—Yankee Book Peddler
Dead Towns of Alabamaby W. Stuart Harris
This easy-to-use reference work documents the many long-vanished towns, forts, settlements, and former state capitals that were once thriving communities of Alabama.
Dead Towns of Alabama is not merely a series of obituaries for dead towns. Instead, it brings back to life 83 Indian towns, 77 fort sites, and 112 colonial, territorial, and state towns. W/i>
This easy-to-use reference work documents the many long-vanished towns, forts, settlements, and former state capitals that were once thriving communities of Alabama.
Dead Towns of Alabama is not merely a series of obituaries for dead towns. Instead, it brings back to life 83 Indian towns, 77 fort sites, and 112 colonial, territorial, and state towns. W. Stuart Harris conjures up a wealth of fascinating images from Alabama's rich and colorful pastimages of life as the Indians lived it, of colonial life in the wilderness, of Spanish explorers and French exiles, of danger and romance, of riverboats and railroads, of plantations and gold mines, of stagecoaches and ferries. Overall, it presents a thoroughly absorbing panorama of Alabama's early history.
Here we learn about two former capitalsSt. Stephens and Cahabathat have deteriorated to mouldering ruins now. We learn about once thriving communitiescounty seats, river landings and crossings, trading posts, junctions, and other settlementsthat time has forgotten. Absent from most maps, these sites come alive again in Harris's fascinating account, filled anew with the bustling activity of their former inhabitants.
First published in 1977, Dead Towns of Alabama is a unique guidebook to every region of the state. It is an invaluable resource for historians, students, tourists, and anyone interested in exploring Alabama's interesting historical and cultural past.
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DEAD TOWNS OF ALABAMA
By W. STUART HARRIS
THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESSCopyright © 1977 The University of Alabama Press
All rights reserved.
INDIAN TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Although people have lived in Alabama for nearly 10,000 years, this study lists the known sites of the historic period rather than the hundreds of mounds and evidences of habitation from the prehistoric era. Indian towns and villages once blanketed the state in the past, and many of them existed for centuries before being abandoned or destroyed.
Long before the arrival of the Europeans, some extensive towns existed, such as the one whose remains may still be viewed at Moundville, in Hale County, which was founded about the year 1200 and was abandoned about 1500. The inhabitants of such ancient towns had no written language, so we can only surmise their history from the study of archaeological remains.
Only known historical sites are listed in this volume. Each site is named, and if it had other names, they too are given.
Abihka (Abeca, Abika, Abi-Hka). This Upper Creek town was near the Coosa River, south of Tallassehatchee Creek, approximately 2 ½ miles south of Rendalia, in Talladega County. On De Lisle's map in 1704 the ancient town appeared east of the Coosa River, just north of its influx into Pakan Tallahassee Creek. It was shown on Balen's map in 1733 on the east side of the Coosa but some distance from the river. Because it was in the northern limits of the Creek's country, Abihka may have served as a defense outpost against hostile tribes to the north.
Abikudshi (Abikakutehee). Situated on a mile-wide plain, Abikudshi was approximately a mile from where the Sylacauga Highway crosses over Tallassehatchee Creek, on the right bank of the creek, 5 miles east of the Coosa River, in Talladega County. The name of this village means "Little Abihka." Some authorities believe that it was on the same site as the older town; however, the Creeks often moved their villages. It was first listed on De Crenay's map in 1733. The French census in 1760 showed the village with a population of 130 warriors. In 1799, Benjamin Hawkins, the famous Indian agent, reported that the inhabitants "have no fences, and but few hogs, horses and cattle; they are attentive to white people, who live among them, and particularly so to white women."
Anatitchapko (Enitachopko). This Hillabee village was situated on Anatitchapko Creek, a northern tributary of Hillabee Creek, 10 miles north of Pinkneyville, in Clay County. The name of this village means "long swamp," or "long thicket"; probably it was named for the dense undergrowth in the region.
Only two days after his victory over the Red Sticks in the battle of Emuckfau, General Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee militia, on January 24, 1814, were ambushed by Red Sticks in a ravine near this village. While forming a line to protect his men who had been wounded in the previous battle, Jackson discovered that his rear guard had panicked and plunged in disorder into the thicket on the other side of the creek. Only about 100 brave men remained to fight off the effect of the panic. With renewed effort the Indians attacked the militiamen who were attempting to guard the ford of the creek, throwing the force of the charge against Lieutenant Robert Armstrong's company. The Tennesseans desperately held the position with the aid of a six-pound cannon.
After regrouping his men, Jackson began to hurl his infantrymen into the ranks of the Red Sticks, and the tide of battle turned in favor of the whites. The Indians soon retreated into the forest and were pursued for over 2 miles. Even though they had been driven from the field of battle, the Red Sticks spread propaganda that they had "whipped Captain Jackson and driven him to the Coosa River." Jackson buried his dead at this position, then resumed his march to Fort Strother.
Apalatchukla (Talua 'Laka). This Lower Creek town was on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River, at Hatcher's Bend, in the eastern section of Russell County. The town was dedicated to peace with the white man. The French census of 1760 listed it with a population of 60 warriors. A year later at a council held at Savannah, the town was reported to have had but 20 hunters. William Bartram, the noted botanist, visited the site in 1777 and described the town as "the ruin of an ancient Indian town and fortress."
Atchinalgi (Atchina-algi, Genalga). An Upper Creek town, Atchinalgi was probably on the east bank of the Tallapoosa River at or near the mouth of Cedar Creek, in Randolph County. The name of the town means "cedar grove people." In 1796, Benjamin Hawkins stated that the town "is the farthest north of all the Creeks." On November 13, 1813, it was destroyed by General James White and his Tennessee troopers.
Athahatchee (Athahachi). This site covered a square mile, and was 5/8 mile from the Cahaba River bridge, and 2 miles from the community of Sprott, in Perry County. Rodrigo Ranjel, private secretary of Hernando DeSoto, stated in his diary that the Spaniards had their first audience with the mighty chieftain Tuscaloosa at this village, on October 10, 1540. "The chief was on a kind of balcony on a mound at one side of the square, his head covered by a kind of coif like the almaizal, so that his head-dress was like a Moor's, which gave him an aspect of authority; he also wore a pelote or mantle of feathers down to his feet, very imposing; he was seated on some high cushions, and many of the principal men among his Indians were with him." The following day DeSoto demanded and received 400 carriers for his baggage train, and was promised 100 women when he reached Maubila.
Autauga (Atagi, At-tau-gee, Autobi, Dumplin Town). This village once existed on the west side of the Alabama River, 6 miles below the site of the Indian village of Tawasa, in Autauga County. The Indian agent, Benjamin Hawkins, visited the small village in 1798, and reported that it was "spread out for two miles on the right bank of the river; they have fields on both sides, but their chief dependence is on the left side; ... the right side of the pine forest extends down to At-tau-gee Creek ... These people have little intercourse with white people; although they are hospitable ... They have some hogs, horses and cattle, in a very fine range, perhaps the best on the river ..." In 1832, Schoolcraft stated that the village had a population of 54 families.
Autossee (Atasi, Atoches). This Upper Creek town was on the south side of the Tallapoosa River below and adjoining Calibee Creek, some 20 miles above the mouth of the Coosa River, in Macon County. Autossee, meaning "war club," was first mentioned on De Crenay's map in 1733. A problem exists for historians because the Belen map of 1744 showed three locations with this same name. In the French census of 1760 the population of the town was 80 warriors. Bartram visited the site in 1777, and Hawkins in 1798 estimated that the town contained 80 warriors. The inhabitants joined the Red Sticks in 1813 and assisted in the destruction of Fort Mims. The Georgia militia, under the command of General John Floyd, attacked and destroyed Autossee on November 29, 1813.
Black Warrior's Town (Taska luka, Tuscaloosa). Situated on the banks of the Black Warrior River, this Creek town was possibly at a site which is today just west of the Tuscaloosa Country Club, about 100 yards west of the intersection of Sanders Ferry Road and old Highway 11, in the city of Tuscaloosa. A group of "separatist" Creeks founded the town.
Differing opinions exist pertaining to the site of the town that was burned by General John Coffee. Thomas McAdory Owen stated that the site was at "the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River, opposite the confluence of the Sipsey Fork," in northeast Walker County. More recent investigations, conducted by The University of Alabama, December, 1975-February, 1976, indicated that the site was near Birmingham, in Jefferson County.
In 1811, Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee orator who hoped to bring the Southern Indians to the Red Stick cause, was forced out of the Choctaw Nation because that tribe had no desire to make war on the settlers. A group of Choctaws, under the leadership of David Folsom, a half-breed chief, accompanied the Shawnees to the Tombigbee River, making sure that the hostiles were departing from the Choctaw lands. During the night, while they were camping on the west bank of the river, warriors from Black Warrior's Town attacked the Folsom party without warning, killing several of them.
The chief of Black Warrior's Town, Oce-oche-motla, welcomed Tecumseh to the town, and soon afterwards, the inhabitants voted to join the Red Sticks. In the meantime, David Folsom, after having been wounded at the Tombigbee, returned to his home and formed a war party of Choctaws, who made a raid on Black Warrior's Town, where they stole horses, burned several cabins, and killed a few of the Creeks.
In the spring of 1812, a band of Creeks under Little Warrior returned from a visit with Tecumseh to Detroit. At the mouth of the Duck River in Tennessee these Creeks had killed several whites and had taken a captive, a Mrs. Crawley. The unfortunate woman was sold to Oce-oche-motla, as the war party passed by Black Warrior's Town. Tandy Walker, a government blacksmith and interpreter at St. Stephens, learned that the woman was being held as a prisoner and agreed to attempt to free her. He visited the town on the pretense of hunting for game in the area, and later made a daring escape with the woman by canoe to St. Stephens.
In October, 1813, 800 soldiers under John Coffee destroyed the town. A member of this force, Davy Crockett, described the action: "The Indian town was a large one; but when we arrived we found the Indians had all left it. There was a large field of corn standing out and a pretty good supply in some cribs. There was also a fine quantity of dried beans, which were very acceptable to us; and without delay we secured them as well as the corn, and then burned the town to ashes; after which we left the place."
Bodka Village. This Choctaw village was situated on both sides of Bodka Creek, 8 miles from Gainesville, in Sumter County. The name means "wide creek." Indians from this village were friends of the traders at Gaines Trading Post, which was near what is today the town of Gainesville. Timmillichee, the chieftain, remained in this vicinity when his tribesmen were forced to move to the West in 1831; he sold the site to John A. Winston, later Governor of Alabama, who was a cotton planter in the county.
Cabusto (Zabusta). The ancient town, Cabusto, was probably on the west bank of the Black Warrior River at St. Stephens Bluff, in Greene County. Its name means "great water." The DeSoto expedition visited the town on November 24, 1540. Ranjel recorded in his journal that "there we crossed the river in a boat and with some canoes that we found in that place; and we tarried for the night in another village on the other side."
Casiste. This ancient village was probably on the site of Cahaba, Alabama's first state capital. Much evidence of occupation has been found ½ mile south of the site of the first Capitol building, in Dallas County. On October 5, 1540, Ranjel recorded that the DeSoto party "went on from Talisi and came to Casiste for the night. This was a small village by the river."
Chalakagay (Sylacoggy, Sauwanoos). It was situated near the waterworks of Sylacauga, in Talladega County. The town was established by Shawnee Indians from Ohio in 1748. Ten years later it was reported to contain 80 warriors.
Chananagi (Chunnenuggee). In 1909, Peter Brannon, an early authority on Alabama Indian life, located the site of this Lower Creek town "just south of the Central of Georgia Railroad near Suspension," in Bullock County. Very little is known about the town. Chunnenuggee Ridge and Chunnenuggee Camp Ground derive their names from the ancient town.
Chiaha. On an island in the Tennessee River, this ancient town was near Stevenson, in Jackson County. On June 5, 1540, the DeSoto expedition reached this great town by canoes and rafts. A friendly chieftain offered the Spaniards 20 barns full of corn, bear's oil in gourds, walnut oil, pots of honey, and a string of freshwater pearls, about two yards in length. The Spaniards reported that the temple in the town, where the bones of the Indian's ancestors were deposited, contained a large quantity of valuables.
Chickasaw Town (Chicachas, Tchikachas). This Chickasaw village was on or near the south side of the headwaters of Talladega Creek, just north of Chandler Springs, in Talladega County. It first appeared on the Mitchell map of 1775. The French census taken fifteen years before showed the village with a total population of 200, of which 40 were warriors.
