WATT CHRISTIE CEMETERY
WAUHILLAU Community, ADAIR COUNTY, CHEROKEE NATION (OKLAHOMA)
Compiled by Gene Norris, CGSM
This historic cemetery is located within the Wauhillau (also referred to as the Bidding Springs) Community. Located in the heart of the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee families were settling here as early as 1839. Wauhillau, taken from the Cherokee word “wa-hi-la” which means eagle, it was named for a respected Cherokee elder, Katie Eagle Goback. She was the mother of the third wife to Watt Christie, Lydia Thrower Christie, and grandmother to the historic Ned Christie, who is buried in this cemetery. The earliest burial is believed to have been the first wife of Watt Christie, Wadaya, who died about 1842. Now in Adair County, this area was originally located in Goingsnake District of the old Cherokee Nation.
Watt Christie was the son of Lacy, “Wa-ki-gu Da-la-si-ni,” and Betsy Christie. Lacy is also buried in this cemetery. Betsy died near Nashville, TN during the forced removal of Cherokees from their homeland called the “Trail of Tears” or “Trail Where They Cried.” Ned, the second child and first-born son of Watt and Lydia, was falsely accused of the murder of a US Marshal named Dan Maples in Tahlequah in 1887. He was under constant bombardment by Marshal’s posses for 5 years although he never left his home near Wauhillau and continually asserted his innocence.
In November, 1892, the final posse brought a cannon with them from Fort Scott, Kansas, with a wagon load of dynamite, and toppled his fortified home. According to outlaw historians, it was the first time a cannon was used against one individual. As he escaped the fire, he was shot and killed. It would be a death-bed confession 25 years later which would exonerate him. His grave was often times the scene of vandalism and during the 1940’s or 1950’s, his head stone was stolen from the cemetery. Some time later, the stone showed up on the Adair County Courthouse lawn in Stilwell but the culprit was never caught.
The cemetery is located on the land allotment of Watt Christie’s daughter-in-law, Mary “Nellie” (High) Christie, in 1906 but over the years the property has changed hands several times. At one time, one of the owners had piled all the existing stones into one big heap to make room for cattle grazing. The stones were later put back into uniform rows. It is theorized that all the headstones originally faced the southeast at an angle as the only stone edifice believed to be in its original location is a small square cement border measuring about two feet square behind the stone of Ned Christie. The area surrounding the cemetery in later years became known as the Bidding Springs Community which was originally called “Bitting” Springs, named after a local physician, Dr. Nicholas Bitting, who had a mill on Bitting Creek.
The rows of stones now stand north to south facing directly east. A chain link fence, damaged in recent spring storms in 2008, surrounds the tiny cemetery. Although there are only 16 stones in the burial ground, there are many unmarked family graves so the exact perimeters of the cemetery is unknown. The graveyard is currently located behind the old rock Wauhillau store and adjacent to a recently constructed Bidding Springs Community Center.
In order to reach the cemetery, a person would take Highway 51 between Tahlequah and Stilwell then turn south on Wauhillau (or Indian) Road. Turn north/west/east/south at Bidding Creek Church. Travel about three miles, to round a large curve to the left. The cemetery is located behind the old stone store building and next to the new community building.
The graves are numbered in rows and each row is listed from south to north beginning on the east/west side:
- Unmarked stone with a small angel statue
- Infant Daughter of M. W. & Annie WOLFE; Died Jan. 3, 1898, Aged 3 ms & 28ds (Note: Annie was the daughter of Watt Christie and his wife, Lydia Thrower. M. W. Wolfe is Mitchel W. Wolfe, a son of Richard Murrel and Susan A. (Shirley) Wolfe—GN)
- Unmarked stone
- Unmarked stone
- Ned CHRISTIE; Born Dec. 14, 1852; Died Nov. 3, 1892. Inscription: “He was at one time a member of the Executive Council of the C.N. He was a blacksmith by trade and was a good man. Ne-de Wa-de” (inscribed in the Cherokee syllabary).
- Broken stone which was originally inscribed but two-thirds of it is missing. It is believed to be the stone of Ball CHRISTIE, a son of Watt Christie and his fourth wife, Aggie Dick.
- George DICK; Died April 24, 1893; Aged 27 Yrs—other text illegible. Stone has been broken and repaired but age was partially covered. (Note: George was born about 1865, a son of Wa-li-ni-da Di-gi and his wife, Ka-ne-yo-i. He was married to Jennie Greece, a niece to Watt Christie through his sister, Arley (Christie) Greece. George was killed by Ball Christie—GN.)
- Albert DICK; Died Jan. 8, 1889; Age illegible. Stone has been broken and repaired but age was covered. (Note: Albert Dick, a brother to George Dick, was born about 1856. Like his brother, George, he was also married to Jennie Greece—GN).
- Unmarked cement border about two feet square believed to be part of the original cemetery.
- Watt, son of R. M. WOLFE & Jennie CHRISTIE; Born Apr. 4, 1893-Died June 17, 1894. (Note: Jennie was a daughter of Watt Christie and his wife, Lydia Thrower. R. M. was Richard Murrel Wolfe, a son of John H. and Betsy (Sanders) Wolfe and father to Mitchel W. Wolfe—GN).
