The only one of all of the Apalachicola River tribes which maintained an existence apart from the Creek confederacy was the Chatot — or Chateaux as it is sometimes called. It is probable that this was anciently very important, for La Harpe calls the Apalachicola River “la rivifère du Saint-Esprit, a present des Châteaux, ou Cahouitas.” 1 On the Lamhatty map an eastern affluent of the principal river delineated, perhaps the Flint, is called Chouctoúbab, apparently after this tribe. 2 When we first get a clear view of them in the Spanish documents, however, they were living west of Apalachicola River, somewhere near the middle course of the Chipola.
The first mention appears to be in a letter of August 22, 1639, already quoted, in which the governor of Florida states that he has made peace between the “Chacatos, Apalachocolos, and Amacanos” and the Apalachee. He adds:
It is an extraordinary thing, because the aforesaid Chacatos never had peace with anybody. 3
In 1674 two missions were established among the Chatot Indians — San Carlos de los Chacatos and San Nicolas de Tolentino. The same year the friars were threatened by three Chiskas (Yuchi) and appealed to the Apalachee commandant, Capt. Juan Hernandez de Florencia, who proceeded to the Chatot country with 25 soldiers. In the certification which these friars, Fray Miguel de Valverde and Fray Rodrigo de la Barreda, give regarding his conduct they state that they had converted the Chatot chiefs and more than 300 of the common people.4 In 1675, as appears from a letter from the Spanish governor of Florida to the crown, the Chatot rebelled, incited, as he claims, by the Chiska, wounded Fray Rodrigo de la Barreda, and drove him to Santa Cruz, the new Apalachee mission station on Apalachicola River.4 There he was protected by Florencia, who put an end to the disturbances, 4 but soon afterwards the Chatot abandoned their country and withdrew among the Apalachee, where they settled in “the land of San Luis.” 5 This withdrawal was probably due to hostilities on the part of the Chiska. At the same time the two missions appear to have been combined into one called San Carlos de los Chacatos given in the mission list of 1680 as a “new conversion.” 6 In 1695 the governor of Florida writes that shortly before the Lower Creeks, whom he calls ” Apalachecole, ” had entered San Carlos de los Chacatos “and carried off forty two “Christians, despoiling and plundering the church.” 7 This attack was only a foretaste of what was to come, but for specific information regarding the subsequent troubles of these people we are obliged to turn to French and English sources.
Unfortunately the similarity between the words Chatot and Chacta, or Choctaw, has resulted in some confusion regarding the history of this tribe. Thus the following account in La Harpe, which is made to apply to the Choctaw, probably refers in reality to another English and Creek attack upon the Chatot:
Jan. 7, 1706, M. Lambert brought a Chacta chief; he brought the news that this nation had been attacked by four thousand savages, at the head of whom were many English, who had carried away more than three hundred women and children. 8
The following items should also be added:
Aug. 25 news was received that two hundred savages allied with the English had gone to Pensacola, and that they had burned the houses which were outside of the fort; that they had killed ten Spaniards and a Frenchman, and made twelve slaves of [Indians of] the Apalache and Chacta Nations. 9
On the 20th [of November] two hundred Chacta arrived with four slaves and thirteen scalps of Cahouitas and Hiltatamahans. 9
Bienville’s account of the Chatot migration to the neighborhood of Mobile and its causes has already been given. 10 It seems strange that La Harpe nowhere mentions it, but from what Bienville tells us, it is apparent that it followed upon the attack of which news had reached Mobile January 7, 1706. The Lamhatty narrative merely says that three “nations” of the Tawasa were destroyed first, and that in a second expedition in the spring of 1707 four more were swept away. 11 Pènicaut, usually much inferior to La Harpe in his record of events, describes the removal at some length, though he places it in the year 1708, at least two years too late. He says:
Some days afterward, the Chactas, who were a nation repelled from the domination of the Spaniards, arrived at Mobile with their women and children and begged MM. d’Artaguiette and de Bienville to give them a place in which to make their dwelling. Lands were assigned them at a place lower down on the right, on the shore of the bay, in a great arm about a league in circuit. It is still called today l’Anse des Chactas. 12
Hamilton says that this Anse des Chactas extended “from our Choctaw Point west around Garrow’s Bend.” He adds:
They occupied the site of the present city of Mobile and were its first inhabitants.. . . When Bienville selected this very ground for new Mobile he had to recompense these Choctaws with land on Dog River. Maps of 1717 and later show them on the south side of that stream, sometimes near the bay, sometimes several miles up.
