Interview # 8345
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: August 25, 1938
Name: Mrs. Celeste Caby Leal (Lael)
Residence: Wynnewood, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: April 30, 1882
Place of Birth: Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation
Father: Perry Froman, born in Illinois
Mother: Levina Colbert,
I was born in 1882 about a mile and a half west of where Wynnewood,
Oklahoma is now.
My mother was part Chickasaw Indian. I have heard
her tell about the Indians. She said that the Chickasaw Indians who came from Mississippi
in the early days were well educated and were large slave owners. Each girl in a
family whose father owned slaves, had a slave girl of her own to wait on her. I
don't remember hearing my mother say when she came to the Indian Territory but it was
before she married my father. She had been married before and her first husband had
My father, a young man at that time, settled in this part of the country
and started a ranch near where Sulphur, Oklahoma is now. He met and
married my mother.
The ranch house was an upright log house. Instead of laying logs on
top of the other, horizontally, they were stood upright, side by side. His ranch was
the Diamond Z Ranch, but our home was west of Wynnewood
and Father divided his time between our home and the ranch, so I don't know much about how
the cattle ranch was operated.
My mother has said in the early days that the western Indians were their
main trouble. The Comanches and Kiowas would make raids, stealing
and driving off the cattle and horses.
One evening a bunch of them were going to make a raid in this part of the
country, so that night a number of people gathered at our home and waited for the Indians
to come. My mother owned most of the horses in this part of the country.
Along about midnight, they heard a noise at the corral, but by the time they
could all get outside, the Indians had started off with her horses. A small horse,
her favorite, was in the bunch. She always rode it. As they were chasing the
Indians to recover the horses, the Indians shot this little horse full of arrows and
killed it because it could not travel as fast as the big horses. Instead of going on and
leaving it, they were savage enough to kill anything they couldn't take. Killing her
favorite hurt her more than it did losing the rest of the herd.
I have heard my mother speak of old Cherokee Town.
In the early days it was a shipping point on the stage line that came through there
and was a trading point. The government issued beef to the Comanche, Kiowa and
Apache Indians in a camp there on the prairie and along the Washita
river. The mail would come from Caddo to Cherokee Town on the
stage and would be delivered to Fort Arbuckle on horseback. So in the early days old
Cherokee Town was a transfer station for mail coming in for Fort Arbuckle.
I was a large girl before I saw an orange. We children in the early
days were lucky if we got some candy on Christmas day.
We didn't have schools then like we do now. There were a few
schools. A girl's boarding school was at Whitebead, before the
branch of the railroad from Pauls Valley was built by there.
I have heard Mother say that peddlers would come through this part of the
country selling things. Several times she has paid a five dollar gold piece for
enough calico dress material to make one dress.
Governor Harris of the Chickasaw Nation was banker and
guardian for lots of people. I knew several Indian women who took their gold to Governor
Harris to keep for them. When a child was left an orphan it
was turned over to Governor Harris. He would find a home for it and
sometimes kept it himself.
It has been said Governor Harris ran a boarding house at Mill
Creek. He did in a way, but it was free for anybody coming through that
part of the country. They were always welcome, were well fed and given a bed if they
stayed all night. But he did not charge for room and meals. Strangers were
welcome to stay without cost.
There were very few church houses in my young days. After Wynnewood
started building up we had a church house and a school.