Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Neighbors Part 2

The second church that we will discuss from the early days of Tarrant was the Bethel Methodist Church, established between 1818 and 1820 by Methodist “Circuit Rider”, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn. Between 1817 and 1818, Rev. James Tarrant (a veteran of the American Revolution) traveled from South Carolina to Alabama with his family, including son Benjamin (a veteran of the War of 1812), and Benjamin’s wife, Morning, and their two children. Travelers into the Tarrant area often stopped at a large campground near to what was called the Big Spring on Five Mile Creek. It was popular because there was fresh water to drink and clothes could be washed. Rev. Tarrant had been sent by the Methodist Bishop in Nashville to establish a Methodist church in the area. James eventually moved on and built the Bethlehem Methodist Church, near Hueytown, with his slave, Adam, in 1818. Benjamin and his family, however, purchased property in the Tarrant area and maintained his home there until he died in 1874. Benjamin made his living both through farming and as a local politician. Benjamin also had a well-deserved reputation for hard living and was known to be a heavy drinker and gambler. However, in 1842, Benjamin changed his ways and was ordained as a Methodist minister. He later became active at Bethel Church where he was an evangelist for the next 30 years. Contrary to popular opinion, Tarrant was named for Benjamin Tarrant and NOT for his ancestor, Felix. Virtually all of the Tarrant family trace their lineage from Judge Leonard Tarrant who fought with Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend. (There is a well-known 1814 hand-drawn map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, drawn for Captain Leonard Tarrant).

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Bethlehem United Methodist from Hueytown Historical Society

Northeastern Jefferson County paid a significant role in the Civil War. Bethel Church was used as a gathering spot for rebel soldiers from Tarrant who were members of Company C, 19th Alabama infantry, the Jefferson County unit originating “from Hagood’s Crossroads [Pinson]… and included the sons of all the planters for miles around”. The “Reminiscences of Julius C. Greene” note that the militia mustered once a year at Massey Springs on the Huntsville Trail [Pinson Valley Parkway and Valleycrest Road]. People from all over the county came and stayed a week. The young men would drill; the old men talked crops and politics; the young women cooked and played games; the old women would knit and gossip. There would be a dance every night, an old-fashioned square dance. Some old negro slaves, with wing collar, long-tailed coat, and pants as tight as their skin would call the dance while the negro fiddlers played “Cotton Eye Joe,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “The Devil’s Dream,” and other old time pieces”.

The officers of the militia were: General John Massey, Major Robert H. Green, Captain A. J. Tarrant, Lieutenant John Ayers, Second Lieutenant George Barton, and Top Sergeant Robert N. Martin. Because of its close association with the rebel cause, Bethel Church was burned in 1865 by Wilson’s Raiders during the same sweep in which Hanby’s Forge was destroyed and the University of Alabama was burned.

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Union General James H. Wilson

Tarrant had its share of racial strife during the Civil War and Reconstruction. There is a reference to carpetbaggers wanting the blacks to kill all the whites between “Massey’s Springs and Hagood’s Crossroads” and yet another about arresting “every man from Hagood’s Crossroads to Five Mile Creek”. John Massey was one of the largest slave owners in Jefferson County. In the 1860 census he owned over 60 slaves. Greene mentions that “George L. Greene settled at what is now Tarrant and Major Robert H. Greene at what is now the Munger farm, six miles above Tarrant”.(Yankees camped on the farm when they came through the area). It is from this turmoil that the third Tarrant church emerged. Beginning as a prayer group of run-away slaves from Bibb County who joined with and others who worked on the plantation. First meeting in different houses each week, the group organized a brush arbor church [a rough-hewn, open-sided shelter constructed of vertical poles driven into the ground with additional long poles laid across the top as support for a roof of brush, cut branches or hay. Brush arbors were sometimes used by churches to protect worshipers from the weather during revival meetings] in 1891 known as Goins Chapel, for the former slave who eventually became a successful farmer and donated the land where the church would be located. Because “Chapel” was more often used by the Methodist church, the name was changed to Rushing Springs Baptist Church, a reference to a free-flowing spring near the church. Of special note is that the church had an early rule that required its Pastors to be able to read and write.

church

Rushing Springs Baptist Church, Tarrant, Alabama

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Post Creek War Settlement

This month’s blog will continue our exploration of the early history of northeastern Jefferson on the “triangle” in and around the Pinson area made up of the respective parts of Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties. Anyone with a weather radio can attest to the aggravation that occurs when you adjust your settings to include all three counties… During a good round of thunderstorms, it is hard to get any peace and quiet. In the same way that weather is no respecter of county lines, neither were our forebears to Pinson and surrounding areas.

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1818 Map of Alabama depicting county arrangements

            The Treaty of Fort Jackson effectively ended the Creek War in 1814 and opened what is now the state of Alabama to settlement by the soldiers and settlers who had come from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia to fight in the Creek War of 1813-14. When the war ended, they returned to take advantage of lands ceded to the United States by Native-Americans. As the population grew, the need for governmental infrastructure led to more counties being created in a relatively short period.

Blount County was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 6, 1818, formed from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814 and was named for GovernorWillie Blount of Tennessee, who provided significant assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War. Blount County lies in what is known as the mineral region of Alabama. Last month’s blog introduced Caleb Friley and John Jones, who established Jonesborough, near current day Bessemer. As with other settlers coming into the area, Jones and Friley first came down the Huntsville Road from Tennessee into what is now Blount and Jefferson County. They established Bear Meat Cabin in 1816. In April of 1816, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn preached his first sermon here, signaling the beginning of Methodism in central Alabama. A post office was opened in 1821, and the settlement was incorporated as Blountsville in December of 1827.

325px-bear-meat-cabinjpg-8bc6f51a21881783

Ole Bear Meat Cabin.  (Junior Blount County Historical Society/BhamWiki)

            Originally part of Blount County, Jefferson County was established on December 13, 1819, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The following day, December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state in the Union. The county is located on the southernmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains and lies in the center of what was the iron, coal, and limestonemining belt of the Southern US. Long before Birmingham was founded in 1871, the county seat of Jefferson County was located in Carrollsville (near Princeton Hospital on Birmingham’s west end) from 1819 to 1821. Elyton was the county seat from 1821 to 1873, when it was usurped by the new city of Birmingham.

Village Springs, the first settlement in the Pinson area, more or less straddles the Jefferson and Blount county lines. Along with Palmerdale, Remlap is also named for the area’s Palmer family. Remlap is “Palmer” spelled backwards (some stories tell of some alleged disagreement that forced the communities to separate). Clay and Argo meet near where Jefferson and St. Clair counties meet.

St. Clair County was established on November 20, 1818 by splitting off from Shelby County. The county is named in honor of General Arthur St. Clair, who came to America from Scotland as an officer in the British Army in the French and Indian War and later served as a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

ArthurStClairOfficialPortrait-restored

General Arthur St. Clair

            Originally called St. Clairsville, Ashville, the county seat, was named for John Ash, a senator in the state’s first General Assembly. In 1836, a portion of St. Clair County was separated to establish Cherokee County and DeKalb County. In 1866, after the Civil War, a northeast section of the county was used to create Etowah County. St. Clair currently has county seats in both Ashville and Pell City, making it one of two counties in Alabama, and one of 33 in the US, with more than one county seat.

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Early Settlements

The history of what we now know as Pinson extends beyond the borders of our town… Geographically, it encompasses the entirety of the northeastern part of Jefferson County. When we examine the footprint over time, we see that it existed before there was a Jefferson County (Jefferson County was originally part of Blount County) actually; even before there was a state of Alabama.

These neighboring communities and Pinson developed from the same pages of US history – soldiers and settlers moving through the area as they moved southward from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Predominantly, they came first with military or volunteer forces joining the Creek War effort or later, taking advantage of lands forcibly ceded to the United States by Native-Americans.

Indian Cessions 1830-1834

In what was termed the “Great Migration”, veterans and others surged into Alabama. They were awed by the plentiful natural resources, rich soil, clear water, and moderate weather that bode well for future farming and settlement. In addition, what is now northeastern Jefferson County enjoyed an abundance of raw materials needed for the forging of iron and steel. The state’s population swelled from approximately 9,000 in 1810 to over 145,000 in 1820.

