Notes on the Yuchi (Chiscas)

Extracted from the book, “The Melungeons” by Bonnie Ball

P 35 – Dr. John Swanton a recognized authority on the Creek Indians, has said that the earliest mention of the Yuchi (also called the Chisca) is found in early Spanish documents, “published and unpublished.” 

The Yuchi ere visited by De Soto and other early explorers.  De Soto sent soldiers to the Chisca Province, which was evidently located in the rougher parts of what is now Tennessee.  According to Dr. Swanton, some of the Yuchi left the Appalachian Highlands because of the colonial wars and in 1656 a part of the tribe settled on the James River in Virginia.  They defeated the colonists in battles, but were not heard of afterwards. 

It appears that they separated into distinct groups.  One remained in the north (Tennessee); a second group settled not far from the Choctawhatchee River in western Florida; and others established themselves on or near the Savannah River in Georgia.  Dr. Swanton points out a reference to the “Uche” or “ Round Town People” in SC state archives.  He also mentions a legend found by Thomas Jeffery at some point on the Savannah River above Augusta, which read “Hughchees or Hogoloes Old Town deserted in 1715.”

Hughchees supposedly means “Yuchis”.

In about 1729 the Yuchi gathered in a settlement on the Chattahoochee River under the protection of the Creek confederacy.  In about 1791, William Bartram, a botanist, visited that area in search of botanical specimens.  He described the town as the largest, most compact and best situated Indian town he had ever seen. 

“The houses had wooden frames, lathed and plastered inside and out with a reddish, well-tempered clay, or mortar, that looked like red brick walls.  They were neatly covered with cypress bark and shingles.”

Whether this means they had earlier been influenced by the habits of European explorers is a matter for speculation.  A United States Commissioner to the Creeks saw something similar in 1785 and said: “These people are more civilized and orderly than their neighbors.  Their women are more chaste, and the men are better hunters.

They have lately begun to settle out in the villages, and are industrious compared with their neighbors.  The men help the women with their labors and are more constant in their attachment to the women than is usual.”

Timothy Barnard, a British subject and a “man of affairs”, married a Yuchi and acquired great influence in Indian affairs.  He as the first white settler in Macon, Georgia and died in 1820.  He had three sons by his Yuchi wife: Timpoochee, Michee and Cosena.  These children later played important roles in the government of the Creek Nation, after its removal to the Indian Territory.

P 36 – A great-grandson of Cosena Barnard was the Reverend Noah G. Gregory, who served as a representative from his native town to the Creek Nation, Indian Territory.  That the “Euchees” were essentially a distinct tribe from any others is indicated by their language, which has no resemblance to any tongue spoken on the continent, and by their customs and personal appearance.  They differed from other aboriginal tribes, for many of them had gray eyes and their complexion was several shades lighter than the full-blooded members of other nations.  The shape of their faces seemed to differ slightly too and the women, in many instances, were exceedingly beautiful.

Yuchis, like the Croatoans were friendly to the white man.  They even allied themselves with the US in 1814 against the Creeks. They were led by Timpoochee Barnard, the son of the British subject (actually a Scotchman).  Timpoochee also served in the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Yuchis were very superstitious.  As late as 1890 most of them believed implicitly in witchcraft.  They were once noted for pottery made by the women and for clay pipes  made by the men. Dr. Swanton believed they had a distinct culture that complemented their distinct language.

Some believe the Yuchi to be survivors of the friendly native Americans who greeted Columbus when he first landed in the New World.  They also believe Yuchis could have descended from the Lucayans, Indians thought to have fled to Andros Island a hundred miles off the Florida coat to escape the “fire stick” of Columbus.  In an ancient Spanish chronicle, the Lucayans of the Bahamas were called “Yucayas”, and the Indian name for the “Columbus Indians” was “Yuchi”.

Their later history is easier to reconstruct in later years.  A prominent members of the Yuchi in the Creek nation after their removal to the “Indian Territory” was Chief Samuel William Brown (1843-1935).  His son, Chief Samuel William Brown Jr. visited Georgia a short time before his death.  From his father’s vivid descriptions he was able to recognize various places.  He declared the Yuchi had inhabited Georgia for a thousand years and spoke of their having lived in an area of the coast now submerged.  Brown also knew of a tradition that the said Indians had come from the famous Easter Island.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Chiscas, Yuchi. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Notes on the Yuchi (Chiscas)

  1. Mic Barnette says:

    Benjamin Marshall, a chief in the Creek Nation, (Aabama-Georgia) was an interpreter for the Americans during some hearings about 1835-36 in Columbus Georgia. In one of his statements he said he understood all the dialects of the Creek Nation except the Yuchi. He said the Yuchi language was very stacato.

  2. julie says:

    looking for a charlotte thronton born 1808 belive she was a yuchi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.