Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sam Paul, Part Seven

                                                    Sam Paul

It's been over a month since I left the story of my great grandfather, Sam Paul (See post of Sept 20, 2011). In that post I described some of the misery he put my great grandmother through before he was sent to prison in 1883.  

The Chickasaw legislature petitioned the President of the United States for a pardon for Sam Paul, and on March 17, 1884, it was granted, on the grounds that he had committed the offense "while endeavoring as an officer of the United States and of the Territory, to enforce the law", and " that a conviction in this case tends to impair the efficiency of the Indian Police, and that a pardon would be in the interest of law and order." 
(National Archives: Presidential Pardon, March 17, 1884) 

Sam had been in prison for two years, one year of which was spent in the Ft. Smith jail, under the most deplorable conditions imaginable. Although he must have been in a weakened condition both physically and emotionally, he wasted no time in getting back into action. The first thing that he did was to divorce my great grandmother Sarah, believing she had an affair with his co-defendant Jim Ross. He then reclaimed his two sons, my grandfather Bill and his older brother Buck, and wrote a will making them his sole heirs. They were 14 and 16 at the time, and up to that point had been attending a subscription school in Smith Pauls Valley where Bill met my grandmother. Sam's older son Joe was out on his own and Sam's daughter Hattie Jane was still a baby and was being raised by her aunt Juliana according to my great grandmother Sarah's plan to hide her from her father. (see post of Sept. 24, 2011, Hattie Jane's Story, Part One). 

Federal Marshall James Mershon reported that he was unable to locate assets to pay the $500 fine assessed as a part of Sam Paul's murder sentence, but Sam didn't seem to have any financial problems after his release. He moved right back into his old house, complete with tenant farmers to provide an income; he sent his boys to boarding school, and he found himself another wife, Jennie Tolbert. Then he decided to go into politics.  

During Sam Paul's two years in prison, the Chickasaw Nation had changed. A bitter rivalry had grown up between the two political parties, the Progressives and the Nationals or "Pull-backs." The Progressive Party consisted mainly of mixed blood Chickasaws and intermarried white citizens, and the National Party represented the full bloods. Their goals had always been the same, to preserve the Chickasaw way of life and to protect tribal property. Their only difference had been in how to achieve these goals, but the coming of the railroad changed all that.  

One of the concessions required of the Indian nations after the Civil War was to allow railways to be constructed across Indian Territory. The first was the Katy which was built across the southeastern part of the Chickasaw Nation in 1872. The railroads improved trade, especially in cotton, and white businessmen, professionals, craftsmen, shopkeepers and laborers migrated into the territory, expanding the small Chickasaw settlements on the line into bustling towns, dominated by whites. These changes were generally welcomed by the whites and by mixed bloods but feared by the full bloods. They had lost their homeland once before, and they were determined not to let it happen again.  
(The Chickasaws, by Arrell Gibson. P 252.) 

Sam Paul and his older half brother Tecumseh McClure came down on opposite sides of the railroad issue. Sam had been born in Indian Territory. He had grown up in a community integrated with whites, and he viewed their influence as beneficial. Tecumseh on the other hand had spent his childhood in the Chickasaws' Mississippi homeland, and he had been on the Trail of Tears. When the Civil War broke out, he had taken his family to Kansas where they joined the Sauk and Fox tribe in refusing to take sides in the white man's war. In the book, Leaders and Leading men of Indian Territory published in 1891, he is described as a "great hunter" in the process of reserving some of the land under his control as a deer park, to preserve some of Indian Territory's pristine forest. 
(Leaders and Leading Men of Indian Territory, by Harry F. O'Beirne. P 308.) 

In 1886 the railroad issue came to a head. The Chickasaw Governor William Guy, a Progressive, negotiated an agreement with the Santa Fe Railroad to build a line right through the heart of the Chickasaw Nation. Guy felt that he had no alternative, but the Pull-backs blamed him for giving in. By this time both Sam Paul and Tecumseh McClure were in the Chickasaw Senate. Tecumseh was its president.  

                                           William Malcolm Guy

The route of the proposed rail line went right by the little town of Smith Pauls Valley, so for the two brothers the issue was personal. Also the company wanted to locate a terminal there. Tecumseh, who controlled the land, knew that the railroad would transform the small mostly Indian community into a bustling trade center controlled by whites, so he refused to cede the land.   

On hearing this, Sam Paul went to the railroad and offered to allow a terminal to be placed  just a mile and a half to the south on his land, and he offered the shop owners in the old town free lots in the new location. Santa Fe accepted Sam Paul's offer, and the town was moved to his land, it's name shortened to "Pauls Valley" because the longer name could not fit on the railroad's sign.   

In the governor's race of 1888 Governor Guy faced strong opposition in William Byrd, the Pull-back candidate. Byrd had only one thirty second degree of Indian blood, but he was a sincere supporter of Chickasaw tradition and an opponent of the railroad. Under Tecumseh's leadership the Pullback dominated legislature had passed a law the previous year disenfranchising intermarried white citizens. This seriously weakened the Progressive party, but when the votes were counted Guy was still the winner. Surprised and frustrated, the legislature challenged and then threw out the votes in predominantly white counties, throwing the election to Byrd. 

