Thursday, April 5, 2007
There is an interesting story of the Indians who once lived here and I thought you would enjoy reading about them. In January of 1836, the United States government offered the first public land of the Chickasaw Cession for sale. Each Indian was given a parcel of land, with widows receiving two parcels. Their names are on the original property deeds. The Indians, before this, believed the land belonged to everyone and was shared by all.
This is written in Morman history as the Mormon people believed the Chickasaw, Choctaws, Creeks, Cherokees, and the Seminoles were the ten lost tribes of Israel, as they believed in a Superior Being. They believed they landed in Mexico in 550 B.C., their leader leading them up from Mexico, looking for their promised land. The tribes divided, each one with a leader and each going different directions. They wove baskets and built pyramids like the Egyptians, and they had old world habits. Their leader carried a staff, which he placed in the ground and each morning they would move in the direction the staff was leaning in search of the Promised Land.
When they arrived in north Mississippi, the staff stood erect and they believed this to be their Promised Land.
The land on which Holly Springs stands first belonged to an Indian princess named Delilah Love, who was married to John B. Moore, who was a Tory escaping the British.
During 1837, Chickasaws began their journey to their new hunting ground in Oklahoma, another new promised land which the government had provided for them. In Marshall County, the Chickasaw nation numbered 4,914 tribesmen and 1,156 slaves. Some of the prominent mixed breeds, including members of the Love family, remained behind. Benjamin Love was another Tory, British man who escaped the American Revolution.
The lands in the new Indian Territory were still being raided by Comanches and Kiowa Indians. The Loves were waiting for the government to have better control over the Indian lands and also waiting for their Mississippi land to increase in value.
Meanwhile, the Love family was outstanding in life in Mississippi, both culturally and economically. Their children attended a school that had been built in Holly Springs. One of them attended “The University of Holly Springs,” a two- story brick building, which was built in 1837. Some of the Loves attended church in Holly Springs. Mrs. Henry Love, and her daughter Charlotte joined the Holly Springs Presbyterian Church along with two of her slaves. They became one of the most outstanding of the mixed bloods. She made a fine impression when she arrived at the little frame church accompanied by her two servants in one of the finest carriages in the county.
Her carriage was an indicator of the wealth of the mixed blood Indians. The Henry Loves had a fine two-story clapboard house on the “reserve” which was south of Holly Springs, not far from the Tallahatchie.
Delilah Love and her husband, John B. Moore, had a similar house nearby. This was after selling the land in Holly Springs. The four daughters continued the well being of the family by advantageous marriages. One married a Colbert, who was an Indian chieftain. One married a director of a Holly Springs bank; another married the son of a substantial farmer and the fourth married the brother of the county probate judge.
The most auspicious, however, was the wedding of Narcissia Love, who married her first cousin in the home of her father, Benjamin Love. The house was a capacious plantation home with fine French wallpaper depicting Indian scenes. The minister was Rev. Daniel Baker of the Presbyterian Church in Holly Springs.
This wedding was the climax of the Indian history in Marshall County and was the end of an era for them. After the wedding, economics had turned downward and Benjamin Love sold his plantation on the Reserve to Malachi Pegues from South Carolina.
After four years of preparation, the Loves migrated to Oklahoma to the Washita and Red River valleys. Included with them were the whites to whom they had intermarried, leaving only a few tribal members in Marshall County. While there, the Indians indulged in pony races, shooting matches, throwing the tomahawk and foot races. They loved sporting games of any sort.
In 1837, the Chickasaws began their “Trail of Tears” to their new hunting grounds in Oklahoma, which the government had provided for them. During the trip, many of the Indians died from hardships and heartbreak. This process took years with the “Royal” Indians being the last to go. Warring tribes were attacking the first Indian settlers to their new “Promised Land.” In 1842 the last of the Indians traveled to Oklahoma by rail, by boxcar, (it beats walking to Oklahoma.) It is said, however, it was years before a rail system was built.
A child of four who made the trip told his granddaughter about the trip to Oklahoma years later. He said what he remembered was how very quiet it was, nobody said a word. He remembered building a raft and crossing the big river.
In the 1930s my father, C.W. Bonds, bought the land where the last surviving Chickasaw woman was living. The property had been owned by Dr. Ira Seale and was located off of Woodward Avenue, which in the 1930s was old gravel Highway 78. In 2007, the property is located across from the Holly Springs Country Club and now is owned by Tommy Winter.
I remember the Indian woman with awe as I had never seen an Indian before. She was tall, statuesque, white headed and stoic. (I should have had my camera!)
The Chickasaws were in many respects the most intelligent and aggressive of the various Mississippi tribes. Their villages were scattered all over north Mississippi with some in northwest Alabama and southwest Tennessee. The largest settlement was around Pontotoc.
The Chickasaws were clean and neat, the insides of their houses were even plastered. They gained entry by way of a small door. In winter, when a fire was made inside and a hole in the roof for smoke to escape, it would get very warm, almost like an oven.
The veterinarian of the San Diego Zoo, Dr. Phil Ensley, is a regular customer of ours and he loves Mississippi and Mississippi history and is a blues enthusiast. He said that a couple named “Willis” from Marshall County joined the “Trail of Tears” here and went with the Indians to Oklahoma. On the way it is said that the Willis couple composed a song, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, which became a famous spiritual.
It is possible that the Willis couple were free blacks (remember it was around 1840). If it is true, the well-known song was composed in Marshall County by people from Marshall County.
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