Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
History Project for Oklahoma
Date: September 18, 1937
Alfred Dudley Self
Post Office: Sheriff's
Office, Hugo, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 4 May
Place of Birth: Selfs,
Texas, 9 miles north of Honey Grove
Father: Tom Self
Place of Birth: Selfs,
Information on father:
Mother: Jennie Broadfoot
Place of birth: Selfs,
Information on mother:
Both parents buried Selfs, Texas
Field Worker: Hazel B.
My parents moved to Jackson
County, Indian Territory, near the village of Jackson in the fall of 1897.
They settled on Crowder Prairie just about six miles from Jackson, which
was our Post Office, where we got our infrequent mail. We came in covered
wagons of course, and brought everything we had from Selfs, a little village
about nine miles north of Honey Grove, Texas, which was named for the large
amounts of honey found in a grove on that site by the first settlers there.
Selfs, of course, was named for the Self family, whose members were legend.
We were the first white
family to settle on Crowder Prairie. There was no school there for the
first few years we were there and I went back to Selfs and attended Hammett
College there. They taught everything in that college from the first grade
on up and through college courses in just about everything thing one wanted
to major in; mechanics, electricity, telegraphy, law and medicine. The
college was supported by donations from prosperous citizens and “Professor
Hammett” managed it; but after five or six years of his managing some of
the supporters got tired of the way he managed it. They had a “bust up”
and the college was discontinued.
Then we got a school about
four miles from where we lived, and I walked that four miles to school
for about four terms. My two brothers, Henry and Roy, and my four sisters
went to Crowder Prairie School, as it was called. Crowder Prairie is about
six miles long and is the biggest prairie in the Choctaw County.
We lived at the south
end of it. We came to the Indian Territory to “grow up with the country”
and we did just that.
My father farmed and after
we grew old enough to work he set aside four or five acres for each of
us and permitted us to plant it, in whatever we wished; corn or cotton,
and whatever it yielded was ours. Sometimes we would make as high as a
bail and a quarter of cotton to the acre, always as much as three-fourths
and usually a bail to the acre. We worked all over the farm, and of course
Father did too, but all that was raised on our patches was ours. We had
our ponies and saddles too, which were bought and paid for, and raised
a little corn to feed them, though they required very little feed because
the range was fine land they could usually get by without fee, except in
the coldest part of the winter. They were just little Choctaw ponies. They
were like the cattle here, cold blooded, not highly bred, and would never
grow very large. The Indians never feed their stock unless the grass was
entirely gone. We each had our catching rope and learned to use it. We
would be roping the calves and riding them just as soon as they were big
enough. We spent Sundays roping and riding calves, going up one branch
and down another, fighting wasps and bumble bees and swimming in the summer.
Why on earth the folks objected to us boys going in the creek is something
I still don’t understand. We had a lot of fun and the only thing that hurt
us was the whipping that we always got for having gone in the creek. And
they would always know it no matter how long we would lay out to get our
hair thoroughly dry.
Speaking of bumble bees,
I remember once we found a nest of them and told me they would stir them
up and for me to hold a jug and if they way the jug they would every on
go right in it. They never saw the jug but they stung me good and proper.
In winter after the crops
were gathered we went to school week days, and on Saturdays after enough
wood was cut to cook with until the following Saturday, we could go hunting
down on the creeks and branches, but we generally did that at night; coon,
possum and an occasional skunk. We got from five to fifteen cents for the
hides; if a skunk hide was especially nice we got a quarter for it. Produce
could not be sold at all. We just had to eat all the eggs, chickens, etc.,
which we produced on the farm. We raised lots of good things to eat too.
There was a gin at Mahew,
about eight miles north of us, and one at Lake West where we would get
out cotton ginned. Then we would take it to Honey Grove to market and buy
flour, coffee and sugar and a few clothes, especially shoes. We went barefooted
until it was so cold we couldn’t and then bought those old rawhide
buckle shoes which never wore out. We’d just outgrow them. I remember and
old man who carried the mail from Bennington to Jackson. I never saw him
with a shoe on. He must have gone barefoot winter and summer. His name
was Wax Lee. It was about eight miles from Old Bennington to Jackson, and
he made the trip three times a week. I think the mail came from Caddo to
It was a good days drive
from our place to Selfs, Texas, where would go and spend the night, and
go on to Honey Grove next day to sell our cotton and make our purchases,
then back to Selfs to spend that night and home the next day. Three days
it nearly always took us. We lived on Crowder Prairie eleven years and
farmed and raised stock. “TS” was our brand. We would drive three or four
hundred head of steers to Honey Grove to ship from there. We raised and
shipped lots of hogs after the railroad came through Boswell. We raised
so much corn and bought a good deal, then bought hogs, fed them and tried
to get out a car load each month. If you never tried to pen a hog you can
have no idea how difficult it is. He always watches you and backs away
from you. It is awfully hard to show a hot the gate because of that, but
if you don’t rush him he will finally find it. If you rush him he gets
frightened and will run over you or between your legs. Once a great big
old hog attempted to run between my legs and I caught him by each flank
and rode him all over the lot before he dislodged me; and I was a great
big boy too.
