family history;

April 3rd, 2003 · 0 comments

My great great grandmother on my father’s side, Martha Clementine Ballard-Johnston. She was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian . . .

The forced removal of the Cherokee Indians in 1838-39 from their homelands in the East to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) is known as the “Trail of Tears,” or “The Trail Where They Cried.” Of the 16,000 Cherokees that were arrested and dragged from their homes, driven by bayonet into stockades and marched West by US troops, about 4,000 – including my great great great great grandparents – died of disease, exposure, and fatigue.

Martha’s mother and father, born in Old Cherokee Nation, Georgia, “traveled” to Oklahoma on this Trail of Tears march.

Many years later, Martha’s father, my great great great grandfather, volunteered to fight in the Civil War for Confederate General McCulloch’s army at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Springfield, Missouri; August 10, 1861. Confederates under General McCulloch defeated Union Forces under General Lyon, who was killed in battle). He was called on to fight again in the fall of 1863. He did not survive.

Martha’s mother, now a widow and sick with Tuberculosis that she had caught on the Trail of Tears, moved herself and her children to Ozark, Missouri around 1864, when Martha was 5 years old. There, Martha was adopted into two different hostile families before being reclaimed by her aunt and uncle, the Ballards. (Her mother died that same year.) Later, at the age of fifteen, she met and married my great great grandfather, Martin William Johnston, who was twenty-three years old. They moved to Reno County, Kansas, where they lived until the day Martin shot and killed a man for violently pushing Martha off of a wooden sidewalk and into the street because she was Indian, and because she was in his way …

They returned to Oklahoma Territory after the incident, where they hid, safe in the Indian Nations, with their eight year old son George LeRoy Johnston (also known as Roy; he was my father’s grandfather, my great grandfather), and the Ballard family. In 1887, when Roy was eleven years old, Martin would be commissioned as a US Marshall. Roy would later be commissioned as Deputy Marshall.

My mother is pictured alongside him in a history book.

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