Leroy Gardner Submitted by: Marie Wong
Leroy Gardner was born to Samuel G. Gardner and Florence Gardner on December 1, 1901. He had two brothers, Willie and Martin L. “I was born about two miles east of Old Armstrong Academy in Blue County, Pushmataha District, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, of a white mother and Choctaw father. We had a nice one-room log cabin about sixteen by twenty feet, with a fireplace in one end, on which the cooking was done and it also served to heat the whole house, which it always seemed to do best in summertime. The half where the fireplace was had a nice clean dirt floor, so if we happened to spill some grease on it, it would soak up and disappear; also it saved scrubbing. But the back half was wonderful andmodern, with a good smooth floor with very few splinters. There were also two nice beds, made from hewed cypress, with soft rope springs and corn shuck mattresses. Along about this time, they organized a school in our community (Old Church, Oklahoma). They built it alongside the church. It was a nice schoolhouse built of sawed lumber. It was the first house made from all lumber I ever saw. It was about 16 or 18 feet wide and maybe 30 feet long. It had a row of plank benches on each side and an aisle between so we could easily go from the door up to the front where the teacher was for classes, etc. The girls sat on one side of the house and the boys on the other. I think they financed that school by charging each pupil a dollar a month, in order to pay the teacher. Some of the white kids could go for only maybe one or two months, because they didn’t have any more dollars. My brothers and I and all the other Indians got to go the full term for the Tribal government paid for our tuition. In 1916 an ‘Old Time Friendship Quilt’ was pieced in Banty. It has the names of Choctaw Indians who were the friends of Mrs. Helen Bell Mahanney and Jane Bell. It was donated to the Three Valley Museum by Mrs. Mahanney. The names on the quilt include: Leroy Gardner, Marion G. Riddle, M. Luther Gardner, Arlee Gardner, Dophus A. Riddle, Ernest L. Sutherland, Mrs. Ed N. Garner (Etta), Dona Beard Dorthula Bell, Mrs. Mauldin, Vessye Riddle and Thetus Hines. In 1920 Leroy married Hazel Ella Nickle on October 17 in Matoy, Oklahoma. Having completed a new log barn on my allotment, my wife and I moved in on September 1, 1921. The barn was filled with hay, oats, corn and peanuts, except for one room, so we used it for a bed and living room. Under the shed part, we had placed our eating table. We had no place for a cook stove and because of danger of fire in the full barn, we placed it quite a ways out, under a Bois d’Arc tree. We had lots of canned fruit, hogs, cows, chickens, horses, mules and farm machinery, but no money, so I made my first sad mistake. My credit being good, I went to the bank and borrowed money for the first time in my life. This in the note for the $10.00 that I used with which to buy a water bucket and dipper, three knives, three forks, three tea spoons, three table spoons, three plates, three cups and saucers, along with a pound of coffee, box of salt and soda and baking powder, box of black pepper and a 50 pound sack of flour. As it happened, it took every last cent, but I didn’t feel like I was broke. We were happy.” Leroy Gardner passed away on February 3, 1970 in Durant and is buried in Bokchito Cemetery.