If you believe the dime novels of the time NED CHRISTIE was reportedly one of the most vicious men ever to raise a gun in Indian Territory. It was claimed that he was a born killer, cold blooded and ruthless. It was claimed he had a maniacal hatred of the whites. Rumors had it that he had killed 11 or more people, though he was only charged with one murder.
Let’s meet this intriguing individual, who grew to be a legend among his people, The Cherokee. Edward (Ned) Christie was born on December 14, 1852. Ned’s father Watt, was a respected elected member of the Cherokee National Council. The Christie family got their family name from Ned’s grandmother, an Irish woman, who died along with thousands of others on the disgraceful “Trail Of Tears” – when the Cherokee people were forcefully removed from their eastern homes to the Indian teritory in 1838. This was a story that Ned and his brothers heard about growing up in their father’s blacksmith shop.
Young Ned learned the blacksmith trade along with gunsmithing, and became quite skilled at both crafts. Ned’s father and his uncle’s sided with the union during the Civil War (many Cherokee fought for one side or the other in the civil War, but that is a diffrent story). Watt Christie said he was forced from his North Carolina home in 1838, and declared he would not be driven out again. Ned remained home to help defend the rest of the family.
Following the war, several of Ned’s brothers and father served in the Cherokee Legislature for the Growing Snake district. In 1885, Ned was also elected to his first term in the National Concil – His hot tempered speeches on the legislative floor in defence of Cherokee Sovereignty became widely known and admired. A movement was underway to open up a two million tract of land known as The Unassigned Lands, in the heart of Indian Territory, for white settlement. The Indians were being pressured to to take their lands in individual allotments, thus eleminating the tribes as seperate nations. Christie knew that if this happened, the white man would soon – legally or illegally – be in charge of those allotments. At this same time intruders and illegal whiskey was plaguing the Cherokee Nation.
On Easter morning, April 10,1887, the Cherokee Female Seminary burned. The Executive concil, including Christie, were called into session in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation’s capital, to see what could be done about rebuilding.
Christie lived in Rabbit Trap community with his third wife, Nancy (Ned would eventually marry four times), and a son from a previous marriage, 13 year old James. When the council was in session, Christe customarily stayed in town at the home of Senator Ned Grease, a relative of Nancy’s. After a busy day, Ned, like many of his friends liked to go town and find a drink of whiskey. And like many of his friends Ned often drank too much. In 1884 Ned had been tried for the killing of young cherokee man, William Palone, in a liquor-related incident. Christie was tried and found not guilty.
Just a long word here about the names found on these pages. In an article I found on the Cherokee newspaper website, it is stated that the Cherokee used to have only one name. When the white man came along and started to keep track of them, there were so many using the same name it was impossible to keep records. Therefore, to simplify things, they made the Cherokee take second names – Which is probably why the Christie family took the Grandmothers Irish name, as the Cherokee was a matrical society. Many Cherokee thought this was a white mans joke and chose silly names like “Billy Possium Eater” and such. I am supposed to have Cherokee blood on both sides but can not pin it down. On one side I tried and found that Hicks (a family name on my grandmothers side) is a very common name for Cherokees, but lost the line trying to track it down to us. ‘Nuff about this, needless to say we will find many white sounding names in this story.
I failed to mention that Ned Christie was three quarters Cherokee, his grandmother being Irish. On the night of May 5, 1887, in downtown Taliequah, Ned met John Parris, a half-blood friend. Parris was a known trouble maker, having been in trouble with the Fort Smith courts for introducing and selling whiskey for years. Parris always knew where Whiskey could be found and purchased. He and Ned Christie headed on down to Dog Town, on the northern edge of Taliequah. Passing over the bridge at Spring Branch and past Big Spring , they spied a team and wagon camped. For the last three days the rain had fallen steadly but this evening was clear and the stars were shining.
They encountered Thomas Bub Trainor Jr. at the home of Nancy “Old Lady” Shell, where he was eating dinner. He was all decked out in a clean white shirt ready for a local dance. Trainor was one of the local Saturday Night Outlaws. Bub was wild and reckless. Christie and Parris purchased a bottle of whiskey from Nancy. The woman did not have a cork for the bottle so she tore a strip off of her apron to stopper up the bottle. Leaving Nancy and Bub, the two men made their way back to Spring Branch. There they met three of their aquaintances, and soon all five men were drinking.
Mean while U. S. Deputy Marshal Dan Maples and a posseman named George Jefferson were in Big Spring investigating the whiskey running business. Sent by John C. Carrol, the Western Distric Of Arkansas Marshal, at Fort Smith, to find and stop the growing illegal whiskey problem in the Tahlequah area Maples – the chief suspects were Bub Trainor and John Parris and Maples had warrents for each.
Maples had determined that Trainor was the most frequent supplier of whiskey in Dog Town and that he frequented Nancy “Old Lady” Shell’s place. Maple’s used the phone in a local store to inform Marshal Carrol of his findings. Unknown to him, one of Trainor’s associates over heard the conversation.
After making his report, Trainor and Jefferson walked back to their wagon camp. As they neared camp Jefferson noticed a pistol barrel resting on a tree branch. “Don’t shoot “, he cried. But the pistol blossomed with flame and Maples was hit in the chest. He and Jefferson both managed to draw their guns and fire but Maples had hit nothing and died and few hours later.
The next morning Christie awoke near Spring Branch, where he had passed out after his drinking spree. To his suprise and amazment he learned he was a suspect in the Maples killing. Senator Grease advised him to flee town until things cooled over. Killing a white man was punishable by death. Christie refused to flee, stating his innocence, and the fact he did not even have a gun on him the night before.
He attended the next session of the National Council, but after finding that a warrant for his arrest had been issued, he decided to take the Senator and his father’s advice and leave.
Ned’s next course of action was to send Hanging Judge Issac Parker a letter, stating his innocence, and offering to give himself up if Judge Parker would grant him bail so he could find proof he was not guilty. Parker refused. Christie felt he would not get justice and a fair trial in the white man’s court and would be hanged. He vowed to die at home rather than be hanged for a crime he did not commit.
Christie sent for Sud Wilson, a medicine man. The two spent three weeks in the wood’s preforming various secret ceremonies. Afterwards Ned returned home, convinced that the deputy marshals could not touch him now.
His family and friends in the Keetoowah Socitey set up a system of siginals in the hills and gave Christie warning when law men entered the area. If a marshall did get near, Ned would send them on their way with carefully aimed shots and warhoops. He often would gobble like a Turkey. One persistent deputy substained a neck wound and another was shot in the heel. Ned was not trying to kill, only to discourage. Ned was often referred to as the best shot in the teritory.
So this is how the story of Ned Christie began..
Let’s explore more later.
Thanks for droping by.