Monday, March 20, 2017

Addressing the Choctaw in Great Crossing Part two

There is not a lot of genealogy in the book Great Crossing that I critiqued but there is some things that deserve correction, clarification, or further explanation.

I addressed John Pitchlynn's father in my critique. This is one of those inaccuracies that won't seem to go away. Isaac Pitchlynn wrote two letters to the government. The originals are available as digital images at the Mississippi Archives in the Territorial Paper collection. Look them up if you have questions. Both of the letters were written after 1800, by this time, John had long been a father.

I do find her description of Pierre Juzan a bit misleading. His speech of 1826 in particular. It is suggested that he had already mastered many subjects and spoke eloquently. He may have been an excellent speaker, however, examples of his writing show a man who wasn't as comfortable with the English language. His grammar and use of language is in the manner of someone of which English is obviously a second language.

We have examples of Greenwood Leflore (similar) and many other's of the same time frame. Thomas Wall and Samuel Foster who we don't know the education of, and James L. McDonald, Robert M. Jones and Peter Pitchlynn whom we know spoke English from childhood. To say Pierre was the brightest in that first class is questionable for me. He would have had the opportunity to have learned at the missionary school at his father's home since 1820, but his youngest sister was far superior in her use of written English than Pierre.

John Riddle's expulsion is detailed in the book. I quite appreciated John Riddle all the more when I learned the reason for his expulsion. However, his family connection was completely omitted. In a letter from the school at Mushulatubbee's the students are named, among them is John Riddle and his brother, William, who were named as nephews of the "King". Lack of response to his expulsion on the part of the Choctaws most likely had more to do with the political struggles his Uncle, Mushulatubbee and his cousin Peter Pitchlynn were undergoing at the time.

A clarification is also necessary in regard to Peter Pitchlynn. Though Mushulatubbee does refer to Peter as his Uncle in the letter in the Peter Pitchlynn Collection, it is Peter's mother who is Mushulatubbee's niece, Peter is his great nephew. John Riddle's mother, Caty was Mushulatubbee's sister and an Aunt to Sophia Folsom. Among the Choctaw however, John and his siblings were most likely to refer to Sophia Folsom Pitchlynn as their half sister. Thus Peter would have been intimately acquainted with the Riddle family in the matriarchal society.

The Trahern's in the book are covered more prominently than I would have expected. There are however a few facts that are not accurate. George Washington Trahern was the youngest son of Wesley Trahern and Delilah Brashears as mentioned in the book. William Trahern, who was also mentioned was his elder brother. They had one other brother, Wesley Brashears Trahern who married Lucy Juzan, did not attend the Academy, and died by 1834.

William Trahern attended the Choctaw Academy much earlier than his brother. The boys father had remarried after the death of Delilah and had another son and daughter. Wesley Trahern died in 1825, at which time his brother, also named William Trahern, became the executor. Another brother, James Trahern was also residing in Jackson at the time, he was the father of James N. Trahern. It is George Washington Trahern, James Trahern, and Joseph Lancaster (a maternal cousin of James) that were sent together in 1831 to the Academy.

William Trahern, the brother of Wesley, moved into the home that Wesley had built, and on the land that Wesley had acquired from the treaty of 1820. It appears that until the death of James Trahern in 1830 he kept the children of both James and Wesley in his home, because in 1830 he has boys the age of James, his brother Jerry and George in his home. However, examining the estate and land records show that William never resolved the estate, registered his brother's land in his name, and was involved in land companies that speculated on land allotments of the Choctaws, including the land of his nieces, nephews, and Peggy Trahern.

The autobiography of William's son, William Eustace Trahern speaks of his father dying in debt and his mother being forced from her home. In all reality, the new executor may have been the one who did so. Sadly, when the estate was finally settled, though some were just a few counties away, none of the heirs of Wesley ever received a penny from the estate of their father.

My point is that it is highly doubtful given the treatment by which Agnes, Wesley's widow, his children and Peggy and her children received, that George Washington Trahern ever had an ounce of privilege. While I know of no evidence that George Washington Trahern stopped briefly in Indian Territory, I do know that he joined his two sisters and their husbands in Texas, where he joined the Texas Rangers and fought in the Mexican War.

In California, he not only raised cattle and became a very wealthy man (a millionaire by today's standards) he raised race horses and is, with the exception of a distant cousin who invented a pump, the Trahern most often mentioned in newspapers. Though he gave biographical information and the interview, he never referred to his heritage.

William Trahern on the other hand was already a young man when he attended the academy. He returned, married a mixed blood Choctaw and lived the rest of his life in Holmes county, Mississippi, but he never obtained his dream of becoming a doctor.

There is a mention of Delilah from the treaty of Dancing Creek in the chapter on the Trahern's. It is not correct though that this Delilah is in anyway connected to the children of Wesley. Land records show the correspondence of Delilah's nephew, Robert M. Jones, and his efforts on the behalf of her children. Her lone son, Joseph Lancaster is mentioned in the book. Joseph Lancaster was a cousin to Robert M. Jones (half) , James L McDonald (half)  and James N Trahern.

It is a delightful notion to attribute the education of James L. McDonald to the efforts of his mother Molly. I say notion, because despite the uniqueness of the woman, and the property for which she was responsible, unusual for a woman of any race, it is not likely that she would have been the driving influence. When James was sent to school, somewhere around 1816 or 1818, children were governed by their maternal Uncle. James lacked a maternal Uncle. But just as the case was  where Mushulatubbee took an interest in Peter, and Robert Cole would have been the one to look out for the Leflore's, a great Uncle would have looked out for James.

We don't know for certain who this was, but we have clues in the benefits Molly received over the years, one square mile of land from the treaty of 1820 which was reaffirmed in 1825, and land for not only her, but her son and grandson in 1830. Molly had influential family ties. Given her land location which was just south east of Jackson and a few miles from Wesley Trahern, we know she was from the Western district. We know she was neighbors to the Vaughn family and likely a relative of not just the Vaughn's but Apuckshunnubbee as well. It is more than likely that James was sent to the Quaker's by Apuckshunnubbee and not his mother.

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