Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crane Eater, James Keith, and The Spurlocks

These documents and church minutes below relate to the claim that James Keith who lived on the Coosawattee River in Gordon County, GA was a member of the Crane Eater family who lived on the Coosawattee River.

The first few documents are sworn testimonies of descendants of James Keith that provide details about his life. These testimonies were included in Eastern Cherokee applications, August 29, 1906 - May 26, 1909, as part of the Guion Miller Enrollment Records. Out of " 45,847 separate applications that were filed, representing a total of about 90,000 individual claimants," this family was the only family then claiming Crane Eater as their ancestor. To date, this family remains the only descendants making such a claim other than Natchez descendants of an older Crane Eater who died around 1810 in the Cherokee Nation East.

Following the testimonies are court records and church records that document and support these testimonies and details. A "C Eater" was found listed as a "person of color" who belonged to a member in these church records. Members in this same church were Lemuel Keith, deceased; James Keith, James Jones, and Spurlock family members.

Allen Spurlock published a newspaper advertisement when the indentured James Keith ran away. Our family said that he ran away to the Hiwassee Garrison, which was the home of a Cherokee village.


Sworn Testimony of William Loranzo Dow Keith, grandson of James Keith.

Notice the comments at the bottom and along the side of the page that were written by a Guion Miller representative, not family. One at the bottom reads: "Shows Indian to marked degree." Along the side: "All in Crane Eater's family are observed [?] to be full bloods." and "Outside Cherokee Domain." 
Definition of a "full-blood" as related to the Ross Party and Treaty Party: "Full-Blood" became the label for anyone who primarily spoke Cherokee and favored traditional ways." "Minister to the Cherokees: A Civil War Autobiography" By James Anderson Slover, Barbara Lee Cloud, pp174-175. Champions of the Cherokees: Evan and John B. Jones by William G. McLoughlin (1990, Hardcover) : William G. McLoughlin, (Princeton University Press, 1990), 345.
“Full Blood” is a somewhat relative term among Cherokees, since many persons of mixed-ancestry maintained traditional values, spoke only the Cherokee language, and were called “full-bloods.” For example, Sequoyah (aka George Gist) was only ¼ Cherokee, but was considered a full blood. Another example was Redbird Smith, the founder of the Nighthawk or Keetoowah Society." James Hicks' "Cherokee Lineages."
"Outside Cherokee Domain:" Rejected applications fall into several groups, including:
  • Those who resided outside Cherokee domain before 1835 or at treaty periods.
  • Those who filed late; 
  • Illegitimate children;
  • Those who had been associated with other tribes;
  • Those who were slaves themselves or descendants of slaves;
  • Those who were Old Settlers or descendants of Old Settlers.  ~Special Report submitted by Guion Miller, Special Commisssioner, May 28, 1909;
A James Keith was enumerated in the 1830 Monroe County, GA census. A James M Keith was enumerated next door (our James Keith had a son named James M. Keith.). This census indicates he was living outside Cherokee domain before 1835 in Creek territory. One of James Keith's daughters married a Creek Berryhill descendant. Creek and Cherokee territory in Georgia was defined in the Treaty signed Dec 1822. Regardless of blood lineage, Cherokees became Creeks, and Creeks became Cherokees as defined by this treaty.

In her Eastern Cherokee application Sarah Ann Isabelle Prince named her grandparents as 
James Keith and Sarah Butram and Gilbert Prince and Polly Berryhill. 

James Kendrick/Kendrid Prince, grandson of James Keith, provided testimony 
that his grandmother Polly Berryhill was the sister of Pleasant Berryhill 
who left Georgia in 1837 just prior to the Trail of Tears. 
This Berryhill lineage is documented, and descendants are enrolled Muskogee Creek.

Sworn Testimony of Sarah Ann Isabelle Prince, granddaughter of James Keith, re indenture and names of parents of James Keith, Lemuel Keith and Polly Thompson, whose mother was an Adair.

Sworn Testimony of Sarah Jane Pugh, great granddaughter of James Keith, about Polly Thompson's "Adair" mother. She also tells us that Polly lived at the head of the Etowah River near Frogtown. Frogtown was a Cherokee village near today's Forsyth County, Georgia.

Sarah Jane Pugh, great granddaughter of James Keith, Sworn Testimony about the indenture

Sworn Testimony of  Georgia Pugh Going, daughter of Sarah Jane Pugh above, re step father of James Keith and the indenture.
Testimonies are from descendants of James Keith and were included as part of Eastern Cherokee Applications, 1906.

When James Keith was a boy of about 14 years of age, he was bound as an indentured servant. Four men were mentioned in this indenture: Lemuel Keith (listed as Father), Allen Spurlock (Master), James Keith (listed as Uncle) and James Jones (Surety Bond).

His family wrote that he was bound to a "white man." This man was Allen Spurlock of Oglethorpe County, GA, a friend and associate of the elder James Keith, and the indenture was recorded in 1802, after Lemuel Keith died.

Oglethorpe County, Georgia 1802 court records provide details of the indenture of our James Keith.

"James Keith apprentice to Allen Spurlock Hatter - James Jones, security."
Oglethorpe County, Georgia Register of Estates, 1799-1821, Book 87

Minutes, Court of Ordinary, Oglethorpe County, Georgia, 1802-1812, Book 88.
"Ordered that Allen Spurlock be, and he is hereby appointed Master to an orphan James Keeth son and minor of Leml Keeth to learn the Hatters traid, and James Jones came into court and bound himself in a bond of three hundred dollars for the faithful performance of the above trust."

Oglethorpe County, Georgia Administrators and Guardians Bonds, 1799-1807, Book 103.
"State of Georgia
Oglethorpe County
"Know all men by those presents that we Allen Spurlock & James Jones are held and firmly bound unto this their honors the judges of the court of the ordinary for sd county and their successors in office in the sum of three hundred dollars for the payment of which sum to the sd judges and their successors in office we bind ourselves our heirs ? and administrators jointly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 20 day of January 1802 - the condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the county aforesaid has this day bound unto Allen Spurlock and orphan of sd county called James Keith, Jr a minor of Lemuel Keeth decd of this age of 14 years, until he shall arive to the age of twenty one years - now if the said Allen Spurlock shall use deal or treat the said orphan according to an act of assembly in such case made and provided then this obligation to be void else to remain in full force, power and virtue according to the true intent of meaning hereof -
"test   Allen Spurlock (Seal)
        James Jones (Seal) 
"Recorded February the 4th day of 1802"

By 30 Jan 1802, the Uncle mentioned, James Keith, and some associated families had left the Bethany Baptist Church in Oglethorpe County GA and had established the Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Even though Allen Spurlock was not listed among the membership, a Francis Spurlock was recorded. Allen Spurlock married Francis Traylor. The elder James Keith named was the person who signed and gave permission for our James Keith to be indentured. James Jones, provider of the surety bond, was also named. Our Lemuel Keef [Keith] was recorded as 'dead.' Other members were close associates of these families.

Below, a "C" Eater was recorded in the same membership list as a "person of color." This record was written just days after the recorded indenture of our young James Keith above and also in Oglethorpe County, GA. The same church record listed as members James Keith (the Uncle), Lemuel Keef (sic), dead, and Spurlock families. Link to transcription of minutes.


In 1806, James Keith ran away from the Spurlocks. He ran away to the Hiwassee Garrison, which was also the location of a Cherokee Indian village. The newspaper ad offering a reward is below.

"The Monitor of Washington, Wilkes Co., GA," Vol VI, No. 289, dated 30 Aug 1806. 

"RANAWAY from the subscriber living in Clark County, an aprentice boy by the name of James Keith. He is about five feet, five inches high. He was dressed in homespun clothes when he went away. Whoever will deliver the said boy to me shall receive the above reward. I do hereby forewarn all persons from harboring the said boy, as I shall deal with them according to law.
"Allen Spurlock.
July 25, 1806."


Cite this blog post: Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt, "Crane Eater, James Keith, and The Spurlocks," blogpost, ( : accessed [insert date]).

Courtesy Hutke Fields

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 1808 Passport

Dorothy Williams Potter in her "Passports of Southeastern Pioneers, 1770-1823" indicates a passport was issued for a James Keith and a group of other men, including Allen Spurlock. Passports were not issued ONLY to whites; ANYONE (not just whites) entering Creek territory was required to have one.

Ms. Potter goes on to write,
"The southern states east of the Mississippi were in a territory that was for a long time under Spanish or Indian jurisdiction. By law, only persons issued passports were allowed to enter the southeastern territories...." "By 1802, through Georgia's cession to the federal government of her eastern lands and the purchase of the Louisiana Territory soon after, a vast new area opened for settlement in the territory organized into the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. As these new lands were opened for Americans, streams of immigrants began to pour in from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The state of Georgia in 1788 was on the frontier of the United States. Therefore, numerous passports were issued to travel from Georgia to the Indian tribes of the Southwest and also to the Spanish and British settlements beyond. Passports were issued because, in order to reach the western settlements, one had to travel through the Creek Indian Nation. Activity along the boundary line was relatively intense... 
"Responsible authorities found it prudent to exercise caution in allowing wayfarers to enter the Creek Nation. It was imperative that trouble makers who could so easily upset the balance of peace be kept out. To assure tranquility among whites and Indians alike, anyone [emphasis mine] proposing to enter the Nation was required to obtain a passport from the Georgia Governor or the current Indian Agent. The Creek Nation was a semi-sovereign domain within itself, and entry demanded observance of that status." 
"Executive Department, Thursday, 17th November 1808, Ordered That a Passport through the Creek nation be prepared for Edward Moore, James Keith, Allen Spurlock, William Brooks, Greene Cook, and Littleberry Thompson. Which was presented and signed."

"Passports of southeastern pioneers, 1770-1823" by Dorothy Williams Potter, Published 1990 by Genealogical Pub. Co. in Baltimore, MD .