Last Stand of Freedom
With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the wheel was set in motion to open the Cherokee lands to white settlers. The terrain of northern DeKalb County Alabama was a perfect place to hide. With its caverns and deep rolling hills many Cherokee avoided the painful journey, today called the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee were successful farmers and hunters, so survival in the unforgiving wilderness around Valley Head would have been an easier task for them, than the white settlers who pushed their way across the Appalachian Mountains. Today’s science may one day reveal yesterday’s dramatic story of those left behind. VB Fillmore (2004)
Native Americans Hiding in Valley Head Alabama
John S. Lackey was born in Iredell Co., N.C. in 1814 and moved to the former Cherokee Nation around 1840 with his growing family. His wife was Lucinda Martha (Patsy) Weaver, the granddaughter of a Cherokee woman and trader Enoch Jordan. In 1866, the Lackeys were living in Twp. 6 R8E next door to the Wilson Fossetts (a Quaker family) in what was then called Rawlingsville, now named Rainsville, Sand Mountain. John Lackey had also bought land in S1 T10 R7 in DeKalb Co., August 25, 1852 (the same month John Cooper bought his land on Sand Mountain). Jim Lackey (1861 -1952) was later the descendant on the land and a friend of Dolph Cooper. He is buried in Harmony Church Cemetery on the mountain. The Lackeys were a numerous clan, originally from a barony in Sterling, Scotland, on the north side of the Lennox Mountains, and it is not surprising to find many of them settled nearby. William Lackey, b. 1753 in Lancaster, Penna., married Elizabeth White, a Cherokee, and settled in Iredell Co., N.C., then moved to Lawrence Co., Ala. William Lackey, born in N.C., 1794, married Nancy Spears, later Lavinia Smith, and died 1884 in DeKalb/Etowah Co., Ala. Lovina (Dovey) Adeline Lackey married Samuel G. Shankles, and they are the author’s great-great grandparents. An Adam Lackey was also in the area. Lucinda Lackey is reported to have died by being flung into the Mississippi River.
Melmuth Lackey (1839-1905) served in the 9th Alabama Cavalry, Company “F” (formerly Co. “B,” 2nd/19th Battalion), with four Sizemore men, several Lowreys, Henegars and Davenports, Richard Blevins, Milligan Fossett, Abner Palmer, Richard Potter, and Jesse Shankles, among others. Captain Davenport was the highest ranking officer. Melmuth was in Malone’s Confederate Cavalry before joining the Vidette in the Fall of 1863. Notice the Melungeon “skunk strip,” high cheekbones and rangy frame. The Davenports were among Sand Mountain’s First Families. Robert Rodolphus Davenport came to Valley Head from Tennessee and built a much-admired home designed by an English architect, Oak Lawn (Elizabeth S. Howard, A Partial Who Was Who in DeKalb County, 1978). Courtesy Lackey Family.
Maj. George Lowrey, Jr., also known as Rising Fawn, Agin’-agi’li (1770-1852), Assistant Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and member of the Executive Council. He was a courier, banker, soldier, translator, law enforcement officer, planter, breeder, and political leader. He wears a turban, saltire sash, and medal he received from the President of the United States, holds a wampum belt symbolic of his high office in tribal government, and has silver nose and ear ornaments of a Sephardic Jewish design, probably workshop of Francis. His father came from Scotland and his mother was the daughter and granddaughter of Echota Cherokee chiefs. Attributed to George Catlin. Gilcrease Institute.
George Lowrey was born in Scotland about 1740 and married Nannie Watts, daughter of Ghi-go-neli (father: Oconostota) and Rising Fawn (Agiligina Kenoteta). He was a trader, miller and man of many far-ranging activities who made his home in Battle Creek valley in the Sequatchie Country, which housed the fleet of war canoes of the Chickamauga Nation. Their daughter Aky Lowrey married Chief Arthur Burns. Another daughter, Jenny, was the wife of Chief Tah-lon-tee-skee. Yet another daughter married a Sevier. In fact, it can be said that none of the marriages in the Lowrey clan were taken lightly. Col. John Lowrey married Elizabeth Shorey, and Maj. George Lowrey married Lucy Benge. As in the case of the Browns and Keyses, some Lowreys remained in the Valley Head area without being forced west. They were known for maintaining a “free loan association” to aid poor farmers, widows and other needy individuals.
The meaning of the surname Lowrey is “Levite” (WSWJ).
The Riley family of Sand Mountain has been traced back to Sean O’Reilly of Northern Ireland in the 1500s. The emigrant Samuel Riley (about 1720-1792) married Nell Wallace in Maryland. Their children were named Samuel, Eliphas, Elizabeth, David Moses, Milcah, Margaret, Darby, Susanna, Edward, George, and James. Samuel Riley, Cherokee Indian merchant and interpreter, married two daughters of Chief Doublehead and received a 640 acre reservation on south side of the Tennessee River opposite Southwest Point, Roane Co., “by right of wife” in 1817, but when Tennessee took back all Indian reservations, he moved to Sand Mountain in Alabama. Doublehead had important connections with the area around Yahoo Falls on the Cumberland River in Kentucky. He was born in Stearns, in what is now McCreary Co. Tuckahoe Doublehead, his son, married Margaret Mounce, and he himself took as one of his wives Nannie the Pain Droomgool, the daughter of Scots trader Alexander Droomgool, whose extensive possessions appeared on the list of valuations as published by an act of Congress, 1837. Many years later, Alexander Droomgool’s descendant, a Nashville journalist, invented, or at least popularized, the term Melungeon at a time when her cohorts among New York travel writers were inventing “hillbillies” (Benjamin Albert Botkin, A Treasury of Southern Folklore [New York: Crown Publishers, 1949], pp. 85-86). She placed the last remnants of the Melungeons on Newmans Ridge in Tennessee, oblivious of their migrations to other parts of the country during Indian Removal.
Riley is a corruption of Raleigh/Ralegh and is French Jewish in origin (WSWJ).
Frederick Augustus Redwine (1767-1859) moved from Rowan/Montgomery Co., N.C., where he was counted in the 1790 and 1800 census in Salisbury District, to the Lexington, Kentucky, area around 1814, when he and his family (including son Wiley and wife) were apparently counted in the census (also in 1820). The Russell Co., Va. tax list has a Frederick A. Redwine in 1810. The family originally came from Prussia to Pittsburgh and was named R(h)eutweil/R(h)iedweil. In 1805 the family was in Sequatchie (across the river from the northern part of Sand Mountain), where Frederick was the third settler to penetrate the cornbrakes of that fertile valley. It is believed that his wife was from that region; she is the only American Indian in the family before 1800 and has been claimed to be Tihanama. In 1812, Wiley moved to Powells Valley, where he volunteered in the War of 1812. He served in the military from 9-23-1813 to 1-1-1814, enlisting in Jacksboro, Tenn. He was in Capt. Doak’s regiment. After the war he moved to Lexington, Ky., and later to the headwaters of the Kentucky River. In 1823 Wiley moved to the Cumberland Mountains and settled near Grassy Cove where he died and is buried, with his wife, Avis Morrely, or Pickard. Wiley Redwine was thus a soldier in the Creek Indian wars under Jackson. He later became a Methodist minister. He is listed in U.S. Census for Bledsoe Co., Tenn., 1830; Bent Co., Ky., 1840 & 185. As one of Jackson’s soldiers, he receiving land warrants of 40 and 80 acres. He applied for a pension in Valley Head in 1871, with James Bundren (his son-in-law) as his character witness. He was a colorful character about Grassy Cove, where he moved in 1826. He was referred to as “Father Redwine” and had a place near the old ford on Whites Creek. He lived near Reelfoot when it suddenly turned into a lake. Many of the Redwine Indians have blond hair and blue eyes. Descendants through his daughter Sarah Redwine, who married James Bundren (the author’s great-great grandparents), still identified themselves as Redwine Indians. Wiley went back and forth between Grassy Cove and Sand Mountain, and in the 1850 census he was counted in both places.
