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)
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.
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.
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