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Friday, July 2, 2021

The White Family

The Incomparable Marge stemmed from families long-resident on this continent and who participated in most of the American Experience. Her Hammontree ancestors were in Tidewater Virginia by 1723; the Hollands, also in Virginia by 1724. In 1723, the Helms were in Bucks Co, PA prior to moving to North Carolina. The Goss family were in North Carolina by 1755, the Tams in Delaware by 1776. Marlow was born in Kentucky in 1808. Johnny-come-lately Harris, appears in Tennessee by 1819. Margie always got a chuckle out of anti-immigrant agita. As far as she was concerned, they were all immigrants. One of her ancestors had married a Choctaw woman.  

She had ancestors in the colonies; in the Revolution (one collateral ancestor died at Valley Forge, another survived.) They traveled west when 'west' meant the Great Smokey Mountains and rubbed shoulders with Sam Houston and Andy Jackson in Tennessee, They were Southerners who wore blue in the Civil War. They headed farther west in covered wagons, various families touching down at various times in various states: Arkansas, Missouri; Ohio, Indiana; Georgia and Louisiana, converging finally, in the Red River Valley, then Choctaw Nation. Along the way were Confederate terrorists (A collateral ancestor perished in the Great Hanging, when Confederate rangers hanged Union sympathizers in Grayson County, TX), outlaws, sheriffs and posses, and shoot-outs.

And so, we come to the Whites.


1.     Ransom White (ca.1806-1884).

Based on his age given in later censuses, Ransom White was born ca. 1806 in North Carolina to North Carolinian parents. Unfortunately, both the 1810 and 1820 Censuses for Wake Co. are lost (and neither would have listed children by name) so we cannot guess at the name of his father. The 1800 Census, when Ransom would not have been even a tally-mark, lists the following Whites for Wake Co.: Jacob, Polley, William, Richard, and in Raleigh another William. None of these names appear among Ransom’s known children, and there is no assurance they lived in Wake, anyhow.

The Marriage Bonds of Wake County only list one White marriage prior to 1805: Jarrot White & Judith Adams 11 Feb1804 and neither 'Jarrot' nor 'Judith' were used in Ransom’s family, so far as anyone knows. If we allow some ‘slop’ in Ransom’s birth year, there are three more Whites who married in the early 1800s: Gardner White & Sally Barlow (6 Dec 1808), Dempsey White & Charlotte Kilgo (28 Nov 1809) and Henry White & Lucretia Wallace (4 Feb 1810). Again, Ransom named none of his known kids after them.

With earlier events thus shrouded in the mists of antiquity, the first known record of a member of Margie’s family is a Wake Co., North Carolina, marriage bond taken out on 29 Nov 1823, in which Ransom White promises to wed Patsy Stanly. The bond is posted by Right [sic] Stanly. The list of Wake Co. marriage bonds reveals two more bonds of interest, to wit:

Husband

Wife

Date

Bondsman

Wright Stanly

Elizabeth Allen

25 Jan 1814

William Talley

Nash Standly

Patsey Allen

15 Dec 1817

Wright Standly

Ransom White

Patsy Stanly

29 Nov 1823

Right Stanly

In those days, spelling was not precise and clerks would write down what the name sounded like. A reasonable inference is that Wright Stanly and Nash Standly [sic] were brothers who wed two sisters, Elizabeth and Patsy Allen in 1814 and 1817, resp. Note that Wright Standly [sic] became then the bondsman for Nash. But, Nash died in 1823 and later that same year (29 Nov 1823), Ransom married the widow. The bondsman was again Right [sic] Stanly, hinting that Patsy Stanley was Patsy Allen. Who Patsy’s parents may have been is uncertain. One possibility is Barret Allen, a North Carolina militiaman in the Revolution.

Two children, born in North Carolina, may have been the children of Ransom and Patsy: Rachel White was born 3 Nov 1821 according to her tombstone, but that was before the marriage. That she was the daughter of Ransom is hinted by her naming one of her sons Ransom Wiggins. Yet, Ransom was a more common name then than it is now. Another child, Ransom Ruffin White, was born 8 May 1830. A Lewis White has also been cited, but no firm record has been presented connecting any of the three to Ransom and Patsy.

1830s. Sometime in the 30s, Ransom loads up the ol' wagon and sets off for Tennessee. Not only did this entail a trek of 568 miles to places where roads did not go, but it involved some serious elevation changes going up and over the Great Smokey Mountains. By 1833, the family is in Tennessee, because Letha Margaret White is born there that year, and Sarah White, the next.

Ransom White (Sr) travels from Wake Co., NC (far right) to Bedford Co.,TN (left), showing Jackson Co, TN for Ransom Ruffin White and Rachel White Wiggins.

