The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history


Do you figure they became palefaces by…

enumeration dates for the 1870 census? Is there even wonder that the task is daunting  when documenting family history given all the givens. There are obstacles like all the names associated with one person with a native american heritage, the misspellings of the names throughout documents, factions within families changing surnames over time. Further, there was the fact that in order to abide by white man’s law, you could not be in the state of Alabama and be a native american until 1964. No wonder that sometimes native americans would be documented to be ‘black dutch’ or ‘mulatto’ when the census takers required family information back in the early days of the census. For whatever reason, legal or otherwise, the ethnicity check box was left blank on some 1850 and 1860 census records, thus making documenting native family heritage even more difficult both legally and officially. This is the case with Chief George Colbert’s daughter, Nancy Catherine Colbert. On the 1850 and 1860 census records the ‘race’ section was left blank, but the 1870 census recorded her as ‘white.’ Not.

Nancy Catherine Colbert’s genealogy is quite remarkable as she was related to both Chief George Colbert and Chief Doublehead by blood. Doubly so, first  by blood and then by marriage of her father to her mother’s sister.

Chief Doublehead, the son of Chief Great Eagle and Woman Ani Wadi,  was born Birth 1744 in what is now Stearns, McCreary County, Kentucky. Doublehead was murdered 9 Aug 1807 at Hiwasee River, Cherokee, Washington, Tennessee, United States. He was known as Tal-tsu’ska’, Dsu-gwe-la-Delaware-gi and as Chuqualatague. His wives included Nannie Drumgoole, Kateeyeah Wilson, and Creat Prieber.

Chief Doublehead  married first to Nannie Drumgoole and married second to Katteyeah Wilson who was born about 1770. He married a third time to Creat Prieber or Priber around 1757 in Stearns, KY. Creat Prieber was the daughter of Christian Prieber and Clogoittah. She was born in Tellico Plains, TN, and died about  1790 in Stearns, McCreary County, Kentucky. The following lists include the wives and children of Chief Doublehead known; there are others reported, but this author has not proved them yet. Proven corrections would be welcome but should be accompanied with valid documentation.




  Tahleysuscoh Tassel DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1798; d. August 1807


  Alcy DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1800; d. Aft. 1838; m. Giles McNulty; b. ca 1790


  Susannah DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1805; d. aft 1838; m. George Chisholm; b. ca 1805


  Sister DOUBLEHEAD, was b. 1807



Chief Doublehead and Creat Prieber were married about 1757 in Stearns, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Christian Gottilieb Prieber and  Clogoittah was born about 1740 in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. She died about 1790 in Stearns, McCreary, Kentucky. Chief Doublehead and Great Prieber had the following children:



  Tuck-a-ho DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1762; d. 1800 m. Margaret Mouncie, Chery Fork, now Helenwood, TN; b. ca 1768



   Blossom of the Corn or Cornblossom DOUBLEHEAD, was b. 1765; d. 1810 reportedly at the Massacre of the Cherokee Children; married “Big Jake” Jacob Troxell



Sa-Li-Tsi Saleechie Tuscahootie DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1762; d. 1846; m. Colonel George Colbert  ; b. 1764; d. January 07, 1839, Ft Towson, Indian Territory



   Ni-Go-Di-Ge-Yu DOUBLEHEAD, b. ca 1764; m. a Riley




   Gu-Lu-Sti-Yu DOUBLEHEAD, b. 1766; d. 1818; m. a Riley   Du-S-Gi-A-Hu-Te DOUBLEHEAD , b. Abt. 1760; d. Abt. 1817, Colbert Ferry, Colbert Co, AL; m. Colonel and Chief George Colbert; b. 1764; d. January 07, 1839, Ft Towson, Indian Territory

 Chief Doublehead and Nannie (Nan-que-se, The Pain) Drumgoole had the following children:



Bird Tail DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1795; d. 1857



   Peggy DOUBLEHEAD, was b. ca 1800; d. bef 1838; m. William Wilson; b. ca 1800; d. bef 1838.

 Chief Doublehead and Nannie (Nan-que-se, The Pain) Drumgoole were married about 1794. Nannie was daughter of Alexander Drumgoole and Nancy Augusta and was born about 1775. She died on 23 Jul 1850. Nannie is a story unto herself. Documenting her properly will warrant a future article.

The Cherokee Advocate, Aug 6, 1850, records the Obituary of Nancy Springston: Nancy Springston. Born c. 1775 – died July 23, 1850. Her four surviving children were at her side at the time of her death at the house of Anderson Springston. She also had 73 grandchildren.

