<American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center

American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center

Shorey W. Ross's Memories of the Cherokee Nation [a machine-readable transcription]

Shorey W. Ross's Memories of the Cherokee Nation [a machine readable transcription}

Carolyn S. Conway and Kelly E. Houston

Table of Contents

Shoney W. Ross's Memories of the Cherokee Nation

Edited by Carolyn S. Conway and Kelly E. Houston

Shoney W. Ross's Memories of the Cherokee Nation

Biography by Kelly E. Houston

"The literature of the Cherokees and the State loses many gems because of the natural reticence of one of Nature's noblemen; Shorey W. Ross." This statement by Emmet Starr was true until 1837, when many of Ross's "gems" were taken down, most by his sister Elizabeth, and preserved in the Indian-Pioneer history, a WPA oral history project undertaken during the depression.

Emmet Starr, in his History of the Cherokee Indians, called Shorey W. Ross the "ablest literary individual of the Cherokee Nation." A descendent of Chief John Ross, Shorey was born near Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation on March 9, 1871; the oldest of six children. The son of Lewis Anderson and Nellie Potts Ross, Shorey attended private schools in his area including the Presbyterian mission school at Park Hill and the Cherokee Male Seminary. Ross earned respect for writing beginning in his teens with his work for the Indian Arrow and continued with editorials for The Daily Oklahoman among other newspapers. Ross's historical contributions include many recollections for publications such as The Chronicles of Oklahoma and Indian and Pioneer History. Ross also spent a portion of his life as a school teacher. By the time of his death in 1960, Ross had become noted for his numerous literary contributions.

The recollections of Shorey W. Ross are valuable to the study of Cherokee and Oklahoma history. Many of these recollections are compiled here for the use of future generations. Ross's sister Elizabeth took down his statements for inclusion in the Indian-Pioneer History Collection.

Editor's Note

Sources for the selections are as indicated. Source texts have been followed faithfully except for silent emendations to correct obvious printing errors and to regularize the form of attributions. No attempt, however, has been made to follow typographical idiosyncrasies or to produce a facsimile edition. All footnotes are the editor's unless otherwise indicated.


Little Rock, Arkansas

May 2005

A Bad Omen

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

January 19, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In Civil War times the Union Indian Brigade was in command of Colonel William A. Philips, a native of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, where he was born in 1824. William A. Philips was brought to the United States as a youth. He lived a while in Ohio, but removed to Kansas Territory and was there during the exciting period preceding the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1857 he became the founder of the present city of Salina, Kansas. Upon formation of the Union Indian Brigade he became its commander, performing the duties of a Brigadier General, though holding the rank of colonel until the close of the conflict. After the return of peace and during a number of years afterward, Colonel Philips served the Cherokees in the capacity of attorney at Washington, D. C.

In connection with the service of Colonel Philips in the Civil War period many anecdotes were once related by his acquaintances in the Cherokee Nation. One of such stories related to an incident which occurred rather early in the wartime, that is, after the organization of the Union Indian Brigade.

Having occasion to spend a night in what was then the Saline District of the Cherokee Nation, Colonel Philips found accommodation at the home of a Cherokee woman who has been referred to as "old Mrs. Conseen." Her given name cannot be learned, but she was the mother of Frank Conseen, a Cherokee Union Soldier, who served as one of Colonel Philips' orderlies. During a number of years after the close of the War, Frank Conseen served as a member of the National Council, or as a member of the Cherokee Senate, from Saline District.

Upon sitting down at the table for breakfast on the morning after he had arrived at the Conseen home, Colonel Philips remarked that he had experienced a peculiar dream during the night. The dream, he said, was that he suddenly lost one of his teeth. Old Mrs. Conseen, as was related, immediately became downcast in countenance and said to her guest that the dream portended trouble. Something bad had occurred, the old woman asserted, and advised Colonel Philips that he should return to his home in Kansas. But he apparently gave little thought to the matter and soon rode away with his men.

Some days later a message arrived to the effect that the oldest son of Colonel Philips, a youth of perhaps fourteen years of age, had been overtaken by a blizzard in Kansas and was frozen to death. The youth, it was related, attempted to overtake a party of men who had started out to give chase to some wolves. The pony ridden by the boy had not sufficient speed to come up with the party, members of which were unaware that the boy was following them. Then the blizzard arose and in the freezing wind the boy lost his life.

Old Mrs. Conseen, when she heard the account of the tragedy, was convinced that the "sign," that is the dream concerning the tooth, was given Colonel Philips as a warning that tragedy had occurred in his home. Many of the old time Indian people were firm believers in signs and omens. The above incident was related by Miss E. Jane Ross, Park Hill, long ago deceased.

The above story was told to Elizabeth Ross by her brother S. W. Ross of Park Hill, Oklahoma.

A Magic Stone

Interview with S.W. Ross

Interviewer, Elizabeth Ross

November 9, 1937

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

When a large party composed of warriors of the eastern and western Cherokee Nations advanced against the Osages in May, 1818, there came a day when it seemed that a battle would soon ensue. The Osages were known to be but a short distance away but eventually they (the Osages) retired and several days elapsed before the battle was waged. But on the occasion when the battle was not fought a number of the Cherokees hurried to the medicine man or conjurer who accompanied the warriors and requested that their fortunes be forecast. In the event they were going to be killed or wounded the warriors wished to be informed in advance.

The medicine man complied with the request of the warriors and called upon each to present himself in turn. As each man came forward, the medicine man pressed his thumbnail against a small, white and almost transparent stone. In case the surface of the stone remained clear under pressure from the thumb of the medicine man, the meaning was that the warrior in whose behalf the conjuring was done would not be injured during the progress of battle. But in the event a small, blood-red streak of thread-like size appeared upon the white surface the meaning was that the warrior would be badly wounded or fall in action. Those for whom the stone remained clear naturally felt more cheerful than did those for whom the red streak appeared.

The hotly contested battle in which the Osages and Cherokees engaged several days after the fortunes of the warriors were told, was often spoken of by those who had been participants in after years. But as the Cherokee alphabet was not yet in existence, no written account of the contest was made. Consequently no one knows whether all those warriors for whom a streak appeared in the conjure stone were slain in the progress of the battle or whether some or all of them escaped.

In ancient times the priests of the Cherokee religion are said to have possessed "white stones" in which leaping flames were sometimes visible, but after extinction of the priesthood the white stones seem to have disappeared altogether. But that similar stones were known to the Cherokee of nearly one hundred and twenty years ago would seem to indicate that some of the original stones may have been in existence.

The spot upon which the medicine man stood when he indicated to the group of Cherokee warriors the fate of each in battle is in a rugged section of the present Cookson township, Cherokee County.

In seeking relics among the Cherokees in recent years no one, so far as is known, has ever found one of the conjure stones. What disposition was made of those once the property of the medicine men is not known.

Note: This article is based upon an account given by Archibald Campbell, Park Hill, once a speaker of the Cherokee Council, to the Reverend W. A. Duncan, when the latter was a young man in the early forties of the last century.

Authority: S. W. Ross, Park Hill, Oklahoma

Afraid of Sassafras

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The odd and strange superstition that burning of sassafras wood brings bad luck or misfortune is yet prevalent in localities of northeastern Oklahoma. Somewhat recently a man of good education and much intelligence had occasion to purchase several ricks of stove wood. Upon going in his wagon to the place where the wood had been corded this man discovered a number of sticks which had been split from a sassafras tree. He at once collected all the sassafras wood and cast it aside, leaving it to decay upon the ground unless utilized by some other person who held no superstitious belief concerning that variety of wood. Neither the man in question, nor others who have exhibited similar beliefs, are able to give any explanation concerning the origin of the belief but the use of the wood would be productive of ill fortune they say. "The old people," say some, "never believed in burning sassafras wood," though it is probable the old people could have given no tangible reason, or any explanation of their opposition to the use of the wood. However, there are others who have no hesitancy in using sassafras wood, especially when it is well seasoned, for it creates a satisfactory fire and is useful in kindling fires on cold mornings.

Battle of Claremont Mounds

By S. W. Ross

Welling, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

One of the most eventful incidents in Cherokee history is the battle of Claremont Mounds in 1828. Of this fierce contest between Cherokees and Osages many have written, but left unsaid numerous facts of importance, for the reason, no doubt, that the writers were not in possession of such facts.

In the beginning let us go back into the history of the Cherokees for some four-score and ten years and more, including the years from about 1807 to 1819. We find that during these years numbers of Cherokees left the old Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi and journeying west, made a settlement on the Arkansas River in the vicinity of the Dardanelle Rock. These early Indian settlers were known as the Western Cherokees, while the much larger number remaining in the old nation were denominated the Eastern Cherokees.

By the terms of a treaty with the government the Western Cherokees gave up their lands down on the Arkansas for land farther west in the vast primeval region later known as the Indian Territory. When the Western Cherokees moved into their new country they found themselves confronted and harassed by the Osages, who laid claim to all the country west of the Grand and Arkansas rivers, who regarded the Cherokees as intruders, waxed defiant and gave fight to the newcomers. Owing to their comparatively small number of fighting men, the Cherokees saw that they would not be able to gain a victory over their nomadic enemies. So they fell back some distance east, held a council and decided to ask their countrymen east of the Mississippi for assistance. Messengers were then at once dispatched all the way to the far away old Eastern Cherokee Nation asking for aid in subduing the Osages. Assistance was readily granted and soon a strong war party was on its way west. As this party proceeded on its long journey many interesting incidents transpired and the route of the warriors could be traced for years thereafter by the Cherokee names of places where camps had been made or where something of more than ordinary interest had taken place.

At one point on the Arkansas a party of the Cherokees were sitting and talking of a dangerous looking whirlpool in the river near a rocky bluff. The opinion was generally expressed that no man could swim through the turbulent water. Quietly one of the young men slipped away, then soon dashed through the crowd minus his clothing, and with a loud whoop, sprang headlong into the foaming whirlpool. He dived deeply and came up far down stream behind a bend of the river. Long his companions gazed into the water, but no trace of the rash warrior was to be seen. They then gave him up for lost, when clothed and uninjured, the supposed dead man reappeared in their midst. The spot where this spectacular leap was made was thereafter known in the Cherokee language as "The place where he jumped in the river."

Again, at another place, a braggart who had been loudly telling of his bravery, when it appeared that a battle was imminent suddenly became very sick. When it became known that he had made himself sick by chewing and swallowing tobacco, thinking no doubt to escape taking a part in the fight, which, however, did not occur. This place also received a name indicating the cause of the fellow's sudden illness.

Yet again, the medicine man of the party, as the Osages neared, began to conjure so as to ascertain who of the Cherokees would fall in battle. The medicine man used a small stone, thin, of a whitish color and almost transparent. He held this stone against his thumbnail, and in case the warrior was to die, a small blood red streak it is averred, appeared on the surface of the stone. Otherwise the stone was clear. The spot where the medicine man performed this service for the fighting men was long known as the "place where he conjured."

At a point not far distant from the present flourishing city of Muskogee and quite near the site of the old Confederate Fort Davis of early civil war days, the Osages were encountered, and a skirmish ensued, but the Osages fell back and continued to do so until the Claremont Mounds were reached. Upon the largest of these mounds a stand was made, the last stand that the Osages ever made against the Cherokees.

Grand and picturesque, the lofty mounds stand out in the broad prairies of Rogers county--in the days of the Cherokee Nation in what was known as the Cooweescoowee District--and from miles away their imposing outlines may be seen. Not far distant is the Verdigris river, its course outlined by the deciduous trees along its banks--a most striking scene. By some it has been claimed that the mounds derive their name from "Chief Claremore" of the Osages, but when it is known that early French explorers away back in the years when what was one day destined to become the Indian Territory was embraced in Louisiana Territory gave the name Claremont Mounds--they are so designated in old geographies--it seems that "Claremore" is only a corruption of the original French name and that "Chief Claremore," like some other heroes of early days, is mythical, at least as to name.

Anyway, on the largest of these great prairie hills the feathered and painted Osages in war paraphernalia assembled and waited the coming of the Cherokees. These hardy warriors, many of whom had fought under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the fearful campaigns of the war of 1812, came on in confidence and courage. By a well-executed movement they soon came to close quarters and the battle was on. In the fierce contest the warriors met in hand to hand struggles. War whoops and cries of defiance rang out over broad and far-stretching prairies and the blood of many a warrior reddened the slopes and summit of the great mound, while the clash of tomahawks and knives, and the crack of flintlock rifles added to the din of battle. Hard the Osages fought, but the war god was against them and at length with their war chief dead and many warriors forever silenced, they fled and retreated toward the west and stopped not until far away in the forest and mountains of the region which is yet the Osage country. Prominent among the leaders of the Cherokees at the great battle was the noted "Captain Dutch"--how he received his appellation no one knows--a lean-faced man of aquiline nose and spare build, whose portrait by Catlin shows a warrior of grim determination and indomitable will. Another noted fighter was Archibald Campbell, at one time Assistant Chief of the Cherokee Nation who in his old age was quite jealous of his fighting record and bravery. Asked by a distinguished pioneer minister of the old days whether Rev. John F. Boot, a noted Cherokee minister, who was also a member of the Cherokee war party, was not "a very brave man," Campbell somewhat sourly replied, "He was no braver than me."

The Cherokees received no further molestation from the Osages nor from any other tribe following the battle, and soon the members of the Western "Old Settler" Cherokees were settled in their homes along the Verdigris and on the prairies stretching away in every direction from the mounds. To this day an occasional tomahawk or rusted fragment of knife may be picked up on the old battle ground, and like many another old scene of battle, it is thought by some of the superstitiously inclined that spectral warriors sometimes wander "in the noon of the night" across the summit and down the slopes of Claremont Mounds.

At the time of the battle the Osages were strong in numbers and had many warriors and some have wondered why it was that the relatively small number of Cherokees were able to so signally defeat their enemies. The answer is easy. The Osages, a tribe of the west, fought after the manner prevalent among them from early times, knowing naught of military skill and trusting to number and strength to win them the victory. The Cherokees, on the other hand, though most of them were full blood Indians, had a larger knowledge of the art of fighting according to military standards than those unfamiliar with their history would suppose. Being in contact with the white race from early colonial times, sometimes fighting against the settlers, often as allies engaging with the colonists to punish other hostile Indian tribes, the Cherokees were no mean antagonists to be encountered by trained soldiers of the white race, and when they set out to fight the Osages they made use of the military knowledge gained on many a hard fought field east of the Mississippi.

Big Persimmon Tree

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Indian Pioneer History-S-149

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 6, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

One of the largest and tallest persimmon trees, in what is now Cherokee county, stood for unknown years near the banks of the Illinois river, about two miles northeast of the Park Hill Post Office. The tree was in the low-lying bottom land, about two hundred yards north of a rocky bluff on the south. That its age was very great was evidenced by its unusual height and size.

Old residents of the locality bordering upon the Illinois River recalled of having noticed the big persimmon tree in the early years of the Tahlequah district of the Cherokee Nation. In all probability, the tree would have stood during many years of the future had it not been felled before the year of 1936. The trunk was sawn into three sections so that it could be hauled to a sawmill. At a distance of two feet from the ground, the stump of the old persimmon tree measured twenty-four inches in diameter. Two logs, each of which measured fourteen feet in length, and a third sixteen feet in length were secured from the trunk. The upper portion, more slender and covered with limbs, was not used, but its length, added to that of the three logs, approximated sixty-five feet. A persimmon tree sixty-five feet in height is very unusual. This tree stood alone, no other tree of the species being in its vicinity.

In the place where the limbs of this tree divided into a fork, nearly fifty feet above the ground, a large nest built by a hawk was visible for a considerable period. This nest was built of slender sticks and remained unaffected by weather conditions during several seasons.

In the vicinity of the persimmon tree, the ground lay level and smooth, covered in the spring and summer time with green grass, that is, in earlier years. In this grassy spot, beneath the shade of the large elm and hackberry trees was once a picnic ground, sometimes referred to as the "old May party ground," for the reason that the students of the Cherokee high schools held their annual Mayday celebration at the place on one or two occasions toward the close of the eighteen-seventies.

Only one other more than ordinarily tall and large persimmon tree has ever been known to have grown in the settlement along the Illinois River, east of the Park Hill Post Office. This other tree once stood where Barren Fork emptied into the Illinois River before its channel became changed following a high water stage, many years ago. This persimmon tree was apparently equally as tall and large as the tree in the bottom land of the Illinois River.

On uplands and in valleys, persimmon trees are numerous in sections of Cherokee County, but none of them are of extraordinary size nor more than ordinarily tall.

Boats Had Names

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator

November 29, 1937

Interview with S.W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There were two boats on the Illinois River during the eighteen hundreds which had distinctive names. One of these boats, the larger of the two, was a ferry boat which once plied the river near the confluence of the Barren Fork with the larger stream. The ferry boat, composed of yellow pine lumber, was built by George Keys, Senior, and was the property of Riley Keys, Junior, who lived in the vicinity of the present hamlet of Welling in Cherokee County. This ferry boat was given the name of the "Ada Archer" by its owner.

