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Belle Starr and Cummings Family
I just found the Oklahombres board yesterday. I hesitated to register and post this, since it pertains to genealogy, so I emailed some members who had posted in the Belle Starr threads and they suggested I go ahead and post it.


In your research of outlaws and lawmen, have any of you ever seen the name Henry Cummings or James Cummings in connection with Belle Starr or the Youngers in Indian Territory? I'm familiar with Windy Jim Cummins who was associated with the James gang, but he's not the same person as James.

Henry Cummings was my great-grandfather. He was in Indian Territory near Hoyt in the old Choctaw county of San Bois by at least 1883. His Dawes card lists him as an inter-married white and gives his father's name as Jim and his mother as Catherine. Census indicates all three were born in Illinois. Other sources list his father as James. The card also lists both parents as dead. In an Indian Commission transcript, Henry states he was married, "in my father's house near Hoyt", so I assume James was also in Indian Territory. He and Catherine are both listed as a non-citizens, so they may have been there illegally. At least I haven't found a Choctaw land permit for him yet... not sure where to look for that.

Henry held a Choctaw permit for some land on the south side of the Canadian River. Belle Starr's home was on the north side of that same river at Younger's Bend. Milo Hoyt had a ferry service across the Canadian River. Belle Starr was killed on or near the corner of Milo Hoyt's land.

When Belle was killed, a man named John Cates made Belle's coffin. His brother, Jim Cates transported her body home in his wagon. Both were listed as tenants on Henry's land according to a book by Ted Byron Hall, quoting Choctaw land records.

Henry had seven daughters and only one son, Cole Younger Cummings, by his second marriage. His first marriage was to a Choctaw woman. When she passed away, he married a white woman in 1894 and almost lost his land permit. Henry's 2nd daughter from this marriage was my grandmother, Cordelia. My mother mentioned on more than one occasion that her "Uncle Cole" was named after Cole Younger the outlaw. So I have suspicions Henry was more than just a neighbor. Cole Younger was released from prison in 1901 and Cole Younger Cummings was born on March 30, 1903.

I've searched census records; searched all over the internet; sent for NARA records of his appeal to the Indian Commission; sent look-up requests to the Oklahoma Historical Society, all to no avail. Our local library has a copy of the book, "Oklahoma, Indian Territory" by Ted Byron Hall, which provided some interesting information Henry, but nothing about his parents. I've also read Glenn Shirley's book and didn't find any reference in there either..

So when I found this board, I was hoping maybe someone may have run across a reference to James Cummings somewhere in your studies.


Haskell County, Oklahoma
Posts: 4 | Registered: Wed April 06 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post

The two best books on Belle Starr are the one you mentioned by Glenn Shirley and that of Phillip Steele, called Starr Tracks, Belle and Pearl Starr, Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, LA. 1989. Neither book mentions Jim or Henry Cummings. Oklahombres had a Belle Starr rendezvous several years ago and went to the place where she was murdered in Hoyt. Frog Hoyt is buried in the small community cemetery and he is the man who found poor Belle on the roadside, dead or dying. Since Mr. Shirley has passed away, I feel Phillip Steele is now the leading authority on Belle Starr. He will be at our next rendezvous in Tahlequah, Oklahoma if you have an interest to visit with him or you can contact him in Springdale, Arkansas.
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Thanks for the info about Phillip Steele, I'm not familiar with his writing.

Have you seen Ted Byron Hall's book? It's interesting reading about this area. Hall's father was postmaster at Whitefield in the late 1880's and Belle often came to the post office for her mail. It's primarily a biography of his father, but he also adds a lot of genealogical information about their neighbors. Unfortunately, it's out of print. Our library has two copies, but won't allow them to be checked out, so I haven't read it cover to cover yet; it has a great index for reference work.

"Oklahoma, Indian Territory", by Ted Byron Hall, 1971
American Reference Publishers, Ft Worth, TX
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My father was Joseph Cummings, and his father's family was from Oklahoma. My dad's grandfather was a doctor, Hirum Albert Cummings.I heard as a child that one of our family members married one of the Younger brothers. I inheirited a photo albumn from my great Uncle Joe Cummings. It dates back to about the Civil War era and does have a photo in it of a couple identified by last name as Younger. I need to go up in the attic to find it, but was interested in your post regarding the Cummings/Younger connection.
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I just found this post. I don't have an answer to your question, but my grandfather did remember the Starr boys in his memories of his youth. My family settled land in Hoyt, OK which was back then Indian Territory. Some maps today call the land where my grandfather resided as "Boyd's Bottoms" after his name Boyd Wickersham, and the bottoms lands of the river there. Pop used to tell about "Belle Starr's boys who used to ride into town and raise Caine or make some ruckus and cause trouble. According to Pop, who I never knew heard tell even a slight fib, let alone a complete lie; said that these men would ride their horses into town, gravel flying every which way, guns pointed skyward and firing shots being without regard if someone were to accidently get shot. He said, "Pretty much just like you see in the movies." Those Starre boys would head to the nearest house or saloon and get all lathered up with liquor, making a lot of noise whether it was laughing loudly or yelling obscenities. They liked to cause trouble and mostly would play cards, making bets which ended with them not paying their debts or would rob everyone around them at gun point before running off and maybe going off to cause more trouble. He never said their names but I have heard Cummings and Youngers mentioned by the family on occasion in relation to families that had lived there in town in the early days of my family's life in Hoyt. Hoyt was just a little bitty town back then, just as it was many years later when I visited it in the 1960s, when I was a kid. That little town holds a lot of my family history, as it is where my great grandparents settled after leaving Marion Co., Arkansas around 1892. My grandfather, several siblings and most of his children were born in Hoyt. It is where many of our relatives are buried as well. I wish I knew the history of Hoyt and the surrounding area. My best to you in all your family history searches.
Posts: 1 | Registered: Fri December 25 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi, I'm curious about the connection with the Cummings family as I have a rather large Cummings family geneaology file and may have some ties or may not. My father-in-law always said that our family had ties to the James gang, though we could never find it for sure. However, I'm curious about Henry Cummings whose father's name was Jim and mother was Catherine. There was mention they were born in Illinois. I have a Henry Cummings in my file, whose father was James K Cummings and mother was Catherine Cummings. James born 1825 in Simpson Co. KY and died in the Civil War bet 1861 and 1865. Catherine was born 7-26-1829 and died 7-16-1869. I have children as James, Alice, Delissa and Henry., but know no details on dates of birth , etc.on the children. This James and this Catherine died in Illinois, or so we believe, but the names all seem so obvious that I was curious about any further detail on this family. James K's father was Asa Cummings and Catherine's father was Jacob Cummings. Would appreciate corresponding with Ronnie as to what records you have on this family?
Posts: 1 | Registered: Sun October 24 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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OK. I have Henry, son of James K. & Catherine Cummings Cummings marrying Martha A. Murphy. I presume Ronnie knows the name of her grandmother (or was it great grandma?) Anyway, if she verifies this is the right grandma, then this is the right Henry for Eileen's and my Cummings family. Catherine the mother was certainly dead by the time mentioned and James was divorced from Catherine then, don't know if he was dead or not. If he wasn't then he or Henry's brother James could be the James Cummings everyone was talking about. Belle is related to the Cummings only vaguely that I know of. It seems there was a Nancy Cummings who married an Isaac Houdesheldt (one of about 10 different variations on the spelling) whose grandfather or greatgrandfather had a great, great nephew or something like that who I think was James Reed who married Belle at some point (whose real name was Myra Maybelle Shirley I think- I'm sure of the Myra and the Shirley part anyway). I'm sorry, this was all very long ago so I am somewhat vague on the details and I couldn't find the original connection that I found several years ago when I was doing this.
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I appreciate all the replies. I don't visit very often these days so I'm a little late in responding.

Laura, That Civil War photo album you have sounds fascinating.

Jerri, I don't know much about the history of Hoyt. I know it was named for a man named Milo Hoyt who first settled the area around 1867. He had a ranch and operated a ferry across the Canadian River. Others settled near him and a community grew. It was called Hoyt's Spring at first.

Eileen and IrishSirWolf, Thanks for the information but I don't think my Henry is the same person you mentioned.

My Henry Cummings married a Choctaw woman named Ledonia Crowder on January 12, 1883 in Indian Territory. I have a photo copy of their marriage license. I also have a copy of an interview he had with the Indian Commission. One of the questions they asked was if he had been married before and he answered no. So if Ledonia was his first wife then this Henry couldn't be the same person who married Martha Murphy in Illinois. He would have been about 26 years old at this time.

For some reason I've always been fascinated by Belle Starr. When I got into genealogy and learned that some of my relatives lived near her I was hoping to find some connection but there doesn't seem to be any paper trail. I've read a lot about her but it's really hard to separate the facts from the myths. She did keep company with outlaws and she was accused of some crimes but with all her notoriety she was only convicted of one charge of horse theft. Belle and Sam were sent to Detroit, Michigan in 1883. They served nine months of their twelve-month sentence and returned to Youngers Bend.
Posts: 4 | Registered: Wed April 06 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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