Chooshemataha Colbert
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William Cooshemataha Pyaheggo Colbert (1742 - 1836)

General William Cooshemataha Pyaheggo (Chooshemataha) Colbert
Born in Pontotoc County, New France (present day Mississippi)map
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Pontotoc, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 28 Jun 2013
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Chooshemataha Colbert was a Native American member of the Chickasaw tribe.
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Major Chooshemataha Colbert served in the Mississippi Territory, United States Infantry in the War of 1812
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General William Colbert, or Chooshemataha, was a military character of consequence. He fought for his own people against the Creeks, and, it has been stated, assisted Andrew Jackson against the same tribe. “Old Hickory” presented him with a military coat, which the chief wore on important occasions until the end of his days. He lived a few miles south of Tocshish. Tocshish was south of where Pontotoc now is, and was put on old maps as “Mclntoshville.”’

In the summer of 1780 Gov. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, having sent instructions to place a post on the Mississippi river, with cannon to fortify it, Col. Geo. Rogers Clark with some soldiers, left Louisville and proceeded to the Iron Banks, at the mouth of the Mayfield creek, five miles below the mouth of the Ohio. He there erected Fort Jefferson. The Chickasaws at this time were the owners of the country west of the Tennessee river, including the ground where Fort Jefferson was erected. The Governor’s instructions to buy the site or get the Indians’ consent was not complied with, and their resentment was aroused. They commenced to maraud and to kill members of the families that had settled around the fort. Mr. Music’s entire family, except himself, was killed.

A white man was taken prisoner and forced to reveal the condition of the fort, etc. There were about thirty men in the garrison, under Captain George. Many of these were sick. They were reduced in supplies of food on account of those who had taken refuge there, and the destruction of their crops near by, by the Indians.

“In this condition, and under the lead of a Scotchman named Colbert, who had lived with and acquired a great influence over these Indians, they appeared in force, several hundred strong, and began a siege and attack upon the fort in the summer of 1781. After resistance of five days the respective leaders, Colbert and George, met under a flag of truce to try to agree on terms of capitulation, a summons to surrender within an hour having been refused. Terms could not be arranged, and the fighting was resumed. The issue was near at hand, as a messenger had been dispatched to Kaskaskia for aid. A desperate night assault was made by the Indians in force. "When they had advanced in short range and in close order, Captain George Owens, who commanded one of the block-houses, had the swivels loaded with rifle and musket balls, and fired them into the crowded ranks. The fire was very destructive and the slaughter excessive. The enemy, repulsed and disheatened, fell back to their camps.

"Soon after, Colonel Clark arrived with a relief force and the Chickasaw army gave up the siege. This fort was some time after abandoned, from its isolated position, and the difficulty of supplying so remote a garrison. The evacuation was the signal for peace, which was tacitly accepted by the Indians and faithfully observed by both parties after.”

[Z. F. Smith's Hist. Ky, 160-1]' Colbert

"The collapse of the Jacobite Uprising in Scotland, fomented by the Scottish adherents of James the Pretender, in 1715, and the ensuing years of reprisal exacted by the English, influenced the emigration to America of many of the grim Highlanders. The inflow continued for many years. The first contingent of these people to settle in Georgia arrived at Savannah, in January, 1736, and among these earliest arrivals was young Logan Colbert. He doubtless came with the party led by John Mohr McIntosh which sailed from Inverness, Scotland, on October 18, 1735, on the ship "Prince of Wales" commanded by Capt. George Dunbar. Soon after landing at Savannah, courageous young Colbert abandoned the white settlement, ventured to the far West and settled among the militant Chickasaw Indians who then ranged along the eastern banks of the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio to the vast stretches of the lower river. It was an adventurous undertaking and his life story, if known, doubtless

3 Among whom should be mentioned the late Charles D. Carter, for many years a Congressman from Oklahoma; Reford Bond, Chairman of the State Corporation Commission; Jessie R. Moore, a former Clerk of the State Supreme Court and today, a member of the Board of Directors of the State Historical Society and its Treasurer; Douglas H. Johnston, Governor of the Chickasaws since 1898, (with the exception of the term that Palmer S. Mosley was chief); Judge Earl Welch, a Supreme Court Justice; W. C. Lewis, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma; Ben Harrison, a Secretary of State; Otis Leader, a noted World War veteran; and former Governors Lee Cruce and William H. Murray, who became members of the Chickasaw Tribe by intermarriage. 4 The Indian Champion (Atoka, Indian Territory), April 18, 1885; H. F. O'Beirne, Leaders and Leading Men of the Indian Territory (Chicago, 1891), I, 209; H. B. Cushman, A History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians (Green. ville, 1899), 513 et seq. Under the new constitution the title of "Governor" was substituted for "Chief." Page 376

would be one of dramatic interest. He seems to have cultivated a sympathetic understanding with the Indians, married into the tribe and became a character of much prominence among them and a renowned leader in their wars against the French. The descendants of Logan Colbert in Oklahoma today, recall with much pride, the emigrant Scotch lad of the early days of the eighteenth century.5 He met a tragic death at the hands of a negro slave who was accompanying him on a trip back to Georgia.

