Thursday, February 05, 2004

Started looking at the story of evacuation of the Spanish out of New Orleans in 1803, out of Mobile in 1813 and out of Pensacola and St. Augustine in 1821. Each time the Spanish moved, they bundled up archives and shipped them to Havana. This week, my attention has been drawn to two articles about the odyssey of the Spanish archives.They are:

The Odyssey of the Spanish Archives of Florida by Irene A. Wright of the U. S. Department of State. She wrote this to describe her work as an associate research expert in the Division of Reference, in the National Archives. She wrote," A presentation of the facts set forth seems a suitable tribute to Dr. Robertson who, especially in his capacity as Secretary for the Florida State Historical Society, has done so much to assemble original, transcript, and photostat materials concerning Florida for students' use in conjunction with those considered in this contribution." Her essay deals with the archives seized by Jackson in Pensacola in August of 1821 and the ones taken by forcible possession by Worthington's commission by breaking into buildings in St. Augustine in October of 1821. As late as January of 1822, "documents by the boxful were being shipped out of Florida by every Spanish vessel clearing for Cuba." The documents seized by Jackson in Pensacola ended up in Montgomery and Columbus,Georgia after Pensacola's evacuation by the Confederates in 1862.

Diplomatic Missions of the United States to Cuba to Secure the Spanish Archives of Florida was originally delivered as an address by A.J. Hanna to Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Florida on May 8, 1939. Hanna deals with the problems the U.S. had trying to get back the 730 bundles of government records the Spanish shipped to Havana from Pensacola and St. Augustine after 1819. Between 1821 and 1835, the U.S. sent six different commissioners to Havana to secure Florida archives. The sole purpose of the last commissioner's voyage to Havana was to secure documents which would void the deed of cession of 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola River negotiated by James Innerarity for John Forbes & Co. on May 25, 1804 and the deed of cession to the islands in Apalachicola Bay and a small acreage on the Apalachicola and between the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers negotiated by Edmund Doyle on April 10, 1810. The deeds to all four of these tracts of land were negotiated at Chiscatalofa which was located in the present-day extreme southeastern tip of Houston County, Alabama.( I am very familiar with the site of Chiscatalofa because my research partners from the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors and myself have located the approximate site of Andrew Ellicott's astronomical observatory in Chiscatalofa where he took 44 observations of seven stars in August of 1799 to locate the point on the bank of Chattahoochee River where first U.S. Southern Boundary would intersect it. Ellicott built a mound at the edge of the Chattahoochee's flood plain to mark the end of his boundary line coming east from the Mississippi. This mile marker on the U.S. Southern Boundary, Ellicott Mound #381, was rediscovered by Professor F.A.P. Barnard in 1846 when he left the University of Alabama at the request of the Governors of Alabama and Florida to resolve the boundary problem between the two states. My research team rediscovered the important survey marker in August of 1999, 200 years after its construction.)

Hanna cites an interesting book that is on the reference shelf at Gorgas. This book, Guide to the Materials for American History in Cuban Archives was written by Luis Marino Perez and published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in July of 1907. I just found it this morning but the first time I opened it I found some great Alabama stuff. Appendix C is a list of manuscripts purchased by the Library of Congress in 1888 from the estate Domingo Delmonte y Aponte, a Cuban who died in exile in Madrid in 1853. Delmonte left Cuba in 1843 but was later ordered to be imprisoned by a military commission in 1844 for playing a part in a slave insurrection. Anyway two documents knocked me out:
1807, June 25. Interview with General Wilkinson.
D.Vicente Folch to the Marquis de Someruelos relative to an interview with General Wilkinson. Pensacola.
Published in the American Historical Review, July, 1905,X. 832-840.

1812, April 20. Events in West Florida.
Juan Forbes to the Marquis de Someruelos, captain-general of Cuba and the Floridas, giving details of the insurrection in West Florida and asking for the protection of his property in the province.

( Before occupying New Orleans and taking formal possession of Louisiana in December of 1803, Wilkinson met with Forbes in October to discuss the acquisition of Mobile and Pensacola.There are lots of connections between these two men.)

In anticipation of the Louisiana Bicentennial, I began studying the evacuation of Spanish troops from Louisiana to Mobile, Pensacola and Havana. I will continue to document this because there was a major migration out of Louisiana of black troops in Spanish service because they did not want to live under the rule of the U.S.,however, now I plan to begin to look at the removal of Spanish government records as well.

