|August 12th, 1899,
Muskogee Indian Territory
Mr. Shepard Luttrell,
Kind friend. I
will take pleasure of dropping you a few lines to let you know I have
not forgotten you and the kindness you and Evie have shown me. You have proved
to be a true friend to me. Shep,
last time I was at your house I guess you did not think I would be in
the condition that I am in- no when you heard of I was arrested. The
second day after I left your house. Well Shep I hope you enjoy what few days
you have got to live. You know I have not lived in any peace in a long
I will soon be done with troubles it looked like there was some people
that begrudged my life to me. I guess the (they) will be satisfied now.
I will soon be out of the way of anyone. My life has been a rough one
to go through with but I was man enough to stand it allright. Shep
I don't dread dying the least bit. I was near tired of living. All that
bothers me any is my wife and baby. You know how you would feel to have
to be taken away from your wife and baby. It is aweful hard. I hope you
will never be taken as I am. Well Shep
don't know much to write only I hope you good luck. Shep tell all of my
friends in the county good bye for me. Tell Aunt Jane that I have thought of her
many times since I have bin here in this place. Tell Lum and Joe good bye for me and of them that
were friends to me.
Well Shep I
will look for a letter from you. I will have time to get one from you.
you get this in time, I have 12 more days. Well Shep if I don't hear from you, good
bye old boy. I will soon be done forever but I can go like a man -
From Mathew Craig- answer at once.
- submitted by Jody Offen
[Note: Matthew Craig is said to have
murdered his brother-in-law, Sam Coats,
married to Alice Coats.
wife is Thursey Neugen, and
his son is Coleman Craig]
has died. She died May 31. She talking one day and died the
next night. Grandpaw never got there after she was dead. I will
see you in a few days and tell you all about it. So bye bye."
postcard, stamped June 11 1912 Whitebead OK) is from William "Willie"
Henry Harrison Phipps, telling of the death of their sister Caledonia
Phipps Rightsell on May 31 1912 to his brother John Marion Phipps, of
in the possession of Donna Carter)
William Henry Harrison Phipps (left)
and John Marion Phipps (right)
(Written to Elmer Lee
Phipps from his brother Roy Clarence Phipps)
Dear Brother, Sister and Terry:
line to let you know that we are well and getting ready for an
enjoyable Christmas here at home. Wish we could
have the joy of being with you folks. We do hope all of you are
well and that you have a wonderful Christmas.
a Christmas card with a note in it, from Allie and I was very glad to hear
from her and get her whereabouts. I
have also received cards from the following, which are relatives of the
Phipps side of the house. Amelia Phipps, 271 N. Villa Ave.,
Dinuba, Calif. - 93618, wife of Edward
Phipps, son of Uncle Billy Phipps (Dads brother) and Lester Phipps and wife, 9132 Avenue
416, Dinuba, Calif. - 93618 who is Edward and Amelia Phipps son.
received cards from two of cousin Matilda
Elliot's daughters, cousin Tilda was a Weldon and her mother was
a sister to Uncle Kale Craig
of Ft. Worth, Texas, at the Nuf Said Bar. I have had the pleasure of
knowing Cousin Matilda and her brothers and their families. I have
never seen any of Uncle Billy Phipps
family. Fred and Edward and wife visited each other
and Fred thought a lot of them
so I feel sure I would also. I do not imagine you have ever had the
pleasure of knowing any of those I have mentioned above but I thought I
would tell you about them. Some day if and when we ever get together we
will discuss the relatives that each of us know about.
one of a family of ten children so you can see we have lots of
relatives. I have seen all of her immediate
family but she has not had the pleasure of knowing all of my folks.
little five year old name sake cousin here in Denton, that takes the
place of a grand child with Ellen
and I and we are very crazy about him and he is equally as crazy about
us and he and his dad and mother will be here for Christmas the same as
they have each year since the little
Roy Craig Williams was born July 31, 1964. Roy Craig brought me
a picture of a bicycle from a catalogue and told me "Uncle Roy this is
the bicycle that I want you to tell Santa Clause to bring me and tell
him, I will stay all night at your house the night he comes with his
reindeers." Well he does not know it but the bicycle is in our
neighbors garage and will be by the Christmas tree Christmas morning.
Wouldn't you just like to see him when he opens the door and finds that
bicycle and see the happy expression on his face. We do not go into
Christmas the expensive way but we just try
to have plenty to eat and try to be as happy as possible.
are enjoying Christmas and thinking of those dear to us you may be
assured that you folks will be remembered
excuse the haste but I have to get this and some other Christmas cards
in the mail today.
wish you and yours a very wonderful Christmas and if and when ever you
get a chance to come to see us just come on down and do not wait to be
invited. Oh yes, I received a card from Hazel and I have her address now.
our very best wishes to all.
(letter in the
possession of Donna Carter)
Roy Clarence Phipps (1893-1982) and
Elmer Lee Phipps (1909-1980)
Notes From My Memory
I do not claim these statements to be factual: but things my
grandmother related to me during my growing up. - Idella
Williams-Halton, Tahlequah, OK
* * * * * * *
Grandmother Mary Comer Ives
was very proud of her Indian Ancestry. (Jensie
Jane Craig) and often told us of the hardships and mistreatment
the Indians suffered at the hand of white men as they were forced from
The Craig family was a
prosperous farming family whose large farm was situated on the North
Carolina and Georgia State line. The Indians were peaceful, many of
them cultivated large tracts of land and owned slaves, at the time the
government decided to remove them to the reservation. (1830’s)
They resisted and the Indian leaders took the blood oath swearing they
would die before they would consent to selling their land and being
removed to a strange new land.
