Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: May 20, 1937
Name: Mr. Lem F. Blevins
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1871
Place of Birth: Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory
Father: William Blevins
Mother: Josephine Harris, born in Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory
My father was killed when I was two years old. He was part Cherokee Indian. My
mother was the daughter of Jow Harris, who was a colonel in the Chickasaw
Indian Regiment during the Civil War. Robert Harris was her
brother. He was at one time Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. After my
father's death, my mother married Charley Stewart and my first
remembrance to speak of was when we moved to old Cherokee Town located on
the Washita River, north of where Wynnewood is now. There was a stage-stand, store
and post office, a blacksmith shop, and a hotel. My step-father ran this hotel.
Old Cherokee Town was headquarters for the U.S. Marshals.
There was also a U.S. Commissioner's office. A man by the name of Kiser
was the U.S. Commissioner and Heck Thomas, John Swane, Matt Cook,
and Bob Nester were white U.S. Marshals. Bas Ree
was a Negro U.S. Marshal. I have heard Bas Ree say he took his U.S.
Marshal's Commission just to get to kill Dick Glass and George
Mack, both Negroes. These two Negroes were bad outlaws and they had caused
the U.S. Marshals lots of trouble.
My first school to go to was old Chikikie. It was an Indian Mission
school and Mary Hotchins was the teacher. It was located south and
west of where Stratford, Oklahoma is now, about seven miles east of Pauls Valley.
This school was started in 1885. After the railroad came through Mary
Hotchins started another school at Wynnewood. It was a Chickasaw Indian
school. I boarded at Chikikie, but I did not board at this school as my mother lived
at Cherokee Town. I stayed at home until they moved most of Cherokee
Town to Wynnewood. One building was sold to the Masonic Lodge and
they moved it to Pauls Valley.
My mother and step-father moved to Wynnewood.
I herded cattle before I was fifteen years old and before I was eighteen I
was working on the Johnson Ranch, known as the figure 8
brand. Montford Johnson was the owner. His range was from Johnsonville
to Silver City. The main headquarters was at Silver City,
located south of where Minco, Oklahoma is now, about five miles on Scherley Creek. I
remember a fight between the Johnson cowboys and the Campbell
cowboys in which one was killed. I didn't take part in the fight. I was with
the chuck wagon at the time.
I was nicknamed Vinegaroon by the first city marshal at Norman. At
that time Norman was a city of tents and dugouts. The Marshal's
name was Tom Griffin. We had brought about a thousand head of
cattle to Norman to ship them. five or six cowboys and I were
riding down the main street, or the wide place they called a street, and we met Tom
Griffin. I was well acquainted with Tom so I asked him what was the meanest
thing on earth. He said, " I have been told it was a Vinegaroon", and from
that day on I was called Vinegaroon.
After old Oklahoma came in we were rounding up horses for the Johnson
Ranch and driving them to Silver City. We
had lots of trouble with the new homesteaders. At that time they lived in tents, sod
houses, and dugouts, and they would have small patches in cultivation and they would have
these patches fenced with wire fence. we would round up a bunch of horses and start
them west, and the fences wee new to horses then. They didn't know what a barbwire
fence would do to them, and on coming to some of these fences the horses would go right
into them and down would go the fence and some of our horses would get cut very badly and
we would have sometimes a bad argument with the homesteaders. We couldn't keep the
horses out of the fences. When a bunch of high-strung horses once get started
running nothing can stop them.
We would tell the homesteaders how sorry we were and we meant it for these homesteaders
were having a hard time trying to make a home for their families without our horses
tearing down their fences and running over their small patches of corn and ruining it.
I have seen as high as fifty U.S. Marshals at Old Cherokee Town
at one time, and some of them were tough men. When they went after a man they
got him. I have seen them come through there on their way to Fort Smith, Arkansas
with forty or fifty prisoners. Some of the prisoners would be wounded and they
would haul them in wagons and drive the ones that were able to walk in front of the wagons
I have heard my step-father say that the old building that he used for a
hotel was built sometime in the early fifties, and was used as a trading place for the
Cherokee Indians. There are lots of old graves up and down the Washita River from
where Old Cherokee Crossing was located. When I was a small boy, I have found human
bones around the river bank. I have been told that there was a band of Mexicans and
Indians camped on the Washita River north of where Old Cherokee Town was
years before we moved there, and I think my step-father said we moved there in 1875.
My step-father was a U.S. Deputy Marshal and an Indian policeman at Cherokee
After the Santa Fe railroad was built through here, Montford
Johnson moved about 25,000 head of his Durham and Hereford cattle and 500
saddle horses and about 1000 stock horses to the Cheyenne Country. I worked at his
ranch at Silver City and Johnsonville. There is an
Indian burial ground about seven miles east and a half mile south of Pauls Valley.
When I was going to the Chikikie Mission school this Indian burial ground
was a short way south of this school. Old settlers have said this burial ground was
there as far back as they could remember about it.
I now live in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.