The Massacres

©Joe M. Newton

The following article was printed in the Montgomery Advertiser Newspaper on 31 January 1943. It contains valuable information about Butler County, Alabama duirng the early part of the 1800s. I think you will find this information of considerable interest and that it is a great supplement to the article by Mr. Wade.


Peter A. Brannon
Montgomery Advertiser Newspaper
31 January 1943

There is a section of Western Butler County which was referred to quite early as " the flats" . As you travel today from Greenville, out West to the fork of the road at Awin, you pass a small post which bears the name " Fort Bibb." It is east of the plantation of Mr. Poole on that ridge road known as the Greenville to Monroeville highway. Fort Bibb was erected in the late Winter of 1818 as a stockade to enclose the home of Captain James Saffold. Records of the county say he moved from the " Ridge" to that place in the flats. The Militia Ridge in that case designated the route of the old Federal Road which ran generally southwest from a point east of Montgomery, along the line of Monroe and Conecuh Counties, to Claiborne. The erection of Fort Bibb was for the protection of the few settlers who had even that early come into that region after the treaty of Fort Jackson signed in August 1814.

Captain Saffold, whose house was inclosed by the stockade to form Fort Bibb, was a veteran of the battle of Calabee fought in our present Macon County some five or six miles east of Pole Cat Springs, in January, 1814. He commanded a company of artillery under Maj. McIntosh. Subsequent to the fight at Calabee, Gen. John Floyd and his Georgia Militia, fell back to Fort Mitchell, but records indicate that some of these Georgia commands were later at Fort Decatur which had been established opposite the Indian town of Tuckabatchi on the south (or east) bank of the Tallapoosa by the 7th North Carolina Regiment in January, 1814, and Capt. Saffold was in that command. Other settlers living in this western part of the county were William P. Garner, Daniel Shaw, James D. Garrett, and that section of the wooded country not far from what is now Manningham and west of Fort Dale site, lived John Dickerson and William Ogle, (" Orley" or by some spelled " Oglesby" ). The people who lived near the northeastern corner of what is now Butler erected a stockade, or a blockhouse, at the home of one Thomas Gary and near this privately fortified place was later erected Fort Dale where all the settlers could come for protection. The site of Fort Dale is between Montgomery and Greenville, some six miles north of the court house at Greenville, while Fort Bibb site is some 12 miles west.

Fort Bibb was named for Gov. William Wyatt Bibb, late of Georgia, who had just recently assumed office as governor of the Alabama Territory. The capital was then in Saint Stephens and Gov. Bibb rode back and forth from his home at our present Coosada, some 12 miles north of Montgomery, to Saint Stephens going by Fort Claiborne and crossing the Tombigbee at McGrew's Shoals.

Capt. William Butler for whom Butler County was named, was born in Virginia, but had resided in Georgia prior to the campaign against the Indians in 1813 - 14, and had already served as a member of the Legislature in that State. He commanded a company of militia under Gen. John Floyd, at the Battle of Calabee and moved to Alabama in 1817, settling in the region later to be referred to as the " Dogwood Flats." (Also referred to as Pine Flat).

When Butler County was created on Dec. 13, 1819, the original bill as reported out designated the thirty townships embraced in the original survey as Fairfield County. Friends of the recently martyred Captain changed the name of the County to read " Butler" in his honor. The death of Capt. Butler occurred about a week after the Ogly Massacre which took place March 13, 1818. This attack on the Oglys and the Strouds occurred at the Ogly home, on the Federal Road, some four miles west of Fort Dale. Mr. Ogly attended a military muster on the 13th of March, 1818, and on his way home that evening met an old acquaintance, Ell Stroud, who with his wife and children was passing through the country, & he persuaded them to accompany him to his home. That same night the house was attacked by Indians who robbed the settlers and murdered Mr. Ogly and four children. Mrs. Stroud was wounded as well as were two or three of the children. One of these, a girl who had been scalped, recovered and lived for many years at the home of Dr. John Watkins of Burnt Corn.

Mrs. Stroud died on the way to Claiborne where she was being carried for medical attention. Five or six days after the massacre, Capt. Butler, Capt. Saffold, William Gardner, Daniel Shaw, and John Hinson left Fort Bibb to proceed in the direction of Fort Dale. Near Pine Barron Creek, some four miles from Fort Bibb, they were set on by a band of Indians under Savannah Jack. Mr. Gardner and Mr. Shaw were killed and Butler and Hinson were wounded, but Mr. Hinson succeeded in getting away on his horse, whereas Capt. Butler who was trying to escape back to Fort Bibb, was captured and immediately murdered by the Indians. (The remains of Capt. Butler, Mr. Gardner and Mr. Shaw were moved at a later date to the town of Greenville and were buried in the Old Cemetery).

Col. Sam Dale at Claiborne, by order of Gov. Bibb, brought a detachment of Alabama Militia, some men of the 7th U. S. Infantry, as well as some from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, and scoured the swamps of the Conecuh and Escambia rivers, as well as Pine Barren Creek and other large streams in Butler County, and finally rid the county of the marauders.

Local records say that Col. Dale's Militia was at Poplar Springs erecting the Stockade destined to be called Fort Dale when Captain Butler was attacked. He sent aid to the frightened people at Fort Bibb who were but once more molested, this when they stole some horses from Dave Reddock, Thomas Carter and Josiah Hill, and killed some of Mr. Thomas Hill's fine cattle. Only one casualty resulted in this attack. Mr. William Cogburn, who lived at the home of Mr. James K. Benson, (the first white settler in Butler County), was killed when he exposed himself -- having too much curiosity -- by getting on top of a log, into view of the enemy.

Thomas Gary, a Royalist (Note 1) in the American Revolution, to whose home the early settlers first went for protection even though he charged them a fee, is buried in the old Fort Dale Cemetery. You may see his tombstone today. Col. H. T. Perry, James Garrett, Andrew Jones, John Murphy, and several other Georgians and Carolinians had settled about this time at Butler Springs. Thomas Hill and his two sons, Warren Thompson, Capt. John H. Watts and two or three others had settled in the forest of the ''Pine Flats'', but they were fortunate enough not to be molested by these Indians. Thomas Hill Watts, some forty-five years later Governor of the State, is a descendant of these families who reached Butler County in the Fall of 1816.

While Butler County claims more settlers from Georgia than from any other Eastern State, many of her early ones came from the upper portion, or rather the northwest corner of South Carolina, in the Fairfield District, and this would explain the origin of the determination on the part of the Legislators to call the County ''Fairfield" . When Capt. Butler was killed on March 20th, this brought him to the attention of these early settlers in such a pertinent way that they sought to honor him.

Savannah Jack who led the Indians in their attacks on the white settlers, recently come into the new country, was born at what Montgomerians know as old Augusta Town site. Some Georgians came into Montgomery County in 1816 and settled at the old Sauwonoga site (which was in late years Bachtel's Lumber Mill), and founded there the first Post stop in the county. There was a tavern and two blacksmith shops at this place, a road fork, one going Southwest and the other West to old Fort Toulouse (Fort Jackson). By this place went the first regular mail route through the territory, the one provided to carry the mail from Fort Mitchell, by Augusta, by Fort Jackson, to Claiborne and Saint Stephens. Savannah Jack, born at the old Shawnee Town site of Sauwonoga, was the half breed son of an Irishman from Detroit who had an Indian woman for a wife and who lived at this one-time Shawnee settlement on the Tallapoosa River. At this place today you may see the remains of one Indian Mound and one large flat top Mound on which there is a residence erected, as well as the family burial place of some of the Lucas family, some of the Ross family, and several other early Montgomerians. Savannah Jack was one of the most ruthless of the early half breeds reared in this section of the State. He bitterly opposed William Weatherford's Treaty with Andrew Jackson at old Fort Toulouse on August 9, 1814, and he led the Indians in their attacks on the white settlers. He subsequently went to Florida and joined the Indians there.

Josiah Francis and several other Indians from this region were among those who went with the Seminoles. Savannah Jack spent his last days in that State. Col. Pickett says that he boasted that he had killed so many men and women on the Cumberland and Georgia frontiers that he could swim in their blood if it was collected in one Pool. That was probably an exaggeration, but he, no doubt, was a bad man.

The country South of the North line of Montgomery County, which was created in 1816 extending to the Falls of the Coosa River at Wetumpka, was included in the Land Session of August, 1814, and the settlers from the Eastern States who came into Montgomery, Butler, Conecuh and those counties as far Southwest as Monroe, took possession of this recently ceded land, but even though there were only a limited number of Indians living in this region, most of them were quite reluctant to move out. Some moved into the reservation, that section East and North of Line Creek and bordered by the Chattahoochee River on the East and the Cherokee Country on the North, and some went to Florida."

Note 1: From DAR lineage books, Thomas Gary served as a Private in the State Militia in S. C. in 1780 and provided provisions for the Continentals and Militia from 1781 to 1785. His grave is the only one in the county of a Patriot with a DAR marker.

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Joe M. Newton