By JOHN BARTLETT MESERVE
The Oklahoma Indian as he was known 75 or 100 years ago is becoming, selectively speaking, a dodo bird. This is especially true in anything approaching his original environments and traditions. This All-American practically has faded away as the customs and ceremonies of his colorful days long since have been concluded. The story of his adventure to the West is no nursery tale and the commonwealths which he undertook to create linger in memory as ghost gestures of those days of uncertainty. Because of this, a unique interest is imparted to the old Indian Territory which was the last "stomping ground" of these Indians. Time modifies memories with ease and the scar-tissues of forgetfulness have closed the wounds of those trying years. The story of those formative days must be preserved and best so through their leading characters. They present a rare assortment of avid personalities.
George Hudson who became the first Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation under the New Doaksville constitution was a native of Mississippi where he was born in 1808. His father was a white man concerning whom little or nothing is known but who died before 1831 evidence of which fact is that the mother of George Hudson, who was a full blood Choctaw Indian woman, appears upon the 1831 Choctaw Rolls in Mississippi as Widow Hudson. George Hudson accompanied by his family which included his mother, departed from Mississippi via Memphis for the old Indian Territory, late in the fall of 1831 with one of the first Choctaw removal parties. The mother passed away en route, the rest of the party arriving in the Mountain Fork country in the extreme southeastern part of what is today McCurtain County, Oklahoma, in the first week in March, 1832. The educational advantages enjoyed by George Hudson consisted of a brief attendance at Mayhew Mission School in Mississippi.
Upon his arrival, George Hudson settled upon lands about one mile west of the present town of Eagletown and in the immediate proximity of the old Beth-a-bara Mission,1 on the west bank of Mountain Fork. This remained his home until his death. He became a major figure during those early days and aside from his farming operations, practiced law before the tribal courts. He is reputed to have been a public speaker of some ability. George Hudson served as a member of the Choctaw Council in the years 1844-5-6-
1Beth-a-bara Mission was discontinued in 1837. For map of this locality, see Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. X, p. 520.
9-50 and 1855. In 1846, he suffered defeat as a candidate for Chief of Apuck-she-nubbe District and Thomas LeFlore was reelected.2
The Choctaws finally resolved their political difficulties by the adoption of the constitution which had been drawn at Doaksville in January, 1860. George Hudson was the presiding officer of the convention which framed this organic instrument and had much to do in influencing its deliberations. In October, 1860, he was elected the first Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation and served until October, 1862.
Threatening war clouds were beginning to gather throughout the country when George Hudson assumed the chieftainship of the Choctaw Nation. In the succeeding spring, these clouds broke and the realities of war confronted him. The Net Proceeds delegation headed by Peter P. Pitchlyn was then in Washington where they had about accomplished an adjustment, but realizing that an affiliation of the Choctaws with the Confederacy would nullify their efforts, they hastened home and urged upon the chief a policy of neutrality. This policy, Chief Hudson accepted and with a message so indicating, departed to meet the special session of the Council which he had summoned to meet at Doaksville on June 1, 1861. Robert M. Jones, an ardent secessionist, convincingly addressed the Council, attacking all who opposed secession, causing the Chief to abdicate his position of neutrality and counsel the appointment of a delegation to effect a treaty with the Confederacy. Such a treaty was made at North Fork, Creek Nation on July 12, 1861 by commissioners appointed by Chief Hudson and on June 14, the chief issued his proclamation:—
"Whereas the general council of the Choctaw Nation, on the 10th day of June, 1861, by resolution declared that in consequence of the dissolution of the United States, by the withdrawal of eleven States formerly comprising a part of said Government and their formation into a separate government and the existing war consequent thereon between the States and the refusal on the part of that portion of the States claiming to be and exercising the functions of the government of the United States to comply with solemn treaty stipulations between the Government of the United States and the Choctaw Nation, said Nation was absolved from all obligations under said treaties and thereby was left independent and free to enter into alliance with other governments and to take such other steps as may be necessary to secure the safety and welfare of the Nation.