Infuriated by this action, Sam Paul led 200 armed supporters into the capitol where the legislature was meeting. Standing before the terrified legislators he declared: "Though we have to wade waist deep in blood to accomplish it, Guy shall this day take his seat as governor." 
(Leaders and Leading Men of Indian Territory, by Harry F. OBeirne. P 282) 

After Sam Paul's show of force, Guy temporarily moved back into the Governor's office, but he barely escaped an assassination attempt on his way home that evening and decided not to push his luck by returning the next day. The decision on whether or not to accept the disputed votes was then referred for arbitration to the federal agent to the Five Civilized Tribes, Robert L. Owens. Owens decided in favor of the Pull-backs, and Byrd was installed as Governor. 

                                            William Leander Byrd

The Progressives then met and selected Sam Paul as their leader and next candidate for Governor, and sent him off to Washington to present the Progressive case to Congress.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


In last week's blog, my cousin Jim Phillips mentions that his great grandfather was killed by a white man as he was trying to return to his land after the federal allotment process. This was a terrible tragedy but it wasn't the only time that an Indian was murdered for his land. Almost every family has a story about some sort of conflict with the white man over land. A white guardian was appointed for my grandfather and his brother after their father's death, even though their mother was alive and even though they had many other Chickasaw relatives. By the time they had come of age, the guardian had spent all of their father's money. 

My mother told me that my grandmother always hated one of their neighbors who had married a Chickasaw woman to get Chickasaw citizenship rights. He left her the night of their marriage, and then settled on Indian land. Later he married a white woman.  

There were many abuses of Native Americans around the turn of the nineteenth century. There is certainly nothing unique about the suffering of the Indians in Oklahoma, and I can only touch on a few examples of their struggles. Anyone interested in learning more should read And Still the Waters Run, by Angie Debo. It is the definitive work on the subject. The book is a methodical catalogue of abuses, written in a scholarly, non-sensational way, but even so Ms. Debo was turned down by publishers in the State of Oklahoma. It was ten years before her landmark report was finally published by the Princeton University Press.

After being forced to leave their ancestral homes in the American Southeast, the Five Civilized Tribes settled in Indian Territory, later to become the state of Oklahoma. They settled the land, thought to be worthless at the time, and set up their own governments. The Indian nations' governments were loosely patterned after that of the United States, but each tribe preserved some of their own customs. One custom common to all was the communal ownership of land. Land could be used by any tribal member, as much as he wanted, but at the time of his death, ownership reverted to the tribe.

As it turned out, the land in Indian Territory wasn’t useless after all. There was much fertile farm land, as well as timber and mineral resources, so white men streamed into the Territory, and soon they outnumbered the Native Americans. The Indian governments hospitably passed laws to allow these non-citizens to live and work in the Territory for a nominal fee. Those who married Indian citizens were even adopted into the tribes.

These attempts at accommodation by the Indian governments, led to further problems though. The Indian courts had no jurisdiction over non-citizens, and soon the growing white population was demanding the right to have a voice in the tribal governments. Many Native American citizens, among them my great uncle Tecumseh, favored denying voting rights to whites, even those married to Chickasaws, but my great grandfather Sam Paul disagreed with his half brother, believing that the Indian Nations needed to incorporate whites into their governments in order to survive. (See Sam Paul's Prophesy in the previous post) This conflict led to Sam Paul's death, as I'll explain later.  

In the mean time, the U.S. Government wasn't willing to wait for the Indian nations to find a solution on their own, and in 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act, which authorized the President to negotiate with tribal governments to assign to tribal members individual allotments, and to make them American citizens. This of course was aimed at dissolving the tribal governments, violating the treaties which the Indians had signed only fifty years before, promising them the land for "as long as the grass grows or the water runs.@
(Indian Removal, by Grant Foreman. P 193)

This would in effect turn the government of the Territory over to whites, since they were in the majority, and create surplus of land for more white settlers. It also provided a solution to the problem the U.S. Government had created for itself during the early 1800's when they confined the "Plains Indians" to reservations. The fate of these Indian tribes is another story, but by the late 19th century these tribes, having no way to support themselves, were starving, and their support was taking a big bite out of the federal budget. Giving them allotments wouldn't relieve the Indians' poverty of course, but it would give the government an excuse to cut off their support.  

But I should get back to the Chickasaws and the other Five Civilized Tribes.

The tribal governments resisted the allotment process. They refused to talk to the Commissioners. They held referendums and voted overwhelmingly against allotment, but the U.S. Government was determined. In 1897 Congress went ahead with the Curtis Act, which abolished the governments of the Five Civilized Tribes and forced the Indians to accept allotments.  

As I've tried to explain before, the Indians had a deep aversion to individual ownership of land. They believed that the land should be free for all to use, like air and water, so when the Dawes Commissioners came to the area and set up camps and to compile rolls to be used to allot land, the Indians simply refused to come in. That's what Jim's great grandfather did. He didn't trust or respect the white man's laws, and he felt that it was morally wrong to own the land.  

This happened to countless Indians. Those like my grandfather, who had been more acculturated into the white society, cooperated and tried to convince his family and friends to do likewise, but many Indians, often the ones in the most need, were not included on the rolls. Many like my grandfather tried to convince their brothers and sisters of the futility of resisting. Alex Posey, the Creek poet, was drowned while attempting to cross a swollen stream on the way to visit a family to convince them to sign the rolls.

                                                Alexander Posey

Conservative members of each tribe banded together to resist the abolishment of their governments. The Cherokees formed the Nighthawk Society. The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee and Creek irreconcilables formed the Four Mothers Society, which at one time had 25,000 members. They hired attorneys and sent representatives to Washington, but to no avail. 

Perhaps the most determined resistance came from the Creek Nation under the leadership of Chitto Harjo, or "Crazy Snake." Harjo had in his youth been a Union loyalist, and a follower of the great Creek warrior Opothleyahola (see post of 11/21/10, Creek Removal). He lived alone in a small cabin, cultivating a small plot of land and hunting for his meat. He served his community by sharpening plowshares and operating a small forge where he fashioned silver ornaments. When the official Creek government signed the allotment treaty, Harjo called a meeting of his followers and voted to depose Pleasant Porter, the current chief. The traditionalists proceded to form an alternate tribal government with Harjo as chief. They adopted laws against taking allotments, and against renting to or hiring non-citizens, and then they proceded to arrest transgressors. Several tribal members were sentenced to whipping. Harjo's police also confiscated allotment certificates.

                                       Chitto Harjo, "Crazy Snake"

Harjo has been portrayed as an eccentric man with radical beliefs, but he was basically fighting to his tribe's rights to remain independent under the terms of their Removal treaties. He was intelligent and eloquent. 

The following is an excerpt from one of Harjo's speeches in which he illustrated the conflict between whites and Indians as an argument between two individuals:  

He told me that as long as the sun shone and the sky is up yonder these agreements will be kept …. He said as long as the sun rises it shall last; as long as the waters run it shall last; as long as the grass grows it shall last …. He said 'just as long as you see light here, just as long as you see this light glimmering over us, shall these agreements be kept, and not until these things cease and pass away shall our agreement pass away.' That is what he said, and we believed it …. We have kept every turn of that agreement. The grass is growing, the waters run, the sun shines, the light is with us, and the agreement is with us yet, for the God that is above us all witnessed that agreement. 

(And Still the Waters Run, by Angie Debo, P 55.) 

Several of Harjo's followers were arrested, and released after promising to cooperate with the allotment process, but not before the movement had spread to other tribes. Conservative members of each tribe refused to accept allotment certificates, mailing them back when they came in the mail. Although in poverty, many also returned annuity checks. 

With the help of some of the more educated tribal leaders, conservatives from the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek tribes finally came up with a plan to accept their allotments and then sell them and buy land in Mexico where they could establish their own community and be free to follow their traditions. The only obstacle in the way of the movement was the rule included in the allotment treaties that prohibited the alienation (selling) of their allotments, usually for twenty years.  

Jacob Jackson, a full blood Choctaw, wrote a letter to Congress in behalf of the Choctaw and Chickasaw conservatives. This is an excerpt: 

Surely a race of people, desiring to preserve the integrity of that race, who love it by reason of its traditions and their common ancestors and blood, who are proud of the fact that they belong to it, may be permitted to protect themselves, if in no other way but emigration. Our educated people inform us that the white man came to this country to avoid conditions which to him were to him not as bad as the present conditions are to us; that he went across the great ocean and sought new homes in order to avoid things which to him were distasteful and wrong. All we ask is that we may be permitted to exercise the same privilege. We do not ask any aid from the Government of the United States in so doing. We do ask that we may be permitted, in a proper way, by protecting our own, to dispose of that which the government says is ours, and which has been given us over our protest against the distribution, to the end that another home may be furnished, and another nation established…. 

We believe that the great father of all men created the Indian to fill a proper place in this world. That as an Indian he had certain rights, among which is the right to exist as a race, and that in the protection of that right, it is our belief that we are fulfilling the purpose of the Divine Creator of mankind.

(And Still the Waters Run, by Angie Debo, P 59.)  

Jackson's eloquent appeal was received by the Senators with ridicule. The Four Mothers' Society continued to exist well into the twentieth century although they were never able to establish a colony in Mexico. Its members refused to accept allotments or payments from the U.S. Government. Some continued to live on what had been their tribal land and were eventually evicted, jailed, or murdered, as in the case of Jim's great grandfather.  

These people are my heroes. They defended their culture and traditions with courage and dignity, and what eloquence! They certainly left a legacy that should make us, their descendants, proud. It is the stuff of legend.  