Just wanted to let ya'll know what I was up to.
[ Thu Jul 31, 05:35:44 PM | robert register | edit ]
Excellent stuff on the Forbes Purchase from the essay "U.S. Diplomatic Missions to Cuba" by A.J. Hanna:

Last of six commissioners sent to Havana to secure the Florida archives, Robinson left Washington May 11, 1832, by boat, and , landing at Norfolk, proceeded southward overland "with as much speed as the mail and other conveyances" permitted. Arriving at Tallahassee May 28, he consulted Judge Randall at Monticello the following day regarding Randall's attempt to secure the archives in 1824, had a three day (June 7-10) conference with General Call at Marianna, and received much confidential information on the task before him which could not be intrusted to a third party. Call informed Robinson that congress had on May 26, 1830, approved virtually all unsettled claims with the exception of several large acreages, chief among which was the claim of Colin Mitchell for approximately 1,250,000 acres of the richest and best timbered lands in Florida[this is the Forbes Purchase, a deed of cession negotiated by James Innerarity on May 25, 1804 in what is now the southeastern corner of Houston County, Alabama], situated in what are now Franklin, Gulf, Calhoun, Liberty, Gadsden, Leon and Wakulla counties. This claim which had not been allowed by the superior court of Middle Florida had been appealed to the supreme court of the United States. Call informed Robinson that his principal objective in Havana would be to obtain documents which would help the United States protect its public domain when the Mitchell suit was tried.
Proceeding by stage from Marianna to the Choctawhatchee River[this may have been the Alligator Line stage that carried passengers between Marianna and Geneva, Alabama], Robinson took passage on a small river boat to the bay opposite Pensacola where a raging storm forced the boat to anchor......

And here's more from this very important article:

The Mitchell case[the Forbes Purchase], involving an area one-third larger that the State of Rhode Island, was the most important litigation directly bearing on the United States missions to Cuba to secure the Spanish archives of Florida. The supreme court's decision which concluded this litigation[ Colin Mitchell et al. v the United States, 9 Peters] raised more questions than it solved. Why, for instance, did Chief Justice Marshall, at the conclusion of the case[this was the last case Marshall would hear at the U.S. Supreme Court before his retirement], state, "no difficulty has been opposed by the Spanish Government to the inquiries of the American agents. On the contrary every facility has been given them," when records in the department of state overwhelmingly revealed facts to the contrary? It would be interesting to know, also, why the decree included Forbes Island containing about 7,000 acres, which was not even in the claim.[ the author Hanna must not have been aware of the second deed of cession executed at Chiscatalofa in present-day Houston County Alabama giving John Forbes & Co. all of the islands in Apalachicola Bay and personally awarding John Forbes possession of Forbes Island]
A question about the foreign relations of Spain may also be raised in connection with a hint given Robinson by a Spanish functionary to the effect that when the captain general and governor of Cuba received the royal order to deliver the Florida archives to the United States, the instructions contained a secret clause preventing its execution.[these archives also included all of the legal proceedings of the Spanish government in Alabama's present-day Baldwin and Mobile Counties from 1783-1813]
[ Wed Jul 30, 04:40:28 PM | robert register | edit ]
Finally got my Hispanic-American Essays book from 1942. discoveryWhat a superb discovery!!!!
All because I put out the word less than two weeks ago that I was going the commemorate the Bicentennial of the Forbes Purchase near Chattahoochee State Park on May 25, 2004.
The first essay which has drawn my attention is entitled " U.S. Diplomatic Missions To Cuba". Hard to believe a little contract between James Innerarity and a bunch of Indians in present-day Houston County, Alabama would become the foundation of contract law in this country. What a story!
On page 214, we find the following letter from Richard Keith Call to Martin Van Buren. Call writes:

The original deed [to 1.2 million acres] from the Indians to John Forbes & Co.[negotiated by James Innerarity] conveying the land on which fort St. Marks is situated, and which was then garrisoned by the troops of Spain, is signed by twelve obscure individuals most of whom resided within the limits of the Creek nation north of the 31st degree of latitude.[these were the chiefs who signed at Chiscatalofa. This land where Alabama, Florida and Georgia intersect is the location of Ellicott Mound #381 and is presently owned by Ansley Whatley].

Call goes on to give all his reasons for the deed of cession being bogus but it doesn't amount to anything because Justice Marshall, in his last decision at Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, declared the deed Innerarity negotiated legit.

Call goes on the call into question the second deed of cession negotiated at Chiscatalofa. Here's what Call wrote Van Buren:

The grant to John Forbes individually is for an Island in the River Appalachicola said to contain 7,000 acres. This depends alone on a deed of gift from a few of the Indians most of whom lived north of the 31st degree of Latitude[and negotiated the deed north of there as well], and never was formally confirmed by Governor Folch or any other authority of the Spanish Government.

Sorry, Governor Call, but these deeds, executed in present-day Houston County, Alabama, for more than 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola to the Wakulla, were declared the "the law of the land" by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1835.

