Days Gone By - stories from the past

This historic Native American site is still surrounded in controversy today

[This historic site is still surrounded by controversy as can be seen by the film at the end of the article. Most of the statements in this article have been transcribed directly from sources written before 1921.]


“Another Indian town in the limits of Coosa, located in the flat in the southern part of Wetumpka, was Hickory Ground. It was here, in 1745, that the Scot trader, Lachland McGillivray, married the Indian princess Sehoy, daughter of Captain Marchant After his marriage to her, he did business both here and at Little Tallassee, and accumulated quite a fortune.”

Upper Muscogee Creek tribal town

“Hickory Ground is also known as Otciapofa, and is a historic Upper Muscogee Creek tribal town. It is now located in Elmore County, Alabama. In the Muscogee language, it is known as Oce Vpofa. It is best known for serving as the last capital of the National Council of the Creek Nation, prior to the tribe being moved to the Indian Territory in the 1830s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 10, 1980. It is a former village with a ceremonial ground, burial grounds, and refuse sites.”

William Bartram

William Bartram

The site was documented during historic times by Naturalist, William Bartram,  in the 1760s and Benjamin Hawkins in 1799.

Benjamin Hawkins

Benjamin Hawkins - Creek Indian agent
Benjamin Hawkins – Creek Indian agent

 

The site was documented during historic times by Naturalist, William Bartram,  in the 1760s and Benjamin Hawkins in 1799.

The town was home to several thousand Muscogee. During the Creek War, the inhabitants who were not fighting in the war were confined at nearby Fort Jackson. After the end of the war, they were allowed to resettle the site and remained there until 1832, when they were forcibly removed to the Indian Territory.

Colonel Tait, a handsome, courteous, and popular English officer of the British army, was stationed here for a time in 1778, to keep favor with the Creeks, and hold them in alliance with the British during the Revolutionary War.

Mrs. Dwight urged them to cross the river

In 1781, a party of Americans from about Natchez, Mississippi, numbering about one hundred men, women, and children, led by Colonel Hutchins, came to Hickory Ground. They sympathized with the British and were in danger about Natchez because the opposers of British rule had obtained the ascendancy there. They were trying to make their way to Savannah, Georgia.

They had wandered at times much out of the way. When they had reached the vicinity of where Birmingham now stands, they became afraid to venture among the Cherokee Indians, and turning from the mountains southeasterly, made their way toward Hickory Ground. One of the party was a Mrs. Dwight, who on at least two occasions during their trip, had proved herself quite a heroine. They came to the Coosa River about twenty miles above Hickory Ground and hesitated about what to do.

Mrs. Dwight urged upon them to cross the river and pursue their way, and leading herself, they crossed partly by fording and partly by swimming. When they came to the town McGillivray was away. The Indians took them for a party of Georgians, who were hated by them, and so threatened to destroy them. The party begged earnestly for mercy and disclaimed being Georgians, telling their story of escape from, Natchez, and their efforts to reach the English at Savannah.

Coosa River near Wetumpka, Alabama

Coosa river near Wetumpka

“The Indians, intent on their destruction, would have accomplished it but for a ruse practiced by a smart Negro body servant of McGillivray, named Paro, who was present. The Indians told the party they would not believe their story unless they ”could make the paper talk,” that is, by a written statement. The Negro, Paro, learned their story. He could speak English while the Indians could not. Getting some paper from one of the Hutchins party, he pretended to read from it the story of their flight, how they had suffered, and were then badly bruised up and worn out, and were only trying to get among their own people.

When they heard the paper talk corroborating what had been said, the Indians gladly received them, fed them, and cared for them until, rested and refreshed, they were permitted again to go on their way.”

Colonel Willett was on a secret errand to Hickory Ground

“In April, 1790, Colonel Willett, representing the United States, visited Hickory Ground. He was sent by President George Washington from New York on a secret errand to McGillivray for the purpose of securing a visit from him to New York, in the hope of inducing him to form a treaty with the United States on behalf of his people. Willett moved cautiously and with tact arranged for a meeting with McGillivray.