Chitto Harjo or Crazy Snake died in 1911. He lived in hiding for the last two years of his life. Some say it was the "Little People" who sustained him.
(See post, Chickasaw Culture and Beliefs, Oct. 18, 2010)   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hattie Jane, Part Three

My Father, Sam Paul the Politician

                                                         Sam Paul

As told to her great grandson, Dr James Phillips,

            My name is Jim Phillips, great great grandson of Samuel Ikard Paul. My great grandmother used to love to tell me stories about her father and brothers Buck and Willie Paul. 

             These are her words through her eyes. You must remember of all the people and newspaper articles written about my family, that my great grandmother was an eyewitness to almost everything that happened among her family from March 2, 1883 forward. Many of the stories written in newspapers and by people that wrote the stories down years later were second and third hand witnesses. Hattie Jane Paul was there and saw much of the action actually take place, or heard the stories from eyewitnesses to these events. Every story that Grams told me, no matter how fantastic it sounded, turned out to be very historically accurate. Many times Grams would say, "Jimmy, if you get the court records you will see that I told you the truth." As I quote Grams, I will try to write as she spoke to me. The misspellings are intentional. 

Grams would say:  

My father was a politician among the Chickasaw people. He was a lawman and senator, and he ran for governor of the whole nation and he won it too, but they counted out his voters votes. I never saw a man with more nerves of steel than my father Sam Paul. He would stand up at public open air meetins and speak in a load voice. It took a person with a strong voice to address a crowd back in those days before mikerphones were invented.  

He spoke at every opportunity. People used to have all kinds of meetins before radio came out. That was entertainment. Everybody went to church just to have somethin to do. When Sam Paul started to speak everybody listened, his friends and his enemies. 

His enemies would sometimes pull out their pistols and go to work tryin to kill him. Someone would disarm them, and he would go on speakin just like nuthin happened. Some people thought he made a lot of sense, but his ideers were so different than most of the ol time Indians that he made a lot of enemies. My uncle Tecumseh was a politician too. Most of the ol time Indians liked Kump a lot more than my dad. My father would get up and make a speech then sometimes Tecumseh would get up and speak before or afterwards. Nobody ever shot at Tecumseh as far as I member. 

Sam Paul was fearless one time he went right into the enemy camp of ol Byrd and gave a speech standin in his fancy drivin rig while him and his people had guns on the opposin parties. My father spoke to them, and I think some later even went over to his side. Jimmy, that was dangerous business back then, goin like he did right into that camp of full bloods and apreechin his side of the argument an getting out of there alive. 

My Father always carried a smaller pistol under his coat. It was a 3220. He was never unarmed. It was dangerous business just walkin down the streets in those days. When my father Sam Paul went out on his law man business he carried a big colts 45 a Winchester rifle or more  likely that big ol 12 gauge lever action Winchester shotgun. It looked just like a rifle, but it was real big. 

In the territory them outlaws were as afraid of Sam Paul as they were the plague or small pox. He was deadly business to them ol boys. When he said, 'this is marshal Sam Paul. Yur under arrest.' They were already whupped most of the time. If they resisted, the shootin was on, and I mean in a hurry.  

Oh, how I wish Grams could have seen the real contributions that her father tried to make. Sam Paul had reached a terrible low in his life with drunkenness and womanizing, but I truly believe that the last eight years or so in his life, that he lived his life for his people. He lived those last years of his life to try to secure a future for all Indian tribes in what was Indian Territory. He spoke to each Indian tribe in their own language to explain to them without an interpreter their options for a more secure future. (Mike Tower in his foot notes, in the Outlaw Statesman,  states that Sam Paul knew 17 different Indian languages.) 

The white settlers were coming into Indian Territory by the thousands and they had the best politicians in Washington D.C. that money could buy. If the Indian people were to survive they had better learn how to deal with the white population on their own grounds. If you can’t beat them, you had better learn how to join them. Sam Paul was ahead of all the thinkers of his time. He was visionary. We know that now, but it got him classified as a traitor in the eyes of the full bloods back in his time.  

Sam Paul had the nerve to stand nearly alone and fight unbelievable odds to protect the rights of others not looking to take an advantage for himself. It states in a book written about those times, Leaders and Leading Men of the Indian Territory, by Harry F. O'Beirne:  

Mr. Paul has ever been a staunch friend to the white man. His father was a white man, and for no motives of self-interest to gain the favor of his people could he be induced to be-little the blood inherited through his father. This of itself is a noble quality, and will cover many imperfections,”------“As the leader of the progressive party in the Chickasaw Nation, all eyes are now turned in his direction, while he, himself, bent on restoring the white citizens to their original status, is at the time of this writing making preparations for a trip to the United states Capitol. Much depends on the result of his mission.  

The white citizens spoken of here represent the intermarried white citizens such as his own father Smith Paul. Sam Paul actually won his bid to be governor of the Chickasaw nation but all of the intermarried white citizens votes were disfranchised or counted out. These people were Chickasaws by marriage. Their votes had counted all the way back to Mississippi but now Byrd’s group changed all of that. 

