Following is an excerpt from the 1919 book, The Strouds, A Colonial Family of English Descent, Historical and Genealogical, and contains a description of the massacre.
Eli Stroud, son of Mark and Martha Stroud, was born June 4th, 1789 in Hancock County, Georgia. At the age of six years the family moved from Hancock County to Dark County. Under the guiding care of as noble a mother as ever son had and the brotherly aid of William, he grew to manhood. From the meager opportunities that at this time prevailed in Georgia, he obtained a fair English education.
When nineteen years of age he met and married Elizabeth, daughter of Luke Derin and soon after moved to the Alabama Territory. At this period (1808) many Georgians were seeking homes in this new section. It is to be borne in mind that at this time the only means of transportation was by the slow-going, primitive wagons in use at this period. There were no railways, steamboats or other methods than those provided by each individual family. Eli Stroud, his young bride, and some adventurous neighbors constituted the advance guard of civilization that traveled across Georgia and deep into the forest of Alabama. There were no public highways, no bridges or boats by which to cross the numerous streams that lay across their path. Many days were consumed in making the trip to the new home. They finally settled in what is now a part of Conecuh County, near the Butler line, something near twenty-five miles west of Greenville on or near the old Federal road. Here among the wild beasts of the forest and the fierce and savage Indians Eli Stroud built a home for his bride.
In the period beginning 1809 and ending 1818, there was born to this young couple in their pioneer home, four children: Tinsey, Mark, Martha and Thomas, born in the order named. The loneliness of life to these pioneer peoples may well be imagined to have been lonely and full of fear and forebodings of coming danger. The influx of the whites and their gradual encroachments upon their savage neighbors' rights could but arouse them to revenge. The storm was near at hand and the blood of the innocent whites was soon to flow.
At this early period Alabama had not been admitted to the Union and there was little preparation made to resist attacks of the savage Indians. Neighbors were few and far distant. The eternal lonliness of the forest, the low moaning and soughing of the pines by day, the dismal hootings of the owls and the savage yells of the Indians at night, were enough to have well nigh driven the bravest back to civilization. Surely these early pioneers were all made in heroic mould.
In the early months of 1818 the Indians became very troublesome and threatening. So much so that the settlers became alarmed and began to make preparation for defense. Meetings were called and means of defense talked of and arranged for. About this time Eli Stroud had made a trip back to his old home in Georgia. On his return on the 13th day of March, 1818, he chanced to meet an old friend by name of William Oglesby, who insisted on his going by and spending the night. The following description of events that followed is copied from Little's History of Butler County:
While returning from the company muster, William Oglesby met Eli Stroud, who had been on a visit to relatives in Georgia, and was then on his way to his home near Claiborne. He had his wife and infant child with him. Being an old acquaintance of Oglesby, he was pursuaded by him to spend the night under his roof and partake of the hospitalities of the savage land. Oglesby had a wife and six children, and lived near the Federal Road, about three miles below where Fort Dale was afterwards built. Shortly after supper, after the children were put to bed, while these native Georgians sat around the scanty fire, talking in their accustomed style of the misfortunes of different persons, and the many dangers and trials of the pioneer life, their attention was suddenly attracted by the tramp of warriors. Springing to his feet, Oglesby seized his gun, and ran to the door, calling to his dogs, but he was shot down before he had time to fire his piece at the enemy. Several guns having been fired and Oglesby having been suddenly killed, the other inmates of the cabin became greatly excited with fear. Unfortunately, there happened to be but one way of escape, and that seemed almost certain death. But Stroud and his wife, regardless of the great danger of the whistling bullets and approaching savages, leaped out of the front door and attempted to save their lives. Mrs. Oglesby taking in the situation, did likewise. They were pursued by the bloodthirsty savages, bent on taking their lives, but by some means Stroud managed to escape.
Mrs. Oglesby was partially protected by a fierce dog that fought for her life like a tiger, and enabled her to escape to a ravine near by, where she hid herself in the high switch-cane. From this place she heard the pitiful screams of Mrs. Stroud attempting to escape, but who was finally tomahawked and left on the cold ground as dead. The house was soon entered and the shrieks and cries of the helpless children, as they were torn from their couches and butchered by the heartless demons, rendered night hideous. No pen can describe the terrible feelings of Mrs. Oglesby as she lay in concealment and heard the woeful cries of her dear children as their precious lives were being taken one by one.
After killing every person in reach, from the innocent little infant of Mrs. Stroud to the stout and brave William Oglesby, the bloodthirsty heroes of the night, marched triumphantly away, greatly rejoicing over the success of their victory. The profound silence that followed told the miserable woman that the bloody work was over. Early next morning the settlement was aroused with the sad news of the massacre, and many persons repaired to the spot. They found six persons quietly asleep in death. Mrs. Stroud, who was tomahawked the night before, was not dead, but had managed to crawl into the house and pick up her little infant from the others mangled in the room, and having lost her mind, she was found stuffing her dead child's skull with leaves.
Mrs. Stroud was tenderly cared for but died while being taken to her home. A monument marks her grave, which is located by the roadside, twenty-five miles west of Greenville, on the old Federal Road.
Soon after this tragic event, Eli Stroud took his three living children to Georgia to remain until more peaceable times, while he returned to avenge the cruel death of his loved ones. In after life he rarely spoke of this unhappy event. Neighbors have told how on the following day he shot an Indian brave on a branch near where his wife was buried.
In the early part of the year 1820, Eli Stroud again married, going back to his old home for his second wife, in the person of Miss Elizabeth East, daughter of Joseph East of dark county, Georgia. Returning to his Alabama home he commenced life anew, as a pioneer. In the period intervening between 1820 and 1829, there were born to this the second marriage, four children, born in the order here mentioned: Applin Bibb, LaFayett, Lucy Ann, and Eunice.
In the year 1829 his second wife sickened and died. This wife was buried by the side of the first wife along the roadside and the monuments are often visited by passers who note them on account of the tragic incident connected with one of them. Eli Stroud became dissatisfied with the place on account of the many troubles and much sickness and in the year 1833 moved to Russell county, where he continued to live until his death.
Previous to this he had married his third wife, Miss Eliza Perry. By this marriage there were born two children, William and Mary.
From this time on until his death Eli Stroud lived at the old home now known throughout the country as the old Stroud place. There stands on this place a part of the old house built in 1833. Here in ante-bellum times his children came annually to visit the old folks. After the Civil War, times were changed. Many were dead and others scattered, while poverty was the fate of all.
In 1835-6 troubles again came with the Indians. Remembering past experiences Eli Stroud now moved his loved ones beyond the Chattahoochee River to a place of safety, while he and his sons, Mark and Applin, joined the army to battle the crafty Indians. After the close of the war the family returned to their home.
Eli Stroud lived to be over eighty-one years old and was universally loved and respected by all that knew him. His slaves never knew the yoke to bind and as slaves they were far better cared for than when free. Most of them remained on the place to the end of their lives, preferring to live with Old Master.
On the old family homestead, immediately in front of the old home, is located the family grave yard. Here are sleeping Eli Stroud, his last wife, his youngest son, William L., his daughters, Lucy Ann, Mary and many other members of the family. William L. Stroud, grandson of Eli Stroud, resides on the old home and may it ever remain in the Stroud family, is the wish for all. (M42)
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