He came from New York to Charleston, and then worked his way on through the settlements and wilderness, until he met McGillivray at Graison’s a white man, ten miles from Fish Pond town. They stayed all night at Graison’s, and came the next day to Fish Pond, where the Indians honored him with a national dance. From there they came to Hickory Ground, one of McGillivray’s residences. From here Willett visited several Indian towns, and the ruins of old Fort Toulouse. His mission was successful in getting McGillivray to New York, where a favorable treaty was made between the government and Creeks through him.”

Site rediscovered in 1968

The site was rediscovered in 1968 by archaeologist David Chase of Auburn University. The rediscovery was not made public until much later when plans to build apartments on the site were announced. In August 1980, the property was granted to the Poarch Band. It was placed under a 20 year easement that limited development of the property. The site became part of the Poarch Band’s reservation lands in 1984, when they became a federally recognized tribe.

Through the efforts of the Alabama Historical Commission and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the site was acquired in early 1980 through matching funds of $165,000 from the United States Department of the Interior and tax break incentives for the previous owner. Excavations in 1988 and 1991 found evidence of occupation at the site during five distinct cultural periods, ranging from the Early Archaic (8000–6000 B.C.) to the historic Muscogee occupation.

The members of Otciapofa tribal town formed part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy in Alabama, prior to their forced removal to Indian Territory during the 1830s. After resettling in Indian Territory, the members of Hickory Ground established another town of that name near Henryetta, Oklahoma. Chitto Harjo belonged to new Hickory Ground, where the Crazy Snake Uprising of 1901 was launched.

Controversy continues to surround the site today

Following the expiration of the 20-year easement, the Poarch built a Native American bingo hall at the site from 2001–02, which required the excavation of the bingo hall site and exhumation of Muscogee graves found there. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma called construction at the site “deplorable” and claimed that many burials were disturbed during the initial building phase. This commercial development of the site for a bingo hall was also opposed by other tribes, from both inside and outside the state; the Alabama Historical Commission; Alabama’s delegation in the House of Representatives, which introduced legislation in a failed attempt to stop it; and roughly 50 Poarch members, who wrote letters to the Alabama Historical Commission.

The July 2012 announcement of a $246 million expansion to create a 20-story hotel and casino at the site, caused a further outcry from the Muscogee Creek Nation and the threat of legal action. The Poarch denied that the historic site itself was affected by their development, stating in a news release that it was “protected land that is not part of a casino expansion.”

The dispute over the development of Hickory Ground is part of a wider disagreement between the Poarch Band and the Oklahoma Muscogee; some in the Oklahoma tribe view themselves as ‘traditionalists’ and see the Poarch Band, who stayed behind in Alabama when the rest of the Muscogee were removed during the Trail of Tears, as being “questionable Indians”

Lawsuits regarding construction on the site continue,  but a multi-story hotel is currently in construction as of 2013 on the site.

SOURCES

  1. History of Coosa County, Alabama Chapter One By Rev. George E. Brewer
  2. Wikipedia

Read more stories of Native American relationships in Alabama in the books

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Confrontation:: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 4)

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Removal: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 7)

 

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Removal: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 7)


By (author): Donna R Causey
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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32 comments