And whereas the general council of the Choctaw Nation did further resolve that the interest and safety of the Choctaw people require that an alliance be made with the Southern Confederacy and did appoint commis-
2From the Northern Standard, Clarksville, Texas, in its issue of July 15, 1846 is excerpted, "The elections of Chiefs for the three Choctaw Districts came off on the 8th inst. and resulted in the election of Col. Thos. L'Flore as Chief of this the Puck-she-nubbie District by a majority of 58 votes over Geo. Hudson; and 171 over Col. Joel Nail the opposing candidates. The whole number of votes cast was 671 of which L'Flore the successful candidate received 300, Hudson 242 and Nail 129. L'Flore the successful candidate and present Chief of this district is a half breed of French extraction (as the name implies) popular with his people, who look up to him as a Father. He is favorable to the efforts that are being made for their civilization and is in every respect well qualified for the office."
sioners to negotiate a treaty of alliance and emity; and whereas the defense of the Nation against invasion and the preservation of order and the due execution of the laws of the Nation which have been extended over all persons within the limits thereof, require the organization of an effecient military corps and all of which it is proper should be made known to the Choctaw people and to the world;
Now, therefore I, George Hudson, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, do hereby publish and proclaim that the Choctaw Nation is, and of right ought to be, free and independent; that all citizens and residents of said Nation between the ages of 18 and 45 years, subject to military duty are required to enroll either in the volunteer or the reserve militia, according to law and to hold themselves in readiness to turn out for the defense of the Nation at a minute's warning for the preservation of order and the protection of life and property or in aid of the civil authorities in the general execution of the law. * * * Our position now requires that every effort be used to defend the country and repress all disorderly and unlawful acts."
The Choctaws did little fighting in the Civil War although with the Chickasaws, they raised three regiments for service in the Confederate army. Despite the solemn admonitions of the chief, a condition of lawlessness with resultant cattle thieving, robbery and murder began to develop in the Choctaw country as the orderly processes of tribal government were defied. Chief Hudson seemed powerless to preserve a peaceful posture of internal affairs and in some instances county officials ignored the situation.
Chief Hudson was defeated in his effort to succeed himself and in October, 1862 was succeeded by Samuel Garland who was a member of the famous Net Proceeds Claim delegation. He resumed his home on the Mountain Fork where he passed away in October or November, 1865. His unmarked grave is about one mile west of the Mountain Fork on the right side of the highway as one approaches the Mountain Fork bridge.
The public career of George Hudson covered a period of marked development of the Choctaws. In their enforced removal they had accepted a wild and remote frontier but which they had conquered by a readjustment of their spiritual, educational and, ultimately, their political visions. 3Conditions at first were crude but they
3The following taken from the Northern Standard, Clarksville, Texas, in its issue of November 5, 1842, being a letter written by a man who signs himself "A Texan" is rather descriptive of conditions. The editor says of him, "Our readers may be assured two things, he is a gentleman of standing and character, and what he says is entitled to consideration and weight."
"For the Northern Standard, Red River Co. Oct. 30, 1842.
Mr. Editor.—Having been shown a copy of a correspondence on the part of Mr. Peachland from the Choctaw nation to the government of the United States in which he has presented a catalogue of crime and outrages, according to his interpretation, sufficient to condemn and overthrow, for endless ages, in the estimation of enlightened citizens, the Russian Empire, let alone Texas. In the outset he prays the interference and demands the protection of the government of the U. S. according to treaty stipulations, to supress and redress the wrongs continually perpetrated by Texans, on the persons and property of the Choctaw Indians. That damage to some extent may have been done the Indians, I shall not deny, but I do most solemnly deny that our citizens would not take as active steps to suppress
He says an armed force from Texas some two years since entered the Choctaw Nation in pursuit of some free negroes who resisted the attempt to take them, when one of the negroes was shot down and the balance kidnapped and taken directly into Texas. How it was possible for a man of Mr. Peachland's intelligence to have so totally misrepresented the facts in this matter, I am at loss to know. The fact was, the so-called outrages were committed by citizens of Mississippi and Arkansas, in trying to possess themselves of property which they pretended to have a right to; of the legality of the right, I know nothing and care as little, all I wish is that the facts be made known, that the world may pass sentence on Texas as she deserves.
