An interview with
NORVAL R. DONICA
An Interview with NORVAL R. DONICA
Post Office: Nolia, Oklahoma
Johnson H. Hampton, Investigator
Date of Interview: May 13, 1937
Transcribed & Submitted by: Teresa Young
I was born at
Grandy, Missouri on November 6, 1866. My father moved from there to
Tahlequah, Indian Territory in 1884, where we lived there until the run was
made in the Cherokee Strip. We made a run with the other people when the
Cherokee Strip was opened for settlement. We had camped there for some time
before the run was made just across the line. There were lots of people
camped there to make the run. I don't think that there would have been
enough land to go around if all had taken claims. There were about 80 of us
who stayed together and camped together waiting to make the run. In our
crowd, there were two women that were going to make the run. Of course,
there were other women but they had husbands; however, these two were not
married. People came in all kinds of wagons, buggies, carts, one horse buggy
and some came on bicycles. Some of them had milch cows pulling a wagon, some
had oxen; in fact, they came there in all kinds of conveyances that they
The bunch I was with had their land already located
and were just waiting for the time to make the run. The soldiers were
guarding the line to see that no one took advantage of the others and to see
that they did not get over the line. When the time came to make the run,
there was a big gun, it must have been a cannon fired at twelve o'clock and
the soldiers along the line all shot their guns. Then the race was on. We
let the two women make the first start in order to give them an opportunity
to get ahead; then we followed. It surely was a great sight. They were in
all kinds of shapes. They would run over one another if they did not get out
of the way. It was very hard on the runners, for it was dry and no water was
to be found on those hills, and it was hard to get any foodstuff when we ran
out of food. There were some creeks but they were claimed by someone and
they would not let you have even a drink.
I remember that we had
to pay as much as ten cents for a cup of water. The ones that had water
would haul it around in barrels to sell, of course, people just had to have
the water and the ones that had water knew this, so they got just what they
asked. The country was very unhealthy; there were lots of people that
settled there died from one disease and another.
We traded our
land that we had located and came to the Choctaw Nation. We located
somewhere near Pawnee. I don't remember just where it was. The land was
pretty good around where we located but it was very unhealthy and we were
hard up against it for food and other things that we had to have. That was
the reason we moved from there and came to the Choctaw Nation, where we
located up in the mountains.
When we first landed in that part of
the country, the country abounded with deer, turkeys and lots of fish in the
river and some bear. The grass was just fine in those mountains. The whole
country was a wild wilderness. Big pine trees grew there; in fact, the
mountains were covered with big heavy pines, white oaks, cedar trees, and
every kind of trees that a man could imagine. There were no white people in
there when we came, they were all Indians, no post office; but after a
while, some white people moved in there and then we went to work and got a
post office and named it Nolia. Then after a while, Nashoba got a post
office about five or six miles from us so we had two post offices close
We farmed, as we were farmers. We opened up some land
along the little creek bottoms and made good crops. It was surely a fine
country then. After a while, I put up a small store and we farmed and ran a
little grocery store. We had to go to Fort Smith to get our supplies. When
the Frisco Railroad went through, then we traded at Tuskahoma, a little town
on the railroad about 25 miles from where we lived.
I lived among
several tribes of Indians but mostly among the Choctaws, whom I can say are
about the best Indians I lived among. I have never had any trouble with
them. They always treated me just as though I were one of them. The only
fights they would have would be among themselves. They would not bother a
white man nor a white woman. They are good Indians to this day. I can say
one thing, they are just as honest as the day is long. I have some
experience with them for I traded with them in stock and in my grocery
store. They bought stuff from me on credit and when payday came, they would
come and pay up. If they were not able then they would come and tell me why
they could not pay on the spot and I would give them a little more time.
They surely would come around and pay up. I have never lost anything on
Indian yet. Of course, they are peculiar people; if they think that you are
trying to skin them then you have lost their trade. They do not get mad or
anything like that, but they just quit trading with you. I don't believe
that there are any finer people than the Choctaw Indians.
father died and is buried at Nolia, Oklahoma, where we have lived all these
My mother had a walnut chest which I think is about 150 years old.
It is worn and looks as though it is weather beaten, but it is as strong now
as it ever was. I have some little things that are sort of relics to me, a
powder charger, a bullet mold, and some other things, and in particular, I
have a horseshoe hammer that was made by a blacksmith, and I am sure that it
is about 100 years old.
We came into the Indian Territory, now
Oklahoma, in a covered wagon, my father and his family. We lived in a log
house. We had no furniture to speak of; just what we could get in the wagon
is all we had. I now live about 35 miles northeast of Antlers, Oklahoma.
Transcribed & Submitted by Teresa Young
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