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


Lest we forget the least of these…

Obituary for Fred Walter Bradfordthat may have been down on their luck in hard times, the names of those in the Colbert County Almshouse enumerated as part of the 1920 Federal Census by Melvin H Elkins from the 29th to 31st of January in 1920 will be included here.

The Almshouse, or Poor House as many called it, was in the Camp Smith area of Colbert County; in District: 0013. There was a lot of shame that stigmatized those who were in a circumstance to warrant housing and care in such a facility. But, truly back in those days, if it was necessary to be in an Almshouse, one really needed the help and were likely elderly and sometimes without family to look after them.

Fred W Bradford was the keeper of the Almshouse in 1920. Some give his middle name as Washington while others give his middle name as Walter. His obituary gives his name as Fredrick Walter Bradford; his parents were David Washington Bradford 1836-1866 and Julia Jarmon Bradford Grey 1844-1900.

Fred Walter Bradford married four times. His first marriage circa 1885 was to Nancy Caldona Tharp. They had the following known children: Fredrick Washington Bradford 1892 -1957, Callie Fredonia Bradford 1896, Julia Dovia Bradford Cantrell 1887 – 1973, Ida Virginia Bradford Stonecipher 1889 – 1928 and Massie L Bradford 1897.

His second marriage in 1901 was to Louvicey Lindsey. They had the following children: Willie E Bradford 1905-1935, William S Bradford 1906. There may have been other children.

His third marriage in 1908 was to Sarah Josephine “Josie” Duncan Sledge. Her first marriage was to Thomas Ervin Sledge (son of William Henry Sledge, grandson of Macklen Sledge). Two Sledge children were from her marriage to Thomas Ervin Sledge: Thomas Grady Sledge and Bessie Ernestine Sledge Green. Fred Walter Bradford and Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford had the following children: Lillian g Bradford born and died 1909,  Johnie E Bradford 1911, and Walter L Bradford 1914-1952. Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford died in 1931.

The fourth marriage for Fred W Bradford was in 1936 to Odell whose last name is not known. Fred W Bradford died in 1947 and she is listed as his wife in his obitary

Thomas Grady Sledge and Mamie Hand Sledge lived beside his mother and stepfather on the 1920 census. The age of Grady was 18 and his young wife’s age was 15. Next to them was the Colbert County Almshouse of which Fred W Bradford was the keeper. Listed in the household of Fred W and wife Sarah J Bradford were sons Willie E Bradford age 14, Johnie E Bradford age 9, Walter L Bradford age 5 and Fred’s stepdaughter Bessie Sledge age 19 and single.

Those listed as living at the Almshouse were:

Darty, Bill – age 55, married, born in Georgia;

Darty, Sarah – age 66, married, born in Alabama;

Sharp, Callie – age 81, widowed, born in Georgia;

Briley, Fronia – age 70, single, born in Alabama;

Shield, Julia – age 60, widowed, born in South Carolina;

Clovel, Ada – 64, widowed (naturalized and immigrated 1865), her spoken language is French, born in France;

Marony, Alt – age 38, widowed, born in Alabama;

Stidham, Wesley – age 71, married born in Alabama;

Walter, Will – age 60, single, born in Arkansas;

Birnlsadde, James – age  75 , born in Alabama, and

Shaw, Henry – age 76, black, married, born in Tennessee.

Most of those inmates of the Almshouse do not have a surname that I am familiar with in our Shoals area. Perhaps some of their descendants are searching for them.

That Menefee man in Tuscumbia…

English: "The Fall of the Alamo" by ...

“The Fall of the Alamo”  painting

was John Southerland. But his brother George Southerland was business owner and then in partnership with John in Tuscumbia; and their father, John Sutherland is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia. John’s nephew, William DePriest Sutherland attended LaGrange Military Academy before heading to Texas and his name is mentioned in numerous accounts of the events.

The Fall of the Alamo is widely documented that any prominent name associated with it was bound to be accounted for and documented as well. Dr John Sutherland is also associated with The Scrape in Texas history. An account of the fall of the Alamo is written by a granddaughter of John Southerland. Below is a reprint of the copy found at

The Fall of the Alamo
By Dr. John Sutherland
©1936, The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas.

Written in 1860 and now published for the first time an authentic account of that tragic event in the history of Texas compiled from facts known to the author and supported by evidence of others who were witnesses to the siege and fall of the Alamo together with a sketch of the life of the author by his grand-daughter — Annie B. Sutherland.

Sketch of the Life of Dr. John Sutherland

Dr. John Sutherland was born in Virginia May 11, 1792 on Dan River near the site of the present town of Danville.His father Captain John Sutherland, or Sutherlin as the name was then called, was an officer in the Revolutionary War. Of sturdy Highland Scotch descent, his forefathers emigrated to America in the early days of its history.Captain John Sutherland with his family, following the westward trend of emigration, moved from Virginia to Tennessee in 1805 and settled on Clinch River, where he kept a ferry known as Sutherland’s Ferry. At the age of young manhood, John Sutherland, Jr. went to Knoxville where for several years he clerked in a store for a man named Crozier. Later he became a partner in the firm.

Photo of Dr John Sutherland

About 1824 he moved with his family to Decatur, Alabama, where for a time he was president of a bank. After a short time he moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama, and entered into the mercantile business with his brother George. They traveled on horseback to Philadelphia and Baltimore where they bought their merchandise, which was hauled in wagons to Tuscumbia. About 1827-28, through unfortunate business ventures, the firm became financially embarrassed and in 1829 closed up its business.

In December of that year George Sutherland moved to Texas and settled on the Navidad River at a place now in Jackson County. During the winter of 1829-30 several other related families emigrated to Texas and settled in Austin’s Colony, taking out grants of land and establishing homes under the liberal colonization laws governing Texas.

Meanwhile the subject of our sketch remained in Tuscumbia, practicing medicine under the old Thompsonian System. He continued the practice of medicine through the succeeding years of his life, and in the 50’s, when cholera swept through the Southern States, he distinguished himself by discovering a cure for that dread malady, whereby he never lost a case not already in the last stages of the disease. Dr. Sutherland freely passed his great discovery on to other doctors for the relief of suffering humanity.

In December, 1835, Dr. Sutherland, Captain William Patton and several others visited Texas with a view to settling on lands which the Mexican government offered as an inducement to settlers to make homes in Texas.

Arriving at San Felipe they took the oath of allegiance to the new government. They then proceeded toward San Antonio. Meeting General Sam Houston, then in command of the Texian forces, he advised them against going on to San Antonio, saying that he had ordered all troops to fall back east of the Guadalupe River.

The party however went on to San Antonio, arriving there on the 18th of January, 1836. The accompanying account of the “Fall of the Alamo” by Dr. Sutherland gives his connection with that tragic event in the history of Texas.

After the fall of the Alamo, General Houston sent messages by Dr. Sutherland to President David G. Burnet after which President Burnet appointed him one of his aides-de-camp, sending him a written order 1 to facilitate the retirement of the women and children over Groce’s Ferry to the east side of the Brazos River. Having accomplished this mission, Dr. Sutherland returned to Harrisburg, when President Burnet appointed him his private secretary, which position he held until after the battle of San Jacinto and peace was assured. Then he returned to his family in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In the fall of 1837, having closed up his business in Alabama, he brought his family to Texas, reaching the settlement known as Egypt in December. Next year he built a home on the west side of the Colorado River, four miles from Egypt, where he lived until the fall of 1849, when he moved to what is now known as Wilson County, settling near the Sulphur Springs on the Cibolo River. He was the founder and proprietor and first post master of the little town of Sutherland Springs. A lover of education, he encouraged and supported schools in our pioneer State for his own and his neighbor’s children, and when he had provided his children with the best advantages available here, he sent them off to higher institutions of learning. A devout Christian from early manhood, he gave freely of his substance to the building of churches and the support of the ministry. His house was ever the retreat of the wayfarer and the welcoming home of the homeless and needy. He died at his home at Sutherland Springs, April 11, 1867, at the age of seventy-four years and eleven months and is buried in the Sutherland family lot in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery which was a gift from himself to the town. Over his grave and that of his third wife, his surviving children erected a substantial monument. He died as he had lived, a pioneer, a patriot, a Christian gentleman. This sketch of his life is affectionately dedicated to his memory by his grand-daughter.

Annie B. Sutherland


This John Sutherland was one of the sons of the John Southerland who is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia; and the sister of our Agnes Sutherland Menefee. Dr John Southerland married as his second wife a girl from Cherokee, Ann Bryan Lane 1800 – 1840. Their children were: George Quinn Sutherland 1829 – 1869, Levin Lane Sutherland  1832 –  , Jack Sutherland 1838 – 1922 and Margaret Ann Sutherland who was born and died 1840. Next comes an excerpt from a writing about Sutherland Springs, Texas:

One cannot read about, speak about or visit Sutherland Springs, Texas  without running into the name of Dr. John Sutherland. The Sutherland’s ancestry can be linked to castle Dunrobin in the northern most county of Scotland. Very fitting is the Sutherland clan’s motto “Sans Peur” or “without fear.” John was born to a Revolutionary war captain in 1792 in Danville, Virginia. In 1805 the Sutherland family was on the move to Tenessee where John’s father worked on a ferry on the Clinch River. John entered the working life of a store clerk, working his way up very quickly. In 1816 he married Diane Kennedy and moved to Decatur, Alabama. By 1824 he was the president of a bank. The bank failed miserably and in 1826 John and his family moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama to form a partnership in a small merchantile with his brother George. Again John’s business failed, feeling a little beat, George left Alabama and joined Austin’s Colony with an eye to homestead for the both of them. John stayed in Tuscumbia.

 In 1827, John’s wife Diane passed away. John was left alone. Determined to take care of his aging father and daughter, he began attending medical school. He had a facination with treating disease with steam and local herbs.

 John married Ann Bryant Lane, opened a practice in Tuscumbia and was doing well for his family, but Texas called to him. He was again on the move on December 12, 1835. He swore allegiance to Texas and became a citizen. He was joined by his brother George’s son William and headed off to the Alamo to help the sick. While out riding he was injured and could not fight, so Col. Travis sent him to bring help, but he returned too late. Lying among the dead was his nephew William De Trest Sutherland. After the Revolution, John settled in Egypt. Then, his second wife died in 1840. In the mid 1840’s John married his third wife Ann Dickson and in 1849, they moved into present day Sutherland Springs.

 John immediately recognized the powers of the springs and set up shop. Though he did not attain great wealth he did establish the postal service of Sutherland Springs, (coincidentally the longest continuously running post office in Texas). He became Postmaster, Justice of the Peace and opened the first school and platted the townsite, all the while practicing medicine.

Oh, I am shot…

I exclaimed much to my surprise!!! These were the words uttered by this Tuscumbia resident. In her own words, she tells her story behind this exclamation:

Several years ago when I was working for an Attorney in Tuscumbia, my husband was remodeling the office behind ours and he was taking a break for lunch so he rode down to Sparkey’s with me–I parked, walked to the window and right after me a rat

Photo of Patsy Congleton

Patsy Congleton

her large guy with a really big arm came up behind me in line–a pickup truck pulled up right behind where we were standing and about that time as the old saying goes, “All hell broke loose”–the windows were shattering out of Sparkey’s and when I turned around this big fellows arm was about blown off. My first thought, “Snipers” are shooting    from the woods across the street and I dived into my auto while my husband was starring in disbelief as he had just recovered from a heart attack.

I reached to feel what was wet running down my back and exclaimed, “_ _ _ _”. Oh, ‘I’m shot” Since my husband was about to have yet another heart attack, I drove him home and went to the ER. Does anyone remember Dr. Anderson from Russellville–he happened to be coming through he ER and took care of me–when I arrived Judge Pride Tompkins was there and when I asked him why he was there he said he heard on the radio I had been shot and came to check on me. Can you spell Embarrassment–when Dr. Anderson had the shotgun pellets removed from my back I went back to work hoping no-one else ever heard about this–even my husband would not have believed it if he hadn’t been there. The guy standing behind me was not so lucky, his arm had so many shotgun pellets, they had to leave some on them in and he probably still has them in his arm and as fate would have it, all those would have wound up in the center of my backbone except for the guy who showed up behind me. The incident happened when young twins were exploring their Dad’s gun in the truck; he had left them in the vehicle while he placed his order. Anyway, that’s the story, even if it wound up in two sections.

What I know about Tuscumbia Landing…

or more accurately what I have learned about Tuscumbia Landing will follow. Tuscumbia was a thriving little town back in its day. It was a very wealthy town which afforded the rich to send their children away to boarding schools while the not rich’s children attended the public schools. I guess it could be said that there were the 1% and the 99%, then as now.

The Shoals area has most every natural resource to be productive including recreational pursuits. A huge boon to the economy that caused the town to explode with wealth and all that comes with it was the Landing at Tuscumbia.

Steamboats were introduced and helped make Tuscumbia a valuable port for the delivery of goods and products. It also

Historic Tuscumbia Depot

Historic Tuscumbia Depot (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

made the export of products and goods, such as cotton very efficient for the time. What is left of Tuscumbia Landing will have to be searched for by all but those intimately familiar with the area; and who know what to look for. The original Landing at Tuscumbia aided in the removal of the Creek native americans during the 1838 removal of them all to reservations in Oklahoma if they survived the trip. This was the Trail of Tears. The government mandated that all native americans be rounded up and they were marched  forcibly away from their home, culture and way of life. The original landing dated back to the 1820s and as a dock for the steamboats brought great wealth to a number of Tuscumbia and Shoals area citizens.

Tuscumbia Landing, Sheffield is at the confluence of the Tennessee River (Pickwick Lake) and Spring Creek, near the foot of Blackwell Road, west of downtown Sheffield, There is much historical significance attached to the two Landings. Tuscumbia Landing was at the western terminus of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railway. During the summer of 1838, Cherokee detachments headed by Lt. Edward Deas and Lt. R.H.K. Whiteley attempted to travel from Ross Landing, Tennessee to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory via the “water route.” These detachments floated down the Tennessee River to Decatur. Due to low water and potential difficulties navigating through Muscle Shoals, they rode on the railway west to Tuscumbia Landing and then boarded boats headed downriver. Prior to that summer, numerous other “water route” detachments brought Creeks, Choctaws, and other groups past this spot on their way to Indian Territory. Tuscumbia Landing was also the site of considerable Civil War activity.

One reminder of the second landing  is a historical marker describing Tuscumbia Landing’s role as home to the first railroad, named the Old Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur (TC&D), west of the Appalachian Mountains. The second landing was built to be accessed by the railway system. The marker may be at the corner of Fifth and Water.

Tuscumbia Landing played many roles in the surface transportation system throughout its history. In addition to its role in the removal of the Creeks on the Trail of Tears, Tuscumbia Landing served as a steamboat landing beginning in the 1820s. The original landing was located two miles from the town. Initially connected to the town of Tuscumbia via a wagon road, the Landing became an even more important transportation node when the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company built a railroad and depot that connected the Landing to the town of Tuscumbia in 1932. Perhaps it was then that a

Pier remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing

All that remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing are some limestone pilings that once held up the pier.

second landing was constructed up river from the original one.  That same year, the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad united with the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company, and the railroad spur to Decatur was completed in 1834. The site’s significance proved to be its downfall when the railroad depot was destroyed during the Civil War.

Remnants of the limestone blocks used for a pier for steamboat arrival and departure are all that remain of the original landing dock. If you did not know what to look for, you may not recognize the landing’s importance in Shoals area history.

Northwest-Shoals Community College’s Tuscumbia Landing archaeological research and planning projects with government funding and with myriad connections to surface transportation, project coordinators were able to assemble TE funds to identify remaining historically significant archaeological features. Perhaps future research might include NWSCC findings. Tuscumbia Landing was named a Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 2007.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.

The Shoals area is rich…

in history. Quite a few influential people were born, or lived in the Shoals area. Among them were the Rand family. They lived in Tuscumbia. Carl Rand lived at 501 East Third Street. His homeplace housed some tools used in antebellum times. Below is a photo from the Library of Congress that shows some of the classic tools used in the early days of the Shoals.

