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Battle between the South Carolinians and Tennesseans in Alabama

In 1815, several worthy citizens left the upper district of South Carolina and moved to the State of Tennessee, and early in 1817, immigrated to Blount and located in Murphree’s Valley. The Valley was named for Daniel Murphree, an early immigrant. They formed a prosperous and moral settlement. The members of this little settlement wrote numerous letters to their friends who lived in South Carolina and induced many of them to immigrate early to Blount County.

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Map of Blount County, Alabama 1818 by John Melish (University of Alabama historic maps)

Tennesseans arrived earlier

From this small beginning, the Carolinians and their descendants formed the most numerous portion of Blount County. The Tennesseans had nearly a two-year start in the first settlement and had the choicest locations since the Carolinians could not get to Blount with their wagons before 1817. It was not until 1818 and 1819 that the South Carolina immigrants swarmed through the Cherokee nation in numbers sufficient to astonish the inhabitants.

The road by which the Carolinians came to the county, crossed the Chattahoochee River at the upper Shallow Ford, passed through Rome, crossed Wills Creek at Bennettville, and leaving the Raccoon Mountains close on the right hand, entered Jones’ Valley, seven or eight miles east of Elyton, and then formed a junction with the great Tennessee road. It was at this point that most of the immigrants from the east entered Blount; (this part is now Jefferson County,) but not until after the Tennesseans, as in all other places in Blount, had located themselves on the best places. The South Carolinians settled very thickly in the lower part of Blount, (now Jefferson) and next to the Tennesseans.

The Battle Royal

These two strong parties, the Tennesseans, and South Carolinians differed a great deal in their manners, customs, and ideas, and they quickly became hostile to each other. Several severe “bear fights” took place between them in 1817, in which the Tennesseans were generally masters of the ring. This was very galling to the chivalry of the South Carolinians, but they had to deal with it nearly a year until they obtained enough help from their native State.

In 1818, they received a chosen reinforcement, and at the junction of the Georgia and Tennessee road, a ” Battle Royal” took place between the Tennesseans and South Carolinians, which gave the latter the ascendancy in the lower part of Blount (now Jefferson.) Hence their manners and customs are Carolinian. In the north-east portion of Blount (the portion now called Blount,) the Tennessee character continued in all its pristine purity.


  1. Excerpt transcribed from A DESCRIPTION OF BLOUNT COUNTY by George Powell in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, at the Annual Meeting …: July, 14, 1851; July 9th & 10th, 1855, J. W. & J. F. WARREN, Alabama Historical Society

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  • Description of Native Americans of early Alabama including the visit by Tecumseh;
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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 All her books can be purchased at 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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  1. I don’t understand what they mean by “bear fight”. It seem figurative, but what does it mean. Is the “ring” here figurative, meaning a physical military battle, or is it actually talking about settling things through fighting in a literal boxing ring of sorts? With the term “Battle Royal” it sounds like it’s referring to wrestling. Yet, there is no definition of terms. The only thing a Google search provided was that a “bear fight” is an alcoholic beverage. Could someone help me with this? (I teach Alabama history, and this is our “neck of the woods” and I’d like to get this story straight.) -Thank you.

  2. My grandmother was born in Blount County. Her father ,Samuel Headley and many of his people came from Darlington South Carolina , Peter Headley. My grandmother was Etta Headley and she married Mack Durbin in Chilton County

  3. I had relatives move there from Piedmont. They are buried in one of the church cemeteries in the valley. The Bentley’s

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