Monday, May 3, 2010

Pioneers To Indian Territory 1881


From Kentucky, to Texas, to Indian Territory 1881-1938

Mary Frances "Fanny" Sutton was married to my 3rd great uncle, Isaac Newton "Ike" Wallen. Ike and my third great grandfather Jesse B. Wallen were brothers. Fanny was also related by blood through our common ancestors Jonas Sutton, Jr. and his wife Sarah. Jonas's son Micajah is mentioned below. Micajah was married to Eleanor Haggard and he and another of my 3rd great Grandfathers, Uriah Sutton, were brothers.

Ike was probably a practical joker of sorts considering a picture we have of him posing naked.  Now I know where my dad and my brothers got their "Wallen" sense of humor! This picture was probably taken between 1885-1895 in either Cooke Co., Texas or Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). 

     The Interview

Interview 10593
Interviewed by Ethel B. Tackitt, dated 22 April 1938 (8 pages)
Lone Wolf Kiowa County

Mrs Mary Francis Sutton Wallen, Hobart OK
Born 8 December 1856, Pulaski County Kentucky
Father: Andrew Jackson Sutton, born in Kentucky
Mother: Martha Ann Gasteneau, born in Kentucky

        "I was born in Pulaski county Kentucky December 8, 1856.  My father Andrew Jackson Sutton and mother Martha Ann Gasteneau were both natives of Pulaski county Kentucky and member of pioneer Kentucky families.

My Father's Father, Micajah Sutton had established a tan yard for making leather and leather articles at a very early date in the history of Kentucky in a valley 6 miles East of Somerset, Pulaski county Kentucky and here grandfather reared his family teaching each one to work in the tan yard and thereby providing a living as all work was done by the family.

This valley was well watered not by creeks but by wells of wonderfully sweet good water and when I can first remember there were 300 tanning vats and sheds with all the equipment which went with such an extensive plant.  All parts were operated by hand as there was not one bit of machinery in the whole establishment.  

The hides were lowered into these vats which were about 15' deep by 10' square boarded up on the inside with heavy timbers while at each corner was a heavy piece of square timbers called a plug which was raised when it was desired for that the vat be drained and cleaned to make ready for another pack of hides.  These vats were dug into the ground but were so constructed that the stale water would run out at the bottom.

              After the hides were well soaked so that the flesh adhering to the under side and the hair would slip off when the hand operated scraper was used on tem they were ready for the leather making process which was that of the old German kind which was used in Germany and put in practice by my grandfather Micajah Sutton.

            My father purchased 800 acres of land near him just to secure the tan bark off the chestnut, oak and read oak trees as this bark is what they used for tanning.  Lamp black and fish oil were also used on the leather.

             I worked in the tan yard also, when a child and a young woman.  Harness and leather horse collars were also made here by hand.  I have stuffed the wheat straw into many, many horse collars as that was usually my job.  I can think of nothing that stinks like that tan yard and if a person was not accustom to the smell he or she could hardly endure working there, but of course, our family was brought up to do this sort of work.

When the civil war came up my father was not drafted because of his operating this tan yard, neither was it ever destroyed by either army.  I remember on one November 23 during the war that twenty five Union soldiers came to our home, all very ill of dysentery and remained two days and 2 nights until all but one was well enough to travel.  The one was left and we took care of him the best we could, until some Confederate soldiers came and took him away and father feared that the man would be killed but eight months later, we received a letter from him stating he had been freed and sent to his home.

       After the war my Folks hired Negroes to work in the tan yard and there were two who worked there a long time but the most of the work was still done by the family. When I was 24 and had married, my husband and I left Kentucky and came to Texas, there we lived until 1889 and then in 1890 we moved three miles south of Ardmore in the Chicasaw Indian Nation and with us we brought a wagon loaded with hogs and chickens and nothing else and in the other covered wagon we had our bedding, cooking utensils and our clothes. We leased land from the Jackson Brothers who controlled twelve thousand acres of land in Clear Creek bottom. The land was very productive, the corn grew fine, long ears and the cotton was also fine, but prices were low and there was so little market for either corn or cotton that there was no money in the country.

