Thursday, January 17, 2013

Appalachian Indians of Warrior Mountains

Review of
“Appalachian Indians of the Warrior Mountains”
Brandy W. Sutton

“Appalachian Indians of the Warrior Mountains” embodies the American Indian history of the Warrior Mountains of southern Appalachia, along with an underlying deep love of great Native American places such as the High Town Path, Melton’s Bluff, and Doublehead’s Town. Rickey Butch Walker describes his childhood backyard using details that will paint a picture before your eyes of the life and times of Indian people. Learn about the history of our Native Americans of the Southeastern United States, hear the story about the Battle of Indian Tomb Hollow and love of a young Chickasaw maiden Magnolia, listen to the passion of Walker’s voice as you read about the struggle of the removal of his own people to another land, and embark through time as you read this book.

It is so important to preserve the history of our aboriginal people and realize that they played an important part of what our country is today. Some historians and books would like to start American history with Columbus, the founding presidents, or the first Thanksgiving where Indians are first mentioned. The truth is our story as Native Americans and our American Indian history starts way before Columbus; the first people struggled for survival thousands of years before European explorers made their first appearance in this country.

Rickey Butch Walker does an excellent job keeping our Indian past alive for present and future generations; he gives this gift to our youth in order for them to have a record and recollection of their ancestors for years to come. Without these facts being passed or these stories being told, our Indian heritage would slowly fade and dry up like a grape in the sun. I appreciate the fact that Rickey Butch Walker fights to keep our American Indian stories of the Warrior Mountains of southern Appalachia fading from the pages of history. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lamb's Ferry

Lamb’s Ferry-The Sipsie Trail crossed the Tennessee River at Lamb’s Ferry some four miles south of the present-day Town of Rogersville, Alabama.  The Sipsie Trail was an Indian route that was used by Doublehead’s Chickamauga warriors during their attacks on the Cumberland settlements around present-day Nashville, Tennessee.  According to microcopy 208, roll 7, and number 3533, John Lamb was a Cherokee Indian; he signed a letter dated August 15, 1816, with The Gourd, Charles Melton, and other Cherokees.  These Cherokees along the Muscle Shoals requested by letter the return of Negro Fox to be tried by Cherokee law.  Negro Fox had left the area with James Burleson and other white men who had killed two Cherokees at Mouse Town.  

John Lamb had established his ferry that crossed the Tennessee River along the old Sipsie Trail before 1809; the trail had been widened to a wagon road by a mixed-blood Celtic Indian man by the name of McCutcheon in 1783.  McCutcheon, who was a Scots Irish Cherokee, opened the Sipsie Trail during the same period of time that Doublehead controlled the area of the Muscle Shoals.  From his stronghold along the Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River, Doublehead and his Chickamauga warriors used the Sipsie Trail to wage a bloody war against the Cumberland settlers around the Big Lick, present-day Nashville, Tennessee, until June 1795.  McCutcheon’s Trail led from present-day Spring Hill, Tennessee, to Pulaski, and to the Tennessee River south of present-day Rogersville.   

At the end of the Chickamauga War, Lamb decided that he would open and operate a ferry for people coming south from middle Tennessee; travelers could ride a ferry across the Tennessee River instead of fording the river on horseback.  When John Lamb started operating the ferry, the old Sipsie Trail to the north of the Tennessee River became known as the Lamb’s Ferry Road.  The Lamb’s Ferry Road intersected an east to west Indian trail known as the North River Road in present-day Rogersville.  The Sipsie Trail became known as the Cheatham Road from Tuscaloosa to Moulton, Alabama; it was known as the Lamb’s Ferry Road from the ferry crossing of the Tennessee River to Rogersville, to Minor Hill, Pulaski, and then to Nashville, Tennessee.

John Lamb’s Ferry became a thriving enterprise and was used by many travelers heading south of the Tennessee River; the crossing was in the area between Elk River Shoals which was upstream and Big Muscle Shoals which was on the downstream side of the ferry.  Lamb’s Ferry was located on the Tennessee River some six miles upstream from Shoal Town and downstream some five miles from the mouth of Elk River.  The river crossing was operated as a Cherokee Indian ferry until the area was taken by the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816; by 1818, a large number of white settlers flooded the Lamb’s Ferry area during the federal land sales.

Lamb’s Ferry was an important site during the Civil War.  According to Civil War journals, on May 4, 1862, Union General John Adams and his cavalry troops were at Lamb’s Ferry when they received orders to move down the Tennessee River to Bainbridge Ferry.  From May 10 through the 14, 1862, skirmishes between the Union and Confederate troops occurred around Lamb’s Ferry; the area remained occupied by Union soldiers until May 14, 1862.  On April 28, 1863, after trying to cover up Streight’s Raid through North Alabama, General Grenfield M. Dodge moved his Union troops toward Corinth, Mississippi.  As the Union forces were retreating, Dodge’s men burned Lamb’s Ferry, the Town Creek railroad trestle, and LaGrange College.  After the Civil War, a cotton gin and warehouses were built at Lamb’s Ferry; the ferry stayed in operation until the early 1900’s.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fort Hampton

Fort Hampton-Fort Hampton was located east of Elk River and some five miles north of the Tennessee River in present-day Limestone County, Alabama.  It was the only American fort that was built to remove white settlers and squatters off of Indian lands.  The fort was named in honor of General Wade Hampton who fought in the Revolutionary War.  The log fort housed two companies of soldiers.

In June 1810, Fort Hampton was built to remove white pioneers from Chickasaw lands, since the Chickasaw Indians had not given up their claims to the property.  White families that leased land from Doublehead had built homes, established fences for their livestock, and planted crops.  In June 1810 and again in June 1811, soldiers were sent to the area around Fort Hampton to force the settlers back across the Tennessee state line by destroying their crops and burning their fences, houses, and out buildings.

The North River Road and Black Warriors’ Path (Mitchell Trace) were two early Indian trails passed in close proximity of the fort.  Black Warriors’ Path forded the Tennessee River near Melton’s Bluff.  The Browns Ferry Road from Huntsville to Courtland passed east of the fort and crossed the river at Browns Ferry.

On November 9, 1813, after the Battle of Talladega of the Creek Indian War, Joseph Brown with ten of Andrew Jackson’s best men went to Cuttyatoy’s Village to secure the black slaves that had been taken by the Chickamauga in 1787.  Brown’s father and two brothers had been killed during a raid on their boat and the slaves had been taken by Cuttyatoy.  The next morning, Brown and his men forded the Tennessee River; they took the black slaves and Cuttyatoy’s wife to Fort Hampton.  Cuttyatoy and his men went to Browns Ferry where they crossed the Tennessee River on a large raft and arrived at Fort Hampton in the late afternoon.

In 1817, Fort Hampton became the county seat of Elk County which included the present-day Lauderdale and Limestone Counties.  After the area around Fort Hampton was given up by the Indians in the Chickasaw Treaty of 1816, the fort was abandoned and not used after 1821.  Since the post was no longer used, Fort Hampton fell into disrepair and eventually the log fort rotted down. 

Buzzard Roost

Buzzard Roost-Buzzard Roost was the original settlement of half-blood Scots Irish Chickasaw Chief Levi Colbert and a number of Chickasaw Indians.  He lived at Buzzard Roost Spring on the Natchez Trace just some two miles west of the Town of Cherokee in Colbert County, Alabama.  The large perennial spring is a tributary to Buzzard Roost Creek that runs west toward the Mississippi State Line and empties into Bear Creek where present-day Highway 20 crosses the creek.  Buzzard Roost Spring was not only a major water supply for the Chickasaws that inhabited the area, but also for travelers using the Natchez Trace.

Major Levi Colbert was known as “Itawamba Mingo” which means Wooden Bench Chief or Wooden Bench King; he was the son of James Logan Colbert and younger brother of George Colbert.  Levi was born in 1759 and died June 2, 1834, at Buzzard Roost at 74 years of age.  Levi Colbert was possibly the wealthiest and most powerful of the Colbert family.  After moving south from Buzzard Roost, he lived just west of Cotton Gin Port located in Monroe County, Mississippi.  Levi owned four thousand cattle, five hundred horses, a large herd of sheep, and several head of swine.  At one time, Levi had a part interest in Colbert’s Ferry on the Natchez Trace which was said to have been worth $20,000 annually.

Levi Colbert died at the home of his daughter, Phalishta “Pat” Malacha Colbert Carter, at Buzzard Roost Spring in Colbert County, Alabama.  Levi originally lived at the Buzzard Roost site and had Kilpatrick Carter to build a new home on the site; however, supposedly during the construction of the home Carter fell in love with Levi’s daughter and married her.  Levi told Carter if he would build him another house at Cotton Gin Port that he would give his daughter and Kilpatrick Carter the home at Buzzard Roost Spring which was done.  Then in 1834 after Levi and the Chickasaws negotiated a treaty with John Coffee, they realized that changes should be made before the treaty was ratified; and therefore, a delegation of Chickasaws including Levi Colbert started from Cotton Gin Port to Washington, D.C.  Levi got sick and stopped at his daughter’s house at Buzzard Roost Spring where he died.  He is supposedly buried at the old home site in Colbert County, Alabama. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Colbert's Ferry

Colbert’s Ferry-James Logan Colbert was of Scots Irish origin and was born in North Carolina about 1721 on Plum Tree Island near the border of Virginia.  James Logan Colbert, who was initially a trader to the Indians, was living with the Chickasaws by 1742; he married three Chickasaw women, one of which was a half blood.  From his three wives, Colbert had nine children who were William, Sally, Celia, George, Levi, Samuel, Joseph, James, and Susan.  The family of James Logan Colbert lived near the Tennessee River close to the mouth of Bear Creek.  James Logan Colbert became an important leader of the Chickasaw people and was commissioned as a British Captain; by 1782, James Logan Colbert owned some 150 black slaves.

Three important leaders emerged as friends and cooperated with the British during the Chickamauga War and American Revolution.  Their fight against the United States brought these men together: James Logan Colbert with the Chickasaws; Alexander McGillivray with the Upper Creeks; and Doublehead with the Lower Cherokees.  James Logan Colbert’s oldest son William Colbert and Alexander McGillivray married sisters and were brother-in-laws.  Two of Doublehead’s daughters married George Colbert, the son of James Logan Colbert.  Therefore, a family relationship existed between the leaders of the Chickasaws, Upper Creeks, and Lower Cherokees who were major players in the war with the United States beginning after the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775.

Not only did James Logan Colbert become friends and fight conflicts against the American settlers with Creek Chief Alexander McGillivray, but he was also friends and fought with Dragging Canoe and Doublehead in the Chickamauga War.  Initially, James Logan Colbert, William Colbert, George Colbert, and other Chickasaws became allied with Doublehead and McGillivray in Chickamauga Confederacy during the war that lasted from 1775 through June 1795.   James Logan Colbert carried his sons into battle with him as he rode with the Cherokees and Creeks during the Chickamauga War. 

The deterioration of the alliance of the Chickasaws, Upper Creeks, and Lower Cherokees started after the death of James Logan Colbert on January 7, 1784.  Some nine years later on February 17, 1793, another blow to the Chickamauga Confederacy came with the death of Alexander McGillivray.  By June 1794, Doublehead signed the Treaty of Philadelphia with President George Washington and ended his conflicts with the American colonies in June 1795; on August 9, 1807, the Creeks lost their last Cherokee friend, leader, and supporter with the death of Doublehead.

