Lucas Hill Cemetery

This is going to be another quick post.  We've previously discussed the Lucas Tavern on the Old Federal Road in Pike Road, Alabama.  Years after the tavern itself was moved to Old Alabama Town, a nearby cemetery from the same time period when the tavern was operating had fallen into complete disarray.  In 2005 the founders of a new Pike Road community, The Waters, arranged to move the cemetery a few miles south and take over its care.

You can see the historical marker, it's transcription, and a couple of photos of the cemetery itself below.

Lucas Hill Cemetery historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lucas Hill Cemetery
Circa 1816

The Founders of The Waters relocated and restored this historic cemetery in May 2005. The original cemetery site, located along the Old Federal Road beyond the boundary of the Creek Indian lands at Line Creek, had fallen into ruin due to years of neglect. The Lucas Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for some of the earliest settlers who established plantations and farmsteads along the Mount Meigs Terrace now present day eastern Montgomery County, Alabama.
— The Waters at Waugh, LLC - 2006

Lucas Hill Cemetery, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Site of Lucas Hill Cemetery historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama


Lucas Tavern

This is going to be another post that is largely about the photos, as most of the information I have is recounted in the three different historical markers dedicated to this site.  That being said, let's get into the story.

Lucas Tavern was another waypoint for people travelling through Montgomery County in the early days of the Federal Road.  Travelers were expected to make about 15 miles each day, so if you were heading to New Orleans in 1819 you would almost certainly sleep at Lucas Tavern one night and at Manac's Tavern the following night.  Lucas Tavern was located in present-day Waugh, Alabama, a few hundred yards east of Exit 16 on Interstate 85.  There's a plaque there to mark the original location of the Tavern, but that plaque was placed in 2002.  Another plaque was placed on the same spot by the D.A.R. in 1932, but it was moved to downtown Montgomery in 1980 (along with the building itself).  Today, Lucas Tavern is still standing as the starting point of tours in Old Alabama Town.  The third plaque is in front of the Tavern, and matches all of the other information plaques in front of each of the buildings that make up Old Alabama Town.

The Tavern has two big claims to fame.  It's the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County, and it paid host to a visit from the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825.  Lucas Tavern can be seen from the street, but if you want to go inside you'll have to pay the Old Alabama Town admission fee.  I highly recommend it if you're never taken the tour, and we'll be covering the other buildings in future posts.

These first couple of photos show the marker at the original site of the Tavern, along with the transcription and a shot of its surroundings.  Then you'll see a map showing the location of this first marker.

Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Circa 1818

Stood 2800 feet north of this point, just west of Line Creek on the Federal Road. Moved to Montgomery in 1978 to serve as the Visitor and Information Center for the Old North Hull Historic District, it is the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County. Original proprietor, James Abercrombie, ran it from about 1818. Walter B. Lucas announced his take over of the tavern in the January 6, 1821 issue of the Montgomery Republican. A four-room frame building with a long central hall, the tavern’s most famous guest was Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette who stayed here on April 2, 1825 during his triumphant tour of the United States.
— Sponsored by the East Montgomery County Historical Society, Inc. and Alabama Historical Association, 2002

Setting of Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama


Next, we have the nearly century-old marker and its transcription, followed by the Old Alabama Town plaque and its transcription, both near the Tavern's current setting.

Original Lucas Tavern D.A.R. historical marker, now standing next to the building in Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern

Stood four hundred yards North of this point

Lafayette spent the night here April 2, 1825
— Erected by Peter Forney Chapter (D.A.R.) - 1932, replaced - 1980

Lucas Tavern information placard, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Early 19th century

Located on the Federal Road near Line Creek (present Waugh) in eastern Montgomery County, this wayside hotel was built prior to 1818 and was owned by at least two other families before coming in the possession of Walter and Eliza Lucas around January 1821. Originally a two room dogtrot, the building was brought to its present form by the Lucas family in the early 1820s. On April 2, 1825, Eliza entertained the Marquis de Lafayette and his entourage in the Tavern during their trip through the state. The family left for new business ventures in Mississippi in 1842, after with the Tavern became a residence and, eventually, a storage building.
The structure was moved to Old Alabama Town and restored in 1980. It is the oldest standing building in Montgomery County.
— Landmark Foundation of Montgomery, sponsored by Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole & Black, P.C.

Finally, we have two exterior shots of the Tavern and three photos of the interior, followed by a second map showing the Tavern's current location.

Front view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Side view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Central hallway of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Front bedroom in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Rear room with serving kiosk in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama


We'll come back to early Alabama history in the future, but our next post is going to move closer to the present.  Thursday we'll look at one of the many historical markers dedicated to an individual who is more synonymous with Montgomery than anyone else, Rosa Parks.

