Wylie Bearden


Wylie Bearden
Birth date: 1842
Birthplace: Chattanooga, Georgia
Post Office: Sulphur, Okla.
Field Worker: John F. Daugherty
Date: June 15, 1937
Father: Kenyon Bearden
Birthplace: Georgia
Mother: Elizabeth Black
Birthplace: Georgia

My parents were Kenyon Bearden and Elizabeth Black Bearden, both born in Georgia (dates unknown).  Father was a farmer.  There were six children in our family.  I was born in Chattanooga, Georgia in 1842. When the Civil War began, I volunteered and served in the Confederate Army.  My company was nearly wiped out in the Battle of Shiloh, but I escaped, due to the fact that I had pneumonia and typhoid fever and couldn't fight.  they left me at a house to recuperate.

I moved to Thackerville, Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation in 1893 from Grant County, Arkansas.  We came in a covered wagon and were twenty four days making the trip.  We had relatives here and they urged us to come.

I took a ten year lease from Sam Gatlin on forty acres.  I put a rail fence around it and set in to farm it.  At that time, ten acres of farm was a crop.  I planted this in wheat, corn and some cotton.  We always had good crops and corn sold for fifteen cents a bushel, cotton was worth about three or four cents a pound.    the cottonseed was thrown away.  It was of no use whatsoever.  We cut our wheat with crooked hooks and threshed it by laying buffalo hides in a circle, spreading the wheat on this and making a horse tramp it out of the husks.  After he had thoroughly tramped it out, it was gathered up in a large sheet and the chaff blown out, by shaking this sheet.

Our granaries were make by burning the inside out of a large tree, about fifteen feet high.  The wheat was poured into this.  There was a hole with a plug in it at the bottom of the tree and a chute was built to run the grain into sacks.  When we wanted a sack of wheat or oats, we pulled the peg out of the hole and the grain ran into the sack through the chute.  We ground the wheat on a small steel wheel mill which held a gallon at a time.  We ground it three times and it was ready for use.

We raised our own tobacco.  Mortised a hole in a tree, put the tobacco in this hole after we had twisted it, and pressed it with a pole.  This was used for both smoking and chewing.

I burned  pine knots and used the charcoal for coal to sharpen my plow points.  I used a homemade scooter plow and an eye hoe. I gathered my corn with a slide which held about ten bushels of corn and was pulled by one horse.  I always shucked my corn before putting it into the crib.  We had husking bees.  A jug of whiskey was covered with corn as it was hauled in from the fields.  The neighbors were invited in to help husk the corn.  The women prepared a big dinner while the men husked the corn.  They sat in a circle at the foot of the pile of corn and as they husked, the corn came down and  kept the jug of whiskey covered.  The first one to reach the jug claimed it.  that night we had a big dance.

I threshed oats over a pole.  I set two forked poles in the ground and placed another pole in these forks.  I then hit the cross pole with a bundle of oats.  This caused the grain to fall out on a large sheet which I had placed underneath.

I made my own horse collars of corn shucks.  These were braided in three braids and sewed together with flax thread.  I also made my rope of cotton thread, coarsely spun and the hair from cow's tails and horses tails and manes.  The thread or hair was attached to three pegs in a board which I turned to twist it.

I packed cotton for High's Gin at Thackerville for which I received twenty five cents per bale.  This gin had three stands and ginned about six bales a day running day and night.  It had a wooden screw press pulled by a windless.  The bales were tied with rope.  The cotton was pulled from the seed by pinchers.  Many people didn't like this because it left too much lint on the seed, so they would invite the neighbors in to pull the seed out by hand.  About midnight they had a feast and the neighbors departed.   Each neighbor in turn had the neighbors come in to help pull seeds from the cotton.  Then what was left was pulled out each night before bedtime by the children.

The women spun and knit all of the clothes we wore.  The men more claw hammer coats and high hats.  Copperas colored breeches were the style.  We made our own shoes out of cow hides.  We tanned the leather with Red Oak bark.  The soles were tacked on with homemade sumac pegs. The laces were made of squirrel skins.  The women's Sunday shoes were
made of buck hide.  Holes were punched with a punch to lace them with.

The washing was done with a paddle.  The clothes were boiled, then put on a wooden bench or block and beat with a wooden paddle in which holes were bored.  We had only soft soap made from ash hopper lye. Our dishes were earthenware, and we stored the lard in large gourds about as large around as a wash tub.  We used parched wheat rye and corn for coffee.

I paid a cattle permit to Hampton Willis each years.  I was married to Amy Riddle about 1866 (exact date unknown).  We didn't have to buy a license when I was married.  We had six children.  I have lived in Murray County for twenty years.


Transcribed by Dennis Muncrief, December, 2000.

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