My mother, June Slaughter, began to write a lot of letters back in those days trying to get support for something to be done at Fort Mims. She put a jar out on the counter of the store, put pictures and notices in the newspaper and wrote to the state for help. One of the letters was to the Alabama Department of Parks and Conservation and before too long she received correspondence from Mr. Marks of the Parks Division, State of Alabama! She had stirred interest in Montgomery and the officials were coming to Tensaw to see what they could find. Fort Mims would not be forgotten! I remember that the whole family was happy and we could hardly wait to see what would come next.
Because of the way the burned wood was found, the men decided that the fort must have been put up horizontally -- at least in several places. Two posts would have been put into the ground and logs laid between them and built up until the wall of logs was high enough to protect those inhabiting the fort.
Every year in the heat of August, Mama loaded up all five of her children, occasionally several cousins from down the road and any friends who were lucky enough to be around, and we would head down to Fort Mims for a memorial service. We were fairly good for kids during the “service,” swatting at the mosquitoes and bugs, and trying to understand the serious look on Mama’s face. Before long, she had a fence and a gate delivered to the store, “Smith and Slaughter,” so an official improvement could be made to Fort Mims, as specified. That was 10 years after the Till family donated five acres to the state of Alabama.
Articles appeared frequently in the local papers, the Fort Mims Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution placed a monument at the site, and interest in this historic site in north Baldwin County soared throughout the state and Baldwin County. My grandmother wrote a short book during this time, ‘Sunshine and Shadows -- Along the Trails the Tensas Trod,’ with some of the research she had done throughout the years.
After the massacre at Fort Mims, my ancestors Capt. Joseph Booth and Col. Lee Slaughter rode south with Andrew Jackson to avenge those killed at Fort Mims. They went on to fight the British at the Battle of New Orleans; Jesse Embree and Reese Smith also joined Jackson’s forces during the War of 1812 and the Creek Indian War, all settling in this area.
A portion of Capt. Booth’s plantation remains in the family and his grave, and those of several of his children and grandchildren, are tended by descendants who honor them and the memory of their many contributions during the early days of this country.
Now, I am proud to serve as president of the Fort Mims Restoration Association and we are sponsoring a commemorative event for the 200th Anniversary of Fort Mims on Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2013. Descendants from all over the country plan to attend. Don’t miss this outstanding event! Visit our webpage: fortmims.org (next week after reconstruction is complete). “Like” Fort Mims on Facebook for recent happenings, photos and see what is going on as we near the anniversary date!
-- By Claudia Slaughter Campbell, President, Fort Mims Restoration Association in Tensaw, Ala.