Richard Thornton | Jun 3, 2017 | 15
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.
* 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.
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