Choctaw First Lady: Cillen Krebs Walker

 

The First Lady at Walker’s Station, Skullyville, I.T.

Travelers attempting an overland route to Arizona and California might have had, tucked under an arm, the book, The Prairie Traveler – A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, by Randolph Marcy (1859). The book explained to travelers that upon leaving Fort Smith, Arkansas, they would be traveling through the jurisdiction of the Choctaw Nation, with the first stop being fifteen miles away at Walker’s Station, located at the old Choctaw Agency house.

Old timetables for the Overland Mail Company, also known as the Butterfield Stage, announced departure time from Fort Smith at 3:30 am (or as soon as the stage arrived from Fayetteville, Ark). No delays would be tolerated as the mail must reach Sherman, Texas, approximately 205 miles from Fort Smith, within 45 hours. The exacting timetable required the drivers to maintain a speed of 4.5 hours per mile, with no allowance given for river crossings or changing teams.

butterfield-stage-timetabble

Based on this timetable, the Butterfield Stage would arrive at Walker’s Station about 6:30 am, with weary travelers ready for a quick bite, and perhaps a refreshing drink from the old Choctaw Agency Spring nearby.

butterfiled-stage-1861-72

Greeting the travelers with hot coffee and cornbread would be a small Choctaw woman named Cillen Walker. Few of the travelers would realize the woman serving them coffee was the wife of Choctaw Chief Tandy Walker, the former Cillen Krebs, daughter of Placide Krebs and Rebecca Folsom.

Born in 1827 in Mississippi, Cillen Krebs Walker was the descendant of two legendary families of the old Choctaw lands in Mississippi: the Folsoms and the LeFlores. Her mother Rebecca is considered to be the daughter of Nathaniel Folsom, whom the Choctaws of that era jokingly described as the “father of all Folsoms” because he had at least 22 children. Rebecca was sister to Col. David Folsom and Rev. Israel Folsom.

Placide and Rebecca had fifteen children, according to the research of Alma Mason (great-great niece of Louisa Krebs Massey). Their last child, Rebecca, was born at Holly Springs, MS on April 17, 1846 while the family was enroute to Indian Territory. Sadly Rebeca Folsom Krebs died shortly after childbirth and was buried near Holly Springs.

Cillen was also the grandniece of the French trader Louis LeFlore/LeFleau, her grandmother being Louisa LeFleau, his sister. Louisa was baptized on July 14, 1765 at Mobile. She married Hugo Daniel Krebs about 1786 in Louisiana.

Cillen Krebs and Tandy Walker married in 1850. Cillen raised four children and two step-children, but only one child, Tandy, survived beyond her own death in 1884.

  • Mary E. Walker, step-daughter, 1846-1862, died at age 16.
  • Henderson Walker, step-son, 1847-1876, revenge killing by the McCurtains.
  • Robert A. Walker, 1851-1871, died at age 20.
  • Susan R. Walker, wife of John Garrett Ainsworth, 1855-1875, died at age 20, the same day as her newborn daughter, Ida. Her husband John was brother to Martha Ann Ainsworth, first wife of Chief Green McCurtain and mother of Choctaw attorney David C. McCurtain.
  • Tandy Krebs Walker, 1858-1942, died at age 84, at the Black James Ranch, Murray County, Okla, the home of his daughter Rebecca.
  • Douglas G. Walker, 1865-1865, died at three months.

The Walker – McCurtain Feud

One of the stark tragedies of Old Skullyville involves its two most prominent families, the Walkers and McCurtains. Colonel Tandy Walker lived in the old Agency building, which he had converted into a dwelling. His second wife was a Miss Krebs, who was connected by marriage with the McCurtains. With him also lived his son, Henderson, and a daughter, children by his first wife.

For some reason, in the period following the War, the Walker and McCurtain families were not on very friendly terms. Conditions were not improved when young Robert McCurtain began to pay court to Tandy Walker’s daughter, and he was soon forbidden to come to the Walker home.

However, one day in August, 1874, Robert McCurtain rode up to the gate and dismounted. Before he could enter the house Henderson Walker came out on the gallery with a gun, and ordered young McCurtain to retreat.

When the order was ignored, Walker fired, the shot taking effect in McCurtain’s body. The latter was able to mount his horse, but when he had reached a point about a hundred feet south of the present school building in Old Spiro, he fell from his horse and died.

Henderson Walker immediately went “on the scout” and was gone for two years, his father, Colonel Walker, meanwhile moving to Tamaha. But eventually Henderson returned, to be met within a short time by Robert’s brothers, Jackson and Green McCurtain, who evened the blood feud by shooting him to death.

   –Chronicles of Oklahoma, “The Saga of Skullyville,” June 1938, p.239


The McCurtain Connection:  In 1870 Cillen’s sister Rebecca married David McCurtain, another son of Cornelius and Amy Mahayia McCurtain. He was tragically murdered on March 6, 1874 by a black man named Charles Brown. Charles Brown was then killed within a day or two by Green McCurtain.

Cillen’s only grandchildren were the two daughters of Tandy Krebs Walker and his second wife, a white woman from Arkansas named Agnes Mills. The couple was granted a divorce on Nov. 15, 1887 at Skullyville.

