Saturday, December 3, 2011

Samuel Riley: Was Governor Riley kin to Doublehead?

Samuel Riley

Samuel Riley was the second double son-in-law of Doublehead with the first being George Colbert.  Riley came into Cherokee country as an Indian trader and developed a remarkable relationship with the Cherokee people.  As was the practice with many traders, he took two Indian wives who were the daughters of Doublehead and Creat Priber-Nigodigeyu and Gulustiyu.  He obviously found favor with Doublehead and eventually settled on a tract of land that was given to Doublehead in a secret agreement with the government.  He lived near Southwest Point near present-day Kingston, Tennessee where the Clinch River empties in the Tennessee River in Roane County, Tennessee.  At this location, Samuel operated a ferry that had also been given to Doublehead as a bribe to get him to agree to the treaties of October 25 and 27, 1805, and that bribe cleared the way for a Federal Road through Georgia.  After a United States garrison was established in 1792 at Southwest Point, Riley was hired as an interpreter.   Of course, the 16 children of Samuel Riley and his wives were the grandchildren of Doublehead.  Samuel Riley was granted a reservation for life by the United States Government.

1826 Map of Southwest Point and 
Hiwassee Garrison in East Tennessee

         Recorded December 1816--A list of agents, sub-agents, interpreters, and other persons employed in the Cherokee Agency specifying the amount of compensation, and pay allowed to each and the state or country where born.

Return J. Meigs
Wm Lewis Lovely
Samuel Riley
Richard Taylor
Cherokee N
John Hildebrand
John McCarty

Samuel Riley sends a letter concerning a conversation he had with John Rogers as found in microcopy 208, roll 3, and number 1729.  Samuel Riley’s letter is dated November 29, 1806, and concerns the annuities and John Rogers.  Riley also discusses John W. Hooker who was the United States Factor at the public store at Tellico in Tennessee.  Rogers told Riley that the government was going to bankrupt the Cherokee Nation by running them so deep in debt the would have to give up their land, but it appears that Hooker refused to go along with the plan.  

I inquired respecting of Rogers conversation against government and was told by two respectable men as follows that Mr. Hooker told him that when he was in the North that in conversation with Mr. (Thomas) Jefferson.  He ask him if he could get the Cherokees to run in-debt to the amount or ten or twelve thousand dollars in the public store.  Mr. Hooker told him for answer fifty thousand, well says he, that is the way I intended to get their country for to get them to run in-debt to the public store and they will have to give their land for payment.  Mr. Hooker’s answer was if that is your determination you must get some other person to keep the store.

I am yours to serve,
Samuel Riley

In 1835, John Riley, the son of Samuel Riley and grandson of Doublehead, made application to the United States Government for compensation for the loss of his one-third interest in his tract of land near the junction of the Clinch River and Tennessee River that was given to him in the secret agreement.  The application was submitted to the Attorney General of the United States for his opinion.  He decided that the secret article, not having been submitted to the Senate for approval, was not to be considered as any part of the treaty; but that, if the commissioners had any authority for making such an agreement, the defective execution of their powers ought not to prejudice parties acting in good faith and relying on their authority; nevertheless, no relief for John Riley could be had except through the action of Congress.  Therefore, the government took the land at Southwest Point that had been given by treaty to Doublehead, John D. Chisholm, and John Riley. 

Samuel Riley's first wife was Nigodigeyu Doublehead who was born about 1764 probably in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  She married Samuel who was born about 1747 in Maryland and became an Indian trader. Samuel died in March 1819 at Blue Springs in Roane County, Tennessee.  Samuel and Nigodigeyu had five children who were one eighth German, three eighths Cherokee, and one half Scots-Irish:  1) James Riley, born about 1792, married Jenny Shields and they had four children-Lewis Riley, Susan Riley, Malinda Riley, and Nannie Riley.  His second marriage was to an unknown woman and they had one son Jonathan Riley.  James died about 1824 in Alabama; 2) Catherine Riley, born about 1800, married Andrew Lacey and they had six children-Ensley Lacey, Amanda Lacey, Eliza Lacey, Mary Lacey, Alexander Lacey, and Catherine Lacey; 3) Martha Riley, born about 1802, married John Hall and they had three children-Elizabeth Hall, Ellen Hall, and Martha Hall;4) Nelson Riley, born about 1803, first married Mary Cordell and had two children-Martha Jane Riley, and Louisa Riley.  His second marriage was to Elizabeth Thompson and they had seven children-Ellen Riley, Margaret Riley, Julius Riley, Joseph Riley, Mary Ann Riley, Perry Andre Riley, and Charles Riley. Nelson died between 1848 and 1851; and, 5) Madison Riley, born about 1808.

