Monday, January 30, 2012

Doublehead: Southern Family Magazine

Doublehead:  Southern Family Magazine

The following article was printed in Southern Family Magazine, Volume VIII, Issue 1, January/February 2012.  The article announces the release of the book, Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief in February 2012.  Be sure to get your copy of the book about the most famous Indian to ever live along the Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River of north Alabama.  Many of Doublehead's descendants still live in north Alabama and east Tennessee.  The article as printed in Southern Family Magazine is as follows:  

Bluewater Publications is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Butch Walker’s latest book, Doublehead:  Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief.  While famous leaders like Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Tecumseh are household names, few people outside of north Alabama or central Tennessee have ever heard of Doublehead.  The author has painstakingly researched all available material on the great Chickamauga leader and written the first book ever published about the man.  He has even enlisted the help of some of the chief’s descendants.

Doublehead's brother-Standing Turkey

Butch Walker spent 35 years with the Lawrence County Board of Education and served as Director of Lawrence County Schools’ Indian Education Program and Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center until his retirement in 2009.  He has written several books on Native American History, including High Town Path, Warrior Mountains Folklore, Indians of the Warrior Mountains, Indian Trails of the Warrior Mountains, and Warrior Mountains Indian Heritage.

Walker describes Doublehead as hot-tempered, overbearing, and haughty.  He possessed one of the strongest personalities of any man who lived at the time.  Through sheer force of will, the man forced himself to the position of principal leader of his people.  Refusing to cede valuable hunting grounds to white intruders, he managed to confederate several tribes of Indians to wage war for twenty-five years.

The book covers all aspects of the chief’s life—from his time as a young warrior, fighting with Bob Benge and Dragging Canoe, to shrewd business man who became wealthy by selling his people’s land.  Not only was Doublehead a ferocious warrior, but he was also a barbarous man, killing women, children, and even a few of his own wives.  He once cannibalized victims during a drunken rage.  It is believed that the blood-thirsty chief killed more men than any other man of that era.

Walker takes the reader through the violent life and death of one of the most feared men who ever lived.  The author has also included a section on the descendants of this famous chief.  A biography on Chief Doublehead has been long overdue.  This is a must-read for anyone interested in Native American history.

Doublehead:  Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief will release on February 3, 2012, and will be available on  You can subscribe to Walker’s blog and receive all his weekly articles at

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Early Alabama Roads-Byler and Cheatham

Byler and Cheatham Roads

Many of the early Indian trails crossing north Alabama were laid out to take advantage of the springs; the land divides between different watersheds, and the terrain.  Many settlers, who came in to northwest Alabama from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee, called the Warrior Mountains home.  Many of the families claimed the beauty of the hills and hollows for some 100 years – the early 1800’s through the early 1900’s.  The United States government began buying the property from these settlers in the early 1900’s in order to establish a national forest in Lawrence and Winston Counties.  Most of the early settlers were from similar hill country of the Appalachians; therefore, the low but rugged hills and mountainous land afforded them all the comforts of their old home places.  Most of these early settlers, who sought the Bankhead National Forest region as home, were poor folks of Celtic (Scots, Irish) and Indian (Cherokee, Creek) descent.  Many of the men, who were trappers, traders, or small farmers, were married to Indian women or intermarried with Indian families.

