OKGenWeb Notice: These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons. Presentation here does not extend any permissions to the public. This material may not be included in any compilation, publication, collection, or other reproduction for profit without permission.
The creator copyrights ALL files on this site. The files may be linked to but may not be reproduced on another site without specific permission from the OKGenWeb Coordinator, [okgenweb@cox.net], and their creator. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which they are presented, the notes and comments, etc. are. It is, however, permissible to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.

Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: March 29, 1938
Name: W.R. Berryhill
Post Office: Antlers, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: September 7, 1865
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Place of Birth: Mississippi
Place of birth: Mississippi
Field Worker:  Johnson H. Hampton 

I was born September 7, 1865 in Marion County, Alabama. I came to Indian Territory in 1893, with my family in a covered wagon. It took us several months to make the trip for the roads were no good and the rivers would get up and we had to wait for them to run down before we could cross.

After so long we came to the Indian Territory and located near Checotah. I had lived among the Creeks back in the old country so when I found out just where they were I started there and that is where I located. I rented a farm from a Creek Indian and lived on this farm for several years. We raised plenty of corn and other things. The country was fine and we could raise anything we wanted-all we had to do was to put the seed in the ground and plow it about once and let it go and we sure used to make a bumper crop. Some few weeks after I had arrived at Checotah, my sister and her family followed us up and located near where we located and we all lived there and farmed. They had rented another farm near my place so we all were near to each other. At that time Checotah was a small railroad station or switch where the people loaded their cattle. Checotah was what we might call a cow town for there were lots of cattle loaded out there. It was nothing but a switch at that time, but it grew until it is a very good sized town now. At that time the country was full of cattle and the range was fine. There were not wire fences to be seen anywhere in that part of the country, and the cattle just roamed at will. There were lots of cattle shipped out of this little town years ago when there was cattle in the country. When I rented this land from this Creek I lived in a small log house with split logs for floor. I lived there for some time then built a house on this place. We had no pine timber in the country but we had cottonwood and red oak and post oak which the sawmills would saw into lumber. We did not see very much pine timber or pine lumber at that time, but the hardwood made very good houses.

We had no funiture to speak of when we arrived there so after we lived there for a while we bought our furniture such as we needed; it did not take very much furniture for us anyway at that time.

I lived in that country for about fifteen years; when I first got there, there were but few white people living there. When I left there the country had begun to fill up with them; that is when I moved away from there, for I was not used to being crowded with people.

Checotah was our trading point at that time; it was too far for us to go to Muskogee for our groceries.  Muskogee was about thirty miles from where I lived and often I went there to see the town; it was a big town for that time. Of course, it was not like it is now; it was a small town but what I mean is that it was the biggest town in that part of the country at that time.

I used to visit Okmulgee when it was a small town. I was there in town when the first locomotive rolled in the town; the railroad had just been finished and that was the first train that went over the track. It looked vicious when it rolled into town, Okmulgee, which was a small town at that time. The Creek Council House was located there and I used to attend the meeting once in awhile. The Indians would camp along the creek there that runs through the town; you could see wagons and ponies all along the creek bottoms. I don't know how long they held their councils but I think about thirty days at that time. I met some of their chiefs, PORTER and PERRYMAN -- this PERRYMAN was nearly full blood negro it looked to me, and the other was an old Indian, ISPARHECHAR, who was a full blood creek. I remember when ISPARHECHAR was chief there were some other  Indians that were called slick by the Creeks -- they came very near robbing the whole Creek Nation During ISPARHECHAR's administration. He put out all of his warriors together and drove them off and stopped them from robbing the Nation. They came very near having a big fight.

There was a Creek Indian of the name of Dick BERRYHILL who was a United States Marshal for several years. The Creeks had their sheriffs, deputies and what they called Lighthorsemen. At the time of the Snake uprising they all had something to do. I remember that the United States marshal went out and arrested a wagon load of the Snakes, and out in front of my house the wagon bogged down and the Snakes had to get out and help get the wagon out. They were all chained together with trace chains. They were taking them to Muskogee but I don't know what they did to them. Chitto HARJO made them believe that they could get their land back if they would fight for it.

The country around Checotah was fine country -- a good cow country. All of the prairie was open, no fences there. The grass was fine and the stock did not have to be fed during the winter season. There was plenty of acorns on the creeks for the hogs, and there were lots of deers and turkeys there and the prairie was full of prairie chickens. I used to get out and kill all the deer I wanted and turkeys, too, for the country was full of them and there were plenty of fish in the creeks. When the farmers began to come in there and break up the land for farms they ruined the country for cattle.

When I left Checotah I went to Jones County Texas, where I lived for six years then left there and moved to Mississippi and lived there for about five years. I then came back to Oklahoma and located in Antlers and have lived here for about twenty-three years. I farmed for several years and then I got too old to farm so came to town and put up a little grocery store, where I have been for the past twenty-three years. I have raised my children here in this town, and I have had lots of business with the Choctaws here in my store and I sure have not lost a penny on them. They have got groceries on account but they always came right up and paid.

My wife is now 66 years old and I am now 73 years old. We have been married for 52 years and have raised several children. We have done fairly well in our life. We used to live among the Creeks back in Alabama; that was one of the reasons I went to the Creek Nation when I left the old home and came over here.

Submitted to OKGenWeb