Talladega's Early History

Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer seeking gold, landed in Tampa, Florida in 1539. He and his army of 800 to 1,000 men came across Florida through Georgia to near the Tennessee line then into Alabama in 1540. During his trip, the Native Americans told him about a large Native American city in the area that is now Alabama. That city was Coosa which was located on the site just north of the present city of Childersburg between Talladega Creek and Tallassahatchee Creek on the east bank of the Coosa River. The town of Coosa was the capital of the Creek Nation which had some 250 small Native American towns. De Soto and his men went to Coosa and stayed about 6 weeks. De Soto was with Cortez in Mexico a few years earlier where they found large amounts of gold. He therefore explored much of this area looking for gold and other riches. On De Soto's trip through this area several writers recorded valuable information concerning the landscape and living conditions of the Native Americans of that day. The Native Americans, unlike we often imagine, lived in a very civilized world with fields of corn and other crops. They had runners that carried messages and news from village to village. Game was very plentiful in the area and included deer and turkey. The natives lived in thatched covered wood huts and observed rigid religious customs. They lived in family circles much as we do today.

About 20 years later, Deluna, a member of De Soto's party returned to the area. His writer recorded the area at that time. On his return he found that the large Native American town of Coosa has dwindled in population. It is thought that the De Soto visit had brought new diseases that the Native Americans did not know how to treat. The decrease in population was attributed to a high death rate from these diseases such as small pox, that the white man brought to the Native Americans.

In 1719, Benjamin Hawkins, the Native American agent for the territory South of the Ohio River, traveled through the Coosa district and reported to the government at least five thriving villages, their customs and method of livelihood in the vicinity of Talladega.

Hobo Hajo, an Native American who's first name meant "one who understood all the strategic acts of war," lived in Kyamulga Cave in the early 1700's. Kyamulga Cave is located five miles east of Childersburg on Alabama Highway 76. In 1720, Hobo Hajo was the guest of the South Carolina Assembly in Charleston, South Carolina. He sat beside the Assembly President and was respected as one of the great Creek leaders of that time. In 1723, a trader named I. W. Wright, who worked out of Charleston, South Carolina, came to this area to trade with the Native Americans. He apparently became sick and died or met with foul play. He never returned, however he did stop at what is now known as Kyamulga Cave and carved his name and date on a rock inside the cave. His name is still clearly visible along with the date.

Before 1700, the Spanish built a fort in St. Augustine, Florida and began trading with the Native Americans of this area. The Native Americans here would go to St. Augustine or a trader from St. Augustine would come here. Then the English established a trading post in Charleston, South Carolina and traded with the Native Americans. In 1714 the French built a fort and trading post in the forks of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers near Wetumpka and named it Fort Toulouse. The three countries competed with each other for the Native American trade.

After the Revolutionary War, George Washington felt the need to cultivate the friendship of the Creek Nation. He therefore called a conference or a pow-wow. In about 1790, the Creek chief Alexander McGivalry and some twenty-six other chiefs went to New York and met with President George Washington. The chiefs made a treaty with George Washington at that time and returned home. They were very peaceful for several years. However when war came in the early 1810's, many of the Native Americans fought on the side of the United States.