LANETT– Joe Thompson discussed Thursday a subject he frequently speaks about in duration uniform at locations like Horseshoe Bend, Fort Toulouse and U.S. Army Infantry Museum in Columbus. He belongs to the cannon team and typically leads firing demonstrations. He was in street clothing when he discussed the pre-Civil War period as the guest speaker at Thursday’s noon hour conference of the West Point Rotary Club, held at the Jane Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett.
Thompson spoke about how the Creek War in 1813-14 played a big part in West Point becoming a town.
The Creeks’ destructive defeat at the hands of Andrew Jackson and his forces led to the Treaty of Fort Jackson, in which the Creeks quit more than 20 million acres of land to the U.S. The southern one-fourth of Georgia and the majority of today state of Alabama originated from the treaty.
That treaty indicated the coming settlement of the 2 states. The immediate opening of the west-central Georgia region to settlers moving in was sealed by the Treaty of Indian Springs in 1826. In it, William McIntosh accepted give up a lot of land in what’s now Georgia in exchange for $400,000 and a similar amount of land in what is now Oklahoma.
A a great deal of Creeks led by Menawa of Horseshoe Bend fame went to his house in present-day Carroll County, surrounded it and set it on fire with McIntosh inside. Females, kids and other members of the home were permitted to leave before the location was torched. As McIntosh escaped the burning building, he was shot and stabbed often times by the cruel group of Creeks. Among the survivors that day was McIntosh’s kid, Chilly.
Sometime after that, as he was emigrating to the brand-new Creek lands in Oklahoma, Chilly stopped at a tavern in Columbus and provided the owner with a picture of his daddy and asked for it to be displayed there, where it hung for several years. It’s now on display screen at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and is one of just two known original images of the well known chief.
Though the Creeks didn’t like it, the Treaty of Indian Springs basically ended their presence in Georgia. Ironically, one of McIntosh’s own kinsmen was a significant promoter of settlement by whites.
“Governor George M. Troup was MsIntosh’s cousin,” Thompson said. “He wanted the land in west Georgia opened. E.Y. Hill went to the state capital in Milledgeville to get a charter for a new town on the Chattahoochee River. They wished to contact Franklin, however that name was currently taken.”
Having 2 Franklins, the other being the county seat of neighboring Heard County, created so much confusion that the one in Troup County changed its name to West Point in the early 1830s.
The name shows the westernmost point of the Chattahoochee River.
Thompson stated that West Point got a charter from the state in 1838 to have a toll bridge linking the town’s east and west banks.
West Point’s second bridge was a railway bridge. It was built in 1854 to link West Point to 2 major cities, Atlanta and Montgomery.
“As early as the 1830s, railroads were being integrated in Georgia and Alabama,” Thompson stated. “There was a need to get cotton from the fields to the wharfs.”
At one time, the ports of Savannah and Mobile were 2 of the busiest in the U.S., mostly due to cotton being exported to England.
Atlanta is the city it is today due to the fact that it’s the location where a north-south bound railway and an east-west railroad crossed. The exact same thing later happened with highways and airline companies.
West Point was already a bundled city when a location called Terminus initially appeared on a map in 1843, not far from Cousin John Thrasher’s shop. It later on ended up being Marthasville and eventually Atlanta.
“Car sheds were built in these terminal towns,” Thompson said. “West Point had one near the Georgia-Alabama state line. It looked quite like the ones integrated in Atlanta, Augusta and Macon.”
Cars and truck sheds safeguarded engines and passenger coaches from the rain.
Thompson stated that a man named Lemuel P. Grant was huge in early railroading in Georgia. The town of Grantville and Grant Park in Atlanta are called for him. The original name for Grantville was Calico Corners. The train depot in Grantville is the only one left that resembles the depots of the 19th century, Thompson stated.
Not everyone was in agreement that having a railroad in your town was an advantage.
“Some people believed they were too loud and were a fire threat,” Thompson said. “Some people stated that chickens wouldn’t lay their eggs when trains came through.”
Most people believed the good exceeded the bad which having a railway was an advantage. It was the most quick mode of transport for its day. One could board a train and go almost anywhere.
An early problem with rail transportation was that the rails didn’t have the very same assesses. Some states in the south had the South Carolina standard gauge of 5 feet. Other states had the English system of four feet, eight and a half inches.
With Alabama and Georgia having different determines, trains had to stop at the state line. Item had to be removed the trains and either saved in warehouses or transported throughout the state line to awaiting boxcars in the other state. This is what made West Point an inviting target to Union cavalry in 1865. They pertained to burn the warehouses, the bridges, the engines and the railway stock.
Another requirement for early West Point were turntables. They were operated by hand and permitted engines to travel in the opposite instructions.
West Point’s wagon bridges and railroad bridges had their own unique look. The wagon bridges went directly across from one side to the other. The rail bridges have constantly crossed at the same angle. This enables trains to run relatively near the river on the west side.
According to Thompson. West Point’s first railroad bridge was of the House truss style.
“It had lots of iron and wood,” he said. “It was some 622 feet in length and cost $22,000 to construct.”
The original name for West 7th Street was Bridge Street. That’s where the first wagon bridge crossed the river.
Engines were called for popular Georgians. There was an E.Y. Hill, an A.O. Bull and a Dr. Thompson.
A really valuable resource to historians are the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. They return to 1885. Thompson stated they reveal some interesting details about the period.
“They show a big cistern that was located downtown,” Thompson said. “It’s still there under the street. It was used for the last time when Jacobs Drugs caught fire in 1925.”
Historic pictures expose intriguing information too.
In the post Civil War age, the West Point Iron Functions was found on the uninhabited lot where Point University today has prepare for a dormitory. An early photo shows that the plant was at one time powered by a locomotive boiler.
Among Thompson’s favorite old pictures from West Point was taken from the top of the Opera House and reveals bridge building going on at the river. Located on the corner of West 3rd Opportunity and West 8th Street, the Opera House was found on the top (3rd) floor of the Lanier Building. It was torn away in a March 1920 twister and never ever rebuilt. It was a major home entertainment location in its day and had many sold-out audiences composed of people who were staying overnight in West Point while traveling on the Southern Crescent, going by rail in between New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
ROTARY CLUB PROGRAM– Joe Thompson (at center) spoke about the early history of West Point, its settlement and its historical bridges at Thursday’s twelve noon hour meeting of the West Point Rotary Club. At left is Rob Huling, club president, and at right, Joe Hill, program chair.