Slave Narrative of Ned Thompson

Grandfather was a Alabama slave. His master had a lot of boys who were named Tom so as Grandfather took care of the cows all the time when he was a boy they started to calling him “Cow Tom” when they wanted him. Each boy called according to his work to keep them all from answering. That name stayed with Grandfather all his life. When the agreement was made to sell the land in Alabama for land here he was forced to follow his master to see if the land was suitable to trade. That trip was made two years prior to the immigration. There were no towns but they crossed the Arkansas River Southwest of Ft. Smith on horseback, then went southeast of Checotah, due northwest to North Fork, and then on South. As they were going northwest they passed a high hill and saw some birds flying toward them. He thought there must be water up there and the birds had been there to drink but others said it was too high a hill to have water on top of it. They went to see and found a spring that had been chopped out before 1832. It is thought that some Mexicans had chopped out the spring as they came through going South as they explored clear to Ft. Sill. Grandfather then returned to Alabama and sent his wife and children with the immigration but he stayed and fought in the Florida war. That war was similar to the Green Peach War as it was just between Indians. When the Indians emigrated they brought their Negroes just as they did their property or stock. They ate or were clothed just as the Indians saw fit to furnish them. When Grandmother came her boat sunk and only a few of her people lived. Grandfather was an interpreter in 1832 and up to 1866. The only Negroes who had to work hard were those who belonged to the half-breeds. As the Indian didn’t do work he didn’t expect his slaves to do much work. Two acres was a big farm and the Indians would have eight to ten Negroes to attend it which was plentiful. The Negroes had little log huts with dirt floors around their owner’s house. Most of the Indians wouldn’t sell their Negroes so they had a great many as the Negroes usually had big families. The men who owned slaves were: Dave Barnett, Ben Marshall, Lee Hawkins, D.N. McIntosh, Watt Grayson, G.W. Stidham, Sooka Colonel and Yargee. Everybody got their goods by ox wagons from Ft. Smith. So when some of these large slave owners were without money and needed supplies, two or three of them would take a load of Negroes to Ft. Smith and sell them to buy the supplies they needed. Some of the slave owners took the Negroes to Paris, Texas to sell. I was a child and can’t remember all about it but we were going to Ft. Gibson and the Civil War had just started. We went through a battlefield where there were many dead persons. Some were white and some were Indians. It was six or seven miles east of High Spring. There was a house close and there were some who were living in the house but the wounded were in there on beds. One of my sisters had bad dreams and cried all night because of what she had seen. The dead were in the corn rows. Honey Springs had no honey in it. It was on that same trip that we heard that we would pass Honey Springs. We children were anxious to come to it for we loved honey. When we got there, there was only water in the spring and we were disappointed. When the war came to a close the Commission met at Ft. Smith and the Indians had to adopt the Negroes into the Creek Nation. The Indians first said that since the Government had taken the Negroes away from the Indians now the Government could take care of them but finally the treaty of 1866 was signed. Constitution and By-Laws of the Muskogee Nation 1890 and November 23, 1895. Every member of the council was given these books; as I was a council member I received mine and still have them. I wouldn’t sell them unless I received a good price for them. All the Treaties from 1832 on down are in them. That includes a list of the Negroes adopted into the Creek Nation. My father’s name is among them. Each white man had to take his own slaves and say, “This is my slave” for no one else would know him. So as a rule the slave took his master’s name. One old Negro was owned by Grayson so they started to write his name Grayson but he said that he didn’t want his name put down Grayson, that he wasn’t an Indian and his daddy was a Negro. As he didn’t know his daddy’s name he asked to be called “Old Suttin” as that was the name he was used to being called.

Commission From Muskogee Nation
Commission of the Muskogee Nation, Okmulgee, May 1, 1883, October Council, Ned Thompson, Stock Superintendent
Sam Checote
B. E. Porter, Private

Samuel Checote was the chief. Isparhechar didn’t like the Creek Constitution and rebelled against the Indian Government and the Creek tribe was divided. My people and I were on Checote’s side. The people who lived out here by the Rock Store were on Isparhechar’s side. One scrimmage took place on a flat rock west of Okemah where seven or eight men were killed, who belonged to both sides. My cousin, Joe Barnett, who was a Lighthorse Captain, and Sam Scott, an Indian, were killed by Isparhechar’s men. I was shot in the shoulder on both sides of the neck. We were going west and forty or fifty of them were going east. We didn’t see each other until we were real close. At ten o’clock in the morning Isparhechar’s people had passed the Sac and Fox line and the Indian agent and the chief of the Sac and Fox stopped us. Then we came back and the government sent soldiers, Colonel Bates and others, who captured the Isparhechar men and took them to Ft. Gibson. After they had signed a peace contract the soldiers escorted them back to their own homes. Sam Checote didn’t go out but gave orders trying to subdue them and make them obey the Creek law. Pleasant Porter was the Manager at that time, he was Chief after Statehood.

Barnett, Scott, Thompson,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007-2024. The WPA Slave Narratives must be used with care. There is, of course, the problem of confusion in memory resulting from (73+ years) of the participants. In addition, inexperienced interviewers sometimes pursued question lines related to their own interests and perspectives and attempted to capture the colloquialism of the informant's speech. The interviews provide fascinating insight and surprisingly candid information, however.

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