In 1836, Ransom White pays taxes in Lincoln Co., Tenn. while a John R White does so in District 7 of Bedford Co. (One of Ransom's grandsons will be named John Ransom White, so John R White is a possibility) In 1837-38-39, Ransom, owning no land, paid the poll tax in District 22, south of Shrlbyville. The presumption is that he was sharecropping, possibly for Jacob Albright, who owned 135 acres along Big Flat Creek in District 22. His daughter will become Ransom's second wife. District 22 abuts Lincoln Co.

Bedford Co in 1836. Note that District s 7 and 22 are close and that Lincoln Co, abuts Dist. 22.
 

ca. 1839. George Washington White is born at a place called Sweetwater. This is not the later town in Monroe Co., which does not yet exist. It may have been an informal community, such as a watering stop with freshwater. Patsy Allen Stanly White apparently dies while giving birth to George, because the very next year Ransom (34) marries Candis Albright (29). She had been born 24 Aug 1811 in Orange Co., North Carolina, to Jacob Albright and Sarah Nease. According to Albright family lore, the family stemmed from a branch of the Hapsburgs in Austria. The Albrights had also moved from North Carolina to Tennessee.

In the 1840 Census, Ransom is living in Bedford Co. and his household is tallied anonymously as:

  •  1 man, aged 30-39 (prob Ransom himself)
  • 1 woman, aged 20-29 (prob. Candis)
  • 1 girl, aged 10-14 (unknown)
  • 2 boys 10-14 (Lewis? and Ransom Ruffin?)
  • 3 girls aged 5-9 (prob. Letha Margaret, Sarah, plus an unknown)
  • 2 girls under 5 (both unknown)
  • 1 boy under 5 (prob George Washington)

Relationships are not shown, and may include wards and boarders. Rachel (19) is married about this time to Dudley S. Wiggins and they (and Ransom Ruffin) move to Jackson County, Tenn. However, none of them are found in the 1840 Census, so they were likely ‘on the road.’

Ransom Sr. remains another seven years in Tennessee, during which time four more children are born: Susan D. White (1841), Elizabeth Clendennan White (1844), John White (1846) and Nancy Candis White (1847).

3 Apr 1846. Ransom and Candis sell 225 acres on the headwaters of a western branch of Big Flat Creek to Jerome Albright, minus 'the widow's dower.' This seems to have been their inheritance from Jacob and they are unloading it preparatory to their move to Texas.

Caney Creek west of Bonham TX

On 4 Mar 1847, Ransom acquires 320 acres from Sidney Barnrett [patent #118] along Caney Creek in Fannin Co., in the Red River valley of Texas, NE of the future townsite of Savoy. Across the Red River lies Choctaw Nation.  

The US had annexed Texas two years before, and a war with Mexico is currently underway. (It will end next year.) So, the Whites are among the earliest settlers to come in after annexation. Ransom will farm in Fannin Co. for the rest of his life.

Bonham, at the time of the Whites arrival, was only ten years old.

 Caney Creek rises a half mile north of present-day Whitewright in west central Fannin Co. and runs northeast for 22½ miles to its mouth on the Red River, within a mile of the city limits of present-day Savoy. The stream traverses flat to rolling terrain surfaced by clays and sandy loams that support oak, juniper, mesquite, and grasses. For most of the county's history the Caney Creek area will be used as crop and range land.

The climate features hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters; and the river edges sport deadly quicksands. Although the Commanches had been driven west by then, the area is frequented by outlaw gangs and by Indian raiding parties from the Nations. For security, groups of farmers band together into “companies.” When plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting, the company picks a couple of their members to stand concealed as sentries and the remainder stack their rifles within easy reach and work the land together; then they move on to the next farm in the company and do the same. At harvest, the yield is shared equally by all.

Bonham ca 1850
To ward against outlaws, the county is divided into eight “beats” with able bodied men of each beat assigned to patrol duties. The Whites are in Beat 2. Acting under the direction of the Sheriff's office these patrols are responsible for enforcing the law in their particular area. 

Among the colorful frontier characters living in Fannin Co. is Big Horn Smith, a long hunter and “wild man of the woods.” Smith is very tall, dresses always in buckskin, and carries a very large powder horn. He quarreled with Capt. Nall of the local militia, and one day, south of Bonham, kills rhe popular beat captain in a fight. When Big Horn is caught, a lynch mob busts him out of the room where he was being kept, drags him to a tree, and hangs him. 

This is not yet the Wild West of legend, but the Wild West before that, that of the cap-and-ball revolvers that had replaced the earlier flintlocks.

Ransom’s daughter Elia P. White is born in 1848

The 1850 Census for Fannin Co. lists all household members by name (or in this case, their initials). Their full names can be found by comparing them to the 1860 Census: R[ansom] (45), C[andis] (37), M[argaret] (17), Sarah (16), Geo[rge] (11), [Susan} D (9), Nancy (7), E[liza] (6), Jno (4), E[lia P] (2)

Another daughter Emily C. White is born in 1851

In 1853, Infamous gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is born in the Bonham PO.

1858-1861. Another staple of the Old West, the Butterfield Overland stagecoach crossed the Red River out of Indian Territory and stopped at a station [stage] in Sherman, TX, about 16 miles west of White's farm before continuing on to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The process of establishing the line was fictionalized in the movie Conagher.

By 1860, the area on Caney Creek called Coontown, after the Coonrod brothers, possesses a school, a blacksmith shop, a Methodist church, and other conveniences for the farmers there,

By the 1860 Census, Sarah is gone, probably married, and John, who would have been 14, has vanished. (He may have died.) Ransom (53) and Candis (48) are living with the remaining five daughters [Susan D, Nancy, Elizabeth, Elia, and Emily] plus their son, George (21), who is working the farm.

A separate Slave Schedule this year lists three slaves belonging to Ransom: a man (24), a woman (19), and a boy (1), which sounds like a family. Presumably, the male helped George on the farm and the female helped Candis in the house. Ransom was not listed on the 1850 slave schedule nor in the Fannin Co. slave transactions, so we don’t know where, how. or why he obtained this family,. 

The Crisis. Meanwhile, things are heating up. The Establishment is growing agitated over the thought that the new Republican Party might win the presidency, and many are determined that if they did, Lincoln would be “not my president.” There is dark talk of secession. But a lot of people think it will never happen, and if it does, there will not be a fight over it. But it did, and there was.

Two thirds of Texans at the time are from somewhere else. Most are from the Upper South (KY, TN, MO) where slavery exists but is not economically vital. Others are from the Lower South (LA, MS, AL) where it is. Texas itself is both a Southern state and a Western one; cotton planters versus cowboys. Slaves are not much use in cattle ranching or truck farming, so there are few slaves north and west of Dallas, and so fewer people willing to sacrifice the Union on the altar of slavery. South and east of Dallas, cotton could be grown and (more importantly) sent to market via navigable rivers and harbors. So in that part of the state, people are willing to sacrifice the Union for the sake of slavery.

Thus in 1860, Texas is divided between a region dependent on slavery and one largely slave-free. Democrats are inclined to support slavery; Whigs and others support the Union. German immigrants are generally opposed to Secession. But group membership is not fate. There are Whig slaveholders in the south-east who support the Union, and there are German immigrants who will vote for Secession.

Secessionists claim to be in favor of democracy; but by that they mean Democracy – rule by the Democratic Party. Politicians commonly refer to the Party as “the Great Democracy.” Proclaiming a threat to democracy really means a threat to the Party's hold on power. It has already disposed of the Federalists and the Whigs; now they intend to smash the new-fangled Republicans by drawing a  border around themselves.

Feb 1861. A Secession Convention in Austin adopts an Ordinance of Secession but submits it to a referendum. In Texas, there is a third option: secede from the Union but not join the Confederacy. Instead, they could restore the Republic. The state-wide results favor Secession, but there are problems in the voting.

" Armed men stood round the polls warning every man who voted against Secession of its dangers. Where I voted, armed men including the District Judge & Clerk, told me significantly never again to vote in Texas. I replied that "insomuch as Texas swung out of the Union, I was a foreign resident there and should never offer a vote there until she swung back again. They said they wanted no abolition speeches, they were only giving me friendly warning and by way of emphasizing their assurance, slapped their hands on their revolvers. The vote in that County under such discipline was 701 for secession 36 against it."
Timmons, Joe T. (1973) "The Referendum in Texas on the Ordinance of Secession, February 23, 1861: The Vote," East Texas Historical Journal: Vol. 11: No. 2, Art. 6

Rigged elections, biased counting, voter suppression. Some things never change.

The vote in Fannin Co. is against secession 656 to 471. We have no way of knowing how Ransom or George voted, but neither have we evidence that George joined the Confederate army. 

However, many of those who had opposed Secession support the defense of Texas. One large group organizes in Fannin County at the Caney Creek Meetinghouse on June 29th as the Caney Creek Mounted Infantry. They elected Captain William Dulaney to lead the company. [Ransom White had sold 20 acres once to Dan 'Dulany,' so these are likely neighbors.] This group later became known as Company E of Almarine Alexander's regiment of the Thirty-fourth Texas Cavalry.

2. George Washington White. (1839-1895)

Cynthia Ann Marlow
1862. George White marries Cynthia Ann Marlow (1843-1885). She is the daughter of Reuben Marlow (1808-1883), a Kentucky man who had bought land in Jackson Co., Alabama when it was opened to settlers after the Indian Removal. There, ca. 1832, he had married Peggy Patterson (1807-1901), whom, according to Marlow lore, Reuben had “purchased for a mule” from John Patterson, a.k.a. Moontubbee, a full-blood Choctaw Indian. His connection with Peggy is undocumented and probably always will be, but it is the origin of the Choctaw ancestry story of subsequent Marlows and Whites. In later years, some of these descendants will be enrolled in the Nation and others, with the selfsame ancestry, will not. Go figure. When Reuben Marlow decamped for Missouri between 1835-37, he sold his Alabama land to Jane Patterson. Surviving plat maps show her farming just southeast of Marlow. The Marlows later moved from Missouri to Fannin Co., Texas, where they hooked up with the Whites.

August, Sixty-eight German settlers in the Hill Country pull up stakes and flee to Mexico rather than remain in the Confederacy. They are overtaken by rangers and shot or hanged. The same month. Quantrill’s raiders attack Lawrence, Kansas. That raid so outrages the Confederate government that it cuts ties with Quantrill and sends orders for his arrest.

October. Because many residents of North Texas had migrated from the Upper South and only a low percentage were slaveholders, considerable Union sentiment exists in the region. E. Junius Foster, the publisher of the Sherman, TX antisecessionist Whig newspaper, the Patriot, circulates a petition to establish North Texas as an independent free state. Following Confederate passage of a conscription  law, resistance rises in North Texas. A group of slaveholders in nearby Cooke County fear the Unionists will perform acts of sabotage. In October 1862, a unit of state militia arrests between 150 and 200 men on suspicion of insurrection. In the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 58 miles due west from the White farm,  42 of the arrested men are killed, most of them hanged by a mob, while others are sentenced to death by a self-appointed "citizens' court." Think of this the next time someone extols 'people power.' One of those hanged is another collateral ancestor of the Marge.

Quantrill and his terrorist band winter in Grayson and Fannin Cos., but when the garrison commander, Confederate Gen. McCollough, tries to arrest him (and then casually steps out for lunch), he and his gang rideout of town. McCollough’s men pursue as far as the Red River, where Quantrill crosses into the Nations. From the other side, Quantrill hallooes and says that his business was to fight Yankees, but if the Confederates cross the river after him, he will not respect uniform color.

Quantrill’s gang includes Bloody Bill Anderson and Frank and Jesse James. They not only fight Yankees and loyalist civilians but commit straight-up banditry and murder all around Fannin and Grayson Cos.. These events are as close as the White family came to Big Name history.

Post War Years. 

 1866. The great Texas cattle drives begin when Goodnight and Loving set off from Ft Belknap about 165 miles west of the White farm. They drive southwest along the old Butterfield Stage Trail, then across the grueling Llano Estacado to Horsehead Crossing and thence up the Pecos River and eventually to Denver. This drive was fictionalized on the TV miniseries, Centennial.

6 Aug 1868. Ransom sells 80 acres on Caney Creek about 7 miles west of Bonham to his son George for $300.. George and Cynthia have several more children: George Lee White (1865), John Ransom White, Jr. (1866) and Margaret Epsie White (ca. 1870)

March 1870. After five years of Reconstruction, Texas is readmitted to the United States. The area continued its Old West violence and several locally famous killings and lynchings took place.

In the 1870 Census for Precinct 2, Fannin Co, Texas, George White (30) holds land worth $1200 with wife Cynthia (24) and children Lee (5), John R. (3), and Eppsie (1). His land and personal estate would be worth $24,920 and $20,767 in today’s money.

Nearby live George’s father, Ransom (63) [with Candis (58) and three daughters: Elizabeth C. (24), Elia P. (21), and Emily C. (17)] and Cynthia's father, Reuben Marlow (61) [with his wife Margret (57) and children Croffard [Crawford] (23). Elizabeth (22), Eppy (20), Maria (15), Jasper (13), and Missouri (9).]

1872 The Texas and Pacific Railroad is laid through Fannin Co., leading to the founding of the town of Savoy (1873), west of Coontown Cemetery. The next year, the town of Ector was founded, east of Coontown and six miles west of Bonham.The railroads eliminate the need for long-distance cattle drives -- and for long-distance stage coaches.

Later in the decade, George and Cynthia will have two more children: Eliza Jane White (1872) and Jasper Moses White (1874)

1874 The Red River War is fought across the Texas Panhandle. Made desperate by the collapse of the southern buffalo herd, the free-roving Southern Plains Indians begin attacking settlers and hunters. The Grant administration is forced to abandon its peace policy and allow the military to act. In a series of skirmishes with few casualties, but much destruction of supplies, the Indians are chivvied to Ft Sill and the reservation system.

1875. Colt [and other arms makers] patent the single-action, centerfire revolver firing a bullet contained in its own cartridge, making all the cap-and-ball revolvers obsolete and ushering in the classic Wild West. (Although the heydays of the Butterfield Stage, the Cattle Drives, the Railroad, and the Colt .45 are not quite contemporaneous, they comprise the Modern image of the West.)

1880 Census. In Dwelling #148, Ransom (73) and Candis (67) are alone on their farm, all their children having married and moved away. But the next census entry, Dwelling #149, is Geo W White (42) and Sinthia A (39) with children Geo L (15), Jno R (12), Margret E (10), Eliza J (7), and Jasper (1). Also living with them is a farm laborer named Jno Crittenden (24)

28 May 1880. A tornado, now estimated as an F4, struck the town of Savoy without a moment's warning, almost wiping it out.

1881. John Ransom White marries Annie Billie (1868-1941), a Chickasaw woman, in Indian Territory. They will have four children.

1882. George and Cynthia have one more child; viz., Mahala Irene White

4 May 1883. George’s father-in-law, Reuben Marlow (75) dies and is buried in Coontown Cemetery, Savoy, Fannin Co.

1884. Margaret Epsie White (14) marries John Glover.

01 Dec 1884, Ransom (78), dies in Bonham, Fannin Co, and is also buried in Coontown.

1885. The Sheriff and a posseman are murdered while trying to arrest the Dyer boys south of Bonham, this is followed by a shootout, manhunt, capture and lynching of the Dyers.

31 Jan 1885, George’s wife Cynthia Marlow (42) dies in Bonham and is buried in Coontown. Later that same year, on 22 Nov 1885, George (46) marries Sarah Elizabeth Ellison (24) of Ector.

George W. White and sons (l to r) Jasper M.,
John R. and George L.

1887 is a big year for marriages. Son John Ransom White (21), having split from Annie Billie, marries Louanna Donham (but in six years he will die at Ector, Fannin Co. and be buried in Coontown). The same year George Lee White (22) marries Martha Jane Rogers in Grayson Co., and Eliza Jane White (15) marries Jefferson Franklin Ford in Fannin Co. All these families will apply for Choctaw citizenship when the Choctaw Nation is dissolved and distributed.

1889. The Indian Appropriation Act opens the Nations to paleface settlement and the Oklahoma Land Rush begins.

1890. A list of Fannin County Planters & Farmers tells us that G.W. White, Bonham PO, holds 1755 acres.

1892. George Lee White moves from Texas to the Indian Territory.

09 Feb 1895. George Washington White (56) dies in Honey Grove, southeast of Bonham, a locale first described by Davy Crockett many years before. George has apparently lived there after marrying Sarah Ellison. He is buried in Willow Wild Cemetery. His obituary in the Honey Grove Signal, February 15, 1895, reads: George White of this place died on last Saturday of pneumonia. He was one of the old timers and leaves considerable property.

George Lee White returns from Choctaw Nation to wind up his father's estate.

26 Feb 1897 George's stepmother Candis Albright (85) dies and is buried at Hoovers Valley Cemetery in Burnet Co., Texas.

Choctaw Nation counties in red. (Modern counties in dashed lines)

13 July 1898.
George Lee and his children are admitted to Choctaw citizenship by the Choctaw Council and by Judge Clayton of the United States Court for the Central District of the Indian Territory, In his affidavit, George L. says:

I have been recognized by the Chocktaw [sic] authorities as being a Chocktaw Indian and entitled to the rights of a Chocktaw citizen; and by such authorities I have been permitted to use and cultivate and occupy lands in the Chocktaw Nation in the same manner as other Chocktaw citizens have been permitted to use and occupy the same.

26 Aug 1898. George Lee White, following admission to Choctaw Nation, sells his last land he owned in Texas

3. Jasper Moses White. (1874-1937) 

As a minor, Jasper was included in a suit brought by his cousins and his surviving uncle, petitioning for recognition as Choctaws. He may have been living with his brother George in the meantime.

12 Dec 1897. Jasper Moses White (23) marries Maggie Louise Tam (17) in Fannin Co., Texas. She is the daughter of Charles Melvin Tam (1858-1910) and Louisa S. Eads (1860-1928). [Charles had been born in Indiana, but had moved to Hamblin Co., Tennessee, before 1878 and by 1889, he had taken his family to Bonham, Texas.]

11 Sep 1898. Claude Lee White is born in Durant, IT, to Jasper and Maggie. Durant is north of Bonham, across the Red River. In later years, Claude’s birthplace will be variously cited as OK, TX, NM, LA, and AR, but much depends on who supplies the information and when. In the 1910 Census, it is Oklahoma and his mother as the likely source. Claude himself will cite Durant in his WW2 draft registration card. Durant is the administrative capital of Choctaw Nation. However, on his Social Security application, he cites Bonnam [sic], Texas.

