Tag Archives: Indian Territory

Martha Marshall

When I get stuck in research, stuck on a problem that doesn’t feel as if I will ever solve it, I will put it aside until I can come up with another path of attack. That is what happened with Chief Benjamin “Ben” Marshall, my fourth great-grandfather. His life is such a puzzle to me.  I will find bits and pieces of information that relates to him but doesn’t entirely tell his story. It never does.
However, I was researching different terms recently and came upon testimony of a young woman by the name of Elizabeth Benton. She was applying for citizenship in the Chickasaw Nation. I started reviewing the testimony of her witnesses and came across one page that suddenly cleared up a lot of confusing information for me.
When I was originally researching the citizenship application for Richard Adkins, a witness said Ben Marshall had a daughter by the name of Louisa Martha. There was a lot of information that was not clear in that testimony and thus I had dismissed it.
Now, after reviewing the testimony for Elizabeth Benton, it appears that her mother was Martha Marshall, daughter of Ben Marshall.
When Richard Adkins was interviewed in 1938 for the Pioneer records in Oklahoma, he mentioned that he had escaped during the Civil War with his Grandfather, his mother and an aunt. I think it was Martha Marshall to whom he was referring.
However, Elizabeth Benton gives little information regarding her mother. She was married to Theodore Benton and living in the Chickasaw Nation. She was claiming Indian heritage for herself and her four children.  Her children were Isabella Neal, Isaac Benton, Eliza Benton and Verna Benton. Isabella Neal was the child of a different husband. When you read Elizabeth’s testimony she says that Isabella’s father left her and never returned. However, there is also testimony from the ex-spouse saying she told him to leave and refused to allow him to return to the marriage. That made me laugh. Always two sides to the story, even in the late 1800’s.
Back to the story at hand, Elizabeth says that her father was Charles H. Strickland and that her mother was Martha Marshall. There is a second person who also applied for their rights through the Chickasaw Nation and her name was Josephine Belvin. Josephine and Elizabeth were sisters. Josephine was married to Charles A. Belvin and they were also claiming Chickasaw heritage for their children, Elizabeth, Arabella, Rosa Ellen, James Charley and William Guy Belvin.
Charles H. Strickland was a well-known recognized member of the Chickasaw tribe by blood and also held the office of Sheriff of Pontotoc County.
The only objection of the Commission, in enrolling Josephine Belvin and her family, is that they should be enrolled with the tribe of their mother and that these applicants should instead be enrolled as Creeks and claim their allotments in that nation. The records show that Josephine’s mother came from the Creek Nation before her marriage to Charles Strickland and that Martha Marshall’s mother, the grandmother of Josephine Belvin, was a Choctaw who went from the Choctaw Nation to the Creek country.
Wow, so that information kinda blew me away. So, Martha Marshall’s mother, one of Benjamin Marshall’s wives, was a Choctaw native. I had assumed that his wife was a Creek. Then, I had also read that she could have been a Euchee Indian. Now, we see that she is a Choctaw. Curious how many wives he had.
The Commission was not bound to follow the old tribal custom of the mother rule except in cases where the reason for the rule demands it. That rule grew out of the idea that due to the indiscriminate sexual relations that prevailed in the early history of the tribes, the identity of a child’s father may often be in doubt while there can be no doubt as to that of the mother.
I can see how that rule came to be and they weren’t kidding when they talked about the indiscriminate sexual relations that prevailed!
Also, testimony given by a Reuben Carney said that he lived in Stonewall, I.T., that he knew Martha Marshall well and while he didn’t know what tribe she came from, Charlie Strickland told him she was a Creek.
There is also testimony from Martin B. Cheadle. He stated that he lived about 10 miles from Tishomingo, Indian Territory (The same place Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert currently live and where Miranda Lambert has a club, The Pink Pistol) and that he knew Charlie Strickland, who was a first cousin to Mr. Cheadle. He knew Martha Marshall and that it was understood she was a Creek. Martha Marshall’s father, Benjamin Marshall was buried on the place where Mr. Cheadle was currently living. He said he had never had a conversation with her about but that it was very well known that they were Creeks and that they had been refugees after the war.
Now, that was a great piece of information. If only the courts actually took things like names and addresses, I would have information that we have been searching for the last couple of years. But, alas and good grief, why would they do something like that?
Josephine herself testifies that she lives at Paul’s Valley and has lived her entire life in the Chickasaw Nation. Her mother was Martha Marshall. She always heard her father say that her mother was part Chickasaw and part Creek. She does not know who her mother’s mother was. Her father was Chickasaw and her mother was part Chickasaw. Martha Marshall died after she was separated from Charles Strickland.
Page 15
A witness by the name of T.C. Walker says that he knew Martha Marshall intimately and that she came from the Creek Nation.
Josephine’s direct testimony was that she did not know any of her mother’s family. She said her parents were married in the Chickasaw Nation and that Mr. Walker was present at their wedding. She believes she was about 4 years old when her mother died.
Now, she was born in 1875 so it seems that Martha Marshall died in approximately 1879-1880.
On February 25, 1903, the Blevin family was granted enrollment as citizens of the Chickasaw Nation.
This leads us back to Charles Strickland. Charles H. Strickland was born on April 8, 1837, and fought in the Civil War with the First Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. Charley Strickland was a crazy man.
Charles became the first Sheriff in Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory.  As you can see, the story goes that on March 19, 1895 Charles Strickland was riding in a buggy with a friend by the name of Bill Lewis near Byrd’s Mill. Allegedly, Charles raised his Winchester rifle near Lewis’ face. Lewis was able to knock away the rifle and told Strickland not to do it again. Strickland pointed the rifle at him a second time and Bill Lewis pulled out a revolver and shot Charles Strickland dead. Then Bill Lewis took Charles’ body and tossed it over the fence at Elizabeth Benton’s home. Charles Strickland was buried in Stonewall, Indian Territory.
So, while Josephine Belvin and Elizabeth Benton did not know their mother, nor their mother’s family, we still pick up a few clues about the Marshall clan. Here are the children that I’ve found thus far:
Benjamin Marshall Jr.
Robert Marshall
William Marshall
George Marshall
Millie Marshall
Lavina Marshall
Martha Marshall
I can’t help but wonder how many more there were!

