Born- March, 1836
Location- Arkansas
Died- ABT 1910
Location- Mariposa, CA
Telefina (AKA Delphina) Dick
  • Indian name- Pa-Mah-Hah
Susan Lawrence (Leonard)
  • Indian name- Chen-na-chu
John Lawrence
  • Indian name- Chich-ka
You're probably asking how I came up with James being from Arkansas, rather than Missouri, as stated on both Susan and John's Indian applications of 1928, or the U.S Census for John and Annie from 1910 that states Ireland for James. While doing record research, I found ZERO records of a James Lawrence from Missouri and ending up in the Mariposa area, while MANY records, listed below, fit as having him from Arkansas. I have no idea where the Ireland thing came from on that 1910 Census, given that John had stated Missouri previously, on that 1928 application. The one thing that DID point me to Arkansas is the below mentioned 1896 Voter's Register, which had James from Arkansas AND John listed right below him. UPDATE - DNA testing confirmed that James was from Arkansas, and is in fact a Jr. He also has many brothers and sisters, which is important for below. The following shows that James' father, also named James, died just prior to James being born -

Will of James Lawrence

Dated 20 April 1836; Recorded 4 May 1836
Washington County, Arkansas
Transcribed by Rebecca Wampnar Hitzman

Territory of Arkansas, County of Washington. In the name of God Amen, I James Lawrence of the County of Washington and Territory aforesaid being as I believe of sound mind and memory, but in the enjoyment of imperfect health, being sensible of the uncertainty of life have thought proper to make and declare my last will and testament as follows viz: First, fore and in consideration of the love and affiction which I have for my wife Sarah Lawrence, I do hereby will and bequeath unto her forty acres of land the northern forty of the southwest quarter of section no. three in Township no. fifteen north of range no. thirty one west so as to include my house and farm to have and to hold said land as long as she remains a widow. I do also will and bequeath unto my beloved wife my negro boy Jake and three mares and four colts to have and to hold the same as long as she is a widow and if she should marry I wish her to have my mare fly and two cows. Second, it is my will and desire that my negro boy Jake should be free on the decease or marriage of my wife. Third, four horses to be sold and the money appropriated to the education of my infant children viz. Davie and Ball (?) Mittie (Miltie?) and Charley. Fourth, it is my will and desire that all my land with the exception of the forty acres willed to my wife (and that at her death or marriage) should be equally divided between my six children viz. my daughter Susannah and Jeney, my sons George, Samuel and Adam and John Shirley and if my dear wife should have another shortly it is my wish that it should be made equal with my other children. Fifth, it is my will and desire that my wife should have and enjoy her widowed state, or in case she should never marry during her natural life, all of my farming tools, household and kitchen furniture, also my stock of cattle and hogs and sheep, all of which on the death or remarriage of my wife to be divided between my children. Sixth, I hereby appoint my much loved Father sole executor of this my last will and testament. Lastly I commend my soul to God the great Source from whence it emanated hoping that when it shall cease to inhabit a tenement of clay it will wing its way to an house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven. Amen. In testimony of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six. James Lawrence (his mark). Signed, sealed and executed in the presence of M. H. Clark, James Kinnebrugh and Aaron Coase.

James Lawrence was the son of George Lawrence (b. 1772/Guilford Co., NC, d. 1852/Washington Co., Arkansas). He married Sarah Anderson, daughter of James B. Anderson whose estate was probated 10 Sept. 1834 in Miller County, Arkansas. Sarah appears to have died around 1840, as her name no longer appears in tax records and her children are assigned guardians and apprenticed out.

His children included SUSANNAH Lawrence (b. abt 1827/AR, m. Elbert Franklin Hughes), JANE Lawrence (b. abt 1829/AR, m. Hugh S. Jobe), GEORGE Lawrence (possibly nicknamed Davie, b. abt 1830/AR), SAMUEL Lawrence (possibly nicknamed Ball (?), b. abt 1832/Arkansas, m. Sarah St. Clair, d. 1865/Franklin Co., AR), ADAM Lawrence (possibly nicknamed Mittie or Miltie, b. 10 Dec. 1833/AR, m. Elizabeth Vianna DeGraffenreid, d. 1863/Grayson Co., Texas), JOHN Shirley Lawrence (possibly nicknamed Charlie, b. 15 Nov. 1835/AR), and JAMES Jr. (b. after his father's will in 1837).

