25 February 2017

Scots among the Southern Indians

Dozens, scores, maybe hundreds of Scots, mostly Highlanders and Islanders, with some Uplanders, Lowlanders, and Borders, lived and traded with the Indians of the Old Southwest, that part of the U.S.A. now known as the American Southeast.  There were also traders and agents who were of English, Irish, Welsh, and German origin, even a few Hugeonot French, but these were far fewer  in comparison than the number of Scots.

During the French and Indian War of 1754-1763, the British colonial administration decided it needed to centralize all forms of relations with the myriad Indian nations and tribes under a single umbrella rather than continue with each province (colony) going its own separate way.  To some extent this worked out, to some extent things remained as they were.   By the eve of the Revolution, trade responsibility had returned to the individual provinces while the Indian Department was in charge of political relations.

Initially, the Department of Indian Affairs was divided into two districts, Northern and Southern, divided by the Ohio River.  From its opening in January 1756 until 1764, activities of each were conducted by a Superintendent with one assistant.

In 1764, the governor general authorized each superintendent to appoint permanent resident agents among the tribes called commissaries, each with an interpreter and clerk.  In the Southern District, there was a commissary for each of the major tribes—Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw—plus one for the Small Tribes on the Lower Mississippi River (Biloxi, Houma, Attacapa, Bayogoula, Tunica, Apalachee, Ofogoula, Quapaw).  John Stuart, Superintendent since 1762, handled relations with the fifth major tribe, the Catawba, out of his Charlestown, South Carolina, headquarters.  The Seminole were counted among the Creek.  The province of Virginia maintained authority over the Indian tribes within its boundaries.

In 1766, the governor general authorized Deputy Superintendents in both districts, three for the Northern and two for the Southern.  Stuart appointed Alexander Cameron, Commissary to the Cherokee, as Deputy Superintendent to oversee relations with the Catawba, Cherokee, and Creek and his cousin Charles Stuart, then Commissary to the Small Tribes, as Deputy Superintendent to oversee relations with the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Small Tribes.  The number of commissaries had expanded as well, each major tribe now having more than one, plus posts at St. Augustine, Pensacola, and Mobile.

By the outbreak of the Revolution, there were Deputy Superintendents for the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Small Tribes, and Stuart had appointed his brothr Henry Stuart as chief Deputy Superintendent.  Those who served with the British Indian Department during the Revolution, with the exception of John and Henry Stuart, did so not just as mere adminstrators but often as active combatants and commanders. 

Notable Scottish traders, agents, and refugee Tories among the Cherokee and other tribes of the Old Southwest (now the American Southeast) included the men listed below.

Edmond Atkin, of Scottish origin, served as the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District, based out of his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.  He served from 1756 until his death at the end of 1761.

Thomas Brown was born in England, but emigrated with a group of Scots from the Orkney Islands to Georgia.  During the Revolution, he was a Loyalist living in Brownsborough, Georgia, near Augusta, who relocated to Florida after he was tied to a tree, roasted with fire, scalped, tarred, and feathered by a mob of the Sons of Liberty.  Making his base among the Seminole, he led the East Florida Rangers, made up of Loyalist, Seminole, and Lower Creek. 

When the British Southern District for Indian Affairs was split after the death of John Stuart in March 1779, Brown was Superintendent of Indians Affairs for the Atlantic District to work with the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole, relocating to the recently captured Augusta, Georgia, from which he also led the King’s Carolina Rangers.  He remained there until June 1781, when the American recaptured the city and he had to relocate with Cameron and Taitt to Savannah until June 1782, when they had to remove again to St. Augustine, East Florida.  He was ordered to cease operations in September 1783.  He moved to Abaco Island in the Bahamas, then to St. Vincent’s, where he died in 1825.

William Buchanan was the first white man to settle among the Cherokee beyond the Tuckaseegee River, at least according to family records.  His son or grandson John Buchanan sold the land which became the first British settlement in Tennessee, Sapling Grove (now Bristol), the first of the North-of-Holston settlements, to Evan Shelby in 1768.  John’s son, also named John, was one of fourteen defenders who managed to hold off an attack by 280 Cherokee, Creek, and Shawnee on Buchanan’s Station the night of 30 September 1792.

Alexander Cameron served as John Stuart’s Commissary to the Cherokee then (simultaneously) Deputy Superintendent (over relations with the Catawba, Cherokee, and Creek) until the latter’s death.  His base was first at the Cherokee town of Keowee in what’s now Oconee County, South Carolina.  He later moved to the Cherokee town of Toqua on the Little Tennessee River, and became adopted brother to Dragging Canoe, then headman of Great Island Town.  Later he moved to the Upper Creek town of Little Tallassee, where he lived until an assassination plot in September 1777 forced him to relocate to Pensacola, West Florida. 

Upon John Stuart’s death, the Southern District for Indian Affairs was split in two, and Cameron was assigned as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Mississippi District to work with the Choctaw and the Chickasaw.  After Pensacola was captured by the Spanish in May 1781, he joined Brown in Augusta, Georgia.  Barely a month later, Cameron and the rest had to relocate to Savannah when Augusta was retaken by the Americans.  He died there in December 1781.

Alexander Campbell served as John Graham as Chief Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Mississippi District, making his base at the Cherokee town of Turkeytown, near what is now Centre, Alabama.

Dugald Campbell served as the Southern District’s Commissary at Mobile.

John D. Chisholm was a Scottish trader originally based out of Pensacola who moved to live among the Upper Creek in 1778, then later with the Cherokee, before establishing himself in the North-of-Holston settlements, from which he traded with the Overhill and other Cherokee.  He later moved to reside permanently in Willstown, serving as secretary to Cherokee leader Doublehead until the latter’s assassination.  When Cherokee began migrating west beyond the Mississippi River in the early 1800s, he joined them.

James Logan Colbert was a longtime trader living several decades among the Chickasaw, who was either born in Inverness or in the Carolinas to someone born in Inverness.  During the Revolution, he became a Captain of the Department of Indian Affairs Mississippi District, operating independently against the Spanish after their capture of the Lower Mississippi in autumn 1779.  At his death in 1784, he owned a huge plantation with 150 slaves.  Of his six sons, four became leading headmen of the Chickasaw during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, while his two daughters married other headmen.

Alexander Cuming was a Scottish aristocrat who may have been sent to the Cherokee by King George II, or may have ventured to Cherokee Country on his own.  He claimed the Cherokee had given him the title of “king”.  It is a fact that he brought the first seven Cherokee to visit London.

John Doigg served as the Southern District’s Commissary at Pensacola.

John Elliot was a prominent early trader among the Cherokee, contemporary of Ludovic Grant and John Watts, Sr.  The Cherokee reportedly detested him.

John Anthony Foreman was a Scottish trader who settled in the town of Ooyougilogi, twenty miles northeast of Chattooga (site of the later Rome, Georgia), who married Susie Rattling-Gourd of the Paint Clan, with whom he had seven sons, man of whom became prominent leaders of the Cherokee Nation, and five daughters.

Christopher Gist served as assistant to Edmond Atkin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District, 1756-1761.

Nathaniel Gist, son of Christopher, was a trader among the Cherokee of the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River who became the father of Sequoyah (also known as George Gist or Guess), inventer of the Cherokee alphabet.

John Graham succeeded Alexander Cameron as British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Mississippi District upon the latter’s death at Savannah, Georgia, in December 1781.

Ludovic Grant was one of the first, if not the first, traders among the Overhill Towns of the Cherokee along the Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers, first making his home at Great Tellico, later moving to the Little Tennessee.  He lived in the Overhill Towns from 1726 to 1756, and his letters written 1730-1756 provide a wealth of information about the Cherokee of that time.

George Lowrey was a Scottish trader who married Nanyeh of the Wolf Clan (also known as Nannie Watts) and became father to Cherokee warriors and later political leaders John and George Lowrey.

