Tuesday, March 31, 2015


A Most Unusual School Student

When the son of William McIntosh attended school in Dublin, he didn’t have to study about Indians, he was one.  In the days before Thanksgiving nearly every elementary school student learns about the Pilgrims and the Indians.  Most historians, usually the ones raised in the north, conveniently forget about the first settlers in Jamestown, Virginia and the Indians who feasted together when the first Puritans were not even dreaming of coming to America.  This is a story of a true Indian who attended local schools while his father was visiting his cousin, George M. Troup of Laurens County.  His life spanned the greater part of the 19th  century and involved him in many of the historic events of early history of our nation. 

Chilly McIntosh was born more than two centuries ago about fifty miles west of Whitesburg, Georgia.  His parents, William McIntosh and Eliza Grierson, were children of Scottish men and Creek Indian women.  William McIntosh rose to the rank of chief of the Lower Creek Confederacy.  Chief McIntosh served first as a major and later as a brigadier general in the United States Army during the War of 1812 and the Seminole Indian War of 1818.

Chilly was educated in the ways of the white man and the Creek.  While maintaining the importance of his Indian heritage, Chief McIntosh encouraged his children to learn the ways of the white man.  Chilly would often tag along with the Chief as he came to Dublin to visit George M. Troup, who was a son of his father’s sister.    One of Chilly’s playmates was a son of Jonathan Sawyer, the founder of Dublin.  

While he wanted to go with his father to serve in the War of 1812, Chilly was asked by the chief to remain at home to look after the family.  During the war, Chilly was sent to some of the finest schools in the state, including the academy at the capital in Louisville.  Like his father, Chilly dressed in typical frontier clothing.  His skin was lighter than his parents and could easily pass as a darker skinned white man.  Just when he thought he would be able to join his father’s forces in the war against the Seminoles in 1818, the Chief was mustered out of military service.

Chilly McIntosh built a home at Broken Arrow.  He worked with his father in establishing a trading post at Fort Mitchell.  Soon a dispute arose between Indian Agent John Crowell and the McIntoshes.  Crowell seized goods from the McIntosh store.  In retaliation, Chilly organized a band of warriors and forcibly reclaimed what he claimed was rightfully his.    The younger McIntosh followed in his father’s footsteps by serving at the highest levels of the Creek Nation. 

In 1825, Chief McIntosh and other Lower Creek leaders signed a treaty at Indian Springs ceding all of the remaining Indian lands in Georgia.  As Clerk of the Creeks, Chilly joined his father in signing  a treaty with the State of Georgia, headed by Gov. George M. Troup.  Their signatures on the controversial document led to the father and son being marked for instant death by factions of the northern Creeks. The Upper Creeks were not a party to the agreement.  The chiefs of the Upper Creek towns were absolutely livid.  They issued a death warrant for Chief McIntosh, his son Chilly, and all others who signed the treaty.

An assassination squad was dispatched to the McIntosh home near Alcorn Bluff on the Chattahoochee.  On May 30, 1825, the party hid out in the woods waiting to pounce on McIntosh.  They passed on one chance to kill the chief on the road leading to his home.  The marauders set fire to the McIntosh home.  Chilly was awakened by two of the attackers.  He managed to escape. McIntosh, in a final act of desperation, fought off the killers, but only for a few minutes.  The smoke was overwhelming.  The assassins moved in.  They shot the Chief fifty times, dragged him out into the yard, and took his scalp in front of his terrified family.

The Creek nation pardoned Chilly and the surviving members of his family after the massacre.  Chilly, then Chief of the Coweta, was commissioned a major in the United States Army.  During the visit of the Marquis de la Fayette to Georgia in 1825, the French officer who aided the  Continental Army was welcomed to Georgia by none other than Major McIntosh and a detachment of fifty Indian warriors, whose bodies were stripped and finely painted.  The major’s men escorted the  French hero across the Chattahoochee River to the loud yells as he met Georgia’s official delegation.

In 1828, Chilly rounded up the surviving members and loyal supporters of the Chief and headed for Three Forks, near present day Muscogee, Oklahoma.  Chilly, like his father, became the leader of the Creek Nation, then in exile in Oklahoma.  He is credited with being the first School Superintendent of the Territory of Oklahoma.  Chilly came under the influence of missionary Baptist ministers and joined the ministry himself, devoting much of his time to rid the Indian nation of illegal liquor.

During the 1850s, tensions between the northern and southern states turned from simmering to boiling.  The same was true among the former southeastern Indian tribes, the Cherokee and the Creek.  The wounds resulting from the treaty of cession in 1825 still kept the two tribes on different ends of the political spectrum.  As slaveowners, Chilly and his younger brother Daniel Newman Mcintosh, who was named in honor of a fellow officer of their father, sided with Stand Waite, a Cherokee sympathetic to the South.  

On the very day that Union and Confederate forces first clashed in Manassas, Virginia, the Creeks loyal to the Confederacy organized under the command of the McIntoshes, Molty Kennard and Echo Harjo.  Daniel McIntosh was given command of 900 Creek cavalrymen as the 1st Creek Cavalry.  Lt. Colonel Chilly McIntosh, leading 400 Creeks, commanded the 1st Creek Cavalry Battalion.  

When the Confederate armies won early victories, the Cherokee were forced to reevaluate their neutral position.  On Christmas Day 1861, Chilly McIntosh and his men were trapped in an ambush at Chustenanlah near the Big Bend of the Arkansas River.   With the aid of a regiment from Texas, the Confederate Creeks broke through the enemy line and escaped.  The Cherokee, led by John Ross, joined the South in the fall of 1861.  Tensions erupted the following winter between the two rival Creek factions.  Following a reorganization of Creek Confederate troops, McIntosh was promoted to Colonel and placed in command of the 2nd Regiment, Creek Mounted Volunteers.  He combined his regiment with Brig. Gen. Stand Waite.  During the war, McIntosh took part in the battles of Round Mountain, Pea Ridge, Fort Wayne and Honey Springs.    

