Ned Christie

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Ned Christie
NedChristieByPhilKonstantin.jpg
Ned Christie
Born NeDe WaDe
(1852-12-14)December 14, 1852
Wauhillau, Oklahoma
Died November 3, 1892(1892-11-03) (aged 39)
Wauhillau, Oklahoma
Nationality Cherokee Nation
Occupation Blacksmith, gunsmith[1]
Spouse(s) Multiple
Parent(s) Watt Christie and Lydia "Thrower" Christie [1]

Ned Christie (December 14, 1852 – November 3, 1892), also known as NeDe WaDe in Cherokee, was a Cherokee statesman. Ned was a member of the executive council in the Cherokee Nation senate, and served as one of three advisers to Chief Dennis Bushyhead. He was notable for holding off American lawmen in what was later called Ned Christie's War, after being accused, wrongfully according to testimony in 1918, of murdering a United States Marshal. This gave him notoriety as an outlaw, and he was eventually killed by lawmen.

Early life[edit]

Christie was born at Wauhillau (located at 35°51′20″N 94°46′27″W / 35.85550°N 94.77426°W / 35.85550; -94.77426), Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation, in the present-day state of Oklahoma. He was the son of the Removal Era Trail of Tears survivors, Watt and Lydia (Thrower) Christie. They were of the Keetowah band, the most traditional of Cherokee peoples. [a]

As a child and young man, Christie was a marble champion, stick ball player and a popular fiddle player.[3]

Marriage and family[edit]

One source says Ned was married first to Nannie Dick about 1871.[3] [b] Ned's second wife was said to be Peggy Tucker who he married in 1875. Third, he married Jennie Scraper (about 1877). Fourth, he married Nancy Greece (about 1888).[3]

Christie was a big man at 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m), and became a blacksmith and gunsmith. In 1885, he was elected to the tribal Senate.[5][6]

By religion Ned was a member of the Keetoowah Society. According to Hamilton, Keetowah translates into English as "principle people" or "real people."[2] His father, Watt, and grandfather (Lacy Christie), were Chiefs of their ceremonial ground near the family home at Wauhillau (present-day Adair County, Oklahoma).[3]

Although well-regarded by fellow Cherokees, Christie had a hot temper, especially after drinking whiskey. He had once been charged with manslaughter in the 1885 death of another Cherokee, William Palone.[3] Tried in the tribal court at Talequah, he was found not guilty and released.[1]

Ambush of Daniel Maples[edit]

On May 3, 1887, U.S. Deputy Marshal Daniel Maples led a posse into Indian Territory seeking sellers of illegal whiskey.[c] A principal culprit was Bud Trainer, who already had a record for selling whiskey and committing violent crimes. After spending the day unsuccessfully seeking Trainer, Maples and posse member George Jefferson started back to their camp near Spring Branch Creek. was shot from ambush in the Cherokee Nation by someone who escaped without being identified. Maples died of his wounds on the next day.[1]

"Ned Christie's War"[edit]

According to Frates' version of the story, the other marshals suspected that Trainer was the man who shot Maples, and began arresting his associates. Christie was accused of the murder by a companion, John Parris, who was at first arrested for the crime. Parris told authorities that Christie had fired the shot that killed Maples. Friends convinced Christie to hide, but he also appealed to the United States Court of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith for bail to allow time to prove his innocence. (This court also had oversight over the Indian Territory.) US Judge Isaac C. Parker did not believe he could comply with the request.[5] Parker's sensational cases and record of executions dominate the period's history, although he also worked to rehabilitate offenders, reform the criminal justice system, and advocate the rights of the Indian nations in the territory.[7]

Fearing a trial before white people in a U.S. court, Christie fortified his home to resist arrest.{{Christie's home was in the Rabbit Trap community of the Goingsnake District in the Choctaw Nation, where he lived with his then-wife, Nancy Greece, and her 13-year old son James Greece.[1]}} He learned that he had already been indicted for Maples' murder and that Judge Parker had sent more marshals to arrest him. Reportedly, he wrote a letter to Judge Parker, saying that he was willing to surrender if Parker would promise to release him on bail while he looked for evidence to prove his innocence. Parker never answered the letter, other than to send the marshals. He began a stand-off with the U.S. that would last almost five years. He was advertised as an outlaw "wanted, dead or alive."

In 1889, Jacob Yoes became the U.S. Marshal in Fort Smith. Yoes assigned his top deputy, Heck Thomas, to lead the effort to bring in Christie. Thomas was assisted by Deputy Marshall L. P. Isbell of Vinita, two other marshals, plus the notorious Bud Trainer. In an attack in 1889, lawmen burned his house to the ground, but Christie escaped with friends, although he was wounded by a gunshot. Christie never went to trial.[5]

In 1891 marshals served another warrant for Christie's arrest. He had moved to a more isolated area away from Talhequah, and built a fortified house at Wauhillau. Today it is often referred to as Ned's Fort. The "fort" was a double-log-thick home with sand poured between the logs. He made openings only large enough to see from and put a rifle through.[5] Heck announced his demand for Christie's surrender using a traditional Cherokee war cry - the sound of a turkey gobbling. The only response was a gunfight that kept the posse away, and during which Marshal Isbell was seriously wounded. Thomas then decided to burn Christie out. First the marshals set fire to Christie's blacksmith shop. The flames then spread to the cabin. Christie's wife and his nephew, Little Arch Wolf, escaped the burning cabin, although the nephew was wounded by gunfire. Believing that Christie had been killed, Heck and the posse left the scene to obtain medical attention for Isbell, who had already lost a lot of blood. Nancy Christie returned to the burned-out cabin after the wreckage cooled and found her husband wounded but still alive. She dragged him to safety and got him and the Wolf boy to a local white doctor. The white doctor and a Cherokee medicine man saved the lives of Ned and Wolf. According to Frates, this was when Ned Christie declared his one-man war against the U.S. government and swore that he would never surrender. [1]