George Colbert, son of James Logan Colbert, was born about 1744 on the west side of Bear Creek where it empties into the Tennessee River in the present-day northeastern most corner of Mississippi.  George was raised and lived all but two years of his life in the original eastern Chickasaw homelands which included northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama.  He took two daughters, Tuskiahooto and Saleechie, of Chickamauga Cherokee Chief Doublehead and Creat Priber as his wives; George’s wives were said to be among the most beautiful women in the region.  Based on tradition, Tuskiahooto was considered one of the most beautiful women in the country and was the favorite wife of George Colbert.  She was George’s principal wife and lived at the Colbert’s Ferry home until she died around 1817.  In the treaty of 1834, George made sure to include his wife’s burial site at Colbert’s Ferry in the reserve that was set aside for his personal use.

George Colbert begin running a ferry across the Tennessee River in 1798 as a means for travelers to cross the otherwise impassable river.  In December 1801, George Colbert agreed to move his ferry to the Natchez Trace crossing of the Tennessee River as part of his agreement with General James Wilkinson.  The United States Government agreed to build cabins for travelers, a store, stables, a large two storied dwelling house, a new ferry boat, and other facilities for George Colbert’s family to operate a ferry where the Natchez Trace crosses the Tennessee River in present-day Colbert County, Alabama.

George Colbert’s home at the ferry was built after the Chickasaw Treaty of 1801, with some claiming it was completed by 1808 and possibly much earlier.  George’s home was the site of a significant conference between the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and the United  States Government in September 1816 and was designated for this meeting as the “Chickasaw Council House.”  At the conference representing the government were Andrew Jackson, David Meriwether, and Jesse Franklin.  The Chickasaws ceded their land north of the Tennessee River in present-day Lauderdale County, Alabama, as well as some territory south of the river with certain tracts being reserved for George Colbert, including his ferry.  

George had virtually a monopoly for the river crossing, and he charged fifty cents per passenger and one dollar per horse and rider.  Later reports suggest that Colbert once charged Andrew Jackson $75,000 to ferry his army across the river, but Jackson's own records indicate the amount was only a few hundred dollars that was actually paid.

George Colbert, Tootemastubbe or The Ferryman, was the most well-known son of James Logan Colbert.  He was tall, slender, and handsome with long straight black hair that came down to his shoulders.  His features were Indian, but his skin was lighter than other members of the Chickasaw tribe.  He dressed neat and clean like white men of his day; some say he was illiterate, but had great influence among both Indians and white people.  He was described as speaking common English, very shrewd, extremely talented, very wicked, genius, but is an artful designing man.  Indian agent Colonel Return J. Meigs described him as, “Extremely mercenary, miscalculates his importance, and when not awed by the presence of the officers of the government takes upon himself great airs.”

Since his beautiful wife Tuskiahooto died in 1817, and the United States mail route was officially changed to follow Jackson’s Military Road through Florence in 1817, George was ready to leave his ferry operations on the Tennessee River.  Therefore, because of the death of his principal wife Tuskiahooto, the loss of the government mail route, and the opening of the Gaines Trace, George Colbert closed the ferry on the Natchez Trace, moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1817, and began his very successful farming operations on his plantation.

Fox's Stand

Fox’s Stand- Fox’s Stand was the namesake of Black Fox (Inali, Enoli, or Eunolee), who was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1801 to his death in 1811.  Fox’s Creek, also named after Black Fox, is a small tributary to the Tennessee River; the creek flows into the river at the north border of Morgan and Lawrence Counties at the Chickamauga Cherokee Indian site of Mouse Town or Monee Town.  For a while, Black Fox lived in Mouse Town near the mouth of Fox’s Creek on the Tennessee River; the Indian town was some five miles upstream from Doublehead’s Town at Brown’s Ferry in present-day Lawrence County, Alabama.  Later, Black Fox moved some three miles west of Doublehead’s Town; he ran the stand/store on the old Brown’s Ferry Road that ran from Gourd’s Settlement which is present-day Courtland, Alabama, to present-day Huntsville, Alabama.

