WHITMIRE, ELI H. (MRS.) INTERVIEW†† #13254†††

 

Jesse S. BellInvestigator

March 18, 1938.

 

An Interview with Mrs. Eli H. Whitmire, Addielee, Okla

 

My husbands father, George W. Whitmire, was a one half Cherokee Indian, born in Georgia, near Echota in 1824.He and his brother, Johnson Whitmire, came to the Indian Territory about 1838 and settled at Peavine, three miles south of Barren Fork Station. Some time later George met and was married to Elizabeth Fought who was born in Tennessee and came to the Indian Territory as an immigrant.

George Whitmire later moved farther down on Barren Creek where he settled and built a home which was later known as the Whitmire Plantation while yet a young man.He went back to Georgia and through a lawsuit gained a lot of darkies belonging to an estate and brought them back to the Indian Territory.They helped him to improve his farm and made him a very prosperous man in those days.

The first schools to be established in Goingsnake District prior to the Civil War were Locust Grove, Oak Grove, and Evans Jones, established in 1843.Two years later, 1845, another public school was located in Peavine south of Barren Fork Creek.

About 1858 George Whitmire built a house in Peavine six miles from the new school so that his children could get an English education.He had two darkies, one named "Uncle Harry Still" and the other named "Aunt Betsy", who would go along to cook and take care of the children.They would come home on week-ends and Miss Esther Smith, the teacher and two of Arch Scraper's girls stayed and boarded with them.The names of the Scraper girls were Betsy, who later married Walkingstick and then Lincoln England, and Nancy who married John Gritts who was a widower with two sons, Levi and Ned.

It was not until after the Civil War on December 10, 1869, that the Whitmire School was established on the plantation and the first men to serve on the new school board were George Whitmire, Arch Scraper and Gideon Morgan, with Mrs. Nan Duncan nee Starr as teacher.

In the fall Mr. Whitmire was elected District Judge and served four years in that capacity.He was a very progressive farmer and owned a large number of slaves before the Civil War. His slaves were very much attached to "Massie George" and "Miss Betsy" as they called Mr. and Mrs. George Whitmire and after they were given their freedom some of them refused to go.

My husband, Eli H. Whitmire, was a one half Cherokee Indian and was born June 13, 1858, in Goingsnake District at the old double log house near the Whitmire Cemetery.He was raised on the farm, his father being a large land owner at the time. His father died when he was thirteen years old, leaving his widowed mother with ten children of her own and two step-children to rear.

She was very ambitious for her children to obtain an education and endured many hardships on the farm for like many others who had owned a lot of slaves she was comparatively helpless when, they were freed.Eliís first schooling was in a little negro cabin on his fatherís plantation about 200 yards south of the house and his teacher was Mrs. Nan Duncan nee Starr. He also attended two terms at the Peavine School, and when the Whitmire School was founded in 1869 he attended there until he was about grown, then he enrolled at the Male Seminary in 1876 and after finishing a four year course he began teaching and taught his first school at Tyners Valley, now called "Clear Fork" several miles north of Proctor in 1880.He continued teaching until 1887 when he was elected to the Senate Branch of the National Council where he served two terms, then was appointed as a member of the Board of Education by Joel B. Mayes who was then chief of the Cherokee Nation.Two years later he was elected by the National Council as one of the Supreme Judges of the Cherokee Nation and served three years.

Those who served on the bench with him were John Wickliff, Jesse Cochran, B. W. Alberty and R. W. Walker.One Supreme Judge was elected every three years and three served on the bench at the same time but each had different jurisdiction.

Mr. Whitmire had criminal jurisdiction over Tahlequah, Goingsnake, and Illinois Districts, while Judge Wickliff had Saline, Delaware and Cooweescoowee Districts and Judge Alberty had Flint, Sequoyah and Canadian Districts.Mr. Whitmire made himself very popular during his term in the Senate, by holding out for a higher bid on the leasing of the Cherokee Strip; by so doing it enabled the Cherokee people to get a raisse from $125,000.00 to $200,000.00 per year for grazing purposes; this was about the year 1888. Mr. Whitmire's first marriage was in 1886 to Mary Wright, part Cherokee, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Wright.They had two children, George Clyde, born July 4, 1887, and Mary Lunnie, born December 24, 1888, now the wife of Arthur Sanders of Stilwell.

Before my marriage to Mr. Whitmire, March 10, 1898, I was M. Lorraine Bouquet, daughter of George and Nancy Bouquet, white.We have two sons, Roy and Harold.

