Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 8, No. 1
DEATH OF DR. EMMET STARR.
Everyone who is interested in Oklahoma history was saddened by the announcement that Dr. Emmet Starr, well and widely known
as the genealogist and historian of the Cherokee people, died suddenly during the night of January 30, 1930. His remains were
brought to his boyhood home, at Claremore, for burial. At this writing, Chronicles of Oklahoma can only quote the brief account of his passing which appeared in the columns of the Claremore Progress, together with a
brief tribute to his memory, from the pen of his friend, W. R. Harper, of Salina. These items reprinted are as follows:
From the Claremore Progress, of February 6:
A man familiar with the early days in Claremore, a student, is dead. Reference is made to Dr. Emmet Starr who was found dead
in his room at St. Louis, Mo., Friday morning. News of Dr. Starr's death was received in a telegram to Dr. J. C. Bushyhead,
asking what disposition was to be made of the body. Dr. Starr was operating a book store at St. Louis, Mo., at the time of
his death. The telegram came from Dr. Joe Mayes, of St. Louis.
Dr. Bushyhead immediately notified Dr. Starr's sisters who reside at Cement, Okla., Dr. Wade Vann, a brother-in-law, residing
at Cement, instructed that the body be sent to Claremore and it will be cared for by the Kaff-Musgrove Funeral Home. The day
of the funeral is not yet announced.
Dr. Starr never married. He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Mary Vann, wife of Dr. Vann, at Cement, and Mrs. Lettie Raspberry,
also of Cement, and one brother, Caleb, who lives near Hanson, Okla.
Dr. Starr was the author of several books on the Cherokee people. One entitled "Early History of the Cherokees," another "Cherokees,
West," and a "History of the Cherokee Nation." He commenced the collection of material for genealogical and historical work
Dr. Starr was a charter member of the Pocahontas Club, one of the oldest Indian clubs in existence. He was at one time president
of same. Dr. Starr was a citizen of Claremore some twenty years ago. He was always of a studious nature. Possibly there was
no living man who was as well versed in Cherokee history as this man. He had many warm friends in Claremore who will learn
with regret of his passing.
Emmet Starr was born December 12, 1870, in Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation, or in what is now Adair County, Oklahoma.
His parents were Walter Adair and Ruth A. (Thornton) Starr, the former born at Cane Hill, Arkansas, and the latter near Webbers
Falls, Oklahoma. They were both members by birthright of the Cherokee Nation. The name Starr is of Irish origin, and Doctor
Starr's great-grandfather, Caleb Starr, was a native of Chester County, Pennsylvania, was a Pennsylvania Quaker, and early
in life went south and married into the Cherokee Indian Tribe. Doctor Starr's mother was a descendant through her father from
the Virginia Thorntons of English lineage, and on her mother's side was also of Cherokee stock. The forebears of Doctor Starr
came to what is now Eastern Oklahoma prior to the year 1831. He is the oldest in a family of five children, and the other
four were: George Colbert Starr, who while in discharge of his duties as a
deputy sheriff was killed by a bootlegger or whisky peddler on September 20, 1912; Mary B. Starr, wife of Dr. Wade H. Vann,
formerly of Porum but now of Cement, Oklahoma; Miss Lettie B., who lives with her brother Doctor Starr; and Joseph M. the
mother of these children died when the youngest of them was about six years of age. The father married for his second wife
Ella Christie of Christie, Adair County, and she became the mother of two children named Jennie and Caleb L. Starr.
In 1871 Doctor Starr's parents removed to what is now Rogers County, Oklahoma, and he grew up in that locality on a farm.
His father was a very prominent man in the Cherokee Nation, and for fourteen years held the position of district judge, and
was still on the bench when the national government of the Cherokees was dissolved. Doctor Starr was graduated June 28, 1888,
from the Cherokee Male Seminary at Tahlequah, and in 1891 took his degree in medicine from the Barnes Medical College at St.
He practiced medicine first at Chelsea and then at Skiatook, but after five years of successful work in his profession abandoned
it in order to devote his time to his great work as a Cherokee genealogist and historian. On August 5, 1901, Doctor Starr
was elected from the Cooweescoowee District to the Cherokee National Council, and he served in that body with credit for two
years, one term. That was the last but one of the councils of the Cherokee Nation. In politics Doctor Starr was a democrat,
and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was a Master Mason.
DR. EMMETT STARR—A TRIBUTE
"Know ye not that a Prince and Great Man (has) this day fallen in Israel." 2 Samuel, 3:38.
Your issue of last Saturday brought to me a piece of sad news, announcement of the death of Dr. Emmett McDonald Starr, a man
who as I take it after rather intimate and very pleasant acquaintance of thirty-five years was "forward and strange" in his
ways, but for the pure his work was right.
By some he was considered eccentric, but great men are often that. Only those who know them best can understand.
To this quiet, studious and painstaking fellow there was more satisfaction in the knowing than in the doing of things. Pouring
over "quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore," was his joy in life and absolute accuracy was his motto.
Emmett Starr died as he had lived—Misunderstood, and, therefore, disappointed. A bright boy, the son of an illustrious father
and scion of two of the Cherokee Nation's oldest and best families, he was given an excellent education and what many would
consider a golden opportunity. But there psychology comes in and psychology is hard to understand and almost impossible to
His ambition was to become the Herodotus of his people, as Sequoyah was the Cadmus and that ambition would have been realized
had he not been quite so conscientious. His life work—his "Genealogy" had it been published at an opportune time, when the
final rolls of the Cherokee were in process of completion would have made his place in history secure, along with Sequoyah,
the Cadmus of his race; and John
Ross, their Moses; but this he would not permit until some controverted points upon which the world was ready to accept his
conclusions as final, could be verified. By the time this could be done the opportunity had passed, yet so important were
his manuscripts to the Dawes Commission and the Cherokee Attorney General that they would pay him, in real money, the first
and last that he ever made, for their use. But finding that the parental fortune had disappeared and the education of his
younger (orphaned) brothers and sisters about to be neglected, he magnanimously, forsook his own plans and ambitions and took
upon his own shouders this task. By the time this was competed the old order of things had passed away and the new had passed
in. Transformation from tribal government to statehood eliminated his opportunity—there was no more demand for the services
which he was so able and so anxious to render. So, like the "Last of the Mohicans," he passed out.
Finding his occupation gone he wandered "off the reservation" only to be swallowed up in the maelstrom of modern "efficiency"
But he was a "Man for a' that" and news of his untimely death cast a halo of gloom into the hearts of those who knew him best
and loved him for his real work in spite of his "peculiarities."
May his sleep be sweet and peaceful in the land of his fathers.
WILLIAM R. HARPER.
SPRUCE McCOY COX
Spruce McCoy Cox was born January 12, 1841, near Glasgow, Kentucky, at the home of Captain Frederick Smith, his Great Grandfather and a soldier
of the Revolution. He lived almost two years in the home of Captain Smith and then with his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri,
where he grew to manhood. He was the second child of Louis Allen Cox and Caroline Baird Cox. His father went to California
in the Gold Rush of 1849, and died at Otero County, New Mexico, in 1880.
Before the coming of railroads, he went across the plains and the Rocky Mountains with an ox train, and worked in the gold
mines of Montana. When he returned to Missouri the Civil War was at its crisis, and he enlisted and served in the cause of
He was married to Susan Ida Todd on January 1st, 1874, in Macon County, Missouri. The family then moved to Chariton County,
Missouri, where the five older children were educated. His pioneering spirit urged him toward Oklahoma Territory in 1889,
but he was unable to come until 1903, when he made the trip in a covered wagon with Mrs. Cox and the three younger children.
He moved to the farm near Tryon in September, 1903, where he completed his earthly life.
Eight children were born to the union, all of whom survive. This family circle remained unbroken for more than fifty-five
years, and in keeping with his own wish, this father was the first to break it. He was the last of his father's family to
depart this life, and the first of his own. He died at his home September 19, 1929. He leaves his wife and eight children:
Mrs. Florence L. Brown, Kansas City, Mo.
Mrs. Edith Mitchell, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Mrs. Ora C. Snoddy, Elk City, Okla.
Mrs. Narcissa Feland, Agra, Okla.
Mrs. Frances M. Steen, Brutus, Michigan.
Roscoe Cox, Chandler, Okla.
Manford Cox, Chandler, Okla.
Mrs. Esther Hancock, Tryon, Okla.
He is also survived by thirty-three grandchildren, and five great-grand children.
B. E. BRYANT
Bluford Emmett Bryant was born in Larue County, Kentucky, on March 24, 1864, the eleventh child of Jesse Puyear Bryant. He however, was the fourth
son of his mother Louisa Sympson Bryant, his father having been married previously. His mother Louisa Sympson was of Irish
descent and was born in Taylor County, Kentucky where her parents had been born and where they had spent their lives. George
Sympson was the father of Louisa and her mother's maiden name was Bogan.
More is known of the Bryant side of the family. Bluford Emmett's great grandfather was Anthony Bryant, an Irishman who with
his wife settled in Virginia shortly before the Revoluntary War. He died at his home near Blue Ridge about the year 1800.
His widow with her four boys and three girls moved to Green County, (now Taylor) Kentucky in 1805. The boys were David, Price,
Willis and Richard. David, the youngest, married a daughter of Jesse Puyear, a revolutionary soldier, who was also of Irish
descent. This was in 1815. In 1824 the four boys decided they were not far enough west and went to Missouri to locate homes.
On their return home David died and was buried on the Cascaskia River. The other three boys moved to Missouri as arranged,
but David's wife with their children, Anthony Murry, Jesse Puyear and Thomas, preferred to stay with her people the Puyears.
Thomas died in early manhood, never having been married. Anthony Murry married Clarissa Young and Jesse Puyear married her
sister Mariah Jane. Both wives died about 1852.
Anthony Bryan moved to Texas in 1852 settling in Grayson County, near Kentucky Town. His son by this marriage, David E. Bryant,
became Federal Judge in 1889. He has been dead several years but his family still lives in Grayson County; one of his sons,
Randolph Bryant, is now Federal District Attorney of that district. Anthony Bryant was very active and outspoken and took
an active part in politics; he was very popular for a man of his belief, he being an anti-secessionist. He again married,
this time to Susan Binkley to whom were born three children, Charles W., C. B., and Mollie; all are highly respected and influential
citizens of Whitewright, Texas.
Jesse Puyear Bryant remained in Kentucky. As noted his first wife died in 1852 and he soon afterwards married Louisa Sympson
who became the mother of Bluford Emmett. There were four sons born to this union, as mentioned previously, Jesse Ray, Sam
Virgil and Bluford Emmett. Jesse Ray and Sam Anthony are still living, both having raised families and having retired from
active business. Virgil died at the age of eight at the time of his mother's death.
Bluford Emmett was the youngest of the boys and was but two years of age when his mother passed away. His schooling was most
limited; he attended school in Kentucky in the little log school house with poorly qualified teachers and very short terms
after he was eight years old. At the age of thirteen his father moved overland to Texas, the trip requiring 49 days. His school
days were now over, but he was always alert and received a practical education and was one of the best posted men to be found
in any community in which he lived. He was truly a self educated man. He lived in Grayson County, Texas until 1892 when he
came to Oklahoma for the opening of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Country. He made the run on horseback on April 19, 1892, securing
a desirable homestead. He returned to Texas for his approaching marriage and on November 23, 1892, he was married to pretty
Virginia P. Grant of Whitesboro, Texas. To this union was born four sons, Joe Grady, William Jesse, Paul Dewey, and Bluford
Everett, and two daughters, Lillian B. and Winnie I., all of whom with their mother now live in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Mr. Bryant brought his bride to his claim in Oklahoma in what is now known as Washita County. He lived on his claim, improving
and adding to same and became known as one of the most successful farmers in that part of the state. He was active in both
church and politics. He held several county offices. About 1914 he donated a corner of his homestead together with a substantial
amount of money for the erection of a Baptist Church of which he was a member until his death. The church now stands on the
homestead which is still owned by his wife.
He was elected as delegate to the Constitutional Convention by a majority of 267. He was a democrat.
He died July 15, 1916, after several months illness and is buried in Cloud Chief (Washita Co.) Cemetery, a few miles from
(This data was assembled and compiled by Hon R. A. Billups, Sr., of Oklahoma City, Okla.)
WILLIAM E. BANKS
William E. Banks was born July 19, 1848, at Springdale, Benton County, Arkansas, and died in Jackson County, Oklahoma, June 18, 1915.
His father's name was Simon Banks. His mother's maiden name was Mary Sherrod. His grandfather's name on his faher's side was
Thomas Banks. His grandmother's maiden name on his father's side was Jarvis. His grandfather's name on his mother's side was
Arthur Sherrod and his grandmother's name on his mother's side was Susan Sherrod, whose maiden name we have been unable to
He married Bettie Elizabeth Fitzgerald in 1875. Of this union there were born the following children:
Albert Banks, born in 1873, lives at Chillicothe, Texas.
Frank Banks, born in 1875, now deceased.
Olen Banks, born in 1878, lives at Hess, Jackson County, Oklahoma
Clyde Banks, born in 1883, lives at Hess, Jackson County, Oklahoma.
Homer Banks, born in 1879, lives at Hess, Jackson County, Oklahoma.
He moved to East Texas in 1878 and in 1888 removed to Greer County, which was then under the jurisdiction of the State of
Texas. He made the run in 1889, locating on a claim in Mustang Valley in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Territory. His location
was unsuccessfully contested by a Sooner. However he did not stay long in Oklahoma County but relinquished his claim and moved
back to Greer County in the fall of 1889 and was a continuous resident in the Hess Community from then until his death.
He was elected to the Constitutional Convention and, when the Convention divided Greer County, he was permitted to name the
southern portion of Greer County, which was cut off into a separate county, and he suggested the name of Jackson in honor
of General Andrew Jackson, of whom he was a great admirer.
He was also a member of the First Legislature being elected from Jackson County, which he assisted in creating.
He was in the Confederate Army during the last two years of the Civil war: was a Baptist preacher for twenty-seven years and
was engaged in farming in the Hess Community, Jackson County, Oklahoma, where he lived from 1889, until his death in 1915.
JUDGE NESTOR RUMMONS.
Nestor Rummons was born at Wright City, Missouri, January 16, 1869, and was of pioneer ancestry. His father, Landon A. Rummons, was born
in Missouri, the son of John Rummons and Catherine Juliet (Pringle) Rummons. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age
of eighteen years, and received in the battle of Pittsburg Landing a wound which later caused the loss of his left arm, during
the seige of Vicksburg. Later, he served as quartermaster sergeant. In 1866, he married Martha Elizabeth Lacy, and it was
of this union that Nestor Rummons was born. Landon A. Rummons practiced law, and also edited the Wright City Visitor for some
years, and later was County Recorder of Warren County, Missouri. At the age of fifty-nine, he came to Oklahoma, and made homestead
entry upon a tract of land in Kiowa County, near Hobart, Oklahoma. He died at Hobart, Oklahoma, in 1920, three years after
the death of his wife.
The maternal grandparents of Nestor Rummons were Charles Hutson Lacy and Susan Carr (Edwards) Lacy, who came from Henry County,
Virginia, to St. Charles County, Missouri, in 1841. Susan Carr Edwards was a daughter of Captain John Edwards, who served
the United States in the war against Great Britain in 1812 and in the Mexican War in 1846. Her mother was Martha (Johnston)
Edwards, a daughter of James Johnston, who served in Washington's bodyguard from 1777 to 1779, and later served under LaFayette
and under General Green at Guilford Court House. He received a wound in the knee at the siege of Yorktown, which partially
disabled him and was the cause of the granting to him of a pension by the State of Virginia in 1832.
The parents of Captain John Edwards were Ambrose Edwards, also a Revolutionary veteran, and his wife, Olive (Martin) Edwards,
a sister of General Joseph Martin, of Virginia. Ambrose Edwards
was a descendant of Benjamin Bibb, a Hugenot refugee, who fled to Wales after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the fatal
act of Louis XIV, on October 20, 1685. He later emigrated to Virginia, founding the Bibb family of that state and of Alabama.
The mother of Olive Martin was Susannah Chiles, and through her the Edwards family is related to the Page and Tyler families,
from whom John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States, was descended.
Nestor Rummons graduated at Central Wesleyan College, at Warrenton, Missouri, in 1887, and graduated from the College of Law,
in the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, in 1890. He located at Lincoln, Nebraska, where he practiced his profession until
1897, when he moved to Ellwood, Nebraska, where he again was engaged in the practice of law, until coming to Oklahoma, in
1901. He located at Hobart, Oklahoma, and again opened his law office, where he lived and was engaged in active practice to
his death. He was married to Miss Clara Schroeder on October 23, 1895. Of this union were born three children, Constance Rummons
Ballantine, who resides at Seattle, Washington, Lucy, who died in infancy, and Helen Lacy Rummons, who resides in Chicago,
Illinois. Both children graduated at the University of Nebraska, and Constance obtained her Doctor's Degree from Columbia
University, New York.
