Mary Lindsay

Oklahoma Writers' Project


[Date stamp: AUG 16 1937]


Age 91 yrs.

Tulsa, Oklahoma.

My slavery days wasn't like most people tell you about, 'cause I was

give to my young Mistress and sent away to Texas when I was jest a

little girl, and I didn't live on a big plantation a very long tine.

I got an old family Bible what say I was born on September 20, in

1846, but I don't know who put de writing in it unless it was my

mammy's mistress. My mammy had de book when she die.

My mammy come out to the Indian country from Mississippi two years

before I was born. She was the slave of a Chickasaw part-breed name

Sobe Love. He was the kinsfolks of Mr. Benjamin Love, and Mr. Henry

Love what bring two big bunches of the Chickasaws out from Mississippi

to the Choctaw country when the Chickasaws sign up de treaty to leave

Mississippi, and the whole Love family settle 'round on the Red River

below Fort Washita. There whar I was born.

My mammy say dey have a terrible hard time again the sickness when

they first come out into that country, because it was low and swampy

and all full of cane brakes, and everybody have the smallpox and the

malaria and fever all the time. Lots of the Chickasaw families nearly

died off.

Old Sobe Love marry her off to a slave named William, what belong to a

full-blood Chickasaw man name Chick-a-lathe, and I was one of de


De children belong to the owner of the mother, and me and my brother

Franklin, what we called "Bruner", was born under the name of Love and

then old Master Sobe bought my pappy William, and we was all Love

slaves then. My mammy had two more girls, name Hatty and Rena.

My mammy name was Mary, and I was named after her. Old Mistress name

was Lottie, and they had a daughter name Mary. Old Master Sobe was

powerful rich, and he had about a hundred slaves and four or five big

pieces of that bottom land broke out for farms. He had niggers on all

the places, but didn't have no overseers, jest hisself and he went

around and seen that everybody behave and do they work right.

Old Master Sobe was a mighty big man in the tribe, and so was all his

kinfolks, and they went to Fort Washita and to Boggy Depot all the

time on business, and leave the Negroes to look after old Mistress and

the young daughter. She was almost grown along about that time, when I

can first remember about things.

'Cause my name was Mary, and so was my mammy's and my young Mistress'

too. Old Master Sobe called me Mary-Ka-Chubbe to show which Mary he

was talking about.

Miss Mary have a black woman name Vici what wait on her all the time,

and do the carding and spinning and cooking 'round the house, and Vici

belong to Miss Mary. I never did go 'round the Big House, but jest

stayed in the quarters with my mammy and pappy and helped in the field

a little.

Then one day Miss Mary run off with a man and married him, and old

Master Sobe nearly went crazy! The man was name Bill Merrick, and he

was a poor blacksmith and didn't have two pair of britches to his

name, and old Master Sobe said he jest stole Miss Mary 'cause she was

rich, and no other reason. 'Cause he was a white man and she was

mostly Chickasaw Indian.

Anyways old Master Sobe wouldn't even speak to Mr. Bill, and wouldn't

let him set foot on the place. He jest reared and pitched around, and

threatened to shoot him if he set eyes on him, and Mr. Bill took Miss

Mary and left out for Texas. He set up a blacksmith shop on the big

road between Bonham and Honey Grove, and lived there until he died.

Miss Mary done took Vici along with her, and pretty soon she come back

home and stay a while, and old Master Sobe kind of soften up a little

bit and give her some money to git started on, and he give her me too.

Dat jest nearly broke my old mammy's and pappy's heart, to have me

took away off from them, but they couldn't say nothing and I had to go

along with Miss Mary back to Texas. When we git away from the Big

House I jest cried and cried until I couldn't hardly see, my eyes was

so swole up, but Miss Mary said she gwine to be good to me.

I ask her how come Master Sobe didn't give her some of the grown boys

and she say she reckon it because he didn't want to help her husband

out none, but jest wanted to help her. If he give her a man her

husband have him working in the blacksmith shop, she reckon.

Master Bill Merrick was a hard worker, and he was more sober than most

the men in them days, and he never tell me to do nothing. He jest let

Miss Mary tell me what to do. They have a log house close to the shop,

and a little patch of a field at first, but after awhile he git more

land, and then Miss Mary tell me and Vici we got to help in the field


That sho' was hard living then! I have to git up at three o'clock

sometimes so I have time to water the hosses and slop the hogs and

feed the chickens and milk the cows, and then git back to the house

and git the breakfast. That was during the times when Miss Mary was

having and nursing her two children, and old Vici had to stay with her

all the time. Master Bill never did do none of that kind of work, but

he had to be in the shop sometimes until way late in the night, and

sometimes before daylight, to shoe peoples hosses and oxen and fix


He never did tell me to do that work, but he never done it his own

self and I had to do it if anybody do it.