At the time Miss Ada Archer, member of a prominent family of the Cherokee Nation, was a member of the faculty of the Cherokee National Female Seminary, then situated in the Park Hill locality. The ferry boat was operated for several years at intervals.

The smaller boat was named the "D.H. Ross," for the editor of the "Cherokee Advocate" at Tahlequah. It was a skiff in which Caleb W. Starr, a compositor in the office of the Cherokee National Newspaper, and Samuel Schable, a German shoemaker of Tahlequah, made a trip down the Illinois into the Arkansas, and down that stream to the city of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The "D.H. Ross" was launched one morning at the old May party grounds on the bank of the Illinois, some two miles southeast of Tahlequah. The occupants of the skiff reached their destination in safety after spending a night in camp on the bank of the Illinois, some distance above the confluence of the Illinois with the Arkansas, near the present town of Gore. A full account of the trip was printed in the "Cherokee Advocate." When they camped for the night the travelers by water roasted some fish which they had encased in tenacious mud and placed in the fire. After reaching the Arkansas they made easy progress to Fort Smith, landing at the foot of Garrison Avenue. There was as yet no railroad connection with the Arkansas city and consequently the stream was not bridged. Those who visited Fort Smith in vehicles or horseback were ferried across.

No one familiar with long past history of traveling down the Illinois ever recalled that any other boats on that stream bore distinctive names. There were some boats upon the sides of which the names of their owners were painted, but no one else seems to have considered giving the name of a woman or of a man to any of the small crafts. And no one else so far as known, ever named a ferry boat, though such boats were in operation on the Illinois from an early period. The first ferry boat was built and placed in the waters of the river soon after the establishment of the Cherokee Nation in the present Oklahoma, in probability. The Illinois was frequently at too high a stage to be forded and as there was much travel from eastern points, as well as from western sections, the necessity of a ferry boat at a convenient point along the stream was realized and the traveling public accommodated.

The spot where the "Ada Archer" was launched is less than a half mile downstream from the present Frisco Railway bridge, and just above the "old mouth of the Barren Fork." This latter stream changed its channel some years ago and now enters the Illinois several hundred yards below its original confluence.

Boyles Memorial Church

An Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, March 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

During the 80's of the last century, there stood in the north part of Tahlequah a church which was called the Boyles Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church. This building had been erected through the efforts of Savelon S. Boyles in memory of a young son, William Boyles, who died at Tahlequah a comparatively short time before the church was built.

Savelon S. Boyles, a tall, long-bearded man, operated a blacksmith and wood-working and wagon-making shop for some years in Tahlequah. In Civil War days he had served in a Union regiment from Kansas. He married a Cherokee several years after the close of the Civil War and spent the rest of his life in Tahlequah, being a member of the G. A. R. post 1of Tahlequah and for a number of years a notary public. The church was built at a place not far from his home and place of business. It was a substantial wooden building with seating capacity for large congregations and was equipped with a good-sized bell, which hung in the belfry.

The membership of this church which was usually referred to as the "North Methodist Church," was fairly large for several years and there were several pastors who filled its pulpit before its final closing. Among the pastors whose names are now recalled by older residents of the city may be mentioned the Reverend G. T. Morrison, who, sometime after leaving Tahlequah, was charged with fatally poisoning his wife, in Texas, in which state he was tried and executed. It is remembered that Mrs. Morrison was a large, handsome woman of attractive personality. The Reverend C. P. Brewer, the Reverend Peter O. Matthews, and the Reverend Henry Cloud also served as pastors of this church. Of these men the Reverend Peter O. Matthews was of part Indian blood, member of a small Nation living in a distant section of the United States. This minister had served as a soldier in a Union regiment in the time of the Civil War. The Reverend Henry Cloud was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, who had attended the Cherokee National Orphan Asylum, at Salina. It is possible that there were some other pastors preceding those mentioned, but no one now recalls the name of any earlier pastors.

After some years, the membership of the Boyles Memorial Church became greatly reduced. Sunday school and church work were discontinued. No more pastors were called and the building stood vacant. Eventually the building was sold, and it was remodeled for use as a store house. The belfry was torn down, the building reduced in height and a new entrance built. Since then several persons have occupied the building, usually it has been grocers, though general merchandise has been sold there.

Few of the people of today know that the building, probably built of yellow pine lumber from sawmills in the Cherokee hills, was once a church. Few of those who once attended services within its walls now live in the vicinity of Tahlequah, and the majority, are probably dead. Savelon S. Boyles, who named the church and aided in its completion, has been dead for a number of years.

When the Boyles Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was built and completed, the north section of Tahlequah was sparsely populated and for a considerable period of time only a few business houses were operated in the vicinity. The church doors opened directly on the principal street, at the intersection of another street leading from east to west. There are now a number of business houses in the vicinity of the former church.

Braggs or Bragg Station

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In Indian Territory days there was an old man named Solomon Bragg, who lived in the Illinois District of the Cherokee Nation. This man built and operated a small grist mill near his home. In course of time a railroad was built down the Arkansas Valley, the Iron Mountain Railway, and one of the stations was established not far from the grist mill. This station was called Bragg Station in honor of Solomon Bragg and the name was retained for a number of years, but after a small town arose the name became, not Bragg, but Braggs.

On May 20, 1886, a post office was established in the store of John J. Patrick, who lived in the locality in which Bragg Station was later changed to Braggs. There are yet living a number of persons who remember the old miller, Solomon Bragg, for whom the place was really named. In bygone times, Braggs was the scene of a number of serious difficulties when men were shot to death at intervals. It was quite a trading point during many years and at this time is a place of considerable importance, with nice business buildings and residences.

Captain Moses Price

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator.

Dec. 1, 1937

An Interview With S. W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There are now living a few persons who personally recall the appearance of a man of a bygone time who was referred to as Captain Moses Price. Of medium height, spare of build, bewhiskered, Captain Price dropped in on his friends occasionally toward the close of the seventies and early in the eighties of the last century. This was in a section lying south and southeast of Tahlequah. Captain Price, whose home was not distant from the town of Fort Gibson, in a wooded region, made his trips about the country on horseback. No one recalls having seen him in a horse-drawn vehicle or afoot. Invariably he was seen mounted on his trusty bay horse.

Captain Price was a veteran of the Civil War. His title of Captain was genuine, he having commanded a company in the Union Indian Brigade, and he is said to have been a brave and dependable officer. During a portion of the Civil conflict he is related to have ridden a mule. So did Santa Anna, the noted Mexican general. In a hot contest one day an officer was conspicuous in the front line of battle, exhibiting both courage and daring. This officer is said upon reliable authority, to have been Captain Moses Price. He escaped serious injury upon the battle fields and was honorably mustered out at Fort Gibson on the last day of May, 1865.

In his youthful days Moses Price attended the historic Dwight Mission school near Sallisaw Creek, in the present Sequoyah County. In reminiscing on day, the Civil War veteran recalled a great and sudden rise of water in Sallisaw Creek. There had been much rainfall and finally it would seem that there was a cloud-burst among the valleys, for the streams with great suddenness rose to unprecedented depth and turbulence. The water came tumbling down, as Captain Price related, in two great "rolls" or vast waves, quite overflowing the corn field in the lower ground below the mission houses, and covering the pasture. With several of the other boys, Moses Price went into the water and caused the mission cows to swim to higher ground.

Greatly interested in deposits of valuable metals or minerals, Captain Price often talked interestingly about the lead which he declared existed in great quantity at several places in the Cherokee Nation. In the bottom of a stream in a rugged section the lead was of such high grade, he said, that a "gig" or fish spear would penetrate to a depth of an inch or so when thrown with force. Persons engaged in gigging fish sometimes missed the buffalo, trout or other fish, whereupon the "gig" became fast in the lead over which the waters of the stream flowed.

Captain Moses Price was an interesting talker. Seated near an open and glowing fireplace in winter time, he liked to smoke his clay pipe and recall and relate anecdotes concerning people and things of the long past years and seemed reluctant to retire for the night. He had personally known many of the notable men of the early days of the Cherokee Nation in the Indian Territory, as also of the Civil War period. Also he had knowledge of many of the customs of the native Cherokees, and was familiar with various incidents of more than ordinary interest and importance. Very strong physically, though of slender figure, Captain Price once lifted a 125-pound blacksmith's anvil in either hand and clanged the two heavy instruments together above his head, so he related in speaking of his muscular attainments when he was somewhat younger.

Cherokee Public Schools

An Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 28, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Public schools established and maintained at the expense of the Cherokee Nation were situated at various points in the nine districts of the Nation. In the beginning there were eleven schools established, but there was a gradual increase during following years. One of the first schools was placed in operation at Tahlequah in 1841. The first teachers were both white and Cherokee, but when a sufficient number of Cherokee citizens were available, they were given preference as teachers, except that white men or white women who were citizens by marriage received appointments. One of the early day white teachers was a Miss Esther Smith who had taught many years in the mission schools of the American Board among the Cherokees. Miss Smith once taught at Peavine School, in old Goingsnake District, now Adair County, after leaving the employ of the Missionary Board in the 1850s. When the Civil War was being fought, Miss Smith went to Fort Gibson 2 as a matter of safety and after some time was attacked by illness which proved fatal. She was buried in the grounds in which burials were made not greatly distant from the military post. The grave was not marked with an inscribed stone. Several years after the close of the War the present National Cemetery, east of Fort Gibson, was laid out and the graves of soldiers who had served in the United States Army were transferred to the new cemetery. The coffin of Miss Smith was among many which were taken to the cemetery and she now lies among the unidentified dead. The headstone at the grave bears the single word, "Unknown."

Teachers in the Cherokee public schools received small compensation in comparison with the salaries paid teachers in Oklahoma schools of today, (1938). Usually the Cherokee teachers were paid the sum of about $35.00 a month. Out of this sum they paid their board and other expenses. Nevertheless, a number of men and women taught many years. A specified number of pupils were required to attend the terms of school. Unless an average was maintained during the year, the school could be, and was, sometimes discontinued and re-established in some other locality. This was in accordance with the laws governing the national public schools.

In case there was an attendance above the average, the teacher received $1.00 for each additional pupil. A man who taught for a considerable period took advantage of the law when he applied for and was appointed teacher of a largely attended Negro school. There were several such schools in which the pupils were children of former slaves of Cherokee citizens. The former slaves and their descendants had been granted the rights of Cherokee citizenship, according to an article of the Treaty of 1866, between the United States and the Cherokees. Consequently public schools were provided by the Cherokees for the Negroes. The man who engaged in teaching Negro pupils, in a locality in which there were many colored people, enrolled sixty pupils, and instructed forty-five of the youthful Negroes for which instruction he received $1.00 for each pupil. But eventually, only Negro teachers were employed in the Negro schools.

White children occasionally attended Cherokee public schools. In some localities there lived white families, the men usually employed in farming land belonging to Cherokees. Such persons could send their children to the Cherokee school upon paying a small sum, monthly, usually $1.00, to the teacher, after permission had been granted by the Board of Directors, three in number.

Among the oldest Cherokee schools outlying from Tahlequah were those known as the Hungry Mountain School and the Caney School. Appointments of teachers were made by the Superintendent of Education, or by the Board of Education which was composed of three members. The Board of Education was more often in authority, but at intervals only a Superintendent of Education had charge of schools.

Cherokee Text Books

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 31, 1938

Taken from Indian-Pioneer History, edited by Grant Foreman

More than seventy years ago the printing of the text books in the English and Cherokee languages was suggested. The Reverend John B. Jones, for some years engaged in preaching and teaching among the Cherokees as a Baptist missionary, made the suggestion.

It was the belief and contention of the Reverend Mr. Jones that full blood Cherokee pupils would more readily learn their lessons if the text books were printed in the language with which they had been familiar from their earliest years of understanding. With the lessons so printed, with the English opposite, progress would quickly be made.

Eventually the Reverend Mr. Jones laid his plans before the Principal Chief and leading members of the Cherokee Senate and Council. The result was that an act was passed authorizing the printing of text books after the manner suggested by the missionary.

The National Council decided to, and did, appropriate the sum of $200.00 out of the Cherokee National treasury for the benefit of the Reverend John B. Jones. This sum, it was said by the National Council, was for the purpose of enabling the minister to prepare and have published a text book on the plan of Allendorf's. This book was to contain the text matter in both languages, and it was designed for use in the Cherokee National Public Schools. The Principal Chief was authorized by the National Council to issue a warrant to the amount of $200.00 payable to the Reverend John B. Jones.

The book printed was an arithmetic. It was prepared by the Reverend John B. Jones who was a scholar of fine attainments and was thoroughly familiar with the difficult Cherokee language. The printers in the office of the Cherokee Advocate 3 set up the type and the Cherokee Arithmetic was printed and bound in that office.

The act authorizing the printing of the Arithmetic and appropriating the sum of $200.00 was passed at the regular annual session of the National Council set at Tahlequah, in November, 1866. The act was approved and signed by William P. Ross, Principal Chief, on the 27th day of November, 1866. John Ross, for many years Principal Chief, had died August 1, 1866, and William P. Ross, his successor by action of the National Council, served until November, 1867.

The Cherokee Arithmetic, a few copies of which are probably still in existence, was intended by the Reverend John B. Jones to be the fore-runner of other text book similarly arranged. But later officials seem to have exhibited small interest in the text books as suggested by the author of the Cherokee Arithmetic, and no other books were authorized by the Council to be printed. The Cherokee Arithmetic received small attention, and the English text continued to be used, so far as all books used in Cherokee schools were concerned.

Cherokees of scholarly attainment in later years have agreed that the plan of the Reverend John B. Jones was excellent and that full blood Cherokee pupils would have, through the use of English-Cherokee text books, made more rapid progress.

In a volume of Cherokee Laws printed in 1867 there is a reference to the text books suggested by the Reverend John B. Jones.

Citizens by Intermarriage

An Interview with Mr. S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 26, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

As early as 1819 the Cherokee National Council, in session at New Echota, Cherokee Nation, in Georgia, passed a resolution to the effect that any white man who should thereafter marry a Cherokee woman should be required to be married legally by a minister of the Gospel, or if not married by a minister, by some other legally authorized person. The person desiring to marry was also required to procure a license from the National Clerk.

There had been marriages long before 1819 between Cherokees and whites, but that was before the keeping of written records was begun. The resolution of November 12, 1819 was approved by John Ross who was then President of the National Committee or Senate; by Major Ridge, Speaker of the Council; and by Pathkiller, Principal Chief; and by Charles R. Hicks, Assistant Principal Chief.

At a later date, in the Cherokee Nation in the Indian Territory at Tahlequah, which was the capital, a law concerning intermarriage was passed on the 28th day of September, 1839. This law authorized clerks of courts, judges, and ministers of the gospel to perform marriage ceremonies. The clerks were required to register all marriage licenses.

Four years later, or in 1843, the law of 1839 was repealed, that is, in the matter of the clerks of courts issuing licenses. Provision was made that application would be made to the National Council, the clerk of which was authorized and directed to issue marriage licenses.

A number of years later, in 1875, the law provided that each applicant for a marriage license would make an oath on application that he had no living wife from whom he had not been divorced. The same law applied to white women in so far as having a living husband was concerned, and it was also required that applicants present a written certificate of good moral character. These citizens must have known the applicant for a period of six months or longer. All applicants were required to pay the sum of $5.00 as a fee for the license and to subscribe to an oath to submit to and uphold the laws of the Cherokee Nation.

In the event of the death of the Cherokee wife of a white man, the latter continued as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and the white woman whose Indian husband had died remained a Cherokee citizen. That is, unless in case of remarriage a white man or white woman was selected by the widow or widower. Inasmuch as neither possessed Cherokee blood, neither of them could adopt a person of white blood as a Cherokee citizen. Only the National Council had authority to adopt white persons into the Cherokee Tribe and the number thus adopted was not large.

The clerks of the nine districts of the Cherokee Nation were furnished books in which to register the names of applicants for marriage licenses, the numbers of the licenses and the race or nationality of the applicant.

At the present day, in 1938, there are old citizens who recall having called upon Cherokee friends and acquaintances for the purpose of securing signers for applications for marriage licenses.

These marriage laws are referred to in acts and laws passed by the Cherokee National Council at various dates. They are included in a compilation of laws made from 1808 down to 1852, as well as in later laws down to 1875.

Citizenship Attorneys

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 17, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History collection, Grant Foreman, editor

At the beginning of November, 1890, there was temporarily established, at Tahlequah, a daily newspaper. Publication was made in the office of the Indian Arrow, 4 which had been published at the old Cherokee Capital since the summer of 1889. The daily newspaper was printed during the duration of the sessions of the Cherokee National Council. There were many people about the town, during the period when the legislative bodies were assembled, and a number of subscribers were secured for the daily paper. Besides the regular subscribers, there were some citizenship lawyers who bought a considerable number of the papers each day.

