Sunday, June 3, 2012

To Tennessee Almira James 1849 -1944

I am so excited to put you on this blog and to learn about you. You were my first touch of Cherokee. You made me realize there was a huge story unfolding before me. I was fascinated by your name.  I read about you in the Pioneer Papers in the Chronicles of Oklahoma. How fabulous to hear your story from you. You started my interest in genealogy. You made history come more alive for me. I tried to wait to really learn about you. Now I get to. So let's start with your story in your own words:

  • Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

  • Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
    Date: April 22, 1937
    Name: Tennessee James (Mrs.)
    Post Office: Miami, Oklahoma
    Date of Birth: February 16, 1849
    Place of Birth: Cherokee Neuter Strip
    Father: Garrett Lane
    Place of Birth:
    Information on father:
    Mother: Jane M. Harlan
    Place of birth:
    Information on mother: a Cherokee
    Field Worker: Nannie Lee Burns
    Tennessee Almira Lane JAMES was born on the Cherokee Neuter Strip, four miles up from the mouth of Shoal Creek near Baxter Springs, Kansas, February 16, 1849, at her Grandfather, David M. Harlan’s home.

    My mother was Jane M. HARLAN, a Cherokee.

    My father, Garrett LANE of English and French descent.  They came with the Cherokees here from North Carolina, I think, and to the best of my knowledge were married near Maysville.  When I was two months old, my father left my mother and a sister, two years old with my grandfather and in the Spring of 1849 started wagon-train overland to California.   I am told that the people who composed this company had been gathering along waiting till the grass was old enough to feed their oxen, cows were taken along with the oxen.  The trip took all summer and they reached California that fall, that is my father did but I had two uncles who died of fever on the way and were buried on the plains.  My father with his pardner Ed Crutchfield, a half-breed Cherokee, worked two years together and then my father fell in the mine and was killed by the fall.  My father’s pardner made a division of their earning and mother received half of it but my sister and I did not get ours till we were twenty-one years old.  It (our money) was handled by various public administrators and finally I was paid by a public administrator of Missouri after I was married.  I only received $130.00 or $135.00


    Mother, sister and I continued to live with grandfather till mother married my step-father, John BLVTHE, and then we still lived near.  We always had lots of stock, horses, cattle and sheep, my mother and sister after she was old enough helped with the herding as we had no fences, only around the lots and fields.  I also began to ride with them as I grew older and possibly many things happened and I had many little experiences that would seem strange today, but to us they were only the day’s work.
    My mother died when I was ten years old, on July, 1859 and as I was not large enough to be of much help to my step-father, I was sent to live with my grandfather, but my sister was kept at home to help with my step-brothers and sisters, to help around the house, then, too she could spin.  Being sent to my grandfather’s home, I did not have the hard work to do that she did but spent much of time out of doors and in the saddle with very little school as we only had a subscription school for short periods.  (My sister, Mrs. Ellen HILLEN is now 81 years old and lives in Fairland, Okla.)  I did however do a little spinning, some yarn and after I was married wove myself two dresses and some linsey.


    During the first two years of the Civil War, we remained on the old home place and then were ordered to Kansas.  But during that time we had much stock stolen and killed and driven away.  Two of our neighbors were called to the door after dark and shot, so grandfather took the two teams of horses we had and went to Kansas some time before we left.  When we were ordered to Kansas, we loaded as much as we could into the two ox-wagons and started driving what cattle we had left and about forty or fifty head of sheep.  It was hard to get the sheep across the streams as we had to cross Spring River almost as soon as we started, however we got the sheep about twenty miles when they scattered and we could not take time to get them together so we went on without them and I heard that a woman living near Springfield, Mo., rounded up the sheep and sold them.  We went to Humbolt, where grandfather had rented a farm and farmed the first year.  Grandfather’s sympathies were with the South though we could say little or nothing one of my single uncles, while we were living in Kansas joined the Union Army.  I wondered why but then there were always men and parties of men coming trying to get the men to join the army, so possibly our living there had something to do with this.  One day, I heard my grandfather say to Bob TAYLOR “Go home and lay down your arms for if the Union wins, we won’t have anything left.”  Also, I remember hearing them talking about it when we heard that Stand Watie had surrendered under a white flag on Cabin Creek.
    A single uncle after the first year hauled goods across the country from Boonville, MO to Burlington, Kansas.  My grandmother died in 1864 and was buried in Kansas. After the war closed we returned to our home in Indian Territory and began to repair and prepare to live again in the old place.  It was in a very bad condition and there was much work to do.


