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 80’s 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
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.
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 email@example.com
December 2000 and
Beth Quisenberry firstname.lastname@example.org granddaughter of Thomas Quisenberry,