CHRISTOPHERS and the Trail of Tears
Christophers, Johnsons and Pippins

UPDATED Nov 24, 2012     UPDATED Jan. 12, 2013  Updated March 2014

VIOLET DESPAIN Durham & DeSpain would grow up to marry THOMAS JEFFERSON DURHAM and give birth to BRUCE EDWARD DURHAM  who would marry MILDRED LaFAYE PIPPIN.   Mildred's parents were ELBERT LEE PIPPIN and MILDRED JANE JOHNSON.  Mildred's maternal line descends from the CHRISTOPHERS.  This webpage is about the Native American Indian PIPPIN/CHRISTOPHER ancestry and is set up in reverse order for the benefit of two of my grandchildren

The genealogy of :  Cherokee Pippin  American Indian Heritage is listed as found in research solely.


3rd Ggrandpts: James Thomas Johnson (AL/MO)  1/4 Blackfoot & Swedish
& Easter Lavinia

GGgrandparents: Mildred Jane Johnson (OK/AR) >1/2 Cherokee + part Blackfoot  Elbert Lee Pippin (TN/AR)

Grandmother: Mildred LaFaye "Nana" Pippin (KS) >1/4 Cherokee + part Blackfoot & Thomas Durham

5th Ggrandpts: Andrew Christopher  (TN/AR)  FULL CHEROKEE
&  Easter Elizabeth LNU (Trail of Tears) (KY or TN/AR) FULL CHEROKEE

4th Ggrandpts: George Washington Christopher  FULL CHEROKEE (AR/OK) & Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" "Babe" Smith (AR/?)
Note:  Since all their children are believed to be full Cherokee, it should mean that Lizzie's family is also Full Cherokee.  Unknown.

3rd Ggrandpts: Easter Lavinia Christopher (AR/CA)  FULL CHEROKEE
&  James Thomas Johnson (AL/MO) 1/4 Blackfoot & Swedish
new!!  NOTE:  Easter's brother Andrew William Christopher (Cherokee) M. Emma Johnson (CHOCTAW)

GGgrandparents: Elbert Lee Pippin (TN/AR) & Mildred Jane Johnson  (OK/AR) >1/2 Cherokee + part Blackfoot

Grandmother: Mildred LaFaye "Nana" Pippin (KS)  >1/4 Cherokee + part Blackfoot & Thomas Durham


See Also   Smiths  Smith/Christopher

Dear Grandchildren,

Your great grandparents on mom's side were Bruce Edward Durham and Mildred LaFaye Pippin.  This is about your Great Grammy Mildred LaFaye Pippin and her American Indian ancestors.

Your great great grandparents on Mildred LaFaye's side were her parents, Elbert Lee Pippin and Mildred Jane Johnson Pippin.  These 2nd great grandparents were born within a few years of the turn of the century for the 1900s.   Mildred Jane Johnson (born May 28, 1912 in Oklahoma City) was more than half Cherokee American Indian and part Blackfoot Indian .

Your Great Great Grandmother, Mildred Jane Johnson Pippin

Mildred Jane Johnson Pippin was the daughter of James Thomas Johnson, who is believed to be 1/4 Blackfoot Indian plus Swedish,  and his full-blooded Cherokee American Indian wife, Easter Lavinia Christopher , your 3rd great grandparents.   Easter Lavinia's mother walked the Trail of Tears in 1838-1839.  Mildred Jane was one of 16 children!  She had a brother, Noble Doc Johnson, who I learned from a cousin descendant was a sharecropper and as a  child he picked 600 lbs a day of cotton.  Mildred and Nobel's family moved by covered wagon to and from Texas and Arkansas, but most of the time they were residents of Arkansas.  At one time the family lived on a houseboat and just two weeks after they moved, the houseboat sank because the children had been picking off the tar which held the boat together.  Why would they want the tar?  They used it as chewing gum! Nobel married Sibyl Louise and they were wedded 59 years.  He died at age 95. Mildred lived to be 87.  See Obituary of Nobel Doc Johnson for more details; provided through the work of Cheryl Zeimer on 

Mildred died on May 28 in 1999 in Rogers, Arkansas...about eight years after she lost Elbert Lee.  She is buried in Elm Springs Arkansas.

Your great, great granddad Elbert Lee Pippin was born October 6th 1909 in Fannin TX. He ultimately died in Rogers, AR on 21 March 1991.   

Elbert married his bride Mildred Jane Johnson in 1928.   

When first married, Elbert and Mildred Jane Pippin lived with his folks, Mack and Mary at 1844 Silver St. in Wichita, KS.  This is a home that Mack rents.  Elbert in the 1930 census is listed as 19 and Mildred as "17."  Elbert and Mildred married when she was 16 and he 19.  This census of 1930 lists Elbert and Mildred as both being born in Texas, with her parents from Oklahoma and Elbert's from Tennessee.  1930:



Mack Pippin





Elbert and Mildred enjoyed being a family.  They had three known children.


