(We know that early settlers of Alabama settled in southwest Alabama from historical accounts below and the pictures of this 1800s era boat discovered by the Greenwall family validate this fact.)
Royalists Come to West Florida
(From: The Great Southeast or Clarke County and its Surroundings, pub. 1882
by Rev. T. H. Ball)
“After English control was extended over this province, the Natchez region and the western part of the present state of Mississippi attracted many settlers. They came from the Atlantic colonies in considerable numbers. A small German settlement had been made upon the Pascagoola, a river in the south-eastern part of Mississippi. The Mississippi river and its eastern tributaries seemed to be at first the most attractive.
Large numbers cut a pathway through the wilderness
From the Atlantic colonies, first from Roanoke in North Carolina, as early as 1764, then from South Carolina, from Georgia, from Virginia, and New Jersey, large numbers came, either in boats down the tributary rivers, or cutting a pathway through the wilderness, and made settlements extending some twenty miles east of the river.
Scotch Highlanders came from North Carolina and settled thirty miles east of Natchez. In 1770, and again in 1778, many immigrants came by the way of the Ohio river from New Jersey, and Virginia, and Delaware. Immigrants also began soon to come from Great Britain and the British West Indies.
Settled on the Escambia river
In 1767 a colony of French Protestants, in number two hundred and nine, made a settlement upon the Escambia river north of Pensacola, having received from King George the Third a large grant of land, and having been conveyed across the ocean at the royal expense. They built white cottages among the live oak groves, and erected a church building with one simple village spire. This colony was not long afterward desolated by the yellow fever, that scourge of the tropics.
Below are pictures of a boat pulled from the Escambia River at McDavid by the Greenwall family – see more at McDavid Mystery
It does not appear that in these years many additions were made to the settlers on the Mobile and Tensaw rivers. The plantations opened there must, however, have been productive, and business enterprise was evidently not stagnant, for in 1772 the exports from Mobile and Pensacola were, according to Pickett “indigo, raw-hides,corn, fine cattle, tallow, rice, pitch, bear’s oil, tobacco, tar, squared timber, indigo seed, myrtle wax, cedar-posts and planks, salted wild beef, pecan nuts, cypress and pine-boards, plank of various woods, shingles, dried salt-fish, scantling, sassafras, canes, staves and heading hoops, oranges and peltry.”
The cultivation of cotton had also commenced, and some small machines had been invented for separating the lint from the seed. The French planters had some machines by which, it is said by Captain Barnard Roman, in his “Florida,” “seventy pounds of clear cotton can be made every day.” Whitney’s Cotton Gin was not invented until 1792.
Pensacola had 180 houses
Pensacola, the capital of the province, contained in 1771 about one hundred and eighty houses, which were built of wood. This, as the seat of government, was to become the first place of traffic for the coming settlers of Clarke. The French houses of the wealthy in Mobile were of brick.
It is now 1775. The Thirteen United Colonies, containing a population of about “three millions of people,” extending from New Hampshire to Georgia, are entering upon that great conflict with the Mother Country, which is called in history The American Revolution.
West Florida was a secure retreat for Royalists
Into this conflict West Florida did not enter. Here was, therefore, a secure retreat for those called Royalists, in the Carolinas and Georgia, who held themselves still loyal to the king of Great Britain. The banks of that river, then called Tombeckbee, became attractive to this large class of adventurers and refugees.”
It is possible also that some of those adventurous and enterprising colonists in the Carolinas and in Georgia, who having come to a New World, loved to seek the most remote wilds, had reached the banks of the Alabama before the commencement of the colonial struggle for independence. But records seem to be wanting.
Bontanist William Bartram visited West Florida
In the year 1777 an English botanist, William Bartram, visited the settled parts of West Florida. He found on the Tensaw river many well-cultivated plantations, on which settlers were then living. His route both going and coming seems to have been on the east side of the Alabama. From him, therefore, nothing is learned concerning settlers on the west side.
When near the northern boundary of the province and still beside the river, his party met with some Georgians. a man and his wife, some young children, one young woman and three young men, packing their goods on a dozen horses-who were on their way intending to settle upon the Alabama river, a few miles above its union with the Tombeckbee. And these “are believed” says Pickett “to have been among the first Anglo-Americans who settled in the present Baldwin county.” That some such settler had already reached the Tombeckbee is quite certain, so that we may safely place the commencement of what became permanent American settlement as early as the year 1777.”
Check out all genealogy books on Alabama Pioneers
ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.
Some stories include:
- The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
- The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
- Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
- Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
- Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement