Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 1
March, 1934
THE STORY OF SEQUOYAH'S LAST DAYS

Page 25

Sequoyah was a remarkable Cherokee Indian. Though he spoke no English he devised an alphabet or syllabary of eighty-five characters adapted to the Cherokee language which the people of his tribe were able to learn and employ in writing in a very short period of study and practice. His alphabet advanced the Cherokee people in literacy and culture to a higher state than that enjoyed by any other tribe of American Indians.

Sequoyah left his eastern home and joined that part of his tribe living in Arkansas soon after 1820. He was one of the signers of the treaty of 1828 under which his people removed from Arkansas to their present home. Here he continued his devotion and labor for his people. He served as a teacher in the Cherokee schools and went about the country glad to acquaint with his alphabet all of his tribesmen who were willing to learn. In 1842 he left his people for Mexico and his journeyings were described by one of his companions. This account was reduced to writing by William P. Ross, a man of scholarly education and attainments and editor of the Cherokee Advocate. It appeared in the columns of that paper on June 26, 1845. The files of this newspaper are so rare that it is practically inaccessible to the readers of the Chronicles and for that reason the story is deemed worthy of reproduction here. An excellent account of the life and work of Sequoyah by John B. Davis, B. S., M. A., is to be seen in Volume VIII of the Chronicles beginning at page 149. (G. F.)


Below we give the Narrative of Oo-chee-ah, or, the Worm, one of the Cherokees, who accompanied SEQUOYAH, on his visit to Mexico. Although somewhat tedious, we have preferred to tell the story in the language it was told to us, rather than make any alterations. Aside from the particulars it furnishes of the last wanderings of the American Cadmus, it is not devoid, to us, of interest, when viewed as furnishing a chapter in the life of the Narrator himself, an untutored Cherokee, who has passed through many of the vicissitudes that beset the men of the Prairies.

Page 26

THE NARRATIVE OF OO-CHEE-AH

Sequoyah came to my house in the spring of 1842, to give me notice that, the next time he visited my house, he woud tell me for what purpose he should want me to be with him. After this notification, he went to the neighborhood of Park Hill; and, on returning, came to my house after dark and spent the night with me. The next morning he addressed me, saying:—"We are good friends. You are well acquainted with the country and homes of the different western tribes. I wish to travel amongst them and am desirous that you shall go with me, by all means. In three days, we shall start." The day after the visit, I went to his house, some eight miles off; when he asked me, if I felt willing to go with him, and were preparing to start? I replied that I was willing to go, but did not wish to start until I could get my gun lock fixed, as it was out of order. He told me not to mind about the gun, but just to bring my horse, saddle and bridle, and that he would furnish me with a gun and other things for travelling. He admonished me to say nothing about whither I was going, but if asked, simply to reply, on a visit. Shortly after this we started, went to Park Hill, where we spent some days with Archibald Campbell. At Park Hill, he procured for me a gun and other things, from Mr. Lewis Ross.

We pursued our journey, and crossed the Arkansas a short distance below Fort Gibson. There were nine in company with three pack horses, to-wit: George Guess, his son, Tesa Guess, myself, John Elijah, Oo-wo-so-ti, Cah-ta-ta, Nu-wo-ta-na, Talla-too, and Co-tes-ka, a youth. After crossing the Arkansas, Sequoyah said, as we have to travel through a wilderness country where there are no roads or paths, and as you are well acquainted with the country, I wish you take the lead, and go the most direct route to the tribes living on Red River. This I did. After travelling beyond Little River, we struck a road leading to Red River, which we kept, with occasional intermissions in circuitous places, for fifteen days before coming to the latter River, travelling at a moderate pace through the prairies. Across Red River, Sequoyah said, "Now that we are in good hunting grounds, we will travel on, stopping a day, or two, now and then, to hunt;" and inquired where was the nearest Indian village? I pointed to the west, and told him it was some distance. He

Page 27

requested me then to inform him where good water could be found, that he and the rest of the company could stay at, until myself and two of the young men could visit the village. This I did; and was absent twelve days in visiting the villages, where I found Wacoes, Caddoes and Wichetaws, the principal inhabitants; Echa-sis, Hi-ye-ni-his, Nuntagoos, who are living in neighboring villages, but speak different languages.

By these Indians we were well treated. The object in visiting them was to ascertain, at Sequoyah's request, whether there were any Cherokees among them, or near by, from Mexico. The village spoken of was the Wichetaw village—crossed Red River just below the mouth of Cache Creek. We found no Cherokees living among the Wichitaws, but learned that some were living on the Washitaw. On our return, we arrived at the camp late in the day, and found Sequoyah very sick; he sat up that evening and addressed me, saying, "My friend, I am sorry that on getting back you find me in this situation; I have been sick and eat nothing for eight days, as we have nothing that suits my taste. I hope, my friend, you will procure something that I can eat." His son then asked him if he would eat, offering him some honey and venison, of which they had an abundance, but these he declined, wanting bread, but there was none. I then gave him some wild plums, which I had gathered on my return.— Of these he ate freely and felt refreshed. It was now night.

I determined to start the next morning and return to the Wichetaw village, four days' travel distant, to procure bread and other things, if possible, that the old man could eat. Observing me make ready, he enquired if I were going back to the village? and when informed of my determination to do so, approved the plan and requested that I should go and return in my former route; as he and the rest of the company would follow on, if he should be able to ride, and we should thus meet some sooner again. While sick, and at other times, when not travelling, he was constantly writing. On the morning of the fifth day after leaving Sequoyah, the second time, myself and company arrived at the Wichetaw village, where we bought about three bushels of corn at three dollars per bushel, packed it on our horses and immediately started back. On the evening of the third day of our return, my horse gave out, but fortunately, we met Se-

Page 28

quoyah and party. It was then determined to encamp, and hunting up a shady place with good water, a fire was immediately made and the men began to prepare some food, which he was very impatient to obtain. He ate freely of bread, honey, and a kind of hommony. After eating he felt much refreshed, requested a pipe and some tobacco; smoked, expressed himself much better and then requested to lie down, that he might stretch his weary limbs for rest. I took a seat close by him and inquired what was his complaint. He replied, that he had been taken with a pain in the breast, which extended to different parts of his body, but that he felt so much refreshed from eating, he thought he should now soon get well, by the aid of diet. Feeling so well that evening, and wishing to continue on to the village, as some of the company were anxious to buy horses, he proposed to rest the next day at this camp and on the day following, go forward to some water course, where we should spend a couple of days—thinking by this time he would be able to travel. It was his purpose not to remain long among the Wichetaws, but to return to the timbered country, where we could hunt.

After the expiration of the time allowed above for rest, he hurried on, that he might soon return, to the hunting grounds—his health continued to improve. On the second morning after the meeting noticed above, the company left the camp, traveled part of a day—came to a water course, where we encamped two nights and a day, and then set out for the village, at which we arrived, after travelling nearly three days. We came to the village of the Echasi, in the neighborhood of the other villages. Soon after arriving and encamping, the head man of the Echasi, called by the Cherokees, Oo-till-ka, or the man who has a feather in his head, came to the camp, met us as his friends, said that he was very sorry to find the old man so sick, and that he would take him to his lodge, where he could take care of him. He would not talk much to him, for fear of wearying him while sick, but busied himself in providing such nourishing food as he could eat. This chief is very kind to all strangers. The next morning after breakfast, the Chief told the company to visit any of the villages, as if at home, without ceremony, and to buy such things as they wished. This they did, visited all the villages and did not return until late in the evening. The fol-

Page 29

lowing morning after breakfast awhile, a messenger arrived from the Chief of the most remote village, that of the Wichetaws, 4 miles off, inviting the company to his lodge, as he should have something for them to eat. His invitation was accepted and the company, excepting myself and young Guess, who stayed with the old man, accompanied back the messenger, and spent the day with the Wichetaws. About noon of this day, Sequoyah became much better and requested that the Chief with whom he was staying, might come into the lodge set apart for him. Oo-till-ka did so, took a seat near by where Sequoyah was seated, and said to him: "I am glad to see you in my lodge. I am friendly with all of the tribes north of me, and meet them always as friends. I am glad to inform you that though, all these tribes were once at war against each other, they have made treaties of peace and now hold each other so firmly by the hand that nothing can separate them." He said further, that, on the day previous, he and the principal men of the six neighboring villages, had met together and he was glad to have an opportunity, now, to converse a little with him upon those things about which they had met in council—which were concerning the peace and friendship existing between the different tribes; but as they had no good interpreter, what had already passed was as much as they could expect. Sequoyah seemed to be very weak, he proposed that he should lie down again and rest, which he did.

Then a messenger came to Oo-till-ka, to inform him of the arrival, at a neighboring village, of a Texan runner, inviting them to meet the Texans in council, near the Waco old-village.—The Chief then told Sequoyah that he would talk more with him in the morning, when he was stronger, but would now go to see the Texan. He left. Sequoyah continued laying until evening, (the chief not having yet returned,) when he again set up.

Sequoyah then inquired of me whether I did not think it would be better for the young men of our company, to return, as they might become sick by remaining in the village? I replied that I should agree in his opinions.

The next morning Sequoyah said to our company, "My friends, we are a long way from our homes; I am very sick, and may long remain so before I recover. To-morrow therefore, I wish you all to return home, but my son and Worm, who will

Page 30

journey on with me. I wish you to consent to my proposal; for should we all continue on and some of you be taken sick, it will not be within our power to give such proper attention." To this request they acceded, and took leave.

Sequoyah, his son and myself, then prepared to resume our journey, which we did after Sequoyah had talked a little with the Chief, Oo-till-ka, and made him some presents of tobacco and other small articles.

At the instance of Sequoyah, we took our former route, on the sixth day arrived at the place selected by him as a camping ground, where we spent four days in hunting and then went on until we came to a water course, at which Sequoyah wished to rest some days for the purpose of bathing himself and that a supply of honey might be obtained. He said, at this place, that his health was improving, but he was afflicted still with pains, and a cough, which had the effect to weaken him. After four days' rest, we made ready to start; He then said to me, "My friend, we are here, in the wilderness; do not get tired of me, I desire to reach the Mexican country. You know the course." Being assured of my willingness to go with him, he requested me to take the course—which I did. Travelling on five days more, he again said to us, "You will not get tired of me, altho' sick? If I die you can do what seems best, but while alive be guided by me." Continuing on for ten days, we came to a water course, where we rested four days. A few days after, while encamped on a river, the report of guns was heard and then a drum. In descending the river to discover who were so near us, we came upon a road along which some persons had just passed. When apprised of this, Sequoyah determined to follow on the next morning, and overtake them.

We then took the road and when we overtook them, found them to be Shawnees, and with whom we encamped that night. The next morning, the Shawnees inquired of Sequoyah, where he was going? He replied, that he had a great anxiety to visit the country of the Mexicans, but should return in a short time. The Shawnees stated that they were on a hunting expedition, that he could proceed on his way and, if he found any thing interesting, they would be glad to hear it on his return. He then inquired of them the direction of the nearest Mexican towns,

Page 31

or villages? which they pointed out in the same course, Sequoyah remarked, that I had been pointing. We then started and travelled six days in succession, when we stopped—with the intention of hunting a few days, but the old man determined to proceed directly on until we came to a larger water course. We proceeded on until a while after sun up, and having crossed a mountain, we came to a small branch but passed on, till we reached a very beautiful, bubbling spring, where the company halted. While still mounted, a number of bees came to the spring, when Sequoyah said, "As we are neither runaways nor in such a hurry, but that we can stop and look for some honey;" and requested me to hand him some water.

We encamped at the spring—soon after pulling the saddles off our horses, Young Guess walked away a short distance, and found a bee tree. We spent two nights at this spring. The second night that we encamped there, some Tewockenee Indians came upon us, and stole all our horses; we pursued some distance and could probably have overtaken them, but were afraid to leave the old man long alone, and so returned to the camp. The next morning he requested us to take him to some safe hiding place; to secrete our effects in the tops of trees, and proceed straight to the village of the Tewockenees. After complying with the first part of his request, he altered his determination, and told us not to go in search of our horses which might be some time or other recovered, but to proceed directly to the Mexican settlements, where probably we could obtain other horses.

