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.


  1. On several old maps I've seen Creek's Crossing not far from where current Guntersville. Some old paths definitely went throught there. Was this the area you describe as Coosada Island, or Creek Path?

  2. My ancestor bought land in the LA Purchase in 1807 or 1808, and was returning home on horseback somewhere along the TN River. Assuming he was traveling from Muscle Shoals east, around the river bend to Creek Crossing (I assume that is Coosada Island Town), and on up to what became Chattanooga -- would you be so kind as to tell me his most likely route? I would be very grateful, as it is difficult to figure out all the Indian trails. I believe you are most qualified to answer this question. Thank you in advance! --Dan

  3. Our land in Madison County appears on the LaTourrette map of 1837 to have been part of the "Cherokee School Reservation" near present day New Hope/Owens Cross Roads. Do you have any information on what this was exactly? Thanks!

  4. my husbands family settled in that area, around new hope it was called clarks hollow. his family also resided in kennemers cove and clouds hollow. they were all together in some large way. He was descended by many chickamaugua indians