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Sequoyah Research Center

Lt. Edward Deas to C.A. Harris — June 13 1838

S. Boat Smelter
(near) Memphis Tenn. e
13 June 1838

C.A. Harris Esqr
Commissioner of Indian Affairs

On the 6th instant a Party of Cherokees was turned over to me as Conductor, by the Superintendent of the Emigration, at Ross’ Landing E. Tenn. e., after having been placed on board of the boats provided for their transportation. These Indians had for the most part, just been captured and brought in by the troops, from the Georgia portion of the Cherokee Country, and nearly the whole of them are of the poorer class, and brought with them very little property. A large portion being very destitute, were furnished with clothing at setting out upon the journey, from the poor-Fund set aside for that purpose. The route of Emigration selected by the Superintendent being by water, the Party was placed on board of the Boats and guarded at Ross’ Landing, and under those circumstances, being necessarily crowded, it was thought sufficient to delay their departure, in order to make out the muster-rolls, on account of their health, leaving that operation to be performed by the conductor, after setting out. We set-out from Ross’ Landing about 11 o’clock A.M. on the 6th, on board of the S. Boat George Guess with six flats in tow, and reached Decatur Ala. early on the morning of the 9th. At that place we were detained until the morning of the 10th, the R. Road Cars not being in readiness. The party was then placed on two trains of Cars, the 1st of which reached Tuscumbia Landing about 3 P.M., & about half of the Party was transferred to the S. Boat Smelter which was there in readiness to receive them. This S. Boat then immediately set out for Waterloo, (30 Miles below) with-out remaining for the 2nd train of Cars with the remainder of the party. In consequence, when the 2nd train arrived, there being no boat-to receive the remainder of the Party, they were necessarily encamped near the S. Boat landing. Nothing could be more unfortunate than the departure of the Smelter at the moment the Party was on the point of reaching here, for during the night over 100 of the Indians deserted, which would not have occurred, had the Boat remained an hour or two longer, at Tuscumbia, and taken them on board. The reason assigned for her departure, was, that the River was falling, and that there would be danger in getting thro’ the Shoals if she remained. It would seem however that two hours could have made but little difference in that respect. The Party was re-united at Waterloo Ala., and left that place on board the Smelter and two Keels with double cabins, about 2 P.M. on the 11th instant, and reached the mouth of Tennessee R. between 4 & 5, P.M. on the 12th. Finding that the S. Boat and one Keel would be sufficient to transport the Party, the other was left at Paducah. We set-out from that place yesterday at Sun-Set, and will probably reach Memphis to-night about 10 o’clock. I enrolled the Party yesterday, as carefully and as accurately as possible and found the number to be near 500. The weather has been warm since setting out, but the people are generally healthy. As this is the season for the Arkansas R. to be at a good stage of water, I am in hopes that I shall soon be able to report, that the Party has reached its place of destination in safety.

Very respectfully
Yo. Mo. Ob. Servt.
Edw Deas
Lieut. U.S.A. &
Disb Agt Ind. Dept

Source: Lt. Edward Deas to C.A. Harris, June 13 1838, National Archives Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received, Cherokee Emigration, Roll 115, D231

Updated 2.25.2010