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Josephine Usray Latimer - Interview #8822
Indian Pioneer History, Foreman Collection, Volume 33, Pages 45-69
Interviewer Amelia Harris
Indian Pioneer History, S149
Oct. 13, 1930

(Special Thanks to Jami Self Hamilton for sending me this information Jamialane@aol.com)

"My father was James Usray, Mother was Malinda Roebuck. My maternal grandfather was William Roebuck, three-fourths Choctaw. My maternal
grandmother was Folayah Polayah Homer (Homma), one-half blood Choctaw, daughter of John Homer (Homma) of the Shacchi Homer (Homma) Nation, the
name Sig-Red Crawfish. John Homer's (Homma) wife was Chief Natastachi's daughter. My paternal grandfather was Phillip Usray, one-half blood Cherokee.
My paternal grandmother was (name forgotton) was a sister to Chief Bowl of East Texas. Who held a Spanish Grant to lands before Texas Independence.
He aided General Houston in the battle of San Jacinto."

Josephine Usray Lattimer's grandparents came to the Indian Territory over the Trail of the Tears. The Choctaws in Mississippi were a law abiding and
cultured farming people. They had good homes, churches, and schools, all of which they were forced to abandon and move out west. The great
grandfather of Josephine Usray Lattimer, Ezekial Robuck, and family lived on "Honey Island" in the Pearl River (Mississippi). This island included about
eighteen acres, thirteen of which comprised an Apiary. The bee hives were hollow trees or stumps. They didn't have bee hives, as we do now, but this was
a big industry and brought them quite a bit a revenue and Ezekial Robuck was called the "Honey King". Through Alex McGilvary, who was Trades
Commissioner for the Indians who traded with Foreign Countries, it was made possible for Ezekial to dispose of all of his surplus honey to England, making
him very independent.


Legend of Ezekiel Robuck
When he was 14 years old and in the Spring time, he went into the woods to have his dream (the guiding Spirit of Destiny). He fell asleep and slept for three
days and nights and in his dreams he was amond wild roses, the bees were humming, the birds singing, water splashing, geese cackling and white feathers
falling like snow. He returned home and related his dream to his mother. She translated his dreams for him in this manner. That in the near future he would
live near the water, and would hear it splashing. There would be lots of timber and wild roses, and he would have many bees all around him. The geese
honking and feathers falling were wild geese lighting on the water near his future home. She told him she would make him a medicine charm bag, a custom
of Choctaw Indians years ago. Ezekiel's mother then set about to make the medicine bag as follows; The medicine bag is a mystery bag and is of great
importance and meaning in the Indian's life, being constructed from skins of birds, animals and reptiles, ornamented and preserved in many ways. After
these bags were finished and decorated, they were religiously sealed. The Indian carries his bag through life for good luck, strength in battle and
assurance in death that his guardian Spirit would watch over him. The medicine bag was always buried with him, thus aiding him the crossing the great
beyond to the Happy Hunting Ground. She told him to go and visit Elsie Beams, who had a goose farm and was called Queen of the Yazoo River and ask
her for some geese down to go in his charm bag, and that would complete his dream. He did this and found her a very charming person. He related his
dream and she gave him the down he needed. From this meeting a friendship developed, which ended in love and marriage. Elsie Beams was the niece of
David Folsom of the N. W. District in Mississippi which District was the first to move to the Indian Territory. All of the Indians of this District gathered at
Memphis, Tennessee in 1832, and were transported across the Mississippi in the steamboats, The Reindeer, The Cleopatra, The Talma and Sir Walter
Scott. In crossing over the Choctaws sang this song, FARE WELL TO NUNIALCHWAYA (meaning - to the land we love so dear). Nunialchwayah was in
memory of the leaning pole (Fabuasa), the legend of which many be found at the close of the history of the Choctaws.

