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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
The Osages -
Grace Snake Hide


Grace Snake HideGRACE SNAKE HIDE, Indian name, Wet Moccasins. Born 1886, Died January 13, 1917. Roll number 103. This is a valuable portrait since it reveals the everyday costume of the early Osage people. The skirt with the fringes on it was probably actually a blanket the women simply wrapped around them and tucked in at the waist somewhat like the women of another race wore the sari. Grace is wearing lovely soft moccasins with long leather leggins. Look closely and you can see how the blouse was made. Notice the shoulder seam drops a good way off her shoulder and the sleeve is sewn on there. These blouses were simple and were easily made by just folding a length of material in two, cutting a hole for the neck, sewing the sides together and then with another straight strip of cloth the sleeves were made. When the Osage children were taken to boarding schools, their names were changed to Christian names. This was the case with the name Snake Hide. It would become Berry. This name changes could mean each child would have a different last name. Also, the Osages would keep or hide their eldest daughter from the school people and this girl would retain her Osage name, also different from the other children. See these old photographs and be intensely curious about these people who lived and breathed the air we breathe but in a different era. We too can become humbled. The sharing of sorrows and joys by one of their heirs is privileged material. In this case, Robert L. Smith of Pawhuska who is the only son of Ethel and Goshen Smith. Goshen Smith is the son of the man on the right, Jeff Smith. Jeff Smith is the grandfather to Robert L. Smith. Jeff is the brother-in-law to the maiden in this picture, Grace Snake Hide.

Grace Snake Hide was married to Tom Butler and was divorced. She died at an early age of twenty-seven (27). This was the period of time after the soldiers came home from Europe with the deadly influenza plague. Grace's entire family died within eight or nine months of each other. The plague was so great the Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma was established at this time in order to meet the crisis. Grace had a sister, Esther, and she was the only one to survive. Esther is the grandmother of Robert L. Smith, one of her brave heirs who was willing to share this precious information that future generations may see and know their ancestors.

One has to understand this was the time of change for the Osage people. It was not acceptable for a girl to choose her own husband. She was to have an arranged union. When Grace married of her choice she overlooked the governing laws of the tribe which she may have felt were not going to be strictly enforced. She married from her own district which was not acceptable. When the elders did not approve, she was made to come to a divorce.

Speaking of district one refers to the three districts of the tribe, Hominy, Fairfax, and Pawhuska. It is true there is one tribe, but these three districts divide the tribe by location. Each group hold their own ceremonies individually, called E-lon-schkahs. While all are attended by the other they are held at the location of their own area.

This Snake Hide family's allotment is shown as the Berry allotment on the maps. It is directly beside the Ralston bridge. It was here Joseph H. Jones owned forty acres which he purchased from George Miller. This land was taken by the river as was the land of Wilson Kirk, an ancestor of Rose Pipestem. Wilson Kirk's original allotment became the Greyhorse cemetery, still existing, and Wilson was given a new allotment, which is now spanned by the Ralston bridge. The cemetery was created in l906 and is still well maintained and used. Robert L. Smith remembers gathering corn from that land for the table.

In its "hay day," Ralston was quite notoriously known as a gambling city. It was said to have possessed thirty-six saloons. They were in every shape and size, some elegant and some simply tents or other make shift shelters. The Osages were greatly oppressed with the restrictions placed upon them. They were, in effect, "boxed in," with all the rules governing the way they could spend their money. This little Las Vegas town of Ralston became their escape away and out from the borders of the reservation. Another location similar to Ralston was Cherryville, Kansas. Early on, the Indians had hacks or teams and it was necessary to cross the Ralston bridge in order to get into the town. Therefore, the people living at the edge of the bridge became natural witnesses to the comings and goings of the little resort like town. Wagons broke down, often at this point, and these residents also ministered to the people who were visiting. Their houses were constantly filled with a turn over of those coming and going.

Bill Hale was one of these people who was a constant visitor. It was judicated that he was the King and master mind of the crimes against the Osage but the common people would not admit they knew of his crimes. They spoke of him as benevolent, often helping families who were in desperate circumstances. Lee Otis Jones remembered him when he was a child. He said he rode a beautiful well groomed horse into town every morning, early. He could whistle with beautiful control and his favorite song was, "Cattle Call." Lee remembers it as a most pleasant memory to hear and see him riding while he whistled his carefree melodies. Today in 2000 some resent even this pleasant recall of a man who is recorded in history as a vicious killer. However, one has to think and place themselves into a time in order to understand, to speculate and to wonder about what really happened.

Jeff Smith had a brother named Sam. He was married to Hun kah Mon Kahn, Sacred Eagle, or referred to as Hicka Monka in English. She was one whose family concealed her from the authorities, keeping her at home from school, and thus preserving her name. Sam and Hunka Mon Kahn had four children, Annie, Jeff, Harry and Mamie. Hun kah Mon Kahn had a previous child, William Look Out, from a former marriage to John Look Out. Mamie was raised by a common grandmother, Nannie Jane Smith who was married to George Smith. George Smith was the father to Jefferson and Sam Smith. Esther and Grace had a brother, Andrew, who is pictured beside Ben Mahshunkashey.

Jefferson does have an expression that speaks of under currents of emotion. The speculation as to what it is has been wide. After numerous interviews it became apparent that this man was highly protective of these sisters, Esther and Grace. Photography caught his threatening attitude. He did not drop his role of "body guard," as he was paid to be at any time. He did mean business about protecting Grace and this picture shows this.

Grace had a brother, Andrew Snake Hide. He died in 1917 and is buried at Greyhorse. His roll number is 102. Esther Snake Hide, Smith, wife of Jefferson Smith was born December 24, 1884, died November 11, 1925. She is buried at Greyhorse. Her roll number is 104.




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