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BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
Montgomery and Tallapoosa County, Alabama
Abram Mordecai was born October 24, 1755, in Pennsylvania. He was a Jewish veteran of the Revolutionary War who settled in Indian country at an early day.
In 1783, he settled in Georgia where he became a successful trader among the Cusseta Indians. Abram was the first U. S. Citizen and probably the first Jewish citizen to settle in what would later become Montgomery County, Alabama.
He moved his family to in the Creek town of Econochaca (Holy Here he served as a go-between for the Creeks, trading furs, medicinal plants, and other items for European goods and utensils acquired in Pensacola, Savannah, and other cities along the southeastern seaboard. His trading house was two miles from Line Creek. (now in Chambers County).
“Mordecai married a Creek woman, believing (along with many others during this period) that Native Americans were descendants of one of the fabled Lost Tribes of Israel. In fact, many sources indicate that he initially attempted to speak with the Creeks in Hebrew, in the belief that their language was actually a dialect of his language. He became known among the Creeks as Muccose, or Little Chief.”
“In the 1790s, the federal government initiated what was known as the “plan of civilization,” which aimed to encourage Native Americans to give up hunting and gathering and to adopt farming and manufacturing as their livelihood, with the ulterior motive of acquiring their vast hunting lands.
Toward that end, Benjamin Hawkins, administrator of the plan, enlisted Mordecai’s aid in 1802 to establish a cotton gin near the Creek towns along the Alabama River, in present-day Montgomery County, Alabama.”i
On the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, he installed a cotton gin manufactured by Lyons & Barnett, a firm owned by two Jewish families in Georgia. The gin was built along a trading path that would become part of the route of the Federal Road, near a racetrack owned by Creek leader Charles Weatherford (father of future Red Stick Creek leader William Weatherford).
“Mordecai lived among the Creeks and managed his gin and trading business in relative peace. In one notable incident, however, he angered a local chieftain by offering too much attention to a married woman in his town and apparently lost an ear in the resulting skirmish. He encountered more serious danger when he served with the Georgia Militia during the War of 1812.
Upon his return from that service, he was immediately involved in the U.S. effort in the Creek War in 1813, acting as a trail guide through Creek territory for Gen. John Floyd. Allied with the traditionalist faction of the Creek Nation, Mordecai aided the federal troops in tracking down members of the Red Stick faction who had participated in the attack on white settlers and allied Creeks at Fort Mims on August 30.
Grave marker of Abraham Mordecai in Dudleyville, Alabama ca. 1933 by Robert Graves Studio, Alexander City, Alabama (from Alabama State Archives)
In November 1813, Mordecai led Floyd and his men as well as a force of allied Creeks under William McIntosh to the town of Autossee, located near present-day Shorter, in Macon County. There, the Red Sticks were routed, losing at least 200 men, and the town was burned. Mordecai again guided Floyd’s forces when they set out the following January for Red Stick strongholds at Econochaca and other nearby towns. However, Floyd’s men suffered a major defeat in a surprise Creek attack at Calabee Creek near Autossee. Mordecai also may have been present at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, when the Red Sticks suffered their final defeat.”ii
Until Indians burned his equipment, he ginned his own cotton and that of his Indian neighbors. His gin, the first in Alabama, was the forerunner of those that sprang up after the Territory was formed in 1817 and pioneers with “Alabama Fever” rushed to claim the fertile soil.
“After the war, Mordecai returned to his trading store and continued to serve as a cotton broker until 1836, when the Creeks were forcibly removed from their land by the federal government. As a white man, Mordecai remained behind. Some reports indicate that his wife and an unknown number of children removed west to Arkansas and then Oklahoma. Other reports state that his wife had already died by 1836 and his children had moved from the area. In either case, Mordecai moved to Dudleyville, Tallapoosa County, and opened a store there.
A popular storyteller in the town, Mordecai was interviewed by a reporter from the Columbus Enquirer in 1843 about his life among the Creeks and his experiences in the Creek War. Four years later, historian Albert Pickett conducted extensive interviews with Mordecai during his research for his opus History of Alabama: And Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi from the Earliest Period. Pickett also published an interview with Mordecai in Montgomery’s Flag and Advertiser that same year.”iii
A.J. Pickett visited him in again in Dudleyville in 1847. During his long life, he was variously a negotiator between the Creeks and federal and state agents, a trader, a military guide and scout, and an early founder of the cotton industry around Montgomery.
“Mordecai lived simply in Dudleyville in his final years. Many locals stated that he either built his own coffin or had one commissioned several years before his death and ate his meals on it. Fiercely independent to the end, he died on August 25, 1850 (according to one contemporary newspaper account) and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Dudleyville Cemetery. On July 4, 1933, the Tohopeka Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a granite marker on his grave in honor of his service during the American War of Independence.”iv
iEncyclopedia of Alabama http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/ArticlePrintable.jsp?id=h-3135
iiEncyclopedia of Alabama
iiiEncyclopedia of Alabama
ivEncyclopedia of Alabama
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