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Red Eagle's Children

Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al.

Edited by J. Anthony Paredes and Judith Knight

Publication Year: 2012

Red Eagle’s Children presents the legal proceedings in an inheritance dispute that serves as an unexpected window on the intersection of two cultural and legal systems: Creek Indian and Euro-American.

Case 1299: Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al. appeared in the Chancery Court of Mobile in 1846 when William “Red Eagle” Weatherford’s son by the Indian woman Supalamy sued his half siblings fathered by Weatherford with two other Creek women, Polly Moniac and Mary Stiggins, for a greater share of Weatherford’s estate. While the court recognized William Jr. as the son of William Sr., he nevertheless lost his petition for inheritance due to the lack of legal evidence concerning the marriage of his biological mother to William Sr. The case, which went to the Alabama Supreme Court in 1851, provides a record of an attempt to interrelate and, perhaps, manipulate differences in cultures as they played out within the ritualized, arcane world of antebellum Alabama jurisprudence.
Although the case has value in the classic mold of salvage ethnography of Creek Indian culture, Red Eagle’s Children, edited by J. Anthony Paredes and Judith Knight, shows that its more enduring value lies in being a source for historical ethnography—that is, for anthropological analyses of cultural dynamics of the past
events that complement the narratives of professional historians.
David I. Durham / Robbie Ethridge / Judith
Knight / J. Anthony Paredes / Paul M. Pruitt
Jr. / Nina Gail Thrower / Robert Thrower /
Gregory A. Waselkov

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Series: Contemporary American Indians


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pp. 1-1


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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-18

The heart of this volume is the legal proceedings in an inheritance dispute. It happened more than century and a half ago in rural Alabama and went all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court in 1851. It was recorded as Case 1299: Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al. Why should a family squabble so long ago matter to anyone today? ...

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1. A Brief Sketch of Creek Country in the Early Nineteenth Century

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pp. 19-35

The parties in this interesting court case, Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al., were the children of the well-known Creek Indian leader William Weatherford Sr. At the time of Weatherford Sr.’s birth in 1781, the territory of the Creek Confederacy, the well-known epithet for the eighteenth-century Muskogees, as the Creeks called themselves, ...

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2. Formation of the Tensaw Community

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pp. 36-45

Several hundred people living within a few miles’ radius of the historic site of Fort Mims, at the northeast corner of the Mobile-Tensaw delta, comprise the modern, unincorporated, rural community of Tensaw, Alabama. A considerable number of today’s Tensaw residents trace their descent back to families that had settled here ...

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3. Early Alabama Law and Chancery Practice

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pp. 46-55

By 1846, when William Weatherford Jr. filed a complaint in the state of Alabama chancery court against Charles Weatherford, Alexander Weatherford, William F. Howell, and Levitia L. Howell, the Alabama court system had undergone significant changes since its earliest introduction into a wilderness territory. ...

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4. Edited Transcript of Case 1299: Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al.

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pp. 56-165

In July 1846 William Weatherford Jr. filed a bill of complaint in chancery court at Mobile against his half-siblings Charles Weatherford, Alexander McGillivray Weatherford, and Mary Levitia Weatherford, and Levitia’s husband, Dr. William F. Howell, since Levitia could not be legally considered independent of her husband. ...

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5. A Modern Creek Indian Reflection on Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al.

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pp. 166-180

This wide-ranging interview has been only lightly edited to preserve its character as a personal document. While the interview provides a personal, modern Creek Indian perspective on Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al., the case becomes a springboard for more wide-ranging reminiscences that touch on many topics of interest in contemporary American Indian studies. ...

Appendix: Reproduction of “Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Alabama, during January Term and a Part of June Term, 1852. Reported by J. W. Shepherd. Vol. XX.”

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pp. 181-192


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pp. 193-204

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List of Contributors

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pp. 205-206

David I. Durham (PhD, The University of Alabama), is curator of Archival Collections, The University of Alabama School of Law. His book, A Southern Moderate in Radical Times: Henry Washington Hilliard, 1808–1892, was recently published by Louisiana State University Press. ...


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pp. 207-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386238
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817317706

Page Count: 218
Illustrations: 6 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Contemporary American Indians
Series Editor Byline: Heidi M. Altman See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 828093976
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Red Eagle's Children

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Weatherford, William, ca. 1780-1824 -- Trials, litigation, etc.
  • Inheritance and succession -- Alabama -- History -- 19th century -- Cases.
  • Creek Indians -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Alabama -- Cases.
  • Conflict of laws -- Domestic relations -- Alabama -- History -- 19th century -- Cases.
  • Creek Indians -- Marriage customs and rites -- History -- 19th century.
  • Weatherford v. Weatherford, 20 Ala. 548 (Ala. 1852).
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