114. Fort Payne: "I am tired of war times and war fare"

Photograph of Fort Payne
Fort Payne at Rita (Fredenhagen) and John Harvard Early Learning Playscape
“July 12, 1832. My dear Vanilea, I am tired of war times and war fare… for four days after we came to this place we had to live entirely out of doors, though we were permitted to sleep under shelter. Since then we have had a comfortable house, but there are only 2 small rooms and six families to occupy them. There are twenty two children. There are five or six crying, two or three scolding almost constantly, besides all the rest of the confusion.” Settler Caroline Strong’s letter to her sister, written from a temporary shelter near Fort Payne, must have sent alarm to her family in New York. The initial panic of Indian attack was founded more in the imagination of the settlers than in reality. One white man was killed in the Big Woods on the edge of town, but by the time Caroline wrote this letter, Black Hawk was far north of Naper’s Settlement, largely outnumbered by the U.S. Army that pursued him: “Our unworthy lives are still spared, our Heavenly Father has delivered us from dangers seen and unseen…. Two months ago we were quietly pursuing our labors, thought not of danger or interruption, especially from such a quarter. But what a contrast! What before was peace and prosperity was suddenly reversed into scenes of fear, distress and poverty. Homes were deserted, farms left uncultivated, large droves of cattle left to range their boundless fields. Now people are just beginning to creep out of their hives.”