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Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation and Creek Nation, Oklahoma
10/26/06 - 10/28/06

by
Paul Ridenour

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Thursday October 26

Charles A. Steger is a member of the Cass County, Marion County, and Morris County historical Commissions.  He is also a member of the Oklahoma Historical Society.  He is an expert in Creek history especially the Chief William McIntosh family.  He is the one who took me to the Falonah Plantation/Refuge Plantation north of Jefferson, Texas, where three McIntosh sister's owned three plantations - www.paulridenour.com/mcintosh.htm

Patti Haskins, archeological steward of the Texas Historical Commission, and Linda Laminack of the Longview Library, were supposed to go with us but they could not.  We canceled the trip but Charles wanted to go ahead and go.  Charles has never been in the Cherokee Nation and he really wanted to see Elias Boudinot's grave in Park Hill, the Polson Cemetery in Grove, OK, and William Penn Adair's monument in the Tahlequah Cemetery.

I left my house about 4:40 PM and met Charles Steger at the Paris, Texas, hospital at 6 PM.  A very nice sunset.  I thought we would eat in Hugo, OK, but Charles wanted to continue driving.  We ate at Subway at the Love's Travel Stop in Eufaula at 9 PM.   We spent the night in Tahlequah at the new Comfort Inn ($80).  Tahlequah has several new hotels and a nice casino.

Friday October 27

We ate breakfast at the Restaurant of the Cherokees in Park Hill at 7 AM.  We drove around and looked at some local of the local historical markers and the Cherokee War Memorial - www.paulridenour.com/cwm.htm.  We had to get an oil change in his Taurus and by the time it was changed, the bookstores were beginning to open as it was 9 AM.  We went to the excellent gift shop at the Restaurant of the Cherokees and bought some books.  I said hello to a tall guy at the Cherokee Nation complex who looked familiar but I wished I would have said "Hello Charlie" as it was Charlie Soap, husband of ex-Chief Wilma Mankiller.  We visited the grave and historical marker of Elias Boudinot.  We stopped at the Murrell House and visited the Ross Cemetery and John Ross' grave.  We went to another bookstore in Park Hill that had a lot of rare books that were also very expensive.  We visited the Tahlequah Cemetery and then headed for the Cherokee Heritage Center.  I showed Charles all of the graves, historical markers, monuments, and memorial bricks (courthouse and Cherokee War Memorial) of the Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and Stand Watie families, and William Penn Adair.  

I wanted to meet Cary Tilley, the new director of the Cherokee Heritage Center but he had stepped out.  He used to be the director of Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home in Rome, GA - www.paulridenour.com/home.htm

About 12:45, we finally got on the correct road to take us up to the Polson Cemetery near Southwest City, MO.  We stopped off at the museum in downtown Jay to see Stand Watie's desk.  We took a lot of pictures along the Illinois River as the tress were in the peak of their fall colors.  We arrived at the Polson Cemetery at 2:30 and after taking many pictures at Polson, we dropped by Nancy Brown's home at 3 PM.  She took off work 30 minutes early to see us.

On the way back to Tahlequah, I wanted to stop at the Talbot Museum and Library and buy a book that has a chapter written by Cherokee Councilman-At-Large Jack Baker.  We arrived at the library at 4:30 and it had closed at 4.

I had called Carey Tilley to meet us for dinner at the Echota House north of Tahlequah.  We had a nice visit and had buffalo rib-eye and blackberry cobbler.  Charles and Carey talked a lot about the McIntosh family.  Charles was surprised how much Carey knew.  After dinner, Charles and I drove to Checotah and spent the night at the American Best Value Inn for $50.  The hotel had a bar attached to it so I had a frozen margarita.

Saturday October 28

We had breakfast at the Green Country Kitchen in Checotah.  A local cowboy hang out.  Today Charles is going to show me the things that interest him in the Creek Nation (Checotah, McIntosh County, OK).  He took me to the Greenlawn Cemetery where several McIntosh's are buried including Daniel McIntosh Jr., Chessie McIntosh, Cub McIntosh, Waldo Emerson McIntosh (or Dode McIntosh), William Vance McIntosh, and Lula Vance McIntosh ("Dode's childhood sweetheart and sweetheart still").  Also buried there are the Combs' brothers Willard Combs (World Champion Cowboy) and Bennie Combs (World Champion Bulldogger).  Willard's horse "Baby Doll" is buried near the cemetery off the main highway on private land at the Combs Ranch.  There is a life-sized plastic horse at the grave.  Also buried in Greenlawn is W. B. Rogers (Buck Rogers) and his son William Penn Rogers.  Charles has a friend named Clarence Kirby (1/4 Creek) whose son Robert Douglas Kirby (1962-1984) is buried in Greenlawn.  He was stabbed to death by his ex-wife's boyfriend.  The boyfriend got the death penalty and was recently put to death.  We also visited the Indian Territory Checotah Cemetery (1883-1912).

