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Temperance Ellis, Child Captive of the Creeks

by >James Harold Evans, vonbearmont

In the late 1700's, Temperance Ellis was only seven years old when hostile Creek Indians captured her during a guerrilla raid on the farm of James Scarlet, Sr. in Greene County, Georgia. Apparently, Temperance was visiting there. The Scarlet Farm, including the home, barns, and other appurtenances were burned. The Scarlet livestock was stolen. James Scarlet, Sr. and his entire family were murdered except for a relative who was away on an overnight journey.

Temperance and a small unknown black child were taken hostage and carried west to the secluded swampy Indian village of Autasi, which was then a principal town of the Upper Creek Nation. There they were treated cruelly and made slaves of the tribe. Autasi is now situated north of Shorter, Alabama in western Macon County near the Tallapoosa River.

Mt. Meigs or Mt. Pleasant, as it was called then, was a small elevation or mound located southwest of Autasi in what is now Montgomery County, Alabama. There were a few white settlers there even before the opening of the Federal Road, which ultimately passed through Mt. Pleasant.

On the banks of a small stream then called the "Norcoce Chappo" located near Mt. Pleasant lived an old woman. Some say she was a British sympathizer, if not a loyalist. Her name was "Milly". Legend has it that Milly's first husband was a soldier who had deserted the British Army at Savannah, Georgia during the American Revolution. Both fled to the Alabama wilderness to avoid the automatic death penalty for treason to the British crown during a time of war. He died at Cussetta. The Creeks thought Milly to be an enchanted "Medicine Woman". As such, Milly was able to travel, trade and visit among the Creeks unmolested. Milly wandered the vast Creek wilderness alone.

Eventually, Milly settled between what is now Waugh and Mt. Meigs, Alabama on the banks of the "Norcoce Chappo". Once there, she built a rugged home, a tavern and a toll bridge on that picturesque branch. The crowded trade route between Pensacola and Tookabatcha, which later became a part of the Federal Road, passed by her home. Soon, she developed a thriving trading business with the Indians. Milly later married, as her second husband, a Creek Indian. As you would expect, the trading business flourished. Even today, the old "Narcoce Chappo" is still known as Milly's Creek.

Milly may have married Jesse Evans as the name of her tavern was later changed to "Evans Tavern". The tavern became known as the "Gin Screw" or "Public House" at "Evans Stop" or "Evansville". As a locale, Evansville consisted mainly of Milly's holdings on the "Narcoce Chappo" east of Mt. Pleasant. From there, the Federal Road continued south to Snowdoun in what is now Montgomery County.

Upon the arrest of Vice-President Aaron Burr near McIntosh Bluff on the Tombigbee River for treason, he was to be returned to Virginia to stand trial. Burr, including a number of his guards, reportedly visited "Old Milly's Tavern" on "Milly's Creek" and employed Milly's husband to conduct them across the rain swollen Line, Cubahatchee and Calabee Creeks.

As a natural course of gossip among the Creeks, Milly would learn of the "little white girl" in captivity. Milly took several oxen, cattle, horses and hogs to the Creek Chief at Autasi and bartered for the child's release. Milly then carried Temperance on horseback to her home on the banks of Milly's Creek where the child resided in relative comfort for a few years. Milly came to adore Temperance as if she were her own daughter.

Federal authorities later took custody of Temperance and placed her in the home of James Seagrove, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Creek Nation at St. Mary's, Georgia while a federal and state search for her parents continued.

Little Tempy said she could remember nothing save the murders.

In 1796, when Temperance was about 13 years old, Superintendent Seagrove obtained an advertisement in the "Georgia Gazette" in an attempt to locate her parents. The ad strongly suggested that Seagrove had made contact with her parents earlier. In any event, the custody of Temperance was finally awarded to a person or persons today unknown.

A receipt for the custody of Temperance has never been located.

Milly's wailing heart was broken by the loss of her beloved Temperance. When Milly died, Milly was put to a now unknown grave. Thus, conjecture is the only guide to the ancestral line of Temperance Ellis.

These unfortunate events are well documented in the record of an old law suit filed against the Creek Nation by James Scarlett, Jr., and in several period newspapers.

The Alabama historian, Albert Pickett, said he knew and conversed with Temperance Ellis when she was "a respectable old woman residing in Pike County, Alabama" and he narrated the circumstances of her captivity. Pickett mentions both Temperance and her husband, Thomas Frizzle, in his early history of Alabama.

The life story of Temperance Ellis was once briefly taught in Alabama schools. The original textbooks are at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Temperance Ellis died on August 22, 1865 in the 82nd year of her life. Although, She was one of Alabama's renowned female pioneers, the site of Temperance's grave is presently unknown.

When Temperance married Thomas Frizzle around 1806 in Georgia, she and Thomas returned to the Mt. Meigs area. They later followed the Chunnennuggee Ridge into Pike County.

The 1850 Federal Census of Pike County, Alabama lists Temperance and Thomas living there with a son, Jason, Jason's wife, Utha Mills, along with Jason and Utha's children.

Temperance Ellis and Thomas Frizzle had another son, Jackson (Ellis) Frizzle. [b.1817]
Jackson Married Nancy McNeill, daughter of James McNeill and Jane (Raiford) Smile [m. 5/12/1842]
Jackson and Nancy had a daughter, Eloise (McNeill) Frizzle. [b. 1848 -d. 1910]
Eloise married Warren Montgomery (Walker) Alford. [b. 10/1/1843 -m. 11/15/1866 -d. 10/12/1920]
Eloise and Warren had a daughter Mattie Lou (Frizzle) Alford. [b. 6/11/1866 -d. 3/12/1968]
Mattie Lou married Arthur Rushton (Fowler) Watson. [b. 4/14/1883 -m. 11/07/1904 -d. 5/14/1953]
Mattie Lou and Arthur had a Daughter, Mary Willella (Alford) Watson. [b. 4/15/1908 -d. 2/21/1982]
Mary Willella Married Carl Herman (Edwards) Evans. [b. 8/17/1908 -m. 10/24/1931 -d. 9/16/1969]
Mary Willella and Carl had a son, Charles Herman Evans, Sr. [b. 12/18/1932 -d. 11/20/1997]
Mary Willella and Carl had another son, James Harold (Watson) Evans, author of the above.


Request for Assistance by Temperance's Descendent

I am James H. Evans. I receive U. S. Mail at Post Office Box 301, Montgomery, AL 36101-0301. My day phone is (334)262-7575. I hope that you may help me learn more about my Great-great-great-grandmother, Temperance Ellis. If you are unable to help, perhaps you know of someone who would assist me.

Alas, I need the missing receipt for Grandma Tempy. Further, I need someone to verify that existence or non-existence of the receipt for custody. Surely, the Federal authorities would not release the custody of a child to someone without getting such a receipt. Whoever signed the receipt may lead me to the parents of Temperance, which is the ultimate goal.

Who was the Chief of the Creeks at the time Temperance was captured? Who led the raid on the Scarlett House? How long was Temperance at Autasi? What happened to the small black Child? How may that child be identified? Where is Temperance buried? The entire matter intrigues me beyond fascination.

Thank you for whatever assistance you may afford this endeavor.

James H. Evans


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