Alabama Indians in Texas
Alabama Indians In Texas, 1911, 61st Congress, House Of Representatives, No.
1232, Document 3d Session.
Letter From The Secretary Of The Interior, Submitting A Report On The Alabama
Indians In Texas.
January 5, 1911. Referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs and ordered to be
Department of the Interior,
Washington, December 23, 1910
Sir: In accordance with the provision of the act of Congress of April 4, 1910
(36 Stat. L., 269, 274), which reads, " * * * and the Secretary of the Interior
is hereby authorized and directed to investigate the conditions of the Alabama
Indians in Texas and to submit his report thereon to Congress at the next
session," I have the honor to submit the following report:
On October 15, 1910, William Loker was appointed commissioner to the Alabama
Indians of Texas and instructed October 26 by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
to proceed to Livingston, the county seat of Polk County in that State, and to
such other places as might be necessary to investigate fully the condition and
needs of the Indians mentioned.
Mr. Loker was advised that these Indians were reported in the Federal census of
1890 as being located on Big Sandy Creek, Polk County, upon a tract of 1,280
acres given them by the State of Texas; that they were said also to be civilized
and self-supporting; to have a chief and subordinate chiefs; to maintain to a
great degree their Indian habits in dress and manners; and to cultivate lands
like their white neighbors, for whom they worked on occasion. For his guidance
the essential points to be reported upon were given as :
1. The population, including the number of children of school age.
2. The present condition of the Indians as regards subsistence and self-support.
3. Their condition as to clothing and their absolute needs for the winter.
4. What schools, if any, are available, and what is the disposition of the
Indians toward sending their children to such schools.
5. The actual condition of the lands occupied by them, and whether they are
exercising reasonable diligence in their farming operations; how they compare
with their white neighbors in this respect; and what their needs are as regards
additional lands for homes and farms.
6. The views of the leading Indians as to their needs, etc.
Mr. Loker's report of December 6, 1910, shows that these Indians, numbering 192
individuals, including men, women, and children, are located 17 miles east of
Livingston upon a tract of 1,280 acres of land which the State of Texas, about
1850, deeded to them conditionally free of taxes, but with restriction on
Read List of Names
The report of this official
shows also that in two decades these Indians
have made marked progress in civilization,
and are now on about the same plane in this
respect as are their white neighbors; that
their old tribal customs have been
abandoned; that they speak the English
language almost entirely, and that they have
adopted the manners and dress of the whites.
With respect to their present economic
condition, the investigation shows that
these thrifty and steady workers are now
self-sustaining more by outside labor on
farms, in lumber camps, railroad
construction, etc., than by farming the
small amount of their available agricultural
land. Also they are well clothed and are not
in need of any assistance for the winter.
They send their children of school age to
the public school within their village, and
the majority of them are members of the
Presbyterian Church located in their midst.
These Indians are subject entirely to the
laws of the State and county wherein they
reside; they use very little intoxicating
liquor, and are reported as being peaceable
and law abiding.
About a third of their land, which is held
in common, is said to be timbered; 35 per
cent is of fair agricultural character, and
the remainder of the land is sandy and not
fitted for farming.
Their one-story houses, of their own
construction, contain two or three rooms,
and are fairly comfortable; they raise a
small amount of stock, poultry, etc., and
cut such timber from their lands as is
absolutely needed for building and fuel
As shown, these Indians derive their
greatest revenue from outside lumber
industries, and as the supply of timber in
that region is rapidly decreasing they must
in the near future seek other means of
Commissioner Loker reports that while they
say they have no claim against the
Government, their needs are: (1) More land
to cultivate, and (2) a school with
manual-training instruction. He adds that if
these Indians had about 5,000 acres of land
they would be able to compete successfully
with their white neighbors in farming and
stock raising, and would be able to take
cars of themselves in the future.
A copy of the letter of instructions to
Commissioner Loker and of his report are
Very respectfully, R. A. Ballinger,
The Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Department of the Interior,
Office of Indian Affairs,
Washington, October 26, 1910.
