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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: July 15, 1937
Name: J. W. Brewer
Post Office: Stillwell, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: April 17, 1871
Place of Birth: Adair County, OK
Father: Richard Brewer
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Mother: Lue Fisher
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: W. J. B. Bigby

J. W. Brewer, one quarter Cherokee, was born April 17, 1871, in Indian Territory in what is now Adair County, and has lived here all his life.  He has a fair education. His father died when he was seven years old, his mother when he was a very young boy. He lived with his uncle and aunt until he became a grown man. They told him about the trip of his father and mother when they came from Georgia and were driven here in what was called “The Trail of Tears”. He said they told him there were ten thousand when they left Georgia; but when they arrived at Evansville, Arkansas, there were only five thousand.  When they were driving them here, he said they fed them only very little.  Some would get sick and some died on the road.  Whenever anyone got sick or died they were just left. They were guarded at night; afraid they would go back.

When they first arrived here they would clear up a piece of land, would hoe one man’s crop out, until every man had his crop worked. They farmed mostly with hoes.  They told him they didn’t count by numbers, they would just tie knots in ropes and go by them.


Mr. Brewer said men of GoingSnake, Cherokee, Delaware, and Sequoyah Districts would bunch up and dig four or five bushels of buckeye. They would go to the Illinois River, about twenty-five miles west of Stilwell near Tahlequah, to a hole of water called, “Standing Rock”. A man lived here by the name of CORNSASK. He would help and they would kill fish by the wagonloads. The fish were cooked on the creek until all were tired of them, and still there were fish to take home.


There was plenty of all kinds of game, wild turkey, wild hogs, pigeons and deer.  His uncle told him when he first came to this country there were bears, but not since he could remember.


The STARR boys and his uncles, the FISHER boys, had race horses. There was a race track at the Henry DANNENBURG place, that is now Stilwell; also one at Ben PADEN’s place, five miles southeast of Stilwell. One of the SHANNONs shot and killed a horse belonging to the Fisher’s, and that started trouble bewtween them. Mage, Cal, Bird and John Fisher and Jim REED were all killed because this horse was shot. Several of the Shannons were killed, but he doesn’t remember how many.


The Brewers was all against allotment of land; they wanted it to remain as it was.


All the Indians doctored themselves. They used herbs such as snake and black root, sarsaparilla, and may apple. Iron wood was used for the kidneys. They used ground ivy to lower their fever. It grew on bluffs and rocks. They used no doctors except Indian doctors.


The eldest church he remembered was the church at Oak Grove, about seven miles northeast of Stilwell. He couldn’t remember any names of preachers.


The only man that he remembers handling cattle was Kale STARR.  At that time there were no railroads in this country, and they drove cattle to Kansas City on horseback.  They drove some to Coffeyville, Kansas. Mr.  Brewer helped drive some; and it would take several days to make a trip.


Some of these United States Marshals were Charley COPELAND of Siloam Springs, Bud LEDBETTER of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Red ROGERS of Fort Smith, and Bill SMITH of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

J. W. Brewer married Thurs STILL.  Ten children were born to them as follows:
Floyd, Sallie, Jewel, J. B. Emmett, Margaret, Cherry, Mose, Watie, and Perry.

For the last few years he has owned and operated a farm about ten miles southeast of Stilwell.  

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Roberta Duvall Hammer <kdhx6@swbell.net> 10-1999.