Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
History Project for Oklahoma
Elizabeth Kemp Mead
Post Office: , Oklahoma
Date of Birth: March
Place of Birth: Indian
Other: Frances Elizabeth
Died: November 5, 1939
Husband: Benjamin Franklin
Albert Henderson MOBERLY
Sanford Minor MEAD
Father: Joel Kemp
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Mother: Mariah Colbert
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
My father, Joel KEMP,
then a young man came from Mississippi with his parents, who were Levi
Kemp and Polly FRAIZER. He married Mariah COLBERT, Chickasaw, whose father
was Levi Colbert, Chief of Chickasaws. His wife WAS MINTO-HO-YO, a full
blood Chickasaw. They were married at old Docksville, OK near Idabel, and
were the parents of ten children, six growing to maturity. We moved to
Panola County, about 1852, near Red River which was later known as Kemp
Ferry Place. Later built at same place a two-story log house with two rooms
and two side-rooms with a hall between, two rooms upstairs, front porch
40 feet long. The house still stands and the logs are as firm as
when put there in 1857. The old family graveyard is 300 yards from the
house. My mother and father, with two of my brothers and four sisters,
are buried there.
Furniture was scarce,
nearly all we had was home-made, made by John H. CARR, a missionary who
later was Principal of Bloomfield. I remember two old trunks that seemed
so mysterious to me, and when they were opened we children would all crowd
around to see; but all I remember seeing was old papers, letters, dishes,
and relics that my mother said belonged to my grandparents.
My father operated a ferry
across Red River before and after the Civil War. Toll was twice as high
before the war. In 1888 my brother, Joel C. Kemp was granted a charter
by the legislature of the Chickasaw Nation, giving him legal right
to operate a ferry on Red River which he did for many years.
Above from Volume 61-62
My father was National
Treasurer of the Chickasaw Indians. He would receive the Indian money from
the United States and pay out according to the orders of the Legislature.
The Council ground was at Emmet, called "Post Oak Grove." Later they moved
to Good Spring, now known as Tishomingo.
Father was a member of
the Chickasaw Legislature, spoke good English and the Chickasaw and Choctaw
languages. He was in Washington when the Civil War broke out and was made
Captain to raise an army for the protection of the peoples who remained
home. They were not allowed to cross the Arkansas line. One day, while
he was stationed at Colbert Springs with the soldiers, a letter was sent
to our home by Jim REYNOLDS from General Cooper, commander of the Choctaw
army. My mother said it was important that the letter reach my father who
was stationed fifteen miles away. I told her I would take it. So with my
brother who was nine years old (and I was only twelve) we started horseback
on our journey.
Mother pinned the letter
to my underwear and said not to let anyone see me, but give it to my father.
As we neared his camp, he recognized us and came to meet us. I told him
about the letter and he took me into the tent an I gave it to him. After
reading it, he told me I would have to go four miles farther and deliver
a letter to Mr. COLBERT. I did and then Mr. Colbert sent a letter back
to my father. It was past midnight before we reached home. Everyone was
asleep but my mother. I gave her a note my father sent her and then went
to bed. My brother and I were dead tire. The next day my mother told me
the Federals were trying to take Fort Gibson and that after my father read
the letter he, with a bunch of soldiers, rushed the Fort; but the Choctaw
Army had driven the Rebels back.
Above from Volume 61-62
The refugees from the
Cherokee Nation came in bunches and settled near us during the War.
They were without food, and I have often seen them gathering the render
leaves from Mulberry trees and cooking for greens. Father would kill beef
and hogs and divide out among them; also, let them have corn to make bread.
They would dig Briar Root, which was sweet and brittle like potatoes, and
mix with with the meal when they didnít have enough meal for bread. I have
beaten mortar and made shuck bread to send to the men in camp. The Rebel
soldiers would pass our house for days, fifteen and twenty together, and
stop for food. Mother would cook a whole hog in the wash-pot; they would
eat everything and move on. I remember one day I was sick in bed and my
mother was feeding a bunch of Rebel soldiers; the table was in the bed
room. When each soldier left the table he came by the bed and gave me a
present. I received my first China doll with other nice presents. They
had obtained them in a raid that they make in Arkansas and Missouri. One
night when it was very cold and the ground was covered with snow there
was someone said, "Hello". My father sent his waiting boy to the door.
It was a young girl, nearly frozen, who said her mother and sister were
out in the wagon. They were all brought in, fed, and put to bed. My father
had his negro put the team up and feed them. The next morning she told
us her story.
Her name was Jane GEORGE,
and her husband was Bert George, who was serving in the Rebel Army. She
had been accused by the Federals of feeding the Rebel soldiers. They took
her to Fort Smith and put her in jail for several weeks and then let her
out and said if she was inside the Arkansas line by sunrise they would
Above from Volume 61-62
She had two bull calves
that she used to drag up wood with, so she hitched them to a wagon and
with her two girls, 16 and 18, and what few belongings they could pack
in the wagon crossed the Arkansas river after sun-up. They remained with
us until after the war. while with us, Mrs. George taught my sisters and
me to card, spin warp cloth and put on thread beam and then weave. My father
would drive five yoke of oxen to a big government wagon to Bonham, which
was the nearest trading post, and have meal ground. There was no grist
mills in the county and some of the people used a hand steel mill of beat
My fatherís brother Jackson
Kemp, later had a grist mill operated by one horse which he ran night
and day. That was the first mill in the county. Sugar was brought in wagons
to the trading post from Shreveport, LA. My father would buy two bbls every
fall, one white and one brown. It was 10 cents per lb. before the
Civil War, but after was 25 cents per lb. Once a year, usually in October,
father would go to "Giles THOMPSON Salt Works" at Boggy Depot and spend
two months getting our winterís supply of salt. He had a large iron pot
that held 50 gallons which he would load on the wagon and take to boil
the water. My brother, a cook, and one or two Indians would go with him.
Fifty gallons of water would boil out 8 and 10 pounds of salt. People came
there from all over the county to get their salt; I donít remember what
he paid for it but there was a charge. There was also a salt spring at
Carriage Point, but wasnít very much salt in the water. We would use the
water to make salt.
Above from Volume 61-62
We made our own rope,
we used a flat board and had a stick with a knot on it that held the whirl
that twisted the rope, Many times I have straightened the horse hair out
and helped my brother make rope. We spun our thread for cotton rope; it
would take a week to spin enough thread for 30 or 40 feet and a day to
make the rope. The stage coach passed our house each day from Fort Washita
to Bonham. they drove two horses and changed horses twice on the trip,
once at our house and again at Bonham. We received our mail from Old Warren,
which was also a trading post.
My parents would send
a peddling wagon each week loaded with country produce: dried beef, chickens,
turkeys, eggs, butter, and vegetables when in season, The wagon always
came back empty. There was very little fruit here. A few people had a few
peach and apple trees. The only way we knew to keep our fruit was to dry
it either on platforms or on top of the house. Our butter we buried
in stone jars, which kept it fresh all winter. Wild game was plentiful:
deer, turkey, buffalo, and quails. We could make traps in the shape of
a pyramid out of small sticks, placing one on the top of another, tying
them together with willow and then placing a trigger with corn on it under
the trap. That way we caught birds and small game. One day while sitting
at my window I saw a big buck deer coming up the lane. He came on near
the house and the dogs chased him into Red River and when he swam to the
other side my brother shot him. Our big camp meetings were held at
Yarnaby camping grounds under a brush arbor. Later the Presbyterians built
a log house, 18 feet long with a big fireplace in one end of the building.
Above from Volume 61-62
The Methodists also had
a big campground. We attended each others meetings and worked together.
It was a fine of not less that $25 or more than $50 to cut down a pecan
or hickory tree or even a limb for getting the nuts within the limit of
the Chickasaw Nation. Every winter there was an epidemic of smallpox
and diphtheria among the fullbloods and the negroes. Among the intermarried,
less disease prevailed on account of better sanitary conditions. At the
first breaking out of the smallpox, the local people tried to treat the
sick with roots and herbs. Later they were vaccinated against smallpox
by doctors who were called to the locality. There were no doctors at that
time in the vicinity. The nearest one was Mr. MACKEY at Bonham. Our
family was one of the first to be vaccinated. Many died from vaccination.
My parents owned eleven
negroes. Just three months before they were freed, Mother paid $1,000 in
gold for two boys, ten and thirteen years old. They had been put up to
the judge for bail by the wife of my half brother. Her husband had killed
I was thirteen years old
when the Civil War broke out. At that time I was living with my parents
on Red River, 12 miles north of Bonham. My mother wove and made all our
clothes. I had the first homespun dress in the neighborhood. It was blue
and white checked. If you had a change of clothes and extra suit you were
A Mr. MCCARTY, refugee
from Missouri, peddled underwear which he would bring in a wagon from San
Antonio. It would take a month to make the trip there and back. Everyone
that was able bought from him and our other clothes were made at home.
