EARLY HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
OF YAZOO COUNTY (continued)
In the early days Yazoo county abounded in
more numerous and perhaps more varied wild animals than did any other section
of the State. It was, therefore, a favorite hunting and fishing ground
of the Indians before and for many years after they parted with the right
of domain. While they were living in what is now Leake, Attala and other
eastern counties, they would hunt and fish in Yazoo county during certain
periods of the year, bringing with them their squaws and papooses, or children.
In going from place to place, the men frequently rode, but the women always
walked, carrying their infant children in baskets on their backs, with
straps extending around their foreheads.
Each Choctaw family had a small field on which
was a peach orchard besides patches for raising corn and other vegetables.
Long after they left Yazoo county these fields could still be distinguished.
They were called “Indian fields.” As all of them had peach orchards on
them any person passing by could gather and eat as many peaches as he desired,
but he was not permitted to carry any away with him.
The Choctaws were strictly honest and scrupulously
faithful and punctual in their engagements. They never failed to return
borrowed articles on time, to the very hour. They never arrested or imprisoned
a party, and criminals never failed to appear at the time specified to
answer to the charges against them. If a Choctaw was found guilty of murder,
he was allowed to go free under instructions to return at the time specified
to the place of execution. On the day of execution he repaired to the grave
dug for him, knelt by the side of it, and baring his breast to the executioners,
was shot, the grave ‘filled up, and his name was no more mentioned.
The women were as a general rule chaste, modest,
retiring, industrious and devoted to husband and children. Fornication
and adultery were punished with death. The women planted and cultivated
the corn and other crops, gathered up the wood, made the fires and did
all other menial labor.
The Choctaws were friendly to the white man,
especially the American. They were brave and fearless, but inclined more
to peace than any other tribe. They were said to be truthful and faithful.
Their word was sacred, and their plighted faith inviolate. Theft was a
heinous crime, and severely punished. They would not recognize the privilege
to acquire right of property by domestication of any wild animals.
A horse, cow, dog, hog, or other domestic animals could be owned and
the stealing of them was an offense against their law. But to kill or steal
a tame deer, a tame bear or other animals of the forest that had been domesticated
was not considered a crime by them.
On the tablelands of Big Black river, in what
is now Yazoo county, there were prairies of several miles in length and
of one or two miles in width on which not a tree or shrub grew. Luxuriant
grass and beautiful wild flowers were the only growths Oil them. There
was a tradition among the Indians that once large herds of buffalo inhabited
the prairie lands of Lowndes, Neshoba and other eastern counties bordering
on Alabama, and that early in the eighteenth century a terrible drought
prevailed in that section drying up the Tombigbee river, and all
other streams in that part of the country, which caused all the wild animals
to leave. The deer, bear and all other except the buffalo returned after
the drought was broken. There was a legend among the Choctaws that
certain wild animals or beasts corresponding with the description of the
buffalo came to Yazoo about the time of this drought and remained some
It was the custom of the Choctaws every fall
or winter in order to prevent the forest from becoming too dense to destroy
the undergrowth by setting fire to and burning off the woods. This annual
burning of the woods may have frightened the buffaloes away.
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and French Forts
Back of Satartia, which is in the lower end of this county, on a high hill
is a well defined fort. As the French and Spaniards once owned this country
and erected fortifications only on the bank of the river it is supposed
by some that this fort was built by DeSoto in the year 1541. Some historians
according to Claiborne insist that DeSoto on his retreat to the Mississippi
wintered on the Yazoo in that year. The Indians did not know by whom this
fort was built.
On the west bank of the Yazoo river, below Satartia, is a fort supposed
to have been built by the French as it was found to exist when this country
was first settled by the whites. Historians relate that the French built
a fort on the Yazoo river in Warren county, which they called St. Peter
and which was located on a bluff, now, and for many years, known as Snyder’s
Bluff, and on the 2d day of January, 1730, this entire garrison which consisted
only of about twenty men was killed by the Indians, as were also a few
families who had settled under the protection of the fort. This fort at
Snyder’s Bluff was not very far below the one in Yazoo county referred
There are also vestiges of another fort about sixteen or eighteen miles
above Yazoo City in what is called the Fort Place. The lands where this
fort was situated have been cultivated until all traces of the fortification
have disappeared. This fort, it is thought, was also built by the French
when that part of the country was in their possession.
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