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Descendants of Reuban Hart

Generation No. 1

1. REUBAN2 HART (ISSAC1) was born Unknown in Washington County Georgia, and died Unknown in Yellow River Cemetary in North Okaloosa County, Florida. He married NANCY ANN RIGDON 1800 in North Carolina. She was born Unknown, and died Unknown in Yellow River Cemetary in North Okaloosa County, Florida.

Notes for R

      Reuben Hart came to Conecuh County, Alabama about the same time that Alabama Territory was created from the eastern part of the Mississippi Territory (3 March 1817). From all indications his father's name was Issac, but this has not been proven and he may have three brothers named Alexander, Benjamin and Lewis. He was on of the earliest white settlers of this area of Alabama who blazed trails, which later became roads, pioneered in subduing a rugged new land and helped develop two areas untouched by the English, French, and Spanish in their attempt to settle South Alabama and West Florida.

      Hostile Indians, who were still after revenge for their bitter defeat at the "Battle of Horseshoe Bend" were still prowling this area at that time. The "TREATY OF FORT JACKSON" signed 9 August 1814 gave all that is now the State of Alabama to the United States Government but most of the area was still occupied by the Creek, Choctaw and Cherokee Indians. They were not organized and crimes they committed were limited to stealing cattle or hogs and feed. This was usually done by individuals who had moved onto lands farther west, set aside for their use by the U.S. Government.

      In Reverend B.F. Riley's "History of Conecuh County, Alabama", printed in 1881, he states that Samuel Buchanan was the first man to establish a residence in Conecuh County, Mississippi Territory in the later part of 1815, and that Alexander Autrey arrived a short time later. Quote from his book: "Shortly after Mr. Autrey moved to Conecuh there came from North Carolina three gentleman whose names were Thomas Mendenhall, Eli Mendenhall and Reuben Hart, Mr. Hart located near the present residence Dr. J. L. Shaw." Nearby was the spot where Indian Chief Peter McQueen and his warriors held a war dance to celebrate their victory over Col. James Caller and his cavalry on Burnt Corn Creek, thirteen miles below Bellville, which was the begonnong of the great Indian War and one month before the masscree at Fort Mims.

      Mr. Hart like other newcomers looked around for the favorable location to build his furure home. He selected the tract most suited to his taste and proceeded to indicate his title to permanent tenure by girdling a few trees with impressions cut with an axe, deep into the bark and by laying upon the ground the four legs of a homesite. This was know locally a "The Imigrant Claim" and was of possession and was sacredly respected by the early settlers. The man who would disregard this asserted claim was branded a rascal and incurred the loss of public confidence and respect. These claims later on did not stand up in court and each settler had to buy his land from the U.S. Government at prices some people did not want to pay. This could be the reason why some of the early arrivers moved on to areas to settle, as Mr. Hart did.
                                                                                          Mr. Hart was in Georgia in 1800, as his oldest son Reuben Jr. was born in that state 8 September 1800. In the 1805 or first land lottery of Georgia, Mr. Hart, living in Washington County, Georgia, received two draws. Both of these draws wwere blank and he did not receive any land. Receiving two draws in the lottery indicated that he was a married man at that time, as only married men and widows received two draws. Those participating in the lottery had to take only an oral oath in their county of residence to establish their eligibility to receive draws. All records in Washington County have been destroyed twice, once by fire in 1885 and by Sherman in 1864.

      The Hart family arrived in Conecuh County, Alabama Territory either late in 1816 or early in 1817, as his ninth child, Andrew Jackson was born 22 December 1816, in a wagon, as the family was migrating through the creekIndian Nation in Alabama. The Chief of a friendly Indian tribe that lived in a village near where he was born wanted to swap a papoose for him, the proposal was not considered. He settled at Bellville, then called "THE PONDS" because there were so many ponds nearby. His homesite was near the famous Indian trail, then known as "THE OLD WOLF TRAIL', which ran from the present site of Claiborne on the Alabama River, via Bellville to the Chattahoochee River. At this time the nearest white residence, other than the ones mentioned above were living in Claiborne.

      The 1820 census of Conecuh County lists Reuben Hart with his wife and ten children under twenty-one years of age. Nine boys and one girl, along with six slaves. He lived in Conecuh County approximately four years. As soon as the war of 1812 was over, Alabama saw a great influx of settlers. This gigantic southward movement of pioneers resulted in Statehood for Alabama (5 July 1819). By this time Conecuh county had a population of 5,549 of which 1,934 were slaves.

      Mr. Hart did not like close neighbors so he took a trip and explored areas in South Alabama and West Florida. He took two of his eldest sons with him. They rode horses on the trip. From all indications this was early in 1820, and it took about two weeks to complete the trip. He found what he wanted on the west bank of the Yellow River. As soon as he returned home, he started making plans to move, and no withstanding the many difficulties. Late in 1820, he, alone with his older sons and slaves, loaded his family and chattals on wagons, drawn by oxen, and moved into West Florida. The elder boys and men slaves rode horses or walked along the side of or backs of the wagons as they moved along the road. The others rode in wagons which were coverd. He received land from the state and settled on the river just below the Alabama State line.

      Although the distance from where he lived in Conecuh County to where he settled on the Yellow River is approximately forty-five miles, this trip took almost a week to complete as there was one or two rivers to cross and during the last few miles to his new homesite ther was not even a trail to follow. A road had to be cleared of stumps, trees and fallen logs so that the wagons could keep moving. No doubt, he crossed the Sepulga River at Brooklyn it would have still been necessary to cross the Conecuh River before moving into Florida. McGown Ferry was below where the two rivers fork. All creeks that were necessary to cross on the trip could have been forded unless the water in them were out of their banks due to recent rains. While moving he had his chickens in crates on the wagons and his cattle and sheep were driven behind the wagons.

      In order to receive land in West Florida (which was under control of the U.S. Government but not a Territory until 1822) founded on habitation and cultivation Mr. Hart filed the following petiton "To the Honorable Commissioners in the District of West Florida, the petition or Reuben Hart respectfully shows that on and before the 17th of July 1821, he settled and cultivated a tract of land on the west side of Yellow River. Bounded on the East by the River, South by John Barrow, West by vacant land, North by Lewis Baggett, that he was over 21 years of age and the head of a family, therefore prays that he may be reported as a claiment for 320 acres.

      John Barrow swore, faith, that Reuben Hart settled on the land in 1820, that he actually inhabited and cultivated the land on the 17th of July 1821, and that he had about 12 acres cleared, he was the head of a family and twenty-one years of age and that he continued the cultivation ever since, and further fait not. Omas Skines swore, faith that he confirms the foregoing statement of Mr. Barrow. The claim was reported by the Commissioner's office in Pensacola, Florida on 10th of December, 1824 and was communicated to the House of Representatives on the 14th of January 1825.     

      After picking out the location of his new residence in this wild uncivilized region, Mr. Hart started his new home. This had been done twice before, once in Washington County, Georgia and in Conecuh County, Alabama, by building a double pen log-house. It was built with split and hone pine logs which rested upon sills which in turn were supported by pilars of heart pine. Getting this type of building material was not a problem as there were plenty of large pine trees standing nearby and they were available for the taking, all that was needed was to cut them down and bow them into shape that was needed. The chimmies were built with sticks and mud. They lasted unusually well and were used for all chimmies in areas where homemade brick were not available.
                                                                                          During construction of the new home the family camped out, using a large tent, that also was used for camping at night when the family was moving, for the family to sleep in and for storage of seed and food stuff, until the house was completed enough for part of the family to move in. The cooking area was near the house but later on a kitchen was built about sixty feet from the main house. It was after the family moved into the Yellow river area but before the new house was completed that Mr. Hart's son Dennis was born in a wagon. The census record shows that he was born in Florida.

      As soon as Mr. Hart arrived at his new homesite he began clearing a few acres of land for his cow pen and vegetable garden, and fencing them with pine and cedar rails. The cattle and sheep had to be penned every night to keep the wolves and bears from killing and eating calves and lambs. Wolves could be heard howling almost every night. Later he cleared more land for his corn and cotton crops. He also fenced these fields with pine and cedar rails. He brought seed corn, cotton seed, vegetable seed, sweet potatoes and sugar cane when he moved from Bellville. He was never considered a big farmer, growing only enough grain and hay to feed his cattle, sheep and horses during the winter months. He let his livestock run on the open range during the summer months, penning them only at night.

      Keeping a wife and eleven children and six slaves was not a small task as all clothing and shoes were homemade and all feed except fresh meat had to be grown on his land. He had vegetable gardens, sugar cane and potato patches. Keeping a supply of meat for the family was not a big problem as there was plenty of deer, wild turkey and small game in the area and from time to time a bear was killed. Bass, bream and catfish caught from the nearby river was added to the diet. All his sons were good hunters and fishermen.
                                                                                          In his new enviroment with plenty of open range, Mr. Hart engaged very extensively in cattle raising. He used for his breeding stock some of the cows he brought with him from Washington County, Georgis. The off spring of this type of cattle are now known as the native cattle. They reproduce and develop-ed unusually well under these circumstances, gazing incane brakes in low areas and on wild native grasses in upland areas. The cattle were sold in Pensacola, Florida where there was always a ready market. They were driven on foot to Pensacola, by boys and men on horseback. The biggest hazard in driving the cattle to market was swimming them across Escambia River. This was done about twelve miles up the river from Ferry Pass as ther were so many marches and bayous near the mouth of the river on Escambia Bay. There were still a few bands of Indians roaming in the area at this time but they caused very little trouble.

      Mr. Hart was the first of a large and long line of Harts to settle in the South Alabama and West Florida , but he was no means the last, his desecendents number into the thousands. He had a large family and most of his children had large families. Hundreds of his descendents still live in South Alabama and West Florida while many others have migrated to other staes. According to the census records of 1850 Mr. Hart was living with his youngest son Dennis in Covington County, Alabama, only a short distance from where he settled in Florida in 1820.     

      It is not know when he or his wife Nancy (Ann) Rigdon died. They are buried in the old Yellow River Cemetary in North Okaloosa County, Florida. Their graves are not marked. There is a wire fence around the two graves.
Children of R
  i.   JOHN3 HART, b. January 17, 1802, Washington, Georgia.
2. ii.   REUBIN JR. HART, b. September 08, 1800, Washington County Georgia.
  iii.   WILLIAM HENRY HART, b. March 26, 1804, Washington, Georgia.
  iv.   JOSHUA HART, b. February 10, 1806, Washington, Georgia.
  v.   ISSAC HART, b. April 11, 1808, Washington, Georgia.
  vi.   DANIEL HART, b. February 05, 1810, Washington, Georgia.
  vii.   ALLEN HART, b. April 09, 1812, Washington, Georgia.
  viii.   POLLY MARY HART, b. March 21, 1814, Washington, Georgia.
  ix.   ANDREW JACKSON HART, b. December 22, 1816, Alabama; d. June 22, 1873.
  x.   RICHARD HART, b. June 05, 1819, Alabama.
  xi.   DENNIS HART, b. November 11, 1821, Escambia, Florida; d. 1896.

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