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Experiences of Mildred McGregor Warren

My Grandmothers writings "Experiences of Mildred McGregor Warren" written in 1931 and one poem taken from her book "The Moods of Mildred." I hope some lovers of early Oklahoma history might find them interesting.

Submitted by Barbara Warren Devine


My first recollections of the West were at the age of five - going to Amarillo, Texas,often called Amareo, with my parents and other members of the family.

We lived in the old Arlington Hotel, and, by the way a mile or more from thepresent location, and this house and many others were afterwards moved to thenew Amarillo.

My father did business with a Fort Worth bank, as there was none in Amarillo at that time, and his money was expressed daily, as his small safe was in danger.

We had some law and order, for the Texas Ranger was a fearless chap, but, with nophones, radio, etc. it was not an easy matter to catch an outlaw. And, the mostdesperate character we had was the sheriff - a handsome chap about twenty six years of age, whose word was law, for he was a crack shot and none too good natured whendrinking. No one cared to argue with him, as he had several notches on his gun.

Several episodes stand out very vividly in my memory in connection with thissheriff, who was supposed to keep law and order. Once he had been hunting allnight for a cowboy of whom he was jealous - both liking the same girl. Aboutdawn he located him in a rear room upstairs in the hotel and proceeded to prod him out of bed with a cattle prodder - a long pole with a metal tip, used inloading cattle into cars for shipment. There was a mad scramble, and, but forfellow citizens, he would have killed this man.

Another time a cake of my own mother's baking was being raffled off to the prettiest girl in town to make money to start the first church. His lady-fairwas competing. Some one went out and told the sheriff the opposing side was gaining ground; so, with a few drinks under his belt and his hand on his faithfulgun of the several notches, he strode into the banquet hall and stood hear the cake.There were no more votes cast for the opposing side.

Later, he married this charming daughter of the judge, for he seemed to fascinate her.

Another story stands out in my memory; of the cowboy coming to town with a hugerattlesnake. One of the boys getting both himself and the snake drunk, and putting saidsnake in his shirt and galloping out of town at full speed and shooting intothe air on his way to the X.I.T. ranch. Some more sober friends, realizinghis danger, followed in mad haste - for it was a case of who sobered up first.

The cowboys were a reckless lot, but their code was "Never forget yourself in the presenceof a real lady" and would protect one with their life if necessary.

My father being a civil engineer and used to the open spaces and adventure,heard with delight of the opening of more land in Oklahoma, and persuaded my mother to accompany him across the plains. I shall never forget how my hair stood on end at the indian stories older children told me and how I should not be scalped withthe bowie knives.

Well, we started and traveled for many days without seeing a human being, finally came up on a huge log cabin, corrals, etc. Several big, burley men came outand were very kind, but looked suspicious, and seemed very much interested in my father'sstock, for he was taking some very fine horses to stock up his farm.

The next night, while the family were enjoying themselves by a huge bonfire,someone remarked they smelt a pipe, and, as none of our party smoked, expectedtrouble. At once, the horses stampeded and the more gentle ones came right into camp, and, by aid of guns and good horse sense, the horses were finally delivered into oldOklahoma, where we lived for a year.

You ask me of my first glimpse of a real indian - well, we had just come tothe banks of the Washita River and were preparing to cross when someone saidin a hushed voice, "Indians", and there they were on the other side of the river in alltheir glory of color and beads, and how my little heart went pit-a-pat. For, was Inot to be scalped here and now?

My father assured me of his protection, and also said they were friendly people when one understood them anyway. Just then, a handsome Buck cameacross on a real painted indian pony and mentioned he would pilot us acrossin safety. For, of course, there were no bridges in those days. Well, we landedsafely on the other side to be greeted by the Chief and many others, who said "How", meaning "Howdy Do."

On we went, into our first indian village, and many and varied were the wares offeredfor sale. My father to show his friendliness bought a pair of lovely beaded moccasinsfor mother, which I still have in my possession.

