Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Semiah John Submitted by: Betty Frazier Ketcheshawna and Adeline Frazier

Semiah John was born 2-24-1900 at Bethel, Indian Territory and died May 1, 1994 at Downey, Ca. She is buried in the Antlers Cemetery. Her parents were Lena Cephus and Museton John. Her maternal grandparents were John and Adeline Cephus. Semiah was raised by her paternal grandparents, Allington and Mary (John) King. They lived near Golden, Indian Territory. Allington King was a Circuit Rider for the Indian Methodist Church. She often told stories about loading up the wagon and making the rounds to the churches in his circuit. He was also noted as an herb doctor. Semiah assisted him in gathering and preparing the herbs for his patients. She often told us stories about her childhood, horse thieves, floods, unusual animals, ghosts and myths, especially ‘Big Foot’ or a similar beast. A story she often told was about her pet bear. She had raised it from a cub. The family enjoyed it as a pet and would often give it chores lifting heavy things. The bear began to steal beehives and they released it in the forest when it brought one to the house. Another incident she told was about the time she was sent to rescue a widow. Her grandfather had heard a group of men were going to burn her that night because she had been accused of practicing witchcraft. They did burn her house. Semiah married Lewis Frazier in 1925. They lived in Spencerville and Wynnewood, OK. She was a homemaker as well as a laborer. She worked hard in the fields and canneries in Hugo and Antlers. She also worked as a dishwasher at the Log Cabin Café in Antlers and became a waitress since she could interpret the menu in Choctaw. During the war she worked on the roads as part of the crew, along with Martha Cole and Helen John of Antlers. She said others laughed at them because they thought the three ladies were prisoners. She would often work from sunrise to sunset. Her final place of employment was at the Hugo Steam Laundry. Her co-workers, along with her two daughters, Effie Rogers, Gencie James, Willie James, Rosie Mitchell and Rodrigues. She was very proud of her social security checks, which she earned. These checks were supplemented by selling her crochet bedspreads, tablecloths and doilies. She also collected cans and sold them. When she would visit Oklahoma, which she often did, she couldn’t get over the cans lying around. It was money wasted. In 1948, the Fraziers were divorced. Semiah raised their four children. Her oldest son, the late Tecumseh John Frazier, born 3-23-1935 and died 3-23-1996 was retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and the Downey School District in Downey Ca.; Timothy Frazier was in the U.S. Army with the 45th Division of Okla. He is an electronics technician in California; Her daughter, Adeline Hudson, is a teacher who has worked in Indian Education Programs since 1972 and is presently employed in the Antlers Public Schools. Her youngest daughter, Betty Ketcheshawn works in Special Education and works as a Senior Instructional Assistant for mentally handicapped high school students in Downey, Ca. Her adopted son, Elam Frazier, was killed in action while on combat duty with the U.S. Army in Korea. Because of this, she was honored as a Gold Star Mother. A blanket commemorating this is still cherished by her daughters. In 1961, Semiah moved to California “to be with her children”, she said, but everyone knew it was REALLY to be near her grandchildren. Her grandchildren are: Johnita Frazier Verdugo and Janell Frazier Botello, daughters of Tecumseh and JoAnn; Cedric and Tyrone Ketcheshawno, sons of Arthur and Betty Ketcheshawno; Timothy’s children are LaSanda Pfiffer, Laura Taylor, Lora Frazier and Becky Frazier. Their mother is Charlotte W. Johnson; Semiah “meta” and her brother Timothy John Frazier reside in McLoud, Ok. With their mother, Janice Deer and brother Wani Wilson; Timothy and Sylvia have one son, Noah Frazier and his sister, Crystal reside in California. Adeline and her husband, Loren, reside in Spencerville, Ok on Lewis’ allotted land. Semiah loved children and would care for the little ones of her family, friends and neighbors, often without payment. She was Grandma to her neighbors and their children. Our mother loved going to church and singings. Mom was ecumenical in the sense that we attended camp meetings, Bible School or church services in the vicinity of home. To her, the denomination didn’t matter, it was church. She was a member of the Methodist Church. From 1982 to 1989, Professors of Linguistics at the University of California at LaJolla and University of California in Los Angeles, both utilized her talents as an interpreter of the Choctaw language. She is noted in several works as the official interpreter. Although she had never attended school, she believed n education for her children and often accompanied her grandchildren for ‘show and tell’. For her work with the church and in the community, Semiah was honored as the 1989 Senior Citizen of the year for Los Angeles County. Due to this honor, she was interviewed as part of a film about Native American Seniors in Los Angles. ‘Semiah’s roundtrips from Los Angeles to Oklahoma’-Semiah always made at least two trips a year to Oklahoma. She saved her crochet or can monies along with help from her children, to visit during squirrel and deer season. The Winship boys, Jimmy and Kenneth, sons of Anderson and Ada Frazier always provided plenty of meat for her. In the spring, she would always come during “Wild Onion and Poke Salat’ season. These, she would pick with Ada or Oma Clay. During these trips she often stayed in Oleta with Ada, in Hugo with Anna Mantooth and in Golden with Simon and Dorothy Durants, also visiting, eating banaha and hog head with Ida Greenwood and friends in the Antlers area. She often rode the bus. On one of her tips, the bus broke down in the desert. Her resourcefulness saved a woman’s life. She always carried a jug of water and food. The water saved the woman from heat exhaustion. She almost went to Chicago on one trip. She had gotten on the wrong bus. They were headed out of town when she noticed the different scenery. The bus driver brought her back to Oklahoma City bus depot. After she started flying on Southwest Airline, she didn’t ride the bus again. On one of her trips, she was routed to Ontario, California’s airport. Her grandson went to pick her up, no grandma. She had refused to get off, this was not L.A. She always got off at Los Angeles Airport. The plane took her back to Phoenix. Betty called and they flew her back. Betty said Mom peeked around the corner and when she saw her, got off. The agents at Will Rogers Airport knew her. As her children, we all loved to hear her Grandfather’s account of the forced migration from Mississippi. We would often sit during cold nights and listen to stories of our heritage from our beloved mother. Memories of those days are still dear to us, even though she is no longer with us. Our mother was our friend and the best ‘banaha’ maker. Betty may be next.

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