lucy wadkins

lucy wadkins, a great choctaw woman

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Choctaw Trail of Tears

This site is dedicated to memorializing Lucy Wadkins, a great Choctaw woman, who epitomizes the suffering of the Choctaw Nation. Lucy’s family was among the Mississippi Choctaws forced off their land. Lucy’s grandfather, George Wadkins, drowned on the Choctaw Trail of tears. Her father, Fred Wadkins, was born in a wagon on the trail, resulting in his mother, Hannah Wadkins, dying as soon as they arrived in Oklahoma. In 1881, when Lucy was only 3, her mother, Nancy, died.  In 1896, Lucy’s only sibling, George, died at age 16. 

Will Married Lucy TWICE to get Indian land

In 1897, Lucy, a naïve nineteen year old, was mesmerized by Will Little, a man with a plan. He convinced her to marry him TWICE! After the civil ceremony, Will paid $50 ($1500 in today’s money) for an Indian marriage license. (For more-including photocopies- see “Lucy’s Story” above).

Three months after the marriage Will had Lucy swear an affidavit demanding he be made a Choctaw by intermarriage. The Choctaw attorneys fought his attorney for 6 years over Will’s evident plot.  

Keep her pregnant-bury dead babies "behind the barn"

Will got Lucy pregnant again and again. In July, 1898, their first baby George died at age 7 weeks and was buried “behind the barn.” Three months after George’s burial Will got Lucy pregnant again. Moma was born August 11, 1899. About a month later Will demanded Lucy and the attending physician sign Moma’s Choctaw enrollment form.

In March, 1902, Lou, the only mother Lucy remembered, died. A month later another son, Fred, was born and enrolled. 

Two more babies were born who died in infancy and buried “behind the barn."

Lawsuits-against the Choctaw Nation and Individual Choctaws

After winning his case, Will was obsessed with filing scores of Indian land claims for himself, Lucy, Moma and Fred. Other lawsuits came as other Choctaws claimed some of the same land. He tried but failed to enroll the children who died as well as two children, John and Tad, who were born too late to be enrolled for land allotments.

Booze + Gambling=Mortgages=Bankruptcy

Will began mortgaging the land to get quick money for his gambling and drinking. In 1910 Lucy was so desperate she and her 3 small children separated from Will. Lucy finally forced Will to lease the farm and move the family to Duncan so the kids could attend school. In 1919 Will refused to stay in Duncan and moved back to the farm with Fred and John. Lucy refused to go and found a way to survive and keep Tad in school. In 1929 Will’s foolish ways exploded in total bankruptcy leaving the family with nothing but a two room shack in Duncan, OK.

Lucy Blesses Thousands by Giving Them Her Choctaw Teacher

In 1931 through unbelievable sacrifice Lucy made sure Tad graduated from Duncan High School and go on to Oklahoma A & M in Wilburton, OK. Tad fell in love with a sharecropper’s daughter, Zada Singleton Groves. In 1933 they were married after both graduated with A A degrees. They were granted temporary teaching certificates. For five years they taught in little two-room wooden country schools then attended Central State College during summers. Lucy beamed with joy while attending their graduations when they received their B A degrees. Tad and Zada became lifelong teachers even completing their M A degrees by attending college in the summers. They blessed the lives of thousands of young students For more of their story and classic pictures see “Choctaw Teacher” above.

lucy's choctaw teacher, tad lincoln little

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Tad and Zada Little, Lifelong Teachers

 Zada taught the 1st through the 4th, while Tad, in the other half of the little wooden schoolhouses taught the 5th through the 8th. He also served as the coach and she oversaw meals. They were provided a “teacherage” to live in.  In these rural areas the community centered around the school. There were bake sales, a Christmas pageant, a huge community cellar, an outdoor dirt floor basketball court-what love and community! Many of the kids, called by some today “the greatest generation,” went away to fight WWII.