Wayne Co, Mississippi
Genealogical and Historical Research
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Times in Wayne County (continued)...
When the news of this uprising of the Creeks reached Wayne county, many of the citizens were attending a protracted meeting on Buckatunna creek, probably in the Scotch settlement. A hurried consultation was held and the people returned to their homes with the understanding that the men should the next day meet at Patton's mill to decided upon some course of action. At this meeting it was decided that a fort should be built near this mill for the protection of all families in the community. After the meeting adjourned, the men hastened to their homes, and as soon as convenient returned with their families, well supplied with provisions, working tools, and everything else needful for fort life. They began to work upon the fort without delay. In about a week it was completed and occupied. The fort was called Patton's Fort in honor of Col. James Patton, who was made its commander.
After the lapse of several weeks about fifteen families becoming dissatisfied with the discomforts of fort life, and the annoyances of some false alarms, abandoned the place and returned to their farms on the Buckatunna. They then adopted a plan for their own protection. When the duties of the day were over, these families would repair to some designated house in the community, around which sentinels would be posted for the night. The next morning before returning to their farm duties, another house would be selected as a play of meeting, at which all would assemble at the appointed time. They also organized a kind of scouting service. From time to time two men well armed and mounted would be sent in the direction of the enemy to watch and ascertain their movements. On their return they would be relieved and two others sent on a like errand. In this manner these Buckatunna farmers enjoyed the freedom of country life and kept up their farm work. Their scouting service was so efficient that the inmates of Patton's Fort depended upon them for information as to the Indians. Two of these farmer scouts, Cole and Crane, were the first to bring to Wayne County the news of the massacre at Fort Mims. This intelligence had little effect upon the sturdy farmers who left the fort. They remained upon their farms during the entire war. Fortunately for Wayne County forts no attack was ever made upon them.
Winchester, near which Patton's Fort stood, was the county site, and became a place of considerable importance in the territorial period and in the days of early statehood. It contained at one time more than thirty business houses. The writer had been unable to learn of the establishment of any school at this place in its early days. It is said that more than forty years elapsed after the founding of the town before a church was built. This place was the county site until 1854, when the court house was removed to Waynesboro. The old court house still stands on the site of old Winchester, a sad reminder of other days.
Among the prominent men who resided in Winchester was John McRae, father of Gov. John J. McRae. He engaged in the mercantile business in Sneedsboro, N.C., until the year 1817, when he removed his family to Winchester. Gov. McRae was born in North Carolina, January 10th, 1815, and was less than three years of age when he reached Winchester. His father continued the mercantile business in Winchester, where he prospered. He also became a cotton buyers, and was the first person to send barges down the Pascagoula where he kept an agent to look after his interests. In 1826 he removed from Winchester to West Pascagoula for his heath, the sea breeze being considered beneficial to those having weak lungs. 3
Gen. James Patton, to whom reference has been made, was also a citizen of Winchester. He was a man of great popularity, being for many years the most conspicuous man in East Mississippi. Through his influence Winchester became at one time a center of political power, second only to Natchez [Adams County]. Under his tutelage Judge John Black and Judge Powhatan Ellis entered upon their public career. Gen. Patton was a fluent writing and am impressive speaker. He was elected lieutenant-governor and, but for his untimely death, would probably have attained the highest honors within the gift of the people of Mississippi.
Judge Powhatan Ellis was a Virginian by birth, and claimed to have the blood of Pocahontas coursing through his veins. He had a stately and courtly bearing, was midl and polished in manner, amiable in temper, and extremely indolent in habits. He was made judge of the fourth district by the Legislature of the State, which met in the town of Washington, in October, 1817. He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, July 14, 1832, and in this capacity he served the State with distinguished ability for a term of four years. In speaking of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Col. Claiborne pays Judge Ellis the following compliment:
"Of these, Judge Turner and Judge Ellis seem to have delivered the most opinion - not surprising in the case of the first, who was industrious, but the latter, with his Pochahontas blood inherited the characteristic indolence of the race, so it must be construed as a high sense of official duty that induced him to write an opinion."Judge Ellis served his adopted State one term in the United States Senate, after which he was sent to Mexico in some official capacity. He died in Virginia during the war between the States.
Another prominent citizen of Winchester was Mr. James Mayers, father of Judge A. G. Mayers and of Capt. P. K. Mayers. He was a native of Richmond, Va. After his removal to Wayne county he was elected successively to the offices of justice of the peace, clerk of the court, sheriff, and probate judge.
Among the settlers who came to the county just prior to the admission of Mississippi into the Union, were Gen. Wm. Lang, Wills and Stephen Lang, John H. Horn, Collins Horn, father of James A. Horn, former Secretary of State, Thomas P. Falconer, State Senator from his district and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1832.
To give a full history of these and of other families that have contributed a prominent part to the early history of Wayne county would be impracticable in this connection.