Maggie Coon

by Jeremy Turner and Sallie Cotter Andrews

Maggie Johnson Peacock Coon was born in Wyandotte County, Kansas, sometime between 1850 and 1855.  Her name was Margaret, but she was called Maggie for short.  Her mother was Catherine Driver and her father was William Johnson, Sr.  Maggie was the sister of Allen Johnson, Sr., who was Catherine Coon Johnson’s husband.

On April 7, 1878, Maggie had a little girl whom she named Martha Jane Wright.  Martha Jane went to live with another family, but in later years she and Maggie were reunited.  Martha Jane attended the Seneca Indian School where she boarded.  She worked in the laundry, washed dishes, and served at the table during meals.  Martha Jane Wright lived to be 106 years old.  At the age of 104 she was living with her granddaughter, Ruth Dempsey, and was featured in their local newspaper in Merced, California, where she told of her Wyandotte heritage and that she was the granddaughter of George Wright, a noted Indian interpreter.  Martha Jane’s grandson, LeRoy Rhodes (born Dec. 20, 1932), remembers his grandmother and his great-grandmother whom they called “Ma Coon.”  LeRoy’s mother was Lola Marie Wright Rhodes.

Maggie was first married to Isaac Peacock, Jr., around 1880.  Isaac was a member of the Bear Clan and was labelled by Barbeau as the most conservative member of the traditional breech-cloth band of Wyandottes.  This was the group of the Wyandottes that held on to the religion of their forefathers and chose to live by the old customs.  The families of this group of Wyandottes were tied closely to the Seneca-Cayuga tribe through intermarriage and the continued adherence to the old ceremonies and feasts.  Maggie and Isaac Peacock had five children together:  Charlotte, Katheryn, Philip, Elizabeth, and Alex.

After Isaac’s death, Maggie married John Coon, a member of the Bear Clan, around 1906.  John was born in Wyandotte County, Kansas, and was a veteran of the Civil War.  He fought for the Union as a member of the Indian Homeguard.  John and Maggie had known each other their entire lives.  John was also a member of the breech-cloth band.  John and Maggie never had any children together.  John died June 2, 1911, and is buried in the Wyandotte Indian Cemetery near the Wyandotte Nation tribal headquarters.

Maggie remained a widow after the death of John and was cared for by her daughter, Martha Jane.  Maggie had a beautiful Wyandotte face which reflected her personality.  She loved handbags and clearly enjoyed her Wyandotte heritage.  Maggie (Ma Coon) passed away from a heart attack on January 21, 1945, in Miami, Ottawa County, Oklahoma.   At the time of her death, she was over 80 years old.  She is buried in the Wyandotte Indian Cemetery near the Wyandotte Nation tribal headquarters.

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