Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: January 14, 1938
Name: Cleracy Fields Smith
Post Office: Vinita, Oklahoma
Resident Address: Rural Route #3
Date of Birth: March 28, 1869
Place of Birth: 7 miles west of old Southwest City
Father: Ezekiel Fields
Place of Birth:
Information on father: great grandson of Richard Fields, Chief of the Texas Cherokees
Mother: Sabra Ward
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: James Carselowey
OLD INDIAN DAYS
I was born on Honey Creek, seven miles west of old Southwest City, in the Cherokee Nation, March 28, 1869.
My father's name was Ezekiel FIELDS and my mother's name was Sabra Elizabeth WARD. My father was a great grandson of Richard Fields, at one time Chief of the Texas Cherokees.
Richard Fields, Chief of the Texas Cherokees, married Jennie Buffington, and they were the parents of Ezekiel, who married Mary Ann Sexton. Their son, Richard, married Elizabeth Jane Blagg, and they were the parents of my father, Ezekiel Fields.
Richard Fields had a large land grant in Texas during his lifetime, and his heirs through George Fields, attorney of Oklahoma City, are now suing the United States Government for the recovery of the value of this land.
I received my education in national schools of the Cherokee Nation, the school nearest our home being Cave Springs. Some of my teachers were Nan Landrum ADAIR, Coffey WOODALL, Joel BAUGH, Mary PARKS, Annie Gladney MAYES and Ella Morgan STAPLER.
On December 23, 1887, I was married to Andrew Jackson SMITH, a white man, from Monroe County, Indiana, and we moved to Spavinaw and settled on a farm on Spavinaw Creek near the present town of Spavinaw, about where the head of the Spavinaw Lake is now located.
At that time Spavinaw was the principal trading center for this section and it had a big water power gristmill, the only one for miles around. I have seen people come there from as far away as twenty-five miles carrying sacks of corn across their saddles, which they would have ground into meal for their bread supply. The fullblood Indians came to mill, too, but would not have much corn in their sacks. Their sacks were so small that they would lay them across the horse behind the saddle and would contain from a half bushel to a bushel of corn. There was scarcely any wheat raised in the country at that time, and if one had any he had to go as far as Seneca, Missouri, or Neosho, Missouri, to get it ground. Very few people could afford flour bread once a day and a great many had none at all. My mother told me that during the War she knew some families who had to hull acorns and pound them up in a mortar and make their bread in this manner. The mortar was used a great deal by early day settlers in making hominy, and a great deal of corn bread was made in this manner, when there was no mill near.
The mortar was made by sawing off a log about two feet long, hollowing it out as far down as one could and then burning it until it was perfectly round inside like a bread tray. Then a long pole was hewed round at the bottom and used for a maul to pound the corn which was placed in the mortar and pounded up. The coarser grain made hominy and the finer ones made corn bread. Much of the bread for entire families was made this way before and during the Civil War.
Spavinaw was a great place for people far and near to gather, sit around the fire and swap yarns which was the principal way of gathering news in the early days, as there were no newspapers to be had.
SAWMILLS AND PINE TIMBER
When we first settled at Spavinaw there were large sawmills located in the Spavinaw Valley, and most of the lumber sawed was pine. The hillsides were all lined with fine pine timber, and pine lumber was hauled to Vinita, a distance of twenty-five miles, as well as to all lumber yards up and down the Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railroad as far south as Wagoner. All of the lumber yards from Vinita south got their lumber supply from Spavinaw. This gave work for about all who had teams, and some of the big cotton farmers had as high as eight or ten teams hauling lumber away.
My husband and I are the parents of six children, as follows: Cora Pearl Caldwell, Ruth Lavonia Cealey, Bertha Bell Goforth, James Lafayette Smith, Cladus Edgar Smith and Mack Andrew Smith.
MOVES FURTHER WEST
About 1890 my husband decided to leave the timbered country and go farther west and select our permanent home. He had been raised back in Indiana where farming was much more advanced than here and wanted to get back to some real farm land. We settled on some fine black limestone land about five miles southeast of the present town of Big Cabin, near where my father was living and we lived there until time to take our permanent allotment. At that time we heard of a fine, well improved place across Cabin Creek from where we were living, that was going to have to be released for allotment. It had been held for several years by a white man who came here from the state of Maine and was holding the land in the name of his intermarried brother. He had about three hundred acres, well fenced, with a fine house and barn on it, built near a big spring of water. He had been conducting a fine breeding stable there for ten or fifteen years and had about a hundred horses, mules, jacks and jennies. This man sold off the surplus horses and opened a big breeding stable at Vinita, and we bought his improvements and allotted on his land, ten miles southeast of Vinita.
HUSBAND A UNITED STATES MARSHAL
When the United States took over the reins of the Government in 1898, it became necessary to have an additional force of marshals to keep the peace and protect the property of the Cherokees until statehood, and my husband received an appointment to work under Jim WILKERSON, who was stationed at Vinita.
[Submitter's comments: This interview was abstracted by Wanda Morris Elliot, a true Genie Angel. She e-mailed it to me (Carol Mosher - email@example.com) and gave me permission to post it to the OK GenWeb.
Clearcy was my great grandmother. Her mother was Sabra Elizabeth Ward, daughter of George Howard Ward and Mary Carroll.]
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