Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 10
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Life in the Briartown area

William was caught up in the legends of Belle Starr as was everyone else in the Porun-Briartown area. Perhaps my grandmother Annie would have had stories to tell had someone asked her. William's tall stories could not have been about his personal experiences. He was too young to have helped Belle Starr, the stories, if true had to be about one of the gangs succeeding the Belle and Younger Gangs. The men that Vernon's father Frank, talked about seeing in 1903/10 would have had to be from some later succeeding gang .

One thing is true, William Keith, Alma and Anna Arnett lived among many of the famous outlaws. There were many McClures living in both the Cherokee and Choctaw, Creek Indian Territory during the time William lived there. Some McClures came early in the 1830s, some later. However, several were mixed up with various criminal activities. William's brother-in-law, Charlie McClure was killed in his own home because of his connection with some outlaws. See chapter__ page -__ with the Foreman collection of stories about that period.

Also from the Foreman collection, we can get another point of view and some descriptive information about Briartown in the 1890s from Dr. George Washington Culledge who practised medicine in Briartown in 1894. He may have even treated the Arnetts, Keiths or McClures. His story gives us some feeling for the times. He graduated in medicine from Vanderbilt University in 1885. He served as a intern assisting his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Niddly at Silcam Springs, Arkansas, until June, 1886.

"I decided to embark on my own career in Indian territory, I rode horseback from Washington County, Arkansas, via Tahlequah, over the old stage road through Ft, Gibson to Muskogee, crossing the Arkansas River on a ferry at the mouth of Grand River,. Leaving Muskogee, I started south with Briartown as my intended destination. When I had ridden a distance over the open country which I thought should be near my destination, I saw a cabin near the trail so I decided to inquire as to the distance to Briartown. I rode up to the house and saw a man lying on a pallet by the door of the cabin. I asked him to tell me the distance to Briartown. He raised up and looked at me in amazement and said, "Mister you are right in the middle of Briartown."

To my surprise I learned that Briartown was a community, instead of a village as I had visualized it. This man, Lacy Crane, was my first acquaintance at Briartown. The Briartown post office at that time was in the home of Isaac Mooney, the postmaster. His place was situated about three quarters of a mile northeast of the present site of Briartown. I was fortunate on my arrival to finding lodging and board in the home of Jim McClure, about two and one half miles east of the present site of Briartown.

The country at that time was very sparsely settled and I was the only practicing physician in the territory between Texanna, Muskogee and Webber Falls. The few roads through the country were nothing more than trails. Many of my calls were several miles over which there was not even a trail. I practiced medicine there for two years, then I returned to Arkansas to marry Martha Williams.


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