Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 11
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Interview with Dr. Culledge, recollections of Tom Starr

More of Dr. George Washington Culledge's recollections from the Foreman collection:

Immediately after our marriage we started back to Indian Territory in a two-horse wagon. We were thirteen days making the trip of two hundred miles, which we enjoyed as our honeymoon. On my return to Briartown we boarded in the home of a Cherokee Indian by the name of Bill Phillips a short time, then moved to the home of Jeff Surratte where we boarded for three years. I continued my practice here until 1894.

I then returned to Vanderbilt where I studied for one year. I returned to Indian Territory, this time stopping at Whitefield, across the river from Briartown. I stayed one year in this community, the moved to the little town of Starvilla about three miles east of where Porum now stands. I lived and practiced Medicine there until 1901, the moved back to Briartown and continued my practice there until 1919.

I discontinued my medical practice and farmed in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas until 1931, when I returned to Briartown and assumed my medical practice until the present time. (1937

Another opinion of Tom Starr:

Tom Starr was one of my closest friends and I made professional calls to the home of "Uncle Tom" as he was familiarly known. Dr. Lindsey, who was a physician at Texanna for many years was Uncle Tom's family doctor. During the time I was located in Whitefield, I made many calls to his home.

There have been many exaggerated stories about the early life of Tom Starr. I would like to brand as false any story that gives the impression that Tom Starr was an outlaw at heart or that he had any criminal or cruel characteristics. I knew Tom Starr well, I never knew him to make a false statement. He told me of his early life and troubles after they moved to Indian Territory from the old nation in Georgia. The murder of his father, James Starr and his little brother, the burning of his mothers home etc. (The story Dr, Culledge told was much the same as told in the book, Belle Starr, so I won't repeat it here.) But Dr Culledge emphasized, "I am confidant that what he related was true."

Dr, Culledge went on to tell more about Tom Starr. He said Tom Starr was a very clever character, he also had a great sense of humor. He seamed to have a great influence over the superstitions of the Indians. On one occasion one of Uncle Tom's fat hogs that he was intending to kill for meat, suddenly disappeared. He waited three or four days, in his characteristic way of silently figuring things out, and yet the hog did not show up.

Finally Uncle Tom strolled over to the cabin of an Indian, who lived a short distance away. When he came in view of the cabin, where he was sure to be seen, he stopped and stood erect in the trail, looking toward the sky, taking long drafts from his pipe and blowing the smoke in the direction of the cabin. He repeated this several times before he reached the door of the cabin. The Indian had been watching and wondered what he was doing.

The Indian asked him in, Tom entered the cabin in a slow and mysterious way, took a seat near the cellar door in the floor of the cabin. He continued to take an occasional draw at his pipe. Finally he broke the silence by saying "The medicine I make through my smoke say to me my hog is in the cellar"

The Indian, in a state of superstitious fear confessed to killing the hog and begged to be permitted to pay for it. Uncle Tom at that time was fencing some land. He let the Indian make one thousand fence rails at $1.00 per hundred and every thing would be forgiven. Tom never lost any more hogs.

One trait I admired in Tom was that he would never speak ill or slander any woman, nor would he engage in conversation with anyone who was doing so. If he was talking to his closest friend and the friend happened to make an ill remark about some woman, tom would immediately walk away from him. I remember one day when a bunch of men had been standing around in idle conversation, and some one made remark about a woman, Tom turned to me and said, "No man should speak evil of any woman, our mothers were women."


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