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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Chapter V:   Indians


Distinguished Pontotoc Indians

TISHU MIKO:  Up to the time the Chickasaws moved west, 1836 - 1838, their country was divided into three districts, Tishomingo, Sealy, and McGilvery.  At the time of their exodus west to their present places of abode, Tishomingo (properly Tishu Miko, chief officer or guard, or the king) was the chief of the Tishu Miko District; Samuel Sealy of the Sealy District; and William McGilvery of the McGilvery District.

That Tishu Miko was a wise counselor and brave warrior among the Chickasaws is about all that has escaped oblivion, as little has been preserved of his life by tradition or otherwise.  He died in 1839, the year before the royal master.  He was appointed during life as one of the chief counselors to Ishtehotohpih, and when he advised the king upon any mooted question, so great was his influence over the other counselors as Governor Harris stated, that they at once unanimously acquiesced to his propositions, but invariably with the reiterated exclamations, "That's just what I thought!".  The king said little, but generally adopted the suggestions of Tishu Miko.  (1)

An old citizen of Arkansas tells the story of the death and burial of chief Tishomingo as follows:  "You are very well aware, that many years ago the country immediately surrounding this was the home of Chickasaw Indians.  There came a time when the government made arrangements to place these Indians, along with others of their race, in what has since been known as the Indian Territory.  To you young people it may seem a long time ago, but to me it is only as yesterday.  I was one of those selected to accompany a large party of the redskins on their journey.

"When the Chickasaws first departed from their old homes in Mississippi to go to the territory, there were two forts they were escorted to by the government, one being on the Red River and the other, Fort Coffee, on the Arkansas River.  The party I was with went overland to Fort Coffee.  This was in March, 1839.  Large quantities of provisions for the subsistence of the Indians were stored at the fort, but when we arrived we found the flour and pork all spoiled.  Following close on this misfortune came a fearful outbreak of smallpox, a disease with which the Indians were often afflicted.  This outbreak occurred in our camp just as we crossed the Arkansas River, near where Dardanella now stands.  When we reached Fort Coffee we found a large number of the Chickasaws camped there, among whom the epidemic soon spread and the disease proved very fatal.

"One of the first victims was Tishomingo, who was one of the oldest chiefs of the tribe.  He was a noteworthy personage, of an imposing presence and perfectly erect in his old age.  He and his family were encamped about two miles from the English fort, where he died.

"After his death his daughter came and requested to see the commanding officer, and asked to have the old chief properly buried.  She told me they were poor and could not afford to buy powder to fire over the grave, which was considered a very necessary part of the funeral obsequies among the Chickasaw of that time.

"I spoke of this request to the commanding officer Captain John Stuart, of the Seventh Infantry, who said the dead chief should be buried with all tribal honors.  A coffin was ordered and the remains were brought in to the fort, where the corpse was left in state on the parade ground, covered with the national emblem.  A grave was dug in the post burying ground and when the time for interment came, six soldiers were detailed to act as pall bearers.  The remains of the old chief were thus carried forth in all the state and pomp that a small military post could muster.  A detail of six men from the company fired six volleys over the grave, satisfying the Chickasaw funeral custom.  The obsequies took place about sundown, and the members of the dead chief's immediate family and friends were gratified.  (It is possible that the skeletons alleged to have been excavated by a farmer in Arkansas recently may be traced to the Indian migration to the Indian Territory in the period from 1835 to 1840.)

"On the morning after the funeral the fort was visited by the daughter, the one who had come to ask for the proper burial.  She was accompanied by several of her friends.  (They came to me, for I, having a very good knowledge of their language, was generally chosen to act as interpreter).  They thanked the commanding officer for his kindness in burying the old chief in the elaborate manner in which it was done.

"The girl produced from under the folds of her garments a piece of soiled and very much worn parchment, with the request that it be handed to the Captain.  I went to the captain and, after telling him what the girl had said, handed him the scroll.  He unfolded it and at once exclaimed," Great God! Had I known of this I would have had the whole command out for the funeral."

