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OKGenWeb Indian Pioneer Papers Collection


Garvin County Indian Pioneer Papers



N.C. Hardage


Interview #9750
Field Worker: Robert H. Boatman
Date: January 13, 1938
Name: Mr. N.C. Hardage
Residence: Lindsay, OK
Date of Birth:  June 22, 1876
Place of Birth: Arkansas


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Early day experiences in Indian Territory

I came to the Indian Territory at the age of twelve years, in the year 1888, coming from the state of Arkansas.  I was born in Arkansas, June 22, 1876.  We traveled from Arkansas to the Territory by wagon and ox teams.

Many hardships were endured by the early white settlers of the Indian Territory, especially was it so with the people who wished to be law-abiding citizens.   There were very few white people in this country and they were generally known as "floaters" and horse thieves who wouldn't even tell their names.

When we first settled in the Territory, it was at or near the place where the town of Durant is now.  At that time, in 1888, all that the town of Durant contained was one small store, a cotton gin and a box car depot.  The country was all open range of the finest grassland known to man.

In 1888 a herd of ten thousand head of cattle was driven across that country from the northern part of the Chickasaw Nation and was owned by Boy Pibas, an intermarried man of the Choctaw Tribe.   These cattle were driven over an old trail that was sometimes called the old Chisholm Trail.  There were no roads nor bridges and all travel was done just by direction or over some old trail that had been made either by some earlier herds being driven across the country or by some Indian hunters.

The Indians hunted at certain seasons of the year over a very large territory and often would blaze a trail that would be more easily followed on their return trip.  After they had finished their hunting expedition, this trail was more likely to be picked up by travelers.

I have had many business dealings and experiences with the Indians of early days, mainly the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes and these two tribes were always very friendly and honest in all business dealings and when once a white man had gained the friendship of an Indian he was the best friend a white man had ever known.

Horse thieves became so numerous that an organization was formed known as the Anti-Horse-Thief Association, and a spy at one time was placed near Red River to watch for them.  The horse thieves ran up on this spy, killed him and his horse, then threw them both in the river.  They also killed another watchman who was posted on the Washita River near old Fort Washita, and here they hanged him to a limb.

Later began the advancement of civilization in the Indian Territory.   More people came and began the development of  agriculture, erecting homes, at first log cabins.  Towns began to spring up and people gradually outlawed the rustlers to a very great extent. 

I now live at the same place where I have lived for the last eighteen years, at a place sixteen miles west of Purcell.

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