The Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Cultural Heritage Center provides resources to keep the Tribe’s history safe and accessible for generations to come. One key way the Nation does this is through the CHC’s archives and video interviews.

To highlight some of the archive’s holdings, the Hownikan is featuring photographs and family history of every founding Citizen Potawatomi family. If interested in assisting preservation efforts by providing copies of Citizen Potawatomi family photographs, documents and more, and to schedule family interviews, please contact the CHC at 405-878-5830.

Lizzie and George Young, Jr.

The Young family is closely linked to the Vieux family. Jacques Vieux, Jr. was the son of Angelique LeRoy and Jacques Vieux. Jacques Jr. and his wife, Liz, had a daughter named Josette in 1834.

The marriage records of St. Marys Mission reveal that Josette married George L. Young on Jan. 20, 1856, at Indianola, Kansas. Witnesses were John Young and Benjamin Harris.

George would later play a critical role as the Potawatomi endured removal from their ancestral homelands to Kansas and then experienced tumultuous early years in Indian Territory.

Life in Kansas

George and Josette had three children, Anna, Alice and George, Jr.
George L. Young appears on the 1863 Kansas roll, and some documents list him as headman. George, a non-Native, played a role in the treaties of 1861 and 1867.

He was a member of the 1862 business committee, along with Joseph N. Bourassa, B.H. Bertrand, Louis Vieux, M.B. Beaubien and John Tipton. Young was also on the first Citizen Potawatomi business committee in 1867, along with I. N. Bourassa, A. F. Navarre, Narcisse Juneau and Louis Vieux.

He wrote the following in 1876, reflecting on the hardships:

“…we were told that all we had to do to become happy and prosperous was to become citizens and having always listened to the words sent us from Washington we did as the Government wished us to do. And what have been the consequences? …we found instead of being a prosperous and happy people we were a debased and unhappy one, and seeing no hope for ourselves and our children while surrounded by those influences, we came down here away from temptation to attempt to build for our families homes and at least spend the remainder of our lives in sober, industrious labor.”

Arrival in Indian Territory

The Young family was among the many Potawatomi who decided to become U.S. citizens and receive plots of allotted land in Indian Territory through the Treaty of 1867. They moved to Indian Territory in 1871 and settled in the community of Pleasant Prairie, which was established 5 miles northwest of present-day Wanette. Later, the Youngs would move to their allotment near Oberlin.

Anna (Annie) Young was born in 1860. Alice Josephine Young was born in 1870 or 1871. George L. Young, Jr. was born March 25, 1864.

One of the earliest Potawatomi day schools was called the George Young School. It was established in January 1876 but only remained open for a year as the Potawatomi families began to move to other locations.

The 1880s brought challenging times for the Potawatomi. Drought, disease and crime were the main problems.

Youngs Crossing was founded in 1893 on the south Canadian River. It was located on the allotment of George Young, Jr., and it became a principal crossing. Unfortunately, many of the crossings in heavily wooded areas contained saloons, and they became notorious for harboring criminals. Problems like excessive drinking, violence and theft followed. A patchwork of jurisdictions and authority allowed the criminal element to prosper, creating a nuisance for law abiding families.

Annie Young married Frank A. Bourbonnais. Alice Young married Edward P. Jones in 1870. George Young, Jr. married a Citizen Potawatomi woman named Elizabeth McDole.

George was known to play the violin while his wife played the organ. They also encouraged their children to learn. Elizabeth was known to be a seamstress who used her earnings for music lessons. Sadly, she died of pancreatic cancer. George Jr. died of stomach cancer on April 6, 1943.

Foundation for the future

Life in Indian Territory was challenging, but the Youngs worked to persevere. By the time Oklahoma achieved statehood in 1907, the family was among the state’s earliest inhabitants who had established many of the county’s first roads, schools, governments and communities.

Anna and Frank had a daughter named Lillie on April 16, 1883. She died on Dec. 2, 1897, and was buried at Sacred Heart.

Alice and Edward were the parents of Frank Preston, Ramona Anna and Lucille Martha. Frank Preston Jones was born in 1902 or 1903. He died on Aug. 23, 1977. Ramona Anna Jones was born in 1900. Lucille Martha Jones was born in 1905.

George and Elizabeth had nine children: Georgia Ann, Oscar Weber, Lorene (Lorine) L., Merritt L., Jesse L., Agnes, Carl, Benjamin W. and George.

Georgia Ann Young was born June 17, 1892, at Sacred Heart. She married John George Nickell at Little River, Arkansas.

Oscar Weber Young was born in 1900. He married Gracie Irene Myers and worked as an engineer.

Lorene (Lorine) Young was born in 1914 in Oakland, Oklahoma, and grew up in Stonewall. In a 1983 interview in the CHC archives, she shared that she took piano lessons as a child and practiced hours each day. Lorene said they had no vehicle, hot water or electricity, and they used soda and salt for toothpaste. The family raised their own vegetables and fruit and then canned hundreds of jars and stored them in the family cellar. The family used 25 pounds of ice each day for their ice box.

Lorene married Guy Ernest Marsh on New Year’s Day (year unknown) in Hutchison, Kansas. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Ann. After Guy died, Lorene and Elizabeth moved to Ada, Oklahoma, and Lorene worked as a bookkeeper, typist and receptionist.

Merritt was born on Oct. 10, 1903, in Wichita, Kansas, and passed away on Jan. 18, 1991.

Jesse L. was born on Nov. 10, 1902, and owned a clothing store in Ada, Oklahoma, called Stevens Ready to Wear. He was married to Tess Young. They divorced, and he married Juanita Harris Young. Jesse died of cancer.

Agnes Young Eished had a son, Max Earnest. Max would later serve in the U.S. Marines but died during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Carl Young was born Feb. 1, 1908. He died on June 16, 1909, and was buried at Sacred Heart.

Sadly, George died during childbirth and was buried at Sacred Heart.

Generations flourish

Many of the Young descendants would become integral to the growth of small Oklahoma communities like Ada and Stonewall.

Jesse Louis Nickell was born July 21, 1910, in Ada. He married Sibyl Potter and worked as a farmer. Edgar Leon Nickell was born in 1914. He married Lois Nadine Dillard. Edgar died on May 17, 1985. Kenneth Austell Nickell was born in Stonewall on June 25, 1918. He married Lydia Ophelia Cooper and worked as a carpenter and mechanic. They had three children, Mary Alice Nickell Arredondo, Judy Ann Ramsey and Delora Ann Nickell Goodson Wilkes. Kenneth died on Jan. 19, 1986.

George Louis Nickell was born in Ada on June 22, 1937. Edgara Dale Nickell was born in Bakersfield, California, on March 31, 1941.
Jesse Louis Nickell Jr. was born Feb. 16, 1933, in Erick, Oklahoma. JoAnn Frances Nickell was born on Jan. 23, 1937, in Greer County, Oklahoma.

Delora Ann Nickell was born on March 10, 1953, in Bakersfield, California. She lived in Lamont, California, and later moved to Shawnee, Oklahoma. Marie Alice Nickell was born on May 10, 1948, in Granite, Oklahoma.

With little more than their strong bonds and belief in unrelenting hard work, the Young family persevered against hardship and created the foundations upon which their descendants, and several Oklahoma communities, would flourish.

If interested in assisting preservation efforts by providing copies of Citizen Potawatomi family photographs, documents and more, and to schedule family interviews, please contact the CHC at 405-878-5830. Schedule interviews online at Learn more about the Family Reunion Festival at, and find research resources online at