The next charge he makes on Texas, is that a citizen standing on the Texas side of Red River, shot an Indian across the river. This, in substance I presume is correct, but I withhold further remarks, as the matter alluded to, is now before the proper authority for judicial investigation. The next thing is that the ferries on the river have been refused to the use of Indians—this is a complaint, in my estimation without cause, for I have known ferries kept on both sides of the river and never knew of an attempt to withhold such privileges from the Choctaws. These charges, together with others of minor importance, have been heralded forth against Texas to the Department of War in the U. S., and are entirely ex parte, according to my view of the case.
When Mr. Peachland summed up all these aggrivated circumstances why did he not represent the particulars of an outrage, at which humanity would shudder, committed by the Choctaws, on the Texas side, at Pine Hills, when they entered by force the house of Mr. Simmons, beating both him and his wife and children. Simmons defended himself as best he could, until he believed his wife and children were killed, leaving them wallowing in blood, he concealed himself in the brush until they left. Other citizens were called in to behold a scene horrible to tell. After abusing Simmons' family in such a manner that their lives were almost dispaired of, they fell on a Mr. Gideon, who was sleeping in an adjoining room and with hoes, axes, knives &c., separated the extremities entirely from the body, knocking his brains out, opening the body and dragging forth his whole vital parts, leaving, as it were each atom to itself. No non-interferrence law was recommended then—that was all right. But if an Indian happens to get threshed for any misconduct or ever reprimaned, it is directly an excuse for one of the dignataries to address the Secretary. This would be all right enough if the facts were properly represented— that is all Texas wants, is all she asks, that even handed justice be done.
One word more and I am done for the present. Mr. Peachland has represented, by way of advertising to the ferries, that Texas is unwilling to yield the use of the river for any emergency. Events will bear me out in saying that no such claims have ever been made by Texans but, on the contrary the Choctaws have refused the privileges of transportation up Red River to Texas citizens. Only a few weeks since, a keel boat landed at Fort Towson Landing to discharge freight for the sutler at that place, while the goods were being hauled to the Fort, a waggoner was found peddling whiskey to the soldiers; this all are ready to admit, was a violation of law and all moral obligation. The facts being reported to the commanding officer, Col. Loomis, he immediately detached a command to the boat to ascertain if the whiskey had been procured there; no such evidence appeared, it being proven the waggoner had bought his whiskey elsewhere; a quantity of whiskey however was found in the boat, a part of it belonging to the sutler, the balance of it to a citizen of Texas. Lieut. Merril who had charge of the detachment hesitated what to do in the case nothwithstanding his orders to destroy it, sends an express back to the Fort representing the facts, when the second order was returned him to preserve the sutler's whiskey and destroy all belonging to Texas which was immediately done. The whiskey had not been landed and in fact, the boat was thirty miles below the destination of the whiskey which was poured into the river; this we can but view as an action of the Choctaw Nation, as the commanding officer becomes the superintendent of Indian Affairs during the absence of the proper agent. I shall here drop the subject for the present, inasmuch as these facts will soon be on their way to the proper authorities at Washington city. A Texan."
The writer is indebted to Dr. James D. Morrison of Wilburton for the excerpts from the Northern Standard.