From the biography of Richard Keith Call

Call spent about two months in Havana [after arriving from Key West on January 5, 1830] and there enjoyed the pleasures of Cuban society. The American merchant Vincent Gray seems to have been his chief host, and the two men spent long hours recounting event of the War of 1812. Gray claimed that it was his intelligence which informed Jackson on British plans to attack New Orleans. In March, 1830, Call returned to the United States arriving in Tallahassee about the twentieth. He was "mortified" at the delay which had attended his mission but expressed satisfaction that he had done everything possible to protect the public interests of Florida land cases. He reported that most of the grants " bear on their face conclusive evidence of their fraudulent character", and the "prejudices in behalf of the claimants" were clearly apparant among the Spanish officials.

The papers which Call produced relating to the grant to Don Fernando de la Maz Arredondo indicated that although the grant was a genuine one, it had been made on condition that two hundred families be settled on the tract within three years. The documents relating to the Forbes grant indicated a more complex situation. In the first place, the so-called "Forbes grant" was really a series of claims based upon several alleged grants to the commercial house of Panton, Leslie and Company and its successor John Forbes and Company, as well as to John Forbes individually. One large grant, estimated at about 1,500,000 acres, and located between the Apalachicola River and Choctawhatchee River[all of the Gulf Coast between Destin and Apalachicola], was granted by the Captain-General of Cuba to John Forbes and Company for services rendered to the Spanish government and losses sustained by the company. This was the only obviously fraudulent grant, bearing on its face a clumsy alteration of the date of execution. Under the treaty by which Florida was ceded to the United States all grants made after January 24, 1818, were "declared and agreed to be null and void." the alteration of dates was attempted in an effort to validate this grant.
The other grants to Panton, Leslie and Company, John Forbes and Company, and to John Forbes individually, took in most of the land between the Apalachicola and St. Marks Rivers and were estimated to have a total acreage of about 1,200,000 acres. These grants were made by Florida Indian tribes in payment of debts owed to the commercial houses, and were confirmed by the Spanish governor of West Florida. These grants were presented for adjudication by Colin Mitchel, a Havana merchant who claimed American, English, and Spanish citizenship, who had purchased the rights of the original grantees. One historian of the Supreme Court says that the real promoters of the Mitchel claim were George Griswold, a New York shipper, "combined with other capitalists and with some of the most noted politicians in the country." A conservative historian of the Court observes that " a large number of these Spanish claims had been assigned to and were being prosecuted by bankers, financiers, and speculators in New York and London" thus giving Andrew Jackson, in his fight upon the money power, a vivid interest in the outcome of the cases...

...Many have been critical of the course of the Court in the Florida land cases and the decision in the Mitchel case did raise questions worth pondering. The Court apparantly closed its eyes to the hindrances which the Spanish officials put in the path of those who sought to uncover original documents. It would be interesting to know why, in the face of contrary evidence, the aged Chief Justice stated that no difficulty had been put in the way of American agents and that every facility had been accorded them.....

One historian of the Supreme Court, Gustavus Myers, saw the decisions in the Florida cases as part of a pattern of decisions by which "judicial dictator" John Marshall designed to strengthen the governing and capitalist classes. The more conservative Charles Warren viewed the decisions as designed to protect private property rights and preserve the national honor of the United States by strict adherence to the article of the treaty of cession which recognized property rights existing before 1818. A third historian, Ernest Sutherland Bates, points out the the rights of Spain were not at issue in any of the claims because the actual claimants were American capitalists not Spanish citizens. It is his contention that the Court was governed less by respect for treaties that by the formalisitic procedure established in the Yazoo land fraud cases whereby it refused to consider the evidence of fraud behind a formal grant....

.....After the signing of the treaty of cession in 1819 a genuine boom in Florida lands set in, Niles Register reporting a price rise of from 500 to 1,000 per cent, with city lots selling from $500 to $7000. About the time of the transfer in 1821 Call managed to secure several tracts near Pensacola. In partnership with James Innerarity he purchased 800 arpents of land on Santa Rosa sound and a like amount on Escambia Bay in partnership with Henry M. Brackenridge. An arpent in Spanish Florida was slightly more than an acre. In the city of Pensacola Call secured one town lot.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

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From: William Alford
Date: Tue Feb 3, 2004 11:45 pm
Subject: Re: [chukkernation] Sistine ceiling


At 10:36 AM 2/1/2004 -0500, mahonebe@a... wrote:
>I have a postcard of the ceiling. Does anyone else?

