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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: August 20, 1937
Name: Johnson Thompson
Post Office: Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
Residence Address:  
Date of Birth:  December 1863
Place of Birth:  Rusk County, Texas
Father:   
Place of Birth:  
Information on father:
Mother:   
Place of birth:   
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Breland Adams
Interview #7305

I was born in December 1863 in Rusk County, Texas. My people moved to Texas during the Civil War. They were owned once by the Harnages, then by the Thompsons. At one time they were owned by Chief Lowery.

My father came back to Fort Gibson and settled five miles east and two miles north of that place. It is just a quarter of a mile north of where I now live. My mother died while we were in Texas.

In 1867 there was a cholera epidemic. The government moved us Negroes out to Four Mile Creek. When the first one died, Russell Vann selected a site for a cemetery. The cemetery is still in use.

I remember old Mrs. Thompson and remember playing around her place when I was very small. My father fiddled for Mrs. Thompson who had an eating place. I knew old Mrs. Colston who had a place next to Houston Benge. 

I remember when this ground around here was all prairie grass and wax weeds (wax weed was a tall weed with yellow flowers). At seeding time it would hide a rider on a horse. There were very few trees around here then (he referred to the country surrounding him, which was covered with trees and small shrubs). The land has all been cultivated or cattle have run on it and stomped out the prairie grass. Also persimmons and small shrubs have helped choke it out. I remember once my father went out and killed four deer. He came back home and got the wagon and went after them. He sold the skins and hams at Fort Gibson. Also, he gave a big part of the meat to neighbors.

When I was a boy I worked for Bill Baker who was the head cook at the Fort. I scrubbed knives and forks and fanned the flies off the tables while the officers eat. After working there I worked for Tom Still who ran a hotel. I scrubbed knives and forks there and kept the flies off the table at mealtime. I also used to work for Allen Wilson who had the first mill for making molasses. It was made out of wooden rollers and I used to feed in the sorghum cane. 

The stores there then were Bushyheadís, Danniel Gunterís and McClendonís. Henry Meigs used to be postmaster and Mr. Percival used to buy hay. Mr. Dennis Bushyhead used to live where Mark Anderson lives now. It was north of the Thompson place. 

There used to be houses just south of the old barracks, where the soldiers and their wives lived. Also, laundry women lived in these houses. The houses were made out of split logs placed straight up for walls, with the split side for the inner wall.

Most of the rock for the wall of the National Cemetery were gotten on the hills right around my house (where he now lives.) I helped quarry the rocks for the barn in the cemetery. An old Irishman had the contract for the barn and stayed at our house for several days until he could learn us just how he wanted the rock quarried. The quarry was about one mile east of our place.

I stayed with Florene Nash, a merchant in Fort Gibson, for about ten years. I worked in the bottoms farming and clearing land or anything that was to be done. Nash had a colored clerk, William Hudson, in his store. At another time, Hudson worked for Captain Hayner in his saloon, which was run for the soldiers, white people and colored people. No Indians were sold anything out of the saloon.

Altho my father was a Cherokee Freedman he did not get an allotment. John Thornton, a colored man, was appointed a kind of census taker, or something, to point out who came to the country before 1866. John Thornton and my father had had a falling out up close to Gibson Station one time when they were cutting hay. On account of the quarrel, Thornton said that my father came to the country just two days too late to be entitled to an allotment. When I was a young man, I married Mary Nevinís daughter. I donít remember the date.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Marylee Jones Boyd, August 2001.