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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: April 13, 1937
Name: Mrs. Lucy Sweet Wilson
Post Office: Mangum, Oklahoma
Residence Address: 1 mile south of Mangum
Date of Birth: January 2, 1868
Place of Birth: Scyene, Texas
Father: Henry Clay Sweet
Place of Birth: Illinois
Information on father: Surveyor by trade
Mother: Elizabeth Peeler
Place of birth: Illinois
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Ruth Kerbo

Mrs. Lucy Sweet Wilson, who came to Greer County, Texas, April 18, 1884, has the distinction of being the first white woman to have lived in this territory, a check of early day records reveals.

Mrs. Wilson, then a girl sixteen years old, carried one end of the chain which her father used to lay the Mangum townsite.

Coming from Hamilton, Texas, with her father, Mrs. Wilson recalls that the party camped on the Elm River after arriving in a covered wagon. Her father was a surveyor and came to the new country to follow his profession.

At that time, the country was occupied chiefly by large cattle operators, who regarded the coming of new immigrants as an intrusion. They wished to have the land entirely for their cattle unincumbered by townsites, or other means of civilization.

Most of the country around the present site of Mangum was occupied by the famous Bar X Ranch, which was forty miles square. Mrs. Wilson was the only white woman in this territory, with the exception of a ranch foreman's wife who lived a short time at the Bar X headquarters ranch on Turkey Creek.

Probably the first load of hay ever reaped in Greer County was gleaned by Mrs. Wilson's father, Henry C. Sweet, on the land where the court house now stands.

Antelope and deer were plentiful, although buffalo were almost extinct even then.

Mr. Sweet traded for a log cabin, which he moved to Mangum and reconstructed into one of the earliest homes in the country. He secured some shingles for the roof, and the cracks between the logs were stripped with tin cans that had been opened and straightened out.

The cowboys in this section call Mangum, "The Tin City."

With Mr. And Mrs. J. R. Crouch, Mr. And Mrs. Pearson, Mrs. Dan Cullins' parents, and Nigel and Ed Claunch, the colony in Mangum townsite proceeded to thrive.

Mr. And Mrs. J. R. Crouch took their first boarders in a tent, and erected the first hotel in the country in 1885.

Eggs were a rare delicacy, since poultry raising had made little progress in those pioneer days. Therefore, when some of Mrs. Wilson's brothers found some wild turkey eggs to be used in making a cake, the treat was greatly enjoyed by everyone.

Later Mr. Sweet brought lumber from Wichita Falls, Texas, and constructed a building which was used as the office of the Mangum Star, published by Major Dawson, a Yankee, who came to this section from Vernon, Texas.

In 1886, the county organization was effected. Officers were named and a postoffice was established. Mr. Sweet was postmaster for twelve years, beginning his term while the country was still a part of Texas.

An excavation was made for a dugout and a large sod chimney was made for the family's comfort the first winter Mrs. Wilson recalls. They secured mesquite roots for fuel until some men began hauling wood from the Indian Territory to the country to sell. Mrs. Wilson read the Bible and Shakespeare, the only books the family had. She recalls that pitching horseshoes with her brothers was their greatest sport. She would often hunt rabbits for her pet wild cat, which had been given to her by a cowboy. Mrs. Wilson recalls that this pet would not eat anything but wild meat, and often he would go hungry until he learned to drink cows milk.

Bones in those days could be sold for a good price and as there were an abundance of them scattered about over the country the people would pick them up and take wagon loads of them to Quanah or Vernon. Mrs. Wilson recalls that one occasion she and her brother picked up enough for a load and sent them to Quanah by the hired boy. He was obliged to unload them at Bitter Creek account of the heavy rains which caused the creek be at flood stage. When he reached Quanah there was a man with a load of bones, and he recognized them as the ones he had unloaded at Bitter Creek by a buffalo head that had some hair on it.

Mr. Sweet maintained a general mercantile business in a part of his home, and would often trade canned food and ammunition to the Indians for furs.

Mrs. Wilson recalls that the first year they were in this region, there was an abundant crop of wild plums, which they gathered and made into plum butter as they did not have glass jars to can them in. Several families would go on those wild fruit expeditions, take along a camping outfit and stay two or three days.

Rattlesnakes were very numerous in those early days and the settlers would average killing three in one day. Mrs. Wilson recalls having seen a prairie dog that was charmed by a rattlesnake.

Some cattlemen went to Chicago with their cattle and upon returning home they brought with them a negro boy about fourteen years of age. He was probably the first negro in this section of the country. The cowboys thought it great fun to tease him about the Indians being so fierce and the poor negro boy was afraid to leave the house to go on an errand for his mistress.

Quannah Parker made a speech at a picnic over near the Navajo Mountains, and Mrs. Wilson, with her future husband and several other young people, attended the celebrations.

Mrs. Wilson found some beads that were strewn on the ground where some moccasins had been hanging on a pole but she does not recall whether this particular place was an Indian burial ground or not. These were found south of Mangum.

Mrs. Wilson secured most of her clothing from the Sanger Brothers Dry Goods Company, at Dallas, Texas. Later someone showed them a catalogue from Montgomery Ward and Company and she began ordering from them and has been a regular customer for over fifty years.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have lived on their farm south of Mangum since 1897. Their marriage was an event of 1890, Mr. Wilson having come to the country from Vernon, Texas.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Deborah Sweet dssweet@okstate.edu  May 2001.