Henry Blair’s Account of the Skirmish at Cow Creek

In August, 1836 the pioneers of Lowndes and surrounding counties were engaged in local actions against Creek Indians along Warrior Creek, Little River, Alapaha River and at Cow Creek. These Indians were fleeing to Okefenokee Swamp and Florida to escape from forced relocation to the West and presumably to join up with Seminole Indians in Florida.  On the 27th of August, 1836 militia companies commanded by Col. Henry Blair, Captain Lindsay and Captain Levi J. Knight, caught up with a band of Creek Indians at Cow Creek, near present day Statenville, GA (then known as Troublesome Ford.)

Three days later, Col. Henry Blair made his report to Governor Schley, his letter subsequently published in state newspapers:

Milledgeville Federal Union
September 20, 1836

Lowndes County, August 30th, 1836.

His Excellency Governor Schley:

Sir — I have to inform you that a party of Indians were seen in the upper part of this county on Wednesday evening, 24th instant.–
Next morning, an hour by sun, there was a company of eighteen or twenty men of us in pursuit of them. We trailed them about three miles when we came to their camp where they encamped for the night and appeared to have collected together at that place. We supposed from the sign that there were about sixty-five of seventy of them. We pursued their trail, after dispatching an express to captain Knight at his post to join us with his company, which he did forthwith. We pursued them until Saturday, 27th instant, about half past two o’clock in the evening we came in sight of them where they had stopped to refresh themselves near the line of Ware and Lowndes counties on the side of a large cypress swamp, known by the name of the Cow Creek. When we first saw them at the distance of three or four hundred yards they were running some for the swamp and some from the swamp. As we were marching by heads of companies, a charge was ordered at full speed, which soon brought us within forty or fifty paces of their line where they had posted themselves in the swamp — a battle ensued which lasted for ten or fifteen minutes, which was fought with much bravery on the part of the whites. We completely routed the enemy and gained the victory. The loss on our side was one man wounded and one horse killed.–
On the part of the enemy, was two killed in the field that we got, one woman wounded that we captured that died the next day about eleven o’clock. There were signs seen where there were two more dragged into the swamp that we supposed were killed. We succeeded in taking six prisoners with the one that died; the other remaining five, for their better security and safe keeping, I have sent to Thomasville jail, Thomas county, Georgia, where your excellency can make that disposition of them that is thought most requisite.

The information obtained from the prisoners, with regard to the number of Indians, was thirty three warriors, thirty-five women and children — sixty-eight in the whole. Our forces consisted of about sixty or sixty-five men; the advance commanded by captain Lindsey, and right flank by captain Levi J. Knight, and left by myself.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY BLAIR
Colonel Commanding 81st Regiment, G. M.

Historical Marker: Skirmish at Cow Creek.  Source: David Seibert.  http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=27036

Historical Marker: Skirmish at Cow Creek. Source: David Seibert. http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=27036

SKIRMISH AT COW CREEK

Near here, on August 27, 1836, Georgia Militia companies commanded by Col. Henry Blair, Captain Lindsay and Capt. Levi J. Knight, fought a skirmish with Creek Indians and routed them, killing two and taking several prisoners. During this summer the Indians had committed many raids and massacres as they traversed the border counties on their way to Florida to join the Seminoles. Georgia troops had been following them for weeks, and overtook this band in the cypress swamp on the edge of Cow Creek.

Lasa Adams’ Account of the Battle of Brushy Creek and Actions on Warrior Creek

Lasa Adams (1811-1894)

Grave of Lasa Adams, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Brooks County, GA

Grave of Lasa Adams, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Brooks County, GA.  Image source: Robert Strickland

Lasa Adams  [sometimes referred to as Lacy Adams] was born May 13, 1811, in Georgia, a son of Dennis Adams. While yet a boy, his parents moved first to Alabama then to Gadsden County, FL, where he grew to manhood on a frontier still troubled by conflict with Native Americans who resisted being displaced from their ancestral lands.

According to William Harden’s History of Savannah and South Georgia, Lasa Adam’s  father established the family homestead in Gadsden County, FL:

 “Dennis Adams located near the present site of Wakena, Gadsden county, becoming one of the original settlers of that locality. His brother-in-law, a Mr. Carr, located on a tract of land two miles away. Indians were then very troublesome in that locality, and one night when Mr. Carr and his wife were away from home raided his place, and brutally massacred their two children. A slave made his escape to the Adams farm, and told Mr. Adams the tale, and Mr. Adams sent to Thomasville, Georgia, for aid. The following night the red skins paid a visit to the Adams cabin. The family were well prepared, and after several of the Indians had been killed the remainder retreated.”

