Pushmataha County
County Seat - Antlers

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Indian Pioneer Papers

Pushmataha County

Indian Pioneer Papers

An interview with

Miller, Oklahoma

An Interview with F. L. ANDERSON
Field Worker’s name: Johnson H. Hampton
Date of Interview: September 27, 1937
Post Office: Miller, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: August 18, 1872
Place of Birth: Tennessee
Transcribed & Submitted by Teresa Young

I was born at Cookville, Tennessee, August 18th, 1872. I came to Indian Territory, Choctaw Nation in October 1901. I was about twenty-one years old when I came to this country. My mother died in Tennessee. My father come from there to Texas where we lived for a few years, then my father died and I moved from Texas to Indian Territory and located in the Choctaw Nation.

One of the principle reasons for moving here was that the land in Texas was so high that I was not able to buy a home. I decided that if I came to the Nation I might have a better chance to acquire a home and for the further reason that I had heard that this country was an open country for stock, and also that it was the best place for a young man like myself and my family.

When I first moved to this country, I located between Miller and Jumbo; there were a few Indians around Miller and the next community was at Jumbo. These two towns were about ten miles apart and between the two there were no houses of any kind, so we located at this place; the land was claimed by a white man who has married into the Choctaw Tribe so we took a lease from him for five years.

We broke the land and built the room house on it and dug a well and built a barn and other out houses. We lived there for several years after our lease ran out. We paid the landlord rent for this land and in the meantime we had to pay a permit for the privilege of living in the country. This permit cost are $5.00 and my hired hand $2.50 per year. I continued to pay this permit until just before statehood when they quit collecting the permits.

When we came over from Texas we came over in a covered wagon drawn by horses. We drove our stock through to the place which we had leased and turned out on the range. All the country was open; there were no fences at all, only a few patches where the Indians raised their corn.

We built our house on the edge of a prairie and the grass on this prairie was as high as the head of a man on horseback. It sure was fine grass so we did not have to feed our stock any feed during the winter season. We raised cattle, hogs and a few ponies; the country was full of wild Choctaw ponies, but there were not many cattle at that time where we located. We used to have lots of trouble with the wild ponies. Our stock would get in with them and they sure were hard to catch, after they got in with the wild ponies.

I was not in the run of ’89 but I was at the drawing at Fort Sill where I drew a blank piece of paper and I then moved to this country.
When we moved to this country we had no furniture at all only what we brought in our wagon but after about a year we bought some furniture for our home. We had a pretty hard time getting started after we moved over here for the Indians had nothing that they could sell, that is, no corn and the like, so we had to buy our corn in Antlers, for our feed the first year.

We went to farming and the first year we made plenty of corn and other things that were needed on the farm and we made some cotton but it was so far to haul the cotton that we did not raise but very little. We traded at Antlers, which was about twenty miles from where we lived, and the way we got our mail was that somebody in the neighborhood would go to Antlers and bring the mail out to the neighbors.

There were so few people in the country that it was not out of the way to delivered the mail as a man passed through and in that way we got our mail about once a week.

The country was full of wild game when I first landed here such as deer, turkeys and there were plenty of fish in the creeks and some bears on the mountains. I used to get out on the mountain and kill a deer or turkey any time I wanted to and some of the men in our neighborhood killed a few bears. The country I located in is the valley; it is called IMPSON VALLEY.

I used to attend Indian camp meeting. I attended IMPSON CHAPEL which was a Methodist Church and the other church was at Pleasant Cove and was a Presbyterian Church. The Indians would camp at those churches and feed the people, both white and Indian, who came to attend the meeting and they would have some great meetings. I, of course, could not understand them for the Indians preached in their own language but still I used to go to these meetings every time they had one and they had those camp meetings about four times a year.

The IMPSON CHAPEL has been long out of existence but the Pleasant Cove Church is still there and the Indians still use it as their church house to this day. This church house has been there a long time. I was there when I first landed in this country and is still there.

When I first located here there were no white people in the country. There were some around the sawmills but none out in the country on the farms but after I had been there for some few years the white people then began to come out on the farms and they fenced all the country around where I lived.

I do not remember what year it was when the Jumbo Asphalt Mine was opened, but when the mine was opened a good many white people came to the mine and put up stores and finally they got a post office there. They worked there in the mines for several years until one day the mine blew up and killed about fourteen miners and they then abandoned it and it is still standing just like they left it when the mine blew up and killed those miners.

I have lived along the Choctaw Tribe of Indians ever since I moved to their country; they have been to my house and visited me and I also have visited them. They are all good people to live by; they sure will not bother anything; you can leave the house open if you want to. In the old days nothing was bothered by them and they are honest as they can be. After the white people began to come in and settle the country then we had to lock the doors every time we had to leave the house.

The Choctaws are dependable too. Of course, they would fight among themselves but they would not bother anyone else.

All the Choctaws with whom I have come in contact are my friends. I was at one time Township Assessor and as such had occasion to meet nearly all of the Choctaws and I know what I am talking about.

Transcribed & Submitted by Teresa Young
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