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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: March 21, 1938
Name: Thomas M. Quisenberry
Residence Address: 2241 So. Olympia, Tulsa, OK
Date of Birth: December 8, 1885
Place of Birth: Kansas
Father: Nathaniel Wotkel (Walker) Quisenberry
Place of birth of father: Kentucky
Mother: Katherine Mary Margaret Welch
Investigator: H. T. Holland
Vol. 13, pp. 53-58

Although I was only four years old when we came into the Territory in 1887, a lot of incidents impressed me that would probably not be noticed by older people. I was born in Kansas, December 8, 1885, the son of Nathaniel and Mary Margaret (WELCH) QUISENBERRY. My father's people, and he, were born in Kentucky and came west when Father was young. My mother was a native of Missouri.

Our trip to the Territory was not a long one as we lived not far from the southern line of Kansas and was made in a covered wagon. There were a few railroads in the west then, and almost all travel was done either on horseback or in wagons. My father was a farmer and was induced to come here on account of the cheap land that could be leased. So, we came, first, to the northeast corner of what is now Osage County, on the Caney River. Father rented land from Garrett CLAWSON, an Osage. We had a log house in which to live, small but about as good as any other in the neighborhood. Rent was paid to and contract made with the Indian Agency, but our first home was on the Clawson land. This land in the Caney bottom was fertile, for we grew good crops and raised lots of cattle and hogs.

I remember, when a boy, my father hauled his fat hogs to Arkansas City to sell, a distance of over fifty miles. That country was sparsely settled in the 80s and we have often driven twenty miles without seeing more than four houses.

The Indians usually bunched together in villages, near streams, or springs, here they would erect their tepees. Sometimes there would be as many as five hundred people in a village. At Hominy, Grayhorse, Salt Creek and Pawhuska the Indians had what was known as "Round houses." These were made of skins and bark attached to pole frames and sometimes were one hundred feet in length. The small ones were round, which gave them the name of "Round houses." These were used for meetings, such as tribal conventions and in winter, dances, such as could be held in doors, were held there. These were their village auditoriums. Later on these were made of rough lumber.

There was very little money in circulation in the Osage Nation. The Government of the United States made payments to the Indians, but most of it was for accounts of the Indians for goods already bought. I know because I used to work for the Osages some, and I would be paid with an order on the Indian Agency. I could get these orders cashed at a store, or would take the value of the order in trade, then the merchant would present these orders to the Agent who would pay them, and charge the accounts of the various Indians. My parents, or rather Father, went to town, usually Arkansas City, Kansas, about once a year, and bought things. Then, too, we ordered things from a man who traveled through the country soliciting orders. This man came around every year or six months and my parents would order a sack, or several pounds, maybe fifty pounds of green coffee, a hundred pounds or more of sugar, a bolt of domestic, a pair of shoes for each of the family for winter and such other things as we happened not to raise, or could not make. These things were shipped to the nearest railroad station and we, after being notified would go and get these things, paying the railroad company.

All our garments were made at home. I was fourteen years old before I had any "store bought" clothes.

Schools were few and far between. I only got to the third grade. Only subscription schools were available, and because there were so few white people in the Osage Nation there were not enough children within a given radius to justify a teacher the people thought.

As a boy, I saw a lot of the doings of the Indians. I have attended their dances, such as the Green Corn Dance, Smoke Dance, War Dance, Sun Dance and others. The Smoke Dance was attended by the representatives of all near-by tribes. I think these dances were mostly peace gatherings or celebrations of the peace that had prevailed for several years among the various tribes. Anyway, many ponies were given as tokens of continued peace. If held in the Osage Nation, all visiting delegates were presented with ponies. To each brave who was given the pipe of peace to smoke, a pony was given too. The various tribes gave these dances, and the others attended them. The Sac-Fox, Semillons, Osages and others participated in these dances.

Some of the largest herds of cattle in the Osage Nation were owned by Stonebreaker, near Hominy, and C.J. CARPENTER and a Mr. HURD had big herds of cattle in the northern part of the Osage Nation south of Elgin, Kansas. MOORLIN was near Doggie. J.C. STRIBLING had a big ranch near and around Grayhorse. SKIDMORE was a rancher, who handled Mexican cattle. All the others grazed Texas cattle. Tonk SMITH operated near Ponca City.

Stage Lines
There was a stage line which ran from Elgin, Kansas, to Grayhorse, in the Osage Nation. My brother, Ed, drove this stage in the year 1895 and they carried the mail and passengers and never were held up, that I know of. I drove a stage from Ponca City to Grayhorse about 1898 or 99. I made the trip about thirty miles one-way every day. On the Elgin trip of seventy to ninety miles they drove in three days but changed horses. Of course, there were no improved roads. Sometimes after a rain we would have to change our course some to get across a ditch washed out or to avoid rats. However, we kept on in the general direction of our destination, fording all streams, as there were no bridges. Nothing exciting occurred while I was driving. I used to attend "Stomp" dances at Hominy Post, Grayhorse, and other points and at one time could speak the Osage language as well.

I was married April 6, 1907, to Sarah Belle BAKER, of Texas. We have two children, Ralph and Edna.

I first came to Tulsa when its railway station was a boxcar and have lived here continuously since 1910, and at my present location, 2241 South Olympia, since 1913. I grew corn on most of the land which is now covered by West Tulsa, only about twenty years ago. I know of, and have been associated with all Tulsa since statehood and I have seen it grow from a village to a modern city, all in such a short time.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Deborah Lynn Baggs dbaggs@seattlemariners.com December 2000 and Beth Quisenberry  bethq@prodigy.net  granddaughter of Thomas Quisenberry, August 2001.