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Emma Adeline "Addie" Perryman

The Renaissance Neighborhood History project originally set out to learn about the homes built here.  We have a range of classic bungalows, adorable gingerbread brick cottages and some magnificent Tudors and four squares. However, along the way I found that our neighborhood was the original land allotment two Muscogee woman. Sisters.  I then set out to learn as much as I could about both of them. One question I had was, did they live on their land?  If so where?   This post is about one of them.  Her name is Addie Perryman. Her land made up the West side our neighborhood.  You can read about her sister, Mary Jane, here

Addie Perryman
About 1899, Age 14

In my search to learn about Addie and her land I discovered bits and pieces about her life.  Newspaper articles, documents tucked into property abstracts and a few surviving court records tell of tragedies, trauma and trials.  Trials as in ordeals but also literal coverage of trials!  The newspaper clippings share more than facts, the language communicates the climate of the day.  The racist and exploitative themes seem so obvious now, but maybe they always did? 

The earliest documented misadventure unfolds in July 1906.  Addie and her older brother, Nathan, were feared drowned. 

The story read as follows:  

Nathan and Addie Perryman, wealthy young Creek Indians, in attempting to cross Mingo Creek, which is swollen by heavy rains this afternoon, are supposed to have been drowned.  

 The story is first printed in Tulsa, quickly circulated to papers in surrounding communities (Stigler, Coweta, Supulpa)

A subsequent article provided more information reported from Addie and Nathan’s mother, Clarissa.  The article paraphrased explains:

Nathan, a young man of about 17, had married in the fall of 1905.  His bride was a divorced, white woman, ten years his senior.  There was open talk that she had pursued the marriage for “the pot of money supposed to go with an Indian.”  When the marriage did not prove so spontaneously lucrative, the woman developed a habit of wandering off.  Nathan would “ever follow after her, effect a reconciliation and bring the recalcitrant spouse back to the family domicile.” On the occasion in July 1906, Nathan’s bride was thought to have taken up with some “gypsies” who were passing through town and left with them. Nathan pursued and Addie followed.  Finding the creek overflowing at the bridge, Nathan and Addie plunged in and forded the creek on their own. 

A brief follow-up to the story appeared a few days later but did not receive the circulation of the original article.  On July 11th the Tulsa Tribune reported:  

 Nathan Perryman, who was supposed to have been drowned Monday evening while crossing the stream near the Country Club grounds, was in the city today and says there was nothing in the rumor.  He said the stream was not swift and was very easy to cross. 

I can’t resist a slight tangent here- an article clipping from 1917.    Just in case anyone needs proof of the overt racist climate in the late teens, I’m including this article here and it is transcribed below.


Tulsa Tribune, 1917

Nathan Perryman, member of the historic creek Indian family of that name has a grievance.  He was arrested recently by police on a normal charge.  On the police blotter he was registered as a negro male.  The police reporter, being a newcomer, naturally wrote the story that way.  Imagine Nate’s surprise when he saw in the newspaper:  “Nathan Perryman, colored.”  There’s a whole lot of difference between and Indian and a negro.  You can hardly blame Nate for being hostile. 

But onto happier subjects:   


On a Friday in late March of 1908, two of the Perryman sisters, Addie and Mary Jane, with their respective beaus secured marriage licenses in Tulsa county.  Addie was about 23 and Oliver Davis was about 27 years old.  Both couples were married in short order. It is likely that Addie and Oliver had grown up together.  Oliver’s father, the notorious Sam Davis, had abandoned Oliver and he had been taken in by George and Rachel Perryman, Addie’s aunt and uncle. George and Rachel Perryman were pillars of the community and the Perryman family certainly had large gatherings and thw would have known each other.   

A few years later we see emergence of the challenges of being a property holding woman.  The following is paraphrased from a document found in a property abstract. 

That from a date prior to July 1, 1910, said lands had been in the open and notorious possession of M. H. Mosier …said land has been adversely possessed by M. H. Moser… during the summer of 1910 …M. H. Mosier ….utilized said lands for haying purposes and cut the hay therefrom.  And continued annually so to do.  later Mosier surveyed the same lots, blocks and partially graded them for the purpose of marketing them for residence purposes.  Possession of said land has been adverse to Addie Perryman, and that adverse possession has continued for more than fifteen years. "

Later in 1910, Oliver and Addie, with her mother, Clarissa attended a horse race/trading event near present day Oaklawn Cemetery.  They were, perhaps, having a lovely afternoon, when a drunk and obnoxious horse trader, a Mr. Al Boone, inappropriately solicited Addie. An altercation broke out between Oliver and Boone.  Oliver carried a small side arm.  He shot and killed Mr. Boone.  Oliver fled the scene but turned himself over to the authorities shortly thereafter.   

Lucinda Boone 
Oliver Davis, Addie, nee Perryman, Davis, his wife and Clarissa Bell (Addie's mother)

The object and purpose of said action is to recovery damages of the defendants in the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars for the unlawful and wrongful killing of Al Boone, the husband of the plaintiff on the 14th day of May 1909.  

