Tempy Ellis & Milly


by James H. Evans 1998 ©
Please see notes below the story for his personal thoughts

In the late 1700's, Temperance Ellis was only seven years old when she was captured by hostile Creeks during a guerrilla raid on the farm of James Scarlett, Sr. in Greene County, Georgia. Apparently, Temperance was visiting there. The Scarlett Farm, including the home, barns, and other appurtenances were burned. The Scarlett livestock was stolen. James Scarlett, Sr. and his entire family were murdered except one son who was away on an overnight journey. Temperance and a small black child were taken hostage and carried west to the secluded swampy Indian village of Autasi in what is now north Macon County, Alabama.

Autasi was then the capital of the Upper Creek Nation. There they were treated cruelly and made slaves of the tribe. Mt. Meigs or Mt. Pleasant, as it was called then, was a small cross roads located south of Autasi in what is now Montgomery County, Alabama. There were a few white settlers there even before the opening of the Federal Road which ultimately passed through Mt. Pleasant.

On the banks of a small stream near the Village of Mt. Pleasant lived an old woman. Some say she was British sympathizer, if not a Loyalist. Her name was "Milly". Legend has it that Milly's first husband was a soldier who had deserted the British Army during the American Revolution and that both had fled to the Alabama wilderness to avoid the automatic death penalty for treason to the British crown during a time of war. Milly and her husband built a rugged home and developed a thriving trading business with the Creeks. After the death of her husband, Milly continued to prosper by trade with the Creeks. The Creeks thought Milly to be a enchanted "Medicine Woman". Even today, that stream is still known as Milly's Creek. As an enchanted widow, Milly was able travel, trade and visit among the Creeks unmolested. She later married, as her second husband, a full blooded Creek Indian. As you would expect, the trading business flourished. Some also contend that Milly married a third time to Jesse Evans who ran a "Gin Screw" or public house at Evansville which was a short distance from Mt Pleasant.

Learning of the "little white girl" in Creek captivity, Milly took several oxen, cattle, horses and hogs to the Creek Chief and bartered for the child. Milly then carried Temperance by wagon to her home on the banks of Milly's Creek where the child resided in relative comfort for a few years. Milly came to adore Temperance as if she were her own daughter.

The U. S. Army later took custody of Temperance and placed her in the home James Seagrove, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Creek Nation at St. Mary's, Georgia while a federal and state search for her parents continued. In 1796, when Temperance was about 13 years old, Supt. Seagrove obtained an advertisement in the Georgia Gazette trying to locate her parents. The ad strongly suggested that Seagrove had made contact with her parents earlier. In any event, the custody of Temperance was finally awarded to a person or persons today unknown. The receipt which the army obtained for the custody of Temperance has never been located. Little Tempy could remember nothing save the murders. Milly's wailing heart was broken by the loss of her beloved Temperance and at her death was put to an unmarked grave.

NOTES: Now, conjecture is the only guide to the ancestral line of Temperance Ellis. See her family page, this site. These events are well documented in the record of an old law suit filed against the Creek Nation by James Scarlett, Jr., and in several period newspapers. Also, these unfortunate events were documented by the early Alabama historian, Albert Pickett who knew and conversed with Temperance Ellis when she was besieged by the infirmities of age. The life story of Temperance Ellis was once taught in Alabama schools. The original textbooks are at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Temperance Ellis died on August 22, 1865 in the 82nd year of her life. She was one of the better known of Alabama's female pioneers. Temperance married Thomas Frizzle around 1806 and later returned to the Mt.Meigs area.

Alas, I need the missing receipt for Grandma Tempy. Further, I need someone to verify that existence or non-existence of the receipt. Surely, the Federal military authorities would not release the custody of a child to someone without getting a receipt. Whoever signed the receipt may lead me to the parents of Temperance, which would be fabulous.

I want to know who the Indian Chief was at the time she was captured. Who led the raid on the Scarlett House? How long was she at Autasi? The entire matter intrigues me beyond fascination. Thank you for whatever assistance you may afford this endeavor. Jake Evans