Cherokee Connection Chapter 2 page 1
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The Cherokee Connection
Chapter 2

Ruben William Freeman Keith, (Paps or Big Daddy) his life, personality and his tall stories of his connection with the Belle Starr gang

As told by his grandson, Vernon Keith in January, 1991

Vernon Keith is Freeman Keith's youngest Grandson. Vernon was born in 1929 when Freeman was 58. Freeman died in 1942 [at 70 or 71]. Vernon was only thirteen, but he remembers Freeman well, He lived close by and was the youngest grandson, and saw a lot of his grandfather and grandmother Alma while he was growing up. He also grew up knowing most of his aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Most of Freeman's children lived in the Porum area because all of them got a land allotment when the government settled with the Cherokee Nation in 1902. All that is except Vernon's father Frank and his aunt Lillian. They were what were called "Too Lates". That is, born after the land allotment settlement. (See 1902 land allotment map as part of this book.) [My mother, Dora wasn't a "Too Late", just not claimed]

Most people called Freeman "Big Daddy". Vernon called him 'Paps", and he called his grandmother "Granny". Vernon remembers him as a big man with great strength and that he worked hard all of his life. As a small boy, Vernon remembers seeing him while in his 60s grip the hand of a man so hard the man would go down on his knees and beg to be released.

Big Daddy and his Family about 1910

He was fair, but he made his kids tow the line. If he told you do something you had better do it. If not the strap was the next thing. He used what ever was handy, his belt, the wagon strap etc.. He said, "If you hit a boy hard enough and low enough on the back you will make a man out of him."

On the other hand, his granddaughter, Susan Stuart, doesn't remember him as being tough and strict. She remembers him as a kind, loving, gentle grandfather. Kind and loving to his wife, her grandmother. He told Susan stories and brought her presents or things she needed each time he returned from his trips to Checotah to sell his produce and get supplies.


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