        Having grown up as I have told you about, working in the tan yard and doing all kinds of farm work. I was able to look after my children and to plant a garden to help provide food. I would take the children and go out into the woods and gather post oak grapes, wild plums and currants for we were accustomed to having plenty of fruit and doing with out fruit was a hardship to me. There were very few orchards in the country at that time and those which were growing were on old home places that had belonged to the Indian families.

        I was not very happy for the country was so wild and unsettled that there was nothing for women and children but loneliness and work as the land could not belong to the white people there was no incentive to build more on a place than was required by the lease, which was for so many years, usually five, and then a person would either have to rent it or move to another lease and improve it in the same way.

        Our stock did well as they ran at large but it was several years before the country settled up and we could have a subscription school and that was for only two or four months in the year and for that reason my children were able to get little education which was of great grief to me. I am now 81 years old and 48 of those years have been spent in Oklahoma. My husband has passed on and I am living with my daughter Mrs. Lillie Hulsey, who was born in Oklahoma and has lived here all her life. Some things are better now than when I first came to the country but I think it is harder for people to make a living at this time."



  1. I can only imagine the hardships of Fanny and others like her. It's fantastic that you have this interview with her, and others who might be members of your collateral family lines may find it here and gain insight to their background.

  2. Dear Lisa, I love what you have done, and I love the quote by T. S. Eliot. My favorite movie is also Braveheart. I wanted to let you know that my gr. gr. or is it gr. gr. gr. grandmother was Rebecca Sutton Mullins. I'm not looking at my tree at the moment, so I get confused. I just thought you would be interested. I love what you are doing. Thanks. Sandra (Horn) Lytch - granddaughter to William Benton Crawford whose mother was Elizabeth Mullins Crawford.

  3. Sandra....I don't know how to get hold of you. I hope you will contact me because I know of Rebecca Sutton who married Jackson R. Mullins. I know of two of their children, Sarah and Micajah, but there may have been others...I lost the trail. Hope to hear from you!

  4. Hello Lisa, Me again! It is getting somewhat late for me, but I am just so excited to make a connection with you. I would love information on Sarah and Micajah. Her other son was Josiah Joplin Mullins; my gr. gr. grandfather. He had three wives, but the most prolific was my gr. gr. grandmother Balzora Adams Mullins. I'm having some difficulty finding out about her, but there does seem to be a lot of information on Josiah, including a photograph that I have on the ancestry site. As I am somewhat computer illiterate, please let me know how I may send it to you. I could also invite you to the site so you can take a gander, and tell me if I've made any huge blunders. Josiah was a handsome, and very interesting looking man. His daughter (my gr. grandmother Elizabeth Bettie Carsten Mullins Crawford, was in my opinion, quite lovely. I have a photo in my collection of her (the only one) that my grandfather left to my mother. I did not realize that Andrew Jackson Sutton was Micajah Sutton's son. There is a great deal of confusion on the ancestry site (mistakes), but after reading the interview of Mary Francis, it really cleared things up. I haven't been able to do much in the way of family research for the last 5 months, as I recently moved to California, but I'm just getting back into it. I believe, after reading your bio, that we are approximately the same age. You can reach me at I am happy to talk to you. Sincerely, Sandra

  5. Sandra, I am so glad you came back by! I was looking at my great great grandfather's records last night because he was the subject of my most recent post and I saw in the tax records I have listed for him that in 1875 William Wallen's nearest neighbor was Jack R. Mullins! In 1875, according to my great grandfather's diary (Oliver who was William's son) William and his family were living with his father in law Uriah Sutton in 1875. In the same tax records it is noted that Uriah's nearest neighbor was Jackson Mullins! I probably don't know all that much to be of any great help to you but I will e-mail you later (probably tomorrow as the pool and the barbeque are calling to me right now..) and we will "confer"!

