The following story was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Dell Stewart, wife of Jesse Ernest Stewart, from memories of her husband’s stories of the trip. She made copies of the story and sent one to each of three grandchildren in Fall 1975--Sherri Baker, Kirk Smith and Janet McNeil.|
by Lizzie Stewart
It was April of 1895. A friend who wanted to see this new country drove one wagon for them in order to get a free ride. They led a mare behind one wagon and a sucking colt followed. It was a long trip and took several weeks as they would run low on groceries and horse feed. They would camp a few days at a time so your great grandfather (Harvey Arista Stewart) could work and make money to buy more. Your Granddad (Jesse Ernest Stewart) was only five years old at that time.
On the way they met and got acquainted with a colored man traveling in a one horse cart and going the same direction. Granddad said he rode several days with him and one instance he never forgot was when they drove under a leaning tree on which a huge snake was sunning. He said he was looking through childish eyes.
When they arrived here in the Indian territory near Mustang, he (HAS) has a wife, five sons, and six head of stock they brought, the cargo that the two wagons contained and 30 cents in his pocket.
They got here in the last days of May or the first of June and lived the first few months in a dugout on the north side of what is now known as the Frank Horlivy place. He broke sod for people far and near in order to get grocery money.
Bob Taylor, on whose land they were living, let them have the rise of a spot of ground if Grandpa would break the sod. He did and planted a few acres of kaffir corn, a patch of blackeyed peas and some pumpkins.
By that time, it had come a good rain and they raised a good crop that fall. One of the wagons was new and pulled by a good span of mules that were wearing new harness. Your great grandfather was offered to trade even for the quarter section of land where Floyd Lawson now lives, but he couldn’t as that was his only means of making a living for his family. The man offering to trade was tired of trying to get by and wanted some way of transportation to get out of the country.
Many things happened to the Stewart family on the way to Oklahoma, but the worst catastrophe Granddad told about was when his daddy lost his shotgun. The gun was a very necessary article on a trip like this. That was the way he managed to keep the family in meat.
One rainy evening they made camp early in order to hunt awhile and kill something for their supper. When he returned the gun was real wet so rather than put it away in that condition, he layed it under the wagon on the coupling pole to dry till morning.
When morning came with all the hustle and bustle of getting started on the road again, the gun was forgotten and never missed till they had gone a number of miles. Your great grandfather immediately back tracked their journey several miles but never found the gun.
Your great grandfather’s loss was some lucky person’s gain, which was a much cherished article on a trip such as this.