Henry County HistoryThis is a featured page

Henry County was carved out of Conecuh County on December 13, 1819 by an act passed by the General assembly of the State of Alabama during its first session. As it was then constituted, Henry County consisted of “all that tract of country lying east of the range line between thirteen and fourteen, south and east of the county of Butler, south of Montgomery county, west of the Indian boundary line and the Chattahoochee [River], and north of the thirty-first degree of north latitude [i.e., Ellicott's Line between Alabama and Florida] ...” This comprises all the territory that is now included in the counties of Covington, Dale, Coffee, Geneva, and Houston; the greater part of Pike; and parts of Crenshaw and Barbour. During the pre-1830 era, three counties were formed from portions of Henry County: Covington and Pike on December 17, 1821; and Dale on December 22, 1824.

Two thousand six hundred and thirty-eight inhabitants were included in the 1820 Henry County census. The vast area that was Henry County in 1820 underwent a population explosion during the succeeding ten years reaching 14,681 inhabitants in 1830. Of those, 4,020 were in the downsized Henry County. Follow this link for more on the population of early Henry County.

Joel T. McClendon, Johnson Wright, S. Smith (Capt.), Wm. C. Watson, and John Fannin were appointed commissioners by the state legislature in 1819 to “fix on a suitable place for the seat of justice.” They selected Richmond, the site of which is now in Dale County, as the first county seat. The county seat was moved to Columbia in 1822 (1826?) and subsequently moved to Abbeville in 1833 where it remains to this day. Fortunately, Henry County’s courthouse never burned which is a boon to researchers.


Pre-1830 Pioneers and History from the "Henry County Register"
*Best attempts were made to link the names (mentioned in these articles) to the correct detail page for each pioneer. In some cases, the linked page may not be the correct one, due to possible misspelling of names and/or not enough facts to identify correct person. For some names, there is not enough info to link it at all. More research is needed to determine correct link. Some of the unlinked names are people who were not in Henry County prior to 1830 and therefore do not have a detail page to link to.
Below are five articles extracted in their entirety from a newspaper published in Henry county named the "Henry County Register." These articles were attributed to the "old settlers" and present information on the earliest settlers of the Henry county area. Most likely there are additional articles in this series.

Henry County Register
M. A. Sheehan : : Editor
Abbeville, Alabama, May 30, 1873

Early Recollections of Henry
Editor Register: We have noticed with interest, as they have appeared in the Eufaula Daily Times "Early Chronicles of Barbour county" -- most of which are really recollections of Henry county, and judged by our recollection, are very inaccurate at that; so much so that we have determined, with your permission to give correct recollections of Henry, the old mother, the residents of whose offspring (Barbour), are misrepresenting her and giving wrong version to family affairs. But we are not doing this in a quarrelsome, pettish, or with any wish or view of getting up questions of veracity with the Times, inasmuch as its informants are newcomers to this country and cannot be expected to know much about it. In January, 1816 before there was any Alabama organized, or any Henry or Barbour counties were known, and while all this land was embraced in the Mississippi Territory and inhabited only by the wild beast, fowl, and Indian, George Gamble, the father of our fellow citizens, James, William, John L and Robert Gamble, together with one Wm. Brown, the father of Thomas Brown living near Columbia in this county, undertook to "spy out the land," and crossed the Chattahoochee river with their families at what was afterwards called Fort Gaines in honor of General Gaines. They both settled on the south side of what was afterwards called Patterson Mill Creek --now McRae's-- about two miles below Franklin, and made a crop that year jointly on an old field theretofore cleared and abandoned by the Indians. These were the first white settlers to come over, but in that spring Col. Robert Irvin, Jarrett Patterson, Edward S. Cox, George Keith, Jonah Keith and James Keith came over and settled in the same neighborhood. Irvin and Patterson made a crop where Franklin now is situated; Edward Cox and James Keith settled south of what is now known as Watson's branch, and Jonah settled above the mouth of the creek a mile below Franklin. Robert Gamble, mentioned above was the first white male child born in the territory. Jonah Keith was the father of David Keith of Geneva. In October of this year hostilities with the Indians commenced, and none of this handful of settlers were at any moment safe, but were liable to be shot and scalped at all times; and James Keith was shot and killed in his sick bed. They were therefore compelled to seek safety in Fort Gaines, where they were compelled to remain, or be butchered, till March, 1817, when peace was declared. During their long confinement in the fort the only solace left them was that they could buy their own corn from Indians professing to be friendly, but who would shoot, scalp and steal from the whites, with great delight, on the sly. After peace had been declared the settlers recrossed the river; and George Gamble being the only mechanic in the colony and owning the only tools, assisted Patterson in splitting puncheons and erecting his mill. It was the only mill in the county for many years--was owned by Col. Robert Irvin after Patterson returned to Tennessee, his former home. At the time of the first and second crossings such a thing as a batteau was unknown on the Chattahoochee. They brought their carriages and teams over by tying Indian canoes together and making thereby perognes with which they were enabled to cross. More anon.


