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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
Chilocco - Elizabeth Little Cook

Elizabeth Little CookElizabeth 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 City, Oklahoma.

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 were divorced.



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