As time dragged on, land speculators moved in creating fear among the
Indians threatening them and offering to but their land. It was at this
time, some of the Cherokee leaders betrayed their people, they
disregarded the blood oath they had taken and sold their land to white
men and moved on to Oklahoma. (This can be read about in detail in the
book “Trail of Tears”)
Jim Craig and his
gone to a fort for supplies and when they didn’t return at the
appointed time, the younger son went in search of them. He found them
the following day murdered near their freight wagon’s which had been
looted of supplies and horses.
Since Indians had no recourse in the courts of law and were looked upon
as being less than human, it was simply counted as robbery and nothing
was done to find the killers and bring them to justice.
Sometime later a white man came to advise Mrs. Craig and her son to
move off the land. He produced a deed dated the day of Jim Craig’s death and had (White
men) witness and proof that he had bought and paid Jim Craig for the
said land. The family put up much resistance, but to no avail, he had
the deed and the land was his; however since it was near harvest time
and the crops were good he agreed to allow them a part of the harvest
which never came to pass.
Just a short while later, when the Craig
family was seated for the evening meal, the sound of horses and
shouting broke upon the peaceful scene, men surrounded the house
beating upon the doors making demand ordering the family to march out
into the yard telling them only “you are going to the reservation”.
They allowed them only what belongings they would hurriedly gather up
and carry on their backs. There was much chaos as the men on horseback
herded the livestock down the lane ahead of them.
Before leaving, the men ransacked the house taking whatever had value,
before setting fire to the house and barns.
Jensie Jane, the
nineteen year old daughter, shed many tears throughout her life time as
she related the incidents of those horrible days to her children and
grandchildren. The Trail of Tears became a lifetime of Tears for Jensie Jane.
As darkness fell they continued to march on, at last near daybreak they
reach a camp where they were assigned to an overseer, a man named Jason Phelps. He was a cruel man who
had no regard for the old and the sick; he put the same demands on
everyone, regardless of condition.
The Cherokees were given just enough food to keep them alive and were
made to sleep on the ground, many without blankets. They were kept in
the camp for several days, until Mr.
Phelps quota for the march was met. (Several Hundred) At last
they were ready to begin the long trek to an unknown land.
On and on day after day they were herded along the trail for as many
miles as they could walk. Only the very sick and old people were given
horses to ride from one camp to the next.
Many of the sick, children and older people died along the trail. They
were not even given a burial, only covered with bush and leaves, and
left for the animals to devour. Such was the fate of Jensie Jane’s
mother, who died from exposure to the cold winter. She was left along
side the trail, covered with brush and leaves near the Mississippi
The weather was very harsh as they marched across Arkansas. By the time
they reached Batesville,
(Arkansas) many were sick, supplies were gone’ they were forced to make
camp at Miller’s creek just outside of Batesville. Grandmother often
showed me the place of the camp as we were going into Batesville. There
was no bridge there until much later, only a shallow place where
buggies and wagons crossed the creed, it was here at the ford the
At this juncture, all the cattle had been butchered and the supplies
exhausted. Mr. Phelps asked the farmers for assistance in feeding and
caring for the hungry sick Indians.
The Bales family, one of the
most prosperous farm families who owned a large farm near what is now Weaver’s Chapel, responded.
Young Caleb was sent to deal
with Mr. Phelps to solicit a
man and woman to work on the Bales farm. Instead of a husband and wife,
Mr. Phelps assigned
brother and sister. Jensie Jane Craig
and her brother, thus Caleb
and Jensie Jane met. The
beautiful dark haired maiden was very happy on the Bales farm.
Soon she and young Caleb were
in love. When the time came for the unscrupulous Mr. Phelps to continue the march to
Oklahoma, Caleb made a deal
with him and Jensie was
permitted to stay on with the Bales
family, where she and Caleb
were married. They lived a happy life as they reared a family on the
Her brother chose to go on with the march to Oklahoma, in search of his
sweetheart who had gone before them, in an earlier removal. She never
again heard from him, but later his descendants were located in
Jensie Jane could
wear shoes; her feet were badly crippled due to marching barefoot on
the hard frosty ground.
Jensie Jane Craig
educated woman for her day in time. In her early years, she attended
mission schools which the church had set up for them in earlier times.
She fit into the community, taught neighboring children to read and
write, since there was no school at that time.
She often said “I don’t know how much I’m worth, Caleb never told me how much or with
what he bribed Mr. Phelps for
In about 1910, my father Joshua
Williams located the Craig
family in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and traced back to South Carolina. My
grandfather who held great contempt for Indians, refused to let my
grandmother finalize her claim to the Indian rights. Rather than cause
family problems, my dad dropped the whole idea and gave the papers to Dean Coleman, a lawyer in
Batesville. The lawyer was assisting my dad in filing the claim.
the Author: Idella
Williams Halton is a great great granddaughter of Cynthia Jane (Jincy) Craig and Caleb Bales through their daughter Dianna Mason Bales who married Matthew Raiford Comer, Dianna and
Matthew’s daughter Mary Jane Comer
who married Byron Ives, Mary
Jane and Byron’s daughter Lillie Mae
Ives who married Joshua F.
Williams, and Idella is the daughter of Lillie and Joshua
- Submitted by Linda