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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: November 2, 1937
Name: J. C. Moncrief
Post Office: Chickasha, Oklahoma
Residence address: 5th and Colorado Ave.
Date of Birth: June 22 1857
Place of Birth: Skulleyville, Choctaw Nation
Father: Samson Moncrief
Place of Birth: Not known
Information on father: Buried at Skullyville
Mother: Sofia Jones
Place of birth: Alabama
Information on mother: Buried at Skullyville
Field Worker: Thad Smith, Jr.
Interview: #9104
Interview with J. C. Moncrief
Chickasha, Oklahoma

I was born at Skulleyville, in the Choctaw Nation, in 1857.

There were a few white men there then, but mostly Indians.

The Indians lived in buckskin teepees. The buckskin was smoked with corn cobs to make it yellow.

There were lots of buffalo, deer, bear, tiger, wild cats, wild hogs and wild turkeys in the Choctaw Nation when I was a child. Nearly every family had a pet bear.

There wasn't any school at Skulleyville, but there was a Christian Church. The preacher was a full blood Choctaw. He preached in both languages, Choctaw and English.

Everybody killed and ate wild hogs. There was plenty for everybody. The hogs lived and got fat on acorns, pecans and hickory nuts. The lard, after being rendered, was put and kept in big homemade troughs, usually cedar. We also had cedar buckets and wash pans.

We dried buffalo, deer, and beef meat by cutting the meat into strips and putting [it] in the sun; we dried pumpkins, too.

All of our bedsteads were homemade and our springs were made of rope, woven backwards and forwards across the bed. Our mattresses were made of wild goose and wild duck feathers.

Tom AINSWORTH and Jim HARLIN each ran a store in Skulleyville where we traded.

The mail was carried to Skulleyville twice a week from Fort Smith, in what was called a stump jumper. It was a two-wheeled cart drawn by two horses.

Nearly everybody raised about five acres of peas, beans, pumpkins and corn. The Indians, when dropping the corn in a hole, would drop a minnow in with the grain as a fertilizer.

We had walnut plows to plow with and when the share would get dull we would rasp it with a wood rasp.

The Indians and white people both wore buckskin clothes.

We made our own harness from rawhide, we also made rawhide ropes.

The wild horses were caught in a big corral, which had a drop gate to it. One man would be concealed above the gate to drop it when the horses were driven in. The horses were small but awfully tough.

The supplies for Skulleyville were freighted from Fort Smith by ox teams, generally about five yoke to the wagon.

People who stole anything were tied to a tree and whipped. Some of the Indians who were convicted of murder, would be given several days in which to go home and straighten up their business and would be told when to appear back to be shot, as that was the penalty for murder. The Indians always came back at the appointed time.

The Indians mixed shumake leaves with their tobacco, which they smoked in pipes. The tobacco was raised at home.

I lived in a log house chinked with sticks and mud.

There were small trees there that were called coffee trees. We would gather the berries and parch and grind them.

Nearly everybody had a few sheep, but they weren't herded. They would generally follow the milk cows and come in at night with them. If they did not come in at night they were pretty apt to get caught by some wild animal.

The Indian women did most of the farming, and the men hunted and fished all the time.

My brother made a small fortune buying hides and shipping them.

We had a beef tallow light, a little bowl full of tallow with a braided string tied around a button.

In 1896, I moved to McAlester to follow the railroad business.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Sandi Carter, A Moncrief relative <SandKatC@aol.com> 07-2000.