We set out on foot in the evening, leaving the old man alone. Travelling on some four miles, Young Guess and myself came to a river called Mauluke, which could not be crossed. We ascended it some distance, until late in the evening and then encamped for the night: in the morning made a raft, crossed the river, proceeded that day a short distance, and again encamped. About noon, the day following, while eating, the reports of many guns were heard in the direction of our route. We immediately proceeded on at a rapid rate till we cleared the mountains and, coming to a prairie, saw the tracks of a wagon.—Here we halted and spent some time, I having advised my companion that we had perhaps, better not proceed to the town until towards night.

Page 32

I felt convinced that we were lost, but was unwilling to express an indisposition to proceed on, lest my companion should consider me cowardly. We however, pushed on until we came within about one hundred yards of the town, when hearing a good deal of talking, we stopped and, listening, heard none but the Spanish language. Having turned around and walked back a short distance, we encamped for the night, determined not to go into the Fort until morning. This night we did not sleep much as the firing of guns was kept up throughout the night. The place was San Antonio. In the morning, proceeding into Town, we were not perceived by any one until we got in some distance, when we met with two soldiers, who came up, shook our hands friendly and requested us to follow them. We did so, until met by an officer who, inviting the soldiers and ourselves to follow him, conducted us around a considerable portion of San Antonio to a store, where the people were drinking. The officer having entered the store for a few seconds, told us to follow him to the quarters of the commanding officer, and informed us that we were then in a situation that we could do nothing, intimating that we were prisoners.

Upon entering the quarters of the commanding officer, he seated himself upon the opposite side of the room from that occupied by ourselves and the soldiers and others who crowded around us. Remaining silent for sometime, and then pacing the room to and fro, this officer at length, came to us and inquired, of what tribe we were, and when informed, declared that he did not at all like the Cherokees, because they had been, a short time previous warring against the Texans. When apprised, that we resided on the Arkansas, within the limits of the U. S., and that we wished to borrow horses, ours having been stolen by the Tewockenees, he repeated his dislike of the Cherokees, and said, he had no horses to lend, and that the Tewockenees and other tribes, some of whom were doubtless prowling about the neighborhood that day, had stolen many of their horses. He further inquired, whether we had any pass-ports? and when told none, said, they were necessary. To which it was replied, that we were ignorant of the fact, as we had frequently visited the towns and settlements of the whites in Arkansas, without ever having any demanded of us. We were also told by him that

Page 33

they would have fired upon and killed us had it not been for the caps on our heads, which alone saved us, as the neighboring tribes go with bare heads.

Sometime was spent in conversation with the officer, who became quite friendly, and gave us tobacco, pass-ports, and a very good axe, that we might bring thereafter a quantity of honey. He also admonished us to be on our guard, in going about the country, as there were many hostile persons among the wild tribes. We then parted.

In going through the town some of the women called and invited us to take something to eat, but we told them we could not, being in a great hurry—soon after leaving the town, met three or four soldiers, riding very sorry ponies, who also told us to be on the look out, as there were many Comanches about. After leaving them we began to travel pretty fast, and kept increasing our speed until we got into a run, and throwing away the borrowed axe—travelled a great distance that day, for fear that the Texans might intend to entrap or take some advantage of us.

The day after leaving San Antonio, we arrived at the camp of Sequoyah, who was well and fast gaining strength. He then requested we should procure him a good supply of provisions, find a secure retreat and set out again, for the Mexican settlements to get horses. A safe retreat was found some three miles from the encampment, he was placed in it and a supply of honey and venison sufficient to last him twenty days procured. The secure retreat was in a cave, which seemed to be above high water; but in case that it should not be, there was a log which he could climb up easily to a more elevated place. Having placed him in this cave, we set out, and travelled on two days; on the third day, which was windy, just as we were approaching a cedar thicket, I happened to look behind, and saw three men coming upon us at full speed. We fell back upon a small patch of timber and threw down our packs for the purpose of defending ourselves; as they came near. I hailed them, and enquired in the Comanche language, if they were friends? They said they were, and immediately threw down their lances and arrows, and came up and shook hands with us, and said as we are friends we will sit down and smoke the pipe.

