Carroll County, Arkansas was Osage territory, ~Boone County was formed

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Boone County
Region: Northwest
County Seat: Harrison
Established: April 9, 1869
Parent Counties: Carroll, Marion
Population: 36,903 (2010 Census)
Area: 591.2 square miles (2000 Census)
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:





































Population Characteristics as per the 2010 U.S. Census:



African American



American Indian






Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander



Some Other Race



Two or More Races



Hispanic Origin (may be of any race)



Population Density

62.4 people per square mile

Median Household Income (2009)


Per Capita Income (2005–2009)


Percent of Population below Poverty Line (2009)


Located in the Ozark Mountain highlands, Boone County has endured struggles from its creation. Political, racial, and union conflicts have drawn national attention, often overshadowing the contributions of the county’s residents and businesses

Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood
Although they had no communities in the area, the Osage had claims to what would become Boone County until an 1808 treaty, and they often hunted there. Part of Boone County was in a Cherokee reservation which existed from 1818 to 1828. Most of the Cherokee lived further south in the reservation, away from the Osage presence to the north.

During this time, many name and boundary changes occurred. Becoming part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase, the area was part of Missouri Territory in 1812 when Louisiana was admitted as a state. When Arkansas became a territory, the area was part of Lawrence and Izard counties before Carroll County was established in 1833. The land that became Boone County had a small strip in Marion County and a much larger portion in Carroll County. The Arkansas legislature created Boone County from Carroll in 1869 and added the Marion County portion in 1875.

Native Americans, forced into Indian Territory along the Trail of Tears, crossed the land when it was part of Carroll County. A post office was established in 1836 at Crooked Creek, the town that would become Harrison. Some Arkansas residents gathered their wagons at Beller’s Stand, near Caravan Springs south of present-day Harrison, to head toward California where they intended to buy land and build new lives. However, their journey came to an abrupt end when, on September 11, 1857, a mob of Mormons ambushed the caravan at Mountain Meadows, Utah, and killed most of the people. The event is known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Civil War through Reconstruction
The Civil War hit the border region hard. The region, originally against secession, eventually joined the rest of the state in secession. Families divided: some fought for the Union, some for the Confederacy. Bushwhackers and jayhawkers (both often referred to as bushwhackers in this area) were a problem. Confederates gathered to plan and execute raids into Missouri. The Union destroyed Dubuque and its niter works, and the town never recovered. On Crooked Creek, Union forces destroyed a powder mill. Many people fled to Missouri, and the area’s population decreased.

After the war, residents petitioned the legislature to divide Carroll County. The legislature created Boone County on April 9, 1869. Land was taken from Marion County on the east and Carroll County on the west. Boone County’s northern boundary was designated part of the state line separating Arkansas from Missouri. Although no documentation supports it, the most widely quoted belief is that the county was named for frontiersman Daniel Boone. But some say the name is a misspelling of boon, because it was thought that the creation of a county would be a boon to residents.

Lines drawn between residents during the Civil War often resurfaced in the new county. When the county seat was selected, it was not in the established town of Bellefonte but in the new town of Harrison, where Confederate beliefs were not as strong. Towns developed. Lead Hill grew up near the site of what had been Dubuque. Smelters were built to process lead from the area. With the popularity of the healing waters in Eureka Springs in Carroll County, Boone County’s Elixir Springs was promoted.

Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age
The post-Reconstruction era began with the resurgence of conflict between the former Confederates and the Republicans that controlled Boone County. The ex-Confederates attempted to move the county seat from Republican-controlled Harrison to Bellefonte. After a countywide vote, it remained at Harrison.

Lead and zinc mines began to appear. Fruit crops consisted of peaches, pears, plums, and the popular “Boone County apples.” Cotton was a big cash crop until declining prices cut production in half.

Early Twentieth Century
The 1900s brought change with the arrival of the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad. The railroads provided easier access to the county. Towns developed along the tracks, and existing towns grew. Alpena Pass requested a post office in 1901. Farmers grew more crops to sell because they had access to a larger number of buyers. Lumber became a big part of the economy as lumber mills and woodworking facilities appeared along the tracks. The production of cream started a new economic endeavor. When the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railroad set its tracks into Bergman, Boone County experienced an influx of people. By 1912, the Missouri and North Arkansas line had moved its headquarters to Harrison.

The African-American population, which had shown limited growth in each census since 1870, decreased from 142 in 1900 to seven in 1910. The sudden change was attributed to race riots that occurred in Harrison, which were thought to have been caused by the arrival of workers constructing the new rail line. Also, the quick conviction of a young black man for the assault of an elderly white woman brought a rapid decline in the black population of the county. Soon, establishments providing higher wages for black workers closed. By the time the convicted man was hanged, most black citizens had fled the county. No black residents were listed on the 1940 census.

World War I led to an increase in mining. Lead and zinc were needed for the war effort. Railroads allowed shipping from the region. The mining of zinc in Northern Arkansas, which included Boone County, tripled, peaking by 1917. The increase in production and the arrival of miners contributed to the county’s economy. Boone County men answered the call to fight in Europe. As in the rest of the nation, Liberty Bond rallies were held. Women knitted socks and sweaters to be sent to servicemen.

