A Little History

Oklahoma Slave Narrative

  Eliza Hardrick

 My name is Eliza Hardrick. I live at 320 Third Street, Vinita, Oklahoma. I was born at Salina, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in October 1860.  My father's name was Mose Hardrick Ross, and my mother was named Patience Ross. My grandfather's name was Silas Ross, and my grandmother's name was Winnie Ross. We all belonged to Louis Ross before and during the Civil War.  There was so many slaves, who belonged to Louis Ross, who had my father's name Mose, that he adopted the name of Hardrick, and after he was set free, he just kept the name of Hardrick. That kept me from drawing land with the rest of the slaves of the Cherokee people.  My grandfather told me that it was about 1838 that Louis Ross chartered a boat and shipped five hundred slaves from Georgia to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. He said the boat was in the charge of Dan Ross, and that Louis Ross had come on ahead and had settled on a plantation in Saline district, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, where the present site of Salina is now located.  He said Louis Ross met the boat with an armed guard of full-blood Indians and ox wagons and took them to his plantation in Saline district. Here a lot of the slaves were sold to other Cherokees in the Nation and a lot of them he kept to the farm and run the salt works, which he later operated.  My father was six years old when he landed at Ft, Gibson. He said his uncle George Ross got so scared when he landed at Ft. Gibson and saw all those full-bloods with guns that he broke and ran, and got away, and they never did hear of him anymore.  My father told me that both Chief John Ross, and his brother, Louis Ross, went north with the soldiers who set us free, and that he last saw Louis Ross at Baxter Springs, Kansas, where the soldiers turned us loose. He said the Indians were having trouble among themselves, and both the Ross's thought it time for them to leave, and they took that means of getting out of the country. He said they both came back as soon as the war was over.  George Ross, one of the slaves, took sick at Baxter Springs, Kansas, and held us back from going on north for two or three days. He died inside of three days and we buried him at Baxter Springs. Then we went on to near Ft. Scott, where the soldiers told us we would be protected from the southern soldiers.  The soldiers left us ox teams and wagons to go on with, and also a lot of furniture and over five hundred head of cattle which they had taken from the Indians. As winter was coming on and we had no way of feeding them, my father said they only took a few milk cows and ox teams. They were afraid of being caught with all that fine furniture so they broke up a lot of it at Baxter Springs and left it there. He said they also turned loose something like five hundred head of cattle and that some of them went back home, so that the Kansas farmers got a lot of them and kept them.   My father said there was no end to the hardships the slaves went through in Kansas after they were set free. The winters were exceedingly cold and work was scarce, and wages were practically nothing. He said they had to do a lot of work to get a little something to eat.  There was a drought in Kansas while we were there and there was scarcely any corn raised at all. The price went so high the slaves could not afford to buy it, and they came near to starving. He said they were glad when they could get back to the territory.