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English Mission to Jackson County in 1771
by Dale Cox
|Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
The Apalachicola River flows near the site
of the Tomatley village.
carried away as prisoners. The slaves were also Native Americans and were taken back to
Tomatley by their captors. John Stuart, the British agent for Indian affairs, dispatched a letter
A Party of the Tomautley People some time ago carried away a Family of Indians Slaves, who
belong to a planter on Pascagaula River, the Man they Killed or Burnt, the Woman is still
among them. (Y)ou have no right to keep this Woman and Children. They were poor
defenceless Slaves, could not be your Enemies being brought from a Country far to the
Westward of the Mississippi, where you never go to War. I wish to Know if you the Chiefs of the
Nation suffer such proceedings. There is no honor in taking and Killing a poor Slave the
property of your Friends. I hope you will send your Talk that the Woman and Children may be
restored to their Master.
Stuart sent his assistant David Taitt to carry the message to the Lower Creek chiefs. Taitt
traveled to the primary Creek towns but was unable to obtain a response to Stuart’s demand.
Accordingly, he decided to visit Tomatley in person.
He purchased a canoe for this purpose, but this plan greatly alarmed the chiefs of the Lower
Creek towns and they pleaded with him not to attempt the journey. In his words, they “desired
me not to go down the River in a Canoe as they alledged there was some dangerous
Whirlpools in the river which they said would sink the Canoe.”
The chiefs undoubtedly were concerned that the Tomatley warriors would kill Taitt and they
continued to present reasons why he should not make his journey. Finally they agreed to
send two head warriors to Tomatley, but insisted that Taitt not go in person, “alledging the
danger of the River and badness of the people there.”
On May 4, 1772, Taitt gave the two emissaries a letter to James Burgess, the trader at
Tomatley, asking for his assistance in freeing the slaves as well as a white woman that was
reported to be living in the village. He identified his messengers by name as Chimhuchi and
Topahatkee. On the same day he sent a message back to Stuart relaying new information he
had obtained about the attacks and the status of the prisoners:
…The Eufalla people say that they have done no wrong as the house they burnt was on their
own land but this I shall talk to them about…I intended to come down the River to Tamatley
and had prepared a Canoe for that purpose by permission of the Indians here, since they
have raised many objections aledging that there is several dangerous whirlpools in the rivers
and the people there are a set of runagadoes from every Town in the Nation…I shall send two
head men from this Town to Tomatley for the two Slaves which are alive, although the Boy is
sold to a Trader there, the Man and Girl they murdered at the place where they took them.
The trader referenced in Taitt’s letter was John Mealy, who lived and operated at trading post
at Ocheesee Bluff.
Although they would side with the British
during the American Revolution, the Native
Americans of Jackson County did not
immediately like the English when they took
control of Florida in 1763. This was clearly
demonstrated in 1771 when a party of
warriors from Tomatley, a town located near
present-day Sneads, attacked an English
settlement in what is now southern
Two people were killed and several slaves -
a man, a woman and their children, were
The emissaries sent down the river by Taitt met with success
and returned to the upriver towns on May 22nd. They brought
with them the slave woman captured on the Pascagoula, but
the young boy purchased by John Mealy had already been sent
to the populated areas of Georgia. The white woman that Taitt
also hoped to retrieve, however, refused to come. She had
married a warrior in Tomatley and fled into the woods rather
than return with the two messengers.
Note: This article is excerpted from The History of Jackson
County, Florida: The Early Years. Signed copies can be
purchased in Downtown Marianna at Chipola River Book and
Tea (when in stock) or you can order through Amazon.com by
clicking the ad at left. The second volume in the set, The
History of Jackson County, Florida: The War Between the
States is also available. Just visit our Books page.