The Juzan Family
of Spanish West Florida and
The Choctaw Nation

By Greg Boggan1

Was Pierre Juzan the villain that he has often been portrayed, or was he actually an American hero? We can provide no simple answer, especially since the name Pierre is sprinkled throughout the family tree, and we can only begin to answer the question by identifying who the Pierre Juzan of Chunky Chitto actually was. Our journey begins in France, the ancestral home of the Juzan family.

First Generation

The first noted Pierre de Juzan was a resident of  France  where he was the Superintendent of the Estate of the Count of Pontchartrain.  He was married to Michelle Liette whose family was of the King’s Cabins in Versailles, France.  There are three known children born to this couple:

  1. Maj. Pierre Gabriel de Juzan (See later)
  2. Jacques de Juzan, served as His Majesty’s Commissioner of Marines, Spanish West Florida
  3. Sauveur de Juzan, served as courier between the King of France and Pontchartrain

Second Generation

The third brother, Pierre Gabriel de Juzan, was born in Versailles, France, 06/06/1691.  He was commissioned as a Lt. of H.M. Musketeers in 1714.   His military service eventually brought him to America, but no date is confirmed.  In 1735 Pierre Gabriel Juzan was living in Mobile, Alabama, where he married Maria Francois Trudeau2, daughter of Francois Trudeau who had arrived in Mobile in 1702 with d’Iberville aboard the ship Remonnee and helped establish Fort Conde for France, just north of the City of Mobile on Twenty-seven Mile Bluff.  Shortly after his marriage he was called on to lead an attack against the Natchez Indians, one of a series of events that would bring about their extinction as a tribe. Then on May 22, 1736, Maj. Pierre Gabriel Juzan was killed in an engagement with the Chickasaw Indians at the Battle of Ackia, near Tupelo, Mississippi.

Pierre & Maria Trudeau de Juzan only had one child, Jean Pierre Gabriel Francois de Juzan, who was born in 1736.  Not long after his birth, Maria Juzan died and Jean Pierre Gabriel Francois de Juzan, an orphan by this time, was raised by the Trudeau family in Mobile, Alabama.

Third Generation

Jean Pierre Gabriel Francois de Juzan, son of Pierre Gabriel de Juzan and Maria Francois Trudeau, became the Spanish Majesty’s Indian Commissioner of Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. His most prominent role was the development of a system of trade with friendly Indian tribes, including the Choctaw nation, but he also served as the “eyes and ears” of   French and Spanish interests along the Gulf of Mexico region. In the days leading up to the American Revolution, Great Britain was the common enemy for the French, Spanish, and Americans alike and de Juzan kept the Spanish governor of Spanish West Florida, Bernardo de Galvez,  in New Orleans aware of any British activity in the region, information that was also shared with the Americans.3

The Spanish referred to him as Don Pedro or Peter Juzan.  Pierre G.F. de Juzan married first Catherine Parant in 1758.  Pierre Gabriel Francois de Juzan was granted one of the first Spanish Land grants of 1280 acres on the Tombigbee River at what is called Twenty-One Mile Bluff and he continued to own property in Mobile also.  One son was born by his wife Catherine before she died in 1759.

    1. Pierre Francois de Juzan, born 1859, Mobile, Alabama, according to his muster roll for the War of 1812.  (Hereafter referred to as Pierre Juzan).

Pierre Francois de Juzan married the second time to Marie Henriette de Rochon, who is said to have been  Kaskaski Illini descent American Indian.  They had the following children:

    2. Jean (John) Charles de Juzan, born 1760, Mobile, Alabama, according to his muster roll for the War of 1812  (Hereafter referred to as Charles Juzan).

    3. Daniel de Juzan4.

    4. Maria Josephine de Juzan md. Adam Hollinger on 11 April 1792, Mobile, Alabama and moved to Washington County, Alabama, Mississippi Territory where Adam later died.

Pierre and Charles Juzan

The names of the half-brothers, Charles and Pierre Juzan, are linked to the early history of east central Mississippi and much of the Tombigbee River basin.

According to historical accounts, Pierre and Charles Juzan grew up and were educated in Mobile, Alabama4; however, as the Revolutionary War was in its final stages, according to one account, they moved into the Mississippi Territory, settled in the Choctaw Nation and took Choctaw wives. That they could set up a successful business enterprise no doubt had much to do with their father’s influence as Indian Commissioner. Pierre settled at Chunky Chitto, an Indian village north of Hickory, Mississippi, and Charles Juzan settled at Koosa Town, an Indian village north of Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

According to Halbert and Ball, Pierre Juzan established trading posts at Chunky Chitto, Coosa Town, and Tuscahoma, now in Choctaw County, Alabama. A preponderance of evidence, however, suggests these trading posts were correctly owned by Charles Juzan and that his half-brother Pierre Juzan was simply acting as an agent at Chunky Chitto.

