William Leander Byrd, Gov. to the Chickasaw Nation

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William Leander Byrd, Gov. to the Chickasaw Nation's Geni Profile

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William Leander Byrd, Gov. to the Chickasaw Nation

Birthplace: Marshall County, Mississippi, United States
Death: April 21, 1915 (70)
Stonewall, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States
Place of Burial: Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Byrd and Mary Byrd
Husband of Susan Byrd
Brother of Hattie Eliza Love; Jennie Byrd; Virginia "Ginnie" James (Byrd) and Benjamin Franklin Byrd

Occupation: Governor, Chickasaw Nation
Managed by: Amanda Renee Ullery
Last Updated:

About William Leander Byrd, Gov. to the Chickasaw Nation

A businessman in the mercantile industry after the Civil War, Byrd settled in Stonewall, Okla. He became active in the interests of the Chickasaw Nation and was soon representing the tribe as a delegate to Washington D.C. He served as a national agent until 1885. Through his inspiration the legislature enacted laws prohibiting white men from entering the Nation and engaging in the cattle business unless they were intermarried members. After the Frisco railroad was established and Ada became a city, he moved there and became the president of the Farmers State Bank of Ada.

Governor William Leander Byrd born 01 Aug 1844 Marshall County Mississippi died 06 Aug 1916 Ada, Pontotoc, Oklahoma. Married Susan Folsom 1 Jan 1863. Served CSA First Choctaw-Chickasaw Indian Brigade. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thus is prefaced the active, worthwhile life story of William Leander Byrd, a son of John Byrd, who was born in Marshall County, Mississippi on August 1, 1844. Three months later, his parents removed to the Indian Territory. His mother was a mixed blood Chickasaw Indian woman of the one-sixteenth blood and it was to a vindication of this strain of Indian blood coursing through his veins, that the highest purposes of his life became dedicated in the years to come. Young Byrd passed his early youth upon his father's farm near Doaksville and was attending the Chickasaw Academy near Tishomingo, when the Civil War broke. Because of his youth, his participation in the war was deferred until January 1864, when the First Choctaw-Chickasaw Indian Brigade was formed with Col. Tandy Walker in command. The young man enlisted and became adjutant in the company commanded by Captain Edmund Gardner, part of the regiment of Colonel Sampson Folsom in Walker's brigade. The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in their alliance with the Confederate government had reserved the privilege of limiting their activities to the Indian Territory. Regardless of this reservation, in the spring of 1864, of its own volition, Colonel Walker's brigade was transferred to Arkansas for service with the army of General Sterling Price and actively participated in the battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas, on April 18, 1864. Upon the conclusion of the war, our soldier returned to Doaksville and during the last five years of his residence there, became engaged in the mercantile business.

William Leander Byrd was married to Susan Folsom, at Doaksville, on January 1, 1863. She was a daughter of Colonel David Folsom, a former chief of the Choctaws. She was born in Mississippi on December 9, 1843 and died at Ada, Oklahoma, on August 6, 1916. No children blessed this union.


  • *They had no children but adopted Governor Byrd's niece, Virgie Molette. (Chickasaw Love's and Allied Families, pg. 24., Marie King Garland)

William L. Byrd William L. Byrd, from the most reliable information, was born in Poutotoe, Mississippi, being the son of John Byrd, a white man and Mary Moore, of Chickasaw and Irish descent. Some of Mr. Byrd's political opponents declare him to have been a white child, adopted in infancy by the family; but we do not see any grounds for this supposition. In youth William was sent to school at Pine Ridge, Choctaw Nation, and later to the Chickasaw Male Academy. The first office he held in the service of his country was that of representative, in 1867, and afterward draughtsman of the House for two sessions. At this time he was residing in the Choctaw Nation. Moving to Stonewall in 1875, he was elected one of three in 1887 to revise the Chickasaw laws. In 1881 he was appointed school superintendent, and in 1882 was elected delegate to Washington; was national agent until 1885, and the following year was a candidate for the governorship against William Guy, ex-Governor Wolf, B. C. Burris, Palmer Moseley and R. L. Boyd. The result was considerably in Guy's favor; but, as usual, when a candidate fails to secure a majority of the total votes cast, the matter was referred to the Legislature, and Guy was elected by only one majority over Byrd. In 1888 the race between Byrd and Guy was again run, resulting as before; but Byrd's party being in a majority in the legislature body, they resolved to contest the election, and so doing, cast out a score of devils in the shape of illegal votes, electing Byrd by a majority of forty-eight. Here was a repetition of the Overton-Harris affair, and which was followed by disagreeable results, the United States being called upon to decide the quarrel. Here, again, Byrd was victorious, Uncle Sam being partial to the man of sober aspect and business parts. In 1890, when Sam Paul was in the arena as a representative candidate of the Progressive party, Governor Byrd met him in the lists and defeated him by an immense majority. The disfranchisement of the white voters accounts for this majority, for had the latter been permitted to vote, Paul must undoubtedly have been the victor. In less than a week after the election, the report was passed far and wide that Byrd had been assassinated; but no attempt of the kind has ever come to light. The governor declares his intention of looking after the interests of all his people, without respect to their political creed, nor will he interfere with the landed rights of the white citizens. This he has declared to the writer of this present biography. Governor Byrd entered the mercantile business in 1873, at Doaksville, and moved to Stonewall, where he has been doing an immense business. He has 300 acres under cultivation and 1,000 head of graded cattle. In 1862 he married Susan Folsom, daughter of David Folsom, ex-chief of the Choctaws, but has no family. The children of his neighbors, of whom he is extremely fond, rejoice in climbing to the knees of the big, good-natured man, while he is reading what the press has to say about his barbarous treatment of the white man. Governor Byrd, on his mother's side, is of the house of In-cun-no-mar. [Source: The Indian Territory, Its Chiefs, Legislators and Leading Men]



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William Leander Byrd, Gov. to the Chickasaw Nation's Timeline

August 1, 1844
Marshall County, Mississippi, United States
April 21, 1915
Age 70
Stonewall, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States
April 21, 1915
Age 70
Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States