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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 19, 1937 
Name: Cora (Cooper) Matthews
Post Office: Claremore, OK
Date of Birth: August 9, 1875
Place of Birth: near Bloomington Indiana
Place of Birth:
Information on father: 
Place of Birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Mary A. Stockton
Interview #:
Volume 71, page 26

NOTE: items within "<  >" were added by the transcriber for clarity. 

I was born on a farm near Bloomington Indiana on August 9, 1875. We stayed there until I was seven years old and then we left Indiana and traveled in a covered wagon down to Evansville Indiana. From there we got on a big steamboat and went down the Ohio River to Cairo, IL where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers join. We then got on a steam ferry and crossed the Mississippi, which was a mile wide and took over a half-hour to cross. There was a train there that ran right up to the dock. We took the train and went to Arkadelphia Arkansas and waited two weeks for our baggage, which was shipped from Bloomington. 

It was only 40 miles to the Texas <state> line from Arkadelphia, but we were afraid to go on, because of the hard luck stories that we heard concerning the droughts, etc. So we got our wagon and team and went back through the Ozark Mountains, through Batesville, Searcy and Little Rock. We saw smoke rising from the hot springs at Hot Springs AR. We had to wait 10 days for the back water to go down from the Arkansas River so that we could cross. 

We went to Springfield Missouri and there we rented the old Captain Owen's farm. We stayed there about ten years and I was married on that farm. 

I was washing the windows when I first met Abram Matthews. He came up on our porch to ask for something to eat. He was on his way to the harvest fields around Kansas City MO. He took a job working for my father, we fell in love, and were married. 

Abram ("Abe") Matthews was born November 20, 1868 in Illinois. Abe's father was Aaron Vernon Matthews, a Union soldier of the 10th Illinois Cavalry in the Civil War -- 1861 - 1865. Abe's mother was Martha Walker of Missouri. Abe was reared on an Illinois farm. When he was twenty he went south to look for work in the harvest fields of Kansas. This is where he met me (Cora Cooper, then). After we were married we moved from the family home to the old Captain Jones's farm nearer Springfield. It was later owned by his son- Johnnie Jones. Johnnie Jones was the great-uncle of J. Berry King, who was the former Attorney General of the state of Oklahoma. J. Berry King's grandmother was Johnnie Jones' sister. My two oldest children were born on the Jones farm. 

After leaving Missouri we spent some time in Arkansas, coming to Indian Territory, Cooweescoowee District in 1900. This is now Rogers County. We have lived here ever since. 

When we first arrived here <in Claremore> the little town was full of tents which housed members of the Dawes Commission. They were here to allot the Indian people their land. 

People were dying each day from smallpox. They were living in old shacks and tents without screens on doors and windows. Water was scarce and it was hot. Children were dirty and even had screw worms in their ears. There didn't seem to be enough medical aid and the very few doctors could not be everywhere at once. The doctors here at that time were Dr Duckworth, Dr Bushyhead and Dr. Hayes. 

When we came here we got aquatinted with Mr. and Mrs. Jack Matthews (no kin). Mr. Matthews has served as County Clerk for many years and died in 1936. Mrs. Matthews is still living in Rogers County in Claremore. Other old timers are John Taylor and his wife- the sister of Jack Matthews. All are now dead except his brother, Bill Taylor, Mrs. Matthews and her son, Flannery. Mrs. Matthews had several of Cherokee documents and manuscripts in her home on fifth street. 

"Pop" Kates (A. L. Kates) was in the Progress Paper business then and still is today. Howard Hale ran a merchandise store and is still in business in Claremore. 

There were but two brick building when we came here <1900> but two years later a builder, named Bayless, came here from Cassville MO and built several brick buildings; the Bank, the Sequoyah Hotel and the Belvedere. Mr. Matthews was the third man to deposit money in the bank of Claremore. 

There were two ford that crossed the Verdigris River when we came. One of them was about seven miles northwest of town <Claremore>. It was called Sanders Ford, named for the man who owned the land where the ford crossed the river. The other ford was called Galcatcher- about five miles southwest of town. There were two ferry boats when we came here. 

The shoes were more attractive and beautiful in the early days than they are today. They had lace shoes which laced high on the inside. They were of the very finest of kid. They had button shoes which laced on the outside, and very high- almost to the knees The stockings were made of cotton, but very nice., being white, black and blue. The dresses were the full fashion skirts which took many yards <of material> to make. They were long and sometimes dragged the ground, basque waist, mutton leg sleeves, and the waist had many decorated buttons. The men wore plain old jeans made out of brown and blue ducking. 

My mother had an old rolling pin which was taken by me, and now my daughter has it. It is still in good use although getting thin. It is about 75 years old. I have several rugs that mother wove on the loom. 

PARENTAGE (grandfather): 
My grandfather, Joseph Abram, was a Jew, his ancestors having come from Jerusalem. He was born in Tennessee in 1808. He married Polly Taylor when she was sixteen years old. She was full blood Irish. They moved to Petersburg Indiana where they were both doctors. Their daughter, Rebecca, married when she was twenty-two to John Irving Cooper, who was born in 1823 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. 

My mother died nine years ago <1928> and my father died several years previous. They are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery <Claremore>. 

STORY OF JOHN ABRAM (great uncle): 
My great uncle was stolen by the Indians, but I don't if they were a wild tribe or not, as I don't remember all that my mother told me about it. He was taken when he was a small child, about three years old. They searched for him for years without finding any trace of him. They later heard a white man, who had escaped from the Indians, say that he had seen a white boy at the camp where he was held. The Indians kept him a long time and finally they learned to trust him. 

One day the warriors went on a hunt and left him in charge of the camp with a few old squaws and small children. He had wanted to come to a white settlement e and look for his parents if he had any. So he escaped. They trailed him but he would never travel in the day time because he knew all about the Indians and how clever and skillful they were <at tracking>. He would hide in a cave, hollow tree or some other safe place until night. Sometimes the Indian would be all around where he was hiding and he was very scared that they would find him. They were closing in on him one night and he headed straight for the river. He found a boat or canoe and just made it across the river when the Indians saw him. They wanted him to come back because they loved him and wanted him to stay with them. He told them that he was going to the white settlement to live. The Indians became angry and gave fierce war whoops and shot arrows at him. He fled to the white settlement before they could get a chance to get a canoe across the river to capture him. 

I was a musician and writer. I wrote several poems which I have submitted to different newspapers and magazine companies. I am a staunch member of the Christian Church, as was my mother. My mother was loved by all who knew her and she lived with us until she passed away, about nine years ago. I have five living children. Four <of them> live in this county and one in Tulsa. One of my twins died at birth. My husband supports me by working as a janitor at the court house. 

Submitter unknown, March 2002.