    On October 16, 1866, I married Solon JAMES, a white man who was born in Missouri but raised in the Cherokee Nation.   We lived at the old Military Crossing on the river for six or eight years till our children began to need the advantage of school, so we moved about four miles south of Chetopa, Kansas.  After the war, there was no town to speak of at Baxter Springs but soldiers were kept there under permit (here she adds from Mr. ROGERS, Cherokee).

    Major DORN, was the Quapaw Agent at this time.  Travel was not easy in those days and we were always glad to have our friends stop with us.  To us life was not quite so lonesome as the mail hack passed and crossed going both ways and when the river was past fording often had to wait till it was fordable.

    I was twelve years old when I was in the first store, which was the Turkey Creek Lead Mine Store about ---- miles. Humbolt, Kansas was the first town I ever saw.  Reddings Mill just out of Joplin, Mo., was my first mill.  My grandfather was a millwright and was often sent for to repair the mill and would sometimes be gone several days.  Falls Mill on Shoal Creek was only five miles from us.
    Solon and I had eleven children, three of them dying when small, eight of them grew up and seven of them are yet living.  Our eldest son Calvin James of Fairland is 70 years old.  They were: Calvin James; Fairland, Okla.; Lorenzo D. James; Miami, Okla.; Della COPELAND, Welch, Oklahoma;Albert James, Washington, D.C; Lula ----, married and lives near Hickory Grove,Okla.; Cornelia ----, died in Denver, Colorado; Jesse James, Miami, Claude James, Miami.
    We moved from south of Chetopa (Kansas) to one mile west of Denmark, Okla. (now Hickory Grove) where there was a day (Cherokee) school and lived there forty years.

    In 1916 on December 6th we moved to Miami to this place.   We left the farm because of the men working in the mines here.  It had become so hard to get help on the farm and we were not able to run the place.  My husband died September 30, 1926 and since then my son Claud and I have lived here alone till the last year.  I have a lady to stay with me as my children think I should not be alone and then too I sometimes have the rheumatizm.

    Mrs. James has an extra good memory and enjoys her friends.  A very devout Christian and expressed herself as trying to live a Christian life and enjoys her bible which was lying on the table beside her.
    May 19, 1937


    In a recent interview with Mrs. James seeking to correct an impression that she gave me about the location of the “Neuter Strip” as she termed it, I received the wrong impression as to its location.
    In the treaties with the Cherokees as to their northern boundary of their original grant in Indian Territory, there seems to have been a disagreement as north of the present north boundary line of Oklahoma there was a strip of various widths extending west from the Missouri Line north of the present Oklahoma line that was claimed by the Cherokees and finally made a part of Kansas and in this territory some twelve or fourteen families (Cherokees) settled, thinking that they were in the Cherokee Nation.  Among these families was David M. HARLAN, the grandfather of Mrs. JAMES, with whom she made her home after her mother’s death.  So the move necessitated by the Civil War was one only farther up into the same state, now Kansas.  After the boundary was settled and it was decided that their home was in Kansas, her grandfather and the others who made homes there, reserved 320 acres and continued to live there but the younger ones of the family settled in the Cherokee Nation where they started homes for themselves.
    I questioned Mrs. James very much in detail and I was able to gain but little in addition to what she had already given me.  Her mother’s sister, Lucinda HARLAN, married Albert WILLARD and this Willard helped build houses for the Modocs when they were settled on the present Modoc Reservation.

    The name of the first agent she remembers was DORN.  She tells that when money was sent here for the payments to the Indians, it was boxed in strong boxes, made similar to the boxes that axes were shipped in, and that she has seen these boxes just stacked up with the money in them on the porch at the agency and store.

