Monday, December 5, 2016

Creek towns on the Chattahoochee (Part 4 of 4)

Northernmost section of the
Woodbine Map of 1814.
Click the image to enlarge.
This is the final part of a four part series on the newly discovered Woodbine Map of 1814.

The map was drawn by Capt. George Woodbine of Great Britain's Royal Marines. He arrived on the Apalachicola River in 1814 with weapons and other supplies for the Creek and Seminole Indians of the region. His instructions required him to make contact with as many of these groups as possible and to do so he set out up the river, mapping not only its bends, but also the villages, towns and camps that he encountered.

To read the previous parts in this series before continuing, please follow these links:

The final towns visited by Woodbine in June 1814 were the Lower Creek towns on the Chattahoochee River between today's cities of Columbia and Eufaula, Alabama. These were located on both sides of the river and surrounded by extensive fields, most occupying sites they had staked out in 1717-1718 following the Yamassee War.

This section of the map is its upper or northernmost part. At the bottom you will see Emussee Talofa, which was covered in the last part of this series.

Beginning at Cedar Creek, which is visible on the west or Alabama side of the river near the bottom of today's section, we will move north up the river to the top of the map.

The first villages encountered as we move north up the map from Cedar Creek are a series of small ones on both sides of the river where creeks enter from the east and the west nearly opposite to each other. The stream flowing in from the west is today's Abbie Creek in Henry County, Alabama, while the one joining the river from the east is Brickyard Creek in Early County, Georgia.

Continuing upriver, Amuckah Creek can be seen entering the river from the east. Now called Factory Creek, it is noted for its series of beautiful waterfalls. These powered an important manufacturing operation during the 19th century. The creek is located in Early County, Georgia.

The massive platform mound at Kolomoki Mounds is
more than 50-feet tall and over 1,000 years old.
The next named stream moving north was called Oakolomokee Creek by Woodbine. This name survives today as Kolomoki Creek. It rises near the massive prehistoric ceremonial complex at Kolomoki Mounds State Park just north of Blakely, Georgia.

This mounds were long abandoned by the time of Woodbine's visit. They date from the Woodland era, represented in this region by the Swift Creek and Weeden Island cultures. Some researchers believe that Kolomoki may have been the largest city north of Meso-America at its height. Its importance peaked and faded away more than 1,000 years ago.

Moving upstream from the mouth of Oakolomokee Creek a stream can be seen entering the river from the west. This is today's Beaverdam Branch in Henry County, Alabama.

Carving of Otis Mico (Onis Mico) at Fort Gaines.
He was the chief of Etohussewakkes in 1814.
Above Beaverdam Branch, several small village symbols are shown on both banks of the river. These are in the approximate site of the known town of Etohussewakkes, which was three miles south of today's Fort Gaines, Georgia. This town was still occupied by Lower Creeks when the U.S. Army established Fort Gaines two years later.

Continuing up the river a stream can be seen entering from the east. This is Cemochechobee Creek at present-day Fort Gaines. It would soon mark the southern limits of the Creek Nation as defined by the Treaty of Fort Jackson.

Upstream is a town called Oakete Ackanee by Woodbine and Okitiyakani by other writers. This was the second town of this name that he encountered. The other was lower down the river. Like some of the towns near the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers discussed in the first part of this series, it was led by mestizo chiefs from the Perryman family and was a large town.

Fort Mitchell has been restored on its original site
in Russell County, Alabama.
Woodbine does not appear to have traveled above this town as he shows the river using dashed lines from this point north. This usually indicates a presumed or believed route for a river or road on old maps. This was likely a wise decision on his part as the Cowetas who exerted great power from this vicinity forward were strong allies of the United States. The U.S. Army post of Fort Mitchell also served as a barrier to any further advance up the Chattahoochee.

He did note the presence of the Euphalla or Eufaula tribe on the west side of the river near today's city of Eufaula, Alabama, and mentioned the large towns (Coweta and Cusseta) higher up in the area of today's Columbus, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama.

Capt. Woodbine turned back downstream from Okitiyakani and was back at Prospect Bluff on the lower Apalachicola River by mid-June 1814. The British soon began the construction of a fort there and would build a second - Nicolls' Outpost - at present-day Chattahoochee, Florida, before the end of the War of 1812. 

Here are all of the sections of the Woodbine Map of 1814, presented in order as they show the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers, beginning in the vicinity of Eufaula, Alabama, and continuing downstream to Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Vicinity of Columbia, Alabama to vicinity of Eufaula, Alabama

Just below Alabama State Line to vicinity of Columbia, Alabama

Alabama State Line to Chattahoochee, Florida

Chattahoochee to Apalachicola

Monday, November 14, 2016

Newly discovered map shows key Creek Indian villages on Chattahoochee (Part 3)

Portion of the Woodbine Map of 1814
showing the Chattahoochee River in
Southwest Georgia and Southeast Alabama.
National Archives of Great Britain
(Click the map to enlarge)
This is the third part in a series of four articles about the newly discovered Woodbine Map of 1814.

Located in the National Archives of Great Britain, the map is believed to have been drawn by Capt. George Woodbine of the British Royal Marines.

The captain was the advance officer for a planned landing of British Royal Marines in Spanish Florida. The War of 1812 was then underway and the British were coming to enlist maroons (runaway slaves) and Native American warriors forplanned attacks against Mobile, New Orleans and the southern United States.

The map is remarkably narrow and long so it has been necessary to break it into four parts for this series.  If you missed the two earlier articles, you can read them here before continuing with this post:

Part 1: Map reveals details of Jackson County's Native American population.
Part 2: New details from 1814 British map of Apalachicola & Chattahoochee Rivers.

In today's segment, we look at the section of the map that covers the lower Chattahoochee River in Alabama and Georgia.

