Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chief Benjamin “Ben” Marshall, 52 Weeks/52 Ancestors

So, when I was a little girl, I spent a tremendous amount of time with my Grandmother, Flora Burgess Hardin True. None of her other grandchildren spent as much time with her as I did. Every summer I began spending a week with her, one time being flown from San Jose, CA to Sacramento, CA by myself when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Grandma lived in the forest, near Nevada City. I loved going to stay with her because I was very spoiled, and I knew she loved me unconditionally, much like my own mother. My grandma would tell me about her grandfather, Richard Adkins, how he was Native American. She used to have two very large prints of an American Indian Squaw and an American Indian Warrior on her wall in her living room. She also built us a teepee in her backyard (It was very scary out there, but to be fair, she lived in the forest …hahaha)

teepee

Thus began my fascination with Native Americans. I knew from a young age that my grandmother was so proud of being an Indian. Of course, my dad, thinking he was very funny, would tell her that the only good Indian was a dead one…it would send Grandma into a tizzy. He was only teasing her. Serious researching has led me to discover Richard Adkin’s testimony to prove that he was Native American. After he moved about 141 miles away from the Creek Nation near Muscogee, OK to Durant, Ok, Richard testified that his Grandfather, Benjamin Marshall, his mother, aunt, and he had traveled to get away from the fighting of the Civil War. He never went back to Muscogee until approximately 1897. He got an Attorney and fought for his right to claim his citizenship in the Creek Nation. Richard gave testimony that his grandfather was Benjamin Marshall. A very white sounding name, not very Indian. Searching for Benjamin Marshall became obsessive for me.

His father was a fur trader of either English or Irish descent. I found a story saying that his father was Thomas Marshall, who married the daughter of a Chief after his brothers were killed in an Indian raid. Her name was Hits Kartay. Finally, I thought, now we are getting somewhere.

Benjamin Hawkins was a U.S. Indian Agent and a member of the Continental Congress, that was assigned by President George Washington to deal with the Native Americans.

Col. Benjamin Hawkins Grave Marker

He says about Benjamin Marshall’s family

"In the course of conversation to-day with Mr. Marshall on the domestic economy of the Indians, I was surprised at his want of information as he has resided twelve years in their towns, and has 
two Indian wives. He explained for himself, by saying that during the whole of his residence he had not entered 3 of the Indian houses, that whatever business he had with the men he went to their doors, mentioned it to him, said and did what was necessary 
and left them, or sat under their corn house."

Oh, so Thomas Marshall has two Indian wives… now I wonder if one was Hits Kartay, the mother to Benjamin and his brothers, Joseph and James, and if the other Indian wife gave birth to other children, because at one point in documents I have found mention of a sister and yet, whenever Benjamin Marshall is discussed, it is always as he and his two brothers, no other mention of other siblings.

There are so many mentions of Benjamin Marshall that it is difficult to keep it all straight. He was a Second Chief of the Creek Nation, he owned a big plantation across the Chattahoochee River from his father’s plantation, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs of 1825, and moved his town of 502 Creeks to Indian Territory in 1832, before the Trail of Tears. Benjamin Marshall said in a quotation that he felt sorry for his people that refused to move, because he knew it was going to happen, that they would be forced to move. Benjamin Marshall also owned slaves and traded them.

Wow, I wasn’t prepared for that. I would never have suspected that the Indians were slave owners and slave traders. If you had told me that any of my Hardin relatives had been slave owners and traders, I would have said, well, of course they were. I never met my Grandfather Hardin; he died before I was born, but my mother would say that he liked black people just fine, as long as they came to the back door with their hat in their hands, meaning that they knew their place. I try to keep the perspective that people who were raised in the south understood and were used to treating people of color differently. I have a difficult time with that. I don’t like it.

So Benjamin Marshall, Native American Second Chief, Translator for the United States Government, was a slave trader. There are so many facets to him that it will take me several posts to truly cover this ancestor. Richard Adkins says that his grandfather came to own and operate three plantations in Oklahoma by possessing  foresight and being a good businessman.

