Sunday, August 7, 2011

John Melton

John Melton-Doublehead’s white brother-in-law

The Great Eagle had ten children including Doublehead.  In the book-Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief , you can read about all of Doublehead’s siblings and all of his five wives and fifteen children.  Two of Doublehead’s sisters married white men and several of his children married white people or mixed bloods; however, this particular blog is about his youngest sister Ocuma who married John Melton.  Ocuma and John had at least eight children who were half Irish and half Cherokee.  They lived at Melton’s Bluff in Lawrence County, Alabama from about 1780 until 1813 when they moved to the north side of the Tennessee River below Fort Hampton in Limestone County, Alabama.  John died on the north side of the river on June 7, 1815.

Doublehead thought enough of his white Irish brother-in-law John Melton that in the Cotton Gin Treaty of 1806, he negotiated for a cotton cleaning machine to be placed at Melton’s Bluff by the United States Government. The following is stipulations of the Treaty of January 7, 1806:  The United States agree to pay in consideration for the foregoing cession, $2,000.00 in money upon ratification; $8,000.00 in four equal annual installments; to erect a grist-mill within one year in the Cherokee country; to furnish a machine for cleaning cotton; and to pay the Cherokee Chief, Black Fox, $100.00 annually for the rest of his life.

John Melton was married to Doublehead’s youngest sister, Ocuma; and therefore, he was a member of Doublehead’s extended family.  The Cherokee village at Melton’s Bluff was located in present-day Lawrence, County, Alabama between Mallard Creek and Spring Creek on the Tennessee River.  The high flat land above the river bluff was the home of old Irishman John Melton, his Cherokee wife, and his half-blood Cherokee children.  Their home was described as a large mansion by Anne Royall with an impressive courtyard that fronted the house.  The house was a large two-storied home that was the central building with many outlying slave quarters, a cotton gin, stables, visitors’ cabins that lined the bluff, and an inn for travelers.  One guest said he never fared better in any part of the United States, but their bill was excessively high.  By the time Ms. Royall described the village in 1818, it contained two large houses of entertainment, several doctors, one hatters shop, one warehouse, and several mechanics.  From the front of the house, one could see east upriver eight miles to Brown’s Ferry where Doublehead’s home was located from 1790 until 1802.   

Melton owned large farms and a great number of slaves.  Cotton was a very important Cherokee product and the use of black slaves in the early 1800s was common among the Cherokee.  Melton’s Bluff was located about eight miles west of Brown’s Ferry somewhat near the middle of Elk River Shoals on the Tennessee River in Lawrence County, Alabama.  Melton had several children by his Indian wife, most married white people.  According to William Lindsey McDonald’s book, Lore of The River, third edition (2007) “John Melton and his Cherokee wife had a number of children; the names of some of them are believed to have been Moses, James, Charles, David, Thomas, and Merida.”   Moses Melton is listed in microfilm archives as the son of Lewis; therefore, he was Melton’s grandson.

It should be pointed out that General John Coffee’s diary specifically mentioned Charles Melton who moved east after the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816 and established the Cherokee Indian town known as Meltonsville.  James Melton became a keel boat guide for Malcolm Gilchrist and some of his family remains in Lawrence County, Alabama today.  David Melton sold Andrew Jackson all the land at Melton’s Bluff and some 60 slaves.  Lewis’ son Moses Melton and Charles Hicks were given by treaty a tract of land at Spring Creek on the south side of the Tennessee River near Melton’s Bluff.  Elick Melton was one of the signers of a letter from The Gourd, who established Gourd’s Settlement at present-day Courtland, Alabama. 

You can read much more about Doublehead’s Cherokee family genealogy in the soon to be published book.  Also in the book, you will find a copy of Ocuma Melton’s letter to Colonel Return J. Meigs about her husband John’s death.  Each of Doublehead’s wives and his children will be discussed in detail; therefore, be sure to sign up for your copy of this book that gives important Indian history of north Alabama.

1 comment:

  1. I am interested in learning more about the circumstances behind David Melton's sale of Melton's Bluff to Andrew Jackson. After the sale, where did David Melton go and did he have any children?

    Is it possible that David Melton moved to Georgia between 1816-1840? I found an 1870 Census which seems to place my great great great grandfather, also named David Melton, in Brooks County, Georgia. Based on the age recorded in the census, he would have been born in 1828. My great, great grandfather Henry Melton is also listed on the same census as being 3 years old. A tombstone in a cemetery in Georgia shows that Henry Melton was born in 1868.

    Stories from my family often refer to an Irish man who married a Cherokee woman and 8 children who inherited a lot of land which was eventually sold. One of my great aunts who lives in Omaha, Nebraska has an original portrait painting of a Cherokee woman which could be Ocuma if I can find some link.