Gus Hummingbird, Interviewer

July 9, 1937 Interview with William Scraper

William (Buster) Scraper, a fullblood Cherokee, was born at Tahlequah, Indian Territory, March 18, 1880 He was the son of Jesse Leaf and Louisa Scraper.

William's real name is Leaf, but his grandfather, Arch Scraper, took the boy when small and reared him. When he grew old enough to go to school, he was enrolled as William Scraper.

Louisa married three tines. William has five half-brothers, namely: Charley Sanders, Hugh, Monroe, Henry and Redcloud Wolfe.



Most of Buster's early life was spent on a farm operated by his grandfather on what is now known as Scraper Hollow about three miles south of the present village of Christie, Oklahoma.

The scraper farm consisted of about forty acres, a large farm for that time. The principal crops were corn, oats, beans and other small grains. The Scrapers were considered wealthy people, so Buster had plenty of time to receive an education.

Arch Scraper also owned plenty of stock. He was an old Civil war veteran, having served in both armies, the North and the South.



At the age of seven, Buster enrolled at Whitmire School which was located about three miles southeast of what is now Christie, Oklahoma. He had to walk about three miles to get to the small log hut used for a school house. There were about twenty Cherokee children attended this school. Among the old-timers that attended this school was Steve Bailey, George Bailey, Josie Wofford, Getty Whitmire, John Watt and Jonas.

Among the teachers of this school was Mary Whitmire, the wife of Eli Whitmire and Ella Clyne who later married Frank Howard.





Field Worker: Gus Hummingbird,

July 10, 1937 Interview with William scraper.


"Arch Scraper" as he was called was not his name. According to the records kept by Buster Scraper, Arch Scraper's real name was Scraper Sixkiller. That was his name before he left North Carolina. He came to the Indian Territory when he was seventeen years old and settled in the hollow that now bears his name, "Scraper Hollow.

He and his widowed mother lived in the same place for many years. Arch scraper was born in 1819. He was forty years old when the Civil War began. He at first enlisted in the southern army. He served in that army for over a year. He then quit the South and joined the North.

He was appointed a captain in a company of Home Guards in the Cherokee Nation. His discharge shows that at one time he had under his command one thousand men. His discharge shows that he was in the Battle of Bentonville, Arkansas. According to his old records, that the family have, he was a close friend of Smith Christie who was also a captain in the army of the North. The expenditure record books of Smith Christie are now kept as record books in the Antioch Baptist Church.

Scraper was a leader among his people. He was sent to Washington several times as a delegate for the Cherokee people. On one of these missions he had his picture taken with Abraham Lincoln, and this picture is now kept by Mrs. Josie Hendricks at Christie, Oklahoma.

Scraper married in Washington, D. C. some time after the war to a woman by the name of Elizabeth Bell, a white woman. He brought his wife to the Cherokee Nation and they lived at his old home place. Mrs. Scraper died in the Cherokee Nation and was buried in the Scraper family cemetery, where Arch Scraper himself is also buried.


The customs of the Cherokee people have changed a lot since those times. In those days everybody was honest. The people loaned anything they had to their neighbors without charge. Money was easily borrowed at that time. Everybody had a little money to loan. There was not much to buy with money. Arch scraper always loaned money to his neighbors without any security. The people did not know what a note was then. A man's word was his bond; If his word was no good he was not either.

It did not take long to find out what a man was. If he beat a debt, everybody knew it just in a little while. He has seen people in those days sell the last cow they had to meet an obligation. Although they were not forced to do so, they did that to keep their credit good.

They took care of one another in case of sickness. They obligated themselves to do so. There were several societies among them that forced them to do so.

In case of the death of the head of the family, they took care of the widow and the children until they were able to support themselves. Almost every community had some kind of an organization to take care of the needy. That was one reason the early Cherokees hated a thief. People did not have to steal. You could get help from any one in the community if you helped yourself.



When Buster Scraper grew old enough to know, there were already two major parties among the Cherokees - the Downing and the National. He remembers in the first election he voted. A person could vote at the age of eighteen. He first voted in the election of 1898.

The most interesting race that election was for the office of clerk of the District. Bill Wright was the National candidate and Simon Walkingstick - the Downing, Wright was elected. The same election, one of the Mayes was elected Chief. He was a Downing candidate. In this election during the campaign was the first time William ever became acquainted with W. W. Hastings who later became a leader among his people. Hastings later was elected to several offices in the Cherokee Nation.

The voting precinct was the old Goingsnake Court House which was then located on Peacheater Branch about three miles west of the present town of Westville. In this election you had to call the person's name that you wished to vote for. If you promised a man that you would support him there was no way to get around it, you had to do it, because there was always someone watching how you voted.


The Cherokees in the community in which he lived were not in favor of the allotment laws, so in the election, preceding the year the allotment law was passed, he supported Rabbit Bunch for Principal Chief because this candidate was not in favor of the land being allotted in severalty.

Many interesting speeches were made in the Nation preceding the election before the Allotment was voted on. Among the orators of that time was Wolfe Coon. William heard many speeches made by this man. He was interested in his speeches, and the things that Coon said, would come to pass, just as he said. Rabbit Bunch was another smart Cherokee of that time.