Next up is one of Oklahoma's many black towns, the town of Rentiesville, which is on the way to the Honey Springs Battlefield.  Rentiesville is one of Oklahoma's 30 black towns whose resident were freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes.  The town was founded by 20 acres owned by William Rentie and 20 acres owned by Phoebe McIntosh.

A famous person was born and raised in this town and he has a boulevard named after him - John Hope Franklin Blvd.  Dr. John Hope Franklin is dean of African American history and author of the award-winning book From Slavery to Freedom.  Rentiesville is also the home of the famous Down Home Blues Club and the famous blues artist D. C. Minner.

The Honey Springs Battlefield is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and on the battlefield is the McIntosh Cemetery.  The cemetery was also used by the Combs family as the area used to be part of their land.  The cemetery is known as McIntosh Cemetery/Combs Cemetery or Combs-McIntosh Cemetery.  There are no battlefield related burials at this cemetery.  Only one Confederate officer who died of old age is buried there.  The McIntosh's buried there include William F. McIntosh,  Lydia McIntosh (wife of J. McIntosh), Roy McIntosh, and Delilah McIntosh Drew - www.paulridenour.com/mcintosh.htm.  Charles had discovered Delilah's grave and put a marker there.  She is a daughter of Chief William McIntosh and wife of William Drew, a brother of John Drew.  Also buried there are the wife and daughter of Rev. Thomas Bertholf - wife Nancy Bertholf and daughter Bettie Bertholf, the wife of Rev. William F. McIntosh.

We visited the Honey Springs Battlefield where I saw a deer and the Old Texas Road.  The 1st Regiment of Cherokee Rifles was commanded by Col. William Drew and Lt. Col. William P. Ross who were supporters of Cherokee Chief John Ross (northern sympathizers).  The 2nd Regiment of Cherokee Rifles was organized under Col . Stand Watie, a southern sympathizer.  William Penn Adair and Col. James Madison Bell were with the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Volunteers at this battle.  The North won the battle but Watie's role was just a decoy away from the battle.  Charles is a fan of Col. William Penn Adair because his second wife was Susan Drew, daughter of Delilah McIntosh Drew.

We talked with Ralph Jones for about an hour.  He is the superintendent for the Honey Springs Civil War Battlefield.

We ate lunch at the Katy Cafe (chicken fried steak and three sides for $6.50) in Checotah after we drove by the home of singer Carrie Underwood in Onapa, OK.

I got home about 6 PM and had taken 482 photographs.  We saw a one car accident in progress on the way home and we still have no idea how it happened.


Charles Steger at Elias Boudinot's grave, Worcester Cemetery, Park Hill, OK (OHS)


Road from Elias' grave to the Murrell House in Park Hill, OK


Near John Ross' grave, Park Hill, OK


Tahlequah Cemetery - graves of Chief Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead, George Lowery and wife, Nancy Ridge Fite, and the Col. William Penn Adair memorial under these trees


Col. William Penn Adair's monument at the Tahlequah Cemtery


Bust of Elias Boudinot at the Cherokee Heritage Center, Park Hill, OK


Courthouse in downtown Tahlequah


Stand Watie's desk - Jay, OK


Charles Steger at Stand Watie's historical marker - Polson Cemetery, OK


Stand Watie's monument and grave - Polson Cemetery


James Madison Bell - Polson Cemetery


Nancy Brown - a Major Ridge descendant via the Polson family


Honey Creek - Major Ridge had a home north of this river near the Polson Cemetery


The Illinois River


Charles A. Steger at the Illinois River


The Mestizoes (mixed-blood Creeks/first settlers) with rifle and book for education (surviving the new civilization) - downtown Checotah, OK


"And now comes the wolf" [Yahvalane - coyote or yellow wolf/also survivors]


Daniel McIntosh, Jr. gravestone  - Greenlawn Cemetery, Checotah, OK


Honey Springs Battlefield - Rentiesville, OK (OHS)


Sumac


Grave of Delilah McIntosh Drew - McIntosh Cemetery/Combs Cemetery [Combs-McIntosh Cemetery) - Honey Springs

 
Grave found and marker installed by Charles Steger


Col. William Penn Adair and Col. James Madison Bell at Honey Springs


Near Talbot Library and Museum in Colcord, OK - could be Comedy Central's "Redneck Yard of the Month"


Childhood home of American Idol winner Carrie Underwood - parents still live there - Onapa, OK


Katy Cafe in downtown Checotah