"The captain handed me the parchment to look at.  It was the commission of Tishomingo, chief of the Chickasaws, in the American army, and signed by George Washington.(2)

The regard the Chickasaws held for their chief Tishomingo is shown by the treaty of Pontotoc, 1832, Article 12.  This article shows the love and appreciation of the Chickasaws Nation for the long and faithful service of their chief.  They felt it a duty to keep him from want in his declining years and determined to give him, out of the National funds, $100.00 a year for the balance of his life," and requested him to receive it as a token of their love for his valuable services to them.(3)

Tishomingo's obituary, as it appeared in the Arkansas Gazette, May 6, 1841, follows:  Captain Tisho Mingo, a veteran warrior of the Chickasaws, departed this life on the 5th inst.  Although but little known beyond the limits of his nation, yet he was a man that had seen wars and fought battles - stood high among his own people as a brave and good man.  He served under general Wayne in the Revolutionary War, for which he received a pension from the Government of the United States; and in the late war with England he served under General Jackson, and did many deeds of valor.  He had fought in nine battles of the United States.  As a friend he has served the white man faithfully.  His last words were:  'When I am gone, beat the drum and fire the guns'.

"I hear the sound  of the drum - - the report of 'deathguns' is roaring in our valley - - a warrior spirit is passing away.  The brave Tisho Mingo, the veteran warrior of our tribe, is gone.  His clansmen are gathering his corpse.  Long years have passed away since first his native hills re-echoed his war whoop -  when gray headed warriors gathered around his war dance, and said,' go young warrior go, -- it is the beloved Washington who calls for help.' Our aged warrior and chieftains are  all gone.  Tisho Mingo, the last of the braves is gone; they are all gone." (4)


During the 18th century, JAMES ALLEN, a native North Carolinian, went to Nashville to practice law, but became discouraged.  He made a visit to the Chickasaws, became enamored with the simple life and also the daughter of the great chief of the Chickasaws, William Colbert.  In consequence he allied himself with the tribe and settled at Old Pontotoc, four miles southeast of the present town of Pontotoc.  (On this section of land "Stony Lonesome" was settled by Judge Joel Pinson in 1833.  The same location appears as a notation on the field notes of the surveyors of the Natchez Trace Parkway, 1935, as the home of James Allen.  Pioneer citizens also knew the place as Old Pontotoc).

The courtship and marriage of Allen is, within itself, an interesting story of the custom of the times.  The manner of choosing a wife among the Chickasaws was for the swain to make known to the chief his desire toward a particular maiden.  When the chief gave his consent, the suitor would return to this wigwam and wait there until his lady love should be sent to him.

In Allen's case the matter had certain complication.  His choice had fallen upon no less a person than Susie, daughter of the great chief of the Chickasaws, old General William Colbert himself.  Many braves had been her suitors.  Allen, however, paid a formal visit to the potentate and made his plea.  He then, as custom demanded, retired to his wigwam, closed its flaps and waited there while the elders of the tribe debated his request.

Allen waited until nearly dark, when Susie Colbert appeared at his door with a blanket drawn close around her head, leaving only space enough for her eyes.  In response to his invitation she walked in and took her seat.  This was Jim Allen's courtship and marriage.  (5)

PEGGY ALLEN was the daughter of James and Susie Allen.  She became so beautiful a maiden that not only all the young braves of the nation, but all the young men among the white traders who passed down the Natchez Trace were at her feet.

Allen kept a trading store at Old Pontotoc.  He also entertained travelers in a small way, and the great attraction to his place was his daughter, Peggy.

Even the staid and middle-aged Chickasaw agent, Samuel Mitchell, became Peggy's ardent suitor.  Finding that the young damsel was in no way inclined toward him, he begged her grandmother, the wife of the mighty William Colbert, to use her influence in his behalf.  The practical old grandma, convinced that such an alliance must not be lost to the family, wasted no time in argument, but straightaway packed Peggy off to the agency, with her dowry of ten negroes and a string of bred horses, with orders to present herself a willing bride to her waiting elderly lover.

Trained in the habit of obedience the girl accompanied the cavalcade along the Natchez Trace, but along the journey her heart grew stubborn and she determined not to consent to this marriage, as she abominated the particular old man.

