Family Background

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Family Background

Mihesuah is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is also a Chickasaw descendant. Her ancestor, Lewis Wilson, was a signer of the 1830 Treaty With the Choctaw and was of the Okla Hannali clan.1 Lewis and his Choctaw wife Lizzie moved their family from Mississippi to Indian Territory where they settled in Atoka County, Pushmataha District,2 then later to Sugar Loaf County, Moshulatubbee District where their son Charles served as Choctaw lighthorseman.3 Because Charles spoke English and Chahta anumpa, he was elected Sugar Loaf County Sheriff, Court Clerk, and Treasurer. At the time of his murder in 1884 he served as one of the few Native U.S. Deputy Marshals.4

Charles was full-blood, not a half-blood as is listed on the Dawes Roll. Charles’s first wife and mother of his children was Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bryant, a Chickasaw who is incorrectly listed on the flawed Dawes Roll as ‘intermarried white,’ but who appears in the Chickasaw tribal records. His second wife Martha was not the mother of his children. Charles’s sister Mary Wilson married David Pickens, the son of Chickasaw Chief Ochantubby (Edmund Pickens). David was killed by Comanches in the 1860s.5 Ida Wilson Self, et al, are therefore incorrectly listed as 1/4 Choctaw on the Dawes Rolls. Numerous tribal documents and rolls substantiate that they were, in fact, one-half Choctaw and one-half Chickasaw.

Because Charles was a staunch Nationalist who advocated against allotment and Oklahoma Statehood, in 1884 he was murdered by Progressive tribesmen the day of the election for Choctaw Council Representative. He is buried in the Vaughn Cemetery at the base of Nvnih Chufvk, near Kully Chaha, where he lived and was killed.6 Charles and Lizzie's son attended Jones Academy.7 The story of Wilson’s murder and subsequent exoneration of his murderers by a Progressive jury and chief is chronicled in the book Choctaw Crime and Punishment, 1884-1907 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).

Her grandfather, the Irishman Thomas Abbott Sr., was the Police Chief of McAlester, the boxing champion of the southwest and coached football at the Potawatomi Sacred Heart School. His brother, Walter Abbott, was a U.S. Marshall. Her grandfather, Thomas, in addition to being the “Middleweight [Boxing] Champion of the Southwest” in 1913-14, also was Chief of Police of McAlester Oklahoma from 1933 to 1940. He attained that rank after his assignment fell through to meet FBI officials in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to arrest Frank “Jelly” Nash, an escapee from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. At that time, FBI agents did not arm themselves and the local law enforcement officials made arrests for them. Fortunately for her grandfather, but sadly for Police Chief Ott H. Reed, Reed could identify Nash and went in Abbott’s stead. After arriving at the Kansas City Union Station, the FBI agents, two Kansas City detectives and Reed were ambushed by the Miller gang, which consisted of Verne Miller, Adam Richetti and Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd. The bullet holes made during the “Kansas City Massacre” are still visible in the station walls. His father designed the blueprints of South McAlester and served as physician to the Choctaw mining camps.8

Her grandfather on her mother’s side, James William Shultz, was Deputy Sheriff of Galveston County, Texas. There are many family stories about his exploits in law enforcement, but the most disturbing tale is when her grandmother Survella opened the door to see a man standing on her porch with a box in his arms. It contained the mangled remains of her father who had been killed by train in 1911 after a prisoner he was escorting to prison in Huntsville pushed him onto the tracks.

Her parents have a common ancestor in John Layfayette Self; her mother Olyve Hallmark Abbott, widow of the deceased Thomas James Abbott Jr. (a graduate from University of Oklahoma and life-long athlete), is a professional singer and genealogist. The allotted land Devon’s father inherited from his mother Eula Self Abbott is in Red Oak. Her mother now retains the mineral rights to that land. Her grandparents, Thomas and Eula, are buried in McAlester while other aunts and uncles are buried in Muskogee, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and north Texas. Both sides of Mihesuah’s family tree are strongly situated in Indian Territory and past and present Oklahoma.

Devon’s family stories are featured in her novel, Roads of My Relations, that is based on 11 generations of documented family members. Devon’s husband, Joshua Mihesuah, is Comanche, the direct descendant of Mihesuah, member of the Quahada Band.


  1. Treaty with the Choctaw (Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek) Sept. 27, 1830, 7 Stat., 333, Proclamation, Feb. 24, 1831.

  2. CTN 2, Choctaw, Census Records and Lists, 1830-1896, Atoka County: “Census of Atoka County, Choctaw Nation, Filed March 4, 1868."

