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!

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