Carl Rand home in Tuscumbia houses old timey tools

Photos of Carl Rand home in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Photos taken as part of a survey in 1937

Colbert County history as reported by Captain Arthur Keller…

as it pertains to Tuscumbia, Alabama in the year 1888.


This is one of the oldest towns in Alabama, with a history full of interest to those who are the descendants of the pioneers of the Tennessee Valley, as well as to the student, who can find in its pages the record of adventures as thrilling, and achievements as heroic, as any that have been depicted by either historian or novelist.

Memphis & Charleston Caboose - Tuscumbia, AL

Memphis & Charleston Caboose – Tuscumbia, AL (Photo credit: (aka Brent))

This sketch, however, will be confined mainly to chronological events and statistical matters connected with the settlement and development of Tuscumbia and the country immediately surrounding it.

As far back as 1780, the French Colony on the Wabash River established a trading post at the mouth of the Occocoposo, or Cold Water, Creek on the Tennessee River, about one mile from the northern limit of the present site of Tuscumbia. This creek runs through the town, and is the outlet for the immense spring which rises from the earth near the center of the town and flows in a circuitous route to the Tennessee River two miles away. It affords a fine power for mills and factories, and has been utilized as such for many years.

Professor Toumey, in his “Geological History of Alabama,” gives the measurement of this spring at 17,724 cubit feet of water flowing from it per minute, or enough to furnish every person in the United States about four gallons each per day. The temperature is 58 degrees, and although strongly limestone it is pleasant to drink.

At the time of the establishment of the colony alluded to at the mouth of Spring Creek, Nashville was the most important trading station in the Southwest, and was not exempt from hostile incursions by the Indians, who held the country from the Alabama River to the Cumberland. For a number of years depredations by them upon the Cumberland settlements were frequent and destructive. In the early part of 1787, Col. James Robertson organized an expedition, which descended the Cumberland and ascended the Tennessee, as far as the mouth of Duck River, but at this point he was defeated and forced to return. In June, 1787, he started on a second and more successful trip, marching south from Nashville with 130 men to Bainbridge, a small village on the Tennessee, about ten miles from Tuscumbia. Moving from this point westward, along the south bank of the river, he found the Indian village, at or near the mouth of Spring Creek, or Occocoposo, as it was then called. The Indians, and their French allies, retreated to a strong position, a short distance up the creek, where Robertson attacked, and defeated them with heavy loss, and destroyed their village and captured the trading post and a large quantity of supplies.

The French prisoners were taken to Colbert’s Ferry, ten miles below, and allowed to return to the Wabash Colony, Colony Robertson returning to Nashville by land. [See Pickett’s History of Alabama.]

In 1802 General Wilkerson made a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, whereby he secured from them permission to cut out a wagon road from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn., crossing the Tennessee River at Georgetown, twenty miles below Tuscumbia. In 1814 Gen. Andrew Jackson and Col. Benjamin Hawkins were empowered to make treaties with the Indians, with a view to securing some of the vast and fertile territory then held by them. In the fall of 1816 they granted to the United States all the territory from the headwaters of the Coosa westward to Cotton Gin Port, Miss., and thence north to the mouth of Caney (now Cane) Creek on Tennessee River, ten miles below Tuscumbia.

The first white family to settle in Tuscumbia was that of Michael Dickson in 1815. Soon afterward, four of his brothers-in-law, from Smith County, Tenn., Isian McDill, James McMann, ____ Matthews and Hugh Finley, arrived. The following year, 1816, was remarkable for an unprecedented drought, which prevailed all over this territory. Capt. Jno. T. Rather, who died in Tuscumbia a few years ago, when nearly ninety years old, often spoke of the distress of the people on account of the scarcity of breadstuffs at that time. Corn sold at five dollars per bushel. The nearest mills were at Huntsville, Ala., and Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., about seventy miles distant, from whence all of their meal and flour was hauled in wagons.

The first white child born in Tuscumbia was Miss Anna Dickson, who married Dr. W. H. Wheaton, who died in Nashville since the late war. She was living but a short time ago.

Hugh Finley was a blacksmith, and owned the first shop opened in the place. In 1816-17 quite a number of families arrived and settled in the present limits of Tuscumbia, which was then known as Big Spring. Col. James McDonald was afterwards appointed Postmaster for the Big Spring office. He was a distinguished officer of the United States Army, having won distinction in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, and came to Tuscumbia from Knoxville, Tenn. He was joined here by his brother-in-law, David Keller, from the same place, and both moved to Russell’s Valley, remaining two years, when they returned and purchased farms near Tuscumbia. Colonel McDonald died on his farm, “Glencoe,” in 1827, and Mr. Keller, having sold his farm and accepted the office of Superintendent of the Tuscumbia & Decatur Railroad, died ten years later. Mr. Keller and a man named George Miller, from Fayetteville, Tenn., owned the first stocks of goods ever sold in Franklin County, or rather in the territory afterwards embraced in the county. Col. Thomas Hindman, father of Gen. Thos. Hindman, of Confederate fame, brought Mr. Keller’s stocks from Knoxville, and sold it out at York Bluff, on the present site of Sheffield.

In 1817 a battalion of United States soldiers arrived at Tuscumbia, and began the work of cutting out a new wagon road from Nashville, Tenn., to Columbus, Miss., called the Military Road. This was done under General Jackson’s supervision, and the point at which he crossed the Tennessee is now known as Jackson’s Landing, in the limits of Sheffield. About this time General Jackson purchased the large tract of land lying between the river and Tuscumbia and upon which the larger part of Sheffield is now located. In 1816-17, a number of families located at York Bluff, which was laid off by General Coffey in 1820 as a city, with broad and regular streets running north and south and east and west. This town was soon abandoned, its citizens moving to the more prosperous town of Tuscumbia, and had not a house left when Sheffield was formed, to tell where a town had been.

Mr. Miller, who first sold goods at York Bluff moved to Tuscumbia and built the first brick house, now known as the Glendall House on Sixth street, in 1819. He afterwards moved to West Tennessee and died there.

Tuscumbia was surveyed and laid off as a city by General Coffey in 1817. Its limits were a mile and a half east and west and a mile north and south. None of the streets are less than ninety-nine feet wide, and the commons on the margin are much wider, that on the north being 334 feet. These streets and commons were dedicated by the Government for the use of the citizens of Tuscumbia, and the Supreme Court of Alabama has decided that the fee to them is still in the Government and they can not be disposed of by the city authorities.

In March, 1817, Congress passed an act establishing the Territory of Alabama. At that time only seven counties had been organized in the Territory. These were Mobile, Balonni, Washington, Clark, Madison, Limestone and Lauderdale, and they had been organized under the territorial government of Mississippi. Upon the assembling of the Territorial Legislature at the town of St. Stephens, Franklin County was organized, but the act provided that the jurisdiction should not extend beyond Cane Creek, ten miles west of Tuscumbia, that being the boundary line between the lands granted by the Indians and those reserved by them under the treaty of 1816. The lands west of Cane Creek were held by the Indians until they were removed beyond the Mississippi in 1836.

The first superior or circuit court ever held in Franklin County was at the house of William Neeley, on Spring Creek, a few miles southeast of Tuscumbia, September 7, 1818. Obadiah Jones was judge, Henry Miner, district attorney, and Richard Ellis, clerk. The grand jury was composed of William Neeley (foreman), Jacob Humble, William Welch, Andrew Blackmoor, Strange Caltharp, John Bell, Goldman Kimbro, Isaac Pickens, Argyle Taylor, James Wilex, Pryor Landsford, Matthew Maree, Matthew Gwynn, and William Scott. For lack of a room large enough, the court adjourned to the house of Michael Dickson, at Cold Water (Tuscumbia).

