Ordered to meet on the Cahaba
In February 1814, Colonel Russell marched his regiment and two companies of volunteers, from Fort Claiborne to the Cahaba river, to drive the Indians from that vicinity. He despatched (sic) a barge laden with provisions up the Alabama with orders to meet him on the Cahaba. Not finding the barge when he reached the “old towns” on the latter river, he sent Lieut. Wilcox with five men, in a canoe, down the Cahaba to hasten its arrival. Wilcox reached the mouth of the Cahaba and moved down the Alabama.
The evening of the second day after leaving the command, the party were captured by the Indians, except two who swam ashore and fled. The Indians occupied the canoe and passed on down the river. The barge had passed the mouth of the Cahaba, and knowing that Russell would not wait for it, was on its return to Fort Claiborne when it came in sight of the Indian canoe. The savages fearing to lose their prisoners, butchered and scalped them, at the sand-bar at the mouth of Pursley Creek, this county, and the unfortunate Wilcox and his party were in the last agonies of death when the barge reached the canoe.i
Wilcox County, Alabama was created by an act, December 13, 1819. It was formed from Monroe and Dallas Counties with an area of 940 square miles or 576,000 acres. The county was a center of Alabama antebellum plantation life. It was named for Lieut. Joseph M. Wilcox who fought in the Creek Wars.
Old Tavern, (also known as Fitzgerald house) on County road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. South elevation taken by Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
Old Tavern, County road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. rear by Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
Purchased land for public buildings
By an act of the Alabama legislature, December 13, 1819, William Black, Thomas Evans, John Speight, Thornton Brown, William McCarroll, Joseph Laury, and John Gaston were appointed commissioners to fix the seat of justice for the county, to purchase the land on which to erect the public buildings, to contract for erecting them, and to fix a temporary seat until a permanent one be selected.
Front porch of Old Tavern, county road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
By the act of December 18, 1820, new commissioners were appointed for this work with power to fix the seat of justice within five miles of the center of the county. These commissioners were Robert Brown, John Blackman, John Gamble, John Jenkins, and Elijah Lunsden. By act of December 18, 1821, John Jenkins, Benjamin Huff, and Robert H. Scott were appointed commissioners to contract for and superintend the public buildings in the county.
Well at Old Tavern, county road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
Voting places established
The first voting places were established at Prairie Bluff, Canton, and William Black’s, in 1819. A year later, John Smith’s, near the Lower Standing Peach-Tree, and Allen and Saltmarch’s, at the Upper Standing Peach-Tree were added. In 1822 others were established at Obadiah Dumas’ and John McCondichie’s.
Old Tavern, county road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
Wilcox County is in Gulf Coastal Plain
Wilcox County is situated in the south central part of the state and is bounded on the north by Dallas, Lowndes, and Marengo Counties, on the south by Clarke and Monroe, on the east by Butler, Dallas, and Lowndes, and on the west by Clarke and Marengo. It lies wholly within the Gulf Coastal Plain.
Old Tavern fireplaces, county road 24, Allenton, Wilcox Co. old well Alex Bush Photographer March 24, 1937
Native Americans were Maubila Indians
There is the best presumptive evidence that the Native American inhabitants of Wilcox County were Maubila Indians, later known as Mobiliens, who were a Choctaw-speaking people. A close study of Davila Padilla’s narrative leads one to the conclusion that the town, Nanipacna, meaning “hill top,” visited by the Tristan de Luna expedition in 1560, was situated on the east side of the Alabama River in the upper part of Wilcox County.
It is not improbable that the town was situated on Boykin’s Ridge, which is on the south side of Pine Barren Creek, not far from the Alabama River. The Indians of the town told the Spaniards that “the town had once been famous for the number of its people, but that the Spaniards, who had arrived there in former times, had left it as it was.”
Maubila was destroyed by the Spaniards
“In the imperfect method of communication between the Spaniards and the Indians, perhaps largely, if not wholly by the sign language, it may be that the latter intended to convey the idea that their former splendid town, Maubila, had been destroyed by the Spaniards and left them very poor, and that this present inferior town, Nanipacna was the successor of Maubila. Assuming that this was the Indians’ meaning, Nanipacna, which itself may have been an old town, was then the nucleus or gathering place of the survivors of Maubila. It is interesting to note that on De Crenay’s map of 1733, “Lea vieux Mobiliens,” the old Mobiliens, are placed on the east side of the Alabama River, near the influx of Pine Barren Creek, in the immediate vicinity, if not on the very site of Nanipacna, an almost certain proof that they and the Nanipacna were one and the same people. De Crenay must have placed the Old Mobiliens at this point on Mobilien authority or tradition as their ancient home before their movement south to Mobile River, where the French found them in 1702.”
