|Murder Creek in Brewton, Alabama got it's name after a tragic event took place that claimed the lives of several men crossing the frontier territories in 1788.|
In 1788, a party of English Loyalist from South Carolina were traveling to Pensacola to get passports in order to pass through the Creek territories and settle in the Spanish Colonies located in the Louisiana territory. While on their expedition, the group led by Colonel Joseph Kirkland, went to the home of his friend Alexander McGillivray who lived on the Coosa River in what is today Alabama.
McGillivray was a biracial Creek Indian whose father was a Scottish fur trader. His mother hailed from a prominent bloodline if Creek royalty and he was educated in both his father and his mother’s cultural beliefs and economics. He would later use his influence to negotiate treaties between the Creek Indians and the American government, including the Treaty of Pensacola with Spain.
During Kirkland’s stay with McGillivray, he informed the men that traveling through the native territory was extremely dangerous due to the growing hostilities caused by the encroachment of settlers. He offered Colonel Kirkland a guide to help navigate through the territories safely.
Kirkland and his men carried large amounts of silver coins with them. They intended to use the money during the trip to pay for provisions, purchase their passports in Pensacola, and establish their settlements once they reached Louisiana. As the group traveled further south with their slave guide, they meet a group of Creek fur traders who were returning from Pensacola with a pack-mule full of supplies and goods. There were a couple of Hillabee Indians with the traders and two white men.
As the two groups met, they engaged in a friendly conversation and without the threat of duress, both groups decided to make camp for the night. Kirkland’s men set up camp on the opposite side of the trading group on the banks of the Aloochahatche Creek. Unbeknownst to the Colonel’s group, the men across the creek were far from friendly and they conspired to rob and kill the Colonels party after the camp went to sleep.
One of the outlaw men was called “Istillicha” which translates to “the man slayer”. Another man they called “Cat”. He fled his home state to escape murder charges and was a notoriously violent criminal. There was also a white man in the group who was known as Sullivan and he apparently owned an Indian slave named Bob, who was also present.
Just after midnight, the murderous group crept across the river and slipped quietly into Kirkland's camp. They took all the guns and other items they could carry before opening fire on the Colonels men, killing them all except the servant guide that McGillivray sent. When Colonel McGillivray received word of his friend's death, he ordered a search party to located and kill the men responsible. When the outlaws were captured, Cat was led to the location where the murders took place and strung up in tree. He begged and pleaded for his life but his cries fell on deaf ears as McGillivray’s men wrenched the noose tighter and tighter around his neck, stretching him for several minutes until the finally succumbed to suffocation.
After this event, the location that is now in Brewton, Alabama, was known as “Murder Creek”. Since the events of 1788, this creek that divides Brewton and East Brewton has been a source of many other tragic events and ghostly sightings. More than a few suspected homicide victims have been found floating in Murder Creek. As early as 2012, bodies have been recovered from the location and the small town of Brewton itself is rumored to have more than a few unsolved mysteries pertaining to accidental drowning, suicides and murdered people, the most noted being Annie Jean Barnes who was found beaten,abused and dead outside of a hunting club in 1966.
Whatever the source of a story, legend or rumor, it’s likely the spirits of Brewton, and the spirits who haunt Murder Creek, are those who have died under tragic circumstances or mysterious deaths. Many people who recreate on the scenic waterway have seen the ghastly apparition of Cat, hanging by his neck in the trees. Campers have packed up their tents and belongings in the middle of the night when they encounter the howling cries of what they describe as angry and terrified screaming. This could be the agonizing cries of the murdered men from Kirkland’s party. Or perhaps, the pleas of Cat himself.
A man who allegedly committed suicide by driving his car into Murder Creek, was found dead in the 1960’s. His death is still a heated debate in Brewton but the phantom orbs that resemble the headlights of a car aren’t exactly debated by those who have witnessed the phantom effigy near the location of his death. The floating apparition of a woman has recently surfaced since 2012 and many associate that spirit with a woman whose body was found submerged in the creek that summer.
What is it about Murder Creek that has stained it with an ominous stigma of ongoing mystery and grief? Were the first recorded events a precursor to future tragedies? Or is it somehow cursed by the name itself – Murder Creek.