Our Arklahoma Heritage: Mingo Moshulatubbee - Buried beneath a "pile of rocks" in Leflore County
Eight miles directly west of the Leflore County community of Shady Point, the unincorporated populated place of Latham lies along the north and south side of Latham Road, which was one of the roads utilized by the fabled Butterfield Trail stagecoach company which operated from 1858-1861.
Latham today is little more than cattle ranches, rock quarries and a few hundred scattered residents, many of whom find work in Poteau, Spiro and Fort Smith. But one-hundred and ninety years ago, the area played an important role in the development of the Choctaw Nation.
Mingo Moshulatubbee (English translation: "Warrior Who Perseveres") was the nephew and grandson of tribal chiefs who served their tribes within the 11 million acre confines of the ancestral Choctaw homeland that stretched across weastern Mississippi and western Alabama.
Renown among all three of the Choctaw districts as a great warrior for his exploits against the Osage, he gained more influence through his service in the Creek War of 1813-14 and at the battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson.
By 1812, Moshulatubbee had ascended to chief of his faction of the Choctaw tribe. He replaced his uncle as chief of the Okla Tannip district prior to the War of 1812.
He was a noted orator with a powerful build and possessed great personal magnetism that attracted supporters and detractors. While he prospered as a farmer and slave owner, raising cattle, hogs and horses, he also influenced the Choctaw shift toward a market economy.
Although Moshulatubbee supported the educational efforts of the missionaries, he opposed their religious activities and helped establish the Choctaw Academy among traditionalists who opposed Greenwood LeFlore's efforts to control the Choctaw Nation with his more progressive, cosmopolitan, and predominantly mixed-blood faction.
Moshulatubbee was replaced by David Folsom as district chief in 1826, but he regained the office in 1830 during the "removal crises" which lead to the Trail of Tears.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek--the first or many to be signed and then broken by the United States government--gave Choctaws a choice of staying in Mississippi/Alabama and becoming US citizens or moving to the Indian Territory and continuing their way of life and keeping their tribal laws and government intact.
More than 15, 000 Choctaws started the perilous 500 mile march on the Trail of Tears, leaving behind 6000 of their tribal members who chose the citizenship option offered by the federal government. More that 2500 of those who made the trek to what is now Oklahoma died along the way.
In 1830, Moshulatubbe was quoted in contemporary newspapers as saying "Fellow Citizens:-I have fought for you, I have been by your own act, made a citizen of your state; ... According to your laws I am an American citizen, ... I have always battled on the side of this republic ... I have been told by my white brethren, that the pen of history is impartial, and that in after years, our forlorn kindred will have justice and 'mercy too'."
In 1832, Moshulatubbe chose to keep his people together and move to Indian Territory where they were promised the right to live under their own tribal laws and establish their own government.
His personal sacrifice to keep his people together under their own tribal rule extended to turning down a gesture from President Andrew Jackson conferring preferred citizenship upon them and virtually guaranteeing chief Moshulatubbe a seat in the US Congress.
While he continued his resistance to the attempts of religious missionaries to convert his people, he later signed the Fort Holmes treaty in 1835, and served as district chief until 1836. During his time as chief in the Territory a tribal council house and agency was established in Latham.
The high hopes for his people in the Territory turned into disappointment as promises made during the initial--and subsequent--treaties continued to be ignored and altered by officials with the US government. In the late part of 1837, the district established by the Choctaws in what is now Leflore County was ravaged by "the white man's disease" (small pox).
Moshulatubbee died during the scourge on August 30, 1838, in his home located near the Choctaw Agency and was buried in Latham in a grave that was marked "by a pile of rocks" While the foundation of the old tribal house remains, no one is certain of the exact location of Moshulatubbee's grave.
In 1965, a monument was erected in the historic Hall Cemetery in Cameron that reads:
"Chief Moshulatubbee of Northern district, Choctaw Nation in Mississippi, received his name as a young warrior. He was dignified in bearing, of fine physique, steady and thoughtful in disposition. As Chief he was noted for his orders banning liquor traffic and drinking in his county. He strongly favored education, and a mission school (ABCFM) was located at this prairie village near the Natchez Trace in 1824. Moshulatubbee was one of the three head chiefs who signed the early Choctaw treaties with the United States, including that at Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, which provided for the removal of the Choctaws from Mississippi. He had high hopes in coming west with his people in 1832, and made his new home in LeFlore County. He died at his home and was buried nearby, his grave covered in unmarked stones. The region from the Arkansas River to the Winding Stair Mountains was called Moshulatubbee District in law books of the Choctaw Nation, 1834 to 1907."
One final note: The ancestors of Moshulatubbee adopted the surname "King" (which he had also used at times) so if that is your name and your family is native to Leflore County, chances are you could be related to this tribal chieftain.