Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 15, No. 3
CHRISTINE FOLSOM BATES
On Friday, May 21, 1937, Christine Folsom Bates passed away at Durant after a brief illness of only two days. She was born on October 10, 1849 near Folsom Grove, about four miles northwest of Durant, and thus was almost eighty-eight years old. Practically all her long life was spent at various points within the confines of Bryan county.
Mrs. Bates was the daughter of Israel Folsom, a notable member of a very notable Choctaw family. Her father had risen to prominence along with his brother David Folsom, before the Choctaws removed from Mississippi to Oklahoma. In the old country he married Lovisa Nail, a member of another leading Choctaw family. They became the parents of thirteen children, the majority of whom lived to maturity and reared families, thus extending the Folsom clan until it became possibly the most numerous in the entire Choctaw nation. Israel Folsom, at first a minister of the Old School Presbyterian Church, later connected himself with the Cumberland Presbyterians because he was a believer in slavery and he himself was a large slave holder. He was also a pioneer promoter of education among his people, and particularly an advocate of the education of women. He saw to it that all his own daughters received the best schooling that his means and opportunities afforded. The advent of the Civil War interfered with the higher education of Mrs. Bates, though she was a woman of cultural interests and rather wide information.
At one time before the War, Israel Folsom lived on the Texas Road not far from Fort Washita. Mrs. Bates had a vivid recollection of the days when Fort Washita was in its prime. She has told the writer many times of going over to the Fort on Saturdays to see and hear Captain Braxton Bragg's artillery detachment hold its drill and practice. A few years later the Folsoms established themselves at a plantation called Elm Hill, southeast of Caddo. Here Christine Folsom spent the remainder of her girlhood. Here she lived during the dark days of the Civil War. At this home she remembered seeing some of the outstanding men of the period, who came there as friends of her distinguished father. She has told the writer of General Albert Pike, whom she remembered for his great leonine head and the white hair that hung down over his shoulders. Here she saw General Douglas H. Cooper, the last Confederate commander of the Department of Indian Territory. He came resplendent in his Uniform and gold lace, driven by a Negro coachman dressed in rich livery and wearing a silk hat. Mrs. Bates saw this same General Cooper, after the War, sink to abject poverty and die in squalor out near old Fort Washita. The Indians believed—and Mrs. Bates among them—that this dire change of fortune was visited by Providence on General Cooper because of his alleged peculations in handling the funds of the Choctaws and Chickasaws as Indian Agent prior to the War between the States.
At Elm Hill in 1875 Christine Folsom was united in marriage by the missionary preacher, W. J. B. Lloyd, to Madison Bouton, a young white man from New York State who had come west to seek his fortune. A few years before, up on the Plains, he was shot through the body by an arrow in a fight with wild Indians. With the building of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad he came to Caddo, which thereafter became his home. The marriage of white men to Indian girls aroused the antagonism of many of the Choctaw patriots of that day. Some think this was at the bottom of the tragedy that occurred in 1885, when Willie Jones, son of Chief Wilson N. Jones, met Madison Bouton on a Caddo street and shot him to death, apparently without provocation. Some years later, the widow married W. H. Bates who died in 1899. Both husbands sleep in the cemetery at Caddo, where the remains of Mrs. Bates were laid in May of this year.
Shortly after the death of her second husband, Mrs. Bates removed to Durant, which became her home until her death. She was a firm believer in the future of Durant, and until the time of her passing was the owner of considerable real estate in different sections of the city. She was a charter member of the East Side Presbyterian Church, and retained her membership in that church and supported it until her death, though in later years she lived in another section of the city and was a regular worshipper and supporter of the First Presbyterian Church of Durant. Mrs. Bates had a wide interest in charitable activities, and was always liberal and helpful whenever human need was brought to her attention.
Mrs. Bates was the last surviving child of Israel Folsom. She left three children, all by her first husband: Will Bouton of Skiatook; Mrs. Annie Yarbrough of Durant; and Mrs. Nellie Ingram of Ada. There also survive her several grandchildren, besides a host of nephews and nieces and other relatives. The passing of this pioneer woman breaks one of the few remaining links that bind the present of this section of Oklahoma to its historic past.
—W. B. Morrison