Anthony Winston was the first representative from Franklin County, in the Legislature. He was the grandfather of Col. John Anthony Winston, who was Governor of the State afterward. He was raised in Tuscumbia. Robert B. Lindsay, Esq., of this place, a native of Scotland, and a brother-in-law of Governor Winston, was elected Governor of the State in 1870. Tuscumbia was also the former home, if not the birthplace, of two United States senators. Robert Ransom, the father of Senator Matt Ransom, of North Carolina, was one of the early settlers of Tuscumbia, and opened the hotel called the Franklin House.

Thomas Hereford, father of the West Virginia ex-Senator Hereford, was also a hotel keeper here, and was proprietor of the Mansion House, near the Big Spring.

Ex-Senator Henry S. Foote also commenced his career here as a lawyer and editor, and fought a duel with Edmund Winston, an uncle of Governor Winston. Tuscumbia has also had a representative in the lower house of Congress, in the person of Major Joseph H. Sloss, now of Huntsville.

Upon the assembling of the first Legislature of the State, at Huntsville, on the first Monday in October, 1819, a bill was passed, incorporating the town of Occocoposo (now Tuscumbia). Thomas Limerick was appointed mayor, with Philip G. Godley, Micajah Tarrer, Abram W. Bell, and Littleton Johnson, aldermen. At the next session of the Legislature, the name of the town was changed to Big Spring, and, the following year, to Tuscumbia, after a celebrated chief of the Chickasaws.

The first railroad that was built west of the Alleghanies was that from Tuscumbia to the Tennessee River. It was commenced in 1831 and finished in 1832, and was two and one-eighth miles in length. In 1834 it was merged into the Tuscumbia & Decatur Railroad. For twenty-five years after this road was built there was an immense trade done with New Orleans by the river. Magnificent steamers ran to that place, some of the carrying 6,000 bales of cotton. They were palatial in their appointments and accommodations for passengers. Parties in search of pleasure could find no pleasanter nor more enjoyable pastime than an excursion on one of these elegant boats to the Crescent City. Other steamers ran regularly, as they now do, to the cities on the Ohio and to St. Louis; but the New Orleans trade was broken up soon after the completion of the Memphis & Charleston Road in 1857, which road bought the Tuscumbia & Decatur Road, and abandoned the branch to the Tuscumbia Landing.

For a number of years previous to the great financial crisis in 1837, Tuscumbia did a large wholesale business. Most of this was done in two rows of brick storehouses known as “Commercial” and “Planters’ Row.” The latter was destroyed by fire about the year 1837. The former is still standing, all of the stores being occupied and in a good state of preservation. A street railway from the depot to Main and Sixth streets, for the delivery of freights, was built in 1834.

Until the completion of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad the Tuscumbia postoffice was a distributing office, and probably the largest and most important from Nashville to New Orleans. A number of state lines converged here, which were owned by such veteran stagers as Patrick, Ficklin, Chichester, and others. The immense warehouses at the Tuscumbia Landing, which were constructed of stone and brick, were burned in 1862 by Turchin’s Brigade of Mitchell’s Division of Federal Troops.

In its former and better days, probably no town of its population in the South had more wealth in its immediate vicinity; but that did but little towards building up the town. The planters bought their supplies in New Orleans and Louisville, and sent their children abroad to be educated, leaving only the poorer classes to do their trading at home.

In the fearful struggle between the North and the South—1861-5—there was no part of the South more completely devastated than was the beautiful Tennessee Valley. Tuscumbia was in the center of the fiery, desolating track of the armies of both sides. Large blocks of brick stores and many private houses were destroyed and condemned. Cavalry horses roamed at will through grounds that were formerly the pride of their owners. Upward of thirty of Tuscumbia’s young men were killed, and for years after the sound of battle had died away she sat on the ashes of desolation, waiting for the dawn of a better day, which, although long delayed, has come. The giant young city of Sheffield has stretched her limits to within half a mile of her gates, and she has caught the contagion of progress and enterprise, and within the last two years has doubled her population. She is experiencing some of the doubtful effects of a hot-house boom, but observant and far-seeing men recognize the fact that she has every natural advantage that any other place in Northern Alabama has, and that which money can never secure. Her society is as good as can be found anywhere. She has churches of all denominations and first rate schools. The Deshler Female Institute stands in the front rank of Southern schools. It stands as a monument to the memory of Brig. Gen. James Deshler, of Tuscumbia, who was killed at the battle of Chickamauga. The sum of six thousand dollars has been voted by the City Council to enlarge the free school for white males, and the rapidly increasing revenue from taxes will amply justify the expenditure, and support the school.

Tuscumbia challenges comparison with any town in the South as to its healthfulness and exemption from epidemics.

An examination of the tables of mortality for the last twenty years will not show an excess of one per cent, per annum, as the death rate, including both black and white.

Where parties desire to engage in business at Sheffield, they can reside at Tuscumbia and avail themselves of the convenience of two “dummy” lines to reach their business in a few minutes. Real estate, although greatly enhanced recently, is still comparatively cheap. A water works company has been organized to supply East Sheffield and Tuscumbia from the spring, and gas or electricity will speedily be introduced to light up the streets.


The Presbyterian Church.—This church was organized in 1824, by Rev. Dr. Blackburn, of Frankfort, Ky., and the church building now standing was commenced and completed in 1826-7. For several years the large frame building near the spring was used for church services.

Rev. Dr. Campbell was the first pastor of the church, and Messrs. Arthur Beatty and James Elliott were the original elders, with Susan Winston, Elizabeth Johnson, Ann Beatty, A. W. Mitchell, Eliza Mitchell, and Sarah Mitchell as members. Soon after this Rev. G. W. Ashbridge, of Philadelphia, Pa., took charge of the church, which received many additions from this time own.

Mr. Ashbridge was pastor from 1827 to 1830; Mr. Arnold was pastor from January 1, 1831, to June, 1831; james Weatherby was pastor from 1831 to 1837; J. O. Steadman was pastor from 1837 to 1845; N. A. Penland was pastor from 1845 to 1852; C. Foster Williams was pastor from 1853 to 1855; Abram Kline was pastor from 1856 to 1860; B. N. Sawtelle was pastor from 1861 to 1872; Mr. Brown was pastor from January, 1873 to June, 1873; Jorace P. Smith was pastor from 1873 to 1877; James G. Lane was pastor from 1878 to the present time. Messrs. Sawtelle and Smith died during their pastorate.

In 1828 a Presbyterian Camp-meeting was held near LaGrange, Ala., and was largely attended, and a great revival took place.

During Dr. Steadman’s pastorate there was a series of meetings held in the church by Rev. Daniel Baker, of Texas, resulting in a great religious awakening; also another in 1848 by Rev. Dr. Hall, and still another several years ago, when Mr. Lane was aided by Rev. J. W. Hoyte, and many additions were made to the membership.

The Baptist Church.—This church was established in 1823, Elders J. Davis and Jeremiah Burns composing the Presbytery. J. Burns was pastor until 1832. John L. Townes was the next pastor, and filled the pulpit ten or twelve years. He was succeeded by R. B. Burleson, and he by Jackson Gunn. Rev. james Shackleford and his son-in-law, C. W. Hare, have filled the place since Mr. Gunn’s pastorate.

The church building was erected by the Campbellites, or Christians, mainly through the personal efforts of Dr. W. H. Wharton, but it was not paid for, and the contractor. W. H. Patterson, sold his claim to George W. Carroll, who sold it to Edmund Elliott, a member of the Baptist Church. Through him the title passed to his church.

The Methodist Church was organized in 1822 by Thomas Strongfield, then stationed at Huntsville.

The first Quarterly Conference was held March 13, 1824. Alexander Sale was presiding elder, and David Owen and James Smith were local preachers; W. S. Jones was steward, and Richard Thompson class leader. In this year Rufus Ledbetter was assigned to the Franklin Circuit.

In 1826 Finch P. Scruggs had charge of the Circuit. He died in Holly Springs, Miss., in 1881. At that time J. B. McFerrin, who died in Nashville a year or two ago, and who was editor of the Christian Advocate, and author of a work called “Methodism in Tennessee,” was a young preacher at this place. Mayor James Lockhart was an earnest and influential member of the church at that day, and it is said that he paid one-half of the expenses of it. Mr. McFerrin, aided by John Sutherland and Mr. Haynie, raised the money to erect the present building, which was commenced in 1826. Edward Stegar did the brick and Nelson Anderson the wood work. The first sermon was preached in the church by John Haynie in May, 1827.

Rev. Mr. Shoemaker is the present incumbent, and the membership is about 250, being the largest in town, except that of the colored Baptists, which is over 500. During the pastorate of Rev. F. A. Owen, in 1828, the largest revival ever known in the church took place.

St. John’s (Episcopal) Church. This church was built in 1852, mainly by Dr. William H. Newsum, who died in February, 1862. He donated the lot upon which it stands, and contributed more to build the house than any one else.

The Rt. Rev. N. H. Cobbs was then bishop of the diocese, and his son, Rev. R. A. Cobbs, was the first rector, and remained in charge six years. The rite of confirmation in this church was administered for the first time on November 14, 1852, when six persons were presented by the rector.

Upon the occupation of Tuscumbia by the Federal Army in 1862, they camped in this church and destroyed the large part of the register, in consequence of which a complete and accurate history of it can not be given to include the period between 1858 and 1866. Rev. George White, the venerable rector of Calvary Church, Memphis, Tenn., lately deceased, Rev. W. H. Thomas, of Maryland, and Rev. Mr. Whiteside were rectors during that period. On April 1, 1886, Rev. J. B. Gray, now of Washington City, took charge of the parish. At that time there were only fourteen communicants, some having moved away and others having died. Rev. T. J. Beard, now of Birmingham, was next in charge and he was succeeded by Rev. Peter Wager, who remained six years.

Rev. B. F. Mower came to the south pastorate of the Tuscumbia and Florence churches in June 1878, and resigned in October 1887. The church building was much injured by the cyclone of November 22, 1874, and Mr. F. D. Hodgkins, his wife and four children were killed at the same time. Mr. Hodgkins was superintendent of the Sunday school of this church. Two handsome memorial windows in the church attest the loving remembrance in which they were held. The three chancel windows are memorials to Dr. W. H. Newsum, the founder of the church, and to his two sons, William O. and Alexander M. The former was killed at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, and the latter died of yellow fever contracted in Memphis in 1878. There are also memorial windows for Mr. John Curry, and Mrs. Lou McFarland, Mrs. Emma Eggleston and Mrs. Maria Hicks. These windows are of stained glass, and the interior of the church presents quite a handsome appearance. This church is in the diocese of Bishop R. H. Wilmer, whose first official act in the church was the confirmation of a class of 12, presented by Rev. J. B. Gray, March 24, 1867.

Rev. Mr. Phillips, of Baltimore, has recently taken charge as rector.

The Catholic Church.—The commencement of Catholicity in Tuscumbia is associated with two families of the great Celtic branch of the commonwealth of nations. One was an Irish family, the other French. The name of the former is no longer anything more than a local reminiscence; the latter is still identified with all the active enterprises—religious, educational and social—of the growing town and its vicinity. Far from the influences attaching to the environment of the house of worship, and the accustomed and established services of religion, the heads of those two families, Mr. John Baxter and Dr. William Desprez, exhibited in their lives the teachings of their faith and how deep were the roots of their early religious training. Mr. John Baxter was born in Ireland and came early to this country. He died of apoplexy in 1874. A son of his, John B. Baxter, lives in New York. Dr. Desprez was born in Paris in 1806. He lived some years in Ireland and came subsequently to this country. He died in Tuscumbia of yellow fever during an epidemic of that disease, in October, 1878. He was a man of most upright character and sincere piety. He accomplished what is found by experience to be the most difficult, albeit the most important of all the duties of a parent; he educated his children so thoroughly in the knowledge and obligations of religion that they and their children are to-day [sic] the most prominent and edifying in its observance. Dr. Desprez married an Irish Presbyterian lady, sincerely and earnestly attached to her own faith, but who, seeing what a potent factor Catholic doctrine was in moulding her husband’s character and inspiring his conduct, could with difficulty believe that faith to be wrong, and consequently seconded his efforts in the training of their children in the religion which gave lustre to his own life. Shortly after the death of her husband, Mrs. Desprez embraced the Catholic faith. She still lives, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, honored and respected by her neighbors.

The first Catholic Church was built in 1869, through the exertions of Dr. Desprez and Mr. Baxter, assisted very liberally by the non-Catholic portion of the community. The site upon which it was erected was donated by Mr. Baxter. It was solemnly dedicated, under the title of “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,” on the 30th day of September, 1869, by the Rt. Rev. John Quinlan, Bishop of Mobile, assisted by several priests, and attended by a large concourse of people. Rev. Father John B. bassen, who is at present pastor of Pensacola, Fla., was the first pastor of the young community. This church was never fully completed, and it was destroyed by the tornado which did so much damage to the town in November, 1874. Father Baasen again built a small temporary chapel, still standing, and now used as a store-room by the Benedictine Sisters, where the people worshiped until 1878. In that year, the Rt. Rev. Boniface Wimmer, Abbot of the Benedictine Order in Pennsylvania, purchased from Father Baasen the house and property situated at the eastern extremity of the town. Rev. Matthew Sturenberg, O. S. B., was sent by the Abbot to take charge of the congregation. By his exertions a new church was erected, and, on the 8th of August, 1880, was solemnly consecrated, under the same title as the old one, by Bishop Quinlan, assisted by Rev. Benedict Menges, O. S. B., and Rev. Joseph Keeler, O. S. B. In the evening of the same day, the bell of the church was blessed by the Bishop.

On February 24th, of the following year, four Benedictine Sisters arrived, and have since conducted the parochial school. They have also kept a few children as boarders. Their accommodation for this class of scholars has been and is still very limited, but the increasing demand will necessitate the erection of more extensive buildings. The Catholic congregation of Tuscumbia is increasing. There are two masses every Sunday, at 8 and 10 o’clock, and vespers and benediction in the afternoon at three o’clock. Every morning there is mass at 7:30 o’clock, at which the children of the parochial school attend. The Benedictines are established in perpetuum in the two counties of Colbert and Lauderdale, and, besides Tuscumbia, have churches and stations in St. Florian, Florence, Sheffield, Decatur, Huntsville, Cullman, Hanceville, Dickson, Courtland, Moulton and some minor places. They are hard workers, and self-denying men. The character of the men sent on these southern and arduous missions may be inferred from the fact that, when the Right Rev. Abbott Wimmer, a most ardent friend of the South and of Southern missions, died, the Pastor of Tuscumbia, Rev. Andrew Hinterach, Order of Saint Benedictine, was chosen as his successor to govern one of the most extensive religious Orders in America. Reverend Oswald Moosmuller, Order of Saint Benedictine, pastor of Cullman has been appointed Prior of the head house of the Order in Pennsylvania. He is the founder of the Industrial School for Colored Boys in Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Ga. By the product of his own literary labors and without collecting a cent, except two or three times having an innocent “strawberry festival,” which brought not much, he has accomplished what perhaps no other priest in America has ever done. He has built three churches; one at Skidaway for the colored boys and people of the island, and two at Savannah, one for white and the other for colored Catholics. Rev. Benedict Menges, Order of Saint Benedictine, for ten years identified with the missions of Alabama, has recently been appointed Superior of those missions, and will shortly reside in Tuscumbia.

The development of the mineral resources and the growing industries of North Alabama will necessarily induce immigration and create a commensurate demand for educational facilities, and it is the intention of the Benedictines, as soon as circumstances will permit, to select a suitable site for a college, in which the youth of our own and neighboring States may, at little cost, receive an education to fit them for the positions and callings which may offer, and enable them to contribute to the future material and moral well-being of our city and State.


The Deshler Female Institute is a handsome two story brick building on Main street, located in the center of the block or square which includes the residence of the late David Deshler, who bequeathed the entire property as a site for a female school. The building, which cost about $12,000, was destroyed by a cyclone in 1875, was rebuilt, and has been well patronized and is now in a flourishing condition under the management of Mr. Dell. It is called “The Deshler Institute,” in honor of General James Deshler, who was a native of  Tuscumbia and a graduate of West Point, and was killed in the late war at the battle of Chickamauga.

The city council have recently appropriated $6,000 for the benefit of the public male school for the whites, which will put it on a good footing.

In addition to the above there are several smaller private schools.

Source: This is a reprint from Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical Illustrated 1888 Smith & DeLand, Birmingham, Ala.,VII.  Sheffield, by William Garrett Brown.

Photos of the past…

document history sometimes. This is a photo of a wreck that involved a DrPepper truck. The wreck occurred east of Tuscumbia, Alabama on 10 June 1935. A crowd of onlookers gathered to witness the incident.

Photo of a DrPepper truck that was involved in a wreck in Tuscumbia in 1935

Photos from the past…

especially from the far distant past are always welcome. This photo is of four Confederate Veterans at a reunion in Macon, Georgia in 1912. These handsome men include T. R. Thompson from Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Photo of Commanders of Confederate Veterans 1912

The cultural landscape of the southern plantations…

documents plantation homes in the south. There are photos included of former slaves.

The Big House was a two-story house; white like most houses during that time. On the north side of the Big House sat a great big barn, where all the stock and stuff that was raised was kept. Off to the southwest of the barn, west of the BigHouse, set about five or six log houses.Photo of William Henry Towns a former slave in Tuscumbia Alabama

— William Henry Towns, former slave describing a plantation near Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Name: William Henry Towns
[Bill Towns] 
Birth Place: Tuscumbia, Alabama
Birth Date: 7 Dec 1854
Residence State: Alabama
Interview Location: Tuscumbia, Alabama
Father’s Name: Joe Towns
Father – Places Lived: Huntsville, Alabama
Mother’s Name: Jane Smoots
Mother – Places Lived: Baltimore, Maryland
Siblings: Charlie; Bob; Betty; Kate; Lula; Nelie
Spouse’s Name: Lizzie Anderson
Children Names: William Henry
Owner’s Name: Young
Total Pages in Narrative File: 9
Roll Number: 1


Would these patriots approve of what we…

have allowed to happen to this country they bled for? So many Shoals area citizens can trace their history far back into the annals of time. So is the Sledge family that finds roots in the Shoals area from about its very beginning – even back to when it was a territory.

The first Sledge to immigrate to America was from Shropshire, England. That part of England is lush green with rolling hills, tudor houses, and huge castles. It is also the birthplace of Charles Darwin who is the father of Darwinism -Survival of the fittest. Darwin was born in Shrewsberry near the center of Shropshire. There is still a question of which Sledge was the first immigrant; but without doubt Charles Sledge is documented and the Sledge lines flow from him. He was born circa 1650 and died in Surry County, Virginia on 16 Feb 1726.  Many researchers report that the lineage goes like this:

Thomas Sledge born 1565 in England

> Richard Thomas Sledge 1585-1606

>>Richard Thomas Sledge 1607-1699

>>>Richard Sledge 1638-1725. He was born in England and died in Surry County, Virginia

>>>>Charles Sledge named above

Richard was imported as a headright into the colony by John Longworth as an indentured servant for five years. Charles arrived in Virginia in 1681 under an indenture, Richard 8 Sep 1684, and Ann 8 Oct 1684. These three along with the John Sledge who arrived about 1677 imported by Richard Kennon, give us a total of four Sledges to reach Virginia. Some researchers have stated that Charles Sledge born 1650 in Shropshire. The arrival dates documented by others give some researchers second thoughts about whether  Richard and Ann are Charles Sledge’s parents. Charles Sledge was granted land as early as 1710 and  a land grant in 1716 as follows:


There is something that looks like a seal that reads: Geo. Sledge New Land to the side of the text of the document. George, and all, know ye that for divers good reasons and considerations but more especially for and in consideration of the importation of two persons to dwell within that our colony of Virginia where names are Hugh Price and John Taylor, we have given granted and confirmed and by here presents for us our heirs and henceforth do give grant and confirm unto Charles Sledge of Surry County one certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred acres lying and being in the county aforesaid and bounded as followeth, to wit, beginning at a hickory on the north side of a small branch and near Eliza Carlisle’s cornfield and some of a corner of the said Sledge’s old land thence west by south one hundred poles to a red oak, thence south by east one hundred and sixteen poles to two liverys hence south forty-four poles to a black oak, thence east by north one hundred poles to a lightwood post in Samuel Chappell’s line thence by Chappell’s line north fifty poles to a red oak, a corner of the above named Sledge’s old land by his old line north by west one hundred and ten poles to the beginning, with all and to have and to hold and to be held and yielding and paying and provided and in witness and witness our  trusty and well-beloved Alexander Spotswood, our Lt. Governor and at Williamsburg under the seal of our said colony, the fourteenth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and sixteen in the third year of our reign.

A. Spotswood

Charles Sledge and his father, Richard Sledge are the first in the proven line of Sledges in the United States. This is likely true, but requires more research.

In 1685 the King of England, Charles II, son of James I, died, leaving no legitimate heirs to the throne. However, he had an illegitimate son named the Duke of Monmouth who King Charles II recognized, honored, and endowed with certain entitlements throughout his life. The Duke of Monmouth felt that the throne should be his upon the death of his father. However, the title was taken by James II, a brother of Charles II, and an uncle of the Duke.

The Duke of Monmouth gathered about him a group of supporters and invaded from the West of England, which was the stronghold of Protestant dissent. He and his followers seized Axminster and Taunton. Parliament retaliated by making it an act of treason to support him. The Duke retreated through Frome, and was defeated nearby, at the Battle of Sedgemoor on July 5, 1685. Over 300 of his followers were beheaded, and their heads placed on long pikes for all to see. Today in Frome, this passageway is known as Gore Hedge. The Duke of Monmouth was captured and beheaded a short time later.

It was told to Jim Hicks, by Henry Sledge of Frome that Charles Sledge was a follower of the Duke of Monmouth, and upon sensing the certain defeat of the Duke, made his way on the fastest horse he could find to the nearest Port, which was nearby Bristol. He and his parents, Richard and Ann, then took passage on the first boat, Alithea, leaving for the Colonies. his arrival date is estimated at 1685-86 and confirmed by certain land grants from the Colony of Virginia. He entered this country as an indentured servant to pay for his passage. Other information on Charles Sledge states this: Charles Sledge came from England to the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1686. Charles received a land grant 7 November 7 1710 for 50 acres of land for importation of himself into this colony. Surrey County order book 1691-1713, page 353. Charles received two land grants on August 1716, one for one hundred acres  another for one hundred fifty acres, south of the Blackwater River, now Sussex county: recorded in Surrey County, Land Grant Book, 10.

It took him around a quarter of a century to become a landowner in 1710. In 1690, Charles Sledge married Mary Clarke, daughter of Robert Clarke of Isle of Wight County, Virginia. The Charles and Mary Sledge Plantation was in the part of Surry County that became Sussex County in 1753, along part of the Black Water River. Charles and Mary’s holdings were quite extensive, and from the number of recorded land transactions, they were buying and selling as well as working the land.

Charles Sledge and Mary Rebecca Clarke married 1960 in Surry County, Virginia. Their children were: Judith Sledge, 1693 – 1787 who  married John Ellison; Rebecca Sledge, 1696 – 1718 who married Thomas Ivey; John Sledge, 1698 – 1750  in Surry County Virginia which is now Sussex County; and Martha Sledge, 1700-1760 who married Peter Hayes and died in Halifax County, North Carolina.

A copy of John Sledge’s Will is on  file from Surry County Virginia will book 9 – page 674 and “Wills and Admons Surry county, VA, 1671-1750” in the DAR Library.  The devisees in the will were sons Charles, Daniel, and Amos Sledge as well as daughters Ann Griffin or Griffis, Sarah, and Rebecca. Witnesses were Hugh and Thomas Ivey. The will states: To my son, Daniel Sledge, part of a tract of 200 acres in Brunswick County, also pewter dishes, etc. [snip]   The remainder of estate to be divided between, Charles, Daniel, Sarah, John, and Amos. He made his wife the Exerx. The will was made 27 December, 1749 and Probated 18 Dec. 1750.  Book 9 – Page 674.

