South Carolina and Georgia

During British rule, one of the first areas open to settlement outside the British colonial territories was the Piedmont area of South Carolina and Northern Georgia. Families sold their property and moved there to avoid the Tory (English loyalists) influence in the goverment of the early colonies.

After the Revolutionary War, the state of Georgia laid claim to the lands of the Mississippi Territory which includes the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Eventually, it gave control of these lands to the Federal Government in the late 1790's, and territory was made available for settlement in the early 1800's. As these lands opened, thousands flocked from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Many settlers just squatted on property in Indian Territory until the government claims for the land came open. Land around major waterways was the first to be settled because of the access to trade routes needed for delivery of supplies and the transportation of crops to market. At that time the Spanish and the French still laid claim to parts of the areas we now know as the states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. After the defeat of the French and warring Native American tribes in the War of 1812 plus the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase land, the United States Federal government had little to stop the goal of Manifest Destiny.

Mississippi Territory

When Alabama and Mississippi were established as states in 1819 and 1817 respectively, not all the land inside their borders could be claimed by the US Government. Between 1800 and 1840 a series of treaties between the US government and Indian tribes opened the way for settlement of the Mississippi Territory. The final push for total land control by the US government climaxed in the infamous "Trail of Tears". Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Creek were rounded up and forces to walk across three states to the land of the Indian Territories in present day Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Not given adequate provisions for the journey, many of the Indians died along their treacherous walk to their new home. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek signed in 1830 took the last remaining lands from the Choctaw Tribe. This area stretched from the western bank of the Tombigbee River in Alabama to the Mississippi River. It was from this treaty that the lands of southeast central Mississippi and west central Alabama was made available for white settlement.

Roads and Routes

Early roads to the Mississippi Territory were established along existing Indian trails, as in the case of the Natchez Trace or along major waterways like the Tombigbee or Tennessee Rivers. One of the first roads commissioned by the US Government to the so called Southwest was the Federal Road. Extending through the Piedmont region in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia it crossed the Creek Nation of Alabama to the Tombigbee settlements just north of the Spanish city of Mobile. Connecting the Federal Highway with the other major road of the territory the Natchez Trace was the Three Chopped Way. Established in 1807 between Natchez, Mississippi and Burnt Corn, Alabama, this throughway was a major route for families who would establish claims in central Mississippi. A historical marker noting the Three Chopped Way's path across Jasper County can be found on Mississippi Highway 15 at the Bay Springs Industrial Park.

For further reading on the migration to the Mississippi Territory visit the following site of the Mississippi Historical Society:

Great Migration