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 alienation.

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 purposes.

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 support.

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.

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.]

Alabama Indians in Texas

Number Surnames Given Name Sex Relation Age
1 Bullock, Willie Male Single 24
2 Bullock, Gala vay Male Head 23
3 Bullock, Lazzie Female Wife 18
4 Bullock, Eva Female Daughter 118
5 Anton, Thomas Male Widower 50
6 Anton, Birdie Female Daughter 16
7 Anton, Mary Female Daughter 13
8 Battist, George Male Head 56
9 Battist, Sissie Female Wife 57
10 Battist, Tenney Male Son 24
11 Battist, Laura Female Daughter 21
12 Battist, John Male Son 14
13 Battist, Gustin Male Head 44
14 Battist, Liza Female Wife 39
15 Battist, Durant Male Son 18
16 Battist, Jesse Male Son 16
17 Battist, Asom Male Son 14
18 Battist, Miller Male Son 9
19 Battist, Nellie Female Daughter 6
20 Battist, Nela Female Daughter 6
21 Battist, Baker Male Son 3
22 Battist, McConico Male Head 35
23 Battist, Mabel Female Wife 27
24 Battist, Inie Female Daughter 5
25 Battist, Fulton Male Son 3
26 Battist, Billie K. Male Head 38
27 Battist, Bettie Female Wife 30
28 Battist, Sarah Female Daughter 13
29 Battist, Andrew Male Son 11
30 Battist, Lizzie Female Daughter 8
31 Battist, Fred Male Son 6
32 Battist, Alfred Male Son 2
33 Battist, Jefferson Male Head 29
34 Battist, Lizzie Female Wife 19
35 Battist, Ashley Male Son 2
36 Battist, Hollis Male Son 8
37 Battist, Isaac Male Head 48
38 Battist, Fannie Female Wife 50
39 Battist, Henry Male Son 18
40 Battist, James Male Son 16
41 Battist, Tom Male Son 14
42 Battist, Ed Male Son 22
43 Battist, Josephine Female Widow 54
44 Henderson Bula Female Grand daughter 13
45 Carson Pedigo Male Head 58
46 Carson Sadie Female Wife 38
47 Carson Alice Female Daughter 16
48 Carson Nicie Female Daughter 12
49 Carson Caleb Male Son 8
50 Carson Joshua Male Son 4
51 Fitze Charles Male Single 40
52 Henderson Dennis Male Head 52
53 Henderson Minnie Female Wife 53
54 Henderson Hattie Female Daughter 16
55 Henry Silesia Female Wife 70
56 Henry Mary Female Daughter 39
57 Henry James Male Son 31
58 Henry Harry Male Son 27
59 Lockhard Sam Male Widower 64
60 Lockhard Hubbert Male Son 25
61 Cassie Joe Male Widower 72
62 Thomas Venie Female Granddaughter 16
63 Williams David Male Grandson 13
64 Williams Liza Female Granddaughter 9
65 Williams Minnie Female Granddaughter 7
66 Williams Claud Male Grandson 5
67 Poncho Lindsey Male Head 44
68 Poncho Sallie Female Wife 37
69 Poncho David Male Son 8
70 Poncho Sarah Female Daughter 4
71 Poncho Mason Male Son 6
72 Sylestine Josie Female Widow 60
73 Sylestine Dollie Female Daughter 27
74 Sylestine Hastings Male Son 21
75 Sylestine Hardin Male Head 27
76 Sylestine Noney Female Wife 26
77 Sylestine Emma Female Daughter 5
78 Sylestine Elizabeth Female Daughter 1
79 Thompson Charlie Male Head 48
80 Thompson Josie Female Wife 43
81 Thompson Philip Male Son 5
82 Battist Oscar Male Son 13
83 Thompson Bob Male Widower 75
84 Thompson Fannie Female Daughter 26
85 Thompson Nona Female Daughter 11
86 Alexander Joe Male Head 27
87 Alexander Lula Female Wife 26
88 Alexander Kinnie Male Son 2
89 Thompson Sam Male Head 29
90 Thompson Annie Female Wife 26
91 Thompson Ola Female Daughter 4
92 Thompson John H. Male Head 32
93 Thompson Margaret Female Wife 21
94 Thompson Ettie Female Daughter 4
95 Thompson Hill Male Son 2
96 Alexander Sissie Female Single 60
97 Alexander Ed Male Nephew 19
98 Alexander John Male Nephew 16
99 Sylestine Sissie Female Widow 56
100 Sylestine Delia Female Daughter 15
101 Bean Lucy Female Widow 35
102 Bean Aaron Male Son 19
103 Sylestine Casper Male Head 32
104 Sylestine Mosina Female Wife 26
105 Sylestine Emily Female Daughter 4
106 Sylestine Martha Female Daughter 2
107 Thompson Alex Male Head 60
108 Thompson Nancy Female Wife 61
109 Thompson Fanny Female Daughter 33
110 Thompson Van Male Son 29
111 Thompson Mollie Female Daughter 26
112 Thompson Sam Houston Male Son 13
113 Poncho Pollie Female Widow 58
114 Poncho Louisa Female Daughter 26
115 Poncho Mike Male Son 23
116 Poncho John B. Male Son 36
117 Poncho Sarah Female Daughter 1
118 Sylestine Barnett Male Widower 55
119 Sylestine Gilbert Male Son 23
120 Sylestine Hollis Male Son 16
121 Sylestine Nannie Female Daughter 13
122 Sylestine Jennie Female Daughter 11
123 Sylestine Elvina Female Daughter 7
124 Sylestine Susie Female Daughter 2
125 Sylestine Callie Female Daughter 7
126 Poncho Jesse Male Head 37
127 Poncho Maggie Female Wife 22
128 Poncho Dorothy Female Daughter 2
129 Poncho Emma Female Widow 70
130 Sylestine Gibson Male Widower 60
131 Sylestine John Male Son 23
132 Sylestine Virginia Female Daughter 19
133 Sylestine Feagan Male Grandson 15
134 Sylestine Carter Male Grandson 7
135 Sylestine Frank Male Head 29
136 Sylestine Frances Female Wife 23
137 Sylestine Davis Male Head 38
138 Sylestine Edna Female Daughter 16
139 Sylestine Mattie Female Daughter 14
140 Sylestine Clenson Male Son 12
141 Sylestine Gotherine Female Daughter 10
142 Sylestine Benton Male Son 8
143 Sylestine Amos Male Son 6
144 Scott Tom Male Head 51
145 Scott Dollie Female Wife 50
146 Scott Fanny Female Daughter 19
147 Scott Falony Female Daughter 17
148 Scott Folby Female Daughter 14
149 Scott Bill T. Male Head 39
150 Scott Lucy Female Wife 37
151 Scott May Female Daughter 13
152 Scott Eunice Female Daughter 19
153 Scott Sarah Female Daughter 7
154 Scott Enby Female Daughter 1
155 Williams Dennis Male Head 23
156 Williams Jennie Female Wife 26
157 Williams Legget Male Son 3
158 Williams Epperson Male Single 21
159 Poncho John Male Single 26
160 Scott John Male Widower 105
161 Scott John Male Son 15
162 Sampson Maggie Jane Female Widow 48
163 Sampson John Male Son 15
164 Poncho James Male Head 57
165 Poncho Mollie Female Wife 46
166 Poncho Mattie Female Daughter 16
167 Johnson Tom Male Head 48
168 Johnson Lizzie Female Wife 15
168 Johnson Ida Female Daughter 13
170 Johnson Emma Female Daughter 11
171 Johnson Lillie Female Daughter 9
172 Johnson James Male Son 6
172 Tnoids Louise Female Widow 49
174 Tnoids Everest Male Son 32
175 Carson Palmer Male Head 30
176 Carson Fanny Female Wife 29
177 Carson Lucy Female Daughter 17
178 Walker Carrie Female Widow 32
179 Walker Ida Female Daughter 13
180 Walker Lee Male Son 9
181 Walker Josh Male Son 6
182 Walker Elma Female Daughter 2
183 Thompson Willis Male Head 47
184 Thompson Josie Female Wife 32
185 Thompson Mary Female Daughter 12
186 Thompson Thomas Male Son 9
187 Thompson McLane Male Son 2
188 Pere Jennie Female Single 45
189 Davld Sam Male Widower 48
190 Davld Mary Female Daughter 45
191 Davld Jack Male Son 8
192 Davld Floyd Male Son 1

