Collection: History of Alabama - Pickett

Bloody Scenes in Alabama and Georgia

At this period, some exciting scenes occurred in the region now known as North Alabama. We have already followed a party of emigrants to the Cumberland. Many others flocked to that country, and it soon became well settled, for a wild country. The Upper Creeks and Cherokees continually made war upon these Cumberland people. The French, upon the Wabash, had, for a long time, carried on a commerce, near the sites of the present towns of Tuscumbia and Florence. So long as M. Viez was at the head of this trade, the Cumberland people were not harassed; but, recently, he had been succeeded by others, who supplied the Indians with arms, and encouraged them to attack the American settlements. The latter had only acted upon the defensive, but it was now determined to advance upon the frontier towns of the Indians. June 1 1787: One hundred and thirty men assembled, from different parts of the Cumberland region, and marched, under Colonel James Robertson, to the Tennessee river, piloted by two Chickasaws. David Hays was dispatched from Nashville with boats, laden with provisions, destined for the Muscle Shoals. Descending the Cumberland, he was furiously attacked by the Indians, at the mouth of Duck River, and, after some of his men had been killed and others wounded, he returned to Nashville with his boats. Owing to this the horsemen were without...

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The French In Alabama And Mississippi

After the Spanish invasion of De Soto, to which allusion has so often been made, our soil remained untrodden by European feet for nearly a century and a half. At the end of that long and dark period it became connected with the history of the distant dark period it became connected with the history of the distant French possessions of Canada, which were contemporaneous with the oldest English colonies in America. For more than fifty years the French fur traders of Canada, associated with the enterprising Jesuit Fathers, had continued to advance southwestward upon the great lakes, discovering new regions, different races of Indians, more abundant game, and wider and brighter waters. At length, from the tribes upon the southern shores of Lake Superior, Father Allouez heard some vague reports of a great western river. Subsequently, Father Marquette was dispatched from Quebec with Joliet, a trader of that place, five other Frenchmen, and a large number of Indian guides, to seek the Mississippi, and thus add new regions to the dominion of France, and new missions of the empire of the Jesuits. Ascending Fox River to the head of navigation, and crossing the portage to the banks of the Wisconsin, with birch bark canoes, the adventurers again launched their tiny boats and floated down to the Mississippi river. Descending it to the mouth of the Arkansas, and encountering...

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The Spaniards in Alabama and Mississippi

England, having lost her West Florida provinces by the victories of Galvez, and having the American Whigs, as well as the natives of France, Spain and Holland, arrayed against her, was finally forced to retire from the unequal contest. A preliminary treaty of peace was signed at Paris. England there acknowledged our independence, and admitted our southern boundary to be as follows: A line beginning at the Mississippi, at 31° north of the equator, and extending due east to the Chattahoochie River; down that river to the mouth of the Flint, and thence to the St. Mary’s, and along that river to the sea. Great Britain also expressly stipulated, in that treaty, our right to the navigation of the Mississippi River, from its mouth to its source. Jan. 20 1783: Great Britain and Spain entered into a treaty. The former warranted and confirmed to the latter the province of West Florida, and ceded to her East Florida. 1American State Papers, Boston edition, vol. 10, p. 132. But although England, by the treaty of 1782, assigned to the United States all the territory between the Mississippi and the Chattahoochie, lying between the parallels of latitude 31° and 32° 28′, embracing the same portion of the territory of Alabama and Mississippi, which lay in the British province of West Florida, yet it was not surrendered to us by Spain for years...

