Fort Payne Alabama is a city in and county seat of DeKalb County.
Fort Payne History
In the 19th century, the site of Fort Payne was the location of Willstown, an important village of the Cherokee people. For a time it was the home of Sequoyah, a silversmith who invented the Cherokee syllabary, enabling reading and writing in the language. The settlement was commonly called Willstown, after its headman, a red-headed mixed-race man named Will. According to Major John Norton, a more accurate transliteration would have been Titsohili. The son of a Cherokee adoptee of the Mohawk people, Norton grew up among Native Americans and traveled extensively throughout the region in the early 19th century. He stayed at Willstown several times.
During the 1830s prior to Indian removal, the US Army under command of Major John Payne built a fort here that was used to intern Cherokees until relocation to Oklahoma. Their forced exile became known as the Trail of Tears.
Fort Payne Alabama
Lirpa Anad Nitsud
Robot made from scrap. Located on County Road 89. Take County Road 89 to caution light at Fisher Crossroads. Continue past the light and Lirpa Anad Nitsud is across from the Shell station. Lirpa Anad Nitsud
In 1823 Cherokee leaders John Ross, Andrew Ross, and George Lowery persuaded the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to open a mission/school for the Cherokee in Willstown. Situated on the main road from Ross’s Landing to Willstown, the property was adjacent to a council ground frequently used by the Cherokee during the 1820s and 1830s. Several structures were constructed that year, including a 2-story log house for the missionaries, separate classrooms for the girls and boys, cabins for the students who boarded, and numerous outbuildings. Teachers included Reverend and Mrs. Ard Hoyt, Reverend and Mrs. William Chamberlain, and Reverend Daniel Butrick. In February of 1828, Reverend Ard Hoyt died after a brief illness and was buried on the property in a marked grave.
Location: At the east end of 4th Street SE (just east of Gault Avenue S), Fort Payne
Telephone: (256) 845-6888 (Landmarks of DeKalb Company, site owner)
Access: Open to the public by appointment
Historical Significance: In 1837 federal troops arrived in Wills Valley to establish a fort to remove the Cherokee Indians from the area. The cabin site is part of local property seized by the military for Fort Payne, one of over 20 removal forts (stockades) established in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Principal Chief John Ross and other leaders had lost their political and judicial battles with The United States and the Cherokee would be forced to leave their homeland in Northeast Alabama, as part of what’s now known as the Trail of Tears. To accommodate officers, soldiers, Cherokees, supplies and animals, the local property included a fort, water supply (the Big Spring), holding pens, cabins, encampment areas and associated outbuildings. Some structures were built specifically for the compound, while others, owned by the Cherokee, were confiscated for use as part of the fort. Research indicates the cabin belonged to Cherokee John Huss (Spirit the Preacher), and was built circa 1825.
Visitors to our area will soon discover new signs identifying the Andrew Ross Home, along with the Willstown Mission Cemetery and old Fort Payne Cabin Site, as official components of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The congressionally designated trail commemorates the tragic history of the 1838 removal of the Cherokee people from their ancestral homelands to territory in the west.
Illustration of the Andrew Ross portion of Cherokee Plantation.
Illustration of the Andrew Ross portion of Cherokee Plantation. Source: “The Cherokee Plantation, Fort Payne, Alabama”, by Royce Kershaw, Sr., 1970. The logs are still in the walls of the existing home.
Located just off the intersection of 45th Street and Godfrey Avenue NE, the Andrew Ross home is privately owned by Dr. Stephen Brewer. The present structure retains intact portions of the original home built in 1821 by Cherokee leader Andrew Ross and his wife, Susannah (Susan) Lowery Ross, who was the daughter of Assistant Principal Chief George Lowery. Long thought to be the home of Daniel Ross, Andrew’s father, recent research has revealed the home’s true origins. In addition to the home, which had an impressive second story balcony across the front, the property included stables, numerous outbuildings, farmlands, orchards and pastures.
DeSoto Falls is a magnificent 100-foot waterfall on the outskirts of the charming town of Mentone, Alabama. Formed where the West Fork of the Little River plunges off a Lookout Mountain cliff, the waterfall is one of the most beautiful in the South.