Select Oakes Miscellany

Here are some Oakes stories and accounts over the years:

Oakes and Noakes

Oakes have predominated in the northwest, Noakes in the southeast.  The table below shows the incidence of these two surnames in the 1891 UK census.







The Oakes Diaries

James Oakes was active in local politics, and knew, or was related to, most of the businessmen, clergy and parish gentry in and around Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.  He was a banker himself, as well as an alderman of the town, school governor, and Justice of the Peace. 

In 1778 he began to write the diaries which he kept faithfully for the next 49 years.  Their span - half a century covering the American Revolution and the great wars with revolutionary and Napoleonic France - makes them a unique reflection and measure of the industry and trade, banking and politics of a small East Anglian town, a microcosm of English provincial society.


George Oakes from Cheshire to Australia

George Oakes came to Austalia as a convict on the Speke in 1826 after having been convicted in Cheshire.  It seems that he had been involved in a poaching incident where John Eadley had shot at a Thomas Jackson.  The trial transcript showed:     

"That John Eadley of Somerford Booths in the county of Chester with a certain gun loaded with gunpowder did unlawfully shoot at one Thomas Jackson with the intent to kill and murder him; and that George Oakes of the same Somerford Booths did counsel and abet John Eadley in the said felony.

The defendants pleaded not guilty.  The jury found the men guilty on the third count of the charge.

The death sentence was pronounced against both, but the sentence was commuted.  John Eadley was transported for the term of his natural life and George Oakes for a term of seven years."

In Australia George Oakes was able to obtain his ticket of leave, marry a young girl from Limerick and have his first child, only to be convicted again in 1834 in Burrowa for stealing a bullock.  He was sent to Norfolk Island and then to Tasmania.  He obtained his release again and died in the Murringo area of New South Wales.

Nathaniel Oak on His Arrival in America

Of Nathaniel Oak's coming to America, there is the following record - doubtless his own statement - handed down to his granchildren and by the son of one of them (John Conant) inscribed in the family Bible:

"The grandfather of my mother was a cabin-boy on an English vessel bound to Boston.  Nine miles from land the vessel foundered.  All the ship's crew, except the boy whose name was Oaks, were lost.  He, being a good swimmer, swam ashore. 

In his distress he solemnly promised the Lord if He would preserve him to get to land he would never go onto the water again. This promise he sacredly kept.  His wife, my great-grandmother, could never persuade him even to cross Charles River in a boat to Boston.  He would always go around upon the neck. 

Thus he reached his new home, poor and penniless, without even clothes to cover him; and, as was then the custom, having no friends in America he was bound out to earn his living.  His master set him to work in a pitch-pine forest to pick up pine knots.  In this employ he was attacked by a catamount or wildcat which he slew with a large pine knot. 

The above account I have often heard my mother and my uncles relate."

Thomas W. Oakes - Indian Blood in Oklahoma

Indian Pioneer History Project
Interview with Lem W. Oakes in Hugo, Oklahoma on April 12, 1937.
Name: Lem W. Oakes
Date of Birth: December 31, 1857
Place of Birth: Goodwater, OK
Father: Thomas W. Oakes (born in North Carolina)
Mother: Harriet N. Everidge (born in the Choctaw nation, Mississippi)

My father's name was Thomas W. Oakes.  He was a white man.  His birth place was North Carolina, but he left there young and went to Mississippi from there to come to the Indian Territory about 1837 - to a place on Red River called Pine Bluff Ferry, about twenty miles from what is now Hugo.  Pine Bluff ferry was a landing place for the steamboats which came up Red River.

He met and married my mother, Harriet N. Everidge soon after they had both come here.  They settled on a farm that they cleared about four miles northeast of what is now Frogville.  There was a school called Goodwater which Presbyterian missionaries from up north had built.  There were several buildings at Goodwater.  But at the time of the war the Confederate soldiers were stationed in them and just tore them up and destroyed them.  The buildings they put up after that were never too good.

There were nine of us children, four of whom are still living.  Doc Oakes lives three miles east of Hugo, George Oakes lives in Oklahoma City, and our sister, Mrs. Jeter, lives near Fort Worth with some of her children. 

