Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: August 20, 1937
Name: Lillian Lee Anderson
Post Office: Eufaula, Oklahoma
Field Worker: Margaret McGuire Interview 7326
Origin and history of legend or story: Life of her grandfather, Washington Lee, his removal from Georgia over the Trail of Tears. His life in the Territory when it was first just settling up - Cherokee Nation.
In 1838, my grandfather, Washington Lee, came to the Territory and stopped at Westville. He was driven from his home in Georgia over the Trail of Tears with all the other Cherokee Indians and while on the trail somewhere he lost his father and mother and sister, and never saw them any more. He did not know whether they died or got lost.
The Cherokees had to walk; all the old people who were too weak to walk could ride in the Government wagons that hauled the food and the blankets which they were allowed to have. The food was most always cornbread or roasted green corn. Some times the men who had charge of the Indians would kill a buffalo and would let the Indians cut some of it and roast it. The food on the Trail of Tears was very bad and very scarce and the Indians would go for two or three days without water, which they would get just when they came to a creek or river as there were no wells to get water from. There were no roads to travel over as the country was just a wilderness. The men and women would go ahead of the wagons and cut the timber out of the way with axes.
This trail started in Georgia and went across Kentucky, Tennessee and through Missouri into the Territory and ended at Westville, where old Fort Wayne was. Old Fort Wayne was built to shelter the Indians until some houses could be built.
Aunt Chin DEENAWASH was my grandmother's sister and she came from Georgia on the Trail of Tears. Her husband died shortly after they got out of Georgia and left her to battle her way through with three small children, one who could not walk. Aunt Chin tied the little one on her back with an old shawl, took one child in her arms and led the other one by the hand; the two larger children died before they had gone so very far and the little one died and Aunt Chin took a broken case knife and dug a grave and buried the little body by the side of the Trail of Tears.
The Indians did not have food of the right kind to eat and Aunt Chin came on alone and lived for years after this.
She married another man in the Territory and raised two sons and the first hanging they had in the Territory was that of her two sons. Joe MAIZE was the chief of the Cherokees then and they had a double hanging at Tahlequah. My grandfather had no people left and he made his home with Aunt Chin Deenawash; she was half Cherokee and half white.
When the Civil War broke out my grandfather went to Baxter Springs, Kansas, and joined the Northern Army and fought through the war, was wounded once and after the war was over came to the Territory at Westville. He was then sheriff (Lighthorsemen) for years. He hardly ever carried a gun; the men he went after always gave up. When he was going after robbers he took a gun; he was one of the officers who was trying to capture the outlaws on the old trail when so many men were killed. This trail goes south of Marble City. My grandfather was shot in later years by some boys, at the Baptist Missions; he was very old when he died. The Cherokees were the only Indians who came over the Trail of Tears.
[Submitter's comments: The Interviewer's name is spelled two different ways 1] McGuire 2] McGurie. I do not know which one is the correct spelling.] Transcribed and submitted by Lynda Bell Canezaro <LBCane@aol.com> 02-2000