Collection: Gunfight at Whitmire School

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...

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The Trial and Goingsnake Massacre

Knowing Zeke’s social standing and being held in high esteem for his work for the Indian Territory Mary’s family was up in arms as they did not trust the Cherokee Court system to try Ezekiel Proctor and convict him. Since manslaughter was not a charge in those days and he was guilty of assault on a white man the Beck’s wanted Zeke tried in Federal Court at Ft. Smith Arkansas according to white man’s law. Mary’s family wanted to see him hang for her death. The trial was put off more than one time by each side arguing over...

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Gunfight at Whitmire School

Glee Krapf gave this talk to her DAR chapter in October 2003 Our Thanks to her for making this available to our readers. First, I am going to give you a short biography of Mary Beck Hildebrand Kesterson and Ezekiel Proctor. Then I will tell you about how they are linked together and how they and some others changed the History of Oklahoma This is a little known story outside of Northeast Oklahoma and should be as famous as the Fight at the OK Corral, but it has been lost as a footnote in the history of the west. Indian Territory was a wild and wooly area. The Cherokee government was in charge but they did not have the manpower or the money to police it like it should have been. It was over run by outlaws and after the Civil War the Federal Government set up a white run court at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Deputy Marshals hunted down wanted men and brought them to Ft Smith to be tried. The only Judge for the court, Isaac Parker, became famous and was known as “Hanging Judge Parker”. Whites were not allowed into Indian Territory without permission from the court, but most people did not bother to get written permission and the Indian government was unable to enforce the law. The Indian Courts were to try their own people. If...

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Terrible Tragedy, Attack upon a Cherokee Court

From time to time we have chronicled the postponement of the case of Ezekiel Proctor charged with the murder of (Mary) Polly Hildebrand, the last trial being set to come off last Monday, the 15th instant. We had business there, and arrived about half past 1 o’clock. And what a sight met our gaze when we rode up to the small school-house where the court had been called. Three men were lying just before the door-step in those negligent and still postures so terrifying to the living. Dark pools of blood issuing from each told the horrible story of...

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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....

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Ezekiel “Zeke” Proctor

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 served in the Civil War on the Union side. Mary’s relatives mostly served with the...

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