Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: March 23, 1937
Name: Dennis Vann
Post Office: No Address Given
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Father: Place of Birth: Information on father:
Mother: Place of birth: Information on mother: Field Worker: Interview: # 5370
THE RECOLLECTIONS OF A CHEROKEE FREEDMAN Dennis Vann
Dennis Vann born August 15, 1849 on the place of his master, Ave Vann, who lived about 25 miles west of Tahlequah at a trading post in the Saline district in the Cherokee Nation. Ave Vann was a Scotch-Irishman who came from Scotland to Georgia, and who in 1832 moved to Indian Territory, bringing with him his many slaves, among whom were numbered the mother and father of Dennis Vann, his aunts and uncles, and their many children. Mr. Ave Vann married a full blooded Cherokee who could not speak a word of English. Their home was just east of the Saline courthouse. They were kind to their slaves and gave orders that they were not to be whipped or abused. John NAW, a son-in-law, disregarded these orders and tried to whip an old slave named Uncle Joe, who cut John Naw half in two with a bowie-knife. Naw died and Uncle Joe was mobbed by a gang of men and beheaded and his head stuck on a pole. At night the head was stolen by his people and Uncle Joe was buried near Saline.
After Ave Vann died, his property and his slaves were owned by his daughter, Mrs. Katie WILLIAMS, who freed all her slaves and in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War by order of Capt. LEECHER, a Union officer in command of the 3rd Indian Regiment, these slaves along with their mistress, Mrs. Williams, went to Fort Gibson for protection. The father and uncle of Dennis Vann hitched horses, mules and oxen to the wagons and it was in this manner they traveled. Before they left their home, Mrs. Williams told the slaves to help themselves to all the hogs, cattle and poultry, before the Rebels got them, so the slaves had plenty to eat.
Fort Gibson became so crowded with refugees that the Government sent the Vann slaves and others to Franklin County, Kansas, where they stayed until the war as over in 1865, and then they moved back at the request of Mrs. Williams to live with her in her old log house. When the treaty was made in 1866, they all traveled to Tahlequah to hear it read. According to the treaty, Cherokees and their freedmen were to have equal rights.
Transcribed and submitted by Gwen Cochran Nolte <Gwennolte@aol.com> 05-2000