Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
History Project for Oklahoma
Date: July 9, 1937
Andrew Jackson 'Jake' Berryhill, Creek Indian
Post Office: Oktaha,
Date of Birth: September
Place of Birth: near
Fishertown, Creek Nation
Father: Jeff Berryhill
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Mother: Nancy (Sizemore)
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
a white woman
Field Worker: Jas. S.
My father was Jeff BERRYHILL,
the son of Pleasant Berryhill, a native of Ireland, and a Creek woman.
My mother was Nancy (SIZEMORE)
Berryhill a white woman.
My parents separated at
the beginning of the Civil War when I was only five years of age. My father
took my only brother, Pleasant Berryhill, who was three years older than
I, and I remained with my mother. We lived with the Cherokees near where
the little town of Texana is located and I was taught the Cherokee language
and spoke no other language until after I was twelve years of age.
My most vivid recollection
of the Civil War is of the battle of Honey Springs. My mother, with a great
number of other women, their children and what few personal belongings
they could carry, fled south ahead of the retreat of the Confederate Army.
They waded and swam across the Canadian River at Standing Rock and continued
the long weary march south which terminated at the Colbert Ferry on the
Red River. The hardships of that long march of many days are indescribable.
We camped on the bank of the Red River and each day brought more refugees
until it grew into quite a large camp. We remained in this camp in the
Choctaw Nation about one year, or until the close of the Civil War.
We would draw our rations
from the military supply headquarters at Bonham and Paris, Texas. I can
remember riding horseback behind my mother to Bonham to draw supplies.
It would take us a day to ride from the camp to Bonham where we would camp
for the night and draw our rations. The next morning mother and I with
our sack of rations on the old disabled army horse that the military headquarters
had given us [and] would start on the twenty-mile trip back to the camp.
During the time in this camp my mother was married to a Cherokee by the
name of Wilson CORDREY who came from Georgia to Indian Territory in 1835.
In 1866, the refugees
in this camp all returned to the Cherokee Nation, using conveyances of
every description and on foot. Several disabled military horses had been
given us; some had acquired ox teams and cows which were used to pull the
wagons and two-wheeled carts. I remember we used cowhides for wagon sheets
or covers to protect us and our meager belongings from the weather.
On our return to the Cherokee
Nation, my mother and step-father stopped at Standing Rock in the spring
of 1866, made a crop and remained there until November of that year. Leaving
there we moved to a place known as the Dave Rider place near Fort Gibson.
The conditions in the
Cherokee Nation after the war were serious, in fact beyond description.
Everything that was left behind in their flight from the Nation was gone.
The houses and barns were burned, fences destroyed and stock killed or
My step-father and mother
spent the remainder of their lives in the Cherokee Nation. My mother died
near Braggs in 1894 and was buried in the old Cordrey burial ground at
Fort Gibson. My step-father died at the home of his son, Cooper CORDREY,
near Park Hall in 1893.
In 1880 I was married
to Jane YARBOROUGH, the daughter of Edward and Rachel (BRAKBILL) Yarborough.
She was born in Georgia in 1855. Six children were born to us, five of
which are now living.
The land on which I am
now living at the time of this writing is the original claim I staked out
in 1884 and on which I have reared my family.
When I first staked the
claim, an Indian by the name of Harjo jumped the claim but I later acquired
the claim through A.P. MCKELLOP and in later years when allotments were
made, I filed on the land as my allotment.
In 1885, I went to work
for C. W. TURNER on the old Three Bar Ranch which was located south of where
the little town of Yahola now stands. I worked for Mr. Turner, riding range
about two years. C. W. Turner and Pleasant PORTER were partners in that
ranch. Leaving the employment of C. W. Turner, I formed a partnership with J. E. and
W. S. HARSHA and established a cattle ranch on the land that consisted
of my family allotments two miles southeast of Summit. We operated this
ranch about nineteen years. There was good money made in the cattle business
in those days. The range was much better than it was in later years. I
have seen the blue stem prairie grass here in the Indian Territory in the
early days as high as a horseís back, but over-pasturing destroyed it to
a great extent.
My first attempt at the
cattle business was back in 1883 when I was living at Fort Gibson. My wifeís
uncle, Bill ESSEX, loaned me $500.00 to start me out. With the $500.00
and a little bay mule for a saddle horse, I started out buying cattle.