Nestor Rummons tried his first case after locating at Lincoln, Nebraska, with the late Hon. William Jennings Bryan as opposing
counsel. After locating at Hobart, Oklahoma, he was elected mayor of that city in 1905. Served as a member of the Oklahoma
State Bar Commission for a number of years, and in 1915 was appointed by Governor R. L. Williams as a member of the State
Supreme Court Commission, serving as such until 1919, when he returned to Hobart, Oklahoma, and resumed the practice of law,
associating himself with J. G. Hughes, under the firm name of Rummons & Hughes. This partnership existed until the time of
his death on October 18, 1929, after a brief illness. The funeral service of Rummons was conducted by his brother lawyers
and the service was held in the District Court Room, at Hobart, Oklahoma, the interment being at the same city.
Nestor Rummons was a man of great intellectual attainment, a great lawyer and counsellor. One thing in him that attracted
attention, was the energy pent up within his mind, which excited in it a perpetual eagerness for intellectual discovery, and
new powers of sympathy with whatever crossed its field of vision. He was receptivity itself, catching and reflecting on the
mobile mirror of his mind whatever winds blew from the summits of thought.
(The foregoing data assembled and prepared for publication by Geo. L. Zink, Esqr., of Hobart, Okla.)
JAMES CLINTON GRAHAM
James Clinton Graham was born at Springtown, Texas, in 1870. His father was John Wesley Graham, born near Indianapolis, Ind. His mother, Nancy
Ann Graham, before her marriage was Nancy Ann Doark. She was born in Arkansas.
Little is known of his paternal grandparents. The father and mother of John Wesley Graham died when he was very young. John
Wesley Graham and his brother were taken by an uncle to rear, and at the age of about 15 John Wesley Graham ran away
from Indiana to Missouri and from there to Arkansas, where he met and married Nancy Ann Doark. He was separated from his brother
during the Civil War, and never saw him again. It is presumed his brother was killed in action.
He was educated at College Hill Institute, Springtown, Texas, and Cumberland University Law School, Lebanon, Tenn. He completed
Law School at Cumberland University in 1891, and was admitted to the practice before the Federal Court in Ardmore the same
When Ardmore was made a town in 1898, he was the first City Attorney. Then a few years later, when Marietta was made a court
town he settled there. A. E. Eddleman was his partner in Ardmore, and moved there with him and was his partner there until
about 1914, when Eddleman moved back to Ardmore. Other public offices held by Graham included: Member of Constitutional Convention;
first Senator from Ardmore and President of the Senate; Mayor of the city of Marietta; State Representative from that county
at the time of his death. He was at one time candidate for Attorney General.
He died August 21, 1921, at Marietta, and was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Marietta, Okla.
On Otober 9th, 1918, he married Miss Bonniebel O'Farrell, a school teacher in Love County, Okla. After his death, she was
County Superintendent. Later she taught school in the city of Ardmore until July, 1929, when she married Mr. Aephus Baker,
of Whitesboro, Texas, and now lives there.
His brothers and sisters were: Joseph M. Graham, Mrs. Lizzie Strickland, Mrs. Annie Culwell, Mrs. Mary A. Davis, Wm. H. Graham,
Dr. E. F. Graham, Mrs. Ollie J. Livingston, Wood W. Graham, and Mrs. Minnie Pennley. Those surviving him are: Mrs. Mary A.
Davis, 815 South Waco Street, Weatherford, Texas; Mrs. Ollie J. Livingston, Burneyville, Oklahoma; Wood W. Graham, 3433 Avenue
M, Fort Worth, Texas, and Wm. H. Graham, Springtown, Texas.
GEORGE A. PATE
George A. Pate was a son of Jefferson C. and Fannie Pate, and was born near Carrolton, Carroll County, Mississippi, February 2, 1854. He
was married to Maggie McMath in 1874 and to them were born four children, but only one of whom survive him, to-wit: Benjamin
Kittrell Pate, now residing at Caddo, Oklahoma. His First wife having died November 12, 1883, on December 9, 1884, he was
married to Miss Josie L. Pate of Black Hawk, Mississippi, who was 1/64th Choctaw by blood. They immediately removed to Indian
Territory, locating near Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the Poteau River, and resided there about a year when they removed to Atoka,
Indian Territory, where they resided until 1901, when he moved to Caddo, Oklahoma, and there resided until his death on August
When a boy, he attended school at a place now known as Hemmingway, then called Bright Corners and sometimes called Three Corners,
a neighbor and school mate at that school being the late Judge Hemmingway, of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Whilst in Mississippi he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, being chairman of the board, which position would correspond
of county judge in most states. He also held the office of justice of the peace and served as deputy prosecuting attorney.
