1865 - Tuscanooga

1860s - Tuscanooga

   Not long after the the settling of Slone Ridge, people began settling an area further north that would become known as Tuscanooga.
   Tuscanooga had previously been a 900 acre island that was inhabited by Native Americans and was part of the Seminole Indian Reservation.
   The area was named after their leader and chief, Halpatter Tustenugee. Records indicate there were somewhere between 180 to 300 members of the tribe living there. These Natives participated in the successful ambush of Major Dade and his troops at the site of today's Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell.
   Other nearby tribal camps were located at Okahumpka and northwest of Center Hill. It is likely that these groups also took part in the battle. Read more about the Seminole Tribe of Tuscanooga here: 1835-1842 - The Second Seminole War

   As was common for the time, the settlers of Slone Ridge and Tuscanooga began to intermarry and form familial bonds.

   Early Settlers of Tuscanooga:
      William Leonard Robbins - Abt. 1865-1866. (Granville Bevill of Sumter County received a land grant in 1855, signed by U. S. President Franklin Pierce. This land was later purchased by William Leonard Robbins who came to Tuscanooga around 1865.)
      Matthew Pridgeon Merritt and his wife Nancy (Curry) came by mule and wagon in 1867.

      William Jordan Watson - 1870
      Newton Stewart, Jr. - Abt. 1890
      Archibald Gano - In the mid 1890s he moved from Villa City after the Great Freeze of 1895.
      Granville Beville Robbins - Born in 1874 at Tuscanooga.
He was later hired to build the first structure in downtown Taylorville, which was a storage shed for the Taylor Brothers. It was used to store the supplies needed for their turpentine business.

Tuscanooga Church

   The early settlers built a one-room cabin that served as both school and church with people attending from other nearby settlements. it was built on the same spot as today's Tuscanooga Baptist Church.

   The circuit-riding preacher, Daniel Sloan, came to the area once a month. Jordan Watson (mentioned above) became the first permanent pastor. Jordan Watson's 3rd great grandson, Casey Ferguson, currently serves as pastor of the Tuscanooga Church.

   In 1897, separate structures were built for the school and church. The teacher at this school, along with a member of the Robbins family, is also known for having contributed to the building of a supply shed for the Taylor brothers, which was the first structure built in the town of Taylorville.

   The 1897 church building was destroyed in 1919 by a tropical storm. Worshippers then attended elsewhere until 1929 when they reconvened. The new church gathered under an oak tree as they sat on wood boards laid across boxes.

   During the Depression Era, in 1933, an open air structure with a sawdust floor was erected which consisted of a roof supported by wooden poles. While it did not have any walls, a three foot high railing was used to enclose the structure in order to keep the wild hogs from interrupting the services.

Life of The Early Settlers

   Hard work was required to tame the land, which had to be cleared. Trees were cut down and the logs hewn, for making the cabins, before homes could be built or fields laid out for farming. Labor was done by hand and settlers had to camp in tents or wagons until the homes were completed. Fence rails were split out of pine, cypress, and cedar.

   Corn was made into hominy, cornmeal, and grits. Various vegetables, such as beans or peas, were dried for the winter months. Some wild berries were eaten as food. Sugar and syrup were made from the sugar cane that would be grown.
      Cows, deer, wild turkey, hogs, rabbits, squirrels, fish, and chickens provided their meat. The beef was pickled or dried and pork was cured and smoked for preserving. Butter was churned from the cows' milk. Chickens provided meat and eggs. Feathers from the chickens were used for mattresses and pillows.

   Cotton was a necessary crop grown here in the mid-late 1800s. Clothing was made of cotton cloth that was hand-loomed from cotton thread made on their own spinning wheels. Bedspreads and sheets were also made out of the homespun cotton fabric. They made their own dyes from pokeberries, hickory bark, and indigo plant.

   The early settlers were not only farmers, as many of them also raised cattle.

   Without any stores in the area, many of these early settlers eventually had to go to Leesburg (first settled in 1857) for supplies. They would trade their crops, deer hides, and sugar cane syrup in exchange for products such as ammunition, coffee, flour, and salt. A trip to Leesburg was a three day adventure. They would ride on horse or ox pulled wagons through the trails that meandered through the swamps and forests. Along the way, they would camp in tents or in their covered wagons at what became known as Bugg Spring in Okahumpka. The second day they would get to Leesburg to do their shopping and camp again at Bugg Spring on the way back.

   You can read more about the history of Bugg Spring and Okahumpka here: 1830s-1870s - The Swamp Fox of Okahumpka and Bugg Spring