Topic: Choctaw

Western Garrison Life

Grant Foreman describes the early life in a Western Garrison; providing insights on some of the traders in the region, the deaths of Seaton, Armstrong, Wheelock and Izard, all soldiers obviously familiar to him. But he also shares the story of the elopement of Miss Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of General Taylor, to Lieutenant Jefferson Davis… yes, THAT Jefferson Davis.

An interesting section of the chapter are the references to the punishments inflicted upon the soldiers in the event of their disobedience.

Painted by Catlin in 1834, the picture attached is of Clermont, chief of the Osage Tribe. Clermont is painted in full length, wearing a fanciful dress, his leggings fringed with scalp-locks, and in his hand his favorite and valued war-club.

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Fort Gibson Conference with the Indians, 1834

One of the most important Indian conferences ever held in the Southwest, occurred at Fort Gibson in 1834 for it paved the way for agreements and treaties essential to the occupation of a vast country by one hundred thousand members of the Five Civilized Tribes emigrating from east of the Mississippi; to the security of settlers and travelers in a new country; to development of our Southwest to the limits of the United States and beyond and contributed to the subsequent acquisition of the country to the coast, made known to us by the pioneers to Santa Fe and California traveling through the region occupied by the “wild” Indians who, at Fort Gibson, gave assurances of their friendship. It is true, these assurances were not always regarded, and many outrages were afterwards committed on the whites and by the whites, but the Fort Gibson conference was the beginning and basis upon which ultimately these things were accomplished.

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Peace Attempts with Western Prairie Indians, 1833

What was known as the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was entered into in Mississippi with the Choctaw Indians September 27, 1830; 1Kappler, op. cit., vol. ii, 221. pursuant to the terms of the treaty, in 1832 the movement of the Choctaw to their new home between the Canadian and Red rivers was under way but they were in danger from incursions of the Comanche and Pani Picts 2Called by early French traders Pani Pique tattooed Pawnee, and known to the Kiowa and Comanche by names meaning Tattooed Faces. [U.S. Bureau of Ethnology, Handbook of American Indians, part ii,...

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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, 1U.S. House, Executive Documents, 22d congress, first session, no. 116, President’s Message submitting the memorial of the Creek Indians. “when we had not...

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Earliest Known Traders on Arkansas River

With the help of contemporary records it is possible to identify some of the early traders at the Mouth of the Verdigris. Even before the Louisiana Purchase, hardy French adventurers ascended the Arkansas in their little boats, hunting, trapping, and trading with the Indians, and recorded their presence if not their identity in the nomenclature of the adjacent country and streams, now sadly corrupted by their English-speaking successors. 1Many tributaries of Arkansas River originally bore French names. There was the Fourche La Feve named for a French family [Thwaites, R. G., editor, Early Western Travels, vol. xiii, 156]; the...

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Establishment of Fort Smith in 1817

The white population in Arkansas in 1817 had increased to several thousand, whose protection, as well as that of the Cherokee people living in that territory, from the continued hostilities of the Osage, required the establishment of a military post at the western border dividing the white settlements from the Osage. From Saint Louis came further news of threatened hostilities by the Osage near Clermont’s Town, and a report 1Niles Register, (Baltimore) vol. xiii, 176. that Major William Bradford with a detachment of United States riflemen, and accompanied by Major Long, topographical engineer, had left that city for the...

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History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians

I have sought, found and brought together an amount of information concerning a people that has never before been published; having been born of parents who were missionaries to the Choctaws in 1820, and having been reared among them and intimately acquainted with them during the vicissitudes of a life extending to nearly four score of years. I well know that the Indian race has oft been the subject of the pen, and still continues to be, but only in short details, thus leaving the reader in bewilderment, though historical truths were to be found in abundance among them...

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The Chickasaws

Conquest or Progress! It is the same, since it is with blood that the book of humanity is written. The pages here devoted to the narrative of the Chickasaw Indians is not an exception; theirs, too, is stained with the seemingly inevitable sanguinary horrors, but nowhere is the trace inexplicable. To some it may seem useless and even wrong to recall these pages of history so distant in the past, which began in wrong, continued in wrong and will end, so for as human observation can judge, in wrong, and then ask nothing better than to be forgotten. Alas, experience has shown that to change the mode of life of a primitive race is to condemn it to death; since always regarded as an inferior race by their conquerors, they have been swept away without justice or mercy a people who had existed in an unbroken line of descent from prehistoric ages unknown. East of the Mississippi River was also the Chickasaws hereditary domain, handed down through a long line of ancestry during ages unknown, and who, like the Choctaws, were first made known to the Eastern world by Hernando De Soto who invaded their country in the month of November, 1540; but beyond which, except through the tradition of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, as before related, the faintest glimmerings of vague tradition has afforded scarcely a ray of light to penetrate the darkness which envelops their history with...

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North America Indian Names of Places in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana

The Indians all over this continent had names, traditions, religions, ceremonies, feasts, prayers, songs, dances all, more or less, with symbolism and allegory, adapted to circumstances, just as all other races of mankind. But the world has become so familiar with the continued and ridiculous publications in regard to everything touching upon that race of people that a universal doubt has long since been created and established as to the possibility of refinement of thought and nobleness of action ever having existed among the North American Indian race, ancient or modern; and so little of truth has also been learned regarding the real and true inner life of that peculiar and seemingly isolated race of mankind, that today only here and there can one be found who, from a lifetime association and intimate acquaintance, is well versed in Indian thought, feeling and character, and able to unfold and record the solution of that imagined mystery known as “The Indian Problem,” since they learned it from the Indians themselves. From the Indians own lips they were taught its elucidation, and only as it could be taught and learned, but never again can be taught and learned. Even as various nations of antiquity of, the eastern continent have left the evidences of their former occupation by the geographical names that still exist, so to have the North American Indians left their...

