In the early 1830’s the eyes of the country were turned upon the eastern frontier of Alabama where the long occupancy of the Creek Indian Nation was drawing to a dramatic close. On the morning of March 24, 1832, a delegation of chiefs was in Washington prepared to sign the treaty of evacuation.
Andrew Jackson was President. The Indians called him Sharp Knife. By this treaty, known as the Treaty of Cusseta, or Creek Cession, the Creeks ceded the remainder of their lands east of the Mississippi to the United States.
Alabama map showing Barbour County, Alabama
Barbour County was once part of Creek Land
Barbour County was peopled originally by the Lower Creeks. Towns of Kawaiki, Oki-tiyakni, Ocheese, Sawokli or Chewakal, Tamali and Yufala were located in the county, on or near the Chattahoochee River. Mounds were found were found on the property of H. Lampley also on the north side of Williams Lake, about one-half mile from Upper Francis Landing, Chattahoochee River; two mounds were 4 miles south of Clayton on the property of John Bell; and two mounds near Eufaula. Remains of a large town was found three miles northeast of Eufaula at St. Francis Bend.i
The southernmost tip went into the making of Barbour County, which emerged gradually from the break-up of the Creek Confederacy. It lay within the thickest part of the Creek Country, wedge-shaped, and squeezed in by the strategic Indian Boundary Line which, piercing the Alabama wilderness on the northwest, from the Great Falls of the Weotumpka, followed a diagonal course to a point below the present town of Eufaula, on the Chattahoochee River, where along the famous embankment the modern lights are sweeping tonight.
Eighteen years had passed since Jackson laid down his peace terms to the Creeks after the Battle of the Horseshoe Bend in the Tallapoosa River. A new generation had grown up, but the survivors of that epic in Indian warfare knew the significance of the line, above which stretched the hereditary fields and forest of the Creek Nation. Travelers through the wilderness-men who had stood behind Jackson’s cotton walls at New Orleans and were ready to push back the Indians from the frontier were reminded of their own exploits, but the deeper story lay within the memory of the Creeks.
The tomahawk was buried
Since the campaigns of 1813-14, the Creeks—the tomahawk buried—had remained in the prescribed territory. Northward, their confederacy reached to the southern boundary of their neighbors, the Cherokees. North and west rippled the Coosa. Through the center flowed the Tallapoosa. On the east, the Chattahoochee surged. In the interior, their domain touched the established settlements of the whites.
As one of a powerful tribe of the Mus’kho ge’-an stock of North American Indians, the original localities of the Creeks were between the Mobile and Savannah rivers. Maps of Alabama, made prior to the cession of 1832, show the unimpaired domain on which they resided along the frontier.
The Travellers Pocket Map, with its roads and distances from place to place, along the stage and steamboat routes, made in 1840 by H. S. Tanner contains the locations and names of Indian settlements in the Creek Territory but is by no means complete. From this map, however, we can see what strides the State had made since its admission into the Union in 1819. But it was naturally reaching out for new counties and looking to Congress for measures of expansion.
The Creeks imperiled every move. Even when James Barbour was Secretary of War, for the sake of peace with the Creeks in Alabama, the Treaty of Indian Springs, which attempted to circumscribe their territory, had to be abrogated, and supplanted by the Treaty of Washington. . . “the usual white procedure of making a treaty guaranteeing the Indians certain territory, breaking it and writing a new treaty to legalize the violation…”
James Barbour 11th U S. Secretary of War
James Barbour 11th U S. Secretary of War
But the Creeks were always in a predicament, involved in difficulties, and showing no inclination to relieve themselves from the embarrassment of their situation by accepting the liberal and often repeated propositions of the Government, although the whole subject had naturally changed in the few years immediately preceding the Treaty of 1832.
All its imposing considerations were gaining force every day and calling upon the administration to determine what course should be recommended. Experience added year after year to the conviction that the sooner the Indians remaining east of the Mississippi migrated west of the river they would be relieved of their embarrassments.
If they remain, they must decline
Jackson believed that perseverance for a few years in that policy would extinguish the Indian titles to all lands lying within the States composing the Federal Union and remove beyond their limits every Indian. “If they remain, they must decline, and eventually disappear. If they remove, they may be comfortably established and their moral and physical condition ameliorated. It was certainly better for them to meet the difficulties of removal, with the probability of an adequate and final reward then yielding to their constitutional apathy, to sit still and perish.”
Up to 1832, the Creeks were indifferent to the earlier overtures of the Government. Instructions had been given them time and again to ascertain their views and to persuade them to acquiesce in their course. The Government’s obligations with the Choctaws for their removal had been fulfilled; the Sacs and Foxes had quietly emigrated to the region assigned them; the Seminoles were waiting for the Treaty to be ratified for their removal from Florida; the Treaty with the Choctaws had eliminated all the difficulties with that tribe.
Arrangements had not yet been made with the Cherokees, either for emigration or for a change of political relations. But the very existence of the Creeks in Alabama required their establishment in the country west of the Mississippi, where so many of their tribe resided. Independent of the general reasons arising out of the Indian relations, which operated to induce the efforts for removal, was the strong desire to remove the difficulties connected with them.
Barbour County was created in 1832
Barbour County was created by the Legislature, December 18, 1832. Its territory was made up of portions of Pike County and of the Creek Indian cession of 1832. A portion was set apart to form Bullock County, December 5, 1866; and December 31, 1868, its northern section was cut off to Russell County.
Site of a Fort in Eufaula, Alabama
All civil and military officers of Pike County continued in office
The same session of the legislature, January 11, 1833, provided for the organization of the county. All civil and military officers of Pike County, which by the division were thrown into Barbour, were continued in their respective offices until the expiration of their terms.
The sheriff was required to hold an election in February 1833, for additional officers. Jacob Utery Daniel, McKenzie, William S. Cadenhead, James A. Head, William Norton, William Bush, Green Beauchamp, Samuel G. B. Adams, Noah Cole, Robert Richards, and T. W. Pugh were appointed commissioners to select a seat of justice, “which site shall be called and known by the name of Clayton.” Until the location of the county site and until “a suitable house in which to hold said courts” was provided, the circuit and county courts were required to be held at the town of Louisville. The new county seat was named in honor of Judge Augustine S. Clayton of Georgia.
Louisville was the first circuit court
The first circuit court for Barbour county was held at Louisville March 25, 1833, Judge Anderson Crenshaw presiding. The next session convened Sept. 23, 1833, and adjourned to meet the next day at Clayton, the new seat of justice having been definitely located by the commissioners. The judge did not appear, however, and it was not until March, 1834, that another term was held, Judge Anderson Crenshaw again on the bench.
The county was peopled from the earliest times by the Lower Creeks and many mound and village sites survive. The Lower Creek towns of Kawaiki, Oki-tiyakni, Ocheese, Sawokli or Chewakala, Tamali and Yufala were located in the county, on or near the Chattahoochee River; and unidentified village sites are met with in other sections. The following mound locations are noted: Domiciliary mound of red clay two miles above Eufaula, on property of H. Lampley; mound on north side of Williams’ Lake, about one half mile from Upper Francis Landing, Chattahoochee River; two mounds 4 miles south of Clayton, on property of John Bell; and two mounds near Eufaula. Remains of a large town are found three miles northeast of Eufaula at St. Francis Bend.
Settlement and Later History
The county received its earliest settlers about 1817. Some of those who came prior to 1820 were Rev. Joseph Harley, Methodist, the first preacher in the county, John Harley, the first teacher, Samuel Walden, John and Pilitier Whitehurst, brothers, John Purifoy, Luke Bennet, Allen V. Robinson, Noah A. Tyson and Peleg Brown.
In 1820 came William Williams, Jured Williams, William Bush, John Danner, a German and the first blacksmith, and a Mr. Copeland. These families settled Willamston.
In the early years, but later, came Col. Robert Irvin, Moses Weems, Plus Chambers, Edward Cox, Levi B. Smith, William Hardridge, and a Mr. Nail.
In 1822, Judge Alexander McCall, John McDaniel, Rev. Jesse Burch, Micajah Ward, Blake Jernigan and Joel Willis settled near Louisville, named for Daniel Louis. The same year saw the advent of John McNeil, John McInnis, and Miles McInnis. John McNeil died soon after arrival and was the first person buried in the county. In the same year, 1822, occurred the first marriage—Daniel McCall to Mary McDaniel.
First wagon road extended from Franklin to Louisville
About this time, but perhaps earlier, a settlement was made two miles east of the present Clayton. Meanwhile, the first wagon road was made in the county, extending from Franklin on the Chattahoochee in Henry County, through Williamston to Louisville. William Williams established the first cotton gin in the county, but the year is not known. The nearest physician to this whole region was Dr. Alexander M. Watson, who lived at Fort Gaines.
Some of the early settlers came to the county for Indian trade. For this purpose, in 1826 they concluded to make a road from the vicinity of Clayton to Eufaula. It was a popular measure, and a working force of about three hundred men, whites, and negroes, were organized, with John Purifoy as overseer.
The workmen proceeded with the enterprise, finally reached Barbour Creek, and began to make a crossing place, or ford by cutting down its banks. Some of the men now crossed over to the eastern side, when all at once their ears were greeted with the yells of Indians, lurking in the woods.
The party retreated rapidly to the main body. Upon this, the leaders concluded to go over and learn the intention of the Indians. The latter were armed with guns and tomahawks, yelling, leaping over logs and acting in every way to intimidate the settlers.
After a short interval, a chief spoke some words of command, and in an instance, every Indian stood in perfect silence. The Indian interpreters then came forward and stated that John Winslet, an Indian countryman living among them near Euchee Creek, had told them that the whites were cutting a road to Eufaula town, that they did not approve it, and that the work must not be done, unless they could show an order from the Great Father at Washington.
The road makers withdrew
As the road makers could show no such authority, they concluded to withdraw. They gathered up their tools, and went home in deep disgust. But the affair finally had a happy termination. An officer at Fort Mitchell, hearing of it, came down and had a talk with the Indians at Eufaula town. He told them that the road would benefit instead of injuring them, as it would bring all kinds of goods and produce into their town. The Indians thereupon became reconciled. The settlers were informed of the change, and the working party was reorganized, the Indians joining them in their work, and helping to complete the ford at Barbour Creek, as well as the road to Eufaula. Pleasant trading relations were established.
Williamston the oldest town
All of the early settlements of the county were on the lands lying south of the Indian boundary, which ran southeast from Line Creek to Fort Gaines. Williamston, the oldest town in the county, and Louisville and Clayton were all in this section. The town of Eufaula was in the northern section of the county and in the Indian Territory and was not settled until 1833.
The county experienced its share of trouble in the Creek disturbances of 1836. Soon after they began a white citizen of the county, named Williamson, was wounded by the Indians and one or two negroes were killed. In consequence of these outrages and the threatening aspect of affairs in general, three forts were erected in the county—Fort Browder, one near White Oak, and one at Eufaula.
Cowikee Creek near its junction with the Chattahoochee River, a quarter mile above Eufaula, Alabama around 1935
The citizens in the southern part of the county, who were especially exposed to the Indians, kept scouting parties out on Dry Creek which empties into Pea River, and on Cawokee Creek which empties into the Chattahoochee.
Citizens of the county were engaged in action at Martin’s Field in Bullock County in January 1837, in the fight at Hodby’s Bridge in Barbour County in February 1837, and at the battle of Pea River in March 1837.
- Post Offices and Towns.—Revised to December 31, 1916, from U. S. Official Postal Guide. Numbers indicate the number of rural routes from that office.
- Blue Springs
- Clayton (ch)—5
- Cotton Hill—1
- Mount Andrew
- White Oak Springs—1
Senators from the early days of Barbour County were:
- Lawson J. Keener, -1834-5;
- William Wellborn 1837-8;
- Jefferson Buford 1840-1;
- Robert S. Hardaway of Russell County-1843-4;
- John Gill Shorter 1845-4;
- Jefferson Buford 1847-6;
- E. R. Flewellin 1851-2;
- Batt Peterson 1853-4;
- Edward C. Bullock 1857-8;
- Lewis L. Cato 1861-2;
- Augustus C. Mitchell 1865-6;
- J. W. Mabry 1868-72
- 1872-3—Jacob Black.
- 1873 Jacob Black.
- 187 4-5—Jacob Black.
- 1875-6—Jacob Black.
- 1876-7—J. W. Comer.
- 1878-9—John D. Roquemore.
- 1880-1—John D. Roquemore.
- 1882-3—A. H. Thomas.
- 1884-5—A. H. Thomas.
- 1886-7—James Lang.
- 1888-9—James Lang.
- 1890-1—Judson Davie.
- 1892-3—Judson Davie.
- 1894-5—Hiram Hawkins.
- 1896-7—Hiram Hawkins.
- 1898-9—W. D. Jelks.
- 1899 (Spec.)—W. D. Jelks.
- 1900-1—W. D. Jelks.
- 1903—Elias Perry Thomas.
- 1907—Elias Perry Thomas.
