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Nathan Hughes


Hughes, Nathan 

Field Worker:  John F. Daugherty 

Date:  November 10, 1937
Interview # 9158
Address: Sulphur, OK
Born: November 25, 1862
Place of Birth: Cardin, Indiana 
Father: H.H. Hughes, born in Indiana, fough in Civil War
Mother: Margaret Crawford, born in Indiana 

My parents were H. H Hughes, born in 1826, in Indiana, and Margaret Crawford Hughes, born in Indiana, date unknown.  There were six children in our family.  I was born at Cardin, Indiana, November 25, 1862.

Father was in the Federal Army during the Civil War.  After the War was closed, Father re-enlisted and was stationed at Fort Arbuckle in the Chickasaw Nation.  He got a furlough, secured a government team and wagon and came back to Indiana for Mother and us.   We moved to Red Springs, near the present site of Steedman, in the Chickasaw Nation, in 1868.

During the Sidney Massacre, Father was with Phil Sheridan who said, "There are no good Indians, but dead ones."  Father was shot with an arrow, in the shoulder, by the Sioux Indians, and the wound never healed, so we supposed it was a poisoned arrow.   He was in the Army twenty-seven years.

When we first moved to Red Springs, we got our mail from Atoka and our supplies from Fort Smith.  The neighbors took turns going to Atoka after the mail.  When they returned they went all over the neighborhood, delivering the mail.  somebody went once a week.  When they went to Fort Smith, several wagons went, and these trips were usually made in the Spring and again in the Fall.  We finally got our mail from Stonewall, which was only thirteen miles from us.  The mail was brought three times a week by a carrier, on a horse.  He received six dollars a month for this service.

The Younger and James boys camped at Red Springs many times while we lived there.   Bill Dalton's mother gave me a brass padlock which I still have in my possession.   These boys nearly always had a wagon where they camped.  When they left the wagon nearly always remained for two days and then left in the opposite direction from that taken by the desperadoes.

There was a toll bridge south of Atoka, on Boggy which was made of poles.  There were two log pens filled with rocks on each bank for the abutments.  Poles were laid across from one side to the other and it was floored with poles.  The charges were fifty cents for a wagon and twenty-five cents for a rider and his horse.  I remember driving over a toll road north of McAlester.  This was a road which had been made by some Indians around a mountain.  A pole was put across the road to prevent one going over it without paying.  There was a small cabin at the entrance and the people who lived there were the toll collectors.   The fee was twenty-five cents to a dollar.  These roads were always around a mountain or along a creek bank, and there was no way to go except over them.

In 1886, we moved to Ardmore.  The following year there occurred an epidemic of Spotted Fever which caused the death of a brother and Mother.  They were among the first to be buried in the Ardmore Cemetery.  This was similar to  Spinal Meningitis.  It was very contagious and anybody having it seldom lived.  If one could survive sixteen hours, he usually got well.  Most of the victims, however, died within sixteen hours.  There were very few doctors and they knew nothing about serums.  There seemed to be no preventative.  People were as much afraid of this as of smallpox.

I worked on the Washington Ranch and the Love Ranch and finally on the Byars Ranch near Johnsonville, northwest of Stratford, in the Chickasaw Nation.

When Jeff Reed put in the first store at Ada, we wanted a post office, also.   Nineteen families lived there and signed a petition to the Government to establish an office there.  They replied that if we wanted an office we must carry the mail from Center for six months without pay.  Jeff Reed carried the mail, sometimes walking the entire distance to and from Center once a week.  The next six months they allowed three dollars a month, and finally the carrier received thirty-four dollars a month.   This was the beginning of the post office at Ada.

I rode in the Wild West Show of Ringling Brothers' Circus from 1899 until 1911, when I married Annie Seeley at Steedman.  We are the parents of one child.

After I was married, I farmed near Steedman.  A neighboring ranch had an old cow which constantly broke into my corn field.  One day I took a muzzle loading shotgun, put a piece of meat rind in it and went forth to frighten the cow out of my corn patch.   I took aim and fired.  Instead of burning her side as I intended, it went into her flank and she dropped dead.  I called a neighbor over and we got what beef we wanted, rolled the remains into the creek and buried her in quicksand.  I was very sorry that I killed her, but at least I wasn't bothered by her any more.

I made runs in 1889 and at the Cherokee Strip opening in 1892.  But I couldn't homestead in 1889 because I had run cattle on this range the previous year.  I staked my claim and sold it for fourteen hundred dollars.  I also sold my claim in 1892.

Transcribed by Brenda Choate and Dennis Muncrief, May 2001.

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