SIXKILLER, EMMA J. INTERVIEW #6468
Nannie Lee Burns, Field Worker
June 29, 1937†
Interview with Mrs. Emma J. Sixkiller nee Blythe, Cherokee Indian
I, Emma J. Sixkiller, nee Blythe, was born in the Kansas Strip near the small town of Enterprise, October 13, 1855.† My mother was Mary Jane Blythe nee Millsap.† My father was Absolom Ellis Blithe.† My father's parents were William (Billie) Blythe and Nancy Blythe, nee Fields, and her father was Dick Fields, who was one of the principals in the Texas Land Grant made to the Cherokees by the Governor of Texas.† My motherís parents were Zubia Meen, a white woman, who first married William Millsap and after his death married McCoy.† Grandfather came as an immigrant.
I had two brothers, Willie and Napoleon.† I do not remember my father as he died when I was very small and when I was three years old, my mother moved to Tahlequah where she supported us children by sewing.† She was a seamstress and made menís coats, in addition to fancy dresses for women.
I only have one memory of my very young childhood days.† I was playing in the spring branch near home and had a string tied to a salmon can for a wagon and was pulling it through the water when I decided that my wagon needed wheels so I took it to the blacksmith and asked him to put wheels on my wagon and he asked me to see the wagon and when I showed it to him he told me that he was busy and to run home that when he got through he would fix my wagon; but on my road home I fell down.† Here Mrs. Sixkiller pointed to a deep scar under her chin and said, "You see that, well it was sometime before I was able to go back, and, when I was able, I never thought of the wagon again."
As near as I can tell you the first home I remember was in the northeast part of Tahlequah near the Hendrix Springs and I have heard mother say that it was a Mission home before we lived there.† It was a double log house with an entry between and an ell back from the entry and had a stack chimney.† It had a long front porch and three stone steps.† I have heard Aunt Martha Vann say that when we were immigrants, my grandfather was the first to put a boat across the Mississippi and that she crossed in his boat.
CIVIL WAR PERIOD
The first time that our home was robbed, we had been told that the bushwhackers were coming and some of the neighbors, thinking that, as there was no man at our home, they would not molest us, had packed and boxed much of their goods and had brought the boxes to our home, my brother, Willie, and Tom Reese were in the timber near, trying to get some wood for the home when we heard a shot and mother said that is the bushwhackers now; so she put a new shawl over her head and started to the timber to warn the boys and had reached the door when she saw the men coming, so was afraid to go on and stopped at the door and was standing there when they rode up.† They asked her if there were any menfolks there and she said, "No, I am a widow.Ē They started in the house and when they began to pile things up, she tried to persuade them not to take things from her children but they told her that they needed them too; and gathered up the quilts and blankets, and were preparing to rip open the feather beds when one of the men opened the door where the boxes were stored and when he saw them he told the others, "Here is all we can take already packed so we will leave the beds till next time."† I happened to put on a new pair of shoes that morning so I did have good shoes that winter.† It was cold weather and there was a light snow on the ground at this time.† One of the men jerked the shawl from mother's head and they took it with them.† Not being able to take as much as they found, they poured our sugar in the snow and with their feet rubbed it into the snow and dirt to keep it from being used and all the covers we had left were some of the quilts that they dropped and which we gathered up after they left.† I remember watching them load up the things, as I stood on the porch and looked over the banisters at them while they were leading up our things.
We were robbed three times, once they took our horse from the plough.† This made mother sick for it meant so much to us.† One trip they killed four men in Tahlequah- Nick Hair, Waitie Robinson (here she paused and studied and finally said, "I can't remember the names of the others now.") The daughter of Robinson came and lived with us and she felt so badly over it and would cry when they talked of it.
The third time that they came there were several women in the gang and mother, said to them, "I know who you are. (They were painted and dressed so as to try to disguise themselves) I have never done you any harm and I have these children here to feed," etc.† But they, told her that they needed the things too so just went about helping themselves to anything that they found that they wanted and destroying what they thought we could use that they did not want.
