Oklahoma Genealogical Society
Researching Creek Indians Prior to Removal
By Jacqueline W. Hines, Mobile, AL
From Oklahoma Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol. 24, No. 1 1979
Transcribed to Electronic form by Jo White
Georgia and Alabama researchers have at times reached a standstill in their research. Much of this has been attributed to burned county records. For some, it might mean an unknown Indian ancestor or an ancestor that had contacts of some nature with the Indians. Many have ignored one of the major industries and sources of information concerning early settler, namely, Indian trade and skirmishes and wars with the Indians. Another source of information that has not been used to a great extent are the records of the Southern District Courts which are located in the Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia.
It is sometimes hard for present generations to comprehend that our settler forefathers were not so settled as we are apt to believe. Every researcher whose ancestors were thought to be in Georgia or Alabama from colonization to Indian Removal should make themselves familiar with The Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, Merritt B. Pound’s Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Agent, and Corkran’s The Creek Frontier, 1540-1783.
It would not be an overstatement to say that every able-bodied man among the early settlers was involved in some way with the Indians. It may have been as a trader, a militiaman, a soldier, or even a plantation owner seeking runaway slaves. To ignore the involvement with the Indians is to ignore the major necessity in genealogical research which is familiarity with the historical background. It will be noted that White’s Historical Collections of Georgia and Pickett’s History of Alabama do include some of this background. A word of caution should be said in those using Woodward’s Reminiscences of the Creek or Muscogee Indians. As it states in the introduction and the letters of Woodward himself, he does lack the refinement of writing. Although Woodward does report his knowledge accurately in most cases, the lack of punctuation in several instances has caused misinterpretation. If the facts have been researched prior to using Woodward, it is easy to read the passages the way he intended and recognize the lack of punctuation and use it as a valuable tool.
There is a mythical supposition that if one had an Indian ancestor that no marriage records, wills or other court records exist. The truth depends entirely on the individual case. Some records are available in both Georgia and Alabama. The difficulty comes in pinpointing the location at the appropriate time slot. Begin first by using the census of 1832 and the John J. Abert maps (both available from GSA) to pinpoint the Indian town and check the original Alabama county covering that location for this period. Checking backward into Georgia check the original counties along the main trade routes, especially the ones where the forts and Indian agencies were located. Keep in mind that prior to 1820 all well established Georgia counties were EAST of the Ockmulgee River. The National Archives maintains among its Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs a letter file containing correspondences from individuals, both white and Indian. This file contains letters to governmental agencies and/or officials. If one is lucky enough to have had an ancestor whose letters are in this file, they often times provide excellent clues.
The thousands of microfilmed records listed in the National Archives special microfilm bulletin on the American Indian (The American Indian, National Archives Publication No. 72-27) contains as much information on the white settlers as the Indians. Among those listed are the Emigration Records and Records of Correspondence and Records of the Military. Some microfilm groups have descriptive pamphlets which are available to non-purchasers for a minimum charge. For in-depth studies and research of the Indians, the American State Papers and Schoolcraft’s Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States are absolute necessities.
Some Indians, foreseeing the inevitable, voluntarily removed prior to the “Trail of Tears” and some not until much later. These filed individual claims for travel and expenses and for land. Post Civil War documents are available in the form of oil leases, and suits and claims concerning oil leases. These also are filed in the National Archives.
It is my belief that through the use of these major tools and the records available in the State and National Archives, County Records, and the District Court Records at the Federal Records Centers plus the Muscogee Area Offices, it is possible for many to prove their Indian ancestry. It is also possible for many others to find valuable information on their white ancestors’ involvement with the Indians. Understanding the history and involvement of the times will often help pinpoint locations that otherwise be overlooked.
· Preliminary Inventories, No. 163, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Vols. I & II, compiled by Edward E, Hill, National Archives Publication No. 65-9. (Record Group 75)
· Brinton, D.G., Library of Aboriginal American Literature, U.S. Bureau of Ethnology, Press of Wm. F. Fell & Co., Philadelphia, 1884.