  3. 3. CTN 4: Census of Citizens by blood and by marriage 1861-1929; Sugar Loaf County 1868-1896; Oral Testimony Re Charles Wilson, Choctaw Lighthorseman and U.S. Deputy Marshal, on file at the Fort Smith Historic Site Archives, National Park Service (video will part of the forthcoming U.S. Deputy Marshall Museum); CTN 87, Choctaw-Sheriffs and Rangers, April 21, 1857 –May 29, 1909; CTN 49, Choctaw- First (Moshulatubbee) District, Circuit Court Records, January 16, 1884-May 6, 1901; CTN 48: Choctaw-First (Moshulatubbee) District, Choctaw Nation, Circuit Court Records, May 1883-Nov. 1892; List of the “Oklahoma United States Marshals, Deputy United States Marshals and Possemen” at; “Living the Legacy Curriculum Materials: Section 4, U.S. Deputy Marshal In the Federal District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Indian Territory at Fort Smith, Arkansas, circa 1872-1896,” Fort Smith National Historic Site Publication available on the web at, of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior; “Violent Deaths of U.S. Marshals” at; Amelia Martin, “Unsung Heroes: Deputy Marshals of the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas, 1875-1896,” The Journal of the Forth Smith Historical Society, vol. 3 no.1 (April 1979), p. 25; “Death of the Choctaw Merchant,” Indian Champion, August 16, 1884; Testimony of Fleema Chubbee, Jasper Baker, C.C. Mathies, Adam Morris, Abel Harris, Sam Parker, Joseph Jackson, Edmund Pickens, John Slaughter, T.A. Brown October 25, 1887, in “Criminal Defendant Case File for Jack Crow, 1884,” Murder Jacket Number 44. File Unit from Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, U.S. District Court for the Fort Smith Division of the Western Division of Arkansas. At Southwest Region (Fort Worth, Texas), pp. 58-60; “U.S. Marshals: Charles B. Wilson, Deputy U.S. Marshal” on the untitled web site, Also the site; John Bartlett Meserve, “Chief Wilson Nathaniel Jones,” CO 14 (December 1936): 433; Indian Champion, August 16, 1884; “The Gallows,” Fort Smith Elevator, October 28, 1887. 25; Fort Smith Elevator, April 27, 1888; “Executions in the U.S. 1608-1987: The Espy File Executions by Name,” on the website; “Arkansas Executions at; W.S. Harmon, in Hell on the Border: He Hanged Eighty Eight Men (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992); original printing at Fort Smith, Arkansas: Phoenix Publishing Co., 1898, p. 274; “Hangman’s Day: Execution of Owens D. Hill, George Moss and Jack Crow,” Fort Smith Elevator, May 4, 1888.

  1. CTN 42, Choctaw-Sugar Loaf County Records, County and Probate Court Records, February 1, 1875-July 1, 1889; CTN 42, Choctaw-Sugar Loaf County Records County and Probate Court Records, May 20, 1874-March 1, 1886; CTN 90: National Auditor Records, February 6, 1872-July 31, 1878;

  2. CTN 42, Choctaw-Sugar Loaf County Records, for Marriage license of Ida Wilson and J.L. Self; Interview ("Examination") of J.L. Self and Ida Wilson by the Commission, 1902; Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914, Rolls 1-15, Choctaws by Blood, Choctaw Nation Enrollment Card for the Pickens’ including Edmund Pickens, son of Mary Wilson Pickens, M1186. Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914, Choctaws by Blood. See also a link to the Pickens Genealogy Information Group at; CKN (Chickasaw) 11: Pickens County Records 1864-1893 for Marriage of Charles B. Wilson and Elizabeth Bryant (Chickasaw); also Marriages in the Chickasaw Nation-Bride list B-F:; Wilson N. Jones Collection. Western Historical Collection, University of Oklahoma City.

  3. CTN 63: Choctaw Elections, Documents 16239-16624 1861 Aug 7 - 1889 Oct.; CTN 64: Choctaw Elections, Documents 16625-16955 1890 Aug 6 - 1896 Aug; Interview with Jesse J. Robbs, “The Murder of Charles Wilson, A Choctaw,” March 18, 1938, Indian and Pioneer Histories (IPH), vol. 113, p. 514-5; with Elijah Conger, IPH vol. 2, pp. 196-7; with Mary Elizabeth Goodnight, IPH, vol. 2, pp. 513-519; with William Dellwood Fields, June 16, 1937, IPH, vol. 64, p 2-4; with George W. Sorrels, November 12, 1937, IPH, vol. 59, p. 436; with Mrs. Sarah C. Griffith, April 29, 1937, IPH 3, p. 184; “Wilson, Charles B., Deputy United States Marshal,” in Ron Owens, Oklahoma Heroes: A Tribute to Fallen Law Enforcement Officers (Nashville: Turner Publishing Company, 2000), p. 260; Muriel H. Wright, “Notes and Documents: Sugar Loaf Mountain Resort,” Chronicles of Oklahoma (hereafter CO) 36 (1960), pp. 202-3.

  4. CTN 75, Schools: Jones Academy, 1892 October 12-1905 October 3 and undated; see attached document inside volume dated 1906.

  5. Henry Peck, The Proud Heritage of LeFlore County. Van Buren, Arkansas: The Press Argus, 1963), p. 319; Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places. McAlester, Oklahoma: Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society, n.d., pp. 1-2; Devon Irene Abbott, "'Gentleman' Tom Abbott: Middleweight Champion of the Southwest," Chronicles of Oklahoma 68 (Spring 1990): 426-437; “Five Slain in Battle by Gang to Free Oklahoma Bandit,” The New York Times, June 18, 1933; “Patrolman Tom Abbott New Police Chief; Is Successor of Reed, Killed by Bandits,” McAlester News-Capital, July 4, 1933; “Turning Back the Clock,” McAlester News-Capital and Democrat, July 3, 1983 and January 7, 1922; Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (McAlester, Oklahoma: Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society, n.d. 592 page bound volume), pp. 1-2; Clyde Wooldridge, McAlester, The Capital of Little Dixie: A History of McAlester, Krebs and South McAlester pp. 35, 48, 63, 65, 204; “Dr. William Elliott Abbott Papers” at the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society. McAlester, Oklahoma.

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