Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: January 18, 1938
Name: H. H. Teeters
Residence Address: Wynnewood, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1873
Place of Birth: near Vinita, Cherokee Nation, IT
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
I was born in the Cherokee
Nation near Vinita in 1873. My father and mother came from Missouri
right after the Civil War and settled on Spavinaw Creek near Vinita and my
father established the first sawmill in that part of the country. The
mill was operated by water power and sawed lumber for people settling in that
part of the country to build homes.
I have heard my grandfather
say that my father cut out lumber to build a small church house and this
lumber was given to the community where he lived and he also made benches and
gave them to the community. This building also served as a schoolhouse.
This was where I attended my
first school. It was called the Lindsay School. The first year I
went to school was in 1878 and there were only three months of school.
My father and mother died
while I was quite small and my grandfather took over the sawmill and operated
it for a few years.
In 1880 my grandfather moved
back to Missouri and I lived with him until he died in the winter of 1885.
At his death he left me a fine black horse and his saddle. After
grandfather's death I went to live with my aunt. It wasn't like living
with my grandfather. I had to work from sun up until sometimes after
dark getting the work done and hard as I tried I couldn't get along with that
family. So, one night in the early spring of 1886, I saddled my horse
that grandfather had given to me and left for the Indian Territory.
My uncle, T.J. Thompson, was
living northeast of Pauls Valley on what was called then Peavine Creek.
I did not have a dime in money when I left my aunt's home. After about
two weeks riding and eating what I could get, I finally reached Pauls Valley
where I was able to find out where my uncle lived.
The railroad at that time was
building through to Pauls Valley. While coming through Pauls
Valley, I thought several times I was going to freeze to death. One time
I recall after I had crossed the Canadian River, (I didn't know it was the
Canadian River then but later I told my uncle about the time I had in crossing
this river and about where it was located and he said it was the North
Canadian River), there were no bridges and the river was up. All I could
do was ride my horse off into it. He was a large horse, weighing about
four-teen hundred pounds and I was only a young boy then, weighing about one
hundred pounds. My horse and I both went under when I first jumped him
off into the stream, but he brought me out on the other side all wet and cold.
After riding a few miles in my wet clothes, I came upon a white family living
in a two room log house. But before I got to the house I rode out into a
cleared up place and met a white man breaking ground with one horse to a plow.
I told him about my trouble and he took me to his house and let me wear some
of his clothes while mine were drying and his wife fixed me something to eat
and I spent the rest of the day and night with this family. The next
morning his wife gave me some corn bread and fried meat, enough to last three
or four days, and from this man I learned in what direction to ride to find
Pauls Valley. When I got to my uncle's home northeast of Pauls Valley, I still
had some corn bread and fried meat.
I went to work on my uncle's
farm for thirteen dollars a month and board. I worked for my uncle
until 1892, then I went to work for the Harris Brothers, near Mill Creek, on
their ranch. They were the sons of Silas Harris, one time governor of
the Chickasaw Nation. I only worked for them one year, then I came back
to Pauls Valley and was married.
By this time I had enough
money to start farming for myself. I rented some land from Zack Gardner,
who owned a grist mill and a cotton gin on the river east of Pauls Valley.
I have worked many a day at this old gin, tramping cotton into the press with
my feet. At that time the gin would only run from sun up until sundown,
as we didn't have lights. I was paid seventy-five cents a day. The
mill and gin both were pulled by a large wheel fixed out in the water.
One morning the mill and gin were both running when all of a sudden something
went wrong with the wheel and everything stopped. Zack Gardner, the man
who owned the mill and gin, took a catfish off the wheel. The fish had
got caught in the wheel. That day for dinner we all had a big fish fry
at Mr. Gardner's house.
I now live on a farm
southwest of Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
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