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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Dyer, James Family

James Dyer, the son of Moses Dyer and El-Pa-Hona, was born October 3, 1837, in Eagletown, Eagle County, Indian Territory. He was a full-blood Choctaw (roll number 1151, census card 537). His paternal grandparents were Ish-Kun-Ul-Lubbee and Ish-Tem-Ah. Records point to Ishtanakihacho as his great grandfather or his maternal grandfather.

James received his education from Presbyterian missionaries in Nashville, Tennessee, and was trained as a carpenter.James and his half-brother, Joel Dyer, built the Gardner Mansion which later became a museum east of Broken Bow.

In his McCurtain County and Southeast Oklahoma: History, Biography, Statistics (1923), W. A. Carter, wrote, "On his return home he was elected representative to the Choctaw Council of Naniwaya, now Tuskahoma, from what was at that time, Eagle County, Indian Territory. From then on, he represented his people in their councils from time to time until statehood. He also represented the nation as a delegate at Washington, D.C. on one or two occasions. He served as a member of the Dawes Commission and assisted in winding up the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes preparatory to statehood. He joined the Presbyterian Church, and at the age of thirty, was ordained as a minister. Until his death he was engaged in ministerial work among his people. His was an active life and he accomplished a great deal in a moral and religious way for his race."

James married Malinda Labor at the Big Lick Presbyterian (South) Church (present-day Smithville, Oklahoma) on December 22, 1874. She was the daughter of William and Preeca/Preasy Labor. In an interview on February 18, 1902, with the Department of the Interior Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, Malinda stated that her father was a Spaniard and her mother "…was part Spaniard, and part Mexican; I think that's the way of it." Children from that union included Elliston, Josephine, Laura, Laurena, Adeline, James Jr., Aaron, William Harrison, and Winnie Pearlie.

Prior to his marriage to Malinda, James was married three times. All three died before James and Malinda were married. One of his previous wives was Hittie; his third wife was Eve.

James and Malinda divorced after twenty-eight years of marriage. He then married Carrie/Corrie Lockley.

Malinda died February 2, 1903. Children from the other marriages included Evalina (mother Corrie), Balinta, Alfred, and Caroline.

James died August 7, 1921, and was buried at the Eagletown Cemetery.

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