Page 34

The Comanches then said, that when they first saw us they supposed us to be Texans by having on caps, but when they got nearer and saw feathers in them, they took us to be Shawnees or Delawares, and that had it not been for the feathers in our caps, they would have fired upon us. This was the second time that feathers in our caps had probably saved our lives—and they had just been placed there by young Guess, who had killed a turkey. After smoking, one of the Comanches returned for their women whom they had left, upon discovering our tracks. They then inquired where we were going, and when informed, said that our route would be very rough and mountainous; but as they were going there themselves, if well, we would all travel together, as they would be able to show us a nearer and better route. This we consented to and travelled with them three days; we then separated, and travelled fourteen consecutive days before reaching the frontier settlements of Mexico. Before reaching the town we came to a river that we could not cross and had to encamp. Not being aware whether we were near any habitations or not, it caused us so much anxiety that we could not sleep—when some time in the night we heard a drum.

In the morning we rose early, and there happening to be a turkey seated on a tree near by, young Guess shot it. This we hastily prepared and ate. Soon as this was over we attempted to cross the river, but could not; we then set about making a raft, but just as we had a couple of logs, a mounted Mexican appeared on the opposite bank—inquired who we were, and informed us that there was a ferry lower down. On arriving at the ferry we found the boat ready and a company of armed men in attendance. After crossing, an officer informed us that he would go with us to the principal man of the town, which was about six miles distant; on reaching the town we observed many women washing, who as well as men and boys, immediately gathered around us, being entire strangers, and conducted us into the town. The officer stated the crowd was attracted by curiosity to see us as we were strangers; but had no intention to harm us. He conducted us to the head man of the place. We were led into the house of this man—the crowd that followed us and one that came meeting us, having stopped, at what we supposed to be the limits allowed them.

Page 35

The town was small—the houses made of large brick—the people dressed in different kinds of costumes. The houses looked odd, being low with flat roofs. Many of the women were very pretty. Thirteen officers were present. Much time was spent in looking up an Interpreter, who was a Spaniard, that spoke English. Soon as the Interpreter came, the Officer enquired who we were? And being informed, said, he was glad to see us, and asked our notions and what object we had in view in visiting Mexico, and also if there were any news of importance from the Texans, whom, he said the Mexicans had a short time before defeated in battle, and taken some three hundred of them prisoners. Having satisfied him on these points, and given him to understand that we had not been despatched to his town on any special business of a public nature, he expressed the pleasure it gave him and the other officers to see us, and insisted on our remaining that night in the town, as the day was too far gone for us to reach the Cherokee village, which he informed us, was some thirty miles distant. He then had us conducted to a lodging place in the quarters of some soldiers, telling us to call before leaving in the morning, to receive passports.

We remained some time in the house assigned us, and then took seats outside of it, to observe the people and the soldiery, and sentinels on duty. While thus passing away the time, a Mexican approached me silently and touched my back in order to attract my attention towards him. I looked around, and beheld, pierced through with a stick that he had in his hands, a couple of human ears, taken from one of four persons they had killed a short time before. An officer then came and requested us to walk about the town with him; we complied and followed him about for some time.—He conducted us, amongst other places, into a bake shop and into two or three houses, in each of which he gave us to drink of ardent spirits, which he called whisky, but which tasted very different from any we had ever before drunk. Before we had wandered much about the town, I felt lost, owing to the striking resemblance between its different parts. It being after the hour of twelve o'clock, there was but little business doing, as nearly all of the shops were closed. While yet rambling about the place, a soldier came, to request us to go back to our lodgings, upon reaching which

Page 36

we found the soldiers on parade, ready to march off a short distance. By invitation we joined them and kept along with them, until we came to a kind of public square, where there were a number of large kettles containing bread, beef and soup.

From these large pots the waiters served the officers, ourselves, and the soldiers in order, by taking up pieces of meat with a fork and giving it to us in our hands. What was given me I ate through politeness, but with some difficulty, so highly seasoned was it with pepper, some of which I was so unfortunate as to get into my eyes. Early the next morning we met with a man who spoke English, and who conducted us to a place where we obtained a breakfast that an Indian could eat and without cost, for the man who gave it to us said that he could not be behind the Cherokees; he had been much among them without any expense, he could not therefore charge us; but hoped that we would take our meals with him while we remained there.

This day, we remained in town, but having passports, left the following morning, in company with a Mexican, who went with us to a town called by the Mexicans, "San Cranto," some thirty miles distant. Upon arriving at San Cranto, we were informed that there were a couple of Cherokees in the place, but thinking it would be difficult to find them, we went with our Mexican companion to the house of his brother where we spent the night and by good luck met with our countryman. It gave us great pleasure to see this man, whose name is Standing Rock. He answered a great many questions, and assured us that it would give the Cherokees in Mexico great joy to see their brothers among them, and proposed to accompany us forthwith to their village, about ten miles distant. About seven miles from San Cranto we passed through a small settlement of runaway negroes, some two or three of whom I met with spoke the Cherokee language. Three miles further we arrived at the Cherokee village, situated within a large prairie, in a grove of timber, half a mile wide, and some three miles long, and watered by means of a ditch, from a large spring, some two miles distant.

Our brothers were very glad to see us, and gave us a warm welcome to their little village. Being soon apprised that we came to obtain assistance, to convey in the aged Sequoyah, who was very anxious to visit them, they declared their readiness to

Page 37

afford us company, but could not furnish any horses, as all of their's, save those that were very poor, had died, since they went into Mexico. They, however, promised to borrow some of the horses belonging to the Mexican army, at a neighboring town. But there being none, the commanding officer referred us back to San Cranto, to which place we returned, after two day's resting with the Cherokees. The officer there could lend us but one horse, the others having been taken off a few days before, to some other post, but supplied us, without solicitation, with bread, meat, salt, sugar and coffee, for the journey. The company then, consisting of nine persons, immediately set off with the borrowed horse—crossed the river again at the ferry, and after constant travelling, on the seventeenth night, camped within a few miles of Sequoyah's cave. Much solicitude was felt by us, for the safety of the old man, as we saw much "sign" of the wild Indians on our way. Three men were accordingly sent on in advance, to the Cave, with provisions to relieve his wants, if still alive, and in need.

Mau-luke, we crossed on a raft. Shortly after passing over a very rocky country, we came upon a trail made by wild cattle and horses through a cedar thicket, and along which we discovered the tracks of a man, going in a different direction from ours. These tracks we soon discovered to be those of Sequoyah, from the fact of his being lame. This caused myself and another of the company to hasten to the cave, and gave us no little anxiety, as we discovered that several persons had been but recently along our way.

Arriving at the cave, we met with our advance company, and discovered a log of wood leaning against a tree, and a letter bound to one of its limbs. The Letter was written by Sequoyah in his own native language, and informed us that, after being left alone, he had met with misfortune—the water having rose very high, drove him from his retreat and swept away his store of provisions and almost every thing else; that, under these circumstances he had determined to pursue his journey; that if not too long absent we would be able to find him, as he would fire the grass along his way and the smoke would arise, and that he hoped, although out of provisions, to be able to support life until overtaken by us, as he had cut off meat from the heads

Page 38

of some deer skins. He had no gun, although persuaded to take one when setting out, but relied upon our rifles. We had now great hope of soon overtaking him, as he had been gone but four days. After reading the letter, we immediately started in pursuit, tracked him to the Mauluke, which he had crossed on a raft.

We left this camp and returned to our companions—tracked him to the river, saw where he had sat down, followed down the river and came to a raft he had crossed on; we crossed at the same place, came to one of his former camping grounds, and saw where a horse had been tied; feeling confident that he must have obtained a horse by some means or other, we followed on very fast to another camping ground, where we saw bones, which assured us that he had obtained food likewise. There were many speculations, how he had come by the horse and provisions, some surmising one thing and some another.—From the constant rapidity with which we pushed on, and our long journey, the Mexican horse as well as myself began to get tired; I then selected two men, and sent them ahead, while the rest encamped for the night. The two men kept on until night coming on, they lost his track near a creek, but did not stop, hoping to discover a light. They however passed by his camp, as they supposed from the appearance of the sign late in the evening, and returned. In passing near the river, they heard a horse neigh, and then penetrating into the centre of a thicket in the forks of the river, found him seated by a lonely fire. He was greatly rejoiced to meet them. One of the men remained with him while the other returned, and conducted us next evening to his camp. He expressed the great happiness our return gave him; and said that his mind was relieved of much anxiety, as he had suffered much from sickness, and his lonely situation—fearing that his son and myself had either met with some accident or been killed.

Again expressing the happiness our return gave him, he observed, that, for two days past, he had as much provision as desired, and that we must have remarked his mode of travelling, which was brought about under the following circumstances. While engaged, he said, in making a raft to cross the Mauluke,

Page 39

that he might continue on towards Mexico, he suddenly took a notion that he would walk to the summit of a neighboring hill. Throwing down his tomahawk, he started up the hill, and just as the top was gained, to his great surprise, he came close upon three men, who quickly halting, one of them declared themselves to be "Delawares," and to which he replied, "I am a Cherokee." They camped with him that night, and gave him some of their victuals and partook of his honey. In the morning, the Delawares said to him, "Come, let us now return to our own villages, we will take you to your own door." He replied, "No, I have sent forward two young men to the Mexican country, whom I shortly expect back; I am anxious to visit that country. Go with me there. We will shortly return to our own country." Finding that they could not agree, the Delawares said, that they would remain with him until they killed for him some meat, which they did. While they were hunting, he wrote a letter for them to convey home. Being aged and crippled, the Delawares, when about to part with him, generously gave him a horse to ride.

"Such," said Sequoyah, "was the way he came by the horse"—and that he would now tell us what happened to him at the cave.

The twelfth night after we left, the rain poured down and the water came into his cave. He placed all his effects upon a rock in the cave which the water soon surrounded and forced him on a large log. This in turn being moved by the water, he climbed the log, which his son and myself had leaned against the side of the cave and sought refuge in the ledge of the rock—having abandoned every thing but a couple of blankets he tied around him; his flint, steel, and spunk and a few small articles that he could get into his pockets. From the ledge of rocks he succeeded in making his way out of the cave and ascending to the top of the hill, where he spent the night under a tree and in unceasing rain. In the morning, finding a dry place, he kindled a fire, by which he warmed himself and dried his clothing, and then went to look at his former home, but found it still covered with water.

Two days after, he again returned and found that everything had been swept away. But following down the branch

Page 40

he found his saddle bags, around a little tree, from which he recovered all his papers and other things, and also a tent and three blankets; and on the day following a brass kettle. After this he made no further search—giving up all for lost; but even felt glad to escape as well as he did, especially with his life which he said was far more precious than aught else. The water having swept away his supply of food, he was now left entirely without, and when he could get nothing else, lived on what little flesh he could shave off from the skins of deer killed by us before leaving. During the greater part of the time however, he ate nothing but wild honey, which he obtained from a couple of large trees, that he fortunately discovered and fell at the expense of repeated efforts, with a small tomahawk. His health had not been good, but such he said, as would have confined almost any one to his bed. For each day that we were absent, before leaving his cave, he cut a notch in a large oak tree.

We remained four or five days at the camp, where we found Sequoyah and in the vicinity, until a stock of provision was killed, and then resumed our journey, and after travelling sixteen days forded the river mentioned before, near the Mexican village. In a few days more, halting along for a short time at the different towns, where Sequoyah received the kindest hospitality from the Mexicans, the company arrived at the Cherokee village.


The Worm spent sometime with the Cherokees and then returned, at the solicitation of Sequoyah, with a party of Caddoes, to the Wichetaw town to recover, if possible, the horses that had been stolen from them. He was unable to get them, and not meeting with any person going to Mexico, could not return early as expected. At length several Caddoes arrived from Mexico and brought tidings that Sequoyah was no more, which was soon confirmed by a party of Cherokees. The complaint that terminated his life, was the cough which had long afflicted him, combined perhaps, with some disease common in that country. His death was sudden—having been long confined to the house, he requested one day some food, and while it was preparing breathed his last.

Page 41

(Copy)

     Warren's Trading House, )
     Red River, April 21st, 1845. )

We the undersigned Cherokees, direct from the Spanish dominions, do hereby certify that George Guess, of the Cherokee Nation, Arkansas, departed this life in the town of Sanfernando in the month of August 1843, and his son (Chusaleta) is at this time on the Brasos River, Texas, about 30 miles above the falls, and intends returning home this fall.

Given under our hands day and date above written.

(Signed) Standing Rock, his x mark
Standing Bowles, his x mark
Watch Justice, his x mark

Witness:
     Daniel G. Watson,
     Jesse Chisholm.

Return to top


Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site