I've still got one as well. And one unworn white t-shirt of the same ceiling
art that I did back then. That was the first "process color" print on a t-shirt
that I ever did and likely the first one in the state.
Now anyone with a PC and
graphics program can generate a 4-color separation with the click of a mouse,
but back then a slide (this was one of John Earl's) had to be sent away to a
photo/printing service house at great expense for the process color separation
and then enlarged to film positives for the print. Printing salesmen would call
on my shop and tell me it was impossible to hand-print process color on
t-shirts and I'd pull out the Chukker print to show them. I wonder how many of
you heard the conversation with John Earl on the NPR show about the postcard? I
used to have a tape of it (wonder if John still does). John had sent in the
postcard and some information about it and the Chukker and they arranged a
short phone exchange with John broadcast live.

Of course even fewer people have the black t-shirt with Bradford's lithograph
image of the front of the bar on it since there were only 12 ever printed. But
. . . that's another story.

William Alford

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Mr. Perkins

My name is Robert Register. I was brought up in Dothan but now I live in Northport across the river from Tuscaloosa. I am contacting you because I am working on commemorating an important anniversary.
May 25, 2004 will mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Forbes Purchase at Chiskatalofa, an Indian village located around Ellicott Mound #381 (survey mile marker built during the survey of the first U.S.
Southern Boundary in 1799.) This village was located 381 miles east of the Mississippi River near the point where Alabama, Florida and Georgia intersect on the west bank of the Chattahoochee in present-day Houston County, Alabama just south of Dothan. This deed of cession of 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola River to John Forbes & Co. began an entire series of treaties where Indians paid their debts with the only thing they possessed, their land.(Chiskatalofa was also the site of the 1811 negotiations with the Indians which expanded the Forbes Purchase to include St. Vincent Island)
Since Forbes got the land for about 5 cents an acre, this transaction is considered by many to be the greatest real estate deal in American History and it occurred in Houston County.

Ansley Whatley, a Dothan businessman, presently owns most of the land where Chiskatalofa stood. The Fitch family in Lucy owns the rest.

Since John Forbes moved to his sugar plantation, Canimar, in Matanzas Province, Cuba in 1817, many of the business transactions and lawsuits associated with the Forbes Purchase occurred in Cuba. When Forbes died in 1823, his son-in-law,Francisco Dalcourt(husband to Forbes' daughter, Sophia) was appointed executor of Forbes's estate in Cuba. Money from the sale of the Forbes Purchase became tied up in a series of lawsuits filed in New Orleans and Matanzas by those claiming to be owed money by the Forbes's estate. Litigation over the property granted to John Forbes by the Indians at Chiskatalofa in 1804 remained in the courts until 1923, a century after Forbes had died, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that submerged land in Apalachicola Bay granted by the Forbes Purchase was owned by the State of Florida.

After being appointed Receiver of Pubic Monies in the General Land Office in 1825, Richard Keith Call sailed to Havana to examine the original Forbes Purchase documents . From then on, Call argued to overturn the Forbes's Purchase. According Coker and Watson:

At Call's urging, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed hearing the case until 1835. In the interim, the government sent Jeremy Robinson to Havana to obtain documents to support the government's arguments. Fully briefed by Call[my note: in Marianna], Robinson spent two years in Havana locating and identifying documents, but he died in 1834 before any of these papers were sent to Washington. Nicholas Philip Trist succeeded Robinson and uncovered forty-five documents in Havana, which the Supreme Court refused to admit as evidence.

This was Justice Marshall's last case and he upheld as perfectly legal the Forbes Purchase land grant.
The only people who have tried to help me with this are the members of the Innerarity Family forum at They are interested because their ancestor, James Innerarity from Mobile negotiated this cession of Indian land at Chiskatalofa in 1804. In order to close the deal, Mr. Innerarity had to promise to build a John Forbes & Company store at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River. Nichols chose to build his "Negro Fort" near there in 1814 and Andrew Jackson built his Fort Gadsden on top of the ruins of this fort during the First Seminole War.

I found an article in the Panama City News Herald about Ft. Gadsden which quoted Mr. John G. Hentz as saying that the land where Ft. Gadsden stood was the most important historic spot in Florida. I agree with Mr. Hentz and I had a very long phone call with him about this subject .

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone and please help us to commemorate this important anniversary in May. After all, John Forbes also had a Spanish land grant giving him title to the entire coast from Apalachicola to East Pass at present-day Destin (not quite that far- East Pass in the 1800's was where the Holiday Inn of Destin now stands, east of the city of Destin). This land grant was annulled by U.S. courts because the date of the transaction had been forged in order to qualify under the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty that gave Florida to the U.S. All this land therefore went directly into public domain after the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823 extinguished Indian title.

I have a weblog. It is easy to get to. All you have to do is type "cuba, alabama" into Yahoo search engine or
check it out by clicking on

Best wishes,

Robert Register

Brett Tannehill has put some great Chukker stuff on the Web.
Check it out at....