The trade was largely confined to the Choctaw population, although an occasional white traveler through the region would also engage in trade. Most prized by the French market were the hides and furs the Indians could produce from a wide abundance of game, including deer, otter, and mink. These pelts would be carried to the ports of Mobile or New Orleans, shipped to France, and converted into fancy coats and finery for the French nobility. Most prized by the Choctaw population were blankets, guns, ammunition, gunpowder, knives and a variety of metal goods including pots and pans. Both the Choctaw women and men showed a fascination for glass beads which they quickly used to adorn their bodies and clothing. Whisky and other alcohol beverages were for barter, as well, and were quickly shown to have addictive powers with the Choctaw people.

Site of the ancient Choctaw village of Chunky Chitto north of Hickory
Site of the ancient Choctaw village of Chunky Chitto north of Hickory.  Juzan’s Inn was at the tree line near the top of the ridge. It was known as “Big” Chunky for the traditional Indian game illustrated below.

George Catlin ca 1830sBoth Pierre and Charles Juzan are also said to have extensive plantations, although this is less evident in the case of Pierre. Based on historical accounts, Pierre Juzan conducted farming operations on the Chunky and Tallasha Creeks. Although cotton was likely grown, Pierre’s favorite project was the planting of an apple orchard, the first of its kind in the Indian nation. His brother Charles Juzan  (who maintained a slave population5) apparently conducted farming operations along Lost Horse Creek in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, and in the Tuscahoma settlement along the Tombigbee River in Alabama.

We have no images of the trading post; however, we know it to have been of stone and log construction and to have had, in addition to a market place, an area for dining and another area for overnight sleeping. In the days that followed the abandonment of the inn ca. 1840, the new settlers to the area took the stones and used them for foundation blocks in the building of houses or found other purposes for them to the extent that none remain on the original site of the inn.

Although the Choctaw population was slow to adopt the tenets of Christianity, both Pierre and Charles Juzan were supporters of the Catholic church and its efforts to establish mission schools throughout the region. The most successful in the region would become Tucker in Neshoba County and Conehatta in Newton County, but for a short period of time during the early 1800’s a mission school was held at Chunky Chitto, its enrollment given as 9 students one particular year and its teacher a Mr. Haddon.6

Stones were taken from Chunky Chitto
Stones were taken from Chunky Chitto to help construct a terrace next to an ancient magnolia tree at the former residence of Stanley Henderson

Choctaw Trading House October 1807
When a message was received from Andrew Jackson requesting assistance in dealing with the British in New Orleans, the Choctaws were quick to respond.7

The official muster rolls of the War of 1812 indicate that Charles Juzan, Private, and Choctaw Indian, served under the command of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson for a period of sixteen days beginning on February 1 and ending on February 16, 1814, for which he was paid the amount of $4.17. The nature of this service is unknown. The record also shows that he was born in 1760, Mobile, Alabama, and died in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, in 1838.

The official muster rolls for the War of 1812 indicate that “Pierre (Peter) Gabriel Juzan”, Choctaw Indian, served as a Captain in the War of 1812 under Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, for the period beginning December 17, 1814 and ending March 10, 1915, for which he was paid one blanket and $131.70. The record also shows that Capt. Juzan was in charge of a company of 2008 Choctaws stationed at Chef Menteur, a location in St. Bernard Parish near Chalmette. The record shows that he was born in 1759, Mobile, Alabama. No death date is given in the record, but according to a different account, he died in 1840 on the Tombigbee River in Alabama.

There are various accounts of the ferocity, skill, and cleverness of the Choctaw Indians under the command of Capt. Pierre Juzan. The warriors were first used in the attack by Jackson’s forces on the British encampment at the Villere’ Plantation on December 23, 1814 and again at the battle of Chalmette Plantation of Jan 8, 1815. In both cases, they were asked to defend swampy area.

In the attack at Villere’ Plantation the Choctaws were asked to defend the left of Jackson’s line and were, according to an observer at the time, “way out in the swamp, basking on logs, like so many alligators”9. “More than half the British casualties are said to have been inflicted by the Choctaws, who came unexpectedly out of the swamp on their right rear and delivered a most destructive fire at short rifle-range without themselves breaking cover at all.”10

According to Jane Lucas de Grummond, Juzan and the Choctaws simply terrorized the British. One Indian of mixed blood, Poindexter, killed five British pickets over the space of three nights. “They patrolled the edge of the swamp, leaping unperceived from one log to another…and shot every redcoat who came within rifle range. Not less than fifty British soldiers were killed and many more severely wounded by this method of assassination.”11

Charles Juzan was married twice that records indicate.  His first marriage was to Peggy who later married a Trahern. Charles and Peggy had the following children:

    1. Mary Juzan – born ca. 1796—died  September 29, 1868, Leake County, Mississippi; married Benjamin Leflore

    2. Delilah Juzan – born ca. 1798—died 1859, Indian Territory; married (1) Jesse Brashears, Jr., and (2) David W. Wall

    3. Rebecca Juzan – born ca. 1804—died 4 May 1854, Atoko County, Indian Territory;
        married (1) John Bond and (2) George W. Walker

    4. Pierre Juzan – born ca. 1805—died August 1841; married, but name of wife unknown. Educated at Choctaw Academy and served as one term as Chief, Pushmataha District, Indian Territory.