The county garnered national attention on February 18, 1921, when Henry Starr and accomplices tried to rob the Peoples National Bank in Harrison. Starr was shot by former bank president W. J. Myers and died four days later from the wound. Later that month, a strike of the Missouri and North Arkansas line occurred when workers protested reduced wages. Anger toward strike breakers resulted in threats and assaults. Trains were derailed, bridges were destroyed, and union officials were ordered out of town. Forced into receivership, the line was sold, and it reopened with lower wages. The strike continued, ending in 1923, when a mob hanged Ed Gregor on a railroad bridge and other strikers left town. More positive national attention appeared when Earl Rowland, pioneer aviator from Valley Springs, won an air race, the Ford Reliability Tour, in 1925.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Harrison was home to district headquarters for the Arkansas Highway Commission. Canning factories processed locally grown vegetables. Tourism increased as visitors hiked the Hemmed-in Hollow trail and toured Diamond Cave in neighboring Newton County. A levee was built to contain Crooked Creek, which occasionally overflowed. Bridges and roads were built, and some roads were widened. But the hard times forced many families to seek jobs outside the county.

World War II through the Faubus Era
Boone County resident Jack Williams posthumously received the Medal of Honor for courageous action at Iwo Jima during World War II. Progress followed World War II as a natural gas line was brought into Harrison and an airport was built. Duncan Parking Meter Company (today Duncan Parking Technology) moved to Boone County in 1947. They continue to produce parking meters that are used across North America. The voter-approved hospital was completed in 1950, the same year a garment factory located in the county. A food-processing plant followed. Livestock and lumber were the primary economic producers. Chalkboard maker Claridge Products and Equipment, Inc., moved to Boone County in 1955. Pace Industries, a die-casting facility, incorporated in its present location in Boone County in 1970.

A dam on the White River was completed in 1951, resulting in Bull Shoals reservoir and the relocation of Lead Hill and two highways. Diamond City grew at the edge of Bull Shoals Lake. After years of problems, strikes, and changes in ownership and names, the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad closed.

County residents took an active part in political life. John Paul Hammerschmidt was elected Third District congressman in 1967. He served twenty-four years. J. Frank Holt served as state attorney general in 1961. After his resignation, Jack Holt Jr. completed the term; he became chief justice of Arkansas in 1985.

Modern Era
With a continually increasing population came educational and economic benefits. Voters approved the creation of North Arkansas Community College, now North Arkansas College. Tyson Foods constructed a feed mill in Bergman to handle the increase in poultry production and provide for more growers. The building of a regional distribution center for the U.S. Postal Service created more jobs. Dogpatch USA, an amusement park in Newton County, helped Boone County’s tourism industry. The Buffalo River headquarters is located in Harrison and draws many tourists to the area each year.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), based in Harrison, drew national attention to Boone County in the late 1980s and 1990s. Conflicts began when Thom Robb was elected grand wizard. Stories of the purchase of land for a headquarters at Zinc, national meetings, and the request to adopt a one-mile section of U.S. 65 kept the county in the news. Although the KKK participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program from August 1993 to July 1997, it has ceased participation.

The economy still is driven by agriculture and wood products, as well as service and manufacturing. The top three employers are FedEx Freight, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, and Pace Industries, an aluminum-die-casting company. In 2004, it ranked sixth in the state in beef cattle. The area draws many retirees. Tourism continues to play a role in the economy; travelers venture into Boone County as they head north on U.S. 65 to Branson, Missouri, or take a leisurely drive along Arkansas Scenic 7.

For additional information:
Boone County Historian. Harrison, AR: Boone County Historical and Railroad Society (2003–).

Boone County Historical and Railroad Society. History of Boone County. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Co., 1998.

Blevins, Brooks. Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Hanley, Ray, and Diane Hanley. The Postcard History Series: Carroll and Boone County, Arkansas. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 1999.

Rea, Ralph R. Boone County and Its People. Van Buren, AR: Press-Argus, 1955.

C. J. Miller
Springdale, Arkansas

Related Butler Center Lesson Plans:
Naming our Counties (Grades 2-8)Last Updated 8/9/2011

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Carroll County, Arkansas

Carroll County, Arkansas

  • Formed: November 1, 1833
  • County Population 1860: 9,053
  • Slave Population 1860: 330
  • Civil War Engagements
    – Skirmish at Carrollton, January 10, 1863
    – Skirmish at Crooked Creek, February 5, 1864
    – Suffered constant guerrilla warfare
Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas, 1865
Image courtesy of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Before white settlement, Carroll County, Arkansas was traditionally Osage territory. In the 1800s, the Osage shared the area with the Cherokee and Choctaws who were pushed into the area from the Southeastern United States. White settlement began in earnest in the 1830s, most coming from the mountains in Tennessee and Kentucky. Early settlers included William and Charles Sneed and Louis Russell, William Coker, David Williams, Martin, John, and Samuel Standridge, Jerry and Jacob Meeks, Squire and Richard Blevins, George Stone, and Robert Dawson.

Carroll County is located on the Missouri-Arkansas border in the Northwestern part of the state. Fresh water sources are plentiful and include King’s River, Dry Creek, Indian Creek, White River, Osage Creek, Long Creek, and Yocum Creek. Prairies, including Big Prairie and Scott’s Prairie, provide abundant grazing land for livestock. The area contains natural silver and iron deposits, and the soil is suitable for growing wheat and corn.

