Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Creek Town of Coweta

Marker ID:  
Location: 508 Dillingham St, Phenix City, AL
County: Russell
Coordinates: N 32° 27.89    W 084° 59.943
  32.46483333    -84.99905
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


The Creek Town of Coweta
—Creek Heritage Trail —

The town of Coweta was actually two separate Native American settlements and dozens of affiliated outlying communities occupied at different times in what is now northeastern Russell County. "Coweta Tallahassee" (old Coweta), regarded by most archaeologists and historians as the older, or original, of the two, was the site of significant Native American communities for hundreds of years stretching back prior to the time of Hernando De Soto's explorations of the Southeast in the 1540s. Its residents apparently abandoned or at least temporarily left it in the late 1600s when local Creeks moved eastward into what is now central Georgia after finding themselves in the crossfire between European colonial military powers. Upon their return a few decades later, they are believed to have established "New Coweta" a short distance upriver. Both observers and the Creeks themselves assumed a great degree of continuity between the two settlements. They are generally referred to by historians collectively as "Coweta.”

According to Creek legend, the ancestors of the people of Coweta settled along the Chattahoochee River after mystically emerging from the ground "in the west." While this legend may be based on an actual historic migration whose details have been forgotten, the exact origins of the first residents of Coweta may forever remain clouded in mystery. There is evidence that Coweta's founders originally lived in the town of Cusseta, which may have been located near the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in central Alabama at the time of De Soto's exploration. The town later migrated eastward to the banks of the Chattahoochee opposite Coweta. The earliest reference to the town of Coweta in European records occurs about 1675, which may indicate it was formed around that time by new arrivals.

Coweta quickly became a place of great importance to the Creek people. It served for generations as an economic, cultural, and population center, as well as a seat of Creek government and meeting site of the Lower Creek Town Councils. Due to its prominence and central location, Coweta played a pivotal role in the formation of the region-wide tribal alliance that has become known as the Creek Confederacy.

[Photo captions]

Left top: Map showing the approximate location of Coweta and Coweta Tallahassee; HCC historic markers for Coweta and Coweta Tallahassee

Right top: This map of North America produced in 1718 by Guillaume de Lisle, clearly shows the settlements around Coweta (here spelled "Cauouita")
Courtesy of the David Ramsey Map Collection

Right middle: This sketch of the layout of a typical Creek town, taken from H. Thomas Foster II's Archaeology of the Lower Muscogee Creek Indians, 1715-1836, provides a depiction of the way the heart of Coweta may have appeared during its heyday. "B" is the ball field, "S" is the square ground, and "H" is the council house.

Right bottom insert: The name "Coweta" is an enduring one in the Chattahoochee Valley. The falls of the Chattahoochee were commonly referred to as "Coweta Falls" by early American settlers. When the state of Georgia acquired Creek lands opposite the town of Coweta in the 1820s, the area in which Columbus lies was named the "Coweta Reserve."

An early depiction of the rapids of the Chattahoochee at present-day downtown Phenix City and
Columbus. Chutes de la Chattahouchie, by Francis de la Porte Collection of the Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia; Museum purchase G. 1983.74
Courtesy of the Columbus Museum

Erected by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, West Rock,
The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development
and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.


Photo may be fond on hmdb.org

End of The Creek Town of Coweta