Indian Pioneer Histories -English Original

Rebecca Tickaneesky Neugin

My GGGGrandmother was Rebecca Neugin. Born Rebecca Tickaneesky, at the age of four years old, she walked the Trail of Tears from northern Georgia to Oklahoma. In 1932, she was interviewed by historian Grant Foreman for the WPA. –Duane Poncy


Indian Pioneer Histories

Rebecca Tickaneesky Neugin

My GGGGrandmother was Rebecca Neugin. Born Rebecca Tickaneesky, at the age of four years old, she walked the Trail of Tears from northern Georgia to Oklahoma. In 1932, she was interviewed by historian Grant Foreman for the WPA. –Duane Poncy

On the Trail of Tears

“When the soldiers came to our house my father wanted to fight, but my mother told him the soldiers would kill him if he did and we surrendered without a fight. They drove us out of our house to join other prisoners in a stockade. After they took us away, my mother begged them to let her go back and get some bedding. So they let her go back and she brought the bedding and a few cooking utensils she could carry, and had to leave behind all of our household possessions.

“My father had a wagon pulled by two spans of oxen to haul us. Eight of my brothers and sisters and two or three widow women and children rode with us. My brother Dick who was a good deal older than I was walked along with a long whip which he popped over the backs of the oxen and drove them all the way. My father and mother walked all the way also.

“The people got so tired of eating salt pork on the journey that my father would walk through the woods as we traveled, hunting for turkeys and deer which he brought into camp to feed us. Camp was usually made at some place where water was to be had and when we stopped and prepared to cook our food other emigrants who had been driven from their homes without opportunity to secure cooking utensils came to our camp to use our pots and pans.“There was much sickness among the emigrants and a great many little children died of whooping cough.”

On Utensils

“Very few of the Indians had been able to bring any of their household effects or kitchen utensils with them and the old people who knew how made what they called ‘dirt pots’ and ‘dirt bowls’. To make them, they took clay and formed it in the shape desired and turned those bowls over the fire and smoked them, and when they were done, they would hold water and were very useful. We could cook in them and use them to hold food.

“In the same way, they made dishes to eat out of, and then they made wooden spoons, and for a number of years after we arrived, we had to use these crude utensils. After awhile, as we were able, we gradually picked up glazed china ware until we had enough to take the place of the substitutes.”

On Clothing

“We had no shoes, and those that wore anything wore mocassins made of deer hide, and the men wore leggings made of deer hide. Many of them went bare-headed, but when it was cold, they made things out of coon skins and other kinds of hides to cover their heads.

“I learned to spin when I was a very little girl, and I could make cloth and jeans for dresses and such other garments as we wore. We never wore any store clothes and manufacted cloth until after the Civil War. To color the cloth, we used different kinds of dyes.”

On Dye-making

“We raised our indigo, which we cut in the morning while the dew was on it, then we put it in a tub and soaked it overnight. The next day we foamed it up by beating it with a gourd. We let it stand overnight again, and the next day rubbed tallow on our hands to kill the foam. Afterwards, we poured the water off and the sediment left in the bottom we would pour into a pitcher or crock to let it get dry. Then when we wanted any of it to dye with, we would take the dry indigo.

“We raised the indigo for many years, and then when we moved away from Barren Fork, I lost my seed and was never able to raise any more. We always thought the indigo we raised was better than any we could buy in later years. “If we wanted to dye cloth black, we used walnut bark, and when we wanted to dye purple, we used maple bark and when mixed with hickory bark it made yellow. Hickory bark by itself made green dye. To make red dye, we mixed madder and alum. We used to find alum in caves. We also used sumac berries to make red dye. When we wanted salt, we went to a saltlick on the west side of the Grand River.”

Foreman Footnote: Mrs. Rebecca Neugin died near Hulbert, Oklahoma in the summer of 1932, at the age of nearly a hundred years. Mrs. Neugin, who was a small child when her people removed from the East, could recall only one incident of that experience, and that was her pet duck that she cherished and would not leave behind. She carried it in her little arms until she squeezed the life out of it, and grieved to see it thrown by the roadside. The poignent memory of that childish love and grief remained with her more than 90 years.

p. 283, Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes, University of Oklahoma Press, 7th Printing, 1980.

More about Rebecca

Her Yoneg (English) name was Rebecca Tickaneesky, her Cherokee name was Wa-ki (pronounced wah-kee). This was evidently a very common name for children, as it appears many times on the early rolls. I have not been able to translate it. The name Tickaneesky means “catcher”, or “he/she who catches” and some of her brothers eventually adopted the Yoneg translation “Ketcher” for their surname. She came from a large Cherokee family, and had nine siblings.

Rebecca’s first husband was John Smith, a full-blooded Cherokee, according to the government rolls. They had two children, as far as we know. The oldest was Jack, and his younger sister Cynthia. Cynthia’s five children included my Great Grandmother, Rebecca Ann Morgan and her identical twin Mary Ann. When Cynthia died at a young age in about 1886, Rebecca, now married to Bark Neugin, took on the task of raising the twins. Rebecca also had several children by Neugin.


Katie (Neugin) Rackleff

My mother, REBECCA NEUGIN nee KETCHER, was the daughter of JOHN KETCHER. I do not know the name of his wife. Both were fullbloods. My mother was born in Georgia about 1829.

The Trail of Tears.

My mother, said to be the last survivor of those who came over the Trail of Tears, was about ten years old when they left Georgia. [*This differs from Rebecca Neugin’s own account, in which she claimed to be about four years old.]

They came in rude wagons drawn by oxen, each family furnishing its own transportation or at least my grandfather did and he loaded his wagon with provisions for his family for the trip. This left little room as he had a wife and six children, of whom my mother was next to the youngest. They were compelled to have a little bedding. They left Georgia in the summer and did not reach this state till the next summer.

These people were brought through Tennessee and Southern Missouri, under soldiers commanded by General Winfield Scott. General Scott left these people under command of his assistant about the middle of the trip that he might attend the National Whig? Convention, which was at that time contesting the nominations of HENRY CLAY and WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, for president of the United States.

Mother started with a little pig that she named “Toby”. When they started he was no larger than a large rat and each day at noon and at night mother would let him run around and watched him and she kept him till he was a large hog and he disappeared one day at the noon hour and she was never able to find him.

In those days there were no roads and few trails and very few bridges. Progress of travellers was slow and often times they would have to wait many days for the streams to run down before they could cross. Each family did its own cooking, on the road. People then had no matches and they started a fire by rubbing two flint rocks together and catching the spark on a piece of dry spunk held directly underneath the rocks. Sometimes, they would have to rake away the snow and clear a place to build the fire. Travellers carried dry wood in the wagons to build their fires. The wagons were so heavily loaded and had traveled so many days that when they came to a hill the persons in the wagons would have to get out and walk up the hill. They did not ride much of the time but walked a good deal, not only to rest themselves but to save their teams.

Often, teams would give out and could go no farther and then those who were with that wagon would be divided up among the other wagons and hurried along. One day mother saw a team of oxen full dead, hitched to their wagon. The party she was with were in a severe snowstorm on the way which caused much suffering. Many died from exposure on the trip and mother said that she thought that a third of those who started died on the way, although all of her family lived to reach the new country. Those who came over the Trail of Tears would not stop for sickness and would stop only long enough to dig a rude grave when any one died and then the bereaved family was forced to move right along.

Mother said that their food lasted them till they reached the Indian Territory but towards the last of the trip that they had little to eat and had to plan to make it last. It was indeed a pitiful band that finally reached the new home promised them for they had been a year on the road, food had become scarce, their clothes which were homemade were wearing out, many had died on the trail, some had lost their teams and wagons and had been placed with other families and there were small children in the band who had lost their parents.

The New Home.

It was warm weather and the country to which they came was covered with much good timber, had good water and many wild berries and fruits and besides it abounded with wild game. Destitute as they were after the trip, it was a “Happy Hunting Ground” to them to be free to do as they chose and not have to take up the long trail each morning. They came with their tired oxen into the Goingsnake District and Grandfather began looking around for a location for his home. He blazed trees to mark his claim. Next, he cut small poles and set them up and made a frame which he covered with cloth and this made a place to cook and eat. Then he made another shelter just like that as a place to sleep and here they lived till he could cut the logs and build a rude one room log house for his family. Grandfather had reached here with his team of oxen but they were worn out and unfit for work so he managed to get hold of a team of little mules to work and farm with that first year.

My grandparents were fullbloods and had lived in a log house in Georgia, so perhaps it was not so hard for them to accustom themselves to the new country as it was for some of the others. Then, too, Grandfather had been willing to come and had planned towards that end.

In the old home, Grandmother had her loom and had woven the cloth for their clothing but this was left behind but soon her husband had made her another loom and by the time that they moved from this location five or six years later, into the Goingsnake District, they had a large drove of sheep, plenty of hogs and cows and had built two small log houses of one room each near to the other, had built other small outbuildings and besides they had raised what cotton they needed for home use.