Major William Colbert, a son of Logan Colbert, became a famous war chief among the Chickasaws and early in life took an active part in the political affairs of the tribe. He represented his people at Washington, upon numerous occasions, and in the very early days, was received by President Washington, in Philadelphia. At the solicitation of Washington he led a contingent of Chickasaw warriors in support of Gen. Anthony Wayne at the battle of Fallen Timbers, Ohio, on August 20, 1794, against Little Turtle and the Northwestern Confederation of Indians. Major Colbert served nine months in the 3rd Regiment of United States Infantry in the War of 1812, concluding his military career by an effective participation in the war against the recalcitrant Creeks. As a commissioner from the Chickasaws, he was a signer of the treaty of October 4, 1801,6 and the treaty at Washington, of September 20, 1816.7 By the terms of the latter treaty, he was granted an annuity of $100 for the remainder of his life and was also styled a major-general. He also signed the Chickasaw treaty of October 19, 1818.8 The major signed these treaties by mark, which would indicate his lack of any scholastic training, although he is recognized as a character of pronounced native courage, ability and fine judgment. Major Colbert married a Chickasaw Indian woman by the name of Mimey and lived at Tokshish, Mississippi. Find A Grave: Memorial #11787222

5 Though generally considered as a Scotch family, the Colberts were originally of French stock. 6 Kappler, op. cit., II, 55. 7 Ibid., II, 135 et seq. 8 Ibid., II, 174 et seq. Page 377

some four miles southeast of Monroe, and doubtless was largely instrumental in securing the establishment of the celebrated mission at that place. He was a contemporary of the famous Chief Piomingo of the Chickasaws, and passed away at an advanced age, sometime shortly before the Chickasaw removal of 1837-8.

An interesting character among the Chickasaws in Mississippi was Mollie,9 daughter of Major William Colbert. As a young woman she married Christopher Oxbury, a mixed-blood Chero-

9 The life story of Mollie Colbert, the attractive Indian princess daughter of Major William Colbert of the Chickasaws, is one of romantic interest. After the death of Christopher Oxbury, her Cherokee husband by whom she had several children, she married James G. Gunn, a wealthy English planter. Gunn was a native of Virginia, fought with the British in our war of the Revolution and after the war removed from Viriginia to the remote edge of white settlement and located among the Chickasaw Indians and in what is today Lee County, Mississippi. He never composed his disdain for the new United States Government and would suffer no observance of the Fourth of July to be held upon his plantation, although he thoughtfully observed the birthday of George III. He died in 1826. Rhoda, the only child of James and Mollie Gunn was famed as a celebrated beauty and of her engaging qualities much has been written. Perhaps the story which is handed on down, of her romantic marriage to Humming Bird, a Chickasaw warrior, is more or less legendary. From his home at Mill Creek, C. N., Gov. Cyrus Harris, on August 10, 1881, wrote an interesting letter to Harry Warren of the Mississippi Historical Society in which he narrates many interesting details, some of which divest the romance from this oft repeated story about the marriage of Rhoda. He says, "Molly Gunn, my grandmother, was the wife of the old man James Gunn, who died rich, leaving one child, Rhoda. She (Rhoda) died two years ago, on Red River (Indian Territory) at her half-sister's, who was my aunt, a full-sister of my mother and a half-sister of my Aunt Rhoda. My grandmother's first husband, my mother's father, was a Cherokee, named Oxberry. After his death, she married old man James G. Gunn. Rhoda married Samuel Colbert, a nice man, but they separated and she married Joseph Potts, a white man. He died during the Civil War (1862) by taking strychnine by mistake. He died at my house. Aunt Rhoda had two sons living, Taylor and Joseph Potts. Her first child by Sam Colbert was a girl named Susan. She married and went off and never was heard of since. Malcolm McGee was my step-father. He had one daughter by my mother and named her Jane. My sister Jane married Robt. Aldridge, a white man who lived at Tuscumbia, but after they came to this country (Indian Territory) he got so trifling she drove him off. He then went to Texas and died. They had one daughter who is yet living. Jane afterwards married a nice gentleman by the name of William R. Guy and soon after she and Mr. Guy were married they went after sister Jane's father, old man McGee, and had him with them at Boggy Depot, Chickasaw Nation, but he, being very old, lived but a few months after getting there. I saw the old man die and was at his funeral. Old man McGee was a little over one hundred years old when he died. He was a long time United States Interpreter for the Chickasaws and it was said he could beat the Chickasaws talking their own tongue. Mr. and Mrs. Guy had nine children when Mrs. Guy died at Boggy Depot. About a year after her demise, Mr. Guy died at Paris, Texas, being there on a visit." Harry Warren, "Chickasaw Traditions, Customs, etc.," Mississippi Historical Society Publications (Oxford, 1898-1914), VIII (1908) 546 n.; Harry Warren, "Missions, Missionaries, Frontier Characters and Schools," loc. cit., 587-8. E. T. Winston, "Father" Stuart and the Monroe Mission (Meridian, Miss., 1927), 50-51.

