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Dated 30 January 1977

The following letter was handwritten to my sister Carol, by Uncle Billy Rex Hilton:
                                              30 Jan 1977
Dear Carol,       
     If I don't write this letter now, I'll never write it, so here goes.
     This letter will deal with our Cherokee blood and a little Hilton history.
     The Cherokee Band trying to organize in Berryville, Ark.  The Hawk and Eagle Feathers for religious purposes don't jibe with Cherokee history as I know it.  Hawk and Eagle feathers along with the horse (after the Spanish reintroduced it after 1530 A.D.) is totally peculiar to Western or Plains Indians.
     A lot of "Hippies" settled with small craft shops throughout the Ozarks after the Vietnam War.  Then along came the Federal law for equal opportunity for women and minorities.  Now a lot of people want to be an indian, in fact, you see a lot of old hippies now wearing indian jewelery and clothing.  I usually qualify these people with a few questions based on Cherokee history as I know it.  I know it from research and little rememberances that I have from my childhood encounters with grandma "Polly Ann."
     So be careful with mail order tribal dues and enrollments.  When you talk to these "wanna be" indians I find that they cite a lot of erroneous information.  For example, most people think the "Trail of Tears" was one big route west from eastern Tenn.;  in fact, there were twelve routes west.  The government called it the "Cherokee Removal."  It started in 1838 and each group had about 1000 indians,  They moved west by river barge, on foot, and wagons.  The army rounded the Cherokees up mostly from western North Carolina, eastern Tenn., northwest Georgia and northern Alabama.  They were held for a time in stockades at a place called Rattlesnake Springs in eastern Tenn.  The army escorted each group west and they retained civilian countractors to furnish the means for movement, whether it be by barge or wagon train.     This contracted care was supposed to cover medical care and food along with all other needs, it did not.  These contractors failed to furnish campfire wood and fire on more than one occasion.  Women died in child birth.  Many died from illness caused by poor sanitation, weather and general neglect.  Over 4000 died in route, abuse and cruelty to a captive people was rampant.  Twenty-five years later (after 1838) many Cherokees remembered this cruelty and joined the Confederacy during the Civil War.
     In late 1838, the last group of Cherokees had left via river barge at a point on the Arksansas River somewhere between present day Conway, Ark. and Morrilton, Ark.  Each family was now assigned to a wagon and headed west in trails on the north side of the Arkansas River.
     John Ross, the 1/8 Cherokee and the Principal Chief along with his family was in this last group.  His wife, Quatie (Full Blood) gave her only blanket to a sick little girl.  Quatie then contracted pneumonia and died.  AShe lies buried not fare from Conway, Ark.  The winter weather of 1838 was furious.  Another indian family was in this group.  We know them as Matthew & Hannah, husband and wife, with three daughters;  their names Keziah, Elizabeth and Jane (8 years old).  Jane grew -up to become the greatgrandmother of all the descendents of Polly Ann Bilyeu Hilton.
     Matthew and Hanna along with their three daughters slipped away at night during one of these bad snow storms and headed their wagon north.
     They settled in what is now the Berryville, Ark. area.  (Still the winter of 1838).  In 1840, no doubt with their minds at ease with no army pursuit, they moved another twenty-five miles north and homesteaded forty acres in Taney County, Mo.  The Lewallen Cemetery is easily found not too far the country entertainment strip of Missouri Highway 76.
     In 1850, Matthew left the family there in Taney County, Mo.  He joined a wagon train and headed for the California "Gold Rush."  Somewhere beyond northwestern Kansas the train was attacked by indians and Matthew was killed.  He lies buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the great plains.
     Meanwhile, William Hilton (1803-1885), with his wife Rhoda Lawson Hilton and their twelve year old son Samuel Wilson Hilton (1828-1873) had moved from Scott County. (Hiltons) Virginia and homesteaded in Walnut Shde, Taney Co., Mo.  Ohoda Lawson Hilton was the daughter of William Lawson, exiled from Scotland at the age of 15.  He was what we call today, a "Bravehart" Exile to the Colonies or be hanged said the King.  About 1767 he was set ashore in Virginia.  He moved to what is now the Scott Co., Va. area and settled.  With the start of the Revolutionary War, he raised a company of Volunteers and reported to George Washington.
