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Trail Blazing Chickasaw Lawyer, Poet, and Historian: Jessie Elizabeth Randolph Moore

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Kendall Davis is well-versed in the English language. She has 20 years experience as a published author and writing for clients. Her published works include historical articles in museums, magazines, newspaper articles, columns, content marketing, advertising copy, blogging, and academic papers. Kendall also makes her way in the literary world as a copyeditor. Writing about history is her first love interest. If you have editing or content needs on your website or for your books, articles, blogs, or columns, please visit her website to see details and more examples of her work, the services she offers, and contact information.

Part I

Excerpt From: Lines Written on an Indian’s Face

“Tis only an Indian face, but on it is pictured the tragedy of a race. Like a ghost of yesterday it looks out over the hurrying throng with a cynical smile for the sordid realities of today. The keen inscrutable eyes seem piercing the veil which covers the Indian’s future, the firm lips guarding with sacred tenderness the story of a nation’s past.”

By Jessie Randolph Moore (1)

After Forced Removal: The  Oklahoma Family Homesteads

Some of the members of the Chickasaw Nation settled in Coffee Bend after arriving over the Trail of Tears. Coffee Bend is comprised of rich bottom land, and it was one of the most thriving sections of land in the Chickasaw Nation in their early Oklahoma settlement days. The Love family of Chickasaw heritage has roots in Coffee Bend as well and Love County, Oklahoma, was named for Overton “Sobe” Love in 1907. Sobe owned large tracts of land and became a judge. (2)

Jessie Moore was born in Bryan County in 1871 in Coffee Bend, which lies on the east side of the Washita River at its confluence with the Red River, in a two-story, double-log house built by Mormons passing through in 1849 for the Tyson family. In 1930, a man named J. Y. Bryce put up a temporary marker there with important dates listed on it. I have found no information about this house after that date. (3)

Jessie Moore’s grandmother was named Charlotte Love Tyson Coffee and Jessie’s great grandparents were Henry and Sarah (or Sally) Love who lived in Mississippi before their removal to Indian Nation. (4) Charlotte married James Tyson from North Carolina in Mississippi, and they moved near Fort Washita in Oklahoma.

Sarah Tyson, Jessie’s mother and their daughter, married William Colville Randolph from Virginia who served in the Confederate Army under Douglas H. Cooper, the commander of the Confederate Indian Forces. (5) William became a prominent leader and a successful cattle rancher in White Bead Hill in then Pontotoc County. Several interracial Native American/white families lived in the same area.

Practicing More Than Law

Jessie came from a family that stressed the importance of education, and as you will find out, she made the most of that experience. William Colville, her father, built a log schoolhouse on his ranch which was the first school that Jessie attended. Her family moved to Gainesville, Texas, where Jessie continued her schooling. Later, she studied at St. Xavier in Denison and Kidd’s Seminary (front runner of Kidd-Key College) in Sherman where many prominent Native Americans sent their daughters for higher education.

After graduation, Jessie taught school at Pierce Institute, a Methodist school, in 1886 and became a charter member of the White Bead Hill Presbyterian Church. In 1889, Jessie married Elisha Mac Moore. Her parents had returned to that area from Gainesville by that time. Jessie and Elisha had four children; their first born died before age one in 1894; later came Thomas, Eula, and Carrie Moore.

Jessie established herself in a remarkable career that lasted decades and into the 1950s. Jumping into the 20th century, an era when women all over America and western Europe could not vote except for in Wyoming, Jessie, the first woman to hold this office, became the Oklahoma Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in 1914 and served until 1924. Jessie was admitted to the bar to practice law in Oklahoma in 1925 during a time when white people in Oklahoma and Texas still regularly remarked, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

Jessie was so much more than a lawyer. She wrote poetry and made unequaled contributions to Native American and Oklahoma historical preservation. At this time, I have only begun to scratch the surface of Jessie’s work. Jessie served on the Oklahoma Historical Society Board of Directors for almost four decades from 1929 to 1956.

