Letter from Department of War, September 28, 1833
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Office Indian Affairs, September 28, 1833
SIR: In the absence of the Secretary of War, I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th instant, addressed to him, and to thank you for the information which you have given in relation to Indian contracts for the sale of their reservations they have suffered extremely by imposition and fraud practiced upon them by unprincipled white men, and it is the duty of us all to protect them, if possible, from further injury.
If unfavorable impressions exist against you on the part of any of your friends, I trust, that your future good conduct will erase it, and conciliate the esteem of all who know you.
Very respectfully, &c., ELBERT HERRING.
To WILLIAM S. COLQUHOUN, Dunfries, Virginia.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, September 28, 1833.
SIR: I transmit a copy of a letter addressed to the locating agent under the Choctaw treaty, and would suggest the propriety of giving corresponding instructions to the proper registers and receivers. I would also suggest whether it would not be well to remove the injunctions heretofore laid upon those officers to keep secret the fact of the necessity of withholding from sale, should such necessity be found to exist, any tracts required for the location of Choctaw reservations, and when that duty cannot be performed before the day fixed for the sale.
Very respectfully, &c., LEWIS CASS.
To ELIJAH HAY WARD, Esq., Commissioner of the General Land Office.
NEAR JONES’ BLUFF, Sumpter County, Alabama, September 29, 1833.
DEAR SIR: I am and have been a citizen, for twelve years and more, on the territory ceded to the United States by the Choctaw people at Dancing Rabbit creek, in September, 1830. (Previous to my settling in this country, I served three years and five months as a regular soldier in the United States army, the most of the time in active service in the last war.) Under the 14th article of that treaty, I entered, or had my name entered, on the agent’s, Colonel Ward’s books, within the prescribed time, as one who wished to become a citizen of the United States. I had at that time a wife and four small children under ten years of age living with me. These are all that I entered with Colonel Ward, for which I have his certificate; but I had at that time another child, my first born, a son, at the Choctaw academy, in Kentucky, and being uninstructed in the art of construing treaties, and as he was not immediately under my roof at the time of giving in the rest, I ignorantly failed to name him. These facts I can well establish. Now, one inquiry I wish to make is, whether I can obtain land for this other child by satisfactorily establishing his existence now, and at the time of the treaty, and a development of the circumstances of his name being neglected ? If so, will you oblige an humble individual by seeing me righted in this particular.
Now, there are a great many white people settled on the Choctaw purchases, some four or five on the land which, in good faith, I must get; and they endeavored to slacken my faith in the government, by saying that white men married to Choctaw women were not considered by government as the heads of Choctaw families, a treaty was so worded in order cut white men with Indian families out of lands. This I know was not the intention or understanding of the contracting parties at the time; for inquiries were made, at the time, of the United States commissioners upon this head, and they unequivocally stated that white men married to Choctaw women were considered as Indians, and would be entitled under the treaty to all the privileges and benefits of other Choctaws.
You will confer a favor upon me by giving me your opinion upon this head. Another inquiry I wish -to make, is, whether a claimant will be allowed to take fractional sections, or quarter sections, in lieu of full ones? Our late agent had, for some time previous to going out of office, been in the habit of stimulating very freely, so much so, that I thought he was liable to do business rather loosely, and I have been actually informed that he has failed to enter names when he was applied to to do so; and I have understood that he has lost a part of the names that he registered. Should this be the case, what remedy has the claimant? Will his certificate set the claim to rights? Or will it be sufficient evidence for the locator to lay off the claims? You will oblige me by informing me if my name is on the list transmitted to your office, and whether it is as one claiming a citizenship. I have the agent’s certificate to this effect, but if he has lost any names, it is possible mine may be among them. One other, and the last inquiry, is, what way are we to get rid of those persons who are settled upon our lands, and cutting down and destroying our timber, and clearing it up in little spots in a very injurious manner?
Your very humble servant, Jacob Daniel
P. S. Please inform me whether Antonio Parish’s name is on your list. He is a brother-in-law, and an old brother soldier who served with me in the last war. Please write me immediately, and direct your letter, Daniel’s prairie, Green county, Alabama.
Honorable LEWIS CASS, Secretary of War.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, September 30, 1833.
SIR: In the absence of the Secretary of War, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th instant, and in reply to state that it being apprehended the duty of locating reservations under the late Choctaw treaty might not be completed in time for the sale in October, under the President’s proclamation, instructions were issued through the General Land Office to its agents to withhold from public sale such lands as Colonel Martin and W. Trahern, Esq., might designate as reservations or orphan claims under the treaty with the Choctaw Indians.
