Days Gone By - stories from the past

Fort Jackson Treaty terms stated Indians were to be removed from Alabama voluntarily

Indians were to be removed voluntarily

By the terms of the treaty (Fort Jackson 1814 – Creek Indian War) the Indians were not to be removed except voluntarily. The whites were not to come in as settlers until after the United States should survey the lands, and the personal possession of lands by the Indians be settled. (See film below of some of the homes the Native Americans had to leave behind).

The whites then within this portion were to move out after their crops were gathered, until after such survey and settlement. But the whites, in violation “of this agreement, came in, and those already in refused to leave.

Clash of Federal and State authorities

When the government agents attempted to force their expulsion according to the treaty, there was resistance on the part of the settlers which induced a clash between the Federal and State authorities.

Governor Gayle, then governor of Alabama, came to the defense of the settlers about to be removed. He claimed the attempt to be an invasion of the prerogatives of the State on the part of the Federal government, jurisdiction in the matter belonging to the State.

Governor Gayle


Considerable discussion sprang up between him and Lewis Cass, then Secretary of State at Washington. Feeling ran high. The matter was finally settled at Tuscaloosa, during the session of the legislature in the winter of 1833, through conference with that body and a representative of the general government. The settlement agreed upon was that only those settlers were to be removed who were on lands reserved to the Indians, the others to remain undisturbed.

Lewis Cass


Jesse Suttle was shot at his spring in Coosa County

Out of what the Indians regarded as an intrusion on them, and a violation of treaty agreement, as well as through cheating and other bad treatment on the part of some of the whites, some hostility of feeling was engendered, and especially on the part of the young warriors. By 1836 it had spread so far, as, to have brought serious apprehension to the minds of the whites as to their security against an Indian massacre. Certain rendezvous had been agreed upon in case of danger.

The shooting of Jesse Suttle at his spring in Coosa, and one or two others in different parts of the new territory about the, same time, brought about the crisis that resulted in the removal of the bulk of the Indians in August and September of 1836 to the Indian Territory.

Most of the Indians were removed by 1843

Some not carried off then were mostly removed in 1843, but as late as 1845, a few were still here to be moved, and Robert M. Cherry was a general agent of the government to contract for their removal from this section. The Franklins, near Rockford, and one or two others were all that were permitted to remain.trail-of-tears-hero-AB

Thus ended the occupancy of this fair land by a people who for untold centuries had made it their home, their hunting ground, and the place where their bodies were to sleep when green-corn dances, hunting, and life were over.Here were all their memories―centuries had made it their home, their hunting ground and the place where their bodies were to sleep when green-corn dances, hunting, and life were over.

Here is a film I found on Youtube by Jim Harmon of some of the houses the Native Americans left behind

 All was left behind

Here were all their memories─all their traditions―all that made up life for them―all the graves of their ancestors―everything that made life dear to them was here. They had bathed in the beautiful streams―they had wandered over its hills, valleys, and mountains―they had followed the turkey, deer, buffalo in the hunt―they had played as children―courted as young warrior and maiden―reared their families―smoked the pipe with friends around their wigwams―had played ball and other games on their festive days―had recounted their deeds in the hunt, and on the war-path beneath its wide-spreading shades and bout its cool springs.

Ah! how many precious memories were gathered here for them. But all was to be left behind, and they were to go far away to a land unknown to them beyond the “father of waters,” where there was not a tie to bind, or memory over which to linger, that a place might be made for strangers who wanted a new home.

A map of routes taken of removal of Indians to Oklahoma


Trust was gone

Is it any wonder they were loath to leave. Is it any wonder they sat at times by the hour and brooded over the hardness of their fate, and the injustice with which they had been treated by the white man? Is it any wonder that their trust in the fidelity of the white man to his promises and professed friendship was at a heavy discount?

The writer has talked with some whites who lived among the Indians, and shared their friendship and hospitality and knew their habits in their homes. All these have to their general kindness, except when moved to by wrongs inflicted upon them.

Home of George Colbert, Chickasaw Indian chief built in 1790 ca. 1923

 (Alabama state archives)

Home of George Colbert (Alabama state archives)

Description by Stephen D. Ray

Stephen D Ray, who lived among them from 1814 until their removal from the country, has written some things of them that may be of interest here. He thus describes their dress: “The garb of the men was a hunting shirt that reached to the knees, with raw-hide leggings that reached to the hips from his feet. The hair was cut close to the skin of his head, with a roach from his forehead to the back of his neck. He wore no hat.”

“The female dress was a jacket with sleeves, which reached to her hips, and a skirt from her hips to her feet. They went bare-headed, and bare-footed, and their hair floated loose around their shoulders. Their diet, in part, was soup made of corn, parched and then pounded into meal, boiled in an earthen pot. They sat on the ground around the pot, and ate from it with a spoon, one spoon serving for all, as each one would dip by turns and drink. The spoon would hold about as much as a tea cup. There was no salt or other seasoning in the soup.”

“These Indians make beasts of burden of their wives. When they go to market among the whites, she carries the produce such as corn, potatoes, berries, fruits or other things in a basket fastened to her shoulders. If he owns a horse he rides and carries nothing. The wife, however, seems to think it an honor to thus wait on her man. The Indian man is the most indolent of human beings. He seems naturally averse to labor. His wife and daughters do all the work on the farm, digging it up, planting, and cultivating it with the hoe, a very poor one at that, while he lies up and sleeps, or is off on the hunt or war-path.”

“Their way of approaching the house of a white person is peculiar. When they get in sight of the house and near, they sit down in the road or path, and wait, even for hours, for some one from the house to invite them in. If no one comes, they get up and march on.”


  1. Excerpts from the History of Coosa County, Alabama, Chapter One, By Rev. George E. Brewer (transcribed from The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 04, No. 01, Spring Issue 1942)

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  1. Stephanie Broussard – just thought this would be an “interesting” read for you

  2. Interesting house & history.

  3. good article. Can;t really comment on it though. I am afraid I would go on a rant.

  4. […] August of 1814, the Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed with the Creek Nation which ceded nearly half of Alabama to the United […]

  5. […] that the city of Fort Payne, Alabama had its beginning as a frontier fort that was connected to the Trail of Tears tragedy. The original log stockade at Fort Payne surrounded a rough-hewn log house. All that […]

  6. That home was owned by my 5th Great Uncle George Colbert. Chickasaw Chief

  7. I love history but this just makes me so sad! And angry.

  8. So sad. One of my direct ancestors was Creek and my husband’s , Cherokee.

  9. […] that the city of Fort Payne, Alabama had its beginning as a frontier fort that was connected to the Trail of Tears tragedy. The original log stockade at Fort Payne surrounded a rough-hewn log house. All that […]

  10. Looks like George Colbert’s house

  11. Why did the Settlers (non-Indians) have to Perition Congress to return to Alabama in 1836 and once before that in maybe 1833 and let’s not forget 1810 too.

    How did historians forget? It is Federal Records.

  12. Looks like that old House on Highway 45

  13. In my line of work when you refuse to volunteer it’s called being voluntold. I believe voluntold is probably more appropriate

  14. I wish someone had realized the historical significance of the Colbert home and kept it from falling.

  15. Why are ppl so greedy, how could they have just taken all The Indians land, homes & way of life from them, I pray history does not repeat itself!

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