A Working History Of Hal's Lake

A Working History Of Hal's Lake

Contributed by: David A. Bagwell


Table of Contents

The Name: "Hal" and All That. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The Old Indian Treaty Boundary Line of 1809. . . . . . . . . . 5

The 1818 Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Judge William Crawford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Audley H. Gazzam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Lemuel Butler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Philip McLoskey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Indian Land Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Semoice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Susan Marlow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Andrew Henshaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Joseph Carson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Isaac Heylan Erwin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

John J. Stalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Cary Wyld Butt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Wall-Hay-Wall Lumber Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Paul Danner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Fred T. Stimpson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

ALCO Land & Timber Co. (J.L. Bedsole and S. Boyd Adams). . . . 43

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

Down toward the bottom of Clarke County, in the crotch of the Tombigbee and the Alabama Rivers, is a wild serpentine lake now known as "Hal's Lake". Largely unreachable until the oil exploration of the 1950's, Hal's Lake has been one of the last remaining mystery areas in the county and, indeed, the state.

It has a history, but the history is little known. And the history is the history of its owners and occupants.

And those owners and occupants have been a mixed bag: pureblood Indians, halfblood White/Indians, Mulatto/Indians, rich White men and women, runaway slaves, homesteaders, tenants, caretakers of all races, and all of the rest.

Some of them, no doubt, never even saw the place, but their names have been stamped upon its history. They deserve to be remembered.

The Name: "Hal" and All That. There are indications (but little proof) that the Choctaw called Hal's Lake "Chickianoce". We're not sure what the Creeks called it.

The official U.S. Government survey of the area in 1822 didn't even show Hal's Lake on the map, much less name it. The official survey of 1849 did show it, but called it "Sand Hill Lake".

Two writers later in the nineteenth century, undoubtedly relying upon oral tradition, tell the tale of the runaway slave "Hal", who -- the story goes -- established a rough and rude kingdom in the swamp of Hal's Lake, lived off game and hogs and fish and purloined things from plantations, and was ultimately betrayed by one of his own, whereupon Hal and the others were either killed or captured and returned to captivity. Ball even goes so far as to say "This was about the year 1846. Since that time the water has been called Hal's Lake" (which is fine except that the 1849 survey calls it "Sand Hill Lake").

As yet, there is no clear proof of the accuracy of this legend, or -- if accurate -- its date. History is a continually-evolving process, and one day someone may discover an account in an old official record or diary or letter or newspaper, which mentions "Hal" and dates the affair. Until that happens, there can only be uncertainty and doubt.

Nobody has any real proof as to when this might have happened. In the last twenty years, though, there has been a flowering of scholarship about The Spanish Mobile District from 1780 to 1813, and that scholarship has unearthed Spanish Colonial records of what could easily have been the "Hal" incident. If so, it was in 1789, not 1849.

Back into the 1780's and perhaps earlier, there had been a problem of runaway slaves going up into the Indian country above Tensaw and above the cut-off. Spaniards called the runaways "cimmarones", and occasionally had to go get them. One of these raids was detailed in a Spanish Colonial report which went to Spanish territorial records holdings in Cuba, and ultimately to Seville. The first Alabama historian to have come across the Spanish record was David H. White, who died some years ago.

We finally located a photocopy of the original handwritten 1789 Spanish report. Thanks to John Marston (a descendant of the James family of lower Clarke County) and his wife Carmen we have a literal translation of the report, which is as follows [some of the handwritten old Spanish could not be deciphered].

First, let's get the cast of characters straight. Juan Vicente Folch was Governor of Spanish Mobile from 1787 to 1792. He had a good bit of interaction with the settlers of Tensaw, and several were involved in this raid into the swamps in late February and early March of 1789.

First among these Tensaw settlers was John Linder, Sr. Linder was born in Berne, Switzerland in 1720 and lived many years in Charleston, S.C., where he was engineer and surveyor for the British. Alexander McGillivray went to South Carolina and actually recruited settlers (including Linder) for the Tensaw area, because the Creeks wanted law-abiding settlers in the Spanish District who would follow Spanish law and not encroach on Indian lands. Linder became the Alcalde or Capitan de Partido for the Tensaw District under Spanish law, in effect the all-purpose local Spanish Government representative around the Tensaw area. In the Tensaw census of 1789, he and his son had 33 horses and 230 cattle. Four years earlier they had had 82 negro slaves, and probably still had at least that many in 1789. They raised corn, tobacco, rice and garbanzos or chickpeas. Linder was clearly the top man in the Tensaw area.

His son, John Linder, Jr. was mentioned in the Spanish report, and perhaps went on the mission. The last British Governor of East Florida [Patrick Tonyn] wrote his Spanish successor [Vicente Manuel de Zespedes] that John Linder, Jr. had by the mid-1780's become the leader of a rowdy band of "disbanded men from the British and American Armies, together with some vagrants from the different Provinces", who were called "banditti" and who engaged in "repeated acts of robbery and rebellion" before taking refuge in the swamps. Tonyn recommended to his Spanish successor in 1784 that Linder, Jr. be expelled from East Florida, and by the next year was living in Tensaw.

Cornelius McCurtin was an Irishman who came to West Florida about 1769 and, under the Spanish government, became an officer in the Spanish militia at Pensacola and Mobile. In 1789 he was 37 years old, and lived on a corn and chickpea plantation in the Tensaw area with his wife Eufrosine P. Bausage. He also owned property on Dauphin Street in Mobile.

Lieutenant Josef Deville Degoutin Bellechase was a Spanish officer [probably of French ancestry] who had founded Fort San Esteban de Tombecbe, which ultimately became St. Stephens. In 1789, when Indian trouble was brewing with the Tombigbee and Tensaw settlers, Degoutin replaced Linder as the local Spanish official.

Here is the literal translation of the Spanish Government report:

The 22 of last month [February] I was in Mr. Linder's home with the purpose of learning which of the people he thinks will be more suitable for the expedition against the cimmaron blacks. Immediately we went around all the Finza [sic: Tensaw] District on the 22, 23 and 24, where we grouped to go to the first campsite. News was that it has eight blacks. __________ __________ __________ to a distant place __________ therefore __________ practical since it was not possible to find it __________ __________ day to attack them. The bayou where we were supposed to enter was covered with stalks of __________ and __________ which prevented us to walk without noise. It was very difficult to find the pier which we would have never found had it not been for a canoe tied to the canebrake.

As soon as we disembarked we heard noise made by the blacks, which sounded by their footsteps that there were only two and also we found in a promontory the cabin. The rest of the terrain was covered with water and when we tried to go in pursuit it was impossible since we were wet from head to toe, as were our arms. Notwithstanding, I order that a group stand guard in the cabin thinking that unless the blacks had beforehand stashed another canoe just in case, they would not stand the coldness of the surrounding land where they were and could be caught and added to the ones I had in the cabin.

After that, I went with the rest of the people to the camp closest to the second campsite. Beforehand I tried to find out as much as I could about where the other blacks were, the ones I was trying to catch, and I had no other alternative but to close all the mouths of all the bayous where they could come in and out.

On the third day we were on guard, I felt sick and I felt I needed to go back to Movila, but I ordered that immediately Lieutenant Don Jose Deville Degoutin should take my place and to whom I gave my instructions, the same he understood perfectly.

One of the canoes guarding the streams captured two blacks that were coming back to the house the sixth day of the siege, one of these blacks immediately offered to show the way where the others were and with no delay led Lieutenant Don Jose Deville Degoutin, and Lieutenant Don Luis Ojuret and found a black around eleven o'clock at night and were able to capture eleven blacks more and luckily they had not seen more than thirteen, which means they are the ones we have captured. In addition, we have also captured one that belongs to Madama Wason. The thirteen blacks belong to the heirs of the deceased Don Juan Bautista Lurier and I hope they do not mind I gave the sum of one hundred and twenty pesos to the ones that had helped us, meaning the poor twelve people that I had taken from their chores to employ them in this service and that Juan Linder Jr. and Don Cornelius Macurtin agreed and I think they need to receive a letter of acknowledgement, thanking them for their zeal.

As you are aware of the bad times we have had from the 22nd to date, and taking into consideration the hardship the capture of these blacks have caused to all involved, I beg of you to order that Lt. Don Jose Deville Degoutin and Lt. of the Army Don Luis Ojuret are named in the Service Records.

I am sending you the blacks captured so you can dispose of them in any way you want and at your convenience.

May God guard you In Movila 7 March, 1789

Vizente Folch

Was this the report of the capture of Hal and his group? Impossible to say at this point. Maybe not. But it easily could have been.

The Old Indian Treaty Boundary Line of 1809

Like a scar on the face of Frankenstein's monster, there runs the entire (North-South) length of Clarke County -- and also through Hal's Lake -- a jagged boundary, captioned on the maps "Old Indian Treaty Boundary". It is the stuff of legend. Legends may be true -- or they may not.

This legend even has a couple of historic markers.

One historic marker erected in 1978 by the Clarke County Historical Society near Choctaw Corner says of the winding Indian boundary which cuts through the Hal's Lake area:

Established by Choctaw and Creek Indians about 1808 as the northern limit of boundary line between their lands. This line begins at the cut-off in south Clarke County, follows the watershed between Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers without crossing water. The disputed territory boundary was settled by two ball games, one between the warriors and one between the squaws of each tribe. The Choctaws won both games clearing forever their title to the lands.

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. The old legend could use a little verification. T.H. Ball wrote in 1882 that:

Old settlers in Clarke refer to this game as fact well authenticated and attested by eyewitnesses. John Scarborough, who would now be about eighty-five years of age, if living, was one of those who witnessed it.

That would have made John Scarborough born in 1797 or earlier, which would have made him about twelve or thirteen when the 1809 survey occurred, an age old enough to remember such a thing, so there is reason to believe that the ball-game story may well have some basis in fact, for at least part of the boundary.

We know that the line was actually surveyed in 1809 under an 1805 U.S./Choctaw Treaty (more about that later) by official surveyors, not by ballplayers. But we don't know much about the earlier history of the boundary, and we ought to look at that first. And, we have not yet found any contemporary verification of the ball game legend, except Ball's statement about Scarborough.

