Friday, December 21, 2012

Crappie Fishing in Winter

Crappie Fishing in Winter

Since today is the first official day of winter, I decided to give a few hints and pointers that I use to catch winter time crappie; these hints work not only on the Tennessee River but also on Lewis Smith Lake of North Alabama.  According to the calendar, December 21 through March 21 is winter time; many fair weather fishermen wait until the warmer days of spring, but crappie bite very good during the colder months of winter.  The crappie may bite a little slower during the colder months of the year, but it appears that the bigger slabs are a little easier to catch during the cold months of winter.

I consider the most important aspect of winter time crappie fishing is to find good cover; the habitat of winter crappie seems to be some type of structure.  Crappie structure can include stump beds, brush piles that have been placed at appropriate depths, trees that have fell off the banks into deep water, boat house piers on the Tennessee River, and rocky points.  Since there are no permanent boat docks on Smith Lake with supports that extend into the bottom, fishing the supporting poles is limited to the Tennessee River; however, during the spring months, a lot of crappie can be caught around lighted floating boat docks at night on Smith Lake.

Just in the last two weeks, I have caught crappie around structure on Wilson Lake, and I have friends that have been catching crappie on a regular basis on Smith Lake for the last few weeks.  On the river, the small yearling shad are gathering by the thousands around boat docks and tree tops; on Wednesday of this week, my depth finder would not read but four to five deep in water that was 30 feet or more because of the huge schools of fingerling shad blocking the bottom echo.  It seems to me to be the best forage on the Tennessee River that I have seen for crappie in the last several years; crappie are waiting under these huge schools of shad for a slow moving jig.


Two types of jigs seemed to work very well; a lead head equipped with a Bobby Garland grub and a maribou jig.  The type of Bobby Garland grub that I prefer is a small plastic body about one inch long with a long slender straight tail; many colors of Bobby Garlands are available, but the colors I prefer include bluegrass, blue ice, albino shad, key lime pie, electric chicken, monkey milk, bayou booger, and ghost.  Small feathered maribou jigs also work quite well with a cork; I prefer one with white feathers and a red head, but blue heads also seem to work very well.

Cork and Jig

Even though the water is colder during the winter months, do not forget to use a cork and jig especially on Smith Lake, but always look for crappie cover that will hold bait fish that the crappie feed on and eat.  In cork fishing, it is preferable to use a 1/16 to 1/32 ounce head with a small float or cork some two to four feet deep above the jig; cast the cork and jig over submerged structure and twitch the rod gently and slowly retrieve the rig toward the boat.  Keep an eye on the cork because when it disappears, it is time to lift the rod and set the hook.

On the Tennessee River, I have caught numerous slab crappie with a cork and jig during some extremely cold days of winter; I know some boat docks that have structure place under and around the dock where a cork and jig is very effective.  During February, I have caught some of the biggest black crappie that weigh over two pounds on the cork and jig around docks with structure.  Do not forget to try a cork and jig during the winter months while crappie fishing on Smith Lake and the Tennessee River.

Vertical Jigging

Most of my fishing on the Tennessee River is on Wilson Lake where I have a small house and boat dock; I can let my boat into the water and begin fishing without running a great distance.  During the winter months, I love to vertical fish with a 1/8 ounce lead head and Bobby Garland grub around boat dock pilings on the Tennessee River and large trees that have fell off the bank into deep water.  I like to fish boat dock support poles and trees that are in 25 to 35 feet of water, and the method is very simple.

Using four pound test line, just let the jig go to the bottom next to a boat dock pole or in the top of a submerged tree; very slowly wind the jig back toward the surface.  Repeat this process around a lot of boat docks and trees; you should catch a mess of crappie vertical jigging during the next few months.  You should be very careful not to move the boat while vertical jigging a tree top; it is important to be sure that you jig straight up and down in tree tops or you will lose a lot of jigs.  Vertical jigging is a very effective method for catching crappie during the winter months.

Horizontal Casting

Most crappie fishermen only use the horizontal casting method for fishing a jig or grub and lead head; this style of fishing is very effective much of the year, but do not forget the cork and jig and vertical fishing.  This week I fished a rocky point that tapered off into some 30 feet of water, and the shad were constantly moving around the point into a large hollow.  I caught some 12 fish by slowly walking the 1/8 ounce lead head with a Bobby Garland from the point to a depth of some 25 feet.  Walking a jig is to let it settle to the bottom, then lift the rod letting the jig fall until it hit the bottom again; this procedure is repeated until the jig is just about under the boat.  Be sure the point that you are fishing is not covered with brush or you will lose a lot of jigs; over the years, I have caught many crappie walking a grub off of rocky points.

Another place to horizontal cast on the Tennessee River is parallel to boat dock poles; cast your jig along the front edge of a boat dock and let it sink to the bottom in a preferable depth of some 20 to 35 feet.  After the jig reaches the bottom, slowly wind the grub past the supporting poles of the boat dock toward your boat; set the hook when you feel a slight tug on the line.

I hope you get out and enjoy winter fishing for crappie; feel free to ask me questions or comment on this post.  I hope you have great crappie fishing this winter; I look forward to seeing you on the water.  Be sure to join my blog to read all my stories!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



Bootsville was established by a local Cherokee Indian called “The Boot;” two different Cherokee men were known by the name of “The Boot.”  According to local folklore, these two Cherokee Indian men in the area of Bootsville were known as Big Boot and Little Boot; these two Indians were probably father and son.  One Cherokee known as The Boot, which was probably Big Boot, was listed as being killed at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 17, 1814; he was a member of Captain Jonathan McLemore’s Company.  The Boot that was killed at Horseshoe Bend was known locally as Big Boot; he was more than likely the father of Little Boot or John Fletcher who was also known as “The Boot or Chutcoe.”

John Fletcher was born about 1796; he was a mixed blood Cherokee of Scots Irish ancestry; Fletcher is a Scots Irish name.  Most names in the southeastern United States that end with “er” or start with “Mc” are very likely of Scots Irish lineage.  The family name ending in “er” usually indicates the occupation of the Scots Irish family; for example, baker is one who bakes, miller is one that operates a mill, walker is one who walks horses; carpenter is one who builds, fletcher is one who fletches arrow shafts, and many other “er” type people.

John Fletcher, Little Boot or The Boot, lived in the Indian town that took his name; the Cherokee village was west of Big Wills Creek at the eastern edge of Sand Mountain.  In the late 1800’s, the land was bought by the Horton family who settled in the previous Indian community.  According to family history, when Griffin Ruben Horton moved to Bootsville in the late 1800’s, he lived in the old log cabin that was originally the home of The Boot.  According to the accounts of these first white settlers, there were several Cherokee log cabins still standing that were the homes of the Indian inhabitants of the Town of Bootsville.

John Fletcher’s home was on a hill overlooking a beautiful flat valley between Sand Mountain and Pine Ridge; the large spring of water was known as Bootsville Spring and flowed into Bootsville Branch.  The main branch was to the east of The Boot’s home place and was fed by the big spring within a few yards of his house.  Probably many of John Fletcher’s family members are buried in unmarked graves in the Bootsville Cemetery just less than one half mile west of his original home and spring.

In September 1816, “The Boot” or John Fletcher signed the Turkey Town Treaty with Cherokee Chief Pathkiller and Cherokee Colonel Richard Brown; Turkey Town, some 25 miles south of Bootsville, was the Cherokee town where the treaty was signed.  The Turkey Town Treaty gave up Cherokee and Chickasaw lands in Franklin, Colbert, Lawrence, and Morgan Counties in northwest Alabama.

In 1824 the Methodist missions to the Cherokees were under the direction of Richard Neely and Thomas D. Scales; a Methodist church school was started in 1825 at Oothcaloga under the direction of Asbury Owen.  After urging of Bishop William McKendree, some Cherokees became active in preaching for the Methodist Church; in 1826, Turtle Fields was appointed as the first Cherokee itinerant preacher in Methodist Church.  Other Methodist preachers to follow were John Fletcher (The Boot), Edward Gunter, and Joseph Blackbird; Cherokee Chief John Ross became the most famous Methodist convert.

John Fletcher (The Boot) was converted to Christianity in 1825; he was licensed to preach and became a Methodist Cherokee minister in 1827.  Fletcher was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee; he later received ordination as elder in Lebanon and preached effectively in the Cherokee language to his people in Wills Valley.  By 1830, some 1,028 Cherokee people were members of the Methodist Church as a result of personal evangelizing and camp meetings during the 1820s.

In 1826, John Fletcher was a Methodist preacher who spoke in his native Cherokee language; Edward Gunter, the son of John Gunter, interpreted some of the sermons of The Boot into English.  John Fletcher would speak at revival meetings; Turtle Fields, the first ordained Cherokee Methodist preacher, would complete the camp meeting.  According to Henry T. Malone’s 1956 book, Cherokees of the Old South, “At a special conference ceremony in Tennessee celebrating the sixth anniversary of Methodist missions to the Cherokees, John Fletcher spoke in his native language on the subject of the Indian missions.  Edward Gunter then translated Fletcher’s message, and added a speech of his own.  Turtle Fields completed the program with an oration also in English.”  Cherokee Chief John Ross was converted to Christianity at a meeting in the Chickamauga area south of present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee during a Methodist revival meeting and became an active Methodist.

A trail passing through Bootsville Gap came from Coosada (an Indian village on an island in the Tennessee River just upstream from Guntersville), leading east through Bootsville, then Fort Payne, then to Broom Town in Cherokee County, Alabama, and then to High Town (present-day Rome, Georgia) where it joined the High Town Path that led to Charleston, South Carolina.  The third county seat of Dekalb County, Alabama, was at Bootsville; the county seat at Bootsville was from 1839 to 1841.  Dekalb County became a county in Alabama in 1836.

From Bootsville, John Fletcher migrated west during the 1838 removal to Indian Territory and continued to be a Methodist Christian missionary among his Cherokee people for many years.  On September 6, 1839, John Fletcher (The Boot) signed the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation with the reunited Western and Eastern Cherokees at their National Council Convention which met at Tahlequah, Oklahoma in the Cherokee Nation west.  The Boot signed the new constitution document along with several other Cherokees from his Alabama home near Bootsville including John Benge, George Guess, Edward Gunter, George W. Gunter, Jesse Bushyhead, Lewis Melton, and several other Cherokees.  John Fletcher, The Boot, died August 8, 1853, while preaching in the Canadian District of Indian Territory.

The Community of Bootsville is on present-day Dekalb County, Alabama highway 458 that runs off highway 35 at the Community of Pine Ridge on the eastern base of Sand Mountain and west of Fort Payne, Alabama, about two miles.  Through Bootsville Gap, Bootsville is some five miles north of Lebanon, Alabama, which was the approximate location of Wills Town on Big Wills Creek in Dekalb County.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Turkey Town

Turkey Town

Turkey Town was a Chickamauga Indian village named for Cherokee Chief Little Turkey; the town was on the High Town Path that led from Otali (present-day Attalla), to Turkey Town, and then to High Town which is present-day Rome, Georgia.  Turkey Town was just northeast of Gadsden on present-day highway 411 between Gadsden and Centre, Alabama near the Coosa River.  Little Turkey became the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation after the death of Hanging Maw in 1795 and resided in his village that became known as Turkey Town until his death in 1801.

John McDonald

The British were supplying the Chickamauga Confederacy with arms, ammunitions, and powder to help the English defeat the American colonies; even though the Americans had officially declared the Revolutionary War over on April 11, 1783, the Chickamauga fought on with John McDonald supplying war materials from Running Water Town, a Chickamauga town situated at a Creek Indian crossing of the Tennessee River just west of Lookout Mountain.  John McDonald had been appointed as the assistant Superintendent of Indian Affairs by the British under the command of Superintendent John Stuart.  At Running Water, British agent Alexander Cameron and McDonald were being provided supplies, goods, and ammunition from Savannah or Pensacola; however, pressure from the American forces pushed the British arms suppliers farther south to Turkey Town.  The British were using Turkey Town and other Chickamauga villages as their base of operations in the Southwest; they were stockpiling food and military supplies for all tribes of the Chickamauga hostile to the American government.

About 1788, the Scots Irish John McDonald, who had married half blood Cherokee Anne Shorey, moved from Running Water Town together with his family including his daughter Mollie and her husband Daniel Ross to Turkey Town.  Initially, McDonald had been supplying the Chickamauga from his stores some 15 miles south of the Tennessee River on Chickamauga Creek near present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee.  At the time he moved to Turkey Town, McDonald was corresponding with William Panton of Panton, Leslie, & Co., a British supplier of trade goods that had become allied with the Spanish interests; William Panton of Pensacola and Creek Chief Alexander McGillivray were the best of friends.
Turkey Town was also much closer to the old abandoned French Fort Toulouse that was possibly being re-garrisoned by the Spanish; or that a new fort would be garrisoned north of Turkey Town near present-day Ft. Payne, Alabama.  With the help of British agents, McDonald continued to supply arms, ammunition, and powder to the Chickamauga from Turkey Town; it was at Turkey Town where John McDonald’s grandson John Ross was born on October 3, 1790, to McDonald’s daughter Mollie and Daniel Ross.  John Ross was born a true Chickamauga Cherokee at Turkey Town and was destine to become the longest serving chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Cherokee Leaders

From 1775 to 1792, Chief Dragging Canoe led the Chickamauga in their fight against white encroachment on their ancestral lands.  John Watts, Jr. became Chief of the Chickamauga Cherokee after the death of Dragging Canoe on March 1, 1792, and held that position until 1795 when Little Turkey moved to the position as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  John Watts, Jr., was born about 1752 and died at Wills Town in 1808; he first lived at Watts Town between present-day Reedy Creek and Town Creek some 25 miles east of the present-day Town of Guntersville in Marshall County, Alabama; later, John Watts, Jr. lived at Wills Town just a few miles north of present-day Lebanon, Alabama and some six miles south of Ft. Payne.

Little Turkey resided at Little Turkey’s Town that became known as Turkey Town located near the Coosa River in Alabama; Little Turkey became a leader of great influence with his Cherokee people.  In the Grand Cherokee National Council of 1792, Little Turkey was referred to as the great beloved man of the whole nation; Little Turkey was chief until 1801 when he died and Black Fox was elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Black Fox lived at Mouse Town at the mouth of Fox’s Creek on the northern border of present-day Lawrence and Morgan Counties and remained chief until his death in 1811; Pathkiller took over as chief after the death of Black Fox and served until his death on January 8,1827; Pathkiller lived at Turkey Town and is buried near Centre, Alabama.  John Ross, who was born at Turkey Town, was elected chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1828 and served until his death on August 1, 1866.

Creek Indian War

During the Creek Indian War, Cherokee Colonel Richard Brown raised a group of some 25 local Indians to meet John Strother at Turkey Town; a route led south from Turkey Town to Hickory Ground, and then to old French Fort Toulouse.  Within some 15 miles south from Turkey Town, a large mixed force of Cherokees and Tennessee Volunteers under Jackson’s command attacked the Red Stick Creeks at Tallasahatchee; David Crockett participated in this first major campaign of the Creek Indian War at the Battle of Tallasahatchee.

Turkey Town Treaty of 1816

After the Chickamauga War and Creek Indian War, Turkey Town remained an Indian town of great importance; the Turkey Town Treaty of September 1816 was negotiated at Turkey Town.  The treaty of gave up Cherokee and Chickasaw lands in the north Alabama portion of the Warrior Mountains; both tribes had legitimate claims by previous treaties to the Indian lands in the present-day counties of Franklin, Colbert, Lawrence, and Morgan Counties.  According to the terms of the Turkey Town Treaty, the last Indian lands of the Warrior Mountains were bought from the Cherokees and Chickasaws on September 14 and 18, 1816, respectively.  The Chickasaws were paid $125,000.00 with the Cherokees being paid $60,000.00 for land that now makes up Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan Counties.

The Chickasaws and Cherokees had overlapping land claims with the Cherokees claiming land west to Natchez Trace some 10 to 15 miles west of Caney Creek in Colbert County.  The Chickasaws claimed land east to the old official Chickasaw boundary, which runs from the Chickasaw Old Fields (Hobbs Island) south to the High Town Path then west along the High Town Path to Flat Rock in present day Franklin County.  From Hobbs Island, the boundary ran northwest diagonally across Madison Counties.

The Chickamauga Chief Doublehead and the Cherokees farmed and controlled the Tennessee Valley to Natchez Trace by agreement with Chickasaw Chief George Colbert.  The Turkey Town Treaty signed by the Cherokees on September 14, 1816, ceded Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan counties; however, the U.S. Government established the Chickasaw’s new eastern boundary from Franklin County’s Flat Rock Corner on Little Bear Creek to Caney Creek in Colbert County until 1832.  The High Town Path was recognized as the southern boundary of the cessions for both the Chickasaw and Cherokee, until the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816; the treaty identified the new cession boundary as a straight line drawn from Flat Rock on Little Bear Creek in Franklin County to Ten Islands on the Coosa River.  Previous treaties recognized the Continental Divide along which ran the High Town or Ridge Path.

Turkey Town Conclusion

In the 1835 census, the Turkey Town area had only 43 families with 254 individuals with the majority of the people being mixed Indian and white; only five of the families owned black slaves.  In June of 1838, the remaining Indian families of Turkey Town were rounded up and herded into stockades by United States Army soldiers for removal to the west which started in earnest during the fall of 1838.  After the removal, white settler families moved in and claimed the former Indian lands of the Chickamauga Cherokee of Turkey Town; remnants of the Indian settlement fell in ruin.

When I recently visited the site of Turkey Town, a large marble monument marking the location of the prominent portion of the Cherokee settlement and an old well dating around 1810 was all the aboriginal evidence that remained of this once thriving Chickamauga town.  I was disappointed that very little historical structures and information about Turkey Town was available at the site of such an important Indian village; it is sad that we in Alabama preserve very little of our ancestral and cultural landscape.

Thursday, December 6, 2012



Otali, a Cherokee word that means mountain, was a Chickamauga Cherokee Indian town located at the southwestern end of Lookout Mountain between Wills Creek and the Coosa River.  This Lower Cherokee Indian village was originally called Atale a corruption of the Cherokee word for mountain Otali.  The Indian town is now known as the present-day site of Attalla, in Etowah County, Alabama.

A major Indian trail known as the High Town Path passed through the Otali; the old Indian route came from Chickasaw Bluffs at the junction of the Wolf River and the Mississippi River at the present-day site of Memphis, Tennessee.  The High Town Path passed through the Indian village of Flat Rock at present-day Haleyville, Alabama, and followed the Tennessee Divide through Winston, Franklin, Lawrence, and Cullman Counties prior to dropping off the mountain and passing through the Chickamauga Indian town of Browns Village at the Red Hill Community near present-day Guntersville.  From Guntersville, the path went around the end of Lookout Mountain at Otali.  From Otali, the High Town Path went to Turkey Town, then to High Town (present-day Rome), and then to Olde Charles Town which is present-day Charleston, South Carolina.

Otali became the home of Captain John Brown; his father was also known as John Brown, a white trader to the Chickasaws during the mid 1750’s.  The older John Brown married a full blood Cherokee woman; he traded with the Chickasaws along with James Adair.  John Brown was a pack horseman for the Cherokee traders, and later a Chickasaw trader and partner of Jerome Courtonne in the Chickasaw Breed Camp on the Coosa River; Chickasaw warriors would meet the pack trains coming from Charleston, and escort them to the Chickasaw towns to the west.  His sister married Oconostota, a famous Cherokee Indian known as the Beloved Warrior of Great Tellico.

Captain John Brown was half Cherokee Indian and was also known as Yonaguska which translates to “Drowning Bear.”  Captain John Brown was thought to have migrated to Otali after the Turkey Town Treaty of September 1816; he was the ferry operator at the famous Brown’s Ferry crossing of the Tennessee River in present day Lawrence County, Alabama.  Captain John Brown’s step daughter Betsey married a Cox and they operated Brown’s Ferry which became known as Cox’s Ferry for a short period of time; Betsey eventually relocated to Arkansas.  While at Browns Ferry in Lawrence County, another of John Brown’s daughters Patsy Brown, sister of Cherokee Colonel Richard Brown, married Captain John D. Chisholm; Patsy later divorced Chisholm who was the legal advisor of Doublehead; Doubleheads Town was located at the Browns Ferry site on the south bank of the Tennessee River in present-day Lawrence County, Alabama.

The half blood Cherokee Captain John Brown was born about 1756 and died in 1827; it is documented that he had three wives.  His first wife was unknown but he had two children Richard and Patsy Brown who married John D. Chisholm.  Another of the wives of Captain John Brown was a half blood Cherokee woman named Sarah Webber who had Betsey that first married a Cox and Walter Webber; John and Sarah also had David, John, Jr., and Catherine.  His third wife was Betsey or Wattee; they had Polly who married Alexander Gilbreath, Alexander, Edmund, and Susannah or Susan.  Not only did the half blood Captain John Brown have a son named John Brown, but it should be noted that Richard and David both had sons that were also named John Brown; therefore, possibly many of the descendants of the white John Brown and his full blood Cherokee wife were named John Brown which can cause a lot of confusion in genealogy.

Captain John Brown’s daughter Catherine established the Creek Path Mission School in 1820, six miles south of Guntersville.  It was in Attalla that David Brown, the half blood Cherokee Indian son of John Brown, assisted by the Reverend D. S. Butterick, prepared the “Cherokee Spelling Book;” the book was printed in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was ready to use in the schools by January 1820.  David Brown died on September 15, 1829.  Colonel Richard Brown had a son who was called Chief John Brown; Chief John Brown died October 24, 1861, in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Indian Territory.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Huntsville-Guntersville Indian Villages

Huntsville-Guntersville Chickamauga Settlements

If you want to read more about the Chickamauga trails and villages across north Alabama, you can purchase the book "Appalachian Indian Trails of the Chickamauga!"  Lamar Marshall and I are trying to complete the book by the spring of 2013; below is a brief description of some Chickamauga towns in the Huntsville-Guntersville area; many other villages are found throughout the Tennessee Valley and very little information has been published on these Chickamauga paths and towns.

George Fields Village-Fields Village was located in Morgan County, Alabama just north of present-day Lacey Springs Community.  George Fields was wounded at the Battle of Talladega fighting with General Andrew Jackson during the Creek Indian War.

Camp Coffee-Camp Coffee was located on the south side of the Tennessee River about two miles east of Whitesburg Bridge south of present-day Huntsville, Alabama.  The outpost of General Andrew Jackson was named for John Coffee who was stationed at Camp Coffee during the Creek Indian War; Coffee was ordered by Jackson to destroy Black Warrior Town while stationed at Camp Coffee.

Flint River Settlements-These Chickamauga Indian settlements were along the Flint River east of the present-day City of Huntsville, Alabama.  Two of Doublehead’s daughters had reservations on Flint River near the Hurricane Fork in Madison County, Alabama: Peggy Doublehead that married William Wilson and Alice Doublehead that married Giles McNulty settled on reservations that were adjacent to the original Madison County line.

Browns Village-Near the present-day Community of Red Hill on the west bank of Browns Creek was a Lower Cherokee town; the village was occupied by the Cherokee Indians by 1790.  Browns Village was named for the head man of the town Colonel Richard Brown, who was the son of Captain John Brown that lived at present-day town of Attalla.  Colonel Richard Brown, the brother-in-law of Captain John D. Chisholm who married Patsy Brown, fought with General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Talladega and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend; his people received Jackson's praise for their military aid during the Creek Indian War.  

Browns Village was situated on two important Indian trails:  The Black Warrior Road leading from Ditto’s Landing south of present-day Huntsville, Alabama to Black Warrior Town at the fork of the Sipsey and Mulberry Rivers in Cullman County, Alabama near the Community of Sipsey; and the High Town Path leading from Old Charles Town, South Carolina, to present-day Rome, Georgia (High Town), then to Turkey Town, through Browns Village, then to Chickasaw Bluffs at present-day Memphis, Tennessee.

Cherokee Bluff-There was a Cherokee fort on Beards Bluff overlooking the Tennessee River near Guntersville, Alabama.  The site was known as Cherokee Bluff and was the scene of a battle between the Cherokees and the Creeks in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

Corn Silk Village-Corn Silk Village was one and one-half miles southeast of Warrenton on the Corn Silk farm of the Street plantation.  This Cherokee town was a small Indian village on the banks of Corn Silk Pond; the village was named for the head man who was known as Corn Silk.

Creek Path-Cherokees settled along the Creek Path and the Tennessee River as early as 1784 inhabiting the Guntersville area.  Creek Path Town or Kusanunnahi was located on the east bank of Brown Creek some six miles southeast of Guntersville; this Cherokee village got its name from being situated on the Creek Path which extended from Talladega Creek to the Tombigbee River. The town was a very important having about four or five hundred inhabitants and was one of the larger Cherokee villages in Alabama at that time.  The Creek Path was part of the route that was used by General Andrew Jackson during his war against the Creeks in 1813-14.

In 1820, Creek Path Mission School was one of the earliest mission schools was established here for the Cherokees.  Catherine Brown was the daughter of half blood Cherokee Captain John Brown Sr., a famous Cherokee Indian; Catherine and her sister and Anna established the Creek Path Mission School just six miles south of present-day Guntersville, Alabama.  Catherine died on July 18, 1823, of tuberculosis at Trianna in Limestone County, Alabama; she was buried at Creek Path Mission.  

You need to read more about Catherine Brown, a beautiful Christian Cherokee young woman who devoted her short life to her Chickamauga Cherokee people in the service of Jesus Christ; this story will bring tears to you eyes of her faith and accomplishments; on her death bed she was still praising God!

Prior to establishing the Creek Path Mission, Catherine, a three-quarter blood Cherokee, attended Brainerd Mission and at age seventeen was the first convert; she was baptized and joined the church at Brainerd in January 1818.  The Brainerd Mission had been organized by Reverend Gideon Blackburn east of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Originally Brainerd Mission had sixty pupils, among them several members of the powerful Cherokee Lowrey family. At age sixteen, Lydia Lowrey, a daughter of Major George Lowrey who was later the assistant chief of the Cherokee Nation, joined the church and was baptized January 31, 1818.  Lydia soon after married Milo Hoyt, son of Doctor Hoyt; she died in the Indian Territory July 10, 1862.

Coosada-Coosada Island Town was located in the middle of the Tennessee River approximately 10 miles above the present-day City of Guntersville; the village was an old Indian town established in the early 1700s.  In 1714, a battle between the Creeks and Cherokees was fought on Coosada Island.  Four major Indian trails from the east converged at the Coosada Island where three crossed the Tennessee River at the Indian village site and the South River Road ran the east bank of the river; this ford in the river was called the Upper Creek Crossing and was located at the shoals on the upstream or the north end of the island.  An early site at the upstream end of Coosada Island was called the Larkin Landing where flatboats and keel boats would stop for supplies as they were moving up and down the Tennessee River; it is believed the Sauty was a shortened version of Coosada.  Coosada Island later became known as Pine Island and is now under the backwaters of Guntersville Lake.

Gunter’s Landing-Another Cherokee Indian town in Marshall County, Alabama was Gunter's Village; the town derived its name from the head man John Gunter.  Gunter’s settlement was on the old Creek Path that extended from the Coosa Old Town at the mouth of Talladega Creek, to Ten Islands on the Coosa River, thence toward the mouth of Big Wills Creek at present-day Attala, where it followed Line Creek through Sheffield Gap to the top of Sand Mountain through modern Boaz and Albertville, and crossed the Tennessee River downstream from Gunter’s Landing at the mouth of Brown’s Creek.

John Gunter was a Celtic trader of Welch or Scots Irish lineage; most historians agree that John Gunter was Welsh.  He was born in North Carolina, went to South Carolina as a child and migrated into north Alabama around 1785 at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.  John Gunter was one of the first white persons to settle in what is now Marshall County, Alabama; the City of Guntersville got its name from this early white settler.  Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided to settle near the river and trade with the Indians, the majority of which were Cherokees.  Gunter opened a trading post on Creek Path (kusanunnahi), where it intersected the Tennessee River.  Beginning in 1814, Gunter operated a powder mill in Chickamauga country; about 1820, Gunter began operating a ferry across the Tennessee River known as Gunter’s Landing.

John Gunter married a Cherokee woman named Ghigoneli Bushyhead who had been brought to the area by her father Bushyhead in order to trade for salt; Bushyhead and Gunter signed a treaty stating "as long as the grass grows and the waters flow the Indians can have salt."  John Gunter called his young fifteen year old Indian wife Katherine; they had seven Celtic and Cherokee mixed blood children.  Their three sons were Samuel, Edward, and John Gunter, Jr; their four daughters were Aky, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Martha.  John Gunter owned some forty black slaves that he willed at his death to his wife and children.  The Gunter home was located at the foot of the hill just west of the present-day George Houston Bridge; the large "L" shaped two story house had a "dog trot" hall between the two main sides with a large smokehouse located at the end of the "L" portion of the house.

John Gunter and his family were living at Gunter's landing in October 1813 when General Andrew Jackson and his army came through on their way to fight the Creeks.  Jackson’s Army crossed the Tennessee River at Ditto's Landing near present-day Whitesburg Bridge, marched across Brindley Mountain to Brown's Valley and camped for two days near present-day Warrenton.  Lower Cherokees from Gunter’s Village gave General Jackson important military aid during the Creek Indian War.

John Gunter later rose to a leadership position with the Lower Cherokees; he was adopted into the tribe that was the major member of the Chickamauga Confederacy.  In the 1830’s during the Indian removal, many Creeks and Cherokees passed by Gunter’s Landing on the way west to Indian Territory.  Doctor Billy Morgan was the doctor assigned by the government to take care of the Creek Indian people arriving at Gunter’s Village; today, Billy Morgan’s house on present-day highway 227 is in bad disrepair and should be restored as an important historic site since the house is actually on the John Benge Detachment removal route.

Meltonsville-Charles Melton’s village was at the site of the present old village ford on Town Creek prior to running into the Tennessee River.  Charles Melton was the head man of the town and was originally from Melton’s Bluff in Lawrence County, Alabama; he operated a store at Melton’s Bluff in Lawrence County and sold goods to John Coffee while he was doing the surveys for the Turkey Town Treaty in February and March of 1816.  Charles was the son of Irishman John Melton and Doublehead’s youngest sister Ocuma; after the Turkey Town Treaty of September 1816, he moved east and established Meltonsville in Marshall County, Alabama.  Meltonsville was a Lower Cherokee town that was founded after the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816 took all the land from the Cherokees in Lawrence, Morgan and Franklin Counties.

Massas-In Brown Valley, near the present line between Blount and Marshall Counties, there was a Creek and Cherokee village, situated on two trails, both leading to Ditto’s Landing on the Tennessee River, one through Brown’s Valley and the other in a course opening further to west.  The name of the town was Massas, near Rock Landing on the Tennessee River.

Fort Deposit-Fort Deposit was built by General Andrew Jackson forces in October 1813 on the south bank of the Tennessee River near the mouth of Thompson’s Creek on its east bank; the fort was about eight miles northwest of the present-day Town of Guntersville, Alabama, and was strongly fortified as a depositary of military supplies and equipment.  The ferry at Fort Deposit was used to transportation of troops and supplies across the Tennessee River during the Creek Indian War; a series of caves was used storing of ammunition and powder.

Parches Cove-In the early1800’s, Parched Corn or Parched Corn Flour, a Lower Cherokee Indian, established under his leadership a Cherokee settlement in a cove on the south side of the Tennessee River in the beautiful rich bottomland that teemed with wildlife; therefore, the cove which is just west of present day Guntersville Dam and southeast of Huntsville became known as Parches Cove.  In a letter dated August 9, 1805, Doublehead requested the cooperation of Principal Chief Black Fox and others including Parched Corn Flour in order to get more provisions from the U.S. Government.  The Lower Cherokee Indian village at Parches Cove was at the confluence of the Tennessee River and Pigeon Roost Creek.

George Wilson, the grandson of Doublehead, was the son of Peggy Doublehead and William Wilson; he was born about 1832 and was named after his grandfather George Wilson that married Ruth Springston, a half sister of Nannie Drumgoole who was a wife of Doublehead.  George settled in a cove a short distance below present day Guntersville Dam; his mother and father had a land grant in Madison County, Alabama, with reservation number 128 near Hurricane Fork of the Flint River just east of present day Huntsville, Alabama.  Some of George Wilson’s family hid out in Parches Cove and avoided removal to the west; some of his descendants still call north Alabama home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chickamauga Towns

North Alabama Chickamauga Towns

Today, very little remains of the Chickamauga Indian towns of north Alabama; the physical evidence of these towns is practically nonexistence except for old maps and historical records.  Very few historic markers are available to the public identifying these important historic Chickamauga Indian sites; the Chickamauga people consisted of the Lower Cherokee, Chickasaw, Upper Creek, Shawnee, Yuchi, Delaware, and many mixed bloods who fought to save their sacred hunting grounds on the Cumberland River and to prevent white encroachment in their homelands.

Especially in northern Alabama, historical evidence is practically nonexistent; a few historical markers were placed over the last few years identifying the Trail of Tears; the local historical organizations of north Alabama seemed to have neglected some very important cultural and heritage sites of the Chickamauga people.

Some of the northern Alabama Chickamauga Indian towns are in vicinity of the present-day cities of Florence-Decatur, Huntsville-Guntersville, Scottsboro-Bridgeport, Gadsden-Centre, and Fort Payne.  Some of the north Alabama Chickamauga Indian towns include:  Florence-Decatur-Colbert’s Ferry, Doublehead’s Village, Cold Water, Shoal Town, Gourd’s Settlement, Cuttyatoy’s Village, Doublehead’s Reserve, Fort Hampton, Oakville, Melton’s Bluff, Foxes Stand, Doublehead’s Town, Mouse Town or Monee Town; Huntsville-Guntersville Area George Fields Village, Camp Coffee, Flint River Settlements, Gunter’s Landing, Brown’s Village, Meltonsville, Cherokee Bluff, Corn Silk Village, Creek Path, Coosada, Massas, Fort Deposit, Parches Cove; Scottsboro-Bridgeport Area-Area-North Sauty; Crow Town, Lookout Mountain Town, Long Island, Nickajack, Raccoon Town, Running Water; Gadsden-Centre Area-Broom Town, Otali, Turkey Town, Ball Play, Spring Creek Village, Polecat Town, Little Hogs Town, Hillibulga Village, Chattuga, Wolf Creek Village; Ft. Payne Area-Bootsville, Broom Town, Watts Town, Wills Town.

All the Chickamauga towns were connected together by Indian trails and paths in the area of north Alabama; the towns of Doublehead’s stronghold along the Muscle Shoals in northwestern Alabama were linked by Indian routes such as the High Town Path, Coosa Path or Muscle Shoals Path, the South River Road along the south bank of the Tennessee River, and the North River Road along the north bank of the Tennessee River.  All the northern Alabama Chickamauga Indian communities were tied together by numerous secondary Indian paths that forged the Chickamauga and Cherokee Indian settlements to each other across the north portion of Alabama.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Descendant of Cochise and Victorio

Descendant of Cochise and Victorio

On November 10, 2012, I met Jesse DeLuna II at a book signing in South Haven, Mississippi; Jesse is a Chiricahua Apache who is descended from Cochise and Victorio, both of which were great Chiricahua Apache war leaders.  In the area of southeastern Arizona, Jesse descends from these great Chiricahua leaders through his mother and his grandmother; his people were from the Chiricahua Mountains in southern New Mexico and Arizona and fought to the 1880’s to maintain their freedom from the United States reservation system.

Jesse’s last name DeLuna came from Spanish missionaries; his salt and pepper colored hair distinguishes him as an older Chiricahua Apache who has faced the frost of cold winters for 56 years of life.  Jesse was born on January 6, 1956, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonia, Texas.  His father Jesse DeLuna I was a career military man with the United States Air Force; Jesse II also joined and served in the Air Force until he was wounded in the invasion of Grenada.  Today, Jesse still has the look of a Chiricahua Apache warrior and practices the medicine of the old ways of his tribal elders; his great grandparents were born in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona, but his ancestral people ranged through the Chiricahua Mountains all the way into Mexico. 

Cochise-One of Jesse’s great, great, great grandfathers was Cochise, which means “Strength of the Oak;” Cochise was one of the more famous Chiricahua Apache leaders to resist encroachment into the homelands of the Chiricahua by American settlers during the middle of the 1800’s.  Cochise was considered a large Apache warrior about five feet ten inches tall and 175 pounds with a muscular frame; Jesse is not that tall but has the muscular frame of his Apache ancestors.

Cochise was thought to be born about 1812 in either Arizona or New Mexico; in addition, his tribe lived in the Chiricahua Mountain Range which extends into northern Mexico.  The Chiricahua had moved about in this mountainous area along the United States border long before the arrivals of white settlers who were taking their lands as they had done in the eastern portion of this country some 100 to 200 years earlier.  As did many eastern Indian leaders, Cochise and his people fought the encroachment of their homelands by these new American settlers whose ancestors had taken all the eastern Indian Territory. 
Cochise and his Chiricahua people moved throughout their southwestern territory as did many plains Indians; they migrated to follow the seasons for their hunting and farming. The constant relocating of the tribe within their home range made it almost impossible to know exactly where the Chiricahua people were located at any specific time; therefore, finding the Chiricahua was difficult and fighting these Indian people who wanted their freedom was similar to hide and seek for the United States military who were trying to put them on a reservation.

In order to defeat the Chiricahua Apaches, American and Native American mercenaries, along with Mexican forces south of the border, began to killing these native people indiscriminately; it is ironic that other American Indian people were paid to take the scalps of their fellow race.  The paying of bounties for Apache scalps was not uncommon; after his father was killed and scalped for a bounty, Cochise sought vengeance.  In addition his brother and two of his nephews were taken prisoner and executed during peace negotiations by Lieutenant George Bascom which served to further enrage Cochise, who managed to escape by cutting through the tent.  Even though Mexican authorities captured Cochise in 1848, he was exchanged for a dozen Mexican prisoners; Jesse told me there are bands of Chiricahua still living in the mountainous regions of Mexico and his ancestral people still have run-ins with the Mexican Federales.

In 1863, Cochise became the new Apache war chief after the death of the Chiricahua Chief Mangas Coloradas; he was murdered after being deceived by the Army military which convinced him into a conference under a flag of truce.  Cochise became revered by his people and led them in guerrilla warfare against the American settlers and United States Army.  In order to evade capture, Cochise led his people into very remote, difficult, and treacherous regions of the Dragoon Range of the Chiricahua Mountains of the southeastern Arizona.  It was not an easy move for his Apache people to survive but Cochise knew it would be more difficult for the military that was trying to force the Chiricahua on to reservations; the United States Army hunted them down like animals before finally capturing Cochise in 1871.

