Some bios. (N-Z) of Alabama White men associated with Indian life



Thomas M. Owen

(Transcribed from The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol 13, Nos. 01, 02, 03, & 04, 1951)

NICKS, ALVIS Q., lawyer and Creek Indian adviser, was born in Lincoln County, Tenn., and died in Texas. In 1833 he came to Alabama, when a young man, and settled at Talladega where he commenced the practice of law. For some reason he attracted the notice of the Indian chiefs, became the adviser and soon attained the position of attorney for the Creek Nation. In 1834, in company with a son of Chief Opoth-le-o-ho-lo he appeared at court in Jacksonville, where he was representing the chief in some legal procedure. He was appointed by Gen. Jackson as one of the locating agents of Indian reservations of lands, and was thus engaged for sometime.

PATTESON, BENJAMIN, U. S. marshal, was born September 15, 1789, at Scottsville, Albermarle County, Va., and died September 15, 1862, at Huntsville; son of Fenton Petteson, In company with his two brothers, Thomas and Fenton Patteson, and his sister Elizabeth, he went to Nashville, Tenn., at the time when Gen. Andrew Jackson was beginning his military career.

Mr; Patteson became an intimate friend of Gen. Jackson, and with his sister accompanied Jackson to Huntsville on horseback. Gen. Jackson appointed Mr. Patteson a brigadier general on his staff. On a corner of a street in Huntsville, a large boulder stands, marking the spot where Gen. Jackson and his army of three thousand men halted at eight o’clock on the evening of October 11, 1813, after marching thirty-two miles in five hours, At that time and place Gen. Patteson distributed to each man so many grains of parched corn. After the war question was settled with the Indians, Gen. Patteson returned to Huntsville, He served later, in 1836, with the Alabama Volunteers in the Indian uprising. He was U. S, marshal for thirty-one years, and was again appointed to the position by Jefferson Davis under the Confederacy.

Benjamin Patteson, U. S. Marshall northern district Alabama (Alabama Department of History and Archives)

PITCHLYNN, JOHN, United States interpreter for the Choctaw Nation, born in South Carolina, but supposed by others in the Island of St. Thomas, about 1757. Died at Waverly in Clay County, Mississippi, in May 1835. Nothing is known of his parents except that his father was a British commissary. He was, however, in some manner, a blood relative of the Lincecum family of Mississippi and Louisiana. About 1773 he accompanied his father on a journey from South Carolina to the Natchez settlement on the Mississippi River. While in the Choctaw Nation the elder Pitchlynn sickened and died, leaving his son alone among the Indians. Some circumstances show that this was in the Sukinatcha country, where lived the Indian countryman, Nathaniel Folsom. There is no record of young Pitchlynn’s early Indian life, save that it was a hard one and that at one time he was grievously afflicted with the mange, caught by sleeping in too close proximity to the Indian dogs.

Notwithstanding all the unpleasant surroundings of his young manhood, Pitchlynn became a wealthy and influential man among the Choctaws. As was the case with others living among the Indians, he was a sympathiser with the American Revolution, After a residence of several years in the Sukinatcha country.

Pitchlynn with others moved up on Hashuqua Creek in Noxubee county, where he lived until about 1805, when he established a home at the mouth of Oktibbeha creek in Lowndes County, at the place known as Plymouth. Pitchlynn was the United States interpreter for the Choctaws for more than forty years, serving as such at the treaty of Hopewell in 1786: , at the Nashville conference in 1792, and at the treaties of 1802 1803, 1805, 1816, 18203 1825, and 1830, and often served at councils that were called for various purposes by the Choctaw agents. He himself once served as agent for fourteen months, during the absence of Mr. Dinsmoor. He was generally called Major Pitchlynn, but as far as known, there is no evidence that this rank was ever officially conferred upon him.

Major Pitchlynn, to make use of his usual title, ever showed himself desirous of preserving unimpaired friendly relations between the Choctaws and the United States government. In following this principle, he used, all his influence in 1811 against Tecumseh, who visited the Choctaw Nation in that year for the purpose of bringing the Choctaws ovet into his hostile Indian confederacy. Major Pitchlynn, in like manner, was of great service in the ensuing Creek War in arraying the Choctaw warriors on the side of the Americans,—a fact gratefully acknowledged by Colonel John McKee, Choctaw agent. Even before the actual outbreak of the war he advised the raising of a few Choctaw and Chickasaw companies for the defense of the frontiers, and for the protection of the whites traveling through the Indian country. Perhaps above everything else, Pitchlynn was a great friend of education. He not only took care to have his own children well educated, but constantly encouraged the Choctaws to send their children to the schools established by the missionaries.