Black Fox’s Stand or trading post was located on the south side of the Tennessee River between the drainages of Fox and Mallard Creeks; the stand was west of the Browns Ferry crossing of the Tennessee River.  Fox’s Stand was some five miles east of Gourd’s Settlement and some six miles southeast of Melton’s Bluff; Melton’s Bluff was the home of Doublehead’s sister, Ocuma and her husband John Melton.  Fox’s Stand was near the junctions of three Indian trails-Browns Ferry Road, South River Road, and Black Warriors’ Path

After Cherokee Chief Black Fox’s death, his son, who is identified as Black Fox II, ran the stand.  During the time that General John Coffee was surveying the Indian boundary lines for the Turkey Town Treaty, Black Fox II operated the trading post in Lawrence County, Alabama; his name appears on documents after the death of his father in 1811.  John Coffee put the following note in his diary, 26th July, 1816.  Borrowed Capt. Hammond’s large tent- left my old one – breakfasted with the Captain.  Started on and got to Wilders where I dined, Bought corn to carry with me – bill $1.50.  Went to the river – crossed at Brown’s Ferry – paid ferriage & c $1.25.  Hired young Wilder to go on to Col. Barnett & c.  This night went to Black Foxe’s and lay all night; bought _ bushels of corn to carry with me.  Hired ____ Lancaster to carry six bushels to Major Russell’s, for which I am to pay three and half dollars –bought some salt from Fox, hired him and McClure to carry the corn to the wagon road about two miles – paid bill at Fox’s $6.75.” Coffee continued on to Major William Russell’s settlement to survey the Indian boundary lines; Russell’s home was the present-day City of Russellville, Alabama.

Coffee’s notes continue, 1st August 1816.  This morning we start in towards Madison County – lay all night at the Path Killer’s creek near Jones’.  2d August.  This morning we hired Vanpelt to carry letters to Col. Brown inviting him to meet us as Campbell’s Ferry on the 12th.  Come to the Black Fox’es – bought 2 1/2   bushels corn – paid the bill $1.75 –Same day came on – crossed the Tennessee River at Brown’s Ferry and came to Wilders where we lay all night.”  After the Turkey Town Treaty of September 1816 took the Cherokee lands in Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan Counties of North Alabama, the young Black Fox II moved into the northeastern part of Alabama; he lived in this portion of the state that remained in the Cherokee Nation until 1838.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cold Water

Cold Water-Cold Water Village was a Chickamauga Indian town established as a French trading site in the early 1770’s.  The settlement was located near the junction of Spring Creek with the Tennessee River; today, the site is known as Tuscumbia Landing in Colbert County, Alabama. 

In March 1780, Colonel John Donelson led a party of white settlers down the Tennessee River by Cold Water Village from Knoxville in route to settle the Cumberland River Valley which was claimed by the Lower Cherokees and other Chickamauga tribes.  Donelson’s group was attacked by the hostile Chickamauga Indians at both ends of the Muscle Shoals, but only five of their group suffered wounds while passing the shoals of the Tennessee River.

On June 13, 1787, some of Doublehead’s warriors killed Mark Robertson, the younger brother of Colonel James Robertson near Nashville, Tennessee.  Without waiting for permission from the Governor, Robertson with a force of 130 men began to pursue the enemy to the mouth of Blue Water Creek and then down the Tennessee River to Cold Water Village.  Robertson’s men were following a 100 mile Indian trail south that became Doublehead’s Trace from Franklin, Tennessee, to the mouth of Blue Water Creek in present-day Lauderdale County, Alabama.

When Robertson’s forces reached Cold Water, the Chickamauga Indians were taken completely by surprise and made a run for their canoes.  Robertson’s men opened fire killing some fourteen Lower Cherokees and six Upper Creeks along with some French traders who were instigating the raids in the Cumberland River Valley.  Robertson’s forces burned the town and returned to Nashville, Tennessee.  Robertson with the assistance of Cumberland Valley settlers defeated the Chickamauga at the French trading post at Cold Water in present-day Tuscumbia, Alabama; however, Robertson’s campaign at Cold Water failed to diminish raids on the Nashville, Tennessee area.  Chickamauga warriors under Doublehead’s command would continue their war against the Cumberland settlements into June 1795.

The Coosa Path or Muscle Shoals Path was a major Indian trail from the east that ended at the landing near Cold Water Village.  The old Indian route from northeast Alabama to Cold Water Village was called the Coosa Path by Captain Edmund Pendelton Gaines on the rainy day of December 29, 1807, when he was surveying the Gaines Trace from Melton’s Bluff in North Alabama to Cotton Gin Port in northeast Mississippi.  The same trail was also called the Muscle Shoals Path by Cherokee Chief Path Killer in October 1813.   

From Oakville, the Coosa Path became a removal route for 511 Creeks Indians in December 1835 and some 2,000 in September 1836; most of these Creeks followed Black Warriors’ Path to Oakville where they hit the Coosa Path to the west.  The Creeks were placed on boats at Tuscumbia Landing and transported down river.  Later during Indian Removal in the late 1830’s, many Cherokees were moved from Decatur around the Muscle Shoals to Tuscumbia Landing by the Decatur to Tuscumbia Railroad.  Most all these Cherokee Indians were transported down river from Tuscumbia Landing by boats to Waterloo where they were placed on steamers headed west.

Wills Town and Wills Valley

Will’s Town and Wills Valley (Ahhesahtaskee)

During the American Revolution, John Stuart sent British agent Alexander Campbell to Wills Town to provide support to the Indians during the Chickamauga War against the southern colonies.  By 1777, Campbell had his headquarters at Wills Town which was a large Lower Cherokee Indian village located on Big Wills Creek near the present-day Community of Lebanon which is some seven miles south of Fort Payne.  Some ten years later in 1788, Campbell was joined by British Agents Alexander Cameron and John McDonald who set up their operations in Wills Valley at Turkey Town some 20 miles south of Wills Town.  These British agents were successful in providing arms, ammunition, powder, supplies, and food to the various Indian tribes throughout Wills Valley that were collectively called the Chickamauga.  The Chickamauga in Wills Valley included the Lower Cherokee, Upper Creek, and Shawnee; they were given provisions in exchange for the scalps of white settlers who were intruding onto Indian lands.

Half blood Cherokee Will Webber was the namesake for Wills Valley, Big Wills Creek, and Little Wills Creek.  The creeks meander along Wills Valley between Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain, through the Town of Collinsville, and to present-day Attala, Alabama where Wills Creek run into the Coosa River.  William Webber was also called Redheaded Will; he was the son of a Cherokee woman and a British officer named Webber.  Will Webber came to Wills Valley from Nequassee, North Carolina.

Wills Town was the home of the second Chickamauga Chief John Watts, Jr.; he was born at Wills Town about 1752 and died in Wills Town in 1808.  John was the brother of Wurteh Watts and uncle of George Guess.  It is highly probable that Chief John Watts Jr. lived on the west bank of Big Wills Creek near an old ford of a road crossing coming from Wills Town Mission.  A beautiful two story log cabin that had hand split chinking boards between the huge hand hewed chestnut logs still stands near the site, but the Cherokee log home is in the process of rotting down.

Log House on Big Wills Creek 

In November 1792, Captain Samuel Handley was attacked and taken prisoner near the Crab Orchard on the Avery Trace or Cumberland Road.  He was taken to Wills Town in the heart of Chickamauga country where he met British agents John McDonald and Alexander Campbell.  Samuel Handley was interrogated after he was released and you can read the debriefing by Governor William Blount on pages 115 and 116 of the book “Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief.”  Samuel Handley wrote a letter from Wills Town on December, 10, 1792, telling of being a captive in the town.  Handley also later tells that the Chickamauga had three companies of mounted cavalry commanded by John Taylor and Will Shorey; Will was the half-blood Cherokee brother-in-law of John McDonald.  Captain Handley did not know the name of the third commander of the Indian cavalry; Handley also tells of 150 Upper Creeks being at Wills Town.

