Tiana Rogers: Cherokee Wife of Sam Houston
edited: Thursday, May 29, 2008
By JC Pinkerton
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005
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Sam Houston was married to a Cherokee woman named Tiana Rogers.
Who was Tiana Rogers? Most people have never even heard of her, and unlike Pocahontas, Tiana was denied her rightful place in history.
In 1904, Tiana's body was exhumed, and she was given a most gracious funeral, then laid to rest at Fort Gibson. As a descendant of the Tiana Roger's clan, I feel compelled to do everything I can to give this American Indian woman the honor she deserves.
The Story of Tiana
Tiana Roger's exact date of birth is unknown, but historians believe she was born sometime around 1796. Tiana's father, a white man named John Rogers was known as "Hell-Fire Jack." He was also known as "Old Headman Rogers."
He was “one of the most conspicuous white men in the whole Cherokee Nation.” Ole Hell-Fire Jack was a Scots trader who was educated, wealthy, and threw such famous Christmas parties they were recorded in missionary records.
Tiana's mother was Jennie Due, sister to Oo-loo-te-ka, a Cherokee chief known to the white man as "Chief Jolly." Their massive Cherokee village was set up on Hiwassee Island in Tennessee, near present-day Dayton. Tiana was only ten years old when a tall striking lad walked into the village one day. He carried a copy of The Iliad in one hand, and a rifle in the other.
The young man called himself, Sam Houston. He took up with Tiana's two half-brothers, John and James Rogers. The great chief adopted Houston as his own son, and gave him the name "The Raven."
Houston spent several years among the Indians, then moved back into white society. When he returned back to the Indian village he found little Tiana all grown up, and more than pleasing to the eye. She has been described as "tall, slender and beautiful."
One person described her as being "graceful as the bounding deer." She was respected and admired among the whites who called her "Diana." Amos Williams magazine article described Tiana as being called "a half-breed of great personal beauty, and as tall and stately for her sex as Houston himself."
"The Rogers family was of distinguished tribal lineage, which qualified Tiana to become the wife of the Supreme Chief's son." It seems Tiana only had eyes for Houston, and in late May 1830, The Raven and Tiana Rogers were married.
The place of their marriage is not known, but many suspect they were married at the Indian village in the presence of Chief Oo-loo-te-ka. White society disapproved of the marriage. They claimed it was not legal since Houston's first wife, Eliza Allen declined a divorce. However, they were united in marriage according to Cherokee law.
The Raven and Tiana either bought, or built a large log cabin and named it "The Wigwam Neosho" where Houston set up his famous Trading Post. The location of The Wigwam is described as being, "near the Neosho River, a little above Cantonment Gibson, and thirty miles from the lodge of Oo-loo-te-ka." Here Houston engaged in trading, entertaining friends, and planting his apple orchard.
Several years later, Houston being a restless soul, took off to liberate the Republic of Texas. He asked his Cherokee wife to go with him, but Tiana wanting to settle down, refused to leave The Wigwam.
Later, Tiana remarried to Sam McGrady, and in 1838 Tiana Rogers Houston McGrady died of pneumonia. Ten days after Tiana’s death, John Rogers, her father, seized all of Sam McGrady’s property in payment for an alleged debt, through the help of John’s son, Judge William Rogers.
Legend tells that Tiana and The Raven never stopped loving each other, and some have thought it interesting that Houston did not remarry until after the death of his Cherokee wife.
Long after the death of Sam Houston, a Cherokee woman arrived in Cherokee territory with the name of Tiana Rogers. She was married and had four children, and some historians have confused her with Tiana Rogers Houston.
** To learn more about the Roger's family visit www.jcpinkerton.com
The Raven. New York.
Sam Houston: Colossus In Buckskin. New York
The Chronicles of OK: Diana, Tiana, or Talihina?Ok.
The Autobiography of Sam Houston. Ok.
© 2000 jcpinkerton