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, Alabama.
So what's this got to do with Pensacola?
Well on December 3, 1804, Governor Folch confirmed the Indian cession in Pensacola. This is a 200th anniversary that ya'll can commemorate because it represents the advent of debt collection by way of land cession from the Indians.
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 MyFamily.com. 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
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who may be interested in commemorating these important anniversaries.