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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)
Noel Mayes
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
William Fields
Joel B. Mayes
Sophia Vann
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 
Warren Adair

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.
Wash Mayes
Thomas Mayes
Richard Fields
Dennis
Bushyhead
Sam Lasley
Will Goss
William Holt
Charlie Holt
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.

This page was last updated on 03/31/09

 

Mayes Co


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