A small remembrance of Charles Sledge is a smokehouse belonging to Charles Sledge (the father of John Sledge) was erected about 1700 and later moved in 1928. It was still standing at Chester Plantation in Sussex County VA until 1973.

Map of Virginia highlighting Surry County

Map of Virginia highlighting Surry County. Surry County later  became Sussex County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portions of the original residence of Charles Sledge that had been erected about 1700 and was later destroyed by fire, was seen there for some 40 years but nothing remains today. The land was sold by relatives in 1786 to Captain William Harrison and a new house was built on it in 1793. The present owner may still be Gary M. Williams, County Court Clerk of Sussex County Virginia.  Gary M. Williams is a descendant of the Harrisons, who were his maternal ancestors. It is his belief that John Sledge was the first person to live on this land because this territory beyond the Blackwater River was not open to settlement until after 1700. This area became part of Sussex County VA in 1753.

Charles Sledge’s wife’s, Mary Sledge, will was quite different. Mary Rebecca Ivey Sledge died 1752 in Surry County, Virginia and her will is in Will Book 9, page 694 and is documented in the Wills and Admons of Surry County, Virginia 1671-1750, by Eliza Timberlake Davis, DAR Library. The will states: Sledge, Mary: Leg. – Makes small bequests to son. John Sledge; daughter Rebecka Ivie, granddaughter, Judith Ellison, when the latter is 21 years old. He gives daughter, Martha Hay, all the rest of the estate; makes son-in-law, Peter Hay Exer. Made: 8 Jan. 1726/7. Prob., 17 July, 1728. Wit: Edward Prince, Eliza, Prince, Thos. Hay. Bk 7, p 826.

Children of John Sledge and Mary Rebecca Ivey Sledge are: Sarah Sledge who married Amos Morton Martin, Rebecca Sledge, Charles Sledge born 1722, Surrey County, Virginia and died 1770, Sussex County, Virginia; Daniel Sledge born 1731, Surrey County, Virginia and died 10 January 1793, Warren County, North Carolina; Amos Sledge born 1732, Surrey County, Virginia and died 1780, Surrey County, Virginia.; Ann Sledge born 1734 – 1828 who married Peter Hayes and together they had twelve children; and John Sledge born 1730, Surrey County, Virginia and died 11 October 1798, Hancock County, Georgia. Daughter Rebecca Sledge’s birth and death date of 1718 – 1827  provided only in family histories indicate that she lived to be 102; there is no further documentation of her at present. Surry County, Virginia, on  the James River, is one of the oldest regions settled by Englishmen in America,and  lies only a brief ferry ride from Jamestown.

It is noted that John Sledge was the only known son of Charles Sledge and is credited with establishing the Sledge surname in America. All the descendants of that name go back to one of John Sledge’s four sons: Charles, John, Daniel, and Amos. Each one of these sons had large families with many sons.

Charles and Mary Rebecca Ivey Sledge’s son Charles married Elizabeth Sammons. They had nine known children, seven sons and two daughters. Records in Sussex County Virginia tell us a story of a family line with strong ties and love of this country; this is evident through their service to gain our independence from the heavy-handed monarch, King George.  In Sussex County Administrations Book # E, page 283, bond dated 10 October 1770, Larry Dale Sledge states that all seven sons of Charles (2) Sledge served in the Revolutionary War. He also states that every able-bodied male between the ages of 14 and 50 was required to serve in the Virginia Militia, except those already in the Continental Army. Boys 12 and 13 years old also served in the Virginia Militia. The records of the Militia were county records and many were destroyed – so no one will ever know just how many served!

Charles and Elizabeth Sammons Sledge’s sons were John Sledge 1746-1793, Henry Sledge 1749-1794 , Thomas Sledge 1751-1800 , Augustine Austin Sledge 1756-1733 , Charles Allen Sledge 1758-1848, Jesse Sledge 1760-1850 , and Noah Sledge 1769-1815. The daughters were Susanna Sledge 1753 – 1847 and Sarah Ann Sledge 1769 – 1853.  It seems that Sarah Ann Sledge married first to Amos Horton in 1789 in Virginia and had three children; then married Grover Hardy Sammons in Virginia in 1791 and went on to have a large family of Sammons children. Nothing further is known about Susanna, although I somehow doubt the death date to be accurate.

Charles Sledge who was husband of Elizabeth  Sammons was born in Surry County Virginia about 1722. He lived and died in an area located about eighteen miles from the current Sussex County Court House. This area beyond the Black Water River became part of Sussex County Virginia in 1753. Charles Sledge inherited 150 acres in 1750 from his father, John Sledge. He sold this land on 21 July 1758 to Edward Weaver (Sussex County Virginia Deed Book # A, page 308) and bought 130 acres, on the Great Swamp, from James Bass and wife for 25 pounds on 14 November 1758. This is documented in Sussex County Virginia  Deed Book # A, page 337. This couple had seven of their seven sons all serving in the Revolutionary War; can you phantom that? It would be interesting to know if their sons-in-law also served.

Charles Sledge died in 1770 in Sussex County Virginia according to the Sussex County Administrations Book # E, page 283, bond dated 10 October 1770). He was but forty-eight years old at the moment of his death. Below are the items Charles Sledge died possessed of:

An Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of Charles Sledge deceased, take this 8th of December 1770

one feather bed & furniture… L 3 10 –
1 ditto do. .l
1 ditto do. ..3 10 –
2 chests 12/.6 old chairs 9/…1 1 –
2 iron wedges 5/. a parcel of tools 8/.71/2. 13 7 1/2
a set of cart wheel boxes ..- 3 –
1 horse bell & a jointing iron…- 2 –
a parcel of Pewter…1 1 –
Sunday wearing apparel..3 2 6
a parcel of knives & forks…- 4 –
a parcel of crookery ware ..- 12 –
1 jug, 1 butter pot and 2 bottles..- 4 –
2 tables 2/6, two washing tubs 5/…- 7 6
2 water pales & 3 piggins ..- 7 6
4 old meal tubs ..- 11 –
1 meal sieve & 2 trays..- 2 3
2 iron pots, 2 do hooks, 1 skillet & frying pan..- 18 3
1 pocket bottle & rasor ..- 1 –
a parcel of old hoes & axes…- 15 –
1 spinning wheel spindle &cards..- 7 6
6 baskets…- 7 6
a parcel of feathers…- 8 –
a gunn, a sword and bayonet…- 12 6
a reap hook and some old lasts.. – 2 6
a small looking glass…- 2 –
2 horse bells & some horse harnesses ..- 6 –
1 cow hide and 2 sheep skins ..- 7 6
24 barrels corn at 8/.p barrel…9 12 –
a parcel Ditto short about 4 barrels at 5/.p barrel.9 12 –
a parcel nubbins 5. …- 5 –
a stack of tops shorks & blades..1 12 6
16 geese at 1/3 ..1 – –
4 shoats ..- 17 –
4 sheep ..- 17 –
1 bay mare and colt .. 7 – –
1 gray Ditto .. 8 – –
1 mans saddle, 1 woman do., 2 bridles & 1 halter.1 5 –
1 p cart wheels & a carry logg .. 1 – –
2 sons & 16 pigs ..1 5 –
9 young hoggs ..5 8 –
7 dead of cattle ..8 5 –
a second stack of tops blades & a few nubbins . – 18 –
a parcel of books 2/. ..- 2 –
1 box iron and heater ..- 3 –
2 Ornabrugs shirts …- 3 9
1 pair of stockings & a pair of leggins..- 4 –
a parcel of wool .. – 6 –
1 hatt & a padlock …- 2 6
a parcel of cotton .. 1 5 –
a parcel of old shoes & some toe..- 3 6
a parcel of shoemakers tools …- 3 –
L 74 17 10 1/2
Eliza. Sledge – Admr.
Nathan Northington )
Thomas Avent ) Appraisers

At a Court held Sussex County the 21st day of March 1771.
This Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of Charles Sledge deceased was returned into Court, and by the Court ordered to be recorded.

Exd. Teste
/s/ A. Claoborne CSC

Will Book B, page 293 Sussex County, Virginia verified on 8-19-98 by Ronald E. Sledge
William Seaborn )

An attempt to find a description or photo or drawing of a osnaburg shirt (this is the correct spelling) was not successful. There were innumerable ads in the 1700s in reference to run away slaves, however, and it seems that most of them were described as wearing an osnaburg shirt. The best match was a frock or a hunting shirt. Those were long rough-hewn shirts that came to about the knees, some were split collar while others were not, they had long sleeves and a belt was usually worn around the waist. These were worn over the clothes to save the clothes when a messy job was to be carried out, or when hunting. They also provided just the right amount of warmth when a jacket would have been too heavy.

One of the heroes of the Revolutionary War and son of Charles and Elizabeth Sammons Sledge was Augustine Austin Sledge. There is a noteworthy historical fact related to the land that Austin Sledge owned. It is documented that Sir Francis Henry Drake who was born about 21 August 1701 in Fairway, Devon, England and died about 1794 at the age of 93 in Edgecombe County, Virginia (now Nash County). Francis with two of his brothers, Joseph and Bampfield, his wife Mary and their son, James, then six years old (1733) came to America from England in 1733 and first settled in Surry County, Virginia. His brothers Joseph and Bamphylde, Jr. were scalped by native americans; they left no issue upon their deaths. At the same time James, son of Francis, was captured by the native americans. He was delivered to his father by friendly native americans; but for a large reward.

Later, while prospecting in Austin Sledges in the woods near where his brothers had been killed, Francis was shot at by native americans. Being disgusted with this section of the country, he moved his family to Edgecombe County, now Nash County, North Carolina. There he was granted a tract of land – 2000 acres of which was in Swift County.This Francis Drake is not to be confused with Francis Drake, son of Richard who owned land in Orange and Chatham Counties in NC.

John and Mary Rebecca Ivey Sledge’s second son was Daniel Sledge. He was born 1731 in Albemarle Parish, Surry County, Virginia and he died in 10 January 1793 [date also given as 17 March 1793 by some researchers] in Littleton, Warren County, North Carolina. He moved to North Carolina in 1762; and served as a Captain in1777 during the Revolutionary War. In 1771 Daniel Sledge was appointed Lieutenant for County Militia in Warren County, North Carolina. In 1777 Governor Richard Oaswell appointed him Captain in the State Militia, Captain in the Navy. Daniel and Winnifred Isham House Sledge had 5 sons, four served in Revolutionary War. Their descendants are in North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. 

Winnifred Isham House Sledge was born 1734 and died in 1777. Daniel and Winnifred Isham House Sledge’s children were: James Sledge 1753 – 1834, Arthur Archibald Sledge 1754 – 1805, Isham Sledge 1759 – 1793, Joel N Sledge 1763 – 1837, Delilah “Dilley” Sledge born 1766 and married Robert B Waller, Winnifred Sledge born 1767 married Larkin Dawson and died in Alabama, Sherwood Sledge 1769 – 1842, and Lucretia Sledge born 1776.

The following tells a little more of Daniel Sledge’s service during the Revolutionary War.

Service: NORTH CAROLINA    Rank(s): CAPTAIN, Civil Service

Birth: (ANTE) 1731    ENGLAND

Death: 2- -1793     WARREN CO NORTH CAROLINA

Service Source:


Service Description:


Residence 1) County: Bute County – State: NORTH CAROLINA

Daniel Sledge’s service include that he served in the American Revolution from Bute County,North Carolina. He was appointed a captain in February 1775 by

Photo of Captain Daniel Sledge

Captain Daniel Sledge was a patriot who served during the Revolutionary War along with two of his sons and seven nephews among numerous other relatives. The seven sons were all the sons of his brother John Sledge.

Captain Daniel Sledge a Revolutionary War patriot

the Committee of Safety in that county. In June 1775 he was elected to be a member of the Commitee, and in July 1775 he was one of the signers of a resolution to uphold the acts of the Congress at Philadelphia, he executed the preceding in November. On 5 August 1775 Daniel Sledge was one of the Bute County citizens to pledge to fight for and defend the rights of the colonists. In November he, with others, issued a resolution to resist taxes imposed on the colonists and to support the Continental Congress.By February 1776 Bute County had actively entered the war. (Bute County Committee of Safety Minutes, 1775-1776-Publication of Warren Co., NC.Bicentennial Committee, 1977), The history of the counties in North Carolina that Daniel Sledge lived in informs us that he did not necessarily relocate,but rather that the counties and county boundaries changed. Warren County, North Carolina was formed from a part of Bute County.

A copy of Daniel Sledge’s will is in file from Warren County North Carolina,
C.R. 100.046 Vol, V. Page 2 – 3 Folios 2,3.

Daniel Sledge — Warren County, N.C. – 1791

In the name of God Amen; I Daniel Sledge of Warren County, State of North Carolina, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following.

Item – I give to my son James Sledge the following negroes, VIZ: Tom, old Phillis, Stephney, and Young Phillis, the daughter of Beck. Also one walnut desk, to him and his heirs. All which he has in his possession except young Phillis.

Item – I give an bequeath unto my son Archibald Sledge, the following negroes; Grace, David, and young Dick, as also one walnut desk to him and his heirs, all which he has in his possession except young Dick, and the desk

Item – I give and bequeath to my son Isham Sledge, the following negroes. John, Ben and old Jenney, as also one bed & furniture, four cows & calves, four sheep, and one walnut chest, to him and his heirs.

Item – I give and bequeath to my son Joel Sledge, the following negroes, Grant, Dick & Phillis his wife, Charity, the daughter of Beck & Kate, as also one bed & furniture, four cows & calves, four sheep. One folding table, one iron pot, one woolen wheel, one saddle & bridle, one axe, and two broad and two narrow hoes, to him and his heirs. All which he has in his possession except the negroe’s and sheep.

Item – I give and bequeath to my daugher, Deliah Waller, the following negroes; Judy and Violet, also four couws and calves, four sheep. One bed & furniture, one woman’s saddle and bridle, one linen wheel, and one young mare called Fly, to her and her heirs. All which she has in her possession.

Item – I give and bequeath to my daughter Winnifret Dawson the following negroes; yellow Jenny, the daughter of Pall & Nell, also one mare called Gray, four cows & calves, four sheep, one bed & furniture, one woman’s saddle & bridle, to her and her heirs.

Item – I give and bequeath to my son Sherwood Sledge, all that tract of land whereon I now live, including the land I purchased of George Kirk, and the following negroes, Simon, Pall Sarah, Geoge, Doll, Anneky & Cenha. As also one mare called Frower, one bed & furniture, four cows & calves, four sheep, one side saddle, one bridle, one safe, one frying pay, one large iron pot, one box iron & heaters, one looking glass, one square walnut table, all my carpenter tools, one narrow axe, two iron wedges, one pair large steelyards, one can of bottles, two broad & two narrow hoes, to him and his heirs.

Item – I give and bequeath to my daughter Lucretia Sledge, the following negroes, Bess, Ester, Sane & Aaron. As also one young mare called Tiny, one bed & furniture, four cows & calves, four sheep, one woolen wheel, one side saddle and bridle, to her and her heirs.

Item – It is my will and desire that the residue of my estate of what kind or nature, shall be equally divided between my children, without being sold, VIZ; James Sledge, Archibald Sledge, Isham Sledge, Joel Sledge, Deliah Waller, Winnifret Dawson, Sherwood Sledge and Lucretia Sledge, share and share alike, as nigh as possible. After paying my just debts, which division is to be made by James Sledge, Col. James Paine, Thomas Miller, and John Faulior or either three of them. I do hereby constitute ordain and appoint.

My sons, James Sledge, Archibald Sledge & John Faulior executors of this my last will and testament, in witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and affixed my seal, this 26th day of November
Anno Domini, 1791       Daniel Sledge (seal)
signed, sealed published and declared to be the last will and testament of Daniel Sledge, in the presence of us.
Lucretia Laulcon, Lewis Ballard, J. Fauleon Jural.
Copy from Warren County, NC wills C.R. 100.046 Vol., V. Page 2-3 Folios 2,3. Daniel Sledge

To be continued…