Scott, John (1805–1913)

By: Howard N. Martin

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: February 19, 2019

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).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

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

Howard N. Martin, “Scott, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
February 19, 2019