The Story of Jennie Hale
By Rev. James T. Dunnam
From my earliest remembrances, I have heard various stories about Jennie Hale. She was described by our family as a ancestor who was part Creek Indian. In fact, I was born in Indian Hill Community, Greene County, MS., where we often found arrowheads that were left by Creek Indians who lived there along the Mill Creek years ago. Creek Indians lived along the many Creeks in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and thus were given the name Creeks. Many of the stories I heard as a youth were conflicting and much was not known to my family. So, several years ago when I began in serious to research my family history, I began collecting information about Jennie Hale. My grandmother, Jane Henderson, was a granddaughter of Jennie Hale. So I began there to research backward as far as I could go. I discovered that Jane Henderson was a daughter of William Isaac Henderson and Elizabeth (Betsy) Strickland. Betsy Strickland was a daughter of Jennie Hale and Simeon Strickland. Sim Strickland and Jennie lived in the area of Winchester, Wayne County, MS. Sim served at one time as Sheriff of Wayne County. In the national Archives and Bureau of Indian Affairs, I discovered letters written by family members about land and possibly money available to them by way of a Treaty signed by the U. S. Government with the Indians as they ceded land in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Jennie Hale is described in these letters as one-half Creek Indian and her children as one-quarter Creek Indian. She is also described as being from Fishertown, Alabama.1 In the American State Papers I found records in the U. S. Congress, where two one half Creeks, named Samuel and David Hale, received land in Monroe and Clarke County, Alabama as a result of the U. S Treaty with the Creeks. I then discovered the Writings of Benjamin Hawkins, U. S. Indian Agent to the Creeks and other Indians Southern part of the Country 1796-1816. His writings were printed by the Georgia Historical Society. They include "Sketches of the Creek Country" and "The Writings of Benjamin Hawkins". In his writings, Hawkins describes visits to a Village, Thlot-lo-gul-gau, called "Fishponds" by the Indian Traders. This village is located in present day Coosa County, Alabama, near the town of Hyssop, not far from Alexander City, Alabama.2 Benjamin Hawkins describes Hannah Hale who lives there and being married to the Head Man of the Village, by whom she had five children. Fishponds is located on a small pond like creek, a branch of the Ul-kau-hat-che, which joins the Tallapoosa four miles above Ocfuskee. This is where Hannah Hale lived and reared a family. She is described as industrious. She spins and weaves and has taught two of her daughters to spin. She owns property, has one Negro boy, a horse or two, sixty cattle and some hogs. Benjamin Hawkins states that Hannah Hale was captured by the Creeks, on the Ogeechee in Georgia, at Rogers Fort, when she was eleven or twelve years old. In 1799 Hannah Hale elected at the national council to reside in the nation. 3 The Agent appointed Hopotithle Haujo, to look out a suitable place for her and to help her to move to it with her stock and to take care that she receive no insults from the Indians. Hannah Hale is mentioned several times in Hawkins letters as receiving needed items such as wheels, harness, and hay. He describes her as having plenty of corn, butter, and milk, and that she married "Far Off", head man of the village. I believe Jane "Jennie" Hale is a daughter of Hannah Hale; that Fishertown is Fishponds, and that she most likely met Simeon Strickland when he came to Fishponds as an Indian Trader. The brothers of Jennie were David and Samuel. One of them died around 1840 and the other made his way to Creek Territory in Oklahoma where he raised a family. I believe one sister married a Jones and received land in Monroe County joining that of her brothers.3 The other, I believe married John Myles. So, Jennie Hale descends from Hannah Hale who was 4 captured at Rogers Fort on the Ogeechee in Georgia. Her father may have been a soldier stationed there. 5 I do not know where her family came from to Georgia. Many families in Greene County descend from her. The Dunnams, Hendersons, Stricklands, Cochrans, Prines, and others.
There have been various genealogy reports that have attempted to go beyond Hannah Hale and "Far Off". However, there is no documentation that supports this that I have been able to find. There are various Creek Leaders with a similar name to, "Far Off", but they are not the same person as the man who married Hannah Hale. One researcher attempts to identify the "Far Off" who married Hannah Hale with the "Bird Tail King", and "Chief Mad Dog". I have seen no convincing proof of this. Also the name of Hopotithle Haujo the Creek leader that Benjamin Hawkins ask to help Hannah Hale move to a safe and suitable place, when she chose to remain in the Creek Nation in1799, has been identified as the same as "Far Off" who married Hannah Hale. There is no documentation that I have been able to find that supports this. Also some of Hopotithle's family has been named. This is a stretch.
I would like to know who Hannah Hales parents were and where they came from to Georgia. It seems likely that they were settlers from North or South Carolina who settled along the Ogeechee River in Eastern Georgia. It is possible her father was in the military and stationed there. Hawkins, states she was captured near Rogers Fort, the exact location of which we are not sure. Probably near Augusta, Ga., on the trail that leads across Creek Country toward Alabama.
In correspondence from Samuel Alexander to the Governor of Georgia he suggest the exchange of six Creek Indian captives for Hannah Hale, Charlotte Benson and some others. They had been prisoners for 15 years at the time. For whatever reasons they were not exchanged and remained in the Creek Nation. 5
DOCUMENTS (Click on to see documents)
1. Document from House of Representatives.
2. Correspondence between Strickland descendants and U. S. Government
3. Sketches of Creek Country, by Benjamin Hawkins.
4. Land in Monroe County owned by David and Samuel Hale.
5. Georgia document about Hannah Hale as a prisoner of the Creeks.
6. Documents from Georgia Archives.
7. David and Samuel Hale and other members of the family in 1832 Census of Creeks at Autauga Town.
8. Page from "A Sketch of the Creek Country.
9. "Far Off of Fishponds mentioned in Emory University article on "Warriors and Chiefs".