Born during the turbulent years of the Civil War, Sallie was born in 1863 the old Skullyville district. Her mother was Amanda Perry who was enslaved by Emeline Perry. Amanda was the daughter of Kitty, who came to Indian Territory along with the Perry clan from Yalobusha Mississippi, during the Indian Removal in 1831.
Sallie's young years were spent in the post Civil War years in Indian Territory. Her home was in the Skullyville community where she lived the first half of her life. Immersed in Choctaw culture and language she adapted to the life that surrounded her. As a young woman she had a child with John Williams and daughter Louisa was born. In 1883, she married Samuel Walton in the Choctaw Nation.
Sallie's life before that unfolded in the Skullyville area. Her immediate family was not a large one. Her grandmother Kitty Perry Crow, was the head of the family and during those years they maintained a relationship to the Perry's who had brought them to Indian Territory in the 1830s. Sallie was close to her mother Amanda as well as to her uncle Jackson Crow. During t he years of post Civil War Indian Territory, the family lived in the Choctaw community around Oak Lodge.
Family Saga Jackson Crow
Sallie's mother Amanda Crow had a brother Jackson Crow. Often called Jack by the family, he came of age in the small Skullyville and Sugar Loaf communities in the Choctaw Nation. Her uncle Jackson Crow spent time with other young men in the same area. They were the closest neighbors, and he was the only Freedman in his circle of friends. It was his group of associates who encountered local Choctaw Charlie Wilson on a road in the same area. Wilson was running for a tribal office at the time. During the encounter with Wilson a confrontation unfolded, and Charlie Wilson was left dead. Although there were several of them in the group, Wilson's death lead to the arrest of Sallie's uncle Jackson Crow, who was the only one in the group arrested and later tried for the death of Charlie Wilson.
Although it is said that the gun that killed Jackson Crow was not his, he was still the only one tried for Wilson's death. He was also the only "Choctaw Negro" in the group, he was convicted and executed in Judge Parker's court. The impact of the capture execution of Sallie's uncle left a dramatic impact on the lives of the Perry women, so much that Sallie often resisted ever speaking about it, when asked, and the few times she was known to raise her voice came when she adamantly refused to revisit the trauma, which occurred when he was captured.
The capture involved setting a fire to the family cabin. Three women were inside the small cabin at the time. Sallie's mother, grandmother, and Crow's wife were the likely three women, terrorized by the blaze, and in fear of being burned alive, the three women were said to have fled the cabin in tears and terror. Sallie, living nearby with husband Samuel Walton had to have been equally shaken by the sheer experienced by her mother and grandmother.
Attending the trial Sallie and her family would only be present to claim the body of Uncle Jackson Crow after his execution. Sallie retreated to a quiet life in the Territory. The notoriety of being related to "the outlaw" who was her dear uncle left an imprint on the Perry women.
Life in Skullyville
Sallie who had married in 1883 lived quietly in the nation with husband, Samuel Walton who was a well known preacher in the Skullyville community. In the years after her uncle died and the notoriety had subsided in the area life continued for the family amid their heartbreak but she had the comfort of her husband Samuel. Sallie's grandmother Kitty died in the late 1880s and her mother passed away in 1898. By the early 1900s they'd had two sons Houston and Samuel Jr. Sadly, Houston, her oldest son would perish in a train accident in 1904. A few years later in 1912, her husband Samuel passed away, and was buried in the Hontubby area of Le Flore County.
In her younger years, Sallie had not had access to primary education, but both she and her husband Samuel who was a literate man, both emphasized education for their children. Settling in the Ft. Coffee area for a few years, their son Samuel attended the Fort Coffee neighborhood school for Choctaw Freedmen children. In later years, when Samuel married a woman from nearby Arkansas, they would move across the state line so that the Walton children would have access to schools for black children, in nearby Fort Smith. Sallie would eventually join them in nearby Fort Smith, right across the state line, in Arkansas.
Sallie continued her life in Fort Smith for the next 40 years as a widow, nurturing her grandsons, choosing to become a member of the First Baptist Church. It was a coincidence that she joined this church, because her husband Samuel had contributed to building that church, in the early years after the Civil War, and helping to establish the first "Sabbath" school for freed blacks in the city. Sallie became a beloved grandmother and great grandmother to the Walton family of Fort Smith, and the Sanders family in Le Flore County Oklahoma. She was an active member of First Baptist where she attended until latter years when her health required her to slow down. The pastor however, frequented her home in Fort Smith giving her communion and praying with her.
She maintained a strong identity to Choctaws in the Howe Oklahoma area, and also made inquiries in the early 1920s about her own history and past by communicating with locals in Le Flore County area, in Howe. W. B. Billy and Loman Jack in the Howe area communicated with her in the 1920s.
Lands that were allotted to the Walton family, were now long lost to the family and she now lived with her son and his family. But both Billy and Jack communicated with her from nearby Oklahoma. Both of these Choctaw men, had known her parents and shared much of her family history with her. Her interest in history, land and culture were pervasive throughout her life.
After locating to Fort Smith, Sallie's to live with son Samuel and his family, she insured that the Walton children would have easier access to education. She became a lifetime member of the Baptist church, and spent the remainder of her life there. Her lifestyle was a simple one, where she tended to a large garden, working on her long treasured quilts, and prepared simple food dishes or drinks from her Choctaw life---Pashofa, Tom Fuller and "kvfi".
Sallie was always the matriarch of the family instilling a strong sense of family, emphasizing both education and independence to her children. Her meager funds were often used to buy books as needed for the grandchildren, who attended local parochial school for black children.
One of her older grandchildren, Ethel Sanders, who later migrated west to California, remembered how her grandmother Sallie was frequently teaching her words and phrases in her native Choctaw language. During the 1950s Sallie's younger brother Joe Perry came to visit, and an uncle reminded me, of how he was in awe listening to the two of them talking on the back porch in their native Choctaw to each other. Before her health declined, Sallie was an avid walker, often walking for miles, especially when items were needed for her garden and property.
Her grandchildren and great grandchildren in both Le Flore County Oklahoma and Sebastian County Arkansas would frequent her home well into the 1950s In 1961 her health declined and she passed away peacefully in July 1961 in her home in Fort Smith.
She left behind her a the treasured Bible, several of her handmade quilts, and a few images of family and loved ones. She is buried in Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith, near her son, Samuel Walton Jr.
This gentle Choctaw woman was my great grandmother and she was my heart. May she ever rest in peace. I honor her during Women's History Month.