  6. Lisa, I am so thankful to have dropped in. I too and a decendant of JJ Mullins. My Great grandpa was William Thomas Mullins, Josiah's son. I would love to ahve any info on him and Balzora that you have. I am having a hrad time finding info on her. I was able to contact a grandson of WT mullins and over the holidays I am going to go through all WT's pictures. He has some in there of his 2nd wife but not sure if any of Balzora are there. I am very excited over this as no one has looked into box since his death. I will keep you posted. May be some info on Jackson R, you never know. That was WI's grandpa. Wish me luck!

  7. did not leave me a name or way of getting back to you but as for the Mullins family it seems you would do well to contact Sandra above. It sounds like you are definitely related to her!! I don't have much in the way of connections to the Mullins family other than indirectly through the marriage of Rebecca Sutton to Jackson R. Mullins. There was also a Jeptha P. Mullins that my gggrandmother's sister Catherine Martin was married to. Feel free to contact me further anytime! (But it would help if you left a name and/or address!)

  8. Hi again, Well I did make it to Ky and had a wonderful time going through my G Granfathers (William Thomas, so of Josiah, son of Jackson R Mullins)box of pictures. What a treasure! I also took a picture of Rebecca Sutton and Jackson R Mullins tombstones while there. I thought you might like them. I posted to find a grave if you want a copy. My e-mail is I am sorry I did not leave it before. If you run across anything on my Mullins I am always excited to hear it. Thanks again for the wonderful sutton history that I learned while visiting your site.

    Dottie Durrett

  9. glad you got back to me with this information. I will check out the photos on FindAGrave. Thank you for leaving me your contact information too. If you find out any new details on Rebecca and Jackson, please let me know and I will do the same!

  10. I am so happy that I found this! I am a Mullins and would love to know so much more! JJ Mullins is my great great grandfather. I have just started to research my family and would love to know more about them. If you could contact me that would be amazing. My email is I just love how you have put this together! Thanks!

  11. Thanks for the compliment on my blog! I am not a descendant of the Mullins family and I don't have much information on J.J. Mullins. You are the 3rd descendant of his that has contacted me as a result of this blog post. I think you would be best off to contact Sandra above at as she is a descendant and could probably offer you more information than I could. The other descendant did not leave contact information. Thanks for leaving yours and good luck!!

  12. Wonderful! What a great story. And what a revealing picture of daily live in the "territories".
    Thanks for that and , as always for this blog.
    On a personal note. I need your advice. As I do more and more research, I am piling up LOTS of paper - maps, Census pages, stories and general research that I want to keep on hardcopy (not to mention the books). My folders and panaflex files are just about full and getting more ... unwieldy ...Do you keep your stuff in a file cabinet or what system have found that will keep all this organized and easy to search?
    Thank you,
    Your friend and amateur genealogist,

    1. LOL David! You ask ME that question! You are running into what ALL us family historians grapple with! We all have different systems but we still struggle.

      I would first say that you should scan anything that you can't easily get another copy of and keep it in organized folders on your hard drive and keep your hard drive backed up off sight in some way. (photos too)

      I currently have my hard copies in page protectors and in binders that are large enough to hold everything under a major surname, except for Wallen which has now spilled into a second 6" binder. Some people keep smaller binders, each one a different grandparent.

      My notes and census pages are now kept on the computer but I have a filing cabinet full of files that I need to go through one at a time and see what to keep and what to discard. Most of it will probably be discarded as I keep more and more of my notes and such on the computer. My computer is currently backed up using Carbonite and I also keep my most important and most accessed files in various cloud programs like Dropbox, Sugarsync, and others so that they are not only backed up a second time, they can be easily accessed from my laptop computer or my smart phone, anywhere, anytime.

      There are a lot of genealogists that address this on their blogs. If you go to the main geneabloggers page and click on "search all blogs" you can type in various search terms that have to do with organizing your genealogy and come up with a lot of great ideas.

      Good luck with finding what works best for you!