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The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project


Milton Starr
Cherokee Freedman
 
Age 80
Gibson Station, Oklahoma

 
       
I was born a slave, but was not treated like other slaves and my folks never told me anything about slavery. So there is very little I can tell of those days. My birthplace was in the old Flint District of the Cherokee Nation; the nearest town was Russelville Arkasnas, and the farm was owned by Jerry Starr, half breed Cherokee, who was my master and father. They told me I was born February 24, 1858 right in my master's house, and when I was a baby I had the care of the average white child.

        My mother was Jane Coursey of Tennessee, a slave girl pickup up by the Starrs when they left that country with the rest of the Cherokee Indians. My mother wasn't bought, but was stole by the Indians and when she was freed she went back to Tennessee; I stayed with Starr family and was raised by Millie and Jerry Starr.

        Jerry Starr said when the Cherokees come to this country they crossed Barron Fork Creek east of Proctor (Okla) they were riding in a Government wagon and they crossed Barron Fork on ice so thick the miles and wagons didn't break through.

        My maser had a brother named Tom Starr, and he came to this country with some earlier Cherokees that did Jerry. Tom settled at Walking-Stick Spring east of Tahlequah, where he had 20 slaves working on a 40-acre patch of rocks and sand, or at least that's the way Jerry Starr always talked about Tom's place. He said all the slaves did was fish and hunt.

        The Starrs got mixed up with some pretty bad folks, too, after the war. I heard about it when I was a young man; about how Tom Starr had a son named Sam who married a white woman the folks called Belle Starr. She was the baddest woman in the whole country before she got killed down on her farm near Briartown, about 1888, I think it was. Shot from her horse, but they never found out who killed her.

        Old Tom was a kind of outlaw too, but not like his son's wife. He never went around robbing trains and banks, his troubles was all account of Indian doings long before the war, so they say. Seem like they said he killed man name Buffington and run away to Texas for a long time, but he come back when the Cherokee Government send word for Tom to come back home an behave himself.

        Jerry Starrw as close kin to another mixed-blood Cherokee who was a bad man that most of ht e folks nowadays remember pretty wel.. He was Henry Starr and it ain't been long ago that he robbed a bank over in Arkansas, and got hisself shot in the back before he could get away with the money. The Starr boys always seem to be in pecks of trouble all the time.

        Jerry Starr was known best around the place of Tahlequah where we all moved to after the war. I saw a hanging there; Lizzie Redbird was hanged for selling dope of some kind. The hanging tree was an old oak that stood near the little creek that runs off the edge of town. Don't know if its still there or not.

        There's one Indian law I remember Jerry Starr told me about, and it was the death law. If an Indian found any silver, or gold, or any kind of mineral that was rich, he was to hide it and never tell anybody about it or where it was. If anybody went against that law he was bound to die.

        My mistress and stepmother had three girls; Mamie, Ella and Tiger. They had some slave girls and one of them, Jessie, I married long after the war, in 1883. We went to Tyler Texas for awhile, but she died and years later I married Jenona Aberty. We had two girls Irena an Esther but they're both dead.

But, like I said, my folks never told me about slavery; they never whipped me always treated like I was one of the family, because I was, so I can't tell anything about them days.

Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002


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