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Chief William McIntosh
The McIntosh Road
Chief William McIntosh was born near Wetumpka, Georgia (now Alabama) in 1775. He was the
son of William McIntosh, a Scotsman and Senoya (He-Na-Ha), a Creek Indian. His father's lineage
goes back to colonial Georgia and included Lachlan MacIntosh a Revolutionary War general and
George Troup a governor of Georgia in the 1820's. McIntosh became the principal chief of the Lower
Creek Nation in the early 1800's. He was described as elegant, intelligent, and brave. He fought with
General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama (1814). His service with the
United States military merited him the rank of general.
McIntosh's Georgia land holdings included property along the Chattahoochee River (Carroll and
Coweta County), Indian Springs (Butts County), and along the Ocmulgee River (Butts County). He
also maintained a home in Alabama at Coweta, below current day Columbus, Georgia, and probably
others on the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.
After the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, the major arteries of the McIntosh Road and the Federal
Road were improved and made legal travel routes for white settlers to pass through the Creek Nation.
The existing Indian trail that ran between his Georgia properties and on into Alabama became known
as the McIntosh Road after McIntosh improved the existing trail into a wagon road. That existing
foot/horse trail - from the Ocmulgee River to the Chattahoochee River and on to Kimulgee on the
Coosa River in Alabama - was one section of a Indian trail that ran from near Charleston, South
Carolina, to NE Mississippi.
A McIntosh statement posted in the New Georgia Journal: The Georgia Journal, Nov. 9, 1819
A new road, leading from Monticello, Georgia to the Black Warrior, Alabama State; beginning
at Monticello, leading on by Scott’s Ferry by the Mineral Springs, then on by my house on the
Chattahoochee, then from there to Coosa River, just above Ft. Williams. I intend keeping
public Entertainment for man and horse.
A The trail across Georgia, estimated to be 118 miles long, became a well traveled route used by
McIntosh, other Indian tribes, traders, and pioneer settlers. A newspaper reported, "Not long since 3
wagons have traveled this road, heavy loaded, and came through with the greatest of ease."
McIntosh built stores, inns, and ferries along the road, and became a very wealthy man. We have found
the location of several of these.
The Georgia 1821 Land Lottery opened the portion of Georgia between the Ocmulgee and Flint
River/Line Creek for settlement. This tract was ceded to the United States by the Creek Indian Nation
led by William McIntosh on January 8, 1821, at the Treaty of Indian Springs. By an Act of the Georgia
General Assembly on June 9, 1821, the state would dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired
by the United States for the use of Georgia. The lottery was held between November 11, 1821 and
December 12, 1821. Americans moved westward.
The Upper Creeks had been reluctant to sign the 1821 treaty but were convinced by McIntosh to do
so as the whites would eventually take the land anyway. They later vowed not to sell anymore of their
land and said, "We will die on our land and the world would see how much we loved it."
On February 7, 1825 another large parcel was signed over at the Treaty of Indian Springs which the
Upper Creeks rejected and refused to sign. They were highly displeased with McIntosh for the sale of
this land, denounced him as a traitor, and vowed revenge. McIntosh also sold his 1000 acres at Indian
Springs and his 640 acre tract on the Ocmulgee River. Opothleyoholo, a spokesman for the upper
Creeks called McIntosh a "double-tongued devil" and warned him that "your own blood shall wash out
the memory of this hated treaty". Chief McIntosh had signed his own death warrant.
The "Red-Stick" faction of the Creek nation lived up to their threat. On April 30, 1825, at three in the
morning about 170 warriors under the leadership of a brave called Menewa crept quietly up to
McIntosh"s western most home in Carroll County and torched the house. One son, Chilly McIntosh,
escaped through an open window and fled to Fayette County. Two of McIntosh's wives also escaped,
but not before witnessing what happened to their husband and his property. Chief McIntosh held the
warriors at bay with four guns he had in the house until he could no longer stand the heat from the fire.
It was then that he was forced to exit into a spray of bullets from the marauding band. He was instantly
killed, dragged out in the yard and scalped (beheaded according to one son's account). The plantation
was then ravaged, the livestock killed and all buildings burned. The warriors left as quickly as they had
come, taking the scalp of McIntosh with them as a trophy. He was buried at the site. The following
day, McIntosh's son-in-law Sam Hawkins was murdered at his home on the McIntoah Road at the
Little Tallapoosa River.
