Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History Project of Oklahoma
Name: J. F. Sherrill
Address: McAlester, Oklahoma
Field Worker: Charline M Culbertson
"LIFE IN INDIAN TERRITORY"
I moved to Indian Territory
in 1882, bringing my wife, two children and two brothers. I came
from Franklin County, Arkansas, in a wagon driven by a horse team and settled
in the Chickasaw Nation twelve miles southeast of Tishomingo where Bee
is now located. I made my first crop there; however, it was only
patches as there were very few what you could say real farmers. There
were few white people in the neighborhood, mostly full-bloods and half-breeds.
To the best of my knowledge, there were only three white families in that
I had no reason for stopping
at this point. I __________ rambling for some location to farm.
In 1884 I moved my family
to the south side of the Washita river near Madill where Lynn is now located.
There were only three families living near us there, and they were Chickasaw
Indians but as I have had no personal friends among them, I knew nothing
much of their customs. I have only attended their camp meetings.
I helped build the first
school house which was of log construction as were most of the buildings.
At this time I did considerable
buying and trading of cattle, and then cattle buyers were being bothered
with a bunch of outlaws called the Callahan outfit, with headquarters at
Durant. They were caught at the time they were framing to rob the
commissary house at Coalgate. They were all white men coming from
Colorado. They would even drive out twenty-five or thirty head of
horses at one time.
We had no court except at
Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and really no laws. In attending court, it sometimes
took three or four years and very few could afford that.
You could go through the
woods and find body after body hanging from trees or their skeletons on
the ground. They would be done away with and nothing ever said about
it as folks would be afraid to say anything. I was in the woods,
deer hunting one day when I came upon an old Indian hanging from a tree
with something thrown across part of the form with a sign tacked to the
tree stating "anyone taking anything from this body shall hang from the
same tree". Well I didn't lose much time getting away. I later
found out he had been accused of selling liquor and of being a horse thief.
Whether he was or not I could not say but do know the white men were doing
crimes on the Indians' credit.
In 1902 I moved back to
Tishomingo where I lived for fifteen years. Our trading post was
at Denison, then finally at Durant where we would go by wagon, taking us
three days to make the trip.
My first house in the territory
was a little log hut, fourteen feet square, which I built myself.
It had no porch and we used the smoke house for a kitchen. I killed
lots of deer, taking the meat to Denison where I sold it for nine and a
half cents for a roast. The deer would weigh from one hundred and
forty to one hundred and eighty pounds. I dug a well near my little
hut as the spring water that was there was not healthy. I bought
a little stove for eight dollars and had an iron bed I had brought from
I am in possession of a
marble I played with when I was a boy, and which is about seventy-five
years old. I also have some teeth pullers as I call them, which belonged
to my grandfather, that are about one hundred and fifty years old.
During the Civil War I lived
with my parents in Arkansas. For three weeks my family and I lived
on nothing but tea, wheat bran and sorghum molasses. My father couldn't
stay at home. He had to hide out all the time as they tried to kill
all the old men and young boys. They would pull the women's toe nails
off and burn their feet, trying to make them tell where their husbands
were. We never got an ear of corn that we made in our fields.
Submitted to OKGenWeb by Rusty Stroup <firstname.lastname@example.org>