Memoirs of the Durant and Crowder Families


Louis Durant, a Canadian Frenchman, was the proprietor of the Durant family among the Choctaws, who came, as before stated, to the Choctaw Nation with the two brothers, Lewis and Michael LeFlore about the year 1770. He, as his friends and contemporaries, the two LeFore brothers, also selected a wife among the Choctaw forest flowers, but whose name has been lost amid the vicissitudes through which her people have passed. They had three sons, Pierre, Charles and Lewis; and two daughters, Margaret and Syllan. The father and three sons served under their renowned chief, Apushamatahah, as allies of the Americans in the Creek war of 1812.

Pierre had seven sons, viz: Fisher, George, Jefferson, Sylvester, Isham, Ellis and Joseph. Ellis and Sylvester served in the Confederate army during the civil war of 1861, the former in the rank of major. Alexander Durant, one of the Supreme Judges of the Choctaw Nation, (with whom I am personally acquainted) is a son of George Durant. Fisher Durant had three sons, Bissant, Dixon and Jesse. Dixon is a minister of the Gospel. He is a poor man in a pecuniary sense, but rich in a spiritual sense. He seems to live alone for the cause of his Divine Master and the salvation of his fellow men. Ah! If the world’s Christians were all such Christians as Dixon Durant, the devils kingdom on earth would soon be overturned, and that of the World’s. Redeemer permanently established thereon. God be with you, my Christian brother! Though poor in worldly goods, and unknown to earthly fame, yet of you, will it not be said in the day of final accounts, as of the poor widow who cast her mite into the treasury? Who then of man can justly estimate thy riches?


Margaret Durant married a man by the name of Eli Crowder; and Syllan, a William Taylor. The two husbands were with their father-in-law and their three brothers-in-law in the Creek war of 1812 as allies of the Americans.

Eli Crowder secured for himself, in the Creek war of 1812, the name Muscokubi (Muscogee or Creek-Killer), which he ever afterwards bore; being called by the Choctaws, Mus-cokubi, and by the whites, Creek-Killer. The following are the circumstances by which he gained the name:

At one time, during the campaign, a company of Choctaw warriors, of which he was a member, was encamped on the outskirts of the main body of General Jackson’s army, then in the Muskogee or Creek NationCrowder, at that time, possessed a little pony which had served him faithfully in more than one trouble, and to which he was greatly attached through a sense of deep gratitude. He frequently would attach a little bell to the neck of the pony and turn him out at night upon the range to graze upon the luxuriant grass that covered the earth in rich profusion, and go early the next morning and drive him from his night wanderings back to camp. Frequently the pony would wander a mile or more from the camp during the night, and Crowder had been warned of the danger of his morning walk after the pony, since a scouting Muskogee might be attracted some night by the bell, and finding it upon the horse, naturally conclude that the owner would be out after him in the morning, and would lie in ambush for him, and, ten to one, would lift his scalp. But Crowder seemed to have no fears. One morning, however, in going after his pony, he heard the little bell at rather an unusual distance away, which aroused his suspicions a little that perhaps the pony had been driven there by a Muskogee scout in order to draw the anticipated owner as far into the solitudes of the forest and away from the Choctaw camp, whose location he perhaps well knew, that he might the safer shoot him; therefore, he kept a vigilant outlook. When he had approached within sight of his little truant quietly feeding some two or three hundred yards distant, whose tinkling bell, mingling- its monotonous tones with the song s of the various forest birds, alone disturbed the profound silence of the scene. The peculiar circumstances of the immediate surroundings, however, began to awaken his suspicions the more that an enemy was lurking near, whose eyes, perhaps, already rested upon him. But bracing up his nerves he continued walking slowly to wards the pony, but with eyes playing in all directions and ears attentive to the minutest sound. He had approached within two hundred yards of his pony when his watchful eye detected the quick movement, as he thought, of an object four or five feet above the base of a large tree a few rods to the left of the still quietly, feeding pony, who seemed to be enjoying his breakfast upon the grass that lay in rich profusion under his feet, as well as the tinkling chimes of his bell that alone broke the profound silence of the vast solitude that lay around, unconscious of the bloody scene that was about to be enacted at his very side.

