Friday, March 15, 2013


I'd like to remind the reader that you might not understand everything if you just start here. You need to start from the beginning, the first blog post. Follow them sequentially from blog post number one to the present.
            Strangely, after talking about the Cherokee of Southern Kentucky throughout the chapter (ch. 19), Collins last few paragraphs mention the town of Yamacraw, saying a tribe of Indians called the Yamacraw settled near Sterns about th time of Henderson’s Purchase in 1775, and says no one knows what happened to them. So we have a group of mixed blood Indians living in southern Kentucky, claiming to be Cherokee, but the Cherokee don’t claim them, and the stories of the origins of these families have been proven to be false.
Now I am a firm believer in family stories. But time and again you find parts of these stories that are true and part fabricated and/or misleading. I am quite willing to say the same about the family stories of my own family. Maybe they thought they were Cherokee only because they knew of the Cherokee wars from 1775 to 1795 in the neighborhoods of their homes. Let us see what Collins said;
“It is apparent that the Sterns and Somerset Ranger Districts of the Daniel Boone National Forest have a rich background of history from which to draw in developing the historical resource of that part of the national forest.
“In the southern part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, at a point south of Stearns, Kentucky, where Ky. 92 crosses the Cumberland River, is located a community known as Yamacraw.
“Local history reports that this name is applied to that area because of a small tribe of Indians who settled along the banks of the Cumberland River in that vicinity shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals on March 14, 1775.
“These Indians were apparently a part of the Yamacraw tribe of South Carolina, noted for their skills in agriculture, particularly in the growing of corn, their staple food source. It is reported that one of their squaws, Mary Musgrove, was probably one of the first county agents when she was hired by the Glathorf Colony to train a French botanist to grow corn in the Indian manner at a salary equivalent to four hundred dollars per year in gold. Yields of corn in excess of 300 bushels per acre were not uncommon in the agricultural practices of this tribe.
“Such historical information as is now available indicates that this small band of Indians had left the Yamacraw tribe in South Carolina and moved initially to Old Fort Louden, in what is now northwestern Tennessee, some time prior to the French and Indian War. Living in the vicinity of Fort Louden they raised corn and hogs for sale to that garrison. Shortly after signing the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals this small band of Indians moved from the Fort Louden vicinity to the area along the Cumberland River which now bears its name.
“It appears that these Indians did much to educate the Cumberland River Indians and the tribes of the Cumberland Plateau in their advanced agricultural methods. Mary Musgrove is reported as teaching these Indians how to build door ovens and how to use them in baking. In confirmation of the corn-growing capability of the Yamacraws, archeological excavations, made prior to the covering of the village site and the fertile cornfields which had supported them by the waters of Lake Cumberland in 1952, revealed the imprint of ears of corn as much as fourteen inches in length.
“Little is known of the fate of this band of Indians. Apparently, being of a peaceful nature, they moved to more remote areas when the pressure of other tribes and of the increasing density of white settlement along the Upper Cumberland encroached upon their peaceful existence.”
So who were the Yamacraw? It is my understanding, anyone, please correct me if I am wrong and I will publish that correction, but it is my understanding that most all Indian tribes lived in one small region, yet had a vast range of lands nearby that they considered their hunting grounds, which were often shared by more than one tribe. They considered the animals on those hunting grounds their herds, like we consider our cattle, hogs, chickens, sheep and goats to be ours. They were ranchers of the wildlife found in their hunting grounds.
It was rare for anyone to live in these hunting grounds, and in most instances, foolhardy, for bands of hunters from several tribes passed through often looking for game for their families. You wouldn’t want your wife and children exposed to the dangers a dozen or so warriors passing through might bring to them. But I have heard there were two exceptions to this rule about not living in the hunting grounds. ONE -- would be the outlaw. Someone had committed a crime and they were banished from the towns, and was forced to live in the hunting grounds. Often this would be a death sentence, as hunting parties from their enemies might come across them, and kill them. TWO -- Occasionally an Indian community might be nearly wiped out through warfare or disease. Alone they might be no match for their enemies, so they might ask permission from one tribe to live amongst them. Again, they would be asked to settle in a certain region, and were sometimes used as pawns, and were settled upon a known invasion route. If an enemy were about to attack, these newcomers would be the first to know of it, and could warn their new allies of their advances. Other than these two examples, few would dare to settle in the vast hunting grounds that separated the various tribes.
