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Eli Roberts Interview

Eli Roberts
Indian-Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

The interview of Eli Roberts was part of the Indian-Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma.  This interview has been transcribed by Eleanor Wyatt.  A copy of the original transcript can be obtained from: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2100 N. Lincoln Blvd. OKC, OK 73105. Vol. 76, 1271.  Some parts of the copy was hard to read and when in doubt I have enclosed in quotation marks.



Indian-Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

Field Worker's name    Jennie Selfridge.                                          

This report made on (date)                May 5.                                       1937


1.    Name                                 Eli Roberts                                                      

2.    Post Office Address             Berwyn, Oklahoma.                                   

3.    Residence address (or location) Three miles north of Berwyn-across Coal Creek.

4.    DATE OF BIRTH:  Month  September   Day  15,  Year  1866

5.    Place of birth                 Boggy Depot, Indian Territory.                             


6.    Name of Father         Ned Roberts,           Place of Birth  Mississippi.

        Other information about father  was a slave of Suzan and Malsie Colbert.

7.    Name of Mother Sarah Colbert's mother was Lonie "Laney/Lena" Colbert. Place of  birth Mississippi.

        Other information about mother mother was Lonie Colbert


Notes or complete narrative by the field worker dealing with the life and story of the person interviewed.  Refer to Manuel for suggested subjects and questions.  Continue on blank sheets if necessary and attach firmly to this form.  Number of attached         3                    .


Eli Roberts, Berwyn, Oklahoma.  Born, at old Boggy Depot, in 1866.  Parents, Ned Roberts, Sarah Roberts.

Indians "Choctaw"

MR. ROBERTS' STORY: (the story as been transcribed as written )


    We came to Oklahoma from Mississippi, in "1837".  My family was brought here by Holmes Colbert and Malse Colbert.  "during my first life hear it was wild tribes of all kind Aimialms (animals)----(illegible) hogs cows And every thang was wild

    "We lived happy hear until 1925 but no use We haven't got a thing to live on Just hear on the helps of the Lord  styles of clothing we wore shirts and they was woven made de moxkins (mossasine) out of bulk skin wasn't no bridges  Church under Brush houses  Printed wasn't no tipewriters we had stage routes trails no newpaper  the Country was all open indian lands  Just one store and post office plenty game and fish no homesteaders  had lots of horse  (racing/raising) no medicine no settlements  we had grave yards  we had foris on the rivers and Creeks  we had farries boats on the rivers no salt works  Yes the indians had payments  I did not  no medical instruments.  I have told all I can remember in those days  My grandmother was Lanny Colberts"


Eli Roberts Interview

Jeannie Selfridge, Field Worker

An Interview With Eli Roberts.

Berwyn, Oklahoma

    In 1867, Eli Roberts father moved from Boggy Depot to Spring Creek.  It was one and one and one-half miles west of the present town of Milo.  Other colored families moving west and settling in what is now Carter County at this time were the Stephensons, Cohees, and Cobbs.  Ned Roberts lived on Spring Creek two years, the moved to a place near where Dawes Academy (colored) was later established.  This location was in Section 2, Township 3 south, Range 2 east.

    Dawes Academy was first founded by the Calvery Baptist Church, probably about 1876, since Eli Roberts attended school there in 1879, and it had been in operation a few years then.  The school was taken over by the government about this time, and James Bank (colored) continued as teacher.

    There were no white settlers in the vicinity of what is now Berwyn and Springer in 1866.

    Old man Tom Humby (colored) lived on what is now known as the Henderson Flat.  William Abram lived one and three-fourths miles southwest of the Dawes Academy.  Abner Richardson, an uncle of Ned Roberts, lived three-fourths of a mile east of the present town of Berwyn.  Aunt Lucy Cobb and her son, Robert Cobb, established a place four miles east of Berwyn on the Washita, before the Roberts family left Boggy Depot.

   Walker Martin was the only white man in the settlement.  He lived near where Caddo Creek empties into the Washita River.  He moved here from Atoka, where he had operated a large grape press.  After he moved to the Washita, he began the cultivation of a large orchard and grape vineyard, and people went for miles to buy fruit and wine from him.  About twenty years prior to this time, Martin had killed a man in Texas, and after he spent several years on the Washita, the United States officers learned where he was.  He knew they would get him, so he committed suicide on the railroad track north of Durant.

    Uncle Charli Henderson  was the next settler in this country.  He established a store on the Washita at the location which was later know as Dresden.

    Before Henderson's store was established, the negro settlers traded at old Mill Creek.  Jimmy Davis operated a large store there.  They carried their grain to Governor Harris' mill at Mill Creek.  Eli Roberts worked for Charlie Henderson and drove an ox wagon from Dresden to Gainsville and Denison.  He usually hauled cotton or hogs on the trip over, and hauled groceries and dry goods coming back.  On two occasions he drove a herd of hogs from Dresden to Gainsville.

    Jim and Pink Lee lived over in the yellow hills northeast of Ardmore.  They were at this location when they killed Jim Guy and Andy and Jim Roff. They lived in a log house and when they saw the officers coming, they pulled the chinks out of the house and began shooting.  They were both killed a few days later by United States Marshal Hack Thomas and his officers.

    The first store at Springer was located on Buzzard Creek, and was probably established by Jim Rushing

    A man by the name of Fox established  one of the first farms near Springer, and old man Springer establisher a ranch there.

Census Cards


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