Dennis Bushyhead

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Chief Bushyhead, 1882.

Dennis Bushyhead (March 18, 1826 – February 4, 1898[1]) was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. He served from 1879 to 1887.


Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead was born near Cleveland, Tennessee.[1] He was the oldest son of Rev. Jesse Bushyhead[1] and Miss Eliza Wilkinson, who was from Georgian and of partial Cherokee ancestry. He went to school in 1833 at Candy Creek Mission, Tennessee, under the charge of Rev. Holland. In 1835 he went to the Mission School at Valley River in North Carolina and remained there for one year, where he was taught by the noted Baptist minister and close associate of Jesse Bushyhead, Evan Jones. In 1838 his father Rev. Jesse Bushyhead conducted a detachment of Cherokee, numbering 1000 people from the old nation to Beattie's prairie in the Delaware District (Indian Territory), and Dennis was among the party. In the following year, he attended Mission School at Park Hill,[1] Cherokee Nation, under the charge of Rev. Samuel A. Worcester. He remained there for one year, after which, in 1841 he was sent to college in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. In March 1841 he joined Chief Ross' delegation to Washington to attend the inauguration of General Harrison as President of The United States. Bushyhead remained in New Jersey for three years, completing his education at Lawrenceville in July 1844. He enrolled in the sophomore class at Princeton University, but found it necessary to return home when his father died.[2]

Dennis went to work as a clerk for Lewis Ross, brother of Chief John Ross, in October 1844 and remained in that position until the summer of 1847. He was elected as clerk for the Cherokee Senate in October 1847, serving for one year.[2]

In November 1871 he was elected treasurer of the Cherokee nation and held the position for four years, and was reelected to the post in 1875.

Family life[edit]

In September 1879, Bushyhead married a Mrs. Scrimsher from Fort Gibson. They had four children: Jesse C., Eliza, Catherine and Dennis Jr. His wife may have died early, because in October 1883 he married Eloise P. Butler. The couple had two children: James Butler and Francis Taylor.[3]


Dennis Bushyhead died February 4, 1898, and was buried in Tahlequah.[4]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Charles Thompson
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Succeeded by
Joel B. Mayes