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Tracking Bushyhead     



Forty Years of Hiding


From the time he was born, right up until he was about 40 years old, he did not

use the Bushyhead name publicly, but it was surely known to the family.  It was 

also well known who his father was:  Indian Commissioner John Stuart (d.1779).

At the start of the Revolution John Stuart got the Creeks and the Cherokees to

attack the settlements on behalf of the British.  Stuart was driven to Florida and

was an extremely unpopular man.  It makes sense that Bushyhead would not want his family to use the name Stuart.  And Bushyhead was not a Cherokee

name, it could have been a nickname given to him by his father when he was

one year old, so it makes sense that he would not use it as his Cherokee name.

What, though, was his Cherokee name?



Was Bushyhead Tahlonteeskee?  


On the Treaty of Hopewell (Keowee) 28 November 1785 a “Tulatiska of Chaway”

signs with the warriors.    This is Tah-lah-tee-skee of Cheowee (Chilhowee).


On the Treaty of Holston (Tennessee) of 2 July 1791,Talohteske, or the Upsetter

is one of the signers.


On the Treaty of Tellico (Tennessee) of 24 October 1804, Tolluntuskie is the

first signer of the Cherokees.


“Tolluntuskee” signed a letter on 9 August 1805 next to Doublehead and before

John Watts (Kunoskeeskee or Kutageeskee), indicating an important position

among the Chicamauga:



August 9, 1805

To: Black Fox, Dick Justice, Turtle at Home, Chinowe, Slave Boy, Eusanalee, Toochelar, Parched Corn Flour, Taugustuska


We have with much care and attention considered the results of the late Conference [in July] with the Commissioners on the Highwassee, and we think that . . . we shall agree to the request of our Father, at least in part.  . . . the Agent had informed us that he could not be Justified in continuing the presents of wheels, cards, and implements of husbandry and in giving corn and provisions [in time of famine] as he had done before [unless there was cooperation from us].

Doublehead, Tolluntuskee, Katigiskee [John Watts],

the Seed, Sequeechee, Sikula, the Redbird  [i][16]



On the Treaty of Tellico (Tennessee) of 25 October 1805, Tallotiskee is one of

the signers, as is John Jolly or “Eulatakee” of the Cherokees.


During negotiations with President Thomas Jefferson,  Tahlonteskee delivered

this message:


February 16, 1808


Tahlonteskee of the Lower Towns –


Tell our Great Father, the President, that our game has disappeared, and we wish to follow it to the West.  We are his friends, and we hope he will grant our petition, which is to remove our people toward the setting sun.  But we shall give up a fine country, fertile in soil, abounding in water-courses, and well adapted for the residence of white people.  For all this we must have a good price.




On the Treaty of Turkey Town of 14 September 1816, “Oohulookee” is one of the

first signers for the Cherokees (east) without Tahlonteeskee (who went west).


On the Treaty of Cherokee Agency (East & West) of 8 July 1817, John Jolly

is a signer as a chief of the Arkansas Cherokees without Tahlonteeskee.


Tahlonteeskee, who went west, is not mentioned after 1818.


Historians identify John Jolly as Chief Oo-loo-teka, who adopted Sam Houston

into the tribe c.1811, and who went west (to Arkansas territory) in 1818.  John

Jolly is also regarded as a brother of Tahlonteeskee. 


To solve this mystery, we have to take a look at John Jolly.





Who was John Jolly?


He was b.c.1770 and he was the “uncle” of Tiana Rogers.  He emigrated

in 1818 and was therefore an “Old Settler”.   Emmett Starr and other Cherokee researchers have identified him with the Emory family and with Robert Dewes

(Due).  He died in 1838, at about the same time Tiana Rogers died.  The Jolly

name is rare among the tribe but common in South Carolina, where the mother

of Bushyhead (Susannah Emory) could be found after the Cherokee War.  So

it is logical that the mother of Bushyhead had a son by John Jolly in South

Carolina.  She died rather young (before 1784, probably before 1776) so her

sons were taken in by her sisters. 


