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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: October 5, 1937
Name: Samuel Terrapin
Post Office: Stilwell, Oklahoma
Residence Address:  
Date of Birth: January 7, 1886
Place of Birth:  Stilwell, Oklahoma
Father:   James Terrapin
Place of Birth:  
Information on father:
Mother:   Lizzie Gritts
Place of birth:   
Information on mother:
Field Worker:  Gus Hummingbird
Interview #: 7844
Volume 46

Samuel Terrapin, a full blood Cherokee, was born in the Old Goingsnake District, Cherokee Nation. He was the son of James Terrapin, an early day politician. His mother was Lizzie Gritts, a full blood Cherokee lady. The Gritts were also prominent in the early day politics. So it was no trouble for Sam to be a born politician.

Sam was born just about a mile North of the present town of Stilwell, January 7, 1886

He was reared in a good home. His father was what he would call a well-to-do man nowadays. He did not know what hard times were when he was a boy.

Just like many Cherokee boys in his time he was not forced to go to school as we do our children. Therefore he did not receive much of an education.


Most of the early life of Sam Terrapin was spent on a small farm that his father operated near where the town of Stilwell is now. The farm consisted of about twenty acres. They did not raise much of a crop each year. They usually did not have much to sell off the farm each year. Most of the money that his father made was from stock that he raised on the free range of the hills. He owned many head of stock. He did not have to raise much feed to raise them, therefore it did not cost much to produce results on stock at that time.

Terrapin was the only Cherokee who owned stock in this part of the Goingsnake District. Many buyers came from other states to trade with Mr. Terrapin. Therefore Sam did not have to suffer hardships as did the other Cherokee of his time.


The only church that the Terrapin family attended was the Mulberry Indian Church which was located at that time on Mulberry Branch about six miles west of the town of Stilwell. The leaders of this church were Alex Wolfe, William Wolfe, and Johnson Simmons.

The other churches that they attended was the Fairfield Church which was established North of Stilwell about 1878.


The main trading points at that time were the town of Cincinnati, Arkansas, and Tahlequah, Indian Territory.

Bob and Bill Ray were the traders at Cincinnati. Jim Stapler was the merchant at Tahlequah.

Second Interview
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: October 20, 1937
Name: Samuel Terrapin
Post Office: Stilwell, Oklahoma
Field Worker:  Bigby
Interview #: 7941
Volume 46


The National Party started some time after the Civil War. Before the Civil War there were two parties with different names. This story that I am going to tell about the parties was told to me by James Terrapin, who was an early day politician. James Terrapin was elected Sheriff of Goingsnake District three times. He was not an education man or he would have been elected to some higher office.

The National Party at first was called the Coo-wee-scoo-wee Party, that is in Cherokee language. This word means Ross.

This Coo-wee-scoo-wee Party went with the North in the Civil War. The word North means in Cherokee ‘Cold’. So the present Republican Party is called by that name in the Cherokee language.

Since the Ross faction of the Cherokees favored the Union in the War, after the death of John Ross they changed the name of their party to the National. The word National means the ‘Supporters of the Union’.

The man that started this new party is not known to this younger bunch of Cherokees but it must have been Coo-wee-scoo-wee Ross that started this new party.

Some old timers say that the first Chief after the Civil War was the one who started this new National Party. So whoever it was who was elected or was defeated for Chief on the National Ticket in the election following the Civil War was the person who started this party.

Transcribed for OKGenWeb by Catherine Widener, August 2002.