May 30, 1873

The Henry County Register

Early Recollections of Henry
Editor Register: While in the fort the Indians and negroes stole all the canoes from the whites; and during a freshet in the Chattahoochee it was reported that a canoe was floating down the river, and a reward was offered for its capture. Many entered the contest for the reward, and the canoe, and ran with all their might, adopting the best means in their judgment to obtain it. Joel T. Mc[C]lendon, who was afterwards Sheriff of this county, and father of our Wm. A. McClendon, ran directly to the bluff near where Dr. Wm. J. Johnson's late residence now stands, and, without stopping, made a leap down the bluff, then over sixty feet to the water, and striking the embankment once, he landed in the stream, captured the canoe and returned to the shore in triumph.
Soon after this, information reached the fort that an Indian negro (one who had escaped from slavery and taken up with the savages) was camped on the bank of the river in what is now the Bennett plantation. An expedition consisting of several young men, including McClendon, went out to capture him. On reaching the designated point McClendon leaped from the canoe first, and drove it with his comrades back into the stream. Before they could again approach the shore and land the negro and McLendon closed, and the negro's gun was discharged so near to McClendon as to burn his face, when McLendon shot and killed the negro. Previous to this time and while in the command of Gen Floyd, at the battle of Ottassee the Indians were doing great damage to the whites from their council situated about two hundred yards distant, and it became necessary to burn it or lose the battle. McClendon volunteered to do this and in the face of a murderous fire from the Indians advanced alone and threw fire on the back corner, by which it was burned receiving no wound or damage except to have his canteen strap cut by a bullet. One Brown Livermon with his family were in the fort and against the remonstrance and pursuasions [sic] of his friends moved his wife, son and daughter to their home about a mile away and took himself to other parts. Of course the Indians attacked them right away, killed the wife and mother shot at the son and daughter and wounded the daughter slightly in the arm then caught her and thrust a butcher knife through her clothing, whereupon she feigned that she was dead. The Indians believing the knife had passed through her body, skalped [sic] her and left her for dead; when she escaped to the fort. When peace was declared several persons who had not theretofore crossed the river came over and in the fall of 1817, emigrants came in rapidly and settlements were made on the creeks and uplands of the interior and the country began to show more signs of civilization. More anon.


June 6, 1873

Names mentioned in this article:*

Gen Floyd
Brown Livermon
Joel T. Mc[C]lendon
Wm. A. McClendon

Henry County Register

M. A. Sheehan : : Editor
Abbeville, Alabama, June 13, 1873

Early Recollections of Henry
Among others already mentioned as being in Fort Gaines and who came to this county, were William Williams and two sons Braddock and John; James Nall, Sr., and two sons James and William; Moses Weems and family, James Hughes, Pious Chambers, Bryan Sholar and a negro named Zeke Weems. Zeke was the first man to learn the blacksmith trade in the territory. He has been at the anvil more than 50 years and can yet do fair work. George Gamble and Wm. Brown made two crops at their first settlement (1816 and 1817), when they sold out their claims to James Tindall, and Randall and James Jackson. Wm. Brown then settled below the mouth of Emersee creek near Columbia; his son Thomas now resides near the same place – he is 78 years of age with health and strength sufficient to enable him to hold the plow-handle daily, which he does from preference and long habit, as he is in circumstances that would justify him in enjoying that ease and quiet seemingly so befitting a man who has passed his three score and ten years. George Gamble lived a mile below Franklin on what is now known as McRae’s Mill creek, till he died in 1822. He was buried at Ft. Gaines. His sons –James, William, (who represented the county one term in the General Assembly,) and John L. and Robert, are all now respected citizens of the county, residing near Abbeville. Edward S. Cox moved to what was afterwards Barbour county, where it is believed he has several descendants. James Keith was killed by the Indians as heretofore stated. Jonah and Geo. Keith settled in the vicinity of Columbia. Wm Williams with his sons settled below the mouth of Phillips’ Mill creek near where his brother Stephen died, but sold his claim and moved to what was afterwards Barbour county, where it is believed one of his sons --John--- survives him. Moses Weems also settled on Phillips’ Mill creek, and erected a mill on the stream, one of the first in the county. He afterwards moved to what is now known as the Shackleford place, where he died, several sons and daughters surviving him. At Weems’ mill one Charles Settles had a blacksmith shop, and here Zeke, the negro spoken of above, served his apprenticeship. James Nalls Sr., settled in the neighborhood of Weems, where he and his sons lived and died. In the spring of 1817 James Hughes returned to Lawrence [Laurens] county, Ga., and brought to this county his mother Margaret Hughes and two brothers William and Moses, and his nephew Alexander C. Gordon, and settled two miles above the mouth of Phillips' Mill creek on the Chattahoochee river. He afterwards sold his claim to John Hines and purchased the claim of one Bartlett Poindexter on the Yattawabbe creek where John Whitehurst lived for many years, and which is now owned by one Miller. He remained here till 1829 or ’30, when he moved to Texas and took part in its struggle for independence, and acquired a large fortune there. While a resident of Henry county he was elected to the respective offices of sheriff and tax collector, and was highly esteemed by the people. He never married. He, James Gamble, and Thomas Brown were privates in the company of Capt. Rob’t Irvin who commanded at Fort Gaines. Pious Chambers settled on the Chattahoochee above Weems, where he died. His only daughter was the first wife of Col. James Bennett and died without issue surviving her. His son John, the father of Mrs. M.B. Green married the daughter of Judge Jno. H. Gilmore. She survives him. He died from the poisonous effects of a lotion of yellow jessamin taken by mistake. Thomas married a daughter of Isaac Morgan. She, with a large family of sons and daughters survive him. Both John and Thomas Chambers were men of strong native intellect, and, not withstanding the literary inconveniences of this frontier county, acquired considerable education, became shrewd and successful business men and occupied high social positions in the county.

June 13, 1873

Names mentioned in this article:*

James Bennett James Jackson
Thomas Brown Randall Jackson
Wm. Brown Geo. Keith
John Chambers James Keith
Pious Chambers Jonah Keith
Thomas Chambers ? Miller
Edward S. Cox Isaac Morgan
George Gamble James Nall
James Gamble James Nall, Sr.
John L. Gamble William Nall
Robert Gamble Bartlett Poindexter
William Gamble Charles Settles
Jno. H. Gilmore Bryan Sholar
Alexander C. Gordon James Tindall
Mrs. M.B. Green Moses Weems
John Hines Zeke Weems
James Hughes John Whitehurst
Margaret Hughes Braddock Williams
Moses Hughes John Williams
William Hughes Stephen Williams
Rob’t Irvin William Williams
Note: The events described below took place after the Battle of Hobdy's Bridge which was fought on March 24, 1837. As such, it is not pre-1830 Henry County history. However, it is included here for completeness, since it is part of the "Early Recollections of Henry series of articles.

