Trader V. B. Tims of Doaksville

Who was V.B. Tims? We all remember the name DOAK – a name that is ingrained into our Choctaw culture for many reasons. It was Doak’s Stand where the hotly-disputed Treaty of Dancing Rabbit was signed in 1830, calling for the removal of the Choctaw Indians. It was the man Josiah S. Doak who in 1831 established the first trading post near the military outpost of Fort Towson. It was the trading post for which Doaksville was named, the Choctaw community that grew up around the trading post and the fort in a vast, unsettled wilderness.

But very few of us recall the name Vincent Brown Tims. It may surprise many of you to learn that Mr. Tims was the partner of Josiah Doak and that the trading post was actually known at the Doak and Tims trading post. Born in South Carolina, V.B. Tims is said to be of Irish descent. Mr. Tims came with Josiah Doak sometime in the early 1830s, prior to the Choctaw Removal, to set up the mercantile store that would provide essential items to the incoming Choctaws.

The Doak and Tims Partnership also served another important function. The two partners contracted with the U.S. government to supply government rations to the immigrant Choctaws, and later distributed the annuity payments, or “treaty money” owed to the Choctaws in exchange for their Mississippi lands.

“The trading establishment of Josiah Doak and Vinson Brown Tims, an Irishman, had the contract to supply the Indians their rations, figured at 13 cents a ration. A motley crowd always assembled at Doaksville on annuity days to receive them. Some thousands of Indians were scattered over a tract of nearly a square mile around the pay house. There were cabins, tents, booths, stores, shanties, wagons, carts, campfires; white, red, black and mixed in every imaginable shade and proportion and dressed in every conceivable variety of style, from tasty American clothes to the wild costumes of the Indians; buying, selling, swapping, betting, shooting, strutting, talking, laughing, fiddling, eating, drinking, smoking, sleeping, seeing and being seen, all bundled together.” ~~from Alvin Goode, missionary

Doaksville quickly evolved into the government seat for the new Choctaw Nation. In 1837 the first post-removal treaty was negotiated. Sometimes called the Treaty of Doaksville, the treaty defined relations between the Choctaws and Chickasaws, forced to occupy the same lands in the Indian Territory. Six white men signed the treaty, among them Josiah S. Doak and Vincent B. Tims.

Signors Treaty of Doaksville

In 1843 Vincent B. Tims, as a sole businessman, acted as a remote office for letters to the “Agent For Claims” regarding unpaid accounts, and land/bounty claims.

1843 Agent for Claims
Arkansas Intelligencer, March 1843

In 1844 the partnership between Josiah S. Doak and V.B. Tims dissolved  by mutual agreement as announced in the local newspapers.

1844 Doak Tims dissolve partnership
Arkansas Intelligencer, Feb 1844
1844 Josiah Doak Ad
Arkansas Intelligencer, May 1844
1844-07 Tims acts a Forwarding Agent
The Times-Picayune , July 1844

Perhaps reflecting the decline in population at the nearby fort, Mr. Doak appears to be liquidating his holdings at bargain prices, while V.B. Tims was strengthening his business connections in the area.  On April 24, 1846, Mr. Doak filed a Deed of Conveyance in Red River County, Texas, transferring ownership of ten slaves to his son William H. Doak of Clarksville, further liquidating his holdings, or perhaps guarding against creditor claims.

Josiah S. Doak and Descendants

Of the merchant Josiah S. Doak, there is no further news. A divorce record exists between him and his wife Elizabeth (Dresser), granted 1849 in McKinney, Texas, after twenty-three years of marriage. A witness for the divorce proceedings, George W. Clarke, was a son-in-law, having married their adopted daughter, Malvina. Mr. Clarke was the former newspaper editor for the Arkansas Intelligencer in Van Buren, Arkansas.