  1. Robert E. Mims

    Seems your sources should also include Pickett’s book. Several of the quotes are taken directly from his work.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      Thank you for your comment. We are truly thankful for Albert J. Pickett and his work. The reason Pickett’s name was not included is because this is a direct transcribed excerpt from Rev. Brewer’s article. I’m sure Rev. Brewer included Albert J. Pickett in his book, as most historians of this time did. Often, these early Alabama historians consulted with each other and quoted each other exactly in their books without clearly delineating their source. I am unable to discern which historian had the information first (Brewer or Pickett) so I simply provided the most direct source, Rev. Brewer and left it up to the reader to make this distinction by reader Rev. Brewer’s book. Sometimes, I imagine many people gave them the same account of an event and so no clear ‘first’ source can be determined. At the beginning of Albert J. Pickett’s book we find the following note. Note by A. J. Pickett. I have taken
      many of the following notes down on paper in a great hurry, as fast
      as the people narrating would speak, and there are many mistakes in
      grammar, spelling & general arrangement. I wrote often under many
      disadvantages – frequently surrounded by intrusive people asking
      idle questions, often writing in fields in swamps, on my knees,
      wherever I had an opportunity of meeting with the person I desired to
      obtain the information from – I have traveled much over South
      Alabama to complete my stock of Historical information & was
      about twelve months engaged at it. I have seen many curious people,
      been in many curious houses, took all kinds of fare & lodging
      most cheerfully & was always enthusiastic & well satisfied if
      I obtained information. As the reader of these notes will see I
      have left no stone uuturned to get all the information necessary or
      that was extant. Many of the following notes have been kindly
      furnished by persons themselves, through the mails and will be found
      to be in their own hand & language. Montgomery 8 . Dec http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/voices/id/3092/rec/1

    2. Thank you for your comment. We are truly thankful for Albert J. Pickett and his work. The reason Pickett’s name was not included as a source is because this is a direct transcribed excerpt from Rev. Brewer’s article. I’m sure Rev. Brewer included Albert J. Pickett in his book as a source, like most historians of this time did. Often, the early Alabama historians consulted with each other and quoted each other exactly in their books without clearly delineating their source.

      I was unable to discern which historian had the information first (Brewer or Pickett) so I simply provided the most direct source, Rev. Brewer and left it up to the reader to make this distinction by reading Rev. Brewer’s book. I imagine many people gave these historians the same account of an event and so no clear ‘first’ source can be determined.

      At the beginning of Albert J. Pickett’s book we find the following interesting note on the way he acquired information. Note by A. J. Pickett. I have taken
      many of the following notes down on paper in a great hurry, as fast as the people narrating would speak, and there are many mistakes in
      grammar, spelling & general arrangement. I wrote often under many disadvantages – frequently surrounded by intrusive people asking idle questions, often writing in fields in swamps, on my knees, wherever I had an opportunity of meeting with the person I desired to obtain the information from – I have traveled much over South Alabama to complete my stock of Historical information & was about twelve months engaged at it. I have seen many curious people, been in many curious houses, took all kinds of fare & lodging most cheerfully & was always enthusiastic & well satisfied if I obtained information. As the reader of these notes will see I have left no stone unturned to get all the information necessary or that was extant. Many of the following notes have been kindly furnished by persons themselves, through the mails and will be found to be in their own hand & language. Montgomery 8 . Dec http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/…/voices/id/3092/rec/1

  2. Beamon Bryson

    Good book, historical fiction,
    “ALEXANDER McGILLIVRAY, EMPEROR OF THE CREEKS”

  3. Beamon Bryson

    Being a Scottish descendant, I take issue with the word “Scotch” to indicate a person from Scotland. ‘Scotch’ is a drink; ‘Scot’ is the man. Actually my ancestors were Scots-Irish from Antrim, Northern Ireland.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      This is a transcribed excerpt from Rev. Brewer’s original work and includes misspellings. I tried to point them out with (sic) whenever possible, but sometimes I missed them. Thank you for catching this one.

    2. Thank you for catching the misspelling. This article is an exact transcription of an excerpt from Rev. Brewer’s book and when transcribing, I never change the original spelling, but try to denote it by (sic). In old works, misspelled words or often found. I missed this one and did not denote the misspelled word. Donna

  4. Cheryl McKinley

    Kristy Morries Weatherford

  5. Chris Pickett

    What is Pickett’s book?