McIntosh's remaining family, including two of his three wives and two sons, refuged to General
Alexander Ware's home in Fayette County. Ware's home and property was on the eastern side of
Line Creek, near the border of Georgia and the Creek Nation, in the vicinity of present day Peachtree
City. With them came 120-150 other Creek Indians who feared for their lives. In a letter dated May
3, 1825, to Governor Troup, the wives poured out their anguish and pleaded for food and assistance
for themselves, their children, and the other indigent Indians at Ware's plantation. It was signed "Peggy
and Susannah McIntosh." For whatever reason, Governor Troup, a first cousin of the slain chief,
offered meager aide. General Ware and friendly whites did what they could for the refugees. Ware
reported to Troup, "The road is covered with refugees, and upwards of four hundred warriors of
hostile party are feasting on McIntosh's cattle and would be marching toward the settlement of whites in
three days. I will prepare for an invasion of perhaps as many as four thousand warriors. Whites, who
have lived among Creeks a long time and know them, are sending their families out of the Creek
Nation." Near General Ware's home, in fear of a Creek up-rising, Fort Troup was constructed to
protect the settlers and friendly Indians, but the attack ever came.
By 1827 the Lower Creek had been completely removed from the state of Georgia under provisions of
the Treaty of Indian Springs. Alabama was next to finish the forced removal process. The Creeks were
eventually herded up and marched west on the Creek "Trail of Tears".
Prior to his being exiled to the west, Creek Chief Eufaula addressed the Alabama Legislature at the
State Capitol in Tuscaloosa: "In these lands of Alabama, which have belonged to my forefathers
and where their bones lie buried, I see that the Indian fires are going out. Soon they will be cold .
. . I leave the graves of my fathers, for the Indian fires are almost gone."
When the power of the Creek Nation was broken, it was logical and inevitable that alternate routes
would develop and that, in the "Old Southwest" (Georgia and Alabama), the Creek Indians and
McIntosh's Road would become ghosts together. Both were bonded in history, leaving the land to
pioneers moving over new roads.
And yes, the settlers came into the former land of the Creek Nation. As William Faulkner said, "They
came in battered wagons and on muleback and even on foot, with flintlock rifles and dogs and
children and homemade whiskey stills and Protestant psalm books. They came from the Atlantic
seaboard and before that, from England and the Scottish and Welsh Marches, as some of the
names would indicate. They brought no slaves and no Phyfe and Chippendale highboys; indeed,
what they did bring most of them could (and did) carry in their hands. They took up land and
built one-and two-room cabins and never painted them, and married and produced children and
added other rooms one by one to the original cabins and did not paint them either."
Many stayed but the frontier restlessness eventually caught up with others. In large letters, they marked
"G.T.T." on their cabin doors - meaning "Gone to Texas." Such was life in the old Southwest.
Today, even though many current day roads follow the original trail, very little remains of McIntosh's
Road. Development, King Cotton, Mother Nature, and Father Time have seen to that.
Wearing my frontier garb, I have walked most of the segments that can still be seen. As I walked
through the undeveloped forest, I imagined the power of the bear and buffalo, interacting with free-
roaming tribes, and filling my spirit to the brim. Despite the enormous tragedy and the fate of America's
free-living people, it was one of the most romantic periods in the history of America's migration that
took place in the living southwest - one hundred and eighty years ago.
E. J. Lanham
|Google Earth Maps
Note: Both maps below open in Google Earth.
For best viewing and to read notes, zoom in to
10,000 feet or lower.
Most of the old road meanders on or near current
day routes. In some cases, you will have to
bypass sections on private property.
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It is my intent to display maps with reasonably accurate historical and geographic information. The author
makes no representation regarding the completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of any information, maps, or
data posted on this Site or that such information and data will be error-free. This map is for reference only.
Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information, errors and conditions
originating from historical sources used to develop the database may be reflected on this map. No level of
accuracy is claimed for the boundary lines shown hereon and lines should not be used to obtain coordinate
values, bearings or distances. Notification of any errors would be appreciated.
Most of the historical roads are drivable, however some dead-end at private property which will have to be
I suggest using a detailed road map such as the Delorme Gazetteers along with satellite navigation. I use the
Garmin GPSMAP 60 hand held unit, and a laptop loaded with Delorme "Topo USA" maps connected via
USB to a Delorme "Earthmate" GPS receiver which is placed on the dash of my vehicle. Google Earth files
can be downloaded to both of the above. Cell phones or I-Pads using cell towers are not advised.