George Guess (Sequoyah) was the son of Colonel Nathaniel Guess (Gist) and his Indian wife, Wurteh Watts, who was a niece of Old Tassel and Doublehead.  When he was a young Celtic Indian boy, Sequoyah migrated with his mother Wurteh Watts and settled at Wills Town in Wills Valley.  Wurteh Watts was the daughter of Scots Irish trader John Watts and Wurteh, who was the daughter of Great Eagle and granddaughter of Moytoy.  Wurteh Watts was married to four different men: Robert Due, Bloody Fellow, John Benge, and Nathanial Guess (Gist); all her husbands were Scots Irish except Bloody Fellow with whom she had no children.

George Guess (Sequoyah) was a blacksmith, silversmith, and an all-round mechanic; he made metal implements such as hoes, axes, tomahawks, and such other farming tools needed by the Cherokees in Wills Valley.  George was an uneducated genius who invented an alphabet for his Cherokee people so they could read and write in their own language.  Congress voted George Guess an annuity of $500 per year, and had his picture painted and placed in the government archives at Washington, DC.  Sequoyah voluntarily migrated west of the Mississippi River on more than one occasion to visit his people and settled with the “Old Settlers” about 1823.  Sequoyah’s half-brother Tahlonteeskee (Talohuskee Benge) of Shoal Town was the leader of the “Cherokees West” that left the Big Muscle Shoals of North Alabama in 1809.

Robert Benge lived at Wills Town and was a quarter-blood, red-headed Chickamauga Warrior; he was the son of the white Scots Irish Trader John Benge and Wurteh Watts.  Bob Benge was born about 1766, and took 45 white scalps; he was ambushed and killed April 9, 1794.  Benge was also known as “The Bench;” he was the half-brother of Sequoyah and father of Wagon Master John Benge (1788-1854).

Mixed blood John Benge was the son of the most feared Scots Irish Chickamauga Cherokee Robert (The Bench) Benge.  John Benge was one of the detachment conductors appointed by then Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross.  He served in Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment during the War of 1812.  At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Andrew Jackson and a militia of more than 600 Cherokee warriors surrounded about 1,000 Creek warriors; John Benge, Thomas Benge, The Boot, The Broom, George Guess (Sequoyah), and many others from Wills Valley fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend for the American forces.  John Benge voted against removal and served as a wagon-master of a detachment of Cherokees from the Wills Valley area on the Trail of Tears; his removal contingent followed old Indian roads and trails that became known as the Benge Route.

By 1822, a Cherokee Methodist minister by the name of Turtle Fields was a resident of Wills Town.  Turtle Fields was a descendant of Ludovic Grant, and a brother to George Fields; he was born about 1776 and died about September 1844.  Turtle Fields married three times. He married his first wife about 1804; she was unknown and born about 1788.  His second marriage was Ollie Timberlake about 1816; she was born about 1770.  His third wife was Sarah Timberlake in 1837 and she was born about 1815.  Turtle Fields served with the Cherokee allies of the American forces in the Creek Indian War and fought at Horseshoe Bend in John McLemore's Company in March 1814.

Today, in Will’s Valley, a very few remnants of the Chickamauga Cherokee are visible such as the Will’s Town Mission Cemetery, a sandstone chimney at the site of Fort Payne cabin where the Cherokees were incarcerated until removal, the home of Andrew Ross-the brother of Cherokee Chief John Ross, Trail of Tears markers that indicate the route of the Benge Detachment led by wagon master John Benge, a few historic markers, and a marble monument at the Turkey Town site.  It is sad that practically little physical evidence exists of our colorful and wonderful historic aboriginal Indian ancestors that ruled North Alabama for thousands of years before the coming of white settlers.