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 better.
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.
From that 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 reached home.
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 damage done.
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.
Sometimes 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 church.
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;
I 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 Apple Jack.
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.
About 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?”
“From the Cherokee country,” replied Allen.
“What are you doing here?” asked the Indian.
“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.
Dave 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 loud voice,
“Throw up your hands!”
“Don’t shoot then,” said Dave.
“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?” asked Allen.
“Is that you, Charley?” asked Dave, eagerly.
“Yes, this is Charley McIntosh. What’s your name?”
“Dave Allen,” he said, as he stepped out from behind the tree.
“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.
“Well” said 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.
That 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 failed.
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 hands.
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 weary ashes!
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.”
‘I will 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 horse-stealing.”
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 hickory withes.
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.
I will 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.
Source: Puckett, J. L. and Ellen. History of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and Homeseeker’s guide. Vinita, Oklahoma, Chieftain Publishing Company, 1906.