They Made Sure The Knot
Was Tied Securely
This story is an excerpt from the book ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) (STORY CONTINUED BELOW)
On the 4th of June 1800, Governor Sargent called into existence by proclamation the county of Washington. It appeared to the Governor “that the divisions already made, cannot extend to the inhabitants upon the Tombeckbee and other eastern settlements, equal administration of justice.”
Washington was probably the largest county in the Mississippi Territory, those of Adams and Pickering excepted, that had then been called into existence by executive or legislative power. Its boundaries were the same as those of the Territory on the north, east, and south, or latitude 32°28′, the Chattahoochee, and the thirty-first parallel; and the Pearl River on the west. Most of that vast region was then occupied by Indian tribes, over which tribes the Government had no control.
Two settlements of whites in this new county were upon land which the Indian occupants had formerly ceded to the British or Spanish authorities. The land now belonged to the United States.
Settlements in the area were according to the American State Papers, as quoted by Meek, “thinly scattered along the western banks of the Mobile and Tombigby, for more than seventy miles, and extending nearly seventy-five miles upon the eastern borders of the Mobile and Alabama.”
The inhabitants were living without any civil government over them at the time. They had no magistrates, no ministers, and no marriage ceremonies. Young people were accustomed to pairing off and live together as husbands and wives with the promise to be married whenever a minister or magistrate arrived.
An instance was recorded of one couple, who wished to be bound together in a more traditional setting. Daniel Johnson and Miss Elizabeth Linder of Lake Tensaw were in love. However, he was poor and she an heiress so her parents objected to them being wed. On Christmas night of 1800, a large party was assembled at the house of Samuel Mims and among them were the two lovers.
While everyone was enjoying the music, the dance, and Christmas festivities, a few young people accompanied Daniel Johnson and Elizabeth Linder as they secretly left the house. The party embarked on board some canoes, paddled down the lake, and into the Alabama River. They arrived at Fort Stoddart an hour before the dawn of the next day. Captain Shaumburg, a cheerful German, in command of the fort was called upon to perform the marriage ceremony. In vain he declared his ignorance of such ceremonies, and his want of authority. He was told that he was placed there by the Federal Government to protect the people and regulate their affairs, and that this little affair needed his sanctioned.
At length the captain yielded to their solicitations, and having the two lovers placed before him proclaimed: “I Captain Shaumburg, of the 2d regiment of the United States army, and commandant of Fort Stoddart, do hereby pronounce you man and wife. Go home! behave yourselves; multiply, and replenish the Tensaw country!’ They reentered their canoes, returned to the Tensaw Boat Yard, and the whole settlement pronounced them to be “the best married people they had known in a long time.” Justices of the peace later arrived in the settlement as well as courts and judges, and also in a few years ministers of the Gospel.”
See a list of all books by Donna R Causey at amazon.com/author/donnarcausey
Alabama Footprints – Exploration – is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.
First Mardi Gras in America
The Mississippi Bubble Burst
Royalists settle in Alabama
Sophia McGillivray- A Remarkable Woman
The Federal Road – Alabama’s First Interstate