domesticated themselves. The tall, ministerial-looking George Hudson made his patient contribution.4
The Garland family was of prominence among the Choctaws in Mississippi during the pre-removal days. Major James Garland a Scotchman, drifted into the Choctaw country during the early days of our War of the Revolution where he married a full blood Choctaw Indian woman and became an adopted member of the tribe. He settled in the northern part of what later became Jasper County, Mississippi which was occupied by the Six-Town or Bay Indians Division of the Choctaws. The major achieved much prominence among the Choctaws, probably acquired his military title through his activities and became a signer of the Treaty of October 18, 1820.5 He passed away before 1830 and was succeeded in leadership by his son John Garland who signed the famous Dancing Rabbit Treaty of September 27, 1830.6 Prior thereto, John Garland had been elected chief of the Six-Town District but resigned in March, 1830 being succeeded by Nitakechi7, a nephew of old Pushmataha. Garland's Old Field, the home of the Garland family located on the vicinity of the present town of Garlandville, Jasper County, Mississippi became the rendezvous of some 1900 emigrating Six-Town Indians upon their removal to the old Indian Territory in October, 1832.8 A contributing factor in assembling the Six-Town Indians for this removal was Col. John Johnston, a white man who in later years removed to the Indian Territory, married a Chickasaw Indian woman and became the father of Gov. Douglass H. Johnston of the Chickasaws.
4Angie Debo's splendid The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, has been a source of much valuable information.
See also Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. X, p. 222.
7Nitakeshi removed with the Indians of his district and served as chief of Pushmataha District in the West. He died at Lauderdale, Mississippi on November 22, 1845, when back there on a visit.
8Muriel H. Wright, "The Removal of the Choctaws to the Indian Territory," Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. VI, p. 120.
The present town of Garlandville is the site of Garland's Old Fields. The land was purchased from John Garland and later the townsite was located there in 1833 making Garlandville the oldest town in Jasper County. John Garland's place was on or very near the old road leading from the Old Agency to Natchez. This road was marked out at a very early date, probably at the time of or before the Treaty of 1803.
Under provisions of the Dancing Rabbit Creek Treaty, John Garland received two sections of land and by the terms of the supplemental treaty negotiated the next day, his son Samuel Garland was granted one section of land. It is of interest to know that Peter P. Pitchlynn also was awarded two sections of land by the same treaty. These grants are indicative of the leadership of the Garland and Pitchlynn families at that time.9
Samuel Garland, a son of John Garland was born at the old home near the present town of Garlandville, Jasper County, Mississippi, in December, 1803. He attended school at the Choctaw Academy in Kentucky and in about 1830 established his residence in the western part of Noxubee County, Mississippi near the present town of Mushulaville where then lived the Pitchlyn family and where he married Mary, a daughter of Major John Pitchlyn and Sophia Folsom,10 his wife. She was a younger sister of Peter P. Pitchlyn and was born in Noxubee County, on October 14, 1811 and died in the old Indian Territory on March 31, 1886. Samuel Garland being then a resident of the Choctaw District presided over by Chief Mushulatubbe was designated by that chief on January 16, 1831 as one of three conductors or agents to supervise the removal of that faction to the West. He had removed to Columbus where he engaged quite successfully in the mercantile business. Having exchanged their lands derived from the Dancing Rabbit Creek Treaty, for negro slaves, Samuel Garland and Peter P. Pitchlyn trekked to the West in 1833. Their party consisted of about fifty, composed mostly of these
9The Government had a well established policy of promoting treaties by granting tracts of the Indian domain to its influential leaders, to win approval and to placate opposition. Grant Foreman, Indian Removal, pp. 19 et seq.
10Major John Pitchlyn, a son of Isaac Pitchlyn, a Scotchman and an officer in the English army, was born on ship board off the coast of the Island of St. Thomas east of Porto Rico, in 1765. His father died in the Choctaw country in Mississippi while en route from South Carolina to the Natchez District, leaving his orphaned son to be reared among the Choctaws. The major served as an interpreter for the Choctaws for forty years, his early designation having been made by President Washington. He was married twice, his second wife being Sophia Folsom, a daughter of Ebenezer Folsom and his full blood Choctaw Indian wife. Sophia was born in Mississippi on December 27, 1773 and died in what is today McCurtain County, Oklahoma, on December 18, 1871. The major passed away at his ornate plantation home at Waverly, Lowndes (now Clay) County, Mississippi in the fall of 1835, where he was buried. It seems that his remains later were removed to the old Indian Territory and reinterred probably in the Mountain Fork country in the southeastern part of what is today McCurtain County, Oklahoma. The precise place of his burial place in Oklahoma is unknown. His wife Sophia Pitchlyn nee Folsom rests in the old Garland family cemetery near Tom, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. See H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians, (Greenville, Texas: Headlight Printing House, 1899.) 303; Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Lowndes County, Vol. XLIV, Part 2, 38A pp. 463-464; Rowland, Mississippi, Containing Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons, Arranged in Clycopedic Form, Vol. II, pp. 430-1; Dr. W. L. Lipscomb, A History of Columbus, Mississippi, published in 1909. Handbook of the American Indians, Vol. II, p. 264.
