To each of these streams the native tribes gave a significant name, derived from some prevailing characteristic, or from some notable event connected therewith. (Riley p.14)
Regarding the history of Conecuh county.
The first item of historic interest is connected with a skirmish on Burnt Corn Creek, thirteen miles south of Bellville, which was the commencement of the great Indian War. The settlers along the Tombigbee, having learned that Peter McQueen, with a body of warriors, numbering about 350, had gone to Pensacola for the purpose of obtaining supplies from the British, preparatory to an attack on the whites, sent Col. James Caller, with a small body of calvary, to intercept them. Returning from Pensacola, ladened with supplies, the Indians had stopped near the banks of Burnt Corn Creek, to rest and cook dinner. Caller’s forces upon discovering them cautiously advanced across the stream and began to fire on the reclining warriors. Snatching up their guns, the Indians ran down under a bluff that overhung the creek. As Caller’s forces began to plunder the camp, over confident of their victory, the warriors rallied and began advancing on their former camp. Caught unaware of this return, the troops horses were scattered, and retreat by foot ensued. Capt. Sam Dale, a well-known figure in the settlement days of Alabama, arrived to assist Caller’s men avoid a disastrous defeat. A few months later the well known Massacre of Fort Mims fell into history. (Riley p16-17)
Judge A.B. Meek captured the indelible mark the regions first inhabitants have left.
“Yes! Tho’ they all have passed away,-
That noble race and brave,
Though their light canoes have vanished
From off the crested wave;
Though ‘mid the forests where they roved,
There rings no hunter’s shout,-
Yet their names are on our waters,
And we may not wash them out!
Their memory liveth on our hills,
Their baptism on our shore,-
Our everlasting rivers speak
Their dialect of yore!
‘Tis heard where Chattahoochee pours
His yellow tide along;
It sounds on Tallapoosa’s shores,
And Coosa swells the song;
Where lordly Alabama sweeps,
The symphony remains;
And young Cahawba proudly keeps
The echo of its strains;
Where Tuscaloosa’s waters glide,
From stream and town ’tis heard,
And dark Tombeckbee’s winding tide
Repeats the olden word;
Afar, where nature brightly wreathed
Fit Edens for the Free,
Along Tuscumbia’s bank ’tis breathed,
By stately Tennessee;
And south, where from Conecuh’s springs,
Escambia’s waters steal,
The ancient melody still rings,-
From Tensaw and Mobile. (Riley p.17-18)
The removal of the Indians began shortly after their defeat by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The years between this event and their final removal in 1834 were turbulent and desperate times for the native tribes. Sensing the impending threat from the white race, in 1818 bands of Indians attempted to exterminate these unwelcome settlers. Bloody scenes were enacted upon the Forks of Sepulga and upon the Conecuh River. Three forts were built by the settlers in their efforts towards protection. (Riley p.26)
The Seminoles had also begun moving into parts of the region until General Pushmattahoy familiarly known as General Push came to the relief of settlers with a band of ninety warriors. Pushmattohoy was a Choctaw and friendly to the whites. His forces attacked the Seminoles and eventually arranged for their relocation west of the Mississippi.
Conecuh was established as a separately organized county in January of 1818. In 1822 the first public road was established. At that time it was one of the most important thoroughfares in Alabama, running from Cahaba, via Old Turnbull and Bellville, to Pensacola. It was known as the Old Stage Road. (Riley p. 31-32)
The communities of Bellville and Hampden Ridge began to grow between the years of 1817 and 1823. Brooklyn was also established with two stores as early as 1818. Old town formed about 1820 or 1822 and was known for many years by its unusual Old Flag Tree, which had branches on only one side. (Riley p. 43 and 55)
Transportation was begun on the Conecuh and Sepulga river in 1821. It is believed that George Stoneham was the owner of the first boat. River travel and commerce began between Brooklyn and Pensacola using keel boats, and when the water was high, north of Brooklyn to Montezuma.
Products seek a market as the rivers do the sea. (Riley p.76)
The productive yield from the virgin soil of Conecuh naturally sought an outlet, especially when as inviting a market as was Pensacola in 1821, was within such easy reach.
Keel boat travel begun in 1821, could carry loads of fifty or sixty bales of cotton. The boats were from sixty to seventy feet long, and from eight to ten feet wide. It cost $1.25 to transport a 300 pound bale of cotton. Steering was accomplished by means of a beam fixed at the bow and stern, and two at either side. To ascend the stream, boatmen used the hook and jam, a long smooth pole, pointed with an iron spike, and with a hook curing its beak but a few inches from the point. The point was used by pressing it against streamside trees for propulsion. The hook was used to grab overhanging boughs to pull the boat forward. (Riley p.77)
In 1823, Brooklyn shipped three thousand bales of cotton. The first settlers began farming mainly for wheat, but either because of declining yields, or because it was easier and more profitable, corn and cotton became the primary crops. (Riley p.94)
The wisdom of arresting the washing of lands, seems never to have been suggested to the primitive farmer. Many of the lands which were originally the best to be found in the county, were speedily surrendered to the sedge-grass and the needle-leaved pine, and are to-day regarded as barren wastes. With a more compact population these wasted fields will be reclaimed from desolation, and again be made to blossom as the rose. (Riley p.95)