    The only additional members of the company that accompanied her father to California were her mother’s brother, John Harlan, and her father’s brother, Bert Lane.  Both of these young men died on the trip and were buried along the route on the prairie.

    She only remembers hearing them say that her father and his friends joined the party at a Fort west of here when the train of wagons came through and had to wait at the Fort till the main party came.
    (This was probably in 1850 but when I see her son I will try to find out more about this place of meeting and the date of starting.)
    Remarks by Submitter:
    I received this document in hardcopy from my Aunt Shasta Louella (Huggins) Anker, and scanned it and corrected it from the hardcopy.  Aunt Shasta received the document from Norman S. James, who copied the interview in the 1970’s from sources in the library in Oklahoma City.
    Submitted to OKGenWeb October 31, 1999 by: 
    George T. Huggins 

  • Remarks by Shasta Louella (Huggins) Anker (Tennessee's Granddaughter) about Interview 

    I am most grateful to Ms. Burns for the extent of the interview with Grandma JAMES and it generally corresponds to stories Mother has told us, but a few things I would like to note:

1) Mother always spelled the name Harlen as Harlin, but I don't know which is correct.

2) Grandma JAMES sister who lived in Fairland was not named Ellen Hillen, but Samantha Hillen, ( her last husband's last name). She was always called 'Mance' by Grandma JAMES. Mama , of course called her Aunt Mance, which is what we kids called her.

3) Mother's name was LULU (not Lula, although pronounced Lula) and she was married to Robert Lee HUGGINS, a "white" man.

4) Aunt Cornelia was first married to COFFMAN, and they had three sons, they were Sequoyah, Sequitchie, and Earl. She and Coffman were divorced, then she married someone by the name of WILLIAMS and they moved to Denver and had several children before before Aunt Cornelia's death.

5) Grandma was quoted as saying they moved from south of Chetop to Denmark (now Hickory Grove). Mother said Gandma and Grandpa with family had first moved to Cowskimn Prairie - out east of Grove and lived there two or three years before moving to Denmark. Also, in an article in the Grove Sun about early settlers, of which our family had nothing to do with the writing or information of, it listed Solon JAMES and family settling on Cowskin Prairie for a few years before moving across the river (Grand River) to what is now the Hickory Grove community.

Mother was born in their first house in Hickory Grove, which I believe was a log cabin and was where their "extended families" later lived as the house Mother grew up in was built when she was about three years old.

6) The date of Grandpa JAMES death was stated as Sept 30, 1926 all other places and from Mother it was 1925. (If Ms. Burns didn't type better than I, and she didn't, that could easily account for the discrepancy). Both Grandma and Grandpa JAMES are buried in Miami GAR Cemetery located out north of town, toward Commerce.

7) It is my belief that it wasn't Grandma JAMES who couldn't remember Mother and Aunt Cornelia's married last names. I believe it was Ms. Burns whose omission it was. After all, those were the days before "lift-off" correction typewriters and sometimes typists left spaces to fill in later.

8) I was surprised that Grandma JAMES didn't mention that Grandpa JAMES served in the Civil War, but since they didn't marry until after the War maybe Ms. Burns omitted t intentionally. After all, Grandma JAMES grandfather Harlin (in whose household she had lived before she was married) had been a Southerner who according to Mother had owned slave.

For your information I am Shasta Louella Huggins Anker, born Nov 7, 1922 and am on the Cherokee current resister as # CO 0025565 and shown as 1/32 Cherokee.

My Mother was born Feb.22, 1881 and is registered on the Dawes Commission Roll as Lulu Bell JAMES, Roll #268 and 1/16 Cherokee. Mother always spelled her middle as Belle. My father was Robert Lee Huggins born June 9, 1874 and was a handsome "white" man from Arkansas. Eight of we children were born to Mother and Daddy. One thing I remember about Daddy was when he left to go anywhere or when he came home, he always went to Mother and gave her a hug and a kiss. (Daddy & Mother and his older brother (Charley) and Mother, Elizabeth ORR (second marriage) are buried at the Fairland, Ok., Cemetery.

Mother's mother, Tennessee Almira Lane JAMES (known far and wide as Aunt Tenn.), is listed on the Dawes Roll as # 266. She was born Feb 16, 1849 and died Jan 4, 1944. Mother said when someone in the community was sick that Grandma JAMES was always "sent for"to help. She was married to: David Solon JAMES born Jan 5, 1842 and died Sept 30, 1925. He was registered on the Cherokee roll as IW #4 (Intermarried White). I believe that if you were married to a Indian for 10 years or more you were listed on their rolls.

I knew Grandma JAMES (Tennessee) as she lived until 1944. I also knew her sister Aunt Mance (Samantha) who died sometime in the 1930's. Incidentally, Aunt Mance married five different husbands, (one at a time, of course), and as the saying used to be "she buried all of them" except the last one. The last one was 20 years younger that she and he was devoted to her. The last I saw them, I believe she was 87 and in those days she mostly sat in a rocker and smoked her pipe (a small clay pipe) and Uncle Wes did the cooking etc. I don't remember meeting any of her children ( who would have been the ages of my parents), but Mother said she had, had nine children.

If you knew Mother, you probably know most of the above anyway, because all the time I was growing up I heard about her family and her early life, and about Daddy's family, as much as she knew about them. I'm sure my older brothers and sister heard all these stories and more --- they had more years to have heard them.

Father: Garrett M Lane b: ABT 1820 in TN
Mother: Malinda Jane Harlan b: ABT 1832 in Ga, Cherokee Nation East TN

Marriage 1 David Solon James b: 5 JAN 1842 in Jasper Co, Missouri
  • Married: 16 OCT 1866 in Jasper County, Missouri
  1. Calvin Garrett James b: 11 AUG 1867 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
  2. Matty James b: 25 NOV 1869
  3. Lorenzo Dow James b: 9 DEC 1870 in Cowskin Prairie
  4. Clara Delta James b: 16 JUN 1874 in Cherokee Nation, OK
  5. Albert Blunt James b: 21 SEP 1877 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
  6. Luther James b: 22 JAN 1880 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
  7. Lulu Bell James b: 21 FEB 1881 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
  8. Cornelia Jane James b: 1 AUG 1884 in Cherokee Nation, Ottawa County, Oklahoma
  9. Jesse Lamar James b: 5 JUL 1887 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

  1. Claude Frank James b: 5 MAR 1890 in Cherokee, Nation, Oklahoma

  1. Reece James b: 21 MAY 1895 in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
 Source: Overseas to New Land, Terry Mendenhall,
 RootsWeb's World Connect Project,

Tennesse's Sister Samantha was Also Interviewed. Another Fascinating Read

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: June 30, 1937
Name: Samantha Hillen (nee) Lane (Mrs.)
Post Office: Fairland, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 23, 1846
Place of Birth: near Mayesville
Father: Garrett Lane
Place of Birth:
Information on father:
Mother: Jane J. Harlan
Place of birth:
Information on mother: daughter of David W. Harlan
Field Worker: Nannie Lee Burns

Samantha Hillen nee Lane was born December 23, 1846 near Mayesville on the Cherokee side.

My parents were Jane J. Lane nee Harlan, daughter of David W. HARLAN, and  Garrett Lane, a white man of French and English descent who came with the  Cherokees from North Carolina and I think my parents were married soon after  we came near Mayesville and before we moved to the Neuter Strip near Baxter  Springs, Kansas.


Really I do not remember my father as he left my mother and baby sister, (Mrs. Tennessee JAMES) and myself with our grandfather in the spring of 1949 and joined with two of my uncles (John Harlan and Bert Lane) the caravan that was assembling at the fort west of here to make the trip overland to California in quest of gold.

Both of my uncles died on the way and father was killed by a fall in the shaft after he had been in California two years.  His partner, a half-breed Cherokee, was with him, Ed CRUTCHFIELD by name and later he came home and their business was sold and Mother received her part of it but sister’s and mine was held by the public administrator until we were eighteen and by that time the expenses had [can’t read the word] most of it.
Grandfather kept lots of cattle around and as only the fields were fenced, some one had to be looking after them all the time and I liked to be out of doors so much of my early life was spent in the saddle.  At first my mother rode with me a good deal when I was small but later she married my stepfather, John BLYTHE and we moved from Grandfather’s to an adjoining place.

There being only an occasional subscription school we did not attend school much and I liked best of all to ride after cattle and have had many experiences and when I was alone: had a small dog that I taught to ride just behind the saddle for I had been told that no wild animal would attack you then.  Once I remember I had a small half-brother with me and the dog behind me when I thought I heard a panther, but if it saw us it did not attack us.


Mother died in the summer of 1859 and my younger sister, Tennessee, who was considered too small to be of much help, went to live at grandfather’s but I was older and needed at home to help with the half-brothers and sisters so I remained with my stepfather, and besides helping with the stock which were my happiest hours, I helped with the spinning and weaving, the cooking, etc.  Grandfather had lots of sheep and all of our cloth that went to make our clothes was made at home.  Later my father married a lady that came to the neighborhood to teach school.


We were near the border and were exposed to the raiders from both Missouri and Kansas.  At the beginning we had lot of and cattle, sheep, and horses stolen from us, as well as the food from the house and our blankets, etc.  Each raid left us worse off than before and we had no protection as we were too far from Fort Gibson to receive any assistance from there and, of course, not then considered a part of Kansas and each month found us just a little worse off.  Our stock was taken which curtailed our farming even the crops were partially destroyed after they were planted, then too being Indians, we had no status and they seemed to think that they could take anything they wanted and there was no one to say anything.

The latter part of the second year things grew so much worse.  Two of our neighbor men were called to the door after dark and were shot.  Then all who were Indians were ordered to move up in Kansas for safety and protection, so taking what we had left that we could move in wagons and drive, we went and remained there the last two years of the war.
When we returned the windows were gone from the house, the fields were grown up in sprouts, the fences were destroyed, and everything was in a bad way.  Some cattle and quite a few hogs had escaped and made their living in the timber so these hogs were shot for meat and some few were captured and penned.  Some few cattle had gone wild as well as some of the poultry which had managed to exist and increase, this together with some parts of orchards that had escaped destruction made it possible for the families to exist till they could raise a crop and get straightened out.


I married Frank BERNETT and continued to live near, just north of the crossing on the Military Road (I think she had reference to Shoal Creed) so we had considerable travel past the home.  I raised my children, helped my husband and did the work of the home.  We had three children and only Ike is now living.


One day when the children were small and the men were in the field, a girl, I should have judged her to be twenty or less, came by and asked for a drink.  She was afoot and alone,  I insisted that she come in and rest and after much persuasion succeeded in getting her to come in and gave her dinner.  She was neatly dressed and had dark hair and wore a plain gold ring.

As she would not remain with us over night, I took one of the horses and took her a couple of miles towards Baxter Springs, where she said she was going and did hate to leave her for at that time the grass was high and few travelers along the road.

That night I kept thinking of her and the next morning my husband and two of the neighbors decided that they would  go to Baxter and see if she had reached there.  They found no trace of her and then began searching for her and found the body a few feet from the roadside in the grass.  A doctor was brought from Baxter and nothing could be done for her as she was already dead and the little life was also beyond help.  The body was taken to Baxter Springs and when nothing could be learned about who she was or where she came from, she was buried with the small child in a grave in the cemetery there and one of the men placed a stone at the grave and engraved it “The Unknown Girl.”

More than a year after that, an older man with two younger men stopped at our place over night and in talking of unusual things, the circumstances of this girl’s death was told and we could see that the older man was much affected by the tale and asked many questions.  From our place they went to Baxter and later they returned with a spring wagon and had the body taken up and later passed our house with it and I am told that they were from Springfield, Missouri, but more than this we never learned and to me this has been the one thing that has stood out in all my early experiences.

Submitter's Comments:
The document is from the Oklahoma Historical Society.  Norman S. James copied it from the material kept in a library in Oklahoma City, probably in the early 1970’s.  Norman gave a copy to Shasta (Huggins) Anker, who transcribed it, printed it, and sent a copy to her nephew, George T.  Huggins, in August, 1999.  George scanned the document and corrected it to the copy he received from his Aunt Shasta.  October 30, 1999.
George T. Huggins 

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