My family on nearly every side was Native American. They had all suffered greatly from the greed of people willing to look over right and wrong and to simply get what they could get in total disregard of moral character.  

The Indian Removal Act had devastated every civilized tribe. All had their Trail of Tears. The Chickasaws, Ojibway, Sioux ,  and, Cherokees, were my ancestral people. All of them had come to Indian Territory to make a new start, where no one would ever try to take their homelands away from them again. The Chickasaw and Cherokee side of my family had treaties guaranteeing this.  

In Mississippi alone the Chickasaw’s lost plantations, beautiful homes , towns schools, and colleges, and their government buildings, and their council houses. These were whole nations that had been displaced The Chickasaw nation can be traced as far back as 1539-40 When Hernando De Soto lived among them during that winter then in the spring he tried to make slaves out of the men using them for bearers and guides. The Chickasaws revolted whipped his socks off scattered his hogs , which became the wild hogs in the south starting out in Mississippi and spreading to the other states. These hogs had been De Soto’s portable food supply brought from Spain. These peoples complete holdings as nations were stolen from them because someone else wanted their plantations, homes and schools. 

The Cherokee side of my family were forced to walk off and leave complete towns, working plantations, schools, colleges, a whole and complete nation was forced out of their native lands that they had occupied for hundreds of years.  

Both nations the Chickasaws and Cherokees had fought wars side by side with the United States government against opposing foes but this same nation wanted their lands and holdings.  

We hear so much about making foreign governments into democracies today, giving their people the right to vote and build their own autonomous democracies planning and developing their own futures. These Indian Nations were all democracies. They ruled themselves they had elections and everyone voted. Their schools were not segregated Women had the right to own property, to be educated and to vote. Intermarriage was fully accepted. Not only was intermarriage between races accepted but anyone who married into a tribe was adopted and many times became a leader or chief. .Whites and blacks were both accepted into the tribes as equal citizens. It did not take and act of congress or an amendment to the constitution to enforce it either. It took the United States Government  over two hundred  years,  a civil war, several acts of congress, constitutional amendments, and so called race riots to reach this same high state civilization and freedom for each individual in their nation that existed two hundred years ago in these so called heathen democracies.  

These Indian nations were complete autonomous entities. All these nations were caused to relocate  on their separate trails of tears into what was to be Indian Territory or  Indianola, as some called it. In this new land they would separately reestablish their autonomous nations and democracies. In this new land they were to live out their separate futures guaranteed forever their separate democratic autonomous governments.  

These 5 civilized nations held perpetual treaties drawn up by the U. S. government and the separate nations were to last forever or as long as the wind would blow the rain would fall and the waters ran. 

My great great great grandfather Smith Paul and great great great grandmother Elateecha lived through the Chickasaw trail of tears, many did not. 

They had carved out a new home and had become prosperous in this new land. 

Then came the Civil war and many in  the civilized tribes supported the Confederate States of America. After the Civil War the United States decided to punish the Indian nations for backing the South and confiscated half of Indian Territory  from them for being rebels. Not all of each tribe were Southern sympathizers. Many Indian men fought on the side of the Union, but the U. S. made a good excuse for getting a lot more land free of charge. 

Then came the Dawes Act.  

In 1905 my Cherokee great grandfather John Wilburn was killed over the Dawes act. He had refused to sign a new treaty. His farm and home was taken from his family and sold to a new white man and he, John Wilburn, was killed while driving his cattle to his own pasture He was killed as a trespasser on his own land in the sight of all of his children and wife. He had become an enemy of the state. Many full bloods from all the Indian nations would not sign this new treaty and nearly all of their lands were stolen from them. Many were killed protesting this new treaty. Even their orphaned children had their property stolen from them as guardians were appointed for them as protectors under the guise of progress. 

My great grandfather Harry Stewart of Ojibwa, and Sioux heritage had told his wife Hattie Jane  and their children, ”Don’t ever speak the Indian language. Don’t tell anyone you are Indian or related to the Pauls. What we have we will be able to keep. If they find out you are Indian, you will not be able to keep what you have worked a slaved for all of your lives”.

My family had left Oklahoma to come out to California to be mistaken for the white emigrants. To buy homes and businesses once again and to be able to hold onto what they would work for and build. 

 Now you can see why my great grandmother Hattie was criticized for not laying down her heritage. The Pauls were her family. The picture of that little half Indian and black child was her brother and she loved him. He was her blood kin and her family. Mattie, Sammie, Black Willie, Willie Hiram and Buck were her family and she would not forget them or abandon her love for them. She had absolutely no prejudice what so ever toward any race of people not even the whites that had abused her people so much.  

Grams instilled these same principles in me. When she looked at a man or woman she did not see color or skin pigment she saw another human being. She must have inherited this trait from her grandfather Smith Paul. 

This Dawes Act the last major catastrophe is what Sam Paul saw as the Indian people’s last stand. To survive the Indian people had to circumvent the Dawes Act and start their own Allotments before the U.S. government could get involved.  

Sam Paul died trying to lead his people ahead of the enemy to out think them and outmaneuver them. 

