Otter Scraper- A Private in Company L. 3rd Regiment of the Indian Home Guards.  Enrolled July 11th 1862.  Honorably Discharged at Ft. Gibson on May 31st 1865.  Invalid claim # 1107807.  Occupation- Farmer.  Residence- Tahlequah District

Otter was occasionally known as William C. Scraper.  He was born about 1832 in the old Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi River.  He passed away in August of 1896 and is likely buried in the Wauhilla area where he lived after leaving Scraper Hollow.  As a young boy of about six years he came on the Trail of Tears with his family.  What horrors he must have witnessed as the merciless whites plundered, pillaged, and ravaged his people.

         As a young man of about 19 years, Otter is listed on the 1851 Drennen Roll in Goingsnake District in the same household with his father.  His mother had apparently passed away by that time.

         He later married Sah-kin-ney (Sallie) Kingfisher and they had at least two children, a son who apparently died young, and a daughter, Jennie.  One of Jennie’s husband’s was Ned Christie, the famous Cherokee who was falsely accused of shooting a lawman.  Ned was said to have hidden out at the Otter Scraper place part of the time when he was on the scout and hiding from the marshals.

In his pension claim Otter mentions his wife has passed away and mentions his daughter by her Cherokee name, Chee-nah-nah, about 30 years old at the time.

Most all the references to his age in the claim consistently indicate that he was born about 1832 .  He was tall, close to 6 feet, and about 170 lbs.  He was considered above average intelligence and in good shape for his age.  It seems that he must have suffered a stroke and lost the use of his left side.  He apparently lived near to, and sometimes with the Jesse Rattlinggourd family in Tahlequah District.

Indications are that the lawyer who filed his claim, John L. Springston, was known for trying to take advantage of people and the system.  One sentence calls him "unscrupulous", another "bad".  Even though the lawyer was mostly interested in his own personal gain, he did help Uncle Otter get a pension, so I appreciate his efforts.           

After his application for pension was at first rejected, Otter was approved and received a pension of  $8 per month the last two years of his life (from Sept 21st 1894 – July 1896).  He was bedfast for two months after apparently suffering a stroke.  He gradually recovered but was partially paralyzed on his left side during the time of his pension application process.

A general affidavit by Otter dated Dec 21st 1895:  He states that he lives about 10 miles out (from Tahlequah) in the country.  This fits well with a residence near Wauhilla.

Deposition of Henry Dick on May 19th 1894:  States that Otter Scraper was not intoxicated during examination, and that he had never seen Otter under the influence or ever heard of Otter being a drinking man.

Letter of Feb 27th 1893 to Hon. Green B. Rann, Commissioner of Pensions, Washington D.C. from A. Vangenden and F.P. Boushee, Special Examiners:  Reads in part - “The examining surgeon’s certificate does not disclose a pensionable degree of disability, nor would claimant’s general appearance suggest any pension trouble.  In fact he is remarkable active for a person advanced in years, and in possession of good mental powers”……. “The claimant is somewhat above the average intelligence of persons with whom we come in contact with in the work assigned to us, and so far as we have been able to ascertain, has a good reputation”.

Deposition dated Feb 1st 1893 before A. Vangenden:  Otter states that he is a widower, his wife having died.  Has no children under age 16.  Has only one child living, a daughter, Chie-na-na, grown up and married.

Examination by Dr. R.L. Fite of June 23rd 1892 listed Otter as 5’ 10” tall & 170 pounds.  Examination by Dr. Joseph M. Thompson of Feb 7th 1896 listed Otter as 5’ 11 3/4” tall & 169 pounds.

         Witnesses on Otter’s pension claim included: Phillip Osage, Runabout Scraper (age 43 in 1894 and living on Fourteen Mile Creek, Tahlequah District), J. Henry Dick, Jay Clark, Richard M. Dannenberg, Nah-ta-wee-yah, Jesse Rattlinggourd, Cah-na-nu-le-ski, George Wilkerson, Thomas & James R. Hendricks.

Otter states that he had traveled to Tahlequah many times, but recently he was obliged to catch a ride whenever he could in the neighbors’ wagon when they were journeying to town.

When he was approached about filing a pension claim, Otter was taken to see Dr. Fite.  When told by John L. Springston that he would have to pay a $5 fee.  Otter walked out, saying that he didn’t have a nickel.  Although Springston called him back, this shows that Otter did not have the money and resources that his brothers Arch and George had at their disposal.  This is not to say that Otter was not as gifted intellectually and as hard working as his brothers.  In fact, his responses in his claim show him to be highly intelligent.  But it does show that life dealt him a very different hand.  It would appear that he struggled through life with little ease or comfort, yet he may have been quite content to live a simple existence without the more exciting and stressful life that his brothers endured.



DEPOSITION (April 1894)

Case of  Otter Scraper     No. 1107807


    On this  3rd  day of  April , 1894 , at Tahlequah,  State of   Indian Territory,  before me, J.H.L. Eager,  a Special Examiner of the Pension Office, personally appeared  Otter Scraper, who, being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to him during this Special Examination of aforesaid pension claim, deposes and says: His age is 62 years, residence and Post Office address: Tahlequah, I.T., and an invalid (paralitic).

Q. Have you applied for pension?

A. Yes sir.  John Springston made out an application for me and I then went before the Dr. (Fite).  That was over two years ago.  It might have been a year or a little less after I was before Dr. Fite, that I went before the Commissioners that were here and asked if they had my papers.  There were a great many Indians crowded into town and there was a desire on their part to each get in first.

Q. Did you not tell the Commissioners that you had not made out an application through Springston?

A. I don’t see how I could have said it, for I had made a claim.  I don’t remember that I told them that, and I could not have told them that for Springston had made out my papers for me.

Q. Who were your identifying witnesses when you made out a claim before Springston?

A. Philip Osage and Runabout Scraper were my witnesses.  We went before the clerk of the court at a store and not at the court house.  It was before Tom Triplett.

Q. Have you seen Philip Osage to talk to him since he closed his store yesterday evening?

A. No sir.

Q. Has Dick Danenberg ever qualified you in your pension claim?

A. I don’t remember that he has; if he did I have forgotten it.

Q. Having heard the statement read to you that was made before the Special Examiners, do you now remember whether you told them that you had not made out a claim before Springston.

A. No sir.

Q. Do you believe that you told them that you had made out a pension claim before Springston?

A. I have no recollection as to whether they asked me that question.  If they asked me, I told them, and if they did not ask me, I did not tell them.

Q. Do you remember that J.H. Dick the interpreter present was the interpreter when you made your statement before the Special Examiners?

A. I don’t remember.

Q. Have you been a sufferer from any sickness since you were examined by Dr. Fite, and since you appeared before the Special Examiners?

A. I have been partially paralyzed on the left side.  It occurred about the time of the close of the last Council (Jan 18, 1894) and I was in bed about two months.

Triplett qualified me in Tucksy Brown’s Drugstore.  I think that was the time that Springston made out the paper.

I don’t remember that Danenberg ever qualified me in my own claim.  At the time I was before the Special Examiners, I could not remember who my identifying witnesses had been.  After that I kept thinking about it until I remembered it.  No person told me.  I did not talk to Springston about it.  If I did, I have forgotten it.

I understood your questions.  You have recorded my answers correctly. 

(signed) Gy  d{qsf (this is the way Otter signed his name, in syllabary, though it may appear  as  jibberish unless you have the Cherokee font installed on your computer)

Cherokee for Otter Scraper       Despondent

J.H. Dick Interpreter





Case of  Otter Scraper     No. 1107807


    On this  21st  day of  May , 1894 , at Tahlequah,  State of   Indian Territory,  before me, J.H.L. Eager,  a Special Examiner of the Pension Office, personally appeared  Otter Scraper, who, being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to him during this Special Examination of aforesaid pension claim, deposes and says:  His age is 62 years, residence and Post Office address: Tahlequah, I.T.

