Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 22
| Contents | Previous | Next |

Interviews with early settlers

We know very little about how Anna lived after she married Charles Pfieffer, but from other interviews we cam learn more about the area, the Katy Railroad and Wilburton where my mother lived in 1900.

Columbus Frankland Keef interview (Foreman collection):

Columbus Frankland Keef was born in 1872. While a small boy, he moved from Georgia to a place now called Krabs in the Choctaw Nation. It is between Wilburton and McAlester, south of the Canadian River and the Cherokee Nation. His father served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Frankland was still a small boy when his father died at the age of 60.

The only school was one small room, built of part log and part rough sawed lumber. The heating was done by a large "Stick and mud" chimney. However he only had school in the summer. This must have been between 1877 to 1887.

The Katy Railroad came through this area. The locomotive burned wood to make steam. Wood stations were placed all along the railroad where the train would stop to take on wood. The white settlers who lived anywhere nearby, spent all of their spare time cutting wood and piling it at one of the stations. About every one hundred miles the railroad put up water tanks. If there was no water they hauled water to the tanks in tank cars.

When the train stopped for fuel or water, the engineer, fireman, conductor and brakeman all got of the train to help load wood. It was always four feet in length, cut off a large tree and split in quarters. They would load enough wood to make it to the next station.

Sometimes this was the only source of income for the settlers. The only farming that was done was to raise corn for bread. There was plenty of wild game of all description. It was easy to find deer or other animals for meat and lard.

The first coal mine opened near Wilburton about 1873. Even as a boy, Frankland worked around the mine. At first, there were no towns in the area. Then the railroad came through and coal was found to be plentiful. Many white people moved in and towns began to spring up. Red oak, Wilburton and McAlester were among the first to grow into towns. McAlester had two country stores and as post office in those days. Troops from Fort Reno also moved in the area.

When Frankland was a young man, (in the 1880s) several bands of white outlaws were frequently seen in the Nation. The area was sparsely settled and the James, Younger, and Starr gangs would hide in a place about eight miles northwest of Wilburton. There were great mountains of almost solid rock with many large caves that afforded places to hide. The area is now a public park called Robbers Cave.

Wesley Dean Interview (Foreman collection):

In 1888, Wesley Dean and his wife came to Indian Territory directly from Missouri in a covered wagon. They settled in a little Indian village called Kullychaha (now known as LeFlore County). It was eight miles from Poteau. Their first home was a little log cabin with a fire place at one end. He also farmed some land belonging to John McClure, a U.S. Marshal.

Most of the game had already been killed, but they often heard panthers.

After six or seven years they moved to Tarby Prairie where his daughter went to a subscription school, which cost one dollar and a half per month. The school had log benches, box desks and used the McDuffy reader.

The Kansas City southern Railroad was being built a few miles from Tarby Prairie. Wesley helped grade the road bed with his team of horses. He was paid three dollars and fifty cents a day. The railroad was a great help to the farmers. They could sell their products to the workmen and get a good price.

Belle Starr was feared in this area as she stole good horses.


Cherokee Connection | Prev | Next | Contents |