Manac's Tavern

Today we're going to go back to the same spot we covered in the last post, and talk about the other side of that historical marker.  I mentioned Manac's Tavern, and the fact that two groups of Army trailblazers had met in the middle near the marker to finish the Old Federal Road.  Manac's Tavern was that meeting point, and today we're going to look at the owner and operator, Samuel Manac (or, more often, Moniac).

One of the most interesting ideas I've come across so far in my reading for this blog has been the fact that there were actually quite a few European men who had made their way to Creek and Cherokee territory long before the American Revolution, let alone the creation of the Old Federal Road.  I may do enough digging to eventually do a bigger story about that subject as a whole, but today we're going to start with the Moniacs.  It's hard to tell if it was Sam's father or grandfather, but sometime in the second half of the 1700s a Dutch man named William or Dixon (or William Dixon) Moniac moved into the Creek Nation, probably as a trapper.  He married a Creek woman, and his son (or grandson) was Samuel Moniac.  Sam grew up and also married a Creek woman.  Before we get into his story, we need to meet four more men: William Weatherford (aka Red Eagle, Sam's brother-in-law), Alexander McGillivray (aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko, a Creek chief descended from a Scottish soldier on one side and a French soldier on the other) William Augustus Bowles (aka Estajoca, a man from Maryland who had fought with the British in the American Revolution), and Benjamin Hawkins (U.S. Indian Agent, effectively the American Ambassador to the Creek Nation).  All four men are fascinating in their own rights, and we may come back to them in future posts.

William Weatherford, aka Red Eagle, 1814 (image courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

Alexander McGillivray, aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko (public domain image)

William Augustus Bowles, aka Estajoca, 1791 (image courtesy of The British Museum)

The first interesting Samuel Moniac story I was able to find has Sam and his brother-in-law William Weatherford going with Alexander McGillivray to New York City.  President George Washington invited a group of 30 chiefs, led by McGillivray and including Moniac and Weatherford, to a conference to establish a treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation. The Treaty of New York was signed in 1790 by all 30 chiefs as well as the U.S. representative, Secretary of War Henry Knox.  All 30 chiefs received silver medals from the President, and are sometimes called Medal Chiefs in later stories.

The next story has Moniac and Weatherford being recruited by Benjamin Hawkins to help him deal with the arrival of William Augustus Bowles in Creek territory.  Bowles was wanted by Spain for trouble he had caused in Spanish Florida, and had come to the Creek capital, Hickory Ground, to try to add the Creeks to his forces.  Moniac, Weatherford and Hawkins went to a Great Council at Hickory Ground in May 1803.  Bowles had convinced the majority of the Creeks to side with him, so when Hawkins announced he was there to arrest Bowles, hundreds of guns were drawn.  Moniac and Weatherford walked straight up to Bowles, tied him up, threw him in a canoe and took off down the Alabama River to turn him into the Spanish authorities.  Their audacity, combined with their reputation and high standing in the Nation, allowed them to escape with the prisoner before anyone could shoot.

The final major story in Samuel Moniac's life starts at another Creek Council, this time in 1811.  Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief from present-day Ohio, was there to convince the Creeks to join his war against the encroachment of American settlers.  Moniac was one of the few Creeks willing to speak out and denounce Tecumseh's plans.  The rise of the Red Stick movement eventually led to the Creek War, and in the summer of 1813 Moniac returned home from a trading expedition to find a group of Red Stick leaders waiting for him.  They wanted him to pledge his support for their side, and he refused.  He escaped on horseback under gun fire, and his plantation and tavern on the Federal Road were burned in retaliation.  There are U.S. military documents that show that Moniac led Creek units that fought on the side of the Americans on at least two occasions, he was said to have led General Ferdinand Claibourne's troops to the Battle of Holy Ground, and it's very likely that he was also part of the Creeks who fought on the side of General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  

Samuel Moniac died near Pass Christian, Mississippi in 1836.  He was part of the last major Creek group to leave Alabama on the Trail of Tears.  Nearly a quarter of that group died on the Trail.  Even though Sam had sided with the the United States at every turn, eventually anti-Creek sentiment forced him to leave his home just like almost every other member of the Creek Nation.

As a final side note on the life of Samuel Moniac, his son David also led an interesting life.  David Moniac was invited to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1817, and in 1822 he became both the first Alabamian and first Native American to graduate from West Point.  In 1836, he was the only Native American officer fighting on the side of the United States in the Second Seminole War.  He was killed at the Battle of Wahoo Swamp on November 21, 1836.