He notes that their name seems to survive in the Choctaw Point just mentioned and in an adjacent swamp known as Choctaw Swamp. Hamilton also cites several entries referring to members of this tribe in the baptismal registers between 1708 and 1729, but one or two of these may be true Mississippi Choctaw, since Hamilton fails to distinguish the two peoples. 13
In speaking of the tribes about Mobile Bay Du Pratz says:
Nearest the sea on Mobile River is the little Chatot Nation, consisting of about forty cabins; they are friends of the French, to whom they render all the services which can be paid for. They are Catholics or reputed to be such. 14
He adds that the French post, Fort Louis, was just to the north of them. His information would apply to about the year 1738. According to the late H. S. Halbert, of the Alabama State Department of Archives and History, the Choctaw of Mississippi until lately remembered this tribe, and stated that the Chatot language was distinct from their own. Du Pratz, however, in speaking of the small tribes of Mobile Bay, says:
The Chickasaws moreover, regard them as their brothers, because they have almost the same language, as well as those to the east of Mobile who are their neighbors. 15
This matter has already been considered in full. 16
About the time when the other Mobile tribes left to settle in Louisiana the Chatot departed also, as we know by Sibley’s entry regarding them, though he is wrong in speaking of them as “aborigines” of the part of Louisiana they then inhabited. His statement probably means that they had been one of the first tribes to settle on Bayou Beauf. The entry is as follows:
Chactoos live on Bayaa Beauf, about ten miles to the southward of Bayau Rapide, on Red River, toward Appalousa; a small, honest people; are aborigines of the country where they live; of men about thirty; diminishing; have their own peculiar tongue; speak Mobilian. The lands they claim on Bayau Beauf are inferior to no part of Louisiana in depth and richness of soil, growth of timber, pleasantness of surface, and goodness of water. 17
Their last appearance in history is in the enumeration of Indian tribes contained in Jedidiah Morse’s Report to the Secretary of War regarding the Indians, where they are referred to as the “Chatteau,” and are located on Sabine River, 50 miles above its mouth. 18 This report was published in 1822, but the information applies to the year 1817. What happened to them later we do not know, but it is probable that they are represented by or in a Choctaw band in the neighborhood of Kinder, Louisiana.
- La Harpe, Jour. Hist., p. 2.
- Amer. Anthrop., ii. s. vol. x, p. 660.
- Serrano y Sanz, Doc. Hist., p. 196; also Lowery, MSS.
- Lowery, MSS.
- Serrano y Sanz, Doc. Hist., p. 208.
- See p. 323.
- Serrano y Sanz, Doc. Hist., p. 224.
- La Harpe, Jour. Hist., pp. 94-95.
- La Harpe, Jour. Hist., p. 103.
- Amer. Anthrop. ii. s. vol. x, p. 568. See p. 138.
- See p. 123.
- Margry, v, p. 479.
- Colonial Mobile, pp. 113-114.
- Du Pratz, Hist, de La Louisiane, ii, pp. 212-213.
- Da Pratz, Hist, de la Louisiane, ii, p. 214.
- See Bull. 43, Bur. Amer. Ethn., pp. 27, 33.
- Sibley in Annals of Congress, 9th Cong., 2d sess. (1806-7), 1087.
- Morse, Report to Secretary of War, p. 373.