A Life of Service

During the Great Depression, Jessie was appointed Oklahoma Assistant Commissioner of Charites and Corrections, plus she served as director of the Women's Division of Emergency Relief of Oklahoma County. Jessie planned and organized the entire emergency relief program on the state level. In 1933, the federal government adopted that same plan for nationwide emergency assistance. (6) 

In 1937, the Oklahoma Memorial Association inducted Jessie into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for her many contributions to many causes; both public and private. But she still had 19 more years to achieve even more. She led the Indian organization of the Oklahoma Democratic Party for the election of Governor Robert S. Kerr in 1942. In 1940 and 1944, the Democratic Party elected Jessie as Presidential Elector from Oklahoma, and she traveled to Washington D.C. while carrying out the duties of that office.

U.S. Air Force Chickasaw Wing: Last Great Honor

Jessie also served as a member of the Chickasaw Council under its Governors Douglas H. Johnson and Governor Floyd Maytubby. On September 26, 1954, Jessie officially represented the Chickasaw nation in the dedication of the new Chickasaw Wing of the United States Air Force in Memphis, Tennessee, with members of the Council under Governor Douglas. Jessie documented the event and the following is an excerpt,

"The welcome address of Colonel William E. Patterson, Commander of The Memphis Air Reserve Flying Center, and the Honorable Frank Toby, Mayor of Memphis, were full of most gracious hospitality and sincerely appreciated by the assembly, especially the Chickasaws who felt they had returned to their old homeland after a long absence." (7)


Jessie died quietly from a year-long illness in 1956. Her pallbearers were of Chickasaw blood per her request and included the Honorable Floyd Maytubby and Justice Earl Welch of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

A lady named Victoria Paul from Paul’s Valley who knew Jessie for 60 years gave this account about Jessie to be read at her funeral,

"She was in every part a lady. She could look the world in the face with a clear conscience. In all the years I knew her, I never heard her speak, even once, any evil of anyone; and she was a friendly woman. She visited the sick, no matter if they had a contagious disease, and would stay and help if they needed her and carry food if they needed it, which was often the case in early times." (8)

Jessie E. Moore is identified on Chickasaw Dawes Enrollment card #418, Roll # 4449, age 27 in 1898, daughter to W.C. Randolph and Sallie Randolph (Chickasaw).

Closing Thoughts

I may not always write about the exciting wild, wild, west aspects of our history, but we must celebrate and emulate the women and men who made immeasurable contributions to their communities and their country. If I could research everything about Jessie, her relatives, and her life, this story would turn into a book.

I am not through researching Mrs. Jessie E. R. Moore. If any readers out there are connected to anyone in the Love family that keeps a family history archive or may know of Muriel Hazel Wright, a Chickasaw protégé of Jessie Moore’s, and her work, please contact me. My contact information is in my bio above every article I write.

You may finish reading Jessie’s poem, Lines Written on an Indian’s Face, from the beginning of this article at:

I will leave you with the link to the historical account of Indian Nation and the Civil War that Jessie wrote entitled The Five Great Indian Nations for the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 29, page 324.

The direct link:

The link to all of the volumes of the Chronicles of Oklahoma:

(The volumes continue to volume 80 in two other links on this page)


1. Jessie R. Moore. “Lines Written on an Indian’s Face,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 22 no. 1 (Spring 1944): 99. Accessed May 10, 2017.

2. Oklahoma Cemeteries; Love County Cemetary Page; Accessed May 11, 2017.

3. J. Y. Bryce, “Temporary Markers of Historic Points,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 8, no. 3 (Fall 1930): 282. Accessed May 5, 2017.

4.Muriel H. Wright, “Jessie Elizabeth Randolph Moore,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 34, no. 4 (Winter 1956): 392. Accessed May 5, 2017.

5. [S1151243] Chickasaw Nation Records, microfilm CKN, (Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, OK).#2, Dawes Case No.103. ©, v. 9.2.1, Earnest Lawrence - 1968 – 2017.Accessed May 5, 2017

6.. Muriel H. Wright, “Jessie Elizabeth Randolph Moore,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 34, no. 4 (Winter 1956): 392. Accessed May 5, 2017.

7. Jessie R, Moore, Notes and Documents, “Memphis Air Force Flying Field Dedication,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 33 no. 4 (Winter 1955): 246. Accessed May 11, 2017.

8. Muriel H. Wright, “Jessie Elizabeth Randolph Moore,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 34, no. 4 (Winter 1956): 392. Accessed May 5, 2017.





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