Josiah S and Elizabeth Doak

 

1844-07 wedding of Malvinia Doak
The Arkansas Banner, July 1844

Mr. Josiah S. Doak is said to have left Indian Territory for his health. He died near Corpus Christi, Texas about  1865 [according to testimony given by a grandchild, Georgie Clarke, before the Dawes Commission in 1903 (from Application Packet MCR-7344)].

Josiah Doak seems the type of man to inspire myths and legends. One legend is that in 1872 he fathered the first white child, Dudley N. Doak, in Indian Territory, well after his divorce and reputed death in Texas in 1865 – a story that Mark Twain would have appreciated.

Nail Doak, first white child-crop

By 1875 there were quite a lot of residents named Doak in the Indian Territory. It is understandable that confusion arises.  We do have evidence of a man named J. Dudley Doak living in Stonewall in 1875 who could have been the real father of “Nail” Doak. Some report that he was born to Josiah and Elizabeth Doak. about 1830 at Doaksville.

1875-03 J Dudley Doak subscription
The Vindicator, March 1875

The whereabouts of two other sons of Josiah Doak are known. Mentioned already is William H. Doak, a resident of Red River County, who is buried at the Doak Cemetery there (most likely his old farmland). Another son, Alexander V. Doak, after residing in various parts of Texas, took up residence in Ardmore, where he is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery. His son, William G. Doak, was an early city manager at Ardmore. Another son Claude, became an Ardmore doctor, but details of his final days are not known.

Malvina Doak Clarke, following her newspaper husband, died around 1864 in Bexar County, Texas. Mr. George W. Clarke died in Mexico City in 1881 after starting an English version of a Mexican newspaper called Two Republics. Their daughter, Georgie Clarke, our Dawes Commission witness, once a resident of Texas, ended her days in Los Angeles, dying on March 21, 1943. Both she and her brother Joseph Magtella Clarke, remembered well their colorful pioneer heritage.

Obit of George W. Clarke 1881 -excerpt
Dallas Herald, April 1881

Vincent B. Tims and Descendants

Unlike Josiah Doak, Vincent B. Tims and his full-blood Choctaw wife remained at Doaksville for the rest of their lives. Vincent continued his community involvement, representing the Doaksville area for the Great Raft Convention in 1847. The purpose of the convention was to petition the U.S. Congress for appropriations to keep the Red River channel unobstructed and reliably open to steamboat commerce. Delegates from nearby Texas and Arkansas counties were in attendance as well as two special invitees from the Choctaw Nation – Vincent B. Tims and Joseph R. Berthelet, former partner of Choctaw plantation farmer Robert M. Jones. In 1861 Mr. Tims was also designated to be the Indian Agent for the Choctaws if the Confederate States had won the War Between the States.

1847 Raft delegation
Washington Telegraph, Dec 1847

Vincent B. Tims died June 14, 1864 at Doaksville according to his descendants.  But from the few surviving public records of that time, we know he was named postmaster at Doaksville on May 17, 1871. Another mystery! He would have been about 68 years old.

Vincent Tims postmaster
from Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971

The names of three of his children have survived: Vinson W. Tims, born 1838, and Edward Ward Tims, born 1842, and a daughter Phoebe, who died in obscurity prior to final enrollment.

First-born son, Vinson W. Tims, with his wife Emaline chose a quiet life, farming in the High Hill area to the north of Doaksville.  One of their sons, James B. Tims, gave an interview in 1937, wherein he described his parents, Vinson and Emaline, living 6 or 7 miles north and a little west of Doaksville in the old Towson County. The property later became know as the Charley Blankenship place. James described the V.B. Tims’ stand in Doaksville (on Merchants Row) as being in front of the old rock jail, whose foundations are still evident today.

DoaksvilleJail
Old Jail Foundation at Doaksville Townsite

Vinson died in 1891. His wife Emaline lived to become Choctaw Enrollee #1947 (Census Card 778)  and died in 1918.

Emaline Tims 1842-1918
Emaline Steadman Tims

Their children – James, Mitchell, Betsy (wife of Joseph Thompson), John, Rev. Robert Tims, Willie, Rosie (wife of James Wilson), and Calvin – became familiar faces in the Spencerville and Fort Towson areas.

