Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 15
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Life in Indian Territory

William's grandfather, James McClure, lived about one half mile from the south Canadian River which was the boundary line between the Briartown settlement and the Choctaw Nation. This closeness of the McClure property to the river could have made it possible for Jim McClure to have worked with Bell Starr and her friends. This could have been why William Freeman remembers his grandfather keeping horses for the outlaw gangs.

All of the drinking water was hauled or carried from a large spring near the settlement, later named McClure springs. William helped the Arnetts by hauling water for them many times.

William's uncle, John West, father of Dick West of Muskogee, was the first United States Marshal at Briartown near the Kettle settlement. Bill West, his brother was deputy. (Note; John West was the Marshal that had the shoot out with Sam Starr that killed both of them. See picture of John West in the story about Belle Starr.)

During those times the law breakers of the Canadian District were tried at Webber Falls. Shoemake was the first district Judge. Herman Vann was also Judge at one time of that district. John Sevier was prosecuting attorney. When white people broke the law they were taken to Fort Smith, tried and punished or released.

When Indians were found guilty by trial they were sentenced and sent to Tahlequah to be imprisoned. When put to work, they were in a chain gang. The old Buffalo trail runs near the settlement, through what is now known as Uncle Tom's place. The trail is still visible, coming from the west on down on down across the Canadian River.

There was a salt ground know as Deer Lick, a salt spring northwest of the settlement.There the Indians boiled the water down getting salt for home consumption, and the Deer Lick furnished plenty of salt for sale.

The Kettle ferry was the nearest ferry to cross the Canadian river to the Choctaw Nation. The ferry was owned by John Kettle, near the settlement. The ford, known as Rocky Ford, was at the Kettle Ferry where the water was low. There was another ferry about a mile from the Kettle ferry known as the Hoyt Ferry, owned by Babe Hoyt, a Choctaw, Many people were drowned at these ferries and rocky ford.

The most valuable timber near the settlement was walnut. The trading posts for Briartown were Fort Smith and Webber Falls. Oxen were used in those days to plow the fields and for travel. Jim McClure had some horses, mules and oxen.

Wolves were a menace during that time, killing hogs, calves, and young colts. They ran in packs and were dangerous to man. Doors and window had to be securely barred at night to protect human life.

The Indians received from the government during that time, money known as bread money. The payments were ten dollars a head. The politics were the National and Dowing Party. The mail was brought to the settlement by carriers on horseback.

Briartown was founded May 19, 1882 (It's railroad name was McMurry). Porum was founded MarCh 35, 1890, named for J. Porum Jr. He was known as Dave Porum, a prominent Indian leader. At this time all of Oklahoma was still Indian Territory. Briartown and Porum were all one community; no towns as such were established as yet.


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