Indian Pioneer Papers
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Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 28, 1937
Name: Sutherland, Mackie (Mrs.)
Residence Address: 603 North Georgia, Mangum, OK
Date of Birth: 12 January 1872
Place of Birth: Franklin County, Arkansas
Father: Richard Simpson
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Information on father:
Mother: Elizabeth Norris
Place of birth: Tennessee
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Ruth Kerbo
An interview with Mrs. Mackie Sutherland
603 North Georgia, Mangum, Oklahoma
Mrs. Mackie Sutherland was born January 12, 1872 in Franklin County, Arkansas. Parents were Richard Simpson and Elizabeth Norris, both born in Tennessee.
I was fifteen years of age when I came to Greer County with my parents. We went to the Chickasaw Nation from Denton County, Texas, in 1880-1885. Then back to Hood County, Texas, where we stayed until in December, 1886, arriving in Greer County upon that date.
We settled on Salt Fork River west of Mangum. My father made three dugouts back in the clay banks and covered them with poles, brush and dirt. He made doors in the partitions between them, and my mother thought she had a grand place to live, although she had remarked that she would not live in a dugout. We had rock fireplaces and burned prairie coal for a long time, or until coal was shipped into the country.
I have seen ricks (sic) of prairie coal as large as a small house that the people would pile up to burn through the winter. This made a nice clean fire and I have eaten many a meal cooked with this kind of fuel. Wood was very scarce especially after the country began to settle up.
There were very few families here when we came. Mangum's few dwellings were dugouts with the exception of one little house that was used for the postoffice. Then my father helped Lige Claunch build a log house.
The town of Quanah was nothing more than a wide place in the road then, all of our supplies came from Harrell and Vernon, Texas.
When we came through Vernon we bought a bill of groceries from Mr. Ashley Wilson, now of Mangum. I remember my father bought me some chewing gum at Mr. Wilson's store. It was called red wax then.
We came here with two covered wagons and two ox teams. It took fifteen days to make the trip from Weatherford, Texas, to Vernon with the ox teams.
Our closest neighbor was twenty-three miles away, down on Turkey Creek. We would often visit them and stay two or three days. They would return the visit.
I have seen wild turkeys here so thick the droves would be two miles long and almost as wide, and they were tame enough that they would come up around our dugouts and eat any scraps that we might have thrown out. Antelopes were also numerous and I saw two buffalo in the T. E. Ranch pasture. There were ranches all around and nobody did much farming.
Father brought a Georgia Stock, and turning plow from Texas and that was about all the farming equipment we had, except maybe a cottonwood log for a roller or harrow.
My mother said she would not live in a dugout before she came to Oklahoma, but since this country was noted for cyclones and high winds of which she was very much afraid, she did not mind it so much, especially after father had made them so convenient with doors from one to another.
In a short time father built a one-room boxed house in front of our dugouts which had a dirt floor but mother was so well satisfied with the dugouts that she remained in them most of the time. Of course we used the house, but it was our front room. We still used the dugouts for our kitchen, dining room and bed rooms as they were cool. Mother would can buttermilk in the summer in barrels to use through the winter. The ranch men would let us milk some of their milch cows. One time we kept a certain cow for ten years before we finally returned her to her owner.
Mother would churn the milk and let it stand until all the water came to the top then she would drain all of it off and pour the thick, fresh buttermilk into the barrel. She kept doing this until the barrel was full, then tie a cloth over it and let it stay in the dugout until in the winter or when it was needed. Mother would take the butter she got from this milk, tie it up in a nice clean cloth, put it in a large stone jar and pour fresh water over it. This was kept in a cool place in the dugout and would keep fresh for months. Each time she churned she kept putting the butter in this jar until it was full. One of our neighbors ate some butter mother had put up in this manner and she told mother that was the best butter she had ever eaten.