Sir: Referring to your recent appointment as
commissioner to the Alabama Indians in
Texas, under the provisions of section 6 of
the Indian appropriation act approved April
4, 1910 (36 Stat. L., 269, 274), which reads
as follows, "* * * and the Secretary of the
Interior is hereby authorized and directed
to investigate the conditions of the S
Alabama Indians in Texas and to submit his
report thereon to Congress at the next
session," you are hereby directed to proceed
to Livingston, the county seat of Polk
County, Tex., and such other places as may
be necessary, to investigate fully the
condition and needs of the Indians
For your information there is transmitted
herewith a memorandum and a copy of office
letter of April 3, 1896, setting forth the
full history of these Indians so far as
known to the office.
In 1890 these Indians were reported in the
Federal census as being located on Big Sandy
Creek, Polk County, upon a tract of 1,280
acres given them by the State of Texas. They
were said also to be civilized and
self-supporting; to have a chief and
subordinate chiefs; to maintain to a great
degree their Indian habits in dress and
manners; and to cultivate lands like their
white neighbors, for whom they worked on
By referring to the copy of office letter of
April 3, 1896, it will be seen that the
position then taken was in effect that these
Indians had never held or possessed lands in
their own right, or held any treaty
relations with the Government, and that they
had no claim upon the United States; also
that the legislation then proposed in their
behalf by which they were to be given 25,000
acres of land to be located on the public
domain was reported upon adversely.
Most if not all of these Indians are located
in Polk County, and by going to Livingston
you will be able to ascertain their exact
location and also to acquaint yourself with
the views of the local authorities regarding
them. You will thus be better able to form
some definite plan to be carried tout by you
in visiting personally the Indians at their
homes and in forming an estimate yourself as
to their present needs and conditions.
For the purpose of convenience the essential
points to be reported upon by you are:
1. The population, including the number of
children of school age.
2. The present condition of the Indians as
regards subsistence and self-support.
3. Their condition as to clothing and their
absolute needs for the winter.
4. What schools, if any, are available, and
what is the disposition of the Indians
toward sending their children to such
5. The actual condition of the lands
occupied by them, and whether they are
exercising reasonable diligence in their
farming operations; how they compare with
their white neighbors in this respect; and
what their needs are as regards additional
lands for homes and farms.
6. The views of the leading Indians as to
their needs, etc.
Your report should cover the points
indicated and such others as you may after
investigation deem proper to submit, to the
end that the office may have all the data
possible before it upon which to base the
required report to Congress at the beginning
of its next session.
This work, of course, should be expedited as
much as possible, consistent with
thoroughness and accuracy.
Should any points arise not covered by the
foregoing instructions upon which you desire
further information, etc., you should submit
them promptly in order that the office may
advise you concerning the same.
Very respectfully, F. H. Abbott,
Assistant Commissioner. William Loker, Esq.,
Commissioner for the Alabama Indians in
(Care of E. P. Holcombe, Chief Supervisor,
Report of William Loker, Commissioner, etc.,
December 6, 1910.
Roll of Alabama Indians rending in the State
of Texas. [Post office, Klam, Polk County,
Tex. Trading point, Livingston, Tex.]
1. Population. The
population, including the number of children
of school age, is 192 individuals, 51 of
school age (7 to 17 years inclusive).
2. Self -support. As regards the present
condition of the Indians, they are not
prosperous. They are a farming people, but
have not sufficient land to produce a living
for all. They are thrifty and sturdy
workers. They seek employment in the lumber
industries and the railroad work, and assist
the white farmers, which, with their own
farming, makes they absolutely
3. Clothing. They are well clothed and
have no immediate needs for the winter.
4. Available schools. They have upon their
own property about the center of their
village "The Public Free School of District
No. 17 of Polk County, Tex." This public
school is supported by the county. The
instructor, Mrs. C. W. Chambers, is a very
capable woman, and the course of instruction
is the .same as all the county public
schools, embracing agriculture, algebra,
arithmetic, composition, drawing, geography,
grammar, hitory (United States and Texas),
language lessons, nature study, physiology,
reading, spelling, writing, and sewing. The
instructor's report to the county
superintendent shows an enrollment of 47
children and a more than average regular
attendance. The Indian parents are strict in
compelling attendance of children.
