Saturday, June 25, 2011

Aunt Sippia, Part Two

Aunt Sippia, with Three of Her Daughters and an Old Friend

          Here's the second part of my great great aunt Sippia's "Reminiscences" as she called them. The first part was posted June 11, 2011. I'll put in some explanations in parentheses when they seem necessary.  

Reminiscences of Mrs. Sippia Hull
July 2nd, 1929

          For quite a while after the war, we were the only settlers in this section of the country. My father hired us a private teacher. It was not easy to get teachers to come and live on this frontier, so our education was quite limited. (Aunt Sippia got some additional education at Fort Sill but her brother Sam only got through the fourth reader. In spite of this limited formal education he learned to speak 8 different languages, was a Chickasaw senator, edited two newspapers and became a practicing attorney) At the early age of 16, I was married to Jim Arnold, a Texan, and one little girl was born to us, named Tamsie. (Sippia named her daughter after her grandmother, Smith Paul's mother.) After five years I was left a widow (The story my great uncle told was that Arnold borrowed some money from Sippia's father Smith Paul and left, saying he was going to Sherman, Texas for supplies. He never returned. Sippia always thought he had been bushwhacked, but rest of the family thought that Arnold took the money and ran.) 

          Knowing they had a school for Indians at Fort Sill, I decided to go up there to school. I boarded with a Mexican woman who had been ransomed and married and raised a family. She was ransomed by a soldier by the name of Chandler who afterwards married her. I took my little girl along with me and Mrs Chandler took care of her while I attended school. (See Hitchcock and the Chickasaws, Posted 1/1/11 which describes the lucrative trade in hostages developed by some of the plains tribes) While I was there I met William Hull an Englishman, who was employed by the government to work under the Indian agent Tatum. After he met me he decided to come down and live near my father. He was a professional black-smith. This was on the main travel road of the freighters to Fort Sill and Fort Cobb. He accumulated quite a fortune at that business. Then we were married. (Smith Paul's farm was one of the main stops for lodging and supplies on the way to Fort Sill and Fort Cobb)

          The school I attended in Fort Sill was under the supervision of the Quakers. Of course I attended their church, it all seemed very strange to me, for when they went in the church they usually sang a song first, then they sat and waited for the spirit to move them. Sometimes some one would pray or talk and then again there were times when no one would either talk or pray, they would sit quietly for a while and then leave. (In 1868 after his inauguration as President, Ulysses Grant met with Quaker leaders who proposed approaching hostile Indian tribes peacefully. Grant was impressed and allowed them to establish schools and missions in Indian Territory. His comment was, "If you can make Quakers out of the Indians it will take the fight out of them." Agent Tatum whom Aunt Sippia mentions above was one of these Quaker missionaries and agent to the Comanches. It sounds like it was the peaceful Indians that took advantage of the schools rather than the Comanches.) 

Footnote Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries, by Arrell Gibson, P 252

          While my father was not a religious man he realized that we must have the uplifting influence of hearing the gospel preached. So he hired a preacher by the name of E. Couch from Texas, to preach to us regularly every Sunday, he made his home with us. By that time there was more people living in this part of the country but miles and miles apart, but they would come to this service and my father and mother always arranged to have a splendid meal for the entire congregation, as that was one of the pleasant occasions that we looked forward to. Then later my father built a frame church himself, having the lumber freighted from Atoka. We had many other ministers of other denominations, but I do not remember their names now. It was not a matter of choice to him as to the denomination. J. M. Hamill Superintendent of Colbert School and pastor at Ft. Arbuckle also preached to us. (The last sentence was added later.)  

          About this time my husband had lumber freighted from Atoka to build us a home. By this time my father had accumulated sufficient wealth to build him a huge log house a story and a half high, which was about three quarters of a mile from the present town of Pauls Valley. It was there he had a large fruit orchard set out. When the fruit began to bear he gave away to everyone that wanted it and some came and hauled it off by the wagon loads. It was at this home that my mother died, in 1972.  

          In about five years my father married a young woman by the name of Sara Ann Lily, her family lived in this locality. Then he built the rock house which was about a quarter of a mile from the log house. (See story about the rock house Smith Paul built in Roots, posted 9/18/2010.) My father died in 1893, at White Bead, and left a widow and two children by the name of Steve and Tamsie. 