    5. William Juzan – born ca. 1805—died 1837

    6. Jackson Juzan – born ca. 1808—died 1860, Atoka County, Indian Territory; married Mississippi Allen

    7. Lucy Juzan – born ca. 1809—died after 1860; married (1) Wesley Brashears Trahern and (2) Amos W. Gary

    8. Eliza Ann Juzan –born 1819—died July 25, 1890, Atoko County, Indian Territory; married Hugh C. Flack

The second wife of Charles Juzan was Phoebe, daughter of Chief Oklahoma and she was full Choctaw. They had three children:

    9. Ramona Juzan, born ca. 1814—died ca. 1840-1855; married (1) Ransom McElroy and (2) David W. Wall

    10. Narcissa Juzan, born ca. 1816—date of death unknown

    11. Sybell Juzan, born ca. 1821—date of death unknown

No similar genealogy has been developed for the family of Pierre Juzan.

In 1830, the Choctaw Indian councils met with Indian commissioners representing the United States at a remote location in Noxubee County, Mississippi, along a stream which, translated from the Choctaw language, meant “dancing rabbit”. It would be the most traumatic occasion in all of Choctaw history, for as those in attendance would quickly learn, the Choctaws were being asked to give up all of their remaining tribal lands east of the Mississippi and given in-lieu land in what is now the state of Oklahoma. Most Indians opposed the proposed treaty and even an amendment to the treaty which allowed Indians to remain in Mississippi if they could prove their Indian heritage.

Pierre and Charles Juzan, along with most other tribal leaders, finally consented to approving the treaty, but only after they received specific grants of land for themselves12. Under article XIX of the treaty, Charles Juzan was given four sections of land. Pierre Juzan and William Juzan (son of Charles) were also given grants.

Dancing Creek Treaty Signing PlaceAs a final attempt to hold onto the Chunky Chitto property, Charles Juzan in 1835 and 1836 made three separate patents (and his son Jackson Juzan two patents) in Sections 5, 7, & 8 of Township 6, Range 13 East in what would soon become Newton County. Their efforts were in vain, however. Charles Juzan would die within a matter of a few years, most of the Choctaws who had provided the bulk of the trade had moved west, and the new settlers moving into the area had little use for an Indian trading post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source Materials

Buell, Augustus C.,  History of Andrew Jackson: Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Politician,  President, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904)

Craft, Myrtis S., George Mason, and Melvin Tingle, Book of Original Entries of Newton County, Mississippi, Pioneer Publishing Company, Carrollton, Mississippi, 1998.

de Grummond,  Jane Lucas, The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans (Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State Press, 1961

Gay, Ann, Tuscahoma or Red Warrior Bluff and Indian Lore, Choctaw County,  Alabama

Goldman, Tom, Attorney at Law, Meridian, Mississippi, Juzan Family Research

Halbert, H. S., Letters.

Journal of the War of 1812, Vol. III, No. 1, Consortium Inc

Kidwell, Clara Sue, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918, University of  Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1995, p. 65.

Mieirs, Jennifer, A Discussion of the Choctaw Juzan Family

Tingle, Melvin, Research notes

United States  National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C, Official Muster Rolls, War of 1812, United States Department of Interior, Eastern Bureau of Land Management

Notes

1. We are indebted throughout to the detailed genealogical studies of Jennifer Meiers.

2. This is the same Trudeau family prominent in political affairs in Canada.

3. For his role in the American Revolutionary War, he was recognized in 2000 by the DAR as a Revolutionary War Patriot.

4. One account also indicates that Pierre Juzan attended a Catholic school in New Orleans.

5. Descendants of the slave population typically adopted the surname of “Jusong”.

6. Clara Sue Kidwell, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1995, p. 65.

7. Upon the second meeting between Andrew Jackson and Pierre Juzan, Jackson is said to have inquired as to Juzan’s well-being , whereupon Juzan responded, “Okaye”, meaning in Choctaw that “all is well”. According to the same account, Jackson was so attracted to the term that he and his men adopted the expression in their informal conversations and passed the word down to future generations as “OK”. OK?

8. Other accounts give this number as 52 warriors.

9. Augustus C. Buell, History of Andrew Jackson: Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Politician, President, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904) 1:427.

10. Ibid, 1:411.

11. Jane Lucas de Grummond, The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans (Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State Press, 1961, 55 ff.

12. Greenwood LeFlore, chief mingo in the Delta region of Mississippi was one of the greatest beneficieries, and his land holdings, in addition to his slave holdings, would make him the richest man in Mississippi for his items.

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