Elizabeth Jane (Arington) Barett – “Lizzie”
Submitted By: Anne-Lynne Keplar Samole, great, great granddaughter
Elizabeth Jane Airington, “Lizzie”, was born on April 7, 1854 in Lukfata, Nashoba County, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Her parents were Mississippi Choctaw, Elizabeth Taylor Airington and white man, Drury “Drew” Airington. Lizzie’s proud Choctaw heritage comes from her mother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Taylor. Betsy was the daughter of Mississippi Choctaw, Syllen (Cillen) Durant Taylor and white man, William Taylor. Syllen’s parents were Canadian Frenchman, Chief Louis Durant and his Choctaw wife, known as a flower among the forest. The Durants and Taylors lived with the other Choctaws east of the Big Black River on Bogue Pha le ah Creek what is today, Durant, Mississippi. The town was named after Chief Louis Durant, who because of his high toned principles and dedication to the Choctaws protection against the encroaching settlers was adopted into the tribe. He was a Chief in the LeFlore District of the Choctaw Nation. He was also a Captain, fighting with his sons in the War of 1812. They fought under Andrew Jackson against the British. As a result of his character and loyalty to the Americans, he was considered “particularly deserving” and allowed a reservation by Article II Supplement of Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. While clans of Choctaw moved west, the Durants desired to remain in Mississippi. Most of the family stayed as long as possible before harassment and strife forced them to give up their land and move west to Indian Territory. Many Durants and thousands of other Choctaws left in December 1844, following the “Trail of Tears” on foot, covered wagon and by flat bottom steamships across the Arkansas River to Indian Territory. Syllen, called “Sylva” and her widowed daughter, Elizabeth Covey, called “Betsy” emigrated arriving in Lukfata December 10, 1852 under the escort of James Lucky. The following year in June 1853, Betsy married widowed Drew Airington. They remained in Lukfata. Nine months later Elizabeth Jane Airington was born.
When Lizzie was thirteen years old, a young man came to live with her family, Archibald Jackson Steele Barnett. A.J.S. had run away from home to escape the evils in his home. His father had died and his mother married outlaw Drew McGrew. Lizzie’s father, Drew Airington, taught A.J.S. to read from the family bible. This would later influence his life’s career as a preacher. After living with the Airingtons two years, A.J.S. decided to leave and asked Lizzie to marry him. She said yes, Lizzie married on December 12, 1869, at the age of 15 years. Their marriage was quite an event. Out of convenience, they were married in Polk County near the Arkansas line on the roadside with two of her siblings. William Airington married Bellhina Labor and Virginia Airington married Thomas Lee Ashford. Presiding was Mr. Joseph Cartwright, Justice of the Peace. They were married on the side of the road because the high waters prevented them from reaching the Airington place.
Once married, Lizzie and A.J.S. lived near Caddo in Blue County. A.J.S. became a missionary Baptist preacher, who took an active part in church work throughout the state. They lived near Allen, Valliant, Muskogee and finally near Dibble in McClain County. She bore 17 children. Grandson Marvin Ratliff, says, “They were a big family and they all got allotments so you’d drive to Dibble and see very little land that didn’t belong to the Barnetts. Then most of them lost it because they mortgaged the land to build a house, didn't pay the mortgage and lost it all. A.J.S. built the Barnett Prairie Baptist Church on one of the acres. He also built the Barnett School. Lizzie played the organ and sang for the church. A.J.S. knew the Choctaw language so, he became an interpreter for the Choctaw preachers. He transcribed the new testament into Choctaw. He was also a farmer and a chimney fireplace maker. When the Dawes Commission began compiling a roll that would list everyone entitled to an allotment, Lizzie applied August 30, 1899 at the age of 45. She applied as 1/8 blood on field No. 4159 at Dibble Post Office in Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation. Her roll number is 11666. She listed eight children with her: Agnes Weeden, Maggie E. Weeden, Levi Barnett, James Barnett, Jesse Barnett, Viola Barnett, Liddie E. Barnett and Bessie Barnett, a nephew, Robert Vice and grandson, Buddy Lee Weeden. Archibald J.S. is listed on the card at age 53 as her husband with IW #754. The older children had already moved out on their own and applied separately.
Grandson, Paul Ratliff, talked about Lizzie saying, “Grandma Barnett could speak Choctaw pretty good. She was a very strong person—really a respected woman. She ruled over Grandpa Barnett and he kept the line. She was a wise woman.” Paul’s brother, Marvin, added, “Grandma was a stubborn person. They bought a big buggy with a top on it. She’d come by with that fancy buggy with the fringe on top. She’d never get tired of showing off that team of horses. She thought that was grand.”
Granddaughter, Elizabeth Lusk tells, “She was a huge woman. On a double bed you could spread out her dress and use it as a bedspread.” Another grandson, Jansey Jones said, “Lizzie used to come and stay every summer a couple of weeks. We’s put her in a wagon and take her to revivals. She’d get so happy she’d shout.”
Elizabeth Jane Barnett died at 85 years of age. She was a well-known resident of McClain County for 36 years. She passed away at the home of a daughter at Blanchard, Oklahoma. She was survived by 106 grandchildren and 92 great-grandchildren. She is buried in Dibble Cemetery with her husband A.J.S. Barnett.
Their children are; William Wyatt Barnett roll # 9570 m. Sarah Ann Parks; Mary Elizabeth Barnett roll # 11677 m. Tom W. Grant, Frank Pierce Jones, and Birdie Marandy Cranford; Georgia Ann Barnett roll # 2950 m. David Carlton Crabtree; Ida J. Barnett m. Lee Boughton; Jackson Drury Barnett roll #5981 m. Lara Ann Campbell; Adah B. Barnett roll #11688 m. John Thomas Hail and Lonnie B. Ward; Agnes B. Barnett roll #11677 m. Hugh H. Weeden; Maggie Emeline Barnett roll # 11668 m. Lee B Weeden and James A. Ratliff; Levi Barnett roll # 11669 m. Lottie C. Ratliff; James Barnett roll # 11670 m. Maude Nix; Jesse Barnett roll # 11671 m. Callie Love; Viola Myrtle Barnett roll # 11672 m. Charley Zeb Green; Lydia Ethel Barnett roll # 11673 m. James R. McAnally; Johnie Barnett listed on Card Number 4159; Artie Bessie Barnett roll #11674 m. George Burnett and Dennis Gamble.