I have been known to be far too harsh on people who claim to be my families relatives among the Choctaw with only word of mouth and oral history as a basis. I do however, believe there is something to the rumor that the Pyburn family had a mixed blood Creek ancestress. My previous posts on the Tensaw clearly show the family lived in the settlement from 1785-1812, and there are three big questions that pertain to the family that I still can't answer after a decade of research.
We have oral history, and had believed that the native american (or indian princess as my great great grandma told it) was Mary Jane Chitty, the wife of Benjamin Jacob Pyburn. I have been in contact with Chitty researchers, and it is believed that some of the family did try to apply as Eastern Cherokee. If so, the native american on the Chitty side could come from only her mother, Mary Jane, who most believe was a Brown. I tend to think the Brown's in her home in 1850 are her sons. The fact that Mary Jane, who grew up near the border of Conecuh and Monroe, married Benjamin Jacob Pyburn is a mystery. How on earth did they meet? The family by all accounts was never a wealthy one. Add to that the fact that in 1854, I believe that's the year, Florida passed a law that anyone found to be native american living in Florida would be shipped off to the territory, we now know as Oklahoma.
Suddenly, Benjamin and his family move to Conecuh County, Alabama, just northeast of Evergreen. Benjamin's brother, A. William (most of us believe this is not Archibald, but have no idea what the A. stands for) had married Diana Snowden, the daughter of Thomas J. Snowden and Tabitha Dees. An Eastern Creek application names Diana as the Aunt, and lists the Dees family as being part Creek. This may explain why from 1860-1910 Diana never shows up on any legal paperwork, though burials in the Coon Hill Cemetery, in Santa Rosa county show the family had remained as residents. Santa Rosa has known missing pages in 1870, and from what I have pieced together, (I have missing folks 1860-1880), most of these lie east of Coonhill toward Munson and below I think it's Hwy 4 that runs to Jay, Florida.
I began to strongly to suspect that it wasn't just these ladies who may be indian but the Pyburn's themselves. The description of Benjamin Jacob Pyburn certainly does support this, he is short, with black hair and eyes and dark skin in his civil war paperwork. That alone I know, does not mean they are indian, but when we trace the family back we have strong evidence that the possibility is reasonable. Jacob Pyburn, the 3rd of that name in our tree, married Diadema Stapleton in 1819 in Baldwin County, Alabama. Newspaper articles, earlier that year lists both Jacob, and his Uncle, Antoine Collins as residents of Pensacola who recently arrived at Mobile and describe the American ships in the Bay. For those of you who don't know, Andrew Jackson was taking Mobile from the Spanish at the time. Antoine Collins actually is listed among Andrew Jackson's papers as an agent for him, his wife was Mary Pyburn, Jacob's Aunt.
When the massacre at Fort Mims occurred, Jacob the 3rd was about 13 years old, and about 4 months later, he along with Archibald Rials enlisted in the Mississippi Volunteer unit. I have no idea why he shows up after 1813, and his father and grandmother do not, but we know that in 1810 his grandmother, listed as Frances Steel (or is it Fanny) has one male over 21 (Jacob the 2nd) and one under 21 (Jacob the 3rd) in her home in Baldwin County. In 1808 Frances had sold her land to Lorenzo Dow (though I have found references that the family tried to make a claim at a later date as her heirs). Jacob Pyburn the 2nd witnessed the will of Joseph Stiggins in 1812, and is a juror in 1810 and 1812, so he didn't leave either. When we look back even further, we see that in 1797, Jacob Pyburn age 20 is listed with a wife age 18 in the Tombigbee census. The couple does not have any children when it was taken in January, so Jacob must have been born later that year.
Who the mother of Jacob is is a very good question. She would be born about 1783. I believe she was a mixed blood Creek, but all I can prove at this point is which of the neighborhood's families she does not belong to. I know she is not a Mims, Linder, Johnston, Powell, Dyer or Stiggins. At least the evidence suggests that. I know that all but William Powell, and I would have to check that, were close neighbors of the Pyburn's (within 4-7 miles). Other close neighbors are Cornelius McCurtain, who has no legal heirs (I still think he had a Choctaw son, but that's another blog), Richard Coleman, the Weekly family, the Randon's and Josiah Fletcher. However among all of these families, only Mims, Linder, Johnston, and Weekly had children that early. So was she a mestizo, and if so, how does she relate? I still can't answer that question.
I am relatively sure that Mary Pyburn Collins kept in touch with her neighbors, because her daughter goes on to marry Adam Cornelius Hollinger. This marriage, I believe occurred in Pensacola, but it is interesting to note that Jacob and his wife were living in Baldwin at that time.
Another bothersome question is who is Jeptha (or maybe Joshua) Turvin, who married Phoebe, or Parobi Pyburn. A distant cousin found (and I have not seen) paperwork that says Phoebe and her brother Santiago (James) had cattle on this land above Pensacola in 1818. He also said he found references to land owned by Benjamin Pyburn, who we know was baptized at Tensaw in 1788. Since the 1820 census only shows Mary (also baptized with Benjamin) her husband and children (two of whom are rumored to be the children of James Innearity) and Phoebe (listed as age 40 and a widow), it appears that James and Benjamin have died by then.
There is strong reason to believe that Richard Turvin, and his son Elijah found in Santa Rosa (near Jacob by the way) are the descendants of Phoebe, but there is not proof. There is also a strong reason to believe that this is the Richard who was named as a friendly Creek. The problem is if Phoebe is born in 1780, it kind of pushes the envelope that she is the mother of Richard who was born about 1793. This question remains, and though I am interested, I have not looked for any other proof in the last few years. Phoebe of course, can be older, as if I recall, Mary is younger than her birthdate on her baptism in most of the censuses.
The last question, is who was the father of Isabelle, the daughter born to Frances Pyburn in 1788, and did she grow to adulthood. There is an Isabelle Greenwood with a John who was godparent to Jaime, the son of Mary Pyburn. Although he has a daughter by that name she was only 11, so did he marry Isabelle? His first wife, of English origin, likely had died by then.
I know from plat maps and testimonies who Frances' neighbors were. I have long suspected that someone was a relative, because she had a total of 6 children that we know of and was widowed between 1786 and 1787. I can't imagine the hardships she faced. I know her maiden name from her marriage record in 1798 to William Steel in the Archdiocese of Mobile. I know the Mullis family comes from North Carolina and Bedford County, Virginia, but can't connect her to anyone. The closest I have to a clue is that John Lawrence took the oath the same day as Jacob Pyburn the 1st in December 1784, and that John was known to have run with a James Pyburn in Georgia. While I know all the Pyburn's are related in 1780's, and that they come from two brothers, John and Richard, none of us can connect the sons of John and Richard to those we find in 1790. James in Georgia is likely a relative to Jacob, who came from Bedford area I believe (or Tennessee as the records for Virginia actually have folks who are in Tennessee at that time).
Questions, that's what always happens. You find the answer to one, but end up with two more. That's just the way it goes.