- Unmarked stone
- Lacy CHRISTIE—“Da-la-si-ni” (inscribed in the Cherokee Syllabary); 1797-1865. Also on the stone is a National Trail of Tears Association Survivor marker. (Note: Lacy and his wife, Betsy Christie, were the parents of thirteen children. They and their younger children, one a recent newborn, were in the Elijah Hicks Detachment during the removal. Betsy died during the emigration but Lacy arrived in the Cherokee Nation with the children in January, 1839—GN).
- Nellie CHRISTIE—Died Mar. 30, 1912; Aged 43 Yrs—“Ne-li Wa-gi-gu” inscribed in the Cherokee Syllabary. Also inscribed in Cherokee are the date of death and age. (Note: Nellie, also known as Mary, was born in July, 1851, in the Cherokee Nation, a daughter of Ka-lu-la-ti and his wife, Ailsey Jesse. She was the second wife of William “Will or Bill” Christie and daughter-in-law to Watt Christie. The land around the cemetery was allotted to her in 1906—GN).
- Watt CHRISTIE—Born 1817; Died Feb. 11, 1902. Near base of stone is a National Trail of Tears Survivor marker. Also on the base of the stone is Watt’s name in the Cherokee Syllabary, “Wa-de Wa-gi-gu.” (Note: Watt Christie was born in August, 1817, the eldest of twelve children born to Lacy and his wife, Betsy Christie. He and his first wife, Wadaya, were in the Hildebrand Detachment during the removal. He was the husband to five wives as well as a farmer, blacksmith and gunsmith by trade. Watt also served as a Senator in the Executive Council of the Cherokee Nation for two terms in 1877 and 1885.—GN).
- Aggie, wife of Watt CHRISTIE—Died Feb. 12, 1887—Aged 33 Yrs—other text illegible. Stone has been broken and repaired and age was partially covered. (Note: Aggie, Cherokee name “A-ke,” was born in 1853, a daughter of Wa-li-ni-da Di-gi and his wife, Ka-ne-yo-i. She was the fourth wife of Watt Christie, a sister to his fifth wife, Nannie Dick [who was Ned Christie’s first wife] and sister to George and Albert Dick—GN).
- Wadaya CHRISTIE—1817-1842—Inscription is in the Cherokee Syllabary “Wa-da-ya Wa-gi-gu” on a newly placed stone. Also on the stone is a National Trail of Tears Association survivor marker. (Note: Wadaya was the first wife of Watt Christie and was enumerated with him in the Hildebrand Detachment on the removal—GN).
KNOWN BURIALS IN THE CEMETERY BUT NO MARKERS
- Lydia THROWER CHRISTIE—Born about 1830—Died Dec. 24, 1875. (Note: A daughter of Te-co-hv-tu-ski and Katie Eagle, she was the third wife of Watt Christie. Her Cherokee name was Ska-ya-he-ta).
- Ball CHRISTIE—Born Oct. 1871—Died Dec. 13, 1895. (Note: Ball was a son of Watt Christie and his fourth wife, Aggie Dick. Convicted of the murder of his uncle, George Dick [who is also buried here], he was sentenced to hang but became ill with tuberculosis. Principal Chief Joel B. Mayes sent him home to die. The following article was printed in the Vinita Indian Chieftain, 2 January 1896, page two, column one:
“CHIEF SENDS NOTORIOUS CHRISTIE HOME TO DIE
Tahlequah—One day High Sheriff Duncan came to the Chief and asked that a respite be granted to the notorious Ball Christie as he was sick and not likely to recover. Chief Mayes walked down to the National prison and found Christie in a dying condition and readily granted the respite, telling his people to take him to his home that he might die among friends. An hour later news came that Ball Christie was dead.”).
- Darkey CHRISTIE McLEMORE—Born Dec., 1862—Died Nov., 1896. (Note: She was a daughter of Watt Christie and Lydia Thrower).
- Jennie CHRISTIE—Born Sept. 1872—Died Sept. 29, 1897. (Note: She was the youngest daughter of Watt Christie and Lydia Thrower).
- James “Jim” CHRISTIE—Born 1876—Died July 6, 1893. (Note: He was the son of Ned Christie and his second wife, Peggy Tucker. Jim was killed by Sam Mayes. The following article appeared in the Cherokee Advocate, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, 8 July 1893, page two, column two:
“On last Monday evening Jim Christie, son of Ned Christie deceased, was murdered, twelve miles east of this place, near Mike Pritchett’s on Barren Fork. That evening, Christie and Sam Mayes, youngest son of Tallow Mayes, were at Pritchett’s and left together. As they were leaving, Christie was heard to say to Mayes, ‘I’ll be a witness against you, here or at Ft. Smith.’
The next morning, Christie was found a short distance from where they were seen together, dead, shot in the back of the head, throat cut, stabbed several times in the body, and his head and face terribly mutilated, beaten with a large rock. Mayes was arrested the next day, and is held a prisoner in this place.”).
- William “Bill or Will” CHRISTIE—Born Nov. 1848—Died Feb. 27, 1923. (Note: A son of Watt Christie and his second wife, Charlotte Wolfe. Bill’s wife, Nellie, has a marked stone in the cemetery).
- Watt CHRISTIE—Born July 10, 1876—Died Nov. 15, 1906. (Note: A son of William Christie and his first wife, Susie Springfrog).
- Susie SPRINGFROG CHRISTIE—Born about 1858—Died about 1882. (Note: A Daughter of Springfrog and his wife, Nellie, she was the first wife of William Christie).
- Springfrog CHRISTIE—Born June 25, 1878—Died Nov. 30, 1917. (Note: A son of William Christie and Susie Springfrog