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.

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