Arriving at the agency, she treated her elderly admirer with utmost scorn, told him she would never marry a drunken white man nor an Indian and refused to listen to his protestations of devotion.  She locked the doors of the man's own cabin against him and flouted him to such an extent that his patience gave way at last and he was thankful to send her and her attendants back by the same road they came.

The father was kind and indulgent but was also sensible.  They were alone in the wilderness.  If Mitchell chose to seek vengeance through his Choctaws they had no defense among the Chickasaws.  In fact, his greater fear for his daughter was that Grandma Colbert, more spiteful than Mitchell, might be moved to savage reprisals.

But Peggy had another suitor, young Simon Burney, the son of a Natchez planter.  She had dallied with Simon for years, but now her maiden affection flew to him.  He renewed his suit and they were married.

Peggy went again down the Natchez Trace, a happy bride.  They settled in Natchez.  Burney amassed a large fortune, reared and educated a family.  Their posterity, in both Mississippi and Oklahoma, take pride in their ancestry from this romance at Old Pontotoc.

A letter from Mrs. Esther Nash Lewis of Antlers, Oklahoma, in allusion to this romance, says:  "There seems to be much confusion concerning the Allen's, James and John (brothers) who have an amazing number of descendants."  Mrs. Lewis descended from Peggy Allen and Simon Burney.  She further says that after examination of records and papers in Congressional Library, Washington, the residence of James Allen among the Chickasaws may be fixed as between 1801 and 1829, and that nothing indicates that he was ever the Chickasaw agent.

LOGAN COLBERT married a native Chickasaw woman by whom he had four sons, George, John, William, and Levi; all of whom rose to prominence and exerted a salutary influence among their people, and became men of authority and distinction.  He also had another son by a second marriage, named James, who fell not behind his distinguished brothers.

Why Logan Colbert came to cast his lot at so early an age so far from the land of his nativity, among the people so remote from all the English settlements, are problems that will never be solved, though it may be conjectured with some show of probability, that he came with some of the early English traders and adventurers who assisted the Chickasaws in their wars against the French.  At an early day he was a renowned leader among them, and to that degree of celebrity that one of the names given to the Mississippi River by the early French writers, during the days of their wars with that people with whom he had identified himself, was Rivere de Colbert, sustaining the conjecture that Logan Colbert was the name of the most famous chief among the Chickasaws, who at that time swayed the scepter of absolute authority over the country along the east banks of the Mississippi River to the great annoyance and danger of the French in ascending and descending that mighty stream.  Though little else of the life of Logan Colbert has escaped oblivion, except that he lived, he died, yet his name has been handed down to posterity in his noble line of descendants who figure upon the pages of Chickasaw history as being among the influential families of that nation." (6)

Quoting E. T. Winston in his "History of Pontotoc":

As GENERAL WILLIAM COLBERT was perhaps the most distinguished of our citizens of all time, we feel that he fully merits a chapter of our history and deserves a place in records of achievement with any individual of honor and distinction.

He was the eldest son of Logan James Colbert, a Scotchman who came to our southeastern coast early in the 1700s.  About 1729 a party of 125 traders set out from Charleston , South Carolina, for the Indian country to the westward.  Among these was young Logan Colbert, who stopped on the Tennessee River at the Muscle Shoals.  He was adopted by an Indian family and soon developed a fondness for trading, wherein he amassed a fortune in land and slaves.  Three times he married Indian girls -- first two full blooded Chickasaws - the third a half breed.

The subject of this sketch was born of Logan Colbert's second wife.  The sons of the old Scotchman, in their order were -- William, George, Levi, Samuel, and Joseph.  Pittman, or James, was by the last wife.  All the sons were more or less distinguished in Chickasaw annals of the letter days, particularly William, George, Levi, and Pittman.

Logan became the most famous of the Chickasaws in his time, as did his sons in their day.  He especially distinguished himself in their battles with the French, in which their methods of fighting and the character of their defenses made the Chickasaws so formidable a foe of the French.  In 1784 the father of the Colbert's was killed while making a journey to Georgia.  It was supposed that he was murdered by one of his negro slaves named Caesar, who accompanied him on the trips.  The negro returned home and reported that his master and been thrown by his horse and received injuries from which he died.

