One day you wake up and all your hero’s are gone. My Father is gone (more on a Mission he flew in a later post), my Great Grandfather is long gone. Its at these times you are thankful you stashed away write ups and articles on them that, at the time when they were living, just went on the back burner. Below is a write up on my Great Grandfather done by a reporter by the name of Robert Ford in Oklahoma many years ago. Every time I read it, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I always thought I should of lived 100 years ago. I always wanted to be like my Grandpa. Now I know why. I hope you enjoy the article.
Jessie James, Cole Younger, Geronimo all notorious names from American History of the’ “Old West”. To us today these are just names out of the past. We think of it as only history. But the (days of the true old West were again relived when Ivisited Peoples Electric Cooperative’s eldest member-a 97 year old true American cowboy from the days of the old west.
Jim Ingram was born in May of 1866 in Coffee County, Tennessee. When he was 2 years old, his family moved to Indian Territory by ox wagon. At an early age his mother died. When he was 7 his father died, and he has been on his own ever since.
Jim Ingram still shaves himself, and he has very few gray hairs in his full head of black hair. He does not look his 97 years. He and Mrs. Ingram live on Route 2, Wyneewood, Oklahoma, where they have lived since 1919. The Ingram’s have been happily married since the Spring of 1899. They have one son, one grandson and two granddaughters. Their grandson is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.
“I worked with stock and cattle all my life until I retired,” says Ingram. “And I have made many cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail from the Red River to Kansas. I have rode across Oklahoma when I would never see a white man. There were not many houses and no fences.”
“Did you ever meet any of the old gun fighters and outlaws of those days?” I asked. “Oh, sure!” he answered, “I’ve seen a lot of gun fighters while I worked cattle all over Oklahoma. I knew Jessie James quite well, but I knew Cole Younger even better. They would come to our cattle drive camps to hide out. I’ve slept in camp with them many a time. Jessie James was as peaceful a man as I ever saw. “He did not bother poor folks, only robbed banks.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess you have had a lot of interesting experiences?”
“Tell him about the time a tornado like to have got you.” said Mrs. Ingram.
“Well,” he said, “once I was riding my horse when this storm blew up
A tornado picked me and my horse up in the air. I could pull on the reins, but I had no control of my horse because we were up in the air, but I don’t know how high. It was so black I couldn’t see. Pretty soon, it set us down on the ground.
“Were you injured?” I asked. “No, we weren’t hurt.” he replied. “You know,” he said, “I’ve seen wild buffalo where Oklahoma City now stands. I roped buffalo and killed them for meat.”
“I once worked issuing government beef to the Comanche and Apache Indians. The Indians would kill the cattle on the spot. I saw them eat the meat blood raw. When they were finished, there wouldn’t be anything left. They used it all.”
“There was a time when you saw an Indian, and if the Indian did not run, you had better run.”
“Once, I had a horse race with Geronimo at Ft. Sill when they had him there.”
“Who won?” I asked.
“By granny, I won the race!” he replied.
One time a friend and I went to an Indian dance, but the Indians wouldn’t dance with us. Quanah Parker’s daughter pinned an Indian blanket around me so they would dance with me. I still have that pin. Quanah Parker’s daughter could speak better English than I could.”
The stories we read today, the T.V. and movies we see about the “Old West” do not tell the true story of the life of the cowboy. Spending hours in the saddle is hard work. It was hot and dusty in the summer and cold and wet in the winter.
“You see men today,” said Mr. Ingram, “who say they are cow boys, but they could not wear the slicker of the old real cowboys. I could tie a steer in 22 seconds, and would catch 99 throws out of 100. When we drove cattle, we had a lot of mean horses, and we had to ride them without holding to the saddle horn. If you held to the horn, the other cowboys would whip your horse and make him buck. I was a real cowboy and a good one.”
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Dwane M Ingram