We got to go to school about two or three months in the year.  We hadn't much time to go to school.  We all had to work.  Big, little, old and young.  We had hogs, cattle and horses, chickens etc., and had these to attend to because we raised everything we had to eat and almost everything we had to wear.  We raised cotton for our cotton clothes, and wool for our wool ones. Mother spun, wove and corded and made our clothes.  For years we had only corn bread, cooked of course different ways. Then we got to raising wheat. Father put in a little grist mill and we would ground wheat and eat the whole wheat flour.

Father died a long time, many years, before Mother did.  He was 75 when he died.  Mother lived to be nearly 81.  She was younger than he was.  They are both buried at Goodwater in the Oakes graveyard. I was married in 1879 to Lucy Smith, a girl from Arkansas.  We settled two miles east of what is now Hugo and raised our family there.  Seven children were born to us, all of them living in and near Hugo.

The Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, July 7 1943, Sir Harry Oakes was murdered at his Nassau estate in the Bahamas where he was living.  

At the time of his murder his wife Eunice and their three sons were at the family residence in Bar Harbor, Maine.  His 18-year old newly married daughter Nancy was spending the summer in Vermont while her husband Alfred Fouquereaux de Marigny remained in Nassau.  Marigny was thought to be a gold-digger and was disliked by many of the family members. 

Harry Oakes had been struck in the head with a triangular shaped object that had pierced is skull in four places.  His body had then been placed on a bed, soaked with gasoline, and set ablaze.  A severe storm ironically saved the Oakes estate from being completely destroyed by putting out the fire before it could spread.  Harold Christie, a family friend who had been staying overnight, discovered his body the next morning.  Christie claimed not to have heard or seen anything.  Marigny, questioned by the police, had also been in the area of the estate that night and appeared to have singed hair on his arms.

The killing of Sir Harry Okaes presented the Governor of the Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor, with a problem. He believed that the local police lacked the expertise to investigate the crime and, it being wartime and difficult to bring detectives across the Atlantic from London, he turned instead to two US policemen he knew in the Miami force.  Within two days of their arrival, Melchen and Barker arrested Oakes' son-in-law Marigny and charged him with the murder. 

Alfred Fouquereaux de Marigny had admitted to being near Oakes's house on the night of the murder, was known to be on bad terms with the multimillionaire, and was said to be short of money.  He said that he had been attending a party nearby and had driven a female companion home past the estate.  But he denied any knowledge or responsibility for the murder.  Even so, all Nassau was convinced of his guilt.  He was committed to trial and a rope ordered for his hanging. 

At the trial, the primary piece of evidence against Marigny was a fingerprint of his which Barker claimed to have found on a screen near the bed where Oakes had been killed.  Since Marigny had not been to the house for many months and prints deteriorated quickly in Nassau's humidity, this promised to be conclusive evidence against him.  

In cross-examination, Marigny's counsel gradually broke apart the crown's case that his client had killed to get his hands on Nancy's vast inheritance.  It transpired that the fingerprint produced in court had been lifted clean off the screen so that no trace of the powdered original remained.  Nor could Barker show convincingly where on the screen it might have been.  This lent force to the defense suggestion that Barker had framed Marigny with a print of his taken from a glass.  Though Marigny's alibi and witnesses proved shaky, his wife Nancy did not.  As the last person to be called, Nancy made a considerable impact on the jury.  With a finely honed sense of the dramatic, she appeared to almost faint while giving evidence and later walked out during the crown attorney statement, claiming that she could not bear to hear "such filthy things" said against her husband.

Within two hours of being sent out, the jury returned their verdict, a sensational one which acquitted Alfred Fouquereaux de Marigny on a majority count.  There were wild celebrations outside the courthouse and he was chaired aloft by the largely black crowd.  However, the all-white jury did attach a rider that Marigny and a friend of his, the Marquis de Visdelou, should be deported from the Bahamas.  Marigny had alienated the colony's officials and mercantile class with his contempt for their conventionality. 

Sir Harry Oakes' death remains a mystery and has been the subject of much speculation over the years.  A number of books, a movie, and a mini series have been made about his life and the unsolved murder. 

The Oakes of Akwesasne in Snye, Quebec

Richard Oakes (1880-1963) and his wife Margaret Brown Oakes (1883-1964) lived on the St. Regis Akwesasne reservation in Snye, Quebec.  Their son Alex, born in 1925, was chief of the Akwesasne Mohawks in the 1960's.  Daughter Mabel raised two children, Lawrence and Richard.  Richard Oakes became a Native American activist until his murder in California in 1972.  Today Annabelle Oakes makes baskets in the traditional way her grandmother did.     

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