Above from Volume 61-62
My parents tried to give
us children an education. One of my sisters went to Bonham, one to Bloomfield,
and Simon, my brother, was sent to Dangerfield, Texas. But school days
were over when he was seventeen years old as a very bad prank was played
on him which saddened his life. While at Dangerfield, each boy had his
chores; and one of them was to build fires, at which each boy took his
turn. A story of a ghost appearing in the school room each morning as the
fires were beginning kindled was told. So when it came my brotherís turn
to light the fires, he told them he wasnít afraid. As he lit the match
to light the fire, something all white blew it out an said, "You will have
to fan the fire." As he struck another match, he could see the white form;
and in the excitement, he hit the form over the head with the poker. To
his sorrow, he had killed Bob HAMILTON, one of his companions.
My brothers and sisters
all married and raised families. I have only one brother, Joel C. Kemp,
I spent four years in
Bloomfield Seminary (starting in 1853) that were happy years. Bloomfield
was in charge of the Methodist missionaries and run by the Chickasaw Government.
The first principal of the school was John H. CARR, a white man who married
Catherine NEIL, a Choctaw. There were about thirty girls the first year
I was there, but the attendance was more the next three years. You had
to be between the ages of nine to eighteen to attend the school and be
able to read well in McGuffeyís Fifth Reader, spell well, and read in the
New Testament, and be of good moral character.
The Chickasaw Government
furnished everything. We made our own clothes which were made by hand.
There was one machine in the school, owned by one of the teachers. We would
do her work to get her to hem our dresses on the machine.
Above from Volume 61-62
The building burnt but
was rebuilt, moving location 3-4 miles NW from the old building. The building
was heated by wood stoves and we used oil lamps for lights. Our bedrooms
had no fire, but we never suffered from the cold. We had plenty to eat
- nice ham, sausage, and bacon, and milk once a day. The girls were numbered
and answered roll call by number. We were never allowed to leave the school
grounds without a teacher. Each morning and evening we had prayers, and
every Thursday at three oíclock prayer meeting. The only kind of musical
instrument we had at school was a melodeon. at home, my brother had a fiddle
and my sister had an accordion, which they played. After the Civil War
broke out, parents came for their children and we had no school except
what they called the neighborhood school, which I attended about three
months. Then when the War was over, my mother took me to Bonham to place
me in school; and because I was going to have to work in a hotel for my
board, I refused to stay. To this day I have never forgiven myself for
not getting an education.
The next year I married
Benjamin Franklin ROARK, a Chickasaw Indian. My father let us move a two-room
house near him, and my husband was to work land with by brother on the
halves. An old slave we called "Aunt Tena" lived with us. She was,
in slave time, my grandmotherís waiting girl. We raised one boy, Alphonso
Bailey Roark (A. B. Roark), who was county clerk of Panola County in Chickasaw
Nation when P. S. Mosely was governor. Mr. Roark died very suddenly one
day while we were visiting my parents. He had been in fine health before.
Above from Volume 61-62
Several years later I
married Albert Henderson MOBERLY (white man) who was a merchant. He only
lived three years. While on a trip to Texas for merchandise, in company
with my son who was ten, on his way home he spent the night with my brother
and took sick in the night. My brother sent a runner for a doctor, but
he died before the doctor came. They buried him and then my brother came
on home to tell me. They didnít know where I lived and my little boy said
he could show them the way but couldnít tell them. I later married Sanford
Minor MEAD (white) who was a farmer. We lived in and near Sterrett, I.
T. no Calera. We raised six children to maturity, all still living, but
Mr. Mead passed away twelve years ago. Sons: Simon Minor Mead - Arizona,
works for Government Landers Mead - Calera, Farmer, Walter Mead - Calera,
Farmer Daughters: Abigail WHISENHUNT - Durant Laura PERKINS
- Lives on a farm, Pittie EDDLEMAN - Hugo
Indian Dyes Yellow was
made by boiling Boisd'arc Chips Purple was made with Sumac Berries, White
Sumac Berries preferred Red was made with a weed they called "Queens Delight"
grew on bottom land Brown was made by boiling walnut bark, put rusty iron
in to set it.