As to Logan Colbert's eldest son, William, he located at Toxish in the southeastern part of Pontotoc County, at some time after reaching man's estate.  Toxish, which comes from the Indian word 'Istokeka' means 'where greatness abode'.  It is probable that this place, now the comfortable country home of Mr. Agnew Ware, was first settled by General William McIntosh who was sent among the Chickasaws by the British government  early in the eighteenth century.  He it was that persuaded the Chickasaws to abandon their fortified towns and scatter out to individual habitations, that they might restore the home and family life and pursue agriculture and other peaceful pursuits.  He also caused their form of government to resemble the English system in many respects, and his influence, perhaps, shaped their future more than any other man.

Here it was that General Colbert lived during his long and eventful life, and rendered the outstanding services to his country that made his a notable career.

As a young man William Colbert led one band of the Chickasaws that went there at the solicitation of President Washington to aid General St. Clair, and afterwards General Wayne, in their campaigns against Little Turtle, commanding the Northwestern confederation of Indians.  Piomingo led the first band of Chickasaws.

As already stated, he and his brothers stood with Pushmataha in repelling the eloquent Tecumseh, and in the War of 1812, General Colbert served nine months in the regular United States Infantry, and upon his return he led a party of his warriors against the hostile Creeks, when he pursued them from Pensacola almost to Apalachicola, killing many and bringing back eighty-five prisoners to Montgomery, Alabama.

Colbert was in the party of Chickasaws that visited President George Washington while the seat of our national government was in Philadelphia.  It was on this occasion that the title of General was bestowed, as a recognition of services to the American people.  The title was also signatory to the Treaty of 1816 as Major-General William Colbert, no doubt augmented by services in the later wars and conferred by the great commander, Andrew Jackson.

It was on the occasion of his visit to Philadelphia, above mentioned that President Washington presented to General Colbert a small shovel plow, which the latter brought home with him and carefully preserved among his household treasures until his death.  It was said to have been a great pleasure for the old chief to relate its history to his white guests, and to repeat to them the speech of Washington in making the presentation.

In later life General Colbert became a large slave owner, planter and cattle raiser by following the advice of Washington, Jackson, and other great men with whom he came in contact.

He not only prospered himself, but was foremost in every movement designed to improve the condition of his people.  Thus he was a staunch advocate of education and welcomed the Christian religion.

It was through his personal influence that Reverend Thomas C. Stuart was enabled to plant his Christian missions in this locality, and both the Monroe and Toxish missions, now churches, stand on land that subsequently was allotted to General Colbert in the Treaty of 1832, from the Chickasaw Tribal lands.

The early records of Monroe church show that he proved his works by faith and allied himself with God's people.  Not only that, he became one of Father Stuart's ruling elders; though alas for human frailties, he was 'Churched" for the sin of intemperance, a widely prevalent evil of the period, and we are left in doubt from Church records as to whether Elder Colbert was ever restored to a state of grace or died under the ban of discipline.

From the best evidence we can gather General Colbert died during the winter of 1836,  and that his place of sepulcher is in our city cemetery.  Though his name is not signed to the treaty of 1832, nor does he appear in any of the negotiations relating thereto, still there are lands allotted to him on our county records, notable, the deed from his widow to Rev. James A. Ware, father of Mr. Agnew Ware, to the section of land which was unquestionably the home place of General Colbert.  There is other evidence that he lived after the treaty, but had died before the migration of his people, and the Widow Colbert, who was so often mentioned by our first settlers, could have been none other than his widow.

For a long time we sought to locate his burial place but it is only recently that we have solved the problem to our entire satisfaction.  After the treaty was made and ratified, the lands were put up and sold at public auction.  All of this took time.  As the Indians were alienated from their homesteads, they were concentrated for the purpose of removal.  One of these concentration places was on the outskirts of Pontotoc, north of the land offices.  In 1836-37, this was a vast camp of Indians.  The area included old Victoria and from thence to the Ellison place was particularly dense with campers.

During this period, a number of Indians died and were buried in the ground which later became our city cemetery.  (7)

CHINUBI or TUSHKAAPELA:  Chinubi, whose name was given as Tushkaapela (Warrior Helper) by Cushman, was a former Chickasaw King, but was made an invalid for life by an accident which rendered him unable to walk in an upright position; he slowly crawled about by means of a buck's horn in each hand extended behind him, and his feet thrust forward, presenting an object of great compassion.  His wife was named Pakarli (blossom), corrupted by the whites Puc-caun-la.

According to tradition, Chinubi and his queen, Pakarli (Pakanlii according to Byington's Dictionary), are buried about 500 yards south of Lochinvar.

From pioneer citizens we learn that during most of their lives together they lived in a log cabin near the Pleasant Grove Church on property now owned by the Reverend J. L. Henderson.

In the treaty of Pontotoc of 1832, Article III, provision is made for the ancient queen.

"Our old and beloved Queen Puc-caun-la, Pakanlii (blossom), is now very old and very poor.  Justice says the nation ought not to let her suffer in her old age; it is therefore determined to give her out of the national funds fifty dollars a year during her life, the money to be put in the hands of the agent to be laid out for her support under his direction, with the advice of the chiefs."

On the Lochinvar estate, near a spring was a cabin where an ancient queen lived.  When she died she was buried by the side of her husband.  Not far away from the graves grew a wild cherry tree.

After the death of the queen her cabin was used for a negro school.  The name for the school was given to it by Colonel James Gordon, owner of Lochinvar; it was "Indian Queen Spring School." (8)

ISHTEHOTOPA:  When Ishtehotopa (Ishtehotohpih according to Cushman), king among the Chickasaws, lived within the bounds of Pontotoc County.  His home was in section 25, township 7, range 2, in what is now Union County, one mile and one half north of Mitchell Switch.

The Chickasaw ruler was styled king instead of chief; his chief officer was called Tishu Miko.

Ishtehotohpih was the reigning king at the time they left their ancient places of abode east of the Mississippi River for those west.  He died in 1840.  He was the last of the Chickasaw rulers who bore the title, "King".  After his death the monarchical form of government which was hereditary as I was informed by Governor Cyrus Harris, was abolished, and the form of Republicanism adopted.  The power of their kings was very circumscribed, being only about equal to that of their present governor.  The king's wife was called queen, but clothed with no authority whatever, and regarded only as other Chickasaw women.  (9)

MINTI-OHOYO:  "By what trails and in what decades the Chickasaw Indians came to Pontotoc Ridge we can only conjecture.  We know that the white man found them here, squatting in scattered neighborhoods, some in sordid poverty, others in pretentious log dwellings built by chiefs who had acquired some ideas of civilized living through their association with the French.

One of these, a chief of the tribe, with a wisdom born of instinct, selected the most fertile acres in the area, built his home and called it "Isito Kobafo" or "Broken Pumpkin".  There he lived with his children and his children's children, until the white man found him there.

These early white settlers were not refugees banished from the Colonial states, but were gentlemen - the best that the country afforded - seeking wealth and adventure.  Their treatment of the Indian was not in keeping with the character of these men.  The twentieth century is appalled at the conscienceless manner in which our forebears exploited the Indians, cheated them out of their land, and drove them from the country

One of the most illustrious of these early settlers was Robert Gordon, a Scotchman, a shrewd calculating financier and a princely gentleman.  His practiced eye soon chose Isito Kobafo as the choicest homestead in the new country.  And a covetous eye was soon planning the mansion that he hoped to build, a replica of his home in Scotland.  He would call it Lochinvar for that ancient home and dedicate it to James Gordon, his only son.

While Robert Gordon was piling up wealth in trade with the Indians, his young son was also pioneering the wild country.  He too, espied the beautiful Isito Kobafo, and of all the countryside chose it as his favorite haunt.  But young James was not attracted by the rolling acres of fertile land nor the splendid virgin forests which caught the eye of his father.  He made friends with Minti-Ohoyo, the princess of Isito Kobafo.  This young maid was as shy as a faun and as fleet as a deer.  A child of the forest, she could show to the heir of the Scotch laird all of its wonders, and many happy hours they spent together - until the elder Gordon found out what was going on.

