred the tops of the trees. We rode cautiously
for a short distance further, then stopped, and decided to make the best
of it for the night. For a while we sat -quietly, holding the horses
while they ate. Then we decided to make a little fire down in the creek
bottom, having in a measure forgotten the danger we were in. We had tied
some of our horses out, and hobbled the others, had unpacked our camp
outfit and we preparing to get a bite of something to eat.
had a little bunch of wood in his hands and I had just started a fire. I
saw Dave drop the wood and whirl around, jumping behind a big tree. I
started to run. The other boys were out with the horses. Just then a
small body of men dashed up on horse-back. We were all hidden. They
could see no one, for I had scattered the fire. Then one man said, in a
"Throw up your hands!"
"Don't shoot then," said
"Who are you and where are you going?"' asked the man, riding
up to the bank and trying to see Dave.
"We are cowboys, going to
Wewoka," answered Dave.
"Well, this is no place for you tonight.
Come and go with me," commanded the unknown man.
"Who are you?"
"Is that you, Charley?"
asked Dave, eagerly.
"Yes, this is Charley McIntosh. What's your
"Dave Allen," he said, as he stepped out from behind the
"Well, come and go with me," said the lieutenant. So Allen
called us all in and we had a big laugh and got our horses together.
Allen and McIntosh were old friends. We found that we had camped in
about a quarter of a mile of Schoatey's line. We had followed down the
creek almost to the big road from Okmulgee to Wewoka, and had camped
within a hundred yards of it without knowing it. The soldiers took us to
Schoatey's headquarters. After McIntosh had explained who we were the
chief asked, in a rough voice.
"Well, what do you want here?"
"The first thing we want is our suppers," answered Dave.
Schoatey, "you must stay around my camp and don't go away from my tent
tonight. Have as little to say as you can to these people, and I will
see you again in the morning."
He and his officers slept in a
tent apart, while we slept in a cook tent. There was little attention
paid to us until the next morning, when I saw more Negroes at one time
that I have ever seen before or since. Some had shot-guns, some had
muskets, and some had Winchesters.
They sent men to guard us
until we had passed their lines. The guards told us many things about
the battle that had been fought. A few days before our visit, they said,
one bunch of their men had Spy Eachy cut off from his army, and had shot
his horse from under him. They had shot at him over a hundred times,
never hitting him. A few of his men saw his perilous condition, dashed
back and picked him up. They said Spy Eachy had a needle gun, and every
time it smoked a man fell.
We rode across the battle field and
saw some dead horses, but the men had all been buried. We went on our
way without further trouble, and met the cattle about ten miles south of
Wewoka. We turned back, going over much the same ground we had just
traveled. The soldiers, however, had got in with the Creeks and stopped
the war. The government counted the votes and Schoatey was declared
chief. Spy Eachy was not elected chief for several years afterwards,
though he finally gained the coveted honor.
We went along
without further trouble. Sometimes the cattle would stampede at night
and then we would have a little excitement for a while. We soon shaped
our course more to the north. We came to the Arkansas River close to
Tulsa. The river was swimming-deep, and where it wasn't swimming there
was quick-sand. We camped all night on the west side. Early in the
morning we started the cattle across. It was a very foolish thing for a
cattleman to do, as the sun was shining full in the faces of the cattle,
glistening on the water until it blinded their eyes. The cattle began
bellowing, and floated down stream. We swam in on our horses and tried
to turn them, but the cattle began going round and round. We swam around
with them, and tried to drag them out one at a time, but when we would
get one out and turn it loose it would plunge back into the river again.
They were climbing on top of one another and bellowing until our ears
were almost split with the noise.
It looked as if they would all
drown. Our horses had given out, and it looked like foolishness to try
to do anything more. Just below the place where we had tried to ford the
river made a short bend, and just below it a sand-bar ran out. The
cattle were washed upon the bar, and we finally got them started out.
This bar was all that saved the cattle; if it had not been there the
whole herd would have been lost.