Carroll County was officially established on November 1, 1833. It was named after Charles Carroll, of Carrollton Tennessee, who was among those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Burnnett Cheatham and John S. Blair were in charge of naming the county seat and established it at Carrollton. There were several prominent citizens during the county’s early years. Henderson Lafferty helped Carrollton’s development. Squire Wilson Ashbury built the first ferry across the White River, a quarry to supply building stone to Carroll and surrounding counties, and built Beaver Inn (later renamed Riverside Inn). Blackburn Henderson Berry settled in present day Berryville, which was the county’s second county seat. Arthur A. Baker became the first doctor in the county and donated land for the first public school. Jacob Meek helped save several important documents from destruction during the Civil War and later became Berryville’s mayor. Tilford Denton became court clerk, county treasurer, and fought in the Civil War as a Captain-Quartermaster in the Carroll County Militia. He also donated land for the public school. James Fancher served in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

When the Civil War began, most Carroll County residents sided with the Confederacy and voted for secession. Slavery was not a huge issue in Carroll County, but most residents could not fathom going to war with other Southern states. The Carroll County Home Guard formed shortly after Arkansas seceded, and formed four companies under H.B. Fletcher, J.H. Pittman, John Denney, and Leander Hayhurst respectively. These companies took part in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Greene County, Missouri. Carroll County men also took part in several other regiments. These included: Company E, 16th Arkansas Mounted Infantry under Captain W.S. Poynor, Company D, 16th Arkansas Mounted Infantry, and Companies K and G, First Regiment Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry under Captain Rowan E.M. Mack and Captain Theodore Youngblood respectively. These regiments took part in the Battle of Pea Ridge in Benton County in March, 1862.

There were many Carroll County residents who refused to take part in the war at all, for either army. They formed the Arkansas Peace Society, sometimes called the Peace Organization Society, which advocated resistance to either army in Carroll and other Arkansas Counties. Several members of this society were arrested in 1861, and the organization disbanded. Several years after the war ended a fierce political debate erupted as the location for the new county seat. The issue was resolved through an election in which Berryville was declared the county seat in 1875. A courthouse was constructed in 1880. A newspaper, the Carroll County Bowlder, was the first printed in the county. It was printed in Carrollton in late 1874 and later moved to Berryville. Carrollton High School, Fairview Academy, and HYPERLINK “″ Clarke’s Academy provided education in Carroll County. The use of mineral springs in the western part of the county in 1879 brought a rapid population increase in the area. Individuals seeking the healing powers of its waters made Eureka Springs a thriving community.

Browse all collections in Carroll County

  • Consulted:
  • Jim Lairr, An Outlander’s History of Carroll County, Arkansas, 1830-1983 (Berryville, AR: Carroll County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1983).
  • “Carroll County”, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, (Little Rock, AR: Central Arkansas Library System), accessed on 3 November 2010,

1900 United States Federal Census about James L Hughey

Name: James L Hughey
[James L Richardson Hughey]
Home in 1900: Sugar Loaf, Boone, Arkansas
[Boone, Arkansas]
Age: 29
Birth Date: Aug 1870
Birthplace: Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Father’s Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother’s Birthplace: Tennessee
Spouse’s Name: Melissa Hughey
Marriage year: 1891
Marital Status: Married
Years married: 9
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
James L Hughey 29
Melissa Hughey 27
Offa H Hughey 7
Auddie M Hughey 5
Ollie J Hughey 3
Almus Hughey 1/12

View original image

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Sugar Loaf, Boone, Arkansas; Roll: T623_51; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 32.

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Cabarrus County is located in the south central section of the state, and it is bordered by the North Carolina counties of Stanly, Union, Mecklenburg, Iredell, and Rowan.  The county was formed in 1792 from part of Mecklenburg County. It was named in honor of Stephen Cabarrus of Edenton, who was a member of the North Carolina State Legislature several times, and Speaker of the House of Commons four times. In 1795 an act was passed naming commissioners to erect a courthouse on the land of Samuel Huie (Hughey) which had already been selected as a proper place for the county seat. They were ordered to lay out the town of Concord, which was incorporated in 1806.

Notes by mlcg Rowan and Note Rowan and Cabarrus are adjoining counties, and it is probably  a connection, 10.17.2010


UGHEY, HENRY                NTL                           NC-80-D-190HUGHEY, JACOB                NTL                           NC-80-C-1HUGHEY, ROBERT               NTL                            NC-80-E-102HUGHEY, SAMUEL               NTL                           NC-80-H-623HUGHEY, SAMUEL               NTL                           NC-80-D-168HUGHS, TIMOTHY               NTL                           NC-80-C-3 /tabid/1191/Default.aspx

In April of 1753 a petition bearing 348 names from the inhabitants of the western section of the Colony of North Carolina requested that a new county be formed. This county sectioned out from Anson included all land that lay in the Granville Tract north to the Virginia line and was essentially boundless to the west extending to the ‘South Sea’ (Pacific Ocean) or more practically to the Mississippi. Lord Granville’s land was north of the current Rowan County southern boundary and at its eastern end included two-thirds of what is now Guilford County. Not until 1840 did the county reach its present configuration, so for 87 years Rowan was one of the largest and most important counties in North Carolina.