Byler Road Historic Marker

After the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816 took the Indian land in Franklin (Colbert), Lawrence, and Morgan Counties of north Alabama, the area was opened for settlement and hundreds of people rushed into the area to claim the prized land.  Madison County had been established about 1806 and many of the first settlers coming overland by way of Huntsville probably crossed the Tennessee River by ferry.  Four ferries, Rhodes Ferry and Brown’s Ferry from Limestone County; and, Bainbridge Ferry and Lamb’s Ferry from Lauderdale County, probably carried people and supplies to the south side of the Tennessee River to the lands opened for settlement.  Brown’s Ferry, which was just east of Brown’s Island, crossed the river between Mallard and Fox's Creek.  The Brown's Ferry Road ran from present-day Huntsville to Courtland, Alabama.  Rhodes Ferry crossed the river from Limestone County to present-day Decatur.  The old Jasper Road crossed at Rhodes Ferry and ran from Nashville to Tuscaloosa.  Bainbridge Ferry came from Jackson's Military Road to the south side of the Tennessee River.  Bainbridge Ferry became the crossing of Byler Road.  Lamb’s Ferry crossed the river from now present day Rogersville to a place some three to five miles west of Spring Creek in Lawrence County.  Lamb’s Ferry, located at the lower end of Elk River Shoals, was the crossing of a major north-south route from Pulaski, Tennessee to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, known in Indian days as the Sipsie Trail.

Jackson's Military Road Historic Marker

Prior to the late 1830’s probably few settlers came from the east through the Cherokee Nation unless they were Cherokee mixed-bloods or connected to the Cherokee through marriage.  Until the late 1830’s, the Cherokee Nation controlled large sections of land from the eastern edge of Morgan County in Alabama, through the upper northwestern third of Georgia, and into the southeastern third of Tennessee.  After the Indian removal in 1838, all Indian lands in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama were opened for settlement.

With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became the “Agricultural King” not only to the Cherokee people, but to the hundreds of settlers who would quickly claim the Tennessee Valley regions of north Alabama.  However, the Warrior Mountains to the south of the river had an attraction for the Appalachian mixed-blood Indian descendants which they could not resist.  All of my early ancestors, though poor by means of worldly treasures, found that early spot where peace, beauty, and tranquility abounds both in life and death in the eternal land of the “Warrior Mountains.

Byler Road

The Byler Road ran through the western portion of the Warrior Mountains from the Tennessee River to Tuscaloosa.  The Byler Road was one of the first roads authorized by the Alabama State Legislature.  The road was approved two days after Alabama was admitted into the Union of the United States of America on December 14, 1819.  The road was named after John Byler, who is buried in Rock Springs Cemetery at Mt. Hope in Lawrence County, Alabama.

The road ran from Bainbridge Ferry on the Tennessee River, across the western border of Lawrence County, and into the Warrior Mountains of present day Bankhead National Forest.  The road went southward to the falls of the Tuscaloosa River and basically ran the divide between the Tombigbee and Warrior River drainages.  The road followed the basic route of the Old Buffalo Trail, which was a north-south route for the Creeks and Choctaws to the French Lick (Nashville).

The mountainous part of the route between the upper portion of Bear Creek and Sipsey River drainages of Lawrence County was along the same route laid out by Captain Edmund Pendleton Gaines on July 31, 1807.  The area was part of the Cherokee and Chickasaw territories.  According to an early map of Lawrence County, William McCain, son-in-law of John Byler, ran a toll gate on the Byler Road near its junction with the Northwest Road.  The toll gate was located in the Southeast quarter of Section 18 of Township 8 South and Range 9 West.

The Moulton Fork of the Byler Road ran from Moulton, skirting the edge of the mountains through Youngtown, and up to the mountain at McClung Gap.  The two Byler Roads joined at a site known as the 66 mile tree which was located about one-half mile west of the junction of the High Town Path and the Moulton Fork in the southwest one-quarter of Section 33 of Township 7 South and Range 9 West.  The 66 mile tree was thought to be a designated tree at the forks of the two roads.  The total distance, from the beginning of the Byler Road of the Byler Road at Bainbridge Ferry on the Tennessee River, and the beginning of the Byler Road Fork beginning at Moulton, to their junction on top of Continental Divide south of Mt. Hope, was supposedly marked on a tree designating the 66 miles of the Byler Roads north from that point.

