Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: July 14, 1937
Name: Mr. Joe Smith
Residence: Wynnewood, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1879
Place of Birth: Cherokee Town, Chickasaw Nation
Father: Henry Smith, born in Ohio
Mother: Hannah Kemp, born in Indian Territory
I was born about two miles southeast of Cherokee Town, Indian Territory,
in the Chickasaw Nation, in 1879. I have heard my father say he settled at Old
Cherokee Town right after the Civil War and there was one store at Cherokee Town at that
time. A Mr. Shirley owned this store and it was a trading post for the Indians and
Negroes living in this part of the country.
The Government issued beef to the Indians and the Indians were camped on
the Washita River south and north of Cherokee Town. Mr. Shirley said he saw as many
as five hundred Indians on one camp ground.
The Negroes living around here then raised small patches of corn but I
have heard him say that the Indians did not raise anything to eat. They would go on
buffalo hunts, three or four hundred of them and be gone sometimes fifteen days.
When they came back, he said they would have several ponies loaded with buffalo and
deer hides. They would trade these hides to Mr. Shirley who owned the store for
merchandise which they wanted. He said the Comanche Indians did most of the going
away to hunt. There were lots of the Cherokee Indians living around on the prairies
east of Cherokee Town.
Mr. Shirley has said that the Cherokee Indians didn't wear lots of beads
like the Comanche and Kiowa Indians.
My remembrance of things was when the railroad was built through here.
I was a small boy but I would go to watch the men work. My father worked on
this railroad. He helped clear the right-of-way. I don't know what year it
was, as we children growing up then never knew what the word year meant. At least I
didn't know. All I knew was that when dark came we could go to bed and when the sun
came up it just meant another day.
There wasn't any church or Sunday School then like they have today.
We were living in a one-room log house with a dirt floor and a half
dugout. This half dugout was covered with logs and the cracks between the logs were
daubed with clay and grass. I have helped mix this red clay and grass together and
while it was soft we would daub the cracks full of this clay and grass and when it dried
it would be like concrete.
My father never did do much farming until in later years he would raise
corn and a little patch of wheat for bread. He would take the corn and wheat to Mill
Creek and have it ground. When the wheat was ripe, we children would do the
thrashing. My father would spread sacks down on the ground and put a big log by the
sack with the bark peeled off of it and we would take small bunches of wheat and beat it
over this log. That is how we threshed our wheat.
Shelling corn was easy. We had several wooden blocks with little
trenches cut in the blocks and we children would take an ear of corn in each hand and rub
it across the blocks. The corn would fly off the cob.
I received a forty-acre allotment of land from the Chickasaw Government as
anyone who was a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation received this acreage.
I still live southeast of where old Cherokee Town used to be. I have
lived in this neighborhood since 1879.