Scraper Mountain and vicinity

By Joe Scraper Jr.

 

Scraper Mountain straddles the Alabama – Georgia border.  Extending from Cherokee County, Alabama northeast into Chattooga and Floyd Counties in Georgia.  Recent maps may show the name being Bogan Mountain and Bogan Peak instead of Scraper Mountain.  After the Cherokee were driven out by the white invaders, a man named George Washington Bogan came to live there.  The highest peak on Scraper Mountain is easily less than 2000 feet, so don’t expect snow-capped peaks or ski resorts.  Some have questioned why mounts of this size like Scraper Mountain in Alabama or Walkingstick Mountain in Oklahoma are called mountains at all.  Pike’s Peak they are not, but if you live at such a place and walk, or ride a horse or wagon regularly up and down the grades, you soon come to call it a mountain.  An old worn down mountain perhaps, but a mountain just the same.

In 1835 it was reported that 2000 Indians were living in Chattooga District Cherokee Nation East, or Cherokee County, Alabama as the white people called it.  Most lived along the Coosa River and Ball Play Creek.  Chief Scraper’s old cabin was known to be close to what is now known as Lawrence, Alabama.  His children were born here, not far from where the Chattooga River emptied into the Coosa River.  Scraper’s nephew, Little Archie Scraper, was known to live nearby as well (Chattooga Old Town), so it may be that Scraper’s brother Sar-lar-wee (Squirrel), the father of Little Archie might have lived close by.  Little Archie Scraper’s wife was a Sewekiller (Fivekiller).  The Sewekillers also lived along the Chattooga River Valley near Scraper Mountain.

Sixkiller, another brother of Scraper, lived about 15-16 miles up river near Island Town on the Chattooga River (near present day Summerville, Georgia).  Should Chief Scraper have chosen to journey to see his brother by water, the canoe trip would have taken 3-4 hours going upstream, and as little as 1-2 hours on the return trip traveling with the current.

Scraper’s brother-in-law, the great warrior and Chief, Archilla Smith, had a beautiful fancy 2-story home complete with balcony along the Coosa River near Rome, Georgia, about 17 miles east of Scraper Mountain.  This 2-story home may have previously belonged to Smith’s father, Cabin Smith, as Archilla did claim a place on the Coosa River which had previously belonged to his father while at the same time having a ‘home place’ on the Oostanaula River.  When he was driven out by the white invasion, Archilla moved to the Chattooga River Valley in the region between Scraper Mountain and Island Town.  Sixkiller and Scraper had both married sisters of Archilla, the former marrying Gu-er-tsa Smith, and the latter marrying Tiana Smith, both daughters of Chief Cabin Smith and Cabin’s wife, Jennie of the Paint Clan.  Other sons of Cabin Smith included Smoke Smith, who lived near his brother-in-law, Sixkiller, at Island Town, and Hominy Smith, who lived along the Chattooga River.  Go-li-si Smith, daughter of Cabin, married Little Turtle and they also lived close by at Chattooga Old Town.  Another daughter, Oo-du-ski Smith, married Big Tiger and lived on Chickamauga Creek.

Chief Cabin Smith lived his last years about 12-13 miles east of Scraper Mountain, just east of the Coosa settlement.  His cabin is believed to have been located close to where two creeks came together.  The creeks are named Cabin Creek and Smith Creek in his honor.  Once joined, the two creeks become Cabin Smith Creek, which flows southward just east of the Central Georgia Railway track on it’s way to join the Coosa River.

In 1819 Cabin Smith had lived in Tennessee at the Ft. Loudon site on the Little Tennessee River near Tellico River and Nine Mile Creek.  He received a reservation of 640 acres as a signer of the 1819 Treaty.  The Cherokee signing this treaty agreed to become citizens of the United States and give up title to any lands in Tennessee.  His reservation is believed to have included the remnants of old Ft. Loudon and his ferry was located where the public road crossed the Little Tennessee River, making it a very profitable enterprise.  Nearby were the Cherokee towns, Tuskeegee, where Sequoyah was born, and Chota, capitol or principal town of the Cherokee Nation.