The citizenship lawyers were men who realized good-sized sums of money from persons who sought to have their names placed on the rolls of Cherokee citizens. During the eighties, and a portion of the nineties, many persons from various states were claimants. But comparatively few were enrolled, the rest being unable to prove that any of their ancestors had possessed Cherokee blood. As a matter of fact, a number realized that they had no rightful claim to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation, and others who thought themselves rightfully entitled to admission could not make definite proof.

The National Council was empowered to admit such claimants as proved Indian ancestry. 5 The possibility of allotment of Cherokee lands, at no distant period of the future, had become apparent, and at the time it was thought that each Cherokee citizen would receive a good-sized sum of money upon dissolution of the Cherokee government; consequently, the number of persons endeavoring to secure rights as Cherokees was large. Some of the citizenship attorneys were unscrupulous and, realizing opportunity of making money easily, went about among the people of several southern states seeking clients. Upon learning of the possibility of securing fertile tracts of land and payments of Cherokee money, many persons hastened to place their claim in the hands of the attorneys, as they were called. Each claimant usually paid the attorney fifty dollars, whereupon the latter promised to place the names before the National Council for action. Upon admission of the claimant to citizenship an additional fifty dollars was to be paid to the attorney.

Having secured payments, the attorneys, when council convened, presented lists of names of claimants each day. Such names, as were to be presented on a certain day, were printed in the daily newspaper. Copies were mailed by the attorneys to each claimant in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and other states, and the claimants no doubt rejoiced, believing that soon they would be informed that they had been accepted as Cherokee citizens by the National Council. But those who were accepted were but few. The attorneys knew that the majority would be rejected when the claimant paid the fifty dollars. During the council of 1890, the number of claimants was unusually large. Of one citizenship lawyer, it was said that he made only a brief visit to the old states and realized $1,000.00 from claimants.

The patronage of the citizenship attorneys was of considerable aid to the publishers of the daily newspaper. Immediately after the National Council adjourned, the daily suspended publication until the next annual meeting of the Cherokee legislative body.

Coldweather Hollow

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Some six to seven miles southeast of Tahlequah lies a small valley between rugged ridges which old-time people referred to as the Coldweather Hollow. The name was not given in connection with weather conditions but had reference to an early day settler. Coldweather was one of the native Indian settlers and liked the situation of the hollow. He built his log-walled home there and spent his lifetime there as far as known, that is, the remainder of his lifetime after arriving from the Old Nation east of the Mississippi River. It is possible the old man is buried somewhere in the hollow, but in these days no one knows where his house stood. Coldweather was living in the time of the civil War, and was a determined old man who, in case of necessity, was ready to use his muzzle-loading rifle without much hesitancy. The name of the hollow was often heard in bygone times but in these days there are not many persons who know anything concerning Coldweather or the isolated spot in the hills in which he made his home.


Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 28, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There was completed in 1886 the Tahlequah District Courthouse. In the same year courthouses were built in the other districts of the Cherokee Nation. The National Council had authorized the erection of the courthouses and had made an appropriation of money with which to defray expenses. All the courthouses were built upon the same plan.

In the earlier years of the Cherokee Nation, the courthouses were usually built of logs, and for some time after the close of the Civil War log houses were seen. But eventually all the old courthouses were demolished or abandoned and the new buildings completed.

After completion of the brick capitol building at Tahlequah, at the beginning of the 1870s, court was held in that building. The Council Chamber, a long and wide room on the lower floor, was utilized as soon as the new courthouse was finished, and no other terms of court were held in the capitol building. That is, except sessions of the Supreme Court which were held in the Supreme Court room on the second floor of the brick building.

The courthouse, which was completed in 1886, was built of pine lumber and was two stories high. On the first floor was the courtroom. There was a partition across the lower room, a railing three feet in height. In the inside, thus partitioned off, were the desk and chair of the judge, the clerk's desk or table, seats for jurors and for attorneys-at-law. The remaining space, on the outside of the railing, was available for those who attended court as onlookers.

On the second story of the courthouse was the office of the clerk of the Tahlequah district, and of the Solicitor, or Prosecuting Attorney. The clerk, elected every two years, attended to various matters. He issued marriage licenses, permits for non-citizens to enter the employ of citizens, and served as a police judge when persons creating disturbances in the town limits were brought before him. The clerk also served as clerk of the court when trials were being held. He was required to be in his office each week day.

The courthouse was painted white outside and inside and was substantially built, but its rooms, even the courtroom, were rather small and became overcrowded when trials of more than ordinary interest were being held.

The judge of the Tahlequah district often held court in the building, and at intervals a circuit judge presided. As in these days, 1938, numbers of persons were to be seen in and about the courthouse when terms of court were held.

When the Cherokee laws became obsolete, 6 the courthouse stood vacant for a rather brief period and was then demolished. On its site now stands the Carnegie library. At one time a large grove of red oak and blackjack trees surrounded the courthouse and many of the Cherokees hitched their horses to the trees upon coming to town from the country. Within recent years many of these trees have been cut down and removed. Many stones have been removed and a grassy lawn now appears instead of the rocky tract of land of years long past.

Death of Chiefs

Interview with Mr. S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Tahlequah, Oklahoma, March 17, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There are old pictures of the Cherokee Capitol at Tahlequah, which show the front of the building draped in black and white mourning emblems. In connection, it is recalled that in December of 1891 both the Principal and Assistant Principal Chiefs succumbed to severe illness.

In the election held on the first Monday in August, 1891, Joel B. Mayes, then Principal Chief, was elected to serve a second term of four years. Mr. Mayes was the candidate of the Downing Party. 7As a candidate for the position of Assistant Principal Chief, the Downing Party had nominated Stephen Tehee, while the National Party candidate was Henry Chambers, who had served four years as treasurer of the Cherokee Nation. When the votes were counted, Henry Chambers was found to have a majority over Stephen Tehee. So, upon the convening of the National Council on the first Monday in November of 1891, Joel B. Mayes and Henry Chambers were sworn in as Principal and Assistant Principal Chiefs, respectively.

It was in December of this year that an epidemic of la grippe 8 prevailed in Tahlequah. Many persons were prostrated by the malady, hitherto unknown, and there were many deaths. Assistant Principal Chief Henry Chambers was soon prostrated. The malady was often complicated with pneumonia, and as Mr. Chambers was 68 years of age his condition, after a rather brief period, became critical. And as Mr. Chambers lay in his room, Principal Chief Mayes, likewise, became afflicted with la grippe. A tall and large man weighing 280 pounds, and 58 years of age, Mr. Mayes was soon in a very serious condition. Both the chiefs received the best medical attention available, but they failed to rally and near the 12th of the month Henry Chambers died, and on the 14th day of the month Joel B. Mayes succumbed. Assistant Principal Chief Chambers died in a house which stood adjacent to the National Hotel, oldest building of its kind in Tahlequah, while Principal Chief Mayes died in a room at the Fuller Hotel. Both buildings were demolished some years ago.

The body of Assistant Principal Chief Chambers was taken to Claremore for interment, the casket being carried overland to Fort Gibson on the afternoon of the day of the "second chief's" death.

Funeral services for Principal Chief Mayes were held in the senate chamber in the brick capitol, a large number of officials and citizens being present. Burial was made in the Tahlequah Cemetery, where a fine granite monument marks the grave.

Never before in the history of the Cherokee Nation had both the principal and the assistant principal chiefs been removed by death. As a token of respect and mourning the National Council decreed that the front of the capitol bear mourning emblems for a period of thirty days.

As provided by Cherokee law, the president of the senate became acting principal chief until a successor to the late principal chief was selected and appointed by joint vote of the senate and council. So Thomas M. Buffington became acting principal chief, from December 14th until the 23rd day of the same month.

In considering a successor to Chief Joel B. Mayes, the council decided upon Colonel J. Harris, then occupying the position of Cherokee National Treasurer. Mr. Harris, whose full name was Colonel Johnson Harris, was confirmed as principal chief on the 23rd day of December, 1891. On the same day the council in joint session selected and confirmed as assistant principal chief, Stephen Tehee.

The assistant principal chief was usually referred to as the second chief upon the death, resignation, removal or inability of the principal chief to fulfill the duties of his office. The assistant principal chief succeeded until such time as the national council met and selected a successor to the principal chief.

Early Day Fox Hunters

Early Day Fox Hunters

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 18, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History collection, Grant Foreman, editor

According to persons who some years ago personally recalled events of the past, there were several fox hunters of Tahlequah and Park Hill who participated in the sport before the Civil War time, and some of the same men, following the close of the conflict have been referred to as taking part in the chase.

One of the largest packs of hounds was owned by Major George M. Murrell of Park Hill, some of the men of a long past period have related. There were several other fox hunters in the locality and all rode together on occasion. The country for miles around was unobstructed by fences, and foxes were more plentiful than in recent years. Consequently, some great races were had, in the course of which large sections of country were ridden over between the beginning of nightfall and daybreak. There were occasions when the hounds pursued the fox far down in the hills along the Illinois River, getting completely out of hearing of the hunters.

A very strange occurrence was once related, in connection with a chase, in which George M. Murrell, James E. Latta, and others of the Park Hill locality participated.

The hounds, as the story said, gave chase during a number of hours but never overhauled the fox, as the object of pursuit was thought to be. Midnight came and hounds could be heard in the distance in full cry. The hunters followed far behind. Then the hounds circled about in wide detour. Time continued to pass until the gray light of early dawn appeared. At that time the hounds passed at no great distance from the hunters. From their excited baying the fast-running animals were apparently quite near their object of pursuit. The hunters urged their horses to speed and soon were directly behind the hounds. Major Murrell and Mr. Latta were close together, and upon coming near to the hounds saw, running at great speed, immediately in front of the foremost hounds, a dwarf-like being with long black hair streaming in the early breeze, ran on a short distance and then suddenly vanished, leaving no trace nor track. Immediately the hounds lay down, panting and weary.

The men with Major Murrell expressed great astonishment. One of the men declared that never again would he visit the section on a fox hunting expedition. But Major Murrell was unimpressed. "There are some things we do not understand" he is reputed to have said, as he blew his horn and rode away for home, followed by his companions and the hounds.

At "Hunter's Home," previously the home of Major George M. Murrell at Park Hill, there hung in the large dining room a series of colored scenes depicting the English Fox Hunt, which scenes were a source of pleasure and imagination to visitors, both old and young. Mrs. Arminta Vann, a sister-in-law to Major Murrell, lived for some years at Hunter's Home, where friends and relatives received a cordial welcome. Major Murrell and family never returned to live at "Hunter's Home" after the period of the Civil War. At the beginning of the war, the family had removed to Lynchburg, Virginia.

In the early days there were no red foxes among the Cherokee hills, but gray foxes were to be found in various sections. They were of the variety to which the pioneer hunters often gave chase. Today, 1938, there are both gray and red foxes among the Cherokee County hills. Both varieties are now protected by the state game laws and may not be killed. Veteran fox hunters have noted that great antipathy exists between the gray and red foxes, and between the sections in which they live, there is a sort of neutral strip.

Editor From the Hills

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator.

Nov. 24, 1937

An Interview with S. W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The Indian Arrow, a newspaper which was established at Vinita, Indian Territory, where the first issue appeared on Friday, February 10, 1886, was published for a number of years. Before the close of 1886 the office was removed to Fort Gibson, and in 1889 to Tahlequah. Several editors served during a rather brief period. One of these was a man whose home was in the Caney locality, some miles east of Tahlequah. This man, whose name was William J. Largen, was becoming somewhat advanced in age. In his more young and active days he had been employed in large printing offices in cities like Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a practical printer and a writer of considerable ability. For several months Mr. Largen was employed in the office of the Indian Arrow in the year 1892, but upon completion of his temporary task in the office he returned to his home in the hill country of the Tahlequah District.

The Indian Arrow in course of time required a new editor. Several had resigned, and the principle owner of the newspaper in considering whom he should select as editor decided to appoint William J. Largen, who was sometimes referred to as "Uncle Bill" or "Old Bill." For a number of years after ceasing to work in large printing offices Mr. Largen had traveled through portions of Indian Territory as a "drummer," or salesman. He visited rural stores, two of which were operated a few miles apart in the Caney locality, so called because the Caney Creek flows through the section.

One of the stores was operated by L. and L. Keys. The members of the firm were Levi and Lucinda Keys, an old and highly respected couple of Cherokee and white nationality, whose home was near their store, in which was maintained the Wanhillau post office of which Levi Keys was postmaster. Upon retiring from his position as a traveling salesman William J. Largen, who had relatives living at Fort Smith, Arkansas, boarded for some time in the Keys' home. Sometimes he assisted Mr. Keys, who was often called "Uncle Levi," in the store.

After staying in the Keys' home for some time, William J. Largen surprised the Caney neighborhood people one day when he married a young Cherokee woman, who was a full-blood, or practically so. A veteran of the Confederate states army, Mr. Largen was old enough to be the young woman's father. They lived in a house in the old neighborhood. It was from this house that William J. Largen went over to Tahlequah to become editor of the Indian Arrow.

Upon reaching the Cherokee Capital Mr. Largen busied himself in the printing office, setting some of the type himself, but having the assistance of two other compositors for awhile. He rented a house for he contemplated bringing his wife and infant daughter to Tahlequah. In the interval he stayed in the house at night, having a mattress spread upon the floor, with blanket and comforter. There was a heating stove in the room, and upon this stove William J. Largen partially roasted portions of beef steak and boiled coffee. His bread was procured from the bakery. He would live differently, he said, when he moved his family and household effects to Tahlequah, which however, he failed to do. After a brief tenure as editor of the Indian Arrow, Mr. Largen's services were dispensed with by the man who held the largest interest in the newspaper. This man became dissatisfied with the manner in which the affairs of the office were being conducted and consequently declared a vacancy in the editorial chair. So the erstwhile editor returned to his home in the wooded region near the Caney Creek and thereafter had no connection with printing offices.

After several years the wife of William J. Largen died. Their family consisted of two daughters and two sons. Other years passed and Mr. Largen, now old, finally returned to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he remained until his death a number of years ago. He was the only man of the Caney Creek locality who was a printer, and the only person from that section who became editor of an Indian Territory newspaper.

Grave of Boudinot

Elizabeth Ross, Field Worker

October 18, 1937

Interview With S. W. Ross,

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In the original Park Hill burying grounds, long abandoned and neglected, there is a recumbent slab of brown sandstone upon which there is no inscription. Beneath this stone lies the dust of Elias Boudinot, a notable Cherokee of long past years. Born in the old Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi River in the year 1803, and given the Cherokee name of Gala-gina or Kille-keenah, he eventually realized the opportunity of studying at a school established by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Cornwall, Connecticut, on the banks of the Housatonie River.

Upon enrolling in the Institution the youth was informed that he would have to discard his Indian name and thereupon adopted for himself the name Elias Boudinot. This was the name of a distinguished citizen of New Jersey, who was a friend of George Washington and had once served as president of the Continental Congress. The honorable Elias Boudinot was greatly interested in the Indian race and is said to have assisted Gala-gina in securing entrance to the school.

Elias Boudinot, the Cherokee, remained in the institution several years and made excellent progress in his studies. During his stay in Cornwall he met Harriet Gold, youngest daughter of a leading citizen of the village and eventually they were married, encountering in the meanwhile great opposition during which time Boudinot retired from the school and returned to his home. Later, he returned to Cornwall, married Harriet Gold, and they then went to the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, where Boudinot assisted in missionary labors and as clerk of the council. In 1828, he was selected to serve as editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Indian newspaper ever established. As first Indian editor he attracted much attention and was regarded as one of the leading men of the Indian Nation.

In course of time there arose a great agitation for the removal of the Cherokees to Indian Territory, but the majority of the Cherokees stood firmly opposed to the desires of the white people of Georgia. They refused to agree to a treaty which would extinguish their title to their lands. During this time Elias Boudinot retired from the editorship of the Cherokee Phoenix and was succeeded by Elijah Hicks, and later Hicks was succeeded by Richard Taylor. The Georgia state guard finally confiscated the printing press and materials and the first Indian newspaper ceased to exist in 1834.

When the majority of the Cherokees remained unmoved in their opposition to a treaty, the Reverend John S. Schermerhorn, commissioner on part of the President of the United States, negotiated a treaty with a small number of men who had not been authorized to act by the general council of the Cherokee Nation. A treaty was signed in 1835, accepted by President Andrew Jackson and eventually ratified by a one-vote majority in the United States senate. This treaty extinguished the title of the Cherokees to their lands lying east of the Mississippi River and the removal of the Cherokee became a reality in 1838.

