Charles Henry Gooding. A forcible reminder of the
pioneer days of the Choctaw Nation is contained in the recollections
of Charles Henry Gooding, manager and owner of the Valliant Lumber,
Light and Power Company, at Valliant, Oklahoma. His father’s home,
near old Goodland Church, was built in the wilds and for years it was
possible to kill both deer and turkey while standing on the porch.
The prairies were void of fences and houses, grass was as high as the
back of the average house, and tens of thousands of cattle roamed at
will. Those were days when the Choctaws themselves owned most of tho
cattle, and among the prominent ranchmen of that section were George
Colbert, Thomas Griggs, Cole Nelson, Uncle Billy Springs, Governor
Wilson Jones and the Wilson brothers.
Goodland Church was
a popular meeting-place for the Indians. Here were put into use the
bugle and the drum as instruments to lead the Indians on marches that
were part of the early religious ceremonials. They marched two and
two, and Mr. Gooding remembers lines that were more than a mile long.
He recalls also that after the march in
the evening, parties of the paraders visited the homes of individual
Indians and serenaded them with the bugle and drum, and this was a
social feature of the religious life of the community.
Mr. Gooding is the
son of a white man, Henry Leavenworth Gooding, who was born in the
Choctaw Nation and whose wife, Rosanna LeFlore, was a daughter of
Bazil LeFlore. the first governor of the Choctaw Nation after the
Indians came from Mississippi. The elder Gooding was a contractor in
his early manhood and later a farmer and stockman. After marriage
into the Indian tribe, he served a term as clerk of Kiamichi County.
His father came to Indian Territory when Fort Towson was established
and was a sergeant in the first detachment of soldiers stationed
there. He is now seventy-nine years of age. His wife died in 1905.
The grandmother of Charles Henry Gooding was a fullblood Choctaw who
could not speak English, while her husband, Bazil LeFlore, who came
to Indian Territory with the Choctaws in the early ’3Cs, was a
quarter-blood Choctaw. Besides being the first governor of the
Choctaw Nation in the new country, he represented it for several
years as a delegate at Washington, D. C. until a year before his
death he served as auditor for the
Nation. His early
home was near Goodland, but he also once lived at Fort Towson, having
bought from the United States Government the property at this post
after it was abandoned by the War Department. Governor LeFlore, in
1902, had gone to visit Daniel Miller, a full-blood Choctaw preacher,
who lived near Goodland, and stayed for the night. Next morning at
breakfast table he expired of heart failure.
The first school
Charles Henry Gooding attended was at Goodland. The schoolhouse was
situated in the corner of the yard of Governor LeFlore and the school
was taught by Mrs. LeFlore. Later he attended old Spencer Academy,
which was situated near Fort Towson, and of which the Rev. J. J.
Read, an early Presbyterian missionary, was superintendent. Later, O.
P. Stark became superintendent and still later, after the school was
moved to the prairie near the home of Judge Oaks, it was presided
over by H. R. Shemmerhorn, another of the early missionaries. After
leaving school Mr. Gooding became clerk in the store of Joel Springs,
at Roebuck Lake, and later clerked for T. J. Stevens, a merchant near
the old Walker place fifteen miles northwest of Hugo. Subsequently he
established a farm and store near the mouth of Boggy, and this he
sold to return to the employ of T. J. Stevens. Afterward he entered
the milling business on Red River, but moved his mill into the
mountains. There he remained until eight years ago, when he located
at Valliant and established a lumber mill, planing mill, lumber yard
and electric light plant.
Mr. Gooding was
first married to a step-daughter of Thompson Nohoa, an Indian. They
became the parents of three children, namely: Louis LeFlore, who
attended Armstrong Academy and the Oklahoma Agricultural and
Mechanical College, and is now successfully engaged in business at
Valliant; Henry L., who is a graduate of a military school at
Lexington, Missouri, and is now engaged in farming near Mead,
Oklahoma; and Mrs. Rrnest Ball, who is the wife of an oil man at
Tulsa. Mrs. Gooding died in 1893 and in the following year Mr.
Gooding was united in marriage with Mrs. Clara Mitchell, a daughter
of Thomas Ashford, of Doaksville. They
had two children, namely: Mrs. Rosa Lacester, who is the wife of a
prosperous farmer at Glen, Oklahoma; and Mrs. Virgie Martin, who is
the wife of a merchant at that place. In 1902 Mr. Gooding was again
married, being united with Miss Minnie Hall, daughter of P. D. Hall,
of Grant, Oklahoma, and when she died he was married to Marinda Hall,
her sister. Mr. Gooding has one brother and three sisters: Bazil
LeFlore, who is a farmer living in the vicinity of Grant, Oklahoma;
Mrs. Joel Springs, who is a widow living at Hugo, Oklahoma; Mrs. J.
E. Plank, who is the wife of a telegraph operator in the employ of
the pipe line company at Savannah, Oklahoma; and Miss Esther, who
lives with her father at Goodland. Mr. Gooding is a member of the
Masonic and Woodmen lodges, and was a charter member of the Woodmen
Lodge and Woodmen Circle at Grant.