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Melton's Bluff Receipts

 Collection
Identifier: MSS-4150

Scope and Contents

The collection contains six receipts concerning Andrew Jackson's farm, Melton's Bluff, on the Tennessee River in Alabama. Jackson purchased the land with his partner John Hutchings from David Melton, son of the original owner John Melton and his Cherokee wife. They farmed Melton's Bluff until its sale in 1827. At one point, Jackson and another partner, General John Coffey, surveyed the area and sold lots in the short-lived town of Marathon. Unfortunately the venture never materialized and today the town of Marathon (Melton's Bluff) is listed as having existed from 1818 to 1850, as the county seat of Lawrence County in The Alabama Ghost Town Project. Its current status is listed as 'barren' meaning that the site no longer has any trace of civilization, and has either been destroyed, covered with water, or has reverted back to empty land. Melton's Bluff later became part of General Joe Wheeler's plantation.

The receipts concern various purchases and payments by Massey to outfit and work the property, for items such as flower (flour), crocks, salt, and whiskey. It is interesting to note that although they owned slaves and slaves worked the fields and farm at Melton's Bluff for Jackson and Hutchings, they did not completely rely on slave labor to harvest the cotton crop as one of the 1818 receipts is to Jayson Parmertree for $1.50 for picking one hundred-fifty pounds of cotton at $1.00 per hundred and another to William Davis for $11.48 for picking eleven hundred and eighty-six pounds and for making a door.

Dates

  • 1817-1818

Biographical / Historical

Melton's Bluff was the first county seat of Lawrence County when it was established by the Alabama Legislature in February 4, 1818. At the time, it was the largest and oldest town in the county. It was named in honor of John Melton, an Irishman who had come to the area many years prior because of his displeasure with his fellow man. He married a Cherokee woman and raised a family.

Melton became rich through the practice of robbing the pioneers that travelled down the Tennessee River. It is not known whether he made his fortune by robbing them of their goods or by charging outrageous prices for things they needed. Either way, with the money he amassed he purchased slaves and established a tavern.

When he died in 1815, Andrew Jackson and John Hutchings bought the property and worked the lands mainly with slave labor. Later, Jackson and another partner John Coffey had the bluff surveyed and divided into lots for a town to be named Marathon, hoping to attract settlers to compete with the nearby town of Bainbridge. Jackson sold the property in 1827, two years before becoming the seventh President of the United States. There is no explanation given for why Melton's Bluff/Marathon became a ghost town, but it is interesting to think that if Jackson hadn't sold it, it might be as great a tourist attraction as his home 'The Hermitage' is in Tennessee.

Extent

0.01 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

Six receipts concerning Andrew Jackson's farm, Melton's Bluff, on the Tennessee River in Alabama.

Provenance

Purchased from The University Companies, 2015

Processed by

Martha Bace, 2015

Source

Title
Melton's Bluff Receipts
Status
Coll Lvl Complete
Date
August 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266
205.348.0500