He was the slowest one white man I ever did see. He jest move 'round

like de dead lice falling off'n him all the time, and everytime he go

to say anything he talk so slow that when he say one word you could

walk from here to way over there before he say de next word. He don't

look sick, and he was powerful strong in his arms, but he act like he

don't feel good jest the same.

I remember when the War come. Mostly by the people passing 'long the

big road, we heard about it. First they was a lot of wagons hauling

farm stuff into town to sell, and then purty soon they was soldiers on

the wagons, and they was coming out into the country to git the stuff

and buying it right at the place they find it.

Then purty soon they commence to be little bunches of mens in soldier

clothes riding up and down the road going somewhar. They seem like

they was mostly young boys like, and they jest laughing and jollying

and going on like they was on a picnic.

Then the soldiers come 'round and got a lot of the white men and took

them off to the War even iffen they didn't want to go. Master Bill

never did want to go, 'cause he had his wife and two little children,

and anyways he was gitting all the work he could do fixing wagons and

shoeing hosses, with all the traffic on de road at that time. Master

Bill had jest two hosses, for him and his wife to ride and to work to

the buggy, and he had one old yoke of oxen and some more cattle. He

got some kind of a paper in town and he kept it with him all the time,

and when the soldiers would come to git his hosses or his cattle he

would jest draw that paper on 'em and they let 'em alone.

By and by the people got so thick on the big road that they was

somebody in sight all the time. They jest keep a dust kicked up all

day and all night 'cepting when it rain, and they git all bogged down

and be strung all up and down the road camping. They kept Master Bill

in the shop all the time, fixing the things they bust trying to git

the wagons out'n the mud. They was whole families of them, with they

children and they slaves along, and they was coming in from every

place because the Yankees was gitting in their part of the country,

they say.

We all git mighty scared about the Yankees coming but I don't reckon

they ever git thar, 'cause I never seen none, and we was right on the

big road and we would of seen them. They was a whole lot more soldiers

in them brown looking jeans, round-about jackets and cotton britches

a-faunching up and down the road on their hosses, though. Them hoss

soldiers would come b'iling by, going east, all day and night, and the

two-three days later on they would all come tearing by going west! Dey

acted like dey didn't know whar dey gwine, but I reckon dey did.

Den Master Bill git sick. I reckon he more wore out and worried than

anything else, but he go down with de fever one day and it raining so

hard Mistress and me and Vici can't neither one go nowhar to git no


We puts peach tree poultices on his head and wash him off all the

time, until it quit raining so Mistress can go out on de road, and

then a doctor man come from one of the bunches of soldiers and see

Master Bill. He say he going be all right and jest keep him quiet, and

go on.

Mistress have to tend de children and Vici have to take care of Master

Bill and look after the house, and dat leave me all by myself wid all

the rest of everything around the place.

I got to feed all the stock and milk the cows and work in the field

too. Dat the first time I ever try to plow, and I nearly git killed,

too! I got me a young yoke of oxens I broke to pull the wagon, 'cause

Vici have to use the old oxens to work the field. I had to take the

wagon and go 'bout ten miles west to a patch of woods Master Bill

owned to git fire wood, 'cause we lived right on a flat patch of

prairie, and I had to chop and haul the wood by myself. I had to git

postoak to burn in the kitchen fireplace and willow for Master Bill to

make charcoal out of to burn in his blacksmith fire.

Well, I hitch up them young oxen to the plow and they won't follow the

row, and so I go git the old oxens. One of them old oxens didn't know

me and took in after me, and I couldn't hitch 'em up. And then it

begins to rain again.

After the rain was quit I git the bucket and go milk the cows, and it

is time to water the hosses too, so I starts to the house with the

milk and leading one of the hosses. When I gits to the gate I drops

the halter across my arm and hooks the bucket of milk on my arm too,

and starts to open the gate. The wind blow the gate wide open, and it

slap the hoss on the flank. That was when I nearly git killed!

Out the hoss go through the gate to the yard, and down the big road,

and my arm all tangled up in the halter rope and me dragging on the


The first jump knock the wind out of me and I can't git loose, and

that hoss drag me down the road on the run until he meet up with a

passel of soldiers and they stop him.

