[Mary V. Chisholm Cooke was the granddaughter of pathfinder & trader Jesse Chisholm. Transcribed and annotated by Kerry M. Armstrong, 22 MAR 1995. Revised 29 NOV 1995.]
[This mirror of the original site: was last updated: 21 JAN 1998 ]

Sept. 6th. 39.

I Mary V. Chisholm Cooke1 was Born in the year of 1868 Jan 1st & I now in my 72nd year. My first recolection of Life was in Sept [23, 1872]. I was about four & a half year old when my Mother & father talking & he2 took me & my next younger Sister Alice Chisholm3, 2 years old [born] Feb 12th 1870, about out on our front poorch & keeping us all morning & a part of the evening after the Noon meal. About 4 P.M. we went in to see the new baby a sister, Cora Ann Chisholm4 & we were very proud of our little blue eyed Sister. She was named for one of my fathers Sisters. My Grandfathers second wife & his second Daughter & I was named for the last daughter Mary5 as my two older Sisters6 called me Little Mary.

From then all I can remember was visiting my fathers step-Mother7 & family at the old Chisholm Springs8 where he [Jesse Chisholm]9 lived when he died in April 4th 1868, Potawotamie County Oklahoma. I remember when Grany Sar-kar-ka [Sah-kah-kee] died & my father went up, devided the stuff & brought back some $20.-- Gold pieces, was all he took. He gave the other children the properties, Mules, Horses & Cows. She had a girl10 & b[o]y11 by her last husband, Jackson Chisholm12, an adopted boy he [Jesse Chishlom] raised.

I never knew where the new baby came from but was proud of it [as] I remember.

I think every thing happened [___?___]Chisholms teams & I think he got one team of Mules & a wagon, as there was his wife & 4 other children. My Mother13 had farm tools & she controlled her stock & Properties till she died. Then the Estate was Administered on by her fathers 1/2 bro B. F. McLish14, who lived with us untill her death, which was in 1883 Aug 30th. She lived 20 years & about 8 mos15 & had 8 children, 7 girls & 1 boy16 (I'll tell about later on.) in life.

My father ran a store at old Johnsonville with a old Charlie Campbell17 & my mother milked her cows, made Butter & Cheese & sold it by sending off when my father went for supplies. He sold Cheese to the Stores & she took orders for the Butter. You never had to feed the stock. She made 10 lbs of butter at a hand churn. She had the men make her a Cheese Press & got canvasing & the Keelers & they were just like small wooden tubes, like we used to have. We had Cedar Churns & buckets & My father put out a large Orchards & he moved some bearing trees from some old Fort18 & some of them never stopped bearing & we had Gooseberries bearing the 1st year he set them out & I first remember of him working in his Orchard & in later years he had a fine place.

He died (William E. Chisholm) in 1880 Nov 19th, 3 years before my Mother died. She raised her stock & dried fruits & fresh & when she died, we had a dozen large Midlin Meat in the Smoke House. Stands of Lard, Jars of Honey & all kinds of fruit. I never knew what become of it. My Mother & father were both industrious & like to make a good home & we had a good house of logs, 5 rooms & porches. Good log barns, Graneries, Smoke House, Well house & a wooden pump, as my father tought we might some of us fall in the Well.

My mother was a good Seamtress, (she had a Sewing Machine) & done her own Sewing & cooking (until my oldest Sister helped her & later took charge of the kitchen & my next sister the bed rooms, washing & Ironing & I & my next sister helped my Mother Milk, churn & tend to geting in the Stock.

My early like was hard work. We spent a life at home. A few Indian familys that was thriftless & my mother & father mostly feed. All my life we had an abundance of food, but flour early in my life was hard to get & we only had biscuits for Breakfast on Sundays & sometimes pies & Chicken & dumplings, until my father began to sow wheat & take it to Birds Mill19 & have it ground & took corn too. We used to have a hand mill to grind the meal on. A block to make Hominey on & we raised 4 kinds of corn. Mr Smith, P.A. & my father bought a thrasher, Corn sheller & a little binder & we then had all kinds of flour. My mother use to parch the corn & pound it with a morter & you put Sugar in it & wet it with water & it beat all the breafast cerals. & the foods one could prepare out of corn was wanderful. Hog & Hominey Tamfuller, Peshofa, Corn light bread, Tambutter, Corn & beans. If put up in shucks like Hot Tamalies & a lot of Oposum Grapes made of the juice & balls of corn meal droped in it & its ready to eat anytime & if required a very little Sugar. My [mother] could make Light Bread, Cakes & pies that would equal any Cook of today. I have heard People ask her if she went to a cooking school. She never used a recipe for anything or I never did either.

As I loved cooking & never cooked a meal in my life until after my mother died in 1883. (& I'll tell about later.) After my fathers death, we never noticed any difference in the place, every thing was carried on excepting we didnt raise any crops but what the Renters raised, but still raised stock & the wonderful garden & Potatoes, Irish & Sweet, & Rostin ear Patch. Always a Squaw Corn patch. Flour corn for meal & a Flint Corn for hominey. She had raised enough steers to sell in June 1883 to buy to build a frame house & she had every things constuck it with even the Paper & it was sold after her death to Nathan Byars20 & was never payed for.

She took sick after her last trip to the R. Rah Atoka to finish her buying. 2 wagons went & I along & she was sick when we got back & only lived 30 days after she become bed fast. She had an ascess on her lungs. My Sister Angeline B. Chisholm (who married S.W. Lee in 1885), rode to Shawnee & seen the Government Dr. who was a Dr. Crain. We rode horse back & went up one day & back the next for medicine for her, but he said it was T.B. & there was nothing to be done. She never wanted to be any trouble at all. People would come in to set up & they would sit up in the Dinning room. She passed on without a struggle & never complained or grunted. [It was?] just like falling asleep. She lived A Christian life & died young. She joined the [Methodist?] early in her life. She was such a lonely child. After she visited her father & met her half sister21 & dearly loved her. Her only brother22 got accidentally killed & she felt so alone. Her [half] sister Lue Bruno married my fathers 1st cousin23 as his mother24 was a sister of Eliza Edwards my fathers mother. She visited my Mother until she died & I never seen her again after her death. Her fathers last wife25.

[Note: at this point the first handwritten manuscript ends and I suspect there were one or more pages missing. The next transcribed section begins below. The original manuscript begins with a page "1".]

I can rember of alone Pa(w)nee Indian passing here at the home place & I dont remember just how old I was but I was small & he seemed in a hurry. The horse was a bay Indian poney. There was several Indians came after them or him & they caught him on the South Bank of the S. Canadian River & killed him as he had stole the Horse & run away with him. They threw him up in a Black Haw bush as he was not worthy to be burried. I remembered another man my Grandfather raised by the name of George Caboon & went by the name of George Chisholm & he used to come to my fathers house William E. Chisholms for corn to make bread. I was real small & I can remember the old Salt Kittler being here that was my grandfather Jesse Chisholms early in life, but dont know what has become of them.

My grandfathers death was talked of quite often [in?] my early recolection of Life for P.A. Smith & a negro boy he raised & worked for my father & after my husband William V. Cooke married me, worked for him. He said his was a Creek Freedman & he went to the Creek Nation. P.A. Smith ran a store in Purcell, after we had our first 4 children & he went to his house in Ohio & died. He had a daughter there who was born when his first wife died. He never married again that was before he came to work for Grandfather Jesse Chisholm. My father & mother talked a lot about his fathers death as he seemed to be near & dear to him & my mother spoke of him as a fine & great man & was thought of very much. All of my first recolections of visiting was Grany Sah-kash-Kee's home & John & Bob Deer26 as they were great friends of my fathers & lived over where Boyer27 is now & later moved to the Deer-flat N & W of Shawnee. I remember very clear of a goat butting me over as I went to go from one Cabin to an other. I remember of my father shoeing his own horses. My mother had Slaves, Cattle & horses & she was well educated. A good cook, seamtress & went to Bloomfield Seminary.

