Howard N. Martin

SCOTT, JOHN (1805–1913). John Scott, principal chief of the Alabama-Coushatta Indians of Texas from 1871 to 1913 and grandson of a chief of this tribe before these Indians came to Texas, was born in 1805 near Opelousas, Louisiana. He moved with his family first to Peach Tree Village in northwestern Tyler County, Texas; then to Fenced-In Village three miles southeast of Peach Tree Village; to Jim Barclay Village in western Tyler County; to Rock Village in eastern Polk County, Texas; and finally to the present Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation. He arrived at this reservation during the winter of 1854–55. In 1862 Scott was among nineteen Alabama-Coushattas who were recruited and sworn into service with Company G, Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry (Second Lancers), Confederate States of America Army. After brief service at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River, the Indians were returned to Texas in December 1862. During the remainder of the Civil War Scott and the other Alabama-Coushattas served under the command of two Confederate officers, Maj. Alexander Hamilton Washington and later Capt. William Herbert Beazley. They erected barriers against federal gunboats on the Trinity River, constructed flatboats, and gathered supplies along the Trinity.

In an 1871 election of tribal leaders, the Alabama-Coushattas elected John Scott and John Walker as principal chief and subchief. A partial list of the principal chief's duties included serving as the moral leader, a positive example, for the tribal members; representing the tribe at various types of meetings and functions; serving as tribal spokesman on all occasions; keeping important tribal records, including deeds to tribal land; assigning tracts of land for use by individual tribal members; settling disputes among the Alabama-Coushattas; calling meetings; serving as the leader in religious and educational activities; directing hunting, including assigning areas to hunting groups; and throwing out balls to begin ball games, directing dances, and conducting related social functions. After a Presbyterian mission church was established on the reservation in the 1880s, Scott became an elder in it. Beginning in 1881 his name was listed frequently as a trustee for the community school on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation. Scott lived 108 years and became an important source of information about the Alabama-Coushattas. Many government representatives, journalists, and other researchers contacted him for information that was included in reports and articles. Among those who sought Scott's assistance was John R. Swanton, Bureau of American Ethnology, who visited the reservation in 1912. Scott died on March 3, 1913, and was buried in the tribal cemetery on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation. In January 1969 the Texas State Historical Survey Committee (now the Texas Historical Commission) placed an official marker near his grave.


Anna K. Fain, The Story of Indian Village (Livingston, Texas, 1948). Vivian Fox, The Winding Trail: The Alabama-Coushatta Indians of Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Aline T. Rothe, Kalita's People (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Harriet Smither, "The Alabama Indians of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 (October 1932). U.S. House of Representatives, Alabama Indians in Texas (document 1,232, 61st Cong., 3d Sess., 1911). U.S. House of Representatives, Alabama Indians of Texas (document 866, 62d Cong., 2d Sess., 1912).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Howard N. Martin, "SCOTT, JOHN," accessed February 18, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 25, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...