Major Pitchlynn was twice married. His first wife was Rhoda, daughter of Ebenezer Folsom, an elder brother of Nathaniel Folsom. His second wife was a widow, Mrs. Sophia or Sophy Howell, a daughter of Nathaniel Folsom, She spoke no English. As seen, his wives were cousins and half-breeds. He was the father of five sons and three daughters.

By the treaty of Dancing Rabbit, Major Pitchlynn was provided with two sections of land on the Robinson road, four miles west of Columbus. “Here he built a large house, where he lived in a style befitting his position in life. According to the Choctaw census of 1831, he was the owner of fifty negro slaves, and had two hundred acres of land in cultivation. In addition to this valuable property, he dealt largely in horses and cattle. He was also joint owner with the elder Robert Jemison, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in a stage line over the Robinson road to Jackson, Mississippi, having personal supervision of that part west of Columbus. In 1834 he sold his lands on the Robinson road, and at the time of his death was living at Waverly, now in Clay county.” Major Pitchlynn is described by those who knew him as a handsome man, a little above the middle size, with dark hair and eyes, but becoming somewhat bald in his latter years. He was a hospitable man and ever loyal to his friends; as Colonel Gaines states, he was a “natural gentleman.” And in spite of his long residence on the borders of civilization, it can be truly said that there have been but few men that ever lived a more active and useful life than Major John Pitchlynn.

REYNOLDS, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Chickasaw Indian agent, was born in 1788 in Fayette County, Ky., and died in 1843, at Newport, Franklin County. He removed to Maury County, Tenn., in 1807 and served in both branches of the legislature of that State. He was captain in the 39th regiment and was wounded in the battle of Horseshoe Bend. He assisted in burying Maj. Lemuel P. Montgomery, who fell in the first charge in that sanguinary battle. When General Jackson became President he appointed Capt. Reynolds agent for the Chickasaw Indians and; in 1830 he removed to Franklin County.

SCOTT, SUTTON SELWYN, lawyer, Confederate commissioner of Indian affairs, author, was born November 26, 1829, in Huntsville; He was a member of the extra session of the legislature called by Gov. A. B. Moore about the time the states were on the point of withdrawing from the Union.

In 1861 he was a member of the committee, with E. C. Bullock, John T, Morgan, Thomas H. Watts, John O. Phelan, James H: Clanton, A. B. Meek and others, appointed by the governor to meet President-elect Jefferson Davis at West Point, Ga,, and to escort him to Montgomery. From the position of an assistant, Mr. Scott was promoted, February 26, 1863, to the responsible post of commissioner of Indian affairs to succeed David Hubbard. Mr, Scott labored diligently in this position until the end of the war. On the return of peace he settled on his plantation in Russell County. He represented the county in the constitutional convention of 1875, and also in the house of representatives, 1884-1885, and 1890-1891. He was a delegate to the Cincinnati Democratic convention of 1880. In 1885 he was appointed by President Cleveland a commissioner to adjudicate depredation claims in New Mexico; and during Mr. Cleveland’s second term he was chairman of the commission to arrange the land troubles with the Ute Indians upon their reservation in Utah. While he was an active and capable man of affairs, Mr. Scott was in an equal degree a student and a man of fine literary and historical tastes.

STUART, JOHN, superintendent of Indian affairs, born in Scotland about 1700, died in England in 1779. He came to America with General Oglethorpe in 1735 and was appointed to a subordinate command in the British service. He was second in command in Fort London, when it was besieged by the Cherokees in August 1760. After the surrender of the garrison and the subsequent massacre of some of its inmates, the Cherokee chief, Atakullakulla, claimed him as his prisoner. He took him into the woods, ostensibly for a hunting excursion, but he secretly carried him through the wilderness to his friends in Virginia. Early in 1763, he was appointed Superintendent of Indian affairs for the Southern district. In the ensuing year, he sent the King’s talk to the Catawbas, the Cherokees, the Creeks the Chickasaws, and the Choctaws, inviting them to a congress to be held in Augusta, Georgia, with the governors of the colonies of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The5 congress met there on November 5, in full session, with representatives from the five Indian nations. Stuart delivered the opening talk, representing the four governors, all of whom were present. On November 10, the congress closed with the signing of a treaty for the preservation and continuance of a firm and perfect peace between King George and the five Indian nations.