5. Use of land. The Indians have 1,280
acres, about 30 per cent of which is timber.
They are cutting only what they require for
construction and fuel. About 35 per cent is
only sand and incapable of cultivation. The
balance is cultivated. They raise cotton,
sugar cane, potatoes, and garden truck, and
a little corn, although this is not a corn
country. They raise ponies, goats, chickens,
hogs, and a few cattle. They are doing just
as well," all things considered, as the
white men of this part of Texas. If they had
about 5,000 acres of land these Indians
would successfully farm and raise stock in
competition with the white people.
6. Views of Indians as to their needs. All
of these Indians state that their needs are
first, more land to cultivate; second, a
school with manual training instruction.
They advise that they require nothing else,
and they are in this borne out by statements
of the white people.
The Alabama Indians residing within the
State of Texas number 192 individuals. They
are located 17 miles east of Livingston, in
Polk County, Tex,, upon a tract of land
1,280 acres in extent, deeded to them by the
State of Texas, free of taxes, but which
they can not dispose of, about 60 years ago.
These Indians have abandoned all their old
customs. In fact they have preserved no
history of their people. They use only
English names and almost universally speak
English. Their manners and dress are as the
white people and they live just as their
They farm all of their land that is capable
of cultivation, but obtain their living more
by working in the lumber industries, upon
the railroad construction and section work,
and hiring out to the white farmers. They
are thrifty people and steady workers.
They have a public school within the village
and take full advantage of same; also they
have a Presbyterian Church supported by the
"East Texas Presbytery," and the rector's
roster shows the great majority faithful
members. Their land is not divided, but they
farm for the benefit of all. They are of
course subject to the State and county laws,
but any disputes within the village are
settled by their church committee, and I am
told that there is seldom a necessity for
action. There is no instance of the civil
authorities having been called upon. They
are an absolutely civilized and peaceful
people and appear to use every means to
advance themselves. I am told some of the
younger men that go out to the mills to work
have used whisky to excess, but strong drink
is not a habit among these Indians. They are
living in a prohibition country, but am told
that even before the county had prohibition
these Indians spent very little for liquor.
They live in homes of their own construction
and as good as their state of prosperity
could command. These homes are one story,
but of two and three rooms, and they are
comparatively comfortable. They raise for
their own purposes chickens, hogs, goats,
cattle, and ponies only a small number,
but all they can care for.
They dress as well, if not better, than the
class of white people they have for
neighbors. In particular, I noted the young
girls at church. All wore hats and gowns of
Were it possible to assist these Indians
toward getting more land and manual
training, it is very certain they would take
full advantage of the benefits.
These Indians advance no reasons why the
Government should give them anything. They
do not pretend to have a claim of any sort
against the Government, but for some years
have understood that Congressman Cooper and
others had asked assistance for them and
have hoped the Government would increase
their land holdings. They are strongly
inclined to agriculture, and they believe,
as do the white people, that with sufficient
land they would be successful farmers and a
prosperous people. They are not in
prosperous circumstances, but neither are
they in want. They are sturdy workers, and
as long as the present lumber industries
continue they will continue to make a
living. It is in the lumber industry that
they obtain the greatest part of their
revenue. The timber is very rapidly being
cut, and when this industry ceases they must
seek other means of subsistence. It is their
hope and that of all the white people that
know anything of them that the Government
will assist them to the extent of giving
them more land, which would care for their
future. The health conditions are better
than those of the white people. This may be
due perhaps to the fact that most of the
white people have located in this part of
Texas of late years and the climate is
trying. Still these Indians lead regular
industrious lives and take the best care of
themselves. In sickness they call in the
From all information I am able to obtain,
advise that there are no other Alabama
Indians in Polk County, Tex. There are a few
Caddo Indians, not more than a dozen, and
most of them are intermarried with these
Alabama Indians. Also there are some of the
Kickapoo Indians in Polk County. I am told
that they are of low degree, have
intermarried with the Negroes and are placed
in the same class with the Negro. The only
other Alabama Indians can learn of are about
100 located in Louisiana. These have been
asked to locate here in Texas, but always
have declined to consider the proposition.
