Zeke Proctor & Ned Christie- The Last Cherokee Warriors

Zeke Proctor’s triplets, Linnie, Willie and Minnie(photo courtesy A.D. Lester)

Zeke and Ned

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  • No doubt Zeke, or Ezekial, saw the whole thing as an accident, but the Beck family felt otherwise. Family loyalties ran very deep in the Cherokee Nation. It followed that if you killed somebody from another family, you could usually count on smelling powder smoke yourself before much time passed. So it was with Zeke Proctor. His lack of murderous intent didn’t mollify a whole passel of tough, straight-shooting Becks. The Beck family was determined to see Zeke dead. Either the duly appointed authorities would kill him legally or the family would handle it themselves.

    Zeke Proctor had nothing against Aunt Polly Beck Hildebrand. They were related, in fact, and Zeke didn’t want to kill her at all. Fact was, Zeke was after her man, Jim Kesterson, and Polly just got in the way of one of Zeke’s bullets. Kesterson made it to cover, but Polly was beyond help.

  • “My sister found it at a yard sale,” Haddock said to Hamilton as he handed him the treasured book. “It has stories in it by Zeke Proctor and Ned Christie, maps of the old Goingsnake District and details of the Goingsnake Massacre.”

    Zeke Proctor killed Polly Beck in 1872 at the so-called Hildebrand Mill, in what is now Delaware County, Okla., on Flint Creek, just a little west of Siloam Springs, Ark. There had been some sort of mill on the site since about 1845, when Thomas Beck bought a share in it, and it was a first-class operation for its time. The millstones had come all the way from France to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and then by oxcart to Flint Creek. In those days the Cherokee Nation was split into political subdivisions called districts, and the mill lay in Going Snake District. The area was named for a much-respected full-blood chief who had come up the Trail of Tears from Georgia back in the 1830s. He was called Eenah-tah-tah-oo, which means ‘a snake crawling along.’ That mellifluous name lost quite a lot in translation, which could come no closer than ‘Going Snake.’

     Zeke Proctor
     1831-1907

    Zeke Proctor was a respected member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma; he served as sheriff, deputy US marshal, and as tribal senator while maintaining a farm and cattle ranch. He is probably best remembered though as a key player in one of the most tragic confrontations in law enforcement history—the Going Snake Incident.

    In 1872, Zeke Proctor was on trial for murder before the Cherokee court in the Going Snake district when a posse of deputy marshals arrived with a warrant for his arrest to stand trial for the same murder at the federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A firefight broke out and eight members of the posse were killed along with several members of the Cherokee court.

    An 1892 document signed by deputy US marshal Zeke Proctor (additional photo) from the Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum.

    Additional Photo

  • Author: Phillip W Steele
    Publisher: Gretna, La. : Pelican Pub. Co., 1974.
    Edition/Format:  Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
    Database:WorldCat
    Summary:
    Biographies of Zeke Proctor and Ned Christie, Cherokee Indians who fought the federal government in order to help their people in the late 1800's.
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    Subjects
    • Proctor, Ezekiel, -- 1831-1907.
    • Christie, Ned, -- 1852-1892.
    • Cherokee Indians -- Biography.
    • View all subjects
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    Zeke Proctor continued living in the area. By the 1880s he owned a small ranch. He was elected as a Cherokee Senator in 1877, and in 1894 was elected sheriff of the Flint District of the Cherokee Nation. Ironically, he served as a United States Deputy Marshal from 1891 to 1894, under . Proctor died on February 23, 1907 at age 76. His interment was in 's Johnson Cemetery.

Zeke Proctors Grave MarkerJohnston Cemetery

Zeke Proctor in his Civil War Uniform. Note that he is carrying two pistols. His hatband boasts several large rattlers form rattlesnakes he had killed. The original tintype is owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Walden