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Samuel Taylor “Thunderbird” Blue, Jr. was born on August 15, 1872. His father, Samuel Taylor Blue, Sr. was a white farmer possibly born in Fort Mill, SC and his mother was Margaret George, a pure Indian from the Catawba Reservation. Chief Blue’s Indian name was Namé Patki, which means “Big Bear.” The name “Thunderbird” was not his real name, but a name given to him by a reporter.
His father died while he was young and lived most of his life on the Catawba Indian reservation just outside of Rock Hill, SC where he learned about the history and culture of his people. Chief Blue had no formal education and was baptized in the into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina (1882?) on the Catawba Indian Reservation near Rock Hill, S.C. He married Minnie Hester George (1871-1897?) from the Catawba Reservation in 1886. They had three children. Minnie George Blue died in 1894. Chief Blue remarried Hester Louisa Jean Canty (1883-1963) of the Catawba Reservation on May 8, 1897. Hester Blue is considered the last “full-blooded” Catawba Indian and was master potter and was fluent in the Catawba language. Chief Blue and Hester had nine children. Chief Blue had as many as 23 children, three by his first wife and twenty by his second, however only ten survived into adulthood, while eleven were stillborn with five having never been given a name.
Chief Blue was elected chief in 1931 and served for three administrations (1931–1938, 1941–1943, and 1956–1958). Chief Blue was a spokesman for the Indians in the capitol in Columbia, S.C. Chief Samuel Blue died on April 16, 1959 and was one of the last of the tribe who could speak the original Catawba language. His wife, Minnie, was one of the last (if not the last) to be fluent in the Catawba language when she passed away in 1963. He is buried on the Catawba Indian Reservation.
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of photocopies of correspondence, genealogical information, financial records, newspaper clippings, photographs, pamphlets, and a scrapbook collected by Samuel Taylor (Thunderbird) Blue (1872-1959), former chief of the Catawba Indians (1931–1938, 1941–1943, and 1956–1958). A large part of the collection relates to mission work with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina (Mormon Church), and federal agencies on the problems facing the Catawba Indians.
The papers of Samuel Taylor Blue, Catawba Indian Chief, were deposited March 23, 1983 by the Museum of York County.
For information concerning copyright please contact the Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections at Winthrop University.
Finding Aid Citation
Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections, Winthrop University, "Chief Samuel Taylor (Thunderbird) Blue Papers - Accession 496". Finding Aid 1126.