A Guide to the Rebecca McIntosh Hawkins Hagerty Papers
In 1860, Rebecca McIntosh Hawkins Hagerty, age 45, was apparently the only woman among 45 planters in Texas owning more than 100 slaves. She may well have also been the only one who was three-quarters Creek Indian.
Born March 15, 1815, in the Lower Creek Indian nation in Georgia, Rebecca McIntosh was the daughter of William M. McIntosh, half-Scottish Chief of the Lower Division of Creeks, and his second wife, Susannah Ree, full-blooded Creek. In 1825, when Rebecca was 10 years old, William McIntosh signed a treaty agreeing to sell a large part of the Creek lands in Georgia in exchange for a "permanent" home west of the Mississippi. he was promptly murdered by a band from the Upper Creek nation who resented the loss of the tribal lands and their own forced removal. In the following year, Rebecca's older half-brother, Chillicothe McIntosh, led the Creeks out of Georgia and into the Indian Nation to the west. Her father's half-brother, Roley McIntosh, later assumed the role of Chief of the Lower Creeks and governed until his retirement in 1859.
In 1831 Rebecca married Benjamin Hawkins in the Western Creek nation. Hawkins was the half-Indian son of a Creek woman and Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, Sr., a former United States Congressman who had served the government as superintendent for all Indians south of the Ohio River, before his death in 1816. Both of his sons, Samuel and Benjamin, Jr., were educated as attorneys at Princeton, as their father had been, and both married daughters of Chief William McIntosh. Sam had married Jane, McIntosh's daughter by his first wife and Chillicothe's sister, and, as one of his chief assistants, had shared McIntosh's brutal fate in Georgia.
Rebecca and Ben Hawkins' first child, Louise (or Louisa) was born December 27, 1831, at Fort Gibson, Indian territory. Here Hawkins became acquainted with Same Houston, and in 1833 the family migrated to East texas where Hawkins acquired a headright on 3700 acres in Marion County, and slaves to work it. In 1834, a second child, Anna, was born at Nacogdoches, where Hawkins had joined his friend Houston, who was practicing law. Here Hawkins and Houston engaged in some land transactions and other dealings together, and Hawkins was reportedly involved in an attempt to purchase land for the settlement of "a large body of Indians from the United States", the rumor of which raised the fear and anger of the Anglo-American citizenry.
Hawkins may have been present with Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto, but he did not live to see the new Republic of Texas flourish. Sometime in 1836, he was murdered, probably at Nacogdoches and perhaps as a result of ongoing conflict between the Indian and other settlers. Rebecca and their two daughters inherited his property.
In March 1838, the widow Rebecca married Spire M. Hagerty, who held land and slaves in Harrison County. The marriage was apparently strained by Hagerty's drunkenness and physical abuse of his wife. Several children died in infancy, but two, Frances (Fanny) and Spire McIntosh Hagerty (frequently referred to as Spire, Jr., and called Spi or Buddy), born at the Phoenix Plantation near Marshall in 1848 and 1849, respectively, lived to maturity. Rebecca and Spire, Sr. frequently separated and may have divorced in 1848 or 1849, when hostilities between them increased.
Perhaps as early as 1842, and certainly by 1849, Rebecca's two sisters, Delilah McIntosh, who married William Drew, and Catherine Hettie McIntosh, who married James D. Willison, were settled on part of the Hawkins land near Rebecca's home north of Jefferson in Marion County.
In 1848, a legal dispute arose in the Hagerty family over eleven slaves which had been a portion of the estate left to Louisa Hawkins by her father Benjamin. Hagerty, who had become Louisa's guardian when he married her mother, was accused of having used slaves without having paid her and without having reported to the probate court during that time. On April 1, 1848, Hagerty returned the slaves and paid $2500 for their use over the past 10 years, an amount which was considered very low.
