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.