Q. When did you first apply for pension?

A. I have been making out papers so often, for house[1] claims, and for pension that I hardly know.  The best I can remember it is about four years.  Springston[2] did the writing in some of the rooms where he lives at the present time.  Phillip Osage and Runabout Scraper[3] were my witnesses; they were not present in Springston’s house.  I hunted them up afterwards by request of Mr. Springston.  I don’t know where I went to the Clerk’s office, but I know I went to the Clerk’s office.  It is hard for me to catch up, for I have been there so many times.  I went with my witnesses somewhere, but I don’t remember whether it was at Springston’s or at a store.  I can’t remember who put us under oath.  If I don’t make up my statement as I did before, it is because my memory is poor.  I didn’t attach importance to it because I didn’t have any hope of it amounting to anything.

    I know that all this business requires an oath, and for that reason, I think I must have been sworn, but I can’t remember now who qualified me.

Q. Do you remember having gone before the Commissioners when they were here?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you not know at that time that you had applied for pension through John Springston?

A. Yes, I knew it.

Q. Did you not know at that time that Phillip Osage and Runabout Scraper were your witnesses when you applied?

A. I know I was questioned about it, but I couldn’t remember.  I couldn’t call it to memory until the Commissioners asked me about Phillip Osage & Runabout Scraper, and then it came to my mind like a flash.

Q. Did you not on that occasion tell the Commissioner that neither of those two men ever had been a witness for you?

A. No, I never gave such evidence as that; when they asked me if those men had not been my witnesses I was ashamed of my memory, and ashamed that I had forgotten it.  I knew that Springston had come to me and that I had made up some paper expecting to get some back pay or something that was due me, and I never knew that I had applied for pension on account of a disability until I was called by Springston to go and be examined by Dr. Fite, and I refused to go at first, and refused to go until Springston told me I couldn’t get my money until I was examined.  When the Dr. Fite had examined me, then I knew it was for the pension.  At the time the Commissioner questioned me, I still thought that the paper that Phillip Osage and Runabout Scraper had signed was for money that I had earned as a soldier, and did not know that the paper they had signed was the one that brought about the examination by Dr. Fite.  I supposed at first that I was only applying for something that was due me, and not until after I was examined by Dr. Fite, did I know that I was an applicant for pension, and then I supposed from what others told me that I would get a pension.  I supposed that Phillip Osage & Runabout Scraper signed that I had been a soldier and to prove my character.  When Springston got me into the Drs (Fites) office, I asked Springston if there was anything to pay for the examination, and Springston told me, yes, it was five dollars.  I told him I had no business there because I couldn’t find a nickel and I got up and left the room & went out of the door, and was going down the stairs and Springston followed me to the door and called me back, and I asked him if the Dr. was willing to examine me for nothing as I couldn’t raise a nickel, and after hesitating a little, he said yes.  I then came back and was examined. 

I remember very well that Phillip Osage and Runabout Scraper were witnesses but I do not remember that Jay Clark was present and witnessed my mark.  I don’t remember that Springston made out two papers that time.  I am single and have no wife living.  My youngest and only child is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years old.  I have not been in the service of the United States since I was discharged from Co. L, 3rd I.H.G.

I can’t say whether Henry Dick understood me or not at time he interpreted for the Commissioners, for I do not understand enough English to know.

(signed) Gy  d{qsf (Chee-yah Dee-soo-go-s-gee)

                                                    Otter Scraper



Transcribed by Joe Scraper Jr.  March 17th 2008

Special Thanks to Judy Rowe Boemio who acquired Otter Scraper’s pension claim with help from her niece Lisa’s husband Randy Hardcorn, who made the copies while at the Archives in Washington D.C.


[1] This appears to read “house,” but it may read “horse,” as some veterans did file claims for horses lost in the war.

[2] John L. Springston was an attorney who sought out Civil War veterans to help them file pension claims.  He did not have the best reputation, as he apparently filed some fraudulent claims in attempts to collect fees without the permission of the veteran or the heir to the veteran.  It was a lucrative business with fees ranging from $5 - $25 per claim.

[3] This Runabout Scraper gives an age of 43 as of 1894, putting his birth at about 1851.  He refers to Otter as his uncle. Whether Otter was his actual uncle, or whether Runabout was using the title ‘Uncle’ out of respect, as was not uncommon among the Cherokee, is unknown at this time.  Otter had an older half brother named Runabout Scraper, as well as a first cousin once removed by the same name, but both of these would have been born well before 1851.



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