Occasionally a party of Alabamas from
Louisiana visit these Texas Alabamas, and
while it is admitted they are all of the
same tribe the Louisianans do not in the
least compare with the Texas Alabamas in
point of civilization and advancement. There
is now practically no communication between
the Texas and Louisiana Alabamas.
It can be said without fear of contradiction
that the Alabama Indians residing in Texas
are absolutely civilized, have availed
themselves of every means of advancing
themselves; that they would' appreciate and
profit by Government assistance, and are in
every way deserving of any assistance the
Government might give them.
References and Authorities
For assistance and information rendered,
which was of much help in investigating
conditions, I am indebted to these persons
Mr. M. V. Currie, Kiam, Polk County, Tex.
Mrs. Currie is the widow of a Presbyterian
minister, and with her son is living among
these Indians. Mr. and Mr. Currie spent 25
years in mission work among different
Indians. Five years they spent with the
Creeks, 4 years with the Alaska Indians, and
16 years with this tribe of Alabama Indians.
During a period of 10 years Mr. Currie was
rector of the Indian church, and Mrs. Currie
was the instructor of the Indian school. It
was through Mr. Currie's influence that the
East Texas Presbytery established their
church for the Indians.
Mrs. Currie is considered their best friend
and the greatest worker and authority by
both the Indians and -white people. She
expresses the opinion that these Alabama
Indians are the best she has met with in all
her work. Advises that when she first
located among them they observed all Indian
customs, held their various dances, used
their own language, dressed in buckskin
clothing of their own make, and did work
only sufficiently to obtain a poor living,
and spent the great part of time hunting.
She considers their advancement very
remarkable. She now considers them in every
way the equal of the whites and in a degree
Mr. and Mrs. Caleb W. Chambers, Kiam, Polk
County, Tex. Mr. Chambers is present rector
of the Indian church and Mrs. Chambers is
the instructor of the Indian school. They
are now in the eleventh year of service
among these Indians, and like Mrs. Currie,
are very enthusiastic in speaking of the
remarkable advancement of these Indians. Mr.
Chambers knows something of agriculture and
has been of much assistance in this work
with the Indians. He also assists in the
school. Mrs. Chambers is a very energetic
and capable woman, and besides being a very
successful instructor has taught the Indians
much in the way of domestic duties. Both Mr.
and Mrs. Chambers are held in the highest
esteem by these Indians.
Mr. Davis Sylestine, Kiam, Polk County, Tex.
Mr. Sylestine is a full-blood Alabama Indian
and was born and raised in this village. He
speaks English fluently and is a capable
man. He has attained of his own efforts the
responsible position of "saw filer" in Knox
Lumber Mill and is looked upon as among the
most trustworthy of the employees. He is a
trustee of the church, clerk of the village,
and is looked upon as the leader of the
younger element of the village.
Capt. Evans, "postmaster," Livingston, Polk
County, Tex. Capt. Evans is the oldest
resident, having been in this part of Texas
for 40 years, and has known these Indians
all of that time. He advises that their
advancement has been remarkable and gives
them a very high reputation for industry,
honesty, and says they have always been
peaceable and excellent neighbors.
Mr. Nute Green, Livingston, Polk County,
Tex. Mr. Green is connected with M. Stone
Co., general merchants, of Livingston. He
has been engaged in this line for 25 years
in Livingston, and has always been in close
touch with these Alabama Indians. He gives
them the highest reputation for honesty,
sobriety, and industry, and advises that
they have always been peaceful and the best
kind of neighbors.
Notes About the Book:
Source: Alabama Indians In Texas, 1911, 61st Congress, House Of
Representatives, No. 1232, Document 3d Session.
Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and
then ocr'd. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect
some errors in the textual output.
This site includes some historical
materials that may imply negative
stereotypes reflecting the culture or
language of a particular period or place.
These items are presented as part of the
historical record and should not be
interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in
any way endorse the stereotypes implied.