An interview with
Field Worker, Johnson H. Hampton
Interview with BEN CARTARBY
I was born December 11, 1892, at or near Battiest, a post office which was
located after I was born. This place was in Cedar county before statehood.
My father's name was Eben Cartarby, and my mother's name was
Isbell Cartarby, both born in Indian Territory.
My grandfather's name was Felihkatubbee, but I don't remember what my
grandmother's name was. They both came from Mississippi and located at this
place; there was no post office nor any store there; it was out in the woods
Neither my father nor my grandfather were in the Civil War, for if they
were, I never did hear of it. I heard of the war but I never did know
whether my father or my grandfather were enlisted.
Where we lived there were not many Indians living, but after some time
Indians moved into our community. The Indians used to live in communities
then just like they do today.
My father never held any office under the Indian Government. He was just an
Indian who lived in the mountains. Where we lived the Indians had plenty to
eat; the country was full of wild game and the creeks were full of fish. Any
little creek had lots of fish in it; so we lived pretty fair.
We had a small farm of about five acres, which was a pretty good-sized farm
for us Indians at that time. We raised enough corn on the five acres to run
us for bread, that is all we needed at the time, and we raised garden
vegetables enough to live on. At that time the Indians did not know about
canning garden vegetables, and they don't do that now; they just don't know
how it is done. We used to raise plenty of onions and they would gather them
up and hang them in the house and use them as they were needed just as they
did the corn.
We had a few cattle, hogs, and ponies; in fact nearly all the Indians had a
few cattle, hogs and ponies; while some of them had more than others. It
didn't cost much to own stock then for they did not have to feed them like
they do now. The stock ran out in the woods and mountains and went wild. It
was sure fun to herd them up in the fall and the spring for branding.
We had plenty of corn to make our meal; of course the women folks made the
meal by beating it in a mortar or Tom Fuller block as it is called. It took
them a good while to make this meal and get it ready to bake. They made
hominy, which was made by beating the corn just as they did the meal, I know
all the Indians lived that way for they could not get flour to eat, and it
was corn meal or nothing, so we lived on corn meal. There were no grist
meals in the country where we could grind our meal so the only thing to do
was to beat it in one of those Tomfuller blocks.
Mother had a spinning wheel and a weaver where she made our shirts, jean
breaches and made some cloth to make dresses out of. They sure would last a
long time. They were heavy stuff and it was good and warm through the
winter. She sold what we didn't use, I don't know what she got for them.
I went to school at Jones Academy for five years. This school was run by the
Choctaw Government at that time, but now I think it is run by the Federal
Government. It is still running for Indian children-for boys. Then I went to
Armstrong Academy for one term. This school was burned down several years
ago, and never rebuilt.
I am full-blood Choctaw Indian and was reared here in this country, and my
parents lived in this part of the country until their death. I served in the
World War, went to France with the other boys over there, saw a new country
and come back alive.
(Ben Cartarby was one of the Choctaw Code Talkers during WW-I)
submitted by Troy Splawn