John McDonald was Alexander Cameron’s assistant.  At the outbreak of the Revolution, he took up a post on the west bank of South Chickamauga Creek where a branch of the Great Indian Warpath crossed, providing a link to Henry Stuart in Pensacola.  The site later became Brainerd Mission.  After the first westward relocation of the militant Cherokee during the Revolution, Dragging Canoe (Tsiyugunsini), their chief war leader, set up his base at the town established his headquarters at the town of Chickamauga on the east bank of South Chickamauga Creek, across from McDonald’s trading post and commissary. 

When John Stuart died and Thomas Brown became Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Atlantic District while Cameron moved to the Mississippi District, McDonald became his Deputy Superintendent to the Cherokee, based out of the Cherokee town of Running Water at what is now Whiteside, Tennessee. 

In 1788, he and his deputy and son-in-law Daniel Ross transferred operations to Turkeytown (Centre, Alabama) in order to be closer to their supply lines from now Spanish-held Pensacola, after he became the official Spanish agent to the Cherokee as well as British Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District.  When the Cherokee-American wars ended in 1795, he moved to modern-day Rossville, Georgia, and built what is now known as the John Ross House, later moving to his former home on South Chickamauga Creek.  In 1817, he sold that land to the American Board of Missioners, where they established Brainerd Mission, which lasted until the Cherokee Removal in 1838.  Afterwards, he moved in with his grandson, now living at the Rossville house, where he died in 1824.

John McGillivray commanded a company of provincial militia working with the Chickasaw along the Mississippi during the Revolutionary War, at least between the time of Willing’s Raid (September 1778) and the capture of the Lower Mississippi by Spain in fall 1779.

Lachlan McGillivray was a Scottish trader among the Creek who became the father of later Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, who led the pro-British faction of the Lower Creek during the American Revolution.

John McIntosh served as John Stuart’s Commissary and later Deputy Superintendent to the Chickasaw from late colonial times into the Revolutionary War, except for a brief period when he was instead Commissary for all West Florida based out of Mobile.

Roderick McIntosh served as Southern District’s Commissary to the Upper and Middle Creek from 1764 to 1772.

William McIntosh was a Scottish Loyalist who moved from Savannah, Georgia, to live among the Creek during the Revolution and became David Taitt’s assistant deputy among the Lower Creek towns.  His son, also named William, became one of the leading men of the Creek Confederacy after the Revolution.

Charles McLemore was a trader among the Cherokee at the time of the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758-1761) who became father to later Cherokee warriors and postwar leaders John and Robert, the latter of whom named McLemore’s Cove in northern Walker County, Georgia.

Daniel Ross, father of later Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation John Ross, was a trader travelling down the Tennessee River in 1780, captured by the militant Cherokee near the later City of Chattanooga and rescued from death by John McDonald.  He later married McDonald’s daughter Molly, and served as McDonald’s assistant when the latter was Deputy Superintendent of the Atlantic District to Thomas Brown.  He remained McDonald’s assistant after the Revolution, moving with him to Turkeytown (Centre, Alabama) to continue supporting southern Indians fighting American settlers.  When the Cherokee-American wars ended in 1795, he and his family moved to the Cherokee town of Tsatanugi (from which Chattanooga is derived) at the modern St. Elmo.

Charles Stuart served as his cousin John’s first Commissary to the Small Tribes (on the Mississippi River), stationed in Mobile, then became Deputy Superintendent to coordiante relations with the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Small Tribe along with serving as Commissary to the Choctaw.

Henry Stuart was his brother John’s Chief Deputy Superintendent, based during the Revolution out of Mobile, then Pensacola, both in West Florida.

John Stuart was the lone survivor of the Fort Loudon Massacre in 1758 which began the Anglo-Cherokee War (fought concurrently with the French and Indian War).  Of course, that was in response to the murder of a large number of Cherokee hostages of the British at Fort Prince George near the Cherokee town of Keowee.  In 1761, he became British Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District out of Charlestown, South Carolina, which he remained until his death during the Revolution.  In that office, he succeeded its first holder, English-born Emond Atkin, who served from 1756 until his death in 1761.  After his house was attacked at the outbreak of the Revolution, he relocated to St. Augustine in British-held East Florida, where he died in March 1779.  By Susannah Emory, he became the progenitor of the Bushyhead family of the Cherokee Nation.

David Taitt served as Stuart’s Deputy Superintendent to the Creek, making his base at the Upper Creek town of Little Tallassee near present-day Mongomery, Alabama.  At the time, the Creek ere divided into four divisions, the Upper, Middle, and Lower Towns, and the Seminole, who were counted as another.  Taitt relocated with Alexander Cameron in September 1777, but returned in early 1778 only to be recalled to Pensacola shortly thereafter, from which he fled in May 1781, along with Alexander Cameron, after its capture by the Spanish, only to be forced to relocate to Savannah, Georgia, in June 1781 when Augusta was captured by the Americans.

Charles Fox-Taylor was the natural son of a Scottish laird who became a trader and agent among the Cherokee after the close of the Cherokee-American Wars.  His sons, Richard and Fox, were prominent business and political leaders of the Cherokee Nation, the former leading one of the parties heading west during the Cherokee Removal.

John Thomas served as John Stuart’s Commissary and later Deputy Superintendent to the Small Tribes on the Lower Mississippi and Gulf Coast (Biloxi, Houma, Attacapa, Bayogoula, Tunica, Apalachee, Ofogoula, and Quapaw).

James Clement Vann was another Scottish trader among the Cherokee, possibly brother to John Joseph, who later married Wah-Li of the Wild Potato Clan and became step-father to James and sisters Nancy and Jennie.

John Joseph Vann was a Scottish trader who lived among the Cherokee near what became Springplace, Georgia, the site of the first Christian mission among the Cherokee, built by the Moravian Brethren.  By a Cherokee woman named Wah-Li, he became father of James Vann, a later Cherokee warrior, plantation owner, merchant, and civic and political leader who during his life was the richest man east of the Mississipi River of any ethnicity.

John Walker, Sr. was a trader among the Cherokee after the Cherokee-American wars ended who became friends with then General Andrew Jackson while serving under him during the Creek War of 1811-1813.  He was already by then father of future Cherokee leader John Walker, Jr.

John Watts, Sr. was an Indian trader of Scottish descent among the Cherokee from about 1750 who became the official British interpeter with the Cherokee after the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758-1761).  He married Wurteh of the Paint Clan, sister of war leader and later political leader Doublehead and of First Beloved Man of the Cherokee Overhill Towns, Old Tassel, who was murdered by settlers in 1788.  They had six children, one of whom was John Watts, Jr., a later warrior who succeeded Dragging Canoe as leader upon the latter’s death on 1 March 1792.

* * * * *

While in the Southern Theater during the Revolution, nearly all the Scottish Highlanders and their descendants were Loyalists, most of the Irish Protestants or Irish Presbyterians, the group later called “Scotch-Irish”, almost universally supported the Whigs.  The same was the case in the North, at least in the beginning, but three Irish Protestants defected to the Loyalist cause in 1778 and became prominent in Indian affairs.  These three were Alexander McKee, Matthew Elliot, and Simon Girty, whose brother James and George later joined.

Contemporary references to the “Scotch-Irish” do exist, but they are incredibly few.  Usually the group is referred to as “Irish Protestants” or “Irish Presbyterians”.  In Ireland, “Protestants” were strictly those of the Anglican Church of Ireland; even Episcopalian immigrants from Scotland were classed with Presbyterians as “Dissenters”.  The term “Scotch-Irish” did not come into common usage in the North until the 1840s, with sudden expansion of influx of refugees from the Irish Famine of those years.  In the South, it was not common until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1776, the Continental Congress organized its own Department of Indian Affairs, divided into Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts.  In practice, however, each state appointed its own representatives to the various tribes.  For example, North Carolina appointed James Robertson its agent to the Cherokee, Virginia appointed Joseph Martin, and South Carolina appointed Andrew Williamson, each of Irish Protestant descent. 


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