Headstone-Calvin Perry Tims 1966
Headstone at Hampton Chapel Cemetery

Second-born son, Edward Ward Tims, chose a life of public service.   In the early 1880s, he was District Trustee of the Apukshunnubbee District. Like his father, he was appointed postmaster of Doaksville on October 24, 1887, succeeding a man named James T. Fleming. 

Edawrd Tims postmaster 1887
from Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971

He also served many years as County Judge for Towson District prior to statehood.

Judge E. W. Tims married twice: first to a full-blood Choctaw named Polly; then to an Arkansas woman, Willie Jane Maxwell, on April 19, 1888 at Doaksville. Edward and Willie Jane (Maxwell) raised seven children in the Doaksville/Fort Towson area:  Lucy Ann (Jackson), Minnie (wife of James T. Cross), Edmond, Benjamin, Myrtle (wife of Wheeler C. Billings), Abel, and Nora (Vancil). Only the oldest child, Lucy Ann, stayed in the Hugo area, with her son Eddie McDaniels.

Edward and Willie’s oldest son, Private Edmond Tims, at age 25,  gave his life in the World War I conflict. He served in the 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. He died in the brutal Allied October 1918 offensive and is buried overseas in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.

Headstone Edmond Tims-crop
Headstone at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, France

Judge E.W. Tims retired from public life after statehood and moved to his allotment southeast of Hugo. He died Feb 7, 1923, four months after his wife, and was buried at Springs Chapel Cemetery next to her grave.

At one time his old log cabin home was being considered for a Fort Towson Museum because of its historical significance to the Choctaw Nation. From the text of the newspaper story below, it appears that the old log cabin was originally the trading post of his father, the Irish trader V.B. Tims.

Judge Tims house
The Paris News, January 1940

 

Maybe one of these days, history will correct itself, and we all will remember the “legendary trader Vincent B. Tims.”

All in all, the Tims family tree holds great significance for Choctaw history. To all the Tims descendants, we say Yahoke!

 

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***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***
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Sources:

Photo Credit for Old Log Cabin from Unsplash (copyright-free images): Colton Sturgeon

Jon D. May, “Doaksville,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (online).

William B. Morrison, “Doaksville: Another Ghost Town,” Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 12 April 1936.

Official Choctaw Nation website: Government Treaties.

Interview with James Brown Tims, 1937, Indian Pioneer Papers, Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Diary of Edward Ward Tims, 1937, Indian Pioneer Papers, Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Newspapers

Agent for Claims: Arkansas Intelligencer (Van Buren, Arkansas), Saturday, Mar 11, 1843, page 4.

Dissolution of Doak-Tims partnership: Arkansas Intelligencer (Van Buren, Arkansas), Saturday, Feb 24, 1844, page 3.

Advertisement for Josiah S. Doak: Arkansas Intelligencer (Van Buren, Arkansas), Saturday, May 25, 1844, page 3.

Wedding announcement for Malvinia Doak: The Arkansas Banner (Little Rock, Arkansas) Weds,  Jul 10, 1844, page 3

V.B. Tims, Agent for Hill, Eastland & Co.:  The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), Tuesday, July 23, 1844, page 1.

The Raft Convention at Clarksville: Washington Telegraph (Washington, Arkansas), Weds, Dec 22, 1847, page 3.

Choctaw Nation negotiations with the Confederate States: Richmond Enquirer (Richmond, Virginia), Tuesday, Dec 17, 1861, page 4

J. Dudley Doak news mention: The Vindicator (Atoka, Indian Territory), Saturday, Mar 20, 1875, page 4.

Tribute to pioneer Editor George W. Clarke: Dallas Herald, April 29, 1881, page 6

“Indian Museum May Be Located at Fort Towson,” The Paris News (Paris, Texas), Sunday,  Jan 7, 1940, page 13

 

 

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