Not only was Scotland the source of many Jews, who often threw off their Christian guises in the New World, but it was also a magnet for Jews from the rest of Europe during the religious persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition and Counter-Reformation. For these reasons, Avold Shenkel migrated from Oldenburg, Germany, through the Netherland to Berwick, Scotland, in the early 1700s. He continued to New Jersey and Pennsylvania around 1750. From there, like so many others, he gravitated to Tennessee. Sand Mountain residents George Shankle, born about 1808 in Franklin Co., Tennessee, and John Shankle (born about.1814) raised large families around Maynards Cove, intermarrying with Ashberry, Byrd, Dawson, Holland (Cherokee), Lackey (Cherokee), Minor (Melungeon), Musgrove (Creek), Proctor (Cherokee), Sizemore, White (Choctaw-Cherokee) and Wooten (Choctaw). John Shankles (about 1814-1885) married Clarissa Proctor, the granddaughter of William Davis and Mary Ann Black. The Proctors came from Canada and were to become a prominent Cherokee family. Samuel G. Shankles (about 1846-1902) married Lovina (Dovey) Fossett (nee Lackey). Like many non-slave-holding Southerners, he fought on the Union side during the Civil War, serving in Company D, First Alabama Tennessee Vidette Cavalry. Their daughter, the author’s great-grandmother, Lucinda, married James Lafayette (Fate) Goble, the son of Cornelius Goble, whose father was a former Indian agent, and Ellen Wooten. Lucinda Goble was reported to be “three-quarters Cherokee Indian,” a blood quantum that proves fairly accurate if you add up the blood lines in her genealogy. Her mitochondrial DNA is a rare form of U2.
Family tradition says Fate Goble was raised an orphan and that the Gobles were well to do. According to grandchildren, Fate Goble became a banker and owned land on what is now a corner of the highway in central Rainsville on Sand Mountain. The legal description is SE 1/4 of SE 1/4, Section 24, Township 6, Range 7, DeKalb Co., Ala. Jacob’s Bank and McDonald’s Restaurant are now located there. Mrs. E. E. McCurdy owned the land in 1975, when she sold it to Rainsville Bank, later Jacobs Bank. Courthouse records at Ft. Payne could not be located despite persistent efforts by the author around 1990. It is said that Fate Goble was struck by lightning and killed in his bed in Hog Jaw, on January 22, 1918. He is buried in the Goble Plot of the Langston (Old Davis) Cemetery.
Richard Sizemore came from Spartanburg District, S.C.and moved to Habersham Co., Ga. by 1822 and to Dade County, Ga. about 1845, where he joined a group of other mixed breeds avoiding removal near Rising Fawn. To credit descendants and relatives in Eastern Cherokee claims 1906-1924, which comprise two entire volumes of the Guion Miller Commission’s Report, the family came from North Carolina and Virginia and were Cherokee. The name is cognate with Cismor and other Portuguese Jewish surnames, deriving from Sis(a)mai, a Judahite of the descendants of the daughter of Sheshan and Jarha, a Phoenician god’s name, meaning water crane or swallow, in Sephardic tradition applied to “tax farmers.” “Sheshan had no sons, only daughters; Sheshan had an Egyptian slave, whose name was Jarha… Eleasah begot Sisamai, and Sisamai begot Shallum” (1 Chronicles 2:34-40). They were Portuguese Jews who came from London to Barbados and Jamestown, where they blended with the Saponi, Powhatan, Mattaponi, Cherokee and Creek on the frontier.
Georgia. Dade County. In the name of God, Amen. I, Richard Sizemore of said state and county, being of advanced age and knowing that must shortly depart this life, deem it right and proper both as respects my family and myself that I should make a disposition of my property with which a kind providence has blessed me; do therefore make my last will and testament hereby revoking all others heretofore made by same.
1st item. I design that my body be buried in a decent and Christian-like manner suitable to my condition in life. My soul, I trust, shall return to rest with God who gave it.
2nd item. I design and direct that all my just debts be paid without delay by my executors hereinafter appointed, as I am unwilling my creditors should be delayed in their right.
3rd item. I give, bequeath and devise to my son Andrew Jackson and Thomas Benton and James Clayton and my daughter Malinda Elizabeth part of lot of land number two hundred and nineteen in the eleventh district of formerly Cherokee, now Dade County, containing one hundred and ten acres with all the rights, members and privaliges (sic) to said lot of land in any wise appertaining or belonging forever
4th item. I give and bequeath to my son John one sorrel horse and two cows and calves and their increase and six head of sheep and their increase, one yoak (sic) of stears (sic) and cart, one hundred bushels of corn and ten head of hogs, and one rifle gun, and three feather beds and furnature (sic).
5th item. I hereby appoint my son John executor of this my last will and testament this April 18th, 1850.
Registered this 20th of April 1850.
John B. Perkins, Clerk
(Thanks to Winona Jones of Weatherford, Tex..)
Richard Sizemore was buried in Pea Ridge Cemetery, DeKalb Co., Ala. on top of the mountain. This cemetery also contains the graves of Coopers and Bundrens. His widow Elizabeth moved to Fraction Township in the area known as Shraders Mill, where her neighbors were the Coopers and Shraders (Alabama 1866 State Census). She was the daughter of Francis Forester and a Chickahominy woman and died May 01, 1879.
Valley Head Alabama Genealogy and History : They lived and died in a wilderness south of Canaan. The Cherokee, the white settlers, the farmers, the miners, the soldiers, the wives, the mothers, they were my ancestors, and perhaps your ancestors too. Walk through the history of this little town, listen to the stories, imagine their day. Looking at an old map of Cherokee Towns and Villages, it appears Valley Head is in the same area that was called Teloga, northeast of Wills Town. Today very little is known about the first inhabitants. Excavations at a place called Dead Man Curve, about five miles south west of Valley Head on US Highway 11, yielded skeletal remains believed to date between 7,000 B.C. and 700 A.D. Water being necessary for sustaining life it is possible that one or more of those individuals buried at Dead Man Curve passed through Valley Head following the water trail, today known as Wills Creek. At one time, long ago Valley Head was home to a small village of Native Americans. Once upon a time a large oak tree stood on the grounds that came to be known as the Winston Place. Under this tree the Native Americans would hold council meetings. As the Europeans began to explore this area, the Native Americans were crowded out, then finally forcibly removed. The migration into the valley started in the late 1700. By the 1830 the white population was substantial. Farms and churches soon dotted the landscape. VB Fillmore (2004)
Last Stand of Freedom
In 1836 the round up and removal of Native Americans began in earnest. Cherokee and Creeks from southern middle Tennessee, Norwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama were brought to a stockade in Fort Payne, DeKalb County, Alabama and held for a time before the arduous journey to the Oklahoma Territory. Valley Head, Alabama was one of many small places they passed through in route to the final destination. The last place of rest before they were confined, the last place without fences, the place to commune with a free spirit, was Valley Head, Alabama. About 10 miles north of Fort Payne, the valley nestled between Sand and Lookout Mountains would be a sheltered palace for a respite before the last few days of life without walls was ended. Little Wills flowing free and a moderate climate allowed for much needed preparation for the road ahead. From Ross’ Landing heading southwest, through northwest Georgia, passing or sometimes resting in Native American villages, along the way. After a holdover in Fort Payne stockade, the Cherokee families and a few Creek families would be on the trail again heading northwest on the John Benge route to the Oklahoma Territory. According to some sources only 1500 individuals where held in the Fort Payne stockade, giving credence to the speculation, and sometimes proof, that many Native Americans never left the Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia area. Indeed some married into the local white European population, others hiding in the caves, hills and valleys of the rugged terrain were speared the pain, suffering and tears. VB Fillmore (2015)