After the advent of Statehood, Mr. Whitmire rented his farm on Barren Fork Creek and bought property in Westville where he moved his family in order to be near a good school. He procured a position as clerk with the Tittle Mercantile company and later was appointed assistant postmaster.After his term of office expired he held various other offices such as police Judge, city marshal and was elected county commissioner of his district and served two years.After he finished his term as county commissioner, he bought a meat market and grocery store, which he conducted for a few years then sold out, and in 1924 moved to Addielee where he was appointed postmaster and conducted a general merchandise store.After coming to Addielee he suffered two light strokes of paralysis from which he never fully recovered.He contracted pneumonia which lasted about a week then death came December 10, 1936 and he was laid to rest in the Westville Cemetery, December 12, 1936.Pall bearers were Judge W. A. Carley, Attorney W. L. Chase, W. H. Langley, Chas. Waters, W. J. Foreman, and J. B. Johnson.

 

 

WHITMIRE, E. H. (MRS.) INTERVIEW†† #386

 

E. F. DodsonApril 16, 1937

INTERVIEW WITH MRS. E. H. WHITMIRE

 

††† E. H. Whitmire, a Cherokee Indian, was born on the old Whitmire plantation in the Cherokee Nation, now Adair County, Oklahoma, June 13, 1858. Here he grew to manhood, helping his father on the farm, hunting some and fishing with the boys who lived near him and at that time neighbors who were considered close would not be considered close now, for at that time three or four miles away was close.

††† This plantation was one of the largest to be found anywhere near it. It comprised some four hundred acres.Much of the work was done by negro slaves.Mr. Whitmire grew large crops of corn, oats and vegetables.

Stock raising was also carried on to some extent, for home use and the surplus was, sold for money to buy things not raised on the farm.

Early in Mr. Whitmire's life much of the cloth used by the family was spun and woven into cloth by the woman, also made into garments at home.Later they bought the cloth, such as jeans, to be made into nice coats and pants.Linsey cloth was a favorite cloth for women's clothes.Both women and men wore moccasins made of deerskin and hog skin, these were made at home or by some neighbor who could such work.

Most of the home furnishings were made at home by hand, and much of the cooking was done over the open fire in the fireplace or if the weather was hot, the cooking was then done over the fire out in the yard.The cooking utensils consisted of, usually, iron, pot or kettles a dutch oven for cooking bread, skillets and buckets.

The social side of life was of course not what it is today but people enjoyed themselves equally as well, for there was game of several kinds, such as the deer, wild turkeys, wild hogs, squirrels,, raccoons and many other small animals and birds that are not here any more; and it was often that the men and boys would get together and have a big hunt, get some good meat for food and have a good time sociably too.Then, too, the men and boys fished much more than they do now, for fish was plentiful in all the streams here.

Church going was another feature enjoyed by all, especially the old Camp Meetings, at Peavine which have been described in some former papers of ours.Visiting the neighbors was one of the social features.

The home of Mr. Whitmire was a center of social affairs. There the young and old alike would come to visit the family. The old folks would spend much of their time chatting about old times back East, before they came here and this was very interesting to the youngsters.Sometimes the older people popped corn, made molasses candy or cracked nuts to please the children.Sometimes the children played some games that they liked.All in all they had a good time.

The home was a seven room structure, two large hewed pine log rooms with a half story above and wide hallway between.On the front side there was a wide porch the entire length of the building.On the west side there were side rooms or the lean-to rooms.The house was built with the idea of making it strong against an attack for in the early days that was one of the features of most houses.The window bases were high, walls strong and the doors on the outside were strong.

There was a large open fireplace at the end of each main room and the kitchen, the one in the kitchen was used to furnish heat for the room and also in early times it was used to cook.This house was built by George Whitmire about 1840 and is still in a very good state of preservation.

Mr. E. H. Whitmire attended school in the common schools near his home, the first one he attended was taught by Mrs. Nan Duncan, nee Starr, in one of the negro huts, on his father's farm.At the age of nineteen he entered the Cherokee National Male Seminary and graduated four years later, taught school in the nearby schools for several terms.At the age of twenty-four he married Miss Mary Wright and about this time he was given a place on the Board of Education of the Cherokee Nation.It was the Board's duty to establish schools and appoint the teachers.He served on the Board four years.He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation two terms.

His first wife died and later he married Miss Anne Lorene Bouquet and they are the parents of two boys.

In 1898 he again entered the teaching profession and taught three years, then moved to Westville, Oklahoma; worked in a store and as assistant Post Master of Westville and after two years he resigned and was appointed city marshal serving twelve years.Then he served two years as mayor.He then opened a business of his own, a meat market and grocery and, operated this for four years and then moved to Addielee, Oklahoma, where he operated a general store and postoffice until his death, December 10, 1936.