Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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My name is Izora James, born 1868, about one mile east of what is now called Oak Lodge, Oklahoma. It used to be called then Skullyville, I.T. I started to school in 1876 at a school house called Union School located about o ne mile due east of Rock Island, Oklahoma, my teacher being Miss Pratt, a white woman. This was an Indian school for the Choctaw Children. The teacher was paid out of the Indian fund the sum of two dollars for each child. The school house was made out of square hewed logs, the ends of the logs notched and fitted together. There were cracks about o ne and o ne half inches wide between the logs and these were “chined and daubed” with mud or clay. We sat o n heavy plank benches with out any backs for them. We used slates for our figuring of numbers. We were not taught to write in this school. We studied the Blue-book Speller and the school was not subdivided into different grades like it is now. Some white children went to this school, and they paid the teacher but I didn’t remember just how much. We moved close to Kullychaha next and I went to school at what was then known as the Hall. The Mosholatubee Masonic lodge No.13 built the building. They held Lodge upstairs and school down-stairs. Church for the whites was held down stairs also. This school was not graded either. I went here in 1878 and 1879. I still have o ne of the old copies of the old Blue Book Speller yet. They did not teach penmanship in this school either. We learned to write whenever someone would come around and solicit subscriptions for a ten or twelve day writing school. This cost o ne dollar per student. We learned to write with pen and ink. About 1881 we left Kullychaha next and moved close to the place where the Fairview school now stands, about three miles northeast of Poteau, Oklahoma and I went to the Wapanucka school in the Chickasaw Nation which was called also Rock Academy. If a person went to school here long enough they could go to school in the states. This was a mixed school for boys and girls both. I attended in 1884 and 1885. Mr. Rivers and his wife were teachers here. This school was not graded and we had old books that were clear to of date. They would be worth a fortune if they were still there. I remember o ne time the Music Teacher asked me where do peanuts grow and when I told her they grew o n trees she did not know any different because she had never seen any growing. Mance Rivers and wife were from Georgia. This school was supported out of the Indian funds and by the Methodist Church. My father was Martin James. He was a Methodist Circuit Rider and District Attorney of the Mosho-Lattubee District. This was composed of five counties, Skullyville, Sugar Loaf, Gains, Sam Bois, and Tobusky. He used to ride a buckskin pony from the Skullyville County Courthouse o n down to the Sugar Loaf County Courthouse. It caused his death from exposure, resulting in pneumonia. He was the District Attorney in the following years I think, 1878 and 1879. He was about o ne sixteenth white, the rest was a mixture of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian. Martin James was a charter member in the Mosho-Lattubee Masonic lodge No.13 at Kullychaha, I.T. He died Sept. 22, 1881, and was buried at the Hall Cemetery at the location of the lodge building. My mother was Julia Merryman and she was born at the old Merryman Homestead. This was the same place I was born, It was an old house with an open hallway through it, it was made of square hewed logs and was “chinked and daubed”. The roof was covered with “clapboards”. These were made of straight grain post oak. The boards were two feet long and four or five inches wide. This house is still standing; it is weather boarded now though. My father spoke both the Choctaw and Chickasaw languages. I do not speak very much of either as my father said, the time will come when the whites will be plentiful and I want my children raised as whites are raise so it will not be so hard for them to mix up with them. It would be a blessing if more of the old time Indians would have seen this coming in time, as it puts Indians at a great disadvantage to be raised up as an Indian and not know any thing about the white man’s ways. I married Dixon Hill April, 1886, a Scotch-Irishman. We married by tribal custom, at a Presbyterian Church for whites close to Hill, Oklahoma. A place called Bethleham. The license cost twenty0five dollars. My husband shared in the allotment the same as I did. The license was issued by Noel Olson, a full-blood Choctaw Indian, out in the country close to Summerfield, I.T., at his home. He was the Sugar Loaf County Clerk Indian Court. Sugar Loaf County Court-house was between How and Wister, Oklahoma, o n the road to Glendale, Oklahoma. It has since been torn down. I never did see it. The Skullyville County Court-house was o n Buck Creek Prairie, about four miles northwest of Panama, Oklahoma. It burned several years ago and burned all the records that were in the Court-house. When we registered before allotment, we registered in our mother’s name. It was customary o n the account of unlawful children in some of the Indian families as they would be maybe o n half Indian and the rest of the children full-blood Indian, so the policy of registering under the mother’s amount of Indian blood came into effect. I am registered as o ne-thirty second while I am a little better than a o ne-half Indian.

My Brothers and sisters were as follows: Izora Ann James - Born - Jan. 23, 1868. William Wesley - Born - Jan. 30, 1870. John Bunyan - Born - March 10, 1873. Hiram L. - Born - May 20, 1876. Izadora - Born - July 7 1878. Bellmont - Born - July 1, 1880.

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