slaves.11 Their point of contact was the Mountain Fork area west of Eagletown. Garland was summoned back to Columbus a couple of years later, the occasion being the serious illness of Major John Pitchlyn, his father-in-law and who died in the fall of 1835. The major left a large estate and by the terms of his last will, Samuel Garland became the executor of this estate.12 This service engaged his attention until the late fall of 1836 when he closed up the estate and with his family which included his mother-in-law, made his final removal to the Indian Territory. He settled upon lands in the extreme southeastern part of what is today McCurtain County, Oklahoma. His Red River bottom land farm, consisting of some six hundred acres upon which he erected a palatial Southern home, was situated about three miles east of the present inland town of Tom, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. This remained his home until his death.
The initial fifteen years of Samuel Garland in the Indian Territory were devoted largely to his personal affairs. During those years he evidenced a minor interest in the political affairs of tribal government although he keenly supported the activities of Peter P. Pitchlyn, his astute brother-in-law. Pitchlyn originated what became known as the Net Proceeds Claim and Garland was an ardent factor in the subsequent diplomatic negotiations which were carried on with the Government. This claim was predicated upon the failure of the Government to recompense the Choctaws for the stock and other property they had been forced to abandon at the time of their removal. Those who had defrayed their own expenses had not been reimbursed and others who had elected to remain in Mississippi had lost their lands through the hostility of white intruders. The Government after deducting all expenses of removal had realized a large profit from the sale of their lands to white settlers. Under the inspiration of Peter P. Pitchlyn, the Choctaws initiated a prolonged effort to induce
12The Columbus Democrat in its issue of August 6, 1836 contained the following probate notice:
Notice:— There will be sold to the highest bidder, on the Second Monday in August next, at the Court House in the Town of Columbus, the undivided interest of the heirs of John Pitchlyn, deceased, Section No. 1, in Township No. 17 of Range No. 17 East. The other undivided interest being owned by John M. Hand will also be sold at the same time.
The above land will be sold in a credit of twelve months; the purchaser will be required to give bond with approved security. Sale at the usual hours.
Executor of the Will annexed
of Jno. Pitchlyn, dec'd.
John M. Hand.
June 10, 1836.
The issue of the Southern Argus of January 14, 1836 at Columbus, contained a similar notice of a sale of other lands by Samuel Garland as Executor of the Estate of John Pitchlyn, deceased.
the Government to pay them the "Net Proceeds" or the amount realized from the sale of their lands after deducting the expense of removal and survey. The effort was launched in 1853 by the designation of Peter P. Pitchlyn, Samuel Garland, Israel Folsom and Dixon W. Lewis as commissioners to proceed to Washington and present the matter. Samuel Garland became a signer of the treaty of November 4, 185413 between the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations at Doaksville and joined with the Net Proceeds delegation in signing the treaty of June 22, 185514 at Washington. This treaty divorced the political relations existing between the Choctaws and the Chickasaws and also contained a provision submitting the Net Proceeds Claim to the United States Senate.