In 1940 GGrandmother Mildred and GGrandad Elbert lived at 1017 Fern Street in Wichita KS, and by then he was 30 and she was 28.  They lived in a home which was not a farm, but it may well have been a multi-family dwelling such as apartments.  GGrandad Elbert completed his 1st year of high school, but Mildred stopped after the 7th grade. According to this census he was born in OK and she in TX!  When I looked at the 1920 Census, Elbert was born in Tennessee.  Three daughters were living with them:  Mildred who was 10; Wanda D. who was 6; and Norma J. who was just 4.  All their daughters were born in Kansas. 


Buried at Elm Springs Cemetery in Elm Springs Arkansas


The story of your 3rd Great Grandmother Easter Lavinia Christopher:

    Great, Great, Great Grandmother
    Easter Lavinia Christopher Johnson

3rd Great Grammy, Easter Lavinia, and her siblings were all full blooded .

Easter is such an unusual name, to me.  Anyway, Easter was born on May 8th in 1881 in AR.    Easter married James Thomas Johnson, 1/4 on December 20, 1896 in Garrett, Ellis County, TX.  Jim was born on April 15, 1876 in Huntsville, AL. In 1930 Jim and Easter lived in Cheyenne, Roger Mills, OK.  She lived till November 24 1966; she died in Tulare, CA.  Both Jim (1876-1965 died in Cassville, MO)and Easter are buried back in AR in the Elm Springs Cemetery.  This family liked to move around, I guess!                                                                                                    Easter Lavinia Christopher Johnson

Easter had a sister, Sarah Annie Christopher , who would be your 3rd Great Grandaunt.  "Annie" was born in 1886 on May 8th in Little Rock, Arkansas per her SSDI.  She is younger than Easter by about 5 years.  Annie married William Frederick "Fred" Clark on July 27th, 1901 in Manchester, Red River, Texas. Some say he was part Mohawk Indian.  Annie had three children, a son Aria Allen "Slim" Clark, a daughter Wilamea Clark, both of whom are now passed away and a daughter Elizabeth "Bessie Lila" Clark.  Annie died on Christmas Eve in 1978 in Glendale, Arizona, decades after her husband Fred who died following World War II in 1947. Although there are many siblings for Easter Lavinia, I mention Annie, because of the following picture of the sisters!   I also found the picture of brother, George Madison Christopher (the the right) and Annie's husband Fred below. I know very little about George Madison who very much looks like a Native  American.


  George Madison Christopher
your 5th Great Grand Uncle

<--This is Easter Lavinia (left) and Annie (right) in the 1940s.
This is George Madison Christopher (tall), Easter Lavinia, and Annie, who are all siblings, along with Fred who is Annie's husband.

Plot Section 3 Row 30 Elm Spring Cemetery in Elm Springs, Washington County, AR

    Easter's Parents are George Washington Christopher
     and his wife, Mary Elizabeth"Lizzie" Smith
     who are your 4th Great Grandparents.
    Lizzie is the daughter of Lawson and Lavina Cox Smith (Native American Line)

Lizzie Smith is your 4th Great Grandma, and George, your 4th Great Grandpa.


Easter Lavinia's dad George Washington Christopher was a full blooded American Cherokee Indian and he certainly does look it in this picture to the left.  George delivered mail via horseback on his route from Searcy to Little Rock, Arkansas.

George braided his hair and wore a leather band around his head.  He also made American Indian pottery which he would then sell by the roadside.

In their later years, George and Lizzie moved closer to daughter Easter Lavinia's family.  Their mode of transportation?  Covered wagons!  George then helped farm for several years. 

George married his first wife, Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Smith in 1870 when he was 17 years old and she was 14.  By the way, Lizzie's parents were Lawson Smith and Lavinia Cox Crouch (widow).  Lawson and Lavinia are your 5th great grandparents on that branch.   The first child of Lizzie and George (to my knowledge) was Andrew William Christopher who was born May 11, 1868  This would make George around 21 and Lizzie about 16.  Lizzie died in 1908.  He married his second wife, Peggy Lou Beaty around 1912.  George died in Ft. Towsen, Oklahoma on the 30th of March in 1934, and he is buried at Ft. Towson/Doaksville Cemetery (Plot I 7 53).

Cherokees, as well as many other American Indians, were not inclined to declare their America Indian heritage when they were off any reservation lands.  It is one of the reasons that the research is so difficult.  Here is an example of the 1880 census listing your Cherokee ancestors as "White."