In spite of this treaty there was still considerable disaffection among the Creeks and the Choctaws. Stuart’s diplomacy, however, held them in check, until the complete pacification brought about by the Choctaw-Chickasaw congress, held in Mobile, March 26-April 4, 1765, and by the Creek congress held in Pensacola, May 26-June 4, 1765, in both of which he was the dominant factor. When Major Robert Farmar, in the summer of 1765, was organizing an expedition to take possession of Fort Chartres, Stuart engaged in the Choctaws, the Chickasaws, and the Cherokees to furnish flanking parties that could act as an auxiliary force to the troops in their voyages up the Mississippi. The work of the Indians was so well done that, by the direction of General Thomas Gage, commanding in America, the three nations received the thanks of Superintendent Stuart On October 14, 1768, Stuart concluded a treaty with the Cherokees at Hard Labor, by which Kanawha River was made the Western boundary of Virginia. He had his deputies among all the. tribes of his district, their deputies it seems being appointed by himself. It was the policy of the English officials in America never to interfere in Indian inter-tribal wars, believing that. when Indians were thus engaged they would be less apt to go to war against the whites, and besides the sooner the Indian tribes, were decimated or swept out of existence by such wars, the greater .facilities would be given to the whites to acquire their lands. Stuart avowedly followed this policy in the long Creek-Choctaw war which began in 1766. He made no effort to establish peace between the two warring tribes until the outbreak of the American Revolution made it necessary for him to unite all the tribes on the side of the King. He then made peace between the two tribes about the close of 1776, Being an ardent loyalist, Stuart now conceived a plan for crushing the revolted Colonies, which was approved by the British cabinet. This was the landing of a large force in West Florida, which in conjunction with numerous bands of Indian warriors would march against them and destroy the western settlements of the colonies, while other British troops would attack the colonies on the seacoast, and the Tories would rise in the interior,-all thus acting together would soon crush the patriots. On the discovery of the plot, followed by the defeat of the hostile Cherokees, Stuart fled to Florida, whence he soon sailed for England, where he died in 1799.

TATE, JOHN, Indian agent, was probably a Scotchman. Nothing is known of his career prior to 1778, when he was appointed agent for the Creek Indians, very probably receiving this appointment from John Stuart. General Woodward’s statement that John Tate came to the Creek nation with Lachlan McGillivray seems erroneous, for if he was a grown man in 1735, the year of McGillivray’s arrival, he would have been too old a man to be appointed Indian agent in 1778. Col. Tate’s station in the Creek nation was at the Hickory Ground. It was doubtless soon after his appointment that he married Sehoy McGillivray, an alliance, it may be conjectured, formed through the influence or persuasion of Lachlan McGillivray. The well known David Tate of later times was the son of this marriage. In the summer of 1780, Colonel Tate raised a large force of Creek warriors from almost all the upper towns, except from the Tallissee and the Natchez, who were kept neutral through the influence of James McQueen, and started on the march to Augusta to the aid of Colonel Grierson, the British Commander. On the Chattahoochee he was reinforced by Little Prince with a force of Lower Creeks. On their march, while near the head springs of Upatoy Creek, Tate became deranged. He was brought to Cusseta, there died, and was buried on a high hill east of the town. On Tate’s death, nearly all the Upper Creeks returned home except the Tuckabatchies, commanded by Efa Tustenuggee. This man and Little Prince, with their warriors, numbering about two hundred and fifty men, proceeded to Augusta, where they lost seventy men in battle in September when the place was attacked by Colonel Elijah Clarke.

After the abandonment of the siege and the retreat of the Americans, Colonel Thomas Brown, the chief in command at Augusta, after hanging a number of the prominent American prisoners, delivered the others into the hands of the Indians, who, in revenge for their slain warriors, put them to the most protracted and torturing deaths, by cuts, blows, scalpings and burnings. The opporobrium of these enormous atrocities must forever be shared by the Indians with Colonel Brown and Grierson, the white officers in command at Augusta. Some months after the death of Colonel Tate, his widow married Charles Weatherford. She was the mother of William, the celebrated leader of the Indians and who surrendered at Fort Jackson in 1814.

TROUP, MATTHEW, was born December 2, 1867, at Danville, Morgan County; son of Matthew W. and Martha W. (Collier) Troup, who resided at Danville, the former a South Carolinian who went to Danville in 1823, was a planter, represented Morgan County in the State legislature in 1841 and 1843, took part in the Creek Indian War and under the direction of the government assisted in removing the Indians from Florida, and was commanding officer in the State militia.

TUNSTALL, GEORGE BROOK, planter, editor, was born December 14, 1793, in Pittsylvania County, Va., and died July 28, 1842, at Montgomery Hill, Baldwin County; son of Edmund Savage Tunstall, a North Carolinian who died in Christian County, Ky. The Tunstall family are lineal descendants of Sir Brian Tunstall, who in 1573, was killed at the battle of Floddon Field, in the war between England and Scotland. They came from England some time in the early part of the seventeenth century and settled in the lower eastern counties of Virginia. He was a planter, and a newspaper man. He was at one time editor of the “Nashville Whig,” and was the founder of the “Floridan,” the first English newspaper published in Pensacola, Fla. Married: to Eloisa Tate, daughter of David Tate, for whom the shoals of the Alabama River are named and Eloise Randon, granddaughter of Col. John Tate who was once in the English army, and Sehoy McGillivray; great-granddaughter of Lachlin and Sehoy (Marchand) McGillivray; and great-great-granddaughter of Capt. Marchand of Ft. Toulouse and an Indian, princess named Sehoy; grandmother of William Weatherford.

WILCOX, JOSEPH M., lieutenant in U. S. Army, was born in Connecticut, 1791, was killed by the Indians on the Alabama River, January 15, 1814, and buried with military honors at Ft. Claiborne, January 17, 1814; son of Gen. Joseph Wilcox, Revolutionary soldier of Connecticut. Lt. Wilcox, trained at West Point military academy, was made 1st lieutenant January 3, 1812, assigned to the 3rd Regiment, U. S. Infantry, and sent to Ft. Claiborne, where he served under Gen. F. L. Claiborne and Col. Gilbert C. Russell until his death. Col. Russell had been sent to the Cahaba to disperse an uprising of the Indians, but became separated from Captain James E. Dinkins and his barges containing military supplies; he ordered Lieut. Wilcox and five men to take a boat and go in search of him. Unfortunately, the boat upset and spoiled the ammunition and supplies, and delayed the object of his quest. A boatload of Indians, realizing his helpless condition, attacked the little party and killed or captured all, except one, who escaped into the canebrake. Lieut. Wilcox was desperately wounded, but continued the fight until overpowered and was finally brained with a tomahawk, dying soon after. This tragedy occurred on the Alabama River, between Canton and Prairie Bluff. The county of Wilcox was named in his honor.

WILLETT, MARINUS, Colonel, U. S. A., was born at Jamaica, Long Island, July 31, 1740, and died in New York City, August 4, 1830. In 1758 he served under General Abercrombie in the expedition against Ticonderoga, and then under Colonel Bradstreet in the capture of Fort Frontenac. He was one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty in New York City which on June 6, 1775, prevented the sending of arms from the arsenal to the British troops in Boston Harbor. He was soon after commissioned captain and served under General Richard Montgomery in the invasion of Canada. He was placed in command of St. John after its capture; where he remained until January 1776, and soon afterwards was made colonel of the Third New York regiment. In 1777 he was second in command at Fort Stanwick, and during the siege of that place he made a sortie and gained a victory over Colonel Berry St. Leger,—a diversion which enabled General Herkimer to win the battle of Oriskany. He was with Washington’s army in 1778, was present at the battle of Monmouth, and in 1779 was with General Sullivan in his expedition against the Six Nations.

From 1780 to the close of the war he commanded the troops in the Mohawk Valley. In 1784 he was elected a member of the New York State Assembly but resigned on being elected sheriff of New York City and an office which he held until 1792. In this year he was offered the rank and command of a brigadier-general in an expedition against the Northwestern Indians, but declined. In 1790 he was sent by President Washington on a mission to the Creek nation, whence he brought back with him Alexander McGillivray and other Creek chiefs and warriors, who signed the treaty of New York, the first American treaty with the Creek Indians. In 1807 he was mayor of New York. His last public service was in 1812 when he was secretary of a mass meeting in favor of military preparations against the British. His son, William Marinus Willett, collated from his father’s manuscript and from other sources a work, giving his father’s military career. This work, entitled “A narrative of the military actions of Colonel Marinus Willett,” was published in 1831. It contains much information about the Creek Indians.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One

The first four Alabama Footprints books have been combined into one book,





From the time of the discovery of America restless, resolute, brave, and adventurous men and women crossed oceans and the wilderness in pursuit of their destiny. Many traveled to what would become the State of Alabama. They followed the Native American trails and their entrance into this area eventually pushed out the Native Americans. Over the years, many of their stories have been lost and/or forgotten. This book (four-books-in-one) reveals the stories published in volumes I-IV of the Alabama Footprints series.


One comment

  1. Do you have information/Pictures of John Clan Grayson and his family? He moved to Alabama in 1897 to survey Madison County. He named and lived in Big Cove.

Leave a Reply