In the late 1700’s Cabin Smith was Principal Chief of Island Town, a very large town near Summerville, GA in Chattooga County.  Island Town was located about 11 or 12 miles north of his final home near Coosa.  The smallpox that was introduced by the whites nearly wiped out all the Cherokee living at Island Town.  Though Chief Cabin Smith survived, the pain and suffering there must have been unbearable.  It must have greatly affected his confidence in his abilities to govern and protect his people as they died in mass while he watched helplessly.  He would have used all his knowledge and every resource at his command.  Every root, herb, or tree bark, every tea or salve, in attempts to save his people.  Despite his efforts, only the very strongest lived through the epidemic.  Some have said that white people deliberately spread the smallpox virus to the Indians via blankets and other trade goods.  It is difficult to imagine that they so hated and feared the Native Americans, or that their desire for land was so great, that they could have done this thing.

Haweis Mission, where Cabin Smith converted to Christianity, was located about 3 miles west of his place when he lived near Coosa.  Although the old Chief had long opposed the Christian movement of the missionaries within his tribe, because he believed that it, or the contact with whites in general was gradually eroding the Cherokee culture and causing them to become more greedy and uncivilized like the white people.  Dr. Elizur Butler had performed a small surgical procedure on the Chief greatly relieving his pain.  The success of the surgery may have been what finally pushed Cabin Smith into having faith in Dr. Butler and Christianity.  In 1831, at 80 years of age, he was baptized by Dr. Butler.  After his death, his widow Jennie was known to have lived on the southeast side of the Coosa River.

Other places of interest close to Scraper Mountain include Turkey Town where Chief John Ross was born, and Wills Valley Mission.  Some of the Scraper children attended school at Albany Missionary Station at Wills Valley under William Chamberlain.

Chief Pathkiller lived near Turkey Town where he operated a ferry on the Coosa River.  He died in 1828 and was buried at the little cemetery on his place.  A white man named John Garrett was trying to steal Pathkiller’s land even before the old chief died.  Garrett was the Probate Judge of the county and was an influential man.  Pathkiller Ferry later became known as Garrett Ferry, and the Pathkiller Burial Ground became Garrett Cemetery.  The cemetery, at present day Centre, Alabama, contains the Chief’s grave marker. It proclaims, “Chief Pathkiller 1764-1828 known as the Last of the Cherokee Kings”.  The footstone reads, “Powerful, Intellectual and Progressive”.  A marker for Chief Pathkiller was also placed at New Echota, Georgia.  The one at New Echota was born in 1742 and may have been the father or uncle of the Pathkiller buried at Turkey Town.  The will of Peggy Pathkiller, likely the widow of Chief Pathkiller, was executed Jan 13th 1829 at Pathkiller’s Ferry on the Coosa.  The heirs named are: oldest daughter-Nancy; daughter-Nelly; grandson-Crying Snake; grandson-Eyoostee; sister’s daughter-Queeluoo; daughter-Quatee; daughter-Charwahyooca; and youngest daughter-Janny.

Upon the death of Chief Pathkiller, Major Ridge, whose son John, witnessed the above mentioned will, bought the estate including the ferry and farm.  Many leading men of the Cherokee Nation East were known to meet and talk of affairs in this area.  As the whites crowded in and were forcing the Cherokee from their homes, local legend tells that some Indians begged to stay.  They traded a large pot of gold in exchange for being allowed to live out their remaining years in peace at their old homes.

 

Further Reading:

Cherokee County (Alabama) History 1836-1956 Vol 1 by Mrs. Frank Ross Stewart.

Cherokee Planters in Georgia 1832-1838 by Don L. Shadburn

Cherokee Footprints Volumes I, II, & III  by Charles O. Walker