Samuel Riley's second wife was Gulustiyu Doublehead who was born about 1770 in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. She also married Samuel Riley and they had 11 children who were one eighth German, three eighths Cherokee, and one half Scots-Irish:  1) Richard Riley, born about 1791, married Dianna Campbell and had two children-Jennie Riley (born 1817) and Elizabeth Riley.  Richard died April 26, 1824, at Creek Path, Alabama; 2) Nancy “Nannie” Riley was born about 1792 and married John McNary and they had one daughter Margaret McNary (born 1802).  Nannie died before 1805; 3) Mary “Polly” Riley, born about 1793 in Roane County, Tennessee, married Samuel Riley Keys and they had three children-William Keys (born 1790), Isaac Keys (born 1794), and Samuel Riley Keys, Junior (born 1819).  Mary (Polly) died March 8, 1829, in Jackson County, Alabama; 4) Elizabeth Riley, born July 5, 1794, married Isaac Keys and they had three children-Letitia Keys, Nannie Keys, and Isaac William Keys. Elizabeth died March 1857 in Indian Territory, Oklahoma; 5)John Riley, born about 1790, married Susan Walker and they had eleven children-Sallie W. Riley, Rebecca McNair Riley, Felix Riley, Jennie C. Riley, Nannie Riley, Perloney Riley, Susan Riley, Samuel Riley, Malinda Riley, Laura Riley, and John McNary Riley.  John died February 14, 1845, Oklahoma; 6) Eleanor “Nellie” Riley, born about 1796, married Charles Coody and they had ten children-Archibald Coody (1822), Engevine Coody (1824), Richard Coody (1826), Rufus Coody (born 1828), Madison Coody (born 1830), Charles Coody, Junior (born 1832), Sallie Coody (1834), Elizabeth Coody (born 1836), Nancy “Nannie” Coody (born 1838), and Samuel Coody (1840).  Eleanor died June 1851; 7) Lucy Riley, born about 1796, married Owen Brady and they had ten children-Samuel Riley Brady, Elizabeth Brady, Malinda Brady, Charles Brady, Earl Brady, James Monroe Brady, Isaac Lewis Brady, Lucinda Brady, Rachel Brady, and Sallie Brady; 8) Sallie Riley, born about 1798, married William Keys and they had seven children-Lewis Keys, Diana Keys, Levi Keys, Mary Keys, Monroe Calvin Keys, Elizabeth A. Keys, and Looney Keys.  Sallie died about 1871; 9) Louisa Riley, born about 1799, married Dennis Biggs and they had five children-Napolean Bonaparte Biggs, Sallie Biggs, Minerva Biggs, Elizabeth Biggs, and John Biggs; 10) Luney Riley, born November 12, 1800, married Rachel Stuart and they had ten children-Eliza Riley (born 1820), Belinda George Riley, Samuel King Riley, John Riley, Mary Jane Riley, Rufus Riley, Lucy Riley, Sallie Riley, Ellen Riley, and Randolph Riley.  Luney became a judge and died February 28, 1883, Nowata, Oklahoma; 11) Rachel Riley, born about 1801, first married Daniel Milton and they one son John Milton.  She then married James McDaniel and they had three children-Elias McDaniel, Charles McDaniel, and Joseph McDaniel.  Rachel and James arrived at Indian Territory on May 16, 1834.  They were removed in wagons and steamboats by Lieutinent J. W. Harris.  One member of the family died on the way to Indian Territory.  Rachel died after 1851.

The children of Samuel Riley and grandchildren of Doublehead were baptized as Christians and were listed in a “Register of Persons Baptized by the Reverend Evan Jones. A. M. in the Cherokee Nation on the 22nd of April 1805.”

Mary the Daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Richard the son of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Eleanor the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Elizabeth the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Catharine the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Sarah the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Luce the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  James the son of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Lunithe the son of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Nelson the son of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.  Louiza the daughter of Samuel Riley was baptized by me the day and date above Evan C. Jones.

With one double son-in-law (George Colbert) and two daughters in the western portion of the Tennessee River territory and another double son-in-law (Samuel Riley) and two daughters in the eastern portion of the Tennessee River territory, Doublehead was able to know what was happening in a vast section of the river valley.  Through these marriages of four of his daughters, Doublehead basically controlled an area of the Tennessee River from Mississippi through north Alabama and into the middle of east Tennessee.  After his assassination in 1807, some 1,131 of his family and loyal supporters moved west of the Mississippi River to Arkansas.

The answer to the title question will have to come from Governor Bob Riley?  The possibilities of Indian blood in the old families that settled Alabama are high.  You can read more about Doublehead and his descendants in my soon to be released book-Doublehead:  Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief


  1. I recognize this blog post is old but wanted to provide descendant information. I live and my family several generations before me have lived in the Fabius area of Alabama. Samuel Riley Keys and Mary Polly Riley Keys (dau of Samuel Keys and Gulustiyu Doublehead) had at least six children. My double-great-grandmother was one of them. Her name was Evaline Riley Keys. She married Theodore S McCoy. Evaline had a brother James Madison Keys whose descendants also still in this area. This information is also omitted in the Doublehead Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief book (pg 49) published in 2012. Donna Houser Davis

  2. Correction: Mary Polly Riley Keys dau of Samuel RILEY.