Collected by Mer lin Mitchell
Transcribed by Kyle Perrin
Fred Woodruff & Booth Campbell
March 30, 1950
Discussion of Origin of
Horse Trader Song
Booth..There's a sto ry going that a band of outlaws held you as a boy—
kind of a sla v e . You made your escape and turned them in. Is
there anything to that?
Wood...No. Oh, I se e here i n the paper th e re 's a boy that did th a t.
Yeah, that was my grandfather.
M itch ..T e ll us the sto ry about i t , will you?
Wood...I remember—My mother—s ee, my Fa ther died when I ' s e ju s t a
small kid. I never I knew too much about him but I did liv e with
my mother and my grandmother and I 'v e heard my mother t e l l of
my grandfather. Grandfather up and the way he come to Arkansas.
His fo lks lived in Indiana and t hey was a bunch of these horse
t r a ders and they raised horses, to o. And they l e f t that country
and he was about twelve years old. And they ju s t sto ld him o ff
from his fo lk s, you know. She was a widow woman. Her husband
died and i t seems as though th e re 's s ome children younger than
he was. I guess t he re'se maybe one older and him and th e re 'se
two or three others and they brought him to Oklahoma—down here
to Weber's Fa l l s .
Booth..Indian Territo ry.
Wood...Yeah, over in Indian Territory and they were around there quite
a b i t . Then, they drifted further on out, you know, a l ong back
in them days i t was plenty rough and tough there. And he got in
with a f e l l a by the name of Tate. He's an old f a rmer and he got
in there with him and got away from them and stayed there with
old man Tate ' t i l he growed up. And then he got acquainted with
my g r andmother—she was t hree-quarter Cherokee Indian. And she
never knew nothing about her f ol k s. This here old man Tate
g rowed her up, se e . He picked her up when sh e 's j u st an orphan
kid and, s o, a f te r they grow, up, he married her. And she never
knew nothing about her fo lk s . She knew—those Ta te s was about
a ll she knew. I think they taken her when she's about four—
three or four years o l d. But my grandfather, I guess he was
somewhere past twelve years o l d.
Mitch..We l l , now you know a song about horsetraders. Did you make that
Wood...No, I di dn 't make the horsetrader's song.
Mitch..Where'd you learn i t ?
Wood...I le a rnt i t f rom O. C. Martin. I t must a-been way back there
in—oh, I don't know—I 's e ju st a kid .
Mi t c h . .How old are you now?
Wood. . .S ix ty - s even.
Mi tch..Well, can you sing that ho rsetrader's s ong?
Wood...Yeah, I'v e known i t , I guess, ever s i nce I 's e ten years old.
And I did know the f e l l a—O. C. Martin—his father was a horsetrader
and he had two brothers besides him and they 'se horsetraders. And
I ju s t got to p laying around with him, you I now, and I heard him
singing the song and I ju s t kept on ' t i l I le arned i t . And I never
did forge t i t .
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