History of Conecuh County Alabama Chapter 2
Subsequent to the defeat sustained by the whites at Burnt Corn creek, under Col. Caller, it seems that a small body of settlers penetrated Conecuh, under the leadership of Capt. Shomo – now of Monroe county – and chastised the Indians at Battle Branch, eight miles south of Bellville. The details of this second conflict are not given. It is said that the marks of the battle are to be seen to-day, in the impressions made in the bark by the flying bullets of the assailants. In the latter part of 1815, the first permanent settlement, by the whites, was made near Bellville. Samuel Buchanan was the first to establish his home within the borders of the county. He located on what is now known as Hawthorne’s Mill Creek, about one and a half miles west of Bellville,
near the famous Indian trail known, then, as the Old Wolf Trail, which ran from the present site of Claiborne, on the Alabama river, via Bellville, to some point on the Chattahoochee. At this period no whites resided nearer this pioneer hero than at Claiborne on the west, or Burnt Corn on the north. But shortly after this, Alexander Autrey removed from the region of Claiborne, and settled upon a small stream west of his late residence, which he called Autrey’s creek. Subsequent to this, he removed to the line of hills which overlook Murder creek from the west, where he established himself in a new home, and named it Hampden Ridge.
Shortly after Mr. Autrey’s removal to Conecuh, there came from North Carolina three gentlemen whose names were Thomas Mendenhall, Eli Mendenhall, and Reuben Hart. The first of these established himself at the spot now known as the Old Savage Place, on the road running from Bellville to Evergreen. Mr. Hart located very near the present residence of Dr. J. L. Shaw. Early in 1817, the population of Bellville, which then boasted of the name of “The Ponds,” from the lakes which existed near, was increased by the emigration of Joshua Hawthorne from Wilkinson county, Georgia, to South Alabama. He pitched his family tent in the virgin forests near the home of the late Henry Stanley, surrounded by no other elements of civilization than those already named.
As each emigrant would take up his abode in this land of teeming beauty, he would cast about him for the most favorable location, and one best suited to the interests of his future residence. In order to fix the title of what was then known as the Emigrant’s Claim, the early pioneers would select the tract or district best suited to their tastes, and would proceed to indicate their title to permanent tenure by girding a few trees, with impressions cut in the bark, and by laying somewhere upon land desired, the first four logs of a building. This was a monument of possession, and was sacredly respected by the early settlers. The man who would dare disregard this asserted claim, was branded a rascal outright, and incurred the loss of public confidence and esteem.
Near the period above referred to, another batch of emigrants came to Conecuh from Chester District, South Carolina. They settled near Hampden Ridge. These were Chesley Crosby, Robert Savage, Mabry Thomas, and Alexander Donald – then quite a young man. These were accompanied by Robert Herrin and Jesse T. Odum – the former of whom continued on to Claiborne, where he located and resided many years; while the latter removed to Buena Vista, in Monroe county, where he lived to be quite old. All of these flourished conspicuously in their adopted counties, for many years together.