As the Army was preparing to transfer the Chiricahua Apache to a reservation located several hundred miles away, Cochise and several of his warriors escaped again and restarted their guerrilla war on the Army and settlers.  Finally, a new treaty was negotiated which allowed the Chiricahua Apache to remain in their homeland.  After the new treaty went into effect, Cochise surrendered, ceased hostilities, and died peacefully on the new reservation; he was buried in the rocks above one of his favorite camps in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona; the site is known today as “Cochise Stronghold.”  Cochise's descendants are said to currently reside at the Mescalero Apache Reservation, near Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Victorio-Another one of Jesse DeLuna’s great, great, great grandfathers was Victorio, also known as “Apache Wolf;” he was a member of the Chihenne Band of the Chiricahua Apache.  At the age of 28 in 1853 when he signed a government document, Victorio was considered a chief by the United States Army; he rode with Geronimo and other Apache leaders fighting settlers invading his homelands and against the United States Army.  By the 1870’s, Victorio and his band were placed on reservations despite their request to live on traditional ancestral lands.  Victorio and his fellow warriors left the reservation twice before leaving permanently in late August 1879 which started Victorio's War.

By September 10, 1879, nine American settlers had been killed by Victorio’s warriors and 46 to 68 army horses and mules were also taken by Victorio; his victories caused other Apache bands to leave the reservations and begin fighting.  The United States Army had dispatched thousands of soldiers and scouts to search for Victorio; in addition, American militias were also formed in Arizona and New Mexico to find and kill their Chiricahua enemy.

Even though Victorio and his followers numbered only about 200 men, women, and children, he was successful at raiding and evading capture by the United States Army.  While traveling down theAnimas River, Victorio’s band encountered a militia made up of miners in between Kingston andSilver City, New Mexico; ten of the militia was killed and some fifty horses were taken.  After the skirmish with the militia, Victorio continued south into Las Animas Canyon, in the Black Range, where he showed his brilliance as a military leader of his people; he positioned his warriors in decisive positions around the high ground.

On September 18, 1879, Victorio's forces, which numbered some 60 warriors, were positioned along the top of a ridge overlooking Las Animas Canyon and the adjacent Massacre Canyon.  Two companies of Army cavalry were lured into the canyon by a few Apache warriors who fired on the troops and fled to the canyon.  Once the cavalry was inside the canyon, Victorio’s warriors opened fire with their rifles and bows; the soldiers dismounted and took cover behind boulders.  Two other companies from the 9th cavalry were in the area and proceeded to the battlefield.  When the reinforcements entered the canyon, the Apache warriors ceased firing until the American soldiers began a flanking maneuver towards the ridge then opened fire again.  This was a decisive victory for Victorio; he had defeated the American forces in numerous battles.  Victorio was proven to be one of the best guerilla fighters ever known and one of the finest the United States Army had ever met in the field of battle.  With only some 50 to 60 fighting warriors, he reigned terror in the hearts of those who entered his domain and those he fought in battle.

In April, 1880, Victorio led the Alma Massacre which was a series of raids on the ranches and homes of the white settlers around Alma, New Mexico.  In October 1880, while moving along the Rio Grande River in northern Mexico, Victorio and his band were surrounded and killed by soldiers of the Mexican Army.  Some of the women and children of Victorio’s band escaped but were later sent with Geronimo to Florida and Alabama, then later transferred to Oklahoma; some of Victorio’s people were incarcerated for a while in Alabama.

Geronimo-Even though Geronimo was not directly related to Jesse DeLuna, Jesse’s ancestors rode and fought with this greatest Apache leader.  Normally, the Apache fighting tactics involved guerrilla warfare but the Battle of Apache Pass was the heaviest contested that the Apaches fought against the United States Army.  Later in his autobiography, the most celebrated Chiricahua-Mescalero Apache warrior Geronimo said, “My people were winning the fight until you fired your wagons at us;" Geronimo was referring to the howitzer cannons used by the Army.  I feel fortunate to have stood a few years ago with my daughter Celeste at the monument erected at the site where the great Apache Geronimo surrendered in southern Arizona.

In 1886 Geronimo surrendered to U.S. authorities after a lengthy fight and pursuit; he was imprisoned in Alabama before being transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  As a prisoner of war in his old age, Geronimo became a celebrity and appeared at various events, fairs, and activities but was never allowed to return to the Chiricahua homeland of his birth.  He later regretted that he had surrendered and claimed the conditions of his surrender were lies and were totally ignored.  Geronimo said just before his death, "I should have never surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive."  He was buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery; he died in 1909 from complications of pneumonia at Fort Sill.  He had been thrown from his horse and lay on the cold ground all night before being found by a friend.

Jesse roots are deep in the Chiricahua Apache traditions; he related to me that his Chiricahua Apache folks managed to escape during a dust storm in Waco, Texas; his people had been herded like cattle from the Chiricahua Mountains toward Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  At Waco, his ancestors were going to be loaded on a train that would transport them to the reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but the huge dust storm created enough diversion for his people to escape.  After his people avoided the force removal, Jesse said they assimilated with the Mexicans living in the Waco, Texas area in order to avoid being placed on an Indian reservation.  His folks hid out from the military in Texas and managed to avoid the reservation hundreds of miles from their native homelands; they lived their lives for years in denial of their true Apache lineage by living among people of Mexican heritage people who lived in Texas.  His folks eventually settled out in the San Antonia and Houston, Texas.

Jesse DeLuna and Helen Trevino were the parents of Jesse DeLuna II; he grew up in a one bedroom house in Texas with three brothers and three sisters.  Jesse’s father served in the United States Air Force for 25 years; Jesse senior was a technical sergeant when he retired from the military.  Jesse senior was a veteran of the Korean War and the Vietnam War; Jesse II also served 15 years in the United States Air Force.  When Jesse went into the military he had his hair cut for the first time; his sister still has his long black hair of his youth. Today, Jesse’s parents are still alive; his father lives in Houston, Texas, and his mother moved back to the land of her ancestors and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Jesse’s life has been full circle; he now practices the old medicine of his ancestors.  Jesse has three children that he hopes will carry on the old traditional ways of his Chiricahua Apache people:  His children are Jesse DeLuna III, who also has a son named Jesse DeLuna IV, is 32; Anthony Robert DeLuna is 28; and, Natasha DeLuna is 17.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Arthur meets Dr. George Washington Carver

Arthur Graves Story Continued

Arthur Graves was born in his parents’ two story frame home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on February 7, 1927; the house had indoor toilets and four bedrooms and Arthur still lives at the same site today.  One day when Arthur was a small boy, he noticed a large crowd gathered at Mr. Percy Ricks, who was his next door neighbor at 802 East Eighth Street in Tuscumbia; Arthur went over to the Ricks home and saw Walter Jackson, C. E. Lesley, and a large group of people surrounding one of the most famous black men of his time, Dr. George Washington Carver.

As Arthur tried to get closer to Dr. Carver, he bumped into a small evergreen bush that contained a large wasp nest; the wasps became stirred up and one stung Arthur.  Everyone scattered except Dr. Carver who came to the rescue of Arthur; he grabbed leaves from three different trees and twisted them together and rubbed the leaves on Arthur’s wasp sting.  Arthur said immediately the pain of the sting left and he did not have any swelling.  Later that evening, Arthur went to Sheffield High School to listen to Dr. George Washing Carver speak; he sat in the balcony because black folks were not allowed to set with the white folks.

Arthur also related that most of the wealthy white folks used black wet nurses to breast feed their infants; the white folks would not allow a white wet nurse to breast feed their babies because they felt the baby would become attached to a white wet nurse.  Wet nurses would also chew the food prior to feeding it to the baby; the nurses would take small portions of beef, pork, mutton, fruit, or vegetables to chew until soft before feeding it to the babies.  The black wet nurses also had to set in the balcony of the churches because it was warmer in the winter time due to the rising heat.

When Arthur Graves was a young boy, he had to lead the cow and mule to the pasture and walk past the big home that had been built by George Lawrence.  When he was small, Arthur played with Lawrence’s daughters Susie Bitting Lawrence and Martha Frances Lawrence; while in high school, he worked for George Lawrence’s car business.  Mr. Lawrence agreed to sell Arthur a car for one dollar per week; Arthur was real excited to buy a car but decided that he should first talk to his father before bringing the car home.  Even though he was happy to get a car, Arthur knew that he had to discuss the deal with his father Frank Graves.  Arthur was surprised when his father asked him, “Where are you going to park this car?”  Arthur said, “Since you do not have a car, I will park it in the driveway.”  Frank replied, “You do not have a driveway!  My advice to you is do not buy anything until you have a place to put it; therefore you cannot put that car in my driveway.”

After the discussion with his father, Arthur Graves decided the best thing for him to do was to go to college; since his brothers were at Tuskegee, Arthur enrolled in school where his brothers were attending.  After some time in college, Arthur decided to come home in November and go back to work for Mr. Lawrence who eventually sold the dealership in 1946 or 1947; one night in March, Arthur came in at three in the morning and his father was up waiting on him to get home.  His dad Frank told him, “Arthur you have been home since returning from Tuskegee and I expected you to start paying rent since you are working and coming home at all hours.  If you stay here, you will pay me room and board of ten dollars per week.”  Immediately, Arthur went upstairs and packed his bags; at five that morning, Arthur took his suitcases and left home that March morning.  He headed back to Tuskegee to complete his college degree.  At Tuskegee, Arthur got in a work study program, washed cars, and worked odd jobs to earn money for his school expenses.

Arthur stayed at Tuskegee until he was drafted in May 1946, and was sent to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas; he made a drill instructor and was a clerk in the orderly room.  Since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and the war ended shortly thereafter, Arthur served only eight months and 29 days before returning to Tuskegee, Alabama, where he re-enrolled in college.  Arthur graduated from Tuskegee University in 1948.  At his graduation ceremony, Arthur’s brother drove his father Frank and mother Alice to the see their son get his degree; from Tuskegee, his parents and brother drove to Washington, D.C. to see his baby sister Gloria Graves graduate from college.  Eventually all of the Graves children graduated from college.

In 1949, Arthur Graves got a job teaching public school in Decatur, Alabama; while in the Decatur public schools, he got called back to active duty during the Korean War.  Even though Arthur did not have to go to Korea, he served on active duty for a total of 20 years in the armed forces; initially, he was a drill instructor of black troops.  At the time Arthur served as a drill instructor, the military had just began to use black instructors; President Truman had desegregated all the services around 1948, but the order did not desegregate the people.

While on active duty, Arthur Graves acquired the rank of Colonel.  Even though the military services were officially integrated, black troops still had to endure the racial overtones of other white military leaders; Colonel Arthur Graves referred to these people as ring knockers because of their West Point rings.  Graves said, “From the time of the baseball great Jackie Roberson and General B.O. Davis with the Tuskegee Airmen, one thing that sustained the black troops was the attitude to be successful.  The old attitudes had problems with life itself and were hard to change, but at first most military people were not willing to accept change; blacks in the military still run into segregation issues.”

Arthur Graves stayed sick during his flight training in the air corps; he was later diagnosed with sever anxiety because of the fear of flying.  Arthur said he did not have a problem while in the air but before a flight he always got sick; he was in advanced training for flying B-25’s in the Old Army Air Corps.  After serving 26 years, Arthur Graves retired from the United States military; he begin teaching at the University of North Alabama on December 31, 1974, and taught for 14 years before retiring as a college professor in 1988.

Arthur Graves eventually became the executor of the estate of his deceased uncle who had inherited about 400 acres of his grandfather’s estate; his uncle had also purchased additional property when many farmers went under during the depression.  Arthur’s uncle had a bright red headed son who became an alcoholic and wrote many bad checks for which he was incarcerated in the local jail; Judge Vanderhoff stated that the boy was his own worst enemy and placed Arthur Graves over his estate to manage.  Arthur sold off some of the land to pay off the bad checks and to provide for his cousin and keep him out of jail.  Arthur eventually sold all the land around Hillsboro, Alabama, that belonged to his Reynolds uncle.

Arthur Graves married Jean Long on November 22, 1958, and they have been married for 53 years; Arthur and Jean had three children:  Lisa Graves Minor graduated from Vanderbilt University; Kenneth Graves graduated from Cumberland Law School; and, Sherry Graves Smith graduated University of Alabama and Cumberland Law School.  Jean Long Graves’ father was William Mansel Long who was from Lane Springs in northwest Colbert County; her mother was Otelia Mullins who was from the Ricks Community near “The Oaks Plantation” which is also in Colbert County.  Arthur had two children from a previous marriage; Arthur B. Graves is a retired educator and Frank Graves is a retired dentist.

In 1982, Arthur Graves bought and paid for a funeral home from Ms. Eloise Thompson that he still operates today.  Graves said, “I have had a radio program for 25 years; the radio program costs me $800.00 per month and I am on the air on Sunday starting at 9:15 am to promote my funeral home business.  I go to the Methodist Church and the rest of my family goes to the Church of Christ.  I believe one of our greatest rights is the freedom to vote; I am a member of the 47% and draw three retirements!  I will work as long as God blesses me and my good health.”