These early residents of Rowan had come primarily from Pennsylvania and Virginia down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road through the Shenandoah Valley, past Pilot Mountain into the fertile land near the Yadkin River. They were primarily of Scotch-Irish or German extraction. The Scotch-Irish settled primarily in the west and north western sections of the county beginning in the 1740s. The German settlers arrived a few years later establishing communities in the south eastern portion of the county. There were fewer African-Americans in the western portion of North Carolina than the east, but both slave and free blacks appear in the records from the 1750’s on. The primary benefit of the county was to provide a location for a court house nearer than that of Anson to those colonists in the Western part of the state. Our court records begin in June of 1753.

Rowan, the western frontier of the thriving American colony in the 1740’s and 50’s, continued to play an important roll as the nation developed. Rowan and its neighboring county Mecklenburg, with their strong Scotch-Irish Presbyterian bend towards independence and liberty, became the “hornets nest” of the rebellious southern colonies in the War for Independence. The Rowan Resolves declaring the citizens’ support of the town of Boston in its bid against the injustices of the British Crown was the beginning of the Revolution for North Carolina.

Renowned scholars, preachers, patriots and statesmen began careers here. Elizabeth Maxwell Steel restored hope to General Nathanael Greene by supplying money to the Patriot Cause. She was also the mother of John Steele, who was to become the first comptroller of the United States appointed by George Washington and retained by the next two presidents. Spruce Macay, attorney and judge, taught William R. Davie and Andrew Jackson both instrumental in the early years of our republic. Judge Richard Henderson, founder of the Transylvania Company and a colonial judge, along with, Daniel Boone, began their explorations of the western lands that would become Tennessee and Kentucky right here in Rowan around the year 1775. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, Presbyterian minister and educator was president and teacher of the Salisbury Academy in the early 1790’s.

Judge Richard Henderson, founder of the Transylvania Company, along with Daniel Boone, began their explorations of the western lands that would become Tennessee and Kentucky right here in Rowan. Renowned scholars, preachers, patriots and statesmen began careers here. Elizabeth Maxwell Steel restored hope to General Nathanael Greene by supplying money to the Patriot Cause. She was also the mother of John Steele, who was to become the first comptroller of the United States appointed by George Washington and retained by the next two presidents. Spruce Macay, attorney and judge, taught William R. Davie and Andrew Jackson.

As advocates increased representation for the Western part of North Carolina in state government, Charles Fisher urged support for Calhoun and Jackson through the newspaper The Western Carolinian, founded in 1820. The Carolina Watchman, established in 1832, was created as an anti-Jackson Paper. Both papers were based in Salisbury and served the Western half of the state.

No history of Rowan would be complete without mentioning a few tidbits about industrial development. Gold was discovered in 1799 by John Reed and a booming mining town prospered in the mid 1800’s at Gold Hill. Transportation was an important consideration as well. In 1850 sixteen plank road companies included the Salisbury and Taylorsville Plank Road were chartered. Plank roads were later abandoned in lieu of railroads. Noted Salisburians, Charles F. Fisher, who became president of the Western North Carolina Railroad, John Ellis, Nathaniel Boyden and Burton Craige all took an interest in this growing industry. In August of 1860 Fisher had completed the railroad up to 13 miles east of Morganton.

In May of 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union and the Confederacy sought a site in Rowan for a military prison. An old cotton mill near the railroad line proved to be a splendid location. In the early part of the war, prisoners were well cared for and even indulged in baseball as is recorded by Otto Boetticher. His drawing at Salisbury Confederate Prison is the first drawing ever of a baseball game in America. Later when the prison became overcrowded and the death rate rose from 2% to 28%, mass graves were used to accommodate the dead. The area of the prison is now a National Cemetery and continues to be a place of historical interest.

Rowan has produced supporters of education from the beginning of its existence. Davidson College owes much of its stature to the men of Rowan who founded and supported it, among them Maxwell Chambers. Many with ties to early Rowan were instrumental in the creation of the University of North Carolina as well. From the small but vital academies like Crowfield and the Female Academy to the Freedman’s School funded by the Friends Philadelphia Freedman’s Aid Society, the Crescent and later Livingstone and Catawba Colleges, education remained vital. Continuing into the 20th century Rowan was the home of renowned educator and women’s rights activist Elizabeth Duncan Koontz. Koontz was the first black elected president of the National Education Association and, under President Nixon, the first black director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Woman’s Bureau.

The years after the Civil War saw slow growth in industry. Farming as well as tobacco and cotton factories were predominant in the 1880’s. Along with the textile mills, Rowan saw lumber, saw and grist mills prosper. From the Civil War to 1908 the liquor distilling industry flourished as well. In the early 1900’s, the Southern Railroad roundhouse and Spencer shops created a great deal of prosperity for Spencer and other sections of Rowan County. Entrepreneurs founded successful companies such as Stanback, Cheerwine, Food Lion and Power Curbers.

Rowan was home to North Carolina’s great hero Colonel Charles F. Fisher, for whom Fort Fisher is named and who gallantly died on the field at Manassas. His daughter, Frances Fisher Tiernan, better known as writer Christian Reid, later penned the epitaph of North Carolina, the Land of Sky. Other intriguing characters in Rowan’s history include Peter Stewart Ney, Otto Wood, Theo Buerbaum, Elizabeth Dole, Sydney Blackmer, Skinnay Ennes, and Bobby Jackson. Rowan County continues to play an important role in the unfolding history of both North Carolina and the nation.

Please click on the links below to access the Rowan Public Library movie series about the history of Rowan County – Check for available copies of A Ramble Through Rowan’s History.

In colonial times, and even later, county boundaries were not always well-defined in frontier areas. Also, new piedmont counties were being created rapidly during the 1700’s, and county lines changed again and again during this process. In addition, families sometimes lived very close to another county and may have gone there for various reasons. It is good genealogical practice to check records in the neighboring counties for your families.

1850 United States Federal Census
about Ezekiel Hughey

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Keetoowah Society Factions

also see Modern-day Keetoowah Denominations

also seeRedbird Smith Story (factions)

also see Smith, Redbird – Cherokee religious and political leader – from Encyclopedia of North American Indians


also seeBURNING PHOENIX: A Study of the Federal Acknowledgment, Reorganization and Survival of THE UNITED KEETOOWAH BAND OF CHEROKEE INDIANS IN OKLAHOMA, and of CHEROKEE NATION OF OKLAHOMA’S Efforts to Terminate the Band ALLOGAN SLAGLE, FOR THE UKB: 1993


As taught by John Red Hat Duke, a Longhair Clan elder of the Original Keetoowah Society aka “Nighthawk Keetoowahs”

“Friendly relations were established between the members of the various tribes hitherto at variance, except in the case of the Cherokees. The ancient feuds among this people are remembered still.” From “AGREEMENT WITH THE CHEROKEE AND OTHER TRIBES IN THE INDIAN TERRITORY, 1865.” may be viewed here

In the world today, there are many who claim to be “Cherokee” who the old ones might have shunned. Ones such as these. But then there has been altogether too much shunning. Many close family members have not spoken to each other in generations… and over what? Over arguments about the Creator, that’s what… arguments which are so silly, because we all at times seem to have forgotten rule #1: Don’t’ argue about Creator!

Misguided people like these, seemingly have no foundation in the Old Ways. One may wonder; do they to speak out of turn out of pure selfishness, or to get gain or power over the minds of the people?  What is at the very basis of all the misunderstanding and the confusion it has caused for so many years amongst all the differing and even feuding factions of the Cherokee Nation (and it seems to be only styling of the name of our nation that the political type of Cherokees could agree on at one time) — its clans, families, bands and individual renegades?

The sad thing is (by this point in time) that these people who seem to be so misguided at this time are only repeating what they were taught by their elders — and are just dutifully doing their jobs as they learned them — otherwise who would have to have taught them such hateful things? They don’t really know any better, so it is our word against theirs… love against hate – just as it was when we killed off the Ani’-Kuta’ni ancient Priestly clan before Columbus arrived.

The Cherokee are still fighting an internal war between factions of kinfolks (as was prophesied long ago) and the Original Keetoowah Society, The Nighthawk Keetoowahs – in order to fulfill its obligation to see that the Cherokee people do not cease to exist, which in turn will assure that all of humanity will not cease to exist – are exposing these wrongdoings and calling for our kinfolk to stop telling falsehoods to the people.

The Stokes Smith stompground reputedly (as no one seems to be able to even agree on that) was the original grounds in Oklahoma – near Vian, Oklahoma. After the death of Redbird Smith, his sons had serious disagreements amongst themselves, and in (sad but true) Cherokee fashion, they went their separate ways. Many (20 or so) separate “stomp grounds” and “fires” were established in Oklahoma – and it was well known that similar stompgrounds and fires existed in Mexico, Texas, and all over the eastern United States – wherever Cherokee people lived and continue to live who evaded capture and/or assimilation into white culture – buthad to hide the practice of their religion (which included the Stomp Dance) up until fairly recently.

The selfish action on the part of the sons of Redbird Smith and their descendants has caused much loss of our religious culture.

Redbird Smith, in his time, recognized other “fires” other than those in Oklahoma… specifically recognizing the “fires” in Missouri where it was illegal to be an Indian – on pain of death if you didn’t have a pass signed by the governor. Those statutes were never repealed by Missouri – just dropped from the Missouri law books. Many Indians were hung publicly even after the turn of the 20th century.

Today, there are one or more people who some of the Keetoowah factional members call “Chief” who would contradict the decision made by Chief William Smith and the Keetoowah Society Council in the early 1980s – would contradict the decision of another Cherokee denomination that their denomination split off from — and thereby give people unfamiliar with Keetoowah Society hstory the idea that there are no others among the Cherokee religious traditionalists that should be listened to… chief among them the Original Keetoowah Society.

The decision to allow the photographing of parts of the Stomp Dance and parts of other ceremonies was made by the Original Keetoowah Society council in the early 1980s. The pipe smoking was filmed, and the wampum belts were shown and sermons were filmed. These “Chiefs” nowadays seemingly act like the Original Keetoowah Society Council’s decision to allow filming never occurred. They seemingly would have you ignorant of these facts. Interestingly, one “Chief” that has spoken out – crossing Cherokee denominational lines – is employed by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma as a “linguist.” George Stopp is only the nominal chief of ONE of the factions amongst the Keetoowahs.  His faction, according to what he has said publicly, apparently teaches that theirs is the ONLY Cherokee religion and has in their possession the only “sacred fire.” Imagine a white church claiming to have the only true religion and what do you have? The Mormons; the Catholics; Islam – all fighting amongst each other — and some to the death.

