Clarke County and Its Surroundings From 1540 To 1877
THE MISSISSIPPI TERRITORY— 1798-1812
In the spring of 1798 the Congress of the United States formed into a territory a part of what had been West Florida. By an act passed the seventh of April the new division which was called Mississippi Territory, was bounded thus : On the west by the Mississippi river, on the north by a line drawn due east from the mouth of the Yazoo to the Chatahoochie,* and on the south by the thirty-first degree of north latitude. By a supplementary act in 1804, there was annexed to this Territory all the ”tract of country” south of the State of Tennessee bounded on the east by the state of Georgia and on the west by Louisiana.
Tennessee had been admitted as a state in 1796. This territory was said in 1815 to be from east to west, from the Chatahoochie to the Mississippi, about three hundred and twenty miles. From north to south it was said to be two hundred and seventy-eight miles. Said a geography of that day, ‘ ‘ The greater part of this extensive region is still the property of the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Indians, two other potent tribes, the Yazoos and Natchez, having been destroyed by wars, or having retired further into the western forests.”
On the second of April, 1799, Winthrop Sargent, the appointed governor of the new Territory, issued a proclamation
* Also written Chatahooche, Chatahoochee, and Chattahoochee. Apalachicola is also written Appalachicola.
dividing the Territory into two counties, the northern to be called Adams and the southern Pickering.
In 1799, the fifth of May, Lieutenant McLeary took possession of Fort St. Stephens, the Spanish garrison marching out and descending the river below the recently surveyed line of latitude 31°. In July of this year Fort Stoddard was established, about six miles above the Spanish boundary and three miles below the commencement of Mobile river. A stockade was here built with one bastion.
At length, then, in the year 1799, the second year of that fearful Reign of Terror in France, the year in which Napoleon Bonaparte became first Consul, this region which for so many years France had claimed and held, became a part of the United States.
Among those inhabitants on Lake Tensaw, at the Boat Yard, two brothers John and William Pierce from New England, had during the Spanish times made their home. William followed weaving, which was in those days very profitable. John Pierce opened a school, “the first American school in Alabama,” so near as is known in 1799. Says Pickett: “There the high-blood descendants of Lachlon McGillivray — the Taits, Weatherfords, and Durants, the aristocratic Linders, the wealthy Mims’s, and the children of many others, first learned to read. The pupils were strangely mixed in blood, and their color was of every hue.”
And now we reach the year 1800. The Nineteenth Century was about to open, that century to be in human progress, so eventful over all the civilized and all the savage world; that century which was to be crowded with inventions ; and which was to see explorers, travelers, missionaries, seeking the northern pole, crossing the deepest recesses of Africa, carrying the teachings of Christianity into India’s jungles, among the fiercest cannibals of the South Sea, and opening all China and all Japan,
The American was beginning to place himself not only abreast of all the world, but in the lead, for all useful inventions and for daring enterprise and indomitable will. And over the belt of long-leaved pines a new era also dawns.
Governor Sargent on the fourth of June calls into existence by proclamation the county of Washington. It having appeared to the Governor ” that the divisions already made, cannot extend to the inhabitants upon the Tombeckbee and other eastern settlements, equal administration of justice.” This was probably the largest county, those of Adams and Pickering excepted, that had then been called into existence by executive or legislative power.* Its boundaries were the same as those of the Territory on the north, east, and south, or latitude 32° 28′, the Chattahoochie, and the thirty-first parallel ; and the Pearl river on the west. Most of that vast region was then occupied by Indian tribes, over which tribes the Government had no control. The two settlements of whites in this new county were upon land which the Indian occupants had formerly
*In 1777 the colony of North Carolina, then under the declaration of independence claiming to be a state, had set off into a county, also called Washington, that region which afterward became the State of Tennessee. The area of this was 45,600 square miles. Washington county was at first three hundred miles long, and eighty-eight miles wide having an area of 26,400 square miles. Clarke county in Oregon was at first very large, and there is now a large county in Colorado.
