Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: February 4, 1938
Name: Elmira Stevens
Post Office: Rt. 2 Box 157, Tahlequah, Oklahoma Residence location: 6 miles southwest
Date of Birth: May 27, 1857
Place of Birth: Near Wauhillau, Indian Territory, in Goingsnake District Other: Wauhillau, on the place called Jeff Catron farm now
Father: Lafayette Catron Place of Birth: Tennessee Information on father:
Mother: Nancy Roach Place of birth: Eldon, Oklahoma Information on mother: Died in Park Hill 1909
Field Worker: Wylie Thornton
Interview, # 12893
I was born in an humble farm home, May 27, 1857, in the Cherokee Nation, near what is called Wauhillau, to be exact right where Jeff Catron now lives. This place was settled and put into cultivation by my father, Lafayette CATRON, before the Civil War. My mother was Nancy ROACH. My father came from the state of Tennessee. My mother was born in this country. Tom Roach at Muskogee is one of my people.
I didn=t go to school much for there were not many schools when I was growing up. I went to school some at a little school called the Caney school. It was down there at the old Caney graveyard. It was made of logs, a one room affair, with no windows in it, log seats and a fireplace in it for our hear. My first teacher was a Mrs. Lizzie BATES from Cane Hill, Arkansas. The next one, I believe, was a Mrs. or Miss STARR from over here toward Tahlequah. I went to the 4th grade. That was about as high as they went away back there in those days, especially if you had to walk three or four miles to school through the rain and sometimes cold weather like I had to do. I went with my brother John. There were only two of us children in our family.
When the Civil War broke out, Father went South into Texas to fight for the side of Confederacy and after Father had been gone for awhile, Mother, Brother and myself almost starved to death. Mother very often fed us on parched corn stirred into a little water, sort of a gruel we called it. The Bushwhackers robbed us of everything we had. Finally Mother hooked up a pair of steers and we three traveled along down to Fort Smith and there we found one of my grandfathers. I disremember which one it was. He gave us food to eat, all we could eat. I tell you I was so weak from starving, I could hardly walk. From Fort Smith Mother drove those oxen to Sulphur Springs and then to Buzzard Roost, in the Choctaw Nation. Here she found a full blood Choctaw Indian, Jim BEAM, who told Mother if she could run a loom and spin and make clothing he would take good care of her and us children. Mother was a >cats ankle= at that kind of a job, so we lived on that good Indian=s place for over a year until the war was over and Father came back to us.
We had a celebration when Father came home. We had told the old Indian that Daddy would be home about a certain day and he said, >Good. Me glad, too. I fix him big time=. This big hearted Indian spread a great feast, as anxious to see Daddy as we were. For two days before Daddy was to arrive, Jim Beam walked very spry and ordered things done preparatory to Dad=s arrival, and when the feast was all ready, he asked me and Mother to come and see this feast. We went to his house to see and when we viewed the feast we must have hollowed >eek= because I was so shocked, Mother and I both felt stunned. I almost fainted, really never since God put Adam in the Garden of Eden have I seen such luxury and a completeness of plenty spread on one great table. He had called in his warrior friends and they were seated all around the yard in their war regalia and a very conspicuous war drum was nearby, and when we finally heard a very far distant whoop of my Daddy, somewhere a half mile away, Mother screamed with great joy and broke into tears and shouted, >That=s Daddy=s whoop, Elmira, that=s our dear Daddy finally coming back to us. God has spared him for us=. When he appeared some distance away, we observed he was horseback; a very good horse, a large bay steed, with ears marked by bullet holes and other wounds, indicating his very near death escape. Mother ran with me some hundred yards to meet my Daddy. He pulled me up to him in the saddle to place on my cheek a very fond kiss and he stooped down low to embrace Mother=s head and to kiss her and say, >Well, well, has God heard my prayer, and blessed me to see you again=, and he wept for great joy. By this time our great friend, Jim Beam, was nearby to shake Father=s hand with both of his hands, one to grasp his hand and the other to pat his hand on the top side. When he had ordered Father=s horse fed and cared for Jim Beam gave some kind of a yell and cry and the warriors sprang to their feet and formed a great long line and Jim Beam, the full blood Choctaw Indian, led the long line of dancing Indians and, with the drum beating, they encircled my Daddy. They would point toward him and then point toward the Heavens, and though I understood not, I could plainly understand they were thanking God for His great mercies and begging Him to keep him in safety as he journeyed among them. Then they feasted by having my Father at the head of the table and two Indian maids were ordered to stand on either side of him to wait on him to all things.
The next day Father started us back to our old home place over here near Wauhillau. Jim Beam gave us everything we could eat for a month when we started on the long trek home with Mother=s oxen. Father sold his war steed to Jim Beam.
I knew Ned CHRISTIE during his childhood days and mine. I attended school with this well known outlaw. I remember so well how I have jumped the rope while Ned Christie counted 1-2-3-4-5, etc., while we were having a jumping contest. He would hold one end of the rope and laugh with glee, as any normal child.
I have adopted three children into my family and raised them to be grown, so I haven=t lived a selfish life by any means.
I was married in the year of 1873 to Henderson STEVENS when I was sixteen year of age. My husband moved me to Rabbit Trap neighborhood, near or about five miles east of Ned Christie=s place where we stayed for several years then we moved back to a place adjoining my Father=s staying a year. The next year we moved to Muskogee for one year, then we moved right over here near Park Hill and bought a farm. There we raised five children of our own and the three adopted children.
In my early days we cooked our meals on the open fire in the fireplaces; we had no stoves. We didn=t need any money to live after the war was over and we had made two or three crops. We did not can any fruit, for we never knew of a fruit can.
We used all together Indian faith doctors. Our doctor was Nancy JUMPER, a full blood. I began to have ear aches pretty regular and finally Mother called our doctor. She came and looked at me, then went out and went back of the house and did something to her pipe then came back in the house and covered the bowl of her pipe with a cloth after she had lit it and smoked a while with it covered with this cloth. She then placed the end of the stem in my ear and blowed from the bowl end and the warm smoke went down my ear. I have not had the least bit of an earache from that day to this.
Pin Indians were the Indians who refused to join the army on either side, but formed bands and rode into towns and communities and took by force anything they could use. In other words they were organized outlaws.
The way we kept weavels (sic) out of dried apples, peaches, dried peas and beans was to put a handful of broken up limbs of sassafras in the sack. Then weavels (sic) would not bother them.
I never wore shoes of any kind, winter or summer, until I was ready to be married, at the age of sixteen. I never was sick in my life, to be really sick. I had little colds sometime.
Father tanned his own cowhides, and made his and mother=s moccasins himself. He got the hair off the hides by soaking them in red oak bark water.
We had homemade beds. The posts were made of round poles with split half poles for sides and the middle was made of ropes and hickory bark made into narrow strips and sewed back and forth between the side rails. Our crude feather beds were laid on this criss-cross swing. Feather beds were made of bird, goose, duck, and pigeon feathers.
We had no sale for hogs; no market, no way to ship. There were no railroads. Eggs sold for four cents per dozen.
Transcribed and submitted by Gloria Bidinger <firstname.lastname@example.org> 10/99