DeKalb County was once a part of the territory occupied by the Cherokee Indian nation. The coming of white men to the county occurred during the American Revolution when a British agent, Alexander Campbell, was sent here for the purpose of arousing the Cherokees against the southern colonies. In 1777, Campbell made his headquarters at Wills Town, a Cherokee Indian village located on Big Wills Creek near the present community of Lebanon. Campbell was successful in arousing a number of the Cherokees by promising them clothing and conquered territory in exchange for the scalps of white settlers.
The river and canyon have formed a wild and rugged landscape that allows for a range of peaceful and challenging recreational opportunities. The river supports world-class whitewater paddling and the canyon supports exceptional climbing opportunities. The opportunity for hiking, swimming, and fishing in natural areas away from city life are exemplified at Martha’s Falls and Canyon Mouth.
One of the best nature spots around north east Alabama. Located in High Falls Park, off AL HWY 227 Northwest of Geraldine, Alabama is High Falls. This scenic waterfall is 35ft and is formed by Town Creek. When the water is high, the falls can sometimes span as much as 300ft across. This park is fairly small and definitely off the beaten path on Alabama’s back roads, so be sure to pay attention to which streets you’re on. Video by Doug Danley
High Falls is an impressive waterfall and a great local spot for cliff jumping. High Falls is a beautiful swimming hole with a few walking trails and picnic tables as well as pavilions.
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.
In the late 19th century, a group of miners from the northern state of Ohio discovered limestone, ore, and coal on what was later named Battelle. Battelle, Alabama is a ghost town in DeKalb County, Alabama. Battelle was once a thriving mining community which was spread in a north – south line along the foot of Lookout Mountain five miles north of Valley Head, Alabama. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Battelle included hundreds of houses, a school, a commissary, a hotel and post office, in addition to the furnace and coke ovens. Battelle had a water system with water from a spring that was pumped into a large wooden tank and then piped into the surrounding homes.