Kindly contributed by Gay Wall
Indian Pioneer Papers--Western History Collection---University
Volume 7----microfiche #6016872----9 fiche
Richard Lewis (Dick) BERRYHILL
Interview: June 23, 1937
Field Worker: Jas.S.Buchanan
Indian Pioneer History
I (Richard Lewis BERRYHILL) was born in 1852 in the vicinity of the Tullahassee Mission.
My father was Sam BERRYHILL, half blood Creek, born in Alabama.
My mother was Fanny (Ma-Na-Waie) BERRYHILL, full blood Creek, born in Alabama.
My parents came to the Indian Territory among the first Creek settlers from Alabama and settled in the Old Roley McIntosh Creek Settlement between the Arkansas and Verdigris rivers north of Muskogee.
In 1861 my parents moved to a place on Pole Cat Creek northeast of where the town of Sapulpa now stands. We lived there until the Civil War broke out, when we moved back to the old home place. Later, due to conditions brought on by the war, my father moved the family to the Chickasaw Nation near Red River where the family remained until after the close of the War
My father joined the Confederate army and served with a Creek regiment under Col. D.M. MCINTOSH and was killed in service near where the town of Tulsa now stands.
After the close of the War, the family,
consisting of my mother, two brothers, James and Albert, 2
sisters, Jane and Martha and I returned to the Creek Nation
and settled about one mile south of the present site of Hitchita.
The younger children were reared and my mother spent the remainder of her
life at that place, her death occurred in
Circumstances deprived me of the most of my oppurtunity for an education during my school age. I attended the Creek Mission School at Tullahassee a short time before the Civil War and the Asbury Mission about eight months after the War which was the extent of my schooling.
During the time I attended the Tullahassee Mission a man by the name of LOCKWEDGE was the superintendent and was assisted by Rev. W.S. ROBERTSON, the father of Alice ROBERTSON of Muskogee.
About 1877 I was married to Josephine WADSWORTH, Creek, daughter of William and Louvinia WADSWORTH. No children were born to this union. My wife died at Hitchita in 1930.
I served as a member of the Creek National Council
from 1897 to 1900. Previous to that time I served as district captain
of the Light Horse. Deputies that served under me that I can recall
were John GIBSON,
Tom POPE, Joe RILEY, Joe TIGER, all Creeks. I recall another deputy that served under me by the name of John GREEN who was killed by an Indian by the name of YAHOLA who was tried and convicted for the murder and shot at the Eufaula Court. Prisoners, when condemned to death, had the privilege of selecting the man to shoot him, as in this case YAHOLA chose one of my deputies, Joe RILEY.
The constitution of the Creek Nation, adopted by its National Council in 1867 was a very comprehensive document. In addition to including in it the fundamental principals of government it also contained a complete code of civil and criminal laws. It provided that the law-making power of the Nation should be vested in a council consisting of two houses, the upper house called "Kings" and the lower house "Warriors".
The members of the council were elected by districts for a term of four years.
The executive branch of the Nation was vested in a "Principal Chief", with a "second chief" who corresponds to a vice president.
The constitution provided for a complete corps of officials, prescribing in detail the duties of each official, a system of courts, schools, etc.
The penalties of its penal code were severe. The punishment for murder was death by shooting, while the penalty for the first offense of stealing was fifty lashes on the bare back with long hickory withes drawn through a fire so as to make them more flexible and used while they were hot; for the second offense, death by shooting.
The outlaw that gave us the most trouble during my time was Jim GRAYSON, a Creek. I don't think he was ever satisfied only when he was riding a stolen horse. I never knew of him being implicated in any killings but he was an habitual horse thief. He was repeatedly arrested, tried and convicted and whipped for that crime by the Creek Courts and on one occasion sentenced to be shot, later was pardoned by Chief Sam CHECOTA.
I remember he was once arrested by the federal
officers for horse stealing and was tried in the federal court at Fort
Smith before Judge PARKER, and when he was brought before the
court, Judge PARKER asked him
when he was going to reform and quit stealing horses and GRAYSON's reply was "when they quit raising horses, Judge." I don't remember how he got out of that scrape. He was later killed in the western part of the Creek
One of the fairest and most merciful judges of
the Creek Courts I ever had the priviledge of working with during
my time was Judge Chowie COLBERT who presided at the old Tuskegee
Court which was situated eight
miles west of Eufaula on what was later the allotment of John SMITH. During his time as judge of the Tuskegee court he lived about one hundred yards west of the old courthouse. He boarded the prisoners also the attendants of the court when court was in session. The courthouse was a log structure and stood on top of the hill about one quarter mile northwest of the old spring, a position that commanded an unobstructed view of the valleys for several miles in all directions.
The old log courthouse has long ago passed out of existence as well as the large oak tree that stood near the northeast corner of the courthouse where convicted prisoners were punished. There is nothing remains as in days gone by except the old spring at the foot of the hill about three hundred yards southeast of where the courthouse stood. It flows on as it did in the days of long ago. There is nothing to indicate the location of Judge COLBERT's old home. There is a granite tombstone reclining where it has fallen from its pedestal beneath a large sassafras tree about three hundred feet west of the spring upon the hillside which marks the last resting place of Judge COLBERT and bears the following inscription; "In memory of Judge Chowie COLBERT, died July 7, 1890, age about 75 years."