Grace House, Photographer,Alex Bush March 23, 1937 NORTH AND WEST SIDE ELEVATION – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
Three place names for Maubila
There are three place names laid down on DeCrenay’s map on the east side of the Alabama River in Wilcox County that may be safely considered memorials of Maubila or Mobilien occupancy; Chacteata, in correct orthography, “Sakti Hata,” meaning White Bluff, to be sought some few miles below the mouth of Pine Barren Creek; Talle quile’, correctly spelled, “Tali Hieli,” Standing Rocks, apparently a mile, more or less, above Bridgeport; and Bacheli, “Bach’ 111i,” Dead Bluff, perhaps the present named Gullette’s or Black’s Bluff.
Alex Bush, Photographer, March 23, 1937, outbuilding – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
Abandoned Indian village in Wilcox County
It seems that there were no Indian settlements in Wilcox County during the French and Indian times. There were certainly two, doubtless hoth (sic) Creek, in the later American times, for in the first explorations up the Alabama River during the Creek War of 1813 in two places on its west side in Wilcox County there was found an abandoned Indian village, in both of which peach trees were growing.
Alex Bush, Photographer, March 23, 1937 SOUTH (REAR) ELEVATION – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
The discoverers called the first the Lower Peach Tree, the second, the Upper Peach Tree. The site of the Lower Peach Tree is perpetuated in the name of the American village, Lower Peach Tree. The Upper Peach Tree retained its name until about 1835, when the landing was purchased by George F. Watson, Leon Ratcliffee, and H. J. Savage who changed the name to Clifton, which it still retains.”
Alex Bush, Photographer, March 23, 1937, CLOSE-UP OF FRONT ENTRANCE – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
Wilcox County was in the Creek Domain and became an American possession by the treaty of Fort Jackson, August 9, 1814.
There are burial mounds near Webb’s Landing, near Buford’s Landing, on Buford plantation, half a mile below Holly Ferry, and several near Mathew’s landing have all been investigated and some interesting finds made along the Alabama river. Artificial head flattening and urn burial was noted by Dr. Moore who did considerable work along the river in 1899. Town sites, in most instances, accompany the mounds.
Alex Bush, Photographer, March 23, 1937, MANTEL ON EAST WALL DINING ROOM – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
Many squatters arrived in Wilcox
There may have been some settlers in the county in 1815, but there were a considerable number who made their advent in 1816 and squatted on the land which they cleared.
Isaac and Isham Sheffield, originally from North Carolina, were settlers in Clarke or Monroe County, whence they moved and were among the first, if not the first settlers in the Bethel precinct in Wilcox County, perhaps in 1816.
Isham Sheffield soon after erected a grist mill on Beaver Creek, which perhaps was the first mill erected in this county. It was the first voting place in this precinct for several years. Isaac Sheffield settled near Yellow Bluff.
Alex Bush, Photographer, March 23, 1937, STAIR ON NORTH WALL OF HALL – Joshua B. Grace House & Outbuildings, County Road 24, Allenton, Wilcox County, AL
Another early settler on Beaver Creel was John Alexander Evans, from North Carolina, settling near the site of Sunny South. George and Joseph Morgan, brothers, were early settlers in 1816.
George settled on Goose Creek, four miles west of Clifton, then known as Upper Peach Tree, and Joseph settled on Beaver Creek, near Alexander Evans. Peter Thornhill came with George Morgan to the county and lived with him the first year. He was the first man to make a road through the flatwoods. This was done to enable him to find his way to and fro in his hunting expeditions and in his prospecting for a suitable location to settle permanently. The settlers were, in reality, squatters and waiting for the lands to be surveyed and then put up for sale by the government.
Thornhill at the land sales bought the tract of land on Walnut Creek east of Arlington, on which he was then living. In April 1816, L. W. Mason settled on the west side of the Alabama River, opposite Wilcox’s Island, which is near the mouth of Pussley’s Creeks. On the east side of the Alabama River, Joseph Morgan, Jr., son of George Morgan, cleared several acres opposite Clifton and made a crop of corn that year which he sold to some flatboats going down to Mobile. Thomas Rhodes settled near Pine Island on the road leading from Camden and Clifton. Rhodes’ Creek in the vicinity perpetuates his name.
Subject to militia duty
After peace was declared in 1815, the people of the Mississippi Territory were still subject to militia duty. The squatters in the county, many of whom had served in the Indian War, were not exempt from this duty and every three months were required to rendezvous at Fort Claiborne for drill and inspection by the proper officers.
As the county was infested with roving bands of Indians who were bitter over their defeat and ready for any act of violence, the trips of the militia down to Fort Claiborne were always attended with danger. They would travel in squads of three and four, always on foot, and armed with rifles and hunting knives. They usually crossed the Alabama River at Yellow Bluff, as most of them lived on the west side of the river. To baffle the Indians and to avoid being ambushed they seldom traveled the same road twice. On several occasions, they were followed by Indians but they usually succeeded in throwing them off the track. During the absence of the men at the militia muster at Fort Claiborne, their families would concentrate at one place for better protection. These precautions were kept up until the Indian troubles were closed by General Jackson’s Seminole campaign.
Post Offices and Towns.—Revised to July 1, 1919, from U. S. Official Postal Guide. Numbers indicate the number of rural routes from that office.
- Camden (ch)—3
- Lower Peach Tree—2
- Millers Ferry
- Oakhill —3
- Pine Apple—1
- Pine Hill—1
- Snow Hill—1
- Sunny South—1
- Yellow Bluff.
Delegates to Constitutional Conventions.
- 1861—Franklin K. Beck.
- 1865—Aaron Burr Cooper.
- 1867—Robert M. Reynolds; John H. Burdick; Andrew L. Morgan.
- 1875—George S. Gullett; A. H. Gullett.
- 1901—S. C. Jenkins; R. C. Jones; J. N. Miller; Lee McMillan.
- 1822-3—Neil Smith.
- 1825-6—Arthur P. Bagby.
- 1827-8—Thomas Evans.
- 1830-1—John W. Bridges.
- 1833-4—Francis S. Lyon.
- 1834-5—John McNeil Burke.
- 1835-6—John McNeil Burke.
- 1838-9—Walter R. Ross.
- 1841-2—Walter R. Ross.
- 1844-5—Calvin C. Sellers.
- 1847-8—A. R. Manning.
- 1851-2—James T. Johnson.
- 1853-4—Samuel R. Blake.
- 1855-6—Robert S. Hatcher.
- 1857-8—James M. Calhoun.
- 1859-60—James M. Calhoun.
- 1861-2—James M. Calhoun.
- 1863-4—R.’bert H. Ervin.
- 1865-6—Aaron Burr Cooper.
- 1867-8—J. deF. Richards.
- 1869-70—J. deF. Rfchards.
- 187.1-2—J. deF. Richards.
- 1872-3—R. H. Ervin.
- 1873—R. H. Ervin.
- 1874-5—Robert H. Ervin.
- 1875-6—Felix Tate.
- 1876-7—Felix Tate.
- 1878-9—P. D. Burford.
- 1880-1—J. H. Malone.
- 1882-3—Richard C. Jones.
- 1884-5—R. C. Jones.
- 1886-7—Thomas L. Cochran.
- 1888-9—A. L. Pope.
- 1890-1—Sol. D. Block.
- 1892-3—Sol. D. Block.
- 1894-5—John Young Kilpatrick.
- 1896-7—John Young Kilpatrick.
- 1898-9—Samuel Calhoun Jenkins.
- 1899 (Spec.)—Samuel Calhoun Jenkins.
- 1900-01—S. C. Jenkins.
- 1903—William Clarence Jones.
- 1907—William Clarence Jones.
- 1907 (Spec.)—William Clarence Jones.
- 1909 (Spec.) William Clarence Jones.
- 1911—Norman D. Godbold.
- 1915—J. Miller Bonner.
- 1919—John Miller.
- 1822-3—Edwin L. Harris.
- 1823-4—John Beck.
- 1824-5—John Beck.
- 1825-6—John W. Bridges.
- 1826-7—John W. Bridges.
- 1827-8—John W. Bridges.
- 1828-9—John W. Bridges; Allen Robinson
- 1829-30 — W. R. Ross; Allen Robinson.
- 1830-1 — W. R. Ross; Allen Moore.
- 1831-2 — W. R. Ross; Allen Moore.
- 1832 (called) — W. R. Ross; Thomas K. Beck.
- 1832-3 — W. R. Ross; Thomas K. Beck.
- 1833-4 — Simeon S. Bonham; Claudius M. Pegues.
- 1834-5 — Henry E. Curtis; Claudius M. Pegues.
- 1835-6 — Henry E. Curtis; J. W. Bridges. 1
- 836-7 — William H. Pledger; Duncan E. Smith.
- 1837 (called) — William H. Pledger; Duncan E. Smith.
- 1837-8 — W. R. Ross; John W. Daniel.
- 1838-9 — John M. Burke; Allen Moore.
- 1839-40 — Benjamin Williamson; A. Moore.
- 1840-1 — Claudius M. Pegues; Kinchen R. Womack.
- 1841 (called)— Claudius M. Pegues; Kinchen R. Womack.
- 1841-2 — Littleberry W. Mason; Thomas Jefferson.
- 1842-3 — J. W. Bridges; Charles Dear.
- 1843-4 — J. W. Bridges; Charles Dear.
- 1844-5 — L. W. Mason; T. K. Beck.
- 1845-6 — Lr. W. Mason; T. K. Beck.
- 1847-8 — Joseph -D. Jenkins; James T. Johnson.
- 1849-50 — J. W. Bridges; Thomas E. Irhy.
- 1851-2 — David W. Sterrett; Franklin K. Beck.
- 1853-4 — Robert H. Ervin; D. J. Fox.
- 1855-6 — George Lynch; Franklin K. Beck.
- 1857-8 — Felix Tate.
- 1859-60 — Felix Tate.
- 1861 (1st called) — Felix Tate.
- 1861 (2d called) — George S. Gullett.
- 1861-2 — George S. Gullett.
- 1862 (called) — George S. Gullett.
- 1862-3 — George S. Gullett.
- 1863 (called) — John Moore.
- 1863-4 — John Moore. 1864 (called) — John Moore.
- 1864-5 — John Moore.
- 1865-6 — J. Richard Hawthorn.
- 1866-7 — J. Richard Hawthorn.
- 1868 — A. G. Richardson; M. G. Candee.
- 1869-70 — William Henderson; A. G. Richardson.
- 1870-1 — William Henderson; T. D. McCaskey; J. S. Perrin.
- 1871-2 — William Henderson; Thomas D. McCaskey; J. S. Perrin.
- 1872-3 — John Bruce; T. D. McCaskey; Willis Merriwether.
- 1873 — John Bruce; T. D. McCaskey; Willis Merriwether.
- 1874-5 — Elijah Baldwin; John Bruce; W. Merriwether.
- 1875-6 — Elijah Baldwin; L. W. Jenkins; E. W. Locke.
- 1876-7 — Elijah Baldwin; George S. Gullett.
- 1878-9— George English; J. W. Purifoy.
- 1880-1 — J. T. Beck; E. R. Morrissette.
- 1882-3 — J. T. Beck; J. W. Purifoy.
- 1884-5 — E. Burson; S. A. Fowlkes.
- 1886-7 — D. F. Gaston; J. T. Dale.
- 1888-9 — William A. George; B. M. Miller.
- 1890-1—John Purifoy; W. T. Burford.
- 1892-3—W. F. Fountain; J. P. Speir.
- 1894-5—J. T. Dale; Dan Cook.
- 1896-7—S. C. Jenkins; J. T. Dale.
- 1898-9—N. D. Godbold; W. L. Jones.
- 1899 (Spec.)—N. D. Godbold; W. L. Jones.
- 1900-01—W. L. Jones; Lee McMillan.
- 1903—Samuel Calvin Cook; Benjamin Franklin Watts, Jr.
- 1907—Sol. D. Block; Lee McMillan.
- 1907 (Spec.)—Sol. D. Bloch; Lee McMillan.
- 1909 (Spec.)—Sol. D. Bloch; Lee McMillan.
- 1911—J. B. Lloyd; J. R. Pharr.
- 1915—Ross Speir; R. J. Goode, Jr.
- 1919—W. A. McDowell; E. F. Oakley.
iAlabama, Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men: From 1540 to 1872 By Willis Brewer
(Much of this history has been transcribed from the
History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, 1921 by Thomas McAdory Owens – the photographs are of an Old Tavern and Grace House in Allenton, Wilcox County, taken in 1937 reveal the former grandeur of the County )
- Toulmin, Digest (1823), index; Acts of Ala.;
- Brewer, Alabama, p. 577; Berney, Handbook (1892), p. 336;
- Riley, Alabama as it is (1893), p. 155;
- Northern Alabama (1888), p. 223;
- Alabama, (1909) (Ala. Dept. of Ag. and Ind., Bulletin 27), p. 217;
- U. S. Soil Survey, with map; Alabama land book (1916), p. 161;
- Ala. Official and Statistical Register, 1903-1915, 5 vols.;
- Ala. Anthropological Society, Handbook (1910);
- Geol. Survey of Ala., Agricultural features of the State (1883);
- The Valley regions of Alabama, parts 1 and 2 (1896,1897), and Underground Water Resources of Alabama (1907).