Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Name: Susan Bond Spring
Post Office: Hugo, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Father: John Bond Place of Birth: Wade County, Indian Territory Information on father: a full blood Choctaw Indian
Mother: Lucretia West Place of birth: Information on mother:
Field Worker: Hazel B. Greene Interview #5813
EARLY DAY HAPPENINGS AS TOLD BY SUSAN SPRING.
My father, John BOND, a full blood Choctaw Indian, was born about 1850, in what was then Wade County, Indian Territory, near what is now Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. He lived there all of his life, dying at the age of 38, and being buried at the old Council House Cemetery. He was one of the Senators.
He married my mother, Lucretia WEST, a white woman.. (Well she was part Cherokee, but could not prove a "right".) She was born about 1845. She was five years older than father. She died at the age of 59, and was buried at Goodland Cemetery.
Our house was a two story frame house, not far from the old Council House, at Tuskahoma, and mother boarded the Council men when the Council was in session. Part of the time she taught school at Sardie about five miles southwest of home, and across the river. One could, in those days, pay $5.00 for a permit which would entitle them to teach school. Sardis was a place where they held camp meetings, and there were several log cabins where people camped while meetings were going on. So when the weather was bad or the river got too high for her to cross on horseback, we just camped there. In fact, because there were four of her own children we stayed there most of the time. We kept a couple of cows over there and a pig to eat the waste. The cabins had no windows, and only one door. She cooked on the fireplace. Father would come over about once a week and bring food and other supplies to us. I remember once when high water prevented him from coming over to us, and our food supply was out. We had just enough corn meal to make us each a small bowl of mush and of course, we had milk, but nothing else. As we sat out in the yard eating our mush and milk one evening, the dogs got to chasing the cat and it ran right in the midst of us, and lit in mother's bowl of mush, and she could not throw it away, she had nothing else to eat.
One night, father had come to spend the night and he and mother were sitting up by the fire talking when they heard the pig squeal, father ran out and by the bright moonlight saw a panther after the pig. The dogs teed the panther on a low limb of a tree there. Father had an old muzzle loading cap and ball gun, and he had only one bullet left, but felt pretty sure that he could kill it as he was a good shot. He'd take a chance anyway. He fired, the panther fell among the dogs which were afraid to get too near. They just kept baying at it. In fact, when it fell, they ran off to a safe distance, then came in closer. He had broken its foreleg. There he was without another bullet. It was three miles to the nearest neighbor, also three miles across Kiamichi river to his brother Hayes' house, where he knew that Hayes had bullets to fit his gun. His favorite riding mare was grazing near, he told mother to watch the panther while he went over to Hayes and got some bullets. (He didn't even have any more lead). He told mother that if the panther started to leave, for her to sic the dogs on it and it would stop again. So he mounted the mare, without bridle, rope or anything except the bell collar and when he got to the river it had risen since he had crossed in the afternoon, and he had to swim his pony across that river and return. But he came back and killed that panther. It measured 9 feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. That old pony, "Old Bay" was so gentle, father could ride her anyway without a bridle or anything. Mother said that panther just sat up and like a dog, held up its wounded leg, while it fought with its good one. That's the way old leader got slashed. That was when mother got scared. She was afraid it would kill all the dogs before father returned. She stayed about half way between the house and the dogs, so she could run in if the panther started to get the best of the dogs.
Father had slow consumption for eleven years, and he knew that he would have to live out in the open air, to be able to live at all, so he hunted lots. Turkey and hams of venison were as common in our smoke house as hog meat ever was in any smoke house. If he took a notion for a turkey for dinner next day, he'd go out about roosting time and locate some turkeys and he'd always come in with one.
In his lifetime he killed one bear, two panthers, and one Leopard. When he first saw the leopard, it was behind a log, and seemed to be resting its chin on the log, and looking over. He started once not to shoot it, because he did not know what it was, he'd never seen anything like it. The eyes looked so different from anything he had ever seen. He could shine the eyes of any animal in the night and be sure what it was. His pony was so well trained and so used to his shooting from her, that he would put his rifle above her ears and shoot, and that was the way he shot that leopard. Shot it right between the eyes, because it never moved. He was not sure he had hit it, so he waited a while and still it never moved as he advanced toward it. When he got closer he saw that it had slumped and was dead.
Father did not know that value of that leopard skin and sold it for $2.50 when he might have got $25.00 just as easily, had he known the value of it.
He said he never felt afraid but once when he was out in the woods hunting at night. He had killed two deer, and decided that two was enough for one day, had dressed them, and tied them on his horse, one in front, and one behind the saddle, and had started home. It was a dark drizzly night and he carried a torch, made of a pine knot in a frying pan wired to a five foot pole so as to light the way ahead. He kept hearing something behind him, kind of whining or meowing like a cat and just felt himself being followed. So he turned his torch around and shined its eyes. He could tell by the way it crouched and the distance between its eyes that it was a panther. Now he really was frightened, because he was out of ammunition, and each time he'd shine the animal's eyes, it would be a little closer. The pony was uneasy too, and seemed to just beg his master to do something. It knew they were being stalked. At last, father untied one of the deer and threw it down, and then rode for dear life.
Father said that when some of the old, old, Choctaw Indians found a girl whom they wanted to marry, they'd wait till they saw her at a meeting or a picnic, catch her eye, and nod. She'd start out running. He said: "Run like a deer, till nobody see, then slow down till man could catch it." He want to get caught too, then he would lead her back to the crowd, and some preacher would pronounce them man and wife." But if she did not fancy him, she would not accept his challenge and would not run.
Transcribed and submitted by Lynda Bell Canezaro