alabama settlers

Among the first settlers to our area were John Jones and Caleb Friley. Relatives by marriage, these ironsmiths from Tennessee traveled down the Huntsville Road in about 1815 with the throngs of others looking for opportunities in this new land. Jones and Friley had both been with Jackson’s West Tennessee Militia that marched through the territory in 1813. Jones and his family eventually settled in what is now Bessemer, near to where Splash Adventure Water Park now stands. After planting crops, several members of the Jones family built cabins and a stockade to protect them from Indian raids. Called Fort Jonesborough, the settlement that developed came to be known as Jonesboro. Jones Valley is also named for John Jones and his family.

map-old-jonesborough-alabama-18881888 Map showing Jonesboro

Shortly after its founding, Williamson Hawkins another veteran of the War of 1812 and reputed to be a relative of David Crockett (he hated to be called “Davy”), made it to the Jonesboro settlement in May 1815 after being detained in Tennessee “on personal business”. Hawkins drove some cattle with him, bringing “all the supplies he could pack on a horse”, including using a “drag” behind the horse to carry some of the goods. Hawkins eventually built a 2,000 acre plantation near Elyton, then the county seat of Jefferson County. Possibly at Hawkins’ urging, a colony of settlers from Rutherford County Tennessee moved into the area now known as Woodlawn. Other settlers came from South Carolina. In these groups of settlers came many of the names associated with northeast Jefferson County, including, but not limited to: Wood, Barton, Reid (Reed), Tarrant, Green (Greene), Brown, Cowden, Montgomery, and Cunningham.

Woodlawn takes its name from the Wood family, headed by Obadiah Wood and his son Edmund. The town of Rockville was established on Edmund’s twelve hundred acre plantation in 1832. A group of houses sprang up along what was known as the Georgia Road. When the Alabama and Chattanooga railroad was built in 1870, the town became known as Wood Station, and later Woodlawn.

wood_obadiah_washington_1815-1893,_rpr_collx

Obadiah Washington Wood, 1815-1893

Another resident of the area was George Roebuck, who built a home on Georgia Road near where the Boys’ Industrial School is located. Roebuck was named for George. His brother, Alfred Roebuck had a “stand” (an early combination rest area, truck stop, bed & breakfast, curb market, and used animal lot) at the intersection of the Huntsville Road and Stout’s Road in Norwood.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Alabama Fever

When last we visited the history of the area near and around Pinson, we had made our way through the war years during which our ancestors fought the War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813-1814. Some settlers had arrived in the area prior to the wars while others found their way as they traveled to join Jackson and others in the war effort. These new arrivals came into Alabama from Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Of particular note are the volunteers coming into the state from eastern and middle Tennessee to help fight the war (that’s how Tennessee became known as the Volunteer state).

            These settlers traveled by way of the Huntsville Road, a trail originally cleared and used by Native-Americans. The road began in Fayetteville, Tennessee. It was lengthened as soldiers moved southward from Fayetteville to Huntsville (at Ditto’s Landing), then to Mudtown (a Native-American village located on the Cahaba River; Blountsville, down to Elyton (later the city of Birmingham), and then finally to Tuscaloosa. In very general terms, the road moved down what is now US Highway 231, merging with what is now AL Highway 79, passing Pinson on its way south and then moving down what is now Pinson Valley Parkway, into Tarrant and then turning right (approximately where the Cedar House restaurant is today) toward the neighborhoods of North Birmingham and Norwood in Birmingham.

Alabama Trail Map

The Huntsville Road, also known as “Bear Meat Cabin Road” (pictured above), took many early Alabama settlers through modern day Pinson, AL.

            Aside from the natural beauty found in the lush hills (some of the highest points in Jefferson County are found here) and valleys of what are now Blount and Jefferson counties, there were added incentives. As Native American tribes ceded territory after their defeat in the wars, a land rush occurred when settlers and land speculators moved in to establish land claims in Alabama. This influx of settlers driven by the availability of cheap and plentiful land became known as “Alabama Fever”. New arrivals were impressed with the availability of good land with plentiful natural resources where they could hunt and farm. There was plenty of available timber and other materials that they could build their homes from. They liked what they saw and determined to build a new life in the area. Both before the wars (some family histories claim kin living in the area before 1808) and afterward, they traveled to the area that they had fallen in love with and established settlements here.

            Daniel Murphree, from South Carolina, established a settlement that became known as Murphree’s Valley and, later, as Village Springs. The area between Pinson and Oneonta is still known by that name). Dr. Zachariah Hagood and his family settled here after the Creek War about 1816. The Hagood and Anderson families helped to found Oldsides Baptist Church (now Pinson First Baptist) in 1818 and included a slave member, Alfred Hagood. Dr. Zachariah, as he was known, allowed mail service to be operated from his home beginning in 1836. However, it was not Dr. Zachariah that lent his name to the town. The doc’s son, Robert opened a store at the crossroads in town. The settlement became known as Hagood’s Crossroads, and the name stuck until about 1852, when a vote by the townspeople renamed it Mount Pinson. The story goes that the name change resulted from a group of men from Pinson, Tennessee stopping in town for a few days while herding their horses and mules. They camped on a piece of land between Oldsides Baptist and Old Bradford Road that was often used by people passing through and needing to stop for the night. Later settling here, they said the area reminded them of home, so they starting calling the area Mount Pinson, later shortened to Pinson…

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Daniel Murphree’s cabin was orginally constructed in Murphree’s Valley and later relocated to Palisades Park in Oneonta, AL. Photo Courtesy of http://www.blountcountypark.com

            One of Jackson’s blacksmiths, David Hanby, and his family purchased land here by as early as 1822. The Hanby’s not only farmed, but operated a blacksmith shop (producing horseshoes and household goods) and was also successful in the mining and selling of coal. James Cunningham and Hanby both operated mills on Cunningham Creek and Turkey Creek, respectively. Most of these early mills were designed to grind corn, but could not grind wheat. Other mill owners of the day were Jonathan Moreland, John Click, and a Mr. Revis, among others.

            Our history extends beyond the borders of what we now know as the Pinson area. It extends and includes most of the communities that surround us. We will discuss these communities, the pioneers that settled them, and the ways that we are all connected in the months ahead.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Get Some ‘Re-Leaf’ this Fall

mulch_food_leaves

By now, it’s probably becoming impossible to ignore all those leaves falling in your yard.  If you tried mulching leaves last year, you probably found that you saved yourself some serious time and money by using your mower to mulch leaves into your lawn (free nutrients) and by re-purposing excess leaves (free mulch) to provide cover for your landscaped areas.

If you’ve never tried these techniques, maybe this is the time to move on from hours of blowing and bagging, the cost of buying mulch and fertilizer, and the effort involved in loading and bringing all these materials home – to that solution that just fell into your yard! It’s best to mulch leaves into your lawn every week or so to make the volume of leaves more manageable for you and utilized more efficiently by your lawn.

Try using your lawnmower with the bag attachment on to shred and collect leaves prior to spreading on landscaped areas.  Shredding before spreading reduces matting and creates a more uniform appearance.  If you simply can’t let go of the more manicured look that commercially produced mulch gives your landscape, try spreading a thin layer of purchased mulch over a layer of shredded leaves.

What’s Happening?

Fall Plant Sale October 19-20 – Here’s your chance to stock up on native plants at Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Fall Plant Sale.  http://www.bbgardens.org/fall-plant-sale.php

 Birmingham E-cycle Day October 23 – Don’t doom your old gadgets to a landfill! Bring them to Short 20th Street North for recycling.   http://www.aeconline.org/blog

Prescription Drug Disposal October 26Here’s a safe way to clean out your medicine cabinet.  Bring unwanted medications to one of these locations.  http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

jeffcoh2o_graphic_only
Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741

diclementel@jccal.org

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The War of 1812

           Although not typically thought of as a key player in the second war against Britain, Alabama can boast a number of sites and events of historical interest. Granted, only a few were directly involved with the conflict with the British, and much more revolving around the Creek War of 1813-1814.

            Between 1812 and 1815, Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory (Mississippi became a state in 1817, Alabama in 1819), and played a very minor role in the War of 1812, in terms of the conflict with the British. Aside from some relatively minor skirmishes at Mobile, then part of West Florida, Alabama essentially served as a conduit for troops moving south from Tennessee and other states to the Gulf Coast. While not a major player in the war against the British, it was on Alabama soil that much of the Creek War took place. It is important to look at the overall picture to put things in context. Articles for the next couple of months will attempt to put the “Anglo” part of the War of 1812 in perspective.

mississippi territoryThe Mississippi Territory

            There were two driving causes of the war with Britain. First, a British blockade of American ports on the Atlantic coast kept needed goods from reaching our shores and prevented American goods from being shipped to other countries. The embargo was an economic disaster for the US. Merchants were unable to see their merchandise… goods were literally rotting on the docks. When there were no sales, there were no sales taxes. As such, The young US government had defaulted on its debt. Such economic pressures caused internal discontent within individual states, who saw themselves as sovereign entities that were somewhat loosely joined in a United States “cooperative” (the fight over “state’s rights” vs. strong federal government would continue to raise its ugly head until leading to the Civil War). Some New England states were openly considering secession  with the intent of forging their own treaty with Britain. New England tended to be against the war and hoped for a compromise that would end the conflict. The forced impressment of American merchant sailors into the British navy was the second cause. It is estimated that around 10,000 Americans were forced to serve under the Union Jack.