Ten years after the end of the war, Chilly McIntosh died on October 5, 1875 in his home near Fame in the Oklahoma County, which bears his family name.  And though the life of Dublin’s most unusual school student ended far from where it began, the traditions of a family who shared a deep heritage between the white man and the Indian still live on.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Ye Ancient Landmark

There is no more ancient local landmark, at least of the man-made variety, than Chappell's Mill situated at the northern extremity of Laurens County.   This grist mill, once a part of a widespread network of dozens of such mills, is the last of a once thriving commercial operations which served to convert the farmer's grains into the daily bread of life.

No one can tell exactly when the mill first was constructed.  The old story goes that it was a Mr. Gilbert that built the first mill on a branch of Big Sandy Creek, known as South Sandy Creek, about the year 1811.    It is likely that the builder of the original mill was either John or Thomas Gilbert, who owned land in the area in the early years of Laurens County. 
Though the exact date is not known, James Stanley II purchased the mill and more than two thousand acres surrounding it.      The hilly regions of northern Laurens County provided an ideal location for a mill.  Grist mills were often the commercial centers of the rural areas of the county.  They were similar to today's convenience stores and often sold other products in addition to ground corn and wheat.  Stanley formed a mercantile concern named for two of his sons, H.B.  and Ira Stanley, to capitalize on the rich resources of the area.

James Stanley died in 1841 and ownership of the mill passed to his sons.    Ira Stanley  was a man of high education. He married Janet McCall, daughter of Thomas McCall and Elizabeth Smith.  Though he owned in excess  of sixty slaves, Stanley refused to sell his excess slaves and kept families intact on his large plantations.   A starch opponent of the liquor trade, Stanley served as sheriff of Laurens County (1825-26) and state representative (1834-35.)    Stanley was a close friend of Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America.    Family members relate the story of the time when Stephens stopped in for a visit with Stanley, who informed him that he was contemplating building a new home.  Stephens requested a pen and drew a sketch of his home, which Stanley duplicated as nearly as possible. 

During the War Between the States, the mill became a purported target of Sherman's  cavalry soldiers as they patrolled the flanks of the right wing of the Union army as it approached the Oconee River at Ball's Ferry.  Major James B. Duggan, a Confederate officer at home on leave, learned of the plot.   With no comrades available, Duggan dashed off to the nearby bridge over Big Sandy Creek, known as the "Lightwood Knot Bridge."    The legendary story tells that Duggan enlisted the aid of an elderly slave woman to deceive a Union cavalry patrol into believing that they were a squad of Confederate  general Joseph's Wheeler's cavalry coming up to block their crossing.  It has been told for decades that Duggan and the woman set the bridge afire and caused the Yankees to scurry off in mortal fear.

After the war, the local economy was in a shambles.  Nearly all of the men in the family had been actively involved in the war.  Rollin and Benjamin Stanley were officers, as well as James Chappell and Peyton Douglas.   The continued operation of the mill was important, perhaps more important than ever before.  The sons and sons in law of Ira Stanley entered into an agreement in September of 1868 to settle Stanley's estate.  James W. Chappell (husband 0f Harriett Stanley) , Peyton W. Douglas (husband of Georgia Stanley) and Ira E. Stanley purchased the interest of John F. Burney (husband of Margaret Stanley), Rollin A. Stanley and Benjamin F. Stanley for the sum of $4000.00.   The purchase included all mill rights and the rights to flood the pond to a sufficient level to operate the mill.  Also included in the conveyance of "Stanley Mills" included "all lumber on hand," possibly indicating that a saw mill was located on the premises.

From that point on, the mill became known as Chappell's Mill.   Ira Stanley Chappell, the eldest son of James T. and Harriet S. Chappell, died in 1931.  He was the last member of the Chappell family to own the mill.   Before his death, Chappell sold the property to Allen J. Dixon, who operated it for a quarter of a century.  Dixon advertised an auction for the sale of the mill, including the 50-acre pond, seven acres of land and three dwellings.  Dixon also offered more land at the set price of $10.00 per acre.  Don't we all wish had been there on December 18, 1942 with a pocket full of money?.   Dr. T. J. Blackshear was the high bidder.  He maintained the property until it was purchased by James and Forrest Townsend, grandsons of Allen Dixon.  

Charles Fordham,  Alton Carr, George Fordham, Carl Robinson and many others  kept the mill going for many years.  Production often went above 15,000 bushels a year and grossed more than $100.000.00 annually.   Once the grains of corn were ground, the meal was carefully sifted and poured in paper bags bearing the name of the mill and a generic conception of a southern grist mill.  The fine meal was sold to grocery stores around the state.  The mill was operated on water power until about 1950, when the more dependable electric power motors were installed.    Despite the dependability of electric turbines, the Townsends always wanted to restore the water power because it was free.   James Townsend always proclaimed that the slow grinding process was superior to the rapid factory processes.  

In 1997, after one hundred and eighty six years of continuous operation, the last batch of corn was ground.   The closure was not the result of the dastardly Yankees, a disastrous fire or an untimely death of the operators.  The death of our county's most ancient landmark came at the hands of indifferent government bureaucrats, who insisted that the Townsends install modern and prohibitively expensive equipment to keep the mill in operation.  

 The first mill house was located  on the northern side of the pond, but was washed in a flood and moved to the other side of the dam to protect it against floods.     The 1840s mill house still stands as a vivid reminder of the distant past.  Over the years, it has been modified to accommodate modern conveniences, but when you see it, you will be transported back in time to an era when life was a little slower and a lot gentler.