After the terrible journey to Indian Territory the Ross faction was even hotter for revenge. On June 22, 1839, they made their move. Major Ridge, who was traveling in Arkansas, stopped at White Rock Creek to water his horse and was shot twelve times from ambush and killed.
Back in Indian Territory, his son, John Ridge, was dragged from his bed at his home and stabbed more than 20 times. Then his attackers walked on his corpse as a sign of contempt while his children watched.
Meanwhile, Major Ridge’s nephew, Elisa Boudinot (Buck Watie), was approached outside his home by two Cherokee men who wanted medicine from the Watie Store. As he turned toward the store, the men attacked him with a knife and hatchet, killing him. A friend who witnessed the attack sent a boy to the store to warn Elisa’s brother, Stand Watie, who fled to safety.
In 1842, Stand Watie killed one of the men who had murdered his uncle. In 1845, Stand Watie’s brother, Thomas Watie, was killed by the Ross faction. During the coming year there were more than 30 killings between the two factions.
Stand Watie was elected to the Cherokee Council in 1845 and served until 1861. He then served as Principal Chief from 1862 to 1866. During that time he also fought for the Confederates in the Civil War.
Watie and his Cherokee Mounted Rifles fought at Wilson’s Creek in 1861 and in 1862 at the Battle of Pea Ridge just across the line in Arkansas. Before the war was over they had fought in 18 battles and he had risen to the rank of brigadier general.
Stand Watie died in 1871 at the age of 65, having survived both the Blood Law “war” and the Civil War.
When Watie formed the Cherokee Mounted Rifles in 1861, he was chosen as colonel and his nephew Elisa Boudinot, Jr. was chosen as major. Elisa, Jr. was a lawyer, who successfully defended Watie on murder charges after one of the killings in the Blood Law war.
At the age of 25 he was elected as chairman of the Democratic State Committee in Arkansas. He also served as editor of the True Democrat. After the Civil War, he and his Uncle Stand went into business together. Elisa, Jr. died in 1890 at Fort Smith, Ark., and the news of his death made the New York Times.
John Rollin Ridge, who was the son of John Ridge and the grandson of Major Ridge, was 12 when he saw his father murdered. Afterward his mother took her sons to Fayetteville, Ark., where he grew up to study law.
But he didn’t forget his father’s murder and in 1849 he killed one of the murderers. He then fled to Springfield and after a short time joined with a group of young men headed to the gold fields of California.
John Rollin Ridge didn’t find gold, but he did find lasting fame in California. He worked as a newspaper editor and in 1854 he became the first Native American novelist when he published a popular fictional account of a California outlaw entitled “The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit.” He died in that state in 1867.
John Rolling Ridge had a brother named Aeneas Ridge who was a very young boy when his father was murdered. As an adult, Aeneas married a white woman who was kin to the John Danforth and William C. Price families in the Springfield area. William Price had served as the U.S. Treasurer under President James Buchanan and the Danforths were a prominent Greene County family.
After his father’s death, Aeneas grew up in Arkansas where he would practice medicine until his early death at the age of 25.
One of his sons, Aeneas Ridge, Jr. was born the same year his father died. He and his mother lived for a while with the Danforths near Springfield. When Aeneas, Jr. was 10, he lived for a time with his great-uncle, Stand Watie. As a young man he became a school teacher in Indian Territory.
On July 10, 1882, while drinking with friends on the Grand River, he shot a black man. He was arrested but skipped bail and fled to the Ozarks where he worked for his mother’s cousin, Joe Danforth, at his mill on Petelo Creek in Christian County. On June 12, 1883, Special U.S. Deputy Marshal J.G. White of Greenfield, and three others approached the mill under cover of the surrounding woods.
When the posse announced themselves, Aeneas Jr. pulled out his revolver and began firing. The posse returned fire and Aeneas Jr.’s life ended at 23 years.
In August, a grand jury convened in Christian County issued murder warrants for the posse members. The resulting trial in Ozark in March of 1884 included the victim’s cousin, Elias Boudinot, Jr., working with the prosecution, but the jury acquitted the posse.
While Aeneas Jr. did not die because of the Blood Law, his was the last in a series of killings that plagued the Ridge family through several generations.