Mrs. A. P. Lewis
|Lewis, Mrs. A.P.
Field Worker: John F. Daugherty
Date: January 19, 1938
Life of a Pioneer Woman
Father was William Phipps, born July 15, 1857, in Tennessee. He was a farmer. Mother was Abbie Smart, born in South Texas, date unknown. I was born in Gonzales County, Texas, December 3, 1882.
In 1888, I moved with my parents to the Pottawatomie country near Byars. We came in a covered wagon and it took us six weeks to make the trip. We first lived in a dugout which washed out every time it rained. Finally father built a log house and we moved into it.
The Pottawatomie Indians often camped near our place. I was dreadfully afraid of them, although they never bothered us at all. They often peddled moccasins and other beaded articles which they made. The men were the salesmen. The women wouldn't talk as much as the men. The women always carried the load strapped to their backs. One day a woman passed our house, carrying a stove strapped to her back. They carried their tepees on their backs. When they got ready to camp, the woman put up the teepee, gathered dead leaves which she put on the ground for a bed, and covered them with blankets. They always camped near a stream or spring. If the woman was to be confined they camped for a night or until the baby was born and traveled on the next day. There were no doctors to assist her either. When the baby became hungry the mother sat down wherever she was and fed it. Sometimes she would stop in front of a house, sit flat on the ground, remove the baby from her back and feed it. Then they would travel on. If they happened to be in town she sat down in the middle of the street, or wherever she happened to be when it was time to feed her infant.
There were no bridges across the South Canadian River and Byars was on the south bank in the Chickasaw Nation. We had to wade across the river when we went to market. I often took eggs for which I received five cents a dozen and I bought calico for a dress at three cents a yard. Occasionally a rise came down the river while I was in town. Then I had to wait for it to run down before I could return to my home. People were very neighborly in those days and any who lived in Byars would gladly give me a place to stay until the water subsided so I could wade across.
We didn't have white sugar in those days. It was yellow and crawly. We couldn't afford it very often. When sorghum or honey went to sugar we stored that for cake making. Flour was not plentiful. We had biscuits on Sunday morning for breakfast and corn bread the rest of the week for every meal. We knew nothing about canning. We dried what fruit we could get. Wild plums were dried. They were crushed and rolled onto a cloth. When they were dry they were rolled up and hung up ready for pies or plum butter. We had only small seedling peaches. These were cut in halves and dried on a roof in the sunshine. When they were dry they were stored away in a flour sack.
It was very common for children to have lice. I had a girl chum with beautiful curly hair. One day I was sitting near her at school and saw a louse crawling through her hair. When I got home Mother gave me a thorough examination and to our horror found that my head was also inhabited. We got a fine comb and Mother combed them out. Then put lard on my head to kill the nits. We were soon rid of them and I was very careful after that about getting near anybody whom I thought had them.
I married A.P. Lewis in 1907. We are the parents of five children.
We have lived in Murray County since our marriage.
Transcribed by Brenda Choate & Dennis Muncrief, February, 2001