Clarke County, part of the Mississippi Territory, was deeply involved in conflict during its early formation. Prior to white settlement, the area between the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers was occupied by both Creek and Choctaw Indians. During the early 1800s, both cultures clashed as Native Americans and settlers now lived together. During the Creek War of 1813-14, a part of the War of 1812, settler-built forts dotted the landscape. A following is a description of each taken from Clarke County, Alabama and its Surroundings (Also known as “Ball’s History”), which is for sale in the museum store:
“FORT MADISON was situated in the northeast corner of section one, in township six, range three east, four and a half miles south, and about one mile and a half west, of the village of Suggsville, on the dividing ridge. It covered about one acre of ground. A trench was dug around the outside limit, three feet in depth, and into this the bodies of pine trees were inserted, side by side, cut about fifteen feet in length. A continuous wall of pines, some twelve feet in height, therefore surrounded the enclosure. Within were the tents and cabins of the neighboring settlers.
“FORT SINQUEFIELDwas built in the same manner, but was smaller than Fort Madison. It was nine miles and a quarter north from the latter, and a half mile west, being in section thirteen, township eight, range three east, and nearly five miles southeast from Grove Hill. It occupied a height of ground which extends north and south for a mile. Westward is a gentle slope, the valleys and ridges terminating in the Bassett’s Creek Valley. Westward are some deep valleys between large and high ridges of land. There is no real hill within miles of the fort locality, yet the ascent might easily be called going up hill. The fort spring is westward in one of the deep valleys, and is distant from the stockaded ground two hundred and seventy five yards. Towards the north west, ninety feet distant, are some graves. There were two sassafras trees beside these graves, but they are now fallen and decaying. It would seem to be appropriate for the county authorities to place an enclosure around this old burial ground.
No traces are now visible except for two posts six inches in diameter, the one being one inch and the other two inches above the present surface of the ground. They are firmly imbedded in the earth, and the wood has held its texture well. Large persimmon trees are growing here now, and on the old fort locality is now the residence of Mrs. Hickson.”
“FORT WHITE was a short distance northeast of Grove Hill, on what became afterwards the Alston place, now the residence of Elijah P. Chapman.”
“CARNEY’S FORT called by Pickett Fort Hawn, was on the Tombigbee at Gullet’s Bluff, a few miles below Jackson, nearly south from that place, and on the route to Mount Vernon.”
“MCGREW’S FORT was nearly north of Old St. Stephens, in the corner of section one, township seven, range one west. The area enclosed with palisades was about two acres. Some posts still remain. Around it is now an old field. One of the McGrews is said to be buried here. His name was cut into an old holly tree now standing.”
“LANDRUM’S FORT was on section eighteen, township eight, range two east, now in Good Springs beat.”
“MOTT’S FORT was in the same neighborhood.”
“TURNER’S FORT was near the residence of Abner Turner at West Bend. It was built of split pine logs doubled, and contained two or three block houses. It was held by the citizens of that neighborhood, in all thirteen men and some boys.”
“EASLEY’S FORT was on the Tombigbee River, in section eleven, township eleven, range one west, at what is now called Wood’s Bluff. The bluff was named after its former owner Major Wood, an officer in the battle of Burnt Corn. The fort was about one hundred yards above the bluff landing, on an elevated level tract of land, a small plateau, which contained about three acres. On the side next to the river the bluff is nearly perpendicular, “a bold spring of water flowing from its side,” and above and below the fort the descent is quite abrupt making the position naturally strong. The fort was named from an early resident, “an old and prominent citizen,” who had four sons, Warham, Samuel, Rhode, and Edward or Ned.”
“POWELL’S FORT was near Oven Bluff. The families of John McCaskey, of James Powell, of John Powell, and about three others, were in this small fort distant a mile from the river. After the fall of Fort Mims these families went to Carney’s Fort and then to Mt. Vernon.”
“FORT GLASS has been already named as situated near Fort Madison, south of Suggsville.”
“LAVIER’S FORT is named by Pickett, but its locality seems to be now uncertain. It may have been southeast from Suggsville.”
“CATO’S FORT was on the west side of the river, about a mile from the bank, and some five miles below Coffeeville.”