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English Settlement on the Holsten River

In the meantime, the wild region upon the Cumberland river was explored, and some temporary establishments formed at the bluff, on which is now situated the city of Nashville. Captain James Robertson was the hero of these bold adventures, and had several times, with a small party of men, cut his way from extreme East Tennessee to that country, passing over the lofty Cumberland mountains and through dangerous Indian settlements. Returning to the Holston, after having made several of these trips, he raised a large company of emigrants, and built boats at Long Island. When they were nearly ready to be launched, he placed himself at the head of a horse party, and set out over the mountains for the Cumberland, intending to leave signs upon the trees at the head of the Muscle Shoals, after going from Nashville to that place. These signs he intended for the purpose of letting the voyagers know whether it would be practicable for them to disembark at the Muscle Shoals and go to the Cumberland by land. A large number of flat boats, filled with emigrants and their effects, began the voyage from Long Island, upon the Holston. Those recollected will be mentioned, for the gratification of descendants. The large Donaldson family, who, after reaching the Cumberland, settled upon Stone’s river, and became connected by affinity with General Andrew Jackson, all embarked...

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Extreme Perils and Suffering of the Natchez Refugees

During the siege of Pensacola, a series of events, of an interesting and romantic character, began at Natchez, and afterwards ended, with unparalleled sufferings, in the vast Indian wilderness, which extended from thence to the Ogechee River, in the distant province of Georgia. Some citizens of the Natchez district, the most prominent of whom were Philip Alston, Colonel Hutchens, John Alston, Captain Thaddeus Lyman, Thompson Lyman, Jacob Blomont, and Jacob Winfrey, put themselves at the head of a large party of royalists, for the purpose of seizing Fort Panmure, and expelling there from the Spanish troops, who had held it since September, 1780. They had learned that a powerful British fleet was off the Florida coast, whose object was the re-occupation of the country, and, believing that Don Galvez had already been defeated at Pensacola, they resolved immediately to anticipate what they supposed would be the desire of their King. Having assembled a large body of Choctaws, the insurgents assumed a position upon an eminence, above the town of Natchez, in full view of the fort. At night they advanced and planted their artillery so as to bear upon the works; but, when day approached, the Spanish cannonade compelled them to retire. During the succeeding twenty-four hours, the firing continued between the parties. Apr. 29 1781: The commandant sent a flag to Colonel Hutchens, representing the danger of rebellion,...

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Early Incidents in the Mississippi Territory

Napoleon Bonaparte had turned his eagle eye to the rich province of Louisiana, and it was ceded by Spain to France. He contemplated its occupation, with a large army, and probably entertained designs of conquest against portions of the United States; but, becoming deeply involved in wars with the whole of Europe, he reluctantly relinquished these intentions, and ceded Louisiana to the United States for sixty millions of francs. Governor Claiborne, with a large number of emigrants, who had already flocked to Natchez from all parts of the Union for the purpose of occupying Louisiana, sailed down the Mississippi, with Wilkinson and his forces, and took formal possession of the city of New Orleans, in behalf of the United States. He had been appointed the Governor of the Louisiana Territory. He left the people of the Mississippi Territory duly impressed with a deep sense of obligation for his valuable public services. Cato West, the Territorial Secretary, discharged the executive duties until his successor arrived. The distance of Natchez from the Tombigby was so great that Congress authorized the President to appoint an additional Superior Court Judge for the benefit of the people settled upon that river. The Hon. Harry Toulmin was selected. He was born at Taunton, in England, the 7th April 1766, and descended from a learned and respectable family. He became a pastor of the Unitarian church,...

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Governor George M. Troup and the McIntosh Family

At the close of our last chapter it was stated that the first American court held in Alabama was at McIntosh Bluff, which is situated upon the western bank of the Tombigby, between its confluence with the Alabama and the town of St. Stephens. Connected with this bluff, there is, to us, a pleasing historical reminiscence. Alabama has the honor of being the birthplace of George M. Troup, late Governor of Georgia, and who is one of the most vigorous and expressive political and epistolary writers of the age. His grandfather, Captain John McIntosh, the Chief of the McIntosh clan, was long attached to the army of West Florida, and his valuable services were rewarded by the King of England, with the grant of McIntosh Bluff, and extensive tracts of land upon the Mississippi. He had a son, who was also a British officer, and a daughter, a native of Georgia. The latter, while on a visit to England, married an officer of the royal army, named Troup. She sailed from England to Mobile, and, arriving at the latter place, entered a barge, and went up the Tombigby River to the residence of her father at McIntosh Bluff, where, in the wilds of Alabama, Governor Troup was born in September, 1780. She had an uncle, named Roderick McIntosh, or “Old Rory,” as he was familiarly called, a most extraordinary...

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Journey of Bartram Through Alabama

William Bartram, the botanist, passed through the Creek nation, and went from thence to Mobile. He found that that town extended back from the river nearly half a mile. Some of the houses were vacant, and others were in ruins. Yet a few good buildings were inhabited by the French gentlemen, and others by refined emigrants of Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Northern British Colonies. The Indian trade was under management of Messrs. Swanson and McGillivray. They conducted an extensive commerce with the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks. Their buildings were commodious, and well arranged for that purpose. The principal houses of the French were of brick, of one story, of a square form, and on a large scale, embracing courts in their rears. Those of the lower classes were made of strong cypress frames, filled in with plaster. Major Farmar, one of the most respectable inhabitants of West Florida, who formerly had much to do with the colonial government, resided at Tensaw, in sight of the present Stockton, where once lived the tribe of Tensaw Indians. The bluff sustained not only his extensive improvements, but the dwellings of many French families, chiefly his tenants, while his extensive plantations lay up and down the Tensaw River, on the western side. Indeed, all up that river, and particularly on the western branch, were many well cultivated plantations, belonging to various settlers,...

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Hardships of the Early Natchez Emigrants

Taking the reader with us, to the settlements of the distant Natchez region, he will find that emigrants continued to pour in, upon those fertile hills and alluvial bottoms, from all parts of “his majesty’s Atlantic plantations.” Many were the hardships and perils they encountered, in reaching this remote and comparatively uninhabited region. It is believed that the history of one party of these emigrants will enable the reader to understand what kind of hardships and deprivations all the others were forced to undergo. Major General Phineas Lyman, a native of Durham, a graduate of Yale, a distinguished lawyer, and a member of the legislature of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, became commander of the Connecticut forces in 1755. He served with so much distinction, during the Canadian war, that he was invited, by persons high in office, to visit England. He had formed an association composed of his brothers in arms, called the “Military Adventurers,” whose design was, the colonization of a tract of country upon the Mississippi. He sailed to England, as agent for this company, with the sanguine, yet reasonable hope, that the King would make the grant. Arriving there he found, to his astonishment, that land in a wilderness was refused to those who had fought so valiantly for it, and whose contemplated establishment would have formed a barrier against enemies, who might seek to acquire...

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The English In Georgia

We have shown that South Carolina had been established as a colony for some years, that its seat of government was at Charleston, and that its inhabitants, in endeavoring to extend the English trade to all the Western Indian nations as far as the Mississippi river, had many conflicts and difficulties with the French, who occupied the territory of Alabama. They were also constantly opposed by the Spaniards of the Floridas. In order to interpose a barrier to these foes, as well as to protect the citizens from the attacks of the Creek Indians, the King of England and the British Parliament listened to a proposition of a great philanthropist, to plant a colony upon the western bank of the Savannah river. His motives, purely noble and disinterested, originated in a desire to ameliorate the condition of many unfortunate people in England. To carry out his plans of humanity, he was willing that the King should blend with them politic measures for the advancement of this, his most Southern province, and it was determined that “silk, wine and oil should be cultivated most abundantly.” James Oglethorpe, a descendant of one of the oldest and most influential families of England, was born on the 22d of December 1688, and after graduating at Oxford University, was commissioned an ensign in the British army. In 1713, he accompanied the Earl of Petersburg,...