ceded to the British or Spanish authorities and which belonged therefore now to the United States. These settlements were, according to the “American State Papers,” as quoted by Meek, “thinly scattered along the western banks of the Mobile and Tombigby, for more than seventy miles, and extending nearly seventy- five miles upon the eastern borders of the Mobile and Alabama.” As yet these inhabitants were living without any civil government actually over them. They had no magistrates, no ministers, and no marriage ceremonies. The young people had been accustomed for years to pair off and live together as husbands and wives promising to be regularly married when they had an opportunity. An instance is recorded of one couple who observed a little more form than the others. It was Christmas night of 1800. Daniel Johnson and Miss Elizabeth Linder, at Lake Tensaw, were acknowledged lovers. He was poor and she an heiress; so her parents objected, even in those wilds, to the “pairing.” A large party were that night assembled at the house of Samuel Mims, and among these were the two lovers, enjoying the music, the dance, the festivities. During the evening a few young people, Johnson and Miss Linder among them, secretly left the house, embarked on board of some canoes, paddled down the lake and down the Alabama, and arrived at Fort Stoddart an hour before the dawn of day. Captain Shanmburg, a merry hearted German, in command of the fort was called upon to perform the marriage ceremony. In vain he declared his ignorance of such ceremonies, and his want of authority. He was told that he was placed there by the Federal Government to protect the people and regulate their affairs, and that this little affair needed his sanction. At length the captain yielded to their solicitations, and having the two lovers placed before him proclaimed : “I Captain Schaumburgh, of the 2d regiment of the United States army, and commandant of Fort Stoddert, do hereby pronounce you man and wife. Go home! behave yourselves; multiply, and replenish the Tensaw country! ” They reentered their canoes, returned to the Tensaw Boat Yard, and the whole settlement pronounced them to be “the best married people they had known in a long time.” Justices of the peace soon came, and courts and judges, and also in a few years ministers of the Gospel.
In 1801 when the new century had fully commenced, the entire population of these river settlements was estimated to be five hundred whites and two hundred and fifty colored.
In 1802 a treaty was made with the Choctaws, by which a tract of land was acquired, extending some distance north from St. Stephens. The Choctaws claimed east of the Tombeckbee to the water-shed or dividing ridge. The Creeks did not acknowledge their rights, and at the treaty in 1802 one of their chiefs, the Mad Wolf, is reported to have said, “the people of Tombigby have put over their cattle in the fork, on the Alabama hunting grounds, and have gone a great way on our lands. I want them put back. We all know they are Americans.”
From this speech it is evident that at this time there were whites occupying lands east of the Tombeckbee.
In the same year a trading house was established at St. Stephens, designed especially for the Choctaw Indians. This establishment was called a factory. Joseph Chambers was appointed Superintendent and Thomas H. Williams, both from North Carolina, Assistant. The latter became afterward Secretary of the Territory, Collector of the port of New Orleans, and United States Senator from Mississippi. George S. Gaines of Virginia, then residing in Tennessee, was afterward appointed Assistant, and came to St. Stephens in the spring of 1805.
At that time “the parsonage of the old Spanish church was used as a skin-house,” the block house being used for a government store room. In 1807 Gaines became what was called “principal factor,” having an assistant, a “skin-man” or fur and hide tender, and an interpreter. This tender of furs and hides examined them carefully during the summer, sorted them, and in the fall packed them in bales for shipment to Philadelphia. The articles brought for sale or exchange by the Choctaws, were furs and peltries of various kinds, bears’ oil, honey, beeswax, bacon, tobacco, and ground peas. These in 1809 amounted in value to more than seven thousand dollars. To avoid the payment of Spanish duties at Mobile the Government arranged a line for conveying goods to this warehouse and trading post down the Ohio river, up the Tennessee to a point called Colbert’s Ferry, then by pack horses along a horse path through the Chickasaws, to Peachland’s, upon the Tombeckbee, then by boats to St. Stephens.
