OLOP Cover Photo 3

Here is the witnessed claim of John Bell, the grandfather of John Francis Bell, recorded in Flint District in the Cherokee Nation West (now largely Adair County in Oklahoma):

John Bell, states on oath, he erected and made all the improvements set out in the above claim in the old Nation Since the 23rd day of May 1836.  that never was valued by the agents of the United States at the time that general evaluations made in the old Nation in the years 1836 & 7. The Loom he was compelled to have at his place of residence in 1838. When the general emigration took place as he had offered the said home for sale and could get no purchaser thereof it was lost to him. For the use and occupation of dwellings etc on the road he was from the force of circumstances literally compelled to leave said place, That the session of the legislature of the State of Georgia in the fall 1830 enacted a law compelling all white men, citizens of the Cherokee Nation to comply with certain restrictions or leave the portion of the Nation within the limits of the state. The Conditions of the said law was that he should swear to give them obedience and enforce all laws of the state, leave the state or its limits or be sentenced to the penitentiary for the time of four years at hard labor, the laws of the state being so oppressive to the Indians and he having an Indian family, would not nor could he doing justice to his own feelings comply with said law in taking the said oath, therefore  was compelled to leave the state or suffer imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term of four years, thereby left his place in Coosawattee which was well situated with a good dwelling, outbuildings + Lots, suitable for the accommodation of all kinds of stock, that in fact he was prepaid for the accommodation of travelers of all descriptions, and his place as a public stand on the road, and one of the best roads in the Cherokee Nation East, proved to him very profitable for the last five or six years before he was compelled to leave, that he left in the early part of the year 1831. And his family still resided on said place till August following, marking the time he lost the use of said place from August 1831. Till the same month in the year 1836. At the time the general valuations took place, which said place with all the appurtenances and all advantages, attributed to the said place, as a public stand and a good farm he lost or would have made annually the _____ charge per year, The five head of cattle, the Eleven head of hogs, and the shop, he entirely lost in the removal, The loss of property, consisting of home, trade, and many other articles of use to a family that he was summarily compelled to leave, and for his expenses in the removal out of the limits of the State of Georgia, was worth at a reasonable price five hundred dollars, That he has never from the United States or from any other source received compensation for the same or any part thereof.

Sworn to before me 29th April 1842. W. S. Adair [Walter Scott Adair].       John Bell [his legible signature]

Copied from 1842 Cherokee Claims, Volume 2, Compiled by Marybelle  W. Chase (Colcord, OK, Talbot Library and Museum, 2008), 54-57.