Locations where Whites have lived

1900 Census. Could not find Jasper, Maggie, and Claude anywhere. 

  • George Lee White and family are living in Township 08, District 0115 of Choctaw Nation. He and his children are marked as Choctaw Indians.
  • Crawford Marlow [son of Reuben] and family are living in Twp 02, Dist 0112 of Choctaw Nation. He and his children are marked as Choctaw Indians.
  • Epsie Marlow Underwood and family are living in Twp 02 Dist 0182 of Choctaw Nation. She and her children are marked as Choctaws. 
  • Jasper Reuben Marlow and family are living in Township 10, District 0152 of Chickasaw Nation. He is listed as White; his wife and children as Choctaws.
  • Annie Billie, former wife of John Ransom White, now married to Joe Morris, are living in Chickasaw Nation with four children by John Ransom White.

04 Nov 1901 Jasper’s grandmother, Peggy Patterson Marlow, dies and is buried in Coontown. It is from her that Choctaw ancestry had been claimed, although Peggy herself never claimed it.

1901 Jasper M. White is a convict in Huntsville prison, Walker, Texas, serving a two-year sentence for horse theft. [John Wesley Hardin had been released from this prison seven years earlier after a 25 year sentence.] Jasper's residence is listed as Honey Grove, where his father died six years before.This may be why he does not appear in the 1900 Census. After his release, he returns to Maggie.

March 1904. The Choctaw and Chickasaw Citizenship Court, sitting at South McAlester,
in the Central District of the Indian Territory, in the Choctaw Nation vacates the citizenship of George Lee White, et al. {But leaves untouched the citizenship of other relatives.] Judge Foote issues a scathing judgement based on the supposition that Peggy Patterson was not in Alabama in the 1830s and therefore could not have been Choctaw:

The use of such evidence ... show these applicants utterly devoid of good faith in their applications, and taken in connection with all the other facts and circumstances developed in these cases, stamp their efforts to obtain by such means, the property of others, with the ineffaciable brand of fraud.

Then it was that, against the wishes of their alleged Indian ancestress, they hatched up the scheme to claim Choctaw Indian blood, and obtain rights as citizens. In dealing with the Choctaw council they either must have deceived it, or used other questionable means to get on the roll, for if the true facts in their case had been developed then, as they are now, they could never have justly obtained what they sought, and others of the same blood have apparently done the same.
Of course, the courts have a motive, too. The fewer people admitted as citizens, the more land will be left over after allotment and thus available for paleface settlers. They were too impressed by the disinclination of the older generation to be identified as Indians. Can anyone think of a reason why Peggy Patterson would not have called herself an Indian? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? In any case, later descendants have still enough Indian markers (blue spot, shovel teeth, high cheekbones, etc.) to lend some credence to the story. And there is that land sale in 1832 to show Peggy was where the judge said she was not.

6 Dec 1904 Richard W. White is born in “Oklahoma.” Sometime after this, Jasper left Maggie (or she kicked him out) and he moved to Union, Ashley Co., Arkansas, afterwards to Louisiana.

1906 Maggie Tam White marries John W. Roberts in Texas. The month and day are unspecified on the record. He was born in Indian Territory.

November 1907. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory are merged into the State of Oklahoma.

1910 Maggie Roberts is living in Ft Towson, Choctaw Co, Oklahoma. Her mother, the widow Tam, is living in Hugo, eighteen miles east. Maggie is running a boarding house, and her two sons Claud L White (11) and Ritchard W. White (6) [both sic] are living with her. The Census records Maggie as being four years in her current marriage and as having had three children, two of them still living. So, Claude and Dick had a brother (or half-brother) who died. No boarders are listed, but next door George F. Roberts is operating a pool hall with his wife, a brother, and a brother-in-law. The missing John W. Roberts is likely another brother. Who knows what happened to him?

1917 Maggie White Davenport is living in West Tulsa, south and west of the Arkansas River, in the household of her mother, Louisa Tam, widow of Charles M Tam. She is now married to George E. Davenport, originally from Finley, northeast of Antlers, OK, now living at the Tam house. Maggie’s brothers, Calvin Tam and James Tam, are also boarding there, while youngest brother, George T Tam, and his wife Bonnie are elsewhere residents in West Tulsa.

Choctaw Code Talkers, WWI
George Davenport signs up for the National Guard, and 1 Oklahoma is nationalized and merged with 7 Texas to form the 142nd US Infantry. H Company, to which George belongs, is called the Choctaw Company. They provide the so-called “code talkers” (the name came later) to befuddle German wiretappers. George and his brother are among them.

