Charles Henry Gooding


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.