Field Worker  Gus Hummingbird   February 10 1938.

An Interview with Charles Whitmire    Stilwell, Route #3


Charles Whitmire is a mixed-blood Cherokee who was born at Limestone Gap in the Old Choctaw Nation in 1865.  His father, Jonathan Whitmire, was an Old Settler Cherokee who had come to the new Cherokee Nation about 1825, but he favored the South and during the Civil War had his family moved to the Choctaw Nation. The Whitmires were wealthy and had owned a large place back in the old country.  When the Cherokees began to talk about moving to their new home, they were smart enough to know that they would have to move sooner or later, so as early as 1819 or 1820 they began to talk to their folks about what they would do if an election was held about removal.

So in 1823 the Whitmire family and several other families started west, being almost two years on the road.  When they came to the new nation they settled on Peavine Creek now about five miles north of Stilwell, the county seat of Adair County.  There were several families in this group; George Whitmire, the oldest brother of Jonathan, also being in this bunch.  This was really a new home to them, for they were the first Cherokees who settled in this particular community.  There was not a family near this community when Jonathan settled at this place.

When Jonathan came to this country the country around Peavine community was a cane brake.  Bear could be found on what are now called the Walkingstick Mountains.  The name Peavine was not given to this community until the emigrants came about 1835.  Only a few families lived around here at the time.  Jonathan Whitmire married a Cherokee woman of the name of Temperance Holt, who was also an Old Settler Cherokee who lived on Westville Prairie.



Most of Charles Whitmire's early life was spent on a large plantation that his father operated on Peavine Creek.  He laid claim to most of the prairie north of the present school and, now this farm consists of about two hundred acres.  The Whitmires owned slaves.  The old buildings which these slaves built for a dwelling house still stand on the old place.



Peavine School was established before the Civil War but it was not called by that name.  After the war they named the school Peavine.  The old school stood about fifty yards south of the present site.  This first school was of log construction built by the Cherokees of the community.  They donated all of the material. Among the old timers who helped build this first school were Louis Blackwood, George Falling, Judge Noisewater, Jim Walkingstick, Daniel Webster and Old Chicken.  All of these last named were emigrants in the community. The Whitmires were the only family who were Old Settlers.  Among the old teachers at Peavine about 1875 were Bill Gott, Mont Adair and Walter Evans, a "permitted" white man.

The first church that was established here was a Methodist church at the schoolhouse.  This was the church that the Whitmire family attended.  Reverend Ewing was the early minister of this church.