Jesse Bartley Milam, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

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Jesse Bartley Milam, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

Also Known As: "Jesse Milam", "Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation"
Birthdate: (65)
Birthplace: Italy, Ellis, Texas, USA
Death: May 8, 1949 (65)
Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of William Guinn Milam and Sarah Ellen Milam
Husband of Elizabeth Peach Milam
Father of Hinman Stuart Milam; Mildred Elizabeth Milam and <private> Milam
Brother of James Edward Milam; Anna "Wheeler" Mehr; Allie Milam; Novlin T. Milam; Viola Inez Milam and 4 others

Occupation: President of Rogers County Bank
Managed by: Pam Wilson
Last Updated:

About Jesse Bartley Milam, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

MILAM, JESSE BARTLEY (1884-1949) Bartley Milam served as a model Cherokee leader and businessman in twentieth-century America. His character attributes of adaptation and resilience mirrored the character and spirit of the Cherokee Nation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. On March 10, 1884, in Ellis County, Texas, Jesse Bartley Milam was born, one of nine children of William and Sarah Ellen Milam. Young Milam spent his youth in Chelsea, in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, later Rogers County, Oklahoma. He graduated from Cherokee National Male Seminary in Tahlequah. In April 1904 he married Elizabeth P. McSpadden, also of Chelsea, and Mildred, Stuart, and Mary were born of their union.

Milam worked in the hardware business and later entered banking, becoming president of Claremore's Rogers County Bank, and he also pursued ventures in the oil business. Born into the Long Hair Clan, Bartley Milam was elected in 1938 as principal chief and presided after the Cherokee Nation's federal recognition in 1941. He led his people through the difficult years of New Deal reform, World War II, and the creation of the National Congress of American Indians.

He also devoted energy to public and professional organizations, serving on the Oklahoma State Banking Board and on the board of the Oklahoma Historical Society. He was a presiding officer of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes and a founding member of both the National Congress of American Indians and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. J. Bartley Milam died May 8, 1949, in Kansas City.


Chief Jesse Bartley "J. B." Milam

Birth: Mar. 10, 1884, Italy, Ellis County, Texas, USA

Death: May 8, 1949, Claremore, Rogers County, Oklahoma, USA

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Businessman, Oil & Gas, Banking. He was educated at the Cherokee Male Seminary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and at the Metropolitan Business College in Dallas, Texas.

He went into banking and was made president of the Rogers County Bank at Claremore, Oklahoma. He ventured into the gas and oil business, and in association with his brother-in-law, Woodley G. Phillips, formed the Phillips and Milam Oil Company which had an interest in more than one thousand oil wells by the early 1930's.

He had a life-long interest in the history of the Cherokee Indians, and in 1942, he helped relocated historical items to the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City. He started book collecting which turned into The J. B. Milam Libray which was donated to the University of Tulsa in 1989 by his family.

He married Elizabeth Peach McSpadden(buried at this cem.) on 6 Apr 1904; they had the following children: Hindman Stuart, Mildred Elizabeth, and Mary Ellen.


  • 1890 Census [CN]: Cooweescoowee, 5413
  • 1902-07 Dawes roll: card# 5422, roll# 24953
  • 1906-09 Miller roll: Nowata, OK, ap# 29293
  • Blood: 1/32 Cherokee
  • Chief: Bet. 1941 - 1949, Principal Chief, CN-West
  • Graduation: May 24, 1902, Metropolitan Business College, Dallas, TX
  • Starr's Notes: A570

Family links: Parents: William Guinn Milam (1860 - 1934) and Sarah Ellen Couch Milam (1863 - 1933)

Spouse: Elizabeth Peach McSpadden Milam (1883 - 1954)

Children: Mary Ellen Milam (Stevenson) Hackett (1916 - 2007)*

Burial: Chelsea Cemetery, Chelsea, Rogers County, Oklahoma, USA

Created by: Alice Huitt Preston Record added: May 27, 2007 Find A Grave Memorial# 19551734

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Jesse Bartley Milam, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation's Timeline

March 10, 1884
Italy, Ellis, Texas, USA
April 16, 1907
Age 23
Nowata, Oklahoma, USA
May 10, 1910
Age 26
Chelsea, Oklahoma, USA
- 1949
Age 56
May 8, 1949
Age 65
Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas, USA