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Biography: William Weatherford born 1781

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Creek Indian Nation

“Sehoy, the daughter of Sehoy Marchand and the Tookabatcha chief, had some romantic experiences. She was a beautiful girl and bore the beloved family name which for several generations was given from mother to daughter. She married early, as beautiful maidens usually do. In her time the English held Fort Toulouse, and Colonel Tate, the British officer in command of the fort, married her. Colonel Tate after awhile became tired of her and deserted her, leaving her the mother of several children, but still young and beautiful.

Charles Weatherford, a thrifty Scotch peddler, met, admired, and married this buxom grass widow. He made his home on the Alabama River, a little below the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. He prospered in store and farm; bought negroes and fine horses; constructed his far-famed race-track, upon which he trained his blooded steeds. His native tact, his marriage with Sehoy, the half-sister of McGillivray, his race-track, and his prosperity made him a popular man and drew about him the powerful and martial spirits of the tribes.

In his home of plenty was born and reared his distinguished son William, who was called Lamochattee, the Red Eagle.

William Weatherford's grave
William Weatherford’s grave (Alabama Department of Archives and History

Bold, gifted, and eloquent, William was a born leader of men. In the company of his uncles, Alexander McGillivray and LeClerc Milfort, he learned of the aggressions of the whites and the wrongs they had committed against his mother’s people. Wars with the Choctaws and Chickasaws and occasional attacks on the whites developed his military qualities and his matchless prowess.

He heard Tecumseh at Tookabatcha and counseled against his plans of war. When he discovered the irrepressible spirit of war working its doom among the Creeks, he would have stayed the conflict. His brother John, his half-brother David Tate, and others of his blood were friendly to the whites. His property was endangered. No matter on which side he fought he was bound to suffer. The storm came on. He could not stand an idle watcher. He joined the Creeks.

Fort Mims was situated in the Tensaw settlement, near the Alabama River; Major Daniel Beasley, a brave but over-confident officer, was in command of it; there the excited people had gathered for protection. The defeat of the Americans at Burnt Corn had filled the country with alarm. In the fort were five hundred and fifty-three souls—old men, women and children, negroes, friendly Indians, and soldiers—against whom Hopiee Tustennuggee or Far-Off Warrior, Peter McQueen, High-Head Jim, Josiah Francis or Hillis Hadjo, the prophet, Seekaboo the Shawnee, and Weatherford led a thousand painted warriors.

“False rumors had so often alarmed, that when two negroes reported signs of Indians, one was whipped, and the other, tied to be whipped, witnessed in bonds the awful conflict until he met death by the hands of the foe against whom he had vainly warned his master.”

On the morning of August 30, 1813, in Fort Mims, happy children were playing and young men and maidens were dancing and rollicking. General Tom S. Woodward says that Major Beasley was drunk, and when Jim Cornells reported the Indians to be near that Major Beasley called him a coward.

At ten o’clock Major Beasley wrote General Claiborne of his ability to defend the fort against any force the Indians might bring against it. At twelve o’clock, when the drumbeat for dinner and the soldiers were off their guard, Weatherford and his warriors rushed upon the fort so unexpectedly as to gain the principal gateway before it could be closed. Fearful was the onslaught and desperately brave was the defence. (sic)

For five dreadful hours, the battle raged. The bloodthirsty savages, mad with slaughter, spared neither women nor children; this promiscuous massacre of the helpless and innocent was contrary to the orders of Weatherford; when he found he could not stay it, he rode away in sorrow; it is said that he never recalled the scene without a shudder of horror.

Only about forty of the inmates of the fort escaped death. The fires that glowed in the evening over the burning fort charred the scalped and mutilated remains of five hundred people, while more than a hundred bodies of dead Indians, around the stockade lines and in the woods, added to the ghastly tragedy of the day.

