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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: August 20, 1937
Name: Ned Thompson
Post Office: Henryetta, Oklahoma
Residence Address:  Route 1
Date of Birth:  
Place of Birth:  
Place of Birth:  
Information on father:
Place of birth:   
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Grace Kelley
Interview #7305

Grandfather was an Alabama slave. His master had a lot of boys who were named Tom, so as Grandfather took care of the cows all the time when he was a boy they started to calling him "Cow Tom" when they wanted him. Each boy called according to his work to keep them all from answering. That name stayed with grandfather all his life. When the agreement was made to sell the land in Alabama for land here, he was forced to follow his master to see if the land was suitable to trade. That trip was made two years prior to the immigration.

There were no towns, but they crossed the Arkansas River southwest of Fort Smith on horseback, then went southeast of Checotah, due northwest to North Fork, and then south.

High Spring
As they were going northwest, they passed a high hill and saw some birds flying toward them. He thought there must be water up there and the birds had been there to drink, but others said it was too high a hill to have water on top of it. They went to see and found a spring that had been chopped out before 1832. It is thought that some Mexicans had chopped out the spring as they came through going south as they explored clear to Fort Sill.

Grandfather then returned to Alabama and sent his wife and children with the immigration, but he stayed and fought in the Florida War. That was similar to the Green Peach Was as it was just between Indians.

When the Indians emigrated they brought their Negroes just as they did their property or stock. They ate and were clothed just as the Indian saw fit to furnish them. When grandmother came, her boat sank and only a few of her people lived.

Grandfather was an interpreter in 1832 and up to 1866.

Slaves Owners
The only Negroes who had to work hard were the ones who belonged to the half-breeds. As the Indian didn't do work, he didn't expect this slaves to do much work. Two acres was a big farm and the Indians would have from eight to ten Negroes to attend it, which was plentiful. The Negroes had little log huts with dirt floors around their owner's house. Most of the Indians wouldn't sell their Negroes so they had a great many as the Negroes usually had big families. The men who owned slaves were: Dave Barnett, Ben Marshall, Lee Hawkins, D. N. McIntosh, Watt Grayson, C.W. Stidman, Sooka Colonel, and Yargee.

Sell Negroes to Buy Supplies
Everybody got their goods by ox wagons from Fort Smith. So, when some of these large slave owners were without money and needed supplies, two or three of them would take a load of Negroes to Fort Smith and sell them to buy the supplies they needed. Some of the slave owners took the Negroes to Paris, Texas to sell.

Indian Territory Battlefield
I was a child and can't remember all about it; but, we were going to Fort Gibson and the Civil War had just started. We went through a battlefield where there were many dead persons. Some were white and some Indians. It was six or seven miles east of High Spring. There was a house close and there were some who were living in the house; but, the wounded were in there on beds. One of my sisters had bad dreams and cried all night because of what she had seen. The dead were in the corn rows.

Honey Springs had no Honey In It
It was on that same trip that we heard that we would pass Honey Springs. We children were anxious to come to it for we loved honey. When we got there, there was only water in the spring and we were disappointed.

Listing of Negroes After the Civil War
When the War came to a close, the Commission met at Fort Smith and the Indians had to adopt the Negroes into the Creek Nation. The Indians first said that since the government had taken the Negroes away from the Indians, now the government could take care of them. But, finally the Treaty of 1866 was signed.

Constitution and Bylaws of the Muskogee Nation 1890 & November 23,1895
Every member of the Council was given these books. As I was a Council member, I received mine and still have them. I wouldn't sell them unless I received a good price for them. All the Treaties from 1832 on down are in them. That includes a list of the Negroes adopted into the Creek tribe. My father's name is among them. 

Each white man had to take his own slaves and say, "This is my slave," for no one else would know him. So, as a rule, the slave took his master's name. One old Negro was owned by Grayson so they started to write his name "Grayson." But, he said that he didn't want his name put down "Grayson," that he wasn't an Indian and his daddy was a Negro. As he didn't know his daddy's name he asked to be called "Old Suttin" as that was the name he was used to being called.

Commission From Muskogee Nation
Commission of the Muskogee Nation, Okmulgee, May 1, 1883, October Council, Ned Thompson, Stock Superintendent
Saml Checote,
B. E. Porter, Private Secretary

Green Peach War
Samuel Checote was the Chief. Isparhechar didn't like the Creek Constitution and rebelled against the Indian Government and the Creek tribe was divided. My people and I were on Checote's side. The people who lived out here by the Rock Store were on Isparhechar's side.
One scrimmage took place on a flat rock west of Okemah where seven or eight men were killed, who belonged to both sides. My cousin, Joe Barnett, who was a Lighthorse Captain, and Sam Scott, an Indian, were killed by Isparhechar's men.

I was shot in the shoulder on both sides of the neck. We were going west and forty or fifty of them were coming east. We didn't see each other until we were real close. At ten o'clock in the morning, Isparhechar's people had passed the Sac and Fox line and the Indian Agent and the Chief of the Sac and Fox stopped us. Then we came back and the government sent soldiers, Colonel Bates and others who captured the Isparhechar men and took them to Fort Gibson. After they had signed a peace contract, the soldiers escorted them back to their own homes. Sam Checote didn't go out, but gave orders trying to subdue them and make them obey the Creek law. Pleasant Porter was the manager at that time; he was Chief after Statehood.

