Thomas Jefferson Mayfield
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Thomas Jefferson Mayfield (1843–1928) led a remarkable double life in the early decades of California statehood, living his boyhood as an adopted member of the Choinumni (Choinumne) branch of the Yokuts tribe in the San Joaquin Valley, then rejoining the dominant Anglo-American community throughout his long adulthood.
Thomas Jefferson Mayfield was born in 1843, in Brazos County, Texas, the youngest of the three sons of William Mayfield and his first wife, Terissa Faller, of Hardeman County, Tennessee.〔( HARDEMAN COUNTY, TENNESSEE, Marriage Records, Ma-McG, 1824-1950 )〕〔(Re: [MAYFIELD] Texas Land Records Sat, 27 Mar 2004, from http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com accessed April 28, 2013 )〕 By 1848, his mother had died and his father was remarried, to Maria or Mary Ann Curd. When he was six, his family came to California by voyage round Cape Horn because violence between Texas settlers and Apaches made the San Antonio-El Paso Road land route too dangerous. From San Francisco, they made their way by horse and mule pack south through San Jose and over the Pacheco Pass into the Central Valley.〔Robe, Mike. “Wahallich Revisited: History as Tragedy: the real Goliath.” Fresno Alliance. Vol. 1, No. 3 (February 2005). 10.〕 Maria Curd Mayfield died shortly after December 1850. William Mayfield went to herd cattle with Jeff’s two older brothers and left young Jeff, as he was known, with local Choinumni, Kings River Yokuts Indians who had befriended the family. For the following decade, Jeff, lived in a village across from his families home at the mouth of Sycamore Creek, on Kings River (now under Pine Flat Lake).〔 Fenenga, Franklin, ''Review: Tailholt Tales as Related to Frank F. Latta by Thomas Jefferson Mayfield'', The Journal of California Anthropology, UC Merced Library, UC Merced, 1978, p.126〕 He had almost no contact with whites and fully assimilated to their native language and culture.〔 Around the age of eighteen, Mayfield rejoined his family and after 1862 surrendered any sustained ties to the Choinumni.
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