Ten days afterward, Captain Kennedy with his company arrived on the scene. Buzzards, dogs, and other animals were holding gluttonous carnival. Two long ditches were dug, and into them were placed the remnants of bones and flesh. The earth was thrown over these remnants, and the charity of burial was done. Weatherford reconnoitered Fort Madison a few nights afterward, and but for his report of its strength and readiness that fort would have felt the shock of an Indian attack.

The country was aroused as never before nor since. Jackson soon swept from the north, Floyd from the east, Claiborne, and Pushmataha from the south and west.

At Econachaca, the Holy Ground, on the Alabama River, in the present county of Lowndes, were the homes of Weatherford and the prophets. There had been gathered the property and families of many Indians. It was supposed to be safe from attacks of the whites. It was strongly fortified, and the prophets had surrounded it with enchanted circles within which they declared no white man could pass and live. A bold garrison of native warriors, inspired by the genius and presence of Weatherford and by the fanatical speeches of the prophets, defied invasion.

On December 23, 1813, General Claiborne attacked the town. The Indians saw their prophets killed and the white men crossing the enchanted lines; they were panic-stricken, and began to flee. Weatherford could not rally them, and was himself compelled to flee; mounted on Arrow, his splendid charger, he galloped to the river’s brink; finding himself hotly pursued, he spurred his horse over a fifteen-foot precipice into the river; horse and rider sank out of sight, but quickly arose; the horse swam across the river, bearing his master beyond the reach of pursuit.

The town was burned. Its spoils were given to Pushmataha and his men, who had nobly aided in the attack.

Rain and cold made severe suffering for the soldiers during the few days following, but the brave fellows were glad to have taught the Indians that the Holy Ground was not, as the prophets said, “the grave of the white man.”

Jackson’s battles followed in quick succession. Weatherford saw the hopelessness of the Creek cause. Jackson demanded his surrender as a condition of peace. Weatherford knew the deep-seated hatred toward him; that he was called ” the murderer of Fort Mims”; that death would likely befall him if he surrendered. He was a brave man and wished to save the women and children from starving and his nation from extirpation. He rode to the tent of General Jackson and surrendered. He expressed a willingness to die but begged for soldiers to be sent into the woods for the starving women and children of the war-party.

General Jackson admired his manly courage and appreciated the motives that prompted his surrender, invited him to alight, and cheerfully discussed the matters at issue.

Weatherford accepted the terms of surrender and used his influence to effect the surrender of all the Creeks. Officers feared he would be killed by soldiers who had lost relatives and friends at Fort Mims. They guarded him carefully until he could be sent beyond the reach of immediate danger.

Mural by Roderick D. MacKenzie depicting the surrender of William Weatherford to Andrew Jackson
Mural by Roderick D. MacKenzie depicting the surrender of William Weatherford to Andrew Jackson

After the war, he lived quietly and honorably on his Little River farm in the lower part of Monroe County. His name, once a terror to the settlers, was an honor to the private life of the citizen. His bravery and integrity were both respected. He died in the spring season of 1826. ” Red Eagle,” a beautiful poem of A. B. Meek, is woven from the life of William Weatherford.”

William Weatherford married Mary Moniac (1763-1804), who was also of mixed race.

They had the following known children:

  • Charles Weatherford
  • Mary “Polly” Weatherford

After Mary’s death, Weatherford married Sopathe Thlanie (1783-1813) She died after the birth of their son,

  • William Weatherford, Jr. born Dec. 25, 1813.

Around 1817, Weatherford married Mary Stiggins (ca. 1783- 1832) who was Natchez and English heritage. Their children were;

  • Alexander McGillivray Weatherford
  • Mary Levitia Weatherford
  • Major Weatherford – he was killed as a child
  • John Weatherford

Weatherford’s nephew, David Moniac, son of his sister Elizabeth Weatherford, was the first Native American graduate of the United States Military Academy. A distant descendant of the Creek leader is the American anthropologist Jack Weatherford


  1. Excerpts from Sketches of Alabama history  By Joel Campbell Du Bose 1901
  3. Some Creek families and friends
  4. Encyclopedia of Alabama

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