Lyncoya

Engraving of a dead Creek woman next to a baby
There is no known likeness of Lyncoya; this image represents the circumstances by which he was taken

A Pictorial Biography of Andrew Jackson by John Frost (New York, 1860)

Quick Facts

Significance:
Adopted child of Andrew Jackson
Date of Birth:
c. 1813
Date of Death:
1828

Lyncoya, a Creek Indian orphan, was raised at the Hermitage, the household of Andrew and Rachel Jackson.  A survivor of Battle of Tullushatchee, the baby boy was found clinging to his dead mother’s breast after American forces overwhelmed the small Creek village, killing at least 186 Creek men and taking over 80 prisoners, including women and children. The child was taken to Andrew Jackson after the surviving women of the town, almost all severely wounded, refused to take responsibility for the orphan. Jackson noted, in a letter to his wife that he felt “unusual sympathy” for the baby, and saw the child’s plight as a reflection of his own experiences in losing his family at a young age.

Lyncoya was not the only Creek child sent to the Hermitage.  Theodore, likely captured when American forces overran the Creek town of Littafuchee (October 27, 1813), died soon after arriving at the Hermitage.  A third Creek child,  renamed Charley, was presented to Jackson as a gift by Jim Fife, a Creek interpreter and member of the Creek National Council, as a companion to Jackson’s adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr. Charley’s fate is uncertain, but Lyncoya remained a member of Jackson’s household until his early death due to tuberculosis in 1828.

Lyncoya’s status in the Jackson household remains murky.  Like many young Creeks taken as captives by white army officers, he was intended to be a “pett” or childhood companion for a young family member.  The legal status of these dependent children is unknown, but appears to have been distinct from the chattel slavery known by African Americans in many of the plantation households the boys joined.  Lyncoya received some education in the Jackson household and there were indications that Jackson hoped to send him to West Point.  In the end, Lyncoya was apprenticed to a Nashville saddler.  

The adoption of the young battlefield survivor complicates our understanding of Andrew Jackson’s attitude toward Indians and stands in stark contrast to the brutal warfare conducted by American forces under his command which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Creek men and women during the Creek War.

Last updated: June 18, 2015