A Springston descendant, John L. Springston,  provides additional information Nannie Drumgoole Doublehead on his Miller application:
The John L. Springston notes on his Miller Application:

Sir: My grandmother on my fathers side was named Nancy. She was a full blood Indian of the Cherokee Tribe. She had four sets of children, Springston, Foreman, Wilson and Doublehead and as I understand the case, she must have been enrolled in 1835,36. 1846 & 1833 or earlier than 1835. I want to find her name and her families by name. My grandfathers name was John. I think he had by his marriage to her three children – Anderson, my father, & Isaac & Edley Springston. My uncles by her Foreman marriage she had only one I am aware, his name was Jim or James Foreman. By her Doublehead marriage she had only one as far as I know, his name was Bird Doublehead. Her marriage to Wilson I am lost. She died prior to 1851 (this contradicts his other statement). Now as far as the Cherokee Indian record will show her I wish an examination thereof – my father Anderson Springston was born 10-13-1814 and I think Isaac was older than he – Edley I am unable to say.

Nancy, my said grandma had two brothers and two sisters as I was informed by my father & mother both and I ask as to who her census shows they were – if possible – as to claim on them. I cannot be any to certain, or not enough to swear to positive. I ask for such information as is possible from the rolls showing them so I can apply with a certainty.

They were all emigrants and resided in Delaware District Cherokee Nation West and I think in Tennessee East – not far from Gunters Landing on the Tennessee River. It is my desire to apply for all possible where (the rest is illegible). This is signed 10-8-1906.


In another letter he states that she had two brothers and two sisters,

Another letter states:
“Nan-que-se, my grandmother Nancy Springston’s niece — Nancy in same family, the relation bore to each I do not know– also, Isaac, sister of my grandmother Nancy –Che-ne-lern-ky — relationship only as fixed by the relationship existing between the named emigrants (Danielle Schijvijnck, RootsWeb).

Another bit of interesting data on Chief Doublehead from a lodger on the Reserve, Catherine Spencer. This comes from annotations of James Raymond Hicks’  Cherokee Lineages, updated August 29, 2004.  Jim’s annotations of Emmet Starr’s work, based on materials in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. are a wonderful resource if you are a descendant of one of the lineages Starr traced. Unlike others who have set out to update Starr’s work, Jim is very respectful of the former’s research and simply adds relevant material and well- supported speculations about discrepancies.The [ ]  mean that the text is transcribed as read:

 “Came Catherine Spencer and makes oath that she lived at the house of Doublehead the Chief when he was killed which was many years ago, she thinks it was about 27 years ago, and that she lived in his family about 12 years. Applicant is the niece of Old Doublehead, and is the only daughter and child of E-yah-chu-tlee, a brother of Doublehead, and Chau-e-u-kah is her mother, and was then a grown woman about 19 years old; and affiant states that the following described property was there and belonged to Doublehead the Chief when he was killed – to wit,

One negro man named Andrew about 21 years old, very likely $1000.00 One young negro man named Joe a Race Rider, very smart $650.00 One mullatto boy named Ben, 16 years old $600.00 one brother of his named George, 14 years old $550.00 one negro boy named Jacob about 15 years old $550.00 -$2350.00

one negro man named Riddle about 22 years old 800,00 one negro woman named Phebe about 25 or 6 years old $500.00 and her four children, the oldest 10 & youngest 2 years old at $200 each on an average is $800.00 one negro woman named Mary or Polly about 23 years old $500.00 with her two children – $350.00

Austin, a man between thirty & 40 years old $600.00 and his wife Magon about 30 years old, a house woman, good cook, washer & Ironer $600.00 with five children the oldest a boy 12 years old & ranging from him down to the youngest about 2 years old, all worth on an average $200 each –$1000.00 This man and woman came by the death of the applicants father to the Old Chief Doublehead with this affiant when she was moved to his [quarters] after the death of her father, and from this man and woman these 5 children were raised and all these seven negros were [once] the right of this applicant but affiant does not know where it is now — affiant declares most solemnly on her oath that she never sold them to any body nor been paid one dollar for them–

all of the above described negroes were there before the Georgia negroes were brought there, & applicant states that a white man named Chisholm was gone to Georgia to collect money due Old Doublehead when he was killed & shortly after that Chisholm returned with nine grown negroes from Georgia and left them there as a part of Doubleheads property and said he got those nine negroes in place of the money due unto Doublehead – affiant and the other Cherakees [evidently?] then took these nine negroes and put them in the negro cabins with the other negroes and provided for them as for the other negroes of Doublehead and they remained there as a part of his estate untill taken off by the white men; five of these Georgia negroes were men worth $700 each — ?,00 and the other four women worth $500 each -$2000.00 all stout able negroes and well grown, the names not recalled nor the ages –

There were 30 head of cows & calves worth $12.00 each –$360.00 and about 100 head of fine stock cattle, big sturdy [heifers] all worth 5 to 8 dollars each $650.00 one fine stud horse at home worth as the people said $700.00 and one other stud horse at South West Point said by the people to be worth $1000.00 and there were 8 other fine mares and geldings bought of Rik-e-ti-yah, John Christy’s mother, worth $100 each –$800.00 and nine other head of common [draw?] horses [ruous?] and colts worth about 50 or 60 dollars each, say 55 on an average $495.00 and [five good eail?] horses called first rate & worth $500.00. Doublehead paid a fine negro named Mary for the 8 bought of John Christy’s mother with a view to increase his stock of horses, and that negro was not any of thoses housed here – this John Christy has gone to Sekausas.

50 head of sows & pigs & shoots and small stock hogs running about the house $3.00 each –$150.00 one hundred head of large hogs running out in the woods worth $5.00 is –$500.00
4 large first rate beds & bedding & bedsteads worth $40 each –$160.00
6 [windsor?] chairs at 2.00 each 12.00
12 common du .50 cts 6.00
1 case of bottles & liquor –10.00
4 doz plates –4.00
8 dishes, all large –6.00
2 good tables –8.00
1 fine du –1.50
2 large pots –10.00
3 large ovens –9.00
2 smaller pots –2.00
1 dinner pot –2.00
1 brass kettle, common size 2.50
1 tea kettle –1.50
3 pair of iron fire dogs 4.50
1 saddle & bridle & brace of pistols
a good saddle part worn =15.00
the pistols first rate with a case & working 30.00

[Prince] according to her best [yu agrement] of the value of such articles of property & affiant states that Doublehead had a store there and a white man named Phillips was the clerk and [rate for ach] and the Cherokee people came there daily and bought goods for cash and Phillips refused to sell goods on a credit to the Cherokees. it was a comendable stock worth about two or three thousand dollars, and Doublehead told affiant just before he was killed that he had three thousand dollars in a trunk in the store room – – affiant saw large quantities of money in Phillips hands but cannot state how much as she never counted it; affiant did not know of her uncle buying any thing after that time and thinks there would have been as much as more than $3000 cash on hand- affiant admits it to be true that she does not know so well about the store and the money because Phillips the white man had the entire IOU that of it when Doublehead was died and and did not show the money any more and did not communicate the situation of it to affiant – that year a white man named Samuel [Llebarrinan alrevceed] for Doublehead and was making a good crop and [anocianally] all the big negroes [icraekill] out. — The [Observer] quit there [loan] after Doublehead was killed — Bird Doublehead and his brother were sent to school and boarding at the [Clarks] and Peggy Peggy and Sucunnah and [Fley] will [aff aho] None of the children of Doublehead were there nor does affiant recollect of their comming there — they were all very young. Bird was the aldest & many years younger than this affiant and no claims came through to protect their rights or secure their property –[lit surrued] that after their father was killed by his people that the children were also endangered by the nation –this affiant [averried] and managed as well as she could do.

Affiant states that as soon as the news came that Doublehead was killed Phillips shut up the store and kept it shut up and quit selling goods — The crop was continued working by the negroes the others [heuinep] of Doublehead went on untill towards fall when four white men came there and stayed four or five days, — these white men talked to Phillips a good long time and they seemed to be counselling together but affiant could not understand them — these white men after talked to the negroes and after about four days councelling the white men asked affiant and her Aunts & [Soney] Thau-ti-ne – all Doublehead and Wah-hatch a brother of Doublehead to [guerite] a [loam] and these one of the white man named Black proposed that all the negroes and horses and cattle and hogs and all the removable property should be taken care off for the children of Old Doublehead this Black was the man with whom Bird Doublehead had been and was there boording at whoal – It was asked by the whites whether this should be done or not and none of the Cherokees countered to it, but Phillips the store keeper gave his consent to it and he went off with the three white men and they carried all the goods boxes and trunks and all belongings to the store (off with them) and all the above described articles of property and negroes, and cattle and horses and hogs [t&] off with them and they [neuii] ande paid for [norletuiua] any more — one of the negroes named Andrew who could speak and understand both English & Cherokee stated to affiant that he understood what the white men said and he told this affiant that these white men were not [meaning] to save the negroes and the other property for the children of Doublehead and that they were [meaning] to get it all for their own use and fixing to steal it and that if the white men did act so with the property he Andrew would run away and come back to the nation again. The other negroes seemed to be concerned that these white men would take them to where Bird Doublehead was and went cheerfully and the negroes assisted the white men in collecting the stock and loading up the waggon and one of the negroes drove off the team and the plantation was left without any human beeing on it but her aunts and Wah-ha-ti-hi It was the understanding with all the Indians that the children were to have all this property at last. Wah-ha-ti-hi got some Indians to [aprint hein] and they gathered the crops and put it away and no more white men came there to [couriett] for the goods of the heirs of Old Doublehead, and this affiant and her two Aunts [Sorrey & Ks-ti-e-ie-ah Doublehead and Wah-ha-ti-hi [mode urea it thermires] — Black and these other white men did not say that Doublehead owed them money, but only said that the property should be taken care of for the use of his heirs and this affiant and other [kinfolks] did not consent [uren] to that for this affiant these thoughts are known at the time that this affiant and the other Cherokees could have taken as good care of it as these friendly white men could do.”

Swarn to transcribed
before me this 8th June 1838
[Leirniz Lieiculf]

Catherine X Spencer mark (Reprinted by Jim Hicks)

So, Chief Doublehead seems to have been extremely well off. His children did not benefit from his death as his material goods were carted off by a few white men. Chief Doublehead’s double son-in-law, Chief and Colonel George Colbert, excelled at wealth building as well. Chief George Colbert’s sons, Major William Colbert, Colonel George Colbert, and Major James Colbert led 350 Chickasaw braves to join Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orléans. Jackson’s troops crossing the Tennessee River at Colbert’s Ferry were charged 50 cents for a foot soldier and a dollar for a hose and its rider. Chief Colbert was noted to have made $20,000 a year from running his ferry. The Lane, Goodloe, Pride and Rutland familiesof Colbert County  have a history of being friends with Colbert’s wife and sons; the Lanes still own the land where Chief Colbert’s house was located. He was said to be the first native american millionaire as he amassed great wealth from trade and his ferry on the Tennessee River.

George Colbert married Chief Doubleheads daughters, Sa-Li-Tsi Saleechie Tuscahootie  and Du-S-Gi-A-Hu-Te Doublehead. Saleechie was born at Echota Village in what is now Monroe County, Alabama and died at the Indian Nation in Cherokee, Oklahoma. 

Saleechie and George Colbert were married in 1807. They had the following children: George Colbert 1785 – 1879, Levitia Hettie Colbert 1790 – 1860, Pitman Colbert 1797 – 1853, Samuel B Colbert 1797 – 1853, Susan Colbert 1798 – 1818, Jane Colbert 1800 – 1827, John Colbert 1800 – 1832, Nancy Colbert 1805 – 1878, William Colbert 1805 – 1870, George Colbert 1809 – 1879, Susan Sukey Colbert 1810 – 1860, Sarah Colbert 1815 – 1855, John Colbert 1818 – 1834 and Vicy Colbert 1818 – 1846.

To this point, no children have been discovered for Du-S-Gi-A-Hu-Te Doublehead and George Colbert. It is possible that some of the children listed above are hers, but research does not lead to that as a probability.

Some further notes on George and Saleechie Colbert follow: 

George Colbert, or Tootemastubbe, was perhaps the most prepossessing of the Colbert brothers in appearance and manners. He was supposedly opposed to innovation, and an enemy to education, missions and whiskey. He lived on Wolf creek four miles south of Booneville. Shullachie, or Saleechie, was the name of his wife. She lived where Tupelo is now. He had two sons, Pit-man and George, and one daughter, Vicy. He “was illiterate but had some influence and stood tolerably fair; talked very common English. His son, Pitman, had a very fair education.” George Colbert himself moved to the West.

Win. Henry Gates is authority for the following statement:

“My father, William Gates, went to McNairy county, Tenn., and bought the running gear for two six-horse wagons, sold them to Colbert, and the latter moved to the nation in them.”Edwin G. Thomas says:

“In 1836 I attended the land sales at Pontotoc. The first night in the nation I stayed at Saleechie (or Shullechie) Colbert’s four miles west of where Tupelo now stands. She was a woman well-fixed up, had a good house, and gave good fare.”The author of Cotton Gin Port and Gaines’ Trace, in the Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, VII., 269 appears to be mistaken as to Selitia Colbert being “one of the wives of Levi Colbert.

