Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Old Wagon Road Out of Eastern Monroe During Pre-County Days

When the Federal government surveyed the Chickasaw lands acquired by the Treaty of Pontotoc (1832), only two roads were mentioned in the survey field notes in what later became Itawamba County. They were listed as the Old Natchez Road (Natchez Trace) and the Wagon Road. The Wagon Road entered what is now Itawamba County near the site of the State Highway 25 bridge (pictured above) running north out of eastern Monroe County into present-day eastern Itawamba County. From reading the survey field notes from 1833, it is evident the road ran northward basically along present-day State Highway 25, the veering basically onto present-day Clay-Tilden Road running northward into the Clay community (nearly 13 miles).

The surveyors documented four white families in the area along this old road. One such family was the Benjamin Wise family living north of Bull Mountain Creek on the line between Sections 29 and 30, Township 11 South, Range 9 East (just northeast of the photographed site above).

Benjamin Wise, according to the 1850 Itawamba County census, was born during 1802 in South Carolina.

William Wise was born in South Carolina around 1765. He was in Laurens District, South Carolina for several years where he married Katherine Elizabeth Gideon. The Wise and Gideon families were pioneer settlers in Bedford County, Tennessee. During 1816-17, William Wise, his brother Henry Wise and his sister-in-law Elizabeth Wise (probably the widow of John Wise) left Bedford County migrating to Monroe County, Mississippi. They came down the Gaines Trace on horseback. Legend has it that on this trip the Wise family lost one of their oxen and later found it on a high ridge near the Mississippi and Alabama state lines. They named this ridge Bull Mountain.

After arriving in northeast Mississippi, the Wise families cut logs to build a house, but they didn’t finish because Levi Colbert (Itawamba-mingo) said the logs had been cut on their site of the Gaines Trace (the treaty line at the time). They were ordered to move south of the Gaines Trace by Colbert. Their new location became the Quincy Settlement of Monroe County.

In the party of 1816-17 there were three Wise families, two or three Gideons, Bookers, Weavers and Thames. Their location was so covered with dense forests that there was little area fit for cultivation. By the end of the first year, the group’s provisions became so scarce that it has been said William Wise was compelled to make the journey back to Tennessee after corn and other provisions. Before he completed his trip he was killed and robbed. The date of his death is usually given as 1819.

Benjamin was the son of William Henry or John Wise. At this time there is no conclusive evidence as to which of the above was his father.

Benjamin married Charity Gibson, daughter of Joseph and Lydia Rutland Gibson on March 123, 1822 in Monroe County.

When the government surveyors entered the Chickasaw Nation in 1833, they found him, along with his family living in the cession area just north of Bull Mountain Creek, east of present-day Highway 25.

Benjamin Wise is found in the 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1839 tax lists of Itawamba County. He is also enumerated in the 1840 census of the county. According to the 1850 and 1860 Itawamba County census records, his children included Francis, Anna, Benjamin, Sarah, John, Josephine, James and William. The Wise family had left Itawamba County before the 1870 Federal Census.

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