Transcribed from: The Tuskegee News, Tuskegee, Alabama, 27 November 1952; vol. 88, no. 34, p.1, col 4 (continued to P. 8, col 1). Transcribed by Glenn Drummond. Used with permission of The Tuskegee News.
OUR YESTERDAYS – Origin of Alabama Told - Dr. J.M. Glenn
In a preceding article about Macon County history, mention was made of the “Creek Indian Migration Trail,” which went directly across Macon County in prehistoric days. This writer has two copies of a map issued by the Alabama State Department of Conservation, revealing the course of that trail. It is his intention to present one of those to Prof. Wadsworth, of Tuskegee, who with others is so commendably interested in preserving the county’s history, or to the Macon County Historical Association.
In Alabama there were numerous Indian trails, both within the state and leading to the surrounding states. One of those trails led to the Great Lakes region, and another (the Great Seneca Trail) led even to New York state. The map unfortunately contains very few identifying names of present places, because of so many trails, but that “Migration” trail came from Mississippi, passing below Epes, in Green County; by Selma and Montgomery, to a point on the Tallapossa River, a short distance from the latter.
From that river location the trail led Southeastward, and about the present Montgomery-Macon County line it crossed and passed below what was known as the “Old Federal Road” of 1805-11. Then, in Macon County, seemingly about where a line drawn south from Notasulga would strike, it re-crossed the later Federal Road, and continued about it, clearly shown all the way to the Chattahoochee River, above Columbus, Ga., and whether there are vast shoals for miles, rendering crossing easier. The more this writer studies that map, the more likely it seems to him that that trail may have become known later as the “Old Mims Trail,” followed by Big Sam Dale in his trips by Fort Decatur (near Milstead) in 1815, as related in a former sketch. That Mims Trail ran about five miles below Loachapoka, in Lee County, and a lesser distance below Notasulga. If anyone differs from the writer in the belief that the migration trail became later known as the Mims Trail, he would not get mad about it.
On the map mentioned is shown the old “Three Notch Road,” cut by the government over a century ago, from Pensacola to Fort Mitchell, in Russell County. The name comes from the government surveyors’ mark of three notches, one above the others, on the roadside trees. About five miles west of Midway, whether this is being written, and where that old military road is still being used for miles, one finds the community and post office of “Three Notch.”
When the Montgomery-Eufaula Railroad crossed that road, it named its station “Three Notch Road,” but later dropped the third word. During the Indian troubles of 1836 there was a stockade, Fort Watson, about a mile above the village. When three men went out of it to attend to some business outside, they were killed by the Indians. They were buried in a triple grave, on a small hill just south of the depot, with a wide marble slab over the grave.
After leaving Bullock County, the Three Notch Road passed the Southeastern corner of Macon County, and there united with the Old Federal Road, in going toward Fort Mitchell. Seemingly that junction was near Creek Stand, and maybe somebody knows the exact place.
When General Woodward, who was part Indian, established the present town of Tuskegee (1833) he borrowed the name of the original Tuskegee, which the French (1714) renamed Toulouse, and the Americans renamed Fort Jackson, below Wetumpka, where the Coosa and Tallapoosa come near together but do not unite until four miles below. It originally was a town of what the Spanish chroniclers with DeSota (1540-41) called the “Alibamo” tribe. The name of our state comes from that tribe, but ridiculous is the idea that the name means “Here We Rest.” Dr. A.B. Meek wrote a poem about an entirely imaginary Indian chief, pursued by enemies, reaching a large river, sticking his spear in the ground, and saying “Alabama, here we rest.” There never was such a chief – except in Meek’s imagination – and he himself tried later to correct that mistaken idea, but in vain with many in this and other states. The name means “Thicket Clearers,” “Vegetation Gatherers,” or simply “Farmers,” as that tribe did more farming than some others did. Would that every teacher in every school in Alabama would impress that fact upon the pupils.
General Woodward in his writings has told of his building the first house on the Tuskegee ridge, but that James Dent built the first house on the square, where the old court house stood. Also he wrote that in connection with the sale of lots in the new town, there was a great Indian ball game – very popular with the various tribes in Alabama – participated in by players of the Tuskegee, Chunnenuggee, Choctaw, and Tallahassee tribes.
June 12, 1836, General Jessup, of the U.S. Army, with his 800 soldiers, marched out of Tuskegee, going Eastward against the hostile Indians. These had been depredating, burning homes, and murdering settlers, before going to join Oceola in Florida. Jessup was followed by General Woodward, with some 300 or 400 friendly Indians, to aid in subduing the hostiles. That fact is worthy of remembrance.
Speaking in all due modesty, in this and a sketch immediately preceding it, considerable information is being given concerning the fact that the “Creek Migration Trail” of prehistoric times, crossed Macon County, and in the county were also “The Old Federal Road,” and the “Three Notch Road.” Also it is being shown that once the southern portion of the county was in English-Spanish “West Florida,” and the Northern part of the county was in the “Illinois Country.”
If preserved in scrapbooks – instead of being thrown away as soon as read – possibly the information being given in these sketches might possibly be of some interest to some others in the future. What is being written is authentic, and is being written after years of very careful investigation.
Date of Publication Title
September 11, 1952 Backtrails Through History – Old Cotton Valley Historic Site
November 20, 1952 Our Yesterdays – County Has Historic Past
September 17, 1953 Glimpses of Yesterday – Tales of Old Creek Stand
October 22, 1953 Views and Interviews
November 19, 1953 Glimpses of Yesterday - Warrior Stand Anecdotes
The Ridge Macon County Archaeology Project. All Rights Reserved.
The Ridge Macon County Archaeology Project. All Rights Reserved.