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John James of Alvarado & the Choctaw at Stockbridge Academy

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Stockbridge Academy, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson, a third great grandson of Judge James Hudson

Between 1884 and 1888, John James of Alvarado, Texas, returned to the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory from his home in Wise County, Texas. He came to Stockbridge Academy, found today at Eagletown, Eagle County, Oklahoma, to fulfill his dream of being with the Choctaw, a dream he held to since his first encounter with them on his family’s migration from Illinois into Texas Territory when he was fifteen.

John’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Rosaline “Ross” Bradley, died in 1879, leaving him with four children.

Two months later, John quickly remarried to Louisa Ellen Sutton. By 1884, Louisa had given John two more children. But soon, John would find himself at Stockbridge surrounded by many more than his own six children.

John James (1852-1927), commonly referred to among his family as John James of Alvarado

Stockbridge was founded by Cyrus Byington, who named the Choctaw school after his birthplace in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Byington migrated to Mississippi in 1821, where he became a missionary to the Choctaw. Finding the Choctaw had no written language, Byington set about to create a grammar, dictionary, and speller.

Byington followed the Choctaw in 1832 in their removal to Oklahoma. There, for another thirty-one years, Byington preached and taught among the Choctaw. Byington died in 1876.

Cyrus and Sophia Nye Byington, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson

 

Judge James Hudson, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson

John James was invited to Stockbridge by Judge James Hudson. John arrived sometime in 1884. At Stockbridge, John and Louisa would add two more children to their growing family. Among John’s students were the children and grandchildren of Judge James Hudson, some of whom found their way into John’s book My Experience with Indians, published in 1927 right before John died.

In 1888, John James acquired a portion of the estate of his former father-in-law Jackson Bunyan Bradley, who died the previous year. Bradley and his family came to Texas from Mississippi in 1851, accompanied by his brother-in-law Sam Myers. In Johnson County, Texas, Bradley built and operated a school at Mountainview, where John would live and teach next.

Elliston E. Dyer

Though John James left Stockbridge for Mountainview, he also retained his love of the Choctaw. When he wrote My Experience with Indians he wrote of them in particular “that my children and grandchildren may know of them.”

Six years later in 1894, after leaving Stockbridge, John James received a letter from one of his former Choctaw students, Elliston E. Dyer.

Hon. J. James, Alvarado, Texas.
“My dear old time friend:
“I have just received a copy of the Cleburne Daily Times, and in it I find your picture, and note that the paper states that you spent several years among the Choctaw Indians, as a missionary…This of course calls to my mind the days of long ago, when you were at old Stock Bridge, trying to guide to the right direction, the destinies of a bunch of more or less ignorant boys and girls…Of the Choctaw tribe, I am one, and I have often thought since then, what a pity that men like you weren’t scattered all over this country…”

On December 29, of that same year of 1894, Louisa bore John a son, the last of the couple’s thirteen children. John and Louisa James named the child Elliston Dyer James.

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RELATED

The Choctaw Teach John James to Sing for His Supper

The Choctaw Family of Elliston E. Dyer

My Choctaw Family, The Family History of Judge James Hudson

Genealogy Database for the Choctaw Relatives of John James of Alvarado

Preview Chapter Four, “An Independent Free Man,” from Jesse James Soul Liberty About John James of Alvarado

Susannah James, Matriarch of Colbert Chickasaw Descendants  


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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

☞Today in Old-West History — On today’s date 119 years ago, Sunday, October 19, 1902, notorious Old-West outlaw & fiddle player James Hardin “Uncle Jim” Younger (1848-1902) met his earthly demise at the age of 54 when he committed suicide by gunshot whilst on parole at Saint Paul, Minnesota.

☞Requiéscant In Pace, Jim Younger.

☞Jim Younger was one of the central figures of a band of the most desperate outlaws the Old West ever knew — the infamous James-Younger Gang, which was formed by Jim’s brother Cole Younger along with Frank & Jesse James.

☞Jim Younger joined the Confederate Army during the War Between the States (1861-1865) & served with Quantrill’s Raiders. In 1864, he was captured by Union troops & was imprisoned until the end of the War.

☞After the War, Younger worked on various ranches until he joined the James-Younger Gang in 1873. When his brother John was killed at Roscoe, Missouri in 1874, Jim left the gang & went out west where he worked on a ranch in San Luis Obispo, California.

☞In 1876, Jim returned to the gang, & on September 7 he participated in a bank robbery that became known as the Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. During that robbery he was shot & captured. The James brothers escaped, but Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger were shot up by a posse, arrested, & sentenced to long terms in the state penitentiary at Stillwater, Minnesota, where they were afforded celebrity status.

☞Jim Younger’s fiddle was one of the few possessions that he was allowed to have with him in prison, & he played it often. As time passed, Jim noticed that a little bird would appear most every day in the window of his jail cell. It seemed as though the bird came to listen whenever Jim played his fiddle. Jim was lonely & he befriended the bird which he named “Swipsy.” The bird would fly into the prison cell & Jim would always try to have crumbs to feed Swipsy. One day, a fellow prisoner killed the little bird just for spite. Jim then painted a picture of Swipsy on the back of his violin to remember his little feathered friend.

☞In 1898, the prison warden allowed the prisoners to throw a Christmas party at his own home, with Cole Younger portraying Santa Claus & Jim Younger playing his fiddle.

☞Paroled in 1901, Jim became engaged to his long-time lover Alix Mueller; however, because of the terms of his parole he couldn’t marry her.

☞On October 19, 1902, after a failed attempt to sell tombstones & then insurance, Jim Younger locked himself in his room, wrote a suicide note to Alix, picked up his revolver, & blew his brains out.

☞In 2013, Jim Younger’s fiddle, which was played by him at the famous 1898 Christmas party at Stillwater Prison, was sold at a Dallas, Texas auction for over $11,000.

☞The left-hand photograph depicts the image of Swipsy the Bird that Jim Younger painted on the back of his fiddle. The right-hand photograph depicts an undated studio portrait of Jim Younger.
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Tuesday October 5th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

For Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, CA., and all his descendants, PASO ROBLES FOUNDERS’ DAY 2021. See MoreSee Less

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