William H. and Fancy Taylor Hartley

Ruins of old Spanish Fort St. Marks.

William Hartley, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Volunteers, took the fort in 1817 with no resistance, though skirmishes occurred en route from Nashville. Conditions at the fort were difficult with much sickness. Other forts in Spanish Florida were also taken in 1818.

William Hartley Discovery

Frances Cronin (Ora Lee Hartley descendant) made an important discovery for our Hartley family. She found a U. S. Army Enlistment document (shown below), which includes the enlistment of our William Hartley, father of George W., Henry Clinton, William Calvin, Julia Ann, Nancy, Joel, Frances and Malinda Hartley. He would be my great-great-grandfather. A very sparse 1823 Mississippi census, at right, shows a William Hartley in Bainbridge, MS, with wife and a child that would match Joel T., their oldest son. We have a solid record of him and his family in the 1850 census in Copiah County, MS. The 1840 and 1830 censuses, while not giving wife or children names, does give household members in various age groups. We can match nearly all the children for the two censuses. Surprisingly, this analysis yields the existence of an unknown daughter. Presumably, she died after 1840 and before 1850. In the 1840 census, there is also an older male in the household that age-wise could be William’s or Frances’ father. Also in the household is a couple who are of comparable age to William and Frances, maybe a sibling and spouse. The 1841 Mississippi Territorial census lists a William H. Hartley in Copiah County with 9 males and 6 females in the household compared to the 10 males and 9 females in the 1840 U. S. Census.

Frances Cronin found that on September 23, 1842, there appeared an announcement of a bankruptcy of a William Hartley in the Weekly Mississippian, a Jackson newspaper. Mr. Hartley lived in Copiah County. The clipping is at right. In the previous paragraph, we noted that the 1840 Census had 19 people in the William Hartley household, suggesting that he was prospering. How he fell on hard times was a question worth pursuing. Pat Oakes suggested trying to find what were the economic problems during that time. Returning to the newspaper, I discovered that there were 60 such notices on the same page. These covered a period of about two months and included mostly individuals from Hinds, Copiah, Madison and Adams counties. Some research revealed that these bankruptcies were accompanied by thousands and thousands of such filings across the United States as a result of the "Whig Bankruptcy Act of 1841." This Act, the first major bankruptcy legislation enacted by the US Congress was a result of the Panic of 1837 which led to a major downturn in the US economy and produced a crippling depression. The "Panic" began as a result of the British banking system efforts to provide a more balance budget for their economy. They raised interest rates and demanded hard currency for transactions. In order to compete for funds, US banks followed suit. The reduction in credit led to reduced purchases of cotton and goods from the United States. The South was hit particularly hard. This provided the Whig party an opportunity to win a national election. They made a bargain with political interest supporting new bankruptcy laws in exchange for their votes. It was successful and they won the election. All over the country individuals could now declare voluntary bankruptcy and free themselves from debt. However, among the creditors, the Act was very unpopular and efforts to repeal it began immediately and it was finally repealed in 1843, though some of its features survived. A person declaring bankruptcies could retain their furniture and household goods. William Hartley chose to avail himself of this opportunity and surely lost his land.

Throughout the 19th century censuses, William’s children are asked where their father was born, they are not consistent in their answers. William states in the 1850 census that he was born in Kentucky. The children, as adults, list Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. The 1850 census has William born about 1801, however census records are notorious for being off a few years. A William H. Hartley is in the 1853 Territorial census in Copiah County, MS. There are 2 males and 3 females in household. His older sons are nearby. William’s wife, Frances appears in the 1880 census living with daughter Malinda Hartley Ashley’s family in Bell County, Texas. Most census entries list Georgia as her birth place. Whether William went to Texas with her is unknown. More likely she moved there following his death.

There is an 1860 slave census for Copiah County, MS with W. H. Hartley listed as a slave owner. His one male and four female slaves are enumerated. (See adjacent document). No houses for the slaves are listed and no manumitted slaves were present. I doubt this is our W. H. Hartley since a slave owner listed right below William is E. R. Applewhite, who I find in the 1860 census, is a neighbor of a W. H. Hartley (b. 1825), clearly wrong W. H. Hartley. We have no information from the 1860 and 1870 Federal censuses relating to our William, the couple's whereabouts are unknown. In 1860, his son Joseph T., is in Morehouse County, Louisiana. He was born in 1822 in Mississippi so this puts William there at that time. I hope someone in the family will take up the challenge to find them. Frances and I will keep looking.

Well, this sets the stage for Frances’ remarkable discovery. Frances has pursued the Hartley family for many years, she grew up in Jackson, MS and regularly visited with her grandmother Ora Lee Hartley Hill, and various uncles and aunts and cousins in the area. Frances’ mother was Mary Lorean Hill, who married Samuel Clark. Frances married Richard Cronin (now deceased). She lives in Arlington, VA, near her daughter, Caroline Eddins. One day she called to say she thought she had found something important. She emailed me the link to the Enlistment Document below. In the document we find William Hartley enlisting in the U. S. Army in February 1817 in Lexington, KY (this could be an error since there is a Lexington, NC very nearby. Lexington, KY is over 150 miles away). He was 19 years old, a farmer and born in Rowan County, NC. He was 5’7”, dark eyes, dark hair and dark complexion. He enlisted for 5 years. A Lieutenant A. S. Sands enlists him. He was in the 4th Battalion Artillery, Company D. It listed several places he served, Newport, KY (Newport is adjacent to Cincinnati, OH, about 70 miles north of Lexington, KY), Natchez, MS and Fort St. Marks, Florida.


I have done some study of these places and pieced together a story of his tour of duty. It is my belief that he was part of Andrew Jackson’s Volunteers who were organized to quell Indian unrest in North Florida. This group, which included William’s unit, marched south from Nashville in 1817 and took the Spanish Fort at St. Marks, Florida. This fort was just south of Tallahassee, Florida on the coast. See map above. (One caveat: His record shows assignment in Natchez after Newport. Frances suggests he might have come down the Ohio River. If so, then he would later join Jackson in St. Marks.) My wife and I, during our years at Florida State University, would go to St. Marks for seafood, never suspecting my great-great-grandfather was there before. Two historical accounts of the campaign are included below. On May 7, 1818, General Jackson leaves Fort St. Marks and took 1000 of the men to Fort Gadsden. The document states that on May 8, 1818, William deserts, presumably headed for Mississippi, maybe Frances Taylor was waiting for him there. There were may desertions due to sickness.

(Note from article by Mark F. Boyd in “The Florida Historical Society Quarterly, 1936), “On the same morning, the army set out on march for Fort Gadsden, leaving behind a detachment of two hundred men under Major Fanning as a garrison for the fort. The garrison included Major Fanning's own command of Company D, 4th Battalion, Artillery, as well as Captain Allison's company of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, and Captain Dinkin's Company of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry.”

Armed with a birthplace, Frances and I have been looking at the early censuses of North Carolina, and we have found four Hartley brothers living in Rowan County. The records show that three of them could have William as a child in their household (no names). The candidates are Benjamin, Labon or Thomas Hartley; another brother Richard does not fit. If indeed this is the correct family, then we have family tree records found online that list their father, Richard, and mother, Elizabeth, as born in Middlesex, England. We have more work to do before confirming this results. Hats off to Frances for her discovery! Osama Bin Laden was lucky she was not looking for him!

First Seminole War 1817-18

The Indians threatening the Georgia frontier were the Lower Creeks, a faction of the Creek Nation that had fled to Florida after being defeated in 1814. Called the Red Sticks because of their red war clubs, they settled in the swamps and palmetto forests along with Seminole Indians. The Seminoles were an amalgam of Indian bands mixed with fugitive African American slaves who had migrated from the river valleys of Georgia and Alabama to the protective swamps and pine barrens of Florida. These Indians went unrestrained by weak Spanish officials, shut up in their enclaves at St. Augustine on the east coast, St. Marks in central northern Florida, and Pensacola on the west coast.

Poorly treated by settlers and U.S. government agents, these Indians were ripe for open resistance. The spark came from an unexpected source. The Lower Creeks and Seminoles, already suspicious and disgruntled, were encouraged to attack American settlers in Georgia by two British adventurers from the Bahamas. Lt. Col. Edward Nicholls had employed the Indians in his abortive expedition against Mobile in the summer of 1814 and had left them well armed when he sailed away to England in 1815. Another instigator was a trader, Alexander Arbuthnot. Both incited the Indians by telling them the false story that the southern part of Georgia, which the Creeks had surrendered in the treaty of 1814, had been returned to them by the Treaty of Ghent and thus Americans were settling on lands that belonged to the Indians.

By the fall of 1817, the U.S. Army was attempting to protect the settlers by reinforcing Fort Scott, a log fort built at the southwestern tip of Georgia, where the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers combine to form the Apalachicola. Flowing through Florida to the Gulf, the Apalachicola provided a supply route from Mobile or New Orleans to the fort. At the end of November 1817 an Army keelboat ascending the Apalachicola in advance of supply transports was attacked from the bank by a party of Indians who killed or captured thirty-four of the forty persons aboard: soldiers and wives of soldiers.

The news of the attack, reaching Washington on December 26, 1817, brought on the conflict known as the First Seminole War. Calhoun ordered General Jackson to proceed immediately from Nashville to Fort Scott and take command and authorized him to request additional militia in case he thought the force on the scene (800 regulars and about 1,000 Georgia militia) insufficient. Jackson, who had already reported to the War Department that he was expecting trouble in Florida, "the war hatchet having been raised," acted promptly. Calculating that the three-month Georgia militia might have gone home before he could arrive at Fort Scott, he sent out a call for 1,000 six-month volunteers from West Tennessee. Dispatching to Fort Hawkins in central Georgia an officer with $2,000 to buy provisions and ordering further stores to come forward by ship from New Orleans. Jackson, escorted by two mounted companies, set off in advance of the troops.

Riding into Fort Hawkins on the evening of February 9, Jackson was enraged to discover that the contractor who had agreed to supply him with rations had failed to do so. For more than a thousand men, he reported to Calhoun, there was not "a barrel of flour or a bushel of corn." Procuring locally some pigs, corn, and peanuts, he kept going, arriving at Fort Scott on March 9. There, he learned that ships loaded with provisions from Mobile had come into the mouth of the Apalachicola. To Jackson, it was all important to protect these boats from Indians who might attack them from the riverbank. He set off next morning with his Georgia militiamen and 400 regulars from Fort Scott on a protective march down the east bank of the Apalachicola. Six days later, he was at the river mouth. He halted his force and ordered Lt. James Gadsden of the Corps of Engineers to build a fort, named Fort Gadsden, for storing the supplies he was expecting from New Orleans.

Jackson’s supply flotilla, delayed by a gale, did not arrive until March 25. The following day, he began his campaign. His objective was a large Indian settlement on the Suwannee River, 150 miles to the east, where a force of several thousand Indians and slaves under a Seminole chief, Billy Bowlegs, was said to be preparing for battle. Because he needed a supply base nearer than Fort Gadsden, he decided to take the Spanish fort of St. Marks on the way and arranged for the supplies to be brought by ship to the bay of St. Marks.

Stopping at the Ochlockonee River to make canoes for the crossing and farther along to clean out some Indian villages, Jackson took St. Marks on April 7, in the process capturing Arbuthnot, whom he imprisoned. In the meantime, a brigade of friendly Upper Creek Indians had ridden up along with the first detachment of the Tennessee volunteers. Because of the failure in supply, the main body of Tennesseeans did not catch up with Jackson until April 11, when he was well on the swampy trail to Bowlegs’ Town.

The campaign was something of an anticlimax. The Indians and slaves had fled from Bowlegs’ town, having been warned by Arbuthnot. The only gains were corn and cattle to feed Jackson’s troops and the capture of a third adventurer from the Bahamas, Robert C. Ambrister, who had been arming and drilling Bowlegs’ men. Ambrister was taken back to St. Marks and along with Arbuthnot was tried by a military court and executed. Dismissing the Georgia militia and the Indian brigade, Jackson proceeded west with his regulars and Tennesseeans. At Fort Gadsden, early in May, he learned that Indians were assembling in Pensacola. He seized Pensacola, ran up the American flag, and left a garrison there as well as at St. Marks when he returned to Nashville late in May.

Jackson’s highhanded actions in the First Seminole War—his invasion of Spanish territory, capture of Spanish forts, and execution of British subjects—might have had serious diplomatic repercussions if Spain or Great Britain had chosen to make an issue of them; but neither nation did. Negotiations with Spain for the purchase of Florida were already under way, and shortly after the return of the forts to Spain, the Adams-Onís Treaty ceded Florida to the United States in February 1819.

For the Army, the most significant aspect of the war had been the near total breakdown in the supply system. From the time Jackson rode out of Nashville in late January 1818 until his first encounter with the Indians early in April, he had had to devote all his energies to feeding his troops. The principal reason for this was the failure of civilian contractors. The folly of depending on civilians for so essential an item as rations had been amply demonstrated in the War of 1812, and Jackson’s experience in the First Seminole War only underscored it. At Calhoun’s suggestion, the Congress, in April 1818, required contractors to deliver rations in bulk at depots and provided a better system of Army-controlled transportation and supply methods. For the first time since the Revolutionary War, the Army had a Subsistence Department, headed by the Commissary General of Subsistence.–American Military History, Vol 1, Army Historical Series, Office of the Chief of Military History, United States Army.

Jackson invades Florida- from Wikipedia

Jackson gathered his forces at Fort Scott in March 1818, including 800 U.S. Army regulars , 1,000 Tennessee volunteers, 1,000 Georgia militia and about 1,400 friendly Lower Creek warriors. On March 13, Jackson's army entered Florida, marching down the Apalachicola River. When they reached the site of the Negro Fort, Jackson had his men construct a new fort, Fort Gadsden. The army then set out for the Mikasuki villages around Lake Miccosukee. The Indian town of Tallahassee was burned on March 31, and the town of Miccosukee was taken the next day. More than 300 Indian homes were destroyed. Jackson then turned south, reaching St. Marks on April 6.

At St. Marks, Jackson seized the Spanish fort. There he found Alexander George Arbuthnot, a Scottish trader working out of the Bahamas. He traded with the Indians in Florida and had written letters to British and American officials on behalf of the Indians. He was rumored to be selling guns to the Indians and to be preparing them for war. He probably was selling guns, since the main trade item of the Indians was deer skins, and they needed guns to hunt the deer. Two Indian leaders, Josiah Francis, a Red Stick Creek, also known as the "Prophet" (not to be confused with Tenskwatawa), and Homathlemico, had been captured when they had gone out to an American ship flying the British Union Flag that had anchored off of St. Marks. As soon as Jackson arrived at St. Marks, the two Indians were brought ashore and hanged.

Jackson left St. Marks to attack villages along the Suwannee River, which were occupied primarily by fugitive slaves. On April 12, the army found a Red Stick village on Econfina River. Close to 40 Red Sticks were killed, and about 100 women and children were captured. In the village, they found Elizabeth Stewart, the woman who had been captured in the attack on the supply boat on the Apalachicola River the previous November. Harassed by Black Seminoles along the route, the army found the villages on the Suwannee empty. About this time, Robert Ambrister, a former Royal Marine and self-appointed British "agent", was captured by Jackson's army. Having destroyed the major Seminole and black villages, Jackson declared victory and sent the Georgia Militia and the Lower Creeks home. The remaining army then returned to St. Marks.

