Little Cook, Pensoneau, Hernandez.
Born April 16, 1884. Died September l3,
1963. She is buried at the I.O.O.F. cemetery, Catholic section, Ponca
At the age of five years old Elizabeth was
ordered away from her parents home and placed in a boarding school at
White Eagle, Oklahoma, as were all the Native American children. The
school was very strict and some of the elders living now remember how they
were switched if they spoke their own language instead of English.
Elizabeth remembers being so young the superintendent carried her about in
his arms on occasion. She remembered learning to put on button-up shoes
with a button hook and wearing these rather than the soft moccasins to
which she was accustomed.
Elizabeth, "Lizzie, " was
probably around sixteen when this picture was taken while she was a
student at Chilocco Indian School. Her rank was that of Captain in the
military school. She was small in stature but her leadership qualities
enabled her to manage the older, bigger girls. In 1904 she was selected to
go to Saint Louis to the World Fair because of her math abilities. She
never forgot the trip.
She used her lease money to hire a private
tutor in banking and secretarial skills while she was in school. She
learned short hand and typing and with these skills she worked for the
attorney A.W. Comstock in Ponca City, Oklahoma, where she acted as an
interpreter for the Indian people who came into his office. In this way
she was able to serve her own people and the court system as well. She
also worked at the Newkirk County Court house as court clerk recording all
trial procedure with shorthand.
Sam Little Cook, Lizzie's father, was
clever in choosing to educate her from between her sisters and brothers,
Fannie, Annie, Creth, David and Henry. She was the youngest.
Narcisse Pensoneau was Lizzie's first
husband. They were school mates at Chilocco and when she fell in love with
him they were married and had two children, Edward Richard Pensoneau and
Velma Louise Pensoneau. Narcisse was the descendant of a French trader and
his family had more contact with the ways of the Anglo world. He was hard
working, quick thinking, a good manager and clever with getting a good
deal in his trading. However, he was not above mixing and socializing with
the local citizens.
One has to remember, Lizzie was not removed
from her culture and there were definite laws governing this sort of
thing. She had more or less broken one of these laws by marrying out of
her tribe. Since so many of the Ponca men died during the trek from
Nebraska this was looked over. The rowdiness of rough drinking and mixing
with Anglo women would not be overlooked or tolerated at the time. On one
of Narcisse's returns from such an outing, Lizzie met him at the drive,
jerked the buggy whip from its carrier and whipped Narcisse's horses until
they ran away with him. He left, never returned and two years later they