• Terry Ligon

Vignettes of Indian Territory Freedmen


Ardena DARNEAL Chickasaw Freedwoman #927

Ardena Darneal-Jones was born March 17th1897 in Braden, Indian Territory on the on the former slave plantation of John Ring. The Ring Plantation became a sharecropper’s community and township during reconstruction in Indian Territory.


Ardena was the youngest of the family having a brother named Montville Arnolds who was born in 1891. Ardena’s mother, Fannie Colbert was a Chickasaw Freedmen that was born in 1871 in the Choctaw Nation. Fannie’s Mother, Hettie (Reynolds) Lucas was born in 1846, in the Choctaw Nation, she was the daughter of Bill and Tempsey Reynolds whose enslaver was Levi Reynolds.


Ardena and her mother, Fannie received their land allotment based on this lineage. They received 80 acres on the Arkansas and Oklahoma border and later sold it and move to nearby Fort Coffee, Oklahoma.

Ardena’s history was very interesting, like a lot of other freedmen of the five tribes; she was the daughter of a blood Indian and a descendant of a slave. Her father Silas Darneal was born in the year 1866 in the Choctaw Nation and died in 1929. Ardena’s family history indicates her grandfather; James Darneal was the last Sherriff and Executioner for the Choctaw Nation. Ardena’s great Grandfather, Anselon Darneal was a full blood Choctaw that never removed to Indian Territory.

Ardena married Johnnie Jones in the early 1920’s and they had ten children, my mother, Electa was the eldest. Johnnie Jones was a descendant of a black man named William Jones and Roxanna Fillyaw, a mulatto, that migrated to Indian Territory from Bartholomew Township, Lincoln County, Arkansas.

I remember the sweet, kind, generous and caring attributes she possessed. I remember how she maneuvered through the era of “Jim Crow” in Spiro, Oklahoma, easily. Because her father was a blood Indian there was an understanding, among the locals, not to bother her. Based on oral testimonies of some of my older siblings, my grandfather, Johnnie would send Ardena to Spiro to conduct business so he would not have to endure the Jim Crow practices of that era.

Ardena was a house wife all of her married life. She loved and cared for her children. My grandmother made sure they had plenty to eat and she taught them many skills and a work ethic that was has been guided me and my siblings today.


Story Written by Verdie TRIPLETT

Image Courtesy of Verdie TRIPLETT

Image Edited by Terry LIGON

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