The Creek Indians of Boiling Spring, AL

Posted by | December 16, 2011

“Boiling Spring”
The Anniston Times, December 30,1932
by Bessie Coleman Robinson

Our county abounds in beautiful springs, but no other surpasses Boiling Spring in beauty. It is located on the Manning Christian Place, originally called the Caver Place, situated in the Choccolocco Valley a few miles east of Oxford. In early days this spring gushed forth from the ground in a volume of water six feet high and some six inches in diameter. The white people coming into the county when it was first opened to settlement found the Indians living in huts all about this spring.

Knowledge of the location of Indian villages within the boundaries of Calhoun County is very scant. The fact that the Indian depended very little upon agriculture for his livelihood made a permanent location for his habitation unnecessary. Instead, the Indian lived mainly by hunting and fishing, and as both game and fish were plentiful, he moved about seeking new hunting grounds.

However, the Creek Indian lived in towns and had organized governments, one of these, Tallasseehatchie, is known to have been in the western part of the county. That there were others, we are sure, but their sites have not been fixed. It is interesting to know that there are evidences that point to a permanent Indian settlement at Boiling Spring.

Burial Ground

On a hillside, not far from the spring, there is an Indian burial ground. A field in front of the Manning Christian home is believed to be the site of an Indian village. When the ground was cleared for cultivation, quantities of arrowheads, stone ax heads and pieces of broken pottery were found scattered over the field and about the spring. A ceremonial ax found here, is now in the Geological Museum at the University of Alabama. In this field also an Indian grave was plowed up, which was enclosed with large rocks, and when opened, the bones quickly shattered to dust.

Another indication that an Indian village was located here is a large mound that has attracted a great deal of attention from archaeologists. It is 200 feet long and 50 feet wide and 30 feet high. Historians of Alabama tell us that Creek Indians lived in cabins of rather crude structure scattered about in small groups within the vicinity of a mound upon which the chief lived in a more pretentious dwelling.

Benjamin Hawkins and the Creek IndiansDetail from: Benjamin Hawkins and the Creek Indians, c. 1805. Oil on canvas, 35 7/8 x 49 7/8 in. From the collection of the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville S.C.

The mounds have been the subject of endless speculation among noted antiquarians. Since the period of mound building was over before the Europeans settled this country, their origin and use have been obscured. Pickett, early historian of Alabama believed that the mounds were erected by Indians. Other authorities contend that the mound buildings preceded the Indians. It is the opinion of Dr. J. H. McCullah, noted antiquarian quoted by both Pickett and Moore, that the large mounds “were sites for dwelling of chiefs, for council halls and for temples, which fancy and conceit have constructed into various shapes and variously situated one to another.”

Mounds Explored

Dr. Moore, in his history of Alabama, says, “The small mounds have been thoroughly enough explored to demonstrate that they were for the purpose of sepulcher. Usually, they are five or ten feet high and fifteen to sixty feet in circumference.” In a few instances, the small mound served as a tomb for one chief, but generally it contained numerous persons. From the size of the Boiling Spring mound, it is to be inferred that it belongs in the class with the large mounds.

On 10-29-1909, some young men, interested in Indian history, including Prof. Scott Lyon, Eugene Turner, Walter Stevens, Tulane Kidd, and Duncan Houser, decided to excavate the mound. They entered it from the top, digging a trench about twenty feet long. After going down for about five to six feet, they found a pot about the size of a quart vessel. Realizing that they were not skilled enough to get relics out of the mound unbroken, they abandoned the venture.

Bessie Coleman Robinson wrote a regular column on the early history of Calhoun County, AL for The Anniston Times, which published from 1932-1943. The articles are preserved on microfilm in the Bessie Coleman Robinson Collection at the Anniston Library. www.anniston.lib.al.us/archive/Bessie_Coleman_Robinson.htm. This article was transcribed by Erna Evans of Anniston and is online at http://bit.ly/VfFrq

2 Responses

  • Tracy Lemon says:

    I’ve never shopped at Sam’s, and if Wal Mart were not the only store in this very tiny hypocrite town… I would not shop there either. I am of Creek Blood, my grandmother did not have an easy life, as she was forced to go to the Carlisle School to have the indian beaten out of her, so to speak.
    I take GREAT PRIDE in my Creek heritage as we have such an interesting history.

    I would love to see this story told all across the south eastern part of the country, then spread it to the rest of the country!

  • Mary Brayman says:

    This is an outrage! Walmart/Sam’s Club thinks they can do anything they want. I am so tired of people taking taking from our native people. If this was any other race it would be on the all the tv news .

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