Gunfight at Whitmire School
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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 a white man married an Indian woman he became part of the tribe and could be tried in an Indian Court. Quite often the courts were soft on their own people and they were often acquitted. It was not a lawless society but it got that reputation because the law was not always enforced like it should have been. Intermarrying within the tribe was not uncommon and it was often hard to find impartial court officials and jurors. All of these factors enter into the story.
- Mary “Polly” Beck Hildebrand Kesterson
- Ezekiel “Zeke” Proctor
- Death at the Beck Mill
- The Trial and the Goingsnake Massacre
- Terrible tragedy, Attack upon a Cherokee court
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