Trail of Tears Association to mark 3 graves on Oct. 20
Three survivors of the forced removal of Cherokee people in 1838-39 will have this plaque placed on their gravestones on Oct. 20 in the Hungry Mountain Cemetery near Tahlequah by the Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – On Oct. 20, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will host a ceremony remembering three Cherokee people who came on the forced removal of the Cherokee people in 1838-1839.
The markings will take place at 2 p.m. at the Hungry Mountain Cemetery on Highway 100, approximately 3 miles east from the Illinois River Bridge on Highway 82, and 1 mile west from the Adair/Cherokee County line. The small cemetery is on the south side of Highway 100.
Those being honored are Jackson Christie (c1836-1900), James Bigby (c1779-1855) and Catherine (Foreman) Bigby (1785-c1867). Everyone is invited to the ceremony.
The grave markings are done to pay tribute to Cherokee people who endured the Trail of Tears or forced removals that occurred in the 1830s when Cherokee people were forced to leave their eastern homelands and move to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.
A metal plaque will be placed on each headstone that reads: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39. The Trail of Tears Association Oklahoma Chapter.” The plaque also includes the TOTA and Cherokee Nation seals. After the Oct. 20 ceremony, the Oklahoma Chapter will have marked 156 survivors’ graves.
During the ceremony, family members will read the biographies of each survivor, and hymns will be sung to honor the survivors.
Christie was born about 1836, in the Cherokee Nation East, probably on Valley River near present-day Murphy, North Carolina. Both of his parents were Cherokee, Jesse Christie (died 1868) and Polly (died about 1850). The family came west on the forced removal in the Situwakee/Jones detachment, which left in October 1838 and arrived in the west in February 1839.
The family settled in the Flint District. His first marriage was about 1854 to Lucy Proctor (c1838-c1876), daughter of Oo-li-skah-kah-ni and Lucy Proctor. They were the parents of two children: William Christie (1855-1889) and Levi Christie (c1857-1887).
He was elected sheriff of the Flint District in 1867 and was elected district judge of the Flint District in 1869 and 1871 and appointed to that office in 1879. In about 1878, he married Nellie Poorbear (1853-1898), daughter of Poorbear and Sally Desahsky. They had no surviving children. He was elected senator from the Flint District in 1879 and again in 1887 and 1897. He was also elected chief justice of the CN Supreme Court in 1885 and served as National Party delegate in 1895. Christie died on July 26, 1900 at Wauhillau in the Flint District and is buried in the Hungry Mountain Cemetery.
James Bigby was born in the Cherokee Nation East about 1779. His father was a Scotsman. His mother was a Cherokee whose first name is not known, but she was the daughter of Peg and Nathan Hicks.
About 1800 he married Catherine Foreman, daughter of Susie and Anthony Foreman. They were the parents of 10 children. Mary Ann Bigby Taylor, Jane Bigby Taylor, Thomas Wilson Bigby, James Bigby Jr., Wiley Bigby, Elizabeth Bigby Fields, Sarah Bigby Williams, Andrew Jackson Bigby, Susan Bigby Riley McNair and Malinda Bigby Guilliams Redman. In 1817 the Bigby family took a reservation in current McMinn County, Tennessee, but abandoned it two years later and moved near Candy’s Creek in present-day Bradley County.
While he lived in the old Cherokee Nation, written accounts of him show he spoke both Cherokee and English, but “always prays in English.”
In 1828 he was elected to the Cherokee Council from Amohee District.
The Bigby family came west during the forced removal in the George Hicks detachment where he was employed as interpreter. This detachment left the east in November 1838 and arrived in the west in March 1839. The family settled on Hungry Mountain in the Flint District, Cherokee Nation, now Cherokee County, Oklahoma, where he died on Nov. 16, 1855. He was buried in the Hungry Mountain Cemetery.
Catherine Foreman Bigby was born in the Cherokee Nation East on April 17, 1785. Her father was a white man, Anthony Foreman, and her mother a full-blood Cherokee named Susie. About 1800, she married James Bigby and they had 10 children. She and her husband were members of the church at Candy’s Creek and 1828 church records record the following information about her:
“Catherine Bigby was one of the first in this place who embraced the Gospel. She understands and speaks a little English. She is a sister of Thomas Foreman, one of the two principal headmen of this district. Her habits of industry are very commendable. For example, she and her daughter manufacture cloth for the supply of her family, which is quite large.”
Catherine died about 1867 probably in her home on Hungry Mountain and was buried in Hungry Mountain Cemetery.
For more information about the ceremony, call Wanda Elliott at 918-797-0015.