Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Isaac ALEXANDER Chickasaw Freedman Card #1433

#WarriorWednesday
Isaac ALEXANDER CHIF#1433

Born in an unknown community in Mississippi, Isaac Alexander was born to his parents Alec and Zilphia, in the 1820s.  They were slaves of Jim Colbert, of the Chickasaw Nation.  The family came to Indian Territory with the Chickasaws in the 1830s when Isaac was a young boy and most of his life would be spent in the Chickasaw Nation.
M-1186 Chickasaw Freedman Card #1433 Isaac ALEXANDER 
Not much is known about his younger years, but Isaac and his family were enslaved by Chickasaw Indians.  The record does not reveal much about Isaac’s father or if he is the same Aleck mentioned in a runaway slave notice or not.  However, as much as Aleck, the runaway wanted freedom, so did Isaac Alexander. When the Civil War reached Indian Territory, the young Alexander would see Chickasaw slave masters leave to join the Confederate Army. 

He made a decision that if he would take a chance to seize his own freedom. Isaac traveled northward to Kansas, to enlist in the Union Army.  He heard of the recruitment of able bodied young black men to join the 1st Kansas Colored, and Isaac made up his mind to join them. 

He would have to find a way to get to the line of the Union soldiers.  Through the network of a strong underground movement, Alexander made his way to Kansas, and in April of 1863 he arrived in Ft. Scott and became a free man; Isaac enlisted in the United States Army.


He was a mature man, and in his Civil War pension file, he speaks to his age and reflected upon his maturity even when he joined the US Army:
USCT Pension File Isaac ALEXANDER

"I do not know how old I was when I enlisted, but I had grandchildren when I went into the army. I was a sound hearty man when I enlisted, and was free from all disease."

While in the army he did suffer an injury to his leg while on duty but still served his full term in the war.  He had found his way to Kansas before other black Chickasaws would join them in the war.

Quash Colina a friend and another soldier told of his life serving with the Indian Home Guards—a Union Regiment.

“I was a member of Company H of the 1st Indian Home Guards during the war, and served under the name of Quash McLeesh, my slave name."

"I was the slave of a Chickasaw Indian named Frazier McLeesh. I have known the claimant Isaac Alexander, all my life. We are both Chickasaw colored men.   He was in the 79th US Colored Troops, and I remember seeing him when at Ft. Gibson, when his regiment came to that place.  He went to the war about a year before I did.  Just prior to that time, our families lived not more than 100 yards apart."

Senate Executive Document 82-40th Congress 2nd Session 1868
We Chickasaw people who had been in the Indian Home Guards moved into camp near the Old Creek Agency, on the Arkansas River, near Muskogee, after (we) were discharged, and remained there till March following, when we all came back to the Chickasaw Nation, together.”
Upon return, the fate of the Chickasaw Freedmen was up in the air, and what their options were—no one could tell.

 There was much talk about removing the Freedmen from the Chickasaw Nation, and many who clearly did not wish to leave the land that they now called home and where their loved ones were buried. 

They became a people without a country, and without rights, and they needed someone to be their voice as their fate was being discussed from Tishomingo, to Washington. 

In 1868 as the terms of the Treaty of 1866 were about to expire, Isaac Alexander became a voice in the community, joining 39 other men, by sending their voices to Washington in a document later known as Senate Document 82. This was the first of other documents from the same communities where help and intervention for assistance was needed for people, most of whom could not read, and had no direction, and no knowledge of how things worked. 

In 1877 the undetermined state would still be an issue, and that summer the community of Chickasaw Freedmen, selected Isaac Alexander along with King Blue to be their representatives to visit Washington DC on their behalf. 
1896 District Map of Indian Territory-Ada


In Stonewall, at a convention of colored citizens of the Choctaw Nation, and Chickasaw Nation, King Blue and Isaac Alexander prepared to visit Washington. It was that time, when the eloquent memorial of the Chickasaw Freedmen was developed.  This memorial pointed out that “there they have families, wives and children, and property, in fact, everything that is dear to them is there; and they would consider it a great hardship to be forced to leave their firesides and to seek new homes.”

But because the Chickasaw Freedmen were large in number, larger in fact that the number of Chickasaw Indians who had once enslaved them, the tribe was vehemently against their being a part of the nation—for fear that the Negroes would eventually take over the tribe.  As financial and economic obstacles were continually placed in their path, their own struggles were almost a reflection of the same levels of exclusion found in their ancestral home in Mississippi, where former slaves were in the majority but would be excluded

Isaac Alexander would continue to be a leader relied upon for support and guidance and leadership in the communities of Stonewall, Ada, and throughout the Freedmen settlements of the Chickasaw Nation.


Please note: the following article was done in conjunction with Angela WALTON-RAJI about a hundred years ago August 10, 2009, I just did some editing and added the images for illustration. I think we needed to publish this now if we didn't then.


SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS ARTICLE

  • ALEXANDER
  • BLUE
  • COLBERT
  • COLINA
  • McLEESH/McLISH

 PLACE NAMES APPEARING IN THIS ARTICLE

  • ARKANSAS RIVER
  • CHICKASAW NATION
  • CHOCTAW NATION
  • Ft. GIBSON
  • Ft. SCOTT, KANSAS
  • INDIAN TERRITORY
  • KANSAS
  • MISSISSIPPI
  • MUSKOGEE
  • OLD CREEK AGENCY
  • TISHOMINGO
  • WASHINGTON, D.C.