NE AL Settlers Excerpt Vol 49 No 1

Excerpt from old diaries or journals can be fascinating. Often the writer tells it just like it is. Below is a portion of Lt. Fenton Noland’s Diary of 1835.[1]   Lt. Noland was a regular army officer, a dragon who was dispatched from Washington to perform a preliminary investigation of the Cherokee Indian Nation before their forced removal to reserved land west of the Mississippi.

The diary portion in the NORTHEAST ALABAMA SETTLERS, Vol. 49 No. 1, April 2010, pp. 6-9 begins as he leaves the area of what today is Chattanooga. Lt. Nolan is interested in who is living in the Coosa Valley & along the highlands between the Tennessee & the Coosa Rivers. He also needs to examine the terrain & improvements made to the region. Note: Members of NEAGS receive the quarterly as part of their Membership Application.

15th. Feb. 1835
Left Mr. Woods at 9 oclk [stet], A.M. passed over a ridge, White Oak Mountain roads bad, country rocky, hilly and very broken. … Entered the state of Georgia. Between…and Taylors (Walker County) a miserable specimen of the state. …

20th. Feb.
Left Mr. Holloways[2] at the usual hour. Passed up Wills Valley, little or no good land, country broken, many white clay swamps. Fine improvements. Saw thin deer. Passed very fine spring, reached Mr. Bells, halt for the night, a good house. Hills run in close to the creek. Country well adapted to rail roads or MacAdamyd [stet] roads, but the soil too poor for a dense population. Sun sets white, like Indian Summer. Distance today 26 miles. Much said last night about Robbers and Murders, feel somewhat uneasy today, while passing through long reaches without houses. Mr. Holloway and Mr. Jack Rossi the only good farms today. The Line Creek four miles from H forms the Cherokee boundary line.

Remarks:
The mouth of Wills Creek[3] is low and marshay [stet], but does appear to be the points at which the intersection of roads and canals must take place. Wills Valley which is bounded on the East by Lookout [Mountain] and on the West by Raccon Mountain, is narrow, varying from one-half to three miles. The plain of the valley continues from the Coosa River to the Tennessee, without interruption, is favorable to railroads and canals. The most probable rout [stet] of convention of these two rivers will be from Gunter’s Landing on the Tennessee river, and the mouth of Wills Creek on the Coosa.

Lt. Noland states that most of the Cherokee people in the area he covered were “poor and lazy, dirty and slothful, particularly in Georgia.” Remember at the beginning of the post I wrote that diaries/journals were frank. However, he also noted that “tricks and dishonesty in all its distorted forms” were being used to dispossess the Indians of their lands. He wrote “The government is bounded to protect these poor people, yet, alas with shame I have to confess it , it is aiding and abetting these vultures in human form, to draw the last drop of blood in the veins of these unfortunate people.”

Note from Web Administrator: If your ancestors came to the area transversed by Lt. Noland in 1835 or within a few years, this diary can give you a lot of information on what they encountered in the terrain, living conditions, the type of people who lived there, etc. There are entries about various ferries, travel, church services that were conducted. To understand your ancestors, you also need to know how they lived, the challenges they faced.


[1] Original Source as published in the quarterly: The Authentic Account of the Cherokee Removal Treaty of 1835, as told in the Diary of Lt. Fenton Mercer Noland, Disbursing Agent, United States Government for the Removal. Edited by Mildred E. Whitmire, The Reprint Company, Publishers, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1990.

[2] The quarterly stated that Holloway’s was near the Lake Rhea Bridge in Attalla, Alabama.

[3] The Ferry over Wills Creek is about where Uncle Sam’s BBQ is located on Rainbow Drive in Gadsden is today according to the quarterly.

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