In 1999 Sam Paul was added to the Chickasaw Hall of Fame, 108 years after he was politically assassinated by his own son, and 34 years after Grams died. Oh how she would have been proud of her father. 

In 1965 my great grandmother Hattie Jane Paul Stewart Russell died loving all her family, having never abandoned her heritage or the love for her brothers and sisters.  

I have heard many negative things about my great great grandfather Samuel Ikard Paul and I know that many of those things were true. At times he was a violent man, he was at times vicious in carrying out warrants for law enforcement. But Grams said he loved animals and that he was very gracious and kind to people. He was always ready to give them a helping hand. He was willing to help a man start out in business or to make a loan to the needy. These are the more important things that I now remember about him.  They are the things that last. These are the acts that placed him in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.  

It has been reported the much of the story of the wild and reckless character of Rooster Gogburn was partially made up of Sam Paul’s real life and arrest episodes. 

Sam Paul’s trials were so famous in Fort Smith Arkansas that, Jon Wright guide of The Fort Smith National Historical site, told me that they were going to do reenactments of his trials in their night court episodes.  

To the American public John Wayne who played Rooster Gogburn was America’s hero. He was the frontier marshal taking the law in his hands as jury judge and executioner.  

My great great grandfather Sam Paul was my hero.  I have taken the bad with the good and I smile as I say that was my grandpa. 

What you don’t hear often is how that later in his life Sam Paul lectured on strong family values and morality. He said that these values would build and strengthen the Chickasaw Nation. Sam Paul must have said strong Chickasaw homes will build a strong Chickasaw Nation. 

As you had read in the other blogs my family came out here to California and lived in a state of poverty that many people could not even imagine. Some had fallen into depths of alcoholism but most of them survived.  

It took my family a whole generation to settle down out here in California, but Smith Paul and Elateecha’s descendants through Sam Paul became businessmen military heroes, soldiers, firemen, artists, educators, workers, ministers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, law officers, doctors, and assets to their communities. Some failed but most succeeded. Those strong Scottish and Chickasaw genes still run in the veins of many descendants from coast to coast.

End Note by Robin Gunning:

Sam Paul was one of the few Chickasaws who envisioned a union between Indian and white man. He wrote this prophesy in 1891, 16 years before Oklahoma Statehood:

The shadow of an Indian Star is already among the galaxy upon the national flag...The beginning of the end is here. The State of Oklahoma, if such it will be called, will include the old bounds of the Indian Territory. No state west of the Mississippi will surpass it in the extent and variety of its resources and general prosperity of its all the resources that go to make a great commonwealth, the new state will be complete. Men of Indian blood will sit beside their white brethren in the councils of state and assist in the administration of government; their interest mutual. The races will be blended as one. The Indian problem will no longer cry for solution. Civilization will have broken down the last barrier raised to retard her irresistible march. Our hills and valleys will teem with industry and thrift and our streams turn the wheels of manufactories. Important trade centers will spring up along the old cattle trails and stage roads...I have given you no fancy sketch. The time is not far off.

Sam Paul left the State of Oklahoma as his legacy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The First Chickasaw Princess

    Lahoma Willingham Crowned Chickasaw Princess

                 by Governor Floyd Maytubby, 1942

Every year about this time I get an urge to write a letter to the editor of the Chickasaw Times, because every year about this time the Times publishes a special edition about the candidates for Chickasaw Princess, and there's always an article about how the first Princess was appointed in 1963. But I know differently.

Way back in 1943 my cousin Lahoma Willingham was appointed Chickasaw Princess. She was twelve years old that year. For several years she appeared at Native American and other civic functions around the state representing the Chickasaw Nation. She attended the Indian Exposition at Anadarko as Chickasaw Princess as late as 1948.

                       Taken from American Indian Exposition Program, 1948

Lahoma was a talented dancer. She performed before the India-Okla Club, an organization of Indian leaders in 1940, even before she was appointed Princess, dancing on the same program with Yvonne Chouteau, the famous Shawnee ballerina, and she later went on to become a professional dancer. Lahoma was not only talented and strikingly beautiful though, she was a sweet, thoughtful person, and that is why she was appointed Princess. This is her story: 

Back in November of 1941 the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese air force in what was probably the worst defeat in American Naval History. The attack struck fear in the hearts of Americans, just as the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 did to our generation, probably more so. The attack on Pearl Harbor was especially devastating to my mother and father because my Uncle Everett was on the crew of the Battleship Oklahoma which was sunk during the attack.  

At the time of the bombing my Cousin Lahoma and her mother, my Aunt Kaliteyo, lived just a few blocks from my parents' apartment in Oklahoma City. Lahoma was 10 years old at the time, and she attended Harding Junior High School. Every day after school she would come by and visit my mother and father - I hadn't been born yet. "Lahoma was always cheerful," my mother told me. "She would come by every day and try to give us hope that Everett had survived."

