Tuesday, March 17, 2009

William Weatherford's Grave - Baldwin County, Alabama

The resting place of a noted figure in Southern and Native American history an be found in a quiet park in Baldwin County, Alabama.

William Weatherford, often called "Red Eagle" since his death in 1826, was a Creek warrior associated with some of the most significant events in Southern history. The son of a white trader and a Creek woman and the nephew of the famed Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, Weatherford lived on a plantation in South Alabama and was a noted horse breeder.

In 1803, he was part of the party that seized the notorious pirate and adventurer William Augustus Bowles and turned him over to the Spanish due to Bowles' attempt to rest control of the Creek Nation from its hereditary leaders. Ten years later, however, Weatherford himself became involved in a violent attempt to seize control of the nation.

The story of how William Weatherford, a mixed race warrior who lived in a largely white lifestyle, became involved in a religious movement designed to return the Creek Nation to its traditional roots is both complicated and confusing. One story holds that he was forced to join by a Red Stick prophet who threated his safety and that of his family, but his relative Samuel Moniac, who was present at the alleged incident, did not mention Weatherford's presence.

The second story is that Weatherford joined the Red Stick movement voluntarily through the influence of relatives such as Josiah Francis, the primary Red Stick prophet.

A third story, however, emerges in the letters of the U.S. Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins who reported in 1813 that "Bill Weatherford" was a member of the Mississippi Territorial Militia that engaged a Red Stick supply train at Burnt Corn Creek, Alabama. According to Hawkins, Weatherford was taken prisoner in the battle. Not long after, he emerged as one of the leaders of the Red Stick attack on Fort Mims, Alabama, in which hundreds of men, women and children were killed.

To learn more about William Weatherford and see photos of his burial place, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/weatherford.

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