Chiska Talofa (Cheskitalo-was). Situated on the western side of the Chattahoochee River, this Lower Creek town was said to be 4 miles below the Indian village of Wikai 'liko, in Henry County. Chiska Talofa was first mentioned in the trade regulations of 1761 as a village of 30 hunters. It was later said to have been a Seminole village containing 580 persons.
Cholocco Litabixee (Horseshoe Bend). A famous Upper Creek village, Cholocco Litabixee was in the "Horseshoe Bend" of the Tallapoosa River, 12 miles north of Dadeville, in Tallapoosa County. At this site on March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson defeated the hostile Red Sticks under the command of Chief Menawa. The village actually stood on the banks of the river, but the Indians had erected a log breastworks across the peninsula on a ridge to the rear of the village. Jackson made his attack on the breastworks while John Coffee's men swam across the river to the village where they destroyed the Indians' canoes. Almost 1000 warriors were slain in the battle, many of whom were shot as they attempted to swim the river to escape. This battle broke the power of the Red Sticks, and they soon surrendered at Fort Jackson. Today this area is the site of the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.
Coosa (Cosa, Coca). This ancient town was situated on the east bank of Talladega Creek and its mouth, 1 ½ miles north east of Childersburg, in Talladega County. DeSoto and his party visited the town from July 16 to August 20, 1540, and reported that it was in a flourishing condition with 500 houses and over 1000 warriors. "This chief," Ranjel wrote, "is a powerful one and a ruler of a wide territory."
In June, 1560, some of the followers of the ill-fated expedition of Don Tristan de Luna visited the town in search of food. They found a town of only 30 houses in a neighborhood of several small villages. Juan De Pardo visited the area in 1566 and found the region to be populous. He described Coosa as a "pueblo" containing 150 people. William Bartram visited the site in 1775 and stated that the town had been abandoned and was in ruins.
Coste. A site now inundated, this ancient town was at the upper end of Pine Island in the Tennessee River, in Marshall County. The DeSoto expedition reached this town on July 2, 1540. Ranjel recorded the event of their arrival: "This village was on an island in the river, which there flows large, swift, and hard to enter. And the Christians crossed the first branch with no danger to any of the soldiers, yet it was no small venture careless and unarmed ... And when the soldiers began to climb upon the barbacoas, in an instant the Indians began to take up clubs and seize their bows and arrows and to go to the open square."
When threatened by the 1,500 warriors, DeSoto immediately seized the chieftain and about a dozen of the leading men, who were chained and collared. The threat of burning these captives caused the warriors to lay down their arms and a battle was avoided.
Creek Path. This Cherokee settlement was situated on the eastern side of Brown's Creek at the crossing of the present road from Warrenton to Albertville, about 4 miles southeast of Guntersville, in Marshall County. Established in 1785, Creek Path soon became a very important community of between 400 and 500 people—one-third of the entire Cherokee population within the present-day boundaries of Alabama. In 1820 the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions established a school and church at Creek Path under the superintendency of the Reverend William Potter. This mission continued in operation until the Cherokees left Alabama for Oklahoma.
Crowtown (Kagunyi). Situated on Crow Creek, ½ mile from its confluence with the Tennessee River, this town was approximately 4 miles south of Stevenson, in Jackson County. One of the Five Lower Towns of the Cherokees on the Tennessee River, Crowtown was considered one of the most important towns in the Tennessee Valley. Chickamauga Cherokees under the leadership of "The Crow" founded the town in 1782. These Indians were among the greatest enemies of the white settlers in Tennessee and Kentucky, and probably many raiders set out from the town.
Excerpted from DEAD TOWNS OF ALABAMA by W. STUART HARRIS. Copyright © 1977 The University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS.
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Meet the Author
W. Stuart Harris is a retired historian from the Air Force Historical Research Institute at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery and the author of 13 books, including A History of Alabama: A Secondary Course. He continues to lecture and travel widely.
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I purchased a copy in the early 80s. I've read it several times, focusing on the Native American Towns and Villages. It's an excellent book. I'm currently mapping some of the places mentioned, for further travel.