There was great anger among the Cherokees when the fact became known that Major and John Ridge, both highly prominent, had signed the treaty. 9 A group of Cherokees plotted to slay John Ridge and probably other members of the number signing the treaty but Principal Chief John Ross, according to historical records, learned of the decision and prevented accomplishment of the design.

The members of the treaty signing group removed to Indian Territory in 1836 and 1837 an joined the western Cherokees. In 1839, when the expelled Cherokees had arrived, steps were taken to establish anew the Cherokee Nation in the Indian Territory. But before that act was accomplished Major Ridge, his son John Ridge, and nephew, Elias Boudinot, were all slain. At a secret meeting or council of a number of Cherokees, held some miles north of Tahlequah, decision was reached to remove by death the principal signers of the treaty made in 1835. Those who decided upon the removal of the three kinsmen declared that they were carrying out the provisions of a stern law of the Cherokees which declared that any person or persons who negotiated sale of Cherokee lands without sanction or authority of the general council should suffer death.

On June 22, 1839, at places miles apart, the Ridges, father and son, and Elias Boudinot were surprised and slain. Elias Boudinot was suddenly attacked by several full-blood Indians near the Park Hill Presbyterian mission and mortally wounded, surviving unconscious only a few hours.

The funeral services for Elias Boudinot were conducted by the Reverend Samuel Worcester, D.D., on the 23rd day of June, 1839.

Hanging Tree

10Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The first legal execution in the present Oklahoma occurred at the beginning of 1841. In lieu of a gallows the limb of a big tree was utilized and in consequence became known at the "hanging tree." Superstitious persons feared to pass near the tree after night fall, declaring that ghostly forms could be seen. Several persons were executed at or in the vicinity of the old tree in following years, but in course of time, about the beginning of the 1850s, the place of execution was removed to a ravine nearly southeast of the present Cherokee County Court House. A regulation scaffold was built in the ravine and several men were hanged there before the beginning of the Civil War period. The spot on which stood the old hanging tree of 1841 was "down on the Tahlequah Branch," in the vicinity of the present barn which stands east of the residence of the Superintendent of the Tahlequah Fish Hatchery. In the early days of Tahlequah the court terms were held in a log building on the same square where now stands the old brick building, once the capitol.

Homemade Tobacco

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 17, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foremen, editor

Tobacco was once raised in considerable quantities in the Cherokee Nation. Stores were few and far between and manufactured tobacco was used by comparatively few persons. Consequently, attention was given to the culture of "home-made tobacco," or "long green," as it was often called. Some of those who raised the tobacco were more skilled than others in its proper cure after it had ripened. While some of it well suited the smokers, some did not, maintaining a green color and poor flavor, and giving forth offensive odor when being smoked. The term "long green" tobacco no doubt originated from the poorly cured variety.

Many of the ole-time Cherokees have been referred to as smoking "talony," which means that well-cured leaves of the white sumac shrub were mixed with the dry leaf tobacco, all well shredded. The "talony" was usually carried in a buckskin or cloth bag. The mixture produced a pleasant odor it had been said, and when setting forth on a visit or a trip to some distant section, the smoker saw that his tobacco bag was well-filled with his favorite mixture.

Those who chewed tobacco made use of the home raised variety. When not properly cured, the chewer [sic] sometimes experienced unpleasant feelings, and instances have been know where illness ensued temporarily after using some of the "long green" in too large quantities. Once there was an Indian youth named Looney Going-to-sleep who obtained a quantity of poorly cured new tobacco and chewed vigorously. He fell unconscious beside a road and was there found and assisted by a resident of the neighborhood. After some hours the youth recovered his usual degree of health, but did not indulge in regular use of the "long green" thereafter.

Besides being smoked or chewed the leaves of the home-raised tobacco were often used with good effect in reducing sprained ankles and limbs swollen from rheumatism.

A man suffering from blood poison was in danger of losing an arm. Physicians had decided upon amputation. They postponed the amputation from evening until morning. In the interval someone thought of the curative effects of leaf tobacco. A "hand" (a plaited bunch of tobacco leaves) was procured, several leaves well moistened in water and applied to the swollen arm. The pain was soon relieved and when the physicians arrived in the morning, the swelling was reduced to such an extent that the operation was not performed. Recovery followed rapidly.

A little girl at Fort Gibson 11was bitten on the foot by a copperhead snake (one of the poisonous varieties of serpents). She was carried into the house and placed on the bed and a physician summoned. A workman came along at that instant and taking a "chew" of tobacco from his mouth placed it on the wound. In a short while the physician arrived and pronounced the child to be doing well.

The home-raised tobacco could not be twisted and sold, such being forbidden by the United States revenue law, but numbers of the people made twists for their own use and convenience.

E. C. [Elias Cornelius] Boudinot, a Cherokee citizen once built a tobacco factory, contending that the revenue laws did not apply to Cherokee citizens in their own country. But after test in the United States courts [including the United States Supreme Court], the government won the case. 12

In these days, 1938, there are old tobacco users who maintain that the home-raised and cured tobacco is superior to the manufactured smoking and chewing tobacco. The latter, they say, is filled with adulterants, copper as being one, whereas the home-made tobacco is not.

Horseshoe Bend

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator.

Nov. 25, 1937

An Interview With S. W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There is a "Horseshoe Bend" on the Illinois River of the Cherokee Hills. The name has been in use for so many years that no one now recalls hearing when the term was first in use, or by whom. The "bend" is south of the rugged hills which lie south of the Park Hill neighborhood. Rocky cliffs overlook a portion of the river where it flows in the great curve which constitutes the bend, similar in appearance to a huge horseshoe.

In years past the bend was greatly isolated; reached by a narrow path over the big hills on the west side of the river, or by similar paths on the east side. The timber grew densely in the low-lying bottom lands and upon the crests of the heights. There was an abundance of wild game in the almost untrodden woodlands, but for many years the only hunters in the region were full-blood Cherokees and an occasional Creek Indian from a Creek settlement along the river north of the bend. Deer and wild turkeys were plentiful and small game was abundant.

There has always been deep water in the river below the bluffs which overlook the bend, and in past years the fish in the deep stretches of water were very numerous. Fishermen in past years often spoke of the many fish they had slain with gigs when the water was crystal clear in the chilly nights of the Fall time.

As is usual in many sections of the former Cherokee Nation there is a narrative concerning valuable mineralogical deposits in connection with the bend. At the base of one of the rugged bluffs, it is said, there is a small cave in which may be seen a deposit of bismuth. This visible deposit is only the outer portion of a vast and unknown quantity of the substance, according to what has been said and believed.

In Territorial days there were men who related interesting accounts concerning spots from which they claimed silver and lead had been procured, and some related that gold had been found in instances. But so far as is known, the only deposit of bismuth was that existing in the cave in the bluff overlooking the deep water in the Illinois River at Horseshoe Bend. Those who once claimed to know the location of valuable minerals or metals sometimes remarked that when a state government prevailed, conditions would be different and mining could then be profitably engaged in. The laws of the Cherokees forbade prospecting or mining for gold, silver, copper and other minerals or metals of value. But although Oklahoma has long been a state, the location of rich deposits concerning which there was much talk some years ago, has never been revealed.

The "bismuth mine" at the base of the bluff overlooking a portion of the Horseshoe Bend would prove of much value, but at the present time (1937) there are no efforts being made to find the spot. Wood rats, it used to be said, had gnawed portions of the bismuth from the "main vein" and the small fragments lay scattered about the floor of the cave.

Judge David Carter

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator

Interview with S.W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

November 1, 1937

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In a neglected spot in an old field approximately one mile south of Tahlequah is the grave of Judge David Carter, a man of prominence in the early period of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory.

Concerning David Carter there has been related an account which says that his father, Nathan Carter, a white man, was captured when a boy by Indian warriors at the time of the Wyoming Valley Massacre in Pennsylvania in 1778. Eventually the boy was carried to the Cherokee country and grew up among these people. As it was Nathan Carter married a woman of the Cherokees and spent his lifetime in their midst.

David Carter, born in the original Cherokee country east of the Mississippi River in the year 1802, attended school for awhile in the institution established in 1817 at Cornwall, Connecticut, by the American Board of Boston, Massachusetts. The institution was maintained for the exclusive benefit of Indian youths. Besides David Carter, there were several other Cherokees who were enrolled at the school.

Upon removing to the Indian Territory in 1838, David Carter established his home in the Tahlequah district, near the road leading south from Tahlequah to Park Hill. There he lived until during a portion of the Civil War period, when he removed to another and distant section as a matter of safety, returning to his home upon the return of peace. Here he continued to live until the 1st day of February, 1867, when he died and was buried in near vicinity of his late home. One month later, March 1st, he was followed in death by his wife.

In 1840, David Carter served as clerk of the court at the time the first murder case in the present state of Oklahoma was tried under the laws of the Cherokee Nation. In following years he held several important official positions. He was superintendent of Cherokee National schools, associate justice of the Cherokee supreme court, chief justice of that court, editor of the national newspaper, the Cherokee Advocate, and delegate to Washington (appointed by the Cherokee Council). He was a member of the Cherokee Lodge of Masons at Tahlequah, and a leading member of the Methodist Church, a near neighbor being the Reverend Thomas Bertholf, who built historic Riley's Chapel (two miles south of Tahlequah).

Ben W. Carter, oldest son of Judge and Mrs. David Carter was a member of the first class graduated from the Cherokee National Male Seminary in the fifties of the last [nineteenth] century, and father of Representative Charles D. Carter, who served for twenty years as a member of Congress from Oklahoma.

All members of the family of Judge David Carter lived in places remote from the old home and after the death of Judge Carter and his wife the house and adjacent land fell into other hands. The original home was demolished a number of years ago.

The burial spot is east of where the large old-fashioned family residence once stood, but few of the people who pass along the roadway know that the small marble headstone marks the final resting place of one of the notable men of the old Cherokee Nation. Unless the graves of Judge Carter and his wife are protected by a substantial fence of iron, or wall of stone, they must in the course of not distant years become entirely obliterated.

The labors and influence of Judge Carter in the pioneer days was of great value in the progress of the Cherokee in their new home in Indian Territory.

Lashed on Back

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Until the new code of Cherokee laws was adopted along in 1876 or thereabouts, all violators of the law, except those found guilty of capital offenses, were punished by the application of lashes upon the bare back. No time was lost in administering punishment, for as soon as sentencing was pronounced by the judge, the sheriff took the prisoner in hand and tied him or her to a tree. With back bared the prisoner stood helpless, the sheriff stepped forward and with tough switches or a leather whip laid on the prescribed number of stripes or lashes. Thirty-nine lashes were more often administered than otherwise, but as many as one hundred were laid on in some instances. It was a severe punishment, but there were some who repeated their thefts and received a second lashing.

Several women were whipped at the tree in Tahlequah, and some in other districts. Usually the women stole household articles or foodstuffs. The men who were whipped had stolen hogs, horses, or cattle, usually. Finally the laws were changed, and a prison built, and whippings at the tree ceased. Those who had once been lashed by the sheriff bore scars upon their backs during the remainder of their lifetimes.

Notable Schoolteacher

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, March 11, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Isaac Brown Hitchcock was born at the original Dwight Mission, in February 1825. His parents were Jacob and Nancy Brown Hitchcock. The region in which the western Cherokees then lived is included in Pope County, Arkansas.

Jacob Hitchcock accompanied the Reverend Cephas Washburn and the Reverend Alfred Finney to the western Cherokee Nation in 1820. In that year the site for the original Dwight Mission was selected, and until the beginning of the Civil War period, Jacob Hitchcock was connected with the Mission. Some years after the re-establishment of Dwight Mission on Sallisaw Creek, Jacob Hitchcock served as superintendent.

According to the testimony of Isaac Brown Hitchcock in long past years, he was not strong as a child and received instruction in his home. In more mature years, he devoted himself to study and when twenty-five years of age he attended school in the Sequoyah district for three terms. Already he had engaged in school teaching. His first school was in the city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, but later he taught in the Cherokee Nation, and also among the Creek Indians and was for a while connected with the Presbyterian Mission at Tullahassee, in the Creek Nation. These years of teaching were before the outbreak of the Civil War.

When the Civil War was about to begin, Jacob Hitchcock, with his family, removed to a northern state and there remained until the end of the conflict. His father died in Iowa, before the return of Mrs. Nancy Hitchcock and Isaac Brown Hitchcock to the Indian Territory.

Isaac Brown Hitchcock was, for many years, engaged in school teaching in the Cherokee Nation, in the National public schools and for some time in the National male seminary, near Tahlequah, and also in the orphans' institution at Salina.

The first school taught by Isaac Brown Hitchcock, after the close of the Civil War, was at Fort Gibson. 13 It is possible that there are yet living a few old men and women who as children attended the Fort Gibson school when Professor Hitchcock (as he was often called) was in charge. One of these men, whom it is definitely known was among his pupils, is Thomas Jefferson Parris, now eighty-six years of age, who is living in the Park Hill locality. After resuming school duties, beginning with the Fort Gibson school, Professor Hitchcock taught various schools in several districts of the Cherokee Nation, and during that period was a member of the faculty of the National Male Seminary and of the Orphans' Home. In referring to his long career as a teacher, Professor Hitchcock sometimes related that he had taught in four states and one Territory: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, and the Indian Territory. Nearly a half century of the lifetime of Professor Hitchcock was spent in teaching.

Besides his success as an instructor in the schools, Professor Hitchcock was an accomplished singer and often assisted in the vocal music in church and Sunday school. During many years he was a member of the Presbyterian church and at times did missionary work on his own account. In school he advised his pupils to aim high and he was one of the most capable instructors employed in the Cherokee Nation.

In the latter years of his lifetime, of eighty-four years, Professor Hitchcock was usually referred to as "Uncle Isaac." He was quite active until within a short while before his death and liked to visit with his numerous friends throughout the regions once embraced in the Cherokee Nation. Because of his long period of residence among the Cherokees and the fact that his boyhood days were spent in a region where the native Indians were numerous, Isaac Brown Hitchcock was quite familiar with the Cherokee language and spoke it with precision. He could sing hymns in the Cherokee language, and could also write it using the characters of the Sequoian alphabet.

Isaac Brown Hitchcock was married, several years before the beginning of the Civil War, to Miss E. Ann Duncan, a sister of Reverend Walter A. Duncan, a prominent Methodist minister of the Cherokee Nation.

Noted Old Time Indian

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator.

November 30, 1937.

An Interview With S. W. Ross.

Park Hill, Oklahoma.

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

A district of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory, and a street at Tahlequah, the capital, were given the name of Goingsnake. The district eventually became a portion of Adair County, Oklahoma, but the street yet exists. The name has no connection with a snake crawling upon the ground so far as employed in connection with the district or street, but recalls the fact that a native Cherokee of a long time past once bore the name. Just why he was called Goingsnake is not now known. That he was a person of much importance in the estimation of his people is proved from the fact that his name was chosen for that of one of the nine sub-divisions of the Cherokee Nation west of the Mississippi River, which was organized and established in 1839. And also his prominence is further proved in the fact that when Tahlequah had been decided upon as the name of the Cherokee body politic, nearly a century ago, one of the first streets designated was given the name of Goingsnake.

The man who bore the name of Goingsnake was a native of one of the districts of the old Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi River. Neither the month or the year in which he was born are known to any of the full-blood Cherokees of today, 1937. But in the early portion of the nineteenth century and for a number of years thereafter Goingsnake, the Cherokee, was a person of more than ordinary note. He was a leader among the native people, and in selecting members of the legislative bodies, the national committee (later the senate) and the council, Goingsnake was on several occasions elected to represent the people of the district in which he lived, in the national legislature, or the National Council, as officially designated.

In connection with the services of Goingsnake in the legislative body it is found that he was elevated to the responsible position of speaker of the council. During the many years of the existence of the Cherokee government several full-blood or native Cherokees have held that position. In the earlier period the native Cherokees were in the majority and the greater number of members of the council were of all-Indian blood, but in course of time members of mixed white and Indian blood were elected and thereafter the full Indians were not as numerous as they had been in earlier years. Goingsnake, the legislator of the pioneer period, was an individual who may correctly be referred to as an "old-time Indian." Such Indians were those who were in existence in the earlier decades of the Cherokee government. Many of them had traveled to the Indian Territory in the time of the great removal of the Cherokees to the west, in 1838. According to those who knew them best through long contact with them, old-time Indians or Cherokees, were persons of honor and dependability, truthful and honest.

It is probable that Goingsnake somewhat early in life had served as member of the Cherokee regiment which aided Major General Andrew Jackson during a portion of the War of 1812. A number of the veterans of that regiment came to the Indian Territory leaving the borders of Georgia in the mid-autumn of 1838 and reaching their destination in the late winter and early spring of 1839.

The services of Goingsnake had been notable and he was an outstanding character among his countrymen, which accounts for the fact that his name yet survives in that of the Tahlequah street.

Origin of Turkey's Gobble

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

All birds and animals played ball in olden days. The grouse had a fine voice and made a great halloo in the ball plays. They were as proud of their loud halloos as are ball players of these days. The turkey had not a good voice and asked the grouse to give him some lessons which the grouse agreed to do but wanted some pay for his trouble. The turkey agreed to give some feathers so that the grouse could make himself a collar and that is how the grouse got his collar of feathers. The lessons were begun and the turkey learned very fast until the grouse thought it time to try his voice. "Now," said the grouse, "I'll stand on this hollow log, and when I give the signal by tapping on it, you must halloo as loudly as you can." So the grouse got the log ready to tap on it as the grouse does, but when he gave the signal the turkey was so eager and excited that he could not raise his voice for a shout, but only gobbled, and ever since then he gobbles whenever he hears a noise.

Park Hill

Interview with Shorey Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Park Hill, a locality of much interest, is situated in Cherokee County. In the time of Indian government it was in the Tahlequah District of the Cherokee Nation. It was the scene of early settlement and there were some pioneers in the locality before the name Park Hill became existent.

Samuel Newton, a minister employed by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, visited the locality in 1835 and made arrangements for establishing a mission school. He was well pleased with the section in which he found a suitable site, a wooded height which looked down on the valley below. Upon the slopes of this height a number of wild deer wandered among the herbage and grass. The appearance of the scene was similar to that of a vast park, and the now historic name, Park Hill, was suggested and applied.

In 1839, when the Eastern Cherokees arrived in Indian Territory from Georgia, a number of leading members of that group selected places of residence in the Park Hill locality. Among these arrivals was John Ross, the celebrated principal chief, who was destined to continue in that position until his death in 1866. Some others of the pioneers of 1839 were George M. Murrell, [Return] R. J. Meigs, J. G. Ross, and Stephen Foreman, a Cherokee Presbyterian minister.

There was never a town of Park Hill in the olden time but after 1902, when the Frisco branch line was completed from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Muskogee, 14 a few stores were built during several following years. For several years the town was prosperous but business conditions became unsatisfactory and the town has now practically disappeared. There is one small store, in which the post office is maintained.

At Park Hill once stood the Cherokee National Female Seminary, the cornerstone of which was laid by Principal Chief John Ross on June 21, 1847. Forty years after, in April, 1887, the building was destroyed by fire.

John Howard Payne, author of "Home, Sweet Home," visited John Ross, the principal chief in 1840, spending four months in the chief's home. One the site of that home was later built the fine residence which was called "Rose Cottage." This home was burned to the ground in Civil War times by a band of men led by Stand Watie, 15who was called Taka-tawka in the Cherokee tongue.

Powerful Horse

Interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, December 3, 1937

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In relating anecdotes concerning wild game and hunting in old Indian Territory days, some of those who once visited the unbroken forests and sparsely settled regions in quest of deer related some very interesting stories. One of these stories concerns a horse which exhibited remarkable strength.

In the time of winter, deep snow having fallen, several hunters decided to return to their homes at and in the vicinity of the town of Fort Gibson. All went well until a stream with a muddy bottom was reached. When about half way across, the mud being rather deep, the pair of mules hitched to the wagon suddenly decided to come to a halt. The weather was quite cold, and the men in the wagon wished to reach their home as soon as possible, but nothing could induce the mules to go forward and they stood stubbornly in the icy water. The situation became very uncomfortable to the men in the wagon and there was much speculation as to what might possibly induce the mules to proceed. But nothing worthwhile was suggested, so it seemed that the men might be compelled to leave the wagon and wade to the opposite bank. Unknown to them, however, relief was soon to be realized.

A member of the hunting party, who rode a horse and had ridden in the rear of the wagon, after ascertaining that the mules would make no effort to move the wagon, remarked that his horse could be depended upon to cause the mules to move on. The horseman then dismounted and tying a rope very securely about the tail of the horse, near to the body of the animal, tied the other end of the rope to the iron loop in the end of the wagon tongue, and then commanded the horse to go. The animal was strong and broad-bodied and immediately obeyed its master's command. The front end of the wagon bed struck the mules, whereupon they began pulling, and together with the horse, which had never paused an instant, drew the wagon forward and up the steep bank on the other side of the stream. Almost at running speed the powerful horse exerting its strength, with aid of the now willing mules, pulled the wagon to level ground. The horse was disengaged and carried his owner along the road. The mules moved away at a fair rate of speed and during the remainder of the trip gave no trouble whatever.

The horse, one of the old hunters long afterward declared, was about the most intelligent animal he had ever seen. Until the horse, unaided, brought the heavy wagon forward and caused it to strike the mules with a thump, the latter animals had not moved, consequently, the horse alone started the wagon forward.

The account was related by E. G. Ross, a member of the hunting party, probably in 1879 or 1880.

Mr. E. G. Ross was raised at Fort Gibson and was a cousin of the Investigator, Elizabeth Ross and of S. W. Ross who gave the above account. In 1879 or 1880 he was a member of the hunting party when the horse pulled the wagon out of the river. Mr. E. G. Ross is now deceased.

Prairie Lea

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

November 15, 1937

An Interview with S.W. Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

A picturesque home of the early days of the Cherokee Nation in the Park Hill locality was that which was once called "Prairie Lea." During several years the house was occupied by Lewis Ross, a brother of the Principal Chief of the Cherokees. When Lewis Ross removed to the Saline District in the early forties of the last century (the 19th), he presented the house and other property to his daughter, Mrs. Araminta R. Vann, who lived there for a rather brief period. Thereafter the home passed to another owner and during the years has had a number of owners.

This pioneer home was built after the early-day fashion of hewn logs, heavy and enduring. A large gray limestone chimney stood between the two spacious rooms, being what is known as a "stack chimney." Upon the level lawn stood a number of fine forest trees, most of which long ago disappeared. Not far from the home flowed the Park Hill branch or creek, a stream which in the early days was noted for its numerous fish. There were several deep pools, overhung with the limbs of oaks and willows, where the fish were especially numerous. One of the spots most often visited by the boys of the decade of the forties was designated as the "Black Rock,” there being an outcropping of slate rock at the brink of the stream on its north side. There were also pools in which the boys swam in the summertime, when the waters of the stream were more free flowing than in later times, when the trampling of livestock caused gravel to obstruct the current.

There were several of the early-day Park Hill homes which bore distinctive names in the long time past. The term, "Prairie Lea" was given, no doubt, by reason of the fact that the spot upon which the house stood was in the vicinity of an open stretch of prairie just across the stream on its north side. Between the open and grassy land and the home were a number of trees, elms, sycamores, willows and oaks.

The house stood for many years, but at the beginning of the eighties of the last century it was demolished and a smaller home constructed. In these days (1937) the big stone chimney yet stands and its wide fireplace is utilized.

Principal Chief

An Interview with S. W. Ross

By Elizabeth Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 3, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The highest official of the Cherokee Nation was the principal chief. The constitution which was adopted in 1839 in Indian Territory, says that the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation should serve for a period of four years following election by vote of the people. At the end of his term of service a principal chief could succeed himself in case a majority of the voters gave him their support.

The title, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, remained unchanged during the period of the existence of the body politic in the Indian Territory. Persons unfamiliar with the fact that the title was the legal designation sometimes referred to the principal chief as governor. And there were others who probably considered that the term, governor, was more dignified than that of chief or principal chief. But a change from the title of principal chief to that of governor was never considered by the Cherokee national council. Nor did any of the principal chiefs ever suggest such a change. The title therefore remained unchanged.

During the years of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory there were ten men who were elected by vote of the people, or by joint vote of the senate and council, to the position of principal chief. Those who were elected by joint vote of the two legislative bodies were William P. Ross, in 1866, as successor to Principal Chief John Ross, who died August 1, in that year. And again, in 1872, upon the death of Lewis Downing, the senate and council selected William P. Ross as the successor of Principal Chief Downing. Then in 1891, Principal Chief Joel B. Mayes having died, the joint action of senate and council resulted in the election of C. J. Harris as Principal Chief. All the other were elected by vote of the people.

The constitution of the Cherokee Nation provided that none, except a native born citizen, should be eligible for the highest office. No one under the age of thirty-five years could become a candidate for the position. Good moral character was stressed as a requisite, and no one who denied the existence of God, or disbelieved in a future life was considered eligible.

The desirability of the principal chief making his home at Tahlequah, the capital, during his term of office was emphasized. During the earlier years, Principal Chief John Ross was in his office daily, except on Sundays, or when away on national business. His home was at Park Hill, a distance of about four miles southeast of Tahlequah.

Later principal chiefs made their home in Tahlequah during portions of the year, except D. W. Bushyhead and C. J. Harris, who became permanent residents. There were intervals when the affairs of the chief executives office could be transacted by the secretaries, and at such times several of the principal chiefs spent a portion of time at their homes some distance from the capital. During sessions of the national council, however, the principal chief was invariably present. Before the legislative bodies proceeded to the transaction of national business, they listened to the message of the principal chief, in which the condition of the nation was referred to, and suggestions and recommendations made. Upon the passage of acts and resolutions by the senate and council they were placed before the principal chief for his approval and signature.

At one time the erection of an official residence for the principal chief, a "Cherokee White House" was suggested. But no definite action was taken by the National council.

Reinstatement of Samuel Smith in Kee-to-wah Society

Interview with S. W. Ross

Hattie Turner, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Among the earliest members of the Kee-too-wah society, noted organization of the native Cherokees, was Samuel Smith, who bore the rank of captain in a company of the Union Indian brigade in Civil War days. Probably Smith had been one of the organizers of the society, and he was also a Baptist preacher. At conventions of the National party, numbers of whose members were of the Kee-too-wah society, Smith was conspicuous until his apostasy which occurred along in 1887, when Smith left the National party and joined the Downing party, many of whose members had adhered to the Confederacy in the Civil War. The indignant Kee-too-wahs promptly expelled Captain Samuel Smith. His name was stricken from the rolls and his presence at conventions was not desired.

Time passed away and the time for another election came. Smith had expected, it has been said, to have received the nomination as Principal Chief or at least as the Assistant Chief again. But he received neither, and decided that he had been used largely in order to influence the native voters in the campaign in which he had been elected. Therefore, the old captain desired to return to the party in which were many of his friends, and leading members of the National party and of the Kee-too-wah society were approached. Much talk was indulged in and finally a decision was made to reinstate the erring member, the time being set for the proceedings at the convention held in August, of 1890. It had been provided by the founders of the society that a convention be held each year early in August, and when the convention assembled, various matters were disposed of, and then came the afternoon when Captain Smith should be taken back into the Kee-too-wah fold.

In impressive array the head captain, the minor captains and officers of the Kee-too-wah society filed out into an open space. Members of the society assembled in long lines. Outside of the line masses of men, women and children watched the proceedings. The head captain delivered a very impressive and eloquent oration and overhead on tall poles fluttered the historic flag of the Kee-too-wah, the flag of the United States, and other symbols.

As the ceremony began, black clouds had rolled up in the southwest and the atmosphere grew still and sultry, but regardless of the threatening weather the men of the Kee-too-wah continued their ceremonial. The black cloud was borne with great rapidity and behind this clouded mass the erstwhile black clouds grew grayish green. Bellowing thunder arose and jagged lightening zigzagged across the sky. The claps of thunder were deafening, but the Kee-too-wahs paid no attention whatsoever. Finally the ceremony was completed with exception of handshaking. The head captain grasped the hand of Captain Samuel Smith, and then the rain came down in torrents, but the long lines of Kee-too-wahs seemed unaware of any disturbance, they kept in alignment and each and all in turn gave the hand of fellowship to their reinstated brother. Soaking wet, the members then dispersed until the rainfall ceased, but the storm could have continued for hours without causing them to disperse, had necessity kept them in line.

Shorey W. Ross

"The literature of the Cherokees and the State loses many gems because of the natural reticence of one of Nature's noblemen; Shorey W. Ross." This statement by Emmet Starr was true until 1837, when many of Ross's "gems" were taken down, most by his sister Elizabeth, and preserved in the Indian-Pioneer history, a WPA oral history project undertaken during the depression.

Emmet Starr, in his History of the Cherokee Indians, called Shorey W. Ross the "ablest literary individual of the Cherokee Nation." A descendent of Chief John Ross, Shorey was born near Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation on March 9, 1871; the oldest of six children. The son of Lewis Anderson and Nellie Potts Ross, Shorey attended private schools in his area including the Presbyterian mission school at Park Hill and the Cherokee Male Seminary. Ross earned respect for writing beginning in his teens with his work for the Indian Arrow and continued with editorials for The Daily Oklahoman among other newspapers. Ross's historical contributions include many recollections for publications such as The Chronicles of Oklahoma and Indian and Pioneer History. Ross also spent a portion of his life as a school teacher. By the time of his death in 1960, Ross had become noted for his numerous literary contributions.

The recollections of Shorey W. Ross are valuable to the study of Cherokee and Oklahoma history. Many of these recollections are compiled here for the use of future generations. Ross's sister Elizabeth took down his statements for inclusion in the Indian-Pioneer History Collection.

Seminary Superintendent

Twenty-Fifth interview with S. W. Ross

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

Park Hill, Oklahoma, March 23, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In the neglected old burying ground in which lie a number of early-day missionary workers in the Park Hill locality may be seen the broken tombstone of Charles M. Delano. He was born in 1812 and the date of his death was April 25, 1861. He was said to have been a native of the state of Ohio.

A short time before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Cherokee National Female Seminary was reopened, after having been closed for several years, and Charles M. Delano received his appointment as Superintendent. Two teachers were appointed. They were Joshua Ross and Miss E. Jane Ross. A number of students were enrolled. But when the Cherokee Nation became involved in the War, school work was again discontinued, not to be resumed until after the beginning of the '70s. Some time after taking up his duties at the Park Hill locality, Charles M. Delano became seriously ill and died. A few days before his death, word was received of the bombardment of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on the 12th day of April. The fact convinced the majority of the people that war would soon prevail throughout the United States and in the Indian Territory.

Mr. Delano had lived among the Cherokees some years before he was selected as Superintendent of the Female Seminary. He was the last superintendent to serve before the beginning of the War. When his life closed his family and relatives decided that he should be buried in the original Park Hill burying ground.

The surrounding country in 1861 was largely unbroken, there being extensive woodlands and valleys in which no houses had been built. Besides the wild game animals found in the timbered sections there were numbers of predatory animals, principally wolves and wild cats, though there were some panthers. As once recalled by those who were present at the seminary the night before the burial of Charles M. Delano, the wailing scream of a panther near the building startled its occupants and caused a hurried return to the interior by those on the outside (prevalent custom of sitting with the deceased was being followed).

The final resting place of Charles M. Delano, who was forty-nine years of age at the time of his death, was a few yards north of the small enclosure within which are the graves of the missionaries. A small tombstone of white marble, bearing the emblem of the A. F. and A. M. was placed at the grave, but was eventually broken by wandering livestock. But within recent years, some person, for some unknown reason, has placed the broken tombstone on the inside of the iron fence about the grave of the Reverend Samuel A. Worcester and others once connected with the old Park Hill Mission.

Old residents of the locality were acquainted with the Delano family in the early period. Besides Charles M. Delano, whose wife was a Cherokee citizen, there was Lorenzo Delano, who also married a Cherokee. In 1839 Lorenzo Delano served as postmaster of Park Hill. Some years later, upon the death of his wife, he returned to his native state.

Yet living in Oklahoma are some descendants of Charles M. Delano, who was one of two Superintendents of the Female Seminary who died at that institution.

Some Cherokee History

By S. W. Ross, Welling, Oklahoma

The Indian School Journal, Vol. IX, No. 2, pp. 17-21

Chilocco, Oklahoma: December, 1908

With the admission of Oklahoma and Indian territories to statehood the several Indian governments, which for nearly seventy years have been known as the governments of the "Five Civilized Tribes," have lost their last attributes of sovereignty and their people from henceforth will be numbered with the citizens of the Great Republic. But though their tribal existence is at an end, these old nations are places of no ordinary interest. Those who had supposed that here would be found blanket-clad aborigines dwelling in tents or in rude huts, have been greatly surprised to find instead a people, the majority of whom, in point of education, refinement, wealth and integrity, in some ways surpassed the mass of population of the States lying upon the borders of the Indian country.

Many places of real interest there are in this picturesque land. Particularly true is this of the Cherokee country. Always in advance of the other Indian peoples, the Cherokees, ever since their first contact with the white race, have been noted for their rapid advance in civilization, and nowhere in the Cherokee nation are more evidences of their progress to be found than in Tahlequah, the old capital, and for many years principal town of the nation—at all times the most important place within the confines of the nation. Here are the national high school buildings and the capitol building, and here have taken place the most of the important events in the history of the Cherokees since the establishment of their nation west of the Mississippi in 1839.

