Derague, Deraque, Duratt, etc. Research

I think, now that I have a couple of good spellings for Joseph Deraque’s last name, that I’m going to re-hit-up the archives for information on him. I tell you, that New Orleans/Lafitte piece really has me thinking that we need that kind of knowledge about Deraque and Finnalson and Nashville.

I admit, I’m a little daunted about trying to find out more about Finnelson (Finalson? As in “the last one I had”?) because I kind of have no idea how to go about doing good research on the Cherokee. I know, in his deposition, he said he was from the Bird tribe, but I don’t really even know what that means, either.

But I want to know what there is to know. And I think starting out in the archives is starting down a path.

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9 thoughts on “Derague, Deraque, Duratt, etc. Research

  1. It means he was a member of the Bird Clan (Ani Tsiswka). They were traditionally used as messengers and diplomatic intermediaries. What exactly are you trying to learn about him?

  2. Oh, that’s cool! That explains why he was going all over talking to the tribes and the Spanish and the U.S.ians.

    I’m not sure exactly what kinds of questions I have yet. I want to do some more reading, but a few sources I’ve read say that Deraque only lived in Nashville six months before he headed to New Orleans (where Fagot told the Spanish that the U.S.ians were looking to attack them and the Spanish were all “Go see if the Indians will wipe them out if we give them weapons.”).

    Before that everyone says he lived with the Indians. Is that how he knew Finnelson? I think obviously so. Finnelson was a “half-breed.” Was he related to Deraque?

    Where were Finnelson and Deraque’s loyalties? When they went around telling the Indians of Spain’s offer of arms, weren’t they hoping their friends and family would prevail? The Indians seemed, in some sources, to have thought that Finnelson and Deraque were going back to Fort Nashboro to check their defenses and report back. So, why did they turn around and tell the U.S.ians that there was an attack coming?

    But one thing I’ve already found that I can’t make sense of is a brief mention before the attack on Buchanan’s Station, that Indians had captured Finnelson’s wife and son. Not sure on the timing of that.

    But does that indicate that the Indians became suspicious that Finnelson and Deraque weren’t coming back? So they “captured” his wife and kid to assure he would? Or does it indicate that he wasn’t actually living with his clan?

    Did the Spanish trust these two on that mission because Finnelson was an Indian or because Deraque was (nominally) Catholic?

    And then what happened to him when he so clearly pitched his lot with the U.S.ians? And did their pitching their lot in with the U.S.ians have anything to do with Elizabeth not-really-Demonbreun being only a half a year away from being Mrs. Duratt?

  3. If the name Finnelson came from a European ancestor, it could come from Fingalson, Fingal being a not uncommon Celtic name.

  4. I think you ought to take a look at Coker, W.S., & Watson, T.D., Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands, Panton, Leslie & Company and John Forbes & Company 1783-1847, (Pensacola : University Presses of Florida, 1986). It’s my guess that “Finnelson” is a mispronunciation of Finlayson…a surname of a Scottish trading family who was active in the area. Their bi-cultural sons were typically prominent in the deerskin trade as well. If Dad had regular business dealings in the Spanish Southeast, then it would be logical if his son would also be knowledgeable.

    I’m also guessing that you’ll have better luck looking at the Chickamauga (Cherokee speakers who broke away from the Cherokee in the mid-1770s over issues of accomodation and foreign policy disagreements — followers of Dragging Canoe…they were extremely exercised about land cessions and English-American encroachment on their territories) than the Cherokee per se. Finlayson is a name among current Chickamauga families.

  5. Bridgett, is there a single good comprehensive overview of the history of the Native American groups of the southeast in precolonial/colonial/Federal times? Because, if so, I have to read it. Or even a couple of good books that split the time periods between them?

    B, there are a bunch of things to look for in land deeds. Some of the information available will depend on whose template they are using: Spanish deeds often contain all sorts of info that English deeds don’t, necessarily. And vice versa, of course. If it was me, I would want to know: 1) who was the land bought from, who did the sellers buy it from, and so on as far back as you can go. 2) who were the neighbors? at least the neighbors on the other sides of the boundaries of the properties in question — and how often did the neighboring properties change hands? (obviously, you need a comprehensive [over space and time] set of deeds to get all this) 3) what has the land in question historically been used for, is there any statement about what the new possessors intend to do with it, and what do the neighbors do with their properties? 4) how did the property change hands: straight-up sale, recovery of debt/mortgage, gift, inheritance, temporary pawn, or what? is this similar to what’s going on in the rest of the neighborhood? And, if it’s a sale, is it money down, payments over time, or something else? 5) are there guarantors, executors, witnesses? do you know who they are? can you place them in the neighborhood? (or does the person drawing up the deed have a usual circle of people he goes to to fill these roles?) 6) Do any women get mentioned in any capacity, and are they mentioned without comment or with an explanation? 7) are any honorifics used in naming any of the parties? what kind? — those are things off the top of my head, but I could probably come up with more (or strike some of them out as impossible) if I actually saw a couple of the documents and knew what sort of information they typically contain.

  6. Okay, I’m reading through Finnelson’s testimony and I have a little clearer picture. Finnelson and Deraque appear to not have really known each other. When his story starts, Finnelson is at L’Ance la Grace (is this New Madrid?) picking up letters for Robertson from the governor there. He goes to Clarksville to deliver those letters and that’s when Fagot shows up with Deraque in tow (Deraque says that he’s a Canadian national in the employ of Fagot, but how long he’s been out of Canada is not clear. Before leaving with Fagot on his journey, he’d been in what is now Nashville about six months.)

    Finnelson gets on Fagot’s boat to get back to L’Ance la Grace. When he gets there the governor asks if it’s true what Fagot says, that the U.S.ians want war with the Spanish. Finnelson says that the U.S.ians are striving for peace with the Indians.

    Finnelson leaves with Fagot and Deraque for New Orleans where Finnelson and Deraque are promised big bucks to go tell the Indians that the Spaniards will happily arm them if they’ll wipe the Cumberland settlements off the face of the earth.

    They run around doing so. Then they get to Willstown (?) and something happens I can’t quite understand. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems clear to me that Finnelson is okay with the Indians going to war with the U.S.ians. And then something happens at Willstown.

    I think it’s that Finnelson is compelled by what Bloody Fellow is saying. Apparently Bloody Fellow had been out east and come back with all kinds of stuff from the U.S. including a flag and he’s trying to talk the Cherokee out of going to war with the U.S. because each star on that flag is a nation and they will decimate the Indians.

    At this time, one of the other leaders asks to see a letter Finnelson has with him and he decides NOT to show it to them. He rips it up and shows them his passport instead.

    But it’s not clear why he should be more moved by Bloody Fellow’s reasoning than anyone else, since everyone else is interrupting him and blowing him off and rolling their eyes at him, basically.

    But that’s where the narrative changes. And then Finnalson and Deraque speak to each other, it sounds like for the first time in English, and decide it would be unfair for the Cumberland settlement to be murdered without any warning.

    So, they tell the folks at Willstown that Demonbreun is a spy for the Spanish and that they can go talk to him and discover the best and safest way for them to attack and they’ll be back in ten days.

    Then, for reasons no one can understand, it takes the Indians weeks to attack, but they do and they lose.

    And then, a year later is when Finnalson’s wife and son are kidnapped. And thus he exits the historical record.

  7. That is awesome! And is it wrong that I laughed to see how many ways they could say “Um boggy mess here and here and, oh, here.”?

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