An interview with
January 12, 1938
I was born January 30, 1879, in Texas (Wise County) and came to Indian
Territory when I was a young man. I had just been married when I came to
My father and mother lived and died in Texas and are buried there at the old
home place when I was a boy.
My father-in-law, (Frank Thomas) and I came over together in a covered wagon
and located near Marietta, I.T. When we got located there we rented a farm
from one of the Indians by the name of Tom Love. We lived on this place for
about 20 years. When we first got over here we did not have any furniture
only what we had in our wagon, but after we rented the land and moved on the
place we brought our housekeeping outfit and went to housekeeping and
We lived in a log house; it had lumber flooring. It was a very good log
house and there was plenty of water and wood for our use. We raised corn,
cotton, and other farm products and raised cattle, hogs and ponies. At that
time the country was open; there were no wire fences to be seen and very few
farms had been opened.
Our reason for coming to this country was that we thought we could do better
in a new country than we could over in Texas where we were as the land in
Texas was too high for a man to buy, so we come over to this country and we
did well. We made money and good livings for our families. After we got
settled on this farm we raised cattle and hogs and ponies. The country was
open and the stock could run on the range without costing us anything to
raise them for the grass was fine and it was a good cattle country at that
time. It did not take much to raise any stock a man wanted, but after a
while the white people began to come in here and settle and went to breaking
up the land, putting it into farms and the wire fences came with them. It
was not long until the country was all under fences and in farms and then we
moved from there and came to the Choctaw Nation near Antlers. (in 1904near 3
mile corner west of Antlers)
I leased some land from an Indian by the name of Myatt Greenwood, (Sr.) and
lived on this land for about fifteen years. I put up a house and built barns
and other outhouses on this land and put some land in cultivation that I
farmed. I raised corn and cotton and all other farm products and also raised
cattle, hogs and ponies. It was no trouble to raise stock in this country
then, it was like the place we moved from. There were no fences nor farms
then and there were no white people out in the country, they were mostly in
the town and did not get out in the country. This country was wide open;
there were no wire fences nor but very few farms. They belonged to the
Indians who did not have but very little farm land that they worked, so the
country was wide open. There was plenty of grass on the prairies and a good
deal of cane on the creeks, so we did not have to feed our stock at all. The
only thing to do was watch and watch after the stock and keep them branded
and marked and let them go until we wanted to brand and mark them again;
then, we would gather them up and mark and brand them and turn them loose
again to roam the range.
When I first landed in this country and located at Marietta there were no
full blood Chickasaw Indians there at all. I did not see many Indians for
all the Indians that I saw at that time were some mixed blood and
intermarried white people. There was a marked difference between the two
tribes (Choctaw/Chickasaw) in this country at that time.
The distance from Antlers to what is now Jumbo is about twenty-two miles.
There were but about four houses that you could see between the two places
and it was that way in every direction from Antlers. The Choctaws lived in
communities and there were several miles between communities and in going
from one to another there were no houses to be seen on the road, in fact,
they had no roads. They were mostly trails leading from one place to the
other. At that time the Choctaws had cattle, hogs and ponies, and small
farms they worked and raised corn for their bread. They never thought of
killing hogs and putting them up for winter use. They would kill one for
fresh eating and grease but that was about all they would kill their hogs
for; and in the summer they would kill a beef and if one killed a beef all
the other Indians in that neighborhood got some of the meat. They would
distribute the beef among the neighbors; that was the way they all did if
one got meat they all had meat to eat.
At that time the stock was not worth anything at all, there was no market,
for the yearlings were sold for $5.00 and grown cattle sold for from $10.00
to $15.00 and ponies were not worth anything as they could not be sold at
any price. There is a marked difference between today and then. The country
was full of cattle at that time and there were more ponies on the prairies.
They went in droves and stayed fat all the year round for there was a fine
grass in the country and no wire fences to bother them from roaming the
I have been in this part of the country for the last thirty-six years and
have made money here and a good living for my family, but my money is gone;
I don't know where but it is not in my pocket. This was one good country but
it is all gone now; the land is all washed away and the game is gone so the
country is in bad shape now.
I have been in this country a long time. I have attended Indian camp
meetings and have been to their "Cries". I have been to one Indian ball
game, but I never saw a Indian war dance nor a scalp dance. I have heard of
it but never saw one. The Indians of this part of the country don't have any
more dances. They used to dance with the white people but they quit that and
I guess they don't dance at all now.
I have raised my children here among the Choctaws. They have gone to school
with them and played with them and have been associated with them all their
lives but they have never had any trouble with any one of them. They are all
good friends of ours. I have traded with them and sold them stuff and have
been with them ever since I have been in this country. I can't speak their
lingo but I have gotten along well with them just fine. They are honest and
law-abiding people, they do not bother anybody; they of course, would fight
among themselves and maybe kill one another but they don't anyone else and
to my mind they are about the best people in the country anywhere.
One thing is for sure, they won't steal from you or from anybody else. We
used to go a visiting and leave the doors unlocked when we had Indians for
neighbors and they would never bother anything, but since the white people
settled the country we can't even lock up against them, so I know that the
Indians are all good people as a whole.
I am now living about two miles south of Antlers and will live here until I
die. (George Gilmer Splawn died in 27 Feb 1942 in Antlers).
I have a clock that belonged to my grandmother that is about fifty years
old, and I have a picture of my mother and father that is about a hundred
years old and then I have a plow that is about a hundred years old; they are
all keepsakes. The plow is made all together, the point and the stock. I
would not part with them at all but I would let anyone see them if they
Johnson H. Hampton, an Indian, expresses himself in typical "Indian style"
and no change is made in his manuscripts to better his English. - Editor
submitted by Troy Splawn