From Tulsa we came up along the
Frisco railroad, that had just been extended to Sapulpa from Vinita the
year before. The towns of Tulsa and Claremore and Chelsea were just
being started. We reached Vinita about the last of June.
fall another bunch of cattle, 800 head, were brought up. These had the X
brand on them and belonged to old man Wills. They were all put in with
the cattle belonging to the Kimberly Cattle company, and directly after
they arrived Grayson Wills, the old man's son, came up. This was the
first time I ever saw him. He was a great big stout fellow, full of fun,
who added new life to the camp.
Everything went along peaceably
until late in the fall, when I took a notion to get married. On the 8th
day of December, 1883, I was married to Mrs. Area A. Parks, a widow
woman with two small girls. She was a half breed Cherokee, had a good
farm, and had been educated in the female seminary in Tahlequah. I gave
up my job as cowboy, and as game was abundant in the hills that winter I
put in my •time hunting and getting used to married life.
Shortly after we had been married my wife took a notion that she wanted
to see her brother a half-breed Cherokee with gray eyes and sandy hair
who tried his best to be a full blood. He even tried to wear his hair
long, but there was too much of the Irish in him, and the hair would not
stay straight, but would curl up over his hat, so that when he was
wearing a hat all you could see of it was the top. His hair was as long
as a man's arm when it was wet and straightened out, but when it was dry
it curled up, making his head look as big as a half bushel. His wife was
an Osage woman, weighing about 200 pounds. She was a very pleasant
woman, when she was asleep or in good humor. This, however, didn't
happen very often.
My wife told me the best she could about them
before we started on our visit. She said she didn't like his wife, but
that he was the only brother she had, and she couldn't help wanting to
go to see him now and then. His name was John and his wife's was Ellen.
John believed in witches. Among the Indians he was regarded as a
witch-killer. He believed that every now and then the devil would come
and take up his abode in his wife. He never found fault with her, but
went to work to cast the devil out. When his efforts were unsuccessful
he would go up into the hills where an old Indian lived that never
When we reached John's house Ellen was having one of
those spells. She had taken a butcher knife and run John off the place.
John, having done all he could to get back on the place, and having met
with failure, had gore for help. This time the old witch-killer told him
to go home and get on his old sorrel horse that he had ridden in the
Civil war, an old horse about thirty years old that he had ridden when
he went courting Ellen. He had kept the horse for old times' sake.
The performance was about as follows: They lived in a house on the
south side of a branch and the stables and barn were on the north side.
The house was a small log cabin with a rail fence in front about knee
high. Behind the house on the south and north sides was a small garden,
where the cockle-burrs were as high as a man's head when riding
horseback. John slipped up, got the old horse and saddled him. Everybody
carried a six-shooter in those days, and John was no exception. He put
spurs to the old horse, and before any of us knew it he was coming at
full speed. He jumped the fence, jerked out his six-shooter, bang, bang,
and around the house he went into the cockle-burr patch. When he had
reached the middle of it the old horse fell down. Ellen thought he had
got drunk or had gone crazy, and before she discovered what was the
matter her long black hair became full of cockle-burrs, and John's hair
was well-filled too. Ellen fell over and began crying, and John ran to
claim her for his own sweet angel. About that time, however, she got
hold of a club and made for John, and John couldn't get away, so they
clinched, and down they went in a pile. Area and I ran to separate them.
We carried Ellen into the house and talked to her, and promised to puir
the cockle-burrs out of her hair next morning. The next day was
Christmas, and while they were getting breakfast there was a quart can
full of sorghum molasses sitting on the table. John was sitting on the
wood box: holding the baby, when all at once Ellen grabbed up the
molasses can and upset it on his head, at the same time giving him a
shampoo. In the scuffle they overturned the stove. Area and I interfered
again and made peace, but Ellen went out of doors and cussed until it
clouded up and began to snow. Area and I got afraid that the creek would
rise and prevent us from reaching home, so we started at once.
The last time I saw John was in Tahlequah more than twenty years
afterwards. I think he had some of those same cockle-burrs in his hair.
This was one of the worst winters I ever saw. The cattle all
came near dying, so near that next spring out of about sixteen hundred
head of cattle Allen rounded up only about two hundred and fifty, which
he sold to Grayson Wills, and with which the latter started a ranch near
White Oak switch, where he now lives, and where he has made a fortune.
