I find letters between--and military agencies considering what
should be done with this family group. they mention sending them to
Africa--and forming a colony, if they are free. The case is finally
litigated and deemed fraudulent. A Lt. Reynolds is told to supply a
ship and hurriedly continue their journey to Fort Gibson. They must go
through the State of Arkansas. Just as they are about two hundred
miles from their destination, the waters are too low to proceed.
They consider continuing by land--but men are still following their
ship. In fact, one man is aboard their ship harassing the chiefs about
their slaves. They ask for protection from the Governor of Arkansas.
He is provoked, felt this should have been solved in Florida and he
was abiding by the case as it ended at New Orleans. I declare a
miracle! because at this declaration the man departed to the
Southeast. The group wait some days for the water to rise. they arrive
at Fort Gibson Indian territory, May 1838.
Members of the family long separated, now united. They had not
known their whereabouts these thirteen months. This was a shipment of
old men, women, and children. Awaiting them were the sons, brothers,
fathers. Oh what a day it was says author Joshua Giddings. A day of
embracing and concerns. There was so much love among them.
The escorting soldiers witnessed the scene and saw them in a
different way--not as savages, runaways, captives. the irony:-- So
different the affairs of just one generation ago.
Now their maintenance money is mow. Escorting, Lt. Reynolds issued
his personal money to sustain them, and made a strong determination to
see them established in their final home. Another miracle!
I do not have records after this time.
The family story tell me Cow Tom, now, is
the slave of a Creek Indian, Yargee.
And as I understand it, he is like a veterinarian taking care of
cattle. He was allowed to work for himself. But the Indians did not
like to pay him in money. They paid him in cows. he took advantage of
this situation and was able to buy his freedom. in have not found his
In 1863, the family must flee their home. The Civil War battle is
nearing them. This connects with my grandmother's story. Today we are
told my grandmother as a child, and her aunt (Melinda Jefferson) each
drove a wagon--and a Lt. Phillips bellowed out to them, "Keep up
with the Union soldiers," as they and hundreds made their escape
to Fort Gibson.
There Cow Tom was duly sworn in as Principal Chief of the Creek
Refugees and was a paid interpreter.
In 1868, Cow Tom goes [went] to Washington, D.C. to plead the case
of the Creek Freedmen and their entitlements (land, money). The Creek
Indians had not decided what to do with their recently freed slaves.
The Northern [Creek] Indians felt obligated to include them in their
tribe--because they had promised them their freedom if they fought
with them against the Removal.
The more Southern Creek Indians opposed the plan. So Cow Tom, my
great great grand father; Harry Island,
my great grandfather, and Ketch Barnett,
a cousin, by wagon, go to Lawrence, Kansas. There, they board a train
to Washington, D.C. and speak to Congress. They won their case. Harry
Island is described as a shrewd interpreter. These three men made a
difference in the Indian and Black History in Oklahoma. Entitlement of
I found a narration in the Oklahoma Chronicle
about Cow Tom. U.S. agricultural, extension agents were touring
the region, they found him [Cow Tom] a successful farmer and rancher.
he had made a bumper crop with crude implements. He did grin his own
grains. And they made their own cloth. There was a school and church
nearby. The men enjoyed a wonderful meal and said they had a
"keen" appetite. The home was adorned with homemade quilts
on the beds and their comfortable home was jus 33 miles from their
In the Indian--Pioneer papers-- We are told new people are
beginning to seek new homes in the territory. They came with few
possessions. Cow Tom and wife Amy gave
food and a cow and calf to these people as their start in the new
In 1869 Cow Tom files a lost claim due to the Civil War--a value of
$38,000 plus, in Livestock, grain, household goods lost. he was
reimbursed $19,000 plus
In 1874 Cow Tom dies. He is approximately 65 years old.
Cow Tom, my great great grandfather--the
ex-slave, Florida and Alabama exile, interpreter, soldier, farmer,
principal Chief, humanitarian. He paved the way for us. The homestead
we still enjoy. The legacy we dream of . .
Geraldine Elliott Robinson
[This is presented as] a tribute to my grandmother, Katie
(Cow Tom Island) Rentie, who called me into her past and her heart
sent love and so much strength for more then four generations, as she
lived out her 95 years in Indian Territory.