            Much of the first two years of the war were waged in Canada, on the Great Lakes, and on the open seas of the Atlantic. US forces had attempted numerous times to invade parts of Canada, but to no avail. In fact, the failed northern invasions resulted in large parts of what is now Maine (then part of Massachusetts) falling into British hands.

1814-burningBurning of the White House by British Troops

            The parts of the War of 1812 that most people tend to remember are that the capital at Washington City was taken and burned by the British in retaliation for the US burning of York (Toronto), Canada. However, Dolley Madison was able to save the famous portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart from the burning White House. A month later, the Battle of Fort McHenry took place in Baltimore harbor and the country gained the Star Spangled Banner.        

Ft McHenrythe Battle of Ft McHenry

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Alabama Fever

By the early 19th century, there was increasing American pressure for Indian tribes to relinquish their ancestral lands so that it could be opened for settlement, sparking a land frenzy known as “Alabama Fever”. Looking to profit from cheap and plentiful tracts of fertile land, some speculators pushed for ways to force native relocation while others went so far as to advocate eradicating the Native-American population in order to force the ceding of land to the US. However, attempts to make the tribes comfortable with US presence by way of assimilation was the most prevalent. Tribes were assured that they were the “red children” of the “Great Father” in Washington and, as his “children”, he wanted them to be happy and satisfied. Appointed “Indian Agents”, notably Benjamin Hawkins, acted as go-betweens between the tribes and the US Government that actively worked to facilitate this approach. Native-Americans were encouraged to “buy in” to western European ways through use of iron tools, agricultural practices which minimized the “footprint” of land acreage required for agriculture, and acceptance of western culture, laws, and practices. In some cases, self-serving Native-American leaders were given “sweetheart” deals (or bribes) to make concessions of native lands (without approval of other tribal leaders) to the US in exchange for incentives such as land, slaves, military rank, and government pensions.

benjaminhawkinsBenjamin Hawkins

            While some Indians genuinely sided with the Americans and were receptive to innovative approaches for making life better and more comfortable, others were outraged at the US attempt at prying ancestral lands away from the tribes. Bolstered by the fortuitous 1811 comet (visible with the naked eye for upwards of 260 days) and a series of four earthquakes centered in New Madrid, MO (two in December, 1811 and one each in January and February, 1812), each with a magnitude of 7.0 or more, ringing church bells in Charleston, SC, and toppling chimneys as far as Cincinnati, OH, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh used prophesy to spread his message promoting violent resistance to American encroachment.

220px-Tecumseh02Shawnee leader Tecumseh

            The Creek nation occupied the majority of lands in Alabama. Cherokees lived in the northeastern part of the state, Chickasaws in the northwest and Choctaws in the southwest. Aside from being individual tribes within a confederacy, Creeks were further categorized as living in either Upper or Lower towns, determined by where they were located relative to “upper” and “lower” trade paths connecting the Creeks to South Carolina. In Alabama, this dividing line ran very roughly from east central Alabama (south of Sylacauga) diagonally below Montgomery, running parallel to I-65 South and then westward along US Highway 84 at Evergreen on to Mobile. Towns effectively served as capitals or county seats and were important centers of tribal culture and politics. They also reflected differing views regarding the flow of settlers into Creek tribal lands. Many of the Upper Towns of the Muskogee, took up the banner for resisting the increasing American presence, while many of the Lower Towns believed the influx of settlers brought opportunities for increased trade and profit. These differing points of view between Upper and Lower Towns resulted initially in a civil war between opposing factions of the Muskogee Nation, which exacerbated each side’s position and escalated into what has become known as the Red Stick War or Creek War with the US, usually considered as part of the War of 1812.

creek nationWilliam Bonar’s map of the Creek Nation

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.