Bounty Application of W. G. Thornton

Tah-Le-Quah, Cherokee Nation:

W. G. Thornton, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, of lawful age, and to me well known to be a creditable person, after being by me first duly sworn, deposes as follows:

I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation; I am one of the associate judges of the supreme court of the Cherokee Nation. My son, Stephen Thornton, enlisted in the Third Regiment Indian Home Guards, in July, 1862, and served until some time in the summer of 1863, and died in the hospital at Fort Gibson of smallpox, in the fall of 1866. I called on John W. Wright at Fort Gibson to get my son’s bounty, he being a minor, and I was his legal heir. I went into the office of Judge Wright, where two or three clerks were employed, and they looked over the books and papers and said there was nothing there for me. I then went to see Judge Wright. He asked me if I came on any business. I told him I came to see about my son’s bounty. He asked me if I could not get it. I told him no. He asked me to walk with him; he went into the office where the clerks were paying off soldiers, and without saying anything counted me out $55, and handed it to me. He then told me there was $39 back pay coming to my son in Judge Whiting’s hands that I would get some time, if he, Whiting, did not rum away with it. He then asked me if there were any other soldiers in my neighborhood that had not been paid. I named three and he paid me $85 for each of them. Some time during last summer Judge Wright was at Tahlequah. I called on him for the bounty of Creek Watt and Ned Lasley; they were both with me but could not talk English. He picked up the book and said here it is, Creek Watt, killed in battle at Cabin Creek; Ned Lasley died in hospital at Cane Hill of fever; but said he had not the money to pay them. Some man present asked for his claim. Wright looked at his books, and told his son, Brown Wright, to pay the claim. Brown replied that there was no money to pay that claim. He then told Brown to pay it out of the money belonging to the colored soldiers, which he done. I was present, and seen Wright pay many soldiers the $85, charging them $15 each for his services. When any would object to his charging $15, he would count out the $85, throw it down, tell them that that was their bounty; take it and leave; that that was all they would get. I am well acquainted with many soldiers that have not got their pay, and I know that there is a general dissatisfaction with the way in which Wright is doing business.

Witness: GEORGE W. Ross.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 11th day of October 1867.
Clerk of Circuit Court.

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42nd Congress. Alleged Frauds Against Certain Indian Soldiers. House of Representatives Report, 2nd Session, No. 96.

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