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Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma

Date: June 11, 1937

Name: Archibald Campbell

Post Office: Park Hill

Date of Birth: probably about 1788

Place of Birth:

Father: Place of Birth: Information on father:

Mother: Place of birth: Information on mother:

Field Worker:


A picturesque and well-known character of bygone years was Archibald Campbell, usually referred to as Arch Campbell by his contemporaries, and sometimes as Chief Campbell. His father has been referred to as a Scotsman, but the son possessed more of the Indian characteristics than those of the white man. His was the Indian mind to large extent, and he had little knowledge of the English language, speaking the native language only. Those persons who spoke and understood the English language only, conversed with Campbell through an interpreter.

Except for a brief visit to the future Indian Territory, twenty years before the Cherokee removal, Campbell lived in the old nation east of the Mississippi river, until he journeyed west in 1838, arriving in Indian Territory in 1839. His home was established in the Park Hill locality where he lived until his death soon after the beginning of the Civil War.

The home of Archibald Campbell was on elevated land immediately south of the Park Hill creek, a big house built of well-hewn logs, two storied, a stack or double chimney - a fireplace on two sides, in the center of the house, which was covered with hand-riven boards. Outlying was a level tract of land which was in cultivation. Large forest trees shaded the yard about the house. Just across from the house, on the north side of the creek, there was a fine spring beneath a low and rocky bluff. This spring is yet known as the Campbell spring.

The years in which Archibald Campbell was born is not definitely known, but was probably about 1788, for he has been referred to as an old man sometime before his demise. Sitting beside his fireplace in winter time, or beneath the shade of the trees in warm weather, Campbell has been mentioned in past years by those who personally knew him, as relating varied episodes in his eventful career, but no one made written particular concerning that which was related. The old man is said to have been not at all backward in boasting of his early day prowess as a fighting man and spoke in laudatory terms of his own personal bravery.

In 1818, when the western Cherokee group suffered greatly from harassments by the Osages, and were about to be divested of all their live-stock by the warriors, it was realized that the warriors of the western Cherokee nation were not sufficiently large in number to successfully contend with the Osages. In that contingency, messengers were sent to the Cherokee east of the Mississippi, imploring aid. In response a large and well-armed, mounted number of warriors set out to assist in overcoming the Osages. The forces of both the eastern and western groups met in Arkansas Territory and immediately set out to administer punishment to the defiant Osage warriors. Eventually the Osages were overtaken and badly defeated in the battle of Clermont's Mound, in Mary, 1818. The aid given by the warriors from the original Cherokee nation beyond the Mississippi saved the western nation from the ruin and insured peace. Archibald Campbell was a member of the Cherokee war party from the old nation, and related some interesting anecdotes concerning the journey westward, incidents which occurred along the route, and relating to the "big fight" at the great mound in the present Rogers County.

Several years before participating in the expedition against the Osages, Archibald Campbell had served as a member of the Cherokee regiment, which was organized during the period of the war of 1812. Joined with the forces commanded by Major General Andrew JACKSON, the men of the Cherokee regiment participated in engagements with the warriors of the hostile section of the Creek nation, and at the battle of Tohopeka, or the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa river in Alabama, March 27, 1814, rendered outstanding and distinguished service.

In the Cherokee Nation, established as a body politic in Indian Territory in the summer of 1839, Archibald Campbell filled high official position in the earlier period. He was elected as a member of the national council from Tahlequah district and was elevated to the speakership of that body, and was once elected assistant to the principal chief, serving for a period of four years.

Considerable knowledge of the medicinal properties possessed by roots, herbs, and barks was possessed by Archibald Campbell, and it is quite possible that he was considered a doctor by his native countrymen.

As leader of a party of armed men Archibald Campbell has been mentioned as pursuing, somewhere near the middle forties of the nineteenth century, an alleged terrible creature, or "monster", which, resembling in some respects, a great lizard, was said to have emerged on a cold and snowy day in winter time, from an opening in the rocky ground atop a high bluff overlooking the Illinois River, northeast of the then small town of Tahlequah. Upon news of the incident being carried to Campbell, he mounted his horse and hurried away to lead the horsemen who desired to pursue and kill the fearful creature. A rather broad and well-defined trail led westward through the deep snow, according to the story, but the creature was never overtaken. But near the present town of Skiatook, Oklahoma, the object of the pursuit was seen ascending a high prairie ridge nearly a mile distant, its head about as large as that of a horse. The cold was intense, the men weary and hungry. Some friendly Osages appeared, warned the Cherokees, with tears to pursue no farther, for all would certainly be slain by the "bad thing". So the Cherokees stayed overnight in comfort in the Osages lodges, feasted and had their horses well-cared for and started homeward next day.

An old man who was familiar with the story, related some years ago that the fearful creature never returned to the hole in the ground northeast of Tahlequah. "It went down into Mexico", the old man concluded. How he obtained such intelligence he did not state.

Archibald Campbell lies in a grave marked only with a large limestone boulder, uninscribed, in the old Ross cemetery at Park Hill, Oklahoma.

Many adults learned to read and write in their native language after the completion of the Sequoian alphabet in 1821, and Archibald Campbell was probably among the number, being quite intelligent despite his lack of English education.

Transcribed and submitted by Gloria <> 02-2000

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