Interview # 8217
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: August 13, 1937
Name: Mr. Frank Stewart
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: February 10, 1882
Place of Birth: Indian Territory
Father: C.F. Stewart, born in Indian Territory
Mother: Josephine Harris, born in Indian Territory
I was born at Caddo, Indian Territory. My mother was a Chickasaw
Indian and my father was a Choctaw Indian.
My father, C.F. Stewart, owned the hotel and boarding house at Cherokee
Town. There was an Indian school about six miles east and about a mile south of
Pauls Valley. This school was called the Chikiki Indian school and a white woman
named Mrs. Hotchkin taught.
The Government paid her eight dollars a scholar for schooling and boarding
Indian children. I was not old enough to go to this school, but my brother went.
This school was closed in 1885 and Mrs. Hotchkin opened a school near
Wynnewood in 1887. This school was for Indian children.
My father was a deputy United States Marshal and he had a room in the
hotel at Cherokee Town where he would keep prisoners overnight on his way to Fort Smith,
Arkansas and other United States Marshals have kept their prisoners there. This room
was fixed with iron spikes driven into the floor and a ring was fixed on the end of the
spike and when Father kept a prisoner there overnight, he would put a log shackle on the
prisoner and lock him to this ring on the floor or if it was in the summer time there was
a big tree out in the yard of the hotel and my father would chain the prisoners to the
The law was when he went after a man to bring him in dead or alive.
Of course, he was supposed to bring the prisoner to court alive if he could but if he had
to kill the prisoner then he had to bring the body into court.
I have heard him tell about several men whom he had to kill. He said
in the early days there was a hotel at Whitebead Hill, about five miles west of Pauls
Valley, and that on several trips to Whitebead he had stopped at this hotel and that on
one of these trips he had met a young man about twenty-five years old. This young
man had come to Whitebead two months before my father stopped there. This young man
took care of the horses and helped around the hotel and that was the way my father became
acquainted with him. This young man worked at the hotel a few months and left.
One day my father said he got a warrant from Fort Smith to bring in this
man dead or alive because he had killed a man. My father said he went to Whitebead
to get the young man but found he had left there and was working for a man on the river
east of Pauls Valley.
Father said he liked this young man and hated to take him to Fort Smith so
he sent Zack Gardner, who owned a grist mill on the river east of Pauls Valley, to tell
this man to come to Cherokee Town and five himself up. Father said he thought this
young man would leave the country and some other marshal would have to get him but the
young man did not leave. Instead, he sent word to my father that he was not going to
five himself up. My father said in those days when a man sent you word he was not
going to give himself up, it meant that he was ready to shoot it out with you, so early
the next morning my father saddled his horse and started over to where this young man was
Father wanted to get over there before this young man started to work for
he knew he was going to have to shoot it out with him. Father got to the house about
sunup and this man was sleeping on a cot out in the yard. It was in the summer time
and Father rode up to the rail fence in front of the house, tied his horse and got his gun
out of the holster and started over to where this young man was sleeping and when Father
got within about twenty feet of the cot where the young man was he slipped on a corn cob
and fell, causing the young man to wake up. Father told the man to put up his hands,
instead the man brought up his pistol and began shooting.
This young man was not afraid but lying on the cot trying to shoot, he
missed and my father was kneeling down and this gave him the advantage so he was forced to
kill the young man.
This was the only man Father killed while he was a deputy United States
Marshal that he was sorry after he had killed him but it was a case of kill or be killed.
Father said that he and the man this young man was working for built a box
coffin out of some planks torn off the barn and hauled the young man's body to Cherokee
Town and loaded the coffin into a wagon and took it to Fort Smith and turned the body over
to the court.
If an officer was forced to kill a wanted man he had to take the remains
to Fort Smith.
My mother could take corn and make several dishes out of it and they were
good. She would parch corn and then put it in the old coffee grinder or in the
mortar block and grind it up and this was a good breakfast cereal with milk and sugar over
it. She had a square piece of tin with small holes punched in it and she would take
corn before it was dry and grate it with this tin and make roasting ear bread, which is a
fine dish when eaten with sweet milk.
My mother was a sister to Governor Harris, one time Governor of the
There was a ferry crossing one mile north of Pauls Valley on the Washita
River. It worked on a large cable, which was fastened to a tree on each side of the
river and the man who ran this ferry had a long pole with which he pushed the ferry boat
across the river. This ferry would hold several horses at one time and the man
charged twenty-five cents for a wagon and team to cross.
In territory days if you wanted to build a ferry boat on the river and
charge for taking people across you first had to get a grant or permit from the Chickasaw
Government which would cost about two dollars and fifty cents.
Settlers coming into the Indian Territory had to pay five dollars a year
permit to live here.
There was another ferry crossing at Cherokee Town. It was run like
the one north of Pauls Valley.
My grandfather, Wiley Stewart, came to the Choctaw Nation from Mississippi
in 1848. He and two other men organized the first Masonic Lodge, which had the first
charter to be issued in the Indian Territory.
If a white man wanted to marry an Indian woman, it cost him fifty dollars
for his license, which made him a citizen of the Choctaw or Chickasaw Nation. Later
the price was raised to one thousand dollars and this increase in price stopped a lot of
white men from marrying the Indian women.
The Indian law was that if an Indian committed a crime, the first time, he
would get one hundred lashes across his naked back and if he committed a second crime, the
penalty was death.
A day would be set for him to come in and die and he would be there on
that day. The High Sheriff of the Indian court would have the prisoner stand up
against a tree and sometimes the High Sheriff would blindfold the prisoners and sometimes
the men who were sentenced to die would not let the Sheriff blindfold them. In this
case they were counted brave men. Then the sheriff would paint a red cross over the
heart of the men who were to be shot. I believe the man to be shot could pick
someone to do the shooting but if he did not pick anyone then the High Sheriff had to do
the shooting. If the one doing the shooting missed then the prisoner went free.
I think there were a few cases where the prisoner went free, but when the High
Sheriff did the shooting, they never went free because he never did miss.
I now live in Pauls Valley.