Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Eliza Ward, born in Mississippi, 1820, a full blood Choctaw, was brought from Mississippi with her parents Ward LeFlore and A-che-yi-ko in 1833 on the “Trail of Tears,” landing at Fort Coffee o the Arkansas River in Indian Territory. Eliza was a close relative of Greenwood LeFlore of Mississippi, who signed the Dancing Rabbit treaty forcing the Indians to move to Oklahoma (Indian Territory). She said that she had been to his mansion many times and that he called his mansion by a Choctaw name. It sounded like it should be spelled Killi-Hote. She said it was palatial for that day and time. Jeremiah “Jerry” Ward, her husband, a prominent man of Scott-descent, and a blacksmith by trade, was born in the year 1822 in the state of Mississippi. He came to Skullyville around 1837. Then in the year 1844 he married a Chickasaw woman and after her death in the year 1849 he married a Choctaw woman by whom he had a number of children. In an interview with Sarah Ann Harlan, in Vol. 28, Page 11, Indian-Pioneer History, Grant Foreman Collection; she says among other things: “The Government furnished free blacksmith shops…one shop was in Skullyville, run by a Choctaw by name of Jerry Ward. He was paid $40 a month to do the blacksmith for all of the Indians. He did not make any charges; his work was free to the Indians. He thought he was getting big wages; but we would not think so now. To stand at an anvil and bellow from sunrise to sunset for $40 a month! Nevertheless, he made money.” After Eliza and Jerry were married they lived in the former home of the first Indian agent for the Choctaw people. Jerry was a blacksmith in the town of Oak Lodge. When the Civil War begun, he ran off to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to keep from going to the war and left Eliza with four children. The U.S. Government helped her take care of her children, just like they are doing people now. The issued commodities for them to live on. During the Civil War there was a school for boys at Fort Coffee, and when the war broke out, the school was discontinued and the store of clothing and other supplies were hauled to Eliza’s house and hidden I the attic for safe keeping. But the soldiers came and ransacked the house and took just any of the supplies they wanted. They climbed up in the attic and Eliza said she could hear them talking up there about who would take which. Those were Union soldiers. The cleaned that attic out. There were no clothes or other supplies left when the soldiers got through up there. Eliza said the school building with the furniture in it was burned. But whether it was burned by the Union soldiers or others, I do not know. When she learned that Jerry was in Fort Smith, the Government transported Eliza and the children and found them a place to stay. Then the Government put Jerry to work in a blacksmith shop, supervising a number of men to make tools and shoe horses for the army and those stationed at the Fort. The family stayed in Fort Smith, Arkansas until the war was over, then they returned to Skullyville, County. He served as sheriff in the New Choctaw Nation before county and district subdivisions were made. Unscrupulous white men from the state would congregate at Skullyville for the purpose of taking the money of the Indians away from them after a payment had been made to them by Federal Government. On one of these occasions, two white men had been found fleecing the Indians outright and were placed under arrest by Sheriff Ward who proposed taking them to Fort Smith and turning them over to the Federal Authorities. Just before starting, he stepped into a close by store for a plug of chewing tobacco, taking his Winchester with him. On coming out of the store he saw that both men were running away and had succeeded in reaching a point some two hundred yards from him. A short distance further they would have reached brushy swampland where they could have possibly evaded recapture. The sheriff commanded them to stop and upon their continued running, he quickly took aim and in turn killed both these men. This episode served to convince everyone that Sheriff Ward was a man whose office must be respected an the practice of stealing from the Indians was reduced to a minimum as a result. On June 29, 1871 that he was Circuit Judge 1st Judicial Circuit Court, Choctaw Nation. At one time in August 1877, Jeremiah Ward was a candidate for National Attorney, in the Choctaw Nation, but was not elected. Eliza and Jerry finally separated in 1878, for various causes, a divorce was granted between him and his Choctaw wife. Then in the year 1879 he married his present wife, Sarah F. Ward (nee Palmore), a Cherokee woman, by whom he has three children, Henry B., Grover C., and Frances F. In Choctaw Vol. 219, Page 489, in an affidavit made by Jeremiah Ward he makes the following statements regarding himself: “My name is Jeremiah Ward and am now past 70 years of age and have lived in this (Skullyville County) Choctaw Nation for over 53 years or ever since November 1837, and in about the years 1838 or 1839 while I was working in the Government blacksmith shop at Skullyville and Good Ground. In February 1898, Jerry died at his home ten miles southwest of Oak Lodge. He was buried at Bokoshe, Oklahoma. Eliza is buried at Spiro, Oklahoma, Skullyville, County, now LeFlore County. They had been separated for many years when they died. Eliza and Jerry’s children were: Robert Jones Ward, born about 1850. He married Ida L. Barker who was part Cherokee. Then married Maude Ferguson Moore; Jefferson Davis Ward, born May 17, 1862 in Indian Territory, died January 3, 1931. He married Helen Hahn; Silas Ward, married several times and had several children; Sussie ward “Sis”, born April 10, 1870 and died July 2, 1957. Married Quince E. Bowan. They had a baby that was stillborn, never did have any more children; Amandy Ward, died March 5, 1922. Married Jim B. and Willis Henderson; Onie Ward, born September 15, 1872 and died October 14, 1952; Joseph R. Hall Ward “Joe” born September 16, 1855 in Indian Territory and died January 9, 1940. He married Lula Mae Bateman.

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