Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Mary Jane Jacob Submitted by: Kay Damiano - granddaughter

These stories have been told to me by my Grandma Mary Jane Jacob - Hicks, daughter of Nelson and Agnes Lewis. Grandma Mary Jacob- Hicks was asked if her family ever spoke of the Trail and which of her Grandparents made that long journey. She guessed it was such a hardship that they probably wanted to forget it, to her recollection it was never spoke of. Figuring the date of births, and the walk starting in 1834 and 1835, it is assumed that Austin Jacob born 1836 was marched on the walk or born shortly after arrival to Oklahoma. Grant and Letsi Battiest and John Lewis and Malis Lewis would very likely have had to make the walk. John Lewis and Malis Lewis were probably just babies carried in someone’s arms those long 500 miles. All the Jacob’s and Lewis’s made their homes in Caddo, Caney and Atoka areas. Today some have scattered into other directions but most remain in the same areas. Some are returning home after years of living elsewhere. We are now 8 and 9 generations of the original family that moved to the area. Agnes Lewis Jacob, daughter of Gipson and Susan Lewis went to an Indian boarding school. It was required at age 7 that every Indian child must go. She cried and cried, begging her mother not to make her go. Her mother had no choice. After the children stayed 10 months at school, they could come home. Agnes said the two months went by so quick and when it was time to go back to school she was so sad. The government thought they could take the Indian ways out of the children if they took them early enough. When the wagon full of kids came for Agnes she climbed in, so full of tears, she looked back at her Mama and brother Lane and her happy home that she was forced to leave. The house was a log cabin with sliding board windows; she remembers the window was pulled open and watching her Mama and brother waving to her until they were out of sight of each other. It was a sad parting, made even sadder yet because Agnes never saw her Mama again. Susan Lewis died while Agnes was away that second year of school. Before Agnes turned 8 years old she was like an orphan. Gipson had Agnes spend her remaining school vacations with her Aunt Jane and Uncle; they were extremely kind to her. Her Aunt Jane taught her to can and sew and later she helped her to go to an Indian Baptist School to learn to teach. She taught Indian women homemaking skills, sewing, cooking and canning. While in school she met Nelson Jacob. He was attending a Methodist school for ministering. Not long after in response to a letter from Nelson, Agnes agreed to change to Methodist and marry him. Grandma Mary described Agnes as a sweet, wonderful lady almost saintly. When Agnes’ little girl Susan was still nursing. Eastman Jacob’s wife died leaving an infant, Daniel. Agnes took Daniel nursing him too. She raised Daniel his brother Fulsom, Rayson and Francis, who died at 12 years of age. She also raised a cousin Lorraine, thought to be living in a nursing home in Oklahoma. She would be the last of that generation of Lewis’. As of January 1997, Daniel became a Methodist preacher. Nelson and Agnes had six children, Susan was the oldest. She was slowly dying of spinal meningitis. Agnes said there wasn’t anyone that could keep a dry eye, as she would sing, “Jesus Loves Me”. She left this world at age 4. She is buried in a pasture across from the late Folsum Jacob’s last home place in an unmarked grave. Mary, Houston, Austin, Calvin and Evellyn were then born. Life was sometimes hard, like the time a tornado destroyed their home with most of the family still inside. Agnes was badly hurt but recovered. They stayed for a long time at the church where Nelson preached until they could fix up another home. Grandma saw trees stuck through cows and everything for miles was flattened. Somehow they always managed to have plenty to eat. Grandpa Nelson would butcher the hogs or chickens for meat. They had milk cows and grew gardens. Agnes would can every kind of fruit and vegetable and Nelson always smoked enough meat to last all winter. Agnes would gather eggs and milk the cows for income. She skimmed the cream off the milk to make and sell butter. Mary said, so many times her mother came to the porch and asked who skimmed the cream off the milk? Mary always said, I don’t know, “Wasn’t me”. She laughed and said, I knew Mama knew I had, but never let on that she did. Grandma Mary could only remember how good it was. Grandma Mary Jacob Hicks was very much in love with a boy named J.T. Sherrod who had gone away to attend Jones Academy Indian Boys School. J.T. wanted to marry Grandma but her father, Nelson Jacob forbid it. J.T. wrote letters to her but she never received them, her father hid them. She thought he didn’t care anymore and married someone else, whom her father had also forbidden. Grandma Mary had lost touch with J.T. Sherrod. It wasn’t until 1990 when a Great Granddaughter attending Jones Academy School, ran across the name and told Grandma that his name was on a plaque there. J.T. Sherrod had been killed in action. She took a long sigh, and expression of relief and sadness that after 60 or more years she finally knew his fate. Life was seldom easy for Mary. Many times she spoke out loud about how different her life might have been if she would have received those letters. She said, J.T. was a good boy and her own kind. Grandma’s mother, Agnes Lewis gave in to Grandma’s marriage and gave her blessing. She tried to treat her in-laws well but it was no use, she didn’t speak much English and Mary’s husband always thought they were speaking against him. It was a sad separation. In that day you married for good. Grandma Mary was forced to let go of the family she cherished. I can only imagine the last day that she went to see her Mother as she lay dying. It had been a long time since she had been with her. Her family had stopped coming around, they knew it created major problems for her when they did. Agnes A. Nelson had now buried 2 children, Susan and then Austin at age 19. The newspaper said he had fallen asleep on the tracks and was killed by the train. Grandma said he was murdered and placed there. His horse was found standing close by his body the next day. Agnes died fairly quickly. Records show she was 51, but we are told she was 49. Grandma says she thought she had cancer. Shortly after surgery she came home and died. Nelson lived about 20 more years; a few times he wanted to remarry. Grandma felt bad later but she said she threw such a fit that he didn’t. He had a complete library but his favorite was the Bible. He lived his last years with Calvin, still going by horseback to preach until his death. He knew his last time to preach was his last, he said so. Through the years Grandma, the oldest of the children, watched each of her brothers and last her sister Evellyn, pass on. Daniel and Fulsom passed on within two weeks of each other. She often remarked that it didn’t seem right to be the oldest and to be the last alive. Grandma died December 1993 and was buried at Caddo cemetery beside her husband, son C.H., granddaughter and son-in-law. In the end she longed to see her Mama again She said so many times in her last days, “I would trade all my tomorrows for just one day spent with my sweet Mama”. She felt alone here even though she had 8 children, 36 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. Calvin had 5 children and Evellyn had 1 child and 2 grandchildren. Neither Houston nor Austin had children. Grandma lost most of her language, not being allowed to use it. Calvin and Evellyn hung on to their language and could still sing beautiful Choctaw hymns

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