Lot 328    

Fine Choctaw Indian Photograph Album, Once Property of the Folsom Family
6/23/2011 - American History, Including the Civil War
Lot includes photo album and accompanying book. Possibly assembled by Christine Folsom Bouton Bates. It includes 21 cabinet cards, 46 cdvs, 13 tintypes (most cdv-sized or inserted into that size card), and 17 other images, some fairly modern (1940s or 1950s), some even cut from newspapers or books. There is also an envelope with a scrap of fabric with the note: Apr. 5 1905 From the boquet that was presented to President Roosevelt. It also contains obituaries for Christine Bates. Another envelope contains a letter from 1845 addressed to Miss Colyar plus a small envelope with "Kate's hair." Accompanied by Debo, Angie. The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. Norman (OK): University of Oklahoma Press, 1934.

The book, as suggested, is an extensive history of the Choctaw. A major branch of the Muskogean linguistic group in the Southeast, the Choctaw are closely related to the Chickasaw, and somewhat more distantly to the Creek. At contact, they lived in substantial palisaded villages in central and southern Mississippi, farming the native plants (corn, beans, pumpkins, melons), supplemented with wild ones (nuts, berries) and building mounds at their sacred sites. Politically, they seem to have been a complex chiefdom, with local, regional and specialized chiefs (such as a War Chief). Their first encounter with Europeans was with DeSoto, and their courage in war and organization nearly overcame the Spanish steel armor and guns. But hundreds of Choctaws were killed in the ensuing fighting (Spaniard estimates were 2500 - 3000, probably overstated). Fortunately, few ventured into their territory for another century and a half, but the 18th century brought French, English, Spanish and Americans. Enticed to aid one or another, the Choctaw found themselves at war with the Natchez and later the Chickasaw, where previously they had had peaceful trading relations with those neighbors. But they did begin to learn white diplomacy (and intrique), even as "control" over the region was handed from one European power to another. They became "Americans" with the Louisiana Purchase.

Several influential white men married into the tribe, including David and Israel Folsom, John Pitchlynn and Louis and Michael LeFlore. The Folsoms were sons of Nathaniel Folsom, who arrived and married into the tribe about 1775. All of these men fully embraced their adopted nation and in some capacity served as translators, mediators, general go-betweens for the two cultures, white and Choctaw. Among the Folsom names that appear in this album are Fannie, Bud, Theodore, Julius, Athenia, Nancie, Alford, Dr. I. W., Belle (wife of I.W.), Ida, Will, Ottie, Ruth, Juana(?), Nellie, Peare(?), Peter, and Christine. Other surnames include Colbert, Pitchlynn, Bouton, Bond and Wright. Judge Julius C. Folsom was a son of Israel Folsom, who was a son of Nathaniel Folsom. Christine Folsom Bates was Julius' sister. Peter Pitchlynn was a son of John Pitchlynn. Both Peter and David Folsom were influential in the Choctaw removal and postremoval period. David was Chief of the Lower Towns in the 1820s and along with John Pitchlynn and Daniel McCurtain and several other chiefs represented the Choctaws in Washington, DC in 1824. The tribe became divided (as did most other native groups) over the issue of removal. Peter Pitchlynn split with the majority, sold his land east of the Mississippi River and moved to Oklahoma Territory in 1831, just ahead of Jackson's forced removal. His wealth and influence helped to reestablish the Choctaw nation in the new lands, and he became a Choctaw delegate in the 1860s.

Clearly, since photography did not come on the scene until the 1840s or later, there are no images of the first generations (John Pitchlynn, David Folsom, Nathaniel Folsom). But many of the later generations are represented in this album. Probably assembled by Christine or a sibling, this generation is well-represented. Nathaniel Folsom had 24 children, so clearly not all are here. An important group of Choctaw "movers and shakers."

AUCTIONEER'S NOTE: Thanks to a sharp-eyed Indian specialist, one of the cdvs of an unidentified gentleman included in the collection (first photo seen here, bottom row, middle carte-de-visite) is a portrait of Allen Wright, Principal Chief during the 1860s & 1870s. He was the man at the Fort Smith Council in September, 1865, who suggested the name "Oklahoma" for Indian Territory, from the Choctaw words meaning "Land of Red Men."

Album is heavily toned, spine gone. Needs some stabilizing. Many have chipped so that the slots no longer hold the photos, and identities have been separated from the loose photos.
Sold: $2,937.50
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