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      Albert J. Pickett is considered by many to be Alabama’s 1st historian. The majority of history curriculum in Alabama school’s is based on his work. However, there were a number of Alabama historians from different localities and I am attempting to inform readers of the lesser known historians by providing interesting excerpts from them on the Alabama pioneers website. His book, HISTORY of ALABAMA AND INCIDENTALLY OF GEORGIA AND MISSISSIPPI, FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD – can be found in most libraries. Here is a brief biography about him on the website. http://alabamapioneers.com/biography-col-albert-j-pickett-born-1810-with-photograph/#sthash.xkUutzA3.dpbs

    2. Thank you for your comment. Albert J. Pickett is considered by many to be Alabama’s 1st historian. The majority of history curriculum in Alabama school’s is based on his work. However, there were a number of Alabama historians from different localities and I am attempting to inform readers of the lesser known historians by providing interesting excerpts from them on the Alabama pioneers website. His book, HISTORY of ALABAMA AND INCIDENTALLY OF GEORGIA AND MISSISSIPPI, FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD – can be found in most libraries. Here is a brief biography about him on the website. http://alabamapioneers.com/biography-col-albert-j-pickett-born-1810-with-photograph/#sthash.xkUutzA3.dpbs

  6. Jenn Boswell

    Please get your facts straight. There is no such thing as an Indian princess. Our culture recognizes our chieftains, warriors, shamans, and beloved women. We have no royalty, and therefore no princesses or princes. Upon a chieftains death, his son is not the new chief, but rather a new one is chosen.
    Wado – Usti Sunalei Noquisi, Aniyunwaya Tsalagi

    1. Most of this article has been transcribed from the sources indicated which was written by Alabama historians prior to 1921. Rather than change their words, I quoted directly. Many books at the time obviously made a mistake when mentioning Indian princesses. Sorry about the confusion and thank you for clarifying this fact.

  7. Wayne Morrison

    Stan AndStacey Clopton

  8. Sabrina Norrell Tew

    Unfortunately the casino was completed and an expansion is being planned.

  9. Linda Stone Holmes

    I am ashamed to be a person of this State and had no idea about this. I even taught Alabama History for a couple of years in the 90s. Thank you for this information.

  10. Mary Clyne Maynard Forbus

    Why was the construction not halted until the courts settled the lawsuits? But that wouldn’t be fair either because the courts are so slow and I think purposely.

  11. can you metal detect at mc gillivray platation in wetumpa al-where is it from montgomery-directions

  12. AuntWendy Craft

    Sandra Craft, if you haven’t already added this site, at least read a few articles. Very nicely done.

  13. Danielle Jackson Spencer

    My fifth great grandmother is Sehoy III, 6th great Sehoy II, and 7th Sehoy I. 🙂 I am through Sehoy III’s son John Weatherford. 🙂

    1. Taryn Crista McCormick

      Sehoy I, Sehoy II, and Sophia McGillivray are my direct line. Sophia was Sehoy III’s sister. My direct line continued with through my Durant Brashears, Byrd/Smith, and Crist family.

    2. Taryn Crista McCormick

      Chief Red Eagle and Sehoy III are buried in Baldwin County and it’s run by the state I think.

    3. Tiffany Ackerman

      They’re buried a few miles north of Fort Mims.

    4. Danielle Jackson Spencer

      Taryn Crista McCormick Tiffany Ackerman Yes, I have been there! 🙂 I used to have the pictures posted publicly on FB, but I was afraid that everyone got sick of me talking about my genealogy. lol I love reading about my 6th great aunt Sophia (Your very great grandmother) with her being pregnant with the twins and standing her ground against our enemies so fiercely. 🙂

    5. Taryn Crista McCormick

      One of her twins Rachel is my other great great something grandmother too.

    6. Danielle Jackson Spencer

      Great! 🙂 You have a lot of ancestral strength to draw on! 🙂

    7. I wish I could enlarge the photos of both of you ladies who are descended from Sehoy and related to Weatherford. From the tiny photo I see, it looks like both of you have Indian features. You may or may not be aware, but it is highly likely you are related to the movie star and Alabama football star, Johnny Mack Brown, whose mother was a McGillevray.

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