In 1821 Alexander Dugger first became acquainted with the Indians at Cotton Gin. George Colbert lived near Harrisburg, in what is now Lee county, on a place afterward owned by Shannon. Pitman Colbert lived with his father on the same place. They were very wealthy, working 140 hands; had a large farm near Colbert’s Ferry in Alabama. Vicy Colbert was an educated woman, and wealthy, as wealth was counted in those days. She owned three sections of land, all of which Colonel Doxey sold to Wm. Duncan for $13,000. She lived south of the old Chickasaw King, though she lived for a while in the Cherry creek neighborhood. She went west with the Indians .(

Martha Ann Hargett who married Robert Duncan (source: Elizabeth D. Pearson material; “History of AL and Dictionary of AL Biography” by Thomas M. Owens, Vol. III; pg. 516-9.) and Mary Hargett who married John Duncan, is related to George and Saleechie Colbert. The father of John Duncan, William Duncan, married Vicy Colbert, daughter of Genl. Chief George Colbert of Muscle Shoals, AL, and his wife, Saleechie, daughter of “Chief Doublehead”, Lauderdale Co. AL. (source: “The Morketts Anne (Duncan) Smallwood Lineage” from notebooks of Kay D. Hampton). (

George and Saleechie’s daughter Nancy Colbert 1805 in Buncombe, North Carolina and died in 1875 or 1878 in Colbert, Alabama. Nancy Catherine Colbert married Hezekiah Tharp in 1830 in Franklin County, Alabama.  Hezekiah Tharp lived 1795 – 1873. Hezekiah and Nancy Colbert Tharp had a large family of children:  Hulda Caroline Tharp 1828 – 1914, Robert F Tharp 1830 – 1878, Thomas F Tharp 1836, Martin Tharp 1837 – 1864, Elizabeth Tharp 1838 – 1860, Permelia A Tharp 1841 –  ,Nancy Catherine Tharp 1842 – 1939, Hezekiah Tharp 1842 – 1864, Presley Tharp 1844 – 1892, Rufus Tharp 1847 –  ,Lancey Tharp? 1850 –  , James Tharp 1850 –  , and Reece Tharp 1855 – 1921. It is through the Chief George Colbert’s many relatives and through these children that a large number of Shoals people are related to this historic figures. A family that was in the territory before statehood or thereabouts would likely be related in some form or another.

Their son, Robert F Tharp was born 11 May 1830 in Franklin, Alabama and died 12 Oct 1878 in Colbert, Alabama. He married Sarah Ann Prentice who was born 5 Jan 1839 in Marshall, Alabama and died 15 May 1904 in Colbert Heights, Colbert County, Alabama. The text of their marriage certificate is given as:

The state of Alabama Lauderdale County

To any Judge, Minister of the gospel or Justice of the Peace legally
You are hereby authorized and required to solemnize the rights of Matrimony
between Robert Tharp and Sarah Ann Prentice agreeable to the state in such
case made  and provided and a due return make to the Office of Probate for
the County aforesaid.
Given under my hand this 1st day of May 1858  W. T. Hawkins P. Judge
The rites of matrimony solemnized by me this 16th day of May 1858.  B. F.
Kursman, J. Peace

To this marriage were born the following children: James Orman Tharp 1853 – 1940, Martha E Tharp 1856 –  , Mary Jane Tharp 1861 – 1946, Safronia McClellan Tharp 1865 – 1919, Robert Tharp 1868 – 1914, Caldona Tharp 1870 – 1900, Mary Jane Tharp 1873 – 1880, Susan Evaline Tharp 1873 – 1961, William Coleman Tharp 1874 –  , and James Tharp 1877 –  .

Martha F Tharp born  1856 in Franklin County, Alabama  married James R Yocum  who was born 11 May 1830 in Franklin County and died 12 Oct 1878 in Colbert County, Alabama. They married 10 Nov 1871 in Colbert County, Alabama.  Their children were: Laura E. Yocum 1873 – 1890, Sarah A. Yocum 1875 –  , James R. Yocum 1877 –  , and Mary Julia Julie Yocum 1879 –  .

Martha Tharp Yocum and James R Yocum’s daughter Laura Yocum died sometime after 1890 probably in Franklin County, Alabama. Laura married on 13 Nov 1871 to William Houston “Bud” Fisher who was born in 1868 and died in 1909 in Franklin County, Alabama. Together they had Mary Florence Fisher who was born 15 Sep 1890 and died in June 1982  in Russellville, Franklin, Alabama.

Mary Florence Fisher James

Mary Florence Fisher James

 Mary Florence Fisher married Drewery Gerture James who was born 4 Nov 1889 and died 31 Mar 1981 in Russellville, Franklin, Alabama.They married 22 Dec 1907 in Russellville, Franklin County, Alabama. He was eighteen and she fifteen. The photo of Mary Florence James above is believed to have been made around the time of her wedding.They had the following children: Mary Lou James 1909 – 2000, Willie Mae James 1912 – 1986, Elizabeth Modena James 1915 – 1996, Maggie Irine Jones 1918 – , Warren Gamuel James 1921 – 2002, Kate James 1928 – , and Drewery Gerture “D G” James 1932 – 1962.Willie Mae James was born 18 Jan 1912 at Pleasant Site, Franklin, Alabama and died 7 Nov 1986 in Sheffield, Colbert, Alabama. She married Edward Osmond Crowell who was born 20 Feb 1905 in Rockwood, Franklin County, Alabama and died Jan 1975 in Rogersville, Lauderdale, Alabama. They had the following children: Edward Osmond Crowell 1928 – 1975, Jerry Trapp Crowell 1935 – 1982, and Donald Autry Crowell 1943 – 2002.Edward Osmond Crowell, Jr. was born 10 November 1928 in Russellville, Franklin County, Alabama. He died 17 November 1975 in Town Creek, Lawrence County, Alabama from complications of diabetes. He entered the Navy on December 7, 1947 and retired as a Disabled Veteran in 1950. He married in 16 January 1952 in Lawrence County, Alabama. His daughter is Joni Crowell. Family photos will follow:

 Drewery Gerture James  Edward Osmond Crowell, Sr

            Drewery Gerture James

         Edward Osmond Crowell, Sr

 Edward Osmond Crowell, Jr  Jerry Crowell 

           Edward Osmond Crowell, Jr

Jerry Crowell

 Ed Crowell Sr, Willie Mae James Crowell, and Don Crowell

Ed Crowell, Sr,

Willie Mae James Crowell

and Don Crowell

1950-1960s , Alabama

Joni stated that “my father thought it was  crazy for a man to drive a pink car, but my grandmother like the pink color, so my grandfather bought it.”


Related articles

In the deep foggy bottom of history…

are the legends and the lore of the Five Civilized Tribes. When Europeans began to enter the Alabama portion of the Tennessee Basin in the early 1800s there were three Native American tribes that habitated there. In total there were five tribes, considered civilized, in the territory. They were the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek and the Seminole.

1828 Map showing the counties and the Native American territories.

1828 Map showing the counties and the Native American territories.

In general, the Tennessee River served as the dividing line between the Chickasaw and the Cherokee at Muscle Shoals.The Chickasaw occupied north Mississippi, eastern Tennessee and southwest Kentucky. Members of this tribe were perhaps the first tatoo artists as they inscribed their bodies with indelible ink and this relatively small band of people were quite impressive to encounter. Fierce warriors that they were, according to the white man, they almost succeeded in wiping out the DeSoto expedition in Mississippi in 1541; DeSoto had tried to enslave two hundred Chickasaw warriors. DeSoto would have used the native Chickasaw as load carriers.

History records no group that valued cleanliness more than the Chickasaw. Summer and winter they would bathe daily. They were known to have broken the ice on the river bank in order to enter the water at bath time. Some believe this high regard for cleanliness as one reason the Chickasaw positioned itself on the side with the English traders rather than the French or Spanish.

One of the best known Chickasaw chiefs during the years of European and American occupation was Chief George Colbert (Kahl-burt) who was half Chickasaw and half Scot. In 1798 he operated a critical ferry across the otherwise  not crossable Tennessee River that came to be known as Colbert’s Ferry. This ferry, located at the mouth of Bear Creek, was the only crossing for the famed trade route the Natchez Trace, a former buffalo run. The Colbert’s were the first millionaire native americans in history.

His father, James Logan Colbert, was a legend in his own right. He was a Scotsman who lived among the Chickasaw, adopting their ways and even joining them in battle. He took on three Chickasaw brides and fathered eight children, many of whom, like George, gained notoriety amongst the Chickasaw. James Logan Colbert 1721 – 1784 and wife Sopha Minta Hoya 1721 – 1836 were the parents of George Colbert.

