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An eyewitness account of the horrors of Spring 1825

An eyewitness account of the horrors of Spring 1825

POOF member Ed Lanham has sent us this eyewitness account from the days immediately after William McIntosh’s execution on April 30, 1825.   What it tells us is that the “Hostile Party of Creeks” harassed, stole and possibly killed additional persons other than those on the “execution list.”    The document also tells us that the Steven Hawkins who was hanged by Hostile Creeks on the same day as McIntosh’s execution, was NOT the son of Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins, as is stated in many references. 

The incidents described in the deposition below occurred on the Sandtown Trail  which connected the Flint and Ocmulgee Rivers with the Chattahoochee and Little Tallapoosa Rivers.   In 1825,  Tuckabatchee was located on the Chattahoochee River, very close to the Sandtown Trail.  Therefore, the initial appearance of the Hostile Creeks probably was at or near the Sandtown (9FU1) and Sweet Potato (9FU14) archaeological sites, which were described in the previous series in POOF.  The McIntosh Plantation was only a few miles south of Tuckabatchee. 

Samuel, the son of Stephen Hawkins, was captured in the afternoon of April 30, 1825 by the Hostile Creek Posse’.   He was hung.  Benjamin Hawkins, Jr.  the son of the Indian Agent by the same name,  was shot by the same posse’, but escaped.

When tracking the relocation of affluent Creek families from Georgia to Louisiana and Texas,  historian Roger Kennedy and I noted comments such as “they departed Georgia quickly, fearing for their lives.”   However,  most histories of that era emphasize the fate of the McIntosh Family and do not mention other acts of vengeance against whites and mixed-blood Creeks.

The sworn deposition below,  presented to the Governor of Georgia,  confirms that there were acts of theft and violence against whites living among the Creeks and mixed-blood Creeks associated with the “McIntosh Faction”  in West Georgia.  It would explain why they fled to Texas rather than to either Alabama or the Indian Territory.

Introduction of original article

The Lowndes County Hawkins line begins with STEPHEN HAWKINS, a trader among the Creek Indians. He traveled widely among the Creek villages and probably was familiar with the part of Alabama to which he eventually migrated. In the 1790s, however, he was a resident of Jones County, Georgia where he was an acquaintance of the famous Indian Agent, Benjamin Hawkins. Because of their common name these two men have been thought to be kinsmen. No such relationship has actually been established, however, and their association seems to have been limited to their common interest in the affairs of the Creeks. Though they were not necessarily kin to each other, nor even close associates, it is from the writings of Benjamin Hawkins that we have much of our earlier information on Stephen Hawkins.

Sarah Grierson, a mixed-blood Creek woman, married Stephan Hawkins.   Their son, Samuel, was killed on the afternoon of the day that  William McIntosh killed by Upper Creeks for his betrayal.  After Samuel was killed, Stephen and Sarah fled to Fort Jackson in Wetumpka, Alabama.  Records say that they had two children, Samuel, and Benjamin.

A daughter of Stephen and Sarah Hawkins became the third wife of William McIntosh.   She apparently was in charge of running the hotel at Indian Springs and did not live with the other two wives.

Note: Several Creek Grierson families moved from West Georgia to Texas prior to the defeat of Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto.   They became very active in the early development of Texas.  It is not known for certain how closely related they were to Sarah Grierson, but most likely they were siblings. 

Deposition

* Testimony of Stephen Hawkins.  Georgia, Baldwin County:

By virtue of a commission from his Excellency the Governor of Georgia, to us directed, to receive and examine testimony in relation to the charges lately preferred by the Governor aforesaid against John Crowell, agent for Indian affairs in the Creek Nation of Indians, we have taken the examination of Stephen Hawkins, a white man resident in said nation, who, being duly sworn, deposed and said:

That he has resided in the Creek Nation thirty eight years, or thereabouts; that, on the second day of May last, he was on his way from Fort Jackson to his residence at Chelokonojah, in the nation; he was stopped by eight or ten Indians, who belonged to the hostile party; they seemed to be headed by John  Riley, a half-breed; Riley told him they were sent by Hopoithle Yoholo, a Tuckaubatchee chief, to take all the property belonging to the Hawkins’ and McIntosh, and carry it to Tuckaubatchee; they took what property they [he] had with him, except two horses, (one of which he was riding, and the other rode by his wife,) which they afterwards took, and carried away; the property to be had  on the road was two negro boys and a thousand yards of homespun, two sacks of  salt, besides a number of other articles; he told them that they ought not to take his property; that he had nothing to do with the treaty: Riley replied to him, that Hopoithle Yoholo had ordered him to do so, and that the agent (Colonel Crowell) had ordered Hopoithle Yoholo to have it done. Some of the same party met at his house and took what he had there, being some other negroes and other property. That, in consequence of the conduct of the hostile party, he left the nation, apprehending that they would kill him; they did kill his son, Samuel Hawkins; all his family had to leave the nation, through fear; he now lives near Fort Jackson, in Alabama.

 

Stephen Hawkins, his + mark.

 

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

3 Comments

  1. glenn@patent-1871.com'

    Richard – There are a few things in your most recent post that are troubling. First, let me admit that I do not have time at the moment to give the post the attention that it deserves. The reasons are several and complicated and you are aware of some of that associated with my wife’s passing.

    My research indicates that Tuckabatchee Town was in place on the Tallapoosa River prior to 1800. While I cannot give a specific date, it certainly was there when the Red Sticks made an attempt to attack the town and eliminate the Big Warrior at the outset of the Creek Civil War.

    The Big Warrior, Speaker of the Creek Confederation after the passing of Efa Hadjo, was loyal to the United States (in his own way). He quickly lost control of the Red Stick faction and was soon recognized only as the Speaker of the much smaller and inaffective faction know as the Upper Creek Peace towns. The Big Warrior was at odds with Menawa who was the leader of the faction that proposed and carried out the execution of William McIntosh. A big part of the problem at the time was that the Big Warrior traveled to Washington City with the delegation opposed to the Treaty of Indian Springs. He was suffering an illness when the delegation departed and it only got worse resulting in his death at Washington City early in February 1825. Readers will note that Opothleyahola sat in place of Big Warrior during discussions prior to the trip to Washington City.

    Would the Big Warrior have been able to control Menawa if 1) he had not traveled to Washington City and 2) lived through those troubled times? History reveals that Opothleyahola was not as strong of a leader as the Big Warrior nor did he have the full backing of the Upper Creek Peace Towns.

    Richard – There is much more that I can add to this story and will do so as time passes. Please realize that I cannot drop everything that is going on in my life at this time in order to devote the full attention that this story deserves. Please have patience and I will get it out as quickly as possible.

    Reply
    • My own research rarely gets into the period after the American Revolution,so any further information will be useful. I always assumed that Tuckabatchee was always on the Tallapoosa River, but was shocked when I realized that beginning in 1776, all the maps showed the main town to be on the Chattahoochee River in Georgia – probably at Anneewakee Creek. Some maps label the original location, Tuckabatchee Old Town . . . which was the term for an original town site that had been abandoned or had very few occupants. Other maps only mention the town site on the Chattahoochee River. The new town site was only a few miles north of the house that McIntosh built after the War of 1812, so it would make sense that Big Warrior would be on better terms with McIntosh than Menewa was.

      Reply
  2. kkakins@gmail.com'

    Good guys and bad guys on all sides. That’s what the human race needs to remember and I sure wish they would.

    Reply

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