Henry County Register
July 11, 1873

Early Recollections of Henry
After the fight at Hobdy’s bridge the Indians was pursued down the river by John Curry commanding a squad of whites, and captured some few prisoners who gave account of the forces of Indians which according to their statement numbered some 5000 warriors. This representation was certainly erroneous, they amounting to not more than 500 or 600 men. Lower down the river near the State line the retreating Indians killed one Mr. Hart and all his family. A few miles below Geneva they killed one Mrs. Alberson and her sister while her husband was absent. He returning at night and finding the sad butchery of his family set out to hunt the company of Captain Arch Justice, but come up with a Georgia company under command of Capt. Brown. These troops buried the dead at Mr. Alberson’s when they found that the Indians had ransacked the house after their butcheries, opened feather beds and scattered the contents about which had been taken up by the winds and lodged in tree tops about like snow. While at this place a canoe with a single Indian aboard was seen crossing the river a few hundred yards below. Brown ordered his men to fire upon him but the distance being too great, the shot fell far short. The Indian was however captured on landing and exhibited a pass from Mr. Green Beauchamp which was out of date, and he was kept in custody. He told them if they would spare his life he would show them the Indians who did the killing, and then led them on down through Florida to the mouth of Alaqua. When they came in sight of this creek they discovered a large pine felled across the stream. Suspecting an ambuscade Capt. Brown sent a squad of troops up the stream, to cross and come down on the opposite side and charge in on both sides, rightly suspecting that the Indians were hid in the thick branches of the felled pine on the opposite side of the stream. This squad came down on the opposite side promptly and attacking the Indians killed every one of them. Or at least no visible means of escape for them presented itself being completely hemmed in by the creek and troops on our side and the troops on the other. There were sixteen Indians killed here. The guide captured at Mr. Alberson’s said that they were the ones who killed Mrs. A. and her sister; and they were trailed from the place of massacre to where they were killed.

July 11, 1873

Names mentioned in this article:*

Mr. Alberson
Mrs. Alberson
Green Beauchamp
Capt. Brown
John Curry
Mr. Hart
Captain Arch Justice

Henry County Register
M. A. Sheehan : : Editor
Abbeville, Alabama, August 1, 1873

Early Recollections of Henry
The only man who came over from the fort and not accounted for in our last communication, is Bryan Sholor, who moved to Florida many years ago. In 1818, 1819, and 1820, the following persons with others, immigrated and settled the county to-wit: Wm Mathews, Alexander Watson, Alexander and Neil McAllister, Isaac Morgan, Stephen Mathews, ---- Beauchamp, (father of William and Green Beauchamp), George Stubbs, Thomas S. Kettler, Geo. Stenham, Stephen Williams, Jno. F. Koonce, Mathew and Jeptha Perryman, Joel Deese, John Anglin, Ike Atkins, George Jones, David and Conn Newton, Capt. Stanley, Nick Baker, Josiah and Wm. Cawthon, Simon Smith and two sons Ben and Sidney; Benjamin Lewis, Jeremiah Kimbal, John McGriff and sons William and Richard, the latter of whom is still living in Columbia; John Odom, Avery Odom, Leonard Ham, Ben. Fagan, Tom Black, Giles Carter, Joseph Davis, John and Anderson Campbell, John Fleming, James Nobles, Luke Farmer, two men named Hopkins, Elijah Hardie, Bartlett Poindexter, Alexander Balkum, Christopher Ward, Wm. Norris and three sons --- Barrel, Abud and Icabud, Robert Johnson, Membrance and Andrew Helton, Archie and John McKissack, Jack Green, David Caldwell, Humphry and John Pellum, Robert Richards, Moses Armstrong, Anthony and Bryan McCullough, James Grace and sons James H, and John Thos. Martin, Byrd M. Grace, Bartlett Smith, Ben Snellgrove, Elias Miller, John and Jonathan Majors, Thos. Majors, Ned Majors, Lewis Deal, Wm. Leonard, John and William Bishop, ---- Hutchinson, ---- Fulgen, Daniel Pynes and sons James, Benj.[,] White and Fair Pynes, Benjamin Harvey ---- Evans and son Gammons. Most of these settled on abandoned Indian old field on and near the Chattahoochee, gradually extending the settlements into the interior. Of many of these we shall more particularly speak hereafter. All the branches and creeks were cane breaks of the densest kind: game of various kinds abounded all over the county, and the same quality of lands were when cleared much more productive than now. The chief hunting grounds of the Indians were on the Yattawabbee and the Emersee creeks, the road between which were their trails. The Indian towns were on the river, and the men, accompanied by their squaws, would march out in single file to their hunting grounds camp, kill deer, jerk the venison, dress the hides and return to town laden with the fruits of their toil. With these skins they made moccasins. The squaws always carried their younger children on these occasions strapped across their shoulders. More anon.


August 1, 1873

Names mentioned in this article:*

John Anglin Benjamin Harvey James Nobles
Moses Armstrong Andrew Helton Abud Norris
Ike Atkins Membrance Helton Barrel Norris
Nick Baker ? Hopkins Icabud Norris
Alexander Balkum ---- Hutchinson Wm. Norris
---- Beauchamp Robert Johnson Avery Odom
Green Beauchamp George Jones John Odom
William Beauchamp Thomas S. Kettler Humphry Pellum
John Bishop Jeremiah Kimbal John Pellum
William Bishop Jno. F. Koonce Jeptha Perryman
Tom Black Wm. Leonard Mathew Perryman
David Caldwell Benjamin Lewis Bartlett Poindexter
Anderson Campbell John Majors Benj. Pynes
John Campbell Jonathan Majors Daniel Pynes
Giles Carter Ned Majors Fair Pynes
Josiah Cawthon Thos. Majors James Pynes
Wm. Cawthon John Thos. Martin White Pynes
Joseph Davis Stephen Mathews Robert Richards
Lewis Deal Wm Mathews Bryan Sholor
Joel Deese Alexander McAllister Bartlett Smith
---- Evans Neil McAllister Ben Smith
Gammons Evans Anthony McCullough Sidney Smith
Fagan, Ben Bryan McCullough Simon Smith
Luke Farmer John McGriff Ben Snellgrove
John Fleming Richard McGriff Capt. Stanley
---- Fulgen William McGriff Geo. Stenham
Byrd M. Grace Archie McKissack George Stubbs
James Grace John McKissack Christopher Ward
James H Grace Elias Miller Alexander Watson
Jack Green Isaac Morgan Stephen Williams
Leonard Ham Conn Newton
Elijah Hardie David Newton

