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Jefferson County Tidbits # 20 The Settlement at Uniontown
The first account of the settlement within the present boundaries of Jefferson County is found in Claiborne's History of Mississippi where mention is made that "The French under concession by the King had at the time of the Natchez Massacre in 1729 several improved plantations around Natchez on St. Catherine Creek ... and there was a plantation near the south of Cole's Creek"
However, every white soul was killed or enslaved during the fury of the Massacre and the settlers there undoubtedly perished with the rest.
The second account of the settlement is that it was established near Coles Creek. Wm. Ferguson obtained by British grant (April 21, 1776) 500 acres of land on the Indian trail which is now known as the Natchez Trace. This tract lay along the fertile bottom of the South Fork of Cole's Creek and contained many springs.
It is written in the WPA records that there was an old Spanish Fort located on an Indian Mound on this place and that Ferguson built his home on that mound using some of the timbers of the fort for the foundation. He also purchase flatboats at Natchez and brought them to the location over the Indian trail. He fortified the mound with a log stockade perhaps even digging a moat for further protection.
Other pioneers coming down the Indian trail into the new country were attracted by the location and the protection of Ferguson's fortified home and the fact that Natchez market and out to the world lay but a day's journey away. A settlement soon grew up about the spring on Ferguson's grant. On Sep 14, 1799 William Ferguson for the sum of $725. deeded 66 acres of land for the establishment of a town to be called Union. (Jefferson County Deed book A-1, pg 15) The trustees listed were George Cochran, John Girault, Wm. Moss and James Truly. At this time there was a settlement of some hundred families on the Ferguson grant.
Most of the settlers at Uniontown were Virginians and Kentuckians. Some of the settlers there were Edmund Shackleford, son-in-law of Ferguson, set up a tanning business by the Spring. Farley made hats which he exchanged to the settlers for skins. Jake Warner made boots. Pintard was a cabinet maker and had a furniture shop. McMurchy made wagons , plows, etc. and old Getzemar made bull whips. (Anebec's note: it states that this reference was taken from the Encyclopedia of Mississippi History by Rowland)
In 1804 Rev. Joseph Bullen and his wife, Hannah, reached Uniontown from Mass. and organized the first Presbyterian church. Father Bullen, as he was affectionately called, left a large number of descendants to carry on the Bullen name.
He and his wife are buried in an old cemetery close to the site of his church. The inscriptions on their gravestones are:
"In Memory of Rev. Joseph Bullen who died March 25th, 1825, aged about 75 years and a preacher of the gospel nearly 50 years. A Native of Massachusetts."
"In Memory of Hannah, Consort of Joseph Bullen,
who died October 17th, 1818.
Aged about 72 years. A native of Massachusetts."
On his way to New Orleans during the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson and his troops passed through Uniontown. It is said that while his troops were camped about the big spring on the commons that Jackson spent the night as the guest of the Fergusons.
Some years later, in 1821, General Jackson, in the company of General Carrol passed through Jefferson County stopping again for a Christmas visit at Ferguson's Tavern.
Rowland writes that it was situated on the south side of Cole's Creek and was the next station above Selsertown on the Trace. It was a place of importance in the early history of Jefferson County and had been platted into streets.
Col. John A. Watkins describes its business life as: Shackleford
established an extensive tannery having branches at the old Cable place and at Mrs. Wallace's. Ellis had a public gin.
Folks in the area killed coons, took him the skins and return got hats. Old Getzendanner made bull whips. Weaving was extensively carried on, but it was done by hand. Greenleaf, about 1797, established a cotton-gin factory, and that, the first gin ever used in Mississippi, was made by a negro.
Addition information can be obtained from Goodspeed's Biog. & his Mem. of Miss, Vol 1, p. 176
The next Tidbit will be on Shankstown ... Enjoy