Admiral Sir Alexander Inglis Cochrane
He sent Capt. Woodbine to the Apalachicola River
with orders to make contact with as many Creek
and Seminole groups as possible.
National Gallery of Scotland
Beginning at the bottom of the map, you will notice the Creek Indian village of "Red Ground" on the left or west bank of the Chattahoochee. This village stood at today's Neals Landing Park in what is now Jackson County, Florida. This is where State Road 2 crosses the river to connect Malone, Florida, with Donalsonville, Georgia.

The creek shown on the west side just above the village is Irwin's Mill Creek, which rises just across the state line in Houston County, Alabama, and then flows southeast through Chattahoochee State Park to cross the Florida border and empty into the river a short distance north of State Road 2.

Moving upriver you will next see the location of the ancient Lower Creek village of "Chiskee Tallofa" (Chiscatalofa or Chisca Town).

The Chisca were living in Northwest Florida when first encountered by the Spanish and the Purcell-Stuart Map of 1778 shows an area surrounding the town of Ekanachatte or "Red Ground" as the Chisca Old Fields, an indication that this had been their home-site at some point in the past.

Portion of the Purcell-Stuart Map of 1778 showing the
"Cheeske Old Field" adjacent to Ekanachatte.
National Archives of Great Britain
Some speculate that the Chisca were the ancestors of the better known Yuchi (or Euchee), but this remains an unproved theory. It is known that they were bitter enemies of the Spanish and joined with the neighboring Chacato to rebel against Franciscan missionaries in 1675. They successfully drove Spanish friars from their territory, but were defeated in a retaliatory attack. Some went to live in the area around Pensacola Bay while the main group of Chisca moved up into the Lower Creek towns, took part in the migration of that group to the Ocmulgee and Savannah Rivers. The Chisca joined with the rest of the Lower Creeks in migrating back to the Chattahoochee River in 1716-1718. From that point on Chiscatalofa was regarded as one of the principal towns of the Lower Creeks.

The town had been the scene of one of the councils that approved the massive Forbes Purchase of 1804. That agreement transferred 1.2 million acres of land from the Creek Nation to John Forbes & Company as payment for debts owed to the company. It included most of today's Apalachicola National Forest.

From "Chiskee Tallofa" continue to follow the river north. The creek shown entering from the west just above the town was Bryan's Creek in present-day Houston County, Alabama. A small settlement or village is marked by the circular symbol on the south side of the creek's mouth.

On the Georgia side of the river will next be seen the village of the "Conoloah Tribe." This town was located adjacent to a natural spring that flows into the Chattahoochee at a point just south of the border between today's Seminole and Early Counties.

The next town encountered as you continue to trace your way up the river is "Emassee Town" (Omussee Talofa). The name Omussee remains in use today in eastern Houston County, Alabama. Omussee Creek flows into the Chattahoochee river just south of Columbia, Alabama.

The Omussee of 1814, however, was located well-south of that point in the vicinity of today's Gordon, Alabama.

Like the Chisca, the Omussee were an ancient town. Their name is better known in the history of Florida and Georgia as Yamassee. These people were encountered by the Hernando de Soto expedition as it passed through Georgia and later allied themselves with the British and took part in slave-catching raids against the Apalachee and other groups in Florida.

The Yamassee joined with the Lower Creeks and other groups to rise up against the British in 1717 but were defeated. Most fled south to the St. Augustine area of Florida where they formed an alliance with the Spanish, but one group wound up living among the Lower Creeks on the Chattahoochee River. They remained there until they were forced west on the Trail of Tears in 1836.

Several unnamed small villages are shown on the river above "Emassee Town." Finally, the Cedar Creek shown flowing into the Chattahoochee from the west still bears that name today and is located just north of Gordon, Alabama.

I will post a final part of this series in the next few days to show and explore the uppermost part of the map which extends up the Chattahoochee River from Cedar Creek to Eufaula.  Watch for it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Campbellton, Friendship Church and the contested Election of 1876

Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States
Library of Congress
Most Americans remember the confusion in Florida that led to the contested election of 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Most do not remember, however, that the Sunshine State was a key battleground in an even more bitter election fight. The election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden came down to a single electoral vote.

Author's note: As you read this, please remember that neither party of today resembles its 1876 version. Also, please note that the term "Radical Republican" is not an editorial comment, but rather was a commonly used name for the party at that time.

Florida was still a small state population-wise in 1876, but her tiny collection of four electoral votes was more than enough to swing the election in favor of Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. The Carpetbagger Republicans who controlled the state government were determined to prevent that from happening, even if they had to steal the election and disenfranchise hundreds of voters.

The War Between the States (or Civil War) had been over for 11 years by 1876, but Radical Reconstruction was still the law of the land. U.S. soldiers could be sent to patrol civilian streets if there was even a hint that citizens might protest or otherwise "cause trouble." As the election of 1876 approached, in fact, a company of U.S. troops was sent to Jackson County:

Samuel J. Tilden
Rightful 19th President of the United States?
Library of Congress
The commanding officer Fort Barrancas, Fla., will send a battery of the Fifth Artillery to encamp at Marianna, Fla., to be increased, if necessary to make a total of thirty enlisted men, by temporary details from other batteries at the post, for duty under the provisions of General Orders No. 96, current series, Headquarters of the Army.

The battery to arrive at destination before November 7, and to remain until November 14, then to return to its proper station. - Special Orders No. 151, Headquarters, Department of the South, Oct. 18, 1876.

Republican officials in Tallahassee had spread claims that the Ku Klux Klan was planning to attack African-American voters in Jackson County.

These warnings of violence appear to have been fabricated because there was no outbreak or even evidence of Klan activity in the county that year. A later investigation by the U.S. Congress would determine, in fact, that black and white voters in Jackson County were beginning to see eye to eye on the matter of Carpetbagger rule.

Reconstruction had been a time of great turbulence in the county. Claims of widespread political murder, however, have been debunked by recent archival research. This is not to say that some political killings did not take place in 1865-1876. Clerk of Courts Dr. John Finlayson was assassinated by an individual or individuals unknown and several other politicians - Democrat and Republican - were wounded. The actual number, however, was less than 10% of the more than 170 deaths claimed by some writers.

Campbellton Baptist Church, built in the 1850s, was the
home congregation of many of the voters disenfranchised
in the 1876 Presidential election.
Citizens had seen taxes skyrocket to their highest level in Florida history. A couple of schools had been built by the Reconstruction-era government, but despite the increase in taxes very few people were receiving educations. Fees for filing court cases had gone through the roof, making it all but impossible for poor residents - black or white - to seek justice in the Carpetbagger-run courts. A subsequent audit even found that county officials were double and triple taxing some properties so they could purchase them at auction when the rightful owners could no longer afford to pay their taxes.

Such issues affected citizens regardless of race. High taxes and outrageous filing fees were a burden to all small farmers and business people. People of both races wanted better educations for their children. They wanted a peaceful and prosperous community and an end to post-war bitterness.

These common desires led to a remarkable transition in Jackson County's voting demographics. Almost all of the "freedmen" or former slaves had supported the Republic Party since 1865. Many whites had not voted at all during the years following the War Between the States but were now raising the standard of the Democratic party in growing numbers. By 1876 they were joined by a small but growing number of their black neighbors.

Friendship Church near Malone was at the epicenter of the
contested Election of 1876. The polling place then was
described as a small log church with no light or heat.
This new alliance was especially noticeable in the rural precincts that bordered the Alabama state line. Two of these precincts - Friendship Church and Campbellton - held the key to the White House.

A Congressional investigation found that election day of 1876 was for the most part peaceful in Jackson County. There were a few incidents here and there along with reports of long lines at some polling places, but the election system worked well and people voted freely. African-American voters from the Campbellton and Friendship Church precincts later testified that they willfully cast ballots for Democrat Tilden instead of Republican Hayes and that they only threats they received came from Republicans of their own race.

It was a cold day and there was no heat at Friendship Church so when the polls closed, the poll workers - both black and white - took the ballot boxes to Mosley's Store where they could count the ballots by the warmth of his fire. Both Republican and Democrat poll inspectors were present for the count and Samuel Tilden carried the precinct.

Armstrong Purdee was a poll official at the
Campbellton precinct in 1876.
In Campbellton, one of the Republican poll inspectors was 23-year-old Armstrong Purdee. He would soon become Jackson County's first African-American attorney:

...I do not know as there was any wrong done. I do not know as there was or I would have objected. During the dinner-hour, when we went to adjourn, I said, “Gentlemen, we can’t conceal the box from the public.” I spoke right in that way, and Mr. Callaway came out, and when we all came out he told me it would be all right, and then I didn’t object. - Armstrong Purdee, Testimony before Congressional Select Committee, Dec. 26, 1876.

 The only other problem reported in Campbellton was the appearance of some loud men, but the poll officials made them leave and all was described by whites and blacks alike as "peaceful." A large crowd appeared just before poll closing, but there is no indication that anyone was denied an opportunity to vote. Tilden carried the precinct by a wide margin.

Once the vote totals arrived in Marianna, Republican officials were shocked to find that Jackson County had voted the Democratic Party ticket for the first time since the end of war:

Jackson County Courthouse in Marianna as it appeared
during the contested Election of 1876.
“The day passed quietly. At none of the precincts was there the least demonstrations of a riot, and every man walked freely and without fear to the polls and deposited his ballot, and we are glad to know that a great many of the colored people had the nerve to cast a Democratic vote. The county is Democratic by ninety-six votes. Glory enough for one day – God be praised.”  It may be well, too, to quote a paragraph from the Sentinel, the governor’s organ, of the 11th, four days after the election. It said: “Reports from all parts of the state bring information that, in spite of previous apprehensions, the election of Tuesday was the quietest and most orderly of any ever held in Florida. No disturbance of any kind is reported from any quarter.” Days after this, when the figures began to look gloomy for the Republicans, the Union raises the cry of intimidation and fraud with respect to Jackson and other Democratic counties. It won’t hold. - Report on Jackson County elections from the Indianapolis Sentinel, Nov. 23, 1876.

When the returns from Jackson County reached Tallahassee the state canvassing board declared fraud and threw out the results from Friendship Church and Campbellton. The board members were all Radical Republicans and their action disenfranchised hundreds of voters from the two state line precincts.

Florida's historic Old Capitol as it appeared in 1876.
A Congressional Select Committee investigated the situation in December and found that Florida's canvassing board had acted without cause. The board's entire reason for throwing out the Jackson County results was that the number of Democrat votes at Campbellton and Friendship Church exceeded the number of whites registered in the precincts. The officials did not believe that any blacks would have voted for the Democratic nominee so they tossed every vote cast. No investigation was initiated and Florida's four electoral votes were handed to Rutherford B. Hayes.

Congressional investigators later interviewed a number of African-American voters from Campbellton and Friendship Church. Placed under oath, many of these men declared that they had cast their vote for the Democratic Party ticket and not the Republican one. Henry Olds, a 27-year-old African-American voter, explained to investigators for example that he voted a "Flag ticket." Asked if he knew whether that was a Republican or Democrat ballot, he responded, "Democrat, I suppose."

John Wallace, African-American political leader in
Florida during Reconstruction, accused his fellow
Republicans of widespread fraud. He believed that
the Presidential election had been stolen.
This did not matter in Tallahassee, where the Carpetbagger members of the canvassing board not only threw out the votes from the two Jackson County precincts, but then voted to abolish their own board. This eliminated the chance of anyone from Campbellton or Friendship Church filing an appeal over the theft of their voting rights.

The battle shifted to Washington, D.C., where it was determined that Tilden could do nothing about the fraudulent electors from Florida. The decision by the canvassing board to abolish itself prevented the Democratic nominee from suing to obtain a court order regarding the Jackson County precincts.

Similar issues in South Carolina, Louisiana and Oregon were resolved in similar ways and the election came down to Florida's four electoral votes. The move by the canvassing board to block the voters of Campbellton and Friendship Church from the rightful exercise of their constitutional rights threw the election to the Republican Party.

Rutherford B. Hayes became President of the United States by just one electoral vote.

His victory was assured by the GOP shenanigans in Florida. Tilden and his allies fought to the end and were able to force the Republican nominee to agree to an end to Radical Reconstruction in the South. The end of Republican Party rule in the region for the next century soon followed.

The two parties, of course, have changed greatly since 1876. So has the election process in Florida. A look back in time to that bitter election shows, however, that every vote counts and even the voters of small rural precincts like those in Jackson County can hold the future of their country in their hands.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

More new details from 1814 British map of Apalachicola & Chattahoochee Rivers

Section of Woodbine's
Map of 1814.
National Archives of Great Britain
(Click to Enlarge)
I first showed you part of the newly discovered Woodbine Map of 1814 in a post earlier this week. If you missed it, just click here to read that part before continuing with this article.

Today we are focusing on the next part of the map, which covers the Apalachicola River from the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. In the next post, we will look at the section that covers the Chattahoochee River north from the Alabama state line to above Eufaula.

The more than 200 year old Woodbine Map was discovered in the National Archives of Great Britain. It reveals a great deal of new information about the location of Native American settlements and refugee camps along the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers in the days immediately following the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Red Stick Creek refugees were pouring south into Spanish West Florida following the defeat of their last army at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama. They were starving and fleeing for their lives. Not only were they being pursued by U.S. troops, but white-allied Creeks under William McIntosh and Choctaws under Pushmataha had joined the chase. Even William Weatherford, a former Red Stick fighter, was now guiding U.S. troops in pursuit of his former friends and allies.

 The Woodbine Map was drawn at a time when Red Stick families were establishing refugee camps along the Conecuh, Choctawhatchee, Chattahoochee, Apalachicola and other rivers of the region. So many of these refugees had died along the way that one old warrior told a British officer that he knew the trail to his enemy because it was marked by the graves of his children.

Capt. George Woodbine of the British Royal Marines arrived on the Apalachicola in May 1814. Ordered to recruit Creek and Seminole warriors to the cause of Great Britain in the ongoing War of 1812, Woodbine traveled as far upstream as Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River. His map appears to have been drawn during his journey and pinpoints the locations of both established towns and refugee camps.

It should be noted before continuing that the map was drawn at a time when large numbers of Native American men, women and children were still on the move. Many of the sites shown were transitory at best. Some were occupied for no more than a few weeks, which makes the document extremely valuable in understanding the movements of Red Stick groups as they entered Florida.

In our last article about the map, we discussed the massive number of towns and camps that had appeared along the relatively short section of the Chattahoochee River in Jackson County, Florida. Most Red Stick groups had not yet reached the Apalachicola River.

Looking at today's section of the map, we will move south down the Apalachicola from the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. The Tocktoethla towns of the Perryman family, shown just above the forks, were discussed in the last article.

The Apalachicola River as seen from River Landing Park in
Chattahoochee, Florida. Mosquito Creek enters from the left.
Moving downstream from the forks, the map shows Mosquito Creek flowing into the river from the east were the City of Chattahoochee stands today. The large island in the river below Chattahoochee is also shown.

The first Native American village below the confluence was the town of "Tomathleu" (also spelled "Tomatley" and "Tomathli") on the west bank in what is now Jackson County, Florida. This town had been established in the 1760s by a Creek band that moved down the river at the invitation of the British, who possessed Florida from 1763-1783.

Tomatley was one of the towns where the white trader James Burges had a home and operated a trading post. He also lived, had a family and operated a store on the bluff at today's Bainbridge, Georgia. Burges had died by 1814, but his children and grandchildren by his Tomatley wife still lived in the town.

The village was also the home of a man called Vaccapuchasse by the Spanish and the "Mulatto King" by the Americans. A maroon or escaped slave, he was the child of black and Native American parents and had become one of the principal chiefs of Tomatley. John Yellowhair was also an important leader in the town, which stood near the old Jackson County Port Authority complex.

Section of the Woodbine Map showing "Ocheesee Town" and
"Negro Settlements" in what is now Calhoun County, Florida.
The next village down the Apalachicola was Ocheesee Talofa, which stood on Ocheesee Bluff in what is now Calhoun County, Florida. This well-known town had also been established in the 1760s and was the one-time home of the white trader John Mealy. He had provided horses and other support to the British during the American Revolution. His son, Jack Mealy, was now the principal chief of Ocheesee.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the Apalachicola River section of the newly discovered map is the large "Negro Settlements" that it shows running down the west side of the river below Ocheesee Bluff. This previously unknown settlement had been established by maroons (runaway slaves) who fled to the Apalachicola during and following the Creek War of 1813-1814. Some had been held by white plantation owners but others had been the slaves of Creek chiefs and principal men.

These individuals were now free and living in Spanish Florida. Woodbine undoubtedly spent considerable time with them as one of his assignments was to recruit a battalion of black soldiers for service in the British Colonial Marines. The maroon settlement below Ocheesee was not shown on later maps and its villagers probably moved downstream to Prospect Bluff at Woodbine's request. A number of the recruits who enlisted in the British service there gave their home town as "Ocheesee Talofa."

Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River.
The last Creek town shown on the river was Yawalla (Iola), the primary town of chief John Blunt. This village was at the site of today's Blountstown and not at Iola Landing lower down the river.

Blunt had fled with his people from the Creek Nation during the war and had suffered great losses in the process. White people sometimes called him Lafarka, but this must be a corruption of an Indian name or title as the Muscogee language includes neither the letter "r" nor its equivalent sound.

More Red Sticks would soon arrive on the Apalachicola as the bands of Prophet Josiah Francis, Homathlemico (Hoboithle Mico?) and others made their way east from the western Florida Panhandle. At the time of Woodbine's trip, however, these groups were still on the Choctawhatchee, Conecuh and other rivers to the west.