I bought up about sixty head of cattle in the vicinity of Fort Gibson and
Under the Cherokee tribal
laws no citizen was allowed to have in his possession stock that was the
property of a non-citizen and graze them in Cherokee Nation. Therefore,
George REDBIRD, sheriff of Illinois district, finding me with the herd
of cattle I had bought, thinking that they were the property of some non-citizen,
not believing me when I informed him that they were my cattle and that
I had bought them, seized the cattle and drove the herd to Chief Bill ROSSí
place and put them in his pasture to be sold as the Cherokee law provided.
I was more than two months proving ownership of the cattle and repossessing
the herd. It was due to this case of discrimination that I denounced my
citizenship in the Cherokee Nation in 1884 and moved to the Creek Nation
and have been with the Creeks ever since.
July 9, 1937
In the early days there
was quite a bit of trouble experienced by the settlers from horse thieves.
In 1893, I had a horse stolen from my pasture and the earth being soft,
I was able to trail the horse and the horse of the rider that took him.
I trailed them to the home of Jack EVANS three miles south of my place.
There I was informed that my horse was found near their place, shot. I
examined the horse and found that it had been shot three times with a Winchester.
I continued on the trail of the riderís horse and I learned the identity
of the man I was seeking through settlers that had seen him, to be Joe
PIERCE, a half-breed Choctaw Negro. I trailed Joe PIERCE to Skullyville,
Choctaw Nation, but I lost his trail there and returned home. At this same
time I learned that a horse had been stolen from Dr. SMITH at Eufaula and
we suspicioned PIERCE of this theft.
About two weeks after
we chased Joe PIERCE out of these parts, a man by the name of RULE of Oktaha
had a horse stolen from the hitch rack at Captain SEVERíS Store in Muskogee.
On investigation we learned that a negro by the name of Pete SPADE was
the man who stole RULEíS horse. While looking around the country for his
horse, RULE rode up to a place where some relatives of SPADE lived and
when he approached the house, he saw a man mount a horse and dash away
and disappear in the timber of the nearby creek bottom. RULE came to my
house a short distance from the place and asked me if I saw the fellow
ride into the brush and if I knew who he was, and I told him I saw him
and it was Gabe MOORE, a negro who had been picking cotton for me. RULE
said ďI believe he was riding my horse.Ē I told RULE, ďButler Creek bottom
wonít hold him very long.Ē I saddled my horse and with RULE, some other
men we called together we started for MOOREíS hiding place.
I took a position at the
edge of the timber where I thought he would be liable to come out and the
men scattered out and came in from the other side in search of him.
I didnít have long to wait. He dashed out of the brush near me in a dead
run across the prairie and I took in after him. The horse he was riding
was a good horse and a fast one; therefore, he made it to the Katy Railroad
quite a distance ahead of me, and at a crossing, turned his horse north
along the track inside of the right-of-way fence. I cut across in an effort
to head him off, and just as I was about even with him, his horse fell
over a little bank, he left his horse, ran under a small trestle and disappeared
on the other side of the railroad fill.
By the time I got my horse
through the fences he had made it to a draw and was out of sight, but on
seeing some cattle that were grazing on the slopes scatter and run I could
tell which way he was going, and I knew he was trying to make his way to
Chimney Mountain as it afforded many safe hiding places. By that time the
other fellows had overtaken me, I told them to follow him and I would go
around and come in to the draw where I was sure he would pass, dismounted
and stood in wait for him. I was not there more than a minute when I saw
him running towards me. I called to him to throw up his hands. He was the
worst scared man I ever saw, I thought I was going to be compelled to shoot
him to quiet him down. He acted more like a wild man than anything else.
I asked him what was the matter with him and he said he was afraid they
were going to hang him, I then assured him I didnít think they would, as
I thought they had decided that hanging was too good for such people as
him. I held my gun on him and placed my lariat around his neck, mounted
my horse and led him back to where he left his horse and by that time the
other men had joined us.
We brought him back to
the timber about one half mile of my place and stopped under some trees
to question him as we had learned after capturing him that the horse he
was riding was not RULEíS horse, but a strange horse in the community.
He would not give us satisfactory answers to any of our questions in regard
to the horse he was riding or anything else we asked him. I became disgusted
with him and threw the end of my lariat over a limb of the tree under which
we were standing, looped it around my saddle horn, spurred my horse and
he lunged forward and jerked Gabe MOORE from the horse and up to the limb
of the tree. He tried to hold to the rope with his hands to relieve the
torture and after hanging there for several minutes, I let him down and
as soon as he was able to talk, we questioned him again and yet he refused
to talk. I told him I would fix him so he would wish he had talked, and
I took a shawl that one of the fellows had and tied his hands behind him,
got on my horse and drew MOORE up to the limb again and held him there
until he was about to quit kicking, then let him down. When he came to
I asked him if he was ready to talk and he said he would talk if I would
take the rope off my saddle horn because he was afraid my horse would get
scared. I told him the horse was already scared and was anxious to get
scared again and I was going to scare him right then if he didnít get to
talking. He then related the activities of the horse stealing ring that
had been giving us so much trouble. The story as he related it and which
proved to be truthful, was that Joe PIERCE had stolen the horse from my
pasture and the horse became frightened and he could not lead it. PIERCE
got mad and shot the horse. Pete SPADE had stolen RULEíS horse in Muskogee
and the horse that Gabe MOORE was riding when we captured him was stolen
from Dr. SMITH at Eufaula by Joe PIERCE. He also told us that Joe PIERCE
was to meet Pete SPADE at a certain time in Paris, Texas. In the meantime
Joe PIERCE was shot and killed in Seminole and we wired the officers in
Paris, Texas, giving a description of Pete SPADE and the time he was suppose
to be there. True to the story told by Gabe MOORE, SPADE arrived at Paris
and was arrested by the officers there. He was tried in Texas and sentenced
to seven years for horse stealing.
Rule went to Paris and
recovered his horse. We released Gabe MOORE after he gave us the information
we wanted and as soon as he recovered, able to eat and get around, he went
to Ft. Smith and swore out a warrant for Tom WILSON, Henry CARTER and myself
for violation of the mob law. Friends immediately notified us of the action
taken by MOORE, so WILSON, CARTER and I started for Ft. Smith in my hack.
On our way to Ft. Smith, driving near the Missouri Pacific track, we saw
the U.S. Marshals on a passing train, on their way to the Creek Nation
to arrest us. On our arrival at Ft. Smith we surrendered to the Federal
authorities. I was released on a $3000.00 cash bond. WILSON and CARTER
on stock bonds.
Col. CRAVENS and RUTHERFORD,
attorneys of Fort Smith represented us and we were later tried before Judge
Parker of the Federal Court at Ft. Smith.
In those days, according
to treaties between the United States Government and the Creek Nation,
any case where all parties involved were citizens of the Creek Nation,
the case would be tried in and by the Creek Courts. But in case either
party involved was not a citizen of the Creek Nation and a citizen of the
United States, the case would be tried in Federal courts. Therefore,
Gabe MOORE not being a citizen of the Creek Nation, had the right to prosecute
us in Federal court, taking advantage of the mob law, where the Creek Nation
didnít bother anyone for killing a horse thief.
The trial before Judge
PARKER resulted in WILSON, CARTER and I being acquitted. In the course
of the trial it was discovered that on of the Negro witnesses that appeared
against us was a bigamist. His wife of a previous marriage appeared in
court and identified him. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to seven
years in prison. Another Negro witness against us was tried for perjury
resulting from the bigamy case and he was also given a prison sentence.
Some people gave Judge
PARKER the reputation of being a severe judge, but I thought he was a rather
fair judge, at least in that case.
After the trial, Gabe
MOORE came back home with the intention of living among us after all that
had transpired. His house burned down shortly thereafter, and he then moved
out of the country.
THE LAST EXECUTION UNDER
THE CREEK GOVERNMENT
The last man to be convicted
of murder and executed under the laws of the Creek government was a fullblood
Creek Indian by the name of Timmie DICK, and it took place at the old Creek
council house in Okmulgee in 1906.
Under the Creek laws,
when a citizen was condemned to be shot, the prisoner had the privilege
of selecting the person to do the shooting and to carry out the execution.
My brother, Pleasant BERRYHILL
was Captain of the Lighthorse of Okmulgee district, a position he held
for about sixteen years, and Timmie DICK selected him to perform the execution.
Due to the fact that they
had been good friends for several years, Pleasant BERRYHILL pleaded with
Timmie to select someone else, but Timmie could not be changed and said
everyone else was his enemy and it would do them too much good to have
a chance to kill him, therefore as a last act of a friend, he wanted BERRYHILL
to perform the execution. BERRYHILLís loyalty and respect for the last
request of his friend was greater than his personal feelings, therefore
he performed the execution and Timmie went down smiling with the satisfaction
of being sent to the land of peace and happiness by a friend.
Note: In the early part
of July, 1937, in company with informant of this story, A. J. BERRYHILL,
I visited Honey Springs, the site of Elk Creek Bridge and vicinity. The
following is of my personal observation and information furnished by Mr.
Honey Springs is one of
the most interesting points of historical interest in Oklahoma. The Battle
of Honey Springs was one of the most disastrous to the Confederate cause
of all the engagements which took place in the Indian Territory during
the Civil War. The most severe fighting of this battle occurred at Elk Creek
Bridge which was located one and one half mile south of the town of Oktaha.