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Mayhew, Brainard, Elliot, and Monroe Missions

From 1822, to the time they were dispossessed of every foot of their ancient domains, and driven away to a then wilderness, the schools increased in numbers, and the ordinances of religion were augmented, and a deeper interest manifested every where over their country never witnessed before; as they, previous to that time, had had intercourse with the debased of the White Race, by whom they had been taught in the school of vice, and nothing but vice: therefore the North American Indians have been accused, from first to last, of having no conception of an over-ruling providence the Creator of all things, and an effort has been made to sustain the charge in that they believed in the supernatural power of their rainmakers, their fair weather makers, and the incantations of their doctors. But the charge is utterly false. ‘Tis true, they relied on their rain-makers, fair weather makers and the conjuring of their doctors, through the belief that, by prayer and supplication, those person ages had been endowed with supernatural powers by the Great Spirit, (their God and ours), in whom all Indians believed, and with greater veneration than the whites, and I defy successful contradiction. They sought the aid of the rainmakers, doctors, &c, just as we do the prayers of our preachers in behalf of our sick, and for our rain, etc. Now, what more...

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Medicine Man – North American Indians

But among the many things that are associated with the North American Indians as topics of conversation and subjects of the printer’s ink more talked about and less understood is the “Medicine Man.” On Nov. 14, 1605, the first French settlement was made in America, on the northeast coast of Nova Scotia, and they gave the name Arcadia to the country; and on July 3, 1808, Samuel Champlain laid the foundation of Quebec. The character “Medicine-Man” had its origin, according to tradition, among those early French colonists who corrupted the word “Meda” a word in the language of one...

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People and Buildings of the Choctaw Nation

The missionaries found the precepts of the Choctaw’s to be moral; and also that they respected old age, and kept fresh in memory the wise councils of their; fathers, whose lessons of wisdom the experience of the past, taught their youthful minds to look upward, and whose teachings they did not forget in their mature years. Their tenderness to and watchful care of the aged and infirm was truly remarkable; they looked upon home and regarded their country as sacred institutions, and in the defense of which they freely staked their lives; they also inculcated a high regard for parents, and were always courteous by instinct as well as by teaching; they held in high veneration the names of the wise, the good, and the brave of their ancestors, and from their sentiment toward the dead grew sweet flowers in the heart. They believed that integrity alone was worthy of station, and that promotion should rest on capacity and faithfulness; they also had swift and sure methods of dealing with the incorrigible, official or private; nor were they impatient of the slow processes of the years but knew how to wait in faith and contentment; and if they were not as progressive, as our opinion demands in its rush for gain and pompous show, they had at least conquered the secret of National and individual steadfastness. Today we are...

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Missionaries Among the Choctaw

In 1832, at Hebron, the home of the missionary, Calvin Cushman and his family, was the place appointed for the assembling of all the Choctaws in that district preparatory to their exodus from their ancient domains to a place they knew not where; but toward the setting sun as arbitrary power had decreed. Sad and mournful indeed was their gathering together helpless and hopeless under the hand of a human power that knew no justice or mercy. I was an eyewitness to that scene of despairing woe and heard their sad refrain. I frequently visited their encampment and strolled from one part of it to another; while from every part of their wide extended camp, as I walked, gazed and wondered at the weird appearance of the scene, there came, borne upon the morn and evening breeze from every point of the vast encampment, faintly, yet distinctly, the plaintive sounds of weeping rising and falling in one strangely sad and melancholy chorus, then dying away in a last, long drawn wail. It was the Availing of the Choctaw women even as that of Rachel for her children. Around in different groups they sat with their children from whose quivering lips sobs and moans came in subdued unison; now, in wild concert united, their cries quivered and throbbed as they rose and fell on the night air, then dying away in...

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Ball Play amongst the Choctaws

To the ancient Choctaw warrior and hunter, excitement of some kind was indispensable to relieve the tedium of the nothing-to-do in which a great part of his life was spent. Hence the intervals between war and hunting were filled up by various amusements, ball plays, dances, foot and horse races, trials of strength and activity in wrestling and jumping, all of which being regulated by rules and regulations of a complicated etiquette.

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Choctaws and their Beliefs about the Great Flood

The Choctaws, at the time of their earliest acquaintance with the European races, possessed, in conjunction with all their race of the North American Continent, a vague, but to a great extent, correct knowledge of the Oka Falama, “The returning waters,” as they termed it The Flood. The Rev. Cyrus Byington related a little incident, as one out of many interesting and pleasing ones that frequently occurred when traveling through their country from one point to another in the discharge of his ministerial duties, over seventy years ago. At one time he found night fast approaching without any visible prospect of finding a place of shelter for the night, safe from the denizens of the wilderness through which his devious path was leading him. Then and there roads were unknown and paths alone led the traveler from place to place. Soon, however, he discovered a humble cabin a few hundred yards distant, directly to which the little path was leading him, and which he readily recognized as the home of a Choctaw hunter. Several little children were engaged in their juvenile sports near the house, who upon seeing the white stranger approaching, made a precipitate retreat into the house. The mother hastened to the door to learn, the cause of the alarm saw, gazed a moment, and then as suddenly disappeared. As Mr. Byington rode up, he observed an Indian...

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