When the Choctaws reached Arkansas, the Government had wagons and teams there ready for them. The Indians were loaded into wagons and they
started for the Government Post, near Little Rock Arkansas. In loading, my people got seperated from each other for there were hundreds of wagons on
this journey. When they reached the Quachita (meaning 4th river), it was on a rampage and out of banks. The roads were impassable. It was raining and
cold. Even for the well and strong, the journey was almost beyond endurance. Many were weak and broken-hearted, and as night came there were new
graves dug beside the way. Many of the Indians contracted pneumonia fever and the cholera. They camped a mile from the Quachita, waiting for the water
to recede so they could cross. While they were camped there, Ezekiel Roebuck, father of my grandfather, William Roebuck, became ill but said nothing.
When the river was low enough to cross, everyone got in the wagons and started on the journey, but Ezekiel was so sick he became unconscious and fell
over. Some one told the driver and he said, "I will have to stop and put him out as we can't afford to have any one with the Cholera along". So they stopped
by the road side and put him out. My great-grandmother said "You can put the children and me out too", and the driver replied, "Allright, but he will soon be
dead and you and your three children will have to walk the balance of the way". Each child had a small blanket. My great-grandmother has a paisley shawl,
she had also brought along a bucket of honey and some cold flour from their home. This flour is made by parching corn and grinding it in a coffee mill until
pulverized. This food she carried along for her six month old baby. She begged the driver for food and a blanket for great-grandfather, and he grudgingly
gave the blanket and one day's supply of food. Great-grandfather was conscious at the time. He had dubbed great-grandmother "Little Blue Hen" and when
he became conscious of the plight, he would say "Dear Little Blue Hen, why didn't you take the children and go on, I can't last much longer, and my soul will
rest much easier if I knew you were safe. My body is just dust and will be all right any place". She replied, "As long as you live I'll be with you, Dear". The the
Little Blue Hen and two boys, aged ten and twelve, set about fixing a bed. The boys had knives with which they cut the long stemmed grass until they made
a fairly comfortable bed, then the three pulled the father on it. They were fortunate to be where there was pine and the boy's weren't long in gathering
plenty of wood and pine knots; not only for wamth and lights but to keep hungry wolves and panthers away as they came circling around growling and
vicious looking. The boys threw up a hight barricade behind their father's pallet, of brush, then a big fire a few feet in front and here the little family huddled
together. They dared not let the fire die down until after day-break, then the beasts went back into the woods. When the father became conscious, he
praised Little Blue Hen for her loyalty and he prayed that his little family might be spared from the dreaded disease. He lived only twenty-four hours after
being put out of the wagon, and at sunset his soul passed on. The little mother with sticks, and the boys with knives dug a grave deep enough to bury him,
and piled rocks and dead trees on top of the grave to keep the beasts from the body. Then the boys blazed the tree all around the grave. They wanted to
leave the grave well marked for they intended to return for their father's body some day. They fed on roots, wild berries, a spoonful of honey and a small
portion of the cold flour and the next morning the brave mother with her three children bade farewell to the Honey King's grave, by the roadside of the Trail
of the Tears, and they traveled on to the post, following the wagon tracks to the river, which they realized they would have to swim across. Undaunted she
took her paisley shawl and tied the baby onto her back and cautioning her boys to stay close to her they all swam across the river. Here they found the
wagon tracks but they stopped long enough to build a big fire and dry their clothes. They then walked all the way to the Government Post, where they were
given food, clothes and shelter. The next day they were carried to the border line in a wagon and from there they walked all the way into Doaksville, where
Captain Doaks gave them plenty to eat and clean clothing. They rested there several days. Captain Doaks sent word to her uncle, David Folsom, and he
came for her and took her and the children down to Kiamichi. The Honey King's prayers were answered, not one of them [lost] to the cholera.

The Government had established a trading post and name it Fort Towson. This post was used as a Fort during the Civil War. These Choctaws made half
dugout home for them and the used this for several months until she and her boys could cut down trees enough to make a permanent home. They were
never idle; there were days of hardships and toil, tilling the soil from dawn until dark, bitter trying days. The first year they didn't get to put much in
cultivation and most of it was planted in corn. The mother and boys cultivated and harvested the crops and cared for the livestock, believeing they were
building a permanent home. In the late Summer, they started cutting down trees and built a log house of which they were very proud. Their home had very
little furniture. Their beds were home made, constructed of four forked posts, set deep in the earth, forks up so as to hold the side railing posts; these were
slatted across with small poles held securely by a rope; upon this they piled high hay and even with their scant bedding this made a very comfortable bed.
They had a homemade table and sawed off logs for seats. A mortar was made first as many good Indian dishes came from grain pounded fine in the
mortar. A sod fireplace cooked the meals and an ash popper made from a hollow log in which dripping water through wood ashes made lye for soap. She
dried wild plums, berries and grapes. The boys killed wild hogs and game for their meat as game was plentiful. They had pine torches for light as first and
homemade candles. This little family was very industrious and later on with the small remueration received from the Government, they saved enough to buy
two slaves and they prospered.

Seemingly the Little Blue Hen never grew tired. She was well informed in regard to the medicial properties of herbs and she turned her talents to aiding the
sick. She made teas from the roots and of the lowly broom weed, and excellent remedy for colds and a preventative of pneumonia, if taken in time. This tea
was made from the roots of the broom weed, placed in cold water and allowed to come to a rolling boiling point, when the blaze was lowered and the mixture
was allowed to steep a half hour. It was sweetened with honey, and drank hot every hour. She also made a salve to cure external cancer from this formula.
One pint honey, one pint of butter, one pint of juice from green vines and leaves of the pole bean. These three ingrediants were steamed slowly together
until the mixture formed a soft salve. Persons using the cure for cancer must refrain from the use of alcholic beverages, fat meats, or any oils, drinking for
liquids only water, buttermilk, or liquid from Tom Fulla (boiled corn).

She was very ambitious for her children. They each went to Missionary Schools at Goodland where the oldest sons, William and Ben Franklin finished,
gthen going to Choctaw College in what is now Blue County, Kentucky. They spent five years in this college where William finished in law. William returned
home for a vacation and early one morning he took his dogs and started on a dear hunt. In a very short time his hounds jumped up a big buck with horns
branched out like a tree. It is the nature of the deer when chased to run for water and this one fled to Roebuck Lake which it swam across but the hounds
were crowding it so that it turned and started swimming back. There were some Indian girls on the lake, fishing from a boat. They saw the deer and one of
the girls shot at it with her bow and arrow, hitting the dear in the head where its immence horns held the arrow. William then shot the dear and recovered
the girl's arrow. The arrow looked strangely familiar. He examined it closely and remembered making several arrows like that for a school mate back in
Mississippi cutting his initials on them. He waited for the girls to row to the landing when he asked to whom the arrow belonged. One of the girls stepped
toward him and said the arrow belonged to her, that she was Payayah Homer (Homma). He said, "You are! Well I am William Roebuck." They were much
suprised to see each other again. He gave the deer to her, and she in turn invited him to her grandfather's home near Goodland, where she and her father
lived. The two girls got on their horses and William threw the deer across his horse and they all rode to the girl's home. On the way William inquired about
her father and she told him that her father was District Chief. All of the Choctaws called him John OK, as he had put his mark on their commissary orders
before they could receive their groceries. On their arrival at Goodland, William went into the house to see her father and this was a happy reunion at the
Chief's home. They renewed old friendships and had a big feast of deer meat and "Bota Koopsa", William's favorited Indian dish-Tom Fuller, cold flour,
bunnahhah bread and many other Indian dishes as well as white folks food. The following year William and Polayah were married, and by two ceremonies,
the first was the Indian Ceremony, the second by Reverend R. D. Potter, a Presbyterian Minister, Indian Missionary to the Choctaws at Goodland. These
ceremonies were performed in 1842, according to William Roebuck's (Indian Robak) family records. A description of the Indian Ceremony appears in the
record:

"They built an arbor and covered it with mistletoe, intermingled with long trailing vines with berries hanging down. Then two poles were erected about
twenty-five feet apart near the arbor. The bride and the nine maids were at one pole, the groom and nine attendants were at the other pole. Two wise
medicine men beat the Tom Toms; two wise medicine men played the Indian Love Call with a flute, (fashioned from a willow branch). The girls formed a
circle around their pole, and the men did like-wise about their pole, and they danced around the poles weaving in and out. Then they danced single file
toward each other, forming a figure eight until the bride and groom met, when they danced around each other two or three times, then she fled to the arbor;
the groom ran also and caught her about the time she reached the arbor and there the ceremony was sealed with a kiss. This marriage ceremony was very
elaborate and was accompanied by feasting. After the Indian ceremony, the religious ceremony was performed under this arbor and after this ceremony
was over, they received their wedding gifts, all home spun coverlets, bed linens, table linens, Indian handmade pottery, pitchers, vases, bowls, baskets, and
many other beautiful hand-made Indian things, as almost every Indian brought something. The priceless present the bride received was the Paisley Shawl
of William's mother, which had come with them over the Trail of the Tears. Last but not least they received two negro slaves, Mose and his wife, Fanny.

" This happy couple established their home at Roebuck Lake, a home constructed of hewed cedar logs, two stories with and additional room on the back. It
was very large with side porches. Like his father, the Honey King, William started an apiary. They had a fine spring of water at Roebuck Lake. The lake was
in the shape of a horse shoe and was three miles around with and island in the center. This was William's plantation and he and his servants crossed
thislake in boats to reach his farm which contained 160 acres of fine land. William also had a gin and grist mill on this lake and the Indians brought their
cotton and corn often from a distance of twenty-five miles, as there were no grist mills nearer. The toll for grinding the meal was one-eight of meal, and
exchange of products being used for money then. He also had a sorgum mill run by mule power.

William and Polayah (Annie in English) reared a family of eight children there. The oldest boy Epraim fought in the Civil War and was killed in action at the
battle of Poison Springs in Albert Pike's Brigade. The second oldest, David, became Choctaw National Attorney. Edmond and Enoch were progressive
farmers and cattle men. Maylinday was the fifth child. Two girls died in infancy. Rosa, the youngest daughter of Maylinday gave most of this history.