We canned ripe plums in the same manner. After they were washed nice and clean we would pack them in stone jars and cover them with cool fresh water. They would keep fresh and firm as long as they were covered with water. We canned beef in large jars too. Mother would cut the fresh meet in thick pieces and cook it in the tallow until the blood was cooked good, then pack it in jars and pour the hot tallow over it. When the tallow got cold the meat was sealed air tight. As we used the meat we would melt more tallow and pour in the place to seal it over again. This meat would keep until all of it was used.
We had several friends among the Kiowa and Comanche Indians. When we lived in the Chickasaw Nation a bunch of Indians offered my father one hundred head of horses for me. My great-grandfather was a full-blood Indian and Billie Pillmore, an Indian, took all of our names and ages for allotments of land, but my grandmother would not sign the papers and this prevented us from being allotted some land. Quanah Parker visited us sometimes. Lone Wolf, Gray Eagle and Kiowa Bill were also friendly with us. Komalde and a bunch of other Indians were camped near our home when they had a horse to die and they ate it.
After I married, an old Indian woman whom we called Tankie, would come to work for my mother and upon one occasion she measured my baby's foot with her finger. I did not know why she did this until one day when she came back with two pair of beaded moccasins for the baby.
I kept them until a short time ago when they were destroyed.
In 1886, about two hundred Indians were camped east of Mangum about where the railroad tracks are now and I was just a young lady. A young judge by the name of Duke took me over to the Indian camp. I saw little Indian children eating the intestines of a calf or some other animal. They each had a long piece wrapped around their necks and were eating from one end. This made me sick and I vomited in Judge Duke's new buggy. This was the last time I ever went with him.
The girls and boys of the neighborhood would ride horseback and oftentimes we would go to Cave Creek, up in the Hester community to the [sic] see the caves.
Sometimes some of the neighbors would give a dance. We danced on the dirt floors too. I remember on one occasion Ferm Pierson who was just a young lad of fifteen or sixteen said at a dance one night, that the people of Mangum would take the lead. We thought he was rather impudent since Mangum was just a village of dugouts. They were just settlers in here like the rest of us.
In 1890, my father filed on a place in the White Flat community six miles west of Mangum. He hauled the lumber from Vernon, Texas, to build a house.
My mother was a mid-wife. She began at the age of eleven years. She was at a place where a child was born and was the only person who could help and it was up to her to do the work.
The woman's husband had gone for a doctor, but he had to go quite a distance and on horseback too. The mother told this little girl how to do and she did the work so well that when the doctor arrived and the mother and baby were resting so well and the mother told him how skillful the child had performed the task, the doctor told her she should train herself for a mid-wife. This she did and gave her services in a hundred or more cases and never lost a mother and only one baby. After she came to Greer County the doctors here began to kick about her work and demanded her to take a medical examination. She passed the examination and the doctors said she knew as much as they did, and for her to go on with her work.
She would go and stay two weeks before and two weeks after the child came and take care of the mother for $10.00. The doctors told her that was not enough for her services and she should charge more, but she always charged the same.
On one occasion she went to the bedside of a mother when the North Fork River was at flood stage. The man who came for her, tied her securely to a horse and told her to go to his wife. She did not know whether the horse could swim or not, but drove him off into the rolling stream anyway. Fortunately, she crossed safely.
My mother used to make a tea of Red Root which was used to check the bowels in case of summer complaint. Bellmonie Tea was used for a laxative. The root of the Bellmonie Weed was used.
Prickley Pears were beaten up and used for a poultice; milk weeds were beaten up and used for poultice in case of insect or even centipede or snake bit. Sometimes soda was put on the affected part.
We used to make our dresses of flour sacks and mother would take elm bark and put it into a large iron kettle and boil it for several hours then take the bark out of the water and put a handful of copperas in it and then put the cloth in the water to dye it. This made a purple color and would not fade or boil out.
I remember the first people who were buried in the Mangum Cemetery were two men who were killed at the first Christmas Tree at Mangum. They were arguing who would be Santa Claus, and one man got killed, then someone shot the man who killed the other one. I don't remember their names or who did the killing.
I think we were happier in those pioneer days than the people are now.
Submitted to OKGenWeb by Alice L. Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org April 2003
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