Houston County early Colonial and Indian history


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Houston County, Alabama Heritage

Early Colonial and Indian History

Forbes Purchase and Houston County

May 25, 2004 will mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Forbes Purchase at Chiskatalofa, an Indian village located around Ellicott Mound #381 (survey mile marker built during the survey of the first U.S. Southern Boundary in 1799. It is located 381 miles east of the Mississippi River near the point where Alabama, Florida and Georgia intersect on the west bank of the Chattahoochee in present-day Houston County, Alabama). This deed of cession of 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola River to John Forbes & Co. began an entire series of treaties where Indians paid their debts with the only thing they possessed, their land. Since John Forbes moved to his sugar plantation, Canimar, in Matanzas Province, Cuba in 1817, many of the business transactions and lawsuits associated with the Forbes Purchase occurred in Cuba. When Forbes died in 1823, his son-in-law,Francisco Dalcourt (husband to Forbes' daughter, Sophia) was appointed executor of Forbes's estate in Cuba. Money from the sale of the Forbes Purchase became tied up in a series of lawsuits filed in New Orleans and Matanzas by those claiming to be owed money by the Forbes's estate. Litigation over the property granted to John Forbes by the Indians at Chiskatalofa in 1804 remained in the courts until 1923, a century after Forbes had died, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that submerged land in Apalachicola Bay granted by the Forbes Purchase was owned by the State of Florida.

After being appointed Receiver of Pubic Monies in the General Land Office in 1825, Richard Keith Call sailed to Havana to examine the original Forbes Purchase documents . From then on, Call argued to overturn the Forbes's Purchase. According Coker and Watson:

At Call's urging, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed hearing the case until 1835. In the interim, the government sent Jeremy Robinson to Havana to obtain documents to support the government's arguments. Fully briefed by Call [my note: in Marianna], Robinson spent two years in Havana locating and identifying documents, but he died in 1834 before any of these papers were sent to Washington. Nicholas Philip Trist succeeded Robinson and uncovered forty-five documents in Havana, which the Supreme Court refused to admit as evidence.

This was Justice Marshall's last case and he upheld as perfectly legal the Forbes Purchase land grant.
The only people who have tried to help me with this are the members of the Innerarity Family forum at MyFamily.com. They are interested because their ancestor, James Innerarity from Mobile negotiated this cession of Indian land at Chiskatalofa in 1804. In order to close the deal, Mr. Innerarity had to promise to build a John Forbes & Company store at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River. Nichols chose to build his "Negro Fort" near there in 1814 and Andrew Jackson built his Fort Gadsden on top of the ruins of this fort during the First Seminole War.

I found out about Marlene from the article she wrote about Ft. Gadsden where she quoted Mr. John G. Hentz as saying that the land where Ft. Gadsden stood was the most important historic spot in Florida. I agree with Mr. Hentz and I had a very long phone call with him about this subject this afternoon.

John Forbes also had a Spanish land grant giving him title to the entire coast from Apalachicola to East Pass at present-day Destin (not that far- East Pass in the 1800's was where the Holiday Inn of Destin now stands, east of the city of Destin). This land grant was annulled by U.S. courts because the date of the transaction had been forged in order to qualify under the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty that gave Florida to the U.S. All this land therefore went directly into public domain after the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823 extinguished Indian title.

Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster

Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster