About

The Author before he’s had a cup of coffee in the morning

Blog Blurb:

Christopher K. Coleman is a freelance writer and has five books in print to date.  Several deal with Southern history and folklore, including the unexplained phenomena, forteana, the paranormal and histories mysteries.  He has two books in print dealing with the Civil War with a third, a biography of Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War career, due for release by the University of Tennessee Press.

His undergraduate degree was earned at St. Anselm College and his graduate work was pursued at the University of Chicago.  His interests include History, Archaeology and assorted esoteric subjects.  He currently resides in Middle Tennessee with his family.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi.
    Just wanted to flag you that I’ve listed your blog on my page for a “Liebster Award,” the peer recognition from fellow bloggers. Don’t feel as though you need to follow through with the question and answer parameters suggested by the award guidelines (it’s actually a bit labor intensive!). But I just wanted to let you know I admire the work you’re doing here.
    Best,
    Patrick

    Like

  2. I’m writing a book with Reelfoot Lake as a setting…I’ve lived around the lake most of my life but am struggling to find accurate information about the Chickasaw Indians at the time of earthquake
    I’ve even contacted Chickasaw Nation…they don’t even know about Reelfoot Lake…Confused and frustrating…suggestions? I want to be as accurate and respectful

    Like

    1. I have written several pieces about the legends of Reelfoot Lake, some published a few remain unpublished. Somewhere along the line, the story of Kalopin, aka Chief Reelfoot, got labelled as “fakelore” by the powers that be. It is not; while it is not Native American folklore by any means, it is a genuine legend about the creation of the lake and I have written a structural analysis of the legend dissecting its motifs and elements.
      In the process of writing about Reelfoot’s folkore, I did do some research into it’s early history, such as it is. While the legendary Chief Reelfoot was often called a Chickasaw chief, that is not strictly true. The Chickasaw homeland was in northern Mississippi and actually resided in a relatively compact area there. However, they did claim an extensive tract of hunting grounds, extending into what is now western Kentucky and which included the Reelfoot area.
      When the Cherokee sold Judge Henderson the “Transylvania Purchase” in 1775, which encompassed most of Kentucky and the Cumberland Basin in Middle Tennessee, they neglected to tell the Judge that they didn’t own the land–that the Chickasaw did–or at least claimed it as theirs. Several tribes used it as communal hunting grounds. While the Chickasaw did not reside in the Reelfoot area in the late 18th/early 19th century, the area WAS inhabited by a small group of Native Americans and it was their village that was inundated by the subsidence of the land and sudden rush of water from the Mississippi as a result of the New Madrid Quake of December 1811. We know this because of a survey led by Henry Rutherford in 1783; Henry was the son of General Griffith Rutherford, Revolutionary War hero, who received a large grant of land for his war service. A diary of the expedition was kept by Henry and is preserved somewhere in the Draper Manuscripts, but I have yet to track it down. The Draper MSS are a massive collection of documents, most of which have been microfilmed, but finding specific items in the microfilm rolls can be difficult unless you know exactly where they are.
      The Reelfoot tribe probably spoke a language related to Chickasaw (what anthropologists call the Mobilian Trade Language) which is why they are often lumped together with the Chickasaw, but they were not politically tied to them. Because these Indians were relatively peaceful and minded their own business, they escaped the notice of Whites, except for the Rutherford Expedition and the Kalopin legend. Probably thousands of Native Americans died in the earthquake, scattered in small villages up and down the Mississippi, but because these natives were not warlike and not in contact with Whites for the most part, they have been forgotten about. So when you hear descriptions of the quake that say that there was very little loss of life, what they really mean is that there was little loss of WHITE lives.
      The 1795 map of Tennessee made by General Daniel Smith shows the Reelfoot area as it looked before the earthquake and it shows Reelfoot Creek meandering through the area. Reelfoot, by the way, might not be the original name; Davy Crockett hunted it in the early 1800’s and called it “Redfoot” and on Smith’s map it’s hard to tell whether he wrote Redfoot or Reelfoot; so the “Reel” might just be a misreading of Gen. Smith’s flowery style of writing. When you think about it, “redfoot” makes more sense than “reelfoot” for a tribal name, since the soils in West Tennessee have a high iron content and are much redder looking than those of Middle Tennessee.
      Anyway, my sense is that the Earthquake–which was in fact predicted by Tecumseh and his brother The Prophet–caused the natives of the region to regard Reelfoot Lake and its environs as “bad medicine” which might account for the Chickasaw ceding the land to the Whites in The Great Chickasaw Cession of 1818. I’m writing all this without consulting my notes on the subject, which are stored away in a file cabinet; but the treaty has been written about and the original document should be available in amongst the American State Papers series of volumes; it probably can be found online somewhere and no doubt there are scholarly articles about it as well. So 1818 is when the Chickasaw officially relinquish claim to the territory, although they had shunned the area for some years already. I hope this info helps a bit.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s