old-time Oklahoma story

from: Oxsan

My staff assistant when I was working told me these two incidents that occurred to his grandfather on a trip from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Los Angeles, Ca in the very late 1880s or early 1890s. His Grandfather (let's call him Steve) was only seventeen when these events took place but he was already an accomplished cowboy and was quick and accurate with a gun. He decided that Fort Smith did not offer enough opportunity for him and one day packed a half-side of bacon, a pound of pinto beans and a sack of cornmeal in his saddle bags and got on his horse and headed due west for LA. He was about three days into his journey in the middle of the Indian territory when one day just about sundown he stopped on the bank of a creek and dismounted and started to get a fire going for supper when he noticed an Indian girl in the water of the creek. She showed no fear of him but rose naked from the water and approached him and told him her name. She suggested that he not prepare his supper but be the guest of her family who lived in a dugout not far away. He agreed and while she clothed herself he repacked his camp gear then walking with her soon came to a sod-roofed dugout of rather large size with a corral and lean-to shed nearby where he put his horse after unsaddling him. The girl's family greeted him very cordially and invited him to take a place at the table. As was usual even in my childhood all of the plates were turned upside down on the table until the moment they were used. This was to keep dust particles from settling in the plate from the sod roof as well as from dust storms. When they had been eating for a few minutes the old father of the girl asked Steve, "You cowboy?" Steve said that he was and had earned his living that way for two or three years. The Indian father asked Steve, "You work for me maybe? Herd cows? Do cowboy work? I pay you one twenty-dollar gold piece each week.” This was grand largesse since cowboys in that day usually were paid a dollar a day this was about four times normal pay. Steve accepted the job. The Indian daughter beamed. She was about Steve's age and very pretty. Steve worked with the old man's cattle and after one week when he sat down to eat as he turned his plate over there was a twenty dollar gold piece under it. He pocketed the gold piece and nodded his thanks to the old man. The girl beamed again. This went on for about five weeks and on that fifth payday the old man looked at Steve and said, "You like my daughter?" Steve replied that he certainly did. The old man said, "I make you proposition. You marry my daughter tomorrow at the town, all official, and I give you one bushel-basket of twenty-dollar gold pieces, and when I die this be your farm" Steve gulped and tried to calculate how much a bushel of twenty dollar gold pieces would be and wondered where the old man had got all that loot. He looked at the girl. The girl beamed. Steve told the Indian "Let me sleep on it and I'll tell you my answer early in the morning." During the night he slipped silently out of the dugout, saddled his horse and rode off heading due west toward L.A. When he looked back as he rode off the girl was standing in the moonlight just outside the door. She was not beaming. Steve's second adventure on this trip occurred just after he had crossed the Texas border near where Santa Rosa, New Mexico is today. He had built a small campfire and was frying bacon and making hoe-cake when he sensed something behind him. He looked back and saw a man creeping toward him with a pistol already in his hand. He dropped the frying pan into the fire, which caused it to blaze up brightly from the burning bacon grease and rolled to his right drawing his gun as he went down. He heard and saw the intruder shoot but felt no bullet and had drawn his own gun and shot the man in the chest before he could fire again. The outlaw dropped the gun and when Steve walked over to him he saw that he had no chance to live. He packed up his things and rode on all night and the next day to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he went into the territorial Marshall's office and told him what happened. The Marshall listened patiently to the story then told Steve, "If that is the way it really happened you have nothing to worry about. I have the world's best tracker working for me. You describe this place where you shot this man and he will back track you and can come back and tell me everything that happened there. If his story matches yours you'll be free to go. Meanwhile you get the courtesy of our jail." For about four or five days Steve stayed in the Albuquerque jail then the Marshall came in and said, "Steve, you are free to go on to Los Angeles. My tracker's story matched yours in every detail. He even brought your skillet back. You can collect your gun and gear and go to LA." Steve told him that he had decided that God didn't want him in Los Angeles and he was headed for Fort Smith by way of North Texas as soon as he could get there. I never met the old man but he was still alive and living in Sherman when I first hired my staff assistant. He was very old and spent nearly all of his time sitting on my friend’s front porch sipping bourbon whiskey. He always wore a gun until the Sherman police finally convinced him he couldn't wear it to the liquor store. He still wore it when sitting on the porch.



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