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American History
Walton County

During the 1700's, Euchee Indians moved into the area and lived around Bruce Creek & Choctawhatchee Bay. Scottish settlers moved into the area soon after and befriended the Euchees. Legend says that the Euchee came from out west; their language is distinct and not related to the Muskogee language group.

The Indians knew a lot about conservation, and the settlers were eager to learn their ways. The Euchee taught them how to use control burns, but not too much, so there would be many wild berries and fruit to feed the animals. The farmers learned to grow their crops in a way that would hold and conserve water. Hunting had its importance also. When hunting deer, the tradition was to hunt during certain times of the year, and not take the nursing doe with the young ones. These people believed that they had to take care of the environment and never be wasteful. These same practices are considered good agricultural and forestry practices today.

The influential chief in the area was Timpoochee Kinnard, or Sam Story. He was a great friend to Colonel Neill McKinnon, the influential Scottish settler in the area. Sam Story's son Jim Crow took McKinnon's daughter Harriet to be his wife. Story's Landing on Bruce Creek is where the chief had his village. (Early 1800's.)

Soon the influx of more settlers changed the peaceful coexistence of these people. New settlers who arrived did not respect the Euchee conservation methods. These newcomers burned the land, and hunted the deer out of season. Sam Story was horrified to hear of a doe shot with her young ones while nursing. Story, a man of peace, finally tired of all the conflict and decided to move his people far away from all the bad and wasteful people.

Chief Sam Story notified his Scottish friends that he was about to embark upon a journey to seek out a new homeland for his people. In 1832 he put his son Jim Crow in charge of the tribe, and left with five other warriors and one of his sons. Their journey led to the East Coast of Florida, and then down into the Everglades. It was a very long time until they returned, and the people had feared that the chief had died. They returned saying that they found no land as pleasing as the Choctawhatchee Bay area, but had made up their mind to move anyway. Chief Sam Story was very ill because of the hardships of the journey.

Sam Story gathered up his people. He was exhausted and very sick, but still prepared his tribe for the move. When Jim Crow's wife Hattie and her infant son decided to stay with their Scottish relatives, Sam made arrangements for them to be taken care of by her white family. Sam died shortly after and was buried in the ground with great honor and respect by white and red alike.

Jim Crow prepared the remaining Euchee for their exodus. The tribe may have had as many as 500 people. They organized canoes and sailboats and sailed until they were out of sight. There is no written account of what ever happened to them, but it is said that they settled in the Everglades. It is believed that they eventually became part of the Seminoles. One large band under Euchee Billy lived at Spring Garden in Volusia County.

Around the end of the 19th century, the state of Florida decided to have an Indian representative from Dade County to represent the Seminoles in Tallahassee. Although the Indians didn't get a chance to have a voting member, they still sent a representative. This delegate claimed to be the grandson of Sam Story, and the son of Sleeping Fire, who was Sam's youngest son.

In the fall of 1835 and into 1836, the Second Creek War in Alabama reached down into this county as Creek Indians raided plantations and homesteads in the area.

A Creek raiding party attacked one homestead and killed all the family except the daughter, who was left for dead. The next homestead they went to had heard about the attack, and were prepared to defend themselves. The warriors could not overtake the homestead and left.

A hunting party of local settlers found signs of the Creek warriors in the area. The next morning they were attacked, with three killed and two who escaped at a nearby stream. A local militia force was formed and pursued the raiders. They fought at what is now called Battle Creek, and captured or killed all the Creek warriors including a few women and children. Those not killed were shipped west.

Soon after another battle between the local militia and Creek warriors took place at Battle Bay. This skirmish lasted for several days with no advancements on either side. Finally, the militia surrounded and captured the Creeks, and sent them to Pensacola to be shipped west.

Before the skirmish at Battle Bay, the Creeks controlled much of the county. The settlers believed that the Creeks had trade and communication with the Seminoles further south.

After the war ended, there were several Creek bands that remained in the area. One fierce warrior of large stature was Old Joe, and his band would sometimes raid the local homesteads for food and supplies. This came to an end when Old Joe was killed near St. Andrew's Bay in 1849. (See Bay County.)

There is one amusing story from the time of the Second Seminole War:

One of the local Scottish families had a relative over for a visit. During supper that evening, they were having a loud and happy conversation, but all in Gaelic, the native language of Scotland. They were screaming with laughter as they were mimicking the local Creek/Seminole dialect.

A passerby chanced to hear part of their conversation. But, all he heard was screaming, and words he didn't understand. To him, it sounded like the local family was being massacred by Indians. He fled in panic and roused the local militia.

Very soon, the local militia arrived and stormed the homestead. The family was very surprised to find an armed militia suddenly on their property. The militia, expecting to find a horrible sight of scalped homesteaders, was embarrassed to find a normal dinner party instead.

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