Saturday, April 17, 2021

An Ozark Anecdote: Mostly Cherokee Side

A longtime Arkansas Ozark friend who is also part American Indian has requested that I supply her with anecdotes about the Indian side of my family, but she has also recently asked about my Grandpa, which gave me two different things to report on:

You asked where my Grandpa was from. I seem to recall that his people came from Kentucky, but he was born in Bexar, in a log cabin, way back in 1895. His people were educated, many of them ministers of the Calvinist persuasion, and Grandpa was prone to sprinkle his remarks with words like providence, predestination, and reprobation. He once called the Gazette deliveryman a reprobate for tossing our paper into a huge mud puddle!

Grandma was more forgiving. Her people were also educated, but autodidacts. Her father - on the Cherokee side - taught himself law and served (if I correctly recall) as county judge in Izard County. Grandma said that the Blacks who lived in and around Melbourne came to him for legal advice because they trusted him. He was born in 1876, or thereabouts, on the same day as a Black baby whose family was close to his, and the two babies were placed in the same crib. The two grew up together as best friends, but many of the Blacks moved away from Melbourne over time and into the Batesville area, so the two lost contact as they grew older. But my Grandma recalled riding in a horse-drawn wagon in the woods with her father, and they encountered a Black family in a similar wagon going the opposite direction. As they passed each other by, her father looked over and back at the Black man, and the Black man looked over and back at him, and they kept looking at each other as their wagons began to put distance between them, and her father said "I think that's my old friend!" The Black man recognized him, too, and they both halted their horses and got down, met halfway between the two wagons, and started pounding each other's back, happy to meet again. And my Grandma said that the two men laughed and laughed. 

I asked my grandmother if her father ever encountered any prejudice because he was Indian, and she said "Not around here, but he might have encountered prejudice [from White folks] when he took a trip to Oklahoma as a young man to visit the full-blood Cherokee side of our family." This part of the family had gone on to what had earlier been Oklahoma Indian territory. I realized from what Grandma had said - her careful use of the word "might" - that he must in fact have encountered some prejudice in Oklahoma.

"Well, there you have it, another Indian tale," I told my old friend, adding, "I might not have any more, but I'll send any that occur to me."


At 4:06 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

A touching story. Thanks for sharing.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome!

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I did not know that great grandfather Andrew was full-blooded Cherokee. I thought it was his mother who was full-blooded Cherokee. I might have misunderstood grandmother when she talked about the Cherokee side of our family.

Tim Hodges

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Technically, you're right. I was speaking a bit loosely. But even Grandma was considered Indian by the Cherokee she met in the Smokey Mountains. According to Harlin, Andrew was dark and looked Indian. We have photos of him somewhere.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home