Tag Archives: Benjamin Marshall

Martha Marshall

When I get stuck in research, stuck on a problem that doesn’t feel as if I will ever solve it, I will put it aside until I can come up with another path of attack. That is what happened with Chief Benjamin “Ben” Marshall, my fourth great-grandfather. His life is such a puzzle to me.  I will find bits and pieces of information that relates to him but doesn’t entirely tell his story. It never does.
However, I was researching different terms recently and came upon testimony of a young woman by the name of Elizabeth Benton. She was applying for citizenship in the Chickasaw Nation. I started reviewing the testimony of her witnesses and came across one page that suddenly cleared up a lot of confusing information for me.
When I was originally researching the citizenship application for Richard Adkins, a witness said Ben Marshall had a daughter by the name of Louisa Martha. There was a lot of information that was not clear in that testimony and thus I had dismissed it.
Now, after reviewing the testimony for Elizabeth Benton, it appears that her mother was Martha Marshall, daughter of Ben Marshall.
When Richard Adkins was interviewed in 1938 for the Pioneer records in Oklahoma, he mentioned that he had escaped during the Civil War with his Grandfather, his mother and an aunt. I think it was Martha Marshall to whom he was referring.
However, Elizabeth Benton gives little information regarding her mother. She was married to Theodore Benton and living in the Chickasaw Nation. She was claiming Indian heritage for herself and her four children.  Her children were Isabella Neal, Isaac Benton, Eliza Benton and Verna Benton. Isabella Neal was the child of a different husband. When you read Elizabeth’s testimony she says that Isabella’s father left her and never returned. However, there is also testimony from the ex-spouse saying she told him to leave and refused to allow him to return to the marriage. That made me laugh. Always two sides to the story, even in the late 1800’s.
Back to the story at hand, Elizabeth says that her father was Charles H. Strickland and that her mother was Martha Marshall. There is a second person who also applied for their rights through the Chickasaw Nation and her name was Josephine Belvin. Josephine and Elizabeth were sisters. Josephine was married to Charles A. Belvin and they were also claiming Chickasaw heritage for their children, Elizabeth, Arabella, Rosa Ellen, James Charley and William Guy Belvin.
Charles H. Strickland was a well-known recognized member of the Chickasaw tribe by blood and also held the office of Sheriff of Pontotoc County.
The only objection of the Commission, in enrolling Josephine Belvin and her family, is that they should be enrolled with the tribe of their mother and that these applicants should instead be enrolled as Creeks and claim their allotments in that nation. The records show that Josephine’s mother came from the Creek Nation before her marriage to Charles Strickland and that Martha Marshall’s mother, the grandmother of Josephine Belvin, was a Choctaw who went from the Choctaw Nation to the Creek country.
Wow, so that information kinda blew me away. So, Martha Marshall’s mother, one of Benjamin Marshall’s wives, was a Choctaw native. I had assumed that his wife was a Creek. Then, I had also read that she could have been a Euchee Indian. Now, we see that she is a Choctaw. Curious how many wives he had.
The Commission was not bound to follow the old tribal custom of the mother rule except in cases where the reason for the rule demands it. That rule grew out of the idea that due to the indiscriminate sexual relations that prevailed in the early history of the tribes, the identity of a child’s father may often be in doubt while there can be no doubt as to that of the mother.
I can see how that rule came to be and they weren’t kidding when they talked about the indiscriminate sexual relations that prevailed!
Also, testimony given by a Reuben Carney said that he lived in Stonewall, I.T., that he knew Martha Marshall well and while he didn’t know what tribe she came from, Charlie Strickland told him she was a Creek.
There is also testimony from Martin B. Cheadle. He stated that he lived about 10 miles from Tishomingo, Indian Territory (The same place Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert currently live and where Miranda Lambert has a club, The Pink Pistol) and that he knew Charlie Strickland, who was a first cousin to Mr. Cheadle. He knew Martha Marshall and that it was understood she was a Creek. Martha Marshall’s father, Benjamin Marshall was buried on the place where Mr. Cheadle was currently living. He said he had never had a conversation with her about but that it was very well known that they were Creeks and that they had been refugees after the war.
Now, that was a great piece of information. If only the courts actually took things like names and addresses, I would have information that we have been searching for the last couple of years. But, alas and good grief, why would they do something like that?
Josephine herself testifies that she lives at Paul’s Valley and has lived her entire life in the Chickasaw Nation. Her mother was Martha Marshall. She always heard her father say that her mother was part Chickasaw and part Creek. She does not know who her mother’s mother was. Her father was Chickasaw and her mother was part Chickasaw. Martha Marshall died after she was separated from Charles Strickland.
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A witness by the name of T.C. Walker says that he knew Martha Marshall intimately and that she came from the Creek Nation.
Josephine’s direct testimony was that she did not know any of her mother’s family. She said her parents were married in the Chickasaw Nation and that Mr. Walker was present at their wedding. She believes she was about 4 years old when her mother died.
Now, she was born in 1875 so it seems that Martha Marshall died in approximately 1879-1880.
On February 25, 1903, the Blevin family was granted enrollment as citizens of the Chickasaw Nation.
This leads us back to Charles Strickland. Charles H. Strickland was born on April 8, 1837, and fought in the Civil War with the First Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. Charley Strickland was a crazy man.
Charles became the first Sheriff in Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory.  As you can see, the story goes that on March 19, 1895 Charles Strickland was riding in a buggy with a friend by the name of Bill Lewis near Byrd’s Mill. Allegedly, Charles raised his Winchester rifle near Lewis’ face. Lewis was able to knock away the rifle and told Strickland not to do it again. Strickland pointed the rifle at him a second time and Bill Lewis pulled out a revolver and shot Charles Strickland dead. Then Bill Lewis took Charles’ body and tossed it over the fence at Elizabeth Benton’s home. Charles Strickland was buried in Stonewall, Indian Territory.
So, while Josephine Belvin and Elizabeth Benton did not know their mother, nor their mother’s family, we still pick up a few clues about the Marshall clan. Here are the children that I’ve found thus far:
Benjamin Marshall Jr.
Robert Marshall
William Marshall
George Marshall
Millie Marshall
Lavina Marshall
Martha Marshall
I can’t help but wonder how many more there were!

Not The Right Ben Marshall


As my Benjamin Marshall trail has continued, I find so many nuggets of information that trying to keep it all straight isn’t easy. You can search for Benjamin Marshall, Ben Marshall, Ben Marshall Half-Breed, Benjamin Marshall Creek, Benjamin Marshall Coweta Tribe; I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Change a search term, change a name, change a city, change a state and you come up with a hundred different possible hints.

I have a great research assistant. My husband Paul is interested in what I am doing and is a great help. He spends a lot of time searching names that might be helpful to me and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

A week ago, Paul came to me with a page he had discovered. It was a school record for a Benjamin Marshall from the Carlisle School. I was immediately suspicious. Not because Paul wasn’t looking in the correct manner, just that there are two individuals named Benjamin Marshall.

Isn’t that awful? So many times I have been searching for a term using Benjamin Marshall and once I review it, I realize, it is the wrong Benjamin Marshall.

The Benjamin Marshall I am searching for is born in approximately 1800 and dies in approximately 1863 or 1864.

Let’s meet the second Benjamin Marshall.

So part of my issue with our Benjamin Marshall is trying to figure out who he is married to, who his children were and where they ended up. So far, these are the children I have been able to locate:

Benjamin Marshall Jr. (this isn’t the “not right Ben Marshall”, but Chief Grayson speaks of Benjamin Marshall Jr. in a very uncomplimentary way and since he was there, I’ll believe him)

Robert Marshall

William Marshall

George Marshall

Millie Marshall

Lavina Marshall

So the Not Our Ben Marshall is the son of George Marshall. Here he is


Now Paul has located the sweetest record from Carlisle Indian School. This is a letter Ben Marshall writes to his alma mater, congratulating the football team for their winning season from an old student and says that he was there from 1880 to 1884.

letter from benj marshall

Sweet note, right? But there is no way it is our Ben Marshall.

But the second Ben Marshall is also a descendant of our Ben Marshall and therefore, I did put him on my tree. He is a prominent member of the Creek Nation himself. He sat on the council for the Allotment of Indian Lands in 1899. He married two different women, was also wealthy and well respected. Not bad to have that leaf on our tree.

Now let me tell you what has confused me.

When Richard Adkins testifies to who he is during his trial in 1899 or so, he says

Richard Adkins nickname

His testimony says, 

“Q: Well, did you say you know Lee Adkins? Well I saw him. I came up here once, the last time I saw him. He was just a little boy then, and he had sisters; I never did see him any more. I went over to my uncle’s Ben Marshall’s father here”

Vague at best. It sounds like there is a Benjamin Marshall present during his testimony. If this is true, why doesn’t he testify? Not sure and doubt I’ll ever have the answer to that question, and I can’t tell if he is talking about Benjamin Marshall Jr. (my thoughts, as he says my uncle) or Not the right Benjamin Marshall.

Always more questions than answers.

The best thing about finding the picture of that Benjamin Marshall, after I got over the disappointment that it wasn’t my Benjamin Marshall, was that this Benjamin Marshall is a first cousin to Richard Adkins.

