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Washington Irving at Fort Gibson, 1832

The McIntosh Creeks had been located along Arkansas River near the Verdigris on fertile timbered land which they began at once to clear, cultivate, and transform into productive farms. The treaty of 1828 with the Cherokee gave the latter a great tract of land on both sides of Arkansas River embracing that on which the Creeks were located. This was accomplished by a blunder of the Government officials, in the language of the Secretary of War,1 “when we had not a correct knowledge of the location of the Creek Indians nor of the features of the country.” This situation produced much unhappiness and contention between the people of the two tribes. The Indians had other grievances, and the Creeks took the lead in calling the attention of the officials to their needs by the preparation of a memorial in which they complained of frequent attacks upon them by bands of wild Indians from the south and west of their location. They asked the Government to appoint a commission to meet with them for the redress of their wrongs, and to call a council of the different tribes for the adoption of measures to establish peace and security in their new home. The Creek memorial and a long report by the Secretary of War on February 16, 1832, were transmitted to Congress by President Jackson,2 who recommended that three commissioners be appointed as requested in the memorial, and recommended by the Secretary. It appeared from the report of the Secretary of War that there were then west of the Mississippi twenty-five hundred Creeks, six thousand Choctaw, thirty-five hundred Cherokee and...

Memoirs of John Pitchlynn

John Pitchlynn, the name of another white man who at an early day cast his lot among the Choctaws, not to be a curse but a true benefactor. He was contemporaneous with the three Folsom’s, Nathaniel, Ebenezer and Edmond; the three Nails, Henry, Adam and Edwin; the two Le Flores Lewis and Mitchel, and Lewis Durant. John Pitchlynn, as the others, married a Choctaw girl and thus become a bona-fide citizen of the Choctaw Nation. He was commissioned by Washington, as United States Interpreter for the Choctaws in 1786, in which capacity he served them long and faithfully. Whether he ever attained to the position of chief of the Choctaws is not now known. He, however, secured and held to the day of his death not only the respect, esteem and confidence of the Choctaws as a moral and good citizen, but also that of the missionaries who regarded him as one among their best friends and assistants in their arduous labors for the moral and religious elevation of the people of his adoption. He married Sophia Folsom, the daughter and only child of Ebenezer Folsom. They had five sons, Peter P., James, Thomas, Silas and Jack, all of whom were men of fine talents and high position, reflecting credit on their ancient and honorable name, except Jack, who was led astray and finally killed. How many strange little incidents oft happen to various persons the cause of which none can satisfactorily explain; many of which are similar to the following that Major John Pitchlynn once experienced in early life! He stated to the missionaries that he, in company...

Natchez Trace

In 1792, in a council held at Chickasaw Bluffs, where Memphis, Tennessee, is now located, a treaty was made with the Chickasaws, in which they granted the United States the right of way through their territory for a public road to be opened from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. This road was long known, and no doubt, remembered by many at the present time by the name “Natchez Trace.” It crossed the Tennessee River at a point then known as “Colberts Ferry,” and passed through the present counties of Tishomingo, Ittiwamba, Lee, Pantotoc, Chickasaw, Choctaw, thence on to Natchez, and soon became the great and only thoroughfare for emigrants passing from the older states to Mississippi, Louisiana and South Arkansas. Soon after its opening, it was crowded by fortune seekers and adventurers of all descriptions and characters, some as bad as it was possible for them to be, and none as good as they might be. One of the most noted desperadoes in those early days of Mississippi’s history was a man named Mason, who, with his gang of thieves and cut-throats, established himself at a point on the Ohio river then called “The Cave in the Rock,” and about one hundred miles above its junction with the Mississippi river. There, under the disguise of keeping a store for the accommodation of emigrants, keel and flat boatmen passing up and down the river, he enticed them into his power, murdered and robbed them; then sent their boats and contents to New Orleans, through the hands of his accomplices to be sold. He, at length, left “The Cave in the Rock,”...

Life and travels of Colonel James Smith – Indian Captivities

James Smith, pioneer, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1737. When he was eighteen years of age he was captured by the Indians, was adopted into one of their tribes, and lived with them as one of themselves until his escape in 1759. He became a lieutenant under General Bouquet during the expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764, and was captain of a company of rangers in Lord Dunmore’s War. In 1775 he was promoted to major of militia. He served in the Pennsylvania convention in 1776, and in the assembly in 1776-77. In the latter year he was commissioned colonel in command on the frontiers, and performed distinguished services. Smith moved to Kentucky in 1788. He was a member of the Danville convention, and represented Bourbon county for many years in the legislature. He died in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1812. The following narrative of his experience as member of an Indian tribe is from his own book entitled “Remarkable Adventures in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith,” printed at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1799. It affords a striking contrast to the terrible experiences of the other captives whose stories are republished in this book; for he was well treated, and stayed so long with his red captors that he acquired expert knowledge of their arts and customs, and deep insight into their character.