The Chief stooped down and patted a large horse, and said "Him Sick."My father replied, "Him no pony - him big horse," and he seemed satisfied.

From that day on, we saw lots of indians and soon felt at home among them,attended some stomp dances, and went to a beef issue at Indian Agency at Darlington where each head of family was given fresh meat according to sizeof the family. In fact, learned to know the Red Man first hand, and have alwaysfelt, had they been treated right, there would have been no scalping.

Now the time is drawing near for the run "1891". For days and weeks, peoplewere coming from every state in the Union and even from foreign countries,and would settle as near the line as possible and some were even known to venture over, and, if caught, were called "Sooners," and were ejected from theland and punished.

Every kind of conceivable human being from the blueblood aristocrast to theoutcasts and derelicts of the world. Some were dressed in sensible clothes, some in finery, and some in rags - all depending on their former station in life. They were indeed a motley crowd, and in all a pretty good people. If they had notbeen, it would have been terrible - living in close quarters as they were withno conveniences of any kind.

The vehicles they came in and made the great run in were as diversified as theirselves - wagons, carts, bicycles, horseback, and many on foot - hopeing insome way to get a ride. Many young men would pool their few sheckles and bybuckboards and ponies and make it together.

Well, after days of patient waiting the U.S. Marshalls make their appearanceand let me state here they were a brave, dashing, set of men - used to a hard life and hard riding - and were to Oklahoma what the Mounted Police are tothe great Northwest. Many of them were the better educated indian, who galloped alongwith others, and made splendid guides, as they knew the country like a book.

Now, among this motley crowd could have been seen a very distinguished looking gentleman,handsome son, and a tiny daughter. The young man seated on a thouroughbred animal, andthe old gentleman and little daughter - his youngest, and boon companion - neara load of lumber drawn by two more thoroughbreds, and seated, two young farmhands ready to drive.

The crowd is beginning to get restless. The sun will soon be straight over head and noon. All have had early lunch, children fed and cared for, for manytiny tots took the mad ride with their parents, for they would go many miles and no time to come back for them, as they must establish a home at once forprior settlement was much better than even filing, which would come later.

Twelve O'Clock arrives, and all along the line the sound of one gun afteranother by the marshalls, and the mad run is on.

The handsome young chap has gone like a flash - leaving all behind - as, haseveryone else.

The canny old Scot, Alexander McGregor with his tiny daughter steps across theline, puts down his stake, motions his men to drive on and quick as a flash start to builda small house. Thereby insuring prior settlement.

The fastest horse, Gypsy Queen - a Blue Ribbon Hamiltonian trotter, the oldgentleman's pride and joy - is hitched to a light cart and he starts for Guthrie to file. A gambler has beat him by a few minutes, but prior settlement wins out,and, in the end, a home is established a short distance away from the firstlittle shack, and many happy times were had there by the homecoming of oldersisters and their offspring.

Now, you ask for the young son. He makes his mad ride, locates, and puts his stake on avaluable piece of land with good pasture and running water. He is elated and happy,but turns to see a pitiful sight - a young couple with two blonde babies, aboy and a girl, despair written in every line of the parents face for theyrealize he is first and their scrawney horses can go no farther.

He walks over, introduces himself, and, in his breezy Irish way, "Wantedit for a home for the wife and babies, didn't you? Well, it's yours. I amsingle and I can look elsewhere." By the time that was over all was staked,and the gallant chap galloped back to disappointment, but with a light heart,for he had the inborn charity of his wonderful Irish mother, India JohnsonMcGregor.

Years afterwards these people, noble by name and nature, both were numberedamong Oklahoma's most prosperous Stock People.

It was here I became acquainted with Al Jennings. He used to ride over and visit withthese neighbors, and always called me a boy to hear me scrap and argue. Later,in another part of Oklahoma, his father accused him falsely of assisting in ahold up on account of his late hours putting the notion into his head, heclaims.