Indian Medicines Wahoo,
a bush that has red berries: when ripe the berries will open The root is
boiled, making a tea which is very bitter. This was used for all ills.
Above from Volume 61-62
George JAMES, national
school superintendent, came to my home one day and said, "Fannie, I am
hunting a school teacher. I know you are able to teach and you wonít have
to teach only to the 4th grade." There was an Arithmetic lying on the table.
He picked it up and said, "Solve this problem." I did. Then he took a speech
out of his pocket from Gen. Cooper and he said, "See if you can read this."
I did. He wanted to employ me, but I told him I would let him know so I
went home to talk it over with papa; who told me he knew I was capable
of managing it. I said, "Yes, father, I can write, read and cipher, so
I am going to accept the school." I taught there two years and I still
have the old register I used to keep the names of the pupils and where
I had thirty pupils and
among them were three children of John PITCHLYNN, three of my own sisters,
two of Joe HARRIS, and the balance were fullblood, speaking only the Chickasaw
language, but I could understand the language enough to teach them the
meaning in English. This school was 10 miles northwest of Durant
where Emet is now, and it was called Post Oak Grove, or the Old Council
The school boys dug a
spring for our drinking water out of the side of a rock and it was the
Joe Harris, trustee, came
the first morning and helped me to register the children. School opened
on the first Monday in October and closed the last Friday in June. It was
a free school. I was paid once a year when the Legislature met. I
was required to make a report of attendance, deaths and quits. I would
give my report to the janitor at the Council House; he in turn gave it
to the clerk who read it before the Legislature and they gave me a check
and I took it to the Auditor and he gave it to the Cashier, from whom I
received my money.
During the year I was
allowed to run an account with the following merchants; Ebe RENEY, Tishomingo
G. B. HESTER, Boggy Depot Davis, Ft. Washita These merchants would be there
when the legislature met and when the cashier received my check what I
owed to the merchants was paid. When I went to get my money though Joe
BROWN was clerk and he would say, "Here is one you will pay in full, nothing
The meanest thing I remember
One Sunday I was asked
to stay home from meeting so my sisterís company could ride my horse. I
didnít like it very much and was crying. My father said, "Kate, the old
mule is in the lot, you can ride her."
So I told the Negro boy
to put a bridle on her and lead her out so my cousin and I got on bareback
and my father put a spur on my foot and in a little while we caught up
with my sister and her company, who were not very glad to see us. After
meeting was over, sister said, "Now you go back the short way. We are going
the prairie route." But I thought it would be more fun to go and tease
them, so we rode close and spurred their horses, causing them to pitch.
Sister said, "Never mind, I will tell mamma on you."
Well when we arrived home
she did and mamma laughed and I noticed one of the little Negroes laughing.
I kicked her in the mouth and knocked two teeth out, then I thought I would
get a whipping, but I didnít.
The day father died, he
called my sister to his bed and told her his trunk contained national papers
and for her to deliver it to the legislature. Sunday after he was buried
on Saturday my sister put the trunk in a wagon and drove all night, delivering
the trunk Monday morning at the Council House where it was opened.
Father was the best interpreter
in the Chickasaw Nation and would spend much of his time in Washington
to hear the speeches made there concerning the Indians so he could bring
back the messages to his people.
When and how I began
to use tobacco.
While attending school
at Bloomfield, when I was eleven years old, Sarah COLINS, one of the older
girls, took me with her to gather the eggs and feed the chickens. On the
way to the barn she asked me if I used tobacco. I said, "No," so she gave
me a little piece and told me to chew it, taking a piece herself. When
we reached the barn, she told me to get in the loft and get the eggs, when
I reached the loft I slumped down on the fodder. She called me and I said, "Oh! I am so sick."
"Oh" said Sarah, "Donít pay any attention to that,
it is just the tobacco, get up and you will be all right." She bathed my
head and had me drink some water, I felt better. The next day she told
me to try it again. I did and have been using it ever since. Nearly all
the girls in school used snuff or chewed tobacco. The younger girls would
hide it in their playhouses and the older girls had a secret shelf on the
campus in on old post oak tree.
When my sister Charity
died, my sister Mary took some of her hair to Bloomfield Academy and Mrs.
Angeline H. CARR made a picture of a tombstone with it.
Elizabeth Kemp Mead,
interview Vol. 62, pg. 429 June 15, 1937
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