Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Who were the Texas Cherokees?

Originally, a group of Cherokees, led by The Bowl, who had left the United States and settled in the geographical area now known as the state of Texas were called the “Texas Cherokees.” After that group was driven out of the Republic of Texas, the term “Texas Cherokees” was used to describe the survivors (and later descendants of those survivors) of the “Texas/Cherokee War.” They were the Cherokees that fled the Republic of Texas after The Bowl was killed in July 1839. Some went to the Cherokee Nation. Others went as far as the Choctaw Nation and stopped. Another group, led by John Bowles, son of The Bowl, attempted to get to Mexico. On the way, they encountered a group of soldiers and John Bowles was killed. Some of the women and children in the group were captured. The survivors of that attack managed to reach safety in Mexico and remained there until Sequoyah found them and requested they return to the Cherokee Nation, within the bounds of the United States.

A timeline for the “Texas Cherokees” follows: 

  •  1840 or later – Some of the wives (he had 3) and children of The Bowl requested safe passage through the Republic of Texas to the Cherokee Nation and were given it, along with an escort and provisions.
  • 1840 – The Cherokee man named Dutch contacted General Arbuckle about approximately 180 Cherokees who had arrived in deplorable condition from the Republic of Texas. Dutch requested food and provisions for them. (1)
  •  28 Apr 1840 – General Arbuckle sent a letter to President Lamar of the Republic of Texas on behalf of the Cherokee Nation government requesting prisoners be sent to the Cherokee Nation. Arbuckle also wrote that some Cherokees from the Republic of Texas had recently arrived in the Nation.
  •  25 Jan 1842 – Oosooti, a Cherokee that had previously lived in “Texas” and a signer of the Houston-Bowls Treaty in 1836, wrote a letter witnessed by Jesse Bushyhead, explaining he represented seventeen families consisting of about one hundred souls that had to leave everything they owned behind as they were forced out of Texas. He requested provisions for a year, clothing, cooking and farm implements, promising to remain with their friends and allies in the Cherokee Nation and to never leave the United States again. 
  •  1842 – Sequoyah, his son, Teesee, and others went to Mexico in search of the Cherokees who had fled there. 
  •  1843 – Lightening Bug Bowles was living in the Cherokee Nation. He ran for tribal council in the Canadian District but was ineligible, possibly due to length of time in his district or his age.
  • 29 Sept 1843 – The Treaty of Bird’s Fort was “signed”. A Cherokee named Chicken Trotter left his mark on the treaty. There were about 30 Cherokees present and they were in desperate condition. They had recently returned from Mexico and had been robbed of all their possessions, including their clothing. The family of The Bowl refused to attend the council until the women and children were given proper clothing.
  • 15 May 1844 – There was a council meeting of Indians and agents in the Republic of Texas. Cherokee Chicken Trotter spoke on the third day. He said all the Cherokees in Texas were there and asked about the daughters of Chu-ti-koo who had been taken by a different tribe.
  • 6 Dec 1844 – Tahluntusky Council in the Cherokee Nation took place. Lightening Bug Bowles was listed in Canadian District on Old Settler list. 
  •  21 April 1845 – A letter was sent from Warren’s Trading House, signed by Cherokees Standing Man, Standing Rock, and Watch Justice, witnessed by Jesse Chisholm, informing the Cherokee Nation that Sequoyah was dead. Standing Rock was with Sequoyah and buried him in Mexico.
  • 19 Sept 1845 – Cherokee “Chief” Wagon Bowles spoke at the first day of a Tehuacana Council held at Torrey’s Trading House. 
  •  20 Sept 1845 – A Cherokee named Keese spoke at the second day of the Tehuacana Council held at Torrey’s Trading House.
  • 13 Oct 1845 – The Treaty Party Expedition rode into the Cherokee settlement in Texas. Dr Thompson, David Bell, and Brice Martin went to Torrey’s Trading House, about 8 miles away. William Holt and Jack Griffin went to see Bowles who lived 5 miles above the village. (2)
  • 22 Oct 1845 – The Treaty Party Expedition left the Cherokee village with Teesee Guess as their guide. (2)
  • 13 Feb 1846 – Teesee Guess visited the camp of Elijah Hicks who had accompanied Cherokee Agent Butler and Col M.G. Lewis into Texas to assist with a treaty for Texas Indians.
  • 18 Feb 1846 – Teesee Guess and Jesse Chisholm visited the camp of Elijah Hicks.
  • 21 Feb 1846 – Chicken Trotter delivered a lost white boy to the camp of Elijah Hicks. 
  •  23 Feb 1846 – Elijah Hicks assisted Chicken Trotter at the trading post.
  • 1847 – Lightening Bug Bowles was in the Cherokee Nation and serving on the tribal council representing the Canadian District.
  • 18 Nov 1847 – The Cherokees remaining in Texas moved closer to “Warren’s Trading House” after being attacked.
  • 1849 – Lightening Bug Bowles was in the Cherokee Nation and serving in the tribal senate representing the Canadian District.
  • 1851 – Several Bowles were listed on the Old Settler roll, including Lightening Bug, Standing Man, Standing in the Middle, and Oo-tar-ye. Took her Guess, the wife of Teesee Guess, daughter of The Bowl, was also on the Old Settler roll. All were in the Canadian District. Teesee Guess was on the Drennen roll in the Canadian District.
  • 18 Mar 1853 – The “Texas Cherokee” started their suit against Texas for their lost land and property.
    New York Times; New York, New York; 18 March 1853; p6.
  • 1853 – Wagon Bowles was in the Cherokee Nation and serving on the tribal council representing the Canadian District. Lightening Bug Bowles was the other council person serving from the Canadian District. Teesee Guess was serving in the tribal senate from the Canadian District.

After an exhaustive search, Chicken Trotter was not found in records after 1846.

After 1847, the “Texas Cherokees” known to be in Texas disappear from records there and start appearing in records of the Cherokee Nation.

From 1853 on, the “Texas Cherokees and associate tribes” was a sub-group of Cherokees living within the Cherokee Nation who organized to seek compensation for the land and property they lost when they were driven out of the Republic of Texas.

In 1870, representatives and descendants of the Cherokees who formerly lived in Texas and who were known as the “Texas Cherokees and their associate bands” hired and gave power of attorney to William Penn Adair and Clement Neely Vann to prosecute their claims against Texas or the United States. The power of attorney specifically said ALL of those known as the Texas Cherokees and associate bands lived in the Cherokee Nation. They were not in Texas. They were not in Mexico. They were in the Cherokee Nation.

There were former citizens of the Cherokee Nation living in Texas in 1870, but they were not affiliated with the group known as the “Texas Cherokees.” There may have been former citizens of the Choctaw Nation, Creek Nation, and Chickasaw Nation living in Texas in 1870, too. If so, they were not the “associate bands” of the “Texas Cherokees.” We know this because the power of attorney said all of those known as the “Texas Cherokees and associated bands” were living in the Cherokee Nation.

Today, the “Mount Tabor Indian Community” in Texas represents itself as the descendants and heirs of the “Texas Cherokees and associate bands,” but the evidence clearly shows this claim is not true. The descendants of the “Texas Cherokees and associate bands” relocated to the Cherokee Nation by 1853 and stayed there.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Thanks for reading,

Polly’s Granddaughter


Note: The term “Texas Cherokees” does NOT include the group of Treaty Party members that moved to the state of Texas. Coming soon: “The Treaty Party in Texas.”

(1)Advancing the Frontier, Grant Foreman, p166.  

(2)William Minor Quesenbury Diary, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Similar name, different man: Devereaux Jarratt Bell vs Deveraux J. Bell

“If taken at face value, records and their “facts” can deceive, mislead, or confuse us.” - Elizabeth Shown Mills 


Anyone who has done genealogical research very long is aware of the “mischievous facts” that can sneak into our work and throw us off track. Recently while doing my reasonably exhaustive search for information on a Cherokee man named Devereaux “Jarratt Bell”, I encountered some “facts” that could have misled me if I hadn’t evaluated those “facts” through the lens of their time as well as in comparison with other established facts about Jarratt Bell.

Similar name, but not the same man 

Jarratt Bell, an Indian and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was well documented throughout his life. Between the years 1837 and 1842, he was found on twenty-two documents. He was an interpreter for U. S. Indian agents before removing from Georgia to Indian Territory in the detachment led by his older brother, John A. Bell. Upon his arrival in Indian Territory, he carried mail for the detachment. Later, he was recorded as working as a blacksmith assistant; writing letters and documents as a clerk for the National Committee of the Cherokee Nation; witnessing claims filed by his father and brother; and acting as a claim’s agent in Flint district.

In a plethora of documents, records, family correspondence, and newspaper articles, Jarratt Bell is never found in the Republic of Texas or the state of Texas. Many in his family settled in the state of Texas shortly before and during the U. S. Civil War. While those relatives are documented as being there, Jarratt is not.

Despite the absence of records of Jarratt Bell in the Republic of Texas and the state of Texas, a different man named Deveraux J. Bell was found on a clerk’s list of those receiving land grant certificates between December 5, 1839 and January 11, 1840. That same man, Deveraux J. Bell, was also listed on the 1840 Tax Roll of Nacogdoches County. He owned one horse and one watch. He was not found in any other records in the Republic of Texas after a reasonably exhaustive search of those records.

