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The Cherokee Revolt – Indian Wars

From the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia and Tennessee to Arkansas and their establishment upon the reservation allotted to them by treaty with the Government in Arkansas, they have, until the period of this outbreak to the narrative of which this chapter is devoted, been considered as among the least dangerous and most peaceable of the tribes in that region. But through various causes, chief among which has been notably the introduction among them of a horde of those pests of the West the border ruffians; these half wild, half-breed Nomads were encouraged by these Indians, as it appeared, for the sake of the liquor traffic. According to the official accounts of this attempt to reopen hostilities, it appears that on the 11th of April, 1872, it originated with a man named J. J. Kesterson, living in the Cherokee nation, near the Arkansas line, about fifty miles from Little Rock. On that day he went to Little Rock, and filed information against one Proctor, also a white man, married to a Cherokee woman, for assaulting with intent to kill him while in his saw mill, on the 13th of February. Proctor fired a revolver at Kesterson, the ball striking him just above the left eye, but before he could fire again Kesterson escaped. Proctor, at the time, was under indictment in the Snake District for the murder of his wife, and was at that time on trial for the crime. A writ was issued at once, and the Deputy Marshals were ordered to proceed to “Grimy Snake” Court House, remain until the trial was over, and arrest him, if...

Mary “Polly” Beck Hildebrand Kesterson

Mary “Polly” Beck was born about 1820 in Georgia. She was the last child of Jeffrey Beck, III and Susannah Buffington. Mary was my 2nd great grandmother. Jeffrey died when Mary was a young child and Susannah then married Surry Eaton on 11 March 1824 in Hall Co., GA. Mary married Aaron Downing, date unknown. When she received subsistence money for moving west to Indian Territory in 1838 she was listed as Polly Downing. This leads me to believe that by this time her and Aaron were no longer married. Her Mother (Susannah Buffington Beck Eaton), stepfather (Surry Eaton), their children and their slaves are listed with her so it is probable they all traveled together on the Trail of Tears. I have not found records showing what wagon train unit they were on but since they had slaves they were, at the very least, well to do. It is possible they formed their own unit with other relatives and moved west on their own outside of the main units. Conditions were poor on the forced march and they may have reached Indian Territory before the forced marched units arrived. Mary married her third (2nd husband was probably James Chrittenden, according to Emmet Starr, but cannot find records to prove this.) husband, Stephen Hildebrand, who was from east Tennessee before 1851. Stephen came over the Trail of Tears with his first wife, Mary Potts, and their daughters. His first wife died about 1848. Mary Beck and Stephen were listed on the Drennen Roll (census) in 1851 but his two daughters are not listed with them. On 20 July 1852, when...

Death at the Beck Mill

One day Zeke dropped by to visit his sister Elizabeth. He was surprised to find her and her children alone and hungry with not much of anything in the house to eat. He learned that her husband, James Kesterson, had deserted her and their children. He took Elizabeth and her children to live with other family members. There is no record of why James left his family and moved out. Ezekiel Proctor was very angry with James for leaving his sister in this condition. After leaving Elizabeth, James had found a job with Mary Hildebrand and later married her. Story has it that on Tuesday, 13 February 1872, Zeke with his wife and children while possibly visiting other family or friends in the area, may have thought it to be a good time to have a talk with Mr. Kesterson and decided to visit the mill. He dropped by the local watering hole and had a few drinks to help fortify him before he reached the mill. Also some people say Zeke had received complaints that Mary and James had been letting their cattle run loose and they were destroying crops of nearby farmers. When Zeke arrived at the mill it didn’t take long before he and James were in a heated argument. James reached for his gun but Zeke, being faster, beat him to the draw. Mary, who was trying to stop the men from fighting jumped in front of her husband, James, placing herself between the two men just as Zeke’s finger pulled the trigger and discharged the 45. Mary caught the bullet in the chest and...

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