V. M. Locke, Jr.
One afternoon in the early spring of 1876, an Indian of somewhat distinguished appearance rode up to a modest residence situated on the outskirts of Doaksville, Indian Territory. He came for his mail; Doaksville at that time having about the only Post Office in this section of the Choctaw Nation. Upon invitation from those residing in the above-mentioned home, the rider dismounted, hitched his pony to the fence and entered the house. It was his stopping place on the occasion of his monthly trips to the Post Office. The members of the family occupying this residence always looked forward with delight to these periodical visits. This man was of the Choctaw tribe of Indians; not altogether a full-blood, but of Indian parentage. His education was of that kind peculiar to the Indian viewpoint, and his manner of life indicated rigid adherence to the early customs of the Choctaws. He was past middle age, about medium in height, and large boned. His eyes were indescribable—they looked like fire at times. He wore his hair long-bobbed rather, and from right to left, a heavy lock of mixed black and gray reached across his forehead and was carefully tucked back of his ear. His voice was strong and full of vigor. He seldom had to repeat his words. He spoke English very well, and with an attractive Indian brogue. His correspondence was to the point and his letters were written with care. He was not a ball player, (Indian ball) or fighter, and yet even in his day to be a good ball player was a distinction that started one well on his way in the political world here among the Choctaws. This man was not exactly a politician. He had long past that unstable period in every man’s life. He was an Indian statesman of prominence and a patriot of the old school. The same spirit that drove Sitting Bull of the Sioux on his red career dwelt in the soul of this Choctaw. But he was a man of peace rather than of blood. His whole life was devoted to the welfare of his people, the Choctaws, and the promotion of peace and friendship with, all peoples and all races. His home was on Big Cedar thirty miles north of Doaksville, off to the left of the road three quarters of a mile, the road connecting Ft. Towsen
(near Doaksville) with Ft. Smith, Arkansas. This ancient military highway was known locally as the "Ft. Smith road." It was built by the War Department with soldier labor back in 1824-30. It is said that there was an appropriation by Congress of eight thousand dollars with which to build this road. Of course, this amount was used for incidentals only, the road was actually constructed with soldier labor. But to return to our subject: of the home life of this Indian, nothing shall be said in this brief outline. This small effort is only for the purpose of relating how an Indian went to the Post Office here in the Indian Territory, back in 1876. He rode an Indian pony; not a horse but a pot bellied, grass fed pony. His saddle consisted of a tree (saddle tree), some raw hide straps, and a pair of wooden stirrups as big as Star Navy Tobacco boxes. He carried a lariat, pair of hobbles and a small bell. It is said that even though he would leave his pony in a lot all night, he would hobble, bell and lariat the poor beast. This may be one of the thousand and one stories told of the eccentric mannerisms of this individual, but even if it should be an invention of an idle mind and told with the intention (only) of creating amusement, it certainly is characteristic of the man. He always brought along an empty flour sack with which to transport his mail. If any of his mail appeared to be of importance, he would look it over before his return home. He usually stayed all night on these monthly visits. On the occasion of this particular trip he received a piece of mail of formidable appearance, a letter that bore the post mark of Philadelphia. In addition to being an epistle of unusual size, it had the crest, or coat of arms of the City of Brotherly Love emblazoned on the upper left hand corner and the return card advised that it was from the officials of the Centennial. This particular letter was opened with great care. Just as this piece of mail was being given minute inspection, Captain Nanamentubbee of local prominence entered the room. Nanamentubbee was a Choctaw of some considerable distinction himself. He won a Captaincy in the southern army during the Civil War. He lived about four miles northeast of Doaksville. After the close of the great struggle between the States. Nanamentubbee devoted the remainder of his life to the promotion of temperance among the Choctaws. In his zeal for the cause he would have outshone Wayne B.
Wheeler in the efficacy of his course; and as an advocate he would have spurned as unsportsmanlike, the actions of Mr. Volstead and his colleagues in passing laws of reform while four million voters were in France. Nanamentubbee was a square shooter, and he hated strong drink. On his return from the War in 1865, he brought back two drums from the Army. His boys were taught to beat them, and no doubt men and women of fifty years of age who are members of the Choctaw tribe of Indians, still recall Nanamentubbee and his drums. "Captain Nana," as he was affectionately known among the Choctaws, had received a letter from Philadelphia too. He had already opened it and as he entered the room as above stated he presented it to his friend from off Big Cedar, and his eyes shone bright with importance. Letters were exchanged and read and it was found that both had received invitations to the Centennial at Philadelphia. A conference was held, and it was concluded that such courtesy required an immediate reply. They called for pen, paper and ink. A small size table was brought for their use and the composition of a dignified reply was embarked upon. A detail account of their many duties were set down, the distance to Philadelphia mentioned, and the absolute necessity of their presence with their people at all times was set forth in solemn words. Finally at the wind up of their reply, in order to soften the blow, to neutralize the disappointment (which must be theirs) of the officials of the Centennial at their inability to be present on the occasion of the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Union, they very gently penned the following sentence in closing: "I am sorry I cannot come this time; I will sure be there next time!"
The Indian of distinguished appearance from off Big Cedar was Coleman Cole, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation. The abandoned farm where his home once stood and the "Ft. Smith road" nearby are quiet reminders of the Choctaw Nation as it was fifty years ago. This locality is within the limits of Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, and a State highway with an everlasting passing of automobiles runs along the edge of what was once Coleman Cole’s area of abode. Thanks to the generosity of members and officials of the Historical Society of Oklahoma, a splendid picture of "Governor"
Cole hangs on the walls of the rooms occupied by the Society in the State Capitol at Oklahoma City.
V. M. Locke, Jr.
LETTER FROM MRS. FRANK KORN.