I have been asked to tell of some of the funny side of this thrilling experienceof the run. A young doctor just out of school and not a credit to the familyhad come to try his luck, and we see him seated on a prancing bay horse - quite fantastic,as it were - for he is wrapped in a very brilliant blanket, and why? - for theday is hot and surely he is not cold. Now, he dashes away at the sound of the gun,and look!, the blanket falls to the ground and he is garbed only in MotherNatures gift, his glistening skin. Well, who cares? - for he has gone in thetwinkling of an eye, and let's hope was dressed by the time his neighbors cometo call.

Homes were established as if my magic, and the country well protected by Fort Reno near El Reno, which is now a re-mount station for the government. Manywere the gay affairs at this old Fort, for they at one time boasted fo the finestcavalry band in the world.

It was a source of amusement to the family that our Dad often boasted that hispride and joy had at one time raced and beat Col. Woodsons pair of imported bays.

Now, for years life goes on as many other little girls, school, play, etc.,and at the age of sixteen I find myself pulling into Roswell, New Mexico onthe first train between there and Amarillo, and, being the only girl on the train, step off into a whirl of romance and adventure - for the Chamber ofCommerce has met us with a brass band, and Oh!, the thrill of seeing all theboys in uniforms march up, for the military school was just getting wellestablished. From there on, I demanded and received a lot of attention - for I was one of the Star Performers in a play for the Chamber of Commerce, and altogether enjoyedmy short stay of two years immensely.

A few years later, I find myself back in Oklahoma at my sister's, Mrs. H.K.Ricker of El Reno, and another exciting time awaits me - for the drawing ofland this time is to take place, and eager to get into the crowd, which runs into the thousands, I beg to assist, among others, at my brother-in-law's officein making out the necessary papers for filing.

I enjoyed every minute of the long, hot days, and promised to marry every good lookingchap who might be lucky enough to get a claim.

The town was fairly swarming with people from every corner of the Globe, and littledid I realize that one had arrived from Louisville, Kentucky, and was laterto claim me as his bride, and I might state here he did not win a claim -proving that in those days it was the heart and not the head that ruled.

Later, this Southern Gentleman and myself migrated to the oilfields, and plenty of excitement awaited me there, and so it has seemed that adventure has followedin my path.

That and much travel in the past twenty years has made me, I hope, a littlemore charitable and broad minded than I would have otherwise been.

Thinking it all over, as I write, I believe the greatest adventure of all has been the rearingof two sons; Clarence, who was born at Chelsea, Indian Territory, the sameyear that Oklahoma was made a state, and Cliffe born in El Reno, my old homeof the early days.


The Run of 1892 of Oklahoma

I promised you a story dear Many moons ago All about a great big run
That was better than a show.

The government decided some land To give away To build homes and gardens
Where little ones could play.

And as the news was spread about, From every land and clime Came happy ones and anxious ones
And settled near the line.

They came by horse and buggy And covered wagon too Bicycles, donkey carts
Just any thing would do.

The weather it was perfect For it was early spring And as I close my eyes
I hear the birds still sing.

Cow slips and daisies were scattered Through the grass And if you kept real quiet
You could hear the ground squirrels pass.

The Mothers all were busy With sewing and their stew The men folks went out hunting
It's all that they could do.

At last the day arrives And all up with the lark For they would surely get a home
And that before it's dark.

Breakfast now is over All things put away For they must start to travel
In the middle of the day.

High noon has been the order They hear the Marshall shout And they must make it
Though no one knew the route.

Horses grow impatient Children even cry But parents do not notice
As they scan the sky.

Sun straight over head There goes a Shot Now the race is on
And all else forgot.

Some raced madly onward Out into the blue Others squatted very near
And said that this will do.

Out of all this chaos Stands one face quite clear Yes my dear you guessed it
For Daddy and I were here.

By: Mildred McGregor Warren