A noteworthy point of interest is Forbes Island just below Panton's Cliffs. This was not the Forbes Island today, but an upriver island formed by the confluence of the Apalachicola with the River Styx and other streams. It was also shown as Forbes Island on Spanish maps of this era.

Lower Apalachicola River as shown on the
Woodbine Map. Notice Prospect Bluff on the
east bank and the offshore anchorage of the
British warship HMS Orpheus.
Panton's Cliffs was Estiffanulga Bluff. It had been called Estiffanulga as late as 1804, but officers of John Forbes & Company renamed it in honor of William Panton. He had been a partner in Panton, Leslie & Company, the original name of the trading company. The name never stuck, however, and Estiffanulga remains in use today.

Further downstream can be seen the mouth of the Chipola River and Prospect Bluff. The bluff, called the Loma de Buena Vista by the Spanish, was the site of a Forbes & Company trading post and would soon be selected by the British as a location for one of two forts that they would build on the river.

Below Prospect Bluff, no settlements are shown as existing on the Apalachicola River. The map does show the anchorage of the HMS Orpheus off Cape St. George. The Orpheus was a British warship filled with arms and ammunition for the Creeks and Seminoles. She remained offshore while Woodbine made his trip up the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers. The war materials from the ship were being landed on St. Vincent Island where they were housed in temporary structures until they could be transported up to Prospect Bluff.

The next installment in this series will focus on the Chattahoochee River from the Alabama line north to Eufaula. If you would like to learn more about British activities on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers during the War of 1812, please consider my books Nicolls' Outpost: A War of 1812 Fort at Chattahoochee, Florida and Milly Francis: The Life & Times of the Creek Pocahontas.

Both are available in either book or Amazon Kindle formats.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Map reveals details of Jackson County's Native American population

Portion of the Woodbine Map of 1814
showing what is now eastern
Jackson County, Florida
National Archives of Great Britain
(Click to Enlarge)
A newly discovered map from the National Archives of Great Britain is proving an incredible view of the Native American groups living in what is now Jackson County at the end of the Creek War of 1813-1814.

The map is believed to have been drawn by a British officer, Capt. George Woodbine, who arrived at Apalachicola Bay on May 10, 1815. His orders were to recruit and train an auxiliary force of Seminole, Red Stick Creek and maroon (escaped slave) warriors that could assist in coming British movements against the Gulf Coast.

Woodbine established himself twenty miles up the Apalachicola River at Prospect Bluff, where John Forbes & Company had a trading post and where the British would soon build a powerful fort. He moved from there up the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers as far as present-day Eufaula, Alabama. He met with chiefs and principal men at each village that he encountered, hoping to obtain their support for the British cause in the War of 1812.

The newly discovered map appears to have been drawn by Woodbine as he made his way upriver. It reveals an incredible amount of new information about Native American and maroon populations on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers in 1814. This was a critical moment in history due to the sudden arrival in the area of thousands of Red Stick Creeks who had been driven from their homeland by American armies. Woodbine's arrival on the Apalachicola came less than six weeks after the devastating defeat of the main Red Stick army at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama.

Red Stick Creek refugees were flooding into West Florida where they hoped to obtain food and protection from the Spanish who then controlled the province. Woodbine's map shows that several previously unknown groups of Creeks were establishing camps along the eastern border of what is now Jackson County during the time of this tragic migration.

Neals Landing Park, site of the Creek Indian town of
Ekanachatte ("Red Ground"), in Jackson County, Florida.
Looking at the map from top to bottom, it shows Irwin's Mill Creek flowing into the Chattahoochee River from the northwest just above the site of today's Neal's Landing. The village of Ekanachatte or "Red Ground" had been established here in the 1760s and was a well-known and prosperous town by 1814. It was the home of the chief Econchattimico ("Red Ground King") who had succeeded his uncle, Cockee, who was also known as "the Bully" for his abilities as a trader.

Moving down the river, the map shows small symbols for Creek settlements on the river just out from the area of today's Buena Vista Landing. Small springs in this vicinity made it a logical place for refugee camps.

At the northern end of today's Apalachee Wildlife Management Area can be seen a "Tallasee Town." Tallasee was a well known town on the Tallapoosa River from which Peter McQueen and other chiefs had joined the Red Stick movement. The settlement shown as "Tallasee Town" on Woodbine's map was undoubtedly occupied by refugees driven from their homes in the Creek Nation.

Immediately below Tallasee Town is seen Fowl Town, also a settlement of refugee Red Sticks. Led by Neamathla (Eneah Emathla) this settlement occupied both sides of the river with the main town being on the eastern or Georgia shore. This settlement was established in the winter of 1813-1814 after Neamathla and his warriors were defeated by William McIntosh and the white-allied Coweta warriors at the Battle of Uchee Creek below present-day Phenix City, Alabama. The Fowl Town people did not remain at this site for long but with a couple of years moved over to a new location near Bainbridge, Georgia.

To the southwest of Fowl Town is a settlement of people from the "Euchee Tribe." A band of the Yuchi (or Euchee) led by their chief Billy had been part of the Red Stick force at the Battle of Uchee Creek. They came downriver to what is now Jackson County where they lived until 1817.

Neamathla (Eneah Emathla)
Chief of Fowl Town in 1814-1818.
Downstream below Fowl Town and at a site now submerged beneath Lake Seminole can be seen a settlement that was built on both sides of the river and called "Saokulo Tribe." These may have been Sawokli refugees who had gone against most of the other Lower Creeks and joined the Red Stick movement with the Fowl Town and Euchee bands. Their presence so near the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers is interesting as they were living in the vicinity when they were first encountered by the Spanish during the 1600s.

At another site now beneath the waters of Lake Seminole can be seen a village of Oketee Ockane (Okitiyakani) people. These were undoubtedly Red Stick refugees from a much larger town of the same name located higher up the Chattahoochee River. Most of the town's people stayed neutral in the Creek War or fought on the side of the United States, but some joined the Red Stick forces that tried to overthrow the traditional leaders of the Creek Nation and had to flee for their lives down into the Spanish borderlands.

