Choate, Walter

Interviewed by Bradley Bolinger, in Oklahoma, May 5, 1937

My father’s name was Henry Choate, a half-blood Choctaw Indian. His birth place was near old Fort Gibson. My mother - Chickasaw and White - I do not remember just where she was born. My father and mother died when I was pretty young. We lived in their life-time in the eastern part of what is now Latimer County. My father was U.S. Deputy Marshal, handling o nly Indian affairs in this territory. I was a boy living in this country, now Latimer County, when the first Railroad came through. They called it then the Choctaw road. Later of course the Rock Island Railroad Company took it over. There was a Stage Line starting at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and making a stop at what was known as Riddle Station 2 1/2 miles east of where Wilburton now is. This State Line was going southwest making o ne more stop in this country at Mt. Station, 10 miles southwest of new Wilburton. It went o n southwest to Old Boggy Depot o n Boggy Creek in what is now Atoka County. It was run long before any railroad came through this country. I used to visit the Indian Courthouse which was located about 2 miles southwest of Wilburton. It was built of hewed logs, and was about 16 foot square. An Indian Judge, Jury, sheriff and all Indian help presided at this court. They were very strict o n the Indian race in regards to stealing and killing. I remember attending a trial of an Indian there who had stolen a horse. The Indian was notified by the Indian sheriff’s force and he appeared there o n the morning of the day of his trial. They tried this Indian and found him guilty. After the trial they immediately carried him outside and o ne Indian deputy took hold of his right arm and another took the left hand arm. They marched the prisoner up to a good sized tree that stood in the yard; placed the prisoner’s breast up against the tree and each deputy pulled an hand an arm straight out in front and held it there while the whipping was being put o n the prisoner’s bare back. The number of lashes was according to the offense he had committed. The people that lived in this country in those days could go out and find a piece of land that was open enough to farm a little without doing much clearing; they would just build them a log house, settle down and go to work, with a small tax to the Indian Department. We had to travel a long ways to the o nly Grist mill there was in the country. Some times it would take two or three day to make the round trip as there were no roads around this country then. About all the pleasure the settlers would have would be Indian ball games and stomp dances through the country.