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George, Sugar T. (1827-1900)

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Sugar T. George a.k.a. George Sugar was born in approximately 1827, as a slave in the Muskogee Nation. This former slave emerged as a tribal leader. By the time of his death in 1900, Sugar T. George was also said to have been the "wealthiest Negro in the [Indian] Territory."

George escaped from bondage when in November 1861, Opothleyohola, an Upper Creek chief, led 5,000 Creeks, 2,500 Seminoles, Cherokees, and other Indians, and approximately 500 slaves and free blacks from Indian Territory into Kansas to avoid living under the domination of Pro-Confederate Indian leaders during the Civil War. George joined the Union Army in Kansas, serving in Company H of the 1st Indian Home Guards.  Because of his natural skills as a leader and his literacy he quickly became a First Sergeant in his unit.  George acted as the unofficial leader of Company H, taking charge after the white officer and Indian officer had been dismissed for improper behavior.

After the War George rose to prominence, amassing money and influence in the Muskogee (Creek) Nation.  He settled in North Fork, Colored Town, in the Nation and eventually became a Town King (mayor).  George also served as a legal witness for his neighbors and often prepared letters for illiterate people in the community.  In 1868 he was first elected to the Muskogee National Tribal Council, representing North Fork in both the House of Warriors and the House of Kings.  He served in the National Muscogee legislature intermittently until 1895.  George also served on the board of the Tullahassee Mission School, a school for Creek and Seminole freedmen.

George married twice in his lifetime, first to Mariah McIntosh who died in 1867, and then in 1876 to Betty Rentie.  He and Betty had no children, but they adopted and raised James Sugar as their own son.  He also raised his step grandchildren, Rena and Julia Sugar.  Sugar T. George died on June 30, 1900, and was buried in the Agency Cemetery in Muskogee.

Sources:
Documents found in Civil War Pension File of Sugar T. George; Claims of the Loyal Creeks, RG 75 National Archives; Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma LDS Microfiche #6016976 Volume 111---Cemeteries.

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University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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