- 1907 (Spec.)—Elias Perry Thomas.
- 1909 (Spec.)—Elias Perry Thomas.
- 1911 — Robert Moulthrop.
- 1915 — G. E. Jones.
- 1919 — C. S. McDowell, Jr.
Early Representatives include
- Osborn J. Williams 1834-6;
- Green Beauchamp 1836-8;
- John P. Booth 1838-9;
- J. W. Mann, J. W. A. Petit -1839-40;
- J. W. Mann, William T. Shanks 1840-41;
- J. L. Hunter, H. N. Crawford 1841-2;
- John Jackson, J. W. A. Petit 1842-3;
- John Jackson 1843-4;
- P. H. Mitchell, B. F. Treadwell -1844-5;
- Adolphus M. Sanford, William T. Shanks 1845-6;
- Hugh N. Crawford, R. S. Smith; 1847-8;
- Benjamin Gardner, Paul McCall 1849-50;
- John G. Shorter, John W. W. Jackson 1851-2;
- John Cochran, Paul McCall, J. F. Comer – 1853-4;
- John Cochran, M. A. Browder, W. J. Grubbs; 1855-6;
- Henry D. Clayton, M. A. Browder, Joseph C. McRae 1857-8;
- Henry D. Clayton, William H. Chambers, W. B. Bowen 1859-60;
- (1st called) Henry D. Clayton, William H. Chambers, W. B. Bowen 1861;
- (2nd called) E. S. Ott, C. A. Parker, Edward N. Herron 1861;
- E. S. Ott, C. A. Parker, Edward N. Herron 1861-2;
- (called) William H. Chambers, C. A. Parker, C. W. Jones 1864;
- William H. Chambers, C. A. Parker, C. W. Jones 1864-5;
- Henry Faulk, H. Pipkin, G. H. Davis 1865-70;
- Thomas Diggs (negro); D. Lore, O. C. Doster 1870-1i
- 1870-1 Jacob Black; Thomas Diggs (black) ; Thomas J. Clark.
- 1871-2 — T. J. Clarke; T. H. Diggs; Jacob Black.
- 1872-3 — T. J. Clarke; Samuel Fantroy; A. E. Williams.
- 1873 — T. J. Clarke; Samuel Fantroy; A. E. Williams.
- 1874-5 — W. Andrews; J. E. Crews; J. S. Espy.
- 1875-6 — W. Andrews; J. E. Crews; J. S. Espy.
- 1876-7—J. E. Crews; John M. McKieroy.
- 1878-9—J. A. Foster; Charles Massey.
- 1880-1—M. B. Wellborn; J. M. White.
- 1882-3—James Lang; H. Hawkins; C. C. Shorter.
- 1884-5—H. Hawkins; James Lang; C. C. Shorter.
- 1886-7—C. C. Shorter; R. E. Wright; J. E. Crews.
- 1888-9—Judson Davie; C. C. Shorter; A. B. Bush.
- 1890-1—Henry D. Clayton; A. E. Crews; C C Lee
- 1892-3—A. A. McDonald; J. W. T. Gibson.
- 1894-5—Eugene L. Graves; Jno. W. T. Gibbons.
- 1896-7—E. L. Graves: A. H. Merrill.
- 1898-9—L. H. Lee; T. M. Patterson.
- 1899 (Spec.)—L. H. Lee; T. M. Patterson.
- 1900-01—E. L. Graves; H. J. Stringfellow.
- 1903—Alexander Addison McDonald; John Fuller McTyer.
- 1907—J. S. Williams; R. M. Lee.
- 1907 (Spec.)—J. S. Williams; R. M. Lee.
- 1909 (Spec.)—J. 8. Williams; R. M. Lee.
- 1911—A. K. Merrill; J. S. Williams.
- 1915—A. A. McDonald; H. J. Stringfellow.
- 1919—J. D. Clayton, Chauncey Sparks
iMcAdory, Thomas HISTORY OF ALABAMA AND DICTIONARY OF ALABAMA BIOGRAPHY Vol. i p. 120
iMcAdory, Thomas HISTORY OF ALABAMA AND DICTIONARY OF ALABAMA BIOGRAPHY Vol. i p. 119
- WALKER, ANNE KENDRICK, BACKTRACKING IN BARBOUR COUNTY: A NARRATIVE OF THE LAST ALABAMA FRONTIER , Richmond, Va: The Dietz Press, 1941
- History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, Volume 1 by Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen)