W. W. Harnage
L. W. Wilson, Field Worker; Historical-Indian Research Worker
Interview was secured March 19, 1937, and Mr. Harnage states as follows:
I am one-fourth Cherokee and was born in 1852 in Tyler, Texas, which makes me eighty-five years of age, last January.
My Father's name was
George W. Harnage, born in Georgia, date unknown. Died at the age of
seventy and was buried at Chapel Hill, Texas, near
the present town of Tyler, Texas.
Mother's name was Nancy Mayfield, born in Tennessee, date unknown, and was buried at Overton, Texas.
Grandfather, Jesse Mayfield, on my mother's side, was born in North Carolina at date unknown to me. He died in 1847. He was buried at Belleview, Texas on the old home place. The Mayfield Plantation. Grandmother, Sally Starr-Mayfield, on my mother's side was born in Tennessee, at a date unknown to me. She died in the early part of 1860 and was buried at Belleview, Texas, alongside her husband. Grandmother, when about twelve years of age, went to the river to see the party, under Chief Bowls, who was Chief of a band of Cherokee Indians, leaving in canoes seeking a new land in which to live.
Chief Bowls and his party left in canoes and drifted down the Tennessee River, until they came to the Mississippi River. When they reached the mouth of Red River they ascended Red River to the mouth of the Sabine River, thence up the Sabine, to the headwaters of the Neches and here he established a village.
He remained there until the Mexican War. At the beginning of the Mexican War, with the solicitation of Sam Houston, and agreement was made, whereby Chief Bowls would protect their rear from attack from wild Indians. The reason that they solicited Chief Bowls was because he lived among the Indians, and knew their traits, character, and tactics. For his services as such, he was promised a concession of land, which embraced about three counties, the names of the counties were Rusk, Smith, and Cherokee County, Texas. The result of the Mexican War was that the United States whipped them. "Chief Bowls never did receive for his reward, the three counties promised."
The line was run and started at the head-waters of the Neches River and went with the wind of the Naches to some point on the Angelina River, thence, down the Angelina to a certain point, thence due north to the Sabine, embracing about three counties. Houston went to Bowls camp or village. He told Bowls that he would give him that land and would make him a title as soon as it could be done.
After the war, Houston became the first Governor of Texas. Later he was elected United States Senator, which was after the annexation of the state of Texas. While he was in the Senate, Governor Lamar became Governor. He was the first Governor after the annexation.
Bowls was in his little village in the Neches and the people began to encroach on him. He thought that he had a promised reservation. Bowls went to Lamar and told him that the people were encroaching on his reservation. Lamar did not give him any encouragement. The third time Lamar just answered him: "The boundary of Texas is marked by the sword." Bowls understood it and he left. He went back to his reservation and began a removal. He crossed the Neches and camped off his reservation. He was pursued by the Texas Rangers, and Bowls was killed and the larger part of his tribe slaughtered. Some of them, however, got away. The Rangers pursued them, and they were captured. They took them, as prisoners, to Fort Towson, in the Indian Territory and turned them over to the Government. They were then moved to Fort Smith and turned over to the Cherokee Nation.
My father was an old settler. He settled within about four miles of the present town of Evansville, Arkansas, in about 1825 and remained there until a treaty was signed back east by John Ridge and Elias Boudinot for the removal of the entire Cherokee tribe from Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and other states, and he then moved to the Indian Territory and settled in the Going Snake District.
My mother came through at the instigation of the treaty made as above mentioned and known to all as the "Trail of Tears". They traveled in caravans and wagons and were pushed along by the United States troops. Many of the Cherokees did not care to leave their lands, that were so productive and also to leave behind the burial grounds, where their loved ones were buried, to come to this Western country. It was forced upon them and consequently a great deal of dissatisfaction reigned among them, causing a faction known as the Treaty Party and the Anti-Treaty Party.
My mother has told me
that they came to the Mississippi River, that is was up and that it was
necessary for them to remain there six or seven weeks, before they could cross
the river, as they had no means, other than canoes and flat boats to put them
across. This put them on the west bank of the Mississippi River, in Arkansas,
and they continued to travel, often wading streams with little food and
practically no medical attention and hundreds of them died enroute, caused by
exposure and unsanitary conditions. Even while they were waiting for the river
to recede, while in Tennessee, hundreds of them died on the banks of the river
from dysentery. As they died along the route they were buried in unmarked
graves. My mother was one of the fortunates that made it
through and it is useless to say that she endured many hardships, was grief stricken and sorrowful. She weathered the storm, while others, even after arriving, soon died of sorrow and grief.
In this removal my grandfather had thirty teams and was employed by the government to assist in removing them, so I guess my folks really fared well to what some of the rest of them did, because, they brought with them enough stuff to start building cabins, clearing the ground and making ready for crops.
My father and mother married in the Cherokee Nation and remained there until what they called the "Star War", between parties of Treaty and Anti-Treaty. My parents, along with Judge Adair, George Starr, Judge Wiley, Franklin D. Thompson, two or three of my uncles and my grandmother, Sally Mayfield, all went to Texas, before the Civil War, and lived as one big family and located near the present town of Tyler, and Kilgore, Texas, and it was at this place that I was born.
Note: A Harnage is supposed to be buried in the Asbury Cemetery but there is no marker.
Note: Behind and to the east of Ft. Towson Cemetery is Doaksville, OK. Stand Watie surrendered there in 1865.
Note: Major Ridge's daughter Sarah Ridge was married in Governor Lamar's home.