Colored Towns
Canadian Town --- North Fork Town  --- Arkansas Town

Baptist Colored Churches
Old Agency-North of Muskogee
Old Fountain-Across the Arkansas River
Cain Creek Church-East of Okmulgee twenty miles. 
Cow Tom is buried in  the cemetery of the Cain Creek Church.

High Spring Council
The old Indians had quite a town on the mountain due north of Hitchita. My uncle was a blacksmith there. That town was all burned down during the Civil War.

Old Trail of 1872
This old trail went between Fort Scott, Kansas and Fort Sill, Indian Territory. General Custer and General Grayson passed through on it in 1872. I was a young man then. It crossed the Arkansas River north of the place where Muskogee is, passed through Okmulgee, and between that stump and this porch. There were no towns then, though. To go to that house, go north two miles from the Rock Store, which is two miles north and one east of the Okfuskee and Okmulgee County line. Turn to Highway 75, turn west one mile, south to the second house, turn west about a block or a quarter of a mile. This house is Katy Rentie's old home. The Government Trail in the Civil War went from Muskogee to Hoffman, crossed at Grayson, came to the Rock Store and went on somewhere close to Spring Hill or Pharoah.

Council House at Okmulgee
I was a strong young man when they tore the old log house down and rebuilt the new Rock Council House. I had a wagon and team and helped with the hauling. After the log house was torn down it had to be hauled away. All lumber was hauled from Muskogee mostly by ox teams. The rocks were native stone from south of Okmulgee. I remember Bill, George and Mr. Fryer and Frank Wilson, Mr. McDermott who owned the store near Okemah did the stone work. C. W. Turner was the man at Muskogee who sold the building material.

Creek Punishment - Muskogee Nation
The price of the article wasn't considered in those days. It was as bad to steal a lead pencil as a cow or horse. If you stole a pen or a horse the penalty was fifty lashes for the first offense, a hundred for the second offense and death if you were caught stealing the third time. If you stole some stock and a person saw you driving them away he came to you and told you where they were when he saw them and if he knew you he told who was driving them or described you as well as possible. Everyone helped to keep stealing down. Then you had a trial and you had to prove that you didn't steal them if you were innocent. If you proved that some person had told a falsehood on you, just to get you punished, this person got the punishment you would have gotten so there wasn't much perjury. One time I followed some stock from sixty miles east of here clear to the Texas border where I found them and brought them back.

The Indians, not the government, broke the Treaties. Now, I haven't anything against the Indians; but, they are always saying that the government broke all their treaties. They never say how they broke them all themselves. The government wouldn't allow anyone to live in the Indian's country without the Indian's consent. He charged $1.00 a month for that consent. Then, the Indians allowed the non-citizens, both black and white, to marry their daughters and to raise half-breed children. The Indian had no control over these non-citizens. 

If they committed a crime, the government had the expense of finding, convicting and punishing them. When the country was getting full, they asked the government's protection. It was too expensive for the state of Arkansas. It was just bleeding that state to death; and, when the Legislature tried to find where all the money was going, it was to the Indian Territory. When they tried to tax the Indians to pay these expenses they found that it couldn't be done. Each of the Five Civilized Nations sent men to meet with the Committee of Interior, Charles Curtis and Henry Dawes were two of the men, but they met the committee separately. They found that the Indians had broken every treaty including the one about fighting with each other. 

In the treaty which the Indians are always quoting about the land being theirs as long as grass grows and the water flows east, there is a clause that says that no state nor dominion shall have the right to control nor govern the land of the Indians. It didn't say one thing about the Congress having the right to change or make laws governing the land. So in 1896, the law was passed to divide the land among the Indians. To do this there had to be a roll of each and every Indian. I helped make the roll of the Creeks when I was about forty-eight years old. At the meeting at Eufaula, to sectionize the country, Willie Sapulpa asked, "Does you mean to give land to the Negro?" They said, "Yes, you took them into your tribe as one of the Creek Nation in the Treaty of 1866." Willie Sapulpa said, "I not do it." General Porter made a speech and said that there wasn't anything else they could do. That, as they had broken every treaty, they had not one leg to stand on. So the Negro got his land, not because he had Indian blood in him, but because after the Civil War he had been adopted into the Nation. 

Government Schools
These government schools were to teach the Indian the ways of the white man. They were supposed to use English in talking as well as in reading and writing. When the government found that the money was being wasted, as the Creek language was being used in the schools, they stopped them. Principals of the schools were: William Robertson, Wetumka Mission, Luka McIntosh, Eufaula, Willie Sapulpa, Sapulpa, Johnson Tiger, Okmulgee Mission.

Wild Life, Forests, Etc.
There were some bears in the mountain. They were between a red color and brown. There were Mexican cougars, too. In the bottoms, the forest was so thick that you couldn't see, and twelve o'clock noon was a dark as midnight. The grass was so high at this time of the year you had to keep the stock "belled" that you would want to use for you couldn't see it. The grass was as high as this gelding and a man riding on a horse would get wet with dew to his waist. Acorns would be three inches deep in the forests and that was what the hogs lived on. Big fish were plentiful.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Marylee Jones Boyd, August 2001.