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Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

Date: March 19, 1937

Name: Robert B. (R. B.) Choate

Post Office: , Oklahoma

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth:

Father: Sanders Choate Place of Birth: Information on father:

Mother: Place of birth: Information on mother:

Field Worker: W. J. B. Bigby Interview. No. 2157

Rabbit Bunch And His Home.

Rabbit BUNCH was a full blood Cherokee, born in the Cherokee Nation in what is now Adair County, Oklahoma in 1841. He attended the common schools and the National Male Seminary and obtained a good education. He was a leader of his people in many ways from the time he was grown until his death in 1891. It is said of him that he was one of the best orators in this part of the country and one of the shrewdest men.

Rabbit Bunch was a very successful farmer, having a very fine fertile farm in the valley of Sallisaw Creek, just south of the present town of Bunch (Bunch was name for the Bunch family) more accurately located in Sec. 27, T.14 N. and R. 24 E. His home was an eight room house built in a T shape and two stories high with porches on three sides, both above and below, with huge well-built chimney fireplaces of native sandstone. These chimneys and fireplaces were not only on the first floor but also on the second floor, making in all six nice fireplaces. Most of this old house is still standing and shows to have been one of the finest houses of the early days.

Rabbit Bunch held several offices of trust and rendered valuable service, perhaps the highest office he held being that of assistant Chief of the Cherokee nation with Chief Dennis Bushyhead. He made the race for Principal Chief against Joel B. MAYES but was defeated.

He is buried in the old family (Bunch) cemetery which is only a few years from the old home.

Jennie Chusulate born December 4, 1808, died March 3, 1914. Wm. Chusulate died March 2, 1900, aged 58 years. Lizzie Smith, wife of John R. Smith, born March 2, 1885. George Christie, born January 19, 1905, aged 17 years, killed on R.R. (Note: these dates are hard to read on this copy, in particular Jennie=s' birth year and Wm.'s age.)

Interview: Robert B. Choate Bunch, Oklahoma W. J. B. Bigby, Field Worker

Hunting Experience

Mr. Robert B. Choate of Bunch, Oklahoma is now seventy-four years old. He is a man who appears to be several years younger than he really is. He is highly educated, very entertaining, sociable and is a good story teller, having had wide and varied experience in public and private life, such as; farming, teaching school, traveling, holding public offices, etc. However, his main sport and hobby was, at intervals when he could find time and at least twice each year, in the early summer a turkey hunt and in the autumn a big deer hunt. These hunts were always of several days duration and what is commonly called a "camp hunt."

He had two favorite camps, one near what is now Crystal Cave, in what is now southwest Adair County, Oklahoma, where the deer and turkeys were plentiful and a fine spring of water made life more pleasant. Here he had a substantial cabin made of logs and large enough to accommodate several men and take care of the provisions. The other camp was several miles farther southwest in Cherokee County near what is now known as Pipa Springs. Here he also had a cabin and camp, similar to the one above. He always wished his friends to share these big hunts with him, for they were big hunts. The writer at Mr. Choate's home saw many pictures which were made at camp and in the forest while they were on these trips, several pictures of large bucks with fine antlers with several points, several of the pictures being of fine specimens of wild turkeys, as many as half a dozen.

When arranging for the hunt and considering his pals, Mr. Choate=s first thought was his friend, D.T. MARVIN, Division Superintendent of Wells Fargo Express Company, who lived at Kansas City at that time. Choate and Marvin both being good shots always insisted on U.S. Marshal Charles COPELAND accompanying them, then they would add others. Some came from as far away as Vermont and the company of hunters usually consisted of from six to twelve men.

Mr. Choate relates one story in detail. The hounds started a deer just south of what is Bunch, Oklahoma now and that deer went south down the creek to near Dwight Mission and then turned back north up the creek, bringing the deer right by us. When it was evident that the deer would come as near them, Mr. Choate placed Mr. Marvin where he could get a good shot at the deer and when the deer, a large buck, came by it was forced to pass between them and a high cliff, giving all a good opportunity to kill it but he thought to give Mr. Marvin the first shot but he kept on waiting until the others were forced to kill the deer or allow it to pass on, so they fired and killed it while Marvin stood and looked on, explaining later that he just could not kill a deer that was so pretty and that had such fine antlers. They all had a good laugh and later a good supper.

While on one of these hunts, they were camped at the camp near Crystal cave on the evening of the second day and by some means, Copeland had failed to join them but they were fixing to go kill some turkeys as a boy who lived near camp had come over and offered to pilot them to a turkey roost where they could kill some. They started and had only gone a short distance when they met Copeland who had only been temporarily detained and had followed on after them, knowing as he did about where he would find them, but to their great surprise he had been very fortunate and had bagged two fine gobblers and was carrying them with him to camp. The boys all being so glad to see their old friend and there them being no need to go for more turkeys, they just postponed the trip that night and returned to camp and had a good visit with Copeland. Of course, they stayed several days and killed much game and had a general good time.

Interview: Robert B. Choate E.F. Dodson, Field Worker

The Choate Family

Silas CHOATE is one of the oldest of the Choate family that we have any history that has lived in this country. He came with the first old settlers and only stayed a short time and went back to the East, then returned with the Immigrants and settled down on a place near the present site of Greenwood Junction, near the present state line of Arkansas and Oklahoma. That was when Sanders Choate, the father of Robert B. Choate, was about twelve years old. Silas Choate, the grandfather, lived there until his death which occurred sometime before the Civil War. When Sanders Choate grew to manhood he married Miss Jane RILY. They only had on child, George Washington Choate. They lived near the site of old Flint Court House. He later married Miss Eliza CHILDERS. They had six children, Emma, a daughter who was married to John ADAIR of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, the next child, Joshua, a son, Isabell, the wife of Houston PAYNE of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, Mary Alma, a daughter who married Dr. R.L. RYE of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, now of Porter, Oklahoma, John C. a son who married Miss Fannie FOREMAN, Robert B. Choate, a son was married to Miss Lydia STRIKER, a full blood Cherokee, who was educated in the Cherokee Orphans Asylum. They are the parents of two children, Emma E., a daughter, and Robert M., a son.

Robert B. Choate

Robert B. Choate is a native of the Cherokee Nation and a resident of Bunch, Oklahoma, Adair County, since his boyhood. Mr. Choate has been actively identified in official affairs for many years. He was educated in the common schools and the National Male Seminary, became a teacher, taught his first school at Skin Bayou School in Skin Bayou District (later Sequoyah District), next at Sallisaw at Round Springs School, near Bunch and still other places, becoming very prominent and successful in the educational work. He was a member of the National Council of the Cherokee Nation, becoming Chief of that body, then District Clerk, District Judge, Assistant Indian Agent, being Judge when Tribal Government was abolished. He was always faithful to duty.

Politically Mrs. Choate is a Republican. He was defeated as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention but was a delegate to the convention that nominated Frank Frants for Governor.

Mr. Choate is a Cherokee 3/C (??) blood, and is proud of that fact.

He has been a very successful farmer, specializing in good pure bred stock. He was a very successful merchant for a number of years. He has a nice home in Bunch, Oklahoma. He is 74 years old and is held in high esteem and love by all who know him.

Mr. Choate says that when he was a young man that their Post Office was Evansvillke, Arkansas, some 25 miles distant. When asked if that was not a little inconvenient, he replied "Well, Yes, but we all in that neighborhood went there to mill and of course there was someone going there every two or three days and that way they could bring the mail for us if we were not going soon."

Sometime later there was a Post Office established at what is the northwest corner of the present town of Stilwell, Oklahoma and soon afterward there was one established at Bunch. At that time the mail was carried on horseback from Van Buren, Arkansas to Evansville from there to Flint P.O. (now Stilwell) from there to Bunch and on to Dwight Mission. At first and for some time the mail was only delivered to Bunch three times each week but was later delivered every day. Joshua Choate was the first mail carrier to the Bunch P.O.,Then Henry Bradley carried it. He carried it on to Dwight Mission, making the round trip on horseback each day.

Their nearest doctor at that time was at Evansville, Arkansas. Two of the first doctors that Mr. Choate remembers were, Dr. BRYANT and Dr. LITTLEJOHN, both of Evansville. In those days there were no roads as we think of roads. There were only wagon trails and bridlepaths.

Mr. Choate says that there were some things that they had then that we do not have, such things as good timber, fertile virgin soil, and abundance of game, fish and good range.

Transcribed by PJ Achramowicz <> 06-99

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