Newspapers of the day provided some details:
The Weekly Chieftain (Vinita, Oklahoma) May21, 1909

The Coweta Courier, May 20, 1909

The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, May 18, 1909

Muskogee Times-Democrat (Muskogee Oklahoma) June 5, 1909

The Daily Oklahoman Sun May 30, 1909

The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) April 10, 1910
The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) June 1, 1909

Oliver was initially denied bail, but was shortly released on $10,000 bond  paid by his “tribesman”. Meanwhile, Clarissa was approach by men representing themselves as agents of the court, promising to drop charges and free her son-in-law for a price.  Clarissa paid the conmen several thousand dollars.   These con men were never brought justice and charges against them were dropped due to "lack of evidence."


Oliver did go to trial, jurors deliberated for 12 hours, before a hung jury in was declared.  Nearly a year later, a second trial didn’t seem to get much coverage, the outcome isn’t known but Oliver does’t seem to spent much time, if any incarcerated.    

(Photograph sourced from Floral Haven slide show for Wavel Davis Ashbaugh's funeral service.  This is believed to be Oliver and Addie with baby Wavel.  About 1911)

Addie was 34 years old when she walked into the Tulsa County Court house in June of 1919.  She had taken time off from the cigar factory where she worked to make ends meet.  An attorney accompanied her, and Judge Redmond S. Cole presided over the case.  Addie wanted a divorce.  In order to obtain the divorce, Addie had to provide reasons.  Nothing like the no fault divorces so ubiquitous today.  The telling of some of the worst events in her 11-year marriage in court room, likely full of men, white men at that, must been somber. 


Addie shared that when they were first married, Oliver had been “infested with a loathsome disease, so loathsome and so low in nature, and found that she had become molested there with.” 

Oliver had sold almost all of her allotted land in addition to squandering money and land she had inherited from her father’s estate.  One night when they were separated Oliver put a ladder up to her house and came in the window where she was sleeping and threatened her life.  He was violent, striking her until she collapsed and then standing above her lifeless form asking “What are you going to do about it?”

Addie told the court that she had stayed with him, as a dutiful wife, even when he was charged with murder.  And on this day, in June 1919, all she left to her name was a small five room house and twenty-two and half acres of land.   

Judge Cole awarded Addie the divorce and $50.00 per month in alimony. Further, Judge Cole ordered an injunction such that Oliver was warned not go near her or her home.  Oliver wasn’t in court that day. It is possible he didn’t know about the divorce for quite some time, he had joined the Army and was serving overseas in WWI. No sweetheart's welcome home for him.

From 1914-1921 the Tulsa City Directories show us that Addie did live on her land!  Her address today would be 2702 E 11th Street, right where the Mayo teaching garden is and where the new Mayo Demonstration sign stands.  In 1927 the final unplatted portion of her land, including the land her five room house was on, went to the city to Build Woodrow Wilson Middle School.  

By 1928 all of Addie’s land was gone.  The 1930 US Census shows Addie living in a rent house in what we now call the Pearl District.

Oliver and Addie had four children together, three survived to adulthood, Wavel, Leona and Oliver Junior.  Addie did remarry, so did Oliver.  Oliver went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and passed away at just 56 years old.  Addie lived to be 98 years old.  Their Daughter Wavel Davis Ashbaugh lived to be 108 years old.  

In 2015, Wavel was interviewed by John Earling from Voices of Oklahoma.  She had been born at home with a doctor attending , in that five rooms house on 11th Street in 1911.   She was 8 years old at the time of her parents’ divorce. She was 10 years old on May 31, 1921 and clearly saw the fire and smoke coming from Greenwood from their home on 11th Street.  Wavel said Addie took a black family to safety during the Race Massacre. Wavel describes her mother, as "strong and strict.”

From Wavel we learn that Addie did not have an education.  She had attended school until only about fourth grade and could not read or write.  As a result she was taken advantage of with regards to her land holdings.  Wavel specifically recalls reading land contracts aloud to her mother when she was about 12 (1922) and saying, "If you will just wait a little longer, Mama, 'till I'm grown, I'll take care of you. I'll know how to take care of you."  

Addie Perryman

Addie is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Midtown Tulsa.  Her grave is marked by a simple but substantial marker, approximately 12 x 24 made of orange, brown, grey, and blue flocked rectangular stone.  A border traces the bottom and sides of the stone before arching gently across the top.  Just inside the border, each lower corner holds small scrolls, leaves, and a flower in full bloom.  The block script reads:



MAY 18, 1885

JAN 21, 1983


From where Addie was laid to rest, one can see the illuminated Meadow Gold sign to the east and the Tulsa skyline to the West. 



The 1930 Census shows Addie Perryman renting a home at 820 S. Quaker Avenue, not far from the Renaissance Neighborhood. 


(820 S. Quaker Avenue:  Image from Google maps.  Note the tree in the front 
is old enough to have been present when Addie lived here.)

Mrs. Wavell Davis Ashbaugh, Daughter of Addie Perryman.

(Photographs by A. Mueller on 11/18/2019)

Pictures of Addie shared by JD Colbert.  Used with permission.


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