Wayne Co, Mississippi

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Ellen Pack
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Early Times in Wayne County

By Jesse M. Wilkins 1

From Publications The Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI, 
Edited by Franklin L. Riley, Secretary
Published Oxford, Mississippi 1902

Public Domain Material 
May not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

Online coding/layout Copyright 2001 Ellen Pack - All Rights Reserved

     That portion of our great Commonwealth which today bears the name of the immortal "Mad Anthony" did not assume its present boundaries until nine years after Mississippi became a State.  It nevertheless played an important part in the territorial history of this section.  During the territorial days the present county of Wayne figured under several different names.  When the counties of Adams and Pickering in Mississippi Territory were organized, April 2, 1799, the lands embraced in this county were divided between them by a boundary line running east and west.

     On June 4, 1800, a third county, Washington, embracing all that part of the territory east of Pearl river, was formed.  Wayne county thus became a part of Washington county.  A county lying east of Wayne in Alabama still bears the name and was part of the old county of Washington.  In 1802 Washington county was divided and that portion of it lying west of the present boundary line between Alabama and Mississippi became Wayne county.  In 1809 the county of Wayne was organized by Legislative act with its present northern, eastern, and southern boundaries, but extending westward to Pearl River.  One county after another was organized, taking off portions of Wayne's territory on the west until the organization of Jones county in 1826, when it took its present western boundary.

     Many highly refined families, some of which owned a large number of slaves and live stock, came from Virginia and the Carolinas to find homes in the wild southwest.  Among the early settlers of Wayne county were the McRaes, McArthurs, McDougalds, McLaughlins, McDaniels, McDonalds and McLaurins.  The constantly recurring "Mc" in the list of names tells whence they originally came.  They not only brought with them the sweet language of their beloved "Scotia," but brought as well that Scottish simplicity which Burns so beautifully portrays in his "Cotter's Saturday Night."  They were a hale, happy and industrious people, conservative in all things and inclined to make the best of existing circumstances.  They loved culture and refinement and established schools and churches without delay.  A number of those Scotch people settled on Buckatunna Creek not far from the place now known as the Philadelphis Presbyterian church.  It seems that a line of settlements were made along both banks of Buckatunna Creek and Chickasawha River.  From careful observation the writer has noticed that all the early settlements were made near the larger streams of the county, often almost on the banks.  There must have been two reasons for this, the fertility of the swamp lands and the facilities of water transportation.  The most important early settlements in the county were at Winchester, the first county site, and at the Scotch settlement on Buckatunna creek.  The Scotch settlers built the first church and established the first school in the county.  They were accustomed to call their American neighbors "Buckskins," which is a survival of the term applied by the British to the colonial troop in the old French and Indian war of 1755-63. 

     The first school was established about 1812.  The Gaelic language was spoken exclusive among the settlers, and was also taught in their school.  This language remained the vernacular until the early [18]20's, when other settlers arrived, some of whose children knew English alone.  For the sake of the English speaking children the teacher then forbade the further use of Gaelic in the school room.  Having been discarded in the school, the Gaelic language soon fell into disuse except to a limited extent among the older people.  To this day [ca. 1902] in that neighborhood the Scottish pronunciation of such words as "said" (sade) is frequently heard.

     Mr. Archibald McArthur was born in the Highlands of Scotland, June 22, 1804, and when about six years of age immigrated with his parents to the United States.  As there was a large number of children in the party, young Archibald was smuggled on board as a stowaway.  he spoke Gaelic every day until he was seventeen years of age, when in consequence of the prohibition against the use of Gaelic in the  he school, he began to speak English, with which he and the other Scotch boys were already more or less familiar.  About 1822 he became connected with the Choctaw mission at Emmaus.  It then became necessary for him to acquire some knowledge of the Choctaw language.  Seventy-five years afterwards, when a very old man, he referred to the fact that he had utterly forgotten his Gaelic, - that he could not recall a single world of it - but that his Choctaw, which he had learned by hard work stuck persistently to his memory.  He was acquainted with the Choctaw chief, Pushmataha, with whom he once dined at Emmaus.  On this occasion, Mr. McArthur was very much amused by the method used by the old chief in peeling a sweet potato.  He revolved it in his left hand, peeling it with his right thumb longitudinally, as it were, pushing the thumb nail from end to end, as a carpenter would his plane.  Mr. McArthur died in Winston County, Mississippi, in the summer of 1896 aged 92 years.

     Pushmataha was frequently a welcome guest in the home of Mr. Alexander Powe, a successful planter, who lived near Winchester.  Mr. Powe had a large number of slaves, and like all Indians, Pushmataha had a great antipathy against the negro.  To please his guest, Mr. Powe required one of his negro men to stand behind Pushmataha's chair and fan him while he ate.  The negro also held a towel or napkin with which to wipe the distinguished guest's mouth when it became greasy.  This marked attention pleased the old warrior very much as it emphasized his superiority over the negro,- whom he hated.

     The following permit was issued to the older brother of Mr. Alexander Powe, who removed to Mississippi in the territorial period and whose descendants are today [ca. 1902] among the most prominent citizens of Wayne county:

     "State of Georgia:
        "By his Excellency David B. Mitchell, Governor and Commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this State and the militia thereof.
        "To all to whom these presents shall comes, or whom the same may concern, Greeting:
        "Know ye, that the bearer hereof, Mr. William Powe, with his wife, eleven children and forty-six negroes, from Chesterfield district, South Carolina, have my permission to travel through the Creek Nation, they taking special care to conduct themselves peaceably toward the Indians and agreeably to the laws of the United States.
        "In testimony thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Executive Seal of the State to be affixed thereto.
        "Done at the Statehouse in Milledgeville, the 12th day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and eleven and the Independence of the United States of American the thirty-fifth.
        "By the Governor,                     "Anthony Porter,
     Mr. William Powe settled about one mile north of the present town of Buckatunna and his brother, Alexander, settled three miles higher up the Chickasawha River, two miles south of old Winchester.  On their way to Mississippi these immigrants when they reached the Chattachoochie River had to abandon their wagons, as the Creek Indians would not allow any trees to be cut in their territory.  Rolling hogsheads were constructed out of oak staves.  They were packed full of the effects of the pioneers and rolled through the Indian country, mules or pairs of mules being hitched to them by means of staffs or poles.  It is said that one of the Powe brothers having a considerable amount of silver, carelessly packed it in a hogshead, which was filled with bacon.  When he reached Wayne county he found his bacon ground to "hash" and the silver conis worn almost beyond recognition.

     The pioneer settlers in Wayne county found a small tribe of Indians, the Hiowannis, in the northeastern part of it.  As the history of this tribe has been assigned to the Hon. Peter J. Hamilton for investigation, it will not be treated in this connection.

     The Creek Indians were a constant source of apprehension to the early settlers of this county after the beginning of the War of 1813 [Creek War].  This outbreak led to the erection of Patton's Fort at Winchester and Rogers' Fort, about seven miles north of that place.  The exact site of the latter has not been located by the writer.  The former was built a short distance south of a small creek near the railroad depot in Winchester.  The old ditches of this fort may still be eaily traced. 2