As I have said before, searching for Richard Adkins has become my mission. I don’t think that will happen until I am able to make a trip to Oklahoma myself. I hate that I can’t just drive over to the local historical society and start sifting through their documents myself. However, I did find this picture

Louisa Marshall

I found her information listed as Louisa Marshall, the daughter of William Marshall. Another first cousin of Richard Adkins

While not finding a photograph of Richard Adkins (YET!) is still difficult, I have found photographs of people who are on my tree. And those faces mean a lot to me.

Chief Benjamin “Ben” Marshall, 52 Weeks/52 Ancestors

So, when I was a little girl, I spent a tremendous amount of time with my Grandmother, Flora Burgess Hardin True. None of her other grandchildren spent as much time with her as I did. Every summer I began spending a week with her, one time being flown from San Jose, CA to Sacramento, CA by myself when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Grandma lived in the forest, near Nevada City. I loved going to stay with her because I was very spoiled, and I knew she loved me unconditionally, much like my own mother. My grandma would tell me about her grandfather, Richard Adkins, how he was Native American. She used to have two very large prints of an American Indian Squaw and an American Indian Warrior on her wall in her living room. She also built us a teepee in her backyard (It was very scary out there, but to be fair, she lived in the forest …hahaha)


Thus began my fascination with Native Americans. I knew from a young age that my grandmother was so proud of being an Indian. Of course, my dad, thinking he was very funny, would tell her that the only good Indian was a dead one…it would send Grandma into a tizzy. He was only teasing her. Serious researching has led me to discover Richard Adkin’s testimony to prove that he was Native American. After he moved about 141 miles away from the Creek Nation near Muscogee, OK to Durant, Ok, Richard testified that his Grandfather, Benjamin Marshall, his mother, aunt, and he had traveled to get away from the fighting of the Civil War. He never went back to Muscogee until approximately 1897. He got an Attorney and fought for his right to claim his citizenship in the Creek Nation. Richard gave testimony that his grandfather was Benjamin Marshall. A very white sounding name, not very Indian. Searching for Benjamin Marshall became obsessive for me.

His father was a fur trader of either English or Irish descent. I found a story saying that his father was Thomas Marshall, who married the daughter of a Chief after his brothers were killed in an Indian raid. Her name was Hits Kartay. Finally, I thought, now we are getting somewhere.

Benjamin Hawkins was a U.S. Indian Agent and a member of the Continental Congress, that was assigned by President George Washington to deal with the Native Americans.

Col. Benjamin Hawkins Grave Marker

He says about Benjamin Marshall’s family

"In the course of conversation to-day with Mr. Marshall on the domestic economy of the Indians, I was surprised at his want of information as he has resided twelve years in their towns, and has 
two Indian wives. He explained for himself, by saying that during the whole of his residence he had not entered 3 of the Indian houses, that whatever business he had with the men he went to their doors, mentioned it to him, said and did what was necessary 
and left them, or sat under their corn house."

Oh, so Thomas Marshall has two Indian wives… now I wonder if one was Hits Kartay, the mother to Benjamin and his brothers, Joseph and James, and if the other Indian wife gave birth to other children, because at one point in documents I have found mention of a sister and yet, whenever Benjamin Marshall is discussed, it is always as he and his two brothers, no other mention of other siblings.

There are so many mentions of Benjamin Marshall that it is difficult to keep it all straight. He was a Second Chief of the Creek Nation, he owned a big plantation across the Chattahoochee River from his father’s plantation, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs of 1825, and moved his town of 502 Creeks to Indian Territory in 1832, before the Trail of Tears. Benjamin Marshall said in a quotation that he felt sorry for his people that refused to move, because he knew it was going to happen, that they would be forced to move. Benjamin Marshall also owned slaves and traded them.

Wow, I wasn’t prepared for that. I would never have suspected that the Indians were slave owners and slave traders. If you had told me that any of my Hardin relatives had been slave owners and traders, I would have said, well, of course they were. I never met my Grandfather Hardin; he died before I was born, but my mother would say that he liked black people just fine, as long as they came to the back door with their hat in their hands, meaning that they knew their place. I try to keep the perspective that people who were raised in the south understood and were used to treating people of color differently. I have a difficult time with that. I don’t like it.

So Benjamin Marshall, Native American Second Chief, Translator for the United States Government, was a slave trader. There are so many facets to him that it will take me several posts to truly cover this ancestor. Richard Adkins says that his grandfather came to own and operate three plantations in Oklahoma by possessing  foresight and being a good businessman.

Indian Patch

So, good, bad, or indifferent, I can’t wait to get to know more of Mr. Benjamin “Ben” Marshall.

Quote for Benjamin Hawkins obtained from