Some people have forgotten that the Sacred fire is portable and “splitable” and was moved here from the east by the Natchez people and Redbird Smith obtained it from them by and by, but that is another story.  The fire was actually split by Stokes Smith (Redbird’s 8th son) when he disagreed with Redbird’s and the Council’s decision to venerate Jesus, and went and founded another grounds and ironically named it after his father!

The Cherokee religion of old was and still is a religion of love, inclusiveness and diversity. Politics has entered into our religion and we say this to those who would destroy it: “Tell them they lie!”

Even though the Policy Analyst for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has said that they as a political entity have no business dictating who may stomp dance, but on the other hand sneak in a dig that religious leaders would never give permission for the dance to be held “outside of the communities in which the Cherokee people reside” as if there are no Cherokees in North Carolina where they were state and later federally recognized; Arkansas where they are federally recognized, Mexico where they are federally recognized, and in Georgia and Alabama where they are state recognized… as if the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is the only bunch of Cherokee in the entire world… when in fact the United Keetooowah Band was federally recognized many years before the “Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma” was ever thought of. Ah, some people in Tahlequah have certainly learned the skills of rumor, innuendo, and circumlocution very well from some lowly white politicians… or maybe even from some even more lowly Cherokee politicians.

Not that all Cherokee politicians are bad hearted… some believe, and properly so, that in today’s world the only way they may personally help the people with programs is by entering politics, and so be it… as long as they don’t forget who they are serving… and not start serving themselves… as many have done and still do – as politicians in general do.

Many Keetoowah Indnias have to tribal affiliation a all.. no access to legal standing as Indianas owing to an earlier stand to not involve themselves in political affairs e.g.  no access to Indian Child Welfare.

Political discussion should be fostered — and encouraged to INCLUDE all Cherokees in the political process… and each side (UKB/CNO) should decide to quickly find common ground — because the Cherokee people are suffering. We have suffered internal strife since ancient times. Do you remember the 14 years Cherokee suffered after the Trail of Tears while politicians wrangled over the payments of the 5 millions of dollars owed us in settlement for our lands in the east? The poor Cherokee people starved and froze while the politicians argued and lived in luxury.

Recently, even though the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s Policy Analyst said publicly that the CNO has no business dictating religious policy, but they seemed to go ahead and do it anyway – an old lawyer’s courtroom trick. All the controversy, it would seem was over Sam Sizemore running a Stompdance in Kentucky — where so many Chickamauga people, many being descendants of Cornblossom, hid out in the hills and evaded capture during the removal period. Many Chickamauga childen were massaced at Ywahoo Falls. The Keetoowah Indians and the Chickamaugas lived side by side on the old Arkansas reservation with the Western Cherokees who organized a traditional government along AniKituwaghi lines, so we certainly have affinity among us. George Lowry made that clear in his letter to the Eastern Cherokee.

ICARE Radio had so much fear over this issue, that they even went so far as to put words in Sam Sizemore’s mouth (and even change his identity to the other Sizemore, Donald – who publishes the book Cherokee Clothing. Obfuscation is an old trick used by some lawyers and politicians… Politician use the old trick “Well the people who reported to us” blah blah blah… that’s just like the white politicians and media people when they say “We have it from a reliable inside-the-beltway source” ad infinitum, ad nauseaum… and none of that tripe would make it in a court if law because it is just third party “he said she said” hearsay… but some Cherokee people seem to love to buy into “hearsay.” That’s the way some people stir up trouble, and it makes you wonder who they are working for… the BIA, the CIA, the the truth is that “Cherokees are their own worst enemies” as Chief D.L Hicks of the Texas Cherokees liked to say when he came and danced with the Keetoowahs.

You may read George Stopp’s statement below, where he reveals to the world the existence of the various factions of the Keetoowahs. Please be aware that George Stopp, in his statement, disagrees with a 20 year old decision of the Original Keetoowah Society Council, then led by Chief William Smith. When George Stopp says “I have no knowledge” he may want the world to believe that he speaks for all Keetoowahs, which he most certainly does not.

Sam Sizemore doesn’t have George Stopp’s permission, it is clear, but Sam Sizemore may indeed have been properly trained by other Keetoowahs with a much less biased connection with ancient Keetoowah religious traditions. George Stopp has no more say over what the Original Keetowah Society says and does than the Lutheran Church Bishop has over the Vatican Pope.

George Stopp contacted us at one time, and offered to open a dialog, and we offered to open that dialog, but he has never bothered to answer our follow up emails or phone calls.

Here is Richard Allen’s (Policy analyst for the Cherokee Nation) statement copied from here:

“The Cherokee Nation does not have authority to give permission to anyone to do a stomp dance. The spiritual essence of the Cherokee people are maintained at what people refer to in English as the “stomp grounds.” There is a separation between the government of the Cherokee Nation and the spiritual practice of the Cherokee people similar to a separation between church and state. It would be unreasonable and unthinkable for any of the leaders of the spiritual organizations to authorize anyone to do a stomp dance outside of the communities in which the Cherokee people reside. They would not authorize a dance for education purposes outside of their own domains.

