Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 4, No. 3
September, 1926


Page 283

Mrs. Sarah Starns Ellis has the distinction of being Oklahoma’s only real daughter of the Revolution, her father having served in Washington’s army in the conflict for freedom.

In "The Kings Mountain Men" by Katherine Keogh White the following interesting sketch is given: "Nicholas Starnes (Starns) enlisted under Arthur Campbell in 1775 for service against tories and Indians on New River. After King’s Mountain, where he was under William Campbell, the wounded were placed in his care. Later the same fall he served against the Cherokees, the expedition burning sixteen towns. He was born in Cecil County, Maryland, 1756, and at the beginning of the Revolution the family were in Washington County, Virginia. He married Barbara Winters in 1816, in Rhea County, Tennessee, and died in 1836. Pension was allowed the widow."

The National Daughters of the American Revolution recently asked for a picture of Mrs. Ellis. Through the efforts of a local friend an artist was found who took great care in making the picture. The enlarged photograph has been sent to the state regent, Mrs. A. R. Hickam, of Oklahoma City, to be suitably framed before sending it to Washington, where it will be hung in Continental Hall.

At the national congress of the D. A. R. held in April of this year, the organization voted to send each Real Daughter a hundred dollars as a Mothers’ Day gift. Mrs. Ellis’ check came in due time with a cordial letter from the treasurer: A pension of twenty-five dollars per month is also paid to Mrs. Ellis by this society. On her birthday she is never forgotten. Messages of good cheer come from members who live in various parts of the country. Thus does a patriotic society remember the daughter of the soldiers of the American Revolution.

Sarah Starns Ellis was born March 6th, 1833, in McNary County, Tennessee. Her father Nicholas Starns, as has al-

Page 284

ready been stated, served in the war of the Revolution. Enlisted as a private, he was steadily advanced until, at the battle of King’s Mountain, he was commissioned captain. He served also in the war of 1812.

Mrs. Ellis says she must have been very young when her father died, but that she remembers him quite well. After his death the family consisting of one brother, George Washington Starns, little Sarah, then five years old, and her mother emigrated to Arkansas. Many friends and neighbors went in the same wagon train to seek their fortunes in the new state. Two older daughters of Mrs. Starns had married and were already located in Arkansas. Mrs. Ellis says she remembers to this day the thrill of that journey.

The family located at Lewisburg, not far from Little Rock. Here Sarah spent her girlhood. She married young, and was soon left a widow with a baby daughter. Here too, she met and married the dashing young mechanic, Isaac Ellis. To them were born three children, William, John and Johanna. After living in various settlements in Arkansas, the Ellis family removed to the Indian Territory. They lived for a number of years at old Skullyville, in what is now Le Flore County. It was while living there that the Ellises built some of the substantial old homes that are over that part of the country. Mrs. Ellis says his biggest contract in this part of the state was the building of the Tuskahoma Female Academy.

In the war between the states, Isaac Ellis enlisted in the Confederate Army. Mrs. Ellis gave an interesting account of her husband’s service in the war. "Once in an engagement near Helena, Arkansas, his horse was killed, and he was hit in the leg. After twenty-four hours, he was found by an old planter and his wife, pinned under his horse and nearly dead from loss of blood. They released him and took him to an old field and concealed him in a cotton pen, got a doctor and cared for him until he was well enough to be off again." "Was he crippled?" Mrs. Ellis was asked. "No," she replied, "his leg was scarred to the bone but he could dance with the best of em.

After Ellis was discharged from the army, he took his family to San Bois where he resumed his trade. Here on the famous trail to Fort Sill, their house was open to all travelers. "Never a penny would we take for lodging and refreshment.

Page 285

Ike would not have it—he was too glad to see them," Mrs. Ellis said. "Three or four deer a week, seven or eight wild turkeys, fish in a great plenty, our own garden and fruit—it was possible to give them the best."

It was here that Ike Ellis’ earthly career was closed and he sleeps in the peaceful valley of San Bois. That was forty-five years ago. White people could own no property in the Indian Territory, so the little family moved to a more thickly populated section of the country where the boys found work, and Mrs. Ellis did fine sewing. Granny, as Mrs. Ellis is called by all who knew her, has had a varied and interesting life. She has pioneered in two states, seen much hardship, experienced may sorrows, but she says "There was always pleasant things mixed with it."

Mrs. Ellis is keenly alert mentally, has very decided opinions, though she doesn’t give them unasked, and has the quality, not always manifested by the aged. She is a member of the Church of Christ, and her religious view is that there are Christians in all churches.

For many years Mrs. Ellis has made her home with her grandson, Clarence Ellis, at Antlers, Oklahoma. She is devoted to his three little children. She has a number of grandchildren and great grand-children. Her oldest daughter Mrs. Anna Townsend is still living and makes her home in Tulsa. She has two daughters, Mrs. Mabel Wilkins, of Tulsa, Mrs. Mildred Walker of Henrietta, and a son, Bill Townsend, resides in McAlester.

Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site