Among the nine children of Mr. and Mrs. William R. Guy above mentioned were William Malcolm Guy, who was born at Boggy Depot, on February 4, 1845, and was Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, in 1886-8; Cerena Guy, who married Ben W. Carter and became the mother of Hon. Charles D. Carter, a former congressman; and Mary Angelina Guy, who married Capt. Charles LeFlore and became the mother of Mrs. Lee Cruce, the wife of the second Governor of Oklahoma.

Mollie Gunn seems to have been a member of the Presbyterian Church at Monroe Mission, but the following disquieting notation appears in the old church records: "April 5, 1834, the following persons having been under suspension from the privileges of the church for a length of time and giving no evidence of repentance, but continuing impenitent, were solemnly excommunicated, viz: Mollie Gunn, Nancy Colbert, Sally Frazier, James B. Allen, Benjamin Love and Saiyo." Her father, Major Colbert, also appears to have run counter to church discipline as it appears from the same record, "September 7, 1834. Session convened and was constituted by prayer. Mr. William Colbert, a member and an elder of this church, having been cited to appear before the session to answer the charge of intemperance, appeared accordingly, and having confessed his sin, expressed deep contrition for the same, and promised amendment; the session resolved that it is a duty to forgive him after requiring him to make a public confession before the congregation and promising to abstain in the future. Concluded in prayer. T. C. Stuart, Mod. Examined and approved by Presbytery at Unity Church, March 7, 1835." The old major passed away a year or two later. See Winston, op. cit., 40-41.

It is of interest to know that the Chickasaws had no clans as did most of the other tribes, but were distinguished by distinctive House names, the ancestry being traced back through the mother. Mollie Colbert and her descendants were of the House of Inchus-sha-wah-ya. Page 378

kee, a proficient interpreter and a person of high standing among the Chickasaws. They lived upon her comfortable estate three miles south of Pontotoc, Mississippi, where her daughter Elizabeth or Betty was born. Her interesting home stood upon an ancient mound, the highest point in that part of the State, and surrounded by 1,000 acres of beautiful table-land. All of her children were born there as well as her famous grandson, Cyrus Harris, who was born there on August 22, 1817. The identity of the father of Cyrus Harris is somewhat confused. He is reputed to have been a white man by the name of Harrison, the name being subsequently shortened to Harris. Elizabeth's marriage to him was of brief duration, as she soon left him and returned to the home of her mother, where her son, Cyrus Harris, was born. The father declined to remove with the Chickasaws, at first, although he later attempted to join his son in the old Indian Territory. Cyrus Harris declined to have anything to do with him. Elizabeth married Malcolm McGee, very shortly but again returned to her mother at

Malcolm McGee, of Scotch parentage who had recently emigrated from Scotland, was born in New York City about 1757, his father having been killed shortly before, at the battle of Ticonderoga, in the French and Indian War where he fought with the Colonial troops. While he was quite young, his mother removed to and settled on the north bank of the Ohio River, in southern Illinois, at Ft. Massac, and immediately across the river from the Chickasaw country. McGee had no schooling, but served as an interpreter among the Chickasaws, for forty years. It is said, "He assumed the Indian costume and conformed to all their customs except their polygamy." He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Christopher and Mollie Oxbury as his second wife, about 1819, and had one daughter, Jane. Shortly thereafter Elizabeth left him, taking the child with her. The mother later returned the child and she was placed by McGee in the home of Dr. T. C. Stuart, to be educated at Monroe Mission. In 1849, Malcolm McGee removed from Mississippi to the old Indian Territory, where he lived at the home of his daughter, Jane (Mrs. William R. Guy), at Boggy Depot, and where he died on November 5, 1849. Cyrus Harris became the guardian of their minor children whom he reared and educated. For further details, see Winston op. cit., 84 et seq., and Cushman, op cit., 509 et. seq." [1]


Unsourced date given as 1827 or 1836.


  • Fact: Burial Pontotoc City Cemetery, Pontotoc, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, USA



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Twenty-five years ago I wrote an article in The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal entitled, "James Logan Colbert of the Chickasaws: The Man and the Myth." It appeared in the May 1994 and Feb 1995 issues. You have my permission to import this article to this site and James Colbert's site and any other Chickasaw Colbert site. Richard A. Colbert, [email address removed]

posted by Richard Colbert