The Creek War – Indian Wars

In the spring of the year 1812, the southern Indian tribal were visited by the bold and enterprising Tecumseh. His stirring appeals to their patriotism and valor were heard with attention, and he succeeded in stimulating them to open hostility. It is to be regretted that no specimen of the orations of this great Indian have been preserved. Judging from their effects, they would be ranked among the highest models of true eloquence. Tecumseh particularly appealed to the powerful Creek nation. These Indians had long been on friendly terms with the whites, and a portion of them were, therefore, unwilling to begin a war-fare against those to whom they had become attached. But the body of the nation consented. The worst effects soon followed. Parties of Creeks began their depredations upon the frontier settlements. The first regular demonstration of hostility, however, was made by the Seminoles and the Creeks residing within the limits of Florida. Having been joined by a number of fugitive Blacks from the United States, they commenced a cruel and harassing warfare. In the month of September, 1812, a party of volunteers from Georgia, under Colonel Newman, to the number of one hundred and seventeen, were attacked near the Lachway towns, by a superior force of Indians. A sharp conflict ensued, which ended in the retreat of the latter into a swamp, with the loss of their leader, who bore the title of king. Finding that his body remained in the hands of their opponents, they renewed the attack, for the purpose of obtaining it; and with a loyalty and valor, which among civilized nations, would have...

Slave Narrative of James Childress

Interviewer: Lauana Creel Person Interviewed: James Childress Location: Evansville, Indiana Place of Birth: Nashville, Tennessee Date of Birth: 1860 Place of Residence: 312 S.E. Fifth Street, Evansville, Indiana Ex-Slave stories District #5 Vanderburgh County Lauana Creel JAMES CHILDRESS’ STORY 312 S.E. Fifth Street, Evansville, Indiana From an interview with James Childress and from John Bell both living at 312 S.E. Fifth Street, Evansville, Indiana. Known as Uncle Jimmy by the many children that cluster about the aged man never tiring of his stories of “When I was chile.” “When I was a chile my daddy and mamma was slaves and I was a slave,” so begins many recounted tales of the long ago. Born at Nashville, Tennessee in the year 1860, Uncle Jimmie remembers the Civil War with the exciting events as related to his own family and the family of James Childress, his master. He remembers sorrow expressed in parting tears when “Uncle Johnie and Uncle Bob started to war.” He recalls happy days when the beautiful valley of the Cumberland was abloom with wild flowers and fertile acres were carpeted with blue grass. “A beautiful view could always be enjoyed from the hillsides and there were many pretty homes belonging to the rich citizens. Slaves kept the lawns smooth and tended the flowers for miles around Nashville, when I was a child,” said Uncle Jimmie. Uncle Jimmie Childress has no knowledge of his master’s having practiced cruelty towards any slave. “We was all well fed, well clothed and lived in good cabins. I never got a cross word from Mars John in my life,” he declared. “When...

Slave Narrative of George Washington Buckner

Interviewer: Lauana Creel Person Interviewed: Dr. George Washington Buckner Location: Evansville, Indiana Date of Birth: December 1st, 1852 Ex-Slave Stories District #5 Vanderburgh County Lauana Creel A SLAVE, AMBASSADOR AND CITY DOCTOR [DR. GEORGE WASHINGTON BUCKNER] This paper was prepared after several interviews had been obtained with the subject of this sketch. Dr. George Washingtin [TR: Washington] Buckner, tall, lean, whitehaired, genial and alert, answered the call of his door bell. Although anxious to oblige the writer and willing to grant an interview, the life of a city doctor is filled with anxious solicitation for others and he is always expecting a summons to the bedside of a patient or a professional interview has been slated. Dr. Buckner is no exception and our interviews were often disturbed by the jingle of the door bell or a telephone call. Dr. Buckner’s conversation lead in ever widening circles, away from the topic under discussion when the events of his own life were discussed, but he is a fluent speaker and a student of psychology. Psychology as that philosophy relates to the mental and bodily tendencies of the African race has long since become one of the major subjects with which this unusual man struggles. “Why is the negro?” is one of his deepest concerns. Dr. Buckner’s first recollections center within a slave cabin in Kentucky. The cabin was the home of his step-father, his invalid mother and several children. The cabin was of the crudest construction, its only windows being merely holes in the cabin wall with crude bark shutters arranged to keep out snow and rain. The furnishings of this...