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Terrible Massacre at Fort Mims

In the meantime, the wealthy half-bloods about Little river had dropped down the Alabama, in their boats, and had secreted themselves in the swamp about Lake Tensaw. Uniting with the whites, they soon began the construction of a fort around the residence of Samuel Mims, a wealthy Indian countryman, to whom we have often alluded, and who, originally, was one of the pack-horsemen of the Honorable George Galphin. Being about to relate a horrible affair, in which people of all ages and both sexes were subjected to savage butchery, a particular description of the place where it occurred is deemed necessary. Mims lived within four hundred yards of the Boat Yard, upon Lake Tensaw, a mile east of the Alabama River, and two miles below the Cut-Off. His house was a large frame building of one story, with spacious shed-rooms. Around it pickets were driven, between which fence rails were placed. Five hundred portholes were made, three and a half feet only from the ground. The stockading enclosed an acre of ground, in a square form, and was entered by two ponderous but rude gates, one on the east and the other on the west. Within the enclosure, besides the main building, were various out-houses, rows of bee gums, together with cabins and board shelters, recently erected by the settlers, wherever a vacant spot appeared. At the southwest corner...

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Terrible Massacre At Natchez

The colony of Louisiana was now in a flourishing condition; its fields were cultivated by more than two thousand Negroes; cotton, indigo, tobacco and grain were produced; skins and furs of all descriptions were obtained in a traffic with the Indians; and lumber was extensively exported to the West India islands. The province was protected by eight hundred troops of the line; but the bloody massacre of the French population of Fort Rosalie, at the Natchez, arrested these rapid strides of prosperity, and shrouded all things in sadness and gloom. Our library contains many accounts of this horrible affair, which harmonize very well with each other; but in reference to the causes which led to it, more particularly, we propose to introduce the statement of Le Page Du Pratz, who was residing in Louisiana at the time.

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Battle of Burnt Corn

Peter McQueen, at the head of the Tallase warriors; High Head Jim, with the Autaugas, and Josiah Francis, with the Alabamas, numbering in all three hundred and fifty, departed for Pensacola with many pack-horses. On their way they beat and drove off all the Indians who would not take the war talk. The brutal McQueen beat an unoffending white trader within an inch of his life, and carried the wife of Curnells, the government interpreter, a prisoner to Pensacola. The village of Hatchechubba was reduced to ashes. The inhabitants of the Tombigby and the Tensaw had constantly petitioned the...

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Battles of Tallasehatche, Talladega and Auttose

The arrival of an express at Nashville, with letters from Mr. George S. Gaines to General Jackson and the governor, conveying the distressing intelligence of the massacre at Fort Mims, and imploring their assistance, created great excitement, and the Tennesseans volunteered their services to avenge the outrage. General Jackson, at the head of a large force, passed through Huntsville, crossed the Tennessee at Ditto’s Landing, and joined Colonel Coffee, who had been dispatched in advance, and who had encamped opposite the upper end of an island on the south side of the river, three miles above the landing. Remaining...

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Battle of the Horseshoe

Leaving a guard at Fort Williams, General Jackson put his army, which consisted of two thousand men, upon the march. He opened a passage across the ridge which divides the Coosa and Tallapoosa, and, in three days advanced to the immediate neighborhood of the enemy. Cholocco Litabixee, the Horse-Shoe, where the Red Sticks had assembled to make a desperate defense, was admirably adapted by nature for security if well guarded, but equally for destruction if not well defended. About one hundred acres of land was bordered by the Tallapoosa River, forming a peninsula. Across the neck of the bend, the Red Sticks had a breastwork of logs, so arranged as to expose assailants to a crossfire. The houses of the village stood upon some low grounds at the bottom of the bend, where hundreds of canoes were tied to the banks of the river. The warriors of Hillabee, Ocfuske, Oakchoie, Eufaulahatche, New Yauca, Hickory Ground and Fish Pond towns had concentrated upon the remarkable peninsula. General Coffee, with a large body of mounted men, and the friendly Indians, forded the Tallapoosa two miles below the breast-work, and, having gained the eastern side, extended his lines for a great distance, so as to encompass the bend. Morning of. As soon as Jackson saw, from signals which were made, that Coffee had taken his position, he marched the remainder of his...

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