By Peter J. Hudson
In October in the year 1876 announcement was given that a temperance meeting would be held at Big Lick or Lukfata Chito Church in Nashoba County, about 45 miles north of Eagletown. I was then about sixteen years old. Such an organization had existed in Eagle County but had been discontinued after Rev. Cyrus Byington removed to Ohio. About ten constituted a party that attended from Eagle County. My mother, Ahobatima Hudson, and her sons, Daniel Hudson, Wash Hudson and myself, and Cornelius Homa, son of John Homa, a brother of Fuli Homa, Creek Indians, captured by Choctaw Allies under Gen. Andrew Jackson in Creek War of 1812, and afterwards adopted, were in the party. Starting from Eagletown we took the Ipalvmmi Trailway a route followed by an old Choctaw named Ipalvmmi on hunting trips, going northward on east side of Mountain Fork River to a point then known as Buffalo Creek settlement.
We crossed what was known at that time as Sam Williams' Mountain when we came into a branch of a wagon road known as "Line Road," extending from Ultima Thule northward near the state line, which we followed about ten miles to Buffalo Creek settlement about eight miles south of what is now Smithville, Oklahoma. My cousin, Mrs. Nancy Watson, Julius Bohanan, Isaac Watson and Ipalvmmi and others composed Buffalo Creek settlement. As most of them had gone to the Temperance meeting at Big Lick, we proceeded to a fork in the road, where taking the wrong road we found ourselves three miles west of Big Lick at the home of Nelson McCoy, traveling north a short distance to Mountain Fork River, and crossing it just below the mouth of Eagle Fork River, thence on a little further when we came to the road coming from Mt. Zion and Felikatvbbi (now Bethel) settlements, about thirty miles west of Buffalo Creek settlement. Hearing a great commotion we saw much dust flying in the air which turned out to be a Temperance Army of about one hundred strong coming from different settlements, through the "Narrows," formed in a line, all on horse back, one after the other, with regular officers, a man in front beating a drum and another playing a flute. A stop for rest being had at Eagle Fork Creek,
they proceeded in order to Big Lick Church, the appointed place for the gathering. I learned afterwards that the flute player was Jonas Watson, a full blood, of Mt. Zion Church settlement located about ten miles north of where Bethel is now located. Having scouts on the look-out for enemies they met us and finding that we were friends going to the meeting place, they requested us to join their delegation, which we did. A short distance further on we came to Eagle Fork where we watered our ponies. Just below the Eagle Fork crossing was said to be the home of Judge Mitanvbbi. William Bryant lived on Eagle Fork six miles north of that point at a place now called Octavia when he was elected Principal Chief in 1870. When he first came from Mississippi he settled near Waterhole Church on Waterhole Creek in Red River County near Red River.
The horses having rested the temperance army again forming in line, with the drum beating and the flute playing began to advance. The scouts going on ahead came back and reported no enemy in sight. Whiskey was called Miko-Homa, meaning "red king." It was Miko-Homa that they were fighting. They sent a messenger ahead to the meeting ground with a message than the army from Mt. Zion and Felikatvbbi settlements was coming. We proceeded on our way, still in line, the line of march arriving at the meeting ground late in the evening. The former arrivals had formed a line, including men, women, and children, a line at least 400 yards long. We dismounted tying our horses and forming in line. Numbering about 120 we began to march and met the other line on the ground. Passing on the left, we shook hands with those in that line. The older Indians would say ""Ittibapishhili ma" meaning "My brother." In that way those who were on the ground and all those coming in shook hands with each other and proceeded to the church house. Then someone delivered the welcome address and it was answered by a member of our line. All this was in Choctaw language. Then each person was numbered, 1, 2, 3, and on to 120, and the first ten taken in charge by a man for Camp No. 1 who informed them that theirs was Camp No. 1, and that they were to eat and sleep there and not to wait to be told to come to eat. Then those numbered 11 to 20 were taken in charge by the man in charge of Camp No. 2, and so on until the last ten in the same manner were taken to Camp No. 12, there being twelve camps.
We were allowed to turn our ponies loose and to go into a corn field nearby to gather corn for them.
The people who attended the meeting were Choctaws from Wade, Cedar, Boktuklo, Eagle and other counties, about five or six hundred Choctaws being in attendance. I do not remember seeing a white man there. Houston Labor, a Mexican, who had intermarried with a Choctaw woman, was at that meeting. He rode a fine horse which pranced around in an open place where everybody could see him. Men like Nashoba Noah, Imiyabi, Phillip Noah, all of Mt. Zion and all able speakers, and Captain Nanomatvbbi of Cedar County, were there.
During the week days, different subjects were assigned to the speakers, such as farming, schools and government, but the whiskey question was discussed fully. A speaker would picture whiskey as being Miko-Homa (red king) and proceed to use all of his eloquence to show the evil habits of any one who followed Miko-Homa. He would describe Miko Homa as taking his money, his property and bringing suffering to his wife and children; that he would take all that he loved away from him and then throw him in a mud hole and drag him through just as though he was a hog, and the people would be urged to sign a pledge that they would not use intoxicating liquor and exert their influence to help the officers keep the whiskey out of the country. Sunday was devoted to preaching and prayer.
In 1856, twenty years before this meeting, Simon L. Hobbs of Lenox Church, Wade County, about twelve miles east of Talihina, reported that 238 Choctaws had signed the total abstinence pledge, temperance meetings at that early date being held.
The treaty of 1820 provided for organizing officers to be known as Light Horsemen to keep whiskey out of the Choctaw country. In accordance with that treaty a prohibition law was passed and Light Horsemen organized to drive the whiskey peddlers out of the country. They did their work well and succeeded in it to a great extent. As time went on the Choctaws worked it out among themselves and formed the organization described above which tended to help keep whiskey out of the country. After such organizations were discontinued no organized effort has since existed among the Indians to cause the Choctaw people to keep from using intoxicating drinks. Probably the meeting I attended was the last temperance meeting as such held by them.