It was in 1839 that the principal portion of the population of the Cherokee nation arrived in the land of their present location, from their ancient homes east of the Mississippi. Upon their arrival they met with a large number of their countrymen who had voluntarily moved west of the great river in the period from 1809 to 1828. These two branches of the "Ancient Cherokee Family," as they styled themselves, met in a general convention and by an "Act of Union" reunited as one people, forming the Cherokee nation. The act of union was entered into on July 12, 1839, a short distance from the present limits of Tahlequah. On the sixth day of September, 1839, the constitution under which the nation existed for nearly three score and ten years was adopted in Tahlequah. The Cherokee nation at this early period was in a state of almost primeval wildness. The prairies stretched away to the west in unbroken solitude, and in the forests and mountains toward the east roamed the deer and other wild animals usually to be found in the new lands of the frontier. Many of the Cherokees, particularly those of mixed white and Indian blood had, in the old nation east of the Mississippi, been the possessors of ample means and comfortable homes. Many of these decided to make their homes at or near Tahlequah and, in the course of a few years, substantial dwellings appeared instead of the rough log houses which, for a time, sheltered the most wealthy of the pioneers of the new land.

The Cherokee National Council, or legislature, held its annual session in Tahlequah for some years in two large houses of hewn logs. One of these buildings was used by the National Committee, as the upper house of the council was denominated, and the other by the council, or lower house. There were two national committee-men from each of the nine districts into which the nation was apportioned, and from two to four councilmen from each. The chief presiding officer of the upper house was styled the President of the National Committee, and of the lower house, the Speaker of the Council. The Principal Chief of the nation had his office at the capital, having as his cabinet three executive councillors who were elected by a joint vote of the two legislative bodies. There was also an executive secretary.

As years passed away and the Cherokee nation began to prosper, an appropriation was made by the national council for the purpose of defraying the expense of erecting a capitol building. This building, which stands in the center of the most beautiful square shaded by forest trees, has long been one of the most pleasing sights of the Indian capital. It contains the senate and council chamber; the chief's office, the office of the Cherokee national board of education, the national treasurer's office, auditor's office and supreme court room.

The act of Council establishing Tahlequah as the capital is as follows: "An Act Establishing the Seat of Government." "Be it enacted by the National council, that the seat of the Cherokee Government is hereby established at Tahlequah. Approved. A. M. Vann, Acting Chief." "TAHLEQUAH, Oct. 19, 1841."

The National Council at Tahlequah on Oct. 25, 1841, passed an act prohibiting the introduction and sale of spirituous liquors in the Cherokee nation in this language:

Be it enacted by the National Council, That from and after the first day of January, 1812, the introduction and vending of ardent spirits in this nation shall be unlawful; and any and all persons are prohibited from selling or retailing spirituous liquors under the penalty of having the same wasted or destroyed by any lawful officer, or person authorized by the sheriff for that purpose.

And a further provision was added to the effect, that any person or persons found guilty of violating the provisions of the act should be fined in a sum of "not less than ten nor more than five hundred dollars."

The forties were years of importance in Cherokee history, and the national council in regular session at the national capital, enacted a great deal of much-needed legislation.

In 1841, in accordance with an Act of the Council, a number of public schools were established in the various districts of the nation, the nucleus of the afterwards more than one hundred schools which were in operation nearly twenty years previous to the time when by acts of congress the national affairs of the Cherokees were placed in the hands of United States Government officials.

In 1842, the Moravian Mission Board of Salem, North Carolina, was given by the council permission to erect a missionary station in the nation, "for the purpose of carrying on their labors in the instruction and improvement of the Cherokee people."

In 1842 also, the council passed an act authorizing a general convention of Indian tribes of the territory. The Cherokee leaders foresaw that it was highly necessary to have peace among the Indians of the vast territory if any progress was to be made by them. Accordingly the Chief and leading men of the Cherokee nation sent invitations to the various tribes to meet at Tahlequah in a general council for the purpose of considering matters affecting the welfare of the Indians of the territory. Twenty-one tribes and nations accepted the invitation, and in June of 1843, their representatives, with those of the Cherokees, met in Tahlequah. The "Great Council Fire" was kindled in the capitol square, and with great earnestness the Indians entered into their deliberations, all finally mutually agreeing that "Peace and friendship shall forever be maintained between the nations, parties to this compact, and between their respective citizens."

Many other meritorious provisions were agreed to and the tribal compact was signed by all the delegates on the third day of July, 1843. The closing of the “Great Council” was marked by an explanation of the "ancient language of Wampum." Major George Lowrey, the vice, or assistant chief of the Cherokees, acted as master of ceremonies. As a young man he had had an adventurous career, and his knowledge of Indian customs was beyond that of any other aborigine of his time. As an officer of the Cherokee regiment in the Creek war of 1814, he had been made a major by General Andrew Jackson, for meritorious service at the battle of Tohopeka, and previous to that time, during the administration of President George Washington had been sent by the Cherokees, then living east of the Mississippi, as a delegate to the then capital of the young American Republic. Now, aged and bowed with the weight of near fourscore years, he was attentively listened to by the great throng of Indians as he exemplified the significance of the ancient symbols.

As a closing part of the ceremony the "Path of Peace," a broad belt of black and white wampum beads, was spread upon the ground and all the representatives of the various tribes and nations walked over it, signifying that from thenceforth their footsteps should follow in the pathway of peace and progress. The tribal compact was faithfully adhered to by all who had entered into it, and the after progress of the Indians of the territory is, in a large measure, due to the farseeing wisdom of those who conceived the calling of the "Great Council."

An act of the greatest importance was one passed by the council in the autumn of 1843, providing for the establishment of a national newspaper to be published at the expense of the Cherokee nation. The first issue of this paper was sent out in September of 1844, called "The Cherokee Advocate." 16 It was printed one half in English and one half in the Cherokee characters invented by Sequoyah a full-blooded Cherokee about the year of 1822. The "Advocate" was the first newspaper ever printed in the Indian Territory. Its first editor was William P. Ross, a citizen by blood of the Cherokee nation, a graduate of Princeton college in the class of 1842. Following his four years' editorship of the national newspaper, his successors were for many years selected from among the ablest men of the Cherokees, among them being Rev. Stephen Foreman, also a citizen by blood, a graduate of the theological department of Princeton College, as well as others of high attainment.

In addition to the "Advocate" there was printed in Tahlequah the "Compiled Laws of the Cherokee Nation," besides various other public publications of importance. The "Advocate" was published for many years, but finally suspended publication in 1905.

Doubtless the act of greatest importance was that passed by the council in 1847, whereby provision was made for the establishment of two high schools for the more advanced education of the boys and girls of the Cherokee nation. In the regular session of the council at Tahlequah, in the year mentioned, it was unanimously decided to provide for the schools, and appropriations were forthwith made for their immediate erection. Opened for reception of students in 1850, these national schools have almost continuously since that time been in operation. Thousands of dollars have been expended by the Cherokee Government in properly maintaining them, and they have been the means of great good to hundreds of Cherokee youths who, under other circumstances would never have advanced beyond the rudimentary stages of education.

The female seminary building, occupying a position upon an eminence in the northern part of the old capital, is the most striking object that arrests the eye of the traveler as he for the first time enters the capital of the Cherokee nation. A short distance away, in the southwest, may be discovered the pillared porticoes of the male seminary, of a much older style of architecture than the female school building.

Tahlequah during its seventy years' existence as capital of the Cherokee Nation has often been the scene of events historic, romantic and pathetic.

Here occurred the first legal hanging in the Cherokee country. In the early forties a citizen, who bore the not uncommon name of Smith, committed a crime which called for the infliction of the death penalty. Sentence having been passed, there was no delay in carrying out the mandate of the court.

As the Cherokee capital owned no gallows, the wagon with the condemned man seated therein was driven beneath a large oak tree on the outskirts of the village. The rope was placed about the offender's neck, the other end thrown over the limb, make fast, and then the team of horses attached to the wagon were driven away, and the condemned man left dangling at the rope's end.

In 1861, when the civil war was beginning, Gen. Albert Pike of Arkansas, arrived at Tahlequah in company with Gen. Sterling Price of Missouri, Generals Thomas Hineman, and Earl Van Dorn, and, after a short stay, organized an Indian Brigade for the service of the Confederate States of America.

In November, as a result of a misunderstanding of the general elections of this year, held in August, Tahlequah came very near being the scene of one of the bloodiest encounters in the history of the nation. Both political parties claimed the Chieftaincy for their respective candidates, and a word from the leader of the full blood Indians would have been the signal for the beginning of a most bitter and murderous civil conflict. However, trouble was averted, and the old capital resumed its usual peaceful appearance.

The principal chief of the Cherokee nation was by law required to make Tahlequah his official home and, during the years that the government was in operation, the following chief magistrates of the "nation within a nation" have resided in the capital: Chief John Ross, who was at the head of the nation from 1839 until his death in 1866, Chief Louis Downing, Chief William P. Ross, Chief Charles Thompson, Chief Dennis W. Bushyhead, Chief Joel B. Mayes, Chief C. J. Harris, Chief T. M. Buffington, Chief S. H. Mayes. The last chief of the Cherokee, William C. Rogers, however, spends but little time at Tahlequah, as he is chief in name only, to a large extent, having little to do save to sign the deeds of his people to the lands of the Cherokee Nation. 17

At intervals men of eminence have visited the capital of the Cherokees. Distinguished members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have, from time to time, on business missions, spent a short while conferring with the Indians and their leaders on matters pertaining to the welfare of the nation. From the stand in Capitol Square Senator Quarles and Congressman [Charles] Curtis, a few years ago, addressed the Cherokees relative to matters of special interest to them. Secretary of the Interior [Ethan Allen] Hitchcock also once paid a visit of a half hour's duration to the nation's capital, but his coming was unheralded and, after driving through the streets in a closed vehicle, he returned to his special car and was soon on his way back to St. Louis. However, in August of the year 1907, the Cherokees were highly gratified to receive as a visitor Secretary of the Interior James R. Garfield, who, from the speakers' stand, made an address that was highly appreciated by his hearers, particularly the full-blooded Cherokees, many of whom became convinced that the Secretary was their friend and would give them truthful advice concerning the matters so interesting to them—the safe-guarding of their landed interests.

Now that the Cherokee nation is of the past, the old capitol building may at a later date be used as the county court house, of Cherokee county, of which Tahlequah is the county seat, or it may be used as a historical museum, an object of interest to those who admire the steady and upward progress of the Cherokees, who, under great difficulties, made their nation renowned, and merited the distinction of being the leading Indians of the North American continent. 18

Standing Rock

Elizabeth Ross, Investigator.

Dec. 1. 1937

An Interview With S. W. Ross,

Park Hill, Oklahoma

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The Standing Rock in Cherokee County is a great gray bluff which overlooks a portion of the Illinois River in the Cookson township. The name was given many years ago, the exact date being unknown. Likewise unknown is the name of the person who first applied the designation, which is quite appropriate.

Quite a number of full-blood Cherokees once lived in localities outlying from the big bluff, some on the east side and others on the west side of the river. In the earlier periods there was much wild game among the valleys of the hills and in the unbroken woodlands. Also there were many wild hogs, descendants of hogs brought by early settlers in probability. Not until comparatively recent years did the wild hogs become practically extinct.

The waters of the Illinois are deep below the bluff. Several years ago some men are related to have fastened two of the longest gig poles end to end with which to measure the depth of the deep blue water at a point near the bluff, as a result it was found that the water was thirty-two feet deep.

There is a spot beneath the waters, according to some of those who have fished or gigged near the Standing Rock, where the waters from subterranean springs or pools below the bottom of the river, flow upward into the deep water of the river, and in the winter time large numbers of fish congregate where the warmer water enters the stream, many feet beneath the surface of the river.

The waters of the Illinois in vicinity of Standing Rock have long been noted for the large number of fish found there. The fish are of several varieties, the largest of which are catfish. Specimens weighing from thirty to more than fifty pounds have been caught from time to time within recent years. In bygone years some of the largest catfish seen anywhere in the Illinois were found and caught in instances in the Standing Rock water. Numerous buffalo fish once were found, as were also drum and smaller varieties. When dynamite was used in slaying fish some years ago, the damage to all varieties of fish was great and for awhile the Standing Rock section of the river was not as populous with fish as in earlier periods when no one thought of using explosives in fishing. But within recent years the fishing has been quite satisfactory, though increasingly large numbers of fishermen visit the Standing Rock section each year.

The Standing Rock region is picturesque and was long greatly isolated, those who visited the place traveling over the narrow paths through the valleys and forests. Long ago the canoes of the native Cherokees were to be seen in the Illinois in vicinity of the rugged bluff when numbers of fish were being caught for the purpose of being served at largely attended barbecues.

Now living are few of the fishermen of old Indian Territory days who recall periods when the fishing in vicinity of Standing Rock was better in some ways, than perhaps, at any other point along the Illinois.


Interview with Shorey Ross

By Hattie Turner

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In 1834 there was a solitary house on the later site of Tahlequah in which the Reverend Young Wolfe, a Methodist preacher of white and Indian blood, lived.

The Cherokee Nation as a body politic in Indian Territory was established in July, 1839, and the principal chief and members of the two legislative bodies soon selected this site for the capitol. Today the tract of ground upon which the original log houses of the council were built is known as Capitol square to older residents and the present brick county court house is the former Cherokee capitol, built in 1870.

John Ross was the first principal chief of the new nation and since 1839, ten principal chiefs have served. In the early days the chief's office was in a log house and the national committee or senate and the national council held their sessions in log-walled houses. The town was isolated and its growth was slow, in 1853 there were some 350 people living in Tahlequah.

The first merchants were George M. Murrell, John Ware, Delano and Sons, and Return J. Meigs, all of whom were operating in Tahlequah in 1842 and for some years thereafter. Merchandise was hauled in wagons from the steamboat landing at Fort Gibson 19 and from Van Buren, Arkansas.

Tahlequah was the most important place in the Cherokee Nation, for it was the center of the nation's business, political and civil. Its location was near the geographical center of the nation and the national high schools were built at no great distance away, one of the first public schools being placed in operation at Tahlequah in 1841. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterian, Moravian and Episcopal churches were established during later years, and also Baptist and Presbyterian academies. In 1902, railroad connection with outside towns was established.

The meaning of the term Tahlequah is unknown. The name has been spelled, Tellico, Tellique and Talikwa, a very ancient and noted place in the original nation east of the Mississippi River once bore the name. Ancient Tahlequah was one of the three "white" towns or "cities of refuge," similar to those which are mentioned in the Old testament and consequently the modern Tahlequah has been referred to as a place of rest, synonymously, but somewhat appropriately.

"The Ghostly Dog"

An Interview with Shorey Ross

By Hattie Turner, Wagoner, Oklahoma

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

In the early-day Park Hill locality an extensive colony of strange and ghostly things had their headquarters. Pioneers used to relate many hair-raising stories concerning their encounters with the ghosts, haunts, or spirits, as they were designated. One of such stories is her given:

There was a fine young man named Reese Roebuck, who clerked in a store near the Murrell home. This man had a sweetie who lived a mile or so down the Park Hill Creek. At intervals the young man walked to the girl's home after his day's tasks were completed, spent several pleasant hours, and then walked back to his quarters.

It was on a beautiful night in late October. The skies were cloudless, the atmosphere chill and bracing, when Reese Roebuck walked along the narrow trail beside the stream, on his return from the young lady's home. Walking briskly, Roebuck whistled a gay tune and soon was half way home, but at a turn in the trail he saw sitting in dejected attitude, in the center of the path, a large black dog—so it seemed to be—with a big white spot in the center of its breast. The dog paid no attention to Roebuck, who shouted to the supposed canine to be gone. Roebuck then threw stones, which apparently passed completely through the body of the animal, which continued to sit motionless. Impatient, Roebuck now drew his pistol and fired upon the dog—and then something occurred which was altogether out of the ordinary. The dog abruptly sprang upward. It mounted into the air, arose with rapidity, uttering all the while the most mournful wails and shrieks ever heard by mortal ears. In a brief space of time the dog disappeared in the sky, and all the while the moonlight streamed down in silvery luster.

Reese Roebuck suddenly felt very ill, weak and tottery. His limbs could scarcely bear his weight. Cold chills chased themselves up and down his spinal column, succeeded by hot streaks. Finally the young man reached his room and he went to bed. A raging fever devoured his strength. Medical aid proved worse than useless. Nine days from the time he fired upon the unearthly dog he breathed his last. His grave lies in one of the old burying grounds of the Park Hill locality.

"The Prairie Flower"

An Interview with S. W. Ross

By Elizabeth Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma, January 24, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

During the administration of President James Buchanan, the city of Washington was visited by Principal Chief John Ross on official business of the Cherokee Nation. Each year while he was chief executive of the Cherokees, John Ross spent some weeks in Washington. He headed a delegation of Cherokees who were authorized by the National Council of the Cherokees to represent their Nation at the seat of government. It was probably in 1857 that the Principal Chief, on the occasion of his annual visit, was accompanied by his family.

Some days before the beginning of his return journey to his home at Park Hill, near the center of the Cherokee Nation, the Principal Chief was a caller at the White House. Accompanying him was his little daughter, Anna Brian Ross, then about thirteen years of age. The President received the Principal Chief and his daughter with his usual fine courtesy and an agreeable period was spent in the historical old mansion.

The interior of the White House with its many objects of interest was quite wonderful to the young daughter of the Principal Chief and she ever afterward recalled the visit with pleasure. It was when the guests of the President were about to take their leave that President Buchanan said to Anna Ross, "I have thought of a name which is appropriate for you. I am going to call you the Prairie Flower." This was very pleasing to the young girl from the Cherokee Nation, who was soon to be on her way back to the Indian Territory in the northeastern section, of which lay the Cherokee Nation.

The story of the name which the President of the United States had bestowed upon the daughter of the Principal Chief became widely circulated upon their arrival in their own country and home locality. Until comparatively recent years there were living old men and women who recalled the story. It was one of a number of anecdotes once related in connection with Chief John Ross and members of his family. But at the present time, 1938, those familiar with the story are very few.

A marble headstone in the Ross Cemetery, in the Park Hill locality, marks the grave of the lovely woman who as a girl received the name of "Prairie Flower" from the President of the United States. The inscription on the headstone says that she died October 20, 1876, at the age of thirty-one years, four months and twelve days. She was then the wife of Leonidos Dobson, a minister of the Gospel, who was originally a Methodist but later became a Presbyterian. To Reverend and Mrs. Dobson a son was born who died in infancy in September, 1868.

Originally the Ross family burial ground, for a number of years, this cemetery was extensively used by various families in later times and is now called the Ross Cemetery. The grave of the "Prairie Flower," as she once was called, is beside that of her father, Principal Chief John Ross, who died in the year 1866.

"The Reverend S. A. Worcester, Cherokee Missionary"

By S. W. Ross

Oklahoma City Times, June 18, 1911

Sturm's Magazine Section, p. 2

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History collection, Grant Foreman, editor

The history of the Cherokees, were the name of Worcester omitted from its pages, would be incomplete. The ashes of this eminent missionary rest at Park Hill, a place famed in that section where once existed the Cherokee Nation.

Nearly one hundred years ago, when the Cherokees were living in their ancient ancestral land east of the Mississippi river, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent their first missionary into their country. He, the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, in 1816 founded the noted mission station which, known as Brainerd, was but a short distance from Missionary Ridge, the scene of terrific battle in the days of the civil war. During the decade following the establishment of the Brainerd Mission there were at least ten other such institutions placed in operation by the board at various points in the Cherokee Nation.

It was to assume charge of one of these Missions, established for the purpose of improving the moral, religious and intellectual character of the Cherokees, that in 1825 the Rev. Samuel A. Worcester of Vermont, arrived in their country. As a missionary of the American Board to these people, he was destined to spend his life among them; to witness and be a participant in the most tragic episode in their history; to wear, like Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, chains for conscience sake; to gain a name pre-eminent in the annals of Indian Missions, and when mortal life was ended to rest beneath the soil of the nation for the welfare of whose people he had so wisely labored.

The original home of the Cherokees was in the region in which are now comprised northern Alabama, Georgia, western North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and the greater part of Tennessee. DeSoto 20 passed through their country in 1540. No other Indian nation has been as conspicuous as they in the history of the United States. They have been called the "Highlanders of America." Many long years ago they had villages, corn fields and peach orchards on the slopes and in the valleys of the Alleghanies. The word, Alleghany is derived from the name by which they called themselves, "Alligweii," meaning "The People." Their first meeting with men of the Anglo-Saxon race occurred about the time of the beginning of the colonies in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. In 1730 they were visited by one Sir Alexander Cummings of Scotland. He had been authorized by King George II of England to make a treaty of "Friendship and Alliance" with the Cherokees. From this date they are often mentioned in colonial history. Sometimes they warred with the colonists. Again, they assisted them in beating back the savage warriors of other tribes and nations. They took little or no part in the War of the Revolution. They were allied by solemn treaty promises with England: The Cherokees never broke a treaty. At the close of the war they are reported as having made some progress "in the arts and knowledge of civilized life." Their surroundings were wild and rugged. There were no schools in their country. The outlook for the future was not bright. The wave of white settlement was ever advancing westward. Soon the frontiers of the colonies touched the boundaries of the Indian country. Onward the ever-increasing settlers moved, until the Cherokees eventually found themselves occupying a tract of country very small in comparison with the vast region of which they were the sole occupants at the time of the planting of the colonies. Their first treaty—the Treaty of Hopewell—made with the United States was signed in 1785. Since that time they have progressed steadily, though sometimes very slowly. Their retrogression, however, would never have been predicted by the most skeptical resident observer. Persecuted often, their numbers decimated by war, the fact of their existence three hundred and seventy-one years after their first meeting with the Spaniards, proves the power of recuperation they have possessed through many an eventful and trying year.

A bright and wonderful page in the history of this old native American is that whereon is recorded the story of the missionaries who, of various Protestant denominations, through a long period of years, gave their time wholly to the instruction and enlightenment of its people. Constant in sunshine and shadow, the influence of these early teachers and ministers is incalculable. One of the foremost men of the Cherokees once asserted that "the most potent factors in their advancement have been the missionary and the teacher, whose functions were often blended in the same person."

Upon reaching the Cherokee Nation in 1825 the Rev. Mr. Worcester found, that while the work of the earlier missionaries had been productive of good result, there was yet a great work to be done. The field of action was wide. The tasks to be done were many and laborious. But before leaving the culture and comfort of his quiet New England home he had counted all costs. He entered upon the work with the determination and zeal which placed him at the head of the missionaries to the Indians. There was no obstacle too formidable to turn him from the performance of his duty. In order to be better able to reach the fullblood Indians he took up the study of their language. He was convinced that the Cherokee alphabet, the recent invention of Sequoyah, "was destined to be an important means of obtaining access to the Indian understanding and thus disseminating among them the great truths he had come to proclaim."

Sequoyah, a Cherokee, lame and frail of body, could read no language, but the knowledge that the white men could place their thoughts upon paper caused him to ponder deeply. If they could do so, why could not the Cherokees. He believed they could. Therefore he set himself to work. For twelve years he persisted. He had to endure many things. His people taunted him. They called him "the crazy fellow." But he succeeded. He, the unlettered Cherokee, had become the Cadmus of the new world. The alphabet or syllabary of eighty-six characters, proved practicable in every respect. The "Cherokee Phoenix," a paper established by the Cherokee Nation, was issued at the capital, New Echota, in 1828. One-half of this paper was printed in English and One-half in Cherokee. Soon the missionaries were to make use of the Cherokee characters in the printing of the Bible and other religious literature for the use of the Indians.

Of the aboriginal languages of America the Cherokee is perhaps the most difficult of mastery. Comparatively few are the white men who have become proficient in its use. The Rev. Mr. Worcester, however, was not to be discouraged. He took up the study of the language and in a few years was able to use it with facility in speaking, reading and writing. But having acquired the language he found that it was impossible to translate many of the passages of Scripture from the English into the Cherokee and retain the original meaning. This discovery decided him to give the Cherokees the Bible in their own language. The board being made acquainted with this decision had cast in Boston a number of fonts of type in the Cherokee characters. A printing press with all necessary materials was procured and sent to the distant Indian nation, where, in the course of some months, the translating and printing of portions of the Old and New Testaments was under way. The entire translation was not made east of the Mississippi, but was completed at Park Hill at a later time.

The "Cherokee Hymn Book" was also issued from the Mission press. This book contained a number of familiar songs, included among them no doubt, being the "First Cherokee Hymn," that is, the first original Cherokee musical composition of a sacred character. It was the composition of one of the young Cherokee girls who was a pupil at one of the Mission schools. She, as related by the Rev. Mr. Chamberlin, who was in charge of the school, had a wonderful dream or vision in which she heard sung the words of the hymn. These words she recalled upon awaking and they were committed to writing. This song, of origin beyond human comprehension, was often sung by the old-time Cherokees in their religious meetings. Yet another publication was the unique "Cherokee Almanac," which years ago was to be found in many Cherokee homes.

While the task of making the Cherokee Bible and Hymn Book was engaging much of his attention the Mission school under the immediate supervision of Mr. Worcester was doing a splendid work. Its pupils were numerous and filled with interest in their studies. And there were other flourishing schools. At old Brainerd, at Carmel, Hightower, Hawais, New Echota, Ahmohee, Willstown and several other places many Cherokee children were being instructed in the English branches and in the knowledge of the Scriptures. Numbers of the adult men and women, some of the leaders of the nation included, were consistent members of the church. Throughout the nation the evidences of the good influence of the missionaries and their teachings were visible. The progress was marked. There were nice homes, many farms and orchards. The Cherokee Nation had its written laws and a constitution. Seemingly the future held great and good things in store for all its people. But the brightest morning is oftentimes portentous of the darkest evening. At the beginning of the third decade of the nineteenth century there arose throughout the state of Georgia the persistent voice of the white men crying for the expulsion of the Cherokees. Mistreatment and imposition were put into practice by the Georgians "for the purpose of wearing out the forbearance of the Cherokees and either forcing them from their homes, or in a frenzy of despair to commit deeds of desperation that would excuse their extermination." Not alone were the Indians mistreated. Even the missionaries did not escape. Those who would not accede to the demands of their persecutors were imprisoned.

A law had been enacted by the legislature of Georgia which forbade any white man to reside in the Cherokee Nation without the taking of an oath of allegiance to Georgia, and in 1831 [John F.] Wheeler, printer of the “Cherokee Phoenix,” and the missionaries, [Elizur] Butler, [Samuel A.] Worcester, [John] Thompson, [Isaac} Proctor and [James J.}Trott, were placed under arrest. These men were all in the Cherokee Nation by permission of the United States agent. They felt that American citizenship should hold good in any part of the United States and declined to take the oath. At a later date, however, some of the missionaries did take the oath, but Revs. Worcester, Butler and Trott positively refused to do so. They were thereupon tried, convicted, dressed in prison garb and set to work with hardened felons in the state penitentiary.

The Rev. Mr. Worcester plead in his defense that he was a citizen of Vermont, and that he had entered the Cherokee Nation by permission of the president of the United States and with the approval of the Cherokees. That the United States had in several treaties acknowledged the Cherokee to be a nation with a guaranteed and definite territory, and that the state of Georgia had no right to interfere with him. His plea was ignored. With his two companions he was sentenced to four years at hard labor.

As a test case the matter was appealed to the supreme court of the United States on March 3, 1832. Its decision, rendered by Chief Justice [John] Marshall, was in favor of the missionary and the Cherokee Nation. Georgia, through her governor, however, defied the decision, threatened opposition, even to the annihilation of the Union, and refused to release the missionary until a year later.

The Cherokees had hoped much from President Jackson, whom they had greatly assisted in the terrible Creek war of 1814, 21 and as a countryman it would seem that the missionaries might have looked for speedy aid from him. But that he was in sympathy with the Georgians is indicated by the following remark, uttered, it is said, upon hearing of the decision of the Supreme Court: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"

The Rev. Royal Robbins, scholar and historian, says, in speaking of the Cherokees and the missionaries:

A favorite measure with President Jackson has been the removal of the Indians in the Southern states, beyond the limits of the republic, to be congregated into a community by themselves under the care of the general government. In the contests of the state of Georgia with the tribe of Cherokees within her borders, and with the United States on the subject, Gen. Jackson has ever favored the pretensions of that state. Arising out of this controversy history has to record the surprising fact that three Christian missionaries, Messrs. Butler, Trott and Worcester, were sentenced by the superior court of Georgia at Lawrenceville, to four years imprisonment at hard labor, in the penitentiary, for residing in the territory occupied by the Cherokees without taking an oath to support the constitution and laws of Georgia. It is consoling, however, to know, and it will appear on the page of history to the latest time, that in the case of these missionaries, the law of Georgia under which they were imprisoned, and by which the state assumed jurisdiction over the Indian Territory, is contrary to the laws and constitution of the United States, and therefore null and void.

The government confessed itself "powerless to enforce the mandate of the court" in so far as the upholding of the treaty rights of the Cherokees was concerned and their removal became a question of a few years only.

Owing to the unsettled condition of the Cherokee country, where the destruction of property was being carried on, and the certainty of the expulsion of the Indians, the missionaries thought it best to take their departure and prepare to resume their work in the new nation which would be established as soon as the Cherokees arrived in their new location far west of the Mississippi. Already there were, living in the then far West, a number of Cherokees who some years previously had voluntarily removed westward. Dr. Worcester was one of the missionaries to make the long journey several years in advance of the arrival of the greater number of the Cherokees.

In 1836, three years before the organization of the Cherokee Nation west of the Mississippi, the Park Hill Mission station, with school and church, was established by Dr. Worcester. Its location, a few miles south from Tahlequah, soon to become the capital of the new nation, is in the beautiful Park Hill Valley. Here has long been one of the oldest settlements of the old Indian Territory, a populous neighborhood. In this quiet and picturesque place the veteran missionary was to spend twenty-three years. His work here was similar to that which had occupied him in the old nation. The translations which had been interrupted by his imprisonment and the troubles of the Cherokees in Georgia, were resumed. The printing office, the first in the Indian Territory, was again put in operation. A more complete edition of the hymn book was printed, and at length the Cherokee Bible was completed. Much time and labor had been required in the preparation and completion of this book, but through continually busy, Dr. Worcester found time to organize the "Cherokee Bible Society," the "Cold Water Army," a temperance society for the young people, and to look after the interests of the Mission school. Many of the foremost citizens of the nation received their education, wholly or in part, at the old Park Hill school. Some of the pupils were fullblood Cherokees. Others were of white and Indian blood, the white blood predominating in a number. Inter-marriage between the two races had long been prevalent.

Dr. Worcester lived to witness many changes in the Cherokee Nation. Rapidly recovering from the great losses sustained as a result of the expulsion from Georgia, its progress during the 'Forties and 'Fifties of the past century was truly remarkable. Never before in their history had the Cherokees ever enjoyed so long and tranquil a period. It must have been a source of great comfort to the veteran missionary to realize that much of this advancement was due to his efforts. In many a home in lonely valley, in silent woodland, on wind-swept prairie, the power, the desire to enjoy the better things of life was the result of the instruction given and received in the Mission school and church. "A man he was to all the country dear," for those who knew him well testify that he was simple in manner, cheerful in disposition, conscientious in action and wholly consecrated to his calling. And as for the Cherokee people, whose land was his land so many changeful years—

To them his heart, his loves, his griefs were giv'n,

But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heav'n,

As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,

Swells from its vale, and leaves the storm,

Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,

Eternal sunshine settles on its head.

The long and active career of Dr. Worcester came to a close in 1859 at his Park Hill home. He lies in the "Old Mission Burial Ground." There, surrounded by the dust of members of his family and of fellow workers in the missionary field, beneath the shadow of the oaks, his monument may be seen with its brief inscription recalling to later generations the name, the work of the greatest missionary to the Cherokees.

Tobacco Factory

An Interview with S. W. Ross

By Elizabeth Ross

Park Hill, Oklahoma, March 18, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Some years ago there were living some old Cherokee citizens who recalled that manufactured tobacco was once produced in the Cherokee Nation. The proprietor of the factory was Elias C. Boudinot, Senior. 22 He was a Cherokee citizen, born in the old nation east of the Mississippi River, in 1835. He was a son of Elias Boudinot, first editor of the "Cherokee Phoenix," 23 at New Echota, Georgia. After the death of Elias Boudinot at Park Hill, Indian Territory, in 1839, the step-mother of the Boudinot children took them to New England. When Elias C. Boudinot, Senior, and William P. Boudinot, his older brother, were grown they returned to the Cherokee Nation. Elias C. Boudinot usually resided within the state of Arkansas, but was the owner of land and property in the Cherokee Nation.

The Boudinot tobacco factory was established a few years after the close of the Civil War, according to those familiar with the subject. The factory was situated at no great distance from the Indian Territory. 24 Nearest town to the factory was Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

According to Elias C. Boudinot, by the stipulations of a treaty between the Cherokees and the United States Government, the citizens of the former were not to be subjected to payment of internal revenue taxes in the event any of them engaged in the manufacture of certain products. Accordingly, the tobacco factory was established and placed in operation. Merchants in Indian Territory and elsewhere engaged in selling the tobacco produced at this factory and a satisfactory business was being realized by the proprietor, when United States officers visited and confiscated the plant, because of non-compliance with internal revenue laws of the government.