Jolly had one son and two or three daughters.  The Jolly name is not continued

in the tribe.  His son John Jolly was killed in the War of 1812 as a Cherokee. 




John Jolly

Emigrated west to Arkansas Territory in 1818. As early as 1820, he was made Principal Chief of the Old Settlers, and he held this office until his death in 1838.

He was a wealthy merchant and planter. Jolly spoke no English, and dressed in buckskin with a hunting shirt, leggings and moccasins.

He was a brother of Old Settler Chief Tahlonteeskee, and both were uncles of Cherokee Chief John Rogers. He was also the uncle of Tiana Rogers, Sam Houston’s Cherokee wife and of Chief John Rogers, Jr.



This next source claims Tahlonteeskee emigrated west in 1809 and died c.1818.

Both are reasonable, though the claim that Bowl went west in 1794 is not.



Western Cherokees "Old Settlers"

In 1794 the first group of Cherokees fled to the valley of the St. Francis River in Southeast Missouri, after their leader, The Bowl led a massacre on trespassers. Though later vindicated, he and his followers remained in the New Madrid area where in 1811, a massive earthquake caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards, and for months tremors continued. Convinced the Great Spirit was displeased, they moved to Arkansas. The Bowl remained chief until 1813, when he was succeeded by Takatoka who was chief from 1813-18.

Led by Tahlonteeskee in 1809, 300 others including the aged chief Takatoka migrated to Arkansas. Here too, the Bowl and his followers stayed until they decided to go to Texas in 1819-20. Takatoka resisted missionary efforts, but it was at his place on the Illinois Bayou in Arkansas that Sequoyah first taught the use of his syllabary. 

On a trip to Washington City, Takatoka died at Kaskaskia, IL. and, Tahlonteeskee, an uncle of Sequoyah, became the third chief of the Cherokees West. Tahlonteeskee and Doublehead, were signers of a treaty in 1805 that labeled them traitors. Tahlonteeskee departed for the West, Doublehead remained and was later slain by Major Ridge. Ridge later became a proponent of moving to the West, and because he had signed the Treaty of New Echota, he too, was killed by the anti treaty faction after the Removal (Trail of Tears). 

Tahlonteeskee, permitted missionaries to establish Dwight Mission in Arkansas, the first western chief to allow Christianity to come to the Cherokees. Tahlonteeskee died ca 1818, his brother John Jolly then became chief. Jolly had moved west in 1817. 

These early Cherokees migrated from Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama and were called Arkansas or Cherokees West, to distinguish them from their tribesmen who remained in the East. Later they were referred to as "Old Settlers."




Jolly’s birth year of 1770 is considered reliable.


Archaeologist Lawrence Alexander presented a history of Hiwassee Island, which is located across a waterway from the Park.

"Chief John Jolly was born here in 1770,' said Mr. Alexander. In 1805, Col. Jonathan Meigs came to the area, and a garrison was set up to protect the Cherokee and the white settlers from radicals of both sides.

In 1809, Sam Houston lived on Hiwassee Island and later married a relative of the Chief Jolly. Called "The Beloved Man,' Chief Jolly led some Cherokee to Oklahoma prior to the Trail of Tears. 



Another source claims Tahlonteeskee went west in 1810.  We must keep in mind

that Sam Houston encountered him at the Rogers Trading Post on the Hiwassee

sometime between 1809 and 1812, close to 1811.


In 1810, Duwali (or The Bowl), Tsulawi (or Fox), and Talontuskee moved their villages west of the Mississippi. Duwali, a half-blood, was Chief of his town of Little Hiwassee (present western North Carolina). Talontuskee became the nominal leader of all the "Western" Cherokee. These and other groups moving west settled on the White and St Francis Rivers in present NE Arkansas while others settled on either side of the Arkansas River in present west-central Arkansas. As early as 1807, Cherokees visited a trading post at Natchitoches (present Louisianna) and reported that they lived further up the Red River probably in present SW Arkansas. By 1808. the Osage complained about Cherokees hunting on the White River without permission. Small groups of Cherokees were reportedly settled in present SW Arkansas and NE Texas in 1816. . . . 

