Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
History Project for Oklahoma
Date: February 4, 1938
Post Office: Rt. 2 Box
157, Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Residence location: 6
Date of Birth: May 27,
Place of Birth: Near
Wauhillau, Indian Territory, in Goingsnake District
Other: Wauhillau, on
the place called Jeff Catron farm now
Father: Lafayette Catron
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Information on father:
Mother: Nancy Roach
Place of birth: Eldon,
Information on mother:
Died in Park Hill 1909
Field Worker: Wylie Thornton
Interview, # 12893
I was born in an humble
farm home, May 27, 1857, in the Cherokee Nation, near what is called Wauhillau,
to be exact right where Jeff Catron now lives. This place was settled
and put into cultivation by my father, Lafayette CATRON, before the Civil
War. My mother was Nancy ROACH. My father came from the state
of Tennessee. My mother was born in this country. Tom Roach
at Muskogee is one of my people.
I didn’t go to school
much for there were not many schools when I was growing up. I went
to school some at a little school called the Caney school.
It was down there at the old Caney graveyard. It was made of logs,
a one room affair, with no windows in it, log seats and a fireplace in
it for our hear. My first teacher was a Mrs. Lizzie BATES from Cane
Hill, Arkansas. The next one, I believe, was a Mrs. or Miss STARR
from over here toward Tahlequah. I went to the 4th grade. That
was about as high as they went away back there in those days, especially
if you had to walk three or four miles to school through the rain and sometimes
cold weather like I had to do. I went with my brother John.
There were only two of us children in our family.
When the Civil War broke
out, Father went South into Texas to fight for the side of Confederacy
and after Father had been gone for awhile, Mother, Brother and myself almost
starved to death. Mother very often fed us on parched corn stirred
into a little water, sort of a gruel we called it. The Bushwhackers
robbed us of everything we had. Finally Mother hooked up a pair of
steers and we three traveled along down to Fort Smith and there we found
one of my grandfathers. I disremember which one it was. He
gave us food to eat, all we could eat. I tell you I was so weak from
starving, I could hardly walk. From Fort Smith Mother drove those
oxen to Sulphur Springs and then to Buzzard Roost, in the Choctaw Nation.
Here she found a full blood Choctaw Indian, Jim BEAM, who told Mother if
she could run a loom and spin and make clothing he would take good care
of her and us children. Mother was a ‘cats ankle’ at that kind of
a job, so we lived on that good Indian’s place for over a year until the
war was over and Father came back to us.
We had a celebration when
Father came home. We had told the old Indian that Daddy would be
home about a certain day and he said, ‘Good. Me glad, too.
I fix him big time’. This big hearted Indian spread a great feast,
as anxious to see Daddy as we were. For two days before Daddy was
to arrive, Jim Beam walked very spry and ordered things done preparatory
to Dad’s arrival, and when the feast was all ready, he asked me and Mother
to come and see this feast. We went to his house to see and when
we viewed the feast we must have hollowed ‘eek’ because I was so shocked,
Mother and I both felt stunned. I almost fainted, really never since
God put Adam in the Garden of Eden have I seen such luxury and a completeness
of plenty spread on one great table. He had called in his warrior
friends and they were seated all around the yard in their war regalia and
a very conspicuous war drum was nearby, and when we finally heard a very
far distant whoop of my Daddy, somewhere a half mile away, Mother screamed
with great joy and broke into tears and shouted, ‘That’s Daddy’s whoop,
Elmira, that’s our dear Daddy finally coming back to us. God has
spared him for us’. When he appeared some distance away, we observed
he was horseback; a very good horse, a large bay steed, with ears marked
by bullet holes and other wounds, indicating his very near death escape.
Mother ran with me some hundred yards to meet my Daddy. He pulled
me up to him in the saddle to place on my cheek a very fond kiss and he
stooped down low to embrace Mother’s head and to kiss her and say, ‘Well,
well, has God heard my prayer, and blessed me to see you again’, and he
wept for great joy. By this time our great friend, Jim Beam,
was nearby to shake Father’s hand with both of his hands, one to grasp
his hand and the other to pat his hand on the top side. When he had
ordered Father’s horse fed and cared for Jim Beam gave some kind of a yell
and cry and the warriors sprang to their feet and formed a great long line
and Jim Beam, the full blood Choctaw Indian, led the long line of dancing
Indians and, with the drum beating, they encircled my Daddy. They
would point toward him and then point toward the Heavens, and though I
understood not, I could plainly understand they were thanking God for His
great mercies and begging Him to keep him in safety as he journeyed among
them. Then they feasted by having my Father at the head of the table
and two Indian maids were ordered to stand on either side of him to wait
on him to all things.
The next day Father started
us back to our old home place over here near Wauhillau. Jim Beam
gave us everything we could eat for a month when we started on the long
trek home with Mother’s oxen. Father sold his war steed to Jim Beam.
I knew Ned CHRISTIE during
his childhood days and mine. I attended school with this well known
outlaw. I remember so well how I have jumped the rope while Ned Christie
counted 1-2-3-4-5, etc., while we were having a jumping contest.
He would hold one end of the rope and laugh with glee, as any normal child.
I have adopted three children
into my family and raised them to be grown, so I haven’t lived a selfish
life by any means.
I was married in the year
of 1873 to Henderson STEVENS when I was sixteen year of age. My husband
moved me to Rabbit Trap neighborhood, near or about five miles east of
Ned Christie’s place where we stayed for several years then we moved back
to a place adjoining my Father’s staying a year. The next year we
moved to Muskogee for one year, then we moved right over here near Park
Hill and bought a farm. There we raised five children of our own
and the three adopted children.
In my early days we cooked
our meals on the open fire in the fireplaces; we had no stoves. We
didn’t need any money to live after the war was over and we had made two
or three crops. We did not can any fruit, for we never knew of a
We used all together Indian
faith doctors. Our doctor was Nancy JUMPER, a full blood. I
began to have ear aches pretty regular and finally Mother called our doctor.
She came and looked at me, then went out and went back of the house and
did something to her pipe then came back in the house and covered the bowl
of her pipe with a cloth after she had lit it and smoked a while with it
covered with this cloth. She then placed the end of the stem in my
ear and blowed from the bowl end and the warm smoke went down my ear.
I have not had the least bit of an earache from that day to this.
Pin Indians were the Indians
who refused to join the army on either side, but formed bands and rode
into towns and communities and took by force anything they could use.
In other words they were organized outlaws.
The way we kept weavels
(sic) out of dried apples, peaches, dried peas and beans was to put a handful
of broken up limbs of sassafras in the sack. Then weavels (sic) would
not bother them.
I never wore shoes of
any kind, winter or summer, until I was ready to be married, at the age
of sixteen. I never was sick in my life, to be really sick.
I had little colds sometime.
Father tanned his own
cowhides, and made his and mother’s moccasins himself. He got the
hair off the hides by soaking them in red oak bark water.
We had homemade beds.
The posts were made of round poles with split half poles for sides and
the middle was made of ropes and hickory bark made into narrow strips and
sewed back and forth between the side rails. Our crude feather beds
were laid on this criss-cross swing. Feather beds were made of bird,
goose, duck, and pigeon feathers.
We had no sale for hogs;
no market, no way to ship. There were no railroads. Eggs sold
for four cents per dozen.
Transcribed and submitted
by Gloria Bidinger <firstname.lastname@example.org>