In the 1918 City Directory, George E. Davenport, laborer, and wife Maggie are living in West Tulsa. (He is probably physically in Europe, but is listed here by default. The same thing happened with Paul Singley in another war in another directory.) There are no Tams listed in the Directory, though we cannot suppose they have suddenly evaporated.

5 Apr 1918. While George is in Europe talking Choctaw, Maggie Tam White Roberts Davenport has gone to Hugo (to visit Tam relatives?) and takes Train 716 of the Frisco Road to Antlers (to visit Davenports in Finley?) but the train derails at Long Creek Bridge, outside Hugo, Choctaw County, OK. Maggie is thrown about inside the carriage, against the walls, the seats, etc., sustaining terrible injuries. She lingers sixteen days in great pain before succumbing on 21 Apr 1918. Her body is taken to Hugo, where she is buried.

1 May 1919. Claude (20) and Dick (15) live with the Tams in West Tulsa and (8 May) their uncle George Tam is appointed their guardian. Yes, twenty year olds were still minors back then.

Sometime around now, Claud burgles a hardware store in Chandler, OK, some 62 miles southwest of Tulsa. What was he doing there? Perhaps running away in the wake of his mother’s horrible death? At any rate charges are filed in Lincoln County District Court: State of Oklahoma v Claud White. George Tam pays the bail, and all damages and the stolen items are returned to the store owner. So, judgement is set aside, and criminal proceedings are dismissed.

In the 1919 Tulsa city directory, we find Claude L White, a mechanic for Charles Lukins Auto Co at 601 S Main St. He rooms at J J Tam of West Tulsa. Also rooming with J J Tam are: Clisby Tam (laborer), George Tam (mechanic) and Louisa Tam (widow of C M Tam).

George E. Davenport
17 Jul 1919 George Davenport, having returned from the War, brings suit against the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad (Frisco Road) for wrongful death and reaches a settlement for $4227 (= $64,719 in 2021 money) split equally among himself, Claude, and Dick. George Tam holds the latter two funds in trust.

In the 1920 City Directory, Calvin C Tam works for John McKinley and George T Tam is a car repairman for the Texas Co. both are living at 37 N Guthrie Ave. No Claude White is listed.

20 May 1920. George Tam, guardian of Claude and Richard, is killed in an explosion at the refinery of the Texas Company, West Tulsa, while he is taking a shower after his shift. Soon after, Claude escorts his guardian's body to Hugo for burial.

11 Sep 1920. Claude Lee White turns 21 and is emancipated from guardianship. Guardianship for Richard Woody White is transferred to his grandmother, Louisa Tam. 

In 1921, Maggie’s mother, Louisa S Tam, lives at 1606 S Olympia Ave., Calvin C Tam and his wife Anna are at 1706 S Olympia Ave., south and west of the Arkansas River. James J Tam rooms at 420 W Brady nearby on the other side of the river. Both Maggie and George Tam are dead at this point, and there is no listing identifiable as our Claude White.

Meanwhile, what has Jasper been up to?

Sometime before 1910, Jasper married Lillie Reagan in Arkansas. In the 1910 Census, when Maggie and the kids were living in Ft Towson, OK, Jasper and Lillie resided in Union Twp. Ashley Co., Arkansas. Jasper and his family move to Mississippi between 1913 and 1915. Then, between 1915 and 1917, they move again to Wildsville, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. In the course of this, they accumulate five daughters. In 1930, Jasper is living in Richland Parish, Louisiana, with four of his daughters. These are all stepsisters of Claude. The wife, Lillie, has apparently died earlier. Shortly after, on 22 Feb 1937, Jasper himself dies in Alto, Richland Parish, Louisiana.  

4. Claude Lee White (1898-1967).  

Claude gains the ironic nickname “Blackie.” So far, he has not been found in the Census between 1910 and 1950. According to the Tulsa City Directory of 1919, Claude is rooming with J.J. Tam in West Tulsa and working as a mechanic for Charles Lukins Auto Co. at 601 S Main St. 

 Memorial Day 1920. Greenwood Riot. 

"The massacre began during the Memorial Day weekend after 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black shoeshiner, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old White elevator operator in the nearby Drexel Building. He was taken into custody. After Rowland was arrested, rumors that he was going to be lynched spread throughout the city. Hearing reports hundreds of white men had gathered around the jail where Rowland was being held, a group of seventy-five black men, some of whom were armed, arrived at the jail to prevent the lynching. The sheriff persuaded the group to leave, assuring them that he had the situation under control. But an old white man approached O.B. Mann, a black man, and demanded that he hand over his pistol. Mann refused, and the old man attempted to disarm him. Mann shot him, and then, according to the sheriff's reports, "all hell broke loose." At the end of the exchange of gunfire, 12 people were dead, 10 white and two black. Subsequently the blacks fled back into Greenwood, shooting as they went. As news of the violence spread throughout the city, mob violence exploded. White rioters invaded Greenwood that night and the next morning, killing men and burning and looting stores and homes. Around noon on June 1, the Oklahoma National Guard imposed martial law, ending the massacre."  (adapted from Wikipedia)

Claude, whose workplace stands just south of the Greenwood District, never mentions the riot to his daughter, but does tell her once, passing by Greenwood, that "we don't go there."

