City Directories and History: The State of South Carolina undertook in 1830 to persuade the Catawbas to sell their entire holdings and allow themselves to be removed from the state; they
agreed, but no suitable lands could be found upon which to place them. Ten years later, on March 13, 1840, at the request of the Indians, commissioners met representatives of the tribe at historic Nation Ford and there made a final treaty with them. One of the rarest papers to be disclosed in the research for this volume is a hand-written account of the meeting with the white landowners reporting the meeting of the commission with the Indians in regard to this treaty-their last with the white men. This meeting took place at the ancient Cross Roads, one mile from Nation Ford. The minutes read :
“At a meeting of the Indian land-holders, convened at the Cross Roads, near the Nation Ford, July 31, 1840, B. S. Massey, Esq., was called to the chair, Arch Whyte appointed secretary. The chairman stated that the object of the meeting was to take into consideration, a Treaty entered into (and) between J. Springs, D. Hutchison, E. Avery, B. S. Massey, and A. Morrow, commissioners, appointed by his Excellency Patrick Noble, Esq., under an Act of Legislature 1839 on the one part and the Headmen and others of the Catawba Nation on the other. Mr. J. D. Witherspoon, a delegate to the last Legislature, from the District of York, being present was requested to explain the action of the different Legislatures in relation to the Indian Lands, and the Act authorizing a Treaty, to be made with the Catawba Nation. He accordingly gave a succinct history of the Indian claims and reservation and a detailed statement of the Legislation that had [been passed] at different times, in which he was supported by Mr. Crockett, a member of the Legislature from Lancaster District.
“The Treaty entered into between the commissioners aforesaid and the Catawba Indians, and the report accompanying the same, were read and submitted to the meeting, also a draft of a memorial asking the Legislature to sanction and adopt the same. The Treaty being again twice read, was, after mature deliberation unanimously approved of by the meeting. The memorial ref erred to a committee, consisting of A. Whyte, R. A. Springs, J. S. Sitgraves, J. Moore and Dr. Starr, with instructions to prepare the same and transmit it to the Legislature at its next meeting. Adjourned sine die. “Archibald Whyte, Secy.”
The condition of the Indians at the time of this treaty was pitiful, as reported by the commissioners. They say that the Catawbas have leased out every foot of land within their boundary, and now they “are roaming through the country forming kinds of camps, without any homes, houses, or fixed habitations and [are] destitute of any property save dogs and a few worthless horses. They now seem desirous to have a tract of land on which they can again settle and build little houses a ‘Cording to the number of families and procure some cattle, hogs, and poultry which they were once in the habit of owning.” The report further states that they have now lived in the midst of a dense white population for more than half a century; that their numbers have dwindled from a populous tribe to a remnant of eighty-eight men, women, and children. Of their income they say, “It is not easy to determine with accuracy the amount of annual rents their lands have hitherto yielded. If the original surveys are correct, their land contains 225 sections which at $25 would produce $2,225 annually. Some of the lands have been leased at a higher rate and some not so high. Their income has been a rather nominal one in some instances having been paid badly in articles at high prices, that often answered them but a bad purpose. It is believed that one-third the amount judiciously managed might be made to do more good. Your commissioners are of the opinion that there are from 500-600 families living on lands under lease from the Catawbas, divided into various tracts, of which transactions no regular record has been kept, so that it is a matter of wonder that the lessees have not got into more trouble and litigation.”
This report was signed by John Springs, David Hutchison, Edward Avery, B. S. Massey, and Allen Morrow. It was attached to a copy of the treaty made with the Catawbas a mile west of Old Nation Ford at the ancient crossroads in which the Indians agreed to sell to the State all their rights in Indian Land. (Information from: The City Without Cobwebs – Douglas S. Brown, 1953)
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