Biography of Robert F. Wyly

Robert F. Wyly is the son of W. C. Wyly, a Georgian, and grandson of General James R. Wyly. His mother was Elizabeth Starr, of Green County, Georgia. Robert F. was born September 15, 1827, in Habersham County, Georgia, and attended school in Cedartown, same State, between the years 1844 and 1849, after which he began mercantile business at old Cassville, Georgia, and married Miss Amanda C. Williams, daughter of Major Lowry Williams, of Cherokee extraction, in 1850. By this marriage he had two children, Oliver L. and Florence S. (Mrs. Rogers). Robert F. came to this nation in 1857, and settled on Beattie’s Prairie, near the Arkansas line. February 1858, he married Miss Mary J. Buffington, daughter of Joshua Buffington, and stepdaughter to John A. Bell, Hooley Bell’s father. By this marriage he had seven children, Percy, Robert Lee, Julia (Mrs. Johnston), Capitola V. (Mrs. McSpadden), Albert Sidney, Buffington and Zoe. Mr. Wyly took his Negroes to Smith County, Texas, in 1858, where he had a large plantation, and grew cotton extensively in Smith and Rusk Counties until 1862, when he joined Walker’s division of infantry, Confederate service. Before entering the army Mr. Wyly was present at the Oak Hills fight, August 10, 1861. Eager to experience the shock of battle, he persuaded old Kilgore, father to the well-known Buck Kilgore, to permit him to mount his (Kilgore’s) horse, and take the veteran’s place in the line of fight. The old gentleman did so, while young Wyly “rushed into the field,” and when the battle was over returned without a scratch. Not so with old Kilgore, who, although comparatively in the rear, must have been shot dead and so trampled and mutilated that his body was unrecognizable amid the wounded that lay upon the field of blood. Strange incident, that he who sought danger should find safety by the very act of exchanging places! Mr. Wyly soon became captain of a company, and was engaged in the battles of Mansfield, Ducksport, above Vicksburg, and Jenkin’s Ferry. The colonel, lieutenant colonel and major being absent at the latter fight, Captain Wyly took command of the regiment and led them gallantly to the front. In 1868, on the restoration of peace, Captain Wyly returned to the Cherokee Nation. IN 1877 he was elected district judge, Delaware district, being the first white man ever elected by public vote among the Cherokees. He held the office eight years, by re-election, and on its expiration he ran for the senate, but was defeated by a few votes. During the Bushyhead administration he was appointed attorney general to represent the nation on citizenship, and served two years, until 1888. He also served on special occasions as circuit and supreme judge. In 1889 he was appointed editor of the Advocate, the national organ, and held the office until the fall of 1891. Judge Wyly was chief justice of the superior courts of Georgia in 1856 and 1857. The subject of our sketch had three ancestors in the battle of King’s Mountain, viz., Colonel Ben Cleveland, Colonel John Sevier and Colonel William Clarke. Judge Wyly is a tall, handsome, stately looking gentleman, highly educated and intellectual, and possessing great force of character. Politically, as he says himself, he is a “dyed-in-the-wool” Democrat, which phrase is sufficiently expressive to suit the occasion.

Cherokee, Wyly,


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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