Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 17, No. 1
March, 1939

By R. L. Williams

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Peter James Hudson

Peter James Hudson1 was born October 10, 1861, at the old Missionary School building built by Cyrus Byington2 at or near Eagletown in the Choctaw Nation. He died at Indian Hospital at Talihina, October 21, 1938. His funeral was held on October 23, 1938, in the Choctaw Council House,3 and he was buried at the Tuskahoma cemetery near Choctaw Council House on the same day. He was enrolled as a full-blood, his Choctaw Roll number being 5483, although in fact he was a three-quarter blood Indian of a non-English speaking Choctaw family, his grandfather being a white man whose antecedents and Christian name are not disclosed. He married4 on August 16, 1891, Amanda J. Bohanon, the daughter of S. H. Bohanon, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Margaret. He was the son of James Hudson and his wife Ah-ho-bo-tema, who, in Mississippi, was a member of the Aphika clan.

In a letter as to his boyhood Peter Hudson states:

". . . my occupation was to work little on 48 acre farm, to kill birds with bow and arrow, hunt deer, turkey, coon, 'possum, skunk, beavers, fox with old muskets which we picked up after Confederate soldiers throw them away when Civil War was over; played regular Choctaw ball game; nature provided for our wants in hogs and cattle; ponies to ride; these stock took care of themselves in winter in

1Chronicles of Oklahoma, X (1932), p. 229 (note 37), 230 (note 39), 221 (note 6), 384 (note 5), 387 (note 20), 391 (note 37).

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cane-brakes in a river bottom; great forests produced acorns every year to which millions wild pigeons and wild ducks came to feed in the fall. When day is over we used to sleep, the sleep of the innocent . . . . The extent of my knowledge of English 'me talk no English.' . . . So great the contrast was what interested me—to go from Eagletown (one store and post office) . . ."

From 1870 to 1876, inclusive, Peter Hudson was a pupil at Spencer Academy, a tribal school. From 1879 to 1882, he attended the Academy of Drury College at Springfield, Missouri, and from 1882 to 1887 was a student at Drury College, being graduated on June 16, 1887, with an A. B. degree. From 1887 to 1889, inclusive, he attended and was graduated from Hartford Theological Seminary at Hartford, Connecticut.

On creation of Tuskahoma Female Institution, he was appointed superintendent on August 6, 1892,5 continuing in such capacity until the supervision of the trial schools by the Choctaw Nation closed. He was auditor of the Choctaw Nation continuously from the time of his election on August 7, 1901, until the close of the tribal government. He was a member of several delegations to Washington, D. C., as representative of his tribe and was frequently called upon as an expert interpreter.

After the adoption of the Oklahoma Constitution he affiliated with the democratic party, stating as one of the reasons the incorporation of the provision in Section 11, of Article 23, which had the effect of classifying the Choctaws with the white race.

He further states:

"Since I visited Miss. (Mississippi) Choctaws in 1921 and saw the condition of things over there I feel kindly toward General Jackson for forcing our ancestors to emigrate West. I admire the spirit of our ancestors who suffered and made it possible for us to reach status of where we are today—on equal term with any race in the state of Okla."

He wrote:

"It is more difficult to try to get family tree of fullblood families for the reason that they had only one name, Indian name.

5Chronicles of Oklahoma, XIV (1936), p. 432; IX (1931), pp. 39, 41 (as to the dedication of McKinley Mountain).

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Of late years I undertook to make family tree of my ancestors on my mother side. I found there were three sisters; oldest Shomota; next Mrs. Widow Hudson on 1831 Choctaw Roll made in Miss.; last Ishtemohoke. They were full blood. Mrs. Hudson was mother of George6 Hudson, James Hudson, my father, etc. She died on a road to Indian Territory in 1831. The descendants of Shomota and Ishtemahoke adopted the name McCoy."

He later wrote:

"I have no information at all on father side but I worked out that there were three sisters, namely Shaluma, Ishtimahoke and Mrs. Hudson. It is said white man was father named Hudson. Judge James Hudson was my father."

As to different spellings "Shomota" and "Shaluma," whether occasioned by further research is not known.

His grandfather on the Choctaw side was Captain Meshambe, who died May 24, 1857.7 The widow Hudson, known as Mrs. Hudson, was probably the first wife of James Hudson, a sister of the mother of Peter J. Hudson, who was married to him after the first wife's death.

Peter James Hudson did research work as to tribal matters, rendering invaluable service.8

An Indian personality the like of which will not again be seen in this state has passed away. He bridged the past with the present. Humble, courageous, honest, sincere, possessing a keen sense of humor, he unselfishly devoted himself to the interests of his race and the preservation of their history and lore.

No living translator of the Chickasaw and Choctaw languages survives who can approximate him. He knew the history of the

6Chronicles of Oklahoma, X (1932), p. 222 (note 13) ; Cyrus Byington Letters (transcripts), II, 1104 (note 83), Library, Oklahoma Historical Society; 19457-a, Archives, Oklahoma Historical Society; Chronicles of Oklahoma, VI (1928), p. 83.

8"Trails, Roads, Locations, Settlements, Names, Mountains and Streams, Lead and Zinc Mining, and Happenings (Reminiscences by Peter J. Hudson)," Chronicles of Oklahoma, XII (1934), p. 294; "Recollections of Peter J. Hudson," Chronicles of Oklahoma, X (1932), pp. 500-519; "Organization of Counties in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations," Chronicles of Oklahoma, VIII (1930), p. 315; p. 315 (note); VII, pp. 388-418; p. 413.

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Choctaws, their traditions, and lore. At the time of his death he was a member of the Choctaw Advisory Council, and had been elected as the first curator of the rehabilitated Choctaw Council House. His life had been dedicated to the service of his tribe, not for personal gain, but for service. With honor and credit, ever seeking to do good for his people, and not controlled by selfishness and greed, he efficiently filled every position that came to him. His death marks the passing of one of the outstanding members of the Choctaw tribe of Indians, the best informed of the surviving remnant of Choctaws on the details of Choctaw history, legislation, government, and Indian lore.

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