Biography of B. F. Smallwood

This prominent Choctaw was born about the year 1829, in the State of Mississippi, and emigrated with the mass of his people to the Choctaw Nation. His first schooling was received at Shawneetown, on Red River, after which he went to Spencer Academy for some time. On leaving there he devoted several years to farming on his father’s place, in Kiamichi County, and in 1847 commenced cattle rising and agriculture for himself. In 1849 he married Miss Annie Burney, a Chickasaw, of the house of Ima-te-po, by whom he had seven children, two of whom are living, Amelia and Lorinda. In 1862 Ben Smallwood opened a mercantile business in Kiamichi County, but moved to Atoka in the following year, where he continues in the stock and farming business, being located about ten miles from Atoka and four miles from Lehigh. Since the age of eighteen years Ben has been holding office among his people, commencing as ranger of Kiamichi County and graduating upward to chief executive. From 1847 until 1887, excepting the years of the war, he has held the office of representative, being four times speaker of the House. For many years he has figured as the leader of a strong party, but was defeated by small majorities until the year 1888, when he out-voted Wilson N. Jones and was inaugurated principal chief of his nation. In 1890 the same contest took place; but Governor Smallwood had grown weary of official responsibilities and made no effort whatever to secure his re-election. The consequence was that his vote fell considerably below the previous term, while Wilson Jones, who had worked with energy throughout, polled a much larger vote than before. It is therefore assumed that the latter will take his seat, although this will not be rendered certain until the meeting of the council in October next. Governor Smallwood was a captain during the war in the Second Choctaw Regiment and experienced a good deal of service. He is a man of fine physical exterior; his face is handsome and indicates force of character, while his chest is broad and limbs strongly built, and in height he is a little above average. He is a first-class statesman and legislator, but prefers a quiet home life, with an occasional hunting trip in company with Governor Throckmorton, of Texas, to hunting votes for the coming election. No man loves his people better, or is more truly patriotic, than Mr. Smallwood. Such has ever been his reputation, and such it is likely to remain. His property consists of a farm of five hundred acres, beautifully situated, and containing four mineral springs, one of iron, another carrying sulphur, and so on. These springs undoubtedly possess valuable curative properties. He has also a large herd of improved stock. He is a descendant of the Oklafalaya clan.


Indian Territory,

O'Beirne, Harry F. and Edward S. The Indian Territory: Its Chiefs, Legislators, and Leading Men. St. Louis. 1898.

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