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The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project

Phoebe Banks
Ex Slave
Age 78
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Interviewed 10-12-1938
1,428 Words
Page 8

        In 1860, there was a little Creek Indian town of Sodom on the North bank of the Arkansas River, in the section the Indians called Chocka Bottoms, where Mose Perryman had a big farm or ranch for a long time before the Civil War. That same year, on October 17, I was born on the Perryman place, which was northeast of where I live now in Muskogee; only in them days Fort Gibson and Okmulgee was the biggest towns around and Muskogee hadnít shaped up yet.

        My mother belonged to Mose Perryman when I was born; he was one of the best know Creeks in the whole nation, and one of his younger brothers, Lugus Perryman, was made the big chief of the Creeks (1887) a long time after the slaves was freed. Motherís name was Eldee; My fatherís name was William Mcintosh, because he belonged to a Creek Indian family by that name. Everybody say the McIntoshes was leaders in the Creek doings away back there in Alabama long before they came out here.

        With me, there was twelve children in or family; Daniel, Story, Scott, Segal, Neil, Joe, Phillip, Mollie, Herriett, Sally and Queenie.  

        The Perryman slave cabins was all alike Ė just two-room log cabins, with a fireplace where mother do the cooking for us children at night after she get through working in the Masterís house.

        Mother was the house girl Ė cooking, waiting on the table, cleaning the house, spinning the yarn, knitting some of the winter clothes, taking care of the mistress girl, washing the clothes Ė yes, she was always busy and worked mighty hard all the time, while them Indians wouldnít hardly do nothing for themselves.

        On the McIntosh plantation, my daddy said there was a big number of slaves and lots of slave children. The slave men work in the fields, chopping cotton, raising corn, cutting rails for the fences, building log cabins and fireplaces. One time when father was cutting down a tree it fell on him and after that he was only strong enougt to fub down the horses and do light work around the yard. He got to be a good horse trainer and long time after slavery he helped to train horses for the Free Fairs around the country, and I suppose the first money he ever earned was made that way.

        Lots of the slave owners didnít want their slaves to learn reading and writing, but the Perrymans didnít care; they even helped the younger slaves with that stuff. Mother said her master didnít care much what the slaves do; he was so lazy he didnít care for nothing.

        They tell me about the War times, and thatís all, I remember of it. Before the War is over some of the Perryman slaves and some from the McIntosh place fix up to run away from their masters.

        My father and my uncle, Jacob Perryman, was some of the fixers. Some of the Creek Indians had already lost a few slaves who slip off to the North, and they take what was left down into Texas soís they couldnít get way. Some of the other Creeks was friendly to the North and was fixing to get away up there; thatís the ones my daddy and uncle was fixing to join, for they was afraid their masters would take up and move to Texas before they could get away.

        They call the old Creek, who was leaving for the North, ďOld GougeĒ (Opoethleyohola). All our family join up with him, and there was lots of Creek Indians and slaves in the outfit when they made a break for the North. The runaways was riding ponies stolen from their masters.

        When they get into the hilly country farther north in the country that belong to the Cherokee Indians, they make camp on a big creek and there the Rebel Indian soldiers catch up, but they was fought back.

        When long  before morning lighten the sky, the men hurry and sling the camp kettles across the pack horses, tie the littlest children to the horses backs and get on the move farther into the mountains. They kept moving fast as they could, but the wagons made it mighty slow in the brush and the lowland swamps, so just about the time they ready to ford another creek the Indian soldiers catch up and the fighting begin all over again.

        The Creek Indians and the slaves with them try to fight off them soldiers like they did before, but they get scattered around and separated soís they loose the battle. Lost their horses and wagons  and the soldiers killed lots of the Creeks and Negroes, and some of the slaves was captured and took back to their masters.

        Dead all over the hills when they get away; some of the Negroes shot and wounded so bad the blood run down the saddle skirts, and some fall off their horses miles from the battle ground, and lay still on the ground. Daddy and Uncle Jacob keep our family together somehow and head across the line into Kansas. We all get to Fort Scott where there was a big army camp; daddy worked in the blacksmith shop and Uncle Jacob join with the Northern soldiers to fight against the South. He come through the war and live to tell me about the fighting he been in.

        He went with the soldiers down around Fort Gibson where they fight the Indians who stayed with the South. Uncle Jacob say he killed may a man during the war, and showed me the musket and sward he used to fight with; said he didnít shoot the women and Children Ė just whack their heads off with the sward,  and almost could I see the blood dripping from the point! It made me scared at his stories.

        The captain of this company want his men to be brave and not get scared, so before the fightin start he put out a tub of white liquor (corn whiskey) and steam them up soís theyíd be mean enough to whip their grannie! The soldiers do lots of riding and the saddle-sores get so bad they grease their body every night with snake oil soís they could keep going on.

        Uncle Jacob said the biggest battle was at Honey springs (1863). That was down near Elk Creek, close to Checotah, below Rentiersville. He said it was the most terrible fighting he seen, but the Union soldiers whipped and went back into Fort Gibson. The Rebels was chased all over the country and couldnít find each other for a long time, the way he tell it.

        After the war our family came back here and settle at Fort Gibson, but it ainít like the place my mother told me about. There was big houses and buildings of brick setting on the high land above the river when I first see it, not like she know it when the Perrymans some here years ago.

        She heard the Indians talk about the old fort (1824), the one that rot down long before the Civil War. And she seen it herself when she go with the Master for trading with the stores. She said it was made my Matthew Arbuckle and his soldiers, and she talk about Companyís  B, C, D, K, and the Seventh Infantry who was there and made the Osage Indians stop fighting the Creeks and Cherokees. She talked of it, but that old place all gone when I first see the Fort.

        Then I hear about how after the Arbuckle soldiers leave the old log fort, the Cherokee Indians take over the land and start up the town of Keetoowah. The folks who moved in there make the place so wild and rascally the Cherokees give up trying to make a good town and it kinder blow away.

        My husband was Tom Banks, but the boy I got ainít my own son, but I found him on my doorstep when heís about three weeks old and raise him like he is my own blood. He went to school at the manual training school at Tullahassee and the education he got get him a teacher job at Taft (Okla), where he is now.  

Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002

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