Excellent grades of tobacco had been produced at the Boudinot factory and the various merchants who had engaged in selling the product were greatly disappointed because of the confiscation and closing. So was the proprietor, whose construction of the language of the treaty had been responsible for his venture. He had been subjected to considerable damage, as the construction of the factory and its equipment had cost him a large sum of money. As a consequence Elias C. Boudinot entered suit against the government but the determination of the case was long delayed, but in 1882, fifteen years after confiscation of the plant, the United Court of Claims at Washington then decided in his favor and awarded satisfactory damages. 25

Elias C. Boudinot has been credited with giving the name of Vinita to that city. Originally the town was called Downingville, for the Cherokee principal chief, Lewis Downing. The Cherokee National Council once passed an act incorporating the "town of Downingville," but the name was superceded by that of Vinita. The latter name was given it has been related, by Elias C. Boudinot in honor of Miss Vinnie Ream, famous Washington sculptress, later Mrs. Richard M. Hoxie.

The home of Elias C. Boudinot was for a number of years in the city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he was a prominent member of the bar. His death occurred at his home in 1892 [5].

Upon confiscation of the Boudinot tobacco factory in 1867, no other similar enterprise was attempted to be placed in operation in the Cherokee Nation. Those who had considered extensive growing of the tobacco plant, so that the factory might be supplied, turned their attention to other products.

Traveler's Home

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

July, 6, 1937

S. W. Ross

Park Hill

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

One of the buildings of early days, which stood in Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation until comparatively recent years, was built of large and wide hewn logs of yellow pine. This old house was situated only a short distance west of the present post office building; it stood directly east of the old brick building long known as the National Hotel.

This log building was long the home of Jesse Wolfe, and was operated as a hostelry. In times when Tahlequah was an isolated little town, reached only over winding and rugged roads, the hostelry received guests from time to time. Its owner was a son of the first settler on the later site of Tahlequah. This pioneer settler was Young Wolfe, half white and half Cherokee, a Methodist preacher, once well-known to people of the early period. There were three sons, John, Thomas B., and Jesse Wolfe. The first named went to California about 1850 or 1852 with the gold hunters and spent the remainder of his life in the "golden west." Thomas B. Wolfe served in a clerical capacity in the National Council at times, practiced law in the Cherokee courts, and lived and died at Tahlequah. Jesse Wolfe engaged in various occupations, was once named caretaker of the national buildings, and gave attention to his hostelry.

Today, beyond the height which overlooks Tahlequah from the east, in a long neglected spot, stands a weather-beaten marble stone upon which is inscribed the name of Jesse Wolfe who died in 1876. His age was approximately sixty-three years. The Masonic emblem is engraved upon the stone.

After the death of Jesse Wolfe, his widow lived in the old pine log house for a number of years. The old time-stained sign-board on a pole in front of the door stood until a short time before the hostelry was demolished. The faded legend, "Traveler's Home, J. Wolfe Proprietor," remained sufficiently legible to be read until its removal. Old men and women who recalled the early and eventful years of Tahlequah, related a number of interesting anecdotes in connection with the old building.

Along in 1912-13 and for a few years later, the large front room of the old hostelry was used as a place for the storage of print paper and other printing office material by J. P. and H. A. Hardy, who were engaged in publishing the "Tahlequah Arrow," one of the oldest newspapers of the town. For some time a daily was issued besides the weekly.

When the "Traveler's Home" was finally torn down and the logs hauled away, some rusty and old-fashioned nails were found. These nails had been utilized in portions of the building, such as floors and sidings where plank was used, and to secure the boards or wide old shingles of the room to the sheeting.

In the early period there were several inns and hostelries to be found in Tahlequah. Although travel was by wagon, horseback or afoot, quite a number of people arrived in the Cherokee capital during the weeks and months of a year and patronized some one or the other of the stopping places.

Authority: Recollections of early day citizens of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. S. W. Ross remembers when Mrs. Wolfe lived in the old building.

"Wild Bees"

An Interview with Mr. S. W. Ross

By Elizabeth Ross

April 27, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Wild bees were numerous in what is at present Cherokee County upon the arrival of the first settlers more than a century ago. Stories pertaining to old-time bee hunters have been narrated, indicating that some of them were quite successful in bee culture. Many years ago in the old Tahlequah district, a man was placed on trial in the District Court charged with the theft of a quantity of sugar from the store of a man who conducted his business in one of the populous neighborhoods. The judge expressed surprise that the defendant appropriated the sugar when he was so successful as a bee raiser that he had more "sweetening" than any citizen in his section. Having been pronounced guilty of the theft the defendant was lashed by the District Sheriff.

Many of the bee raisers trailed or coursed the bees, watching them as they took flight and then following in the direction indicated. The bees follow a straight line always and in course of time the men who followed the course of the bees became very proficient, almost invariably finding the hollow trees in which the insects stored their honey. Sometimes the "bee trees" as they were called, were not cut down until long after they were found. The finder made a mark upon the bark of the tree with an ax or knife. Others who later came to the same tree and found it marked did not fell the tree as the mark upon the tree indicated ownership, except that occasionally there were youths who having found a marked tree went out in the darkness of night and chopped it down so that they might eat as much of the honey as possible.

Some of those who did not course bees but went forth in search of trees, in which honey was stored, succeeded in finding such tress and chopped them down only for the honey, destroying the bees in some instances, by the use of much smoke. Smoke was made by burning cotton cloth in the near vicinity of the bees.

Bees were sometimes found in caves beneath the hills and in the sides of cliffs. Usually the quantity of honey in the cave was large, the bees having stored it away during a number of years. More than fifty years ago there was an old man who lived in the Sugar Loaf Mountain locality several miles east of the Illinois River, who possessed more stands of bees than anyone else for miles around. This man was an Indian, probably a Creek, of the name of Wildcat, who seems to have raised bees more for the pleasure he derived than for profit. Except for disposing of rather small quantities of honey about the country he seems to have made no effort to sell it in large quantities.

Several years ago when the old Baptist Church at Tahlequah was standing bees found entrance to the upper portion between the ceiling and roof and stored a good-sized quantity of honey before their presence was discovered. Within recent years many of the bees seen in out-of-the-way places extracting honey from wild flowers, are larger than the wild bees first encountered by the pioneers. Presumably they are bees of improved varieties which escaped at the time of swarming and found hollow trees in the hills and woodlands in which to build.

Wild Pigeons

Elizabeth Ross, Interviewer

September 25, 1937

Interview with S. W. Ross

Park Hill

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

Persons who recall incidents of the late seventies and early eighties of the last century give some interesting information about wild pigeons. These birds were very numerous at the periods mentioned. Often great flocks in countless numbers flew above prairies and woods, so that the sky was invisible at times. Often the pigeons flew so low that many were slain with shotguns, but the greater number were killed on the roosts.

At various points in the hill country beyond the Illinois River, as well as elsewhere, the pigeons after feeding during the day about the valleys and woodlands, flew to the roosting places. There the trees were covered to such an extent that large limbs were often broken by the weight of the thousands of birds and crashed to the ground. Men and boys with sticks knocked scores and hundreds of the pigeons from the low-hanging branches of the trees as torch lights were carried about the roosting places.

In some instances nets were used in which to snare large numbers of pigeons in a short time. Those who netted the pigeons shipped most of them to buyers in the large cities at a distance and realized satisfactory returns.

From many of the people of the decades of the forties and fifties of the nineteenth century there have been preserved anecdotes relating to the numerous pigeons of the long bygone time. Their numbers were then larger than in later times. A sound as of the rumbling of distant thunder indicated the coming of vast flocks of pigeons before they became visible on the horizon, soon to sweep like a great cloud across the sky.

So numerous were the wild pigeons during portions of the fall and winter seasons that the majority of the people believed that they would exist for an indefinite period of the future; but in course of time, before the close of the decade of the eighties, the birds became more scarce, and after passage of several more years none were to be seen. The flocks had so dwindled that the last pigeons seen in the hills were only a few dozen in number.

Various reasons have been assigned concerning the disappearance of the wild pigeons. It is possible that a great migration was made to the Republic of Columbia where wild pigeons exist in large numbers. But nevertheless, some strange opinions have been expressed. One of these is to the effect that the pigeons in one vast body started to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, became too weary to fly farther, and falling into the water were all drowned.

Old men of the Cherokee hills in speaking of years long past when wild game of various kinds was plentiful sometimes refer to the periods when the wild pigeons could be definitely expected each year. They also mention the places where once the pigeons had their roosting places in rugged valleys and on slopes of the wooded hills.

Some of the last few pigeons seen were in trees near the banks of the Barren Fork River near the present village of Welling.

Authorities: S. W. Ross, Park Hill, Oklahoma.

Newspaper mention in past years.

"Witch Woman"

Interview with S. W. Ross

By Hattie Turner, Field Worker

Park Hill, Oklahoma, April 9, 1938

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There was some years ago, in the Tahlequah District, an old woman who was greatly dreaded by superstitious persons. It was said that she was a great conjurer, able to put "spoils" upon persons or animals, and also able to change herself into an animal or fowl whenever so inclined. In appearance the old woman was not dangerous looking. She was stout and shaped somewhat like a big bag of wheat bran. She had a round full-moon face and her hair was white. She wore large brass-rimmed spectacles and rode to and fro, in the land, on a sorrel pony. The old woman liked to find out what others were talking about and finally had a most painful experience.

There was a big house, several miles from the old woman's cabin, down in the hills and she greatly desired to ascertain what was going on in this home. So on a gloomy and cold day in the winter time, the old woman changed herself into a good-sized domestic cat and set out for the home. Finally she arrived, watched until someone opened the door, stole silently in and sat down among the household cats in a warm corner. With half-closed eyes the old woman watched the people in the house and she kept her ears open, listening to all that was being said. Just one thing troubled the old woman, she had neglected to get a supply of coffee when last over at Tahlequah and at breakfast had not had her usual three big cups of black coffee. She felt a slight headache, a forerunner of the severe headache she knew would afflict her unless she could soon procure coffee. On her way home, she had told herself, she would stop at a neighbor's and borrow a small quantity of grain coffee and soon find relief. But she felt she must remain in the big house until she found out a secret, so she lingered. All went well until one of the young children trod upon the old woman's foot. Forgetting herself, she sprang up and clawed the child so badly it squalled in pain and fear. The owner of the big house sprang up and tried to shoo the strange cat out at the door, but the old woman wouldn't go, growled at the man, and bit him on the leg of his boot. The man lost his temper, grasped the strange cat by its tail and flung it hard into the yard upon the snow-covered ground. But instead of leaving, the cat returned to the house and scratched at the door, yowling in a hateful manner. The man then took a shovelful of hot ashes and embers and threw them out upon the cat, which was badly burned and singed. The cat then limped away into the bushes.

Two days later some people, on their way to Tahlequah, stopped in at the old woman's cabin to ask if she wanted to send to the stores for anything, and then it was, the old woman was found in bed, severely burned upon her arms, hands and feet. She had slipped, the old woman told, and fallen into the fire and would have to lie in bed some days.

The old woman's tale was pronounced false. It was said that she was the cat that was burned by the hot ashes and embers. Two hunters passing near her cabin, on the day she was singed in cat form, saw a badly scorched cat limping to the door of the old woman's house. The door opened of itself and the cat went within. No doubt, the people said, the burned cat and the old woman were one and the same.

Witch Woman II

S. W. Ross

Park Hill

Taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

There was an old woman of the Tahlequah district, who, in bygone years, rode to and fro in the land on the back of a hardy pony. White-headed, with a round, full-moon face and wearing brass-rimmed spectacles, the woman was of rather benevolent aspect, but there were many who looked upon her with fear. It was said by the more superstitious that there was no more powerful conjurer in the Cherokee country. Many anecdotes were related concerning her weird and strange achievements. Some of tales survive to this day. One of them concerns the alleged ability of the woman to transform herself into the body of an animal, a domestic cat preferably, and in that form prowl afar, entering houses and learning secrets otherwise unprocurable. But in course of time, the witch woman met with a painful experience and abandoned her favorite method of disguising herself.

One day in winter time when the sky was obscured by dark clouds and snow lay upon the ground, with an icy wind from the north, the old woman changed herself into the form of a cat and went to a house several miles distant from her cabin in the hills. When someone opened the door the strange cat gained entrance and sat quietly with the household cats. With eyes closed and ears open, the old woman listened intently to the conversation, and for awhile all was well. But for some reason the old woman was not in the best of humor. Perhaps she had a headache, caused from having had no strong coffee to drink at breakfast. Anyway, she felt out of sorts but maintained composure until a child trod upon one of her paws, whereupon the strange cat growled and bit and scratched the child so that it screeched with pain. The owner of the house then opened the door and "shooed" the cat, but it refused to go. He then kicked the cat, picked it up and flung it with force far out upon the ground. But instead of leaving, the cat ran back and clawed at the door, emitting fierce yowls. The man inside the house then threw a shovelful of hot ashes and embers out of the door and upon the cat, which was badly singed and ran away, uttering hateful cries.

Several days later some persons passing the old woman's cabin entered to talk with her and found her lying in bed, badly burned about the feet and arms. The old woman said that she had slipped and fallen into the fire, but in course of time the truth came out and it was found that the witch woman had been burned while in the form of a cat. She finally recovered from her injuries and rode forth again on her favorite pony.

She rode to Tahlequah at intervals from her home "down the Illinois River" and met acquaintances with whom she talked and laughed after the manner of other old full-blood women of the period, nothing in her appearance indicating that she possessed the strange and peculiar powers attributed to her by the believers in witchcraft and conjuration. This old woman was seen by S. W. Ross and Edmund Campbell.

End Notes

1. The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. It provided comradeship, promoted increases in pensions, operated veterans' homes, and offered relief for widows and orphans of Union soldiers.

2. Fort Gibson is located on Highway OK-80 in Oklahoma and is Southeast of Tulsa

3. The Advocate was in many ways the descendant of the Cherokee Phoenix (1828-1834), which had been published in the Cherokee Nation before removal. Published first in 1844, it continued until the twentieth century, with breaks for the Civil War and at other times.

4. For further information on the publication, see Littlefield and Parins, American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals, 1826-1924.

5. That is, the National Council could admit claimants to the tribal rolls if they were satisfied that the claimant had Cherokee ancestors.

6. Just before Oklahoma became a state in 1907, tribal government were suspended.

7. So named because the previous Principal Chief was Louis Downing, who had died during the same term of office.

8. La grippe was the medical name given during this period of time for what is now termed the Influenza Virus or flu.

9. Boudinot was also a leader of the group that signed the removal treaty, or the Treaty of New Echota, in 1835.

10. No documented title could be found for this work, so it was supplied from the contents.

11. Fort Gibson is located on Highway OK-80 in Oklahoma and is southeast of Tulsa.

12. Later, Elias Cornelius Boudinot was awarded damages by the United Court of Claims at Washington for the confiscation and closing of his tobacco factory.

13. Fort Gibson is located on highway OK-80 in Oklahoma and is Southeast of Tulsa. Several original 19th century structures from the original fort remain.

14. Muskogee, Oklahoma is located on Highway 64, southeast of Tulsa.

15. Stand Watie was the brother of Elias Boudinot, and leader of the Cherokee faction opposing John Ross. His home was also burned in the Civil War by Cherokee forces loyal to the Union.

16. The Advocate was in many ways the descendant of the Cherokee Phoenix (1828-1834), which had been published in the Cherokee Nation before removal.

17. The last Chief served after the Cherokees were forced to accept the allotment of tribal lands to individuals, hence the signing of deeds. This article was written a year after tribal governments were dissolved and Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

18. This historic building is now back in the hands of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

19. Fort Gibson is located on Highway OK-80 in Oklahoma and is southeast of Tulsa.

20. Hernando DeSoto, early Spanish explorer of the southern Mississippi valley and of the southeastern United States.

21. Also known as the "Red Stick" war, in which many Cherokees took up arms against the Muskogees (Creeks) on the side of the United States.

22. Elias Cornelius Boudinot, so-called Senior in later years to distinguish him from Elias C. Boudinot, Jr., his nephew and son of William P. Boudinot.

23. The Cherokee Phoenix was the first American Indian newspaper with the first issue being printed on February 28, 1828. Since other tribes were facing the same issues as the Cherokee's, Elias Boudinot requested that the paper be for all tribes, so in 1829 the name of the newspaper was changed to The Cherokee Phoenix and Indian Advocate. The paper was published untl May 31, 1834.

24. Before this, however, Boudinot lost his case before the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision that made it clear to Boudinot and other Indians that the government did not consider itself bound to treaties and that acts of Congress superseded the terms of treaties signed with Indian nations.

25. Actually, Elias Cornelius Boudinot's dates are 1835-1890.

Author: .
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