Allen moved to Vinita and in the following summer was converted
to God and became a Presbyterian preacher, continuing in the ministry
the rest of his valuable life. He was the means of turning many souls to
God. He was among the best preachers in the Indian Territory and was
probably the widest-known. He was always found where he could do the
most good, and was loved by all who knew him.
Among his last
noted sermons was the memorial sermon for Caroline Houston. The story
goes that Sam Houston, the hero of Texas, came to Fort Smith, Ark., in
an early day and became acquainted with the family of John Rogers, who
was a slave-holder, and owned a big farm in the Arkansas River bottom
just above Fort Smith. Houston fell in love, so the story goes, with
Caroline Rogers' daughter, who was a college graduate. They were
married, but she lived only a short time. After her death he erected a
monument over her grave and then, in a few days, disappeared. He was
next heard of in Texas.
In 1904 the government took up Caroline
Houston's remains, and the body was reinterred in the United States
cemetery at Fort Gibson, Ind. Ter. None of the preachers knew to which
church she had belonged, or indeed whether she had ever been baptized.
All were slow to volunteer to conduct, the services, so Allen was called
upon and asked to conduct the service. He consented at once. When the
appointed day came, there was a large crowd in attendance at the grave,
where the service was held. All the other preachers were there, waiting
to see how Allen would come out. When the time had come he stepped
forward, and, after a few introductory remarks, said:
"Gentlemen and ladies, brothers and sisters, before us we have the
remains of Caroline Houston, who was once the daughter of John Rogers.
From this family have descended some of our most noted statesmen and
faithful Christians. We know nothing personally about this woman, but
that she must have been raised by one of the best families of Cherokee
people, and if she commanded the love and respect of the great Sam
Houston she must have been a very beautiful woman, as only the beautiful
attract the attention of great men.
"Then, if she commanded that
love and respect, she must have been a good woman, as only a good woman
maintains the love and respect of a great man. Then, as she was raised
by the noble John Rogers, we believe that the right principles were
instilled into her mind at the right time. Then why should we hesitate
to ask God to bless her, who gave his Son to redeem the world?"
From this point he went on and preached one of the best funeral services
ever preached in that part of the country, and when he had finished all
the preachers who had remained to hear him came up and gave him their
Allen was married in Fort Gibson to Miss Mary Price, a
Cherokee woman, in 1870, and he died there in 1905. May peace be to his
I generally had a good garden, and used to sell
vegetables to the adjoining ranches. One day I took over a sackful of
onions and Irish potatoes to a neighbor. He said he wouldn't buy onions
or Irish potatoes either unless they were carried in separate sacks. I
asked him why, and he said the onions would get in the potatoes' eyes.
After that I was more careful.
Both men on one of these ranches
had their families in Vinita, and one summer they hired a rather silly
woman named Martha to do their cooking. Martha had a little girl named
Louisa. Martha wanted to get married. One of the partners, a cranky old
man, was a widower, but he had a nice family in town. Bud and I,
therefore, told Martha that if she would clean up Louisa and keep the
place clean she could win the' old cowman's heart. After that we had no
trouble with dirt.
There was an old white woman in the
neighborhood who lived with a Negro and claimed to be a fortune teller.
She came down often and told Martha's fortune. She always told Martha
that she was going to be married, and so every time she left she carried
away coffee, flour, meat and other eatables. Bud and I soon found this
out. We didn't want to tell our employers, but so felt it was our duty
to stop the traffic. We knew poor Martha wanted to get married badly
enough to the cow man, but we knew it was impossible.
We had no
love for the old woman, but we didn't want to hurt her, for she was a
woman. However, something had to be done. We had tackled all kinds of
propositions and we never had failed, and we didn't propose to fail at
this. One Sunday, therefore, we went over to the ranch, early, as usual,
and found the fortune teller there. We staid around and she staid
around. She staid until after dinner time, and we soon decided that we
would have no dinner unless something was done. We considered this an
insult, for we hardly ever missed a good dinner on Sunday at this place.
