Ranney Letter #17

Lyman writes to Henry for the first time from Tahlequah, where he says he is “no longer under the protection of the laws of the United States.” He has been put in charge of Baker & Bishop’s store there, at a salary of $350 annually. Lyman also says he has “found” $350, so perhaps he was given a bonus to take the position.

Tahlequah was about thirty miles from the U.S. border, and was a town of about 400 people at this time. It was established in 1838, and became the capital of the Cherokee Nation the following year. Lyman describes the people and the Cherokee government, and mentions that two schools have been set up for Indian boys and girls. Although he says “some of the students are far advanced,” Lyman seems to consider it odd that they study Greek and Latin: “English and
dead languages, and no Indian language is taught at the school.”

My Transcription:

Tahlequah Cherokee Nation Oct 28 /51
Dear Brother,

You may be somewhat surprised to be hailed from this quarter of the globe. I am no longer under the protection of the laws of the United States as I do not remain within their limits. My employers Messrs Baker & Bishop have established a store at this place and wanted me to take charge of it, to which I accepted. This city is situated in the C. N. about 30 miles from the line of the States. It is regularly built with a square in the center. Population of about 400 persons out of which number but about
twenty entirely white. And some of them have Indian wives. But the Indians around here nearly all civilized. The greater part can talk English. They are greatly amalgamated, you can scarcely find a full blood. Some half and some as white as anybody.

The Nation built two fine seminaries of learning, one for the males and one for the females. Cost about ninety thousand dollars. One is about one mile and the other about three miles from this place. Some of the students are far advanced, studying in the
Greek and Latin languages. They study the English and dead languages, and no Indian language is taught in the school.

They have a chief & 2
nd chief here, and have a house of councilmen & house of committeemen chosen one member from each district. The two houses are now in session. They pass laws, make appropriations, &c.

I wrote home to Michigan last mail and sent
Anson ten dollars to help him attending school this winter as the last two years of my attending was the making of me. It may be the case with him also. I wrote you from Van Buren before coming here, to direct your letters, papers &c, and also to have my regular papers, those sent from office of publication, directed here to this place: Tahlequah, C. N. Arks.

You will please answer this on receiving it and let me hear from you.

Truly Your Brother
L.A. Ranney

P.S. I am getting a salary of 350$ per yr and found 350$. L.A.R.