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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 4, No. 4
December, 1926

William A. Sapulpa

Page 329

The life of Sapulpa, for whom the City of Sapulpa was named, reads much like the lives of other active, virile men, whose lives have merited the confidence, honor and respect of their fellowmen. He was born in Alabama. Both his parents were full-blood Creeks. His father was O-M-I-Y-A, but his mother’s name and the date of his birth are unknown to his posterity. Both his parents died in Alabama when he was but two or three years old and he and his three sisters were raised by his two uncles, brothers of his father. His boyhood and early youth were spent on the hunting grounds of their then Indian country, which extended from Florida to Mississippi and the encroachment of white settlers into that country brought him into conflict with the governmental authorities and the soldiers, so he was, for a time, what may be termed a wild Indian. It seems that the white settlers of those days (very much like some of the white settlers of later days), would not recognize the rights of Indians to any property whatsoever and proceeded to help themselves to stock belonging to the Indians. The Indians proceeded to retake such of their stock as they could find and, perhaps, taking other stock in place of the stock not found. The white settlers, of course, chose to treat the Indians as cattle thieves and shot some of them. This conduct on the part of the white settlers so aroused the manly and racial instincts of young Sapulpa to action that brought the soldiers in pursuit of him; but he was too wily and fleet of foot for the soldier boys, so they never caught him. One incident of his experience with the soldiers that he often told to his children was this: While out hunting with some other men, in Florida, they saw the soldiers with blood hounds—and the pursuit was on. Young Sapulpa ran into a swamp, with the blood hounds and soldiers on his trail. Coming to a creek that ran into a lake, he saw a big alligator in the creek. If he stopped or turned back, the hounds and soldiers would get him, so he made a desperate jump over both the alligator and the creek. But the hounds and soldiers were not so fortunate—for when they arrived at the creek, the alligator put up such a hard fight that they gave up the chase.

Page 330

And so the native of the swamps saved the native of the woods from his enemies.

The Creek Indians of those days often visited Ste. Augustine, Florida, where they did most of their trading. Here did also young Sapulpa go quite frequently and met and made many friends among the white people. His last trip to Ste. Augustine was his last trip from the old hunting grounds; for at Ste. Augustine some of his white friends induced him to go with them to Charleston, S. C. The trip was made by boat, and Mr. Sapulpa was treated to the sights of whales, etc., to be seen in the briny deep. Leaving Charleston, he continued by boat to New Orleans and then continued on to what later became the eastern part of the Creek Nation in what is now Oklahoma—thus becoming one of its pioneers and one of the leaders of his people. Soon after his arrival in the new country, he assumed the duties of a husband by marrying NaKitty, an Indian maiden, and, moving to what is now Creek County, he built his home and commenced farming on Rock Creek, about one mile southeast of Sapulpa. Sometime later, in about 1850, he started a store at his home, where he sold coffee, sugar, tobacco, dry goods, flour, spices and other articles too numerous to mention and hauling his goods in by team and pack horses from Ft. Smith and the old agency about 7 or 8 miles northwest of Muskogee. At the end of about two years he gave up merchandising on account of the difficulties of getting in his goods. There were no other stores in the neighborhood—the nearest stores being at the old agency, near Muskogee and at Council Hill. There may be some old timers who remember when we had no railroads, no automobiles, no trucks, no interurban lines, no bridges over our streams —and no wagon roads fit to travel, but I think that the most of you would consider the traffic in merchandise, under such conditions, as unthinkable.

Three children were born of his marriage to NaKitty—James, Hanna and Sarah. Of these three, James and Sarah are still living. James Sapulpa lives about one mile south of Sapulpa, and Sarah is now the wife of Timmie Fife and lives within the city.

Sapulpa was married again to Cho-pok-sa, a sister of his first wife and by whom he had seven children—Moses, Yarna, Samuel, William,, Rhoda, Becca and Nicey. All of these chil-

Page 331

dren are now dead, excepting William, who now is a farmer, and lives about two miles west of Sapulpa.

When the Civil War broke out, Sapulpa loaned $1,000.00 in gold to the Confederate cause, receiving a note as evidence thereof, which note is still in existence and held for safe keeping. He joined the Creek Regiment of the Confederate Army, in which he served for three years and rose to the rank of first lieutenant, and was wounded in the battle of Elk Creek, near what is now Checotah, Oklahoma.

During the years 1871-73, about two or three hundred Osages used to come down here and camp, staying about two weeks at a time and traded with the Creeks, buying corn, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, peanuts, bacon, hogs and so forth. They put up their tepees on the land where the court house now stands and extending in a southeasterly direction about one-half mile.

In 1872, Mr. Sapulpa opened another store at his home on the hill southeast of what is now Sapulpa, buying and hauling his merchandise this time from Coffeyville, Kansas. But about a year later he closed out the business again, because of the difficulties of transportation. However, he had taken a deep interest in farming and stock raising and devoted his time, energy and talents to those industries with such success that, in due time, all the land within ten miles of his home was embraced in his ranch, and for several years he shipped cattle and hogs to the St. Louis market.

In about 1875, Mr. Sapulpa joined the Methodist Church South, and was an active member thereof from then until the time of his death and donated liberally with cattle, flour, coffee and sugar to feed the people at Camp Meetings, which always lasted several days.

In the early days, big game, consisting of antelopes, panthers, deer, buffalo, elk and bear was plentiful, and Mr. Sapulpa indulged his passionate fondness for hunting and exercised his great skill in the hunting of such game.

In about 1884 or 1885, the Frisco railroad completed the extension from Tulsa to Sapulpa and Mr. Sapulpa was invited by the Frisco officials to ride to Sapulpa on the first passenger train from Tulsa to Sapulpa.

I am pretty reliably informed that there was one store and one blacksmith shop at the end of what is now South

Page 332

Maple Street for several years before the Civil War, and that business was kept up there until the war broke out and that during the war all the buildings were burned.

The Okmulgee District Court of the Creek Nation was held about the year 1890 on or near the place where J. E. Rice now has his business at Park Street and Lee Avenue, and was presided over by William Anderson, as Judge, with Stand Watie as Prosecuting Attorney and myself, William Sapulpa, as Clerk of the Court.

Mr. Sapulpa was a member of the Coon Clan and his wives were members of the Fox Clan. He was a member of Osocheetown and in 1868 was elected by his town as a member of the House of Kings, which position of honor and trust he held until the date of his death, March 17, 1887.

Mr. Sapulpa was fond of the Indian ball game and was considered the best allround ball player on the Arkansas River.

Son of Sapulpa.

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