Dabney McGehee Memorandum Book
Dabney McGehee (TMSI #5041)

Dabney Oswald McGehee married Esther Meriwether (1785-1843), daughter of John Meriwether and Esther McGehee, in 1806 in Abbeville, South Carolina. They were the parents of 12 children.

In 1816, McGehee left Abbeville, South Carolina for Greene County, Alabama. He kept a "Memorandum Book" of the trip, beginning on October 31, 1816, and ending on November 24, 1816, recording the expenses of the trip to Alabama. McGehee’s traveling companions were his wife's uncle, Dr. Zachary Meriwether, Sr. (1754-1836), his son, Dr. Zachary Meriwether, Jr. (1791-1856), Capt. B. Hatter, and William Young. It appears that McGehee traveled to Fort Jackson and then returned to South Carolina. Perhaps he was scouting out the area in anticipation of moving his family there. His book stops, and then picks up again in July 1821, when his family was living in Alabama, and ends in November 1823.

They followed part of the Federal Road, a major thoroughfare for settlers, which began in Augusta, Georgia, ran through Fort Hawkins (Macon, Georgia), on to Fort Mitchell (Phenix, Alabama), and ended in Penasacola, Florida. The Federal Road began as a horse path for carrying mail through the Creek Indian lands, but following the Creek War of 1813-1814, the Indians were forced to cede 23 million acres of land to the United States, opening up the land to settlers, who followed the Federal Road to their new homes. “Alabama Fever,” the frenzy to establish land claims in the area, was pushed by the worldwide demand for cotton. In 1810, the population of Alabama was 10,000 but by 1820 it had swelled to 127,000. Alabama was admitted as a state in 1819.

McGehee’s Memorandum Book lists the expenses at each stop for food, fodder for the animals, costs to ferry across the rivers, including the names of those who where paid for the services including Ira Griffin, and listing Negro Caesar, Spanish Tom, and Indians along the way. They stopped at inns, taverns and forts which were about 16 miles apart, considered an average day’s travel for foot traffic.

This map shows the stops along the Federal Road and we can follow the McGehee company along the way through Dabney McGehee’s Memorandum Book. The yellow tags are the trip there, the orange tags are the return trip.

Federal Road with stops by Dabney McGehee


Dabney McGehee's Memorandum Book showing expenses on the trip

Dabney McGehee's Diary from Nov. 5, 1816 to Nov. 1, 1823

Dabney McGehee's Will page 1 page 2

Map of Springfield, Greene Co., Alabama in 1856 (plantation owned by son Zachary McGehee)


Meriwether Records 

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