By Joyce W. Sanders
John Beverly Sullivant was born in 1822 near Pulaski, Tennessee, and was married to Margaret Ann Shuler in 1844. Soon after their marriage they came to Attala County, near Zama, and settled on Lobutcha Creek. They made the trip in an ox wagon, bringing all their household goods with them. Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Shuler, parents of Mrs. Sullivant, joined the caravan, traveling in a wagon drawn by horses.
Several other families joined the migration, including Sam Riddle and William Ethridge. These families brought all their livestock, some driving wagons while others drove cattle. Mrs. Mary Ethridge drove a wagon all the way by herself. John Bailey and his wife, Susanna were in the troupe. Mrs. Bailey was a daughter of the Abraham Shulers and John was a great-great-uncle of Dr. Lamar Bailey. All these families settled within seven or eight miles of each other.
Mr. Sullivant told his children that when he first came here he could go
out in the woods and see herds of deer and droves of turkeys. In these early days the creek bottoms were filled with a thick growth of reed (a tall jointed grass or cane). This reed was eaten by the deer and by cows that had been turned out on the range.
In 1850, for some reason unknown, this reed made seed and all the deer in this section died, supposedly from eating the reed seed. The reed also died after this seeding.
The first settlers turned their hogs, as well as cows, out to range so they could fatten by eating acorns and nuts which were plentiful at this time in this densely wooded area. Many of the hogs wandered away and were lost, soon providing a long nosed variety of wild hog. Hunting these wild hogs turned into a business, but "feuds" were often brought about by persons claiming to own the wild hogs.
During the first of the Civil War Tom Johnson accused Steve Gibbs of killing his hogs knowingly. As Johnson returned from the grist mill where he had had corn ground into meal, Gibbs shot him from ambush,
|killing him instantly. This happenedd three miles east of Zama.
Johnson's friends and relatives retaliated by capturing Gibbs and taking him to the spot where Johnson was killed. There, instead of a mock trial, they just pronounced Gibbs guilty and asked if he had rather be shot or hung.
Gibbs is supposed to have chosen being shot and Johnson's brother supposedly was ready to oblige; as a mob so often does, they paid no attention to his preference and decided to use the noose instead.
Gibbs was placed on a mule, led under a tree, was tied around the neck with a noose and was tied to a limb of a tree. When the mule was led from under Gibbs, the noose slipped and his feet touched the ground and his neck was unbroken. Whereupon a cousin of Johnson's son named Blount shinnied up the tree, tightened the rope and completed the hanging.
Next time this column will continue with more about this area with special emphasis on turkeys and the Ku Klux Klan.