Kindly contributed Gay Wall
This is an interview with a man who was not Creek but closely invlovedwith them
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Field Worker: Jerome M. EMMONS
Date: June 24, 1937
Name: Lemuel JACKSON (A Freedman)
Post Office: General Delivery, Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 23, 1868
Place of Birth: Down on the Texas Line
Father: Ned JACKSON
Place of Birth: unknown
Information on father: a slave
Mother: Hager LEWIS
Place of birth: unknown
Information on mother: a slave
Lemuel JACKSON, a freeman and allotee, lives one mile north, one-fourth west of Morris on highway corner.
I had lived in the Territory before moving to Clearview, twenty-five miles west of Okmulgee with my parents when I was about ten years of age. There was no particular reason for their moving here--just got tired of the last place like people will.
Our first home near here was made of split logs without nails. Clapboards were put on with wedges and wooden hooks. It had split-log floors, except the kitchen which was dirt.
The furniture was crude benches and tables which were home-made.
Wood was the only fuel, and springs and the creek supplied water.
My first employment was some farming and the raising of livestock. Ten acres in crops was considered a good farm then. Of course, we didn't have to feed the stock, except occasionally, and corn would last from season to season.
Later, I carried the mail on horseback to the Shawnee line. I was employed thus for a year.
I learned blacksmithing under SMITH in Okmulgee. My apprenticeship lasted for eight months, then I got half of what I made. I worked at this for a while with SMITH and then started in business for myself with a partner. I worked at this trade for fifteen years.
When the Frisco was building through here, our shop shod practically all the horses used between here and Beggs.
When I was a boy, we had practically the same food as the Indians. Beef, pork, squirrels, deer, turkey, fish and the foods made from corn, were the main items in our diet. When we got flour, biscuits were made only on Sunday mornings and special occasions.
Sebron MILLER, Sam HAYNES, Samuel CHECOTE, John FREEMAN and his son of the same name were a few of my friends.
Before the Civil War, my parents told me sometimes when a master died his personal slave was killed and buried with him and his favorite horse killed and the saddle buried with his body. My father said the Creeks used to stand a corpse up when it got stiff and build a fence around it.
Children were buried in a hollow log and in hollow trees. I have seen trees boarded up, when I was small, but never knew the reason for this.
My parents were buried four miles northwest of Weleetka.
There is a burial ground east of Schulter, which is very old.
I was in the Lighthorse for a year, but didn't like it much. When a man had to help arrest his friends, etc., he seemed to lose face with them. While a Lighthorseman, I used to attend the Creek Council Meetings, but can't tell anything of interest.
The Creeks and Freedman used to weave their own cloth for clothing. I used to knit my own socks, gloves and pulse warmers (Wristlets). My grandmother taught me how to knit.
The old Indians never wore a cap or hat. They generally wore their hair short in front and long in the back. Some would wear two long plats.
They would wrap up in a blanket in the winter.
Most of the clothing was wool, as we didn't know that cotton was for clothing. I wore home-made clothing until I was fourteen or fifteen years old.
I did quite a bit of hunting with dogs. One year I sold enough fur to buy a suit for $8.00 and some red-top boots for about the same amount. With these I thought I was really dressed up. I wouldn't wear them around home, but would save them for visits or trips to town.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Coffeyville, Kansas, I guess were the closest towns with saloons, until old Oklahoma was opened in 1889.
The colored towns in the Creek Nation were called Arkansas, Canadian and North Fork. They were northwest of Muskogee.
People traded at Muskogee, Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Fort Smith, as well as Okmulgee. They made the trips to these towns, sometimes with oxen hitched to a wagon. They didn't use horses as much as they did sometime later.
I have a bow and some arrows which I have had for thirty-five years. I used to kill squirrels and fish with them.
I have attended a few camp meetings and ball games with the Creeks. I have seen eyes put out with the ball sticks. The last game I saw was played at Okemah, it was a rough game.
I don't know much about the cattle trails, but I remember crossing the Chisholm Trail one time at Shamrock.
GREEN PEACH WAR
I was just a boy when this war was going on. I was riding around unarmed. Sometimes, I would go with ESPARHECHER's men on my pony. I hoped to get some guns if they had a battle with Chief CHECOTE's men, as I figured there would be some left around when and if they fought.
Some of the Sac-Fox, Comanches, Araphoes, and Cheyennes would come to Fort Gibson for supplies. There was a commissary there for a while. The Cheyennes would ride in on pintos. These tribes were friendly with the Creeks. However, they usually staryed on their own lands.
There were lots of pones [ponies] in the Creek Nation. My dad owned about twenty-five head. They hardly knew what corn tasted like. They just ran loose on the range. There were horses sometimes three or four years old that had never had a rope on them. We just never needed them. $20.00 then would buy the best of horses. I sold a pony one time when a boy, receiving $2.00 which was a good price. I also sold yearlings and steers for $9.00, which was top price at that time.
I don't have any relics now. I used to own a muzzle loader, which was borrowed and never returned.
James TURNER, SANGER & SANGER & SEVERS had stores here. Dave BRODY was working in SANGER & SANGERS. I think he later had a store of his own.
Major CRAMER clerked for James TURNER and was postmaster when I carried mail on horseback.
Jim PARKINSON and Tom WALLACE ran the first lumber yard in Okmulgee.
CRAMER later ran a store for J.R.DAVIS, who married ?n's sister, at Arbeka.
I received every money payment the Creeks received. I received the usual allotment of land, which was located south of Okmulgee.
I know a family names ASHLEY who bought their adoption into the
Creek tribe. The man's wife and daughters got allotments, but he
didn't. Lot of other colored people did this.