We boys were permitted
to have our own hogs and cows and calves. We used to help Mother break
wild cows to be milked. One of us would guard her in a corner of a fence
while Mother did the milking. We guarded with a pitch fork, and we didn’t
have to prod them many times either until they were afraid not to stand
and be milked. After first we roped off the calves, until we learned by
knocking them under the chin they would stand off until we were through
milking. One time I had the calf rope tied around my waist, after that
big old calf dragged me all over the lot I was willing to just hold the
end of the rope.
Wild steers would fight
a man on horseback if they got mad and you would crowd them. The cattle
raised on the range were not of much account. There were too small, but
sometimes on would grow to be big. We used to buy steers from William Leflore,
a Choctaw Indian, $25.00 was his standard price for a steer no matter how
young or old he was. Once when we bought fifty head of steers from him
and we were in the lot cutting out the ones we wanted (he would give one
their choice at $25.00 each), one big old eight year old steer, with horns
so wide he could not have gone in an ordinary door caught my Father’s eye.
Mr. Leflore said he didn’t want to sell that one. He had sold him again
and again and he always got away from the drivers and it was understood
that a buyer never was to return to the Leflore’s range after cattle that
got away came back. That was our loss. But Father took a chance on this
eight year old fellow and got him away too, but we really had trouble as
we went through Boswell. He ran into Duncan’s Dry Goods Sore and came out
with a bolt of cloth hung on those immense horns. That was a squally time,
but we go him to Paris, Texas and shipped him away.
We had some pretty good
times. When we first came over here we were afraid to get out after dark.
We went in and breathlessly waited for something to happen, we didn’t know
what. But it never happened. We got brave then and even went to one of
the Choctaw Indian Snake Dances. I guess it must have been what we would
call a picnic because they cleared off a ball diamond upon which to play
Indian ball and cleared and made a race track for their race horses.
They rode the horses slick; just a halter, and the riders wore only something
like a bathing truck of today and a feather head dress.
I was little, that was
about 1898, but I remember seeing the races and the Indian ball game, and
then along about sun down the Snake Dance. I believe that men and boys
only participated. I don’t recall any women and girls in it, but maybe
I couldn’t tell because they had on blankets, lots of beads, feather head
dress, necklaces, anklets and bracelets of animal claws and teeth. They
danced around a big log heap as they chanted to the beating of the drum,
which was a home made affair, and entirely unmusical. As they warmed up
to the dance blankets were thrown aside and they danced mostly in their
beads, necklaces, and a sort of breech clout. But I don’t believe that
there were any women or girls in that dance. That was held at Frazier,
the oldest Indian settlement in the whole country. It was not a church
ground though. It was in the summer time and they really got hot dancing
around that log heap.
There were churches at
Good Springs and Pigeon Roost. The Choctaws would gather at these places
and camp for a week or two or three at a time. There were fifteen or twenty
camp houses at each place, but mostly they were used only when it rained
or to keep food away from the dogs because the meetings usually held in
the summer and they slept out. They preached in Choctaw and had an interpreter
for the benefit of the white folks.
We got right friendly
with some of them and when we would take cotton to market they would sometime
go to Honey Grove with us. There were saloons over there, and sometimes
we would have to delay our journey home in order to get an Indian friend
out of jail who had gotton too much fire water.
There were a few white
families at Jackson about six miles from us. Jackson consisted of
two stores, a school, church, black smith shop, a well right in the middle
of the street, and a trough for watering of horses. It is a ghost town
Dr. Bills was our first
doctor at Crowder Springs. He lives at Soper now. The other doctors came
In winter we went to dances
and parties. I have ridden fourteen miles to party, danced all night and
got home just in time to go to work and worked all day.
I went to Mayhew to see
how the Indian Court was conducted and saw some men whipped. The women
had to work, they had no time to get into devilment, so were never whipped.
I wanted to see one executed by shooting, but Father wouldn’t let me. He
was afraid it would make an unpleasant, lasting memory, and I guess it
A lot of the full blood
Indians I knew killed squirrels with a club made for that purpose. They
were so adept at it they could throw that club into the highest tree and
knock out a squirrel as quickly as if he had been shot. Many of them used
the bows and arrows, especially for fishing. One old Indian I know now
still uses a bow and arrow for hunting and killing game. His name is Tuck
Bench and he lives a mile and a half east and two miles north of Boswell.
His was the best player in Indian ball that I ever saw. He was as fleet
as a race horse. Any time he got that ball he made a score.
After we moved to Boswell
and a train killed my grandmother, Christmas day 1910, my parents returned
to Selfs, Texas, where both died and are buried there.
Submitted to OKGenWeb by Jami Hamilton <Jamialane@aol.com> 02-1999.