• Dennis McCaslin

Stone Gardens: Jacob Battiest Jackson - 1848 -1909

In 1828 in the sleepy little community of Dahlonega, Georgia, someone discovered gold. Depending on who you want to believe, there are at least six different versions of who made the discovery, but Gold Fever gripped the region and in 1829 a full blown Gold Rush was underway within a year.

The area of Ward Creek in Lumpkin County was located smack in the middle of what is considered the ancestral "Old country" of the Cherokee Nation, but few Native Americans prospered from the discovery. I

Before gold was even discovered in the region, there was pressure on the United States for the forced removal of the Five Civilized Tribes, including the Choctaws, to the southwest part of the county. The discovery of gold along that rural country creek in 1828 certainly hastened the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and was a major prelude to the relocation of the tribe to what is now eastern Oklahoma.

That transplanting of Native Americans into what was called the Indian Territory led to the burial of a Dawes card carrying of the tribe who was instrumental in early tribal government.

A Choctaw by the name of Nol-ba-tubbee married a white woman named Betsy Jackson in what was known as Cedar County in the Indian Territory sometime before 1843. The exact number of children born to that union is unknown, but one of those was a son by the name of Jacob Battiest Jackson in 1945, who took his mother's as was the custom of some of the tribal members.

Jacob Battiest Jackson

Cedar County was north of the Poteau River, and sometime during his early adult years, Jacob Jackson moved south into what was then Scullyville County.

Scullyville County encompassed most of what is now known as Leflore County, incuding the original settlement at Scullyville just north of Spiro, past the Poteau/Cavanal Mountain area and into the Ouachita's and south to Talihina.

Jackson as an adult got into politics of the Nation at a fairly early age. He worked his way through the ranks and eventually served multiple terms as the Secretary of State for the Nation under Choctaw Chiefs Wilson N. Jones, Jefferson Gardner, and Green McCurtain.

He also ran for Chief at least twice, the most notable in 1892 when a hotly contested election ended up spurring a virtual civil war among segments of the tribe.

Jackson was a a member of the National Party commonly known as the Buzzards. The Buzzards represented the full-blood conservative elements in the Choctaw Nation. His opponent was Wilson N. Jones, the incumbent sitting Chief and a member of the Progressive party, known as the Eagles

Chief Wilson Jones

The election was unusually bitter because whichever party won would have charge of the distribution of a per capita payment of more than $100 to every Choctaw man, woman and child.

The election was close, and there were charges of fraud on both sides. On the face of the returns Jackson seemed to be the winner but the returns were canvassed by the National Choctaw council, staffed by men favorable to Jones.

On September 11, four members of National Party killed four members of the Progressive party near Wilburton, touching off a fervor that resulted in a standoff near McAlester between US Indian Agent Leo Bennett, Lighthorse Police and federal troops and fifty armed Jones supporters.

Jones prevailed in the "election" and remained Chief until 1894 when he was defeated by Jefferson Gardner. Jackson served as Secretary of State under gardener and his eventual successor, Mountain Green.

Jacob Battiest Jackson ran for Principal Chief one last time in 1900, losing that election to Gilbert W. Dukes.

Jackson had married three times in his life, and had a daughter, Levicy with his first wife. Leviciy died in 1886. Jackson married a wealthy widow by the name of Sina Whistler at the turn of the century and lived out his remaining years in Shady Point.

Jackson died May 17, 1909 in Shady Point and his obituary in the Poteau Weekly Sun reas as follows:

"Jacob Jackson died at his home in Shady Point last Monday, May 17, and was buried by the Masons, of which organization he was a member. Mr. Jackson was a full blood Choctaw, and much interested in the welfare of his tribe. Mr. Jackson graduated with honors from the University of Virginia. He was politically involved in their affairs, and ran for Governor of the Choctaw Nation twice. He was elected fairly in one election, but his opponent managed to overturn the results and claim the office. Jacob Jackson attended conferences with President Cleveland representing his tribe."

Jackson was laid to rest in the Shady Point Cemetery. His plot marked by a plain stone marker added several years after his death, adjoins the marked grave of Madine Mixon immediately on the south and is the third in a row of Mixon graves extending northward from it.

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