It was this bridge on July 17, 1863, that Major HOWLAND, with his loyal
Indians on the south bank of Elk Creek held the bridge against superior
numbers until the Federals almost enveloped his command, but checked the
advance of General BLUNTís army, thus making it possible for a less disastrous
retreat of the Confederate Indians, the Creeks under the command of Col.
D. N. MCINTOSH and Stand WATIEís regiment of the Mounted Cherokees. Following
the battle at Elk Creek Bridge, which was a dearly bought victory for the
Federals, they advanced, driving the Confederate Indians south and captured
Honey Springs, the Confederate military headquarters of the Indian Territory,
two and one half miles south of Elk Creek Bridge.
On my visit to the old
battlefield with Mr. BERRYHILL, we first drove to a point about one quarter
of a mile north of the site of Elk Creek Bridge, walked from there, over
the old Texas trail to Elk Creek. The north approach to the bridge is at
the foot of a hill and a bluff bank several feet higher than the south
bank. On the south bank I found the old pier, butment and retaining wall
built of native stone and it is in good condition as it was the day it
was built there. The high approach from the north bank necessitated an
earth fill on the south approach about ten feet high to reach a level for
the bridge. The dirt fill extends about seventy-five feet from the south
end of the bridge. The bridge was built several years before the Civil
War by William F. MCINTOSH and operated as a toll bridge, the only passage
over Elk Creek on the Texas trail which was the only north and south road
through the Indian Territory in the early days. The imprint of the old
trail is visible through that vicinity, though large native trees have
grown in many places on the trail since it was discontinued many years
After our visit to the
site of Elk Creek Bridge, we drove to Honey Springs. There Mr. BERRYHILL
directed me to several points of interest. He pointed out to me a place
northeast of the springs where he saw government soldiers in 1866 taking
up Union soldiers that fell in battle and were buried there and removing
them to the National Cemetery at Fort Gibson. The Federal soldiers taken
up were identified by the brass buttons on their uniforms, while remains
that were found without brass buttons were recognized as Confederate, their
shallow graves refilled and left on the field. About two hundred feet east
of the springs we found a large cavity in the earth about forty feet across
and four feet deep which Mr. BERRYHILL told me was the result of an explosion
of the Confederate powder magazine which took place during the Battle of
Honey Springs. South of the springs about one hundred yards is where the
old Honey Springs Church and School stood. It was a log structure and the
fist church built in that part of the Indian Territory in the early fifties.
William F. MCINTOSH preached at that church for several years. It was a
Baptist church. Near the site of the old church we found the neglected
remains of the original Honey Springs burial grounds, in which there were
many early settlers buried and at one time grave with headstones, but from
various causes these stones have been destroyed, or knocked down and become
covered over by the drifting sands of time. After much effort, we were
able to locate but one headstone of one of the later graves which was concealed
from view by the dense growth of brush and briars that cover the place.
Upon this single stone we found the following inscription; Sue Emma ROGERS,
daughter of W. B. and K. D. ROGERS, born 1871, died 1878.
About one hundred yards
north of the springs stands the crumbling walls of an old stone building
with ghostly appearance, standing as a monument to the constructive efforts
of the early settlers and is all that remains of the, one time, famous
Honey Springs, one of the first and most important camp sites and watering
places on the old Texas Trail in pioneer days. The imprints of the old
trail are yet visible there.
The old building stands
at the east side of the country road, facing east as it was built to face
the Texas trail, the only road through this part of the country at that
time. It was a story and a half building, 12 X 14 feet, door in front,
one window in rear 30 X 48 inches and one smaller window in front on the
Mr. BERRYHILL informed
me that the remains of this old building was standing when he was at Honey
Springs in 1866 and he was told that it was used by the Confederate army
for some purpose during the war.
Submitted to OKGenWeb by Gay Wall
UPDATE: 07-2000 Phil Shewmaker < email@example.com >, a descendent of
A. J. Berryhill emailed that the nickname stated on our page as "Jack" should be changed to "Jake". Additionally, he has a photograph of his Great-Great Grandfather, A. J. Berryhill and other family information.
UPDATE: 01-24-2001 Robert L. Berryhill
< firstname.lastname@example.org > notes in
"The Last Execution Under the Creek Government", there is an error,
that being the name of the Indian who was executed. His correct name is Timmie
Jack. I know for a fact, because my grandfather, Pleasant Luther
"Duke" Berryhill was the Captain of the Light Horse of Okmulgee
district, and he was the one who did the execution at Timmie Jack's request.