The Going Snake Fight
Photo credit: Wikimedia
Nobody’s certain exactly what caused the feud that left 11 men dead in Judge Blackhawk Sixkiller’s courtroom at Going Snake. Whatever it was, it came to a head in 1872, when Zeke Proctor rode up to Jim Kesterton’s mill and opened fire. The miller recovered from his wounds, but his wife, Polly Beck, was hit by a stray round and killed.
The murder took place in the Cherokee Nation, and Proctor and Beck were both Cherokee, so it seemed obvious that the case would be handled by the Cherokee courts. But Proctor came from a well-connected family and was a member of the powerful Keetoowah Society. As a result, the Becks argued that they couldn’t get a fair hearing in Indian Territory. They wanted the case transferred to the federal court at Fort Smith. When their request was rejected, a group of Becks burst into the courtroom and opened fire.
But things went wrong for the Becks, who found themselves crowded in the doorway of the windowless courtroom. Zeke Porter somehow produced a gun and fired back, as did several guards. The planned massacre turned into a nightmarish close-range battle. Eleven men died: seven Becks, two Proctors, a lawyer, and a US marshal. The participants quickly scattered, and nobody was ever convicted over the incident.
Just goes to show how ambushes can go bad, and they are never a good idea. Certainly not a good idea when most everyone had easy access to a gun.
Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Another cool front is moving in.