While a novice researcher or someone cherry picking “facts” might argue “the name’s the same, so they are the same person”, they are not the same man. First, the names are similar, not the same. We have no indication for what the J in the name of Deveraux J. Bell represents. Second, even if it was an exact match on the name, it doesn’t mean it was the same man. Same name is not always the same person.

During the analysis of the numerous records found on Jarratt Bell, he is never recorded as using the name Devereaux on any document created during his lifetime. As a child, a young man, and to his family, he was “Jarratt.” In his legal and professional life which started in 1837, he was D. J. Bell. This is a key factor in his identity. His given name appears to have been Devereaux, but he was never known by that name, and he never used it on documents. “Devereaux” does not appear in records as his name until forty years after his death when his siblings, nieces, and nephews filed Eastern Cherokee applications and claimed through him. The two records in the Republic of Texas for a man named “Deveraux J. Bell” do not match the well-established identity of Jarratt Bell.

Some might believe the name “Devereaux” is too unique to belong to two different men, but it wasn’t unusual or rare in the early 1800s. A highly respected minister throughout Virginia and North Carolina was named Devereux Jarratt. He died in 1801 and some devout parents may have named their sons after him. An examination of the U. S. censuses of 1830-1850 on Family Search revealed over 100 men named Devereux (various spellings.) Because Bell* is a common surname, it would not be beyond the realm of possibilities to find other men with the same or a similar name to the Cherokee man named Devereaux “Jarratt Bell”.

Though one might be tempted to stop the evaluation of evidence after establishing the differences in the identities of Jarratt Bell and Deveraux J. Bell, it’s not enough to review only “facts” attached to names. We must also analyze “facts” within the context of the place and time they occurred. When comparing the two men, it is important to remember the bitter climate that existed in the Republic of Texas toward Cherokees in 1839. The Bowl and his followers were nearly annihilated by the Texans in July that year. Those that survived either fled to the Cherokee Nation or they tried to get to Mexico for safety. Cherokees were not trying to get into the Republic of Texas that year. They were trying to get out. It was not safe for them there.

To reiterate that point, in December 1839, soldiers encountered the Cherokee remnant trying to get to Mexico. They killed John Bowles, son of The Bowl, and captured other Bowles family members. The few remaining survivors of that attack managed to escape and cross into Mexico where they remained until 1843 when Sequoyah found them.

In stark contrast, while Cherokees were fleeing from the Republic of Texas in 1839, white settlers were flooding into the area chasing free land. The Republic was awarding land grants to those who qualified. A single man named Deveraux J. Bell arrived December 16, 1839 and was granted a certificate for 320 acres by the Board of Land Commission Office. He received a third-class headright grant. Only free white men were eligible for those land grants.

Clearly there were two men, one Indian and one white, with similar names. Only one was eligible for the land grant in the Republic of Texas. It was not the Cherokee man named Devereaux “Jarratt Bell”. Inept analysis of the “facts” on one man or the other could deceive a researcher, leading them to believe all the “facts” apply to only one man. Unfortunately, in research involving Cherokees, there are also some people who carelessly or intentionally combine “facts” from more than one person to create the ancestor they want. Whether accidental or deliberate, playing with “facts” in such a way would be an injustice to the legacy of both men.

We, as genealogists and researchers, are the only voice people from the past have today. They are not characters in a fictional story we want to tell, but instead, real people who lived upon this Earth and left their mark in some way or another. If we are going to tell their story, the least we can do is tell it correctly. It’s important to be aware that “facts” can mislead us if we don’t carefully examine and evaluate each piece of data we find, ensuring those “facts” belong in the narrative of another person’s life.

Those are my thoughts for today,

Polly’s Granddaughter 


*Bell is the 67th most common surname in the United States

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Gardner Green Series: Northup No Longer Claims Young Wolf/Gardner Green

In 2019, after my blog series on Gardner Green, I received an email from Beverly Baker Northup, "chief" of the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory. She said she had read my blog and decided she would not claim Gardner Green any longer. Baker removing Gardner Green from the "Northern Cherokee" history removes him from the history of the splinter tribes as well. That battle is finally over. Without Gardner Green, their claim collapses.

Click to enlarge

The Missouri groups have been exposed and they no longer claim our Young Wolf/Gardner Green. Though I know there has been a renewed interest in once again trying to "expose" these groups by some Cherokees, our time might be better spent focusing in another direction. There are over 200 other fake Cherokee tribes throughout the United States and they aren't going anywhere if we remain distracted by the already debunked groups in Missouri.

In my opinion, if we truly care about addressing the issue of ALL fake Cherokee tribes, it's time we turn our attention to another state and work to expose the fake "Cherokee" tribe trickery going on there. 

It's time we look toward Texas.

Those are my thoughts for today,

Polly's Granddaughter