So we went out back behind the barn, where we found an old setting hen
that had set too long to hatch, we thought. We decided it was a bad wind
that blew no good. If those eggs wouldn't hatch they might be put to a
better use. The old fortune teller had an old bay horse that she worked
to a one-horse cart. When she started out through the hills even the
birds in the trees would forget to warble their songs and would peep out
in wide-eyed wonder at this creaking vehicle. We took out the eggs and
raised up the quilt that she had doubled up for a cushion for the seat.
We deposited the eggs carefully in the center of the seat, and then as
carefully replaced the quilt. Then we went back and hid, waiting for the
old lady to leave'
After they were satisfied that there was no
one around, Bud and 1 had pretended to go home, they performed the
fortune-telling act. Then they came out to the cart with a little
coffee, sugar, flour and meat, put it in the cart, and unhitched the old
bay horse. Then the fortune teller got in and took her seat. Immediately
she got up again, and looked all around as if she thought the cart was
breaking. Then she sat down again, hit the old horse and started to
leave. Soon she stopped the horse and got up again, finally discovering
what was the matter. Immediately she began cussing, and kept it up until
the atmosphere had turned blue for two miles around. Bud and I,
there-fore, began to fear that it would rain and hurried home. The old
woman was never seen about the ranch again.
At about that time I
was summoned to sit on a jury at the Dog Creek court house. We were
trying a Negro for stealing a horse. The district attorney had
introduced testimony showing clearly that the Negro had stolen the
horse. Then came the time for the defendant's testimony. His lawyer
arose and claimed that the Negro was a citizen of the United States and
not an Indian, and that the court therefore had no jurisdiction over
him. The old judge got up, pounded the bench with both fists, and swore
by the eternal he had jurisdiction over one side of the case and,
likewise by the eternal, he was going to jurisdict the other side also.
''Come on with your witnesses, gentlemen,' he said.
But that was
just the trouble; the defense had no witnesses. The case was submitted
to the jury, and the jury without leaving the room found the Negro
guilty of stealing a horse. The judge rose to his feet and asked the
Negro if he had anything to say.
'I have nothing to say' replied
the culprit, "only to ask that you have mercy on me."
have mercy on your soul' said the judge, "but not much on your hide. It
is the judgment of this court that the sheriff of this district will
cause fifty lashes to be struck on the bare back of this prisoner with
good hickory witches. This is the smallest penalty provided by law for
There was some rustling about in the room, and
then the prisoner's lawyer got up and made application for a new trial.
He claimed that he had been taken by surprise and had not had time to
prepare his case. Just then he heard somebody scream, and looking out
into the yard saw the Negro strung up and the sheriff applying the
The lawyer sat down. "Go ahead," said the judge;
"let us hear what you have to say about it." Before anything could be
done, however, the Negro's punishment had been completed.
not burden you further with my experiences, but will give you the
experiences of several others, which will be more interesting to you. I
made mention of these facts merely in order to show you how we spent the
early days in Indian Territory and Oklahoma.
Before closing I
wish to say that in 1889 1 was overtaken by misfortune, losing my wife.
I again married in 1890, my second wife also being a Cherokee. She died
in 1891. On the 10th day of May, 1893, I was again married, this time to
Miss Peachy Ellen Fagon, another Cherokee woman, who is still living.
She has been in bad health for several years, and we have put in most of
the time traveling about over Indian Territory and Oklahoma, in the hope
that she might regain her health. Probably by this time I know more
people and more of the country than any other one man in the twin
territories. Believing that this knowledge will be worth something to
people seeking homes in the new country, I have decided to put my
memories into a book.
When I speak of any part of this country
it is not hearsay; it is what I actually know from my own experience. I
own a good farm twelve miles southwest of Vinita, with over 300 acres in
it, and we invite you all to stop and see us.
James L. Puckett,
Vinita, Ind. Ter.
History of Oklahoma, Indian
Territory and Homeseeker's Guide
Source: History of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and Homeseeker's
guide, By J. L. and Ellen Puckett, Vinita, Oklahoma, Chieftain
Publishing Company, 1906