Squirrel King's Leadership
If Squirrel King was valuable to the homeland, he and English officials also held each other in high esteem. Once, when relations between his warriors and the English had grown tense, he told his men that the English were their “best friends,” and warned them that further quarreling would result in his abandoning them “to be made French slaves.” He and his warriors defended Carolina against French and Spanishallied Indians. In campaigns against Spanish Florida, Squirrel King’s warriors were described by an English officer as the finest “pickt Men.”
All this being so, their warfare with the Catawbas, who also were English allies, demonstrated that their need to defend and avenge themselves took priority over the tribe’s alliance with the English. This warfare with the Catawbas angered Carolina Governor James Glen, who initially admired them and then called them a “pack of renegadoes.” Perhaps as punishment, he relaxed enforcement of the rigid restrictions on whites settling on Chickasaw land.
On the other hand, Edmond Atkin, the Indian superintendent for Britain’s southern colonies, believed that Squirrel King had “more personal Weight and Authority than any other [chief], his talks being listened to attentively by other Nations as well as his own.” The Carolina Commons House in 1748 presented the chief a “personal cutlass, pistol and munitions” for his service to the colony.
As early as the 1730s, some of the Chickasaws moved across the Savannah River into Georgia to new settlements, and some of them assisted with the construction of Fort Augusta in 1737. (The fort’s site today is within a stone’s throw of the Savannah River adjacent to downtown Augusta, Ga.) Perhaps clan differences led to the separation, but English official Daniel Pepper wrote that increasing white encroachment and horse and livestock thievery later led the Chickasaws to exchange part of their Horse Creek land with trader Lachlan McGillivray for land about 12 miles downriver from Augusta in an area that became known as New Savannah.
By the 1750s, the reign of Squirrel King (then in his 50s or 60s) apparently was drawing to a close. Other leaders, such as Mingo Stoby (also known as Succatabee) and a medicine man known by the British as the “Old Doctor” replace Squirrel King’s prominence in the colonial journals. Since Squirrel King’s name doesn’t appear after 1757, he may have died about that time, but there is no death notice.
His successor, Succatabee, told Carolina officials in 1765 that not even the elders could recall the boundaries of their Horse Creek reservation, and he asked for a resurvey of the 1739 land grant of 21,774 acres. References to this land grant and the plat exist in the colonial records, but the original plat has been missing for many years.
But by 1765, identification of boundaries wasn’t the issue. Boundaries were irrelevant to white settlers because British officials looked the other way.