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Ezekiel “Zeke” Proctor

Young Zeke Proctor

Zeke Proctor always carried a shotgun and wore a-six-shooter on each hip wherever he went. In other words he was always armed to the teeth.

Ezekiel was born 4 July 1831 to a white man, William Proctor, and a mixed blood Cherokee woman, Dicey Downing. At age seven Zeke traveled the Trail of Tears with his siblings and parents. The family settled in Goingsnake District about 10 miles from the Hildebrand-Beck mill. Zeke married Rebecca Mitchell, Stephen Hildebrand’s niece. Rebecca was the daughter of Rachel Hildebrand and Reece T. Mitchell. Rachel is the sister of Stephen so Zeke was related by marriage to the Hildebrand’s and the Beck’s.

Zeke Proctor in his Civil War Uniform

Zeke Proctor in his Civil War Uniform. Note that he is carrying two pistols. His hatband boasts several large rattlers form rattlesnakes he had killed. The original tintype is owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Walden

Zeke served in the Civil War on the Union side. Mary’s relatives mostly served with the Confederate Cherokee Mounted Rifles led by General Stand Watie. After the war there was still a great deal of tension between the two factions and this added fuel to the fire between the Proctors and Becks.

Zeke applied for a pension on May 5, 1901 stating in the application that he was lame in both ankles, deaf, suffering from rheumatism in his right shoulder caused from a wound he received while serving. He was a very respected person and served the Cherokee Nation and his district as a Sheriff, federal Marshall and Senator while being a farmer and cattleman.

According to Dr. Virgil Berry in a “Chronicles of Oklahoma” article, Zeke was “typical of the old warrior type. He was of stoic meim, reserved to the point of austerity, even in contact with his own race.

Zeke Proctors Grave Marker

Zeke Proctors Grave Marker
Johnston Cemetery

Rebecca Mitchell Proctor Grave Marker

Rebecca Mitchell Proctor Grave Marker
Wife of Zeke

Social intercourse with white people was unknown to him. He was rather tall, straight as an arrow, with his long black hair draping down over his shoulders. His hair was worn loose, brushed behind his ears, not braided as many Indians did in those days. His eyes were perhaps as perfect as any human eyes ever were. He could see and hear to a superlative degree, as almost his entire life was lived dodging real or imaginary enemies. On his infrequent trips to various trading points, he shunned the highways of that day. He went afoot or on horseback though the forest trails, and always returned by a different route. One of his trading points was the small village of Cincinnati, Arkansas, about 6 miles east of the Indian Territory line not far from what is now Westville, OK. An old citizen of Cincinnati, long since dead, told me he had seen Zeke arrive in the village several times. He was always alone, always passed anyone as far as possible on the street, and on entering a store, never allowed himself to be placed with his back to anyone.

His purchases, which consisted of a few simple items such as coffee, tobacco, salt, soda, etc., were quickly made, and he immediately left for his home in the Indian Territory.” He always carried a shotgun and wore a-six-shooter on each hip wherever he went. In other words he was always armed to the teeth.

Zeke Proctor's triplets

Zeke Proctor’s triplets, Linnie, Willie and Minnie
(photo courtesy A.D. Lester)

He was popular with the ladies for he fathered two children outside of marriage with two different women. He married Rebecca Mitchell and had five children with her, three of which were triplets that were born in 1872. Rebecca died a few months after their birth. Zeke was left to raise the five children. He married twice more before he died on 18 Feb 1907 of pneumonia. He is buried in the Johnson Cemetery not far from his home along with other family members.

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