· Britton, Wiley, The Union Brigade in the Civil War, Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., Kansas City, Missouri, 1922. (1st Indian Regiment)
· Cotterill, R.S., The Southern Indians: The Story of the Civilized Tribes Before Removal, University of Oklahoma Press, 1954.
· Debo, Angie, The Road to Disappearance, University of Oklahoma Press, 1941
· Foreman, Grant, Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.
· Halbert, H.S. and Ball, T.H., The Creek War of 1813 and 1914, edited by Frank L. Owsley, Jr., University of Alabama Press, 1969.
· Young, Mary Elizabeth, Redskins, Ruffleshirts and Rednecks: Indian Allotments in Alabama and Mississippi, 1930-1860. University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.
Early Newspapers and State Historical Quarterlies.
NOTE: Although OGS does not usually publish records which pertain to other states’ records, we did want to show some examples which the author also forwarded.
Marriage record filed in Wayne Co., Georgia, 10 November 1911, Book I, pages 6 and 7.
Estate Record following the death of “Big Warrior” or George Washington Cornell. Filed: Orphans Court Record, Book I, 1834-1838, page 33, Macon County, Alabama.
· We the chiefs head men of the upper towns of the Creek Nation of Indians do this day ordain and decree that Andrew a Black man Belonging to the estate of the Big Warrior Deceased is set free to do for himself, we having a full knowledge that he has been a good and faithful servant of his late master and that his master had expressed in his lifetime that he Andrew should not serve any other man but himself, this is therefore to be full evidence that he is a free man. Given under our hand this 17th day of March 1825
Tus ke na haw his mark X
Test Pash te ho la his mark X
Yo ho lo Micco his mark X
Wm. Walker Jim Boy his mark X
Yarga Warrior his mark X
Semully Warrior his mark X
Will of the “Big Warrior” or George Washington Cornell was recorded in Orphans Court Record, Macon County, Alabama, Book I, 1834-1838, pages 6 and 7.
· In the Name of God Amen I George Cornells a half Breed Indian of the Creek Nation and town of Tuckabatchee upper Creek, Being at this time in bodily strength as well as possible of sound mind and perfect understanding but considering the uncertainty of human life at all times, but more so in an advanced age, I have thought it advisable to make and ordain this m y last will and testament hereby revoking all wills heretofore made by me and to dispose of my whole property in the following manner (viz)
Item (after my death) I give and bequeath to my son Suchee Cornells one negro boy named Cupid, to my daughter Sethoky Cornells one girl named Nauna, to my daughter Choefulhoky Cornells, one negro (sic) girl named Suzy, to my son Richard Cornells one negro boy named Jack, to my daughter Thlany Cornells one negro named Jenny, to my daughter Liba Cornells one negro girl named Bess, to my son Susa Cornells one negro boy named Jack, I also leave to my children aforenamed the following negro children, beginning at the eldest and so on down agreeable to their names in the will (viz ) Pompy to Suchee, Samuel to Sithoky, Stepanny to Choefulhoky, Peter to Richard, Ben to Thlany, Harry to Liba, Tom to Susa (Item) I give and bequeath to my brother James Cornells one negro boy named Ned.
(Item) I will and bequeath to my wife Autucky Cornells the balance of my negroes during her lifetime at her death to be equally divided amongst my children named in the will (The negroes named as follows (viz) Tom and his wife Bick, one negro woman named Mary, one negro woman named Abby, one negro woman Cloe, one negro man Primie, one negro boy Billy, one negro boy Nat
(Item) I will and bequeath to my Grand Daughter Siphou one child named Anna, I do hereby nominate and by these presents do constitute and appoint Neluckoboy (or Little Doctor) executor of this my last will and Testament, Given under my hand and seal near the Town of Tuckabatchee in the Upper Creeks, This 12th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand and Eight hundred & Twenty five, signed sealed, Delivered and acknowledged in present of us as the last will and Testament of the Subscriber he having at the same time executed this which is lodged in the hands of Neluckoboy for the use of the heirs.
Tuskeneha his mark X
Neluckoboy his mark X
Interpreter his mark X
George X Cornells
Recd in office 26 January 1825
Recorded in office 27 Jany 1839
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