          During the Civil War we had to spin and weave all of our cloth to make our clothes, and knit our hose. I was anxious to do what every one else did and they let me, although I was only about nine years old, I wove enough cloth to make me a dress, even though it looked rather knottie, they made me a dress out of it. The cotton from which we spun the thread had to be picked from the seeds with our fingers, we usually did this work at night. The pecans grew in this locality in great abundance as they do today, and we ate nuts and picked the cotton off the seeds and my mother would tell us Indian legends. We learned by putting the cotton down by the fire and getting it warm, it was much easier to get the seeds out. It was during those early days that a man came through the country with what he called a miniature gin, similar to a clothe's ringer of today, and this helped us to get the seeds out faster. Of course people came in to see how it worked and every one wanted to try and turn the handle and my brother boy-like turned it and broke the handle off. My mother used to make straw hats for the boys out of wheat straw and in the winter they would catch coons and she would make them caps out of the skins. My father would make us shoes out of cow-hide, he could do a little of everything, but this was only in war times. How I disliked them, how glad I was when we could buy shoes ready made. 

          When it was hog-killing time the men dug a large pit and they brought up right near the pit dead wood for a fire and  rocks. Then they would fill this pit nearly full of water, and then roll the rocks that had been heated by this fire into the water, making it hot enough to scald the hogs and usually they were able to take care of about fifteen at a time. All the neighbors would come to help. They would have great fun with each other in the work and broiling the meats to eat. We made sausage but we had no sausage mills in those days, we had mortars and beat it with a pestle. 

          When they first began raising wheat in Pauls Valley, after they had the wheat shocked, they would first cut off the heads, get it in a low pile and drive the oxen around and around on it, then it was taken up and fanned. The husks were removed and the wheat sacked up. The nearest mill to grind the wheat and the corn was what is now Franks, Oklahoma, it was there that Gov. Cyrus Harris built the first mill, after the war. It was built on Mill Creek. It took them days and days to go and come. (Cyrus Harris was the first governor of the Chickasaw Nation in 1856 after the Constitution was written and also was governor from 1866 - 70 after the Civil War.) 

Footnote: The Chickasaws, Arrell M Gibson 

          And one of the things I remember which made such an impression on my mind was the dreadful epidemic of Small-pox. There was two kinds, the Black small-pox, which was usually fatal, and the red small-pox which was a milder form. My brother Sam was on a scouting expedition among the wild tribes and took the small-pox. My father heard of him being sick, and when he located him he was almost dead but he nursed him until he got well, and brought him home. That was the way the small-pox was brought to our family, and we all had it. But we knew how to doctor ourselves and all of the family lived. The plains Indians had caught it by this time too and died in great numbers, some times an entire family died, because there was not one left to wait on the other. They did not understand how to take care of themselves and would go out and take cold. They were buried up and down the river and where the town of Pauls Valley now stands. 

          In the year of 1874 my husband and I moved to the Washita River near White Bead Hill now called White Bead, where we erected a very commodious and comfortable home. We put in a farm of several hundred acres. It was at this home that my husband died. We had six children born to us, four girls and two boys, William Hull, deceased, La Vina Hull Merchant, Jessie Hull, Melville Hull, Lucia Hull, deceased, Flora Hull McSweeney, Bessie Hull Brim. A few years before my husband's death I went to California with a son for his health, but he soon passed away and I returned to Oklahoma. I had learned to like California and did not feel satisfied in my old home without my husband, and I returned to California with one of my daughters and I have made my home there every since, and I am quite contented there as all of my children have come there to live with the exception of one. I cannot say I love California better than my own state and country but I like the milder climate better, and I know that it is best for my health. I will always love to come back as long as I can and visit my relatives and old friends.

          Aunt Sippia and her daughters moved to California near Bakersfield, and unflrtunately we have lost touch with them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


                                               Donald D Gunning

          I got up this morning and suddenly realized that it's father's day, and I can't let it go by without saying something about my father, Don. I called my parents by their first names, Jim and Don, because that's what they called each other. I started imitating them and they just never corrected me. It certainly wasn't because of any lack of respect.   

          There are a lot of things that I could say about my father. He was a great story teller for one. It was he who entertained me with stories when I was little, not my mother - her stories came later. He was kind, and gentle, and patient. I never knew him to lose his temper, and he had plenty of opportunity, especially living with a Paul - my mother. He's always been my role model in that sense, but I've come up short. I guess I'm too much of a Paul myself. 

          My dad was practical, thrifty, and sensible. I don't know how else to say it that would emphasize it more, but watching him over the years, dealing with one situation after another, he was impressive. He and my mother Jim, were both thrifty and practical. They always planned for the future; they never bought anything they couldn't afford, and they discussed the decisions they made, but it was my father who kept his head in a crisis. He was the one who could end a discussion that was at a hopeless impasse with, "Well. It's getting late. We'd better get to bed." 

          Another thing that I admired about my father was that he always had his priorities straight. He always came home in the evenings, helped prepare our supper, and then sat around with us watching Gunsmoke, Rawhide, or whatever else was on TV. He was always ready to play catch with me. When I was in Little League Baseball, he went out and coached. When I joined the Boy Scouts, he went with me on my camping trips.  

          Probably the thing that I miss most about my father, though, was that he was my friend. I felt like I could tell him anything. It was different with my mother. She was  opinionated and very protective of me. She analyzed everything I said and worried that I might be influenced negatively by my friends, or that I was making decisions that might lead me into trouble. I had to be careful in what I said to my mother. On the other hand, my dad may have had the same worries, but he didn't let on. He listened. He encouraged me if he approved of what I thought. He also gave his opinion, but only as an opinion, not as an ultimatum, or as a warning that if I didn't do as he said I was going to "ruin my life," a common theme of my mother's.  

          My father only had one rule in our discussions. It made sense, but as I remember, it came as a surprise to me. One day I was telling my dad about something - I forgot what it was. Probably I was going out with a girl my mother didn't approve of. Anyway, he stopped me, and said, "Robin, now don't tell me anything you don't want your mother to know, because she and I have no secrets from each other." 

          When my father died, my mother was distraught. She cried; she screamed; she asked God why He had taken him away from her; she blamed herself for not insisting that he go into the hospital the day before when his chest pains began. But the two things she said that impressed me most were: "He was my friend. He was always on my side." 

           I felt the same way.    

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Aunt Sippia, Part One

Mississipia Paul Hull

          I have a document written by my great aunt Sippia when she was about eighty years old. I have already quoted from it, but it's better to read it as she wrote it. I'll put in a few notes in parenthesis where I think clarification is essential:

Reminiscences of Mrs Sippia Hull 
July 2nd, 1929

          I was born February 1, 1843, about four of five miles from Fort Arbuckle. I was named for the Chickasaw Chief Juzan's wife. My family lived there until the Civil War broke out. My mother was born in Mississippi, her name was Ah-la-tack Brown, she was a full-blood Chickasaw. She was among one of the first groups to come out here (to Indian Territory) with the Chickasaws between 1834 and 1836 (In the Removal). My father was born in North Carolina, his name was Smith Paul and he was a white man.  
          My mother was a widow with three children in Mississippi when my father married her (I only know of two children: Kathrine and Tecumseh). As a great many others did they settled near Boggy Depot (One of the government supply depots for migrating Indians). Then they moved from Boggy Depot to Fort Arbuckle. Our family consisted of my two brothers, Sam and Jessie Paul, one half sister, Kathrine McClure who married Tom Waite and raised a large family, and one half brother Tecumseh McClure. 
          My father was interested in farming, it was always his desire to go into the farming business on a large scale. 
          Just before the war broke out he had made a trip to this locality (the future Pauls Valley, Oklahoma) and realized that it was a wonderful place for farming. Very soon he had a house built for us, it was of hewed logs. The house was built of single rooms but close together, and then some cabins in the back for the slaves (Some of the Chickasaws had slaves, most had none). These houses while they were crude were comfortable. This first home built in Pauls Valley, was built near to the elm trees, now at the residence of Roy Burks, a great grandson of Smith Paul's first wife, widow McClure, a Chickasaw woman (Sippia is referring here to her mother. Smith Paul married again after Ah-la-tack Brown Paul died in 1870. She was about 74 and he was 61 at the time). When the home was completed he came back to fort Arbuckle and brought his family up.  
          This valley was smooth just a little bit rolling, with grass and thousands of acres without a weed on it. One had only to plow the soil and plant corn. They had such wonderful seasons at that time, the corn just left alone would grow to maturity and yield from thirty to forty bushels to the acre, untouched by cultivation. Before the war my father had about 100 acres in cultivation and he sold corn to the United States Government at Fort Arbuckle and Fort Cobb.  
          When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the friendly Plains Indians came around the locality where my father had his farm. They were the Comanches, Caddos, Apaches, Cheyennes, Osages and I think some Delaware (She names some tribes who raided the Chickasaws. Perhaps some were friendly and some were not). One mixed band located at Cherokee Town, another on my father's farm, a band of Osage across the river, and a band of Caddo Indians under old Lady White Bead, five miles up the river (The leader of the Caddo  was a woman named Salvania. She always wore white beads and traders were told that all trades with the Caddo had to be approved by the woman wearing the white beads), and the government realized that they must do something with and for these Indians, so they appointed my father as an agent, to issue them rations. This was one reason that my father did not have to go to war.  
          During the time that my father was agent over the friendly plains Indians, there were wild Indians from Texas and what is now western Oklahoma, that came into this section of the country killing and robbing people. We were always afraid they were coming to molest us, but they never did. However, they did come near enough at one time to scalp one of the Courtney boys, whose father had a farm on "Courtney Flat." There were times when we would hear they were coming and would hide out in the corn fields and in the woods during the day and night. Although I was just a child, I remember among the officers of Fort Arbuckle was Captain Custer, who was killed in what is called the "Custer Massacre," on Little Bighorn River, in Montana. When the war broke out the Government removed the troops from Fort Arbuckle, taking away the protection of the Indians, so the Chickasaws were compelled through force of circumstances to enlist with the Confederates. (Confederate troops from Arkansas were actually marching in to occupy Indian Territory when most of the Five Civilized Tribes decided to join the Confederacy. Sippia's half brother Tecumseh and half sister Kathrine took their families to Kansas and lived with the Sauk and Fox tribe, which was neutral.) 
          I remember well when the buffalo roamed this country. The friendly Indians always kept us in buffalo meat. The deer, wild turkey, prairie chicken, and quail were in great abundance. There was never any need for us to be without fresh meat.  
          At one time there was a band of Cheyenne attempted a raid on Pauls Valley, in November 1871 (1878). Custer's troops drove them farther west and inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Cheyenne at the Washita, above Chickasha, Indian Territory, killing Black Kettle, their chief, and compelling them to return to their reservations. My brothers, Jesse and Sam Paul enlisted with Custer's troops to aid them in moving the Indians back. A great many of the friendly Indians were with them also. When they returned to Pauls Valley, they celebrated with a scalp dance which continued uninterrupted for three weeks. The news of the scalp dance reached Red River and hundreds of residents of Texas along the river came to witness the celebration. I remember so well seeing the wife of one of the friendly Indian Chiefs wearing Black Kettle's coat home, and I also saw the scalps they brought home. (It's interesting that Aunt Sippia reports that the entire community, including the friendly Indians, considered Black Kettle's band to be outlaws, and they celebrated the massacre of his band. Historians have made a different verdict. See my posts of May 29 and June 7, 2011.)
          After the war was over they got friendly and brought the prisoners in. Part were civilized and others were still on the war path. They had to fight to keep them from the white people. Those they could capture were held for ransom, if they were not killed. (It was common practice for the hostile tribes to capture and hold white people for ransom. They apparently did not take Chickasaw prisoners however. See my post of May 29, 2011.)
To be continued.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Battle of the Washita River, a Contrast

The Battle of the Washita River

          I think it's instructive to contrast the Battle between the Chickasaw militia and the Comanche in 1866 described in my last post (May 29, 2011), with the Battle of the Washita River between the 7th Regiment of the U.S. Army, under Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, and Black Kettle's band of Cheyenne families during the winter of 1868.  

          After the Civil War, Congress voted to create 4 new cavalry regiments to deal with the "Indian Problem." This made sense. The Army had previously been given mainly foot soldiers to face mounted Indian warriors, and they had failed for the most part. George Armstrong Custer volunteered to lead one of these regiments. Custer had been brevetted to the rank of general during the Civil War, but with the downsizing of the army after the war, he had reverted to the rank of captain. His new position as regimental commander gave him the rank of lieutenant colonel.

 George Armstrong Custer

          The government plan of sequestering Indians on reservations in Indian Territory wasn't working. The land had no game; it was unfit for cultivation, and there was no program to assist the Indians in changing their way of life. Several bands of Indian warriors were still actively raiding white settlements.  

