Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Searching for Econchattimico's Town


By Dale Cox

Lake Seminole – One of the most significant historic sites in Jackson County lay somewhere north of Sneads along the bank of the Chattahoochee River. Tocktoethla (“River Junction”) was the last Florida home of Econchattimico, the “Red Ground King” who once battled Andrew Jackson’s army for control of Florida and became one of the few Indian chiefs ever to win a major battle in the Federal court. The exact site of his final home has never been identified.

Econchattimico left his original home at Ekanchatte, a Lower Creek town that stood on the site of today’s Neal’s Landing for more than 50 years, after it was destroyed by Colonel William McIntosh and a large force of U.S. Creek Auxiliaries in 1818. After hiding for a time in the swamps of the upper Chipola River, where he kept large herds of livestock, the chief moved back to the Chattahoochee River and settled a new town about halfway between Neal’s Landing and Sneads. He lived there until 1838 when U.S. troops led by Zachary Taylor used muskets and bayonets to force the elderly chief and his people west to the Indian Nations in what is now Oklahoma.
Upon the departure of the chief and his followers, the cabins and fields of Tocktoethla were occupied by white settlers who dubbed their new community “Indian Town.” Located near the important riverboat landing of Port Jackson, “Indian Town” remained an identifiable settlement through the time of the War Between the States, but eventually faded from local memory.
Archaeologists searched for traces of Econchattimico’s settlements during the 1940s and again in 1979-1980. They found enough shattered pieces of Creek pottery to identify general areas of Indian presence, but never found the site of the chief’s primary town.
A comparison of Colonel James Gadsden’s original survey plat and notes of the chief’s reservation with George Houston’s 1843 survey plat and notes shows that “Indian Town” or Tocktoethla was originally located in about the center of the northern half of Section 28 of Township 5 North, Range 7 West in Jackson County. Both surveys show the actual settlement site.
The site was roughly three-quarters of a mile due east of today’s Arnold Landing at the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area north of Sneads. It was completely flooded by the completion of Lake Seminole during the 1950s and no trace of the original town location remains above water.
Some areas of the original reservation assigned to Econchattimico at the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823 do remain above water. In fact, a section of today’s River Road (Highway 271) passes through the old reservation from just south of its intersection with Butler Road north for about two miles. Some of the original fields farmed by Econchattimico and his people are still in use today.
Note: If you would like to learn more about Econchattimico and the other Native Americans of Jackson County, please consider purchasing my book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: The Early Years. It is available in Marianna at Chipola River Book and Tea (downtown on the same block as the Gazebo Restaurant) or online at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/dalecox.

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