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The Folsom family is easily one of the best known of all mixed-blood groups (see Charts 10 and 11). Their earliest members in Choctaw country were reputedly the three brothers Edmond, Ebeneezer, and Nathaniel who migrated through Indian country with their parents prior to the American Revolution.1 According to Cushman:
“Nathaniel Folsom married Aiahnichih Ohoyo (A woman to prefer above all others). She was a niece of Miko Puskush (Infant Chief), who was the father of Moshulatubbee. She descended from a long ancient line of chiefs, and belonged to the ancient lksa Hattakiholihta, one of the two great families, the other being Tashapaokla (Part of a people); the laws of which forbid any person, male or female, to marry any one of the same lksa. Though Mr. Nathaniel Folsom had acquired but a limited education, yet he as a moral man, and the good example he set before the people of his adoption and with whom he had cast his lot, won their respect, confidence and love, which he fully reciprocated to the day of his death. According to the ancient custom of the Choctaws, he had two wives at the same time. Aiahnnichih Ohoyo and her sister, whose name has not been preserved.”2
Cushman also included a detailed account Nathaniel Folsom had penned concerning his life among the Choctaw people. Folsom’s remembrances are an interesting and revealing account of a countryman’s life:
“The Choctaws were more numerous than now. Thirty years ago it is probable there were nearly 30,000. Before I came here the smallpox killed two-thirds of the people. The measles also destroyed a great many. There was one town entirely destroyed by the measles.
“They had axes and hoes, but not a plough in the Nation. I gave twenty-two dollars for the first
plough I had; twenty dollars for a bushel of salt; ten dollars for a common blanket. Goods were then brought from St. Augustine, Florida, on pack-horses. I gave once twenty dollars for a half bushel of salt in a time of war (the Revolution).
“The woman’s dress was a petticoat that came just below the knees, and a head-gear; and in the winter a tight woolen jacket with bright buttons in front. They had an abundance of blankets by sewing the feathers of turkeys together. They had but few iron pots and kettles, the articles were dear.3
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Key to Chart
Probable = P, Countryman = C, Yes = Y, Trader = T,
Married = md, Mixed Blood = mb
Folsom List of Mixed Bloods, Chart 10
|Folsom, Adam||Noshichia||P||10 in family|
|Folsom, David, Col.||Choc Nation||Y||10 in family|
|Folsom, Ebenezer||C||dtr md J Ptln|
|Folsom, Edmund||Bok Tuklo||Y||son of Nathl|
|Folsom, Edmund||C||bro of Nathl|
|Folsom, Else||Y||md a Perkins|
|Folsom, George||NoSheChia Ck.||P||3 in family|
|Folsom, George||Sukenatcha Ck||P||7 in family|
|Folsom, Hatty||HoShaChia Creek||P||a. Hatty Beams|
|Folsom, Isaac||NoSheChia Creek||Y||9 in family|
|Folsom, Israel||Y||Dtr md a Rabb|
|Folsom, Israel||Sukenatcha Ck.||Y||6 in family|
|Folsom, Jacob||NoSheChia Creek||Y|
|Folsom, Jeremiah||Sukenatcha Ck.||P||10 in family|
|Folsom, Joel N.||P|
|Folsom, John||Trim Cane||P||8 in family|
|Folsom, Lewis||Y||son of Robert|
|Folsom, Loring||Y||son of David|
|Folsom, McKee||Y||bro of David|
|Folsom, McKee||Nonsubbes||P||6 in family|
|Folsom, Edmund Mrs.||Sukenatcha Ck.||P||4 in family|
|Folsom, Nathaniel||15mi N Juzan||C||fm NC md Choc.|
|Folsom, Nathaniel||Robinson Road||C||Father of David|
|Folsom, Nathaniel||5mN/Factory||P||8 in family|
|Folsom, Nathaniel||Bok Tuklo||C||Trader|
|Folsom, Peter N.||P|
|Folsom, Polly||HaShaChia Creek||P||5 in family|
|Folsom, Samuel, Jr.||HaShaChia Creek||P||4 in family|
|Folsom, Thame||HaShaBaTaTia||P||8 in family|
|Folsom, Wat||Noxubee||P||4 in family|
|Folsom, William||Noshichia||P||4 in family|
Folsom Genealogy Chart
In just a few words Folsom reminds us of the near decimation in colonial times of American Indians by disease, the native attraction to manufactured articles such as clothing, and the relative scarcity of iron tools and other implements. He then touched upon the introduction of cattle into the tribe:
“Ever since about the time of the Revolutionary War the Choctaws began to leave their towns and settle in the woods for the benefit of their stock. I was the first to settle on the Natchez Trace at Pigeon Roost, about twenty-five years since. Still, at the time of the exodus of the Choctaws, in 1832, they had many large and populous towns and villages in their Nation which I personally knew.
