My mother was Susie Beck, a Cherokee, and the daughter of Charlotte DOWNING
and Ellis BECK and she was born in Georgia. My father was Albert McGhee. I do
not remember the dates of their births.
Removal to Indian Territory
My mother was about twelve years old when they were forced to leave
Georgia and I have heard her say that before they left their homes there that
the white people would come into their houses and look things over and when
they found something that they liked, they would say, "This is mine, I am
going to have it," etc. When they were gathering their things to start
they were driven from their homes and collected together like so many cattle.
Some would try to take along something which they loved, but were forced
to leave it, if it was of any size. The trip was made in covered wagons and
this made many of the women sick, but they were forced along just the same.
When they reached streams and rivers, they did not want to cross and they were
dragged on the boats. Grandmother always remembered it and I have often heard
her say, "Some day you will be taxed out of your homes here just as we
The New Home
The country, when they reached here, was a wild one and no place to
live. The prairies were covered with tall grass, the timber was big and thick,
there was lots of wild game, such as turkey, deer, wild pigeons, prairie
chickens, squirrels and rabbits were numerous. The folks began looking the
country over and from the fact that they were supposed to draw rations to live
on the first year they did not want to get too far away, so they settled on
the Long Prairie near where my mother married my father, Albert McGhee, later.
When my grandparents reached here, and after selecting a location, the
men set about building their families a shelter. With plenty of timber
available they began to cut logs and would, when they had enough for a house,
help each other put them in place. These were at first often daubed with mud
and anything that they could devise was used for a roof. The women began to
gather berries and wild fruit, but could only dry them for winter use. They
did get a little seed so tried to raise what they could the first years and
each year became a little easier. Life was hard in those days, no stoves, no
lights, only the fireplace to cook on with a skillet and lid, and maybe a
grease light. Looms were made and also spinning wheels. The women used to spin
the yarn for the home use and weave the cloth used for clothing, in the home.
They were making the best of it and trying to make homes for their families,
adding to their crude one and two room log houses as they could, clearing more
ground each year and getting more stock on the range around them until the War
The Civil War
After the war was on, parties were always coming and trying to get the
men folks into the War, often killing them if they would not join. Grandfather
Ellis Beck, with others made their way to Texas leaving the women behind, not
thinking it would last so long. My grandfather died in Texas, though some
money from him was sent to his family here.
When men would come to our house and ask if there were any menfolks
there, Mother would not lie, but would say, "They have gone south."
Food was scarce and sometimes when they would have a dinner ready for us the
soldiers would ride up, see it and eat it, leaving us without anything. The
chickens were kept under the house and if wanted one we would have to crawl
under the house and get it. Mr. BRODIE kept the mill and sometimes the women
would make him give them some meal when they did not have any. He had a hog
that had been fattened by running around the mill, and the women folks were
needing feed so badly that they, including Rachel SMITH who had a bull dog
trained to kill hogs, killed Brodieís hog. After they had done it he told
them, "I donít have any meat, will you give my family some?" They
did give them a piece. Another time I have heard Mother tell of the women
forcing another woman who had been hiding her apples to divide with those
around her. Sometimes the women would knock down a poor old cow, kill and skin
Times grew so hard that several of the women with their children started
to Texas to the men, but I do not remember the reason they did not get there.
I do remember hearing my mother tell of stopping on the road at big fine
houses that were deserted. Sometimes they would stay for weeks at one of these
till something would cause them to move quickly. We children would draw
pictures on the walls in these houses.
My mother, who had married Albert MCGHEE, would often put dresses on
Dave McGhee, who then was about fourteen and her husbandís youngest brother,
and he would play with the girls to keep him from being found by the
I have heard my grandmother say that she helped lay out a dozen men
during this time.
Mother was married three times, first to Albert McGhee and they had four
children. Next she married Alfred HALFBREED and had one son, Webster. Later
she married Mr. RILEY who had a store on Grand River Prairie. I do not
remember his name, but he had a son, Jack. He built Mother a new house and he
owned lots of Texas cattle. She stayed here until she went to the toll gate on
the Illinois River to care for her mother and Iran Beck who lived with her
mother and who was blind. Grandmother and Mother had kept the gate when I was
small and most of the days when I was not being boarded out or sent to school
were spent here.
When I was nine years old, Mother sent us children to Mrs. BUTLERís
and Mrs. SNAILís to board and go to school at the Butler School on Honey
Creek. She paid our board with yearlings. Our first teacher was Mrs. WADE.
From there we were sent to Macís Mission for three terms and boarded at
Cecelia TIGERís about a quarter of a mile from the school. After that we
went back to the school on Honey Creek.
When I was eighteen I married Jerry HANNA. He had to get twelve signers
for us to marry. We went to live on Cowskin Prairie where I had a nice three
room frame house with a stove, and a fireplace for heat. How different from
the way my mother had to live, for I have seen her grit enough meal for
breakfast and then have to cook it on an outdoor fire. Often for supper she
had to cook a big pot of mush, besides having to wash with a battling stick.
We had four children, and life was pleasant, as we had a nice home and good
neighbors. When we wanted a quilt quilted we would cook a big dinner and
invite the neighbors in to spend the day and they would finish the quilt that
day. I pieced my first quilt when I was fifteen, and it was blue and white.
We had good times at the dances, which were square dances. The neighbors
would help peel apples to dry or to be made into butter. They helped cut
pumpkins for drying, though by then we had cans for our fruit, and five gallon
jars for the pickles and so did not have to dry everything as Mother and
We had church and Sunday School on Sunday. My husband died when I was
twenty-eight years old and later I married John JONES and we had three
children. John died thirty-four years ago and I continued to live at Dodge
till all the children left there. Thirteen years ago, I came to Miami and have
made my home with my daughter Emma since then.