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DAVIS, ALICE BROWN (1852-1935)

Educator, rancher, postmistress, interpreter, and unofficial tribal spokesperson of her community, Alice Brown Davis served as the first woman chief of the Seminole from 1922 until her death in 1935 at the age of eighty-two. Her father, Dr. John F. Brown an army surgeon, linguist, and graduate of the University of Edinburgh, met her mother, Lucy Redbeard, (Graybeard, or ConoHaGe) of the Seminole Tiger clan, in 1837. Their union produced seven children, including her older brother, John Frippo Brown, future chief of the Seminoles, and Alice, born near Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, on September 10,1852.

Alice Brown Davis

In 1867 Alice's parents died in a cholera epidemic, and Alice moved to Wewoka to live with John Frippo Brown. There she received schooling at the Seminole Mission. She married George Rollin Davis of Kansas on January 20, 1874; together they opened a trading post at Arbeka, Indian Territory. After 1885 she worked with Chief Brown, serving as an interpreter, liaison, and record keeper. Following her husband's death in 1899, Alice Davis managed not only a family of ten children but the Davis business concerns as well, including the Bar X Bar Ranch. She later traveled as a delegate for the Baptist Church and the Seminole Tribe to the Florida Seminoles. A teacher earlier in her life, she also served as superintendent for Emahaka Female Academy. Her work led to her appointment by Pres. Warren G. Harding to serve as tribal chief following her brother's death in 1919. Most of her duties as chief involved questions of oil leases and Seminole allotments.

Alice Brown Davis's death in Wewoka on June 21, 1935, at the age of eighty-two was preceded and followed by tributes to a lifetime of achievement. In 1930 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In 1950 Davis House, at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, was named for her. Her bronze bust, unveiled in 1964 at the New York World's Fair, was later placed in the American Indian Hall of Fame in Anadarko.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, AMERICAN INDIANS AND EDUCATION, SEMINOLE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Alice Brown Davis, First Seminole Chieftainess," Twin Territories Magazine [n.d.], Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Margaret Chaney, "A Tribal History of the Seminole Indians" (M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1928). William Graham Davis, interview by Mary B. Roberts, 4 November 1977, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Aleece Locke (Mrs. Tom Garrard), "Tribute to Alice Brown Davis," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 43 (Spring 1965). Maye Davis Locke, "Historical Notes of the Life of Alice Brown Davis," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 43 (Spring 1965).

Rechenda Davis Bates

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