There was a little known war on the American continent in the late 1730s-early 1740s. The Spanish and their Indian allies in Florida fought against the English in Georgia, South Carolina, their Indian allies. Oglethorpe had just founded the colony of Georgia and this upset the Spanish who had considered those lands theirs. Well, the Spanish could not displace the English, so it is considered an English victory. But after this war, we haer no more about the Yamacraw. They just disappeared from history. Did they, as Collins suggested, move into the Cherokee Nation? Were they one of those tribes that was nearly wiped out, and seek the protection of the Cherokee? If so, they very well could have settled in southern Kentucky by 1775. Can we find any evidence of the Yamacraw living with the Cherokee in any Cherokee or colonial records?

Yamacraw Indians
The Yamacraw Indians were a small band that existed from the late 1720s to the mid-1740s in the Savannah area. First led by Tomochichi and then by his nephew and heir Toonahowi, they consisted of about two hundred people and contained a mix of Lower Creeks and Yamasees. Most eventually reintegrated themselves with the Lower Creeks to avoid future confrontation with European intruders.
Before the Yamacraws' formation, the Creeks and the Yamasees dominated the region now known as the state of Georgia. Both nations came under the economic influence of British traders based out of Charleston, South Carolina. As the Indians slid further into debt, the British required immediate payment in the forms of deerskins and/or Indian slaves. Rather than submit to these demands, the Yamasees attacked British traders and settlers in backcountry South Carolina in 1715, resulting in the Yamasee War, and the Creeks joined their relatives in the fight. When hostilities ended two years later, the Creeks, led by Brims, were quick to reestablish trade with the British, which offended their Yamasee allies, who instead linked with the Spanish out of St. Augustine, in present-day Florida.
Indians  who disagreed with these alliances broke away from their brethren in 1728 and formed the Yamacraws under Tomochichi's leadership. They relocated to the bluffs overlooking the Savannah River, choosing the site for its vacancy, its proximity to British traders, and its spiritual significance as the resting place of Tomochichi's ancestors. Here they created a new town and prospered quietly until more British settlers, led by James Edward Oglethorpe, arrived in February 1733. Tomochichi negotiated with Oglethorpe and agreed to move his village upstream from the new outpost that would become Savannah. The two men became strong allies and helped to maintain communication among the various ethnic groups in the area at that time. Many Yamacraws returned inland and rejoined their Lower Creek kinsmen as more British colonists settled in Georgia. With Tomochichi's death in 1739 and Toonahowi's death in 1743, the Yamacraws ceased to be an influential force.
The Yamacraws followed many of the same traditions shared by all southeastern Indians, including political organization based on towns and familial connections centered around clans. British treaty negotiations with the Lower Creeks in May 1733 suggest that the Creeks' accepted the Yamacraws as a branch of their larger polity, which opened the possibilities for additional kinship ties and for the return of repentant individuals. The Yamacraws believed in one god and an afterlife and that spirits inhabited all objects, natural and man-made. Since the group developed in the years after contact with whites, the Yamacraws were already familiar with European traders and had acquired the diplomatic skills necessary to negotiate shrewdly with newcomers and to choose their alliances carefully. They understood the importance of trade and relied upon outposts like the one Mary Musgrove, a Creek-British woman, operated nearby to supply them with certain items in exchange for deerskins and other native goods.
The Yamacraws, as a subsidiary of the Lower Creeks, lasted for less than two decades before merging with that larger nation to avoid encroaching British settlers.
Suggested Reading
David H. Corkran, The Creek Frontier, 1540-1783 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, [1967]).
John R. Swanton, Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1922; reprint, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998).
Julie Anne Sweet, Negotiating for Georgia: British-Creek Relations in the Trustee Era, 1733-1752 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005).
Julie Anne Sweet, Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Published 6/16/2006
An internet search will find a town or area called Yamacraw in both Carolinas and Georgia, as well a this toun in Southern Kentucky, called Yamacraw. The references in the Carolinas are all on the coastline, and how they obtained their name can be found. Here are links to a few of these --
Yamacraw is an unincorporated settlement in Pender County, North Carolina, United States.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 (Redirected from Yamacraw Indians)
The Yamacraw were a Native American tribe which settled parts of Georgia, specifically around the future site of the city of Savannah.