On June 30 of the year, Louisa married James C. Scott, and in January 1849, the Refuge Plantation north of Jefferson was sold by John W. Scott to Rebecca Hagerty and her sister and brother-in-law, the Willisons.
On December 1, 1849, Spire M. Hagerty, Sr., died in Montgomery, Alabama. His will left $2000 to his sister, $1000 to Spire, Jr. (who he claimed was not his son), and the bulk of his estate to his daughter Frances. Rebecca argued successfully in probate that half the property was rightfully hers under Texas' community property laws, and she was named guardian of the minor heirs and administrator of their property. Her oldest daughter, Louisa Hawkins Scott, sued in 1850, and forced the estate to pay her $11,000 more for Hagerty's use of her slaves prior to 1848. After Hagerty's original executors sued in 1851, the court returned administration of the estate to them for a brief time, and ordered several claims against the estate to be paid.
Rebecca, however, won the last round: When the Texas Supreme Court partitioned the estate and discharged the executors, Spire, Jr., received 3/8 of the remaining property, and Frances retained 5/8, less than the $2000 awarded to the sister of Spire, Sr. As guardian and administrator of the property, Rebecca filed annual reports to the court, beginning in 1853, until the children gained majority.
From the date of her final separation from Spire Hagerty, probably in 1848, Rebecca managed the plantations, Refuge, in Marion County, and Phoenix, in Harrison County, as well as the household. The principal cash crop was cotton, worked by a slave force that numbered 102 in 1860. Shipped down the Red River to the Mississippi, the cotton and cattle hides were sold at New Orleans. Bills for supplies ordered from merchants there were deducted from her accounts, and the goods (medicines, books, clothing, foodstuffs, and so forth) were shipped north on steamboats. Sometimes Rebecca herself made the trip, but frequently her son-in-law, James C. Scott, Louisa's husband, acted as her agent.
In the late 1850s, Rebecca's second daughter, Anna Hawkins, married Sam McFarland. When Anna died, around 1862, her two children, Louella (or Lula) and Samuel, went to live with Rebecca as her wards.
During the difficult period following the Civil War, Louisa and James Scott separated, and may have divorced in 1870. Louisa later moved to Indian Territory.
In the 1870s, when Frances Hagerty married John Hardy Berry, Rebecca made her home with them. In 1880, Louella McFarland married W. D. Berry, and in 1881, she was named by Rebecca to administer the estate of her brother Sam, who had died in 1879.
In 1886, Spire, Jr., died in Jefferson of tuberculosis, and that same year or the next, Rebecca Hagerty died while visiting relative in Indian Territory, and was buried there.
by the mid-1890s, the Berry families had apparently removed to Indian Territory as well, and none of the McIntosh-Hawkins-Hagerty clan remained living at Refuge or Phoenix plantations.
The Rebecca McIntosh Hawkins Hagerty Papers, which were donated to the Center for American history by descendants of Mrs. Hagerty, span a period of over 75 years and are associated with four generations of the families involved. Papers include a newspaper clipping, bills of sale for slaves (many signed with the marks of Creek or Cherokee Indians), receipts, accounting documents, legal documents (including legal documents related to the quarrel over the administration of the estate of Spire M. Hagerty), and correspondence.
Handwritten notations, some in red ink, have been added to many of the papers. Most of these notations were apparently made by Adeste Fidele Berry Hindman or a member of her family.
Special permission required to view original documents.
Photocopies should be made from microfilm, not the originals or photocopies.
Rebecca McIntosh Hawkins Hagerty Papers, (1823-1901), 1974, 1991, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
All or a portion of this collection is available in CAH microfilm 18, 335 Series G, Part 1, Reel 42. See inventory inventory on Reference shelves under the title "Ante-Bellum Plantations".
Microfilm part of Records of Ante-Bellum Southern plantations, Series G, from University Publications of America, 44 North Market St., Frederick, MD 21701. (OCLC: 16125404)
Detailed Description of the Collection