In 1889 he engaged in the practice of the law at Atoka under the firm name of Tell & Pate, and later under the firm name of
Tell, Pate & Matey. In 1896, 1897 and 1898 he and Judge Robert L. Williams were law partners under the firm name of Pate &
Williams, he having his office at Atoka and Judge Williams at Durant.
He also served as County Attorney for Atoka County under the Choctaw government. Being an intermarried Choctaw citizen he
was active in Choctaw affairs, and in the celebrated race between the late Jacob Jackson and the late Wilson N. Jones for
Governor of the Choctaw Nation he was an ardent supporter of Jacob Jackson.
He was a Mason, Odd Fellow, Knights of Pythias, a member of the Christian Church and a Democrat. He was buried at Caddo, Oklahoma,
under the auspices of the local Masonic Lodge.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Josie L. Pate, and two sons by her, Ardin Pate and Milton Pate, who reside at Tulsa.
He was active in business affairs, being one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Durant on July 13, 1898, and
served as a director until his health failed. He was also one of the organizers of the Choctaw National Bank at Caddo, Indian
Territory, in 1899. He was also active in the movement for the establishment of United States Courts in the Choctaw Nation
and Indian Territory with full jurisdiction of all offenses and the divesting of that jurisdiction from the United States
Courts at Paris, Texas, and Fort Smith, Arkansas.
He participated in the organization of the first Bar Association in Indian Territory and the organization of the Democratic
Party in Indian Territory in 1892.
The point where he was born in Carroll County, Mississippi, was near where the delta, began, the home being on the high land
but the plantation reaching back into the delta. The elegant home of his father, who was a large slave owner and prominent
man in ante bellum times, and which was located near Bright Corners, afterwards called Hemmingway, was known as "Rose Hill"
and the family cemetery is located near this old home.
He also had one brother, Dr. Benjamin Pate, of Greenwood, Mississippi, and a sister, Mrs. Fanny Pate Hicks, of Winona, Mississippi,
both of whom are dead.
MRS. FANNY PATE HICKS.
REVEREND WILLIAM McCOMBS
On December 28, 1929, the long and useful life of Rev. William McCombs, ended in a quiet and peaceful death. The end came
in his camp house at his beloved Tuskegee church, where he had spent the holiday season for forty-nine years, a place he loved
better than any spot on earth. Had he chosen the place of his passing it would no doubt have been this very place. On Christmas
Day he preached a sermon of unusual power, speaking to the Indian people gathered for worship that day, he spoke tenderly
as a father, telling them it would in all probability be his last message, that he believed he would soon be going away.
"Uncle Billie," as he was affectionately called by all who knew him, was born near Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, July 22,
there until he was nine years of age. He was the son of Samuel and Susie Stinson McCombs. His father was a Scotch Tennessean,
being one of the one hundred select men sent by the United States government to protect the Indians when they were removed
from their old home in Alabama and Georgia to the Indian Territory. Practically all men sent out by the government returned
to their homes, but Samuel McCombs remained with the Indians and was married to Susie Stinson, one of the brightest and most
attractive young women among them. She was born in Alabama, her father being part Cherokee and part Creek. Mrs. McCombs spoke
three languages fluently, Creek, Cherokee, and English, and frequently acted as interpreter at the tribal councils.
When the Civil War came on "Uncle Billie" was seventeen years of age, but he enlisted in the Confederate army, being a member
of the First Creek Regiment in command of Col. D. N. McIntosh. He served throughout the war. At the close of the war he settled
in the vicinity in which he spent the remainder of his life, some ten miles west of Eufaula.
November 7, 1864, he was united in marriage to Miss Sallie Jacobs, and to this union were born twelve children, five of whom
survive him: Mrs. P. R. Ewing, Mrs. Tooka Rayford, Mrs. Bettie Drew, William, Jr., and Wash McCombs. There are 24 grandchildren,
13 great-grandchildren, and one brother. If he had made no other contribution to the world than the fine family he reared,
his life would not have been in vain. His children cared for him with singular affection, and the grandchildren idolized him.
He was the center of all family gatherings, and how he enjoyed having his children and grandchildren and friends about him.
We will not soon forget those gatherings and his very great hospitality.
