[Senate Doc. 512, No. 247, pages 235-38]
Columbus, Georgia, May, 1833
I have the honor to report, that that portion of the census of the Creek tribe of Indians which, after a division of the nation between Major B. S. Parsons and myself, it devolved on me to take, was competed early in January last, and is to be found in part second of the book or roll herewith forwarded, comprising a list of the heads of families, and enumeration of the population of what is denominated the Lower Towns. The division of country after this manner was made at the instance, and in consequence of the wish both of Gen. E. Parsons and of my coadjutor in the business, Major B. S. Parsons, to whom it appeared preferable; to the latter gentlemen I also conceded the choice of divisions, who selected for himself the Upper Towns. The result of his labors, which are just completed, will be seen in part first of the book above alluded to.
A comparison of rolls being required, and Major Parsons being desirous that my work should be connected and appear under the same cover with his, I was necessarily detained some days after his was copied, in transcribing and transferring mine into the same book, and performing other acts essential for the completion of the whole.
In the performance of the duty entrusted to me by the department, I have endeavored, as impartially and conscientiously as possible, to carry into effect the instructions of the department transmitted for my guidance in the same, on the one hand vigilantly laboring to protect the rights of the Government, and preserve them from fraud, and on the other, likewise, conceding to the tribe whatsoever might be made appear its due. Owing to the blended ignorance, credulity, and cunning of the natives, and schemes of greedy speculators, the task has not been unattended by trouble or difficulty; but I trust, from the much care bestowed by me, I have succeeded in the completion of it as happily as circumstances would allow.
I have likewise spent particular pains upon the orthography of the Indian names, and in all instances used such letters in the spelling of them as would perfectly express their sound, dividing them into syllable according to their own mode of articulation, so as to insure, with ordinary attention, a proper, or at least an intelligible pronunciation. I have also avoided as much as possible, the repetition of the like names in the same town, and to this end have sometimes, with all the solemnity attendant on the ceremony, caused the individual publicly and by the proper authority, to be named anew. The name thus given is acknowledged by the party, and assumed as a war name, by which he is even afterwards known and recognized.
I deem it necessary to refer the department to the case of Benjamin Marshall, United States interpreter for the Creek Indians; it is noted in page sixty of part second, or census of the Lower Towns. I would also state that there are four or five cases of persons advanced in life, of both sexes, widows and widowers, who have raised families, have still their own separate houses and fields, and labor for themselves in their management and occupation, but who, owing to the growth and marriage, or separate settlement of their families, are left without any permanent inmate of their dwellings. The few persons thus circumstanced I enrolled, under the impression that they came within the spirit and meaning, if not the express letter of my instructions, that it could not have been the intention of the department that on such grounds they should be expelled in the evening of their life, helpless and destitute, from the home which was their only shelter, and which had, perhaps, from infancy afforded them an asylum. If, however, this had been an error of judgment on my part, and the department will please to inform me of it, I will furnish the names and notes of the cases, which can then be erased.
In making out the roll of the principal chiefs, from the lists furnished me by what is styled the authorities of the tribe, I found that the names of forty-four only, instead of forty-five, to which number the lower towns are entitled, were reported. To have convened a council and procured the appointment of another at that protracted season, would have been the cause of much delay. I therefore thought it preferable respectfully to suggest to the department a mode of supplying the omission which would obviate this inconvenience, and which the tribe itself would readily acquiesce in, that is, to fill the vacancy with one of three pretermitted chiefs, left out by a few of the leading men from personal and invidious motives. The names of these three are John O-pou-ne, (of Che-haw-aw,) Col. John Stedham, (of So-woe-o-lo,) and Tom-ac-micco, (of Thla-katch-ka.)
