The Old Augusta Cemetery

Today we're going to look at one of the early settlements in Montgomery County.  Augusta, Alabama was founded in 1816 by a group from Georgia.  They settled at what would later be known as Ware's Ferry, and for about a decade it looked like Augusta could become the capital of civilization in central Alabama.  Unfortunately, flooding and disease killed the town, and Montgomery rose to prominence.

The first quote comes from a book published by The Society of Pioneers of Montgomery in 1961. Then there are photos of the Old Augusta Cemetery, followed by photos of the historical marker and a transcription of said marker.

At a very early day in the history of the county Montgomery had a rival, in a nice little town twelve miles above the city on the Tallapoosa river. It was located on a beautiful spot on the bank of the river, and had at one time between fifty and seventy-five family residences, with store-houses, hotels, academy, black-smith and wood shops, tailor shops, etc.; but after a few years the place proved to be sickly, and it was abandoned altogether. Augusta was the name of the town. Then everything centered to Montgomery, the only town in the county, and a very small place.
— Recollections of the Early Settlers of Montgomery County and Their Families by W.G. Robertson

Old Augusta Cemetery gate, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 1, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 2, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 3, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Old Augusta Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Augusta & the Old Augusta Cemetery

Augusta, home of Old Augusta Cemetery, was built on the site of a former Indian village, “Sawanogi”, on high ground close to the Tallapoosa River. In 1824 a disastrous flood swept over the plateau, invading shops and residences. A year later a deadly form of malarial fever took half the population to their graves, killing the town as well. The cemetery, burial place for the Ross, Charles, and Taylor families, continued to be used until the early 20th century. The iron fence surrounding the cemetery formerly was erected around the state Capitol in Montgomery.
— East Montgomery County Historical Society & Alabama Historical Association - 2006

Site of the Old Augusta Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama



I don't have much to add in today's post.  Keep reading to see the transcription of the large stone historical marker standing on the grounds of the Elmore County Courthouse in Wetumpka, which gives a pretty thorough overview of the town's past and founding.

Wetumpka stone historical marker side 1, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

The land area which now comprises the city of Wetumpka was inhabited by various Indian cultures prior to the inward migration of the white man, at the turn of the 19th century. The largest Indian village near here was located on the east bank of the Coosa River one mile south of this point. This village was known as “Oche-au-po-fau” (Hickory Ground) and was composed mainly of Muscogees. After the 1814 surrender of the Creek Confederacy at Fort Toulouse, there came an influx of settlers to this fertile land, many bringing slaves.

The U.S. Government surveyed the future town site in 1831. A major part of the site east of the river was still Indian territory, but was ceded to the U.S. by the Cusseta Treaty of 1832. That year lots were auctioned to the public. By late 1836, all remaining Indians had been moved to reservations in Oklahoma.

In 1834, the state legislature chartered the town of Wetumpka which was on both sides of the river. The west side was in Autauga County and the east side north of the former Indian boundary line, which ran easterly from the falls, was in Coosa County. The east side south of the Indian boundary line was in Montgomery County, but this latter portion was transferred to Coosa County in 1837.

Wetumpka stone historical marker side 2, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

The name ‘Wetumpka’ was taken from the Indian words ‘we-wau’ (water) and ‘tum-cau’ (rumbling or sounding), in reference to the noise made by the rocky shoals of the river.

In 1837. the legislature divided the town and incorporated the area on the west side of the river as West Wetumpka. In 1939, the two towns were reunited by the legislature as one city known as the City of Wetumpka. That same year, Wetumpka was chosen as the site for the first state prison.

After the destruction of a prior bridge by flooding, a student, covered bridge was constructed in 1844 by the famous builder, Horace King, a former slave who had been freed by the legislature the preceding year. This covered bridge was located on the same site as the Bibb Graves Bridge. This covered bridge was swept away in the Great Flood of 1886, the same flood which altered the course of the Tallapoosa River and formed Parker’s Island.
— Marker erected by BSA Troop 52

Elmore County Courthouse, site of the Wetumpka stone historical marker, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama


Albert James Pickett

In 1814 William Raiford Pickett was a sheriff, tax collector, and state legislator in Anson County, North Carolina.  He and his wife had three children, the youngest a four year old boy named Albert James Pickett.  When William heard about the Treaty of Fort Jackson and all of the new Creek land available for purchase in the Mississippi Territory, he decided to take part in the land rush.  In 1818 he bought a tract of land in Autauga County in the newly separated Alabama Territory, and established the Cedar Grove plantation and a trading post.  He went on to be a very successful planter and served in both houses of the Alabama state legislature.

Albert James Pickett, from his book History of Alabama

Albert was eight when his family moved to Alabama, so the second half of his childhood was spent on the frontier.  He was mostly self-taught, but did spend a year each studying at private academies in Massachusetts and Virginia.  His older brother, William Jr., was a successful lawyer, so in 1830 Albert decided to study law at his practice.  That only lasted a few months.  Albert's sister, Eliza, had married Moseley Baker, owner and founding editor of The Montgomery Advertiser, so Albert decided to try journalism next.  He discovered that his passion was writing, and it would prove to be his professional focus for the rest of his life.

In 1832 Albert married Sarah Smith Harris and her father, William Harris, gave the couple a 1,100 acre plantation, Forest Farm.  Albert took to the life of a planter, and quickly became one of the first planters in the region to use science to inform his decisions on the plantation.  He even contributed articles to several scientific journals, including The Southern Cultivator, but his principle written legacy came in the field of history.

Albert spent his adult life researching and collecting first-hand accounts of the early settlement of the southern United States.  He also helped to found the Alabama Historical Society.  In 1851 he published his principal work, History of Alabama, and Incidentally Georgia and Mississippi, From the Earliest Period.  It covers the history of what is now the state of Alabama from Hernando de Soto's 1538 expedition until Alabama achieved statehood in 1819, and is still the essential starting point for people interested in Alabama's early years.

In 1858 Albert bought a house in Montgomery, which you can read about here, where he hoped to continue working on his comprehensive history of the southern United States.  Unfortunately, he died before he could move into the house or complete his next work.  He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, and is remembered today as Alabama's first historian.

Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama

Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama

Site of Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama



Located on a pronounced eastward bend in the Tallapoosa River about 20 miles east of downtown Montgomery, Tukabatchee was once the major Creek town in what has now become southern Alabama.  One legend says Tukabatchee is the birthplace of the Green Corn Ceremony, a harvest ritual practiced throughout Creek and Seminole society.  Tustanagee Thlucco (Big Warrior), principal chief of the Upper Creeks in the early 1800s, lived in Tukabatchee until his death in 1826.  Opothleyahola (Good Shouting Child) was born in Tukabatchee in 1798, and eventually rose to the position of Speaker of the Chiefs.  But Tukabatchee is most remembered for a famous visit.

Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa came to Tukabatchee in 1811 to convince the Creek Nation to join their pan-tribal campaign against encroaching European society.  Tecumseh's ideas met with some support, but the combination of Big Warrior and Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Affairs agent, was successful in keeping the Creek Nation out of Tecumseh's machinations.  Tukabatchee remained a thriving town until the Treaty of Cusseta ceded all Creek lands east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. government.

In 1929, the Alabama Anthropological Society commissioned a plaque to mark the spot of what they called Tukabahchi.  That stone can be seen below.  It current sits in from of City Hall in Tallassee, but presumably it was originally placed much closer to the actual site of the town.

Old Tukabahchi marker, Tallassee, Elmore County, Alabama

This stone placed at the Great Council Tree marks the site of Tukabahchi 1686-1836

Capital of the Upper Creek Indian Nation. Here were born Efau Haujo, great medal chief, and Opothleyaholo, Creek leaders. Big Warrior resided nearby. Here came Tecumseh in 1811 to arouse the natives against the white settlers and was successfully opposed by Col. Benjamin Hawkins, principal agent for Indian Affairs south of the Ohio River. Here in 1823 Lee Compere established a Baptist mission school.
— Placed May 13, 1929 by the Alabama Anthropological Society

Old Tukabahchi marker in from of City Hall, Tallassee, Elmore County, Alabama

The Alabama Historical Association placed a modern marker honoring Tukabatchee just west of its home bend in the Tallapoosa in 2011.  The reverse side of the marker contains the exact same message as the front, but this time written in Muskogee.

Tukabatchee historical marker, Elmore County, Alabama


On this bend of the Tallapoosa River, stretching out before you, lay one of the ancient towns of the Muscogee Creek People, called Tukabatchee. Tukabatchee is one of the original four mother towns of the old Creek Confederacy. Tukabatchee served as one of the Creek Confederacy capitals in the Upper Creek region on the Tallapoosa River. In the fall of 1811, Tecumseh of Creek and Shawnee ancestry came here to his mother’s town to persuade the Nation’s warriors to adopt his ideas of rejection of the presence of American intruders and return to traditional ways. Tecumseh’s visit to Tukabatchee represents the beginning of a series of events that resulted in the Creek War. Tecumseh addressed the nation gathered here and gave his war speech where he persuaded some Upper Creek warriors to take the war walk against the intruders. The Creek Confederacy was not totally unified in this nativistic movement which led to the Creeks fighting each other causing the Creek Civil War of 1813-1814.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2011

Tukabatcee historical marker reverse side written in Muskogee, Elmore County, Alabama

Setting of the Tukabatchee historical marker, looking in the direction of the former town, Elmore County, Alabama


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.