Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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The Judge Silas James Family Submitted by: Donald D. King, grandson

The Judge Silas James Family Submitted by: Donald D. King, grandson

The record of the early years of the life of Silas James (Choctaw Roll #642) are vague and somewhat confusing. According to a short biographical sketch in a book entitled “Leader and Leading Men of the Indian Territory” by H.F. O’Beirne. Silas was born on the route between his fathers home in Mississippi and Skullyville County, Choctaw Nation in

  1. He remained in Skullyville until he moved to Gaines County in the early sixties. It is unclear whether he went alone or with his parents but it is reasonable to assume it was with his parents for it was there that his younger brother, McKee James was born. McKee also has a chort biographical sketch in the same book.

Records show that on July 8, 1861, in Perryville, Silas joined the “1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles”. They were also called Volunteers, Riflemen and Cavalry. In Company “A” he rose through the ranks from Corporal to Third and the Second Lieutenant where he served as Adjutant to Captain William Pitchlyn. Later when Strickland took charge of the company and was promoted to First Lieutenant in which position he served until the conclusion of the Civil War.

In 1877 Silas was appointed County Clerk of Atoka County. There is no mention of how or who the appointing authority might have been. He was either appointed or elected Judge of Atoka County in 1879 and was re-elected in 1888. Payroll records for “County Judges, Clerks and Rangers” dated as the 1st Quarter-Aug. Sept. and Oct. 1889 show him as County Judge and being paid $37.50 for his services. A quote O’Beirne’s book states, “Judge Silas James is on of the most highly respected citizens in the Nation, being loved by all classes, rich and poor alike. He is kind and charitable to his fellow men, and possesses a heart in proportion to his size, which, when reduced to figures means six feet two and one-half inches in height, two hundred and ten pounds in weight and stature straight as an arrow, and character equally upright”. At the time of the writing of the afore mentioned book Judge James also owned a farm of one hundred acres and two hundred and fifty head of cattle.

It appears Silas was a man of extraordinary social and political ability as well as an excellent Attorney at Law. In the archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City there are legal documents written by him in both English and Choctaw.

There are many interesting articles located in the Historical Society records. For example, there was an effort made not lose some historical perspective on the early days in the Indian Territory in the 1800’s. Following is a quote from one such interview by a lady named Sarah Horn. “I believe as best as I can remember that I was about thirty years of age when I came to the Choctaw Nation. We settles in the Nation near what the Choctaw Indians called Old Shake-rag and now goes by the name Vokoshe. There were not a great many white settlers in the Nation when we came here. My nearest neighbor was a full blood Choctaw Indian named Silas James. This Indian was moved from the South with the other five tribes on their Trail of Tears as they called it when they were moved from the south to this new country. This man was reasonably educated and spoke reasonably good English. The Choctaw tribal government had a number of large log court houses scattered around over the Nation. This Indian, Silas James, got the appointment as Choctaw Indian Judge. All members of the court were of the full blood Choctaw tribe. Mostly older members of the tribe received these appointments because they had some education. A complete record was kept of all trials in the Choctaw courts. These records were written in long hand and placed in the court books in the Choctaw language.”

In 1866 Silas married Malinda Frazier, a Chickasaw, by whom he had six children all of whom died. On September 21, 1894 he also lost his wife Malinda. Although Silas is of the Choctaw Nation it is believed that his children by Malinda were enrolled as Chickasaw. Daniel who lived until age seventeen appears on the roll as a Chickasaw. The numbers are confusing with names and numbers appearing on both the Choctaw and Chickasaw rolls.

In 1886 Silas James married Mar Gower. Silas was in his late fifties, she in her early twenties. Mary (Gower) James was enrolled into the Choctaw Nation as Intermarried roll #554. Four children were born to this couple, three of whom appear in the Choctaw toll: Orenah Cadron James born March 2, 1898 (643). Silas Jackson James born February 2, 1900 (644), Arabel James born June 23, 1904 (NB 18) and Anna Lee who died as a baby. Silas applied for and received land allotments for each of the three enrolled children as well as his wife, Mary. It appears that he was rather selective in his choice of land for his children for the parcels were not adjoining but rather they were scattered throughout the Choctaw Nation. Records indicate that the allotment claimed for Mary was the subject of a civil suit which Silas filed on her behalf. Apparently a settler claimed that the settler had rights to the property. The matter was settled when a Judgement was rendered in behalf of Mary. All of the land allotments have long since passed from the hands of the family to other people.

The oldest daughter, Cadron, married Jeff Wynn and there were nine children born of this marriage: Froman, Coleman, Inez, Winifred, Kenneth, Thomas, June, Virginia, and Bessie. It is thought that each is married and have children. Most of them reside in the state if Washington or have passed away.

Silas Jackson married Bessie Morton and four children were born, Pauline, Pauline, Peggy, Phyllis, and Donna. Phyllis died as a baby. Peggy after she married. Each had children of their own and most reside in the state of Washington.

Arabel married Felix Jackson King July 22,1920 in Hartville, Missouri. Four children were born to them. The first, Mildred Darlene King, married Charles Elbert Harris in Oklahoma in 1939 and they have two children. Meredith Ann and Charles Jr. all of whom are registered with the Choctaw Nation. They all reside in Tacoma, Washington. The second, Felix Jackson King Jr. married Joyce Baikie August 7, 1948 and they have two daughters, Judy and Shelley. They reside in the San Francisco Bay area. The third, Donald D. King married Joan Lee Stiles November 23,1 954, and they have three children, Michael, Mark, and Stacey, all of whom are registered with the Choctaw Nation. They live in California. The fourth, Leroy Duane King married Jacqueline Crandall August 7, 1965, and they have a daughter Kathryn, a registered Choctaw, and two sons David and Dane. They reside in California and Washington.

Judge Silas James died in 1906 and is buried in the James family cemetery which is located East of Coalgate, Oklahoma. Also buried there are his first wife Malinda and their children, as well as his second wife Mary.

Silas James left his descendants a legacy of integrity, respectability, and decency of which we can all be proud.

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