20 Nov 1920, Claude (22) marries Bonnie Crawford (18) of Tulsa before a Justice of the Peace. Two Claude Whites are listed in the 1921 Tulsa directory, but neither appears to be our Claude Lee. In 1922, there is a Claude L White with wife Ruby, a chauffeur for White Line Co. residing at 410 1/2 W Brady. This is a few houses from where J.J. Tam lived the previous year and "Ruby" might be another name for "Bonnie." Or she might be a second wife.

Claude Lee White
In the 1925 City Directory, a Claude White, laborer, is living at 2121 S Olympia Ave. This is within a couple blocks of where Louisa Tam and Calvin Tam were living in 1921. But there are no Tams in sight for 1925.

22 Nov 1933. Claude is living at 1115 S. Detroit, working for Clover Leaf Cab, 218 E. 2nd St. In his Social Security application, he lists Bonnam [sic] TX as his birth place and Jasper White and Maggie Tam as his parents.

In Jan 1938 Claude is initiated into Local 523, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He is still driving for Clover Leaf Cab and has a chauffeur's license.

Claude and Elsie
8 Jan 1942. Claude (43) marries Elsie Vera Hammontree (17), daughter of John B Hammontree and Ora Vanora Harris. The Hammontrees had come from colonial Virginia and by way of western North Carolina, East Tennessee, and Arkansas were in Quinton, OK, about 100 miles south of Tulsa in Choctaw country by 1910. How the two met is unknown. The Hammontrees do not approve of their sister marrying such an older, previously married  man, so the two elope to Arkansas to get married.

A year later, the Incomparable Marge is born. Claude names her after his mother -- Margaret (Maggie) Louise. The Marge remembered Claude later telling her that her grandmother was part (1/4) Choctaw; but he refused to teach her any Choctaw language because he feared the government would then come and take her away to an Indian Schoo if anyone heard her. (This is revealing of attitudes when Claude was young.) Recent research suggests that he must have meant his grandmother (Cynthia Marlow) was 1/4 Choctaw.

1950 Census. Claude (49) and Elsie are living at 905 S. Elgin. He is an armored car driver for Federal Armored Transport Co. The Incomparable Marge is seven years old. The next year, 27 May 1951, Elsie dies at age 28, Margie remembered her mother humming Strauss waltzes while she ironed clothes. Her father enjoyed classic country music like Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Sr., Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

Claude and the Incomparable Marge
27 Apr 1957 The Marge is received into the Catholic Church at Holy Family Cathedral. Upon her graduation from high school, she enters the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother as Sr. M Philomena and she is sent to the mother house in Milwaukee.

In 1964, Claude is living at 1414 E. 7th St and ca 1967, at 1306 E. 2nd St. All these addresses -- Detroit, Elgin, E 2nd, E 7th -- lie just south of the Greenwood District.

24 Mat 1967. Claude Lee White dies and is interred at Memorial Park. Keeping up the tradition of being hard to pin down, someone listed in the memorial book his birthplace as Louisiana. Margie always had the feeling that her father was hiding something and wondered if she had half-siblings from a previous marriage.


5. Margaret Louise White (1943-2021).  

The life of the Incomparable Marge can be found here. A curious coincidence is that Margie died on May 21, her father on May 24, and her mother on May 27, though in different years.



 

1 comment:

  1. Among themselves, the Choctaw didn't do much in the way of brideprice, and it seems to have been interpreted more as "gifts to the parents to gain their approval."

    (One was supposed to have gotten the girl's approval first, on the sly so as not to embarrass her, but with the parents present, and in a way that the parents could clearly see that the girl had approved.)

    But a quick search online shows that a lot of white settlers gave substantial "presents" to the parents, and often saw it as having bought the girl.

    Shrug. Possibly this was misinterpretation, made worse by slavery being legal at the time; and possibly Choctaw society was going down the hill.

    The interesting bit was that, once married, a mother-in-law was forbidden to be look directly at her son-in-law, so they had to talk to each other from behind a screen. (Which sounds like something from The Tale of Genji.) And if she met him suddenly by chance, she would put something over her eyes or cover her eyes with her hands.

    Also, a married woman was not supposed to call her husband by name, but rather "my son's father" or (using the kid's name, for example) "Cynthia's father."

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