Owing to some misunderstanding, the copy of the register of Indians entitled to reservations in Major Armstrong’s possession has not been received by Col. Martin. This circumstance, it is feared, will delay the sale of at least a portion of the lands ceded. Another copy has been prepared and transmitted to the locating agent at the Choctaw agency, Mississippi; and with a view of lessening the inconvenience which may result by the failure of receiving the first copy, the expediency has been suggested to Colonel Martin, as he cannot now complete the locations prior to the day appointed for the sale, to fix upon Such a district of country for the locations as will enable him to do justice to the Indians, and let the residue of the ceded territory be offered for Sale agreeably to the proclamation.
I have the honor, &c., JOHN ROBB, Acting Sec’y of War.
To Major JOHN H. EATON, Nashville, Tennessee.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Office Indian Affairs, August 8, 1833.
The President of the United States has directed that the lands ceded to the United States by the treaty of Dancing Rabbit creek shall be offered at public sale on the 3d Monday in October next; and I am instructed to inform you, that it is necessary the location of the reservations provided for in the treaty should be completed, and entered in the proper land office, prior to that date. You are therefore directed to proceed without delay to execute this duty.
I enclose, for your information, opinions which have been given by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, which may be useful to you.
I am, sir, &c., D. KURTZ, Acting Commissioner, &c.
To Col. GEO. W. MARTIN, Near Elliot Mission House, via Bankin, Mississippi.
TUSCAHOMA, Washington Co., Hiss., August 9, 1833.
I am just in receipt of a communication from the War Department relative to my agency in locating and registering the claims provided for in the treaty made at Dancing Rabbit creek.
Not with standing my desire to commence my official duties, I shall be constrained to defer acting until I hear further from the department, for reasons herewith assigned.
1st. When there is a plurality of claimants on the Same tract of survey, will it not be proper to give a preference to the oldest occupant? (when it can be established who is oldest:) and what course is best to be pursued with regard to the minor claim or claimants? Shall I locate them on similar lands nearest and adjoining?
2d. In locating the several claims, for instance, thus alluded to in the 14th article of the treaty, where it provides the lands of the child shall adjoin the location of the parent, shall I be confined to lateral lines of survey, or otherwise for instance, cornering or adjoining?
3d. When a tract or claim has been divided by line of surveys, leaving the house in one section, and most of the improvements in another, will the claimant be allowed to take part in two sections, So as to include the whole of his improvement? or, should the claimant prefer relinquishing the houses and taking the residue of the improvement, will he be permitted to do So?
4th. Should the claim be So prejudiced as to be entirely worthless, may he be permitted to have land of same value* at or near his residence, not with standing he should cross a section line to accomplish it? Permit me here to mention that Col. Leflore, (in behalf of his people) is very firm and positive in his demands of a favorable construction by the department of all the clauses contained or embraced in the 3d and 4th interrogatories, as above stated. “He says he ever objected to a rigid construction of the treaty relating to these cases,” and claims redress under the latter clause of the 18th article of the treaty, which reads,. “when well-founded doubt shall arise, it shall be construed most favorable towards the Choctaws.” He further says, many have already abandoned their reserves, which have been, or would be rendered worthless under a rigid construction of the treaty, (as regards ruling them to take their claim in the section containing a respective part of their improvement, regardless of its including any portion of good land,) believing it a matter of design in the government to take the good lands, and leave them that which was valueless. The claims affected by survey, and now held, are not very numerous, but he feels desirous that justice may be done, confidence restored and sustained; feeling great solicitude that his people may go west imbibed with full confidence, and a just regard for our government.
5th. In locating and registering such claims as are on fractional tracts of survey, will the claimant be ruled to sectional lines of survey? or will the river be considered a natural boundary, and the claim to be located on the same side of the river on which the improvements are?
6th. There are many of the reservees gone west, having abandoned their claims what’s to be done in such cases?
7th. I am uninstructed as to the manner contemplated by the department in the location of the orphan claims: shall these be located as floats, or, otherwise, to be confined to districts, &c.?
I am required by the department to “establish such prominent marks upon each reservation as will show its extent and boundary.” I shall forthwith call on the surveyor general for the requisite plats, maps, &c., on which I shall mark the extent, boundary, &c., of the several claims at the tine of registering the same believing it the most correct and satisfactory mode.
8th. In locating the three-quarter section claims, shall the claimant be ruled to the sectional lines of surrey in all instances, that is, to be compelled to take the three-quarters in the same section? (with his improvement.)
I am of opinion the most correct mode in locating floats, when there are more than one applicant for the same tract, it should be determined by lottery, unless when the float has been owned by one making improvement, &c., since the treaty. Should the department have further communications to offer for my better government than at present, they would be most direct by Rankin, unless the route contemplated in the Chickasaw treaty should go into operation, and, in that event, via the Chickasaw nation, to my residence near Tuscahoma and Chochuma. I am equal distant from either.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, GEO. W. MARTIN.
The Hon. LEWIS CASS, Washington City.
N. B.-I shall use my best exertions, and hope to receive an answer to this, that I may commence my duties the earliest practicable moment.
*If such should be contiguous and adjoining the improvement.