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
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.