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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: July 19,1937
Name: Fielden Salyer Hill
Post Office: Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 24, 1870
Place of Birth: Patric, or Combs, Arkansas
Father: Arch B. Hill
Place of Birth: Combs, Arkansas
Information on father: Fought last six months in Civil War
Mother: Rodie Jane Salyers
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Wylie Thornton

I left Combs, Arkansas, in the fall of 1889 for the Cherokee Nation in the Indian Territory, with my father and mother and we all settled down for several years at what is now Gideon, Oklahoma. The exact location is one hundred yards north of where the Gideon graveyard is located.

I am sure that only two or three were buried before my family began to bury some of our people there. Now I have quite a number of my family buried there. My father and mother, two brothers, and one sister, a daughter, four nieces and nephews and five grand-children.

My parents lived at this place for three years, but I was married after living there with them for only two years. I married Miss Anna Jane WILLIS and we have had seven children born to us. Four are boys and there are three girls. My oldest daughter died and was buried at this Gideon Cemetery.

I left my parents in the fall of 1908, and took my family to Old Oklahoma and we lived in Custer County for one year. After realizing I couldn’t stay away from my parents very long I moved back into the same community where I had formerly lived. I can remember the first church life of that community. I remember that we had four different denominations represented at the church services. The first Sunday of each month the Presbyterian minister preached for us. His name was Evans ROBINSON and he was the father of Doose Robinson, the lawyer who lives at Hulbert now. Then on the second Sunday the North Methodist preacher whose name was William SULLIVAN preached. The third Sunday was the Baptist minister’s day to preach and his name was Bill THOMPSON. The fourth Sunday was Bill BIDDING’s day to preach. He was a minister of the South Methodist Church.


There wasn’t any school for us white folks away back there. All Schools were for Indians and if we wanted any school we white folks had to build a log hut some place and then hire somebody to teach it. The was we did was to get a paper and start out getting the white people who had children old enough to go to school to sign up for how much they were willing to pay to send their children to school. When we got all around we knew how much we could pay the teacher. You can see from that we didn’t have much school away back there. When plowing and crop time came along everybody took their children out of school to help make a crop. I remember the names of some of the Indian teachers. One was Aunt Carrie GOURD, and the others were Scott DOWNING, Mrs. Green PARRIS and Polley WALLIS. These teachers were paid by the Government as I understood it, and after about 1900 we could send our children to the Indian Schools by paying one dollar a month tuition.


The best I can remember is that the Cherokee laws were in full force in those days. I never saw but two men hanged in my life and they were two brothers who were sentenced by a Federal Court, I believe, for killing a man down near Stillwell in Indian Territory. These men were Indians and were hanged the same minute. They had prepared a double trap and the hangman who sprung the trap was Mr. Zeke PARRIS, who died not long ago, away from here, but whose body was sent back for burial. That did one thing for me that won’t ever leave me as long as I live and that was this. I wouldn’t sit on a jury where a man was being tried for his life, after witnessing that hanging.

In 1890 the road we called the Saline Road left Tahlequah northwest and came by the Triplett Spring and by the Granite Spring, then on by Jess LOCUST’s place on Fourteen Mile Creek. Then it went up the Jess Locust Mountain, on to Peggs Prairie, then down Spring Creek and crossed the creek somewhere near where the bridge is now. It wound on to Salina and by the old orphan school near Salina and further on in this same direction.

There was another road we called the Mayesville Road, leading right out of Tahlequah due north through Moody and on through Laura’s Prairie. Then it went through Oakes and Kansas, Indian Territory, then crossed the Arkansas line and on into Mayesville, Arkansas, From there it went into Southwest City, Missouri.

The stores in Tahlequah along about 1900 were the BALLARD Store, Lawrence and Buck RICHARD, T.J. ADAIR, Ed HICKS, and Billie JOHNSON, and the WARD Store.

There was a hotel run by Mrs. ALBERTY right where the Thompson Hotel is located now, and Bob FULLER ran a hotel just east of where the Wilson Washington Motor Company is located. It was a two story, log building, the best I remember.

Doctor FITE ran a hotel and it was about where the Roger’s Drug Store is now. John PRICE had a brick building and the Indian councilmen stayed at this hotel when they met every fall, about the first of September. He boarded them also for twenty-five cents a meal. Their beds cost twenty-five cents a night.

Maybe you don’t think we farmers were glad when that Council met and the Seminary started school again. Before this all started up in September we sold our stuff very cheaply. We sold butter for fifteen cents a pound, chickens for ten cents apiece, and dressed hogs for three cents a pound, and milk for nine cents a gallon. Then the schools and the Council met and a lot of people came to town, I sold hogs for eight cents a pound, and eggs for forty cents a dozen, instead of five cents a pound, and chickens sold by the head then, and not by the pound. They went up to twenty-five cents apiece.

I voted for statehood all right, but if I had my way about it now I would like to have it back as a Territory as it was. I made money a lot easier then, than I can now. I tell you I would be willing to leave here and go anywhere if I could find any place today where things are as they were in those days.


I knew plenty of outlaws away back there. I never will forget when Ellis GOURD led a posse after the old Cook Gang who was reported staying one day in a log cabin on the banks of Fourteen Mile Creek near Hulbert. This log hut was on the west bank of the creek near where the new bridge is located. Ellis Gourd rounded up a brave bunch of boys here in Tahlequah to go get the bad boys. It was just about noon in the year of 1894, and he surrounded the log cabin and yelled at the boys to give up. Cherokee Bill called back to him. “We’ll never do it, but we’ll swap out with you.” About then, Jim COOK raised a Winchester and at the blaze of the gun Sequoyah Houston fell dead. The fight was on, and the Cook Gang ran into the Log hut and began knocking out mud daubing for holes to poke their guns through. They fought from about noon until dark. Several men were badly hurt but no more were killed. After dark the Cook Gang came out of the hut shooting and running at the same time and they all got away again.

Roads in those days were pretty sorry. We always took a good axe along so that we could cut limbs out of the way. If a tree had blown down in the road we just cut a new road around it and also around any bad mud holes.

NOTE:  also see John Luther Branchcomb, brother-in-law of Fielding Salyer Hill

Transcribed and submitted by Jerry L Couch <pkcouch@efortress.com> October 1999.