“Kings. — Some inherited the office; others were appointed by the French and English. Amosholihubih is the old family (i.e. the old family of kings or chiefs). David’s [Folsom] old uncle was of the royal family.
“At that time there were several white men among the Choctaws, all of whom married Choctaw wives, and thus became identified with that people. The descendants of nearly all of whom are still among the Choctaws to this day.
“Hardy Perry…brought the first neat cattle into the Nation.”4
Cushman, at this point in his account of Folsom’s narration, interjected with an explanatory note on the introduction of cattle:
“The old gentleman [Folsom] evidently refers to the eastern part of the Nation, where he lived; since it was well known that either about the same time or a short time before Perry’s drove was first introduced into the eastern part of the Nation, and the waters of the Tombigbee River, Louis and Michael LeFlore and Louis Durant introduced a small herd into the western part of the nation, and located it on the waters of the Yazoo River.”5
Cushman continues Folsom’s account of Hardy Perry:
“He bought them of the French at Mobile. Twenty-five dollars for a cow and calf. This was soon after I came into the country. Benj. James then bought one. I was the third man. From these stocks of cattle have sprung. There was abundance of horses. There were many hogs in the Nation when I first came. I have seen nearly thirty dogs at an Indian’s house. They resembled the wolf.
“David Folsom went to school on Elk River, Tennessee. Started off alone at sixteen years of age, at least 250 miles from home, and was there six months. That was the end of his schooling there. I employed another man a month to teach him figures. That was seven months’ education.
“About this time he was married to Rhoda Nail. He took her out of the Indian Territory to a magistrate and married her lawfully. She is his wife, and this is the first instance I know of, where an Indian married according to our laws.”6
Thus Nathaniel Folsom relates some of the pre-removal history of the Choctaw nation and some of his role in it. His descriptions of the people and their lifestyle paint a candid picture of frontier existence. Especially informative are the comments concerning the introduction of cattle into Choctaw country around revolutionary times.
A Folsom, probably “Nathaniel, was mentioned by J. F. H. Claiborne in discussing the Spanish takeover of Florida from Britain in 1781: “…a [British) courier…on his return through the Choctaw nation, induced Folsom, a chief, and fifty warriors, to accompany him to Natchez, and on their arrival the people generally assembled with their arms. They took a position on a hill, at the house of John Rowe, and unfurled a British standard.” It seems that Folsom had indeed risen to a position of power and prominence in his few years among the Choctaw.7 Records also show Nathaniel to have been a cordial and gregarious man who often entertained numerous guests.8
The brief biography of Nathaniel Folsom, buttressed by Cushman’s commentary, gives detailed evidence of white intermarriage with the daughters of Choctaw chiefs and also states that polygamy was not an unknown practice by the countrymen. Folsom also gives an interesting account of the lack of iron and steel implements in the tribe and the introduction of cattle.
W. David Baird, Peter Pitchlynn: Chief of the Choctaws, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972) 6. ↩
Cushman, History, 328. Not all Choctaw Indians had “two wives at the same time.” ↩
Ibid., 329-30. ↩
Ibid., 330-31. ↩
Ibid., 331-32. ↩
Ibid., 332. For further discussion of the early role of cattle raising in the region see John D. W. Guice, “Cattle Raisers in the Old Southwest,” Western Historical Quarterly, 8 (April 1977), 167-87, and Terry G. Jordon, “The Origins of Anglo-American Cattle Ranching in Texas: A Documentation of Diffusion from the Lower South,” Economic Geography, 45 (January 1969), 63-87. ↩
Claiborne, Mississippi, 127-8; compare to Jack D. L. Holmes, “Alabama’s Forgotten Settlers: Notes on the Spanish Mobile District, 1780-1813,” Alabama Historical Quarterly, 33 (Summer 1971), 2:95-6. ↩
Debo, Rise and Fall, 38. ↩