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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 18, 1937
Name: Robert Anderson Welch
Post Office: Wilburton, Oklahoma
Residence Address: Outskirts of the city of Wilburton
Date of Birth: March 4, 1877
Place of birth: Brazile Station, Choctaw Nation
Father: David Robert Welch
Place of Birth: Alabama
Information on Father:
Mother: Sarah E. Welch
Place of birth: Texas
Other Information on Mother: Died at age 83
                      buried at the Brazile Station Cemetery
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Bradley Bolinger

My father, David Robert Welch, white, died at age of 53 and was buried at the Brazile Station, that was called Skullyville County and later named LeFlore County.

My mother named Phoebe A. HARRIS Welch, half-blood Indian, died at the age of 83 and was buried in the Brazile Station Cemetery by the side of my father's grave.

I was born at the Brazile Station in the Indian Territory in 1877. This Station being just a kind of stage coach station in those days and in what the Choctaws called Skullyville County. Of course this was located just over the line of what was Gaines County then and now named Latimer County. It is twelve miles west of the present site of Poteau.

My mother was related to the LeFlore family and she came from the south with the Choctaws in 1872. Green LEFLORE settled in Fort Smith. My mother traveled by stage coach to the place now called Spiro, but which was in the old days called Skullyville.

On this trip here she stopped at a stage station that was located close to where the town of Red Oak is now located. This old stage stop became the home of Jack MCCURTAIN. He was the brother of Green McCurtain, then governor of the Choctaw Nation. This governor was well liked by the Choctaw tribe as my mother tells me. McCurtain maintained what the Indians called the Light Horsemen. They were his law enforcement officers for the Choctaw tribe. He would have them go out over the nation and call all the tribal chiefs for the purpose of consulting with them about all the Indian affairs. This Jack McCurtain was an intelligent man and was educated in the south before he moved to this Territory.

They had an old Indian court house and held Indian court near where Red Oak is now located. This was called a District Court house. In the yard of this court house a large red oak tree was growing and this tree was used when a Choctaw had violated some of the Indian laws. He would be placed against the tree and whipped. In those days for stealing and any not so serious crimes, the Choctaws were taken out in those days and whipped with a good sized green hickory switch. After an Indian was found guilty of the lesser crimes and was sentenced to be thrashed, he was immediately carried out to this tree and two other Indians held his right and left hand and arm around this tree which made the prisoner breasted up against the tree. This whipping was done, either by the sheriff or one of his deputies, and when this was over the Indian was free again. When another Indian had got into trouble and had killed another and he was brought to trial and was found guilty, most of the time the guilty person was sentenced to be shot. After this trial was over the Judge of the court set the date for the execution. The Choctaw tribe maintained no jails or prisons so the prisoner was turned loose after he had been notified just when he was to report back there to meet his execution. In those days if there was ever one of the Indians sentenced to be shot he never failed to report of his own accord. They did not have to make bond or anything, they would just never fail to be there.

This Governor McCurtain had a nice home, built close to where Red Oak is now located. I myself had grown up along in that time and I became the owner of this big place and the governor's home. This old governor's home was a large house and well built. It was built in the old southern way. I kept this old place intact for a long period but I at last sold the place and this building was taken away. There is nothing left now of this large house that can be seen but a fine well. The curb stones and walls of this well were hewn out of the native stone by the Indians and it is being used today.

My father and mother settled at the Brazile Station in the year of 1876, where father established a trading post. He also became owner of some land in the Arkansas River bottom at a place called Geary Lane, which name was later changed and is now named Braden. The only way through this bottom land was by Geary Lane and as father had control of the land, he made this lane a toll lane. However, this toll fare was only charged for the passage of people who were not citizens of the Territory and all Choctaw Indians were allowed to go through free of charge.

In those older days, the Choctaw Indian could take all the land he wanted so long as he did not come within one fourth of a mile to the next Indian.

Agriculture and stock raising permits were issued to the white settler after he had made proper application to the Indian department. A fee of $5.00 was charged him for this.

When I was growing up in this country the white settlers were very scattered as there were only a few that lived in the nation.

The Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad came through, as best I remember, in the year of 1880.

The town of Wilburton was not in existence along in those days. The two closest trading posts were at what is now called Red Oak and one at Mountain Station. This Mountain Station is located twelve miles southwest of where Wilburton is now located.

Wilburton was founded when coal was found and some production was started.

At the start of this interview it is stated that Robert Anderson Welch's mother was Sarah E. Welch. This is incorrect as seen in the second paragraph of the interview. His mother was Phoebe A. Harris Welch and she died at 83 and is buried in the Brazile Station Cemetery.

Sarah E. Welch was David Robert Welch's first wife who remarried a TERRY and is buried in Arkansas. Robert Anderson Welch is a half-brother to William Anderson Welch. Douglas Welch secured the interviews, transcribed them and Carole Welch Griffin transcribed them for the Indian Pioneer Paper Interviews. Douglas and Carole are the children of Jack Welch who was the son of W. A. Welch.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Carole Griffin <caroleg@1starnet.com> January 2001.