The next thing I knowed I was laying on the back kitchen gallery, and

some soldiers was pouring water on me with a bucket. My arm was broke,

and I was stove up so bad that I have to lay down for a whole week,

and Mistress and Vici have to do all the work.

Jest as I gitting able to walk 'round here come some soldiers and say

they come to git Master Bill for the War. He still in the bed sick,

and so they leave a parole paper for him to stay until he git well,

and then he got to go into Bonham and go with the soldiers to

blacksmith for them that got the cannons, the man said.

Mistress take on and cry and hold onto the man's coat and beg, but it

don't do no good. She say they don't belong in Texas but they belong

in the Chickasaw Nation, but he say that don't do no good, 'cause they

living in Texas now.

Master Bill jest stew and fret so, one night he fever git way up and

he go off into a kind of a sleep and about morning he died.

My broke arm begin to swell up and hurt me, and I git sick with it

again, and Mistress git another doctor to come look at it.

He say I got bad blood from it how come I git so sick, and he git out

his knife out'n his satchel and bleed me in the other arm. The next

day he come back and bleed me again two times, and the next day one

more time, and then I git so sick I puke and he quit bleeding me.

While I still sick Mistress pick up and go off to the Territory to her

pappy and leave the children thar for Vici and me to look after. After

while she come home for a day or two and go off again somewhere else.

Then the next time she come home she say they been having big battles

in the Territory and her pappy moved all his stuff down on the river,

and she home to stay now.

We git along the best we can for a whole winter, but we nearly starve

to death, and then the next spring when we getting a little patch

planted Mistress go into Bonham and come back and say we all free and

the War over.

She say, "You and Vici jest as free as I am, and a lot freer, I

reckon, and they say I got to pay you if you work for me, but I ain't

got no money to pay you. If you stay on with me and help me I will

feed and home you and I can weave you some good dresses if you card

and spin the cotton and wool."

Well, I stayed on, 'cause I didn't have no place to go, and I carded

and spinned the cotton and wool and she make me just one dress. Vici

didn't do nothing but jest wait on the children and Mistress.

Mistress go off again about a week, and when she come back I see she

got some money, but she didn't give us any of it.

After while I asked her ain't she got some money for me, and she say

no, ain't she giving me a good home? Den I starts to feeling like I

aint treated right.

Every evening I git done with the work and go out in the back yard and

jest stand and look off to the west towards Bonham, and wish I was at

that place or some other place.

Den along come a nigger boy and say he working for a family in Bonham

and he git a dollar every week. He say Mistress got some kinfolks in

Bonham and some of Master Sobe Love's niggers living close to there.

So one night I jest put that new dress in a bundle and set foot right

down the big road a-walking west, and don't say nothing to nobody!

Its ten miles into Bonham, and I gits in town about daylight. I keeps

on being afraid, 'cause I con't git it out'n my mind I still belong to


Purty soon some niggers tells me a nigger name Bruner Love living down

west of Greenville, and I know that my brother Franklin, 'cause we all

called him Bruner. I don't remember how all I gits down to Greenville,

but I know I walks most the way, and I finds Bruner. Him and his wife

working on a farm, and they say my sister Hetty and my sister Rena

what was little is living with my mammy way back up on the Red River.

My pappy done died in time of the War and I didn't know it.

Bruner taken me in a wagon and we went to my mammy, and I lived with

her until she died and Hetty was married. Then I married a boy name

Henry Lindsay. His people was from Georgia and he live with them way

west at Cedar Mills, Texas. That was right close to Gordonville, on

the Red River.

We live at Cedar Mills until three my children was born and then we

come to the Creek Nation in 1887. My last one was born here.

My oldest is named Georgia on account of her pappy. He was born in

Georgia and that was in 1838, so his whitefolks got a book that say.

My next child was Henry. We called him William Henry, after my pappy

and his pappy. Then come Donie, and after we come here we had Madison,

my youngest boy.

I lives with Henry here on this little place we got in Tulsa.

When we first come here we got some land for $15 an acre from the

Creek Nation, but our papers said we can only stay as long as it is

the Creek Nation. Then in 1901 comes the allotments, and we found out

our land belong to a Creek Indian, and we have to pay him to let us

stay on it. After while he makes us move off and we lose out all


But my daughter Donie git a little lot, and we trade it for this place

about thirty year ago, when this town was a little place.

Mary Lee Mary Minus Biddie facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail