When prominent mixed-blood families began to emerge from the Choctaw people in the early 1800s they usually did so where one or both parents were mixed bloods themselves. A case in point is the Leflore family. According to Cushman, 1 the brothers Michael and Louis were living in Choctaw country as early as the late eighteenth century. 2 Cushman has the LeFlores in Mobile not long after the end of the French and Indian War and identifies them as French Canadians who entered Choctaw country as traders, Louis marrying into the mixed-blood Cravat family already in residence there (see Chart 16). J.F.H. Claiborne claimed to have personally known Louis LeFlore and recounted that:
“Louis Le Fleur…owned one of these boats [used in trade with Panton & Company in Pensacola and Natchez], and in this business laid the foundation of his large fortune. When 1 knew him, in my early life, he had established an extensive plantation and cattle ranche [sic] in the Yazoo prairies, in the present county of Holmes, where he died a few years after the last treaty with the Choctaws. He had one hundred slaves and as many Indians, living about him. He was a small man, a Canadian, speaking a singular patois of provincial French and Choctaw, and though over eighty years old, was an indefatigable hunter, spending whole days in the overflowed prairies and swamps. He told me that he had been a great dancer in his youth, in Canada, and was called the flower of the fete. Hence the name Le Fleur, and the sobriquet superseded his original name.” 3
Claiborne also stated that:
Key to Chart
Probable = P, Countryman = C, Yes = Y, Trader = T,
Married = md, Mixed Blood = mb
LeFlore List of Mixed Bloods
|LeFlore, (nfn)||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||md a Thompson|
|LeFlore, (nfn)||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||md a McGee|
|LeFlore, (nfn)||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||md a Wilson|
|LeFlore, Benjamin||Young Warrior||Y||md Mary Juzan|
|LeFlore, Capt.||W Big Black||Y||12 in family|
|LeFlore, Clarissa||Y||dtr of Louis|
|LeFlore, Elizabeth||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||dtr Greenwood|
|LeFlore, Emilee||Y||md a Brashears|
|LeFlore, Felice||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||md Samuel Long|
|LeFlore, Forbis||to OKLA||Y|
|LeFlore, Henry||Natchez||C||British Interrupter|
|LeFlore, Isaac||Big Black||Y||2 in family|
|LeFlore, Jack||Trading House||P|
|LeFlore, Jackson||Y||son of L. Leflore|
|LeFlore, Joel||Big Black||Y||7 in family|
|LeFlore, John||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||son Greenwood|
|LeFlore, Johnson||Y||son of Michael|
|LeFlore, Louis||Pearl/Yazoo R||C|
|LeFlore, Maj.||Funagusha Creek||Y||son, Bazeal|
|LeFlore, Maj. Louis||Yazoo Valley||Y|
|LeFlore, Mary||Y||dtr of Michael|
|LeFlore, Michael||Pearl/Yazoo R||C||Bro of Louis|
|LeFlore, Michael, Jr||Black Creek||Y||4 in family|
|LeFlore, Polly||Pearl/Yazoo R||Y||md a Hawkins|
|LeFlore, Sophia||Y||dtr of Michael|
|LeFlore, Thomas||Y||son of Michael|
|LeFlore, Tobias||Y||1 in family|
|LeFlore, Ward||Y||son of Michael|
|LeFlore, William||Yazoo Valley||Y||6 in family|
|LeFlore, William||Y||son of Louis|
”He kept a noted house of entertainment for travelers, in the nation, on the road between Natchez and Nashville, and he was persuaded by some of these to send his son [Greenwood] to Nashville for his education. He returned home in 1817, and it was soon perceived that he was no ordinary man. He had fathomed the nature of both the white man and the Indian, and was able to cope with either. He was shrewd and penetrating, social yet sufficiently reserved, ambitious as Lucifer, yet guarded in the expression of it, an earnest advocate of reform and education, and giving zealous support to the missionaries. 4
Greenwood’s patron was John Donley of Nashville, a mail carrier who took a liking to the boy. Later, around 1820, Greenwood married Donley’s daughter Rosa, 5 and some years later her sister. 6 After Removal, Greenwood went on to achieve wealth and fame as a planter and Mississippi legislator. 7
According to Cushman, Greenwood had three brothers: William, Benjamin, and Basil; and five sisters: Clarissa, Emilee, and three others whose names Cushman did not remember. Clarissa married a man named Wilson, and when he died she wed Alfred Leach. Emilee married A. H. Carpenter, a lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi and had two sons, Jerome and Surry. The three unnamed daughters of Louis LeFleur married respectively: John Harkins, a mixed blood; a man named Harris; and a man named Traydu or Traydew. 8
The Leflores are a strong example of successful mixed-blood habitation in the Choctaw Nation. Their involvement in cattle raising, farming, trade, and land speculation, as well as the maintenance of a stand on the Natchez Trace (at present-day French Camp) also were positive examples of “civilized” enterprises to the Choctaw Indians. The family intermarried widely with other mixed bloods as well as with the leading Indian families. Their influence was powerful and widespread in the nation.
- Cushman, History, 343.
- Another Leflore, Henry, is found in 1770 in Natchez as an interpreter (probably with the Choctaw tribe which began to frequent that area after the French destruction of the Natchez tribe) for the British, indicating that he had spent some years with that tribe. It is logical to connect Henry to the other LeFlores, although no documentary link has been found. Margaret Fisher Dalrymple, ed., The Merchant of Manchac: The Letterbooks of John Fitzpatrick, 1768-1790, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978) 59n47.
- Claiborne, Mississippi, 218.
- R. Halliburton, Jr., “Chief Greenwood Leflore and His Malmaison Mansion,” in Samuel J. Wells and Roseanna Tubby, eds., After Removal: The Choctaw in Mississippi, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1986) 56.
- Cushman, History, 347.
- Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976) 489; Claiborne, Mississippi, 515-6.
- Leflore folder, Lackey collection, USM.