An interview with G.G. Splawn, Antlers, Oklahoma January 12, 1938

I was born January 30, 1879, in Texas (Wise County) and came to Indian Territory when I was a young man. I had just been married when I came to this country.

My father and mother lived and died in Texas and are buried there at the old home place when I was a boy.

My father-in-law, (Frank Thomas) and I came over together in a covered wagon and located near Marietta, I.T. When we got located there we rented a farm from one of the Indians by the name of Tom Love. We lived on this place for about 20 years. When we first got over here we did not have any furniture only what we had in our wagon, but after we rented the land and moved on the place we brought our housekeeping outfit and went to housekeeping and farming.

We lived in a log house; it had lumber flooring. It was a very good log house and there was plenty of water and wood for our use. We raised corn, cotton, and other farm products and raised cattle, hogs and ponies. At that time the country was open; there were no wire fences to be seen and very few farms had been opened.

Our reason for coming to this country was that we thought we could do better in a new country than we could over in Texas where we were as the land in Texas was too high for a man to buy, so we come over to this country and we did well. We made money and good livings for our families. After we got settled on this farm we raised cattle and hogs and ponies. The country was open and the stock could run on the range without costing us anything to raise them for the grass was fine and it was a good cattle country at that time. It did not take much to raise any stock a man wanted, but after a while the white people began to come in here and settle and went to breaking up the land, putting it into farms and the wire fences came with them. It was not long until the country was all under fences and in farms and then we moved from there and came to the Choctaw Nation near Antlers. (in 1904 near 3 mile corner west of Antlers, where Mac Thomas lived)

I leased some land from an Indian by the name of Myatt Greenwood, (Sr.) and lived on this land for about fifteen years. ( 3 miles west of Antlers.) I put up a house and built barns and other outhouses on this land and put some land in cultivation that I farmed. I raised corn and cotton and all other farm products and also raised cattle, hogs and ponies. It was no trouble to raise stock in this country then, it was like the place we moved from. There were no fences nor farms then and there were no white people out in the country, they were mostly in the town and did not get out in the country. This country was wide open; there were no wire fences nor but very few farms. They belonged to the Indians who did not have but very little farm land that they worked, so the country was wide open. There was plenty of grass on the prairies and a good deal of cane on the creeks, so we did not have to feed our stock at all. The only thing to do was watch and watch after the stock and keep them branded and marked and let them go until we wanted to brand and mark them again; then, we would gather them up and mark and brand them and turn them loose again to roam the range.

When I first landed in this country and located at Marietta there were no full blood Chickasaw Indians there at all. I did not see many Indians for all the Indians that I saw at that time were some mixed blood and intermarried white people. There was a marked difference between the two tribes (Choctaw/Chickasaw) in this country at that time.

The distance from Antlers to what is now Jumbo is about twenty-two miles. There were but about four houses that you could see between the two places and it was that way in every direction from Antlers. The Choctaws lived in communities and there were several miles between communities and in going from one to another there were no houses to be seen on the road, in fact, they had no roads. They were mostly trails leading from one place to the other. At that time the Choctaws had cattle, hogs and ponies, and small farms they worked and raised corn for their bread. They never thought of killing hogs and putting them up for winter use. They would kill one for fresh eating and grease but that was about all they would kill their hogs for; and in the summer they would kill a beef and if one killed a beef all the other Indians in that neighborhood got some of the meat. They would distribute the beef among the neighbors; that was the way they all did if one got meat they all had meat to eat.

At that time the stock was not worth anything at all, there was no market, for the yearlings were sold for $5.00 and grown cattle sold for from $10.00 to $15.00 and ponies were not worth anything as they could not be sold at any price. There is a marked difference between today and then. The country was full of cattle at that time and there were more ponies on the prairies. They went in droves and stayed fat all the year round for there was a fine grass in the country and no wire fences to bother them from roaming the range.

I have been in this part of the country for the last thirty-six years and have made money here and a good living for my family, but my money is gone; I don’t know where but it is not in my pocket. This was one good country but it is all gone now; the land is all washed away and the game is gone so the country is in bad shape now.

I have been in this country a long time. I have attended Indian camp meetings and have been to their “Cries”. I have been to one Indian ball game, but I never saw a Indian war dance nor a scalp dance. I have heard of it but never saw one. The Indians of this part of the country don’t have any more dances. They used to dance with the white people but they quit that and I guess they don’t dance at all now.

I have raised my children here among the Choctaws. They have gone to school with them and played with them and have been associated with them all their lives but they have never had any trouble with any one of them. They are all good friends of ours. I have traded with them and sold them stuff and have been with them ever since I have been in this country. I can’t speak their lingo but I have gotten along well with them just fine. They are honest and law-abiding people, they do not bother anybody; they of course, would fight among themselves and maybe kill one another but they don’t anyone else and to my mind they are about the best people in the country anywhere.

One thing is for sure, they won’t steal from you or from anybody else. We used to go a visiting and leave the doors unlocked when we had Indians for neighbors and they would never bother anything, but since the white people settled the country we can’t even lock up against them, so I know that the Indians are all good people as a whole.

I am now living about two miles south of Antlers and will live here until I die. (George Gilmer Splawn died in 27 Feb 1942 in Antlers).

I have a clock that belonged to my grandmother that is about fifty years old, and I have a picture of my mother and father that is about a hundred years old and then I have a plow that is about a hundred years old; they are all keepsakes. The plow is made all together, the point and the stock. I would not part with them at all but I would let anyone see them if they wanted.

Johnson H. Hampton, an Indian, expresses himself in typical “Indian style” and no change is made in his manuscripts to better his English. - Editor

This wonderful and insightful interview was submitted by Troy Splawn on April 14, 2005.