Crowder made no halt, nor altered his movements in any way, that might have a tendency to betray to his suspected enemy (if real) that he suspicioned his presence. But while he guarded with eagle eyes the suspected tree, he placed double duty upon his ears and also glanced everywhere around. He had walked but a few paces farther when he noticed a seemingly unnatural protuberance, scarcely visible, on one side of the now truly suspected tree. Yet he slowly proceeded on his way, but kept an eye askant upon the tree. As he steadily continued, he noticed the protuberance slowly, but surely, enlarging. Little by little it grew in size until the outlines of half the size of a man s head was discernible then instantly disappeared. That told the tale. Crowder easily guessed the lurking and peeping nondescript that stood behind the tree, and also why the pony was so unusually distant from camps. In a twinkling he formed! His resolution. It was to continue walking towards the pony until within sure range of his rifle, and then risk the chance of securing” the first shot. If he failed, then Margaret Crowder would be a widow. But the word fail was nowhere to be found in Muscokubi’s vocabulary. Therefore, he proceeded on his way, nothing discomfited by the new acquaintance he was about to form, believing he had as long ranged rifle and was as accomplished an expert in the use of it as he who was peeping from behind the tree, and who, he felt sure, would indulge in another peep ere he risked a shot; but after that he resolved to be no longer peeped at, without indulging in a sly peep himself; so he slowly, but resolutely, marched on towards his concealed foe, but kept his eyes upon the place of his concealment. As he expected, again he saw the unnatural protuberance slowly forming on the side of the tree at the very spot where it had twice formed before; slowly, but steadily, inch by inch, it grew until it was in size as before, then as instantly disappeared. Muscokubi ran as nimbly and lightly as a cat towards the tree, which brought him in easy range, and stopped, raised his rifle and held it with unerring aim upon the very spot where the apparition had so oft appeared and disappeared. There he stood the very personification of a marble statue motionless and silent.

Soon he saw the dark barrel of a rifle becoming slowly visible and becoming plainer and plainer to view as it extended out along the side of the tree and pointing toward him, then was motionless; then as before, the apparition slowly began to form; inch by inch it enlarged, but just as it reached its former size the sharp crack of Muscokubi’s rifle, followed by a dull, heavy thud, united with the tinkling pony bell to break the forest silence. He then re-loaded his rifle and again slowly advanced to the (to him) so nearly fatal tree to learn the extent of his morning adventure, and there saw a Muskogee warrior stretched full length in death, as he had expected, with the right side of his head torn off the effect of his death-dealing bullet. For a moment he gazed upon his fallen foe; then severed the scalp from the head, attached it to his belt, and with it and the rifle of the outwitted warrior “as proofs of his adventure, returned to the camp slowly driving the truant pony before him, while the unceasing tinkling of the pony bell seemed as the exultant of both pony and master the former in remembrance of his night s rich repast, and the latter of the securing of the scalp and rifle.

Eli Crowder, alias Muscokubi, lived, as would seem at the present day, to the extraordinary age of 102 years, 2 months and 11 days; but longevity among the Choctaws at that time, as well as among other southern tribes, was of very common occurrence. His first wife was a white woman by whom he had two sons. From her he separated cause unknown. He then married a Choctaw woman by whom he had nine sons and two daughters, who were born: Harris, Jackson, Phebe, James, Catherine, Solomon, David, Louis, Washington, Martin, and one who died in infancy.

His Choctaw wife dying, he married a Chickasaw woman, by whom he had nine sons; Francis Marion (known as Dick,) Eli, Van (known as Bob); the fourth died in infancy; then followed Thomas, William, Joshua, George and John. Louis Crowder, (or Louie, as he is called, and to whom I am indebted for all the above concerning the Crowder family,) the sixth son of Muscokubi by his Choctaw wife, is acknowledged throughout the Choctaw Nation as the best interpreter in it. He has been acting in the capacity of general interpreter for the Choctaws and Missionaries during the last forty-five years. He is a consistent member of the Old School Presbyterian Church (south). His grand father, James Crowder was an ordained Methodist minister of the Gospel; and two of his uncles, Jeptha and Levi, were class leaders in, the Methodist church. He has been greatly afflicted with rheumatism for many years, yet has born his affliction with becoming Christian fortitude, ever wearing a smiling face and a cheerful countenance.

Choctaw Nation,

Cushman, Horatio Bardwell. History Of The Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. Greenville, Texas: Headlight Printing House. 1899

1 thought on “Memoirs of the Durant and Crowder Families”

  1. Louis Durant married She Ni Yah, Choctaw Rose, also know as She Ni Yak Hanak Iska. I believe Hanak Iska is the name of her tribe. She was my 5th Great Grandmother. She did give birth to Syllan Durant, my 4th Great Grandmother.
    My family tree goes way back on Louis Durant’s family, but I’ve not been able to search She Ni Yah’s ancestors.

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