Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

Chickasaw Chiefs – family stories of Levi and George Colbert

(Transcribed and unedited excerpt from a story written by WPA (Works Projects Administration) writer, Susan Russell.

The Chickasaw Colberts of Colbert County

by WPA writer

Susan Russell

ca. 1934

George and Levi Colbert, Chickasaw Chiefs for whom Colbert County was named, were not full blooded Indians yet their decisions were (the) final word in matters affecting their tribe.

Logan Colbert, their father, a Scotch (sic) youth lived in the Carolinas, joined the English traders and in 1740, stopped at Muscle Shoals. He married a Chickasaw Princess. William was the first son, and left the nation for awhile. George, the second, and Levi, the third, remained with the tribe, as did James, the younger, who became the architect and historian of the Chickasaws.

George Colbert’s home was at Buzzard’s Roost Springs, near what is now Cherokee, 20 miles below Tuscumbia on Federal Highway 72. Three years ago (ca. 1931) it was burned but still standing is the cooks cabin built of huge yellow popular logs, three of them comprising one side of the house.

Home of George Colbert (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Levi Colbert’s plantation was not far distant, and a marker to the brothers has been erected by patriotic women of Colbert County, on the old Natchez Trace, near the former home of George.

Not easy to abandon customary life

While the Colbert family acquired extensive land holdings, built large homes, bought slaves, and tried to settle down to a quiet life, it was not easy for the Indians to abandon their customary life. The late George Simpson, of Florence, often told the story of Mrs. Colbert. When she went visiting she sent her handsome carriage and fashionable clothes ahead with the coachman. She followed on her favorite pony, barefoot and dressed in typical Indian fashion. She changed to the fashionable garments before reaching her destination but replaced them with her preferred Indian clothing while enroute home.

The Colbert boys attended school in Florence and Tuscumbia, but jumped into the Tennessee river and swam home, when they were reprimanded for the first time.

Gifts to marry his daughters

George Colbert wanted his children to marry into the white race and old papers in possession of Tuscumbians, record the offered one of his four barrels of silver to any white man who would marry one of his daughters. In the Alsobrook family of Colbert County, is a silver medal valued because it was given as a token of esteem, when one of the girls, believing the proposal received was due to strategy of her father, refused to consider it. The medal was presented Chief Colbert by President Jefferson, in 1801, for services rendered the white settlers.

Hand-beaded cap which belonged to Chickasaw Chief George Colbert in the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art in Tuscumbia, Alabama by Carolyn Highsmith 2010

Before he finally left for his new home in the west, George presented valuable gifts to his white friends. The Pride family of Tuscumbia, possess a richly woven beaded sash received from the old chief, and J. W. Rutland, also of Tuscumbia, has a beautiful beaded belt, a gift to his family from George Colbert.

Ataloa, of Redlands, Calif., the great grand-daughter of George Colbert, visited Tuscumbia as the guest of Mrs. Lulu Merrill Simpson, of Sixth and Water Streets, in 1936. She was the first of the Chickasaws to return since their expedition westward.


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  1. Trebloc, ( Colbert backwards ) Mississippi is named for the Indian family that settled there. They owned land and had a cotton gin there,

  2. Yes, they gave their prized gifts to friends before “heading West to their new home…” Oh, my gosh! This article sounds like a “revisionists” history lesson!! They “gave” to keep from being taken from and they did NOT choose to go West! They also “gave” their homes, their lands, their livestock, and their lives on this “trip to the West!”

  3. William Byrd of the Chickasaw Nation at Mauvilla, Kushla, and Kahliokla – he’s the Chickasaw Chief of the Chickasawhay River in Mobile County Alabama.

    The Chickasaw Nation said William Byrd did what William Wirt gets credit for…

    Disenfranchising the United States of America.

    Nullifying the Indian Removal Act in 1832 of Georgia which was then effectively the Mississippi Territory today known as Alabama and Mississippi.

    In Worchester v. Georgia in 1832, Samuel Worchester was arrested by the Georgians for supposedly being a white man and on Cherokee Lands….

    However, Samuel Worchester was named twice in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830, a Choctaw Treaty.

    John Ross of the Cherokee Nation is of the Byrd Clan and he identified Dave Weaver some years later as never removing from the old Cherokee Nation.

    The Non-Intercourse Act of 1834 updated in 2015 means that the no US Citizen can buy land from and Indian only the Federal Government.

    In 1832, the Non-Intercourse proved it had teeth and President Andrew Jackson forced the removal of the Georgians from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

    Sure he alienated the Governors – making them move above 32.28 degrees north latitude.

    And the Governor of Alabama is reported to have never forgiven Jackson.

    Today history reads different.

    The Choctaw Nation of Byrds, Weavers, Rivers, and Reeds were blacklisted and removed from the Annals of history almost as if The Colombian States of America had never existed.

    Not quite however.

    Peter J Hamilton a judge in Mobile wrote the Choctaw Nation out of his book on Mobile.

    It was a Byrd whose name conveys the land to the Catholic Archdiocese in downtown Mobile.

    The Catholic Church forgot.

    It was the Choctaw Land where St. Peter’s Chirch rests today on Highway 43 near the Choctaw Nation of Indians.

    It was the lands of Gerome Chastang, the Grandson of William Weatherford – Of the Hickory Tribe of Choctaw Descent who was called a Creek Red Eagle whose land sat the Catholic Church at St. Theresa in Byrd Pit at Mount Vernon.

    Yes most land was apparently generously conveyed by the Choctaw Nation of Indians to others…

    imagine that!!!

    Not Choctaw.

    Darby Weaver
    The Tribal Leader

  4. Say Cole Byrd – really fast a few times it may come to you.

  5. Interesting story. Funny how all Native women were labeled “princess”.

  6. Willam Colbert was my 4th Great Grandfather

  7. The chickasaw cultural center in Oklahoma is amazing

  8. Here we are a few years later and a lot wiser with first documentation in hand.

    1. Colbert told us where he was from – exactly wheee he was from.

    2. The Legends and Lore fade when faced with documented facts deposed by the US Federal Government.

    So don’t be surprised when folks have to revise their facts when the facts come to public knowledge.

  9. I am James Edward Dyer-Colbert.
    My father was Charles Edward Colbert 1936-1988 my mother is Saundra Jo Heath(Dyer)1942-present my mom never married my father. My grandparents was EuGene Calvin Colbert 1877-1963 & Nora May Staples 1903-1978. Great Grandparents John Colbert 1852-1880 Murdered in Flackers Station AL. Sarah Burk 1844-1911. My GG Grandparents, Mason Colbert & Nancy Burk. My GGG Grandparents Mason (Ben) Colbert & Holly Burk. My GGGG Grandparents Alfred Colbert Colbert & Loiusa Staples. GGGGG Grandparents John Colbert & Rachel Perry. My GGGGGG Grandparents Chief George “Tootemastubble” Colbert & Princess Saleechie’ Doublehead. My GGGGGGG Grandparents Capt. James Logan Colbert & Minta’ Hoya’ Sopia’ of the Chickasaw Wind Clan. Now the interesting story my Staples Grandparents EuGene Calvin Colbert & Nora May Staples. My G grandparents Sam Arthur Staples & Josephine Sawyer. My GG Grandparents Cary A. Staples & Mary Ann Mollie Colbert. This is where my Colbert lines move back into Mason Colbert & Nancy Burk. I have more Staples but i am trying to nail dowm my Colbert line. If you have date or anything that can help please do so.

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