The Yamacraw formed by 1728, under the leadership of Tomochichi, out of some of the Yamasee and Creek who had disagreed with the breaking of friendship with the British during the Yamasee War of 1715. By 1728 the Yamacraw had settled at the site of the present day city of Savannah. In 1733 James Oglethorpe, interested in the site, negotiated with Tomochichi and the Yamacraw agreed to move their village upriver.[1] The Creeks cannot account for anyone by the name of Yamacraw, and the R, which appears in the name, is not recognized in either the Maskoki or Yuchi dialects.[2]
So the Yamacraw are said to be Muscogeean, yet the Moscogean people have no “R” sound. Perhaps it was really “Yamaquaw”  or something like that. We may never know.
Finally, I have found a reference to the origin of the name of the small town in southern Kentucky, called “Yamacraw”. Here it is --
            Yamacraw, Kentucky
Yamacraw Name
The name is that of a tribe of Creek Indians who lived in the area where Savannah, Georgia was later established.
The Stearns Coal and Lumber Company established this coal town, of which practically nothing remains, in 1905. James R. Sparks opened the post office on September 2, 1905.
Timber Tunnel.
This is a 20-foor tunnel drilled through rock 80 feet below ground. A company called Longsworth used it to transport goods.
I believe I have said the fast majority of my research discovers nothing at all, in an earlier blog entry. One reason for that is I often try to verify statements found online, and can prove them to be falsified, with no basis in the truth. In fact discovering the truth is made more difficult because of all the misleading information online. It just takes a few minutes to place mislading information online but because the people don’t/won’t cite their sources,  it takes a great deal of time to verify them as true, valid, and reliable, or as false, misleading and devious.
The town of Yamacraw does NOT date back to 1775 as Collins implied, but to a lumber company in 1905. The town apparently existed only a few years and then died out. But where did the lumber company come up with that name? I don’t know. Although it is a wonderful story, that is all it is unless a document exists telling us how this little town got its name. I’d love for such a document to exist.
All Collins says is
“Local history reports that this name is applied to that area because of a small tribe of Indians who settled along the banks of the Cumberland River in that vicinity shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals on March 14, 1775.
And --
“Such historical information as is now available indicates that this small band of Indians had left the Yamacraw tribe in South Carolina and moved initially to Old Fort Louden, in what is now northwestern Tennessee, some time prior to the French and Indian War. Living in the vicinity of Fort Louden they raised corn and hogs for sale to that garrison. Shortly after signing the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals this small band of Indians moved from the Fort Louden vicinity to the area along the Cumberland River which now bears its name."
So his sources are “local history” and “Such historical information as is now available.” But he does NOT list local historians whom he claims make these “reports”, nor does he provide a list of sources for “such historical information as is now available”. What historical information is now available that tells us that the Yamacraw migrated to the vicinity of Fort Loudoun by 1760 or so, and then on to the vicinity of the future town of Yamacraw by the time of the Henderson Treaty in 1775. And oh yes, the town of Yamacraw won’t be founded until 1905, 130 years after this migration. As of today, march 14, 2013, this is the extent of my research on this topic. If you know anyone who can find out how this small town got its name, please contact me. I’ll publish it right here.
Now there is a lot more about the Yamacraw, but it is not necessary to cover it here. I hope everyone can see what it takes to prove something! I hope everyone can see the difference between EVIDENCE and PROOF. The fact that the town in southern Kentucky was named Yamacraw is EVIDENCE that the Yamacraw might have migrated to that area. But when I looked into it further, I found  NO PROOF. That isn’t to say there is no proof, but rather only that no proof has been discovered.
What happened to the Yamacraw? No one knows. Maybe they assimilated into English culture as mixed-bloods. Some authors suggested that they moved back to the Creek Indians, assimilating with them. Or, there is a slim possibility that they DID move into the Cherokee Nation, near Fort, Loudoun, for a spell, and on to Southern Kentucky. I am afraid, that is as far as evidence will lead us, at the moment.
            I firmly believe in the concept known as "Occam's razor". Stated basically, if their are more than one explanations for any phenomena, the simplest explanation is to be preferred. In the case of the Yamacraw, the simplest explanation would be that these Yamacraw Indians were folded back into the Creek (Muscogee) Nation from which they had originally separated. This is an example of hours of research that didn't help me get any closer to my ancestors, but I did learn from it. Se la vie.

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