De Soto Acquires an Interpreter

After adding additional troops in Cuba, De Soto’s army had now increased to one thousand men. Sending out detachments to capture Indians, from whom he expected to learn something about the lay of the land, the expedition found the Native Americans to be especially skillful with the bow and arrow. The long bows used were so powerful that De Soto’s men could hardly cock the bows. The Indians, of course, had been practicing with bows and arrows since childhood and were amused that the soldiers couldn’t effectively use them.

In a cavalry area reconnaissance, the soldiers charged upon a small number of Indians. At that moment a voice cried out, “I am a Christian! I am a Christian! Slay me not”. A stout trooper drew back his lance, lifted the unknown man up behind him and pranced off to join his comrades.

Back in camp the rescued Christian told the long and intriguing story of his captivity. In 1528, Panfilo de Narvaez had attempted to overrun this country with a large expedition. While attempting to return to Cuba, a shipwreck occurred and Juan Ortiz survived. However, Ortiz was taken prisoner by the Indians. As a captive he was about to be burned alive, when he was fortunately saved by the beautiful daughter of Uecta, the chief. As a slave of the Indians for twelve years, Ortiz had been initially treated barbarically and compelled to guard a lonely temple in which the dead had been deposited. During the twelve years that he lived with the Indians, Ortiz learned their language and eventually became accepted by them. In the Spanish camp he was most welcomed by De Soto and became a much needed interpreter. Gratified by the appearance of Ortiz, De Soto gave him clothes and arms and placed him on a good charger. With a good interpreter the Adelantado [De Soto] was now ready to penetrate the interior.

De Soto Lands in Florida

The first true discovery of the interior of the United States was
done by the armed expedition [entrada] of Hernando De Soto, a native of
Spain. While as a youth he enlisted with Francisco Puizarro in 1531
and went to Peru with no property but his sword. He won a
distinguished military reputation and a great part of Inca gold before
returning to his homeland. He was made governor of Cuba as well as all
of United States area which was known as “La Florida”. De Soto resolved
to invest his new found vast wealth into an exceptional expedition
designed to conquer a people whom he believed to possess more gold
than he had beheld South America.  Spain had been fighting the invaded
Moors from North Africa for more than 600 years and finally drove them
out of the Iberian Peninsula. The young men of Spain and Portugal had
become skilled and experienced soldiers during that long conflict. After
Pizarro’s success in South America the best of Spanish and Portuguese
soldiers were anxious to join De Soto’s expedition to the United
States. In April of 1538 he put out to sea with 600 chosen men. After
arriving in Cuba he consumes a year in arranging the affairs of his
government in preparation for the great expedition before him. At the
end of that period, he left his wife, Dona Isabel de Bobadilla and the
Cuban Lieutenant Governor in charge of the Island and sailed on May 12,
1539, for Charlotte Harbor on the West Coast of what is now Florida
with a fleet of nine large and small ships. On June 1, 1539, after
off-loading the vessels, the expedition cleared trees and brush around
the village of Ucita for pasturing the horses as well as for safety
from attacks.  On June 3, with all the men quartered in Ucita, De Soto
took formal possession of all of North America for Spain.

Colbert County, Alabama Dig

Amateur Archaeologist Charles E.Moore working at the Leighton County dig

On April 26, 2012, Dr. Michael Gramly of Andover, Massachusetts led a team of ten visiting archaeologists along with seven local members of the Alabama Archaeological Society on a dig in Colbert County, Alabama. The team excavated twenty-two meter squares near Pleistocene sink holes near Leighton. Most of the squares were along a fence row so the soil had been undisturbed for thousands of years. The objective of the dig was to further establish evidence that the Cumberland phase predated Clovis in the Southeast. A great number of microliths were found as well as a Clovis preform and several fluted fragments from last year’s excavations from the same site. These artifacts are being tested with infrared laser spectrocity to establish dates of the artifacts. So far this work has indicated dates for Cumberland are from about 16,500 years BP [before present] to about 12,500 years BP. These dates overlap Clovis dates which show a range of 12,900 to about 10,500 years BP. The highlight of the work was a hamburger picnic hosted by the local archaeological society followed by a lecture by Dr. Gramly on the excavation work done to date at this location. Charles E. Moore, city Archaeologist for Florence, Alabama was presented the Achievement Award of the American Society of Amateur Archaeology. Only six other people have been chosen for this award. Dr. Gramly stated that Mr. Moore was chosen for this award for being instrumental in opening doors for the society’s work in northern Alabama as well as for his continuous support of many archaeological activities in the area over most of his lifetime.


Dr. Michael Gramly presenting the Achievement Award of the American Society of Amateur Archaeology to Charles E. Moore

The Indian Mound in Florence

From excavations led by Dr. James Knight in 1995, the large platform mound located near the present city of Florence, Alabama proved to be a late Woodland Mound rather than early Mississippian as earlier thought.

Artist’s Concept of the Indian Mound in Florence, AL in Prehistoric Times. Courtesy: Indian Mound Museum By: Dorothy McDonald

The mound is now the site of an archaeological museum built and operated by the citizens of Florence. The museum houses well coordinated displays of cultural material from local sites representing all stages of prehistoric development. This museum will probably be moved to a larger and more accessible building nearby in the near future.

The Florence mound is the highest such structure in the entire Tennessee Valley. In 1914, C.B. Moore visited this site and re-ported at that time the mound rose 42 feet above the flood plain and its base measured 310 by 230 feet. Moore excavated some thirty-four trial pits in the mound without result. He did, however, report the presence of village debris in an adjacent field, suggesting that a habitation area was associated with the mound. Moore also reported that a portion of what had once been an earthwork, now totally destroyed by erosion and industrial development, was present near the mound structure.

The Florence Mound as it appears today.

This earthwork was still intact during the early nineteenth century and Squier and Davis described it as follows:

“Partly surrounding the mound is a wall two hundred and seventy feet distant from its  base, which extends from the main river below to a branch formed by Cane Island above, constituting a segment of a circle, the center of which would be the Tennessee River. The wall is forty feet across the top and, making allowances for the ravages of time, must have been originally from twelve to fifteen feet high. It is now eight feet in height and the wall has what appears to be a ditch on the outside.”

The Pickwick Burial Complex

James B. Griffin has characterized the fourth millennium B.P. as a period of considerable population growth, clear regional adaptations, and inter-regional exchange (Walthall 980). This last trait included trade of raw materials and finished products as well as diffusion of stylistic concepts and ideology. This interaction appears to have reached a peak or climax from about 3,500 to 2,500 B.P.
The most striking manifestation of interaction appears in certain burial “cults” or “cultures” in the Midwest and Northeast. The major burial complexes of this northern interaction sphere include Meadowood culture to the east and the Red Ocher burial complex of the western Great Lakes and upper Mississippi Valley. Walthall ( 980) also associates the Glacial Kame and Old Copper culture of the Great Lakes region with these complexes. For comparative purposes, it is possible to delineate a burial complex developed during the terminal Archaic. It was represented by a certain shell mound burial phase in the western middle Tennessee Valley. These burials and their associations constitute a mortuary tradition that can be termed the “Pickwick Burial complex.”

In applying this term to these burials, it is recognized that (1) the major traits of this complex are centered in the Pickwick Basin area of the Tennessee Valley, and (2) this mortuary tradition spans a period encompassing both late Lauderdale and Bluff Creek phases and perhaps extends into Alexander times as well. Burials relating to the Pickwick complex were usually flexed on the side or in a sitting position. They were placed into pits dug into the shell mounds or into nearby sand beach deposits. Cremation was also practiced and some individuals were decapitated (perhaps postmortem) before burial. Mortuary offerings generally accompanied only a small percentage of individuals. For example, at the Long Branch shell mound (ILU67) only 7 of the 68 late Archaic burials contained grave goods (Webb and DeJarnette  942).
Children and infants, however, were usually buried with mortuary offerings. This practice, combined with the limited number of adults of both sexes were buried with mortuary goods. This may reflect emerging concepts of status among these semi-sedentary groups. These concepts may be the product of interaction with complementary populations on a higher cultural level. Jon Gibson believes he has evidence that the Poverty Point and related peoples of the lower Mississippi Valley were reaching a chiefdom level of sociopolitical organization. Certain distinctive traits in the material cultures of the Poverty Point ethnic group and the Pickwick peoples suggest exchange and interaction between these cultures.

Examples include the presence of Wheeler and Alexander ceramics, steatite vessels, effigy beads, red jasper beads, Motley projectile points, and tubular stone pipes.  Diagnostic Poverty Point effigy beads have been recovered both in the Pickwick Basin and in the upper Tombigbee drainage area of Lamar County (Jolly  97 ) as well as the Kentucky Lake Basin. Burial goods found in Pickwick Burial complex association include both of the functional categories defined by Howard Winters in his study of the Indian cultural burials. These include utilitarian items (projectile points, bone and antler tools, stone vessels, Wheeler ceramic vessels, etc.), and items of a ceremonial nature (human skull bowls and awls, cut animal jaws, etc.) (Walthall  980).
The mortuary goods recovered in Pickwick burials can also be divided into two categories according to source area: (1) items made from locally available raw materials such as bone, antler, and indigenous lithic materials, and (2) materials that reflect trade with ethnic groups in other areas.  It appears that objects of this type were most often exchanged as finished products. These artifacts include steatite containers and tubular pipes that have been quarried from the Hillabee schist deposits of the Piedmont area in east central Alabama. Extensive soapstone quarries have been reported in this area. Objects of steatite are more numerous in the Guntersville Basin area and may have been directly procured from the source areas by these people and then traded downstream to the Pickwick peoples. Some Pickwick burials were accompanied only by strings of red jasper and shell beads. The jasper beads were carefully drilled and polished and vary in length from .6 to 2.25 inches, averaging 0.25 inches in diameter. Other mortuary goods reflect long distance trade such as copper beads and perhaps flint blades from the Great Lakes region. Caches of triangular flint blades similar to those reported in the northern burial complexes have been found in Pickwick burials.Some of these may have been exotic (non-local) materials. The late Archaic Phase leads us into the Gulf Formation Phase of the early Woodland Cultural Period.

This Shoal Creek Point is made of heat treated Horse Creek chert. Tennessee Valley Region

Explanatory Comments
A number of artifacts found in the Poverty Point area of Louisiana are made of Horse Creek or Pickwick tri-colored chert.This material was probably traded from sources in the Tennessee Valley (Webb,1939). Some Choctaws from the Poverty Point area today refer to this chert as “Snake Rock.”

Famous Probable Cherokee Descendant: Abraham Lincoln?

Family  history,  as  well  as  local  legend,  indicate  that President Abraham Lincoln may have been one-fourth or more Cherokee Indian.
According  to Mormon  records,  the  author  descended from the alleged father of Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Enloe (not Abraham Lincoln). To go back another generation, Abra-ham Enloe’s father was Enock Enloes, born 1741 in Baltimore County, Maryland, died in 1799, in York County South Carolina. Enock Enloes was married to Agnes Sprucebank (born 1734),
who was probably a Cherokee, although this is nearly impossible to prove. Quite often, data on Native America spouses on the frontier  was  limited  or  omitted  for  fears  of  later  removal  for them or their families. Their son was Abraham Enloe (born in 1770 in York County, South Carolina, died in 1841 in Murphy, North Carolina, which is in Swain County.
In 1899, less than 3  years after Lincoln’s assassination, James H. Cathey of Sylva, North Carolina, wrote and published the third edition book entitled, The Genesis of Lincoln in which he endeavors to prove “an interesting fact in the story of America’s most  remarkable  man.”  Quoting  interviews  and  letters  from widely scattered sources, Cathey makes a case that Lincoln’s mother “Nancy Hanks, became pregnant as a servant girl in the  home  of Abraham  Enloe,  located  on  Ocona  Lufta,  about
14 miles from Bryson City which is now Swain County, North Carolina.”
Cathey  gave  this  description  of Abraham  Enloe:  “In personal appearance, he is described by the family and those who knew him as having been a very large man, perhaps more, not less, than six feet high. Not corpulent, but muscular and sinewy.  His  head  was  large  and  fine.  Forehead, nose  and  mouth prominent.  His  hair  was  stiff and  black.  His  complexion  was  inclined  to  be tawny.”
Abraham  Enloe  fathered  nine  sons  and seven  daughters  by  his  wife  (a  former Miss Egerton). The  ninth  and  only  surviving  son  in
1899 was Wesley  . Enloe. Wesley was 88 years old when he was interviewed by Cathey at the Enloe  Home  –  the  same  house  on  the  farm where his father and mother lived when Nancy
Hanks  was  banished  from  the  household  and sent to Kentucky.
Wesley  Enloe  said  in  1889,  “I  was  born after the incident between my father and Nancy Hanks.  I  have,  however,  a  vivid  recollection  of hearing  the  name  Nancy  Hanks  frequently mentioned when I was a boy. No, I never heard my  father  mention  it;  he  was  always  silent  on the subject as far as I know… I have no doubt that  the  cause  of  my  father  sending  her  to Kentucky is one generally alleged.”
Cathey interviewed Joseph A. Collins, then  6 and living in Clyde in Haywood County, North Carolina. Collins said “He met  a  Judge  Gilmore  in  1867,  who  stated  he  knew  Nancy Hanks before she married, and that they had a child she called Abraham. While the child was yet small, Collins quoted Judge Gilmore, she married a man by the name Lincoln after which
the boy was known as Abraham Lincoln.”
Captain James W. Terrell (born in Rutherford County, North Carolina  December  1829)  recalled  a  conversation  with  a  Dr. Egerton  of  Hendersonville,  North  Carolina  a  relative  of  Mrs. Abraham Enloe. Dr. Egerton told him, Terrell said, that in the fall  of  1860,  just  before  the  Presidential  election,  he  had  a guest  in  his  home,  a Mr.  Davis,  also  a  Rutherford  County native, who had moved to Illinois in the early 1800’s and had become “intimately acquainted with Abraham Lincoln.”
“In  a  private  and  confidential  talk,”  Davis  is  quoted  as saying, “Lincoln told him he was of Southern extraction and that his right name was, or ought to have been Enloe, but that he had always gone by the name of his stepfather.”
It is said anyone who saw Wesley Enloe, son of Abraham Enloe  and  a  half-brother  of  President  Lincoln,  was  struck  by the  resemblance  of  one  to  the  other  as  can  be  seen  in  this one-of-a-kind photographic comparison.

Abraham Lincoln and Wesley Enloe, Lincoln’s Possible Half-brother

Additional  pictures  and  information  may  be  found  on Google under Abraham Enloe.
It must be stated that Agnes Sprucebank may or may not have been Cherokee. The evidence is only circumstantial. If it is in fact true, the hybrid vitality from Abraham Lincoln’s father will help explain Lincoln’s physical and mental prowess. Present  day  DNA  testing  might  someday  verify  this  story

Pre-Paleo Point Stage

 Alex Krieger, has documented hundreds of sites that have yielded assemblages of crude, percussion flaked tools, pebble choppers, scrapers, cores, and flakes.  Krieger assigns them to what he calls a pre-projectile point state because of the conspicuous absence of projectile points at a number of these sites.   His theory is controversial among most archaeologists because the majority of these finds occurs on the surface and have been subjected to disturbance.   Doubt also exists concerning the identification of some of these objects as actual artifacts.  The most convincing evidence for a state is based upon date recovered from sites in South America, where such crude tools have been found in stratigraphically early contents.   Some of these artifacts bearing zones have been dated by the radiocarbon technique to possible more than twenty thousand years ago.

So far the earliest definite evidence of man in the New World, including South America, dates to about 16,000 Before Present (B.P.).  These dates are based upon a number of radiocarbon determinations from archaeological sites where stone implements have been recovered near extinct animals.  In the Tennessee Valley, any dates earlier than 10,000 Before Present (B.P.) are considered to be Paleo.  The lithic assemblages found at these localities have been assigned to an early cultural state called the Paleo-Indian by many archaeologists.  These assemblages include a type of projectile point, with channel flakes or flutes removed from one or both faces, that has little counterpart in the Old World.  It is the product of a specialized technology and represents a culture well adapted to the New World environment.  This suggests that an earlier developmental stage existed in the New World that ultimately produced these fluted point complexes.  The search for evidence of this early lithic state has been long and tumultuous.

History of the Historian

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains and its foothills, people are known for being talkers and storytellers.  Some have taken it to the next level and written their stories.  Northwest Alabama has been blessed with many historical writers, but none have been as prolific as William “Bill” McDonald of Florence, Alabama.

William “Bill” McDonald, Florence historian was a veteran of the Korean War and World War II.  He was also a United Methodist preacher and longtime Times Daily columnist.  He died October 20, 2009 at the age of 82.

McDonald’s biography could have stopped and started with his military career, 38 years that began when he became one of the first members to graduate from the ROTC program at the University of North Alabama (UNA).  Mention would have to be made of the years he spent as a United Methodist Minister, church historian as well as work he did as chief of the budget staff for the Tennessee Valley National Fertilizer Development Center.  To do that, however, would be to omit his passion and the one thing he’s perhaps most well known for; Shoals history.

Once a week on Wednesdays, he would come to the Florence Lauderdale Public Library and whenever he was there, he would sit at this round table, and no less than eight to 10 to 18 people would sit there with him, and whatever he wanted to talk about, they would talk about. He’s a hero for the community in that he dedicated his life to saving, retelling and documenting the history and stories of this community

McDonald’s love of local history began as a child.  Born in Florence, he would sit at his grandmother’s feet listening to her recount the stories of what life was like in the area in the 1800s and the turn of the century.

It wasn’t long before McDonald became the keeper of those stories, telling them to others.  In addition to amassing the spoken accounts of Colbert and Lauderdale counties, often through first person interviews and extensive research.  McDonald also acquired countless letters, photos and other historical documents that, when combined, created a tangible history of the Shoals.