According to the 1870 US Census James lived in Mariposa. This is the earliest record I could find for him. It appeared he was boarding with someone. Telefina does not show up on the census with him, which is odd, as their daughter, Susan, was born in December of 1863, 7 years prior to the census, and their son, John, was born in May of 1877*, 7 years after the census (* see above regarding John's birthdate). UPDATE - I found an earlier 1850 US Census for him, where he was living with his grandfather George and his older sister Susannah. Family tree connections made through DNA testing pushed his family line all the way back into the 1600's as well.

Three 1872 Voter's Registers (one here, one here, and one here, not sure of actual year dates, because all three popped up for the same year, yet you can see they are different Registers) show he lived in Hite's Cove as a miner. On that last one, you will notice a James E. Lawrence. Not the same person. This second James is from Wisconsin.

In the 1888 Voter's Register, there are yet again two different James Lawrence (but not the same as the previous mentioned, thus bringing us to a total of THREE James Lawrence!). This one is the journalist/lawyer/politician, James H. Lawrence, that is mentioned as the lawyer for our James Lawrence in the Tom Bushyhead story below. These two are NOT the same James Lawrence. Ours is from Arkansas, while James H. Lawrence is from Massachusetts. This Voter Register also says James (ours) was living in Wawona at the time.

In this 1892 Voter's Register, it lists a description of James - Height: 5' 4", Complexion: Light (he was a white guy, after all), Eyes: Blue, Hair: Black, Marks or Scars: None. He was still living in Wawona at this time.

The 1896 Voter's Register is pretty interesting, as right under James' name is John Lawrence, his son. It describes them as still living in Wawona. This Votoer's Register will appear on John's info as well, detailing what it says about him there, ie being of dark complexion (aka Indian).

Per the 1900 US Census, he was born in March, 1836 in Arkansas. This census shows that he could read, but not write.

I have been unable to confirm his parents, but they may have been James Lawrence, Sr. and Sarah Anderson, thus making him a Jr. UPDATE - Parentage confirmed via DNA connections.

The following is a story about James killing an Indian named Tom Bushyhead:


A Scion of the Digger Tribe in Mariposa County-Murdered by a "Squaw Man"- A Strange, Weird and Woeful Ceremonial.

