African-American History Month: WPA Oklahoma Slave Narrative, Mary Grayson

mose perryman

Mary Grayson was born into slavery in Indian Territory. Her parents were owned by Mose Perryman (pictured left), and they lived in the Choska (pronounced Choe-skey) bottoms, a fertile floodplain across the Arkansas river from Haskell. She describes Creek Indian division during the Civil War, including a bit about Opothle Yahola:

"Some Upper Creeks came up into the Choska bottoms talking around among the folks there about siding with the North. They were, they said, for old man Gouge, who was a big man among the Upper Creeks. His Indian name was Opoeth-le-ya-hola, and he got away into Kansas with a big bunch of Creeks and Seminoles during the war."

She goes on to share her family's experience following the war, including her education and her allotment in Tulsa:

"I went to school at a little school called Blackjack school. I think it was a kind of mission school and not one of the Creek nation schools...When  I got to be a young woman I went to Okmulgee and worked for some people near there for several years, then married Tate Grayson. We got our freedman's allotments on Mingo Creek, east of Tulsa, and lived there until our children were grown and Tate died."

Mary Grayson was interviewed in 1937 at 1841 N. Madison. You can read her entire interview in the The WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives, or access online at the Library of Congress website.