Finally, just above the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, can be seen the towns of the "Tochtohule Tribe." These were the Tocktoethla villages of Thomas and William Perryman, long-time residents of the region. The former, who lived on the Georgia side of the river, was the principal leader of the Seminoles at the time. The latter lived on the west bank in what is now Jackson County. Both of the sites shown on the map are now beneath Lake Seminole.

The Woodbine map adds a great deal of new information to our knowledge about what was happening in the Chattahoochee River region of Jackson County. A large number of Red Stick refugees had suddenly appeared there, placing a great strain on the more established towns such as Ekanachatte and Tocktoethla. The refugees were starving and, as the British soon reported, were digging up seed corn to eat as fast as it could be planted.

The groups and villages shown on the map all joined the British cause during the War of 1812 and were closely associated with the British Post at Prospect Bluff ("Negro Fort") and the forward base called Nicolls' Outpost at what is now Chattahoochee. Many relocated completely to Prospect Bluff over the coming winter, while others remained on the lower Chattahoochee River.

Please click here to read the next article about the map.

Please click here to learn more about the British presence on the Apalachicola River in 1814-1815.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jackson County may not own Courthouse Square

The beautiful oaks on Courthouse Square were planted by
Aesop Bellamy, one of Marianna's first African-American
business owners in ca. 1873.
Is the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners on the verge of cutting down trees that the county doesn't even own?

That question has unexpectedly come to the surface as citizens await a final decision from their county commissioners on the fate of the historic live oaks that surround the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Marianna. The last vote from the board took place nearly three weeks ago when the commissioners agreed to seek cost estimates on the removal of all of the trees.

The question now rising, however, is whether the county actually owns the historic oak trees - or the ground in which they grow?

Part of the Battle of Marianna was fought on Courthouse
Square on September 27, 1864. This scene is from the
150th anniversary commemoration of the battle.
A thorough search of both public and private archives of deeds and other records has produced no deed or other document proving county ownership of the courthouse square. In fact, it appears that the City of Marianna may actually own the trees, the square and even the ground on which the county courthouse stands.

This unexpected discovery results from political maneuvering that took place in the earliest days of Jackson County's history.

The county was created by the Florida Territorial Legislature on August 12, 1822. The territory had been part of Spain just one year before and it would take another twenty-three years for Florida to secure admission into the union as a state. Jackson County was named for Andrew Jackson, the former major general who served as Florida's U.S. first governor. It included all of the land between the Choctawhatchee and Suwannee Rivers.

The "Widow Hull's Place" was near today's Waddell's Mill
Pond in rural Jackson County, Florida.
The first meetings of the county's government took place at the Widow Hull's place, a home that stood on the south side of today's Waddell's Mill Pond not far from Springfield A.M.E. Church. Mrs. Sarah Hull provided lodging and food for the County Court, a predecessor of today's Board of County Commissioners. The court then included three members.

A controversy soon developed over where to place the permanent county seat. The legislative council first designated the Widow Hull's as an interim location but later changed the interim meeting place to Webbville, a community about half way between Campbellton and what is now Marianna.

Richard Keith Call was a protege of
Andrew Jackson and the
Territorial Governor of Florida.
The controversy intensified when Robert Beveridge, a Scottish merchant from Baltimore, secured title to 160-acres of prime Chipola River land on November 1, 1827. The patent included the site on which the Jackson County Courthouse stands today.

Beveridge pushed forward the development of a new town that he called Marianna. His business partners included Richard Keith Call, an ally of Andrew Jackson and future governor of Florida. With such powerful influence on his side, Beveridge soon lobbied the legislative council to designate Marianna as the permanent county seat for Jackson County.

The developer offered to deed to Jackson County the public (courthouse) square and two downtown lots if the legislature would give Marianna the county seat designation. The town's citizens also offered to donate $1,500 to be used in building a courthouse and jail.

The offer met with a friendly reception in Tallahassee and a bill designating Marianna as the county seat of Jackson County was passed on October 20, 1828. A second act approved the incorporation of the town of Marianna eight days later on October 28, 1828.

Webbville as it appears today. The "ghost town" is still the
actual county seat of Jackson County, Florida.
The news was met with outrage in nearby Webbville, which was then the county's largest town. Unable to sway the members of the legislative council, Webbville residents took their case to the U.S. Congress.

Marianna's developers, meanwhile, went forward with their first sale of lots on January 25, 1829. Bids were opened for the new courthouse and jail on the same day.

Robert Beveridge maintained possession of the courthouse square during that sale, along with the now lost Masonic and School Squares, the future site of Marianna's Riverside Cemetery and the triangular park then called "the Plaza" (today's Confederate Park).

As the incorporation of the community took effect and Marianna's citizens elected their first leaders, these holdings became the property of the town. Beveridge continued to pay taxes on the lands until the organization of Marianna's government could be completed.

The Jackson County Courthouse in the late 1800s, about
20 years after Aesop Bellamy planted the Courthouse Oaks.
He was one of the county's first black business owners.
Robert Beveridge still owned the future site of the Jackson County Courthouse when the U.S. Congress intervened and annulled the legislative council's action designating Marianna as the county seat. Since Florida was still a U.S. territory, Congress and the President held ultimate power over local governmental decisions. In a rare display of this power, Congress overturned Marianna's designation as county seat on January 21, 1829.

Officials in Washington, D.C., followed on March 2, 1829, by giving congressional approval to Webbville, provided that the proceeds from the sale of one-half of the town's lots be spent on public education. Webbville followed through, raising $7,000 for the construction of a public school.

The beloved old Jackson County Courthouse as it
appeared on a postcard during the mid-20th century.
The Federal courts followed the decision of the U.S. Congress. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Florida convened in Webbville in September 1829, as did the Superior Court for Jackson County. 

