[M234, roll 839, frames 7-14]
Yr. Obt. Servt.
sig'd W. C. Philips
Sec'y of State
Headquarters Post of Livingston,
Livingston, Polk co., Texas, February 6, 1870
Brevet Colonel H. Clay Wood
Assistant Adjutant General U.S.A.
Fifth Military District, Austin, Texas
I have the honor to make the following report as to the origin, history, habits and condition of the Indian tribes living within the limits of Polk county, state of Texas, viz: The Alabamas, Coshatties and Muscogees, as required by your endorsement of November 30, 1869. This information has been gathered chiefly from the Indians themselves, and their chiefs.
The Alabamas are an off-shoot or branch of the Creek tribe of Indians, who formerly inhabited what is now the southern portion of the states of Georgia and Alabama and the northern part of Florida. They left their tribe during the early part of this century, or as some of them say, over a hundred years ago, when they were living in what is now the state of Georgia. After wandering through the country to the westward of their former home, they, in 1818 or 1820, settled in the eastern part of Texas, in what is now known as Polk county. They now number about 260, men, women and children, who live in Polk county. There are about 30 or 40 of this tribe living near Opelousas, La., who would return to their tribe, and are represented as anxious to do so, if they owned or had a sufficient quantity of land for all to live upon. This tribe had ceded to them by the state of Texas, in 1853, a tract of land containing 1280 acres, located in the eastern portion of Polk County, on which they now reside, and from which they make a scanty living, raising just enough to live upon, they are honest, industrious and peaceful, and during the cotton-picking season, a majority hire out to pick cotton. They became impoverished during the recent rebellion, so much so that they have been unable to recover, since, from the lack of farming implements & c. During the Rebellion they resisted all efforts to induce them to engage in insurrection, and were much persecuted in consequence. They had been provided for by the Republic of Texas up to 1841, but from that time ceased to provide for them until 1853, when an Agent was appointed by the state to look after their interests, but who failed to do so. They still adhere to the language and dress of their ancestors, but their habits are in a good measure assimilated to that of the whites. They are poor, and I would respectfully recommend that assistance be given them by furnishing agricultural implements & c., this assistance would not be required by them, but for a short time.
The Coshatties are a branch or off-shoot of the Creek tribe of Florida Indians, and their early history is similar to that of the Alabamas; settling in the eastern portion of what is now Polk county, about 1818 or 1820. This tribe numbers about 150 men, women and children, of whom not more than 50 reside in Polk county, the remainder living near Opelousas, La. They have no land, or permanent place of residence, but are living around on such vacant land as they can find, upon the sufferance of the owners thereof, who are non-residents. They are honest, industrious and peaceful, and gain a livelihood by tilling the soil, and hiring out during the cotton-picking season; they still dress in the Indian garb of their ancestors. During the Rebellion they resisted all efforts to draw them into it, and lost what little personal property they had.
They were not recognized by the state of Texas, until 1866, when an Agent was appointed for them, but they never derived any benefit from the appointment.
I would respectfully recommend that assistance be given these Indians to obtain a home; a small amount of money judiciously expended at this time by an honest and competent Agent, would prevent these Indians from becoming a burden on the country.
The Muscogees, or as they are commonly known, the Blunt Indians, are an off-shoot from the Creek tribe of Florida Indians, and migrated to Texas about 35 years ago.
There are only 28, men, women and children, in all, and have, in great measure, adopted the language, dress and habits of the whites. Their present chief Bill Blunt [Blount], is the son of John Blunt, a former chief, now deceased, who was a favorite guide of General Jackson's, during the Seminole War, and Bill Blunt has in his posession a medal given his father by President Jackson, with the inscription "Presented to John Blunt, my faithful guide during the Seminole War", on it. Bill Blunt is an educated Indian, and transacts all his own business with the whites, in a very intelligent manner; he speaks the English language fluently. This tribe, or rather the greater portion of them, 20 in number, are now living on a piece of land containing between 5 and 6 hundred acres, belonging to an old Indian woman of the Alabama tribe, the widow of a Frenchman, deceased; the remainder, eight in number, are living on some vacant land, owned by non-residents, near Drew's Landing, on the Trinity river. They have in their possession a Grant of 320 acres of land, from the state of Texas, to be located on any public land in Polk county, but as there is no such land fit for cultivation, they have never located and the grant is worthless to them. Bill Blunt, the chief, say that if the State of Texas would cancel this grant, and furnish them with a few agricultural implements, they would be able to take care of themselves.
This tribe also refused to engage in the Rebellion. They are very poor.
All of these Indians are opposed to the appointment of A. J. Harrison, of Tyler County, as their Agent, and are also opposed to the retention in office of R. J. Rowe, as Agent, both of whom they say never done anything but draw their salary from the State, and they request that Rowe be removed from office, and that an Agent be appointed by the United States Government, but not from among the citizens of this section of the country.
I would therefore respectfully recommend that during the stay of the United States troops at this Post, that the Post Commander be authorized to act as their Agent.
There are among this small number of Indians, several very old persons of both sexes, (one of them a female, over one hundred years of age) who are too old too work, and are supported by the charity of few whites.
I would respectfully recommend that the Commanding officer of this Post be authorized to issue a limited number of rations to these indigent person, monthly.
I am, Colonel, Very Respectfully
Your Obedt. Servt.
Samuel M. Whiteside
Capt. 6 Cav.
Bvt. Maj. U.S.A.
Adjutant General's Office
Washington, March 10, 1870
Asst. Adjutant General
[John Blunt/Blount was an "Appalachicola Indian". See an 1833 census.]