Our home was much the same as those of these days.† At first we cooked on the fire in the fireplace and I was quite a good sized girl when we had our first stove.
Mother and Grandmother McCoy both spun and wove.† I have seen my mother weave pretty counterpanes.† She would take a pencil and paper and draw her own patterns.† I could spin and grandmother
Taught me to make sewing thread and the cotton bats.† One day when we had company and they were not noticing me I went into the room where the loom was and where there was a counterpane started, and decided I would weave some and of course I didn't know how to make my colors hit so they had to take out all I had done.† Mother used to weave our riding skirts.† The tops were of dark blue and the bottoms were stripped and checked with different bright colors.† We had good horses and grandmother, mother and I all had
our saddles.† They were good ones and cost quite a lot.
Two things were impressed on me by mother when I was growing. They were never to take anything and always to make my word good, and I still do that.
Mother died when I was thirteen so I made my home with grandmother after that, but it was mother's request that I be sent to the Moravian Mission near Mayesville and here I remained two
Years.† H. Reese was the administrator for us.
Grandmother was thrown from a horse and they did not think that she could get well, so I was sent for and went home and, still thinking that she would not recover, it was decided best that I get married.† I really did not want to marry, I was young and still liked my dolls but anyway I married Lucas Sixkiller March 18, 1871. †We were married at Grandmother's bedside on Pecan Creek by Judge Vann.† However, she did not die but later became blind and deaf and lived with us for seven years before her death.† The children and I used to have to lead her around.
THE NEW HOME
We came to Locust Grove and lived for a year on his father's (Redbird Sixkiller) place.† Here we had a small log house.† From there we purchased the Bob Knight place of about sixty acres and later, purchased the Tom Knight place, but not until after we had lived three years in Vinita to send the children to school and had returned to our farm.† This was the location on Horse Creek of the old Military Stand, known as the Trott place that had been kept by Bill and Hardin Trott, Nan Knight, the wife of Tom Knight, was a sister of Bill Trott, I am told that the old buildings are still standing.† The old Trott stand was a double log house with an ell between and back of the entry and a long shed for the horses.† The Trott Spring was about 300 yards south and Lewis Moore lived there.
We started the Sixkiller Cemetery on this place when our son Louis died.† The river was up and we could not get to where two of our other children were buried and I suggested to my husband that we bury him beside two small trees on a knoll on the place. †Afterwards several more from the neighborhood were buried there and this was the beginning of the cemetery, though it did not get its name until the allotment took place.
When we were allotted, Neal England hurried to get there first as he wanted to file on part of the land we were holding and in the allotment he did get that part of our place that had the old Trott buildings and I think still owns the place.† We were in the allotment room when the cemetery question came up and we gave an acre and they said that that was not enough so, they compelled Neal England to give an acre and this made two acres and when they wanted a name one of the men said, "Why not call it the Six Killer Cemetery."
Before I leave the old days, there is one memory I might mention, my grandparents were slave holders and when the slaves were taken from them and run off, an old colored woman who had been given to Aunt Nancy Blythe by her father and who we all called "Aunt Nervie" was taken with another man named Louis to Texas, she came back when the War was over and tried to find some of us, and located grandmother and was so glad to find some of us that she lived many years with us and was a great help in caring for grandmother, and I think I loved her.
We had six children; Mary Mamie, Mattie Bell, Allie, Louie B., Henry and Myrtle, of whom only Mamie and Mattie are now living.
To Mrs. Sixkiller is due the credit of establishing and maintaining the first Sunday School at the Beck schoolhouse.† A missionary came to that neighborhood to establish a Sunday school and called on her and asked for her help and she told him that she would be glad to help but felt that it was the place of one of the men of the neighborhood to take the lead.† He made the rounds of the neighborhood and came back to her and told her that he felt that she was the one to take charge of it so she consented and he ordered the Bibles, and the necessary literature to start it.
