Jesse Chisholm

1806 - 1868

Jesse Chisholm was born in the old Cherokee country, in East Tennessee, about 1806. His father was of Scottish extraction and his mother was a Cherokee Indian woman. He joined the Western Cherokees in Arkansas in his youth. He became noted in the southwest as a hunter, guide, scout, trader and pathfinder. He left the Cherokee Nation and settled in the Creek Nation, near the mouth of the Little River, in what is now Hughes County, where he made his home. At various times he had trading posts out on the edge of the Great Plains, including one near the site of Lexington (in what is now Cleveland County) and one at Council Grove (near what is now Oklahoma City). Much of his trading was done by taking wagons and going to the villages of the Comanche and other tribes of the Great Plains. At various times he rescued captive children and youths from the Comanches and Kiowas by them. Most of these were Mexicans. He adopted them and reared them with his own family, treating them just as he did his own children. He went to Kansas with the Creek exiles, in the latter part of 1861, but soon drifted west to the site of what is now Wichita, Kansas, where the Wichita, Waco and other refugee tribes from Southwester Oklahoma were encamped. In March, 1865, just as the war was drawing to an end, he loaded several wagons with goods and started southward to the valleys of the Canadian and Washita rivers to trade. On this trip he merely followed the trace of the trail that was made by the retreating Federal garrisons from Forts Smith, Washita, Arbuckle and Cobb, nearly four years before. Ever afterward this route was known as the Chisholm Trail. Jesse Chisholm died in his trading camp, in what is now Blaine County, in 1868