                                        Lahoma and Aunt Kaliteyo, 1942

Christmas came soon after Pearl Harbor, but my parents were too worried to think of celebrating. One day little Lahoma came in and said, "You need some Christmas decorations," and she went right out to the five and dime store and spent her savings on some tinsel and ornaments to decorate my parents' little apartment.

It was January before my Uncle Everett was able to get word to the family that he had survived the attack. My parents thanked God that he was still alive, and they thanked Lahoma for helping them get through the weeks of suspense.

My mother, J. Wenonah Paul Gunning, wanted to do something special for "Little L" as she called Lahoma, so she called our cousin, Floyd Maytubby, then the Chickasaw Governor, and asked him to consider appointing Lahoma Chickasaw Princess. He did, and she was crowned at the American Indian Exposition at Anadarko, in 1943.

My cousin Lahoma died tragically in 1966, leaving behind her husband Jules Fritt, her two sons Michael and Paul Fritt, and her mother Kaliteyo Willingham. I'm not really sure that Lahoma was the first of the Chickasaw Princesses, but I think her story should be included in their legacy.

                                                  Lahoma Willingham in 1945

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hattie Jane, Part Two

Hattie Jane's Story, as told to her great grandson, Dr James Phillips

                                            James and His Wife Marilyn 
            My name is Jim Phillips, great great grandson of Sam Paul and Sarah Jane Lambert. 

            I had always lived near my great grandmother Hattie Jane. I called her Grams. My grandmother Dottie Opal Stewart Wilburn I called Momma. Grams was like my grandmother, and my grandmother Dottie was like my mother. My father was killed when I was two years old, and I had always slept in the bed with my Grandmother Dottie and grandfather Charlie Wilburn. My grandfather was Cherokee, tall about 6’2”, but a bent man because of sickness. He weighed about 140 Lbs. His lungs were greatly damaged in WWI, and even though he was only in his forties by his fifties he was an old man.

                                             Dottie and Charlie Wilburn

             My grandmother Dottie always watched after her mother Hattie. When she was sick she took care of her, and even when my grandmother was a young child she took care of all of her brothers and sisters and her mother.

            Dottie only went to school one year and that was the third grade. She only knew how to write in cursive. She taught me how to write in cursive before I ever went to school. Dottie was a great musician and vocalist. She could play a lot of musical instruments and the piano. If she heard a song one time she could sing and play it on and instrument.

            My grandparents taught me honesty. We lived a hard life but their word was iron. Their word meant everything to them. They would not lie for any reason, not for life or death. They would have died before they cheated a man out of a payment that they owed or break their given word.  

            In Oklahoma my grandfather was a bootlegger. That may sound funny these days being a bootlegger and honest. These people were Indians and they knew that just not everything this white government did was on the up and up. Every family heirloom I have handed down to me was bought with whiskey. A Remington 22 rifle, a 7 jewel Elgin pocket watch, and a steel skillet are the priceless family heirlooms. The watch is now lost. My grandfather was too sick to work but my grandmother worked in the fields as a field hand, for the railroad as an oiler, and did painting and household repair. She also cleaned houses and did laundry and ironing.

            My grandma and grandfather were very frugal. When they came to California they lived in tents in an Okie village they called Little Oklahoma, A lot of the country and western singers that would become stars lived in that village also.   

          It wasn’t long till my grandfather and mother had bought an acre of ground and built a little shack on it we called home. Our little shack did not even have a door, just a tarp flap over where a door should have been. We couldn’t find a piece of wood large enough for a door. The shack was about 10 ft by 12 ft put together out of wood that someone had thrown into the canal behind our shack. We had a wood stove to cook on to the right side of the shack a little closet built onto the right rear of the room and a bed to the left rear. A little table with a couple of boxes worked for chairs. We did not have electricity or running water. Our running water was in the canal ditch that ran by our house.

        This is me at about age ten with my pet chicken, Hoppy, in front of our shack

          Because we did not have an ice box we had no way to keep our beans cold or store them. When we came in from work in the summer time near Bakersfield, California where it gets above 110 degrees every day, the bean pot would just be boiling with fermentation. Grandma had to build a fire under the bean pot and make the beansboil for at least a half hour before we could eat them. Grandma Dottie would always throw in a pinch of baking soda. Grandma said that would keep us from getting a belly ache. (food Poisoning). We could only afford to eat beans, and we could not take the time to cook a fresh pot of beans everyday. It took too long and we had to work too many hours.  

          Of course we had two hole out house, which served for a garbage pit and restroom (Nowadays people dig up old out houses to find all kinds of treasures that fell down the hole). It was a major job to dig a new hole and to move the outhouse about every six months. 

After we had our shack and outhouse built, Grams (Hattie) came with her second husband Roscoe, and moved on the front of the property in a little blue and silver trailer.

                                                  Grams and Roscoe Russell

I spent a lot of time with Grams and Roscoe, Roscoe was my step great grandfather, He was good to me and I loved him, but I just never did call him grandpa.  The Russells, Corleys, Lamberts, and Pauls were all related, and Grams told me they were all part Indian. The Russells were Chickahomony from Virginia, and the Corleys were from Virginia also (there are some Corleys on the Chickasaw rolls). I don’t know exactly what kind of Indian the Lamberts were, but Grams said they were Indian also. They could have been Chickasaw, but I don’t know for sure. Some things are foggy after all these years.

