Person:Roscoe Cole (3)

Roscoe Cole
Facts and Events
Name Roscoe Cole
Alt Name James Cole
Gender Male
  1.   Meserve, John Bartlett (author). CHIEF COLEMAN COLE, in Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma). The Chronicles of Oklahoma. (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1921]-), Volume 14, No. 1, March, 1936.

    History of Washington County, Virginia, by Lewis Preston Summers (1903), Pages 58, 59, 60.

    The settlers on the New River (Kanawha River) in western Virginia built a fort, known as Fort Vause. This was about ten miles west of the present city of Christiansburg, Virginia, in Montgomery County, Virginia. This was invested by the Indians in 1755 and captured and its defenders slain or carried into captivity." Upon succeeding pages is given a list of the persons slain or captured during the years 1754-5-6 and on page 60 appears this notation, June 25, 1756, —— Cole, Fort Vause, prisoner.

    Cole, the Virginia captive among the Shawnees in Tennessee doubtless became an unwilling participant in the continuous strife between that tribe and the Chickasaws, but from which he may have escaped and taken refuge among the friendly Shakchi-Hummas. At any rate, about this time, a white man bearing the name of Roscoe Cole appears as a member of the Shakchi-Hummas when he weds a young Indian maiden of that tribe by the name of Shumaka and by her becomes the father of four daughters and one son, ere he fades completely from the picture under rather tragic circumstances. His life presents a story of compelling fascination.

    History of Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians [ie. Natchez people], by Cushman, p. 242 et seq., and Mississippi Historical Publications, Vol. V, pp. 304-5.

    About the year 1775, the Chickasaws aided by a few Choctaws, concluded a three years' war with the Shakchi-Hummas, whom they greatly outnumbered, by a surprise attack on the Indian village of Oski Hlopal and in a merciless engagement lasting throughout the day massacred practically the entire membership of that tribe. A few women and children were spared and taken over and adopted by the Choctaws, but the Shakchi-Hummas as a tribal entity were completely erased. During these crucial hours, Roscoe Cole, the white captive, was enabled to effect his escape from the carnage and from his enforced residence among the Indians, by the aid of Shumaka, his self-sacrificing Indian wife, the details of which are shrouded. He faded away in an aura of mystery which has never been penetrated, but his was not an exceptional instance. Not infrequently, the captive white man waved good bye to civilization and kindred, took an Indian woman for a wife and finished nobody knows where. Many an Indian Chief's folks on his father's side wore high top boots and a white shirt. Shumaka was saved from massacre and this, it is recorded, was because of her beauty. Taking her five children, she went to live among the Choctaws.

    The McCurtains," Chronicles, Vol. 13, p. 299.

    The life of Shumaka was colorful and forms an impressive story and such details of her life as have been preserved are not wholly irrelevant. After her adoption by the Choctaws, she lived in the vicinity of the present town of Elliott, Grenada County, Mississippi. Although her life story is rather obscure, some alluring fragments of her history are preserved and we learn that she served as a cook in the Choctaw contingent of General Jackson's army in the Creek War of 1813-14. She was very aged at the time of the removal treaty of 1830 and elected to remain in Mississippi as the treaty enabled her. In 1838, the startling declaration is made by Coleman Cole, her grandson, in his famous deposition, that she had attained the age of 120 years with eye sight and other faculties unimpaired. The span of years so ascribed for her seems historically incredible. The struggle of life and the hardships endured during that period, noted for its wars and its annihilations of many tribes, provoked a break in the outward appearance of the affected Indians until at the age of 75 or 90 years, they appeared aged beyond safe conjecture. She doubtless survived to a ripened old age. A daughter (ie. Hannah Cole) of Shumaka married Daniel McCurtain and another daughter wedded Garrett E. Nelson, a white man and became a grandmother of the three McCurtain chiefs of the Choctaws in the old Indian Territory.

    Kappler, Vol. II, p. 137, 191, 211.

    Captain Atoka and Greenwood Le Flore are referred to as nephews of Robert Cole but just how that relationship arose is not exactly clear. These details enlist an interest as we pause in homage to the Indian maiden whose personal charms preserved her life, to enrich her illustrious posterity with one of the most romantic incidents in our history.

    Robert Cole, the son of Shumaka and Roscoe Cole, the captive white man, was born at or near the old Indian village of Oski Hlopal about 1774 and achieved much prominence in the tribal affairs of the Choctaws in Mississippi. As one of the leading men of the tribe, he signed the treaty of October 24, 1816, the Treaty of Doak's Stand near the Natchez Road of October 18, 1820 and the treaty of January 20, 1825 at Washington.

  2.   Summers, Lewis Preston. History of Southwest Virginia, 1746-1786, Washington County, 1777-1870. (Richmond, Va: J.L. Hill Print. Co, 1903), Pages 58, 59, 60.
  3.   Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society.