It was around 1834 that Lasa Adams came to Thomas County, GA and on December 1, 1834 he married Sarah Wooten, daughter of Redden Wooten of the Tallokas district (territory now in Brooks). Another of Wooten’s daughters married Morgan G. Swain, who owned a hotel at Troupville, GA.

“Lasa Adams was young when the family came from Florida to Georgia to escape the malignant attacks of the Indians, although many red skins were then living in this vicinity, the dense forests being their happy hunting ground. The few daring white people of the county built a strong log fort to which the women and children were sent when ever trouble with the savages was brewing, and he immediately joined the company formed for protection against their raids, and took part, in 1836, in the battle of Brushy creek, when the Indians made their last stand in Georgia.”

Lasa Adams left this area in the 1850s to make his home in Florida, but not long before his death June 17, 1894, he returned to Brooks County after an absence of forty years.  On May 5, 1893 Lasa Adams,  responded to a questionnaire by William T. Gaulden about the Battle of Brushy Creek.  

From Lowndes County militia rosters, it appears  that Lasa Adams was living in the 660th Georgia militia district (the Morven District) at the opening of the Second Seminole War  in December 1835. When Governor William Schley called for the formation of general militia companies in Wiregrass Georgia, Lasa Adams, Pennywell Folsom, Lewis Blackshear, Samuel Slaughter, Noah H. Griffin, William Alderman and 85 other men of the district were organized under Captain William G. Hall. While Hall’s unit was not in active service, Adams later served in Captain Benjamin Grantham’s company of men.

Although Adams joined Captain Grantham’s Company a week after the Battle of Brushy Creek, he was intimately familiar with the participants and subsequent engagements against the Indians.

Mr. Adams recalled that the Indians were Cherokees who were fleeing “to the Seminoles in Florida, near Tampa Bay” to escape the forced relocation to western territories.  Adams questioned the purported force of Indians ranging through the district that July of 1836 “estimated to be 300, but I have my doubts. I think 150 would be a fair count. About 300 men were after Indians but only about one hundred were in the battle,” which took place “about the 12th or 13th of July, about 10 or 11 o’clock a.m.” and lasted about two hours.

The engagement at Brushy Creek was fought under the leadership of Major Michael Young (Thomas County),  Capt. James A. Newman (Thomas County),  Capt. John Pike (Lowndes County), Capt. Hamilton Sharpe (Lowndes County), and Capt. Henry Crawford Tucker.  (Captain Levi J. Knight  (Lowndes County) and his company of arrived just after the conclusion of the battle, coming straight from a skirmish with a squad of Indians at William Parkers place in eastern Lowndes County.)

Adams gives an accounting of those killed at Brushy Creek, listing the dead as Pennywell Folsom and Edward Shanks, of Lowndes County, and a man from Thomas County, Gabe Ferrill, who is variously identified in other accounts as Bartow Ferrell or Burton Ferrell. (A Berton Ferrel also appears in the 1830 census of Thomas County). Among the wounded were Captain Charles Screven Gaulden, Lowndes County;  Daniel McClane, Thomasville, GA; William Drew, Lowndes county; James Blackshear, Thomas county; Robert Parrish, Lowndes County. (To this list of wounded Norman Campbell, who also completed a questionnaire, added Agnes McCauley,  Malcolm McLane, Monroe,  and Edward M. Henderson.  Edward Marion Henderson, who was then Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA died on July 20 as a result of his injuries.)

The story of how Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek was posted previously.  According to Ferrell family research, a brief note on the death of Burton Ferrell appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder a few days after the incident.

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
Tuesday August 2, 1836

KILLED…. On Friday the 15th ultimo in the county of Lowndes, BURTON FERRELL of the county of Thomas, was killed in battle with a band of Creek Indians. It is not the intention of the writer to eulogize the deceased, but this much it is considered necessary to say, that Mr. Ferrell was brave almost to a fault; for he refused to take shelter which the trees might have afforded him in the fight, and rushed fearlessly in the front of the company, and was shot through the body at the first fire of the enemy.

Adams noted that among the Indians, those killed  at Brushy Creek were “about 15 or twenty, including women and children” and captured were “eight to ten women and children…no men taken.”  These prisoners were taken to Thomasville, GA where they were held about a month before being sent west.