Since prehistoric Indian times, the portion of Byler Road between Poplar Springs Cemetery and Aunt Jenny Brook’s home place was utilized as a trail or route from prehistoric Indian times.  This particular portion of the Byler Road was previously designated using various names; the High Town Path, the Old Buffalo Trail, and Doublehead's Trace.  The road was also the tribal boundary of the Creeks, Cherokees, and Chickasaws.
During the Civil War, Union troops of Northern Aggression under the command of Colonel Abel Streight were attacked on the Byler Road near Aunt Jenny’s place.  In addition, Union General G.M. Dodge’s scouting part utilized the Byler Road in the Spring of 1864.  Later in March, 1865, one division of Union General J. H. Wilson’s cavalry of 13,480 horseman passed down the Byler Road in route to Tuscaloosa and the Battle of Selma.  General Winslow's division passed along the Byler Road through Lawrence County and stayed the night at David Hubbard’s Plantation located at Kinlock.

Major General Grenville Mellen Dodge

Cheatham Road

An Indian route known as the Sipsie Trail, the Cheatham’s Turn-Pike, and the Wilderness Parkway is a road through the Warrior Mountains which has been traveled by many people.  However, without a doubt, the most historical of all too ever use the road through the middle of Bankhead Forest was Wyatt Cheatham.  Today, the road is known as state highway 33.

Due to a 1824 Act of the Alabama Legislature, Wyatt Cheatham was authorized to upgrade the trail and build the Cheatham Road.  The actual upgrade of the road began seven miles south of Moulton and is the approximate location of the existing junction of Leola road and highway 33.  The roadway was to be cleared 18 feet wide with 12 feet of roadway clear of stumps.

The old horse and wagon road through the mountains is still visible in many places.  The original road ascended Wren Mountain along the west side of the valley, west of present day highway 33.  The old road reaches the mountain top some 200 yards east of the junction of Ridge Road with highway 33.  South from the Ridge Road on highway 33, old roadbeds exhibit existing signs of the original roadway and are adjacent to the edges of the Wilderness Parkway.

According to the Annuals of Northwest Alabama by Donald and Wynelle Dodd, Cheatham was directed by the Act to build the road toward Tuscaloosa.  The point of beginning would be the approximate junction of the Leola Road with state highway 33, presently known as the “Wilderness Parkway.” This point would be the same as the High Town Path’s junction with the Brushy-Sipsey Dividing ridge.

It appears that Wyatt Cheatham had assistance in his appointment over the construction of the roadway.  Joseph Coe, who was Lawrence County’s State legislative representative, was obviously a good friend to Wyatt Cheatham.  The Old Land Records of Lawrence County by Margaret Cowan, indicate that Joseph Coe (originally from Tennessee) had entered land some three miles south of Courtland in Section 7 of Township 5 South, Range 7 West on September 11, 1818.  Cowart states that Wyatt Cheatham originally entered 160 acres of land at Wren and 160 acres near Spivey Gap on September 12, 1818.  He also entered an additional 160 acres near Wren after moving to Winston County.  On February 12, 1825, Wyatt Cheatham and Joseph Coe jointly entered 80 acres of land in Winston County where the (their) road crossed Clear Creek in Section 30 of Township 11 South, Range 8 West, according to the Dodd.  Earlier on January 26, 1825, Wyatt Cheatham had entered 80 acres near the same location in Winston County. 

Wyatt Cheatham is listed in the 1820 Census of Lawrence County, but is not found after that time in the county census records.  However, Wyatt again entered an additional 160 acres of land at Wren on September 28, 1831, some six years after entering land in Winston County.  According to the Lawrence County Census of 1820, Wyatt Cheatham and wife had nine boys under age 21, and two girls under age 21, along with the ownership of two slaves.  In the 1830 Census of Walker County, Wyatt Cheatham is listed as being 55 years old with six boys under age 20, 3 boys over age 20, and one female under age 20, and one female over 20, and in addition, two slaves.  It is obvious that Cheatham lost a daughter or his wife between 1820 and 1830.  Again in the 1850 Census of Winston County, Wyatt Cheatham is listed as being a 72 year old native of Virginia.  At the time of the census, Wyatt lived with Lavina, 29; George, 16; Francis, 12; Thomas, 11; and an infant girl, Elizabeth, 1.  All are listed as being born in Alabama.

According to a January 13, 1826, statement made by the Dodds, and election precinct was approved at the home of Wyatt Cheatham on Clear Creek where said Cheatham’s Turn-Pike crossed the sand.  In 1828, Wyatt Cheatham obtained a license to sell liquors at his place at the Clear Creek crossing.  Wyatt and his son, Wyatt D. Cheatham, renewed their liquor license for $10 in 1833.  Cheatham served in the War of 1812 as a sergeant in John A. Allen’s Madison County Company.  After the war, he moved to Wren where he entered a total of some 320 acres of land.  Wyatt Cheatham had a strong alliance with Andrew Jackson.

It appears from historical records that Wyatt Cheatham moved from Madison County to live at Wren in Lawrence County from 1818 until he was authorized to build the Cheatham Road.  By 1825, he had moved to Winston County and entered land at the Clear Creek Crossing of his road.  In later years, he profited in trade from folks who traveled along his road and stopped by his tavern on Clear Creek.
The route through the middle of Bankhead Forest was known for many years at the Cheatham Road.  The road officially changed to Wilderness Parkway after the establishment of the Sipsey Wilderness Area.  The present day route of highway 33 going to the top of Wren Mountain is in its third location since the original road was built.

The Cheatham Road (which later became highway 33) and the Wilderness Parkway was improved and parts were re-routed up the Wren Mountain in the late 1920’s. The road was eventually paved and rerouted again during the late 1940’s.  Many portions of the original Cheatham wagon road are still visible today along highway 33 South of Wren.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Postman: More Valuable than Human


         Doublehead had a love for fine horses and owned some fifty head of horses at his death.  His prized possession was Postman, a beautiful stud horse.  Doublehead bought Postman from Old Peelin who he paid 1,000 dollars for the racing horse.  Postman was the horse he had planned to use to improve the quality of his herd.  He had another horse that he rode on a daily basis that he bought for 700 dollars.

         As bad as it sounds, in the early 1800’s, Doublehead paid more for Postman than the value of most of his slaves; therefore to Doublehead, his horse Postman was more valuable than a human life.  Postman was kept on his farm at South West Point.  Doublehead had two places where he had his horses and cattle.  One was at South West Point near the mouth of the Clinch River where it runs into the Tennessee.  Two of Doublehead’s daughters who had married Samuel Riley and Doublehead's 16 Riley grandchildren lived on the place at South West Point.  Doublehead’s other farm was at the Muscle Shoals where he had some 40 horses.  At the shoals, Doublehead raised his horses and cattle at Brown’s Ferry until 1802, and then he moved near the mouth of Blue Water Creek where he lived until his death on August 9, 1807.

         Bird Tail Doublehead was the son of Doublehead and Nancy Drumgoole.  Bird Tail lived at South West Point with Thomas Norris Clark who provided boarding and schooling.  He gave a sworn statement about his father’s estate on June 21, 1838, which included Postman and Doublehead’s other horses as follows:  “Affiant recollects well to have seen a considerable quantity of property belonging to his father.  Consisting of a large stock of horses, he thinks 30 or 40 head, old and young.  Among them one brown stud horse (Postman) purchased by affiant's father from Old Peelin for the sum of $1000, one thousand dollars. This horse [mah] a stand at South West Point.  Affiant's father was a stock raiser and had some fine breed mares and was trying to improve his stock of horses.

         The next fall after Doublehead was killed Clark went to the Muscle Shoals and to the late residence of affiant's father he did not inform affiant when he started what was his beliefs or where he was going.  After an absence of some weeks Clark returned home to Kingston and brought with him 21, twenty one, Negroes and some horses.  Phillips the store keeper also came back with Clark.  Phillips informed affiant that Clark had got the Negroes and horses at the residence of affiant's father...

         When affiant started Clark let him have one [Roane] pony five or six years old to ride away with his mother and an old saddle and bridle worth in all not exceeding $32 or 40.  Clark never let affiant have any of the property or money of said estate except the pony, bridle, saddle, noit even money to bear affiant's expenses home.  Nor did affiant believe Clark ever accounted to affiant's said sisters for one cent of the proceeds of the property of said estate.  Nor has he to the knowledge of affiant ever accounted in any way for said property” (Bird Tail Doublehead, June 21, 1838).  Based on Bird Tail Doublehead’s testimony, it appears that Thomas Norris Clark, the white founder of Kingston, Tennessee, got Postman and some of Doublehead’s horses at Muscle Shoals.

         In addition, there was an affidavit given by Doublehead’s niece, Catherine Pumpkin Boy Spencer, who lived for some 12 years at the Muscle Shoals home of Doublehead.  On June 8, 1838, she gave a sworn testimony on Doublehead’s estate.  A portion of the affidavit given below is another description of Doublehead’s herd of horses:  “There were 30 head of cows and calves worth $12.00 each--$360.00 and about 100 head of fine stock cattle, big and sturdy heifers all worth 5 to 8 dollars each $650.00 one fine stud horse at home worth as the people said $700.00 and one other stud horse (Postman) at South West Point said by the people to be worth $1,000.00 and there were 8 other fine mares and geldings bought of Rik=e=ti=yah = John Christy’s mother worth $100 each -- $800.00 and nine other head of common draw horses and colts worth about 50 or 60 dollars each, say 55 on an average $495.00 and five good horses called first rate and worth $500.00  Doublehead paid a fine negro named Mary for the 8 bought of John Christy’s mother with a view to increase his stock of horses, and that negro was not any of those housed here==this John Christy has gone to Sekausas”(Catherine Pumpkin Boy Spencer, June 8, 1838).

         During the Chickamauga War, Doublehead stole a lot of horses on his raids into the Cumberland settlements.  During the war, over 2,000 horses were reported stolen by Doublehead’s Chickamauga warriors.  The following is a funny account of one battle where the Chickamauga lost the battle because of horses and dogs:

         April 1, 1781About 400 Chickamauga, most of the Lower Cherokee faction, set an ambush around the fort.  The next morning, three Indians were sent out as decoys to lure the armed men out of the fort.  The plan worked to perfection when about 20 of the settlers rode their horses out of the fort and chased the Indians into the ambush they had set.  As the settlers dismounted, they were surrounded by hundreds of Indians.  Captain James Leiper, Peter Gill, Alex Buchanan, John Kesenger, Zachariah White, George Kennedy, and John Kennedy were killed.  Kasper Mansker, James Manifee, Joseph Moonshaw, Isaac Lucas, and Edward Swanson were wounded.

Fort Nashborough Historic Marker

         Two things allowed most of the men to make it back to the fort.  First, the settler horses spooked and many Indians tried to catch the animals.  Second, Mrs. Robertson turned loose some 50 vicious dogs which attacked the Indians with such force they became overwhelmed.  Mrs. Robertson later said, “Thank God that he had given Indians a love of horses and a fear of dogs”.

         Read more about Doublehead in my new book-Doublehead:  Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief!  The book should be available around the first of February 2012.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Marks on Our Land: Sun Circles

Sun Circles

         In order to leave a record of their presence and sometimes beliefs, our ancestors left marks upon their homelands.  Ancient and old circular drawings and symbols have been found throughout north Alabama on rocks, copper artifacts, mussel shells, and beech trees for years.  Since the American beech can live from 600 to 800 years and can retain drawings on their bark for a long time, they were referred to as boundary trees by the Cherokee and other local tribes.  The beeches were used by both our early Indian people as well as the settlers who left their marks upon the bark of the tree.  Many times the old circular Indian and pioneer etching signify a relationship to the sun and several of these drawing as seen below are illustrated in the book, Sun Circles and Human Hands.

