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SAMUEL HOUSTON MAYES
SAMUEL HOUSTON MAYES, son of Samuel and Nancy Adair Mayes, born near Muddy
Springs, in old Flint District,
in the Cherokee Nation, May 11, 1845, and died at Pryor, in Mayes County, Oklahoma, at noon, on December 12, 1927.
Funeral services at the First Methodist Episcopal Church South, and buried
under the auspices of the local Masonic
lodge. A charter member Muskogee Knight Templars, and at his death an honorary member. His eleven brothers
and one sister all lived to reach their majority (except Noel), to wit:
George Washington Mayes
John Thompson Mayes
James A. Mayes
Joel Bryan Mayes
Francis Asbury Mayes
Walter Adair Mayes
William Henry Harrison Mayes (Tip)
Rachel Mayes (who married Cullough McNair)
Wiley Beam Mayes
Richard Taylor Mayes
His father, born in east Tennessee, married in the Cherokee Country in
Georgia, and emigrated to the Cherokee
Nation West in 1837, settling at Muddy Springs, about three miles from the present town of Stilwell, at which
afterwards was a school operated by the Cherokee Government, and at that place a Methodist camp ground.
The following persons taught at this school:
William Penn Adair
Joel B. Mayes
A man from Arkansas by the name of Bartlett
A Yankee from New England by the name of Edison
Another Yankee from New England by the name of Gilbert
Mrs. Carrie Bushyhead Qaurrels and
He and his brothers were educated at this school and at the Cherokee Male Academy, near Tahlequah.
He was elected and served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1895 to 1899, and as sheriff
of Coo-wee-scoo-wee district from 1881 to 1885, and as a member of the Cherokee Senate from 1885
until he was elected Principal Chief. At the age of 19 he enlisted in the Confederate Army in Company “K”
of which Ben Carter was Captain, Dick Carter First Lieutenant, Johnson Fields, Second Lieutenant,
Ketcher Tehee, Third Lieutenant, Second Cherokee Regiment of which Clem Vann was Colonel,
Joe Thompson, Lieutenant Colonel, and James Bell, Major. After the close of the Civil War he attended
school a short time in Rush County, Texas.
Samuel Houston Mayes was married to Martha E. Vann, daughter of Dave and
Martha McNair Vann,
and as a result of that marriage the following children were born, to wit:
W. L. Mayes of Spavinaw, Oklahoma
Dr. Joe Mayes, of St. Louis, Missouri
Carrie, now the wife of Clarence Samuels, of Pryor, Oklahoma
And a fourth who died in infancy.
His wife died in 1907, he was afterwards married to, Miss Minnie Ball, who, together with the above named
children survive him. He was a successful, active and exemplary citizen engaged in ranching, cattle, farming
and mercantile business.
His brother, Joel B. Mayes, was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee
Nation for two terms, dying during
his second term. Wash Mayes was high sheriff at Tahlequah for five years, having charge of the jail and penitentiary.
Samuel Mayes, Sr., in 1849, taking with him his sons, Wash and James, as the head of a party, went to California
over what is known as the “Upper California Trail,” north of the Arkansas, by way of Salina, intercepting the old
Santa Fe trail somewhere in what was afterwards known as No-Man’s-Land, there being between thirty and forty
in this party. Samuel Mayes, Sr., owned fifteen or twenty slaves. All of the brothers finished their education at the
Cherokee Male Seminary except Wash; all of his brothers served in the Confederate Army except Francis Asbury,
who was in California, Wiley and Noel, the latter having died in infancy.
Wash, Thompson, Joel and Frank were born in Tennessee and the other brothers and the sister were born in the
Cherokee Nation. Dennis W. Bushyhead, who was afterwards elected Chief, was a member of the party going to
California in 1849. On this trip cholera broke out and one of the party by the name of Will Goss died from it.
Richard Fields was also a member of the party. Walter S. Agnew, who is now nearly 86 years old and resides in
Muskogee, though then a little boy, remembers this party leaving from Mayes Prairie in old Flint District for
California in the spring, or early summer, of 1849, his father and mother then living near the Samuel Mayes family.
He remembers the party being camped at the head of McLees Creek, and that they went out by the way of Salina
on the north side of the Arkansas River, and that the following persons were in this party, to wit:
Samuel Mayes, Sr.
And several others whose names he can not remember. Within a year Samuel Mayes and most of the party
returned from California to their homes in the Cherokee Nation.
In 1852 his father, Samuel Mayes, Sr., together with Francis Asbury and
Thompson, his sons, and others,
again went to California over what is known as the Marcy Trail, by the way of Taos, New Mexico, taking
and driving with them 1000 head of cattle, and placed them on a ranch in the Sacramento Valley.
His father had a mulatto slave by the name of Callis who desired to accompany him on this trip, but, on
account of California being non-slave territory, he hesitated to take him with him. He finally, however,
arranged with Callis to sell him his freedom for $1,000.00, and Callis indentured or bound himself to him
to work until the $1,000.00 was paid. Under this arrangement Callis accompanied him to California and
remained there with Francis A. Mayes on his ranch, under this indenture, until the thousand dollars was
finally paid. After the close of the Civil War Callis returned to the Cherokee Nation to visit his former Master.
Leaving the cattle in the possession of his son, Francis Asbury, Samuel Mayes, Sr., with his son Thompson
returned within a year to the Cherokee Nation. His son Francis A. Mayes remained in California until 1863
when he sold the ranch and cattle and started back to the Cherokee Nation. Two men, Lige Terrell,
who was a Cherokee, and another man by the name of Campo, were returning with Francis Asbury Mayes
from California in 1863, there being five or six in the party. In the Rocky Mountains the party divided, or
separated Terrell and Campo, after reaching the Cherokee Nation, reported that the wild Indians killed
Francis A. Mayes and his companions. Francis Asbury Mayes was supposed to have the proceeds of the
sale of his cattle and ranch in California in gold on his person in a belt, and there was a question in the mind
of the brothers who resided in the Cherokee Nation as to whether or not the wild Indians killed him or he was
killed by his companions for the purpose of robbery.
The home of Samuel Mayes, Sr., was a typical southern home characteristic
of slave times, except that the
father and mother also taught their children to work and labor. The boys, whilst sent to school also were
caused to work in the field and to look after the cattle, sheep and hogs, each son having his particular
assignment and regular job. His father also raised blooded horses. Back in east Tennessee he was
acquainted with Sam Houston, and Sam Houston Mayes, the son, was named both for the father and
also for Sam Houston. His father also owned a slave by the name of Dave, who was a blacksmith and
mechanic. In making ready to go to California in 1852 he needed to borrow $1500.00 and pledged Dave,
the slave, to John H. Murrell, a brother-in-law of John Ross, as security for the re-payment of this money
within a certain time, in the meantime the tender having the use of Dave’s services as interest on the money.
Frequently, during the master’s absence in California, Dave would come by the Mayes’ home and inquire
when “Mars Sammy” was coming back to redeem him. Immediately after his return he repaid the $1500.00
in gold, counting it out on a table, and Dave returned to the plantation of his master where he and his master made
wagons, Dave doing the iron work and his master the wood work, and in the conduct and treatment on the part
of the master a beautiful relationship between master and slave was exemplified.
Note.—The data as to the Mayes family was secured by Judge R. L. Williams
from Samuel H. Mayes about
six months prior to his death and also by him from Walter S. Agnew about one month after the interview with
Samuel H. Mayes.
Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 6, No. 2, June 1928, p. 228-231.
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