In 1818, Tollunteeskee, chief of the Western Cherokee, requested the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions establish a mission in the west. Subsequently, Dwight Mission, near present Russellville AR, was established in the spring of 1820. Tollunteeskee, having died in the meantime, was succeeded as chief by his brother, John Jolly, the adopted father of Sam Houston, who had moved west in 1818.




Requesting a Christian mission agrees well with the disposition of the Bushyhead

family.   Missions were the only form of schooling available to the Cherokee.

Why were the Bushyhead children left in the east while Tahlonteeskee went

west?  First, the Arkansas expedition was dangerous:  there was constant war

with the Osage, who resented the Cherokee.  Second, the children were better

off receiving a little education at the missions and were in good hands with uncle

John Jolly, who could well afford to care for them.



Conclusion:  Tahlonteeskee is Bushyhead


The family linkage is there, and the vital dates agree.  All the Bushyheads went

west (though some came back before 1830).   Bushyhead is not recorded in any

tribal records, though we would expect him to be, given that his father was the

beloved Commissioner of Indian Affairs.    If he appears as Tahlonteeskee, this

explains this absence.  On the other hand, nothing is known of Tahlonteeskee’s

family, but if his family were known as Bushyhead, this would account for the

lack of data on Tahlonteeskee’s family.   We conclude, therefore, that Bushyhead

and Tahlonteeskee are one and the same person.








Children of Bushyhead  


Bushyhead was born 1758/9 in the vicinity of Fort Loudon, Tennessee.  He

died after 1809 (Sam Houston met him) and before 1816 (when John Jolly

signed a treaty without him), or circa 1818 (when Jolly succeeded him as

chief in Arkansas).


He m(1) an unknown Cherokee woman (d.1804) and had:


            i.          Catherine Bushyhead          

                        b. 1784 - 1792

                        m(1)  John Gunter Sr.  (on 1817 Reservation Roll)



            ii.         Isaac Bushyhead       (on 1817 Emigration Roll as adult)

                        b. 1790 - 1798

                        m(1)  Catherine Ratliff [Starr]  m(2)  Ghigau Snake [Starr]  



            iii.        George Bushyhead  (on 1817 Emigration Roll as adult)

                        b. 1790 - 1798

                        m(1)  Guwohida Stofel [Starr]    



            iv.        Nannie Bushyhead

                        b. 1799 – 1804     d.aft 1845  Missouri    

                        m.  George Washington Blackwell (1794 – 1867)

                        (per 1896 Cherokee application, Nannie’s mother died when she was

                        about 3 years old and she was raised by a different family but she

                        retained name Bushyhead);  Blackwell’s 1st wife emigrated with the

                        tribe in 1817; he married “Nancy Bush or Bushhead” in 1819 TN.





He m(2)  Nannie Foreman  b.c.1784  d.1868 (daughter of John Anthony Foreman and Susie Gourd) and had:


            v.         Susannah (Susie) Bushyhead

                        b. 1802 or 1805 (unmarried in 1817)

                        m(1) Ezekiel Lyons  [Starr]; m(2) L. P. Harris  [Starr]    







            vi.        Jesse Bushyhead

                        b. 1804                       d. 1844 Indian Territory (OK)

                        m(1) unknown

m(2) Eliza Wilkerson, dau. of Edward Wilkerson 




            vii.       Nannie Bushyhead

                        b.c. 1806     d. 1839 Missouri (Trail of Tears)

                        m(1) John Walker Jr. (c.1798 – 1834); m(2) Lewis Hildebrand.     

                        Monument built for her near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She is

                        called “Princess Otahki” (“Otahki means daughter of a chief).



            viii.      Jacob Bushyhead

                        b.c. 1808

                        m(1) Nannie McDaniel  [Starr]; m(2) Elizabeth Romine  [Starr]    

                        m(3) Elendor Holt 9 Aug 1849 Hunt Co, TX



            ix.        Charles Bushyhead

                        b.c. 1810

                        m(1) Pauline Starr [Starr]; m(2) Sallie (McCoy) Miller  [Starr]    



Note for Nannie Foreman:  she is listed on the 1817 Emigration Roll as Nancy

Bushyhead.  Her father first appeared with the tribe as a Tory (loyalist) soldier

in 1779 (see letter of Robert Dewes 9 April 1779).   He remained with the tribe.

She died 1868 in Indian Territory.  Some writers have confused her with her

daughter Nannie who died on the Trail of Tears.





Bushyheads before 1817


Two Bushyheads served in the War of 1812:  one under Capt. John Spears, one

under Raincrow. 


These are probably Isaac and George, who would be of age (14-22) for war.  Jesse, born 1804, would have been too young.



BUSHYHEAD, Jesse, chief justice of the Cherokees, died at the mission in the Cherokee nation, west, 17 July, 1844. He was a self-made man, acquired great distinction among his tribe, and filled with fidelity many public trusts.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM








Bushyheads on  the Trail of Tears   


Jesse Bushyhead led a party on the Trail of Tears and here is some data put

together by  Dr. Ralph Jenkins.



Here are the parties leaving under their own supervision:
DETACHMENT                DEPARTED                ARRIVED
Hair Conrad             Aug 23, 1838            Jan 17, 1839
Elijah Hicks            Sep 1, 1838             Jan 4, 1839
Jesse Bushyhead         Sep 3, 1838             Feb 27, 1839
John Benge              Sep 28, 1838            Jan 17, 1839
Situwakee               Sep 7, 1838             Feb 2, 1839
Old Field               Sep 24, 1838            Feb 23, 1839
Moses Daniel            Sep 30, 1838            Mar 2, 1839
Choowalooka             Sep 14, 1838            Mar , 1839
James Brown             Sep 10, 1838            Mar 5, 1839
George Hicks            Sep 7, 1838             Mar 14, 1839
Richard Taylor          Sep 20, 1838            Mar 24, 1839
Peter Hildebrand        Oct 23, 1838            Mar 24, 1839
John Drew               Dec 5, 1838             Mar 18, 1839





                        THORNTON        STARR     STATE PAPERS
                    --------------     ------   ---------------------     
Hair Conrad       729     654      9      57        24         14
Elijah Hicks      858     744      5      54
Jesse Bushyhead   950     898      6      38       148        171
John Benge       1200    1132      3      33
Situwakee        1250    1033      5      71
Old Field         983     921     19      57        10          6
Moses Daniel     1035     924      6      48
Choowalooka      1150     970             NA
James Brown       850     717      3      34 
George Hicks     1118    1039             NA
Richard Taylor   1029     942     15      55
Peter Hildebrand 1766    1311             NA
John Drew         231     219             NA
TOTAL           13149   11504     71     447       182        191



                 ACTUAL                  POSSIBLE       TOTAL       "LOST"
                EXPECTED   RECORDED        "LOST"       RECORDED     PLUS
Hair Conrad        674        654           20             24           44
Elijah Hicks       829        744           85                          85
Jesse Bushyhead    941        898           43            148          191
John Benge        1170       1132           38                          38
Situwakee         1184       1033          151                         151
Old Field          941        921           20             10           30
Moses Daniel       993        924           69                          69
Choowalooka       1150        970          180                         180
James Brown        819        717          102                         102
George Hicks      1118       1039           79                          79
Richard Taylor     989        942           47                          47
Peter Hildebrand  1766       1311          455                         455
John Drew          231        219           12                          12
TOTAL            12805      11504         1301            182         1483


Ralph Jenkins

Originally posted to INDIAN-ROOTS Wed 20 Nov 1996, reprinted here by permission of Ralph Jenkins.



