Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was my 3rd great grandmother. She was the mother of my grandmother’s (Gerald) grandfather (Davis).
Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was part Creek and part English. She was the most recent of my ancestors to have lived among the Alabama Creek Indians. Her story is remarkable in that she appears to have survived the massacre at Fort Mims when she was a small child.
The book A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Red Stick War of 1813-1814 by Gregory A. Waselkov says she was four years old at the attack on Fort Mims on August 30, 1813.
Fort Mims is located near Mobile, Alabama, and you can visit a historical park there today that tells the story of the battle that was part of a Creek civil war between those who wanted to live more traditionally and more apart from white society, and those who wanted to cooperate with the American government and intermingle with white people.
There were approximately 550 people inside Fort Mims. Only 36 survived. Jeffersonia was taken captive along with her mother and brothers.
I will have to do more research to find out what happened to her after that, but I do know she grew up to become the mother of my great-great grandfather, William Wiley Davis.
I also know that if she was four years old in 1813, she was born in 1809, the last year of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, so she was likely named after him. Her grandmother’s father, brother, and cousins had all worked as interpreters for Indian Affairs agents sent into Creek territory, and one of those Indian agents was a man named Benjamin Hawkins. Hawkins worked for decades to try to broker peace between the Creeks and the English settlers. It’s thought that Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was given her middle name as a tribute to him.
Jeffersonia’s great-grandfather was Joseph Cornell, an Englishman who came to Creek territory as a trapper and trader, ended up marrying a Creek woman from Tuckabatchee, and working as an interpreter for various agents from Indian Affairs.
I am only just beginning the process of researching Jeffersonia’s family tree, but it looks like to me at a glance that her closest full-blooded Creek ancestor is her great-grandmother, the wife of Joseph Cornell, whose name is unknown. I believe that Jeffersonia’s father and grandfather and great-grandfather were all white settlers in the area. That would have made her 1/8 Creek, but at Fort Mims, she and her family were considered to be métis or mixed race. They were considered to be mixed race, not just by the white people, but by the Creeks as well. Jeffersonia was taken captive rather than killed because she was mixed race. The Red Sticks (the Creek who wanted to keep Creek territory free of English settlers) killed children as well as adults in the massacre at Fort Mims, but they spared Jeffersonia and her brothers because they were part Creek.
As I said, I am only just beginning to learn about this branch of my family history, and I have a lot more reading I need to do, but the picture I’m getting here is that Jeffersonia came from a family that might have been more English than Creek genetically by the time of her generation, but it had been more Creek than English culturally for her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother certainly lived as a Creek and would have raised her daughter as a Creek even if they both had English fathers.
Jeffersonia would have been 21 years old in 1830 when the Indian Removal Act was passed. She would have seen her grandmother’s people uprooted and disbanded in her lifetime. She would have seen great change as more and more Creek lands were handed over to white settlers.
She married a man named Edmund Davis who had moved to Alabama from Georgia. They lived out their lives in Monroe County, Alabama. Her son William Wiley Davis moved to Perry County, Mississippi, where his descendants still live to this day. He lived in Perry County as a white man, though, not as a mixed race Creek. His mother Jeffersonia represents a turning point generation. She was the last connection to her Creek family on her family tree.
If anyone has any additional information about Jeffersonia and her family, please share. I will update when I learn more.