The Trial of Robert Ambrister during the First Seminole War

At St. Marks, a military tribunal was convened, and Ambrister and Arbuthnot were charged with aiding the Seminoles, inciting them to war and leading them against the United States. Ambrister threw himself on the mercy of the court, while Arbuthnot maintained his innocence, saying that he had only been engaged in legal trade. The tribunal sentenced both men to death but then relented and changed Ambrister's sentence to fifty lashes and a year at hard labor. Jackson, however, reinstated Ambrister's death penalty. Ambrister was executed by a firing squad on April 29, 1818. Arbuthnot was hanged from the yardarm of his own ship.

Jackson left a garrison at St. Marks and returned to Ft. Gadsden. Jackson had first reported that all was peaceful and that he would be returning to Nashville, TN. He later reported that Indians were gathering and being supplied by the Spanish, and he left Fort Gadsden with 1,000 men on May, headed for Pensacola. The governor of West Florida protested that most of the Indians at Pensacola were women and children and that the men were unarmed, but Jackson did not stop. When Jackson reached Pensacola on May 23, the governor and the 175-man Spanish garrison retreated to Fort Barrancas, leaving the city of Pensacola to Jackson. The two sides exchanged cannon fire for a couple of days, and then the Spanish surrendered Fort Barrancas on May 28. Jackson left Col. William King as military governor of West Florida and went home.

Transcription of “Records of Men Enlisted in the U. S. Army” shown below:

No. 1576 Hartley, William; Rank: Pvt, Regiment: 4th Battalion, Artillery, Company D., Height 5 ft 7 inches, Eyes: Blk, Hair: Blk, Complexion: Dark, Age: 19, Profession: Farmer, Where Born: Rowan County, NC, Enlisted: Feb 23, 1817. Location: Lexington, KY (there is a nearby Lexington, NC), Enlisted by Lieutenant A. S. Sands for period of 5 years, Remarks: Mo. R. R. to March 31, 1817— S. A. M. R. Newport, KY, Dec 31, 1817, present. M. R. Natchez, Miss, Feb 23, 1818, present. I (orJ). R. Fort St. Marks, August 31, 1818, deserted May 8, 1818, at St. Marks.





Enlistment Records U. S. Army 1815-28. William Hartley is on second row. Document below continues this entry to the right.
Enlistment Records U. S. Army 1815-28. William Hartley is on second row. Document below continues this entry to the right.
Fort St. Marks Cemetery Records. Conditions were very bad resulting in many deaths.
1821 Census Record, Bainbridge County, MS
1823 Increase and Decrease of Population, Bainbridge County, MS
1830 Copiah County MS Census
1830 Copiah County MS Census, William Hartley entry
1828 Copiah County MS Tax Records
1828 Copiah County MS Tax Records
1828 Copiah County MS Tax Records
1828 Copiah County MS Tax Records
1858 Copiah County MS Tax Records
W. H. Hartley has a $250 piano(tax 1/4 of 1%) and sadly 5 slaves(tax $.40/each).
1859 Copiah County MS Tax Records
1859 Copiah County MS Tax Records
Family Maps of Copiah County MS. Contains names and dates of 19th century land patent issues. Hartley patents follow.
Three properties issued to John Hartley, 3/1/1859.

Map showing John Hartley Property: Block 19. Copiah County MS Tax Records

Properties issued to Joel Hartley, 5/10/1826/ John Hartley, 9/21/1835 and William Hartley 2/10/1840.
Map showing William, John and Joel T. Hartley Properrties: Blocks 26, 23, 35. This also shows Joel P. Swinney, Block 22, who married Nancy Hartley, daughter of William H. Hartley Copiah County MS Tax Records

Bankruptcy notices in the Weekly Mississippian, September 30, 1842. William Hartley entry is 3rd from right bottom row..



This William H. Hartley was born in 1842. Could be a son, however no connection known. He married Sarah Elizabeth J. Dunigan