My father was our first school teacher & when he died I was 12 years of age [he died] in 1880 on November 19th & I went to school in 81 & was in the 4th grade at old Wapanucka Seminary in Sept 1881. He sent us to Atoka to school one fall, [1876], I was 8 years old & Alice was 6 past & 10 & 12 my oldest sisters. Everyone had Pneumonia & came home. One of my mothers neices Ellen Bruno28 took it first & died. My sister Angeline was not expected to live & they wrote my father to come down & he & a cosin Bud Biggs29 from Cal was here & they rode horse back from home to Atoka & he [Bud Biggs] took Pneumonia the 1st nite & died in 3 days & they burried him at Atoka, but my cosins father & his bro came & took her [Ellen Bruno's] corps to their old home near Sasawka30 & burried her. Her Grandmother Lucinda Bruno & her Grandmother Sallie McLish, her mothers mother was burried there31. Also her father Nathan Bruno and her 2 brothers Joseph & Frasher was burried there all three being murdered. I remembered visiting them & they did us. Nathan Bruno & my father were 1st cosins, sisters children & were like bro & married sisters or 1/2 sisters32.

My mother & father had 8 children, 7 girls33 & one boy34. After we all had Pneumonia at Atoka, my father would never consent to send us a way from home to School until the fall he died in 1880. He had a good education for those days & wrote a good hand. I never knew where he went to school. My 2 oldest sisters went to Bloomfield where my Mother went & I went in 1882 & 1883. I was not permitted to go there after my mother died in 1883. I was then an orphan & the Supt. said I couldnt. So he wanted me to go to Lebanon to the Orphan Home for Chickasaws. Alice, Cora & Estelle35 went there but I would not. I went to a day school at Wynnewood in 1885 & I married in 1885 - Nov 19th36 on the same day of the Mon my father died. My mothers Stepmother came to see her in 1883 just before she died & I never seen any of them after my mother died or any of my fathers people while my mother lived. After I married, one of Aunt Lue's daughters husbands visited us & spent a nite in our home & about 42 years ago & at the Indian Meeting for Selecting an Chickasaw Gov to succeed Gov. D. H. Johnston at Seela Chapill37 in July 26th 1939, I met one of her sons Joe Gilmore & his son who was studying for the Ministery. My fathers Cosin [Nathan Bruno] was found at his old home killed & I dont know who or how it was done but before he was killed his youngest son Frasher was killed at old Anoca Springs. He & some boys had been to Lexington & he was returning home & he had quite a bit of money on him. Joe Bruno was killed at home down in the field in some Plumb Bushes, [he was found?] by some one gathering Plumbs a good while after he was murdered. They lived near Sasawka & had every since I could remember & before his mother, Nathan's died, she lived alone in the woods in a log cabin. Aunt Lue's mother lived with them. Grandpa McLishes last wife & we called her Grany Sallie38 & his [Nathan's] mother, grandma Lucinda.

My mother's mother died when she was small and their was only 2 children, a boy Ed Colbert McLish & he was kill in an accident. Grandfather Frasher McLish was a Mason & died over in Paris Texas & was burried there & they moved his body on Sandy at the old Bradly39 place in 1871. On Big Sandy between here & Ada, or old Stonewall then.

The Bynums40 was my Mothers closest relatives & she was a Colbert41 & married a Bynum42. My Mothers Aunt & her youngest daughter married D. H. Johnston & had 2 children, a son & a daughter who died real young. She & Uncle Douglas were here soon as they heard of my Mothers death & stayed with us a while. My Mother & father died young. He was 43 & she was 37. She died with T. B. & he died with Peunumonia.

My father plaid the Piano & my mother the Violin. She joined the Methodist early in Life. She was a wonderful worker & manager & he was a good Manager. I can remember when our Supplies were carried in from Caldwill Kans on pack horses & we only had Biscuits on Sunday morning & some time dumplings & pie. Of course we had Hominey, Corn Meal & all kinds of Indian dishes made of corn. Coal flour, Corn dumplings & Sofka, Tamfula & an abundance of Wild fruits & Game to eat. My father was a great hunter. Deer, Turkey mostly, Quails, Squirles. We even ate Rabits & I dont now. We had an abundance of Beef & hog meats the year around.

Governor John Brown of the Siminoles & my father were great friends & he visited in our home & us in his at Sas. A sister Alice Davis43 was our friend & Neighbor too.

There was no Sale for cattle or hogs either. Once in a while you could sell 8 - 10 or 12 2 year old Heifers & you sold hogs 2 or 3 years old, one in a while. We never thought of kill 2 or 3 year old Steers than we would a chicken. We never sold a chicken or egg ate & used all we could & threw the eggs away by tubs & Honey wild & tame too. All kinds of fruits & an abundance of Garden stuff. They had to save all seeds & even Irish potatoes. Sweet too. The Season around.