A. Linguistic Proof of a Shifting Boundary. Nobody has ever known more about Indian treaties, land law and the 1700-to-early-1800 history of South Alabama than Peter Hamilton: lawyer, Federal judge, and historian extraordinaire. But even Hamilton pretty well gave up explaining the history of this boundary line, saying simply:

The British [Choctaw] Boundary [of 1765] had nothing to do with the winding line between the Choctaw and Creeks running northwardly from the cut-off on the watershed between the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers. We cannot be sure when this was adopted, as there are Choctaw names further to the East, and. . . the Creeks later claimed the Tensaw to be the British boundary.

Hamilton didn't speak Creek and Choctaw, so not too much credence should be given to his linguistic analysis of place names as evidence of uncertainty.

On the other hand, the evidence from one who did speak Creek and old Choctaw makes the matter really uncertain.

George Stiggins, an Indian-White mixed-blood scholar and brother-in-law of Red Eagle, and a man who knew this country intimately, believed that the Alibamus were "a relic of the Choctaw tribe", which after their encounter with DeSoto, had an "assimilation with the Creek body". Stiggins himself, who "received some particulars of the route of DeSoto during his boyhood from the lips of the oldest Indians", believed that the Abeka tribe of Creeks moved to North Alabama in the early 1700's and assimilated with the Natchez (Muskogee) tribe, the tribe of Stiggins' mother, near Talledega.

Stiggins -- who spoke both Creek and Natchez (an Alibamu tongue) -- said:

The men of the Natchez tribe almost all converse in the Creek tongue, with their families or not. Though the women can speak it fluently, yet most generally in their own common concerns and to their children they use their own native tongue [Natchez, an Alibamu tongue, derived from old Choctaw]. Frequently in one house they use both tongues without any detriment to their conversation or business.

Thus, the line between the Alibamu, the Choctaw, and the Creek tribes -- or their territories -- may not be easy to draw, especially based on language differences and old place names.

B. The 1765 Treaties and Wars. If this "ball-game theory" has any historical basis at all, it is much more likely to have derived from the Creek-Choctaw War of 1765 and its ending.

"British West Florida" was created in 1763 out of territory ceded by France and Spain, but it was a hot potato in need of some serious attention.

The British-Indian Congresses of 1765 were a major production. They merit a close look because of the very high probability that the solution to the puzzle of the boundary ball game legend will ultimately be solved only through scholarly study of the British West Florida Colonial records. The magnitude of the logistics of the Congress gives some clue to the magnitude of the problem. Hamilton says that the British Congress of Mobile of March 26 - April 3, 1765 often numbered 2,000 Indians, 29 Choctaw chiefs (or "Mingoes"), as well as the British Governor (Johnstone) and Superintendent (Stuart). The British picked up the tab (then astronomical) for o1554 in presents, o107 for three loads of beef, "besides some wine"; Major Robert "Farmer complained that he had to entertain five hundred himself at one time". The British hired a Frenchman to interpret English and Choctaw for 196 days. It was a major production.

At the close of the Congress, the British and Choctaw entered into a Treaty, pursuant to which the Choctaw ceded to the British the first Indian grant in these parts. Article V sets out the boundary, and since this may have caused the Choctaw-Creek War of 1765-71, it merits close analysis:

"Article V. And to prevent all disputes on account of encroachments, or supposed encroachments, committed by the English inhabitants of this or any of his Majesty's provinces, on the lands or hunting ground reserved and claimed by the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, and that no mistakes, doubts or disputes, may for the future arise thereupon, in consideration of the great marks of friendship, benevolence, and clemency extended to us, the said Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, by his Majesty, King George the Third, we, the chiefs and head warriors, distinguished by great and small medals, and gorgets, and bearing his Majesty's commissions as chief and leaders of our respective nations, by virtue and in pursuance of the full right and power which we now have, and are possessed of, have agreed, and we do hereby agree, that, for the future, the boundary be settled by a line extended from Grosse Point, in the Island of Mount Louis, by the course of the western coast of Mobile Bay, to the mouth of the eastern branch of Tombecbee River, and north by the course of said river, to the confluence of Alibamont and Tombecbee rivers, and afterwards along the western bank of Alibamont River to the mouth of Chickianoce River, and from the confluence of Chickianoce and Alibamont Rivers, a straight line to the confluence of Bance and Tombecbee Rivers; from thence by a line along the western bank of Bance River, till its confluence with the Tallatukpe River; from thence, by a straight line to Tombecbee River, opposite to Atchalikpe; and from Atchalikpe, by a straight line, to the most northerly part of Buckatanne River, and down the course of Buckatanne River to its confluence with the river Pascagoula, and down by the course of the Pascagoula, within twelve league of the seacoast; and thence, by a due west line, as far as the Choctaw Nations have a right to grant."

"And the said chiefs, for themselves and their nations, give and confirm the property of all the lands contained between the above-described lines and the sea, to his Majesty the King of Great Britain, and his successors, reserving to themselves full right and property in all the lands to the northward of said line now possessed by them; and none of his Majesty's white subjects shall be permitted to settle on Tombecbee River to the northward of the rivulet called Centebonck."

As you see, the Boundary ran from the Alabama-Tombigbee confluence, up the western bank of the Alabama "to the mouth of Chickianoce River". Hamilton consulted an old map, found the word "Chikeanoce" at about Choctaw Bluff, and translated the Treaty Boundary as follows:

These boundaries can be identified, with perhaps one exception, although most of the names have been changed. The grant begins on Mobile Bay at Mon Louis Island, extends along the coast to what is now Apalache River, and up this, the Tensaw, Mobile, and Alabama rivers to some stream then named Chickianoce.

The official map of the Tombigbee and Mobile rivers does not take in much of the Alabama, but shows the name "Chikeanoce" at the first bluff above the low lands about the Cut-Off. It is true that it does not give us a river of that name, but there is little doubt that the stream given in the treaty emptied into the Alabama at this point. The bluff is almost due east of what is marked "Salt Springs" on the Tombigbee, and will correspond to what is now called Choctaw Bluff.

The Chickianoce, therefore, was a creek emptying into the Alabama at this point, probably from the west, although the most prominent stream in the vicinity is Little River, coming from the east. The Chickianoce may be Big Reedy Creek or Drummer's. The hunting grounds of Nanna Hubba ceded by the Choctaws were never settled by the British; for the island was also claimed by the Creeks and was not ceded by them.

From the Chickianoce the line runs to the junction of Jackson's Creek, called the Bance, and the Bigbee, and up Jackson's Creek to its fork, whence it goes across country and over the Bigbee at Atchalickpe (Hatchatigbee) to the source of the Buckatunna, down which it runs to a point thirty-six miles from the sea, and thence west through the Choctaw country.

It seems quite possible that the "Chickianoce River" was actually Hal's Lake -- which the earliest U.S. government surveys call "Sand Hill Lake" -- and that its mouth was Sand Hill Creek, at Choctaw Bluff. Hal's Lake is a substantial body of water, big enough to look like a small river; and it flows (like most of South Clarke County) during highwater times of the year. Furthermore, it is the only possible candidate for a "river" at that place.

What all this means is that the Choctaws were selling to the British the entire tract of lower Clarke County land below Hal's Lake (Carlton), all the way East to the western bank of the Alabama River, and all the way down. The Choctaws did not limit their sale of land only to that land west of the Tombigbee-Alabama watershed.

Something certainly provoked the Creek; they attacked the Choctaw in what ought to be called the "Creek-Choctaw War of Downtown Mobile", which lasted for six years. A Choctaw chief, Hooma (Red Captain) and forty Choctaw warriors charged 300 Creeks and drove them headlong through Mobile into the River, at the foot of St. Francis Street. Hooma himself killed thirteen Creeks. At the river bank the Creeks (expert swimmers) swam the river to get away, but the Choctaws couldn't swim and had to stop. Their war continued for six years.

There shortly followed in Pensacola an English Congress with Creeks. The final treaty, transmitted on June 12, 1765, set the Creek boundaries, in Article V:

And to prevent all Disputes on Account of encroachments or Supposed Encroachments committed by the English Inhabitants of this or any other of His Majesties Provinces on the lands or hunting Grounds, reserved and Claimed by the Upper & Lower Creek Nations of Indians & that no mistakes, Doubts or Disputes may for the future arise thereupon, in consideration of the Great Marks of Friendship, Benevolence, & Clemency extended to us the said Indians of the Upper & Lower Creek Nations by His Majesty King George the third,, We the said Chiefs & head Warriors Leaders of our Respective Nations by Virtue & in pursuance of the full Right & power we have and are possessed of, Have agreed and we do hereby agree that for the future the Boundary be at the dividing paths going to the National and Mobille where is a Creek, that it shall run along the Side of that Creek untill its Confluence with the River which falls into the Bay, then to run round the Bay & take in all the Plantations which formerly belonged to the Yammasee Indians, that no Notice is to be taken of such Cattle or Horses as shall pass the Line; that from the said Dividing paths towards the West the Boundary is run along the path leading to Mobille to the Creek called Casabae, & from thence still in a straight Line, to another Creek or great Branch within forty Miles of the ferry and so to go up to the Head of that Creek and from thence turn round towards the River, so as to include all the old French Settlements at Tassa; the Eastern Line to be determined by the flowing of the Sea in the Bayss as was settled at Augusta, and we do hereby Grant & confirm, unto His Majesty His Heirs and Successors all the Land contained between the said Lines & the Sea Coast." Hamilton did his best to translate this Creek boundary as follows: These boundaries are difficult to identify. In the first place the dividing paths going to the Nation and Mobile have long since been obliterated. The branch to Mobile was probably that leading to the Village on Mobile Bay, and the creek mentioned was some branch of the Escambia north of Pensacola. It is not certain which bay is referred to, but it was probably Pensacola Bay. The boundary was to run around the bay, including in British territory the settlements formerly belonging to the Yammasee Indians. Towards the west the line followed the path to Mobile across one unknown creek to the Perdido; for that was the only stream large enough to have the ferry mentioned. It then ascended that river, or creek as it was at that point, to its source, and thence ran west to Tensaw River so as to include the French settlements at Tensaw. This expression is not quite clear, as there were the Tensaw Old Fields, at modern Stockton, and the Tensaw village at modern Blakely. We may be reasonably sure, however, that the British territory extended to the Tensaw Old Fields, for Major Farmer was to have his plantation there for many years.