The Henry County Register

October 3, 1873

Early Recollections of Henry
From the Eufaula Daily Times.
In our communication in your paper of the 5th inst we stated that 'Eufaula creek empties from Alabama into the Chattahoochee river about four miles above Ft. Gaines. We should have said 'Hartridge creek.” Eufaula Creek runs into the Chattahoochee about four or five miles above 'Prospect Bluff' and was the dividing line between the Indian Town which extended from the Eufaula creek up to Chewalla creek which empties into the Chattahoochee just above your city.
Joseph Irvin a Brother of Col. Robert Irvin taught school at what is known as the “Devils Jump” one mile west of Franklin, at which place one of your correspondents learned to spell “baker”. Joseph Hartridge (a son of Wm. Hartridge who married an Indian woman) went to the same school, and was quite smart for a half breed but could not pronounce the letter E. Joseph Irvine like his brother, was a very good man. He returned to Tennessee in the year 1821.
Col. John Fannin who fought the duel with Col. Crowder and was afterwards commander of the troops that were murdered by the Mexicans at Golead [Goliad] settled a plantation on Hartridge creek about two miles west of “Prospect Bluff” (on which the Rev. Edmond Cody resided at the time of his death) on which he built the first gin house in the upper end of the county. There being no nails in the country at that time, Col. Fannin had holes made through the boards in which he placed pegs and hooked them over the lathing to cover his gin-house. It being the first gin-house we ever saw, and being covered in this peculiar way we have never forgotten it. Cotton was then packed in round bags, with a crow-bar, and generally made to weigh about 300 lbs, hauled to Montgomery to market at which place our people went to get their cotton bagging at that time. They had great trouble to get a road wide enough to haul their round bales of cotton. They were about six feet long, placed crosswise on the wagon. Eight or ten made a load, one in the bed of the wagon lengthwise, the balance crosswise on top.
Jarrett Patterson was among the first settlers in our county, and as before stated, was a brother-in law of Col. Irvin, and erected the first distillery in this county about the year 1820, one mile west of Franklin near where Capt McRae's tan yard now is located. He returned to Tennessee about the year 1823.
Next amongst the great men who first settled our county, was David Caldwell, who came from Kentucky. He it was that sank the first tan vat in our county about half a mile North of Capt. McRae's in the river flats. He sold out to Anthony McCullok and joined Col. Irvin in establishing his tan yard. David Caldwell was the first Justice of the Peace elected in the county. He was afterwards elected Judge of the County Court, which position he filled with great honor to himself and satisfaction to the people. He was a very kind hearted intelligent gentleman, very instructive to the youth of the country as one of your correspondents can testify. Owing to some family difficulty, he would never return to his native house, Kentucky, at which place he had a very interesting family. One of his son's came to see him here, a young man of very fine address, and used all honorable means to induce him to return to his home in Kentucky, but he never did.
But alas, in his latter days he gave way to intemperance which shatened [sic] his noble existence here upon earth. His ashes now repose in his adopted and beloved county of Henry. No one in this country ever knew him to do a mean act. To know him was to respect and love him.
We are under the impression that we gave Anthony McCullok the credit of being the founder of Franklin in some of our former articles. If we did we were in error, as we find Col Irvin was the man who first owned the land and established a ferry across the Chattahoochee between Franklin and Fort Gaines, in co partnership with J. W. Sudly on the Georgia side. (Chafey Haijo as the Indians called him) Col Irvin sold some lots to McCullok on which he built a store and dwelling home. One of your correspondents clerked for him in 1824 and 1825 where his trade was mostly with the Indians. McCullok was a great man for the Indian trade. After doing business at “Prospect Bluff” he went to a place called “Old Pond Gap” near where the jug factory now is located, and sold goods to the Indians: then he went over on the Georgia side of the river and established a trading house near the ”Perryman Town” above Fort Gaines, at which place he sold many goods and made a great profit out of his Indian customers, who at that time were receiving pay from the Government for their lands, and they had United States money in abundance, and would give it in exchange for anything, not placing any value on paper money. They also had corn to sell which they brought down the river in their canoes and sold or exchanged for goods. McCullok give [sic] them a bottle of whiskey for a barrel of corn in the ear, which would measure out one bushel. The Indian required the bottle to be filled, stopped, turned up, and the hollow in the bottom filled, which they drink and be satisfied that they had not been cheated in getting their bottle filled. They imagined that the hollow in the bottom was made there for the purpose of swindling in the measure.
Franklin that we have been writing about in this county, was named after the immortal Benj. Franklin. We will give you a further history of its first settlers trade, etc, in some future article.
More Anon.


October 3, 1873

Names mentioned in this article:*

David Caldwell
Edmond Cody
Col. Crowder
John Fannin
Chafey Haijo (J. W. Sudly)
Joseph Hartridge
Wm. Hartridge
Joseph Irvin
Robert Irvin
Anthony McCullok
Capt McRae
Jarrett Patterson
J. W. Sudly (Chafey Haijo)

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