Throughout his lifetime, McDonald became the authority on the Sweetwater area of Florence including the mill villages that sprang up there.  UNA’s early years in Colbert County on the LaGrange Mountain and its subsequent move to Lauderdale County as well as the history of the United Methodist Church in the Shoals.

From 1968 until 1989, he served as the chairman of the Florence Historical Board, and, in 1989, he was appointed Florence City Historian.  In 1979, he published the first of 15 books he would write. Paths in the Briar Patch was McDonald’s memoir of growing up in the Shoals.  His last book Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley was published in 2003.

Angela Broyles, co-founder of Bluewater Publications, has made it among her goals to see each of McDonald’s books back into print for a new, younger audience, one less familiar with the good old days.  She was quick to say that McDonald’s well documented history of the area should not disappear.

It was Paths in the Briar Patch that brought McDonald into contact with another local historian, Harry Wallace, of Florence.  Sometime in the 1970s, while Harry Wallace was teaching history at Central High School, he heard McDonald was having a book signing.  Although Wallace had known his family all of his life, he wanted to meet this great historian.  After this meeting, McDonald pretty much took him under his wing and helped him.

McDonald was so good at his story telling and history that he people who wouldn’t normally open up would open up to him.  He knew enough about what he had and the value of it, and he dedicated most of it to UNA.  This is just one of the great gifts he leaves.  It is sad to think that a lot of young people will not be able to hear his great stories.

Florence Mayor Irons knew that the vacancy he left as city historian would be difficult    to fill.

It has been said many times, in the local history and genealogy department at the Florence library that was no feet big enough to fill his shoes.  He always took the time to help and encourage anyone who asked him.

McDonald was married to Dorothy Carter McDonald, an artist and retired teacher in the Florence City School System.  They have two daughters.  Dr. Nancy Carter McDonald and Suzannah Lee McDonald.

Bill always listened intently to the stories told by others and felt that these stories should be passed on to future generations’ listening ears and in the form of written word.

Charles E. Moore, City of Florence Archaeologist

The Cumberland Phase

The Cumberland phase[15,500-12,500 years before present]is characterized by narrow,lancelate shaped projectile points with constricted hafting zones. The points are normally fully or nearly fully fluted.Unfluted later varients are known as the Beaver Lake type.

Cumberland and related projectile points do not occur over the wide geographical area that characterizes Clovis forms.Most of the Tennessee Valley fluted points are restricted to the Interior Lower Plateau and the surrounding area Dr. Richard M. Gramly has done extensive research on the Cumberland Phase. He refers to this area as the “Shiloh Plateau”which generally stretches from Shiloh, Tennessee east to Pulaski, Tennessee, where a number of Cumberlands have been found.Gramly thinks this was the ideal ecotone which provided deciduous forests and grassy plains for much of the game, while immediately to the North the boreal forests of spruce and jack pines were less attractive for early game and, thus, for Cumberland hunters.As the colder weather began to moderate[14,000-12000 B.P.],this ecotone slowly moved northward.This same environment with the Gulf Stream warm water effect extended up the East Coast, as far north as New England.

By setting up a medium ridge on both sides of a preform the striking platform for fluting must be thick like El Jobo points in Latin America and the cutting edges will be narrow. While thick, narrow fluted spearpoints are useful against large game with tough hydes, Clovis points, thinner and wider instruments with more rounded tips may have been better to cause extensive bleeding. In contrast to the Cumberland, the hafting areas of most Clovises are relatively wide with channel flakes that may not extend very far past halfway.Thus a sleek cutting point capable of deep penetration was created. Since channel flakes were not allowed to extend very far, the tip of the Clovis remained strong as opposed to the more fragile Cumberland.The Cumberland may have been less effective against a greater varity of game than the Clovis. Perhaps the Cumberland fluted points are more specialized for larger game than the Clovis, therefore, probably older rather than younger than Clovis. However, in some cases both Cumberland and Clovises are found on the same sites.

Another argument to support the greater antiquity for Cumberland is their occurance in the earlier ideal ecotone areas. While the Cumberland distribution is rather limited, the Cumberland tradition is not. The Barnes and Folsom point as well as Beaver Lake types occur over a broader area. The author recently designated a new Cumberland varient called “Cloverland”. This type occurs occurs primarily in northern Alabama and southern -middle Tennessee. It’s characterastics are thin like a Clovis and short to medium in length. The basal constriction of Cloverland is wider thaan thje classic Cumberland. There is a thin median ridge quite often taken out by fluting strikes.It has recurvate sides, and is often fluted to the end on on side and only partially on the other side. The Cloverland is probably another late Cumberland varient. Charles E.Moore, Florence,Al. city archaeologist.