The Original Keetoowah Society, or “Nighthawk Keetoowahs,” has from ancient times taught that NO group of Keetoowahs or Cherokees “owns” the Sacred Fire. Redbird Smith once encouraged our religion to flourish — as a signatory to the Moberly (Missouri Cherokees)  Constitution — and some of his descendants still encourage Cherokees everywhere to participate in the Cherokee religion, of which our dances and ceremonies are but a part. Our religion is a religion of love, period.

If you as an elder have been taught in the past (as so many Chickamauga elders have been instructed) how to properly officiate in any of our Dances or Festivals, please feel free to communicate this part of our culture to the younger generation.


Modern-day Keetoowah Denominations

Yes, each stompgrounds has a few little differences, because each is their own denomination. Stokes Smith Ceremonial Ground is Keetoowah Society; Redbird Smith Ceremonial Ground is Nighthawk Keetoowah, and Long Valley Ceremonial Ground is Kituwah Association (although all claim Nighthawk to some extent and that is another story). We have two other stompgrounds which are not Keetoowah, but are Four Mothers Society.

It would be very difficult and take many years for stompgrounds to sprout back up…..the ground must have the Sacred Fire, which was carried West from our homelands by four firecarriers. A ‘new’ stompground cannot exist without the actual Sacred Fire being moved to it. There are those who do NOT have the Sacred Fire, and we call them exhibition or practice grounds. Each ground must have a medicine person. We realize that medicine people have been trained since birth, which is a term that makes implications of all sorts of rituals, procedures, and regimens. A hundred years ago when we still had 22 ceremonial grounds, Redbird Smith spent his life traveling in wagon from ground to ground to oversee them. He was the ceremonial chief of the Nighthawk, and each individual fire had a firekeeper and captains, the ground operates under the mother ground. New stompgrounds far away would be hard to monitor, and assist. Medicine men would be unwilling to move from our communities and families. It will take people coming home to the ancient Sacred Fires, and spending their time learning, and raising their children in these churches, so that their children can fulfill these roles in their own homelands someday. That is the only way I see it possible.

There are very certain protocols that sometimes differ, but for the most part, they do not. The fires are all from the Sacred Fire, and they are rekindled the same by each ground. Only the ceremonial Chief and the firekeeper is allowed to even touch the wood. No woman who has not reached menopause, must EVER touch the wood for this fire. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But remember, raising your children in this way WILL make it happen.

There is a Stomp ground in the Big Cove community on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Qualla Boundary. It is run by Walker Calhoun. – Aginni

Smith, Redbird



Cherokee religious and political leader

Redbird Smith was born in the Cherokee Nation just west of Fort Smith, Arkansas, to a Cherokee father and a half-Cherokee, half-German mother. His father, Pig Redbird Smith, was a blacksmith—thus the name Smith. Smith grew up in a highly conservative family, but by the 1850s most traditional Cherokee institutions had disintegrated. The clan system and the division of the political arena into White (peace) and Red (war) moieties had all but disappeared. Christianity had replaced the traditional tribal priesthood and community religious ceremonies. The sacred fires were no longer maintained; the stomp dances were no longer performed. Even the tribal wampum belts had been entrusted to the elected chief, John Ross. The only Cherokee religious rites still actively practiced were those related to healing, conjuring, and witchcraft. In most ways, the lifestyle of even the traditional tribesmen bore more resemblance to that of their white neighbors in Arkansas than to that of their ancestors.

Despite these changes, however, the western Cherokees were a deeply divided people. “Full-blood,” Cherokee-speaking families lived primarily as subsistence farmers and hunters. They formed the core of a group that resisted further cultural change. Opposing them were acculturated, “mixed-blood” families, whose leaders were usually wealthy slave owners. Their plantation lifestyle was indistinguishable from that of wealthy southern whites. The two groups had divided in the 1830s over the issue of removal to Indian Territory. The “mixed-blood” leaders had signed the removal treaty of New Echota in 1835, and the “full bloods” had been forced west. In the years immediately following the removal, a virtual civil war of recrimination and revenge had raged within the Cherokee Nation. With the approach of the American Civil War, political issues imposed on the Cherokees from outside once again amplified the differences between these two groups.

In 1859 a white Baptist missionary, Evan Jones, revived the Keetoowah Society. The purpose of this secret society was to reestablish the moral life of the tribe. More social and political than overtly religious, the society quickly found favor among the conservative “full bloods” of all religious persuasions: Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and non-Christians. Their main cause was their opposition to slavery and to the power of the wealthy Cherokee planters. Pig Smith was an early member of the Keetoowah Society.

At the outbreak of the Civil War the Smith family, together with some other Keetoowah families, joined Opothleyaholo and the neutral Creeks and Seminoles in their disastrous flight to Kansas during the winter of 1861-62. Eventually most of the Keetoowah families ended up in the refugee camps in Kansas; Keetoowah men formed the core of the Cherokee regiments that opposed their government’s alliance with the Confederacy and fought for the Union.

