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Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Name: Castleberry, J. M.
Date:  March 14, 1938
Interview # 10237
Address: Sulphur, OK
Born: 1866
Place of Birth: Texas 
Father: J.R. Castleberry, born in Alabama, Trader
Mother: Amelia Howard, born in Alabama
Field Worker:  John F. Daugherty 

My parents were John R. Castleberry, born in Alabama, and  Amelia Howard Castleberry, born in Alabama. Father was a trader.  He fought in the Civil War and died two years after the close of the War.  I was born in Texas, November 22, 1866.  We came in a covered wagon to the Chickasaw Nation in 1889, settling at Lebanon.

I married Mattie Smith there in 1890.  I had $10.00 when we were married.  We went to Gainesville, Texas, and bought three plates, 25 cents worth of tin knives and forks and 10 cents worth of teaspoons, which was three of each, and a skillet and lid.   This was our housekeeping equipment.  We washed our clothes at the creek in a wooden tub with a battling board, instead of a wash board.

Our tent was made of muslin and the rain sifted through until the muslin became thoroughly soaked, then it poured through.  Our bed was built of poles and we went to the prairies and pulled grass for our mattress.  This was stuffed into a muslin tick.   We also had straw pillows.

We drank water from the creek.  I cut brush and timber from the land each day and my wife and I burned it after dark.  I had one small Indian pony, and bought two wild bulls, which I broke.  With these I made crops for two years.  I finally traded the steers for another pony and traded the ponies for a five year lease on another place near Lebanon.  I raised corn and cotton.  I bought a team on credit and worked the land with it.

I had my cotton ginned at Mountain Spring, not far from Lebanon.  There was a gin there pulled by a horse.  The cotton was piled into a basket and carried to the gin stand.  After the lint and seed were separated the lint fell into a room and this had to be picked up by hand and carried to the press.  The cotton was hauled to Ardmore where it was sold and shipped.

I cut wood for 75 cents per rick, three foot boards for 50 cents per hundred, and rails for 75 cents per hundred. We got our mail at Mountain Springs.  It came from Marietta in a hack three times a week. We had a few chickens and sold eggs to a peddler from Ardmore for 5 or 10 cents per dozen.  This peddler sold a few groceries and a little hardware.  He came about once a week.

About 1900, we moved to Asher, on the Canadian River where I pulled wagons across the river for a living.  I charged 50 cents per wagon.  This was a dangerous way to make a living.  I learned where the whirlpools and quicksand were.  When a man in a wagon wanted to cross, I had him unhitch his team and my team was hitched to the wagon.  His team was led across.  I had a splendid team and they knew how to ford the swift current.  Only once did they get into a whirlpool. I thought we were all going to drown, but the team soon scrambled out and we went safely across.  I could tell by the way the water ran whether it was safe to drive into it or not.  If it boiled and whirled furiously I avoided that spot.  The current was so swift that the horses had to lean toward it to stand up.  It was impossible for a man to stand in it waist deep.

I moved to Murray County in 1910 and have lived here since.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Brenda Choate,  September 2003.

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Updated:  07 Sep 2016