Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Sunday, September 23, 2012

James Madison "Spotted Buck" Lumpkin

While researching the Shavers family, I came across the story of James Madison Lumpkin, husband of Susan Belle Chavis.  James Madison was half Cherokee and his Cherokee name was "Spotted Buck."  He was born around 1815 in Georgia, and was probably the son of Dickson Lumpkin, a respected chief of the Cherokee, and his second wife, Susan Luker.  Dickson Lumpkin, whose Cherokee name was White Path or Nunatsunega, was born about 1763.  He was a headman of Turniptown, near Ellijay, Georgia, and had fought against the frontier whites in Tennessee and Georgia as a youth.  He later fought against the Creeks and was cited for valor by President Andrew Jackson.  Dickson served on the Indian Council for many years, and in old age, owned a farm in present-day Jones County, Tennessee, then the southwestern part of the Cherokee nation.  Dickson owned no slaves and spoke no English, although he could read and write the Cherokee language.  The 1835 census shows him living in Ellijay, Georgia; his household consisted of two fullbloods, one weaver, one spinner and one reader of Cherokee.  He died in 1858 at about the age of 95.

James was reared with his Indian tribe.  He went with the tribe on the Trail of Tears, but left near Chattanooga, Tennessee, saying he would rather be a "damn dog" than live under the conditions the Indians were experiencing.  He left the tribe and went to live among the whites; family history says he looked like a white man, otherwise, he would not have been able to live with them.

James married Susan Belle Chavis in 1840 in Campbell County, Tennessee.  The 1850 census shows James and Susan and their five oldest children living in Campbell County, where he is a farmer.  They live next to Dicey Chavis, age 80.  I have seen Dicey listed as Susan's mother, however, if Dicey is 80 in 1850 and Susan is 25, that would have made Dicey 55 when she gave birth.  I suppose it's not out of the realm of possibility, but it may not be correct.  Given how young girls were when they married then, I think Dicey could be her grandmother.  Also living nearby is Susan's sister, Sarah DeGraw, and her family.  Sarah would marry James Madison after her sister's death.

By 1860 the family, now with nine children, are living in Grundy, Tennessee, and are in Clark County, Arkansas by 1870, now with 11 children.   They are living next door to Sarah McGraw, by then a widow, in 1870.  According to a story by Edith Holmes, James Madison Lumpkin's great-granddaughter, Susan Lumpkin was ill for a long time prior to her death.  Within a few months of her death in 1884, James married her sister, Sarah McGraw.  There were rumors that they were having an affair while Susan was still living and that some of her children were his, although this doesn't seem possible, as she was 61 when they married in 1885.  His children were angry with him over the marriage and refused to speak to him.  According to Mrs. Holmes' story, he tried to get his children to communicate and visit with him, but they wouldn't, and his grandchildren never saw him or knew anything about him.  He died about 1898 and is buried in DeGray Cemetery, near Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Ironically, Mrs. Holmes story about the Lumpkins also indicates there were rumors that the family was related to Georgia Gov. Wilson Lumpkin, who devoted most of his career to removing the Cherokee from their land.

Susan and James' oldest son, George Washington Lumpkin, enlisted in the 17th Tennessee Volunteers, Confederate Army, on March 6, 1861.  This is the same unit that his cousins (Susan's brother Willis's sons, Andrew Jackson, Nathan and Samuel) were in.  He was discharged in June of 1862, re-enlisted two months later, and spent nine months fighting with General Cleburn's division, Hardee Corps. at the Battle of Stones River in Murfressboro, Tennessee.  He was killed in action.  The back story to this is quite interesting.

According to a family story, George took his sister to a dance and a drunk fellow came and sat down on her lap.  George killed the man and joined the army.  He later deserted and went home; the army sent two men to bring him back.  While traveling back, they stopped at a creek to get a drink and one of the men got down from his horse and leaned his rifle against a tree, before he kneeled down to drink.  George took the rifle, shot both men and went back home.  His conscience began to bother him and he returned to the army.  On December 31, 1862, George and a man named Crabtree (Crabtree told the family this story) were going into the battle at Murfreesboro.  They came to a buffalo wallow that was full of water and mud.  Crabtree turned his horse and went around the water hole, but George started to ride his horse through it.  He was hit in the back by a cannon ball.  The other men put him between two old mattresses and he was left as the others went into battle.  When they returned he was dead and was frozen to the mattresses from the blood he had lost.

It's hard to imagine that anyone who could shoot three people to death (one for just sitting on his sister's lap!) would have an attack of conscience and go on to die in battle, but who knows?

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