* * * *
In 1988, I earnestly began to delve into my Afro-American
family genealogy with the so-called name of my great, great
grandfather, 'Cow Tom,' and the stories my grandmother told me in the
mid-1930s. Presently, I am researching 1749-1797 in Florida. Cow Tom's
great grandmother is Fia or Fy. She was the slave of an early
Englishman and later sold to the Yamansee Indians, an off shoot of the
Seminole Indians. Some say Cow Tom's name derived from the Cow
keeper-King Philip family. Others say because her tended cows and it
later became his successful occupation in Indian Territory, now
I found my ancestors in Florida with the Seminole Indians. They
were living free or almost free for nearly 100 years. After the
Revolutionary War, the white settlers accused the Indians of harboring
their runaway slaves. the Indians denied their claims. the push for
more land expanded. Two Seminole wars ensued. After their defeat,
plans for the removal of the Indians and their slaves to the west were
In 1836-1837, some of the family was captured or volunteered at Fort
Jupiter, Florida. They were shipped to the fort at Tampa Bay. Next
they were transferred to Fort Pike (New Orleans, La) and thirteen
months in captivity. In the meantime, they were being pursued by
fraudulent slave claims. When the case was finally closed they were
hurriedly shipped again by the U.S. soldiers and officers to their
family home, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.
Members of the families long separated were now united.
fathers embraced their wives and children, whom they had not seen for
more than a year. the officers and soldiers who witness this scene
could not but feel interested in these people. Many of them whose
ancestors had fled from oppression generations previously and who had
for one-half century been subjected to constant persecution. (Exiles
of Florida by Joshua Gibbings, 1858)
Cow Tom (Tom McFarland),
1810-1874, (wife Amy Cow Tom), came to Indian territory from
Florida with Indians in 1832. Later he bought his freedom. As I
understand it he was like a veterinarian taking care of cattle.
the Indians did not want to pay him money instead they paid him in
* * * *
Uncle Ned and Boston
Thompson were given their surname when they enrolled in the first
Cane Creek School. It seems Cow Tom did not like their father and
would not let them use their paternal family name. So their white
teacher McCann or McCain attached the Thompson name.
--As told by
Bentford Brown to Geraldine Elliott Robinson.
* * * *
Grandmother, Katie Island Rentie's mother, Maggie
(Margaret) died when she [Katie] was about 10 years old. The day she
died, they heard about Emancipation Day.
Katie Island Rentie followed the soldiers back and
forth near Fort Gibson, for food and survival, during the Civil War.
She did not know her birth date, but she always said it was around
pumpkin time -- as narrated by Katie Rentie to Geraldine Elliott
Robinson. I was 10 or 12 yearsd old when she old me
* * * *
Cow Tom was with his family in 1835, but was not with his
transportation family in Florida. He was with General Jessup in
Florida in 1837. Was he captured ? I next find him in 1842--the slave
of a Yargee, a Creek Indian--was he captured by the Creeks?
* * *
||Left: Father, Henry Elliott (1884-1938)
Right: Mother, Rosetta Rentie Elliot
The parents of Geraldine Elliott Robinson
Silas Jefferson, Standing, far right
Silas Jefferson, sitting photographed prior to 1877
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * * *
Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage
By William Loren Katz
Christmas Eve marks the anniversary of one of the least known battles for freedom and self-determination fought in North America. In 1837, in what had become the state of Florida less than a generation earlier, the freedom fighters were members of the Seminole Nation, an alliance of African slave runaways and Native American Seminoles.They faced the strongest power in the Americas, the combined armed forces of the United States Army, Navy and Marines, whose goal was to crush the bi-racial alliance and return its African-American members to slavery. . . . This battle took place during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), which involved U.S. Naval and Marine units, at times half of the Army, and cost 1,500 military deaths and U.S. taxpayers $30 million [pre-Civil War dollars]. After his decimated army limped back to Fort Gardner, Zachary Taylor won promotion by claiming, “the Indians were driven in every direction.” Later, using his reputation as an “Indian fighter,” Taylor won election as the 12th President of the United States. The Seminole alliance at Lake Okeechobee delivered the Army’s worst defeat in decades of Florida warfare. However truth about the battle and the three wars long remain buried, hidden or distorted.— ConsortiumNews
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
updated 11 May