Recovering from his narrow escape, Ned and his friends built a fort for protection. The fort was double-walled with logs and had sand packed between the two walls. It also had gun ports for rifles and was amply stocked with food, water and ammunition to withstand a siege. During this time, the U.S. Government increased the reward for Ned Christie's capture from $500 to $1000. In October 1892, Marshal Yoes sent a posse of six deputies to Christie's known location. This group was forced to withdraw after two men were wounded in a firefight.[1]

Yoes then proposed a military-style raid on the fort. It was led by Deputy Gideon S. “Cap” White, a former captain in the U.S. Cavalry during the Civil War. Gus York, a civilian who was familiar with the territory, was hired to assist White, along with 14 other men. An army post in Kansas agreed to loan White a cannon for the expedition. White's force surrounded the Christie fort on the morning of November 3, 1892. In addition to Ned, the fort was occupied that morning by his wife Nancy, her son Albert, Ned's daughter, Mary, his granddaughter, Charlotte, Little Arch Wolf, and Charles Hair, a young Cherokee.[1][d] After the first exchange of rifle fire, the marshals allowed the women and children to leave for safety elsewhere.[1]

Photograph of the posse that attacked Christie's fort November 3, 1892.

In 1892, Christie was killed by a posse of lawmen, who attacked his fort with the cannon and dynamite.[8] Frustrated that the cannon balls could not penetrate the fort walls, the lawmen loaded a double charge of powder into the cannon. The next shot instead blew up the cannon, rendering it useless by shattering the barrel. The attackers then managed to push a wagon load of dynamite against one wall. When the marshals detonated the dynamite, the explosion destroyed part of the fort and set the rest afire.[1] Ned was shot and killed while running out of the ruined fort toward the posse. They tied his body to a door for transport by train to Fayetteville, Arkansas. There lawmen had themselves photographed with Christie's body as a trophy of their capturing the "notorious outlaw" who had held off the government for years. Then they transported the body by train to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to gain their reward. Again people had their pictures taken next to Christie's body.[9] The Cook photography studio took a photo to reproduce and sell as postcards. Christie's body was released by authorities to his family, who took it to Wauhillau for burial.[10] The body was interred at the Watt Christie Cemetery in Wauhillau, where its location is marked by a tombstone.[4]

In 1918, a man named Dick Humphreys came forward to authorities and stated he had seen the killing of Marshal Maples. He said that Christie didn't shoot him, but that a man named Bud Trainer did. Humphries had not said anything earlier because he feared that Trainer would come back to kill him. Christie was cleared at last.[9] Christie's opposition to railroad development in Indian Territory made him many powerful enemies. Some researchers believe that this may have contributed to him being falsely accused of the murder of Maples.[6] [e]

Legacy and honors[edit]

Today Christie is honored by a plaque at the Cherokee Court House in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the oldest public building in the state. The memorial reads that he was "assassinated by U. S. Marshals in 1892." The Fort Smith Historical Site [5] also has material recognizing Christie's assassination.

Many articles about Christie were published in newspapers and western magazines, as his story captured people's imaginations. Christie was also the subject of novels, such as Zeke and Ned by Larry McMurtry and Diana Osana, and Ned Christie's War by Robert Conley. Several non-fiction books have been written, including He Was a Brave Man by Lisa LaRue. Christie's great-great-nephew Roy J. Hamilton wrote a non-fiction account of his life, titled Ned Christie: Cherokee Warrior.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Roy Hamilton wrote that the family surname was originally Wakigu in Cherokee, which meant either "Sugartree" or "Step Along." Instead of directly translating the Cherokee name, the family took the Christie surname from a female family member before their removal to the West. He also noted that the name NeDe WaDe actually translates as "Ned, the son of Watt."[2]
  2. ^ However Nannie Dick's burial registry shows only that she lived from about 1848 until April 1882 and that she was Watt Christie's fifth wife.[4]
  3. ^ Selling whiskey in Indian Territory was a Federal crime, prosecutable in the United States Court of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith.
  4. ^ It is unclear whether James and Charles Hair were also present.[1]
  5. ^ Bud Trainer was killed in Vinita in 1896 by a group of four men. Frates says that the men apparently argued over a whiskey deal that had gone bad.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Frates, Kent F. "The Atonement of Christie." This Land. August 25, 2016. Accessed July 1, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hamilton, Roy. "Some Errors in Ned Christie Life Cloud Book." Review of book, The Killing of Ned Christie, authored by Bonnie Stahlman Speer. 2000. Accessed July 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Ned Christie." Cherokee Registry. Undated.
  4. ^ a b "Watt Christie Cemetery". Oklahoma Cemeteries. 2015. Accessed July 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Case of Ned Christie", Fort Smith Historic Site, National Park Service, accessed February 3, 2009
  6. ^ a b Art T. Burton (2009). "Christie, Ned (1852-1892)". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Judge Isaac C. Parker", Fort Smith Historic Site, National Park Service, accessed February 3, 2009
  8. ^ Speer, Bonnie. 1990. The Killing of Ned Christie: Cherokee Outlaw. Norman, OK: Reliance Press.
  9. ^ a b "The Death of Ned Christie", Fort Smith Historic Site, National Park Service, accessed February 3, 2009
  10. ^ Larry Kraus, "Allen, US Marshal?", 2000-2001,US Ancestry, accessed February 2, 2009

External links[edit]