Following the war Brother McCombs was elected a member of the House of Warriors of the Creek Nation, serving four years, and
also filled unexpired terms of two members. He served on the Supreme Bench of the Creek Nation for four years, following which
lie served six years as Superintendent of Public Schools of the Creek Nation, then Superintendent of the Eufaula High School.
His last political office was that of National Interpreter under Chief Pleasant Porter.
At a Christmas camp meeting held at the Tuskegee Indian Baptist church in 1866, he was converted, and on January 7, 1867,
he was baptised into the fellowship of this church by Elder John Smith, one of the pioneer Creek ministers. On May 8, 1868,
he was ordained to the full work of the Gospel ministry by the Tuskegee Church. Rev. Chili McIntosh, Rev. Washington Canard
and Rev. Philip Salaho composed the presbytery. From that day until his death he was a faithful minister of Jesus Christ,
doing the work of an evangelist, baptizing hundreds of his fellow tribesmen, helping the weak churches, serving always without
pay. He was an able preacher, a good thinker, warm hearted in his presentation of the message. Even in his last years I have
seen him sway great congregations as he delivered his message in his native tongue.
All through the years he was one of the staunchest friends of education among the Creek people. He was one of the founders
of Bacone College, and it was through his influence that the 160 acres of land on which the school now stands was given by
Creek Council to the Home Mission Society. In his last public utterance at the College he remarked: "I am proud of this institution,
and I will stand by it until my body shall go to the grave." And he did. He took special delight in having his grandchildren
in Bacon, and never lost an opportunity to say a good word for the school.
For many years he was moderator of the Creek Association, and he was deeply and intelligently interested not only in the work
of the Association, but of the Kingdom of God throughout the earth.
There is, I must confess, a sorrowful aspect in the death of our venerated brother. It has not only produced a shock, but
a void. His towering form had long loomed, in stately grandeur, before us, as our trusted and inspiring leader, and it made
us step more firmly, because he was leading us. He reminds us of the tribute paid by Robert Browning to Asolando:
"One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held, we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake."
His like we may not hope to see again. He dies without a successor, and we shall miss him.
I must be pardoned for saying that Brother McCombs was more to me than any other living man. When in the gloom of that Saturday
night, a messenger summoned me from my bed, and told me that the dear old man had shut his eyes in death, I confess that an
anguish unutterable transfixed my heart. The earth dwindled and looked strangely empty and lonesome without him. And yet we
must not mar the glory of his departure by too loudly bewailing it as a loss. Beneath our sorrow, there is the swell of an
unlifting, triumphant joy. Upon his dead face there lingered the radiant traces of a smile. His life itself would be an unfinished
thing, if robbed of the crowning beauty of its end. In going, he has left us a double heritage—a peerless life, and a victorious
death. His end was a cloudless sunset. His grave, his memory, his influence, his teachings will abide. The light of his life
will not go out. The track through space, along which he ascended to his eternal home, will always be luminous. I have fancied,
if indeed it was a fancy, that when the gate of pearl was opened for him to enter, truant beams of the heavenly glory broke
out, and are now at large on the earth.
His death was a benediction. It will help those who survive to live better. It sets out the Christian course in its completeness
and beauty. His death was even better than his life, for it was the consummation and complete rounding of that life. He has
not only shown us how to live, but how to die. He had a right to go. He was fairly entitled to his discharge from the army
of the church militant. He had more than served out his time. His mansion was ready and his rest remained in waiting for him.
Eighty-five years, five months and six days he had walked, and worked and waited. It makes me glad to think that he has entered
into the heavenly court, and now beholds the King of beauty.
On December 30, in the Tuskegee Church, where he had worshipped for more than sixty years, the last service for the beloved
pioneer, the grand old man of the Creeks, as held. There were singing of both Creek and English hymns that he loved, and President
B. D. Weeks, in compliance with his request, preached the funeral sermon,
using the text which he himself had selected, Paul's statement to Timothy: "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded
that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." Rev. W. F. Stoddard spoke in Creek, and many
brethren testified as to their love for him. The church was crowded and far more were on the outside. Rarely ever has such
a tribute been paid anyone in this section of Oklahoma, it was a tribute of affection from the whole Creek tribe and scores
of Indians. Following the service, the body was laid to rest beside the grave of his wife in the little church cemetery.
Servant of God, well done,
Rest from thy loved employ,
The battle fought, the victory won,
And thou are crowned at last.
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