As was usual, with an eye to his own interests, Robert began to make his plans.  With one stroke he could accomplish two great purposes - he could buy Isito Kobafo and send its owners to the West.  That would rid him of the danger of an Indian wife for his son and at the same time, acquire the site for Lochinvar, the coveted home.  And Isito Kobafo was no more.

In 1842 giant timbers were felled for the new home of Robert Gordon, and expert carpenters and artisans began the work.  A spiral stairway, an architectural triumph of those days, and other masterpieces of wood work, were shipped from Scotland.  At last Lochinvar became a reality, Minto-Ohoyo, the princess of Isito Kobafo, was gone, but in the joys of the new home James Gordon forgot to grieve for his boyhood sweetheart.  He chose a bride from among his own people and made his home at Lochinvar.

Many years of the life of the Old South were lived at Lochinvar.  Many slaves made possible the charming life of leisure known in that day; huge open fireplaces, piled high with logs, invited the guests from far and near to bide a longer time; and gaiety, life and love, and marriage, birth and death, each held sway at Lochinvar. 

The death of Robert Gordon left to James the great wealth of his father.  But James, who had played false with the love of Minti-Ohoyo, also flirted with life, and was in turn cheated out of his birthright as Minti-Ohoyo had been cheated out of hers.

Leading a life of profligate ease and extravagant hospitality, his fortune dwindled away, and his beloved Lochinvar was lost to his creditors.  His few remaining friends provided a few acres of land in an adjoining county and he piled his few personal effects in a small vehicle, ready for an early departure.

As he sat dozing by the warmth of his once bright fire on that hospitable hearth, on the eve of his departure, dreaming of happy years gone by, he aroused himself to stir the ashes about the flickering coals, when out of the dying embers there arose the graceful figure of an Indian maiden, Minto-Ohoyo, "She Came to ME".  He saw again the red lips and laughing eyes that had once beckoned him through the forest.  Minto-Ohoyo!  Was her smile a smile of sarcasm or pity?  He could not tell.

Minti-Ohoyo, he cried, "Broken Pumpkin, Isito Kobafo is mine no more!  I follow your footsteps into the wilderness.  Let your sweet spirit lead me as it did in my boyhood days through the woods of Isito Kobafo.  Lochinvar, farewell!  Minti-Ohoyo, I follow thee!  Farewell!"(10)

FRENCH NANCY:  When Father Stuart came to Monroe in 1821 he became acquainted with a very old woman called French Nancy.  Her story was that at the age of about five years she came into the neighborhood with D'Artaguette's expedition from Illinois, and after the battle in which the leader was captured and his army practically destroyed, the little girl was picked up by a warrior named Hlikikho-hosh, from the camp of the routed and fleeing fugitives.  The chivalric young warrior spared the little girl, and taking her to his village, placed her in the charge of an old Chickasaw woman to be reared and instructed in the most improved manner.  In the course of time the little French girl grew into  beautiful womanhood, and rewarded the care and devotion of her Chickasaw captor by bestowing upon him her heart and her hand.

As stated, who lived to a great age, having been about 91 years old when Father Stuart knew her.  She remembered some of the circumstances of her capture and seemed to delight in narrating them.  She still retained her European features according to Mr. Stuart, but in other respects was Chickasaw.

French Nancy reared a large family and was honored and loved by the entire Chickasaws as a living monument of their victory over their inveterate enemies, the French.  She died, and is said to be buried in the Monroe Graveyard.

(1) History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians, H. B. Cushman, P. 496.

(2) From a photostatic copy of the East Mississippi Clarion June 15, 1841.  The copy was sent by Dr. S. A. Gordon from the Archives of History, Montgomery, Alabama.

(3) Treaty of Pontotoc, 1832, Article XII

(4) The Arkansas Gazette, May 6, 1841

(5) H. B. Cushman History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians, 1899

(6) H. B. Cushman History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians, 1899

(7) E. T. Winston, Story of Pontotoc (Pontotoc Progress Print, 1931) chap. 18, pp. 77-79

(8) E. T. Winston, Pontotoc, Miss.

(9) H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians.  (Greenville Texas; Headlight Pub. House; 1925) p. 496.

(10) E. T. Winston's History of Pontotoc (Pontotoc Progress, printed, 1931).


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