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Pintlala’s Cold Murder Case: The Death of Thomas Meredith in 1812 BURIED NOT FAR FROM THE BANKS OF PINCHONA CREEK in southwest Montgomery County and very near the site of Sam Moniac’s tavern on the Old Federal Road are the remains of Thomas Meredith. His murder in late March 1812 by militant Creek Indians inflicted a trauma on Meredith’s westward-traveling family, a trauma for which they were unprepared. Exactly what happened to Meredith along the banks of the Pinchona, a stream punctuated by cypress knees and garrisoned by trees laden with Spanish moss, is cloistered in mystery. What is clear is that the killing of Thomas Meredith quickly became a high-profile case, claiming the attention and energy of federal of- ficials. Accounts of the incident vary, and even the number of people in Meredith’s party is uncertain. The Meredith murder became even more significant because of two other incendiary acts of violence that occurred soon after: Arthur (or William) Lott, a former Georgia legislator, was killed in Macon County, and members of the Manley and Crawley families were killed or captured on the Duck River in Tennessee. This trio of incidents became flashpoints that eventually ignited the Red Stick War in 1813. GARY BURTON Gary Burton has been the pastor of the Pintlala Baptist Church since 1972. He currently serves as president of the Pintlala Historical Association and Friends of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Civic involvements include service with the Montgomery Public Library Board of Directors, including five years as president, and with Montgomery ’s Baptist Health Board. The author extends gratitude to his wife Jerrie for her tireless clerical assistance, and to Bill Trimble and Carey Cauthen for their helpful editing of this publication. Further gratitude is expressed for the inspiration of Sandra Bennett, a Meredith descendant living in Irving, Texas, and to Dr. Kathryn Braund for her scholarship and enthusiasm for this period of history. Thanks are also extended to the research staffs of the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Special Collections and Archives, James B. Duke Library, Furman University, South Carolina. This presidential address was read at the annual meeting of the Alabama Historical Association held in Gadsden, April 17, 2010. T H E A L A B A M A R E V I E W 164 Today, nearly two hundred years after the Meredith murder, two issues related to the event need resolution. First, clarification related to the location of the crime is called for, and second, and more important, Sam Moniac’s contention that the killing was accidental when an eyewitness contended otherwise needs to be examined. On April 6, 1812, William Eustis, the Secretary of War, received a report announcing that Thomas Meredith Sr. had been murdered by militant Creeks. The official reporting of the murder came from Col. Benjamin Hawkins, who had been appointed by President George Washington in 1796 as General Superintendent of Indian Affairs and who served in his post with prominence and distinction. Hawkins had lived among the Creek Indians, was especially familiar with the Creeks who lived in the Mississippi Territory, and was well traveled in the area that became central and south Alabama. During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Hawkins received federal support for implementing a plan to “civilize” the Indians, particularly encouraging their adoption of European agricultural methods.1 In his 1812 report, Hawkins described the sixty-two-year-old Meredith as a “respectable old man.”2 Other details, however, are not found in the official correspondence from Hawkins, who left much unsaid about the man murdered on the banks of the Pinchona. What he did write was: On the 26th ult. Thomas Meredith, Sen. a respectable old man, travelling with his family to the Mississippi territory, was murdered on the post road, at Kittome, a creek 150 miles from this. Sam Macnac [sic] a half breed of large property, who keeps entertainment on the road, at whose house Meredith is buried, calls it an accident. Thomas Meredith, son of the deceased, was an eye witness, says, “there was murder committed on the body of Thomas Meredith, Sen...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-9961
Print ISSN
0002-4341
Pages
pp. 163-191
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
No
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