Of course, no mention of the Bushyheads on the Trail of Tears would be

complete without a tribute to one of them who died, Nannie Bushyhead






"Princess Otahki"

     The story of Otahki is not a legend. Her English name was Nancy or Nanny Bushyhead Walker Hildebrand. Some history books list her as the daughter of Jesse and Eliza Wilkerson Bushyhead, other books list her as a sister of Jesse Bushyhead. Recent research suggests however, that she was the sister of Reverend Jesse Bushyhead, an ordained Baptist minister.

     She was married to John Walker, Jr. while living near Cleveland, Tennessee. Since Walker was married already to a woman named Emily Stanfield Meigs, Otahki was a second wife and continued to live with her brother, Jesse Bushyhead. She was the mother of two children by Walker, Ebenezer and Sara, both of whom made it to Oklahoma.

     It should be noted that plural marriages were not illegal at this time, and such arrangements were not unknown among the Cherokees or whites.

     After the death of Walker, who was ambushed and killed on the way home from a council meeting in 1834, she married Lewis Hildebrand. Lewis always went by the name of "Lew" and was a courier for Chief John Rose. They were both on the Trail of Tears and after crossing the Mississippi River and while camping in the now Trail of Tears State Park, she died.

     Her husband and Jesse Bushyhead erected a wooden marker on her grave. After the Cherokees had been removed to Oklahoma, this marker was maintained by local people.

     About 30 to 35 years later the wooden marker was burned in a woods fire. Local people then mounded rocks and erected an iron cross, made of welding rods to mark the spot.

     In 1962, the Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau erected a pagoda not only as a memorial to Otahki, but to all the Cherokee who lost their lives on the Trail.

     The Otahki Memorial is known as the "Princess Otahki Crave". Since the Cherokee do not recognize royalty, the title of "Princess" is not authentic. It was a courtesy title given her by those who lived in the area where she was buried. All the chiefs were and still are elected.








Bushyheads of the Western Tribe  


The Bushyheads continued to be active in tribal leadership.  Chief Dennis

Wolfe Bushyhead is one of the better-known:




Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 14, No. 3
September, 1936

By John Bartlett Meserve.

Page 349

A conspicuous character whose public service is interwoven with the history of the Cherokees during the latter years of their tribal life in the West, was Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead, a chieftain of his people from the year 1879 to 1887, inclusive. His career was picturesque and his background is of dramatic interest. . . .

 Capt. Stuart became known among the Cherokees as Oo-na-du-to or Bushyhead because of his heavy growth of blonde hair.2 The ambitious captain, during the early days of our War of the Revolution, conceived a plan to exterminate the rebellious whig colonists in one grand uprising and butchery by the Indians led by English tories, in June 1776, confiscate their property and allot their lands to new loyalist colonists. The entire scheme failed and Capt. Stuart was subsequently stationed at Pensacola, Florida, where he died on February 21, 1779. His only son, also known as Oo-na-du-to or Bushyhead, married Nancy Foreman, the half-blood Cherokee Indian daughter of Anthony Foreman, a Scotchman, and lived, died and was buried in Georgia. Nancy removed with a contingent of the Cherokees led by her son Jesse Bushyhead to the West, in the spring of 1839. She is reputed to have lived to the advanced age of 104 years and died in 1868 in the Illinois river country near Tahlequah. 