In 1802, also, the first cotton gin, in the region now Alabama, was erected by Lyons and Bennett of Georgia, for Abram Mordecai, a Jew and an Indian trader, at Weatherford’s race track on the Alabama river. The materials for the work, tools and machinery, were brought from Georgia on pack horses. Cotton from this gin was taken in the same summer to Augusta, Georgia. This Mordecai carried on a large trade with the Indians, sending to Mobile and to New Orleans his furs and hickory nut oil in boats, and transporting goods to and from Pensacola and Augusta on pack horses. His gin house was afterward burned by the Indians in consequence of intrigues in which he became involved with a handsome married squaw.
In the same year, 1802, in October the Pierce brothers established a gin at the Boat Yard, the second gin, it would appear, erected in this region. They then commenced merchandising. Business, then, as conducted by Americans, dates for Clarke and its surroundings, from 1802. This Boat Yard gin was built by the same contractors, Lyons and Barnett, who also built one at Mcintosh’s Bluff on the Tombeckbee, the third cotton gin for these river settlements.
Now other and permanent American settlers begin to arrive and locate themselves between the rivers. These early permanent settlers came from Georgia, colonized in 1733, from the Carolinas, colonized between 1640 and 1670, from Virginia, the first English settlement commenced in 1607, from Kentucky, settled by six families led by Daniel Boone in 1773, and joined by forty others from Powell’s Valley, who constituted all the white settlers of Kentucky in 1773, and from Tennessee, where temporary settlements were made in 1765, but the important and permanent ones not until 1774.
These Tennessee settlers had lived independent of North Carolina or the United Colonies till 1788, when their country was ceded to Congress [and they became a part of the state of North Carolina.
Americans, so soon as they began to be American citizens, manifested that roving, restless nature, which makes them probably the most migratory of all the great and enlightened nations. Scarcely, it would seem, were the fruits of cultivation beginning to be enjoyed, in these certainly new states, before many enterprising, brave, and daring pioneers are ready to enter upon what was then the last acquired territory of the Union.
A North Carolina party left their homes on the Atlantic slope in December of 1801. Their names have been thus recorded : Thomas Malone and family, James More, Goodway Myrick, George Nosworthy, Robert Caller, and William Murrell. With them were sixty colored people. They crossed the Blue Ridge, and came to the Tennessee. At Knoxville they made flatboats and reached the head of the Muscle Shoals by floating with the current. Packing their household goods on their horses which had come down the river on land, they started for the ” Bigby settlements.” They reached the Cotton Gin, a short distance above the present town of Aberdeen. They embarked in some long canoes, were wrecked, lost their goods, their tools, their guns, all their effects, except the clothes upon their persons ; and one white child and twenty- one colored people were drowned. But again they pressed on; and after a journey, from North Carolina, of one hundred and twenty days, saved from starvation by their faithful hunting dogs, these dogs procuring for them rabbits, raccoons, and opossums, they reached their destination.
The first named of this party of settlers, Thomas Malone, was then a young man, had been a clerk in the hind office at Kaleigh, and became afterward clerk of the court of Washington county. His name will appear again in this narrative of events.
Mention has already been made of the conflict of claims between Spain and the United States concerning a part of West Florida. To a part of this domain and also of other territory there had been another claimant. The state of Georgia, under a Charter granted by Charles II, king of England, claimed all the territory between the Savannah and the Mississippi rivers from latitude 31° as far north as latitude 35°. In 1789 the General Assembly of Georgia authorized a sale of large tracts of this land to three companies, called the South Carolina Yazoo Company, the Virginia Yazoo Company, and the Tennessee Company. President Washington issued a proclamation against this action of the General Assembly. The companies failed to meet their payments, and the act was at length rescinded. Again in 1795 the Georgia Legislature passed a Yazoo Bill and sold in accordance with its provisions large tracts of land to tour companies, called the Georgia Com- pany, the Mississippi Company, the Upper Mississippi Company, and the Tennessee Company. Twenty-one and a half millions of acres were thus disposed of for one-half million of dollars. The General Government and also many of the citizens of Georgia, opposed this sale; and the next Legislature repealed the sale, declaring it to be “null and void.” Many had however already removed to the Tombeckbe river, and thus the Yazoo speculation, as it is sometimes called, the Yazoo fraud, as others in their opposition to the measure termed it, became a benefit to the region.