My grandmother died during my mother’s teens.

My Mother

Mother did not have the opportunity to attend school and always signed her name by mark; she helped with the family’s spinning and weaving, made her own dresses and helped to dry and preserve the fruits and berries for winter use. At first, having no jars to can in, the fruits and berries were dried as were the corn, beans, and pumpkins. The peaches were placed on a scaffold and a fire was built under them to dry them and the apples were dried in the sun. One day, I remember, my sister got choked on a peach kernel and as I had seen Mother strike a baby in the back when choked I walked up behind my sister and struck her in the back and the kernel flew out of her mouth. They later canned plums? in gallon buckets.

Mother lived to be 115 years old [*98 was her actual age at death.] and as long as she lived she was busy and only the winter before she died she pieced a quilt. She always smoked a little clay pipe. I do not mean to say that she did more work than the rest of the family. She had three brothers, Mose, Ben, and John and one sister who lived to be grown, Linnie, and those children all shared the home tasks.

After Grandmother’s death Mother’s father gave her the loom that he had made for his wife and on this Mother later wove the cloth for her children’s clothes.

The family moved from Goingsnake District to a place on Clear Creek, west of Hulbert.


Mother married Bark Neugin, a fullblood Cherokee, who spoke Cherokee and who was a Captain in the Union Army during the Civil War. They were married before the War and lived not far from where Tahlequah is now during the War.

I was born in 1880, about the time of my father’s death, and know only what they have told me of him, as I am the youngest of the seven children. My brothers were Henry, Dave, and Neal. My sisters, Sabe, Lizzie, and Cynie. [* According to my records, her sisters were Sabra, Eliza, and Cynthia Smith, a half-sister and our ancestor.]

Civil War Days

My father being a soldier could not come home often and it was only occasionally that he could stop and see his wife and then he had to be very careful. Mother did not fare quite so hard as some of her friends for Father could give her some money and then she was entitled to draw rations at Fort Gibson at certain times but there were times when she and her children were forced to “rustle” for themselves.

Sometimes, when they needed fresh meat, the women would run a steer up in the chimney corner and knock him in the head. The women were ready with their butcher knives and they would soon have the skin off and would begin to cut out the chunks of meat. Hogs were also knocked in the head by the women and the meat shared among them, so much for each family.

Mother often went to Fort Gibson with a load of apples. People did not buy those apples but just gathered them where they found them. They would camp overnight on the way and sometimes the apples would freeze. They could not sell the apples but exchanged them for anything that they could use. Flour was ten dollars a sack and once in a while Mother would get some sugar. Marrow calico was five cents a yard.

The Confederates would come in and rob us and cut up our feather beds. The boys had to be kept out of sight for the Confederates were watching for them. If those boys were large enough to force into the army, they would be taken and perhaps killed and even the smaller boys were sometimes killed and not always by the Confederates but sometimes it was the Pin Indians who killed those boys.

One day, Mother had gone to a store for some flour and her horse was hitched out in front when one of the women told her that the Confederates were taking her horse. Mother went out where they were and told them that she was on an errand for STAN WATIE and the Confederates left her horse for her. This was not true but it saved the horse.

Sometimes in going to Fort Gibson they would travel the old Military Road and camp over night on the way, sometimes not but they never took any children with them. It was too dangerous to take the boys and they felt it unsafe to take the little girls but the girls were never molested.

I remember my father’s uniform, as it hung upstairs for some years after his death and was burned when our home burned. The coat and trousers were blue and I remember the blue cap with its trimmings. Then, too, there were his sword and scabbard and his pistols.

Mother’s Later Life.

We lived seven miles from Hulbert and the house, where I was born there, is now destroyed. it was a one room log house with a wooden chimney, an old log barn and log cribs. Here my mother lived the rest of her life. When allotment came, she allotted the land next to it and this land went to her grandson, BOCK? NEUGIN, then a baby and she made her home with him till her death, July 15, 1932.

After Father’s death, mother, with the help of my older brothers did some farming and sent us children to school and when Mother needed money she would walk to Tahlequah, a distance of fifteen miles and work at the old “Jail-house” for a week washing and then she would buy the things she needed and then my brothers would come after her in a wagon. They would come one day and stay over night and go home the next day.

She had described seeing two brothers hung while she was working there. They were brought out dressed just alike and she said that she watched till they put the black handkerchiefs over their eyes and she couldn’t stand it any longer and she put her arm across her eyes.

I have said that mother died at the old place where she had lived for so many years.