By the end of the war, Pig Smith had emerged as a major leader of the Keetoowahs, particularly among the most conservative, non-Christian element of the tribe. In 1867 he was elected to the Cherokee Senate and served as president. Pig Smith argued that the divisions and rivalry that had plagued the tribe since removal had been caused by the loss of traditional Cherokee values and beliefs. Foreseeing that his life would be too short to fulfill his mission (he in fact died in 1871), he took his son Redbird to Creek Sam, a Natchez religious leader, so that he could be educated to act as his adviser. Notchee (Natchez) town, located in the Illinois District of the Cherokee Nation, south of Tahlequah, was one of the most conservative communities in all of what is now Oklahoma. The Natchez had brought their sacred fire with them from the East, and their home in the Illinois District became the gathering place for religiously conservative kinsmen. It was in this community, with its living ties to preremoval Cherokee life, that Redbird Smith came of age.

In the years after the Civil War, the Keetoowahs became the major force in Cherokee politics. Tribal rivalries continued, however, and the “mixed bloods” gained control of the Cherokee government in 1887. That same year, pressure on all Indians to conform to Anglo-American norms increased as Congress adopted the General Allotment Act and pressed for tribes to divide up their lands. By 1889 many of the Keetoowahs believed that their society had become too political and had lost its original moral purpose. Meeting together, these dissenting Keetoowahs broke away from the old society and formed a new Keetoowah Society that would be religious as well as political. Redbird had been a “little captain” (community leader) in the old society. He now became a head captain of the Illinois District. In 1890 he was elected to the Cherokee council.

During the 1890s, as pressures from the federal government to allot the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes mounted and the number of non-Indians living in Indian Territory grew, conservatives such as the Keetoowahs and their supporters started banding together in opposition. The Four Mothers Society was established in the Illinois District, with the Natchez and their sacred fire forming its core. Redbird Smith, together with many other Cherokees as well as Creeks, became active in this new society. Some followers thought the society should be more overtly political, while others believed that it should withdraw entirely from society and focus exclusively on religion.

Redbird Smith sided with those who believed that the divisions in Cherokee society would not be healed until political opponents stopped resorting to violence and witchcraft. He argued that the Cherokees had brought their problems upon themselves by turning away from the teachings of their Creator. Only the Creator could save the Cherokee people. As he spoke out on the need to revive traditional religious practices, Smith called for the general adoption of the “White Path,” the path of nonviolence and righteousness. To accomplish this goal, he instructed his followers to rekindle their sacred fires, revive the stomp dances, and take back their wampum belts.

Redbird Smith scored his first success when one of John Ross’s sons gave the Keetoowahs seven tribal wampum belts. The interpretations of these belts became the basic teachings of a new religion. In 1896 Smith and his followers revived the Cherokee stomp dance. In 1902 they rekindled the first of the new Cherokee sacred fires. By 1906 there would be twenty-two sacred fires among the Cherokees. Finally, Smith and his followers formally broke with the earlier, political Keetoowah Society and became the Nighthawk Keetoowahs.

In spite of the opposition of the conservative Cherokees, the official tribal government agreed in 1900 to the allotment of Cherokee lands. As a member of the Cherokee Senate, Smith refused to vote on the agreement, and when it was presented for approval he declared he would not sign it. Smith encouraged his followers to resist allotment by refusing to register for their lands. It was estimated that over five thousand Cherokees followed his lead. In frustration, the Dawes Commission, the body charged with overseeing the allotment process among the Five Civilized Tribes, ordered the arrest of Smith and several other Nighthawk Keetoowah leaders. They were jailed briefly, but the Dawes Commission released them and proceeded to add their names to the allotment roll and assign them allotments.

In 1906 Redbird Smith appeared before a special U.S. Senate investigating committee in Tahlequah, asking that the federal government stop the process of allotment and honor its treaty obligations to the tribe. Although allotments had been assigned to the Nighthawks, hundreds refused to recognize their new titles or to live on their allotments. In 1910, seeing that the government was not going to change its position and that resistance was no longer in his followers’ interest, Smith accepted an allotment. Although he continued to try to find a peaceful way to restore traditional beliefs, the power and influence of the Nighthawks began to wane. By the time of his death in 1918, many of the sacred fires had been consolidated and the Nighthawk Keetoowah Society had become primarily a religious movement; its days as an active political force were over.

Janey B. Hendrix and Garrick Bailey, Redbird Smith and the Nighthawk Keetoowahs (Park Hill, Okla.: Cross Cultural Education Center, 1983).

Roberta Glenn Bailey

Tulsa, Oklahoma

WATCH: (click and then click “open”) the 1984 55 min. Documentary Video“Spirit of the Fire” – revealing the “Original Keetoowah Society,” the spiritual core of the Cherokee Nation. The Smithsonian institution was turned down by the Nighthawk Keetoowah elders in favor a Tulsa news man, Bill Jones because he had “blue veins” and came in a good way. KJRH TV Tulsa’s Bill Jones was privileged to produce this documentary – filming the sacred Stomp Dance, Pipe Smoking, Sermons, and the display of Keetoowah Wampum Belts for the very first time. Either Download a small 4-Megabyte Media player or try using your onboard Media Player first. The most recent versions of Real Player or Windows Media Player will work. Please support Prophecykeepers Radio at

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