If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday - Pearl S. Buck


Monday, August 30, 2010

Finally the End of the Story - Part 4 to RHOK's 2 Truths & 1 Lie

I promise (with my fingers crossed) that I won't join in on The Real Housewives of Oklahoma's McLinky Monday unless I can get complete my answers in a timely manner.  As you know I'm a mommy first and we celebrated my son's birthday this weekend.  Our birthday celebrations last a few days and both kids get presents.  It's crazy wild!!!
So here is the final part of my McLinky Monday from last week:

4. I belong to one of the outlaw families of Oklahoma
 whose crimes have been the subject of many books.

Yes, this is true.  I was born into the first family and the second family is by marriage.
First Family:
A few years ago I began researching my Mabry/Wilkerson side, particularly, Thomas Lilly Mabry who married Nancy Rebecca Belle Wilkerson.  I found that many were born and buried in Briartown, OK.  Then I find that they actually lived at Younger's Bend.  First of all a person doesn't move to Younger's Bend in Indian Territory just because its a great place to raise your kids.  It's Belle Starr's homestead and a safe haven for outlaws.
I find a professional geneaologist for the Mabry family.  He tells me who I am related to and where my Mabry branch is buried.  When my son was a baby my husband takes us to the area for our cemetery search.  It's close to Lake Eufaula so it's going to be a nice scenic drive.  Now, I have a map and directions from the cemetery expert for Muskogee County and I also got directions from a local funeral home (your best source).  I know where I'm going.
Well, we end up in a very remote area (the whole place is remote) we are on a dirt road that is partially washed out and very wooded.  Our directions lead us to The Starr Family Cemetery, this makes no sense.  My husband's says, "get your camera, we'll check it out".  Of course there is a huge tombstone for Sam Starr, Belle's husband.  (fyi-Belle is buried by herself on her own land a few miles away).  Then we find other Starrs, Tom, Catherine and Cherokee.  Tom is Sam's father.  We also find many unmarked graves, but no Mabrys.  We start getting an uneasy feeling so we go back to the truck.  We decide to drive down this secluded road a little further.  We get to the end of the road to a locked gate.  We can see an area that looks like an old gravesite by a small old cabin.  I started putting my boots on when my husband tells me, "you are not going in there".   We head back home without finding the Mabrys or any Wilkersons.
I contacted the Mabry family expert and I never heard a reply as to why my Mabry ancestor would move to this area.  I have recently found out from a 2nd cousin that Thomas Lilly Mabry moved with his family from Georgia to Younger's Bend in the early 1870's because they were cousins with Tom Starr.

This isn't a very good explanation, but it's all we have right now.  About 1881, Thomas Lilly Mabry married Nancy Rebecca Belle Wilkerson, they were my great great grandparents.  I have found out that Nancy's parents moved to Younger's Bend about the same time as the Mabrys.  Nancy's father, George had been in the 22nd Texas Calvary during the Civil War.  Because ex-confederate soilders were so persecuted in Texas he moved his family to Younger's Bend to be close to his family (not sure who George's family was in Younger's Bend).  I'll post more information about the Mabry/Wilkerson family at a later date. (by the way family the Wilkerson line where is our Cherokee heritage comes into play, but I need some help proving it).

Second Family:
This is about my husband's family so I will leave the names out.  I don't know if I would call this an outlaw family or more of an over zealous posse.  There have been two books written devoted to the following incident and many books where it is profiled.  You should know that all families involved disagree about the events.  This was before statehood when there wasn't much help from law enforcement so settlers took matters into their own hands.  I'm working on my own account of the events.
What everyone agrees on is this a woman was murdered by a teenage boy.
She died trying to protect her children.  Her husband was away working on a new house and she was left with her children to take care of the old house.  They felt safe because they had a nearby neighbor that knew she was alone and she could go to his family for help.
This is where the events of what really happened become a matter of opinion based on which family is telling the story.  I will try to give a short, unbiased version, without the grusome details.  Apparently the teenage boy and a friend wanted the family's horses.  The boys told the woman that her husband had told them they could have them.  She disagreed, the boys became angry and killed her.  Her children were hiding in the house.  The boys got scared and ran away.  The next morning the oldest child, a boy of only 7 years old, took his sisters to town to get help.  They did not go to the neighbor's house first.  A posse was immediately formed and word was sent to her husband.  He returned and made sure his children were in good hands then he led one posse and another man led the other posse.  My husband's family is related to this woman and many of his ancestors were part of the posse.  First, her husband went to the neighbor's house for help.  He was a prominent man in the community but he offered no help.  The sheriff was a drunk and would not help, in fact he left town. 
Over the next several days the posse rounded up many men and boys.  The woman's son had to identify them.  If he couldn't they were released, but not after being interrogated.  Finally the son identify the neighbor's son who confessed but also implicated another man who he said actually killed the woman.  The neighbor sent word to the sheriff who finally agree to get involved.  He told the man he would get his son back, but instead he let the posse keep the boy.
By now Federal Marshalls were on their way, but it was too late.  The boy and his friend were killed by the posse.   Many believed that the posse killed the wrong suspects.  The incident was then investigated by the Feds and many members of the posse were arrested.  After a trial about four men were sent to prison, but only served short terms.  A few years later the corrupt sheriff was riding his horse when he was ambused and murdered.  This murder was never solved and no one spoke of it.
This is one of those sad moments in our state's history but it is still part of our history. 

Before I go one more thing about my family.  It is odd but Mirabelle Shirley aka Belle Starr was born in 1848 in Carthage, Missouri and her brother rode with Major Quantrill's Raiders.  My great great grandfather on my mother's side, Thomas Jefferson Baker was born in Carthage in 1842 and his father, the Notorious Capt. Baker led his own raids.  You know these families had to have know each other.

Have a great day.
Territory Mom

P.S. One day I'll tell you about my friends who don't know each other, but one is related to Belle Starr and they other is related to Cole Younger.  Only in Oklahoma!!


Oklahoma Granny said...

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed reading your stories. Thanks so much for sharing them.

Mom Mayhem says: said...

Wow -Interesting! I don't know a lot of my families history -But,I'm sure there are some interesting stories!
Oh and no worries -we are all mommys 1st :)

Prairiemaid said...

T. Mom,

I love your stories and you are right, only in Oklahoma!!

Where we live, you can nearly throw a rock to where the old Four Corner Saloon stood on the South Candian. We are approximately 12 west of Ada....where the famous hanging took place (4 men in a livery) for killing a US Marshall, Gus Bobbitt. Ada is also home to the "bucket of blood".

If nothing else, we have a very colorful history.

By the way, my g-grandfather's family fled Georgia when Sherman made his march to the sea. After stops in Tenn. & Ark., they finally settled in Oklahoma. Their last name was Howard.

May the rest of your week be blessed!

Mom Mayhem says: said...

Just stopping by to let you know I've tagged you in my latest post -8 questions: