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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

EARLY LIFE 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.

CIVIL WAR PERIOD 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 AGo 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.

MARRIAGE 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.

Remarks 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.


In a recent interview with Mrs. James seeking to correct an impression that she gave me about the location of the ANeuter 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.) ----------------- end of interview -----------------------------------

Remarks by Shasta Louella (Huggins) Anker:

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 Aunt Cornelia's death.

5) Grandma was quoted as saying they moved from south of Chetopa to Denmark (now Hickory Grove). Mother said Grandma and Grandpa with family had first moved to Cowskin 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 Aextended 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 Sep 30, 1926 all other places and from Mother it was 1925. (If Ms. Burns didn=t type any better than I, and she didn=t, that could easily account for the discrepancy). Both Grandma and Grandpa James are buried in the 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 Alift-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 it 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 slaves.

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 name as Belle. My father was Robert Lee Huggins born June 9, 1874 and was a handsome Awhite@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 Asent 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 an 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 Ashe buried all of them@except the last one. The last one was 20 years younger than 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 moreCthey had more years to have heard them.

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.

George T. Huggins, October 31, 1999

George T. Huggins 4733 East Seneca Street Tucson AZ 85712 520-325-9606, cell: 520-975-2205

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