Slave Narrative of H. H. Edmunds

Interviewer: Albert Strope Person Interviewed: Rev. H. H. Edmunds Location: Elkhart, Indiana Place of Birth: Lynchburg, Virginia Date of Birth: 1859 Place of Residence: 403 West Hickory Street Elkhart, Indiana Albert Strope, Field Worker Federal Writers’ Project St. Joseph County-District #1 Mishawaka, Indiana EX-SLAVE REV. H.H. EDMUNDS 403 West Hickory Street Elkhart, Indiana Rev. H.H. Edmunds has resided at 403 West Hickory Street in Elkhart for the past ten years. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1859, he lived there for several years. Later he was taken to Mississippi by his master, and finally to Nashville, Tennessee, where he lived until his removal to Elkhart. Mr. Edmunds is very religious, and for many years has served his people as a minister of the Gospel. He feels deeply that the religion of today has greatly changed from the “old time religion.” In slavery days, the colored people were so subjugated and uneducated that he claims they were especially susceptible to religion, and poured out their religious feelings in the so-called negro spirituals. Mr. Edmunds is convinced that the superstitions of the colored people and their belief in ghosts and gobblins is due to the fact that their emotions were worked upon by slave drivers to keep them in subjugation. Oftentimes white people dressed as ghosts, frightened the colored people into doing many things under protest. The “ghosts” were feared far more than the slave-drivers. The War of the Rebellion is not remembered by Mr. Edmunds, but he clearly remembers the period following the war known as the Reconstruction Period. The Negroes were very happy when they learned they were free as...

Slave Narrative of Laura Ramsey Parker

Person Interviewed: Laura Ramsey Parker Location: Nashville, Tennessee Age: 87 Place of Residence: 715 Hay St., Nashville, Tennessee Occupation: Chambermaid, Housekeeper “I’se 87 y’ars ole. Wuz bawn in slavery. Wuz freed w’en de slavery stopped. Mack Ramsey wuz mah marster en he wuz sho good ter his slaves. He treated dem as human bein’s. W’en he turned his slaves ‘loose he gib dem no money, but gib dem lands, clothin’ en food ’til dey could brang in dere fust crop. Mah daddy rented a strip ob land ’til he wuz able ter buy de place. He lived on de same fer menny y’ars.” “W’en I wuz ole er’nuff I wuz taught ter spin en weav. I bucum de nuss ter de marster’s onlies’ chile. Soon atter I wuz freed, I went ter Wisconsin, but only wuz dere fer a y’ar, den I kum back ter Tennessee en Nashville. I settled in dis house en I’se bin livin’ in hit fer ovuh fifty y’ars. Dere wuz no uther houses ’round ‘yer at de time. I own de place. Hab wuk’d all mah life seem ter me. At one time I wuz a chambermaid at de Nicholson House now de Tulane en later ‘kum a sick nuss, a seamstress, dressmaker but now I pieces en sells bed quilts. I does mah own housekeepin’ en washin’.” “I don’t member now, very much ’bout de Ku Klux Klan. I do member dat one nite dey passed our home en I grab’ed a shotgun en said dat I wuz gwine ter shoot dem ef dey kum on de place. I members de Battle ob...

Slave Narrative of Andy Odell

Person Interviewed: Andy Odell Location: Nashville, Tennessee PLace of Birth: Spring Hill, Tennessee Age: 96 Place of Residence: 1313 Pearl Street, Nashville, Tennessee “I wuz bawn east ob Spring Hill, Tennessee. I dunno in w’at y’ar, but I wuz a ful’ grown man w’en I wuz freed. (This will make him about 96 years old.). I wuz an onlies’ chile en I nebber knowed mah daddy. Mah mammy wuz sold ‘way fum me. She ma’ied a man named Brown en dey had seven chillun.” “At fust I ‘longed ter Marster Jim Caruthers. W’en his daughter ma’ied Fount Odell, I wuz willed ter her en den mah marsters wuz Fount en Albert Odell who wuz br’ers. Mah white folks let us go ter chuch. I b’leeves in de Baptist ‘ligion. I nebber knowed any slave dat had ter hide ter sing er pray. I members de comet en hit wuz a sta’r wid a long tail en looked lak hit wuz burnin’. De sta’rs fell ‘fore I wuz bawn.” (The stars fell in 1833). “We had ter hab passes en if you didn’t hab one, you got whupped. Mah marster let me go ter chuch wid’ out a pass. I members de Klu Klux Klan but dey nebber bothered me, tho I ‘yeard a lot ’bout dem. Dey called demselves “White Caps” en said dey wuz rite fum de grave. W’en a slave got whupped hit wuz cose dey disobey dere white folks en de overseer whupped dem. I though mah white folks wuz awful mean ter me sumtime.” “I nebber b’leeved in ghos’ but hab yeard lots ’bout dem....
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