Wawonna (Mariposa County, Cal.) June 15 (Special Correspondence of The Times)
The tourists at this pretty little stopping-off place en route go the Yosemite Valley had yesterday something more than is found in the guide books. It was an Indian "Cry" dance," which is something similar to a "wake," only that it is more so. During the several previous days there had been bad blood between Tom Bushyhead, a red man, and James Lawrence, a pale face.
Bushyhead is a grandson of the chief of the Walla Walla or Digger tribe now infesting the region, and is the "terror of Wawoona". He has a record, having served a term in the County Jail for thrashing his wife, another for resisting an officer, and still another for stabbing a red brother nine times in a drunken row. He whipped his wife about two weeks ago, and she left him.
Lawrence is a "squaw man," having married an Indian woman, and accidentally killed his brother in Los Angeles many years ago. He is a brother of Henry Lawrence, who killed a man in this county several years ago by shooting him in the back, and afterward lived in San Francisco as a notary publican and kind of a lawyers.
Such is the history of these two characters- one an Indian "bully," the other a good-for-nothing, drunken loafer. The bad feeling culminated Wednesday afternoon by Lawrence shooting "Indian Tom," otherwise known as Tom Bushyhead. Tom had threatened Lawrence and others, but at the moment he was shot, the Indian was sober, had not been at all demonstrative, was unarmed, and was just coming across the creek from the Indian village to the hotel to sell a string of fish, the result of his day's labor, the principal means of livelihood of the Diggers at this station. The Coroner's jury verdict of justifiable homicide is not favorable received either by the visiting palefaces or the red men.
Shortly after Tom died, THE TIMES correspondent went over to the Indian village, which is situated just across the creek from this "station,"- or village of Wawoona. The Chief invited me to view the corpse, and the sister of deceased removed the shroud. The Indian had been removed from the cabin and his personal effect, clothing, etc., were taken out and placed in a pile preparatory to burning, Formerly these Indians burned the bodies, but they have so far advanced in civilization that they now only burn the person effects of the deceased, and tear down the house in which he died. The corpse was dressed in a new suit, minus a coat, and the hands were clasped vertically over the breast, as if invoking a prayer to the Great Father. The hands were also tied together by leather straps, and the arms were likewise pinioned at the elbows. The head was placed in an oval-shaped basket, beautifully interwoven with worsted, and his feet were also placed in a similar basket. Around his forehead was tied a red silken handkerchief, and another around his chin, exposing only his upper lip and nose. Shortly after his death the "death cry" began. His sister, an old woman, stood at the head of the corpse waving a green branch, slowly muttering incantations, and then began dancing. or rather jumping up and down. The others standing around the corpse also began dancing, crying, shouting and wringing their hands as if in agony or the deepest pain. In a few minutes they would top from sheer exhaustion, and then continue more furious and fast than ever, the sad lamentations being heard by the tourists at the hotel across the creek and by the dead man's slayer, who sat among the crowd, apparently unconcerned. The "cry" would cease for moment, and the seers would point upward, downward, and in the distance, as if seeing visions, and then would close her eyes as in a trance, and interpret her own visions; and then the dancing and lamentation, which were weirdly pathetic, would be renewed. This was continued throughout the day and night, and ceased only after the burial, when the bonfire was lighted, and all that was earthly of Tom vanished in the grave and in smoke.
Among the mourner were two of Lawrence's sons, half-breeds, weeping at the grave of their fathers victim.
The trouble was, of course, about a woman. A few months ago, when Tom whipped his wife, she left him. Since then he has been making love to, or at, the half-breed daughter of Lawrence, who objected to the match, as Tom was very cruel, especially to his squaws. Tom threatened to kill Lawrence, and on several occasions started out to bring in his scalp, but at this time was not prepared, and Lawrence evidently was awaiting his opportunity. Lawrence was released on his own recognizance until next Monday, when the examination will be held.
A "death cry" was to have been held here about two weeks ago, in honor of a red brother who died doing the State some service at San Quentin. But, owing to Tom's reputation as a fighter and a bulldozer, only a few Indians came in , and there was not enough to get up a first-class "cry", the ceremonial was postponed. Strangely enough, the "cry" was had at last over the body of the man who had prevented the rite being held over a departed red brother- J. M. S.
The original article can be found here.

Now... there are a couple of interesting tidbits from that article. As you can see, it was posted in the L.A. Times, as it says at the top of it. L.A. is nowhere close to Mariposa, so it seems weird an L.A. paper would pick up the story. Next, how the article describes James. I got a laugh out of that, given how these folks lived back then. Old Western TV shows and/or movies do them no justice. The writer also speaks of brothers of James, stating James accidently killed one, and another, named Henry, who had shot a man in the back then moved to San Fransisco. I have yet to find documentation on relatives of James, but have been pointed to possible parents (see above). Maybe that will shed some light on these brothers of his. UPDATE - Family tree for James established via DNA. He did have a brother named Adam HENRY Lawrence, but he never went to Mariposa or S.F. - He died in Texas. As for the one James accidently killed? Neither he nor any of his siblings show record of being in Los Angeles ever. Lastly, the writer speaks of James' wife, which would be Telefina, and his daughter, which would be Susan. And most intriguing- The writer says TWO of James sons were there. Only problem is, James had one son: John. Who is this other "son", if it was a son of James at all?

Oh, and a special note about that story-
WAWANA CAL., June 19
Daily Evening Bulletin, (San Francisco, CA) Wednesday, June 19, 1889; Issue 63; col F
The examination of James Lawrence for shooting Indian Tom occupied two days, District Attorney Stolder prosecuring and D W Tupper of Fresno and James H Lawrence of Mariposa defending; Justice Leitch discharged the accused this morning. Wawona's citizen unanimoulsy aprrove the decision, and tourist visitors who knew the circumstances concur. This will probably end the case.
You see that ANOTHER James Lawrence defended this James Lawrence. His name was James H. Lawrence, and was a lawyer who became a newspaper man in the Mariposa area, then went into politics. Be aware that they are two different people. I have been trying to locate an original archived version of this second piece.

Should you have any more information by way of documents or any questions, you can contact me on Facebook at this link.
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