The Net Proceeds Claim became the dominant passion in the life of Peter P. Pitchlyn and between 1855 and the outbreak of the Civil War, Garland and Pitchlyn spent much of their time in Washington. They were promoting this claim on a contingent basis and shared the prospect of an adequate reimbursement for their services, if successful. George Hudson was chief of the Choctaw Nation when the War broke, declined to assume a neutral posture and the Choctaws formed an alliance with the Confederacy. This action sealed for the time being any further efforts on the part of Pitchlyn and Garland in the Net Proceeds Claim matter. Pitchlyn returned to Washington where he remained most of the time during the War and where he maintained an immediate contact with the administration. Obviously, he was seeking to preserve an entree for a renewal of negotiations in the event the administration won the struggle. Garland returned to his farm preserving his status at home where he was highly esteemed by his people. What would appear to have been the adroit manipulation of these two men occasioned the defeat of Chief Hudson for reelection in August, 1862 and the election of Samuel Garland as Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation. Garland had been a member of the Choctaw Council in 1861-2. The election of Garland occasioned no change in the disordered conditions of self government which he faced when he entered office and which he was powerless to overcome.
The political household of which Samuel Garland assumed charge in October, 1862 was in a very disordered condition. The sad schedule of the Civil War provoked a disintegration of law-enforcement agencies in the Choctaw country. With the withdrawal of the Federal Government, no power remained to cope with violations of the protective treaties against intruders and a situation developed against which the Choctaws were unprepared to defend. Payment of monies due by the Government was suspended and as a consequence, the schools were closed and the guaranties of law and order seriously imperiled. The situation was complicated further by the
influx of Indian refugees from other tribes which tended to absorb the necessary resources of the Choctaws. Under normal conditions they had maintained relations with the border States by an exchange of their domestic products, but owing to the general confusion, their liquid resources were ruthlessly looted by non-citizens who invaded their borders. Organized bands of intimidating whites drove away their stock, committing murder in many instances in defiance of the inherent rights of the Indians. This situation was not indigenous alone to the Choctaws. Tragically uniform with their situation was that of the other tribes. The acts of piracy committed were reminescent of the pre-removal days. It remained for the years ahead after the war for these All-Americans by patient persistent efforts to restore their morale and resume their pastoral lives of sober industry.
Chief Samuel Garland relinquished the responsibilities of office to Peter Perkins Pitchlyn his brother-in-law, in October, 1864.
After his retirement from the chieftainship, Samuel Garland served as a member of the Choctaw Council in 1865, 1867 and 1869 and was a member at the time of his death. He was a man of high character, a devout member of the Presbyterian Church and of the Masonic orders. In his personal affairs he was highly successful. Chief Samuel Garland passed away at his comfortable home near the present town of Tom, McCurtain County, Oklahoma, on May 20, 1870 and is buried in an old family burying ground near by where his last resting place is suitably marked.15
The finale of the famous Net Proceeds Claim did not reach an adjustment until after the death of Samuel Garland. The controversy finally reached an adjustment by the Supreme Court.16 An award of $2,981,247 was finally made of which sum the heirs of Samuel Garland received $43,943.20 in 1889 in recognition of his years of service. The justice of the claim was recognized after thirty-six years of sustained effort.
15The old Garland family cemetery is situated three miles east and three quarters of a mile north of the present inland town of Tom in the extreme southeastern part of McCurtain County, Oklahoma. It is located near where stood the palatial plantation home of Chief Samuel Garland. The tombstone at the grave of Chief Garland bears the inscription, "Ex-Chief of the Choctaw Nation, Samuel Garland, Born Dec., 1803, Died May 20, 1870." The stone at the grave of his wife is inscribed, "Mary P., wife of Samuel Garland, Born October 14, 1811, Died Mar. 31, 1886." It is of interest to know that the mother of Mrs. Garland is also interred in this cemetery, the stone at her grave being marked "Sophia, Wife of Major John Pitchlyn, Born Dec. 27, 1773, Died Dec. 18, 1871." These tombstones are of solid marble and stand upright some twelve or fifteen feet in height. There are some twelve or fifteen graves in the old Garland cemetery which is enclosed by a wrought iron fence. The cemetery site has been deeded to the State for the use and benefit of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The writer is indebted to Judge H. L. S. Halley of Tulsa and to Mr. Doyle Crain of Antlers for the above detailed information.