Following the Battle of Brushy Creek,  Lasa Adams was drafted to serve in a Thomas County company under Captain Grantham in further actions against the Indians on Warrior Creek.  The local militia was joined on August 12, 1836 by forces of General Julius C. Alford, who had pursued the Indians from the Alabama border above Chickasawhatchee Swamp north of Albany, GA. General Alford assumed command of the combined forces which by now included Capt. Grantham’s company as well as the companies of Capt. Pike, Capt. Newman, Capt. Burnett, and Captain Levi J. Knight. Following the advice of Captain Knight, their goal was to prevent the Indians from reaching Grand Bay, near present day Ray City, GA, and thus cut off their rendezvous with the force of Indians gathering in the Okefenokee Swamp.

In August of 1836 the Georgia newspapers were full of celebratory news of victory over the Indians in engagements all across the state. From the perspective of half a century of reflection on the conflict, Adams offered “My opinion is the whites were in the wrong.”

Lasa Adam’s  responses to the questionnaire on Indian Times, along with his sketch (provided below) of his service in Captain Benjamin Grantham’s company of Thomas County militia during the 1836 Indian War, was posthumously published in the Valdosta Times, November 16, 1895.  Adams describes how  his company came to the aid of a  Company of men, who were the advance force of General Alford.  Adams variously refers to the captain of this company as  Captain Hawthorne, Hatthorn or Haththorn.  Undoubtedly, he is actually referring to Captain Michael Hentz, and his Company of Baker County Militia  who was operating under the orders of General at the time and place described.

“Government let out Indian Claims at Cherokee, Georgia, and were to send them out west. Between 3 and 5 hundred were dissatisfied with the treaty made with the chief – and they withdrew and thought they would go and unite with the Seminoles in Florida near Tampa Bay. So they started and crossed over the Chattahoochee River and burned up a town called Roanoak, Georgia. The whites formed companies and went in pursuit of them, and had a fight in Chickasawhatchee Swamp above Albany. Indians were scattered and between 100 and 300 were in the gang that was in the Brushy creek battle. Several more small squads went through the country from 15 to 20 in squads, in different directions.

At Brushy Creek, Capt. Scriven Gaulden had a company from Lowndes county, Col. Mike Young from Thomas county, Capt. Hamilton Sharp of Lowndes county, Georgia.

They all united, and Capt. Scriven Gaulden led the front guards to battle and made the attack on Indians at Brushy creek and then the fight commenced. Captain Scriven Gaulden was hit by three balls from Indian guns only one took effect  right cheek “I think,” one passed through his hat, one hit his pistol in pants pocket (pistol saved his life.) Several more were slightly wounded but don’t remember the names of none, as they were from Lowndes county and strangers to me. All Indians not killed and captured kept their course for Tampa, Fla.

In about a week or so after the Brushy creek battle, I was drafted together with 30 or 40 more men, and Capt. Grantham was elected our captain. We were ordered up on the Warrior creek, as squads of Indians were continually passing down that creek. One day while on a scout we heard guns firing. Capt. Grantham ordered a force march and we went as quick as he could in order, and when we got nearly to the place Capt. Hawthorne had followed a squad of Indians from above Albany and had attacked them, and the Indians had whipped him out and he was retreating and the Indians had captured six horses from his men.

Then Capt. Grantham, with his men and a few of Capt. Hatthorn’s pursued the Indians and run them in the Little River swamp near James Rountree’s place in Lowndes county (now Cook), and we had to stop, as night overtook us. We camped over the other side of the river, expecting the Indians to come through next morning. That night Buckston, Ison Vaun and myself were detailed to go to Capt. Hatthorn and tell him to come down and draw supplies at Lawrence Folsom’s place. We returned from Capt. Haththorn’s to our camp, and we received news that Indians had gone across the river that night. The Indians had used a little stratagem to fool us. They made a display that night with torch lights as if they were going across the river, so next morning we had to go back to Capt. Haththorn to carry the news that Indians had crossed the river, and about daylight as we were on our way to carry the news we discovered Indians jumping over the road to keep from making any sign, and they were going down the river. So we returned to our camp and reported what we had seen and Capt. Grantham ordered a force march to a ferry three miles below on the river, expecting to head them off, but they had beat us to the ferry and kept down the river swamp. We struck their trail and followed them down the swamp near Maj. Simmon’s plantation and pushed them so close that the Indians took into the swamp and we recaptured the six horses taken from Capt. Haththorn’s men. That night General Aulford [Julius C. Alford] came to us with 30 or 40 men and took command of the forces. A good many volunteered and joined us. Gen. Aulford ordered all the men to string across the river 20 yards apart and drive up, as we had got ahead of the Indians. We had gone about one mile up the river when the Indians used another trick to draw us off. The Indians were seen in Jones’ peach orchard on one side of the rive and in John Blacksher’s peach orchard on the other side. They were fired at by scouts at long range in John Blackshear’s orchard. This shooting frustrated our drive up the river, and we made for Blackshear’s.  A little Indian girl about eight or ten years of age went next day to the house of James Williams and Mrs. Williams was at the wash tub washing. The little girl went and put her hands in the tub before Mrs. Williams saw her, and like to have frightened Mrs. Williams to death. Mrs. Williams kept the little girl and raised her and sent her to school and she married a man by the name of Artley. This was another one of their tricks, sending the child in to make us believe they were in that neighborhood.