George Colbert went on to serve as the chief of the Chickasaw for 12 years, and one of his brothers served under General Andrew Jackson during his campaigns against the Creeks. For a time, the Chickasaw trusted and admired Andrew Jackson. The Chickasaw had their loyalty rewarded by Jackson seeing to it that they were removed by treaty and by force from their ancestral home. This removal decimated the native american ‘s families, culture, and erased their once proud history. The removal, and events leading up to it and beyond, were acts of cruelty against a nation of people.

In 1774 the Chickasaw refused the Henderson Land Company access to the mouth of Occochapo Creek (present day Bear Creek). After the treaty of 1816, most of the Chickasaw land was ceded to the U.S. The area of the Cherokee nation occupied was in northeast Alabama, much of Tennessee and northwest Georgia. Some of the villages were settled at Muscle Shoals. This represented the southwestern tip of their domain.

Village of Doublehead Reserve historical marker

Village of Doublehead Reserve historical marker

Perhaps the most interesting of the Cherokee chiefs in the Tennessee Basin of Alabama was Chief Doublehead or TaloTiske meaning “two heads.” Chief Doublehead established a town on the Tennessee River at the head of Muscle Shoals in 1790. This village sat at the mouth of Blue Water Creek in Lauderdale County. Muscle Shoals had always been an area of dispute between Chickasaw and Cherokee, even though it was known as Chickasaw Hunting Grounds. When Doublehead’s occupation of Muscle Shoals came into question, Chief George Colbert of the Chickasaw confirmed that Doublehead was at Muscle Shoals by his permission. This new agreement seems less unusual considering that Colbert had married two of Doublehead’s daughters.

Doublehead’s brother was Chief Old Tassel, one of the Cherokees most well-known and beloved chiefs. When he was murdered with the aid of the white mayor James Hubbert, Doublehead went on the rampage, attacking white settlers throughout the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. This six-year warpath from 1788 to 1794 is well chronicled, and though it was no doubt exaggerated by the afflicted, the chiefs terrible atrocities certainly add up to a significant sum. He was even accused of encouraging his warriors to cannibalize the dead during this escapade.

At the end of his warpath, Doublehead met with President George Washington at the nation’s capital, and he returned a changed man. Though he began to mimic the ways of the whites and built a large cabin, he continued to defend the Cherokees land rights in various treaties until his death. On the surface his change of heart was characteristic of the Cherokees during this time, many of whom adopted the manners and customs of the whites; but ultimately Chief Doublehead would pay with his life for this abrupt change of heart. He even went as far as forming the Doublehead Company that leased 1,000 acres to more than 50 white settlers between the Elk River and Cypress Creek.

Doublehead was murdered in a savagely interesting tale chronicled by the famous Indian canoe fighter, Sam Dale. On a trip to a ball game on the Hiwasee River, Doublehead engaged in a series of arguments with two Cherokee warriors and a white Indian trader. There are many accounts of Doublehead death; all well worth the time spent reading.

Historian Bill McDonald wrote an article in 2004 which was published by the Times Daily newspaper on Sunday April 4, 2004. Bill McDonald was appointed city historian for Florence, Alabama in 1989. The text of the article follows:

About 1790 the fierce and feared Chief Doublehead, along with 40 of his warriors and their families lived in Moneetown. This Cherokee village was near the head of the Shoals and on the south bank of the Tennessee River, across from the present day Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Plant.

Legends have it that he was at other places at the Muscle Shoals from time to time.One site was near the home of his double son-in-law, George Colbert, in present Colbert County where there is a nearby “Doublehead Spring.” old stories remembered by the family of James Jackson tell that Doublehead lived briefly on the knoll where the mansion of the Forks of Cypress once stood. In recent years, trade beads and other Indian artifacts were uncovered at an early log house at this site.A few miles west of the Forks of Cypress was a cave where Old-timers remembered seeing an Indian carving showing double heads at the entrance.

Sometime around 1800 when his raids against white people had ended, Doublehead established a village between Center Star and Elgin in east Lauderdale County. His brother-in-law Tahlonteeskee lived there before he moved to Blue Water Creek in Arkansas following the Treaty of Tellico.

Early pioneers described Doublehead’s village as being on the east bank of Blue Water Creek. On one side of the bank is a high palisade on the Tennesee River that appears on early maps as “Doublehead Bluff.” Nearby is another “Doublehead Spring.”

The rich bottomlands around his BlueWater Creek village did not always produce an abundant harvest. A severe drought in 1804 brought an appeal for help. The Cherokee Agent at Hiwasee sent 300 bushels of corn for which he billed Doublehead a total of $150 for this relief. However, records reveal that this amount was later returned to the village by the U. S. War Department.

According to legend Doublehead built a large two-story house log house overlooking his village. It was styled after the homes of white people he had seen in Tennessee. Daniel White purchased this place in 1818 and used the log structure as a stage stop known as Wayside Inn. Some think that White may have had a “claim” to this house as early as 1812. A number of White’s descendants believe that he, not Doublehad, built this house.

Territorial records reveal that the house that Doublehead lived in was commodious. On one occasion he wrote the Cherokee Agent requesting aid for two poor middle age women living on his property with  large families composed only of girls. This may have been the Samuel Adams family.

On July 20, 1802, Doublehead had requested for permission for this family of 16 people to enter his village “in the plan of promoting civilization amongst the Cherokees.” Later that summer, Silas Dinsmore, Choctaw Indian Agent, while travelling over the Natchez Trace was surprised to find this family here. He called them a “pretty dismal group – lazy and shiftless.”

There are those that write that the wily old chief was a wife beater, and that prior to his assassination, his fierce attack on his wife resulted in her horrible death. One of her brothers was said to have been involved in a conspiracy that led to Doublehead’s death on the Hiwasee River in 1807.

The story of Doublehead is surely a paradox. It involves a blood thirsty villain who led raids into middle and eastern Tennessee. It was said that no song ever came from his lips. He admitted that he had tasted the white man’s flesh and found it too salty. Then, he suddenly changed to become a friend of the white settlers who first arrived at the Muscle Shoals around 1806 at his invitation.

Although this strange and minor chief among the Cherokee People lived at various places and various times , he nevertheless left his footprints in the history of the Muscle Shoals in northwest Alabama.

The Creek Nation (a confederacy of Musckogean tribes) inhabited parts of present day Colbert and Lauderdale counties for a time during the late 18th century. The Creeks were known for their ruthlessness in battle, mutilating the bodies of fallen enemies by cutting off the arms and the legs and removing the scalp by cutting a circle around the head just above the ears. By the way, it was first the white settlers who practiced the gruesome art of scalping victims. They adorned their bodies with shell jewelry and freshwater pearls obtained from the large mussel populations of the Tennessee.

In general, the Tennessee basin served as the dividing line between the Chickasaw and the Cherokees at the Muscle Shoals area. About a thousand years before the establishment of Florence, Alabama in 1818, located at the top of the hill, there was a thriving community at the bottom of the hill. The ceremonial mound there was called “Wawamanona” by the native americans. The mound was established between 400A.D. and 1500A.D., according to the research by Lore. After the natives were removed small towns slowly became river ports and ferries across the river were quite common. Many of the ferry sites have histories of their own, much as the Colbert Ferry that transported settlers across the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama.

In 1819 Alabama was admitted into the Union as a state and Huntsville was designated as its first capital and seat of the state constitutional convention.The Moulton Valley was an important southern fruit supplier, and so much grain was produced in this area that it became known as the South”s Cereal Belt.

During the Civil War, many battles were fought throughout Alabama”s Tennessee Basin, including many led by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Ulysses S. Grant made his first marks upon the Civil War by understanding the strategic importance of the river at his first victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson on the nearby Cumberland tributary to the upper Tennessee. Many of the Civil War”s Union troops, upon discovering the rich untapped resources of the area returned to the region following the war”s conclusion. Andrew Jackson and James Madison owned tracts of land in northwest Alabama.

Meanwhile, there were factions forming that opposed Doublehead. The rise to power of the Hicks-Ridge-Pathkiller leadership was assisted by the death of Chief Doublehead in 1807 and by Chief Vann in 1809. Doublehead’s authority had been undermined by the rewards he reaped from the Treaty of 1805 and by his agreement to the secret clauses in the Treaty of 1806 that surrendered tribal land and enriched him and his friends. The assassination of Chief Doublehead was plotted by Upper Town chiefs who privately agreed that he had betrayed his nation. And it appears from later events that this group saw themselves as agents of tribal justice and their acts were basically accepted as just by the majority of the tribal members. With all the tension and stress involved in establishing new leadership, this transition of the shift in power remains historically important for its lack of bloodshed (McLoughlin, page 89).

Since this is a lengthy article and writing on this subject could go on forever, this little bit of history telling will continue with the next article which will chronicle Doublehead and Colbert family history.