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Sequoyah Research Center

Black, Mary

Mary Black
Mrs Black’s Petition
Indian affairs

Dec 16 1835
Ref to the committee
on Indian Affairs

December 29, 1835
Ordered to Ark to
be discharged & to lie on the table

Jan 5 1836
Cont disch’d – to lie

(Page two)

The Petition of Mary Black widow.

To the Honorable the members of the Senate and house of Representatives in the Congress of the United States of America assembled.

Your Petitioner respectfully represents that in consequence of the encampment of parties of the emigrating Choctaws Indians upon lands which she raised her corn and near her residence she has sustained grate damages for which she respectfully requests the Legislature of nation grant to her such remuneration as in their wisdom they may deem wright and proper. The damages of your petitioner are as follows the burning of a corn House by a party of said Choctaws under the Command of Capt Page on the 26 November 1832. in which were consumed 250 bushels of corn of the value of one dollar per bushel and 2000 lbs of fodder of the value of $1-50 per cents by which your petitioner sustained a loss of the amount of $290 the consuming of the wood and timber upon the premises of your petioner by the encamping of all the emigrating parties of said Choctaws thereon has caused your petioner to sustain a loss of about $500 your petitioner begs leave to state in

(Page three)

ration to the last item above mentioned that the wood and timber were to her grate value as her residence in a very large and extensive Prarie and the only wood and timber on her lands or within about two miles of her house was chiefly used and consumed as above stated by the Choctaws during there encampments your petioner would further state that she is a widow with a large family and possessed of very little property She is therfore much injured and poorly able to sustain her losses she therefore prays relief and she begs leave to refer for the correctings of her statements above to Maj Armstrong Capt Page and any other persons who have been conserned in the late Choctaw emigration and may happen to be at Washington and may she also refer to the persons whose names are on the opposite page her nighbours and friends for the several correctings of her statements


Wolf Point Grand
Prairie Pulaski
County Ark. Ter.
Nov 30th 1832

(Page four)

We whose names are hereunto subscribed from our knowledge of the Character and reputation pf Mrs. Mary Black widow and from what we have heard and known believe the statements of the said Mary Black widow contained in the annexed petition to be true .

Pulaski County
Arksas Ter November 30th 1832

James Erwin contractor to furnish pro
Samson Gray contractor at the spot
H. Reynolds
Shared Gray
L. C. Sadler
Fredick Runkle
Thomas Gray
James Pitcher

(Page five)

Mary Black states that an emigrating party of Choctaws commanded by Captain Page occasioned the burning of 250 bushels of corn & 2000 lbs fodder of the aggregate value of $250.00 for the corn & $1.50 per hundred for the fodder – aggregate $ 280.00 – and that she sustained the further loss of $500.00 by the burning of her timber by emigrating parties of the same tribe – James Erwin & Samson Gray contractors & others certify that they believe her statements to be true.

[Transcribed March 5, 2005 from copies of hand written documents by Carolyn Yancey Kent. Original spelling has not been corrected.]

Source: The National Archives, Records of the U. S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233, HR 24 A-G71, Petition files, Indian Affairs, Black

Excerpts from Letters From the Frontiers written by George A. McCall

From A Letter Dated Memphis, October 3, 1835

I have recently returned from a little expedition into Arkansas. In August last I learned that there were grouse (the pinnated grouse) in a prairie on this side of the Arkansas River, and one hundred and twenty miles west of the Mississippi River…

I arranged with Captain Bowman, an old and valued friend, of the Engineer Corps of the Army, who is here under orders to locate a road from this point to Little Rock, and Mr. Gholson, a most estimable gentleman residing here, to meet me at Strong’s Ferry, on the St. Francis River, sixty miles from Memphis,…

…I crossed the Mississippi in a ferry-boat, mounting Redbird, and followed by the other members of my party. I pushed on to reach a very comfortable stand twenty miles distant before nightfall. There we arrived without accident at dusk, and were comfortably established for the night. The next day we went to Strong’s by two o’clock P.M., and learning there that there was a good house fifteen miles further on, I continued my journey, and arrived at my destination at sunset, making that day fifty-five miles. The whole distance from the Mississippi to the St. Francis, sixty miles, is through swamp and cane-break country, which at the time of the June flood in the upper Missouri and Mississippi rivers is overflowed, and from one to three or four feet under water…

From the west bank of the St. Francis to the house where I stopped that night the country was rather high and rolling, and was clothed with a good growth of oak and hickory timber, indicating a good soil. The only game I saw was a brace of gobblers. The next morning I was in the saddle as soon as it was light. It was forty-five miles to Mrs. Black’s, my destination, and of that distance twenty must be made before I reached the prairie. ..

…I found in Mrs. Black a widow of goodly proportions: I have seen fatter women, but not many. She had several sons and daughters growing up. She kept a public (being the half-way) house between Little Rock and White River. The house was a log building, a point of fine timber land stretching out from the south to within half a mile of the house, which was one of those structures called in the West “two pens and a passage,” which means two rooms from ten to twenty feet apart, the whole under one roof. One of these was the dining-room, the other the sleeping-room; the kitchen and other apartments occupied by the family, built likewise of logs, were in the rear.

Source: Letters From The Frontiers by George A. McCall pages 278-288

Updated 3.3.2010