Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lizzie talks about the move to Claremore, OK

I came across, Rogers County History, it was published by the Claremore College foundation in 1979, I found it on Ebay maybe 5 or 6 years ago now. It has helped me trace some of the family branches of Martha and Joseph Gibbs. I want to share the entries I found in this book that pertain to our family, I hope you find it as interesting as I did. First though, here is part of an interview with Lizzie, done by Kathy and Norbert Gariety, where she talks about why the Davis family moved to Claremore.

Lizzie said that when she was in the tenth grade at the Female Indian Seminary in Tahlequah, she went home for Christmas. She says, "We had the awfullest rain, all night it rain, day an night, well there was a big river, and that river got up, it was about 10 miles up above us where it started from an everything come way out there, all the farmers down in there, we called it the bottom, I guess there were about 25 or 30 farmers, we kept watching it come, an we had a big orchard an dad says well it's up there in the orchard now and its still a coming an by about 5 o'clock that evening, well it come through and hit our yard, it had to come about a mile from the river and the further it went down, well it just taken the whole (can't understand this part). Well there was about 30 or 40 houses down there an they all had to leave, we went out to the field, we called it the hill, going out to town, and we had grain, every farmer had a grainary and they tore down all the granaries they could tear down and built skiff, come and carry us all out. We had big ole cotton wood trees down there, oh they was tall, you know we came out right over the top of them trees. Kathy asked how big? Lizzie answered, "Our house was a double, it was high, and it come up to the top of the windows and when the water went down, it left the sand there and we had to go in an dig the sand all out.

Norbert asked, "it ruined everything in the downstairs? "oh yes, ruined everything" Lizzie answered. Furniture too? Norbert asked. Lizzie replies yes, had a parlor, had a big loft, we had an organ, one of them old time organs. Dad an me had to lift that up in the loft, dad cut a big hole in the ceiling. We had fireplaces, well that fireplace was filled up with sand and water, and the yard, didn't look like we had any yard with all that sand. Out in the fields it drifted, it would just go around and around, just left a big hole and when the water went down there were big old turtles in there. Kathy asks if they had turtle soup, Lizzie tells her, no they was dead, they couldn't get out, it was deep as this house, Lizzie was interviewed at Doc and Lahoma Underwoods house in Long Beach, CA, a single story ranch style.

Lizzie goes on to say after the flood, why that just tore us all up, they never had nothing. The farms was ruined, couldn't have a farm anymore. Norbert states, the land was ruined by the flood, couldn't use it anymore, Lizzie continues, yeah, filled with sand. The fruit trees, the sand would be on to, top of them trees. Couldn't tell there was ever a farm there. Well dad sold out, he got a chance, he got a little out of it. some man come in there to buy it out, buy them out.

Then we went to Claremore. We drove over, was three days going, from our house to Claremore. And we taken, oh, about ten or twelve cows and horses and hogs, had a hundred head of hogs. We drove em, drove those hogs to Claremore. Put a bell on one bog old sow, oh she was a big un. And she'd go in the front and they'd go, just right down that road.They'd all follow her, she was like a lead cow or a lead horse.

Well when we got down to Muskogee there was a little town next to um. It was called Red Bird, well there wasn't nothing but n******. And they had a big sign up there, "Mr. white Man, don't let the sun go down on you!" Well we got that far and boy we didn't know what to do, so dad and the man that was drivin', they went in an seen the clerk, and he talked to em, and he said well I'll tell you what I'll do, he says I can take care of you tonight, he says, I'll open the stock yard, cause nobody got anything to do with the outside. So that's what he done. Put all our stuff in there, thrown everything in there. Well the next day we had to cross the Arkansas River and we had to go across on the bridge, the wagons all went across first then the horses, they weren' no trouble, and the cows and then come to puttin' them hogs across, they'd get on ther and they'd get on the end and fall off the wall, they a a time, was nearly all day gettin' them hogs across that river. Norbert asks if any of the hogs were lost, Lizzie tells him no. But they all got a bath says Norbert, yeah replies Lizzie, they got a bath alright. Very few of them stayed on, when they landed then there had to be somebody over there to corral them in.

Kathy asks, did you get a farm in Claremore? Lizzie says yeah, we had a, dad had a brother. He'd been living there a long time. He had quit a farm and ran a ferry boat on the river there. So he told dad, he said "I got one empty house an if you want that" says "you can have it till you can get you a place." It was a log house, had two fireplaces in there ... well it was night whe we got down there and we got settled in, and the next day, oh, taken over in the boat. And that's were we stayed, oh, we was there about five years I guess.

That was Lizzie memory of her families move to Claremore. She mentioned Red Bird in this, I googled Red Bird and found very little information about it that long ago, which I figure would have been about 1897, I did come across a pamphlet written about 1905 encouraging African Americans to move there, you can view that here.

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