Webbville thus became - and remains - the official county seat of Jackson County. The town no longer exists, but its designation by Congress has never been overturned.

Marianna, meanwhile, went forward with the construction of its courthouse and jail. Robert Beveridge, however, never deeded the square on which these were built to Jackson County. The legislative council finally imposed a fine against any public official that did not conduct business from the new courthouse, a move that had the result of shifting the county's public business to Marianna although Webbville still remained the official county seat.

As has been noted, Beveridge's lands became the property of the City of Marianna as the city was formally organized. He payed taxes on them until that time.

The beautiful live oak on the northeast corner of Courthouse
Square was planted by Aesop Bellamy in 1873 and can be
seen in the far left of the 1880s photo above.
A thorough search of the deeds and other records in the Clerk of Courts office and archives of the Jackson County Courthouse, as well as the private records of Florida Land Title & Trust, reveals no deed or other document showing that the city ever gave the county title to the square.

Jackson County has since spent untold dollars maintaining and operating five different courthouses on the square, even though the square has apparently remained the property of the City of Marianna the entire time.

Which brings us to today and the controversy that has grown over the future of the live oaks that surround the Jackson County Courthouse. 

Unless the county can provide some long lost proof that it actually owns the square, then its own records indicate that the trees and the dirt in which they grow - as well as the dirt on which the courthouse stands - actually belong to the City of Marianna.

This fact raises serious questions over whether the Board of County Commissioners has any authority at all for any of its actions regarding the trees or square. The city, probably through lack of knowledge that it still owned the square, has never intervened in the construction of courthouses on the site so it is possible that the county may legally own the actual footprint of the the courthouse.

The rest of the square, however, is unfenced public land and appears to be owned by Marianna and its citizens. Unless the county commissioners can prove otherwise, the City of Marianna is the entity that should be making decisions about the courthouse square and its trees.

Note: To learn more about the early history of the area and the political battle between Marianna and Webbville, please consider:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chuck Hatcher named to key State Parks post

Chuck Hatcher
New Assistant Director of Florida State Parks
Photo courtesy of Patte Hatcher
Jackson County's Director of Parks & Recycling has been named Assistant Director of Florida State Parks.

Chuck Hatcher, a Dellwood resident, will be leaving for his new position on March 7th after a remarkable 10 years of service to the people and visitors of Jackson County. He began his work with the county on September 26, 2006.

Hatcher will be supervising day to day operations for all 174 of Florida's state parks. Stretching from the Keys to the Perdido, the system's lands include hundreds of thousands of acres of some of the most pristine, historic and ecologically significant places in the state.

In a phone conversation this morning, he told me that he will miss his role in Jackson County. "I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in Jackson County," he said. "We are a rural county but we have done some major development in the areas of parks and recreation."

It was a modest understatement. During his tenure at the head of Jackson County's park system, Hatcher has supervised dramatic improvements in facilities and park operations. Visitation to Blue Springs alone has skyrocketed and now pays for the county's entire parks effort. In addition to noted and visible improvements at Blue Springs, he has also supervised an upswing in cleanliness and use of parks and recreation sites from one side of the county to the other.

Chuck Hatcher at Bellamy Bridge
I had the opportunity to work closely with Chuck in the realization of our dream to see Bellamy Bridge once again open to the public. Without spending a single dime of property tax money, we designed, funded and developed the new Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail on Highway 162. The one-half mile nature trail leads to the historic bridge and has been visited by thousands of people in just a few short years.

Chuck has also been instrumental in securing funding for boat ramps, boardwalks, the new Jackson County Greenway on the Chipola River and improving the quality of the county-maintained parks along Lake Seminole. His key accomplishments are bringing tourists to our area in growing numbers while also benefiting the citizens of Jackson County on a daily basis.

Chuck and his wife of many years Patte reside in downtown Dellwood. They have two highly accomplished daughters. The entire family has been visible and active in Jackson County for many years and will remain so after he transitions to his new position.

Congratulations to a long-time friend!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow flurries in Two Egg, Florida (1/23/2016)

Snow flurries continued through much of the night in Two Egg, Florida. This video was shot by at around 3 a.m. on January 23, 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cabinet hears Dozier Report, apologizes for "unspeakable horrors"

A group of Jackson County's Citizens of the Year warn the
media in 2014 that it was being one-sided in its coverage and
that no evidence of murders of students by staff would be
found at the Dozier School for Boys "Boot Hill" cemetery.
Photo courtesy of the Jackson County Times.
In a meeting that began late and was filled with jokes, the Florida Cabinet today heard the University of South Florida's project at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Please click here to read a summary of that report or to read the entire document.

Cabinet members and Governor Rick Scott apologized to former Dozier students for the "unspeakable horrors" inflicted on them by the Jackson County residents who worked at Dozier School for Boys. The Cabinet members also praised Dr. Erin Kimmerle of the University of South Florida (USF) and the former students of the school.

Kimmerle presented her final report to the Cabinet. She called it a "historic project" and said the results achieved were "remarkable."

She said that the objective was to locate the burials and to identify the individuals buried in the graves so their remains could be returned to their families. She also said a main objective was to study the 1,400 acre campus to find other graves that might be located there.

Kimmerle told the Cabinet members that her team pursued all leads on the history of the Campus, a deliberately incorrect statement as she and her team refused to examine thousands of pages of documents offered to them by this writer.

She said that prior to the beginning of the exhumations, she and her team did ground truthing to determine which features were graves and which were fence posts, etc.  At the time, however, USF denied that it had dug into any of the graves and said it was only doing "stratigraphic" analysis.

Kimmerle also mentioned that her team found and removed thousands of artifacts. She did not mention that other artifacts were left behind in the tracks of her team's vehicles.

Among the coffins found, according to Dr. Kimmerle, were seven infant coffins that contained the remains of students and employees who died in the 1914 fire at one of the school's dormitory.

She mentioned that "a number of the boys" had burial shrouds, a standard mortuary practice of the early 20th century.

The professor, however, left out key information when she told Cabinet members that a lead pellet consistent with a lead shot was found in one of the graves. She mentioned the pellet, but did not tell the Cabinet that FDLE has examined the artifact and determined it was likely from a muzzle-loading black powder weapon. Guns of that type were antiques by the time the Florida Reform School (later Dozier School) was even built.

She said her team used "fire hoses" to push water through screens while digging at the site of the burned dormitory. Kimmerle indicated that small fragments of bone were found at the burned dormitory site, all believed to be associated with the individuals who died in that fire more than 110 years ago.

Kimmerle also said that USF has positively identified only 7 of the individuals that her team exhumed from the cemetery. Four have been reburied. The other 47 individuals exhumed remain in boxes at the University of South Florida.

Although the university earlier claimed to identify the remains of one of the employees who died in the 1914 fire, Kimmerle today said that they cannot positively identify his remains and that he will likely be buried with the "unknowns."

She made no references to murders in her discussion. Later in answer to a question from the Cabinet members, the professor said that, "We feel like our field work is done. "We feel like we have exhausted everything we can do in looking for additional burials."

Kimmerle was followed by Dr. Christian Wells, a professor of archaeology at USF. He indicated that the university investigated a number of other locations pointed out by former students as "burial" sites. "We surveyed 35 different regions," he said. None of those areas, he reported, revealed any evidence of human remains. In other words, claims that "hundreds" of graves and a "second cemetery" would be found on the campus were completely false.

Wells also indicated that contamination was found on areas of the campus. He encouraged the Governor and Cabinet to follow up on the issue.

Antoinette Jackson, another USF professor, then spoke about "the living." She said that "segregation" resonates today at the campus, which is now abandoned. She noted that some communities disagreed with the project and that the university needed to incorporate them into their narratives, something they have yet to do.

Jackson mentioned the need for additional "financial support." She focused on education, although many of the university's public forums and discussions about Dozier have focused on "restorative justice."

She mentioned that the team will be traveling to Japan - presumably at taxpayer expense - to tell the Dozier story.

Jackson concluded by encouraging those with "stories" to come forward. While the project was underway, however, USF absolutely refused to view thousands of pages of documentation in the possession of this writer.

None of the professors ever mentioned the word "murder" in relation to the graves. Kimmerle also finally admitted that all of the burials were found in a 50 by 150 foot area on Boot Hill. A few pieces of bone were also found in the ruins of the burned dormitory but did not contain enough material for DNA analysis.

NO other graves were found on campus. There was no second cemetery nor were any hidden graves found.

Jerry Cooper, a former student, addressed the Cabinet and urged that the bodies "not be returned to that area" saying the reasons why were "apparent." He said, "I don't know what happened at Marianna."

Charles Fudge, another former student, then spoke and said he was "Troy Tidwell's office boy" and swore there is a second cemetery with at least 30 graves on campus. He asked that the White House Boys be allowed to go look for it. The area he claimed contains the cemetery was among those investigated by USF and nothing was found.

Other former students said they wanted the dead interred "somewhere other than Jackson County." "Please don't leave those children there," the widow of a student begged, claiming that there are more graves still to be located at the campus.

Robert Straley, a former student, said that he has suffered an unfortunate accident recently that left him with his sixth concussion. He pointed out that many in Marianna are being forced to live with the blame for something they did not do. He called for a monument to be built and spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation.  He said the "whip has no place in our society." Corporal punishment at Dozier School ended more than 40 years ago.

Andrew Puel said he had heard "very credible testimony" that boys had been murdered at the school. USF, however, found no evidence of murders. Puel said he had "sworn statements" from former juveniles that they had seen killings, including a shooting, at the school.

Puel went on to say he wasn't telling the stories to be "sensational." He requested access for researchers to the ledgers that remain sealed due to juvenile privacy laws. FDLE, however, does have access to these ledgers as part of its current investigation.

Jerry Cooper then reappeared before the Cabinet and said that many former students had cancelled plans to attend "at the last minute." Others were present and he introduced them.

Dale Landry from the NAACP then appeared before the Cabinet. He called for a place that they can "sanctify" to hold the remains until they can be identified. He called for turning the old chapel on campus into a mausoleum until the remains can be identified, even if it takes decades. He also called for turning the "White House" into a permanent memorial to the "horrors" that took place at the school. Landry also asked for the state to fund reburial of identified remains.

Jim Dean, City Manager of Marianna, then spoke. He said he appeared with a group of civic and business leaders including County Commissioner Chuck Lockey and others. He offered the community's support to bring closure to the process.

Elmore Bryant, former Mayor of Marianna, spoke and asked for the land to be given back to Marianna. He said the leaders of Marianna were "men of character." He said that "We will make you proud of what we do with that land. We've been banged, but there are some good things that people don't talk about." He noted that the people of Marianna "respected me as the first black mayor of Marianna."

"When you come to Marianna, there are many good sides," Bryant continued. He invited the governor to come and talk.

Attorney General Pam Bondi then said to the White House Boys, "We know that you have suffered terrible, unspeakable atrocities." Bondi apparently didn't know the name of Jackson County, which she called "Marianna County, a beautiful county." She called Bondi a "Hero."

Earlier in the session, Bondi yelled out "Yayyyyyyyy!!" when told that USF students were in the room and praised Kimmerle for her "ground-breaking" work.

The university spent more than $600,000 in state and federal taxpayer funding on its Dozier project, even after FDLE had determined that there was no evidence of criminal activity by employees involving the cemetery. Meanwhile, USF President Dr. Judy Genshaft told Cabinet members that her institution has eliminated more than 50 other educational programs, including industrial training.

Please click here to read a summary of the key points in the USF report or to read the full report itself.

To learn the true history of the Dozier School cemetery, please consider my book Death at Dozier School: The Attempted Assassination of an American City (available in both paperback and Kindle formats).