Chief Benjamin “Ben” Marshall, 52 Weeks/52 Ancestors

So, when I was a little girl, I spent a tremendous amount of time with my Grandmother, Flora Burgess Hardin True. None of her other grandchildren spent as much time with her as I did. Every summer I began spending a week with her, one time being flown from San Jose, CA to Sacramento, CA by myself when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Grandma lived in the forest, near Nevada City. I loved going to stay with her because I was very spoiled, and I knew she loved me unconditionally, much like my own mother. My grandma would tell me about her grandfather, Richard Adkins, how he was Native American. She used to have two very large prints of an American Indian Squaw and an American Indian Warrior on her wall in her living room. She also built us a teepee in her backyard (It was very scary out there, but to be fair, she lived in the forest …hahaha)


Thus began my fascination with Native Americans. I knew from a young age that my grandmother was so proud of being an Indian. Of course, my dad, thinking he was very funny, would tell her that the only good Indian was a dead one…it would send Grandma into a tizzy. He was only teasing her. Serious researching has led me to discover Richard Adkin’s testimony to prove that he was Native American. After he moved about 141 miles away from the Creek Nation near Muscogee, OK to Durant, Ok, Richard testified that his Grandfather, Benjamin Marshall, his mother, aunt, and he had traveled to get away from the fighting of the Civil War. He never went back to Muscogee until approximately 1897. He got an Attorney and fought for his right to claim his citizenship in the Creek Nation. Richard gave testimony that his grandfather was Benjamin Marshall. A very white sounding name, not very Indian. Searching for Benjamin Marshall became obsessive for me.

His father was a fur trader of either English or Irish descent. I found a story saying that his father was Thomas Marshall, who married the daughter of a Chief after his brothers were killed in an Indian raid. Her name was Hits Kartay. Finally, I thought, now we are getting somewhere.

Benjamin Hawkins was a U.S. Indian Agent and a member of the Continental Congress, that was assigned by President George Washington to deal with the Native Americans.

Col. Benjamin Hawkins Grave Marker

He says about Benjamin Marshall’s family

"In the course of conversation to-day with Mr. Marshall on the domestic economy of the Indians, I was surprised at his want of information as he has resided twelve years in their towns, and has 
two Indian wives. He explained for himself, by saying that during the whole of his residence he had not entered 3 of the Indian houses, that whatever business he had with the men he went to their doors, mentioned it to him, said and did what was necessary 
and left them, or sat under their corn house."

Oh, so Thomas Marshall has two Indian wives… now I wonder if one was Hits Kartay, the mother to Benjamin and his brothers, Joseph and James, and if the other Indian wife gave birth to other children, because at one point in documents I have found mention of a sister and yet, whenever Benjamin Marshall is discussed, it is always as he and his two brothers, no other mention of other siblings.

There are so many mentions of Benjamin Marshall that it is difficult to keep it all straight. He was a Second Chief of the Creek Nation, he owned a big plantation across the Chattahoochee River from his father’s plantation, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs of 1825, and moved his town of 502 Creeks to Indian Territory in 1832, before the Trail of Tears. Benjamin Marshall said in a quotation that he felt sorry for his people that refused to move, because he knew it was going to happen, that they would be forced to move. Benjamin Marshall also owned slaves and traded them.

Wow, I wasn’t prepared for that. I would never have suspected that the Indians were slave owners and slave traders. If you had told me that any of my Hardin relatives had been slave owners and traders, I would have said, well, of course they were. I never met my Grandfather Hardin; he died before I was born, but my mother would say that he liked black people just fine, as long as they came to the back door with their hat in their hands, meaning that they knew their place. I try to keep the perspective that people who were raised in the south understood and were used to treating people of color differently. I have a difficult time with that. I don’t like it.

So Benjamin Marshall, Native American Second Chief, Translator for the United States Government, was a slave trader. There are so many facets to him that it will take me several posts to truly cover this ancestor. Richard Adkins says that his grandfather came to own and operate three plantations in Oklahoma by possessing  foresight and being a good businessman.

Indian Patch

So, good, bad, or indifferent, I can’t wait to get to know more of Mr. Benjamin “Ben” Marshall.

Quote for Benjamin Hawkins obtained from


“Millie” Marshall – 52 Ancestors-52 Weeks

One of the best tips I received at Ancestry Day in San Francisco was during a presentation where the presenter said you can’t always trust the information you find, even when its in stone.  I was so glad to hear that because the date listed on Richard Adkins headstone shows he died in 1931. However,  he gave one interview to the Indian Pioneer History papers on March 11, 1937. For me, I had to decide which sounded more likely until I received his death certificate. There was no question that his death certificate shows his date of death listed as November 21, 1938. His age was listed as 87 years, 9 months and 7 days.

Richard Adkins headstone

Nothing fancy, but I am still glad there is a headstone in honor of his memory.

Returning to his birth date, February 28, 1851, I like thinking about that date because his mother was there. She is such a difficult person to write about, with so little information known about her,  but let’s review what we have.

Of course, per usual, we can’t confirm her name. Not her first name, at least. So far, we know she was either “Millie”, “Nellie” or “Louisa Martha” Marshall. Dick Adkins was born at Fort Gibson in 1851. His mother was the daughter of Benjamin “Ben” Marshall. We have lots to discuss about Ben but for now, she is one of his eight children.  According to his Creek card he filled out in 1903, Dick said that as of July 9, 1903 he was 52 years old. That seems to confirm the date of birth.  His father is listed as Thomas Adkins.  His mother is listed as Nellie Marshall. And both are dead. Well, that’s not much information, right? Both were dead in 1903. Good thing he filled that out.

Fort Gibson

This is one of the barracks at Fort Gibson.

Back to Millie. Or Nellie. Anyway, in one of his Pioneer Interviews, Dick says his mother was Millie Marshall, daughter of Ben Marshall. She was a Creek Indian and a Euchee Indian and raised in Indian Territory. So, sounds like she was born after her father moved his family from the Georgia and Alabama area in 1833.  He goes on to say she died in the last year of the Civil War. The second interview dated six months later , Interview for Dick AdkinsDick Adkins calls his mother Millie throughout the interview. Which document is stronger, his interview or his Creek roll? Tough decision.

Then, 1899 rolls around and Richard Adkins realizes he will have to have a trial to prove his citizenship. Several people testify during this trial and one of those who testified was  Mimie Kernal, a slave that belonged his grandfather Ben Marshall. Mimie Kernal didn’t know how old she was but knew Dick Adkins from birth, says that she nursed him and she names his mother as Millie Marshall.

I am liking her name being Millie more and more. I can’t really explain the difference to his Creek enrollment card but to say I know Richard Adkins couldn’t read or write and perhaps the person taking the information down misunderstood.

Mimie Kernal says they were living between the Verdigris and the Arkansas rivers and that Ben Marshall was her master.

In later testimony, Dick says that his mother died within one mile of Fort Washita.

Fort WashitaFort Washita is in Durant, OK, the same place Dick Adkins goes on to raise his family and where Flora is born.

So I am comfortable with Millie. Reviewing everything I’ve found, I feel confident that was her name. Confident enough, I do believe I will remove the quotes that I’ve had around her name for quite some time. Millie Marshall. The sweetest thing she did for Dick Adkins was to call him Lump. Not much of a nickname, but a nickname it was. Lump Adkins was loved by Millie Marshall. I can tell he was loved, because Dick Adkins turned into a really great man who was well thought of by the people in his town of Sapulpa, OK and by others interviewed in different Pioneer interviews who said Lump Adkins was a kind friend. Poor Millie didn’t get to raise her son long if she died in the last year of the Civil War. If he was born in 1851 and she died in 1865, he was only 14 when she died. Millie Marshall left a good son behind.