Indian Patch

So, good, bad, or indifferent, I can’t wait to get to know more of Mr. Benjamin “Ben” Marshall.

Quote for Benjamin Hawkins obtained from

REYNOLDS HISTORICAL 
GENEALOGY COLLECTION
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Henderson Ashworth 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks

I think it is important to place perspective on each of our ancestor’s stories, eek out each life lesson we can learn from our history. I think many people would look at the life of Henderson Ashworth and think, his family had an impact on the area where they lived because they were considered “people of color”.  Even if they were European and Native American, not of African descent, their legacy lives on. For me, the best part of his story was the  life he led with his wife and family.

February 5, 1840 saw the passing of a law, enacted to prohibit the immigration of free blacks into the State of Texas. For those who lived there, the free blacks who refused to leave would be sold into slavery. They wanted to make the color of skin the standard by which people of servitude were determined.

By December 12, 1840 “The Ashworth Act” had been passed, brought about by influential white citizens who felt that the Ashworth family should be “grandfathered-in”. It had been signed by 71 citizens. The basis, these 71 citizens felt, was that William Ashworth and his brother Abner Ashworth had contributed generously to the Texas cause during the Revolution. This Ashworth Act would allow the Ashworth family to remain in Texas as Free People of Color.

This is the life to which Henderson Ashworth was born of William Ashworth and Deleide Gallier in 1827. Twenty-nine years later, his life would cease at the hands of a broken vigilante system, hanging from a noose.

Hanging Tree

The Ashworth family came from the Pee Dee (Pendleton District) area of South Carolina and moved to the Louisiana and Texas areas in the early 1800’s, settling into the Orange, Texas area as well as the Calcasieu, Louisiana areas, traveling back and forth across the border between these states.

William and Deleide had 13 children. William, himself, was one of 11 children. The patriarch of the family was James Ashworth, who married Keziah Dial/Dyal and they bore 11 children. I don’t believe that it was strangers who filed for a piece of Flora’s lawsuit but rather, they had so many offspring that there were countless family members. I don’t believe Flora would have known them since her grandmother seemed to have left the Ashworth family, changed her name and died before Flora was born.

Texas itself, going through a historic time, first the Revolution, the Texas Declaration of Independence, then being invaded by Mexico several times, and by 1845, the 28th State of the United States, just ten short years before the Civil War. So while the Ashworth family had been welcomed to the community, buying property, owning businesses, there was a newspaper article that was published on July 4, 1856 in the Calcasieu Press. This person asserted that there was a need to drive out the gang of gamblers, cow and hog and horse thieves, mail robbers, counterfeiters and murderers that have been living in the Orange County area of Texas for quite a few years and that the they had become wicked beyond endurance. They had been ordered to leave the area and this was to include all of the Mulatto families and their white associates. He seems to be referencing the Ashworth family. Crazy how the other townsfolk had been willing to stand up for them years before, and yet, these are the same people who turned against them.

They were being drummed out of the town.

Why they were being drummed out is questionable.

This was not the first time that the family had been singled out for behavior that, from a white person, would have been acceptable. Like being married. In the spring of 1847, Henderson was charged with adultery, stemming from the fact that he was considered a Negro and his wife was white, which was against the law. However, as it was an inappropriate charge the Sheriff couldn’t make the charge stick so then he was then charged with fornication. However, he and Letitia Stewart were married and therefore, fornication could not apply. Henderson fought this charge all the way to the Supreme Court, but they were found guilty and charged a $100 fine.

On May 15, 1856, Clark Ashworth was arrested for illegally butchering a hog. Mind you, hogs were wild but someone claimed it was his and Clark was arrested. Because the Ashworth clan was friendly with the Sheriff, Clark was allowed to escape. Clark’s cousin Sam Ashworth went to confront the Deputy Sheriff Sam Deputy (I guess he was in the right profession) and Sam Ashworth was arrested for abusive language from a Negro toward a white person. He was sentenced to 30 lashes.