This grant, therefore, extended from the Escambia River near its mouth to the Tensaw River, and, strictly speaking, the eastern boundary was that running around Pensacola Bay. The treaty seems to indicate that the line was on the eastern side of Pensacola Bay to be defined by high-water mark, and reference is made to what was settled at Augusta; but this must have been settled outside of the formal treat at Augusta.

Well, what could have led the Creeks and Choctaw to fight a six-year war over all this?

At least one possible explanation is that the Creeks were outraged because the Choctaws sold to the British land which the Creeks considered Creek land, namely, the Clarke County land between the Tombigbee-Alabama watershed in the West, and the west bank of the Alabama in the East. A British map of the area shows a big land grant running all the way from Choctaw Bluff on the Alabama to Oven Bluff on the Tombigbee; whatever this grant was, maybe it represents at least part of what set off the "War of Downtown Mobile" in 1765, and the next six years as well.

Whether this Creek-Choctaw "ball-game" legend derives from the start of the war, or the less-noted wind-down of it in 1771 or so, or even later, just cannot be told at this late date, absent some new historical discovery. But if it happened, it could have happened at or near the end of the Choctaw/Creek War of 1765, in 1771 or so.

C. The Actual Historical Treaty Boundary. On all serious Clarke County maps (certainly including topographical and property ownership maps) the old Indian Treaty boundary zigzags through all of Clarke County, from the cut-off in the South, to the Marengo County line in the North. It is quite precise and quite clear. In its final form, we know exactly where it came from, and when, and why.

The United States had officially acquired possession of the area from Spain on October 27, 1795. Property ownership along the Tombigbee was in a state of total confusion. When Congress organized its acquisition of the Mississippi Territory in March of 1798, it made no provision for the recognition of private property claims or for the disposal of public lands. The problem was a nightmare. In the first place, "Washington County" comprised the entire area between the Pearl River in the West to the Chattahoochee in the East, some 4,600 square miles. In the second place, before 1803 four separate governments (France, Britain, Spain, and the State of Georgia) "had conferred title to lands along the Mobile, Tensaw, and Tombigbee Rivers upon private individuals, many of whom still resided there," and the legal niceties of such attempted conveyances varied markedly. So in 1803, Congress passed a statute empowering a Commission to sort out the mess, and President Jefferson appointed Ephraim Kirby to do it.

Kirby dug into the problem, and found that in the 1780's, Spanish authorities had allowed settlers from the west bank of the Tombigbee to cultivate the "better quality" Indian lands east of the Tombigbee. "Compared to the overworked, easily flooded west bank, the east bank, lying between the Tombigbee and the Alabama, was fertile, not subject to flooding, and suitable for extensive cultivation"; and "this custom had developed to the point that" -- as Kirby wrote President Jefferson on April 20, 1804 -- "a principal part of the cultivation of the whole country is now effected in this manner".

At that point, the Indians were outraged. In the West, "[t]he Choctaws were demanding enforcement of their treaty rights to some of the most valuable and fertile lands in the area". And, in the East, the Creeks also complained. At a conference with General James Wilkinson on June 9, 1802, Creek Chief Efau Houjo demanded clarification of the original British-Choctaw Treaty of Mobile of 1765, allowing white use of the east bank of the Tombigbee:

The people of Tombigbee have put over their cattle in the fork on the Alabama hunting grounds, and they have gone a long way on our lands; I want them to be put back; the Indians begin to complain, and will soon begin to do mischief".

This certainly seems to indicate that the Creeks claimed the land between the watershed and the Alabama.

By treaty of October 17, 1802 at Fort Adams, the United States confirmed Choctaw title to the land East of the Tombigbee, and the Choctaws had quit letting settlers go on the East bank of the Tombigbee. Special permission had been obtained to rent this land from the Choctaw for cultivation during 1804, because -- said the U.S. Commissioner Kirby -- "many of the best planters have not other lands in cultivation, sufficient to subsist their families and negroes"; and "the country seemed to be threatened with famine". Commissioner Kirby wrote President Jefferson that this area was essential to the Americans but not to the Choctaw, because there were no Indian settlements and much of the game had been driven off; therefore, Kirby figured, the Choctaw would be open to a reasonable offer to extinguish their rights. Kirby wrote Gideon Granger on July 1, 1804 that "[i]t has been strongly recommended to the President to extinguish the Choctaw title to a tract of land. . . on the east side of the Tombigbee."

In the Treaty of Mount Dexter, November 16, 1805, the Choctaw ceded to the United States certain land, part of the boundary of which was "the boundary between the Creeks and Chaktaws on the ridge dividing the waters running into the Alabama from those running into Tombigbee, thence southwardly along the said ridge and boundary to the southern part of the Choctaw claim". That very language of this 1805 treaty is the strongest proof that the boundary predated the treaty, though not accurately surveyed. So, if such ball-game disputes took place between the Creeks and Choctaw, it could well have been to solve disputes as to the placement of the line in those areas where the location of the watershed was not clear.

Article V of the Treaty provided for surveying of that old watershed boundary line:

The two contracting parties [the United States of America and the Chaktaw Nation of Indians] covenant and agree that the boundary as described in the. . . [first] Article shall be ascertained and plainly marked, in such way and manner as the President of the United States may direct, in the presence of three persons to be appointed by the said nation; one from each of the great medal districts, each of whom shall receive for this service $2.00 per day during his actual attendance, and the Chaktaws shall have due and seasonable notice of the place where, and time when, the operation shall commence.

This was not a joint Choctaw/Creek survey; the Creeks weren't included at all. It was a U.S./Choctaw survey of the easternmost boundary of the old Choctaw lands, part of which (from the East bank of the Tombigbee to the surveyed boundary) were being sold by the Choctaw to the U.S.

There is no doubt that this survey is the origin of the surveyed boundary line which is on the map, whatever its prior history and vagaries might have been. After the treaty was signed by the Choctaws, Pushmataha, one of the Choctaw chiefs, was faced with a violently dissatisfied group of his own Choctaw braves, whom he publicly offered to fight (maybe the source of the old combat legend) and publicly avowed that he had signed the treaty sober. Choctaw intransigence died down thereafter.

The treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1809.

The actual survey was made in 1809, by Silas Dinsmoor and Levin Wailes and others. The National Archives contains their 219-page manuscript journal and field notes, captioned:

Journal and Field Notes, on the Boundary Line Between the United States and the Chaktaw [sic] Nation of Indians Surveyed Pursuant to a Treaty Concluded at Mount Dexter on the 16th Day of November 1805.

This surveying team -- not a bunch of ball playing Indian women -- surveyed the boundary.

The 1818 Sales

The first land sales in the Hal's Lake area were in 1818, when three quarter sections just above Hal's Lake were bought. John Foster bought two quarters, Seth Wright & Son and Parker & Aiken bought one quarter, and Jared Grace bought two quarters.

We don't yet know who Seth Wright & Son and Parker & Akin were, but probably they were land speculators, quite possibly from out of state, and possibly buying the land with Yazoo Land Fraud scrip or stock. It is unlikely in the extreme they settled there. John Foster, on the other hand, is shown in the 1810 and 1811 censuses of Washington County, and by 1819 in Marengo County. Furthermore, the 1815 and 1816 Mississippi Territorial censuses of Clarke County show a William Foster, Mary Foster and Sarah Foster, possibly his children. The old Choctaw Corner Cemetery in North Clarke County contains graves of a W. R. Foster (1820-1881) and Thomas C. Foster (1825-1904) who could easily have been his grandchildren (perhaps a Foster descendant in Clarke County can help identify John Foster of 1818).

Foster entered two quarter sections in 1818, but he or his heirs only paid for one by 1849, so he might well have taken advantage of a scale-back offer from the government for overextended land buyers.

Jared Grace cannot be identified, though in 1850 someone by that name lived in Talladega County.

It seems unlikely that the 1818 boomlet produced any settlers for Hal's Lake, and there was no further Hal's Lake land activity until the boom of the early 1830's, when a number of rich Mobilians and Clarke Countians bought extensive Hal's Lake tracts, discussed next.

Judge William Crawford

William Crawford was the original owner of some of the Hal's Lake property, in particular, of the SW 1/4 of 35 (the Alabama River stands closest to the oil well Road) in 1831, and in 1835 bought interests in 32 (below Johnson Slough).

He was born in 1784, and in his early life lived in Louisa County, Virginia.

In 1817 he was appointed United States Attorney in Mobile, and in 1818 elected President of the Tombeckbe Bank of St. Stephens, and was law partner (there) of Henry Hitchcock. He married Temperance Winifred Fitts in 1820 in St. Stephens. The next year he was wounded by a musket shot from a disgruntled Postmaster whom he had prosecuted for embezzlement (who then committed suicide by cutting an artery in his arm). In 1827 the couple moved to Mobile. He served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama, as a State Senator, and Federal Judge.

Temperance, born in 1802, was described as a woman of "rare accomplishments", as well as the beauty shown in the 1837 portrait (at age 35) by Thomas Sully of Philadelphia, former student of Gilbert Stuart, who also painted Queen Victoria. The portrait, which is in the Alabama Department of Archives and History, was the cover story of the Spring 1993 issue of Alabama Heritage magazine. She was the daughter of Judge Oliver Fitts, originally a North Carolinian. Her brother represented Washington County in the Alabama legislature.

Judge Crawford died in 1849, and Temperance on July 24, 1868, and both are buried in Magnolia Cemetery (the Judge's grave is marked but that of Temperance is not).

Judge Crawford's oldest child was Caroline Medora Crawford, born April 20, 1823. She was married to Samuel Thompson Brown, died April 29, 1841 -- just after her eighteenth birthday, presumably in childbirth -- and is buried in a marked grave near the old Crawford home at St. Stephens.

Just two year later, the Crawfords' daughter Susan L. V. Crawford was about to marry Julian E. Sawyer of Clarke County, when William Crawford established a trust on March 13, 1843 pursuant to which certain lands, including lands below Hal's Lake and near the Alabama River, be held by him in trust for his daughter and his wife. Julian and Susan had at least five children, at least four of whom lived: Caroline M. Sawyer (born 1843), Frank Sawyer (born 1849), Imogene Sawyer (born 1851), and Julian L. Sawyer (born shortly after the marriage year). Susan's husband, Julian E. Sawyer, died in Mobile on May 5, 1859 in his forties. Susan L. V. Sawyer died on December 18, 1863, and upon her death her son Julian was living at Oven Bluff, Caroline M. (age 20)(called "Carrie") and Imogene (age 12) living with James S. Dickinson in Clarke County [Carrie married R. C. Dickinson], and Frank Sawyer (age 14) living with John S. Dickinson at Pineville in Monroe County, just above the Clarke/Monroe line. Susan's grave has not yet been located, but could be (unmarked) at Magnolia Cemetery.

Audley H. Gazzam

Audley Gazzam was the original owner of the NWª of 21 and later acquired much more Hal's Lake land, by 1840, 4,500 acres.

Audley H. Gazzam, to twist the saying, was to Mobile a little like a mule: we're not too sure of his past, and we're not too sure of his future, but while he was here he was one hell of a force.

He seems to have sprung forth full-blown on the Mobile scene in the 1830's, and with money, at that. He was almost certainly the brother of Charles W. Gazzam, who came to Mobile later than Audley -- but unlike Audley, lived here until his death at the ripe old age of 85 in 1882. Assuming that Audley and Charles were brothers, we know from the obituary of Charles that their father lived in Pittsburgh when they were growing up. The only "Gazzam" in Pittsburgh in 1800 was William Gazzam, bound to have been their father. There are conflicting views on him.

The Mobile paper in the 1880's, writing the obituary of Charles Gazzam, took a pretty elevated tone in describing the father's career back in Pittsburgh. It called him a Whig journalist of prominence in England during our Revolutionary War, and a sturdy opponent of Lord North's administration; on the establishment of peace he emigrated to this country, and was appointed collector of the Port of Pittsburgh, where the Gazzam boys were raised.

Pittsburgh historians, on the other hand, describe William Gazzam, in less Whiggish terms, as "an aggressive Irishman, who had been in the country only a few years, but by dint of perseverance had pressed well forward in politics, perhaps to the detriment of his business, as he failed early in his career". He and his allies in 1800 or so encouraged and assisted immigrants to Pittsburgh in becoming citizens, and built them into an early (mostly Irish) political machine in Pittsburgh in the 1790's - 1800's, called "clapboard row". "Clapboard row" politicians were against the high-toned General Fowler in a congressional race. William Gazzam (who had been Brigade Inspector of the Allegheny County Militia, and Justice of the Peace) engaged with General Fowler in a public running dispute in the newspapers. Fowler claimed that under "the cloak of religion" Gazzam was "artfully aiming at offices", and that Gazzam really wanted to be postmaster and in the General Assembly. Gazzam responded in the papers that General Fowler had been drunk when he asked Gazzam for his support, and was ungentlemanly.

The William Gazzam household in Pittsburgh in 1800 was decent-sized, and two of the boys -- Audley H. Gazzam (married to Letitia) and Charles W. Gazzam (married to Clementina) -- ultimately moved to Mobile. A third, Joseph P. Gazzam (married to Elizabeth), stayed in Pittsburgh.

Audley H. Gazzam, however, had already been in Mobile for some time by 1839, and in fact, it is quite possible that Audley brought Charles here specifically to clean up the financial mess which Audley had made by 1839.

In the 1830's, remember, cotton production was really soaring in Alabama. The state's production jumped from 80,000 bales in 1829 to 103,000 in 1830, 113,000 in 1831, 126,000 in 1832, 130,000 in 1833, 150,000 in 1834, about 200,000 in 1835, and by 1838 it had hit 300,000 bales. Somebody had to get those cotton bales down to Mobile or New Orleans, and a steamboat was just about the only way.

We know that at least by 1832 Audley Gazzam was here, because he owned the steamboat MOBILE, which ran from Mobile up the Alabama River to Montgomery, and maybe a little beyond. The MOBILE took on a full hold of cotton bales in Montgomery in the rain, and headed south. The vessel stopped at Claiborne, where Messrs. Sampson and Lindsey shipped 27 bales of cotton as deck cargo, bound for Mobile and consigned to St. John and Leavens in Mobile. The freight was a dollar a bale. Regrettably, the cotton in the hold caught fire despite a copper sheath around the ash pans and furnace. The vessel and cargo were lost, and the owner of this part of the cargo sued Gazzam, who lost at trial and also lost on appeal.

Lost lawsuits make an impression.

The year after loss of the MOBILE, Audley Gazzam was running five river steamboats, and -- for obvious reasons -- took some pains to let the public know that the vessels were fireproof. The Mobile Commercial Register & Patriot for November 7, 1833 contained a business "card" (advertisement) which reveals both the scope of his business and also some of the technical progress being made in boat design. Audley Gazzam announced that he was running the Sun, Farmer, Courier, Planter, and the Herald. These were said to be first-class, modern boats and Mr. Gazzam explained that they were designed to be safer than other boats. He had caused the hulls of his boats to be sheathed to give them greater strength, and the bow to be protected with false-work to resist floating obstructions, snags and the like. The steering gear had been improved to give the pilot better control of the boat and prevent the shearing from side to side so common in fast-running river boats. Under the boilers there had been placed a thick stratum of salt, to absorb the heat, and for further protection of the wood-work of the boats. False chimneys of sheet iron were erected around the real chimneys, and the false chimneys, being open at top and bottom, caused cooling air to be passed around the exterior of the chimneys. This kept the adjacent boiler-deck from becoming over-heated and catching fire. The boiler-deck, as the card explained, was "a place heretofore much exposed and often burnt".

With five steamboats running the rivers, with freight at a dollar a bale, and with cotton production skyrocketing, Audley Gazzam must have thought he was printing his own money. He almost was.

In 1835 he bought sixty acres of land from W. D. Stone (the original patentee) at what is now Government and Ann in Mobile (site of All Saints Church). He laid out "Ann Street", quaintly named for his mother, and put up a grand house there, between 1835 and 1838.

Audley was in pretty deep, but he kept getting deeper. He invested extensively in land in Clarke County, and was an early owner of much of what is now Point Clear, and parts of Fairhope, and probably Battles Wharf as well.

In 1837 he was a director of the soon-to-be defunct Mobile and Cedar Point R.R.Co. He even became Alderman for the South Ward in the City Government, under the Administration of Mayor G.W. Owen, who was also pushing the Mobile & Cedar Point R.R.Co.

Audley Gazzam was extended about as far as he could be, and shortly after the Panic of 1837, he started conveying all or virtually all of his substantial assets to Charles W. Gazzam. He sold the Gazzam House at Government and Ann, with four acres, to Charles on February 12, 1839, for $17,900. He conveyed 893 acres in the Point Clear area to Charles on January 24, 1840, and on that same day Audley conveyed to Charles lands which, in the Hal's Lake area of Clarke County alone, totalled about 4,500 acres. Audley's conveyance of those Clarke County lands to Charles was an assignment for the benefit of Audley's creditors, with Charles to apply any profits beyond sale expenses toward payment of Audley's debts, which must have been quite substantial.

No doubt anticipating at least the litigation which ensued from the collapse of the Mobile and Cedar Point R.R.Co. for the next decade and a half, Audley Gazzam simply skipped town, probably in very late 1839. Charles stayed, and by the Civil War was principal in a large foundry which made steam engines.

In 1844 Joseph P. Gazzam of Pittsburgh, through Charles W. Gazzam as attorney in fact, sold Battles Wharf lots 1,2,3,4,5,6&7, and also Point Clear lots 1,2,3,4,5,6&7 for $1,659.75. There is a high likelihood that this was the wind-down of Audley's land speculation of the Point Clear area, and that title had been run through Joseph in Pittsburgh to insulate the transaction from creditors.

Audley does not reappear in any locatable later source concerning Mobile, and who can blame him?

The Gazzam family had a merchant business in New Orleans named Gazzam and Funk, and perhaps he moved to New Orleans.

There was a W. J. Gazzam in a Louisiana command during the civil war, and a William Gazzam married in New Orleans in 1895, and was in the New Orleans City Directory in 1904. Considering the rare name "Gazzam" and the name "William", there is an excellent chance that these were Audley's son and grandson.

In the light of this trail, and the trail of the related Lemuel Butler family [see Butler section], chances are excellent that Audley Gazzam ended up in New Orleans, but so far, no record of that has been located.

One excellent explanation might be that Audley H. Gazzam moved in with the family of Charles G. [Gazzam?] Butler of LaFayette County, Mississippi, in or near Oxford. In the 1840 census, his household held an extraordinary number of adult white males (fourteen), and since microfilms of the original census reports show that he was himself the census taker, it is unlikely that he simply made a mistake (on the other hand, he owned a hotel there, and maybe the census takers counted guests).

Maybe somebody, someday, somewhere, can explain this all to us.

Lemuel Butler

Lemuel Butler was an original owner of a great deal of Hal's Lake real estate, as was Sage O. Butler.

Lemuel Butler is a mystery so far. Searches of histories, directories and records in Mobile have not yet revealed any evidence of him. He seems to have had business and/or family ties with Audley Gazzam.

In 1920, Lemuel G. Butler executed a deed in New Orleans for parts of the Hal's Lake lands, reciting that he was the "only living heir of Lemuel Butler, deceased, formerly of Mobile, Alabama". An affidavit is recorded in Clarke County, dated in 1922, reciting that (1) the only heir of Lemuel Butler, deceased, was Sage O. Butler, (2) the sole surviving descendants of Sage O. Butler are Audley G. Butler, a widower and then unmarried, of Flushing, N.Y. and Norman W. Butler, unmarried, of Muscatine, Iowa, brothers. Unfortunately, they do not recite if they are or are not the sons of Lemuel G. Butler of New Orleans, or whether he was an alternate claimant or heir.

Similarities of name and location suggest that this Butler family is the remarkable group of Pennsylvania Revolutionary war officers, some of whom moved to the Natchez, Mississippi and West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana areas, where they had remarkable careers and built legendary homes, and ultimately drifted back eastward into Mississippi. These people share many common names with the Butlers of Ohio with whom it is quite clear the Gazzams dealt after the civil war. But it is beyond the scope of this paper to plumb the depths of a mystery so deep. Butler family scholars might one day help us to understand.

Philip McLoskey and Catharine Caro Duval of Mobile: The Rich Irishman and the Mayor's Widow

Philip McLoskey was original owner of several substantial Hal's Lake tracts.

On the front page of the Mobile Commercial Register on April 20, 1824, there appeared the following advertisement: Philip [sic] M'Lloskey & Brother

Have received as late arrivals the following Goods, which they will sell low for cash or town acceptances:

Irish Linnens, in whole and half pieces, Drillings White, ditto Brown, Muslins, brown and bleached, plattas, Brins, Lappos, Musquito Netting, Dowles, Diaper, Seerskers,. . . Ladies' white cotton hose, Super Blue and black cloths, Black silk bandannah and flag . . ., Muslin robes,. . . Linnen checks, Brown shirting, cotton bagging, English & Dom. twine, Madeira wine, very superior wine.

ALSO -- a general assortment of GROCERIES April 13.

And, on the inside, appeared this obituary: DIED -- On Sunday evening last, aged about 40 years, Capt. DANIEL DUVAL, late sheriff of this county. He was buried yesterday with Masonic honors. Mr. D. was a native of Rhode Island, but had resided in this vicinity for ten or twelve years past, he was the first Sheriff of this county after the change of flag, and continued in office for nine years. He has left a wife and several small children to lament that which is to them an irreparable loss.

At the intersection of those two routine items hangs one of the most remarkable stories in Mobile's early antebellum history.

A. Philip McLoskey. Philip McLoskey was born about 1789 in Ireland. He came to Mobile in 1812 or 1815 or so. Apparently his early business involvement was with his brother Patrick McLoskey.

By 1823 Mobile began making its mark as a cotton port, and Philip McLoskey was and had been a director of the Bank of Mobile.

Let's stop briefly and meet Catharine Duval.

B. Catharine Caro Duval. Benito Caro was a Spaniard, son of Ambrosio and Ana Gutierrez Moreno. He was married in about 1786 to Maria Machado, and they lived some in Pensacola, some in Mobile, and maybe even Cuba. They had ten children, all of whom were living in 1814, namely, Catharine, Joseph, Gregorio, Sebastian, Ana, Benito, Ambrosio, Mariel, Dolores and Philip. On April 8, 1814, he found himself "dangerously sick", and (apparently in Pensacola) wrote a Will in the Spanish language.

Benito Caro died in about 1814 or 1815, but his wife Maria lived in Mobile for a time after that (probably with her daughter Catharine) before moving back to Pensacola in 1817-18 or so. Of great importance is that when he died, Benito Caro was the owner of a large chunk of downtown Mobile, basically from Royal Street to the river, which turned out later to be the heart of downtown Mobile, site of at least two banks, the major stores, a wharf, and more.

Catharine Caro at some point had married Daniel Duval, a man from New Hampshire. It is not clear when they married, but by his death in 1824, they had four children, namely, Francis, George, Theodore, and William Duval.

Daniel Duval was elected President of the Board of Wardens of the City of Mobile in 1817, which, under Territorial law, was the equivalent of being Mayor. And, after statehood, he became the first Sheriff of Mobile County.

On December 5, 1821, Duval bought this chunk of downtown Mobile from his widowed mother-in-law and from only five of the eight children of Benito Caro the beginning of a giant legal squabble.

So, when Daniel Duval died in 1824, he was at least more or less -- or apparently believed himself to be -- the owner of an area bounded by Royal Street on the West, by the Mobile River on the East, on the North by lots belonging to Lewis Judson, and on the South by lands belonging to the Merchant Princes James and John Innerarity and the Estate of John Forbes. This is probably roughly where AmSouth Bank, Adam's Mark Hotel, and the City Parking garage are today.

When Duval died, Catharine was probably about thirty-seven or so.

C. It Really Got Sticky Then. It got really sticky pretty fast. After President/Sheriff Duval died in April of 1824, his widow Catharine Caro Duval and Philip McLoskey commenced an affair that in the six or seven years between Duval's death in 1824 and Catharine's own death in 1830 or 1831 in her forties, resulted in four illegitimate children borne by Catharine Caro Duval to Philip McLoskey, to whom McLoskey gave his name in his 1840 Will:

Sixth: I do hereby acknowledge and recognize as my offspring the following natural born children to-wit James McLoskey, John McLoskey, Victoria McLoskey, and Isabella McLoskey, the mother of which said children was Catharine Duval, formerly Catharine Caro, now deceased, and which said children I have recognized as mine, and have adopted by my declaration filed in the Circuit Court of Mobile County as my lawful children, according to the laws of Alabama, and which declaration I do hereby confirm, and now declare that it is my will and desire that said children be considered mine to all intents and purposes.

So far, in the continuing process which is historical work, no evidence has come to light that these illegitimate children were publicly known or known to the Duval heirs.

But at some point Catharine Duval was sent by McLoskey to Cuba. The Duval children more than a decade later claimed in Court that she "was detained by duress in Cuba, whither she had been fraudulently sent, in order that the property might be sacrificed" to McLoskey.

McLoskey's version, on the other hand, signed by him and sworn on April 5, 1844, denied any undue influence on or fraudulent procurement from Catharine Duval, "but on the contrary says that he has appropriated very large sums of money which belonged to him to the use of said Catharine Duval, and through her to her children who were left by their father in circumstances of great necessity, and without the means necessary to maintain and educate them. . . ." To the charge that he had spirited Catharine to Cuba by undue influence, he said that he denied:

that he sent the said Catharine to Cuba for that purpose or for any other purpose except to promote her own benefit, and respectability -- that no pecuniary motives induced him to desire her residence there, and he denies all duress in keeping her there. . . .

It is not know how long Catharine stayed in Cuba, but at trial (probably almost a decade after Catharine' death, perhaps in Cuba) the Duval children:

proposed to read six letters, written by [McLoskey], at Mobile, to Catharine Duval, in Cuba: the first dated the 29th July 1828, and the last on the 14th December, 1828. These letters abound with professions of friendship; speak of improvements made on real estate of Mrs. Duval, in Mobile; of expected income from rent; of her children and friends in the United States; and her children who are with her; and express an anxious concern for her comfort.

The litigation between Duval's heirs and McLoskey raged all of McLoskey's later life, probably ending only with his death; it is intensely complicated and resulted in several suits in law and equity, and at least two appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, and ancillary litigation as well. The suits are exceptionally difficult to follow, but McLoskey was represented by John Archibald Campbell, perhaps the best real estate title lawyer in the United States and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who conveniently had his office in the McLoskey-Hagan buildings. John A. Campbell in this case had an erie foretaste of his (and maybe anybody's) most celebrated case ever, the famous New Orleans case of Myra Clark Gaines. These two cases have all of the same elements: a rich Irish/Gulf Coast merchant, an earlier Mediterranean family, a beautiful woman, illegitimate/legitimate children, vast fortunes, the title to the land under the main part of an old Gulf Coast City, old civil law community property doctrines, parties who are either incredibly greedy or simply have been wronged (and great difficulty telling which), and almost bottomless and mind-numbing legal technicalities. The Philip McLoskey litigation was clearly a precursor to the more famous Myra Clark Gaines suits in New Orleans, and John A. Campbell, Esq., was the common denominator.

It seems unlikely that the story of the illegitimate children was widely known. Michael Portier, Bishop of Mobile, was named an executor under McLoskey's will, and McLoskey was widely accepted socially. Paul Ravesies, the wealthy cotton merchant who actually knew what he was talking about, wrote in his Scenes and Settlers of Alabama that the partners McLoskey and Hagan "often participated in Spring Hill hospitality":

Mr. McLoskey settled in Mobile as early as A.D. 1815, and soon after became associated in business with John Hagan, forming the widely known firm of McLoskey and Hagan cotton buyers and importers of fine wines, etc. Messrs. McLoskey and John Hagan were both noted for a high order of business capacity and enlarged generosity.

Both were bon-vivants, and so often participated in Spring Hill hospitality that I am induced to mention them as part of that famous colony. This house did the largest business in Mobile in buying cotton, shipping, and importing.

It is almost inconceivable that McLoskey would have been so frequently invited out to the best homes had it been widely known that he had sired four bastard children by the City President's/Sheriff's widow, but stranger things have happened, then and now.

In any event, McLoskey's business career flourished.

D. McLoskey' Business Career Flourishes. In 1822 there had been a fire along Royal, Dauphin, and lower Conti, and McLoskey, as owner (however disputed) of the best block in downtown Mobile was poised to capitalize on it. He certainly did, as shown by an architectural text's quotations from several building contracts for McLoskey's and Hagan's buildings in that area, roughly the North side of Conti East of Royal Street, all of which were built of superb materials for the time.

McLoskey and Hagan, in their resplendent buildings, traded with Brown Brothers & Co. of New York, one of the largest international merchant banking houses in the nineteenth century.

Maybe McLoskey should have stopped there, but he didn't. In November of 1835, he went with Henry Hitchcock and Mayor George Owen to a state railroad convention in Tuscaloosa, representing Mobile. In 1835, he was one of the organizers of the doomed Mobile and Cedar Point Railroad Company, which foundered in the panic of 1837.

McLoskey formed in 1836 (and was President of) the Planters and Merchants Bank, and built its beautiful building. Regrettably for McLoskey, the Planters and Merchants Bank building burned on October 9, 1939, but had a fire-proof vault, which apparently survived the great 1839 fire which proved fatal to 1,300 Mobile buildings. The loss to McLoskey from the fire was also a loss to Mobile's architectural heritage. Unfortunately for McLoskey, the burned bank failed in October, 1842, and

[a] stockholder's investigating committee listed several causes of the failure: extravagant loans made to individuals in 1836 and 1837, general monetary stringency of the time, excessive salaries paid to bank officers, stiff annual bonus paid to the state for the banking privilege, and the enormous cost of the banking house. Liquidation of the bank's assets continued into 1850.

A much better investment for McLoskey was the Alabama Life Insurance & Trust Co., formed in 1836. A review of the litigation in which the company was involved in the Alabama Supreme Court alone shows it to have been a sizeable insurance company which also lent money, took large real estate and slave mortgages, and litigated sophisticated commercial questions. The company made it at least up to the civil war.

