Echos Of Futures Past, Part I: Nancy Chipukites & Darrell Stiles

Chipukites and Stiles are Co-Owners of Cabin Creek Farm that was homesteaded in the Land Run of 1891 by their Great Grandfather.

Darrell: Our Great Grandfather came in the Run of 1891. Originally they came from New Jersey. They moved out to Kansas for awhile, somewhere around Minneapolis, Kansas. 

Nancy: Great Grandpa and Grandma weren’t destitute when they lived on the East Coast. They had very nice homes in New Jersey. They took the train from there to Kansas.

Darrell: Once they got to Kansas they were tenant farmers. They moved around to different places. Then they heard about this land opening up down here so they travelled by team and wagon to over on Stillwater Creek, about where it comes into the river on some property, I think it was owned by a guy whose name was Mansfield. They had what they called a squatter’s camp and there were several families gathered there. That’s where they were waiting to make the run. 

On their way from Kansas to the squatters camp our Great Grandmother, who lived to be 99, there was some kind of a ravine and Great Grandpa had thrown some logs in it so they could get the wagon over. She had the reins of the mules and he was in front leading them. She was braced but when the front wheels hit the logs it bounced her off the wagon and the front wheel run over her. Apparently she had the presence of mind to roll under the wagon so the back wheel didn’t hit her. She was pregnant. She not only lost the child but fell deathly ill with malaria. They credit getting a Doctor out of Guthrie that saved her. The baby was buried on the southwest corner of the homestead property. As kids we knew where that was, there was a little rock up there in the line of cedar trees. They aren’t there anymore because the highway department took ’em out when they expanded the shoulders on Highway 33. 

When it came time they saddled a mare named Topsy and him and two or three others, they came across Stillwater Creek and came down here to cross the river on the north side. Somebody else settled this first deal, Great Uncle George said it was pretty evident that they’d been across several times, looking at the land that he wanted. That was this quarter to the east of us. You couldn’t make camp or come over here, that was illegal.

Nancy: That’s how the Sooners got their name. There were two of them that Uncle George talks about in his book. When he got to where he wanted there were already squatters there.

Darrell: Needless to say they were pretty poor after the Run. They used to go east of Cushing and they’d do farming for Indians. The Indians had the land down there, same as the Sac and Fox who’ve got it now. I’ve had a lot of friends who have rented that Indian land right over in that same area. They’d take two teams and two plows and go down there and plow the land for the Indians, who would pay them $1 per acre. That’s how they made some money and I suppose over the years either it was already there like that, or they cleared it or a little of both, that there two existing 20+ acre fields along the creek. Our Grandad farmed that for years and years and years.

Nancy: Also they would build log houses and make wooden caskets. The people who used the wooden caskets, which was mostly for the Indians that had died, they would reuse those wooden caskets over and over again. They’d charge $50 each time.

Darrell: They would just use them to haul ’em to the burial grounds and then the Indians would use hides and stuff like that to bury ’em in.

Nancy: They were happy to get paid for the work that they did, and evidently the Indians could afford to hire someone to do some of their work. Seemed it like a good arrangement.

Darrell: We didn’t know our Great Uncle, he’d already died, but Great Grandma lived, just like Nancy said, ’til she was…

Nancy: I think it was about 1955 when she passed away. She was blind the entire time we knew her.

Darrell: They’d go pick beans, green beans, and give them to her and she’d go out in there in that covered porch and snap those beans. Every once in a while she’d get us cornered on the south porch on the covered porch of the old house. She’d be humming or singing to herself and she’d hear us, she’d beg us to come and sit down by her. She would tell some stories and now sure wish we’d have paid more attention. She was amazing.

Nancy: I wish I would have been smart enough to write down some of the things she’d say. Even Great Grandpa talked to us about some of it. He would tell stories, but you were so infatuated by listening you didn’t think about writing anything down.

Their motivation for coming was, I would say, an excitement over having their own land. They had this interest and Great Grandpa’s brother was the first one, Stephen, to come. He prompted Great Grandpa, I would say, to come and join them. That’s how I view it. An opportunity for a new beginning. And it was getting crowded back East. To them it was getting crowded.

Darrell: I’m proud they had the Land Run and I’m proud that Great Grandad got it, and that so far we haven’t had to sell it! Times were hard. You had to have some extra mustard in you to make it.