  • Rebecca Jane Walker was born Oct 6, 1882 at Tamaha, I.T. – original Choctaw Enrollee #7417. She married Black James on August 15, 1902, in Tyro, Kansas. The couple became pioneer ranchers at Big Canyon, Murray County, Okla. Their ranch was located just east of Big Canyon, north of the road to Nebo. Rebecca died on June 21, 1965, in Sulphur, Oklahoma, at the age of 82, and was buried there. See her obituary on her Memorial Page. Her children:
    • Two daughters, Vera and Agnes, were schoolteachers. Vera, born March 22, 1904, was the only child who was an original Choctaw Enrollee, #4336
    • Another daughter, Melissa, traveled the world with her oilman husband, Porter Pitts.
    • Oldest son William was superintendent of schools at Gene Autry for 27 years.
    • Two sons, Bradley and Currin settled in Phoenix, Arizona.
    • The youngest son, Dillard [photo below], was a rancher in Murray County.
  • Cornelia C Walker was born on January 6, 1885 at Tamaha. I.T. – original Choctaw Enrollee #7418. She married Thomas Elmer Perry on February 1, 1904, in Independence, Kansas. For a time they lived in Bartlesville where Thomas worked as an auto mechanic. They had three children: Ola Edith, born 1905, William, born 1908, and Betty JoLyne [photo below], born 1925. By 1930 the family had moved to Tulsa. Cornelia died on March 8, 1968, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of 83. She is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa. See her Memorial Page.


The KREBS Lineage

Cillen’s father Placide Krebs was a descendant of the Krebs family of Pascagoula, MS. He was baptized on Oct 5, 1796 in Mobile to Louisa LeFleau and her husband Hugo Daniel Krebs. Placide inherited a French bloodline from his mother Louisa and a German-French bloodline from his father Hugo. Placide Krebs died May 18, 1869 and is buried at the Skullyville Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

Although Placide’s ancestors were long-time residents of the Pascagoula area in Mississippi, many of their baptismal records are from the Catholic Archdiocese at Mobile. Mobile was first settled by French colonists in 1702. Mobile’s Roman Catholic parish was established on July 20, 1703. French occupation ended 1763. Mobile then became a British Territory (ending in 1779), and then was under Spanish occupation (1780-1813, ending with the War of 1812).

Placide’s grandmother was Marianne Chauvan dit Joyeuse; she married Hugo Ernestus Krebs in 1753 in New Orleans. He was an early immigrant to New Orleans, born May 15, 1714 in Rheinland (Germany) to Johann Kreibs and Anna Charitas Fritsch. His first wife was Marie De La Pointe, daughter of the man who built the Spanish Fort in 1715 at Pascagoula (see Marie’s Memorial Page). The fort and associated plantation became the family seat for the Krebs family. See Hugo’s memorial page for more history.

South_Side_Exterior_6-2-2015
Old Spanish Fort, Krebs Lake at the mouth of the Pascagoula River, Jackson county, MS

 

Three other children of Placide Krebs and Rebecca Folsom became well known citizens throughout the Indian Territory:

  • Edmond Folsom Krebs [photo below],  was born Oct 25, 1821 in Winston County, Mississippi and died Dec 9, 1893 in Indian Territory. He became a prominent citizen of the Choctaw Nation, a lawyer and a judge, for whom the town of Krebs, Oklahoma, is named. He is buried in the North McAlester Cemetery, beside his son, James F. ‘Bill” Krebs. See his Memorial Page.
  • Louisa Krebs was born July 10, 1824 in Mississippi, and died in Pittsburg County, OK, July 20, 1900. Louisa married Henry C. D. Massey in Sep 1842 in Winston County, MS. They settled in what is now Pittsburg County, Okla. She is buried in Massey Cemetery, near McAlester, beneath a monument inscribed Louisa Griffith, the surname of her second husband, A. C. Griffith. See her Memorial Page. Six Massey children:
    • Amanda V. Massey;
    • Franklin Pierce Massey;
    • Martha J. Massey;
    • Fannie E. Massey Simcoe/Hendrickson/Grady/Barnes;
    • Areanna Massey, wife of Samuel H. Fortner; and
    • William Wilson Massey, married 3 times; about 20 children.
  • Rebecca Krebs [photo below], was born April 17, 1846 at Holly Springs, MS (southeast if Memphis, TN) and died March 3, 1936 at Skullyville. She married three times: first to William C. Riddle, who died in 1875; second to David Cornelius McCurtain, who was murdered in 1874; and third, to Edward Lanier, son of Thomas Lanier and Susan Brashears. Rebecca is buried at the Skullyville Cemetery. See her Memorial Page. Her six children were as follows:
    • Hearts Delight Riddle;
    • Jo Anna McCurtain [photo below], wife of Felix LeFlore, son of the Choctaw attorney, Campbell LeFlore;
    • David Cornelia McCurtain, wife of Dr. G. E. Hartshorne;
    • Edward Lanier;
    • Susan B. Lanier [photo below],  wife of James Thomas McClain; and
    • Jane M. Lanier, wife of Louis N. Halcomb.

 

***Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***

 

NOTE:  Citation for image of Old Spanish fort: By Mmwixon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45488737

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