My mother moved into a house next door with my Dad, but I lived with my grandparents even when my father was still alive. My great uncles and aunts all threw up little dwellings here and there. We had a regular old time Indian village erected in no time at all. 

My mother worked with my father James Phillips in used car lots and fruit stands and a gas station that they ran. I lived with Grandma and Grams.

Faye and James Phillips, my parents, in front of their service station and fruit stand, early '40's

Grams dipped Garrett snuff and always told me when I grew up that if I should use a little snuff I would never get worms or hemorrhoids. She was really serious about that. I took all the old Indian remedies whether I was sick or not, just like in the old days they used to say.

In this setting I got to hear all kinds of stories from Grams. My grandmother and Grams always did their laundry on a rub board and heated their water outside. Grams and Grandma would talk Chickasaw when no one else was around. They would just jabber away and I couldn’t understand a word that they were saying. I asked my grandmother what language that she was speaking and she would say Indian. She would not teach me how to speak Indian because my grandpa Charlie and Roscoe did not approve of it.

When one of us had something to eat everybody ate. Gram’s was a great cook cooking all types of Indian foods from the old days as they said. We ate rabbits, fish an occasional deer or bear, and crawdads that my uncles caught or killed. Grams always cooked outside when she lived in her trailer. Later she moved in next door and she had a regular stove and she cooked some things in the oven. In those days they threw away sheep heads and cow heads goat heads and hog heads, it seems that she always had one of them in the oven. She cooked chicken heads and chicken feet and chitlins from chickens and all the animal guts she could get.

When I stayed with grams she would tell me stories of her family when Roscoe was not around. Roscoe called Grams a black footed gut eater. Her sons would talk down to her in the same way and call her The Indian Sqaw or Jim Crow because she had some black brothers and sisters from Sam Paul’s Illegitimate Negro girlfriends. Grams had a picture of one of them which I now have.

Sam Paul's Negro children, Willie and baby (name unknown)

Grams, in spite of all of this degradation because of being Sam Paul’s daughter and an Indian, loved and cared for her children. I never saw her have a single conversation with anyone in the family but my grandmother Dottie and myself.

I will begin to tell you some of these stories in her words and through her eyes.

Hattie Jane's memories:

                                                 Jason and Ellen McClure

A few times in the early days of my life a dog would come up in the yard foaming at the mouth and Grams would take me in her little trailer and tell me about mad dogs with hydrophobia.  

She would say:   

Jimmy, my grandma’s first husband died of hydrophobia. You’ve got to stay away from them mad dogs and shoot 'um if you can and burn 'um plum up to kill the disease. My grandma's first husband was bit by a mad dog and he sent for his friend (This must have been Smith Paul, her grandfather), to look for a madstone to save his life. A mad stone could not be found anywhere. Our people had to leave our country back east so fast that many important medicines were left behind or lost on the trail on the way to Indian Territory.  

A madstone was the only known  cure for rabies in the early history of man. American Indians used them and passed this knowledge down to many old time white doctors that used folk medicines. Even in Europe and the Middle East madstones were used to cure rabid bites from animals and snake bites. To learn more about madstones go to Google and look up the “Lee Penny a madstone” you can learn much about the use of madstones for medical cures and their legitimate place in documented cures for hundreds of years in ancient medicine.  

Back to Hattie's story:  

My Grandpa Smith (Paul) was then told by Rev. Mc Clure to take him way out in the woods away from his family and friends. Jimmy, they took a length of strong chain and some locks. Rev. Mc Clure had them gather up a lot of dry wood and brush and stack it in a big pile. Rev. McClure said that grandpa could not bury him because the dogs and wolves might dig him up and carry on the hydrophobia, and more people would have to die. After they got everything ready, Rev. McClure put the chain around his neck and locked the lock tight so he couldn’t get loose and hurt anyone. Mc Clure was a good man from everything I have heard about him, and his son Tecumseh is a real good man too. He is my Uncle. I was always proud of Tecumseh the other Indians always liked him more that they did my father Sam Paul. Smith and Rev. Mc Clure laid out a pallet for him to lay on under this big tree and chained the other end of the chain to the tree trunk. The Reverend got real bad and Grandpa Smith could not bring himself to shoot him and to put him out of his miseries. The Reverend finally died, and grandpa Smith  put Mc Clure and all his personal effects upon the brush and wood pile and burned them completely up. Later grandpa Smith kept his promise to him to watch after his wife and children. Grandmother had three children by the Reverend Mc Clure: Catherine, Tecumseh and a baby that died.

Grams told me this story several times.

To be continued:
For more about Hattie Jane's grandmother, Ellen or Ela-Teecha, see the post of February 28, 2011, Indian Territory, 1845.

For more about Jason McClure, Ellen's first husband, see post of December 29, 2010, Jason McClure.