4 Age is in Months.
19 Twin to 20
20 Twin to 19
36 Age is in Months.
44 Orphan.
50 Age is in Months.
55 Husband is not Alabama Indian.
63 Orphan.
64 Orphan.
65 Orphan.
66 Orphan.
71 Age is in Months.
81 Son of No. 80 by first husband, a full-blood Alabama.
95 Age is in Months.
97 Orphan.
98 Orphan.
125 Age is in Months.
129 Mother of No. 126.
130 The leading man of this village and about the only one capable of giving early history of these Indians, but he was too ill to be interviewed. Was under care of Dr. Martin, of Knoxmill.
133 Orphans.
134 Orphans.
138 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
139 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
140 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
141 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
142 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
143 This child by first wife; present wife is Caddo Indian.
157 Age is in Months.
160 Chief of tribe; is very feeble and quite childish; lives with son 10 miles northeast of village.
167 This family lives about 10 miles north of village on account of head’s employment in lumber mill; have a home within the village.
188 Living with the David family; is a sister-in-law of No. 189 and came from Louisiana to care for children.
189 Seldom at home, being employed at Knox Lumber Co.’s mill about 10 miles from village.

  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 self-sustaining.
  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.

Summary

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 white neighbors.

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 store make.

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 white physicians.

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 particularly.

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 their superior.

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.

William Loker