     "Where did you get this information Uncle Bill" you probably think.  Here is the easy part.  It is all on his toobstone which is located in the Lawson Confederated Memorial Cemetery about eight miles out of Gate City, Scott Co., Va.  His tombstone is massive and erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  This took me away from the Cherokee line, but now I shall return.
     Hannah Lewallen left the Taney Co., Mo. area furing the Civil War and settled in the Cass Co., Mo. area.  This was considered to be safe from the Baldknobbers and outlaws of the Civil War Taney Co., Mo. area.  About 1860-61 she died and was secretly brought east to the Meadows Cemetery (northeast of Walnut Shade) on Bull Creek and within a few feet of the Christian Co. line.  She is buried in an unmarked grave to the left as you enter the gate.
     Sometime probably near 1845-50 Jane Lewallen (my great your great-great grandmother) married Wiett Bilyeu.  (The bilyeu's moved west from Overton Co., Tenn about 1840.)
     Wiett Bilyeu and Jane Lewallen Bilyeu had three children.  Two girls and a boy.  Tullie - Hannah Elizabeth - and John.  Our grandmother Hanna Elizabeth changed her name from Hanna Elizabeth to Polly Ann for reasons known only to her.  Polly Ann married a man by the name of Green and they had one daughter by the name of Mary.  This marraige was ended for reasons undertermined by me.
     Polly Ann Bilyeu Hilton (1861-1958) married William Hilton (1855-1911).  They had 10 children:  Benjamin, Newton, Mitte, Mary Jane, James Ross (my father, your grandpa), Kate, Cora, Cara, Ellis, Joseph.
     We have CHerokee blood from at least two ancestors:  Jane Lewallen Bilyeu and Nancy Bird (Byrd) Hilton, wife of Samuel Hilton 1766-1830 (Scott Co., Va.).
     Carol, I hope you enjoy this information and I will close by saying:
     Love from Martha and Me to you and your family.
P.S. #1     In 1907 with Oklahoma Statehood. all Cherokees not registered in Talliaquaw, Okla., were invited to come in and register.  Grandma Polly started but changed her mind.
P.S. #2     If you can find the Lewallen name on the Removal Rolls, the Cherokee Nation in Talliguaw, Okla. will take us with open arms.  they are well acquainted with my book, "Cherokees of the Ozarks".
Some important dates and notes:
1782     The Spanish Governor of lands west of the Mississippi granted permission for Cherokees to move into Western Lands.
1808     Cherokee Settlement along the St. Francis River in eastern Ark.
1819     The Settlement anchored along the Arkansas River near Dandoville, Ark has dissolved.  (Many moved west into Texas.)
1835     The Governemtn conducts the first Cherokee Census.  The Lewallen  (Lewellen) family is not on thei census.  Over 5000 Cherokees are known to have missed this census.
1838     Forced Removal Begins
1862     Taney Co., Mo. Courthouse burned (Cival War)
 Wiett and Jane Lewallen Bilyeu are buried in a small cemetery about 3 miles southeast of "Removal"  - this is the official governemtn name.  National Archives or Historial Army Records.
Thoughts on the contents of Uncle Bill's letter.....
-Many of Hannah's children are listed as born in Tn or Ky.  Uncle Bill states that they had 3 daughters with them on the Trail of Tears.  Perhaps this is true; perhaps it is not.
-Hannah is listed on the 1840 Census, Matthew is not.
-How did they have several of those children in a couple of years?  Where were those children really born? 
-Has anyone ever got any birth certificates or baptisms for any of these children?
-Much room for additional thoughts here.....
Census_Year  1850
Microfilm #  M432-420
State        MO

 32  435  435 LEWALLEN H.     36    F Tennessee 

 33  435  435 LEWALLEN C.     17    F Tennessee        

 34  435  435 LEWALLEN M. J.  15    F Tennessee        

 35  435  435 LEWALLEN E. A.  13    F N Carolina       

 36  435  435 LEWALLEN M. J.  11    M Tennessee        

 37  435  435 LEWALLEN J. N.   9    M Tennessee        

 38  435  435 LEWALLEN S. E.   8    F Arkansas         

 39  435  435 LEWALLEN G. W.   7    M Missouri         

 40  435  435 LEWALLEN J. R.   4    M Missouri         

 41  435  435 LEWALLEN R. B.   3    M Missouri         

 42  435  435 LEWALLEN E.      2    F Missouri         



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