She gave a few incidents that happened after her father, James Usray, married Malinday Roebuck. Father (James Usray) was a cattle man, and made
specialty of fine stock, white face Herfords and Red Durhams. One afternoon, Father noticed a white male buffalo among his stock and sent one of the
hands to get him out of the herd, and sent him over to Harmon Homer's who had mixed cattle. The buffalo roamed away on Hanubby Creek and got stuck in
a bog and granfather's old negro slave, Dick Roebuck, found him almost dead. He knocked him in the head and skinned him and brought the hide to father
who had it made into a beautiful rug. Father said this was the first white buffalo he ever saw and thought it must have strayed from cattle and buffalo
rustlers out in Texas. Father's home, six miles west of Hugo, was burned down, having caught from a prairie fire, and this buffalo rug burned with all
furniture.

My father was bitterly opposed to the treaty of 1855. He was a delagate at the convention which was held at Doaksville and at this convention they signed
three treaties in one. Doaksville and Skullyville are two of the oldest villages in the Choctaw Nation. Skullyville is now known as Spiro. My father's father,
Phillip Usray, lived at Marble City (now Sallisaw, OK). At the beginning of the Civil War grandfather was living alone, grandmother being dead, and all of his
children married. He was quite wealthy in cattle, horses and mules. He was neutral and he sold the horses and mules to the Union side, delivering the stock
at Fort Gibson and being paid in gold.

On returning home he took his grandson, George Usray, home with him. Grandfather had a tin box that he called his safe in which he put his gold, his gold
watch and grandmother's jewelry. He wrapped a sheepskin rug around this box, got his spade and started toward the hills. He had to pass by the spring
and he told little George to stay there until he came back. Then grandfather went into the hill and was concealed from view by hackberry bushes and he
returned without the box. He told George never to tell a soul about their journey. They went to the house, cooked their supper and had just finished, when
they heard a knock at the door. Grandpa asked "Who is there". A voice answered harshly, "Open this door". Grandfather was busy while talking, putting
little George under the puncheon floor. They yelled at Grandpa to open the door or they would chop it down. He didn't reply and they chopped down the
door and in walked three masked men and demanded the gold. He told them he had worked hard for his gold; that he was too old to work now and too old
for the war, and he didn't intend to give it away either. They told him it was either gold or his life. He replied, "Well I only have one time to die and if now is
the time, I am ready". So they put a rope around his and jerked him along down to the limb on a tree and let him hang for a few seconds, then lowered him
and asked if he was ready to tell where the gold was. He shook his head and said, "No". They then took their nippers and pulled his toe nails out, one by
one. He still shook his head "No". They again hoisted him in the air for a few moments; again lowered him and asked if he was ready to talk. He shook his
head again "No". They slapped his face and pulled his tongue out and cut it off, then they stabbed him in the heart and drew him up in the tree to die. They
then ran to their horses, jumped on them and galloped away. During this punishment, little George had crawled out from under the house and witnessed
everything and when they pulled grandpa's toe nails, he shut his eyes and crammed his fist into his mouth to keep from screeming and when they cut out
his grandfather's tongue, he fainted. When he came to, grandpa was hanging in the tree and the men were gone. He crept up to him and called to him but
no response.

He then ran three miles crying and calling to his uncle, Tobe Usray, whose home he finally reached. When the told his uncle how they had murdered his
grandpa, Uncle Tobe went over, cut his father's body down and took it home and buried him in the old family graveyard near Skullyville. This old cemetery
is supposed to be the oldest in the Choctaw Nation and I have read inscriptions on tomb stones there dated 1839. There are lots of the old graves with
boards for markers that are said to be older than 1839. They bured some of the Choctaws who died soon after reaching Indian Territory, here.

There is another old grave-yard about three miles east of Hugo in an old apple and peach orchard. All of the Homers for four generations and their wives
and children were buried here, some as early as 1838. I have been in this cemetery when parakeets, beautiful green birds, would come in droves in the fall
and peck and eat the fine apples. My sister and I had to fight them away to keep them from destroying the orchard.

All of my relatives have hunted and dug all over the Kiamichi hills for the tin box of gold that grandfather buried but it still remains a secret, no one has ever
found it.

These facts were gained from my grandfather, William Robak, (Roebuck in English), who assisted and comforted his mother, Polaya (Homer) Roebuck
(Little Blue Hen) over the Trail of Tears. A part came from an old diary, from Bible records and from letters, as well as reminiscence of my Aunt Mary Homer,
aged Choctaw, deceased.