         Copper sun disks have been found in association with prehistoric Indian burials dating back to the Mississippian Period.  Before the time DeSoto traveled the southeast in 1540, Mississippian chiefs were adorned with copper disks having lines radiating out from a central point.  These rays represented the brightness of the sun and the importance of light and warmth to the ancient people and their crops.  Much of the planning for the planting season was associated with the solar and lunar cycles.  A number of days from the spring equinox or summer solstice was for planting the various crops which sustained the lives of our Southeastern Indian ancestors as well as our early pioneer settlers during the winter months.

         Today in the Warrior Mountains still visible in rock drawings (petroglyphs) and drawings on beech trees (arborglyphs), looms the mystic sun bursts, sun disks, or sun circles.  Probably the Mississippian descendants of a race trodden under foot remembered the importance of the ancient ways of their ancestors.  Some of the sun symbols, found as arborglyphs in the beech trees, signify the importance to their Indian culture of the sun to the pioneer descendants of the first Warrior Mountains inhabitants.

         Many images of the ancient sun burst, sun disk, or sun circle drawings have been found on the American beech trees found in the deep hollows of the forest.  Some of the drawings even though miles apart are very similar in their characteristics.  Two such sun symbol arborglyphs are found miles apart on beech trees on Hubbard Creek and Braziel Creek in Bankhead Forest.  Also found on Capsey Creek just inside Winston County,  under the Kinlock Rock Shelter in Lawrence County, and under the Trapp Shelter in Franklin County are very similar petroglyphs of these mystic sun symbols.  In the picture below of Kinlock Rock Shelter, the large boulder under the right side of the shelter contains sun symbols.

Kinlock Rock Shelter

         In 1775, James Adair writes in his book, History of the American Indians, "the Chickasaw name of the supreme deity as Loak-Ishto-Hoollo-Aba...which appears to signify the great holy fire above, and indicates his connection with the sun".  Adair adds that "he resides as they think above the clouds, and on earth also with unpolluted people.  He is with them the sole author of warmth, light, and of all animals and vegetable life".

         During 1773-1774, William Bartram in his writing, Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians, stated, "the Indians at treaties, councils, and other important occasions blew smoke tribute toward the sun, and looked at it in reverence".  As evidence from early historic writings, our Southeastern Indian ancestors believed the sun was one of the most important objects affecting their lives.

         The Yuchi who lived in the Warrior Mountains and through the Tennessee Valley during historic times were known as the "Children of the Sun" and believed that white people were born on the dark side of the moon.  The Yuchi as other local Indian tribes saw the importance of the sun to their food supply, warmth, and health.

         Without question, one only has to review historical records and to look upon these mysterious drawings to recognize the symbolic sun bursts, sun circles, or sun disks which were carved into trees and rocks of the Warrior Mountains.  Prior to the treaties taking all Indian lands, sun symbols of bursts, disks, and circles with rays were drawn to indicate the significance of the sun to our Indian ancestors and early mixed-blood settlers who lived in north Alabama.  Today throughout north Alabama, one can still find representations of the sun as made by these first people of our state.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bloody Chickamauga War Begins on Cumberland

Bloody War Begins on Cumberland

         After the initial white settlement along the Cumberland River in 1780, Doublehead launched a bloody attack with his Chickamauga warriors on the settlers encroaching on their sacred buffalo hunting grounds that lasted until June 1795.  During this period, Judge Haywood stated that Doublehead had more blood on his hands than anyone in America.