We don't know much about the last years of the life of Philip McLoskey, and little of that is positive. His mistress was dead, and her children were suing him in several courts. (The love children were away somewhere else: Cuba, schools, other cities?) Several major businesses begun by him had failed in connection with the Panic of 1837 and the ensuing economic chaos. Most of his real estate burned in the fire of 1839, and at his death his estate was insolvent. His last few years must not have been much fun.

McLoskey died on August 13, 1844, at age 55, and is buried in the Church Street Cemetery in Mobile. His obituary noted that at his death he was the earliest surviving immigrant to Mobile. In his cemetery plot, he sleeps forever next to his infant namesake Philip H. Westfeldt, son of his niece Jane (daughter of his brother Bernard) (the child died in 1866 before his second birthday). Perhaps in eternity the two have comforted each other, making up for the peaceful family life neither ever had.

Indian Land Grants

Under the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1815, provision was made in favor of friendly chiefs and warriors, and each one embraced by it:

shall be entitled to a reservation of land within the said territory of one mile square, to include his improvements as near the centre thereof as may be, which shall inure to the said chief or warrior, and his descendants, so long as he or they shall continue to occupy the same, who shall be protected by, and subject to, the laws of the United States; but upon the voluntary abandonment thereof by such possessor, or his descendants, the right of occupancy of such lands shall devolve to the United States. . ."

This treaty created a number of problems to land titles and ownership by Indians and their heirs, and in 1817 Congress tried to cure some of those problems in a statute which was summarized in 1846 by the Alabama Supreme Court as follows:

The second section of that act, after prescribing the manner of the location, has the following proviso, viz: -- "That the lands so selected shall insure to such chief or warrior, so long only as he shall continue to occupy and cultivate the same; and in case he shall not have abandoned, the possession shall on his decease, descend to, and vest in his heir, in fee simple, reserving to the widow of such chief, or warrior, the use and occupation of one third part of said land during her natural life."

The second section provides, that where a chief or warrior entitled to a reservation, shall have died since the treaty was signed, leaving a widow and a child or children, who have continued to occupy and cultivate the land, they shall have the right of selection as the original claimant had; and the title of the child or children to the lands thus selected, shall be in fee simple, reserving to the widow, if any, the use of one-third thereof, during her life: "Provided however, that the said child or children shall not have the power to alienate the said lands, except by devise, until each and every one of them shall have arrived at the age of twenty-five years."

By the third section of the act, it is enacted, "that the descendant of any native Creek Indians, male or female, who at the commencement of the late war with the hostile Creeks occupied and cultivated a farm or plantation, who continued "friendly to the United States during that war, and who after the termination of hostilities, returned to, and has continued to occupy and cultivate the said farm or plantation, shall be entitled to a reservation of two quarter sections of land, to be selected in the manner stated in the first section of this act; which lands shall enure to them so long as they shall continue to occupy and cultivate the same; and on their death shall descend in fee to the children; and on failure of children, shall revert to the United States; reserving, however, to the husband or widow, as the case may be, the right to occupy and cultivate one-third part of the lands during their natural lives."

The fourth section provides, that the child or children of any chief or warrior who resided in the limits of the ceded territory at the commencement of the then late Creek war, and who was killed or died during the same in the service of the United States, or who has since died of wounds then received, shall be entitled, without payment, to a reservation of so much land as such chief or warrior would have been entitled to, had he been living at the time the treaty was signed; which land shall be located in the manner prescribed by the first section of the act.

This statute not only provides for giving effect to the first article, but gives reservations to several classes who do not come within the terms of the treaty.


Semoice, a friendly Creek Indian, at some point set out to get his land under the Treaty of Fort Jackson, but it took three different private acts of Congress to get it.

The first problem seems to have been that by the time Semoice and two others [Samuel Smith and Lynn McGhee] got around to claiming their land, the available land had all been sold. So, on July 2, 1836, Congress passed a special bill allowing them to get "one entire section each" of public land:

Be it enacted &c., That Samuel Smith, Lynn MacGhee, and Semoice, friendly Creek Indians, who were entitled, under the treaty with the Creek nation of Indians, ratified on the sixteenth of February, eighteen hundred and fifteen, to reservations of six hundred and forty acres of land each, including their improvements, which lands have been sold by the United States, be, and they are hereby, authorized to enter, without payment, with the register and receiver of the land office for the land district in which the same may lie, in Alabama, one entire section each of land subject to entry at private sale; to be held by them on the same terms and conditions as the reservations given by said treaty.

But that didn't cure the problem; there must not have been any available whole sections. So, on March 2, 1837, Congress passed a second special bill, repealing the first, and allowing them to get any 640 acres, and not just one specific numbered section:

Be it enacted, &c., That so much of the acts for the relief of Samuel Smith, Linn McGhee, Semoice, and Susan Marlow, a restrict them to the entry of one entire section of land, be, and the same is hereby repealed; and the said Samuel Smith, Linn McGhee, Semoice, and Susan Marlow, are hereby authorized to enter, without payment, and by legal subdivisions, a quantity of land not exceeding six hundred and forty acres each, which is subject to entry at private sale.

Susan Marlow duly got her land (in Clarke County) and presumably Samuel Smith and Lynn McGhee did, too, for we apparently never hear any more from Congress about them.

With Semoice, though, it is a different thing. Something went wrong in the case of Semoice, and it is hard to say just what. The statutes were very technical, Semoice had died, his children somehow didn't get the land, and Congress was willing to do something to cure it. So, on August 16, 1852, Congress specifically by private bill vested title to Hal's Lake 23 (Sulphur Pond) in the three daughters of Semoice, with one important exception:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the children and heirs of Semoice deceased, a Creek Indian, to wit; Hetty Deas, Vicy Foxy and Elizabeth Semoice, be and are hereby vested with a title in fee-simple, to fractional section twenty-three, township four, range two east, containing six hundred and two acres and fifty-three hundredths of an acre, being the same land selected and entered by the said Semoice, under and by virtue of an act approved second July, eighteen hundred and thirty-six, entitled "An Act for the relief of Samuel Smith, Lynn MacGhee, and Semoice, friendly Creek Indians:" Provided, That this act shall not be construed to defeat or prejudice the legal claim, if there be any, of other persons to the said tract of land.

The important exception, of course, is that the land already claimed by Andrew Henshaw and Susan Marlow in that section was not affected, so that the children of Semoice got two quarter-section parcels.

What do we make of all that? Some seem to believe that these were special grants to these people because of special services. Others believe that these were the only Indians to take advantage of the grants available under the Treaty of Fort Jackson.

This is unlikely in the extreme; it is statistically not likely that if only four got such land (Semoice, McGhee, Smith, and Marlow) two of them should be at Hal's Lake. Furthermore, George Stiggins pretty clearly got Ft. Jackson Treaty lands.

The more likely version is that these four simply needed technical help from Congress in perfecting their claim to lands which others got more routinely. But to prove it would require extensive and expensive title search in several Alabama counties, and/or a trip to the Federal land office, which will have to wait another (and fresher) jackleg historian.

It isn't clear what happened to the children of Semoice, but they see to have stuck around until about the turn of the century. On July 27, 1896 the Semoice land was sold for failure of "Vicey Fox" to pay 1895 taxes. In 1906, William Deas (unmarried and illiterate) and Margaret Deas (unmarried and illiterate), presumably children of Hetty Deas and grandchildren of Semoice, executed quitclaim deed on the Semoice lands, and so in 1906 the last known Indian involvement at Hal's lake ended.

Susan Marlow

On July 2, 1936, the Congress of the United States found "[t]hat Susan Marlow [was the] only surviving child of James Marlow, a Creek Indian, who lost his life at the destruction of Fort Mims. . ." She was born about 1814, after the Fort Mims Massacre, to her mother Suzanne Marlow.

She was married to Sam Moniac, Jr., probably in 1835 or 1836. He was the son of Sam Moniac (the brother of Red Eagle's wife Kaney) and of Elizabeth Weatherford (Red Eagle's sister). Their ten children, born between 1836 and maybe 1853 or so, were all born in Monroe County, nearly all at Mt. Pleasant, the mixed-blood community. All those children of Susan Marlow, who probably fished and hunted Hal's Lake, were thus double-first cousins, once-removed, to the children of Red Eagle and Kaney.

The 1836 private act of Congress, passed about the time of her marriage, entitled Susan to "enter" [obtain from the Government] "one entire section of any public lands of the United States within the State of Alabama, subject to entry at private sale; to be held by her upon the same terms and conditions as reservations allowed to the friendly Creek Indians by the Treaty of Fort Jackson". At that point, it was probably hard to get an entire section, and so on March 2, 1837 Congress relaxed that restriction [for friendly Creeks Samuel Smith, Linn McGhee and Semoice as well as Susan Marlow] and let her take "a quantity of land not exceeding six hundred and forty acres each", not just a single section.

Susan Marlow elected the SWª and NEª of 23 at Hal's Lake, and also parts of Township 7 North, Range 3 East, Section 36, below Allen and Southwest of Suggsville, all in Clarke County.

Even though Susan Marlow Moniac apparently lived in Monroe County, apparently she or someone else at some point cultivated that Clarke County land, since a witness in 1926 executed an affidavit covering about 1900-1926, saying that an old field had been in evidence in that area. (Susan Marlow and Sam Moniac are the most likely owners to have ever cultivated it or let the lands for cultivation).

Emily Virginia Semple of Montgomery, daughter of Lorenzo James and Granddaughter of Samuel and Mary Darrington James of Clarke County, wrote in her reminisces about springtime fishing in this area on visits to her Grandmother's place, probably about 1835-1840 or so, and wrote:

Nowhere are the streams and watercourses more beautiful than in Old Clarke County, Alabama, and strange to say several Indian families lingered on their banks fishing and hunting for a living, as peacefully as the Whites. On one of our fishing excursions we saw some of the men around in their beaded costumes "spearing" the fish where the water was [so] clear that schools of them could be seen near the surface.

It may well be that Emily saw the families of Semoice or of Susan Marlow, on Hal's Lake; there are no other known Indian families at that place and at that time.

On November 22, 1860 Susan Marlow executed a quitclaim deed on this property to Neal Smith for $960. It did not mention any husband. The deed was witnessed by Alexander McGillivry Weatherford, son of Red Eagle and Mary Stiggins.

Sam and Susan are both buried in the Huxford Indian Cemetery, in Escambia County, Alabama.

Andrew Henshaw

Andrew Henshaw was the original owner of the Northeast quarter and of the eastern half of the Northeast quarter, of Section 27 and of the Northwest quarter of the Northwest quarter of Section 23.

Henshaw was born at Henshaw Place, Lister, Worchester County, Massachusetts, in 1783. His mother was Ann Sargent, a relative of the painter John Singer Sargent. Henshaw's first wife was Francis Fletcher, who died in 1822. They had no children. His second (married August of 1824) wife was his first cousin, named Elizabeth Isbell Carson, born in Virginia in 1787 to Lewis Meacham Isbell of Virginia, who died before 1846. Elizabeth had previously been married to a Carson and previously borne a son named Joseph Carson, whose brothers were probably William Carson and John Carson. Joseph Carson lived at St. Stephens, and shows up on the Washington County census of 1811 and 1819 and died about then, and he was quite possibly the son of Thomas Carson, for whom the community "Carson" in Washington County is named (Carson researchers will have to complete that puzzle).

Andrew Henshaw and Elizabeth had two children, Andrew Isbell Henshaw and Elizabeth Sargent Torrey, who were probably their only children together. Andrew Henshaw, Jr. was born in Alabama in 1827. In 1848 he married his first cousin, a girl named Mary Anderson Isbell, daughter of James Isbell, born in 1830, and in 1860 they were living in Burnt Corn, with their daughter Mary Montague Henshaw (age 10) and Andrew's mother Elizabeth Henshaw, age 73.

During the 1830's, Andrew Henshaw, Sr. was a surveyor in Mobile.

Elizabeth L. Henshaw, the daughter, on June 17, 1846 married Rufus Campbell Torrey. Torrey was born on February 13, 1813 in Oxford, Massachusetts to John and Sally (Richardson) Torrey, who died while he was quite young. He was raised by a maternal uncle in Franklin, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard in 1829, and graduated in 1833. He moved to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where he taught, edited, and wrote a history of the town. At the end of 1838, Torrey moved to Mobile, and taught at Springhill College for two years, also studying under Judge B. J. Harris. He was admitted to the Bar in 1840. He practiced law in Grove Hill for a couple of years, and moved to Claiborne in 1843. He was Probate Judge of Monroe County from 1844-48. In the 1860 census he was at Burnt Corn, his wife having already died in childbirth with son Henshaw, who weighed 14 pounds. He had a son Charles John (age 10)(he later married the grandaughter of John Dellett of Claiborne), a daughter Elizabeth Henshaw ("Daisy") Torrey (age 5) and a son Andrew Isbell Henshaw Torrey (age 3). Torrey served in the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1875, retired in 1879, and died on September 13, 1882. His daughter Elizabeth Henshaw Torrey, granddaughter of Andrew Henshaw, married Harry Pillans, a founder of the Order of Myths in Mobile, and on November 3, 1876, in a frame cottage at the Southwest corner of Broad and Conti in Mobile, they became the parents of the remarkable Palmer Pillans, Mobile lawyer.

After the civil war, since Andrew, Jr. and Elizabeth had both died, Judge Torrey married his former sister-in-law Mary Anderson Isbell Henshaw, and they had children, whose exact relationship to the children of each of them can only be explained by a lifelong member of the Colonial Dames.

Joseph Carson

Joseph Carson was the original owner in 1835 of several tracts of Hal's Lake land. He was the son of Elizabeth Isbell Henshaw by her first marriage [see Henshaw section].

Isaac Heylan Erwin

On May 1, 1843, only five months before his death, Isaac H. Erwin bought part of 23 (Sulphur Pond) at a tax sale, but never perfected title (title was ultimately, with congressional help, cleared to heirs of Semoice and to Susan Marlow).

Isaac H. Erwin was the son of Andrew Erwin of Wartrace (Berwood County), Tennessee, and Jane Patton of South Carolina (Andrew almost fought two duels with Andrew Jackson; once over a boundary dispute, and once for having publicly described his horse at a race as "faster than Andrew Jackson running away with another man's wife").

Isaac, born May 1, 1807, married Rebecca James, daughter of Samuel James of Clarke County (Samuel James was born in 1769 in Sumpter District, South Carolina, died at age 52 on September 28, 1821, and is buried in the Darrington-James cemetery at Choctaw Bluff).

Isaac and Rebecca had five children. He built the home then at the Southwest Corner of Springhill Avenue and LaFayette in Mobile. It was in that house that in February 1843 he entertained Henry Clay, accompanied by Isaac's brother (and Clay's son-in-law) James Erwin, of Lexington, Kentucky.

Isaac died at age 36 on October 9, 1843 in Clarke County, in the presence of his brothers-in-law Lorenzo and Robert D. James, Charles A. Marston of Springhill (husband of Charlotte Augusta James), Frederick S. Blount (husband of Emily James), and also Nathaniel G. Marston, R.W. McRae, and John D. Bracy.

He is buried in the Darrington-James cemetery at Choctaw Bluff, near his widow Rebecca, who died forty years later on December 15, 1883.

Erwin's youngest sister-in-law, Emily James, was born October 16, 1816 in South Carolina, and married Frederick S. Blount. They lived in Erwin's house at Springhill and LaFayette, where Henri Arnous, Baron de Riviere, was brought wounded after a duel with Harry Maury in Mobile. Ultimately, the Baron, Emily Blount and her daughter Emily all three eloped with the Baron to Havana. Daughter Emily ultimately became Baroness; mother Emily Blount died in Paris on February 9, 1868 and is also buried in the Darrington-James cemetery at Choctaw Bluff.

Isaac's niece Jane (daughter of John P. Erwin) at her second marriage was wed to John Bell of Nashville, candidate of the "Know Nothing" party in 1860, and son of John Bell of Bell witch fame, friend of Andrew Jackson, who himself had several famous encounters with the Bell witch. John J. Stalls

The U.S. Maps show the Hal's Lake camphouse at "Stolls Point". Almost surely this is named for John J. Stalls, a white man born in Michigan in 1819.

In 1855 at age 36, he applied for ["entered"] the NW-1/4 (and a little more) of 28 in the swamp below Hal's Lake, and had paid for it in full by 1859. "The Loader Road" [boundary between No. 6&7], South by SE from Hal's Lake, probably ran from Hal's Lake to his place.

In the 1870 census, Stalls was a wealthy farmer, with land worth $3,800 and personal property worth $1,500. The only person then in his household was a 45-year old woman "domestic servant" named Delilah Moniac who, though listed by the census as a "mulatto", was probably part Indian and probably related to William Weatherford.

In 1874 Stalls bought 480 more acres for taxes, North (17) and West (30) of Hal's Lake. Stalls died on August 22, 1877 at age 58, leaving a widow named "Lena", three sisters and a mother in Chicago, no children and no will. Lena's lawyer told the court they could not locate any record of ownership of any real estate in the Hal's Lake area, though she had believed he owned some.

His land in the swamp below Hal's Lake was cultivated in 1909-10 by George Boltz (a white man) and later by Negro tenants. As late as 1926, court papers show it was still referred to as "The Old Stalls Place", and was still under cultivation, with a "tenant cabin" on it.

Cary Wyld Butt

There have been an unusually high number of Wyld Butts from Mobile at Hal's Lake, but the first was Cary Wyld Butt, who was born in 1860, and died in 1919.

Mr. Butt was a partner with William S. Stewart in the lumber firm Stewart & Butt. Beginning in 1892, Stewart & Butt acquired and logged very substantial tracts in the Hal's Lake area, continuing in that activity until about 1911, when Stewart & Butt conveyed their properties to the Wall-Hay-Wall interests.

Cary Butt was educated at the Virginia Military Institute. On April 4, 1894, he married Fanny Lilly McCaa, who was no doubt pleased to become "Fanny Butt".

After Mr. Butt got out of the lumber business, he became Mobile representative of the Equitable Life Assurance Society and Maryland Casualty Co.

Mr. Butt was active in discovering the original site of Mobile at 27 Mill Bluff, was General Chairman of Mobile's Bicentennial Committee in 1902, and spoke at the dedication of a plaque at the original site of Mobile. At that ceremony, he fell into (and in that manner discovered) the old French powder magazine.

Mr. Butt was a member of the Athelstan Club, the Elks, the Shriners, the Masons, the Manassas Club, and was Captain of the Mobile Cadets. He served in 1892 as President of the Order of Myths, making him the first in a long line of OOM Presidents who have so long plagued Hal's Lake.

Assembly of the Hal's Lake Tract by Wall-Hay-Wall Lumber Co. (1909-1927)

After the Civil War the Hal's Lake lands remained in scattered ownership, often with unclear titles.

By the 1890's, the big Wisconsin lumber tracts had been logged out, and lumber production shifted South.

The first substantial modern logging operations in the Hal's Lake area were by Stewart & Butt in the early 1890's. Clarence P. Field of Mobile also logged (and just to the East of the Carlton East Greenfield, on adjacent land, the timber rights were held by James McPhillips, Great-Great grandfather of Frank Lott and Julie Bagwell).

Later in the 1890's, out-of-state interests began buying up tracts in the Hal's Lake vicinity. Some were individuals (like Robert W. Durfey of Warren County, Mississippi and Hattie J. Knowles of Santa Clara County, California). But out-of-state corporate interests began buying up and logging hardwood on Hal's Lake tracts for lumber and staves, such as Mount Vernon Hardwood Co. (of Louisiana), Star Crescent Lumber Co. (of Illinois), Creelman Lumber Co. (of Illinois), Hardwood Export Co. (of Illinois), Mobile Timber Co. (of Wisconsin), E. Carriere Co. (of Louisiana), and others. There was much speculative activity and some of these (Mount Vernon and Star Crescent) went bankrupt or were liquidated, though others survived.