It was reported at Se-char-le-char, (the council at which the principal chiefs were designated and chosen,) that the before named chiefs were in favor of a speedy emigration of the tribe west of the Mississippi, and were exerting their influence amongst their respective people to inspire them with sentiments favorable to the same. This pretence was employed to excite a prejudice against them, and was one of the means resorted to by those interested in keeping the tribe in their present residence to procure their exclusion. They are all three men of influence, and have each of them some claim to the favor of Government. To John O-pou-ne I feel under much obligation for the timely assistance lent me by him in procuring an interpreter after the death of Charles Scott, a half-breed, and the first employed by me. Scott and myself were much exposed to inclemency of weather; had oftentimes to pass streams, not fordable, by swimming, and to undergo many privations. Though a young and remarkably robust man, and injured by habit to hardship, he sunk under it, and after a short illness, thus prematurely and unexpectedly, became the silent tenant of the tomb. At this crisis, when it was all-important that I should have an interpreter capable, and that could be relied on, through the agency of O-pou-ne I was furnished with one whom I afterwards retained throughout, until the enumeration of the lower towns was completed. This service, rendered under such circumstances to me, I place upon the footing of a public service, and, therefore, present his claim first to supply the place of the forty-fifth chief. Col. John Stedham served in the army during the Creek war for some space of time, and had under his command a company of friendly Indians. He was at the affair of Kalebee under General Floyd, and at one or two others with the Seminoles. Tom-ac-micco also was at Washington in the winter of 1832, and composed one of the delegation who negotiated the treaty at that time, and is one of the signers of it. I would further suggest, that if the department deemed it proper to bestow upon each of the three and additional half section of land, the attempted injury against them would be repaired at comparatively trifling cost, and the malice of their enemies likewise disappointed.
I would conclude by stating that I left Tuscaloosa, my place of residence, on the 30th day of August, 1832, and have continued from that time to the present (two hundred an fifty-seven days, inclusive) in the service of the department, either engaged in taking the census of the Creek tribe, (i.e. the lower towns,) or in the capacity of secretary to the board of commissioners, & c., in the following manner, viz: about nine days at We-tum-ka: during the Indian council there in September last, I was employed in the capacity of secretary; also from the 7th January to 4th of April inclusive, (a space of eighty-eight days,) at which time the papers connected with the proceedings of the commissioners at Fort Mitchell, at the council held there in January and part of February last, were completed and forwarded to Washington; and from that date to the present in aiding Major Parsons in the completion of his work in the upper towns, and doing whatsoever remained to complete my own. To this is to be added all the previous time, the nine days at We-tum-ka excepted, which shows the exact time employed, particularly in each species of engagement, to wit: whole time employed from 30th August, 1832, to 13th May, 1833, two hundred and fifty-seven days, inclusive. The time employed as secretary at We-tum-ka, nine days, and at Fort Mitchell, eighty-eight days, making an aggregate of ninety-seven days, being deducted, leaves one hundred and sixty days; so that the time devoted to the taking of the census of the lower towns by me, and in aid of Major Parsons in the upper amounts to 160 days. The time spent as secretary, to 97 days. Whole time 257 days.
In my account, which is enclosed in form, not having any other basis whereon to found a charge, I have inserted the amount of the sum recommended to be allowed by the commissioners in their report, in consideration of the unremitted and severe labors which developed upon me while acting as secretary, to wit, five dollars per day, and my expenses for board, & c., while thus engaged. If this sum is not such as may be allowed, the department will please alter and fix the rate at its pleasure.
I have also enclosed receipts for money paid to interpreters, including the whole hire of horses, finding provisions, & c., and defraying all other expenses incidental.
The department will please accept the tender of my thanks for their confidence in the bestowal of my former appointment, and should I have been sufficiently fortunate to have merited approbation in the manner in which I have discharged the duties of it, it will be a source of no inconsiderable gratification.
A draft for the amount of what may be found accruing to me, if forwarded to my address in Tuscaloosa, will, upon its arrival, to which place I am now hastening, and where I shall remain until I hear from the department, find me there.
Should the department have further use fro my services, and be pleased in any capacity to require them, I should feel both happy and grateful for the further continuation and extension of its patronage. In the interim, permit me to subscribe my self,
Sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient humble servant,
Thom. J. Abbott
Hon. Lewis Cass,
Secretary of War