          Black Kettle, a chief of the southern Cheyenne, consistently favored peace during his lifetime. He signed the Treaty of Ft. Laramie in 1851, guaranteeing hunting land in the Colorado foothills to the Cheyenne. When gold seekers displaced the Cheyenne from this land, the Cheyenne retaliated by raiding their settlements. Black Kettle, in order to achieve peace, signed the Treaty of Ft. Wise in 1861, agreeing to move his band to southeastern Colorado. The land there was not arable and there were no buffalo, the Cheyenne's main source of meat, and  some of the Cheyenne, dissatisfied with their situation, continued their attacks on whites. When the Colorado Governor, John Evans, issued a proclamation in 1864 that all Indians who did not report to a fort would be attacked, Black Kettle went to Fort Wise. Black Kettle's band was attacked anyway while their warriors were away hunting, and 163 were killed, mainly women and children. This attack was afterwards known as "The Sand Creek Massacre."

Black Kettle

          Even though his wife was seriously injured at Sand Creek, Black Kettle again negotiated with the government, this time agreeing to move his people to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma, to an area just as unsatisfactory as their prior reservation. After this move Black Kettle met again with U. S. agents at Medicine Lodge in 1867, again affirming his desire for peace.  
          In the meantime, General Phillip Sheridan, in command of the new cavalry regiments north of the Arkansas River, declared all Cheyenne and Arapahoe to be hostiles because of continued raids by elements of these tribes, and he planned a campaign against them for the winter of 1868 at their winter campgrounds. In order to protect his people Chief Black Kettle went to General Hazen at Fort Cobb. General Hazen told Black Kettle that he could not protect him, that he would have to deal with General Sheridan himself. Black Kettle met with his chiefs late into the night of November 26, 1868, after returning from his meeting with General Hazen, and his council decided to send a delegation to General Sheridan to sue for peace, but as Black Kettle's council met, Custer's troops were surrounding his village.  
          The next morning Custer attacked, slaughtering men women and children, and taking 53 women and children prisoners to discourage counterattack by the other Indians encamped nearby. 7th Cavalry Scout Ben Clark reported: The Regiment galloped through the teepees… firing indiscriminately, killing men and women alike." One cavalry unit was seen following a group of women and children shooting at them and "killing them without mercy." Lt. Geoffrey Green reported that soldiers made no effort "to prevent hitting women during the attack," and "all warriors who lay wounded in the village…were promptly shot to death." The Cheyenne horses were also shot, and the village was burned.  
          Now let's compare Custer's attack on the village of Black Kettle with the attack by the Chickasaws on the Comanche just two years before. Superficially the battles were similar. Both were surprise attacks on sleeping Indian villages, and both were overwhelming victories by the attackers.  
          On the other hand the differences are striking. First, the provocation for the two attacks were different. The Chickasaw expedition was precipitated by a specific raid by the Comanche, whereas Custer's attack was part of a campaign by the U. S. Army to instill fear in the Indians and to force them to remain on reservations which were inadequate to sustain them. Also Custer attacked Black Kettle's people merely because they were Cheyenne, even though their chief had spent his life trying to achieve peace for his people. The Chickasaw, on the other hand, attacked a specific band of Comanche who had stolen their property.   
          Next, in the battle itself, Custer's men charged into Black Kettle's village and shot men women and children indiscriminately. The Chickasaw militia, on the other hand, fired a volley to arouse the Comanche, and afterward only fired on those who charged their lines. When the Comanche raised a flag of truce, all firing stopped, and the Chickasaw received a Comanche representative to talk terms.  
          Finally Black Kettle's wounded warriors were executed; their horses were shot; their village was burned, and their women and children were taken hostage. The Chickasaw, on the other hand, declared a truce after the Comanche surrendered, allowing the Comanche to treat their wounded and bury their dead. Then the Chickasaw returned home with their cattle. They took no prisoners, and they damaged no Comanche property.  
          The U. S. Army was out to bring the Indian tribes to their knees, no matter how many they had to kill. They gave no thought to providing a means for the Indians to survive; they had no respect for the Indians' treaty rights, their traditions, their very right to existence. They attacked Black Kettle to satisfy the greed of the settlers. The Chickasaw, on the other hand, respected the Comanche as human beings. They only sought to satisfy their legitimate claims against them. 
          So who were the savages, the Chickasaws or the U. S. Army?
          I want to say that I don't believe Lt. Col. Custer or General Sheridan were the villains here. The real villains were the American people. I think that the attitudes and actions of these men were reflections of their times, and if you want to judge a people by their history, you have to answer the above question in favor of the Chickasaws.