Samuel operated a large farm near the Alabama River near Burkville, Alabama in Lowndes County, and he opened his tavern on the Federal Road at the request of Benjamin Hawkins some time after 1800.  The tavern's most famous visitor was Aaron Burr, who spent the night as a prisoner in 1807 on his journey back to Virginia to stand trial for treason.  The first tavern, along with his farm, was burned to the ground by the Red Sticks in 1813, but after the Creek War he rebuilt the tavern.  The first traveler's description of the area to not mention "Manac's Tavern" was written in 1820, so it's likely that by that point Sam and his family had shuttered the business.  The building doesn't survive, but contemporary accounts describe it as a large dogtrot style log cabin, much like this one still standing in north Alabama and built in 1820.

John Looney Pioneer House Museum, Asheville, St. Clair County, Alabama (courtesy of Bjornquist Films)

The historical marker stands about half a mile northeast of the actual site of the tavern, which has been partially excavated by a team from the University of South Alabama in the last decade.  You can read the text in the photo below (sorry for the odd angle, the ground was pretty swampy) or in the following quote.

Manac's Tavern historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Manac’s Tavern

Manac’s Tavern, located near here and nearby Pinchona Creek, was the oldest stand on the Federal Road. Samuel Manac, the proprietor, in 1791 went with Alexander McGillivray to the U.S. capitol in NYC and met George Washington to conclude a peace treaty for the Creek Nation, the U.S.’s first treaty with a foreign power. He married Red Eagle’s sister, Elizabeth. Aaron Burr stayed here in 1807. In 1822 Sam’s son, David Moniac, became the first Indian and first Alabamian to graduate from West Point. In 1836, in the Second Seminole War, Maj. Moniac was killed at Wahoo Swamp leading a unit of Creek militia against the braves of Osceola, who was his wife’s cousin.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association, 1997

Intersection of Cloverfield Road and Federal Road, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

By all accounts, Samuel Moniac lived a fascinating life, and his influence was integral to the early days of Alabama as a Territory and State.  As many stories, or legends, exist around him, he's still somewhat shrouded in mystery.  I found one account of a new book about him being written a few years ago, but I wasn't able to find any updates.  If that book is ever published, maybe we will revisit Mr. Moniac on the blog.  If he really did everything he was purported to have done, he deserves a much higher status in the early annals of Alabama.

Our next post will move north up the Federal Road to another famous tavern.


The Old Federal Road

As the 1700s drew to a close, there was no real land route connecting "Washington City" and the rest of the east coast with New Orleans.  Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road could get you to Nashville, but that was the end of the line.  In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent units of the U.S. Army to develop the Natchez Trace into a road he wanted to call the "Columbian Highway".  The Trace allowed mail delivery and an established route for extremely adventurous souls, but it was long and treacherous.  Jefferson obtained permission from the Creek Nation to build a "horse path" through their territory in 1805, and he saw that as an opportunity to build another road.

Map of the Old Federal Road (courtesy of the University of Alabama)

Several attempts were made to blaze and survey the horse path, and on November 30, 1811 two groups from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment met in what is now southern Montgomery County, completing the Old Federal Road.  The next six months saw nearly 4,000 "immigrants" travel the Road looking for new land and opportunities.  The Red Stick religious movement was already underway in the Creek Nation, and when that movement turned to violence the Road became a war path.  General Andrew Jackson ended the Creek War at the Battle of Horsheshoe Bend, and the subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814 restarted the big land rush.  The next five years of rapid influx and population rise would come to be known as "Alabama Fever".

The next photo shows the marker that was placed near the location of the spot where the trailblazers met and the Road was completed in 1811.  The reverse side is dedicated to nearby Manac's Tavern, but that will be the subject of our next post.  You can read the text of the marker below in the photo or in the subsequent quote.

The Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Federal Road

The 1803 Louisiana Purchase acquired 828,000 sq. mi. for the U.S., doubling its size. The Federal Road was built to provide a shorter route from Washington to New Orleans and the new territory. The Treaty of 1805 with the Creeks authorized traversing their lands. Entering Alabama at Ft. Mitchell near Columbus, GA, it came through Mt. Meigs, to Pintlala, Ft. Deposit, Burnt Corn, Ft. Stoddert, then Mobile. The 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson made much fertile Creek land available to grow cotton; this lure, “Alabama Fever”, drew many thousands of settlers to central Alabama. In 1860, spans were still in use, but the Road was gone.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association

Intersection of Cloverfield Road and Federal Road, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

There's a much older marker about two miles west, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1932.  I've included photos of that marker and its surroundings next.

D.A.R. Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Intersection of Federal Road and U.S. 31 in Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

My goal in this post was to cover the basic concept of the Old Federal Road.  If you're interested in further reading, there's some great stuff at this website maintained by Auburn University-Montgomery, or if you're really adventurous you can dig into the original report that led to creation of that website.  My next post (or two) will focus on some of the specific locations in the Montgomery area that played a big part in the existence of the Road.