In those days we got our mail at Vinita so after I received the Bibles, charts and other supplies, Mary England, who had married Ben Helms, came by one day, and I showed her the supplies and told her to tell all that she saw that we were going to have Sunday School at the schoolhouse the next Sunday.† I got Mr. Noah Fouts to make the announcement for me and during the twenty-five years that I had charge, his wife and Mr. Jim Wymer and wife stood by me.
After the announcements were made, Ben Helms arose and said ďWe donít take part in anything like this.† Our children should be taught what is in the Blue Back Spelling book.† This is the Devils work."
I replied, ďIf you can find anything in these tracts and literature that is not in the Bible, etc." Then I raised my hand and said, "By the Help of God, we are going to have a Sunday School here."† We had many obstacles placed in our way but we were able to keep the Sunday School going.† Those were happy days and often yet I meet some one whom I do not even remember who will recall our Sunday Schools.† Only about three months ago here at a funeral, an old gray haired woman who was setting beside me, told me that she still remembered the Sunday School and I do not yet know who she is.
We sold the farm and lived in Vinita where I ran the Sixkiller Hotel till we sold and came to Fairland about 1915.
In 1912, when her husband was failing in health, Mrs. Sixkiller decided that she would go to California and look around as she had been told that women made good money there.† Not knowing anyone in that state, she decided it would be well to take along some recommendations.† First, she called on Charles Livingston at his store in Afton, and when she told him what she wanted, he wrote the following and handed it to her; "I have known Mrs. Sixkiller since I was seven years old and her word is as good as her bond."† She received on request similar recommendations from both the banks in that city.† She said she mortgaged some cows to have some extra money in case she needed it and had her daughter, Mattie fasten it on her body together with other information concerning herself.† She went first to Los Angeles then to San Francisco and farther north and obtained work in a doctor's home.† They wrote from home that her husband was not well and would like for her to come home so she replied if he wanted her bad enough to send her a ticket she would come.† By return mail the ticket came and she returned home with the money she had borrowed untouched besides what she had earned.
After a protracted illness her husband died October 30, 1925, at the home in Fairland.† The expenses of his illness took their earnings and so since then till within the last few months she has earned her living by laundry work and fancy ironing.
SIXKILLER, LUKE (MRS.) QUESTIONAIRE
Mrs. Luke Sixkiller, Fairland, Oklahoma.†
The following letter came in response of a questionnaire:
I shall introduce myself as the widow of Luke Sixkiller.† Luke Sixkiller was the son of Red Bird Sixkiller.† Red Bird was circuit judge in 1869.† The Sixkillers were old settlers from Georgia.
My maiden name was Emma J. Blythe, my father was A.E. Blythe.† A.E. Blythe was the son of Billy Blythe.† Billy Blythe married Nancy Fields, Dick Fields daughter.† Nancy Fields was almost a fullblood.† The Fields were Georgia Indians.† Its the Dick Fields that has a grant case now in D.C.† I am his grand daughter.
So I was borned in 1855 in what was then known as the Nutral Land, also known as the Kansas Strip.† In time of the civil war my mother moved to Tahlequah when I was 3 or 4 years old. †My Father went to the war.† My Father died in the war.† So I was raised by my mother.† My mother was Mary Jane Millsap.† My mothers mother was a Moon, Ruby Moon.† My mother was a fullblooded whitewoman.† My mothers people was all Teniseims(Tennesseeians?)
††† From 3 years old I have lived all my life in the Cherokee Nation.† I am Cherokee Indian By Blood, and I am on all the Cherokee Rolls.† Raised and Schooled at Talaquh, our Capital till State hood.† In 1870 I married Luke Sixkiller and we moved on Grands River, lived near Dr Mcnaus Ferry on Grand River.† Moved from Grand River to Vinita to school our children.† From Vinita to Afton, from Afton to Fairland where Luke Sixkiller died 14 years ago and I am the little Indian girl.
From here on Iíll tell u about my girl hood days.† How happy I was, as cheerful as a gir1 could, chasing the bee and the butter fly from roses to roses with a sparkling eye and a pure hart.† I roved woodland and preary, sang like a lark to my harts content. The war was over, and I was not afraid no more.
The generation from 1937 may want to know what our grand mothers and mothers had to eat and wair.† During the Civil War our coffee was wheat bran or rosted corn till it was black, ground in to course grainy meal, was ground, was our coffee, our tea was spice wood bush tea sweetened with molases maid from pumkins.† Our wheat bread was 10 dollars a hundred, an couldent be got very often at that price.† Our meet was fish and wild turkey and deer, sometime beef or rabits.† Our clothes was very scant as the soldiers kept the people robed so clean we had no chance to make clothes.† Our homes was burned, our cattle was driven away, our hogs was killed, our milk cows was shot.† Down our children cryed for being hungry.
Our beds was taken from us.† Mothers set up all night to keep fires to keep from freezing.† Our horses was taken out of the plow, our crops growd up in weeds.† Such was the terrors of war. Some asked what about the laws before the war.† Our laws was transacted at Tallahqah, called the capital of our grait Nation. In the center of the town was a town squar and every corner was a neatly hued log 1 Room house, in them 4 log houses, all laws of our Nation was made.† When the war came 2 of those houses was burned to the ground.† After the war a stone building was built in that town square.† Bob Knight was the leading man on that capital. Our leading men of the country at that time as Deligates to Washington was Chief Ross, H D Reese and Bill Pen Adair and Clem Van.† They was dependiable.† Our leading merchants was John Stapler, Mr Gulagar and Bob Ross.† Our leading Docturs was Dr Losier and Doctur Tompson.† Our best stock men was Mr. Rattlingourd, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Howell.† Our best millers was Mr. Ray and Mr. Helterbrand.† Our best Hotel was the Widow Taylor, she had a 2 story brick house.† Our cemenary was badly delapidated during the war.† For a long time the Masonic Hall was used for Church, also for public school.† Miss Nany Lipe was our first
Teacher, Mrs Lucinda Ross our next teacher.† Miss Wilson was next and our best teacher by that time.† The cimenry was rebuilt and things was improving again.
Illinois River never had no bridge or fery boats. Grand River had Carys Bridge and Clauses Fery, and Browns Fery and Harlins Ferry, Mack _airs Fery, and Vans Ferry, and Fort Gibson Fery.
We had only 2 Churches in that part of the territory, the Baptist Mission and the United Brothern who was sent from North Carlina.† Salim North Carolina was head quarters.† The Baptist Minister was John Jones stationed at Talaqua.
By that time we had school contest.† Our best speller was a small girl Nancy Buttler- John Buttlers Sister. Nancy spelled down 5 Schools and all the directors and her prize was a horse and new sadle and bridle.† It shure was a buty.† When it was led out your writer was given a butiful vace for being the best behaved girl, and Mary Stapler was reward with 10 dollar for being the prettiest girl, and Peet Field's was reward for being the slowest child in School.† His reward was a suit of new clothes.† And George Fields was rewarded for being so quick in figures.† George made a lawyer. George was Peets brother.
I dont know much about the battlefields, I herd the cannons rore, but I didnt know where the fight was.† Preary Grove is one field.† Honey Grove another.† Fort Gibson another.† Van Burin and periage.† Thats all I know.† I can rember many hard ships caused from the Civil War.
Family Cemetrys- people before the war buried there dead clost to their homes and w_ _ _ ve had any dead.† First there is where everbody put there dead.† All the dead was laid to rest in H D Reeseís cemetry till it was full then the town made a town Cemetry for Talaquah.† Then there was a Park Hill cemetery, started that was called Ross's cemetry, and there was one called McNairs cemetry on Grand River and one south of Locust Grove called Markems cemetery clost to Markems Sault Works.† Then there is Ballards yard,† McLautons cemetery and Lunday cemetery.† Thosíre all the old time cemetrys I rember of any sise.
Sault works- I dont know of but 2 in terriorial days, Rosses Sault works and Markems Sault Works.
