Interviewed by Joe Southern, at Atoka, Oklahoma, May 10, 1937
George W. Cox was born December 1, 1850, at Bonham, Texas, and came to Indian Territory in 1862. He settled o n Blue River, working for Dave Fulsom, a Choctaw Indian. Mr. Fulsom’s place was located at the Nail Crossing o n the Texas-Kansas Cattle Trail on Blue River in Indian Territory. I worked here nine years. Mr. Fulsom was a cattle buyer and trader. At that time cattle prices for a four year old was from $15.00 to $20.00; a two year old from $10.00 to $15.00; hogs from $3.00 to $5.00; ponies from $10.00 to $25.00. Clothing: boots cost from $4.00 to $20.00 to $60.00; blankets from $4.00 to $10.00. There was not much farming, some corn and vegetables raised. Cattle raising was the principal business and cattlemen would buy and gather from 500 to 1000 head from the range and drive them to Kansas City for marketing. The route taken was by Briartown and the Canadian River in Creek Nation, then from Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, o n the Grand River. It took from 20 to 60 days to make the trip. Ox teams were used for transportation for freight from Bonham, Texas, and Paris, Texas to Boggy Depot, Indian Territory. Cost per 100 pounds was from $1.00 to $1.50. Wages at this time were from $1.00 to 1.50 a day.
G.B. Hester was in the General Mercantile business at Boggy Depot from 1865 to 1880 at which time prices for coffee were from 25 cents to 50 cents per pound; flour from $4.00 to $8.00 per barrel; salt from 90 cents to $1.25 per 100 pounds. Plow tools were made by hand, all wood except points which were of sheet iron or steel. When the MK&T railroad was built, our trading point was at Atoka. Charles LeFlore, Choctaw Indian, was the first man that built and operated a water powered grist mill, that was in 1865 and it was located o n Delaware Creek near old Boggy Depot. The natives in a 20 mile area patronized him. Giles Thompson, white man, married to a Choctaw Indian woman, built and operated in 1857 the salt works, two miles west and south of old Boggy Depot. The price of salt was from 80 cents to $1.10 per 100 pounds. Gold and silver were legal tender among the full-blood Choctaw Indians. They would not take paper money in their trading. Fire arms were cap and ball muzzle loading rifles and shot guns. As to style of dress for full-blood Choctaw Indians, shawls, long calico dresses, handkerchiefs, and head dress, all loud solid colors were worn. Jewelry was earrings, beads and plain gold band finger rings. The price of shawls was from $3.00 to $7.00; calico 20 cents to 50 cents per yard; handkerchiefs 50 cents to $1.00 each; earrings from $5.00 to $20.00; shoes, plain high top and laced, were priced form $3.00 to $7.00 per pair, from 1875 to 1900. After the MK&T railroad was built through the Choctaw Nation, the timber business was good. Saw mills were established, timber was cut and transported to Atoka by ox teams and sold to J.B. and D.V. Hurree who shipped to St. Louis, Missouri, to contractors for ties and lumber for the MK&T Railroad. Ties were worth 25 cents to $1.35 each.
Timber was bought from the Choctaw Government and the royalty paid was from 5 cents to 10 cents each. Saw mills paid 50 cents to $1.00 per 1,000 feet for the royalty to the Choctaw Government. Unfinished lumber was worth from $10.00 to $25.00 per thousand loaded o n cars at Stringtown and Atoka. the wages for making ties were 5 cents to 35 cents each. Saw mill workers received from $1.00 to $3.50 per day. Walnut logs and stumps were worth from $40.00 to $65.00 per thousand feet, delivered to the railroad at Stringtown and Atoka. George Cox worked for Dave Fulsom for nine years until Fulsom died. Then, Joe Nail, Choctaw Indian, married his widow. Mrs. Fulsom was also a Choctaw Indian. George worked for Nail seven years. Then in 1878, he came to Boggy Depot and worked for G.B. Hester, hauling freight from Atoka to Boggy Depot at a wage of $1.25 per day and board. In 1883 he moved to Stringtown and worked for Jim and Tom Kennedy, white men, at saw milling at $1.25 per day but after three years (in 1886) he went to Atoka to work for J.B. Scratch, white man, in a saw mill located 18 miles east of Atoka o n McGee Creek. He hauled lumber to Stringtown and Atoka, hauling it with 4 to 8 yoke of ox teams, with o ne and two trailer wagons loaded with from 10 to 15 thousand feet of lumber. It took from 3 to 5 days to make the round trip and his wages were $1.25 per day. He worked 4 years for Mr. Scratch and then came to Atoka and he has lived here and in Stringtown ever since. Wild game and fish were plentiful throughout the Choctaw Nation up to 1910. Hunting and fishing grounds were o n Boggy Rivers, Potato and McGee Creeks, Atoka and Twin Lakes located south and east of Atoka about 20 miles.
A favorite dish of food with the full-blood Choctaw Indians was “Tom Fuller” made of green corn or hominy and cooked with fresh meat and seasoned with salt and red pepper. Cooking utensils were Dutch oven, stewpot, frying pan and iron tea kettle. Tin cups and plates, spoons wooden handle knives and forks, cedar water buckets and long handled gourds for dippers were used. The cost of a Dutch oven was from $2.00 to $3.00; a stew pot cost $2.00; frying pan $1.50; tea kettle $1.50; for knives forks and spoons the cost per set was $2.00; tin plates and cups, 10 cents each; water buckets $1.50 each; feather pillows and bed blankets, feathers 50 cents per pound; blankets $3.00 to $5.00 each.