'Neath August Sun

Mrs. Sam Maddux lived at the old Sub-Agency, later called the Red Store, north of the Indian school, in her words, "long before Lawton was dreamed of."  Her uncles were George M. and R. H. Paschal who were licensed Indian traders.  They owned one of three stores in the Sub-Agency.  She recalls the "tiny settlement could boast of perhaps fifty inhabitants (which was a generous allowance), not including the Indians, horses, dogs, etc."  She continued saying, "There were few laws or conventions and life was lazy and restful and quite uneventful, save for an occasional flood in Cache Creek and the annual Christmas tree at the Indian church-school house.  We seemed to think that life would go on that way forever.  Fort Sill was our only contact with the outside world."

The following story is extracted from her contribution to 'Neath the August Sun:

We children were always present at the Indian funerals.  When an Indian died, the tribe would congregate and wail for a whole day.  They would stop eventually, but upon the arrival of each relative or friend, they would begin all over again.  Often in the night we would hear those weird lamentations (accompanied by the dogs’ howling), and we would know that an Indian had died or that the family had just come back to where one had died – possibly months before.

When Indians died, they would either be taken to the little ante-room adjoining the church-school house, or lie in state at the blacksmith shop, the duties of the blacksmith never being interrupted.

I remember the funeral of an old Mexican who lived on the creek below our house.  He had quite a pretentious camp – several tents connected by arbors.  There were usually several Mexicans there with him (probably political refugees), and in the evenings we could hear beautiful Mexican music played on guitars and piano.

Occasionally we would miss a prized chicken, and more often than not would find a bunch of feathers near his camp which looked suspiciously familiar but there was no way of proving whose chicken those feathers had once adorned.  Once his little boy, who played with my sisters, told us that his father had some of our chickens in a box under his bed, so my mother took a stroll down there and, finding no one at home, looked under the bed and found the chickens which she took home with her.  No doubt when the Mexicans returned they thought those chickens had done a Houdini and escaped from the securely fastened box.

When the old Mexican died he was dressed in his Sunday best and placed in a pine coffin made by the blacksmith.  The hearse was a cart drawn by one horse and so small that only a part of the coffin would go in, the balance of it extending out the back.  I expected any minute to see it fall off and roll down the hill.

The cortege consisted of the little Mexican boy, my two sisters, two Mexican friends and several dogs, all walking along behind.  I still can see that procession winding its way over the hill to the Indian graveyard on a scorching hot day where the old man was laid away without benefit of clergy.

[The Days Before Yesterday, Mrs. Sam Maddux, pp. 34-35.]