MIGRATORY ROUTES INTO SOUTHWEST MISSISSIPPI
Around 1802 the
Natchez trace was formed. It was one of three roads (horse paths) which
the Indians allowed settlers to use, according to a treaty with the government.
A section of the original Old Trace
Springs, Claiborne County, MS.
The trail, originally the level
of the surrounding terrain, was
worn down over the years, the result
of thousands of footsteps,
wagon wheels, horses, and mules.
[Photo 1997, Ellen
It was laid out from
the settlements on the Cumberland River, by way of Colbert's Ferry, a few
miles below the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River, and thence through
the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations to the Grindstone Ford on Bayou Pierre,
and finally to Natchez and Fort Adams, on the Mississippi River. It was
first known as the Nashville and Natchez trace, and was more traveled than
any other land route through the territory.
Grindstone Ford on Bayou Pierre
- Looking Northeast.
This ford marked the beginning of
the wilderness of the Choctaw nation,
and the end of the old Natchez District.
Nearby Fort Deposit was a supply depot for troops clearing the Trace in
1801-02. The site takes its name from a nearby water mill.
[Information from the
US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Photo by Ellen Pack,
The second road
went from Knoxville through the Cherokee Nation, by way of Tellico and
Tombigbee River, and west to Natchez.
The third road
went from the Oconne settlement in Georgia across the Alabama River in
the direction of Ft. Stevens, on the Tombigbee River to Natchez.
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GIBSON and EARLY SETTLERS
part of the territory was mostly occupied by the Chickasaw and Choctaw
Indians (1799 according to the author). Natchez was surrendered to
the Americans on Jan 1, 1799.
Lower Choctaw Boundary
This line of trees has been a boundary
for 230 years. It was established in 1765 and
marked the eastern limits of the
Old Natchez District. This boundary ran from
a point 12 miles east of Vicksburg
southward to the 31st parallel. First surveyed
in 1778, it was reaffirmed by Spain
in 1793, and by the US in 1801. Since 1820, it
has served as the boundary between
Hinds and CLaiborne Counties, MS.
the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Photo by Ellen Pack,
Rev. Tobias Gibson
was sent out from Charleston. He went to Selsertown, about 12 miles
from Natchez to begin preaching. As most of the settlers were Catholic,
he joined with other Protestant families. One was the John Griffing,
Esq. (wife was Penelope Coleman, granddaughter of Rev. Samuel Swayze) family
from New Jersey. They had nine children, and "grandma Curtis" living
with them. Tobias Gibson preached in their home the first time
on Oct. 10, 1799.
He performed the marriage of the daughter Phebe Griffing to Jonathon Jones
the next spring. Several of the Gibson families were by then living
in Washington, six miles from Natchez, and still others were in Port
Gibson. Samuel Gibson was one. He was the original owner of the
land that the town now stands on, hence its name. The rest of the Gibson
family settled in southern Warren County. The Gibsons were of noble
Spanish and Portuguese descent who preferred banishment from their country
to renouncing their
according to the author. Tobias Gibson's cousin Randall was one of
the first two preachers licensed in America.
mentioned that lived within twenty miles of Natchez are Swayze, King,
Corey, Coleman, Callendar, Douglass, and Ogden, mainly living around Selsertown.
Mr. Ogden was a reduced captain in the British Navy. He met two wealthy
planters from Morris County, NJ by the name of Richard and Samuel Swayze,
"the Messrs, Swayze", to whom he sold 19,800 acres of his land grant on
the Homochitto River (in what was then known as the Kingston settlement),
at 25 cents an acre. The Swayzes then returned
to NJ and chartered a schooner, departing from the port of Perth Amboy
in Oct. 1772 with their families, heading for Jefferson County, MS.
They left the schooner in Pensacola and followed the coast westward in
an open boat to Lake Borgne, passed thru Lakes Ponchatrain and Maurepas.
They ascended the Pass Manchac to the Mississippi River, then up the Homochitto
to the Mandamus Grand. Samuel was a minister for about 30 years before
coming to the south. He was the first minister to settle in the state
of Mississippi. Church services were held on their property at great
peril, often interrupted by bands of roving hostile Indians, the remnants
of tribes now extinct. Samuel often concealed himself and his
bible inside a hollow sycamore tree, standing on what was still known as
Sammie's Creek, in 1887, to escape the 19 year persecution of the Spanish
government in the territory.