         Chattanooga-March 8, 1780—In the early days of 1780, General James Robertson and Colonel John Donelson were the leaders that began a movement west to establish a new settlement on the Cumberland River that would eventually become Nashville, Tennessee.  General Robertson would take a group overland to the area, while Colonel Donelson’s group would make the trip by water.  The water route would take the group down the Tennessee River to the Ohio River, then up the Ohio to the Cumberland River, then up the Cumberland to the Big Lick (Nashville).  The Donelson route was extremely dangerous, not only because of the treacherous rapids, but the group would go through the country of the Chickamauga and by some of the largest Indian towns on the Tennessee River.  Not only would the Donelson party pass the Town of Dragging Canoe, but also the Town of Doublehead.  Both of these war leaders of Chickamauga had declared in 1775 their intentions of stopping the encroachment of white settlers on their sacred buffalo hunting grounds.

In the early part of 1780, Colonel John Donelson’s flotilla of some forty boats carrying 50 men and 130 women and children begin descending the Tennessee River toward Nashville.  While in route west of Chattanooga, they were fired upon by a group of Chickamauga killing a young man by the name of Payne.  Lagging behind the main group of voyagers was a boat of 28 persons that had smallpox and this group was captured and killed by the Chickamauga as seen in the following:

There was with the flotilla a boat carrying twenty-eight passengers, among whom an epidemic of smallpox had broken out. To guard against a spread of this disease to other members of the fleet agreement had been made that it should keep well to the rear, its owner, Mr. Stuart, being notified each night by the sound of a hunting horn when those ahead went into camp.  Therefore, this unfortunate party was far behind while the events above mentioned were taking place. When they came down opposite the towns the Indians were on the shore in large numbers and seeing them thus cut off from the rest of the fleet swarmed out in canoes and with cold-blooded, murderous intent killed and captured the entire crew. Cries of the latter were distinctly heard by those in the boats ahead, but they were unable to stem the swift current and thus return to aid their perishing comrades.

But the Indians suffered a swift and righteous retribution for this wanton act of cruelty. They became infected with the disease of their victims, and for many months thereafter smallpox raged, not only among the Chickamauga, but in the tribes of their neighbors, the Creeks and Cherokees. When stricken with the malady and while the fever was yet upon them, the savages would take a heavy sweat in their huts. When driven to madness by the fever and heat, they would rush out and leap into the river, from the effects of which folly they died by scores. Old persons of to-day well remember the traditional accounts of a great and terrible mortality which prevailed among the savages after the capture of Stuart's boat (Albright, 1909).

 The great Chickamauga Chief Dragging Canoe had survived the smallpox disease, but the scars remained on his body to the day he died. Thousands of native American Indian people were not as lucky and died of the horrible afflictions brought into their land by white settlers.

After the ordeal with Stuart boat, the Chickamauga Indians again attacked some ten miles west of Chattanooga at the “Suck” and wounded four people including the infant of a Mrs. Peyton.  The son of Jonathan Jennings, his comrade, and a black man jumped into the water to swim to shore.  The black man drowned and the two boys were captured by the Chickamauga.  The Jennings boy was ransomed by a friendly half-blood trader named John James “Hell-Fire Jack” Rogers and returned to his family at the French Lick.  His comrade was killed and burned; therefore, by the time Donelson’s group reached Nashville, he had 31 people killed by the Chickamauga.

Muscle Shoals-March 14, 1780--Doublehead and the lower Tennessee River Chickamauga were firmly in control of the eastern and western ends of the Muscle Shoals, which consisted of a series of six sets of rapids.  “When Colonel John Donelson and his company drifted down the Tennessee River in 1780, they encountered hostile Indians at both ends of the Muscle Shoals and at the lower end, five of their party was wounded.”  This is one of the first confirmed conflicts with white settlers and the Chickamauga at Doublehead’s bastion of the Muscle Shoals.  The Muscle Shoals stretched from just west of present-day Decatur, Alabama to Waterloo, in western Lauderdale County, Alabama.
Nashville-May 1780—Nashville (French Lick, Big Lick, or Bluff) was one of the prime targets of Doublehead and his Chickamauga Warriors.  The area around Nashville was the site of one of the largest mineral licks found along the Cumberland River, and therefore attracted great herds of deer, elk, and buffalo.  Many of the licks along the river were described as the hub of a wagon wheel with its animal trails radiating out like the spokes.  These buffalo, elk, and deer trails were worn deeply into the earth and many times were used as roads by both the Indians and white long hunters. 