My Life

My sister and I were sent to the old Presbyterian Mission for the six years before it burned. We children called it the “Old Red Headed Mission” and often wished it would burn down. Its roof was of boards painted red. The night it did burn many of us escaped only in our night gowns, though some girls did get their dresses. I was with those who were taken to the home of the minister and later attended school at the Presbyterian Church the rest of the term.

The next year I was sent to the Baptist Mission and remained there some years till I was in the tenth grade. I liked all my studies except I never could understand arithmetic and DORA FRENCH used to help me with that.

After I left school, I hired out to work and worked for a while at Wagoner in the hotel and while working here I married EDWARD RACKLEFF, a white man who was born in Missouri and who had a wagon yard in Tahlequah. I do not remember the date and I do not have the marriage license.

I should like to ask one question–My brothers are enrolled as fullbloods, my sisters as half-breeds and I am on the rolls as three-quarters, Indian. Why?

  • Looney Hicks Griffin
  • I was born May 19, 1849, at the old Dwight Mission. My father was Jack Griffin, a fullblood Cherokee. My mother was Delilah (Pettit) Griffin, halfblood Cherokee.
  • I was eleven years old at the beginning of the Civil War when my father took the family and moved to the Choctaw Nation on the Red River to avoid the unsafe condition that existed in the Cherokee Nation brought on by the war. After the close of the war my father moved the family back to the Cherokee Nation, settling in Tamaha, which was then known as Pheasant Bluff. We lived there four years, then moved to a place three miles south of Webbers Falls where my parents resided the remainder of their lives.
  • I spent the greater part of my early active life working on cattle ranches in Oklahoma, then the Indian Territory.
  • The first outfit I was with, when I was only a strip of a lad, was the old Frost Starr Cattle Ranch which was situated about four miles east of Porum, or where Porum is now situated, as the little settlement at the Frost Starr ranch known as Starville was the town of those parts at that time.
  • After leaving the Frost Starr ranch I went to work for an outfit driving cattle over the old Chisholm Trail from Texas to the Cherokee strip and Kansas. I remember one trip we left Muskogee, which was then just a cow town, on the 4th of July with an outfit of about fifteen cowboys on horseback and a chuckwagon. We went to Gainsville, Texas, where we took a herd of 1600 head of Texas cattle and started for the Cherokee strip. We would drive the cattle all day until about one hour before sundown, then we would stop the herd, let them have about an hour to graze and bed down, after the herd would become quiet and bedded down about three herders would stay on duty and ride patrol on the herd while the other members of the crew got their much needed rest, bedded down on a blanked with their saddle for a pillow. The first two riders would ride until midnight, then one would go to the camp, call three of the boys and they would ride the herd the remainder of the night. We reached our destination with this herd and delivered them at the old Tim Button ranch about the 15th of December. We were more than five months making that trip which was a good average.
  • Of course there were no bridges in those days, therefore all streams had to be forded or the herd was forced to swim the deeper streams.
  • In 1890, I was married to Mary Ann Morgan, Cherokee, daughter of Mark and Cynthia (Smith) Morgan, both Cherokees. Ten children were born to this union, six of which are living at the time of this writing.
  • My early education was obtained in a pay school in the Cherokee Nation. The fee to this school was fifty cents per month. The school house was a small log structure with a dirt floor. The seats were split logs with the flat side up with holes bored and pole legs driven in the holes. I attended this school two eight month terms. During that time I made my home with a man by the name of Autery and worked for him outside of school time to pay for my keep.
  • Muskogee
  • I remember Muskogee as it appeared in its beginning, only a few houses near the first railroad station that was built when the Katy railroad built through the territory. I drove cattle to that place and herded them, waiting for shipment just south of what is now Broadway and where the Midland Valley station now stands was a tall green pasture.
  • If I had the privilege of living my life over again I would prefer to live it in the days of my early life for we never saw condition in those days as they are the last few years. It was not much of a problem in those days for a man to provide for himself and his family.
  • This territory in the early days was a hunters paradise. Deer, antelope, bear, wild turkey, black wolves, wildcats and other game roamed through the woodlands, and the valleys and prairies were covered with chickens, quail, and other wild fowl. The finest fish of almost every variety filled the streams and lakes of this territory.These days have gone forever and only linger in beautiful memories of the past, and I, like many other old timers, have seen our last roundup on this side of the divide.
  • [Looney Hicks Griffin, as told to James S. Buchanan for the Works Progress Administration, Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma, June 17, 1937.]


By René Arbour

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