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Hayden I. T. & Freedmen Payments

Many older…er…..long time ITTHC members remember the good outings we had to the Hayden, I. T. area on Herb Couch’s & adjoining properties. The ITTHC’s first outing to the Hayden area was in 1984 & the last was in 1992. Hayden was where payments to the Freedmen from all over the Cherokee Nation were made over about 60 days in 1897. Most members have not seen the information about the Freedmen payments at Hayden. (scroll way down)

The amount each man, woman, & child received adjusted for inflation is equal to over $5000.00 in today's market. Not a bad payment.

Here are a few articles from some of the Oklahoma Territory newspapers at the time of the Freedmen payments:

And an article from “The Coffeyville Weekly Journal”, Coffeyville, Kansas about the Hayden Freedmen payments:

The Coffeyville Weekly Journal

February 26, 1897

Coffeyville, Kansas

Page 1

News from-tbe Freedmen Payment

The pay grounds at Hayden, I. T., where the Cherokee Freedmen are to receive their share of the proceeds of the sale of the Cherokee Strip and other monies due them from the Cherokee Nation, present a novel and very animated appearance. It is estimated that there are 3000 persons on the grounds, the great majority of whom are quartered in tents and other temporary structures. This immense crowd is made up of Freedmen and their families, the paytnaster, Major Dickson and his attendants, a troop of regular cavalry under command of Capt. Gilbraith, merchants from all parts of the Indian Territory and from Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas, lawyers, fakirs, gamblers and hangers-on from everywhere.

The pay house is located on the west side of Lightning Creek, and the Freedmen and traders are camped on the east side. The latter are not allowed to cross the creek while payment is being made to the Freedmen, and the closest that they can approach their customers while they are getting their money is nearly a quarter of a mile. The regular soldiers do guard and picket duty and an army of deputy marshals is on hand ostensibly to preserve order.

The per capita is not as large as it was stated to be in the reports, some time ago, The amount is $187.80 to each Freedman. The required payment of $3.00 by each family for notarial and witness fees in proving their identity caused some dissatisfaction at first, and several mass meetings, and numerous speeches were held and made to protest against the charge. Nevertheless the three dollar business remains.

The Coffeyville contingent is probably the largest from any one place Our people are pretty comfortably hous d in good tents, and are well fixed as far as the ordinary comforts of camp life are concerned.

The persons who have been paid were principally from the most remote part of the Nation on Grand River. It is difficult to even conjecture how the merchants are going to succeed in making their collections. The present arrangements are not very encouraging.

One from the far away “New Oxford Item”, New Oxford Pennsylvania:

New Oxford Item

June 18, 1897

Page 6

Boom Town of Tents

Picturesque Scenes In The Indian Territory

Great Increase in Hayden’s Population When the Ex-Slaves of the
Cherokee Tribe Receive $800,000 From the Government

The most interesting town in the Indian Territory and one of the wonders of the year, writes a correspondent of the Chicago Record, is Hayden, where the Government has been paying off the Cherokee freedmen. A few weeks ago it was only a post office, with one store and a blacksmith shop. In a few days it became a busy town of 4000 people, mainly colored. The one intent of the population was to receive checks from the Government of which they are the beneficiaries.

When the Cherokee Nation liberated its slaves during the Civil War a treaty was arranged between them and the Government that the freedmen should be received into that Nation as citizens and hold land in common with the Cherokees. When the Cherokee strip was sold the Indians forgot the provisions of the treaty and wanted all the money, but the Court of Claims gave $800,000 to the freedmen and it was the distribution of this large sum that brought the people together.

Hayden is twelve miles from the railroad and the gathering was all housed in tents, for there was no time to make permanent dwellings if there had been an intention. The Indians and freedmen were accompanied by a large number of fakirs, who had the most enticing devices for the money to be paid out. They put up a “Midway Plaisance,” where all sorts of games were in progress. Then, to swell the crowd, there were hundreds of business men who have been selling goods to the freedmen for months on credit, trusting in the coming of this suspicious time for their pay. The total number of freedmen on the rolls was over 4500, and each share was worth $188.74. The payment was made by family, and on account of the tangled relationship of a race that was so lately slaves, the making of the rolls proved to be a tremendous task. The identification of the members of the families was no less onerous, for they all look alike to the stranger. The public school is one of the unknown factors of Indian life in this section and there are few who can read and write.

The camp has been the most orderly in the history of the Indian Territory payments. In former cases there has been always a larger attendance of the tough element which has made the nights hideous. Here the nights become wild about the midnight hour and then the “fellows” who want to cut a dash are in their element. Then it is that the Alkali Ikes are ready to go out and shoot a few holes in the atmosphere without warning. Girls with red ribbons in their hair are here and they “do” the town of tents in the most approved fashion, while the old folks are having a shouting prayer meeting, after the manner of the colored folks of the South. The brethren from Oklahoma are numerous and they are usually of the sort that has the money-making craze well developed. There is an attempt to keep gambling off the grounds, but with small success.

And now you know the rest of the story and why so many goodies were found there. Thought some might like to see the information.

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