General Aulford went over the river after the squad in Jones’ peach orchard, and I never saw him in about two weeks. We were ordered back to the Warriors and General Aulford followed Indians down in Florida and the Indians went into the Okeefenokee Swamp and he gave them up. 

I think that was the last squad that passed through. If any more passed, the squads were so small they made no signs and did not bother anyone.

Lasa Adams.”

Additional Notes about Lasa Adams:

“Lasa Adams bought land in what is now the Tallokas district, Brooks county, and engaged in farming. He married Sarah Wooten on December 1, 1834 in Thomas County, GA. There was one son born to that marriage, Dennis R. W. Adams, born 1839.

“There being no railways in the state all transportation was by teams, and after his land became productive he used to take his cotton to Newport, Florida, going in company with several of his neighbors, some of whom perhaps lived miles away from him, each man taking provisions with him, and camping and cooking by the wayside.”

After the death of his first wife, Mr. Adams married Miss Orpha Lee Holloway, born 1825, youngest daughter of William and Orpha Holloway who were among of the very first settlers of what is now Brooks county.  This marriage took place April 17, 1842. There were four children by the second wife:

  1. Rhoda Ann Adams, born 1843, married William Hurst of Brooks County, GA.
  2. Jane Irene Adams, born 1845, married J. M. Yates of Brooks County, GA.
  3. James C. Adams, born 1850, married Mary Holman of Jefferson County, FL.
  4. Cason F. Adams,  born 1852, married Texas Smith, daughter of J. R. M. Smith.

Lasa Adams was elected Sheriff of Thomas County in 1842 but resigned a few months after assuming office.

Lasa Adams Sheriff's Sale, 1842

Lasa Adams Sheriff’s Sale, 1842. [Note: This legal advertisement appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder, Mar. 29, 1842 – the date printed in the ad is typo.

During his short term as Sheriff of Thomas County, one task Lasa Adams dealt with was the sale of two town lots in Troupville, and other goods, to satisfy a debt owed by Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall to Bazzel Kornegay, of Thomas County.

The 1850 census of enslaved inhabitants of Lowndes County, GA shows Lasa Adams was the owner of eight slaves.

In 1852, Lasa Adams returned to Florida:

“In 1852, Lasa Adams sold his Brooks county land, moved to Florida, locating in Madison county, where he purchased a squatter’s claim to a tract of government land situated about sixteen miles northeast of Monticello, and about the same distance northwest of Madison. A few acres had been cleared, and a log cabin had been erected. He continued the improvements, and there carried on general farming for some time. In 1864 he enlisted in the Florida Reserves, and continued in the Confederate service until the close of the war, when he again assumed charge of his farm. Selling out in 1870, he was for four years a resident of Jefferson county, Florida. Coming from there to Thomas county, Georgia, he bought land three miles south of Boston, and was there employed in tilling the soil for many years. Shortly before his death, which occurred in  1894, he returned to Brooks county, Georgia, and there spent his last days, passing away at the venerable age of eighty-three years.”

Lasa Adams was buried at Bethel Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. His second wife (Orpha Lee Holloway) died September 28, 1887, and is also buried at Bethel.

Related Posts:

Lasa Adams account of the Battle of Brushy Creek, Lowndes County, GA

Lasa Adams account of the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, Lowndes County, GA

More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom, from his 1889 book, Scraps of Song and Southern Scenes.

Found this 1889 account of the history of  Troupville, GA by erstwhile Wiregrass historian, poet, and humorous writer Montgomery M. Folsom.  Folsom starts his tale at the headwaters of the Okolocoochee and Withlacoochee rivers. He traces them down to their connection with the Withlacoochee, at which point Troupville was founded. As the government seat, Troupville was the center of legal and civic activity for Lowndes County (see An Antebellum Trial at Troupville). Troupville was also an important center of commerce and social life for the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, like Levi J. Knight, who established the first community near the site of present day Ray City, GA.  The Knights settled on another branch of the Withlacoochee;  Beaverdam creek, at Ray City, flows into Cat Creek on down to the Withlacoochee.

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Pg 12.

THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER.
VALDOSTA, Ga., January 19. -[Special.]- Away up near the northern limit of the great wiregrass section there is a big cypress swamp. They call them bays there. From this bay emerges a little stream of claret colored water. This is near Peckville, and close to the corner of Worth, Irwin, and Dooly counties. This is the head of the Ockolocoochee, Little river.
    Farther eastward, some ten or fifteen miles, there is another bay from which emerges a restless current that goes rushing away toward the south, fretting among the pine boles, resting among the silent solitudes of the mysterious swamps, the Alapaha.
    About midway between these streams, some twenty miles below their heads, the Withlacoochee steals stealthily out of the depths of a brambly brake and glides noiselessly away, like some black serpent of the swamps winding in and out among the barrens.
    The Ockolocoochee curves and twines among the pine-clad ridges, receiving the tribute of some lesser stream at every turn. Ty Ty, Warrior, Big Indian on the West, No-Man’s-Friend, Frank’s creek from the east, till it reaches Troupville. It is, properly, the river, despite the fact that its name is lost after its confluence with the Withlacoochee. It is like the wedding of a great big strapping wiregrass girl with a short, stout, presumptive little man.
    The Ockolochoochee is the stream for fishing. Along the snowy margin of its glistening sand-bars the red-belly, the perfection of perch; and in its placid eddies, beneath the shadow of the tupeloes, the red-horse sucker, chief of all the carp tribe; abound in strength and numbers sufficient to gratify the most inveterate of anglers.
    New river gives the Withlacoochee a good start, and it swerves away to receive the tribute of half a dozen streams on its tortuous course. From its fountain head it is dark and forbidding, and the secrets of its black waters are preserved most faithfully.
    Away back in the olden days when Lowndes county was as big as Poland, an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center. As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed.
    These two worthies, one from the pimple hills of the Ockolocoochee, and the other from the saw palmetto flats of the Withlacoochee; decided that the most appropriate point was right in the fork of the two rivers. They had an idea that the river would be navigable that high up, even above the point where the Alapaha disappears and runs underground a mile before uniting with the Withlacoochee.
    So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,” with a strong accent on the “ville.” They had not learned to say “Troupvul” then, and it was such a high sounding title that they lingered lovingly on the pronunciation.
    The town grew apace. It enjoyed what the modern’s call a boom. Land lots sold rapidly, and settlers came rushing in, mainly the Smiths. Lowndes county has ever been prolific in the smith line. Owen Smith, Old Billy Smith, Young Billy Smith, all sorts of Smiths, even down to our Hamp, who so ably represents that historic name in the present pushing metropolis Valdosta.
One of the Smith’s built a tavern, and another Smith set up in business, and young Dr. Briggs, who came from the north, broken in business, but full of energy and ability, and laid the foundation of that prosperity that has long distinguished the Briggs and the Converse families.
    Troupville only suffered one inconvenience. To get to town three-fourths of the population had either to cross the river of the east or the river of the west and half the time, during the winter and spring, these rivers were raging with freshets, the bridges were afloat and were frequently swept away.
   One thing more hindered her prosperity. At the only season when the main river was navigable, the Old Nick, himself, couldn’t navigate it. So it transpired that the only freighted barge that ever tempted its tempestuous tide was a flat boat that went down the river to the Suwanee, thence down that river to Cedar Keys.
    It never returned.
    The boatmen sold the vessel and cargo and walked home.
    Life was too short to navigate that crooked stream, with its sunken logs and treacherous sands, and the hope of water transportation was abandoned.
    Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without  pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.
    The town of Valdosta was laid off when the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built, about the opening of the war. Brooks and Echols had been cut off from Lowndes, and the county site was moved four miles southeast of Troupville to Valdosta. A great many of the buildings were moved bodily. And now there is not one brick upon another to tell the story of Troupville. A pile of white rocks marks the spot of Swain’s old forge, and some weather beaten mulberry trees still bud and blossom around the old square where stood the tavern. Aside from these there is nothing left to keep alive the cherished hopes that once animated the soul of Troupville.
   The Withlacoochee still glides along to meet the Ockolocoochee, and the land that lies between them, once town property, is now a barren waste, overgrown with somber pines, solitary tufts of bear grass whose white crests wave to and fro in ghostly suggestiveness in the twilight of summer evenings when the whip-poor-wills chant their weird melodies among the lonely thickets.
    Around the once populous portion of the town lies a waste of sedgy fields that are barren and unproductive. The half-wild goats browse among the fennels and briars. “Ichabod” is written in lichen crusted letters, and desolation reigns supreme.
                 MONTGOMERY M. FOLSOM.

Related Posts: