Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History
Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 10, 1937
Name: Mrs. George Scott
Post Office: Stigler, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Father: Green McCurtain
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Mother: Kate Springs
Place of Birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Florence Duke
Interview # 6159
Many men took part in the change of the Territory days and early statehood of Oklahoma. While the Indians were fast accepting the laws and customs of the white race, none had more faithfully kept the interest of the Indians at heart than Green McCurtain, last Principal Chief of the Choctaws. In an interesting interview with his daughter, Mrs. George Scott, of Stigler, Oklahoma, we catch a brief glimpse of Governor McCurtain at work and at play.
As long as I can remember Mrs. Scott has had a portrait of her father on the piano. She assured me that it was very life-like. Speaking of portraits lead Mrs. Scott to bring out a great number of old photographs, some faded by time. There were pictures of Governor McCurtain and family, his home, his ranch, his cowboys standing by the old chuck wagon. Also pictures of his fellow men with whom he had associated in government, pictures of committees, councils, etc.
As we looked at these pictures, Mrs. Scott told of her father as she remembered him, riding about the ranch, busy with affairs of the Choctaw Government, often out late at nights.
He grew up in the Choctaw Nation and lived the life of a typical Indian boy of that time. He loved sports, baseball most of all. Men rode days and nights to see a game in which he took part. Occasionally a game would end in a near-riot involving spectators and players in a free-for-all in which several lives were lost.
Green McCurtain was married to Miss Kate Springs, January 15, 1874, at Tuskahoma, Choctaw Nation. A great banquet was held in celebration of the event and many of the Indians were present. After the wedding he took his bride for a visit among his people.
He established a thriving mercantile business by buying furs, taking them to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and trading for merchandise, which he in turn sold to the people of his community. Soon owned two stores in Haskell County.
At the age of twenty-six he was elected sheriff, for the sole purpose of capturing two bad men. However, he met them by accident on his way to Fort Smith. They were returning from Fort Smith and their bags were loaded with liquors. Governor McCurtain rode out in front of them to halt them. There he captured the men.
He was elected Chief of the Choctaws in 1896 and retired in 1900. Then reelected in 1902. No man had any more affairs with the Choctaw Nation than Mr. McCurtain and his acquaintances are the men that have made the state of to-day.
The feud in Tuskahoma between Green McCurtain and Thomas W. Hunter came about because, as candidate for Principal Chief, Mr. Green McCurtain won out. The law of the old Choctaw Nation was that ballots had to be counted by the speaker of the house. In order to elect a speaker, the Hunter faction, headed by G. W. Duke and assisted by the United States Marshal and a force of Indian police, undertook and refused to admit representative elect, George Washington of Towson County, and C. C. Choate of Cole County in the building. The idea was that they had to have a quorum to do business and elect a speaker. By keeping those two men out, who were in favor of McCurtain, it would give the Hunter faction the majority and thus they would elect one who was friends to the Hunter people. On Monday morning Mr. McCurtain and representative elect who were friendly with him, went to the capital but were prevented from entering by the Hunter faction who had guns. With Governor McCurtain's quick power of thinking he saw the remedy at once and asked the United States Marshal to send his men to him. They came out and stayed until the United States Soldiers came. The soldiers arrived and took charge of the building, disarming everyone who entered the building. Governor McCurtain then entered with his friends and each of them selected a man and bodily threw him out of the capitol. They elected a speaker of the house, who counted the ballots and declared Green McCurtain elected Principal Chief of Choctaw Nation.
Mrs. Springs owned a merchandise store. During the War she buried the groceries in the woods near her home, and stored the other merchandise in the house. Each week she would dig up a supply of groceries. None of her neighbors had coffee to drink so they had formed a habit of gathering at her home to enjoy the coffee, which she always served when they came. Social activities were few during the War and these visits from the neighbors became a form of good entertainment.
The Northern soldiers came to the vicinity and one afternoon they visited Mrs. Springs. They entered the home and began to destroy the merchandise which she had stored away. Mrs. Springs then went to the captain and asked him not to destroy her things. He then asked her permission to rob one of the bee hives that stood near the house. Mrs. Springs gave him the consent to do so and the soldiers robbed a hive, but the general paid her $5.00 for the honey. He then returned later, asking that bread be cooked for his supper. The slaves were kneeling before a great open fireplace, which served the purpose of an oven, for baking bread. They were baking bread for their supper. The soldiers wanted bread for their supper also and they came in and began taking the bread from the fire place before it had finished baking, the captain was told of this, and at his orders, the men again left the house. This group of soldiers came often to this house, while they were there stationed near, but were always courteous in their treatment of Mrs. Springs and her household.
Transcribed for OKGenWeb by Lola Crane <email@example.com> March 26, 2002.