3Perhaps no character in all Cherokee history was more revered and respected by his people than was Jesse Bushyhead, who was born in southeastern Tennessee in September 1804. The family home was situated some three miles north of the present town of Cleveland, Tennessee and it was from there that the young Baptist minister inaugurated and carried on his years of faithful service to the welfare of his people. In 1837, Rev. Jesse Bushyhead was dispatched with a commission, by Chief John Ross to contact the Seminoles in Florida in an effort to compose their differences with the United States Government and on November 10th of that year he met a delegation of the Seminoles at St. Augustine. He was a strong adherent of the Ross faction and while he vigorously opposed the en masse removal policy of the Cherokees, by the Government, he accepted the inevitable uncomplainingly and headed a party of approximately one thousand Cherokees in their trek to the West. With his group, he departed from the East on October 9, 1838, arriving at their destination, near where is now situated the town of Westville in Adair County, on February 23, 1839. He immediately established the Baptist Mission and resumed his labor for the spiritual welfare of his people. He became chief justice of the Cherokee Nation upon the death of John Martin in 1840 and held this position until his death, which occurred on July 17, 1844, at the old Baptist Mission north of Westville where he lies buried. Rev. Bushyhead was married twice, his second wife being Eliza Wilkinson of the "Wolf Clan" of the Cherokee Nation. . . .

4Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead, eldest son of Rev. Jesse Bushyhead and Elizabeth Wilkinson, his wife, was born on Mouse Creek about three miles north of the present town of Cleveland, Tennessee in what is today Bradley County of that State, on March 18, 1826. His initial school was the Candy Creek Mission in charge of Rev. Holland, his subsequent enrollment being at a mission school conducted by Rev. Evan Jones at Valley River, North Carolina, in 1835. As a lad, young Bushyhead came West with the contingent of Cherokees led by his father in the early spring of 1839 and in the succeeding year he attended school at Park Hill under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel A. Worcester. He was sent to school at Lawrenceville, New Jersey in January 1841 where he remained in attendance until he completed his scholastic course in July 1844. In his departure for Lawrenceville in January 1841, he accompanied a Cherokee delegation headed by Chief John Ross, to Washington, where he was privileged to witness the presidential inauguration of Gen. William Henry Harrison. He graduated from Lawrenceville and had entered the Sophomore class of Princeton University when his father died and he returned home. The young graduate upon his return from school entered






Bushyheads of the Eastern Tribe  


By 1852 George Bushyhead returned to the east, following or going with some of

the Fields family.  It’s possible that a Bushyhead avoided deportation and lived

on the Valley River in North Carolina, and this could be the above George.  The

presence of Bushyheads in the Eastern tribe was strong thereafter.





Story last updated at 12:09 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, 1998

Cherokee, 85, saves native tongue

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) -- Robert Bushyhead, 85, grew up speaking Cherokee. Now he and his daughter spend each day working on the Kituhwa Language Project, an effort by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Kituhwa is a principal dialect of Cherokee.
   "Dad is my key resource person. Nobody around here is as strong in both Cherokee and English as my father," said Jean Bushyhead, the project director. Recently, the Bushyheads worked on a computerized-voice dictionary of the Cherokee language. It contains about 2,000 entries, with pronunciations provided by Bushyhead.
  It features the pronunciation of a word in both Cherokee and English by Bushyhead or one of the other native speakers working with the project. The word is then used in a sentence to provide context.
   While making an entry in the computerized dictionary, Bushyhead often repeats the word or phrase several times to make sure he gets the pronunciation exactly right. In spoken Cherokee, a word or phrase's meaning can change with even a slight shift in tone by the speaker.
   "Inflection is so important. Change the inflection and you've said something other than what you wanted," he said.
   Bushyhead, like most members of his generation, learned to speak Cherokee as his first language. However, because children at that time would be punished by teachers at the reservation's government boarding school if they spoke Cherokee, the language began to be replaced by English in daily conversation.
   "Many of the older ones didn't teach their children so their kids wouldn't have to go through what they did at school," Bushyhead said.
   Resuscitating the language hasn't been easy. Still, the reward of seeing young children learning and embracing the language is heartwarming for the father and daughter.
   "The younger kids don't have any trouble with the pronunciation," she said. "They aren't inhibited by the learning process. They just blurt it out and don't worry about it. If you speak to them in Cherokee, they'll speak back."

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