Indian Pioneer History Project of Choctaw
Thomas W. Hunter
Hunter, Thomas W. Third Interview
Hazel H. Greene Journalist
December 18, 1937
Interview with Thomas W. Hunter,
I am about one-half Choctaw Indian, sixty-six years old and County Judge of Choctaw County.
Back in Mississippi the Choctaw Indians had their castes just the same as other races do. For instance, there was an aristocratic group who were stately and proud, they were called Okla Falya or long people. They had married and intermarried until they all seemed to be taller than the average Choctaw Indian. It seems that the Okla Falayas stopped over in the eastern part of the Choctaw Nation, around Eagletown, and all along the line. From them came many celebrities. Some of the Pitchlyne, Folsoms, Garlands, Wilsons, LeFlores and others.
It is my opinion that if a man thinks himself superior to some others he is so for the reason that he will deport himself better. Among the Okla Falya were several chiefs of the Choctaws. I just recall to mind Jeff Gardner who was National Treasure of the Choctaw Nation and afterward Principal Chief of the Choctaws. Back in 1850 those old Trustees of Choctaw Academy recognized the unusual ability of Basil L. Leflore when, as a youth he so applied himself to his studies and so deported himself that they caused to be printed in the Choctaw Intelligencer, under date of October 16, 1851 the following article.
" This is to Certify, To all whom it may concern, that Basil L. LeFlore, a Choctaw youth, has been a regular scholar three years/nine months, at this Institution; during which time his good conduct, regular habits, and gentlemanly deportment, together with a strict obedience and conformity to the rules of the Institution, have procured for him the entire confidence of all his acquaintance, and as exalted seat in the affection of the Teachers and Trustees.
The President of the Institution takes a peculiar pleasure in recommending to the particular-attention and patronage of the Nation, this honorable and worthy youth.
Done by order of the Trustees of the Choctaw Academy, this Eleventh day of June, one thousand eight hundred and fifty." The Henderson"
Basil L. LeFlore became one of the governors of the Choctaw Nation. His home was about a quarter of a mile northwest of the Mission School of Goodland at the time of his death. A part of that log home has been removed to the school grounds and stands there today as the Annie Crossett-Schooler Memorial, in honor of the wife of W.E. Schooler, owner and publisher of The Hugo Daily News, and who has for many years been a sort of a "Patron Saint" to the orphans at Goodland. Each year he sees that every child at Goodland gets to see at least one circus.
Basil LeFlore died about 1886. I was one of the ten boys who were sent from Spencer Academy to act as pall bearers, active and honorary. I remember James Culberson and Louis Battiest were two of them. I do not recall the names of the others now. Basil Leflore was a grand character.
I believe that the Choctaw Academy, which he attended was a co-educational Methodist Mission School, and was established in the early 1840ís just about where the village of Rufe is now.
I donít know when Choctaw Academy was abolished as an academy of learning, or whether it just fell into disuse. I rather think that the buildings just fell apart form disuse. I have been told that the boha falays, or long building, was built of hewn logs. About 1900 a subscription school was started there, and it was patronized by both whites and Choctaws and it was called Choctaw Academy School in honor of the one of by-gone days.
When I was a youngster, old people told me that Paris, Texas, used to freight goods from Doaksville and I wondered why it would have been easier for goods to be procured by people at Doaksville, than at Paris, Texas. Years afterward, when I learned that Doaksville was located on the north bank of Red river, I understood. The goods wee brought up the river by steamer.
In regard to the different "castes" of the Choctaw Indians, I have been told that back in Mississippi there were distinct clans, or bands of Choctaws and I suppose of other tribes, too. They wee distinguished by names or numbers of the villages or communities in which they lived and wee classed accordingly. Some clans or bands were more cultured or educated the others. For instance there where the "Six Town" Indians, who mostly came up into what is now Choctaw County, when they emigrated to this Territory. Apparently they wee not quite as advanced in civilization as some others as a class. Of course there wee exceptions. But the majority of "Six Town" Indians were known by the tattoo marks on their faces, also by the numerous ear-rings, necklaces and armlets they wore. Those ornaments were made of shells or sliver and gold looking metals.
The "Six Town" Indians wee sometimes called "bridle" Indians because of the tattoo marks from the corner of the mouth to the ears. But I never heard of any unusually small tribe or clan of Indians who might have been called Skitini, or little men.
The first trip I made to Wheelock Academy was about 1885. Superintendent Skimmerhorn of Spencer Academy sent another boy and me to the home of Jefferson Gardner at Eagletown after a big warrant, with which to take care of expenses at Spencer Academy. He gave us a not to superintendent W. B. Bobe to take care of us the two nights that we would be on the trip, and he did, royally. It took us tree days to make the trip. One to reach Wheelock, where we spent the night, and another to go to Eagletown and back to Wheelock, where we spent another night, thence to Spencer Academy up about two miles from Nelson, in what is now Choctaw County. Nelson, I believe, is about the third oldest post office in the Choctaw Nation. But the is a matter of record. When we got to Spencer Academy with our warrant then someone had to be sent to Paris, Texas, to deposit it in the bank. There wee no banks in this country then.
Jeff Gardner was Choctaw National Treasure then.
 Transcribed as written, by Doris Dykes firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal note: Jefferson Gardner is my greatgreatuncle, his brother James was a merchant at Boton Red River CO I.T.( my greatgreatgrandfather) and another brother was Jerry Gardner of Towson I.T. father of Edmond J. Gardner of Idabel McCutain CO Oklahoma. The Gardner brotherís were sonís of Noel Gardner and Heneritta LaFlore. Noel Gardner was one of 5 orginial Gardner brothers to come over the Trail of Tears from Mississippi. March 5, 2002
Project and Story Form
Indian-Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Hunter, Thomas W. Second Interview.
Interviewerís name: Hazel B. Greene
Date: October 18, 1937 Hugo, Oklahoma
Name: Judge Thomas E. Hunter County Judge of Choctaw County. Hugo, Oklahoma
Tribe: About Ĺ Choctaw Indian
History of legend or story: Choctaw Tribe
Interview with Judge Thomas
There was a legend among the Choctaw people that God made a huge pool of water, and then commanded all of his people to bathe in the pool. The first ones who went through, came out white. The next ones who went through, came out yellow and brown, as the water grew dirtier, and the last ones who went through the pool came out black. And that accounts for the different colors of the white, Indian and Negro races.
Judge Hunter said that he had heard old Indians tell that story, when he was a child.
Note: This front page was hard to read, so some information was condensed. Story was transcribed as written. Doris Dykes email@example.com