Sam Ashworth was hauled before a judge and released on bond. He was humiliated and looking for revenge. He and another cousin by the name of Jack Bunch lay in wait for Deputy Sheriff Deputy (couldn’t resist!) with a revolver and two shot guns

shotgun

Sam Ashworth and Jack Bunch shot at D.S.Deputy and his companion, unloaded all of their ammunition on him, wounding him, but when he didn’t die, they bashed his head in with the butt of the gun.

Since the Sheriff was in the Ashworth camp, he was the one who allowed Sam Ashworth to escape, so another deputy pulled together a posse to search for the escaped suspects. For two weeks, free black people were harassed,  their homes plundered and burned, warning the occupants to vacate their town.  Several families moved back across the river to Louisiana but the men would return to try to protect their land, cattle and freedom.

The area of Orange, Texas became a hotbed of shootings and killings over the next couple of months.

On one side was the Regulators and on the other, the Moderators.

The guns, a skiff, and a disguise were given to Sam Ashworth by Henderson Ashworth.

news article henderson ashworth

So Henderson Ashworth comes to the end of his life at the end of a rope along with Jack Bunch. Sam Ashworth escapes, moves to the Indian Territory and serves in the Civil War. Letitia Stewart Ashworth becomes a 27 year old widow with six children under the age of 7. She is living in Calcasieu Louisiana, next door to Ashworth family and she, herself, is gone four years later, along with her mother, brother, and most of her children. Only the two girls grew to be adults and have families.

It is interesting to note that the Ashworth family owned extensive land in the Orange, Texas area. Could greed have been the reason why they were drummed out of town? It is certainly possible.

The land owned by James Ashworth was the land where oil was discovered.

image008

Along comes the 1920’s and Flora’s Great Uncle is knocking at her door, telling her of their inheritance, their windfall. Henderson Ashworth’s life, while short and tragic, produced two daughters and established his legacy.

That’s not my Ancestor – Sarah Ashworth AKA Sarah Smith AKA Sallie Adkins 52 Weeks/52 Ancestors

“The history that we share makes us who we are” Not my words, but those are the words of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Harvard Professor and the host of Finding Your Roots. When I began researching my history, I had some preconceived notions about who I was, where my parents came from, their parents and so on, formed from stories and information shared over the years. After both my parents were gone, I was continuing my research when I came across information for one of my ancestors. As I have spoken a lot about Richard Adkins, it’s time to delve into his wife, Sallie Adkins.

One of the stories that was well known to me (as the article hung on our hallway at home for years) was a story of how my grandmother was set to become a millionaire at the tender age of 19. Big impact, right? How come we’re not millionaires, Grandma? My grandmother always said that they were duped out of the money by unscrupulous lawyers and people paid to say they were descendants of her great-grandfather, James Ashworth.

newspaper article flora

Flora’s great-uncle knocked on her door at midnight, about a month after she had married Charles Hardin, to tell her she was one of 21 people who had a right to share in money from an oil well. When I asked my grandma if she had gotten any money from it, she said she had received some, but not what they were supposed to. She said that her ancestor had gone by the name Smith and that lawyers brought forth a ton of people by the name Smith and that they ended up losing out on a lot of money. Now, my grandmother made a lot of money in her lifetime but she had done it the hard way, by old fashioned elbow grease. No heiress stuff for us.

While I was working on Ancestry.com’s website, I came across information for the Ashworth family. I added it to my tree until I opened up the 1860 Census and found a listing for Sarah Ashworth. I started reading the contents of the Census, thrilled until I came to the part where it listed her race. The word Mulatto shocked me. What? Oh, that can’t possibly be my ancestor, I thought. I don’t understand why those people think this is my ancestor but they must be wrong. It’s a mistake, I said to myself, and promptly erased that information off my tree. After all, when Richard Adkins talked about his wife, he very plainly says he was married to a white woman. It was in his testimony. Willa Adkins, too, plainly testified that she was married to a white man (she was) and that her mother was a white woman.

