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Davis, Sarah (1799-1886)

Sarah Davis was one of the leading free African Creek merchants who lived in the Creek Agency settlement, west of present day Muskogee before (and after) the Civil War.  Sarah Davis was born in the Old Creek Nation in 1799 and was formerly a slave of William McIntosh’s daughter Rebecca and accompanied the emigration party led by Ben Hawkins and John Sells to the Indian Territory in 1830.  After Rebecca Hawkins immigrated to Texas, Davis was sold to D.N. McIntosh and worked as a house slave/servant for him.  By 1853, she had earned enough money to buy her freedom as well as freedom for her two daughters, Elizabeth and Julia.  She owned and operated a hotel/boarding house in the Creek Agency village which also offered entertainment.  Her seven room establishment was frequented by travelers, traders and Indian Agency employees and earned a reputation as a friendly, clean, and convivial place.  

The popularity of Davis’s place probably had as much to do with Sarah’s outgoing personality and the charms of her two daughters as with its being the only place within hundreds of miles where one could find a clean bed and hot meals, dancing, and music, all under the same roof.  Davis also claimed and improved a considerable number of acres north of the Agency village toward the Arkansas River and established a thriving farm and ranch there with the help of her grandson, Joseph P. Davison.  James Coody Johnson was also a grandson of Davis’ by her daughter Elizabeth. Sarah Davis died at the Creek Agency, November 15, 1886.

Gary Zellar, African Creeks: Estelvste and the Creek Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007).


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