Beginning about 1909, three Wisconsin men, T.R. Wall, W.J. Hay, and J.H. Wall, began a systematic effort to purchase all the Hal's Lake tracts, to clear the land titles, and to unify the Hal's Lake land into a single tract. Within about a three-year period they had completed their task, and put their holdings in Wall-Hay-Wall Lumber Co., Inc. They logged the area in a businesslike way, maintained metal signs (and some fences) and blazed the trees on the boundary. They hired agents to keep out trespassers (Julius Nichols of Baldwin County from 1909 until his death in 1922, and then A.J. McIntyre of Washington County until the end of the 20's). They also had a civil engineer and timber estimator, A.J. Smith. These agents kept a cabin in the area, quite possibly the old cabin nearest the Hal's Lake caretaker's home. Wall-Hay-Wall allowed the tenants to stay and to farm, and to keep cattle.

Wall-Hay-Wall deserves the credit for assembling and preserving the large intact tract which it conveyed to Paul Danner in 1927 for $337,500.

Wall-Hay-Wall reserved the minerals, and in 1927 dissolved. Its successor (in 1932) was Wall Lumber Co., Inc., a corporation, whose Vice-President was J. Blocker Thornton of Mobile.

Paul Danner Hal's Lake Owner 1927-1959

On March 31, 1927, Mr. Danner bought 8,700 acres of Hal's Lake land for $337,500 from Wall-Hay-Wall Lumber Co. [Wisconsin] and its principals who had owned it since 1909-11.

Mr. Danner had paid off the mortgage by 1941. In 1951 he allowed Humble Oil an easement to build the Oil Well Road.

Paul Danner loved Hal's Lake, and was in every sense a steward of the land during his ownership.

On October 20, 1959, Mr. Danner sold the Hal's Lake land to Alco Land & Timber Co. for $849,920. He reserved during his lifetime the right to fish and hunt here with up to two companions, and to maintain a camp. For time, he also kept eighty acres of land at the camp, but later sold it to Fred T. Stimpson.

His cabin was west of the old camphouse. It was built on Three-Mile Creek and at high water was floated to Stoll's Point on "Gunboats" [metal floats for logs] and pulled into place by mules, under the overall direction of Moody Wimberly. It burned in the spring of 1992. Fred T. Stimpson

On November 6, 1935, Fred T. Stimpson made an offer to purchase from Wall Lumber Co., Inc. the "Northern neck" of the Hal's Lake area, and on December 20, 1935 the Board of Directors of Wall Lumber Company, Inc. met in Chicago, Inc. and agreed to sell it to him. On January 3, 1936, H.C. Wall, as secretary, executed the deed by which Wall Lumber Co., Inc. conveyed (except for certain mineral rights) Sections 10, 15, and 22, totalling about 1,920 acres. Since that time, the Stimpson family has retained ownership of that tract (currently, Mary Frances Shackleford, daughter of Fred Stimpson, is owner).

Fred T. Stimpson was born in Putnam (later Pineville) in Marengo County, just above the Clarke County line, and shortly after the turn of the century was in the lumber business. He and his wife Mary (raised in Mobile) first lived at Gainestown in the Jewett House and later in Jackson, and ultimately moved to Mobile, where they lived on Dauphin Street and raised their four children, William H. Stimpson ("Billy"), Ben C. Stimpson ("Ben"), Gordon S. Stimpson ("Dut") and Mary Frances Stimpson Shackleford ("Mary Frances").

Mr. Stimpson spent his career in the lumber business, growing and buying timber and operating a lumber business with Jim Radcliff called "Stimrad" before World War II, and later Southern Pine and Hardwood Lumber Co. In 1952, he bought Gulf Lumber Co. from Ben May, and his descendants still operate it.

Mr. Stimpson, however, is best remembered for his outstanding work on conservation, in particular of deer and wild turkey. Shortly after his death (on July 7, 1957) the Alabama Lumberman magazine penned an editorial which, as well as anything, captures the spirit of that conservation work:

"Born and reared in this county, Mr. Stimpson can rightly be credited with doing as much, if not more, for the cause of wildlife and forest conservation than any man of his time."

"A vigorous outdoorsman, he loved the woodlands of our section, and their wild game populations. Years ago he was among the first to realize that unless steps be taken to protect wildlife, the great sport of hunting in this section would end. Saving the wildlife almost became an obsession with him. In forceful manner he preached the conservation doctrine and won sufficient following to get the overall program under way."

"His record of service for years as a member of the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board and as an official of the state and local wildlife organizations is well known to thousands who know this congenial and successful man."

"In Clarke County today is a large sanctuary for wild turkey and deer. It appropriately bears the name `Fred T. Stimpson Sanctuary' for he was the moving spirit in its establishment for operation by the State Conservation Department."

Based in significant measure upon his work, the Alabama Wildlife Federation in 1993 presented its Walter L. Mims Lifetime Achievement Award to The Stimpson Family. One of Mr. Stimpson's significant and lasting achievements was the organization of three major hunting camps in the Clarke-Washington County area -- Choctaw Bluff, Bull Pen, and Hal's Lake -- which continue to contribute to conservation, and enable many new faces -- such as the author of this article -- to walk, fish, hunt, and love the woods and streams of Clarke County.

ALCO Land & Timber Co. (J.L. Bedsole and S. Boyd Adams)

ALCO Land and Timber company bought the area below Hal's Lake from Paul Danner. The story of ALCO and of its involvement in Hal's Lake is the story of J.L. Bedsole and of S.B. Adams and of his son, Boyd.

A. J.L. Bedsole. Joseph Linyer Bedsole, sometimes called "Lin" in his younger years, was born [as one of six children of Travis L. and Martha (Goodman) Bedsole] in Clarke County, Alabama on August 7, 1881 and reared at Tallahatta Springs. Mr. Bedsole attended the Thomasville public school, and began working at a general store in 1898; his family moved to Thomasville in 1899. Mr. Bedsole moved to Mobile in 1919 where he lived the rest of his life.

In September 1902 he entered into business with his father in a small store. In 1906 he and his brother took over the business, which in 1913 was changed from a general store to a junior department store, later changing its name to Bedsole Dry Goods Company. At the time he moved to Mobile, he sold a part interest to his brother and Mr. C.B. Kirk, and at his brother's death, he sold an interest to Mr. G.B. Harrison. The business ultimately operated eight stores in Thomasville, Linden, Butler, Monroeville, Atmore, Fairhope, and Waynesboro, Mississippi.

Bedsole entered the wholesale drug business in Mobile and organized the Bedsole-Colvin Drug Company, becoming President. That firm was later merged with McKesson & Robbins and Bedsole became Divisional Vice President for that firm for the Southern District, from which place he resigned January 1, 1942.

Bedsole became associated with the lumber business at Coxheath Lumber Company in 1917 and later he and S.B. Adams formed the S. B. Adams Lumber Company of Mobile, Alabama, which later became "ALCO Land & Timber Company".

In 1927 he organized the Mobile Fixture & Equipment Company, which has grown into one of the largest hotel and restaurant supply firms in the South.

For some years Bedsole owned the controlling interest in the Van Antwerp Drug Company which operated a drug business and the surgical supply business. In 1957 he sold the drug business to Albright & Wood, retaining the surgical supply business, which he operated since that time under the name of Bedsole Surgical Supply Company, of which he was President at his death.

In 1928 Bedsole organized the Bedsole Investment Company, which owns and rents several business houses in the city.

Bedsole took an active interest in the civic affairs of the city. He was President of the Rotary Club of Mobile in 1924-25; was President of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce in 1926, when he organized the Community Chest of Mobile (which is now a part of United Fund, of which he was Honorary Chairman of the Board). In 1947 he conducted a campaign to raise funds for the building of the new Mobile Infirmary and he was Chairman of the Building Committee, which was finished in 1952. It has been enlarged since that time and now represents an investment of many millions.

He became identified with the First National Bank of Mobile as Director in 1922, and served as director longer than any other person, serving until 1968, when he took emeritus status. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Mobile and served as President of the Men's Bible Class, Superintendent of Sunday School, and Deacon.

He was Mason and a member of Abba Temple. He was "Mobilian of the Year" in 1951.

He served on the Board of Howard College (now Samford University) from 1939 to 1962, and was named Howard's "Man of the Year".

Mr. Bedsole served on the steering committee to establish Mobile College, and served as its first chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1962-67.

He married Miss Phala Bradford of Mobile on August 10, 1910, and she departed this life in 1949. They had one son, J.L. Bedsole, Jr., who was killed in action April 13, 1944 in leading a bomber flight over Germany, his twenty-eighth mission.

In 1952 Mr. Bedsole established the J.L. Bedsole Foundation and at his death in 1975, gave it substantial additional funding. The Foundation, his legacy to his home state, uses its resources primarily to help promote the civic and economic development of Southwest Alabama for all races and all of his fellow Alabamians.

B. S. Boyd Adams. In 1920, Mr. S.B. Adams moved to Mobile from Mississippi, and bought the Lucas E. Moore Stave Company at Three Mile Creek, along with J.L. Bedsole and Allen Knox, who generally did business as S.B. Adams Lumber Company. They moved the mill to Chickasawbogue Creek, and ultimately sold it.

Mr. Knox and Mr. S.B. Adams ultimately left the business in the natural course of events or by death, and by about 1938 S. Boyd Adams, Jr. and J.L. Bedsole were the only owners of what they called "ALCO Land and Timber Company" [the word "ALCO" suggests the former "Adams Lumber Company"].

Upon the death of J.L. Bedsole, the lands were divided, with Boyd Adams keeping his part as ALCO, and with Mr. J.L. Bedsole's land largely or entirely going to the J.L. Bedsole Foundation, which he endowed.


The curves and soft banks of Hal's Lake are fluid, and so is the ownership of the adjacent land. The ownership of that area didn't start with U.S. government land grants, and it won't end with the current owners. The history of Hal's Lake, like any other history, is just a snapshot of a longer history.

And, in some cases, the snapshot is out of focus and needs more information. If you have it, please contact the author.

Page last updated: 2012-02-14 01:34:50 PST

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Clarke County, Alabama

Clarke County, Alabama

Clarke County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. The county was created by the legislature of the Mississippi Territory in 1812. It is named in honor of General John Clarke of Georgia, who was later elected governor of that state.

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