About a month later, I came across a document that I couldn’t deny. Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle (old term, I know) but it was the document showing who was included in the settlement for the Ashworth oil fortune.

Heirs of Henderson

There in big letters was Flora Burgess Hardin, Ovola Burgess, Henry Carter Burgess, Richard Adkins and Nat Adkins. Well, what do you know about that? Guess it was time to add her back onto my tree. I was so fortunate because once again, I found an ancestor with a crazy story and lots of press about it. People have used my ancestor’s story for the topic of a thesis on race relations of the 1850s. Well, there it is.

So, this ancestor, my Grandma Flora’s grandmother, Sallie Adkins, was born to a family who were considered Free People of Color in Orange County, Texas a time that was fraught with violence, hatred and outright racism. Because they lived on the border of Orange County, Texas and Calcasieu, Louisiana, the family slipped back and forth between the two states. If you have time, look up the Orange County wars. If you don’t, I will give you a modified version next week.

Sallie Adkins started out as Sarah Ashworth, daughter of Henderson Ashworth. While I don’t have all of the details, Henderson Ashworth was hung as an accessory to a crime in 1856. Four years later, his widow, Letitia Stewart Ashworth is living as a seamstress in Calcasieu, Louisiana and dies in 1860. Her mother Clarrissa Stewart also dies in 1860. Her child Mary Jane Ashworth dies in 1860. Her brother Martin dies in 1860. Sounds like a disease takes out a big portion of the family in 1860.

The only other person to reach adulthood is Sarah’s sister Hannah. Sarah Ashworth at one point becomes Sarah  Smith and by the time she marries Richard Adkins her name is Sallie Adkins. Impossible to tell if Richard Adkins knew of her background, knew of her family history.  They are married by a Chickasaw minister in 1873, she bears five children and in 1900 they are living in the Choctaw Nation. Her sister’s name is Hannah but in some documents she is named Joanna Smith. She also lived in the Choctaw Nation in 1900. It appears that the only two siblings left stayed in touch throughout their lives. Hannah was born the same year her father was hung as an accomplice to murder.

Sallie Ashworth Adkins dies in 1902.

Sallie Adkins headstone

I don’t have any pictures of her so I can’t judge for myself what race she might have been. But, what I do have is my blood. I had a DNA test completed about four months ago. This is what the results looked like:

Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error

Europe (Northeast European)

Finnish

53.37%

±6.58%

Native American (Central American)

Maya

17.98%

±0.61%

Middle East

Palestinian, Jewish, Bedouin

28.65%

±5.97%

So, I do know that Sallie Ashworth’s great grandmother was Keziah Dial/Dyle and that she was Native American. I wonder if the line that shows Palestinian or Bedouin could be attributed to her. I did find a picture of some of Henderson Ashworth’s nieces and nephews.

ashworths

This is a quote from the same article:

“The Ashworths and the Johnsons, as well as others such as Perkins, Dials and Goins, were members of a Southwest Louisiana group known as <a href=”http://www.redboneheritagefoundation.com/”>Redbones</a&gt;. The Redbones are a dark-skinned people with European features who emigrated from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina to South Louisiana about 1810. The racial makeup of the Redbones is very controversial, and some assert that they have some African ancestry. It is almost certain that they are of primarily European origins with bloodlines heavily influenced by the American Indians of the Southeast United States.”

I think this is a great description, the best I have read. Sallie Adkins wasn’t forgotten, as my Aunt Jean named her daughter Sallie after her.  Gone, but not forgotten.
So, I did learn something from Sallie Adkins. I learned that sometimes we have to remove our prejudice and look at the information we find as a clue, not an absolute.
The quote and photograph were taken from a website http://www.burketexas.com/people/ashworth.php