Says Pickett: “It contributed to throw into that wild region a population of Georgians, whose activity, ability, and enterprise, better fitted them to seize, occupy, and bring into cultivation a wilderness, mark out towns, people them, build female academies, erect churches, and hold courts, than any other people.” Pickett was himself born in North Carolina, yet he seems to have some partiality for the citizens of Georgia. Through these conflicting claims to large tracts of lands there were settlers found in the Mississippi Territory holding small tracts of land under not only English and Spanish, but also under Georgia grants. Congress therefore in 1803. established regulations in regard to these various grants, having purchased the claim of Georgia for one and a quarter mill- ion of dollars. (In this same year Congress bought from France, Napoleon Bonaparte being then at the head of that government, the large territory of Louisiana, which in the year 1800 had been ceded by Spain to France. The price paid for Louisiana was fifteen million of dollars.) Joseph Chambers, Epham Kirby, and Robert C. Nicholas, were constituted a board of commissioners at St. Stephens, in February 1804, to investigate these claims. Their district extended as far westward as the Pearl river. They closed their examinations in December 1805, having recorded two hundred and seventy-six claims. These claims were ratified by the ‘President of the United States. The General Government allowed to those who were living on public lands at the time the line of 31° was establishied one section of land, and to those settlers who came just before the board of commissioners had been appointed, one quarter section each of land.
At Mclntosh Bluff was held the first County Court of Washington county, in 1803. John Caller, Cornelius Rain, and John Johnson presiding. Mcintosh Bluff was an English grant, the tract of land so-called having been given by the King of England to Captain John Mcintosh, who was connected with the army of West Florida. John Mcintosh had a son who became a British officer, and a daughter born in Georgia. This daughter went to England, married a British officer named Troup, returned to Mobile, and went up the river in a barge to her father’s residence. There, in 1780, at Mcintosh Bluff, was born a son who bore the name of George M. Troup, and who became in after years a distinguished governor of Georgia, one of the vigorous political writers of his age. The Mcintosh family were Scotch highlanders, and while one branch had its representatives in the British army, other members of the family, citizens of Georgia, were zealous whigs during the Revolution. Among these were Colonel John and General Lachlan Mcintosh, the latter having come to the Georgian colony when a boy with Oglethorpe, its founder,
McGrew’s Reserve, just opposite St. Stephens is said to have been a Spanish grant; the third one of these grants on the east side of the river, having been included in the land known as the Carney plantation.
Returning to the civil affairs of the Territory and of Washington county, it was found that Natchez, or the new town of Washington a few miles east, was too far distant from St. Stephens for the convenient administration of justice, and the President was therefore authorized to appoint a Supreme Court Judge for the settlers along the Tombeckbee. Hon. Harry Toulmin, born in England, having sought religious freedom in America, for four years President of Transylvania University at Lexington, and Secretary of State of Kentucky for eight years, a good scholar, tine writer, and well versed in law, was selected for the new position. He at first settled near Fort Stoddart, then re- moved to the court house and named it Wakefield. He held his first court in 1804 or 1805. At this time there were some seven or eight hundred inhabitants on the Tensaw and the Alabama, and in the fork, besides those on the western side of the Tombeckbee.
The next year Thomas Bassett, Edward Creighton, James Denby, Sen., and George Brewer, Jun., were appointed commissioners in regard to a town called “Wakefield, some twenty miles south of St. Stephens. This must have been the place so named by Judge Toulmin ; and the distance and direction, as mentioned in the Mississippi Statutes, would locate this town near Mcintosh’s Bluff. As at this place the first court was held, here probably a court house had been built. Pickett, however, has located Wakefield several miles north of the Bluff. Fort Stoddart was now a port of entry, where the Court of Admiralty was held. In the fall of 1804, Captain Shaumberg had retired from the command, and was succeeded by Captain Schuyler of New York with eighty men. Edmund P. Gaines, Lieutenant, and Lieut. Reuben Chamberlain, pay- master. Congress made this Tombeckbee region a revenue district, calling it the district of Mobile. At Fort Stoddart duties were exacted upon merchandise brought in, and also required upon products sent out. These duties, the Spaniards at Mobile exacting duties also, bore heavily upon the settlers. As one illustration, in the year 1807 the Natchez planters in the western part of the territory paid for Kentucky flour four dollars for a barrel, and the same flour cost the Tombeckbee planters sixteen dollars. In 1805 only an Indian trail led from the distant Oconee river to Lake Tensaw. This wide extent of country was held by the Muscogee or Creek Indians. The Georgia colony do not seem to have extended their settlements west of the Oconee river, and after the Revolution in 1783 and 1786 the State of Georgia vainly endeavored by treaties to obtain peaceable possession of the lands east of a line extending from the union of the Ockmulgee and Oconee to the St. Mary’s river, including the islands and harbors of that southern coast. Peaceable possession of these lands was not obtained until the treaty was made by President Washington at New York with Colonel McGillivray in 1790. West of the line named and of the Oconee river the Creek nation held possession. But in the fall of 1805, thirty Creek chiefs and warriors, a delegation from their nation, being at Washington, the General Government obtained from them the “right of using a horse path through their country,” the chiefs agreeing to build bridges, or have ferries across the streams, and to open houses of entertainment for travellers. A route of travel was thus secured for emigrants from Georgia into the wilds between the rivers. And the same fall the Choctaw Indians ceded to the United States five millions of acres of their lands, beginning at the Cut Off, now the southern limit of Clarke, half way between the two rivers, running north along the water shed, to the Choctaw corner, which is on the present northern boundary of Clarke, and on or near the second range line east, then west to the Fluctabuna Old Fields, or to the mouth of Fluctabuna Creek, then crossing the Tombeckbee, west to the Mississippi settlements, south to latitude 31°, called Elliotts line, and east to the Mobile river, and north to the Cut Off.
Thus a grant of land was obtained lying east of the Tombeckbee river where those pioneers, coming through the Creek nation, might settle and make homes without intruding upon Indian rights. But it appears that for this very strip of territory east of the Tombeckbee and extending half way to the Alabama, other claimants soon appeared. The Creek Indians claimed that it belonged to them, rather than to the Choctaws, and that the Choctaws had therefore no right to cede to the United States any lands east of the Tombeckbee. Instead of resorting to arms or to diplomacy the Creeks agreed to risk their claims on the success of a game of ball. Old settlers in Clarke refer to this game as a fact well authenticated and attested by eyewitnesses. John Scarborough, who would now be about eighty-five years of age, if living, was one of those who witnessed it. The contestants in this game laid aside most of their clothing. The Creeks are described as having been slim and straight in person, the Choctaws as shorter but active as cats. It is said that the first game was played by warriors against warriors, and that the Creeks being vanquished were dissatisfied. Then the Choctaws offered to let their squaws play against the Creek squaws. The offer was accepted. The women played. And again the Choctaws won. The Creeks now gave up their claims. The locality assigned for this singular game, by the early settlers is an old play-ground near the old site of Elam church, and near where the corner-post was finally driven that marked the boundary between Choctaw and Creek. In 1808 the line was surveyed from Hal’s Lake to the Choctaw corner. Previous to this time, in the disputed region, the Choctaws and Creeks had both hunted and fought for the game. The surveyors were on the ground. The Indians agreed to a line that should cross no water. One who has travelled in various directions across this disputed territory would suppose such a line very difficult to be traced. It is said that twenty chiefs of each party went along with their tomahawks to blaze the trees. The whole space be- tween the Alabama and Tombeckbee, and further north than Clarke county extends, even to the mouth of the Black Warrior, had been ceded by the Choctaws to the British, in a treaty made at Mobile, March 26, 1765. Now, for the last time, after the decisive game between the Indian squaws, this strip came into the possession of those who proposed to hold it against Creeks or any other claimants or invaders. For a few years they had been coming from Georgia, South and North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and continued to come rapidly until 1812, those border men bringing their wives and children with them, who were to experience the savage fierceness of Muscogees on the war path. They had settled even up to the narrow ridge, the dividing line, of what the Creeks still held as their own hunting grounds. But before reaching those scenes of danger and daring, of suffering and strife, other events remain to be recorded. One of these is the capture of Aaron Burr.
The son of an estimable and gifted woman, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, the great mental philosopher and theologian of America, Burr was noted for talent, but not for integrity and purity of moral character. At one time Vice-President of the United States, afterward disappointed in some scheme which he had planned in regard to Louisiana, he was arrested by Col. Claiborne, acting under orders from the Governor of Mississippi Territory, who was influenced by the proclamation of President Jefferson, and appeared in Washington, the seat of government of the Territory, six miles east of Natchez, a prisoner of the United States. On the second day of the trial he did not appear in the court-room, and the Governor offered a reward of two thousand dollars for his aprehension, while a troop of cavalry was sent in pursuit. This was in January 1807.
In February, at the hour of ten at night, in their cabin in Wakelield, Nicholas Perkins, a young lawyer, and Thomas Malone, then clerk of the court, heard the distant tramp of horses. Soon two travellers were at their door making inquiries. The light from the pitch pine fire shone upon one of the travellers who was splendidly mounted and whose remarkable countenance and brilliant eyes attracted Perkins’ attention. When the horsemen left the door Perkins said to Malone, “That is Aaron Burr. I have read a description of him in the proclamation.” And the thoroughly excited Perkins, unable to enlist Malone in his efforts, started out to secure his arrest. Knowing the route which the horsemen were to take the next morning, Perkins proceeded to Fort Stoddart, and about daybreak, entering into the fort, announced his suspicions to Edmund P. Gaines, then the captain in command. About sunrise Captain Gaines with a file of mounted soldiers and Perkins went out upon the road, and about nine in the morning tley met the two strange horsemen, now ac- companied by a third. The following conversation is given by Pickett:
” Gaines. I presume sir, I have the honor of addressing Colonel Burr ?
” Stranger. I am a traveller in the country and do not recognize your right to ask such a question.
“Gaines. I arrest you, at the instance of the Federal Government.
“Stranger. By what authority do you arrest a traveller upon the highway, on his own private business ?
” Gaines. I am an officer of the army. I hold in my hands the proclamations of the President and the Governor, directing your arrest.
” Stranger. You are a young man and may not be aware of the responsibilities which result from arresting travellers.
“Gaines. I am aware of the responsibilities, but I know my duty.” Then the stranger “became exceedling animated,” and at some length denounced the proclamations and endeavored to intimidate the young officer. But the young captain arrested him, took him to Fort Stoddart, and in a few days arrangements were made to convey him to Washington City. He was taken in a boat up the river to Lake Tensaw, and there delivered into the custody of Nicholas Perkins, through whom he had been arrested, Thomas Malone, the clerk of the county court, Henry B. Slade, John Mills, Jolin Henry, two brothers McCormicks of Kentucky, and two United States soldiers.
The party proceeded on horseback. The horses swam the Chatahoochie, the Flint, and the Ockmulgee, thee men crossing in canoes. At the Oconee they found a ferry boat, and after crossing the river found a house of entertainment, where for the first time on the route they were sheltered by a roof. Arriving in South Carolina they procured a gig and leaving Colonel Burr at Richmond reported to President Jefferson at Washington and returned by the way of Tennessee to the county of Washington. The arrest of Aaron Burr was one of those exciting events in the early times in the surroundings of Clarke, which adds something more to the garnered historic richness of this region.
Four years before, at that same Tensaw Boat Yard, in the heart of a wilderness, another man, well known in this land, had suddenly appeared, the noted Lorenzo Dow, who came there to proclaim, as the first Protestant minister, the message of salvation to the Tensaw settlers.
A digest of various laws for the Mississippi Territory was adopted and approved the tenth of February 1807. Among these was one regulating the marriage ceremony. Any ordained minister must first produce to the Orphans Court of some county in the territory credentials of his ordination, and of his living in regular communion with his society, and obtain from that court a testimonial authorizing him to solemnize marriage, that testimonial to be granted at the discretion of the court. Pastors however of any society might join together in marriage members of their own society according to their own regulations. The territorial legislators seem to have been sufficiently strict in their requirements from ministers to enable them legally to marry the young people of the river settlements, who had been accustomed for so many years easily and securely to marry themselves. But ministers in these same river settlements were as yet very few.
The hour of opening and closing elections in the Territory was fxed thus, to take effect after 1808: That the sheriffs shall open the elections “at twelve of the clock in the forenoon; and shall close at the hour of two in the afternoon, on the subsequent day.”
A strict law against bribery had previously been adopted, providing that any representative elected in the Territory who should “directly or indirectly give, or agree to give, to any elector, money, meat, drink, or other reward, in order to be elected, or for having been elected, for any county, shall be expelled, and forever after disabled from holding any office of profit or trust under this government.”
Among the laws of 1807 was also an act for laying out a town in Washington county near Fort St. Stephens, (the streets to be not less than one hundred feet wide,) on the lands of Edwin Lewis; John Baker, James Morgan, and John F. McGrew, being appointed commissioners to lay out this town. Brewer, not recognizing any French occupancy here, says, that St. Stephens was first settled by the Spaniards who built a fort about 1786. Pickett says that St. Stephens was laid off into town lots in 1807, and that a road was cut to Natchez. An act was also passed to incorporate the Mississippi Society for the acquirement and dissemination of useful knowledge. Also an act to establish Jefferson College. In the same year the town of Natchez was incorporated and made a city. Also, Harry Toulmin, James Caller, and Lemuel Henry, were appointed to locate and open a road from Natchez to Fort Stoddart. From these various acts it is evident that settlements had increased and that civilization was advancing.
At this time the cultivation ot cotton was rapidly taking the place of the older product indigo; the raising of indigo on the old Spanish and British plantations having been abandoned after the great “Yazoo freshet,” in 1791; and cotton receipts from a gin owner were “made a legal tender and passed as domestic bills of exchange.” Thus early in the century, in the heart of the great Cotton Belt, was the commercial import- ance of cotton beginning to be recognized, an importance that has been increasing from then until now, making its possession, in prospect or in fact, the basis for commercial transactions in which credit is involved. The inhabitants of this wilderness were now becoming strongly, in feeling and action, Americans; for in this year of 1807, after the attack by the British on the American vessel the Chesapeake, James McGoffin, already a resident here, having drafted some patriotic resolutions, the inhabitants, “both whigs and tories, participated in an animated public meeting at Wakefield, pledging their support to the United States, to avenge” this outrage. In 1810 the patriotism of these river settlements took a new direction. They had suffered many annoyances from the presence of the Spaniards below them, and an expedition was planned for driving them out of Mobile. Troops were raised, boats were loaded with provisions, and the volunteer soldiers passed from the Boat Yard down the Tensaw river. The expedition was not well managed and was unsuccessful, and the settlers soon found nearer home abundant use for all their military skill and munitions of war, leaving the final expulsion of the Spaniards to the General Government.
It would be interesting to look into the homes of these earliest American occupants along this winding river that forms the western boundary of Clarke ; and see the inmates as they gather for the morning and the midday meals, as they go to their corn fields and their cotton patches, and as they clear the river bottoms and burn the huge piles of pitch pine upon the uplands; as they bring in the game, the wild turkeys and the deer, and meet sometimes with the wolf, the panther, and the bear; and as they gather often at night-fall in some larger cabin for festivities and social intercourse. For any full view of their daily life the material is wanting. It is known that they were resolute, enterprising, hardy, and sociable, and to some extent a pleasure loving people; they did not share the stern, the austere characteristics attributed to the early inhabitants of the North-East ; but they were hospitable, generous, and brave, and not deficient in the social virtues. A few years later we shall be able to glance more fully into pioneer homes and learn more accurately then, the modes of living of the successors of the Choctaws and the Muscogees. The war cloud which since even 1806 has been gathering over this young nation grows more threatening in its dark folds, as the cannon of Napoleon Bonaparte, now controlling France and at war with England, are thundering over all southern and central Europe. The indignities and atrocities of the English war ships can be borne no longer. On the nineteenth of June, 1812, was published by authority of Congress, on the recommendation of President Madison, a proclamation of war against England. Before the year closed, so many settlers having already found homes between the rivers, an act of the Mississippi Territorial Legislature called into existence on the tenth of December the county of Clarke, The settlers in this new county, in connection with the war against England which the Atlantic States were waging, were to encounter Indian hostilities on their borders and among their homes ; but before proceeding to review these tragic scenes, it is desirable to notice the native children of these river and forest wilds.
From Court Records of Washington county:
“Mississippi Territory. At a superior court held for the District of Washington at Mcintosh Bluff on the fourth Monday in September, anno Dom. 1802. Present the right Honourable Seth Lewis, Esq., Chief Justice of the M. Territory. On the venire facias the following jurors (to wit) Ransom Harwell, William Rogers, Matthew Robinson, Tandy Walker, George Robbins, Thomas Carson, John Burney, Sampson Munger, William Vardiman, Nathan Blackwell, Fran- cis Bayakin, Isaac Ryan, William H. Flargrave, Richard Brasheor, Daniel Johnston, John Ilinson, Jesse Ross, John Johnston, James Fair, Joseph Campbell, Richard Hawkins, Benjamin King, Joseph Thompson, Moses Steadham, Joseph Stiggins, John Callier, John McGrew, John Brewer, Richard Lee, Benjamin Hoven, Samuel Minis, Michael Milton, George Wakely, William Wakely, Josiah Fletcher, and William Prince.”
Among these thirty-six are some that afterward became noted, and among them all there is but one having a middle name.
On the first grand jury were “John Callier, foreman,” Tandy Walker, and Samuel Minis.
Nicholas Perkins Esq, was admitted to the practice of Attorney General of the Court.”
Samuel Henry, Robert Knox, and Leonard D. Shaw, were admitted to practice as attorneys, each “having first produced a license and taken the oath prescribed by law.” The attorney general “produced bis com- mission.”
Some other names in the records of this session of court are James Caller, William Kimbro, Peter Malone, John Murrell, William Williams, and William Walton.
The next term of this Superior Court was held at Mcintosh Bluff in May, 1804. David Kerr Esq. presented his commission as Judge. Among the names for jurors are, William Buford, Edward Creighton, Thomas Bassett, John F. McGrew, Samuel McGee, Thomas Mercer, John Callier, James Caller, and John Dease. Other names in the records are, James McConnell, Nathaniel Christmas, Thomas Caller, and Young Gaines.
Another term of this court was held at the courthouse in the town of Wakefield in September, 1805. Harry Toulmin Esq. was now Judge. In 1806 the name of Joseph Wheat appears.
From the court records for 1808 it appears that the collector of customs at Fort Stoddart, then a port oi entry, had occasion to seize considerable wine on different schooners. Then as now men would evade if possible the laws concerning intoxicating drinks.
In the court records of Washington county under date of Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1818, is this item: ‘ “John Gayle having taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and also the oath as Attorney and Counsellor at Law, he is permitted to practice in this Court.” He afterward became the seventh governor of Alabama.