 A portion of the interview used was from:  Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma Federation of Labor Collection, M452, Box 5, Folder 2. Western History

Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

Ancestor Envy

Okay, I know to be envious is not a virtue; however, ancestor envy has taken over my life. Not in the “gee, wish I had been born in the line of a king” kind of way. Only in the “Wow, I just found a photograph of an ancestor that I didn’t know existed” kind of way.

Well, being the descendant of King Henry VIII would have been cool, but I like my ancestors. I love finding out their stories, bits and pieces of their lives, working to knit a comprehensive picture: where they lived, who they knew, and who they loved.

I am grateful for the photographs that I do have and I know one day I’ll get to shout, “Wow, I just found a photograph of Richard Adkins!” That is the person I’m looking for a photograph of and I think I will be successful. He died in 1938, so there ought to be a photograph of him somewhere. I am going to reach out to the only other descendants who might have a photograph of him, the Adkins kids. Those of Natelee, Brookielee, Lee, and Lump fame. Also Legus Adkins. I think there are one or two left and they all have kids so that is where my search is headed.

John W. and Rutha (Nee Cox) Burgess

Going back to the Burgess family, one of the hints I took away from the Ancestry day in San Francisco was to look at each family as a whole, not just one person and his parents. The John W. Burgess family was a big farming family that lived in the Kansas and Missouri areas.


The reason I think of them as scary is that Flora said her father, Henry Carter Burgess, was ill and probably dying and that his parents were starving him as they were going by the adage of “Starve a cold, feed a fever” and he was getting sicker every day. Henry Carter waited until his parents had gone to town, and then talked his brothers into giving him food. He finally started to regain his strength and that is when he moved to the Indian Territory.

Henry Carter Burgess  was the 9th  of 12 children to be born of John W. and Rutha Cox Burgess over a 24 year period. Crazy, right? Poor Rutha died at the age of 56. Ruined her body, sounds like to me. She looks angry in the picture of her and that is the only picture of her that I have, but she looks like sturdy stock. She was born in 1836, 60 years after the Revolutionary War and she was 25 years old with five young children when the Civil War broke out.

DANGER, Danger Will Robinson, I am going on a rant…

Rutha Cox Burgess is the child Mary Dillard and William Cox.

(This line goes on for a minute, stay with me.)

Mary Dillard is the child of Thomas Dillard and Rutha Goad.

Thomas Dillard is the son of Thomas Dillard Sr.

Thomas Dillard Sr is the son of Edward Dillard. Edward Dillard was born in 1672 in King and Queen County, Virginia.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Edward Dillard is the son of George Dillard, who was born in 1630 and arrived as an indentured servant in the Jamestown Colony. That’s right, ladies and gentleman, we have an ancestor that arrived and survived in Jamestown, VA. Not quite King Henry VIII, but I’ll take it.

OK, rant over…I am continuing with the John Burgess line…

John W. Burgess was 29 years old and I don’t know if he served in the Civil War, but he lived in Kansas, which was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861, so he may have served as a Union Soldier. I’m still searching for those details.

The U.S. Census from 1900 shows John W. living with his son, James, and James’ wife Maggie. James is a farmer living in the Indian Territory, in the Choctaw Nation. Willa’s father, Richard Adkins is also living in the Indian Territory, in the Choctaw Nation on the 1900 census. So, both sides of Cart and Willa’s families are living in the same town during the same time period. However, when John passes away at the age of 75, he is living in Joplin, Missouri. Both of John W. Burgess’ parents were born in Illinois. I will continue my searching on the Burgess line, but have yet to make a connection with another descendant of the Burgess family.

So, I may be a bit goofy when it comes to ancestry research, but it is also very similar to the way I was taught to skip trace people for work, so this process works for me. The best byproduct of my searching has been making new friends. I have been able to connect with one of my cousins on my grandmother’s side and one on my grandfather’s side. They would both be so pleased that I have made these new connections.

Grandma Flora loved her uncles that lived in Joplin and she became the apple of their eye as well.  She says her uncles only had boys at home so her father would take her to visit and she would stay with them for a week or two. Her sister Ovola was born in Joplin, Mo and soon her parents made the decision that because a neighbor was moving to Washington State, they should move with them while they had the opportunity. Cart’s health still suffered and they hoped it would be better for him on the West Coast. As Flora climbed aboard a train for the trip west, she ran the length of the railroad car, searching for her Uncle James. By now, the year is approximately 1908 and by 1910 Flora is parent-less and heartbroken.

Avola, age 3 Flora, age 6
Ovola, age 3 Flora, age 6