The lick at Nashville was known as the Big Lick or French Lick and a favorite hunting site of Doublehead.  Several trails from the Muscle Shoals stronghold of Doublehead led directly to the licks on the Cumberland River.  These trails included what would become known as the Natchez Trace, Doublehead’s Trace, Sipsie Trail, Black Warriors’ Path, and several lesser known routes.  All these trails were used by several factions of the Chickamauga including the Chickasaw, Lower Cherokee, Upper Creek, Delaware, Shawnee, Yuchi, and others to attack the white settlers who were invading their hunting grounds.  The Delaware faction would at times attack areas along the Cumberland from their stronghold in the Ohio River Basin.

One morning during the month of May, a hunter by the name of Keywood came running to the fort at the Bluff and reported that John Milliken had been killed on Richland Creek, five or six miles to the south.  The two men were journeying toward the settlement and stopped at the creek for a drink.  While they stooped down to drink, they were fired upon by a band of Chickamauga Indians hidden on the bank and Milliken fell dead.  Keywood had escaped uninjured and made his way to the settlement to bear the news of the tragic death of his comrade.

A few days later, Joseph Hay was on the Lick Branch between the Bluff and Freeland’s Station when a party of Chickamauga shot and scalped him.  The Indians took his gun, hunting knife, shot pouch, and powder horn.  He was buried east of Sulphur Spring.

Soon thereafter, a man named Bernard was at work clearing land when he was shot and killed.  The Indians cut off his head and carried it with them.  In the retreat of the Chickamauga, they encountered three young men, two brothers named Dunham and a son of John Milliken, who had already been killed.  The Dunhams escaped to Freeland’s Station, but the young Milliken was killed and his head also cut off and carried away.

Mansker's Station-June 1780—Mansker’s Station, near Goodlettsville, Tennessee, was located 12 miles north of Nashville on the west side of Mansker’s Creek between two large licks.  The station was named after Casper Mansker who was born in 1746 and died in1820.  Mansker was one of the early long hunters that came from the east in the late 1760’s to take bear, deer, elk, and buffalo.  Mansker killed 19 deer in one day that were traveling between the two licks.

Mansker’s Station near Goodlettsville, Tennessee

Two settlers by the names of Goin and Kennedy were clearing land between Mansker’s and Eaton’s Stations.  They were fired upon, killed, and scalped by the Chickamauga.  Later in the year, the Chickamauga killed Patrick Quigley, John Stuckley, James Lumsey, and Betsy Kennedy at Mansker’s Station.  Also, William Neely from Mansker’s Station was killed near Neely’s Lick and his daughter taken prisoner.  She was held at a Creek town but released several years later.

Renfroe's Station-July 1780—Some twenty persons were killed over two days by Doublehead’s Chickamauga warriors during their assault on Renfroe’s Station at the mouth of the Red River.  Two were killed in the initial attack and the rest left for the Bluff, but they came back and gathered belongings.  Again they started for Eaton’s Station or the Bluff, but made camp before reaching their destination.  Early the next morning, they were attacked and scattered in the woods where each of them were hunted down and killed.  Among those that died were Joseph Renfroe and Mr. Johns and his entire family of twelve.

Renfroe’s Station Historic Marker

Read more about the vicious battles that took place between Doublehead's Chickamauga warriors and the settlers on the Cumberland River in my soon to be published book--Doublehead:  Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief.  The battles become much more intense and vicious!