Style of clothing, high top shoes and dresses to oneís shoe tops.† After the war ladies laid aside there home spun goods for more neater goods.† Men set aside there buck skin pants and hunting shirts for taylor made clothes.
Game and fish- preary chickens set on trees like blackbirds. Deer was seen in 3 or 4 hundreds yards of ones home.
Home stiders (homesteaders) was thick after price was made as church members at church.
Gohts town- your writer acturly seen a gohts in Tahlahquah when the soldiers kill 4 men in town and burned the town squair They killed Watie Robinson and killed Nick Hair.† All so burned, one man up in one of the Council Houses.† There was no body to burry them dead bodies, but the wimen they roled the bodies in sheets and roled the bodies in graves such as women could dig.† Nick Hair was running when they shot him and fell right by the rode side going towards the Baptist Mission.† The women dug a grave by Nicks side and rolled him in it.† About 2 months later my self and a Robinson girl had bin down town to grind some cornmeal on a big coffee mill at Staplers store and we was late, there was so many a grinding before her and I, so as we was going home the Robinson girl said look there, thats Nick Hair, and shure a nuff there stood Nick Hair by his grave.† She screemed and screemed and she fell and I pulled on her and we looked agan, and that thing beconed to us 3 times and sunk down right where that grave was. We never did go that road a gan, I know we seen what we seen.
Horse Racing- Dave Doty was a leading horse racer.† Louis Moore was Dotys aponent in racing and often a Texas man and a man from Kansas would come to run his horses.
I dont know who financed our farmers.
Medicene Men- Full bloods, used roots and bark for medicians such as was handed down from our fore fathers.† Doctors was like today they use other devices in there practice.
Military Posts- in an earley day I only knew of but Fort Smith and Fort Gibson.
Trappers Hunters- every body was free to hunt and trap until allmost statehood.
Mounds- I know of 1 mound called the Betty Rogers Mound near Fort Gibson.†
Fraighting was done from Van Buren to Kansas towns and back and fourth from Van Buran to Saint Louis by mule teems and horse teems.† Fort Gibson furnished Talaquh most all her surplys.† In an early day cole oil lamps and glass jars to can fruit in was not known.† Our fruits was dryed.† We made candles evry week out of beef tallow.† People often couldent have a tallow candle.
A sewing machene was an awful luxcery.
There was a news press but I donít know who owned the press.
Our highly esteemed Indian Chief's
ucha later (Oo-cha-la-ta ?)
Dawing (Downing ?)
Mays (Mayes ?)
Luke Sixkiller Served as US Dective and Marsell all at one time under Agent tuffs time.† Sam Sixkiller was head Marshell.
Our noted pick nick grounds was betwen town and Park Hill at what was called the Frenches Spring.† On the bank of Grand River, we had bouts and old fashun rope swings.† No merry go round, had lemonade, had singing and speaking, no ice cream.
The other public ground was on Spring Creek betwen Grand River and Tahlahquah called Webers Spring.† Weber was a stock maun and he was the first man who brought the Buffelow Bay into our milk herd.† After being mixt they made the finest milk cows and sold for a grait price at that time.† From there on milk cows was better price.† U could tell evry calf that was mixt.
One Mision site was on Spring Creek betwen Talaquah and Masevile call the Moravian Missian.† Your writer was sent to that mission after my mother died.† I stayed there 2 years.† My grand mother got sick and I had to go home and never got no more schooling.† Our Missionary man was Mr Mack from North Carolina.† Mr Mack had 4 in family.† Mr Mack was like a mother.
You may not read this as I wrote this mostly at night and I am 82 years past and have forgotten how to spell.† U can put it togather to suit u, as I only joted down the notes to talk on.
Please let me know if u get this note book and how do u like how I noted it down, to be 82 years past.† I know its mixt up but I had to write as I could be alone and could rember of so and so.† I truly hope it will be some help to your book.† Let me here from u how it suits u.
yours truly the Indian girl of 1855
Emma J. Sixkiller