MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 3, 2012

Tribal factions often stirred up conflict

By Jonita Mullins
Guest Columnist

— The removal of the Creek Tribe from their southeastern homelands to Indian Territory had served to polarize members of the tribe into various factions. The rift between these factions deepened during the Civil War as members of the tribe sided with either the Union or the Confederacy.

Even after the war ended, suspicion and mistrust continued to cause trouble for the tribe. Generally the two factions consisted of full-blood and freedmen tribal members on one side and mixed-blood members on the other. Tribal elections for chief were often tumultuous and frequently contested. Isparhecher, a former chief, led the full bloods and freedmen of what was called the Loyal Party, and Chief Samuel Checote represented the mixed bloods or Confederate Party.

In the summer of 1882, a group of Creek lighthorsemen (tribal police) attempted to arrest a Loyal Creek for carrying a firearm. A gun battle broke out and two lighthorsemen were killed.  

Rumors circulated that Isparhecher planned to attack Eufaula and burn the town to the ground. Women and children were sent to either Muskogee or McAlester to be out of danger. No attack ever occurred, but the rumor served to keep everyone in the area fearful and on edge. Chief Checote deputized additional lighthorsemen and put Pleasant Porter in charge of bringing peace.

A group of Loyal Creeks had been living for some time on Greenleaf Creek, which is actually in the Cherokee Nation. As tensions increased among the factions in December of 1882, 200 to 300 armed horsemen left the Greenleaf area to go to Okmulgee and confront Checote’s Confederates.  

Young Fred Turner ran to the rooftop of the Turner hardware store and watched as the armed horsemen made their way into Muskogee. Downstairs he saw dozens of the armed Creeks enter the store to buy supplies.

Later, part of this same group arrived at the Tullahassee mission. Alice Robertson and her mother, Ann Eliza, were at the school, preparing for a Christmas celebration. The two women quickly put a meal together and fed about a hundred armed horsemen who showed the missionaries courtesy and respect before moving on toward Okmulgee.

It would be almost six more months before the agitation and the fear it brought finally was settled. The conflict, known as the Green Peach War, finally brought action from the U.S. Calvary, and it ended with a peace accord signed by Isparhecher and Checote at the Rock Church in Muskogee.

Reach Jonita Mullins at Jonita.mullins@gmail.com.