1880 Census Van Buren Union AR Dist 501 For George and Lizzie Christopher and children:

  • George Washington Christopher, your 4th GGdad, is 27 (which agrees with the information above), a "White" Male, a farmer, and was born in Arkansas to his parents were were both born in Tennessee.
  • Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie", your 4th GGmom, is 24, a "White" female, and a wife keeping house.  She and her parents are all listed as born in "Arkansas" contrary to other sources showing her parents were born in NC and IN.
  • Son,  ==> Andrew William Christopher, your 5th GGuncle is 8, a "White" male from Arkansas. Interestingly enough, Andrew's grave lists his birth as 1868 which would make him about 12! NEW:  Andrew married 3x.  This is wife Rachel Wilson Christopher with child Essie Christopher (dau. of Ora Cross Christopher) leaning against Rachel. Ora died about 1906 in TX and Essie about 1910 in OK.
  • Daughter, Molley, your 5th GGaunt is just 2, a "White" female from AR.
  • Son, George Madison Christopher, your 5th GGuncle is almost 6 months old, having been born in AR also.
  • Living with the George Christopher family is Seller Smith (Priscilla or Cilla) who is Lizzie's sister and your 4th GG Aunt.  Seller (first name) is 22 and was also born in AR as a daughter of Lawson and Lavina Smith.

From Deb Greant:  "Seller" Smith who was living with the George Christopher family is Priscilla, daughter of Lawson and Lavina Smith, and twin sister of Jacob. In 1870 their parents had died so 12-year-old "Scilla" and her twin Jacob were living with my great-grandparents Jones and Kizziah Smith and their baby daughter Lavina (page 3 HH18 Family 18) in Holley, Van Buren, Arkansas. Just down the page HH 25 is Esther Christopher and family, George, Nancy, Mary, Susan and Elizabeth, and continuing on 26 Christopher, Alfred, Nancy and two year old child May.

NOTE:  Yet to be born are the following:

  • Easter Lavinia is not born till 1881, so she is not listed in this census.
  • Dolphas Thomas "Doss" Christopher will be b. 3/31/1882 in Stonewall AR.
  • Lottie Christopher in 1884.
  • Sarah "Annie" Christopher in 1886. (Annie in above pics with Easter Lavinia)
  • Mary Elizabeth Christopher in 8 Mar 1892 in Paris TX.

Obviously this is a large family!

TRAIL OF TEARS:  George Washington Christopher's Parents (and Easter Lavinia's Grandparents) are Andrew Christopher and his wife Easter Elizabeth,
who are your 5th Great Grandparents. 

Easter Elizabeth was on the Trail of Tears with her parents and siblings in 1838-1839.  She would have been about 14 years old then.  How dreadful!

A distant cousin of yours, Cheryl Francis Ziemer, relays the basis for the following story on her family tree as told to her by LaQuita Adams, a family member: 

Your 5th Great Grandmother was born in 1825 in KY or TN.  Easter Elizabeth was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian .

Some family claim that Easter Elizabeth met Andrew Christopher when she walked the Trail of Tears.  One trail crossed Northern Van Buren County near Andrew's boyhood home.  Easter Elizabeth walked the trail of tears with her parents and she stopped in Arkansas and never went on to Oklahoma.

Many of her siblings did go on to Oklahoma as encouraged by the government in those days.  Easter Elizabeth appears to have lived in Holley in Van Buren County, Arkansas in 1879, but she died after 1880 in Shirley, Van Buren County, Arkansas.

Family Tradition says that the family members buried Easter Elizabeth's body just outside the Settlement Cemetery in Shirley, Van Buren County, AR.  This burial was done at night because American Indians were not welcomed inside the cemetery.

From the looks of this gravestone, it was placed many years after her death, within the Settlement Cemetery, in her honor and memory.

Andrew, per Cheryl's family stories, was a redheaded man whose father supposedly came to America from Ireland or Scotland.  This is unexpected since Easter is allegedly full-blooded Cherokee.  Andrew was a trapper.  He may have married Easter, or he may have just lived with her, but the gravestone ultimately placed in Settlement Cemetery for her lists her full name as Easter Christopher.  Somewhere along the line I picked up that they married in 1840, but I do not have it sourced.  I also have it in my tree that Andrew and Easter Elizabeth's first child was a daughter named Jane Christopher, born in 1841 in Van Buren County, Arkansas.  Their 6th child would be your 4th Great Grandpa George Washington Christopher.

The above gravestone notes that Easter Elizabeth Christopher died AFTER 1880.  Settlement Cemetery is in Shirley, Van Buren County, Arkansas.  Now, if this story were true, then Easter Elizabeth's children would only be half Cherokee with Andrew having Irish or Scottish parentage.  However, the web is full of indications that he was also Cherokee.  On the American Indian rolls, there are Christophers listed, so it is possible that he too was full-blooded Cherokee, living off the reservation for some time, perhaps his entire life.

Perhaps some kind readers of this website will share their INSIGHT on the history of Easter Elizabeth and Andrew Christopher, or others.

    I love you,



Let's exchange information....



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Great Great Grandmother,
 Mildred Jane Johnson Pippin





























































4th Great Granddad
 George Washington



George and Lizzie Christopher's

daughter Annie filed for SS
and named them as her parents.


California Death Index

for Easter Christopher Johnson


Andrew Christopher
 your 5th Great Grand Uncle

William Frederick FRED Clark

Annie and Fred's son:

Aria Allen "Slem" Clark

Gravestone of Aria and his wife Inez


Gravestone of Andrew William Christopher and his wife Jinnie Lela Clawson in Friendship Cem., Minco, Grady Co., OK








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