Sunday, July 3, 2011

Patriots in Alabama

For good friend and Gulf Coast correspondent, David A. Bagwell Esq., a simple fishing trip isn't worth the bait, if he can't enliven his companionts with a bit of local folklore along the way. To suggest his tastes are catholic, his enthusiasms broad and knowledge boundless hardly does him justice.

In an effort to escape the office, David took friends and his cane pole to the northwestern side in his beloved home state of Alabama. While there he shared this story of other visitors to the same area, at the same time of year, only 200 years earlier. (If memory serves, this part of the world was then called Georgia, but that's another story.-Toad)

Patriots in the Tombigbee River Swamp in 1809

On July 4th, 1809, surveyors from the United States and the Choctaw Indian Tribe were mapping a line up the watershed between the Alabama and the Tombigbee Rivers, as a part of the survey done by the United States and the Choctaw under the Treaty of Mount Dexter of 1805. It was hot, sweaty work in the River Swamp of the Tombigbee. Their food went bad and they had bad water. Mosquitoes were everywhere.

The day before, on July 3'd, shortly before they surveyed westward across the Tombigbee, the survey journal says they were informed that some Choctaw and some Muskogee or Creek Indians who did not like the treaty, "had determined on taking the lives of the Chactaws Chiefs who have attended us on the Boundary line, and having reason from several suspicious circumstances in the conduct of [the Indians] to believe that the report is not entirely groundless. . .", they decided to wait on instructions.

The next day, July 4'h, despite all of these problems, Levin Wailes entered this in the Journal of the Survey, now in the National Archives, spelling unchanged:

Tuesday, 4th July 1809
The manner of our spending the Anniversary of our National
Independance will not, we believe, be likely to excite the envy of
any voluptuary; Nevertheless our Company, consisting of true
Patriots, and zealous Republicans, join heartily in the wish that
our posterity for ten thousand ages, may enjoy a Government as
free, and an administration as virtuous as we do at the present

David A. Bagwell

David Bagwell lives in Point Clear, Alabama, and has his own "White Shoe Law Firm" in Fairhope. In almost six decades he has never lived outside the South, although he once spent most of a year traveling around the world on a Fellowship to study international business.

Should you have a genuine curiosity about the Treaty, get in touch and I'll forward David's history of the survey and treaty.



inner_child said...

I believe that this was a part of the Mississippi territory. I have ancestors who settled in the area of the Tombigbee river in Pickens County, though much later than this. One of them was a Revolutionary War Patriot and Soldier.
Happy Fourth of July
Paula ~ Mise en scène & &

Toad said...

I stand corrected. Once was Georgia though!

a n t o n n i a said...

Have you seen the television series, 'How the States got their Shape'? I think you'd enjoy it. I only saw it once and have now idea where it played in TV land...
PS: I love the seersucker jacket picture. It brings back a memory of dancing at a wedding with my dear friend Charles and he wore his blue seersucker jacket, with white slacks and white ducks. I just posted a 4th of July blog, Red White + Blue. Red is for my special apparel brought out every year to celebrate!
Happy 4th Toad!

James said...

Toad, I would be very interested to read more, send me the link if you find the time. Thanks