  1. Mary V. Chisholm - (b. 1 JAN 1868 - d. 30 MAR 1946), daughter of William Edward Chisholm and Julia Ann (McLish) Chisholm, originally wrote this memoir in two(?) parts, one of which bears the date 6 SEP 1939. The second(?) part is undated, and it is not known if it was written at the same time, as a continuation of the first or on a significant other date. For the purposes of this transcription they are treated as all part of the same. The original is written on pieces of scrap paper including old campaign leaflets for George W. Burris running for Chickasaw Governor, and pieces of old paper sacks. The original is in the possession of Mrs. Pat (Bagwell) Strickland, granddaughter of Mary (Chisholm) Cooke, of Byars, Oklahoma, who still lives at her grandmother's old home place.
  2. William Edward Chisholm -- (b.15 SEP 1837 - d. 19 NOV 1880), son of Jessie Chisholm and Eliza (Edwards) Chisholm.
  3. Alice Chisholm -- (b. 12 FEB 1870 - d. 19 OCT 1911), married Allen Stoke Asbury on 14 SEP 1890.
  4. Cora Ann Chisholm -- (b. 23 SEP 1872 - d. 6 JAN 1926), married John F. McKeel on 25 NOV 1898.
  5. Mary Chisholm -- (b.c. 1867), daughter of Jesse and Sha-kah-kee (McQueen) Chisholm. Mary married Jesse Cochran.
  6. Eliza E. Chisholm -- (b. 29 MAR 1864 - d. 18 FEB 1886), and Angeline Chisholm, (b. 14 MAR 1866 - d. 1894). Angeline married Sam Lee in 1885.
  7. According to various sources, Jesse Chisholm married first, Eliza Edwards, William E. Chisholm's mother, second, Nannie Bowles, and then third, Sha-kah-kee McQueen. The step-mother Mary is referring to at this time is probably Sha-kah-kee.
  8. Chisholm Springs -- Established in 1847, by Jesse Chisholm as a trading post. It was in operation until 1862. Located in Pottowatomie Co., Oklahoma, two miles east of Asher in SE 1/4, Sec. 16, T6N, R4E. Asher, Pottowatomie Co., Oklahoma, is located at NE 1/2, Sec. 18, T6N, R4E, about 23 miles south of Shawnee, OK. It was established 26 NOV 1901, and named after George M. "Matt" Asher, who give the land for the townsite, but never lived there.
  9. Jesse Chisholm - (b.c. 1805 - d. 4 MAR 1868), son of Ignatius Chisholm and "Corn Tassel's" sister.
  10. Sallie Chisholm.
  11. William Chisholm, not to be confused with William E. Chisholm, the father of Mary (Chisholm) Cooke.
  12. Jesse Chisholm was a man of a large heart. He frequently ransomed kidnapped children from raiding Indian bands such as the Kiowas and Comanches. Many of these orphaned kidnapped children and other orphan children would be raised as informally adopted children of Jesse Chisholm and even adopt his last name. Jackson Chisholm was one of these. Apparently, sometime after Jesse Chisholm died and Jackson Chisholm's first wife died, the two married and had two children.
  13. Julia Ann (McLish) Chisholm -- (b. 1846 - d. 30 AUG 1833), daughter of George Frazier McLish and Ginny/Ginsey (Colbert) McLish.
  14. Benjamin Franklin McLish -- One of the most controversial matters that occurred in the late 1800's, during the time of making determinations as to who was a Chickasaw Indian or not for purposes of enrollment on the Dawes Rolls, was whether the descendants of John McLish, a white man and early settler among the Chickasaws, were in fact Chickasaws or not. John McLish did in fact later marry a Chickasaw woman named Susan Colbert, daughter of Chickasaw leader Col. George Colbert. However, many sources hold that John McLish's children were from an earlier marriage to an unknown white woman. This was a view which prevailed among the Chickasaw Citizenship Committee which rejected John McLish's descendants as non-Chickasaws. George Frazier McLish was one of John McLish's children. Mary Cooke's statement that B.F. McLish was a half brother to her mother's father would seem to give support to this viewpoint that at least one if not more of John McLish's children were of one wife and B.F. McLish was of another mother. Because other sources seem to indicate that B.F. McLish was a much younger man than G. F. McLish, it then presumed that B.F. McLish was probably a child of John McLish and Susan Colbert. To complicate matters further, several sources would seem to indicate that John was himself part Chickasaw, being the son of William McLish and a Chickasaw woman. Whatever the case, the descendants of John McLish were admitted to the Dawes enrollment over the protest of the Chickasaw Citizenship Committee and all are "flagged" as same on their respective Dawes cards.
  15. "20 years & 8 mos", is the number of years that her mother Julia (McLish) Chisholm lived after her marriage to William E. Chisholm. They were married 10 JAN 1863, and she died 30 AUG 1883, a difference of approximately 20 years and 8 months. Eliza, Angeline, Mary, Alice, Cora Ann, Estelle, Julia Ann, and one son William F. Chisholm.
  16. Eliza, Angeline, Mary, Alice, Cora Ann, Estelle, Julia Ann, and one son William F. Chisholm.
  17. Charles L. Campbell -- (b. 5 FEB 1843 - d. 27 OCT 1896), married, in 1865, Sallie L. Humphreys, (b. 1844 - d. 1928). Sallie Humphreys was the daughter of Richard "Dick" J. Humphreys, (b.c. 1800 - d. ?, and Sarah "Sally" McLish, a daughter of John McLish and aunt of Julia Ann (McLish) Chisholm.
  18. While there are several "old forts" that William E. Chisholm could have obtained the trees from, one of the most likely was "Fort Edwards" (also known as Camp Holmes). Originally this fort was known as "Edward's Trading Post", owned and operated by James Edwards, the father of Eliza Edwards, William's mother.
  19. Byrd's Mill -- owned by Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Byrd, brother of Chickasaw Governor William Leander Byrd. A settlement grew up around the mill and a store owned by Frank Byrd there, which was named "Franks".
  20. Nathan H. Byars -- a local rancher for whom the town of Byars was named after. Byars Post Office was established 9 APR 1903. The town is located in eastern McClain Co., Oklahoma.
  21. Louisa McLish -- George Frazier McLish, Julia Ann's father, married second Sarah "Sally" McIntosh, the daughter of Creek chief, General William McIntosh. Louisa McLish was a daughter of that second marriage. Don Martini in his book, Southeastern Indians, states that she, Louisa, married a man named "Joseph Bruner." There is no doubt that "Bruno" could be read as "Bruner" or "Bruner" could be interpreted as "Bruno". As it appears later in Mary Cooke's narrative that Nathan Bruno had a son "Joseph", it is certainly possible that Nathan's name was in fact "Nathan Joseph" or "Joseph Nathan" and his son "Joseph" was a junior.
  22. Edward "Ed" Colbert McLish.
  23. Nathan Bruno.
  24. Lucinda (Edwards) Bruno.
  25. Apparently, part one ends here at the bottom of a page. If more to this part was written, it has been lost. This is most unfortunate, as it might have cleared up another mystery concerning George Frazier McLish's wives. Don Martini, in his book Southeastern Indians, suggest that G. F. McLish may have had a third wife named "Julia Tontubby" who bore him a son named "Henry McLish." Henry was born in 1863. It is known that George's second wife Sally (McIntosh) McLish lived until after 1900, so this incomplete statement of Mary's might have proven Martini wrong. [I believe that Henry McLish's father may have been a Choctaw named George McLish. - KMA]
  26. A "Thomas Deer" was the first postmaster of the new Shawneetown, (now in Pottowatomie Co., OK), established 16 JAN 1876. The town was located at SE 1/4, Sec. 36, T10N, R3E. A "Robert 'Bob' Deer lived near the new town and he was later hired as a government interpreter for $100 a year.
  27. Boyer -- located at NE 1/4, Sec. 30, T6N, R4E, (now in Pottowatamie Co., OK), 24 JUN 1897 to 31 AUG 1904. Named for its first postmaster Addie Boyer.
  28. Ellen Bruno -- (d. 1876), daughter of Nathan and Louise (McLish) Bruno.
  29. Martha Chisholm, sister or half sister of Jesse Chisholm, married a man named "Dave Biggs." It is probable therefore, that "Bud Biggs" is a descendant of that marriage.
  30. Sasakwa -- located in SE Siminole Co., Oklahoma. Post Office established 14 JAN 1880. The name is a Creek word meaning "goose" or "brant".
  31. This passage seems to indicate that Lucinda (Edwards) Bruno the mother of Nathan Bruno, and Sallie (McIntosh) McLish are buried in a family cemetery near Sasawka. Also buried there are Nathan Bruno and his sons Joseph and Frazier Bruno.
  32. William Edwards Chisholm's mother was Eliza Edwards. Nathan Bruno's mother was Lucinda Edwards. Eliza and Lucinda were the daughters of James Edwards. William E. Chisholm married Julia Ann McLish. Nathan Bruno married Louisa "Lue" McLish. Julia and Louisa were daughters of George Frazier McLish, but had different mother, they were 1/2 sisters.
  33. The seventh daughter was Julia Ann Chisholm, (15 JAN 1878), married Dr. Albert E. Davenport on 11 SEP 1899.
  34. William F. Chisholm -- (b. 7 FEB 1881 - d. 30 AUG 1913).
  35. Estelle Chisholm -- (b. 6 JUN 1875), married William Thomas Ward on 23 DEC 1896.
  36. Mary Chisholm married on 19 NOV 1885, William Vaughn Cooke.
  37. Seely (Sealy) Chapel -
  38. As noted in a footnote above, as regards George Frazier McLish's last wife, this passage seems to give support that this George McLish was not the husband of Julia Tontubby, and the father of Henry McLish.
  39. Bradly [Bradley] place - perhaps the residence of William M. Bradley, (b. 6 JAN 1844 - d. 26 APR 1931), who married Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bynum, (b. 8 JUL 1851). She was a sister to Nellie and Julia Ann Bynum mentioned in a footnote below.
  40. Unfortunately, this passage creates about as many questions as it provides answers. Julia Ann (McLish) Chisholm, was the daughter of Ginney or Ginsey (Colbert) McLish. Just who Ginney Colberts parents were we do not know.
  41. Tennessee Robinson Colbert -- (b. 6 MAY 1805 - d. 1 DEC 1870), married on 19 OCT 1819, white man John A. Bynum, (b. 21 SEP 1788 - d. 14 FEB 1836). Their son Turner Bynum, (b.20 JUL 1820 - d. 11 APR 1859), married in JAN 1841, Lucinda "Lucy" Dyer. They had a number of children, among which, two are important for this discussion, Julia Ann Bynum and Nellie Bynum. The confusing aspect of this passage is that when the first two sentences are taken together, it appears that Mary Cooke is saying that her mother's closest relative was a "Colbert" just like Julia's mother was, and that this "Colbert" married a "Bynum" and the youngest daughter of that marriage married D. H. Johnston. Nellie Bynum was D. H. Johnston's wife. Further, this youngest daughter was also Julia's aunt and Mary Cooke calls Douglas H. Johnston, Uncle Douglas. As John A. Bynum died in Mississippi, prior to the Chickasaw removal to Indian Territory, and his wife Tennessee (Colbert) Bynum, died when Mary (Chisholm) Cooke was almost three years old, Mary did not have any personal knowledge of the two. Unless, Lucinda Dyer was in fact a "Colbert" herself, then Mary Cooke probably confused the earlier Bynum generation with the next one.
  42. Nellie Bynum -- (b. 20 OCT 1859 - d. 14 MAY 1886), in 1881 married Douglas Henry Johnston, (b. 16 OCT 1856 - d. 28 JUN 1939). They did in fact have two children, a son Llewelyn "Ludie" Johnston, (b. 1882 - d. 1954) and an infant daughter, (b. & d. 1886). Not-with-standing any relationship because of a "Colbert" connection, Nellie (Bynum) Johnston would by "custom" not by "blood" be considered an aunt of Julia (McLish) Chisholm, because her Uncle Ben F. McLish, (her father's 1/2 brother), married Nellie's older sister, Julia Ann Bynum, (b. Mar 1853).That would make Julia Ann (Bynum) McLish an aunt of her's and by custom then her sister Nellie would be called her aunt as well. Under this custom then "Uncle Douglas" was in fact Mary (Chisholm) Cooke's Great-uncle Douglas.
  43. Alice Davis - Alice (Brown) Davis, a sister of Siminole Chief John T. Brown.