Some other settlements
mentioned in the first chapter are Walnut Hills, just north of Vicksburg,
a log church on the south fork of Cole's Creek, Jefferson County, MS, known
as Salem, a Baptist church. Also in the town of Washington" on the
opposite side of Main Street, in a westerly direction from where the church
sits in 1887, was a small schoolhouse" where the Protestants worshipped.
It was called an Old-field school. Some early members were Harriet
McKenly, Caleb Worley, Edna Bullen, WIlliam and Rachel Foster.
In 1800 the designation
of the term Natchez changed from the entire territory to the small town
surrounding the old Spanish fort Rosalie. The whole area was occupied
by a band of Indians called the Natchez.
The first churches
in WIlkinson County were at Woodville and Ft. Adams.
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GRIFFING AND PENELOPE COLEMAN
and Penelope Coleman "through a slow but safe process, accumulated a handsome
estate". Their children:
James became a
Methodist minister, after becoming saved as his Grandma Curtis lead the
prayer. "Then followed an unstudied, impromptu scene of loud,
triumphant shouting, which James Griffing kept up, at short intervals,
in the grove, at the family altar, and in the assemblies of the saints,
for more than fifty years". He met with opposition from his
father, who was trained up in what is technically called an educated ministry,
and James only had a
education. Therefore, he was urged by Tobias Gibson and Learner Blackman
to become an interant preacher, which he did for about 20 years, before
a childhood spinal injury from an upset cart, caused him to be unable to
keep up the travel. He married, and settled at first near St. Albans
on Big Black River, and afterward ten miles east of Port Gibson where he
lived the last 40 years of his life. The irony was that when he was of
extreme feebleness of old age, and could not get beyond the limits of his
"dooryard", he continued to read large historical and theological works,
and could rehearse with marked accuracy what he had read. James never
married, and having no family ties, decided to accompany a younger half-brother,
a mere lad, to the tented field in Virginia during the war between the
States. He was encouraged to think he would become chaplain, but
there was no vacancy. He was shot in the forehead in the battle of
Sharpsburg, Maryland, and immediately expired.
His half-brother was the only surviving son of a devoted mother.
He died from sickness in a hospital at Richmond.
was amiable, lovely and deeply pious. On a visit to her relatives in St.
Albans she sickened and died. She was engaged to marry Tobias Gibson.
married Rev. Moses Floyd, of Adams County, the second missionary to the
Mississippi Territory. When he died in 1814, leaving her penniless
with five children, four of whom, (2 sons & 2 daughters) grew to adulthood.
She lived in poverty dependent on family for necessities. All of
her children died young, except the oldest daughter, who married and settled
in Arkansas. Hannah found a home with her brother James.
married William Bowles, one of the first Methodists in Selsertown.
They removed to Hemstead County, Arkansas more than 30 years before the
writing of this book.
the fourth daughter grew up lovely and married a very estimable young man
named Gabriel Scott, who had followed Rev. Lorenzo Dow into the ministry
after a camp meeting at Spring Hill. After Gabriel and Abigail made
several moves, they settled in Jefferson County, and with a few other settlers
founded Cane Ridge Church. Gabriel was meek and modest. He read and
carefully studied the old leather-bound literature of the church.
He preached until his death from bilious colic in 1830. Abigail was
cheerful and sweet spirited, and her house was a regular nursery of young
converts. She was also the mother of eight children, four sons, and
four daughters, all of whom grew to maturity, and all were Methodists.
Three of the sons died rather early in life, the four daughters still lived
in Jefferson county at the time of the writing of the book. Abigail
stayed at the old homestead near Cane Ridge and kept up the family
altar and weekly prayer meetings until all her children grew up and secured
homes of their own. She then found a pleasant and plentiful home
with her son in law, Mr. John M. Folkes, one of the oldest Methodists in
Jefferson County. When she became too feeble to attend services, she continued
to attend the chapel services for the "colored people" in Mr. Folke's chapel.
She died toward the end of the War.
Phebe married in 1799 to the writer
of the book, Jonathan Jones, a Baptist minister. All of her children
became Methodists, two of whom became ministers. One of the ministers,
Rev Jonathon Coleman Jones, died of an epidemic in 1835 on the waters of
the Calcasieu, in Western Louisiana, where his unmarked grave lies.
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