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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



Burell Nash


Interview #9669
Field Worker: John F. Daughtery
Date: January 13, 1937
Name: Mr.  Burell Nash
Residence: Roff, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 24, 1839
Place of Birth: Louisana
Father: James Nash, born in Georgia
Mother: Mary Perkins, born in Georgia


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My parents were James Nash and Mary Perkins Nash, both born in Georgia.  There were seven children.  Father was a farmer and mechanic.  I was born in Louisiana December 24, 1839.

When I was twenty-one the Civil War began.  I enlisted in the Confederate Army and continued to serve until the end of 1865.  My company was stationed on the west side of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the Arkansas line.   It was very swampy and many died with malaria fever and smallpox.  Our meals consisted of corn meal mush, hard tack bread, made of corn meal and water, and 'blue' beef.  The cattle were very poor.  They were driven to our camps from Texas and used as we needed them.  The beef was so poor that it stuck like glue to anything it touched.  This was put in kettles and boiled and issued to us in small amounts. There was only one helping of feed at each meal.  We had no plates except what we made of pieces of tin, picked up as we traveled about.  Most of us held our food in our hands. 

One morning a beef was shot and two standing near were so poor that they fell also.   They killed them and skinned all three.  Our coffee was made of wheat bran which was burned then put into water and boiled.  Our meals were very irregular and we became very hungry and weak from one meal to the next.  The coffee was served in tin cups without cream or sugar.

At last in 1865 the War came to an end and we were free to go to our homes.  I walked as did the others.  It took me three days to reach my home in Louisiana.  I had no food except corn bread which had been issued to us as we were discharged.  This gave out and the last twenty-four hours of my journey I had nothing to eat.  That was a grand reunion with the folks who had remained at home.

I married Susanna Hester in 1867 and we moved to Texas, living there for about five years.  We moved to the Indian Territory about 1873 or 1874.  We located at Tahlequah in the Cherokee Nation after traveling for many days driving two yoke of oxen to a tar pole wagon.  The axles of this wagon were of wood and it was greased with pine tar.

Our mail came to Tahlequah from Fort Gibson.  It came to Fort Gibson from Fort Smith on the stage.  Then to Tahlequah in a horse cart every other day.

While we were here an epidemic of smallpox occurred which killed many of the Indians.  I had gone through the War without taking smallpox but I got it this time.  Doctors were few and hard to get so I moved to a tent and remained there until I was well.  The fresh air did more toward curing me than anything else we did.

The wild pigeons were numerous at this time.  I have seen them light on limbs of large trees and break them with their weight, there was so many of them.

We cooked on the fireplace with a skillet and lid.  Our fires were made with spunk and flint rock.  I used my old army musket for killing the wild game which furnished our meat the entire year.  I made my own bullets.  I had a bulled mould which made bullets about the size of a marble.  I bought bars of lead about three or four inches in length, one inch in width and half inch thick.  I melted this in an iron vessel over a very hot fire, poured the melted lead into these moulds and turned it around until the lead formed round balls.  Then I turned it out on a piece of tin until it cooled and it was ready to put into the old musket.

My wife made lye soap which was an all purpose soap and she washed with a battling board.  It was my task to pound the dirt from the wet cloths with this board.  I made our shoes.  The leather was tanned with oak bark.  The bark was put into boiling water and boiled until it made a thick ooze.  This was poured over the hide causing the hair to slip.  Then the hair was carefully scraped off and the hide was pulled back and forth across a wooden pole until it was dry.  Then it was ready to be cut into shoes.  I had a last which I made of a piece of wood.   If I wanted shoes black I dyed the leather with copperas and sweet milk.  The uppers were sewed by hand with a large needle and strips of buckskin.  Holes were punched with an awl to put the needle through.  Eyelets were made with an awl and the shoes were laced with buckskin.  The soles were tacked on with wooden pegs which were also homemade.

My horse collars were made of corn shucks plaited together and covered with rawhide.  I also used wooden collars.  These were cut in two sections and rounded to fit the neck of the horse.  They were laced together at the top and bottom with rawhide strings.  When the horse was not wearing the collar the strings had to be buried in the ground to keep them soft and pliable otherwise they became so stiff they could not be sued.  When shuck collars were used I had wooden harness and rawhide tugs but when the wooden collars were used I did not need harness.  The tugs were of rawhide, also, for the wooden collars.

There was no such a thing as a barber shop.  My wife trimmed my hair when it was cut.  I usually wore it long, almost to my shoulders.

I moved to Garvin County thirty years ago and have lived here continually since that time.

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