Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

This page was created 06 Sep 2008


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Many Moons Ago

By JOSETTA GRIFFITH
FNB Chronicle Editor

In 1838, soldiers near Savannah, Georgia were rounding up Indians for the removal to Oklahoma on the "Trail of Tears.í

A three-year-old Indian boy was left behind, hidden in the woods by his parents. He nearly starved, eating only fruits, berries, roots, bark and whatever he could find. A Cherokee woman who was married to an English settler found the child

She named him "Simmon Tree" because she found him underneath a persimmon tree.

The couple raised him.

The boy adopted their name after he grew up and a Justice of the Peace wouldnít perform his wedding ceremony unless SIMMON TREE took a surname.

So, he became SIMEON TREE MARCUM, after BURCHFIELD and NANCY MARCUM, his adoptive parents.

During this time in 1838, BIG BEAR (HENRY MATHIS) and his wife MARTHA ELLEN (both full blooded Cherokees) lived in Turtletown, Ga. Make-shift stockades were used by the soldiers to gather the Cherokee Indians in until time for their removal from their native homeland on the "Trail of Tears" to reservations in the Southwest. On this particular day, BIG BEAR was away on a hunting trip and the soldiers took MARTHA ELLEN to the stockade. Word was left for BIG BEAR to be ready to travel by daybreak the next day. He refused to go and hid out, taking his three daughters, PRUDY, REBECCA and ELIZABETH, and going to Somerset, Kentucky. ELIZABETH, at the age of four, died from a fever on the way and was buried in an unmarked grave near Burnside, Kentucky.

The route the soldiers took brought the Indians across Tennessee, into Kentucky, southern Illinois and Missouri on the way to the new home in Oklahoma. MARTHA ELLEN was expecting a child and when her labor began, the drunken soldiers beat her to death with the butts of their rifles. Two women who were with her buried her beside a log, stacking rocks over her to protect her body from birds and animals.

When BIG BEAR learned the fate of his wife, he searched for almost three years under every log in the vicinity-of where he had been told she was buried, but he never found her remains. BIG BEAR vowed he would never again speak the white manís language or abide by the white manís laws as long as he lived, nor would his children. He never spoke to white men after that except by using sign language. As for violating laws, he stole horses, burned buildings and did anything he could to disobey white manís laws.

BIG BEAR spent his last years in a one-room cabin in Pulaski County, Ky. In the fall after the crops were taken in, he would take his spear and bow and arrow for a hunting trip that usually lasted a moon and a half (six weeks). He would bring home enough meat to last a year.

He never came home from his last hunting trip. About a year later an old Indianís skeleton was found ó it had been scalped. It was presumed the skeleton was that of BIG BEAR.

NANCY and BURCHFIELD MARCUM were living near Monticello, Kentucky when their son SIMMON TREE met PRUDY MATHIS, daughter of BIG BEAR and MARTHA ELLEN MATHIS.

SIMMON TREE (age 20) and PRUDY (age 25) went to Jamestown, Tennessee looking for someone who could marry them. They spotted a shingle outside an office that said, "J. O. SHARP, JUSTICE OFTHE PEACE, I TRY COURT CASES, BUY FURS AND HERBS AND MARRY PEOPLE."

When the Justice of the. Peace asked SIMMON TREE for his last name, he said: "SIMMON TREE is all I have." Without a surname, SIMMON couldnít be legally married. SIMMON TREE told that he was raised by BURCHFIELD and NANCY MARCUM. The Justice of the Peace asked if he would take the name of MARCUM. SIMMON TREE said "If thatís what I have to do to marry her!" That must have been the time he began spelling his name "SIMEON" as it appears on his tombstone.

SIMMON TREE sold the honorable Mr. SHARP 65 cents worth of furs to cover the marriage license fee of 50 cents, plus a 15 cents clerkís fee.

PRUDY MATHIS MARCUM was a medicine lady who practiced medicine during the Civil War. She specialized in fevers and chills and her husband, SIMEON TREE MARCUM, was a volunteer Union soldier. In 1862 SIMEON TREE enlisted for the State of Tennessee. He served about a year, then received a medical discharge after having been shot.

When he enlisted, he had five children and one more on the way. And when he was discharged, he was told he could take his discharge to the Department of Interior and they would make him a citizen of the United States. He told them he had a wife and six children ówould they make them citizens? They said "no." He told them if that is the way it was, "Damn the citizenship!" He died in 1915, still an Indian, not a citizen.

HAROLD T. (Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR) MARCUM, of Winfield, Tennessee, was born in 1911 (MARK is a derivative of MARCUM) and is the son of EMERSON (RUNNING BEAR) and SUSIE LAY MARCUM, grandson of SIMEON TREE and PRUDY MATHIS MARCUM, and great-grandson of BIG BEAR, who was born in 1801, and MARTHA ELLEN, who was born in 1808.

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SIMEON TREE, PRUDY and EMERSON MARCUM are buried at Straight Fork in the Fairview Church Cemetery.

HAROLD T. MARCUM was given the name LITTLE BEAR by his grandmother, PRUDY MATHIS, and he grew up under Indian customs, wearing shoes his father made for him using a straight last that had been handed down from his great-grandfather, BIG BEAR. "Weíd get out and wade in the branch each day, for a week or 10 days, until those shoes would fit good around our feet. Iíve often said that he only made two sizes, too big and too small. If we wore the shoes out early, we had to wrap feed sacks around our feet and legs to get out and hunt," recalled Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR.

Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR hunted with a bow and arrow. He was raised in Scott County until the age of 14 when he moved to West Virginia. During his teens he worked in coal mines and later served in the Army and was a supervisor in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He owned a sand company on the Holston River, then a dairy farm in Sweetwater, before retiring in 1970. He is a 50-year Scottish Rite Mason, charter member of Knoxville bodies.

In 1979 Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR was appointed village chief in Tennessee of the United Eastern Lenape Nation.

Lenape means people. The Lenape tribe is a branch of the Delaware Indians, those which met the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and fed the early settlers at Thanksgiving and when they were about starving through the winter.

Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR has served since 1983 as High Chief of the Middle Division of the U.E.L.N. His division is headquartered in Scott County and has 900 members. The United Lenape Band is open to those who are at least one-sixteenth Indian. About ninety percent of the members are of Cherokee descent. Other tribes represented in the U.E.L.N. are Sioux, Black Foot, Chippewa, Apache and Algonquian, to mention a few. As High Chief, Mark Little Bear represents 20,000 people across the United State and in some foreign countries.

A Prayer

Of A Lenape Chief

0, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.

Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy ó myself.

Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes, so when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

0, Great Spirit, when life ends on mother earth, go with me across that border into that great unknown land (Happy Hunting Ground) where no man or creature has ever returned:  Amen.

Chief Mark Little Bear
Route 1, Box 22
Winfield, Tennessee 37892
(615) 569-4960

His duties as High Chief include speaker for said Indian nation, promotes the well being of said nation, presides over all High Councils and Grand Council, has the right to issue awards and promotions, instructs members of nationís history, cultural (both religious and material) traditions, customs, etc., has the right to issue direct orders to any of its nationís members, has the right to enforce all the nationís by-laws and constitution, the right to call, when imperative, a High Council, and he answers only to the High Council.

LITTLE BEARís division is the largest and attempts to do the most for its people. A food and clothing-for-the-needy program is the most visible local project. DONNA (LAUGHING FAWN) MARCUM, LITTLE BEARís wife, supervises the operation. Items of clothing, which include winter coats, are distributed at a building located next to Chief LITTLE BEARís residence on the New Light Road in Winfield on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Itís free and there are no questions asked, according to Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR. The distribution center was built with labor and materials that were donated. The clothing is also donated by many area residents.

Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR strives to enhance the employment opportunities for local people of Indian descent and has spent a great deal of time trying to secure federal funds to provide schooling for Indians.

Chief MARK LITTLE BEARís son, HAROLD A. (TONY BEAR) MARCUM is a banker in Chattanooga, Tennessee and his sons (grandchildren of Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR) are EDDIE MARCUM, who is employed by a newspaper in Knoxville; HAL MARCUM, who is employed in the field of electronics; and MARK MARCUM, who works for TVA. Other local relatives include: first cousins LELA CROSS and ELMER MARCUM; second cousins NADINE WHITE, ARTIE SHARP and BLANCH COLLINS; and nephew HORACE E. "Jup" MARCUM. [Lela Cross is Lillian "White Rose" Cross and is the sister to Harold Marcum -- not his first cousin.  This information provided by Kathy Stover, granddaughter of Lillian "White Rose" Cross]

A "Pow-Wow" festival will be held April 29, 30 and May 1, 1994 in Winfield on the grounds of the municipal building.

The 15th Annual Eastern Lenape Middle Division Pow-Wow will be held on the grounds of the municipal building at Winfield (or possibly at the new Winfield City Park, if ready by then) on September 16, 17 and 18, 1994.

Native Americans will show how to make baskets, leather crafts, do quill pen writing, paint faces, prepare Indian food, play Indian games and perform authentic Indian dances in full Indian dress.

The Pow-Wow is meant as a chance for the Lenape Indians to congregate, revel in traditional customs and for the public to enjoy native American culture. The Grand Council of the Lenape organization will hold its annual meeting during the Pow-Wow in September 1994.

Last yearís Pow-Wow brought in 14,271 visitors from 16 states, during the three days of the event, 3,100 of whom were local schoolchildren. Service stations and store deliís in Winfield reported large increases in business due to Pow-Wow visitor purchases. The Pow-Wow is not only an opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the Indian culture, but also an economic boon for the area that hosts it.

Chief MARK LITTLE BEAR said, "Lifeís been difficult for me, sometimes, but itís been a good life. I have no regrets.

"Iíd tell anyone, be sure youíre right, to start with, then donít let nothing stop you. Also, Iíd follow the advice, and urge anyone to ĎDo unto others as youíd have them do unto you."í

At the age of 83, Chief MARK LITTLE BEARís physical health is not as good as he would like it to be, but his spirit and jovial enthusiasm for life have not dimmed.

On the wall of Chief MARK LITTLE BEARís and LAUGHING FAWNís living room is the Cherokee prayer for peace, "As I walk through a world of Hatred, Greed, and Wars ó Help me find a path where my children can walk beside the still waters of Faith, Hope and Peace."

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 5, No. 3 Ė Spring 1994
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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