By Franklin T. Wike
As he started telling me the story behind the gun, I became absolutely fascinated with his stories, not only about this particular gun, but also about his life and the history of his family.
This is the story of Kenneth Hill, known by the Indians Oh Saw Hay Tay or "Little Hill" and I have tried to keep his language as authentic as possible.
"This four barrel 22 caliber Derringer was made in Italy. It previously belonged to Lloyd Floyd. Lloyd Floyd was born around 1890. After statehood he was elected Sheriff of Le Flore County, Oklahoma. He carried this Derringer in his boot during the entire 42 years he served as sheriff. He was even reelected as Sheriff after his youngest brother Pretty Boy Floyd was killed for bank robbery.
"Pretty Boy Floyd used to roam the Cookston Hills area in south Oklahoma, because there were a lot of Indians there making 190 proof home brew. Pretty Boy would take the home brew across the state line into Missouri and sell it.
"I also have a cobblestone pill box big enough to hold 60 people., that came from Lincoln County, Oklahoma. It's round and has two floors in it and slots about four inches in diameter all the way around it. If the Indians attacked, the settlers would all run and get into it. They kept enough supplies in it to last them about a month. The pill box was fixed so the settlers could lay on the floor, stick their rifle barrels up to these holes and shoot out of them. They had to be careful not to stick their rifles out of the holes, because the Indians could grab them.
"When the Indians hit, they would hit all at once and then two minutes later, you wouldn't see no Indians. They were all gone. That's the way they fought. That's the way the Cherokee fought through the South. That's also the way that General Stand Watie fought. I lived a half a mile from the Big Cabin battle ground where he was buried at.
"I picked up a lot of cannon balls that had round fuses in them, about the size of your thumb. A guy in Stillwater, Oklahoma told me to get rid of them, because they might go off. I did. I got rid of them, but I don't think they would go off. I didn't want them anyway. Everybody was always after me to buy them and everything.
"In 1933, when I was a kid, I was out coon hunting one day. I found this tree with a hole in it. I reached down into that hole, and I could feel something soft. I had gloves on and I pulled it up. It was an old leather pouch and I dropped it. Of course, when it hit the ground, it came apart. I took a pouch and gathered it all up and took it home. Then we spread it all out on the table. I found a treasure in that old oak tree. I found 33 gold pieces and thousands of dollars of Confederate money.
"The Confederate money was in such bad shape that when you touched it, it fell apart. Confederate money, then, wasn't worth anything. One of my wife's aunts had a trunk half full of confederate money.
"The gold was taken to the bank and I got several hundred dollars from it. It got us through the depression time pretty well.
Authors note: After obtaining there stories from Kenneth Hill, I was able to obtain information about the history of the Hill family. I have included this information in case any long lost relatives get a chance to read this article.
"In 1738 James Oglethorp brought English prisoners into Georgia. He started the Georgia colony in northern Georgia. The prisoners were mostly men, so they married into the Cherokee and so many of your Cherokee had English relatives.
When gold was discovered on their land in 1838, Chief John Ross was forced to lead the Cherokees off their land in Georgia and on a journey where thousands of Cherokees died on the way to Oklahoma. This was called the "trail of tears".
"My great-grandfather,George Washington Hill II, being part Cherokee Indian,traveled the "trail of tears" until he got to Tennessee. There he hid out until 1850. Then he and my grandfather, George Washington Hill III moved into the Indian Territory now called Oklahoma. My Grandfather had 14 children and is buried in the New Hope graveyard in Stilwell, Oklahoma.
"My father, George Washington Hill IV was born in Oklahoma. He married Ida Steel and I, Kenneth Hill, known by the Indians as "Oh Saw Hay Tay" or "little hill" was born in 1926.
"My mother was half German and half English. Grandma Hill came from England and my granddad Albert Steel was German. He was born in 1841. He went to West Point, then when he was 18 or 19 he moved to Wisconsin. In 1863 he joined the service and fought in the Civil War. He was wounded in the war. His father was Frederick Steel and he led the siege on Red River through Arkansas and if you go through Arkansas where the battles was at they have a big plaque up there that says Major General Frederick Steel. Frederick Steel went to West Point with General Sheridan and they fought together when they both had the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
"Grandma Steel was born 12 days after her mother arrived here from England. She was adopted by a rich couple named Ramsey that raised her but she left them at an early age and got married to Albert Steel and they had 12 children in Corning, Iowa. They later had a covered wagon and they traveled to Neosho, Missouri and later they came to Vinita, Oklahoma.
'Vinita is an old town that was on the Texas Road. That was the first cattle trail that run out of Oklahoma. It went right on down in to Texas and up into Kansas. It's known as the MKT road now because the MKT Railroad went right up the old Texas Road and that stopped the cattle trail because they sent them by rail.
"My dad was born in 1861. He lived in Flint community where Stilwell, Oklahoma is now. He knew Ned Christy, the famous Indian outlaw, as well as several other famous people. Jim Gross was one of our neighbors and Pretty Boy Floyd used to hang around his place quite a bit. Jim used to haul home made whiskey in milk trucks to Missouri.
"One day when I was over at Jim's place, I saw some of his hogs laying in the field. They looked sick. I though they might have swallowed some cockleburs that were closed up. If they open up when they are inside of the hog, they can kill them. I went and found Jim and told him about them. He went over and took a look and then busted out laughing. He pointed to an overturned barrel of mash and told me they would be okay, they had just gotten into his mash whiskey barrel and drank it.
© Copyright 1996
All rights reserved
Unauthorized reproduction in any manner is prohibited.