PLUNK GENEALOGY -- see "Family" label on this blog and/or write Mike at

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Hunting

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I were driving down to see Alex, and Mike gave me a bit of a local history lesson. We were driving through Chickasaw County – named for the Chickasaw Indian Nation – and we were approaching the town of Pontotoc – named for a chief of the Chickasaw.

Chickasaw Indians were primarily hunters and farmers, but also significant warriors who ultimately dominated other neighboring tribes. They lived in towns that stretched 10-15 miles along a riverbank. Each town had a well fortified fort where the township would take refuge in times of war. They had two types of housing: one for winter, sunk a bit into the earth and constructed of mud and straw; and one for summer, built of wood and featuring a front porch and balcony.

Each township had a chief with an over-chief who ruled all the towns. Very sophisticated. It certainly resembles mayors and governor. The towns operated independently unless there was a threat to the Chickasaw Nation at which time they banded together for mutual defense – or aggression.

Three hundred-fifty Chickasaw were documented as participants in the War of 1812. The Chickasaw were still a fearsome prospect at the time of the Civil War and did, in fact, provide two full regiments for the Confederate Army. They were the last political unit of the Confederate resistance to surrender.

We’re not sure why the Chickasaw tossed aside neutrality and joined the Confederacy, but we do know that some Indian tribes were slave owners. We don’t know if the local Chickasaw were among them.

The most interesting nugget that Mike passed along was that Chief Pontotoc and his people lived in the region of Chickasaw County, but traveled up to the Memphis area as their winter hunting grounds. They believed that, although Memphis was good for hunting, it was not a fit place to live.

Let me think. Most violent city in the nation. Most obese city in the nation. There are many Memphians today who would agree with the good Chief.

No comments: