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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

LOVE, HUGH (1786? – 1845?).

An Indian trader in Oklahoma's Three Forks region (the confluence of the Arkansas, Grand, and Verdigris rivers) from the late 1820s, Hugh Love claimed Brunswick County, Virginia, as his birthplace but he may have hailed from Columbus, Georgia; exact locations and dates are vague. Columbus was a hotbed of speculation and trade because of Creek removal. The opportunity apparently drew him to Georgia and then to Indian Territory.

In 1828 Love arrived at the Three Forks area, already an area abundant with traders who included Auguste Pierre "A. P." Chouteau, Hugh Glenn, Nathaniel Pryor (of Lewis and Clark fame), and James Turley. When Love arrived, the economy was shifting from the fur and hide trade with regional tribes to government contracts and supplying the needs of Southeastern removed tribes. Love first worked for A.P. Chouteau, but in 1831 agent George Vashon licensed him to trade with the Cherokee and Creek. He created a bustling operation on the Verdigris River.

Creek leaders and government officials trusted Love. He supported Creek protests to Pres. Andrew Jackson about a possible second removal further west. Sam Houston, who arrived at the Three Forks after his political scandals and hoping to profit from his Cherokee connections, did not respect Love, however. Unlicensed, impetuous, and hoping to gain his own contracts, in 1830 Houston targeted Love with scathing articles in the Arkansas Gazette, claiming that he was corrupt. Love vigorously defended his reputation. Creek mixed-blood Benjamin Hawkins and Houston were scheming to resettle groups of Southeastern Indians to the Mexican province of Texas near Nacogdoches and needed Love and other traders out of the way. By 1832 their plan failed, and Houston left for Texas.

In 1834 Love tried to expand his trade with western tribes. He purchased two captive Kiowa children, named Gunpandama and Tunkahtohye, from the Osage, intending to return them in order to forge good relations with the Kiowa, but he sold Gunpandama to the Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition. The two captives were painted by George Catlin, the expedition's artist. Leavenworth intended to use Gunpandama for the expedition's own diplomacy with the Kiowa, and he encouraged western tribes to trade with A. P. Chouteau. Love left the Three Forks soon after.

He returned to Georgia but soon left there to join the Texas Revolution against Mexico. In November 1835 he led a company of Georgians to Texas to take part in the siege at San Antonio de Béxar. They arrived in December, too late to fight, but he petitioned the rebels' Consultation (provisional government) to let him recruit Creek and Delaware Indians for the Texas cause. They agreed, but only in order to protect the frontier from Apache and Comanche raids or to keep them neutral. He also suggested that all tribes in East Texas be removed to the west to form a barrier against the western tribes and to protect tribes from growing Texas racism. Prejudiced views among Texans ended his efforts.

The only insight into Love's character came from William Fairfax Gray, a diarist writing during the Texas Revolution. Gray noted that Love was fond of the Indian life and was "in his element" working with the tribes. He also considered Love "a strange but interesting character," who "never drank a drop of spirituous liquor, wine, or beer, smoked a cigar, nor chewed tobacco." Little else is known of Love, who thereafter receded from history.

S. Matthew DeSpain


Gary C. Anderson, The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820–1875 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005).

The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835–1837, Vol. 6, ed. Paul Lack (Dallas: William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 1997).

Grant Foreman, Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark, 1926).

Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland, Sam Houston with the Cherokees, 1829–1833 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, [1967] 1996).

John R. Lovett, "Three Forks Area," in Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, ed. Charles Goins, Danny Goble, and James Anderson (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006).

Wayne Morris, "The Oklahoma Fur Trade, 1796–1845," M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1967.

Ralph W. Steen, "Analysis of the Work of the General Council, Provisional Government of Texas, 1835–1836 [Part 2]," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 41 (January 1938).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
S. Matthew DeSpain, “Love, Hugh,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=LO025.

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