Southern Anthology

Families on the Frontiers of the Old South

Sophia McGillivray

Sophia McGillivray

Female Abt 1746 -

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  • Name Sophia McGillivray 
    Born Abt 1746  Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Upon Little River, dividing the modern counties of Baldwin and Monroe, lived many intelligent and wealthy people, whose blood was a mixture of white and Indian. This colony was formed at an early period, for the benefit of their large stocks of cattle, for the wild grass and cane were here never killed by the frost. A most remarkable woman, a sister of General McGillivray, lived occasionally among these people. Sophia McGillivray, a maiden beautiful in all respects, was living at her native place, upon the Coosa, when Benjamin Durant, a man of Huguenot blood, came from South Carolina, to her mother's house. A youth of astonishing strength and activity, he had mastered all who opposed him at home. Being informed by the traders that a man in the Creek nation was his superior, he immediately set out for that region, to which he had long before been inclined to go. He was handsome, and his complexion was almost as brown as that of the pretty, dark-eyed Sophia. She went with him to the Hickory Ground, only a few miles distant, where 1792 many Indians had collected, to see the antagonists meet.

      They encountered each other, and a tremendous fight ensued. Durant felled his antagonist to the ground, where be lay, for a time, insensible. The conqueror was proclaimed the champion of the nation. He soon married Sophia, and went to reside upon one of the estates of her father, the wealthy Lachlan McGillivray, situated upon the Savannah river. During the siege of Savannah, she was there with her father, her husband and her little boy, Lachlan Durant, who is now favorably known to many of our modern citizens, and is yet a resident of Baldwin county. When the city was surrendered to the Americans, she parted from her father, amid a flood of tears, and set out for her native Coosa, while he, as we have seen, sailed with his British friends back to Scotland.

      Sophia Durant had an air of authority about her, equal, if not superior, to that of her brother, Alexander. She was much better acquainted with the Indian tongue, for he had long lived out of the nation. When, therefore, he held councils in the vicinity of her residence, she was accustomed to deliver his sentiments in a set speech, to which the Chiefs listened with delight. Her husband became a wealthy man, and "Durant's Bend,"* and other places upon the Alabama, still preserve his memory. In the summer of 1790, while McGillivray was at New York, the Creeks threatened to descend upon the Tensaw settlers and put the whole of them to death. Mrs. Durant mounted a horse, with a negro woman upon another, and set out from Little river, camped out at night, and, on the fourth day, arrived at the Hickory Ground, where she assembled the Chiefs, threatened them with the vengeance of her brother upon his return, which caused the arrest of the ringleaders, and put a complete stop to their murderous intentions. Two weeks afterwards, this energetic and gifted woman was delivered of twins, 1792 at the Hickory Ground. One of them married James Bailey, who was killed at the fall of Fort Mims, in 1813, and the other lived to be an old woman. At a later period Mrs. Durant will again appear in this history. [1]
    Crest of the Clan McGillivray
    Crest of the Clan McGillivray
    Gender Female 
    Residence 1796  Upper Creek Nation Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Military 23 Dec 1813  Holy Ground, Lowndes, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    After the dispersal of Redstick forces at the Battle of the Holy Ground, Durant was found in the town square with other captives, all tied to posts in the midst of kindling. Durant's nephew, Billy Weatherford, was present during the assault but made his escape by swimming the Alabama on his horse. 
    Person ID I5053  Dickinson
    Last Modified 5 Feb 2013 

    Father Lachlan Lia McGillivray,   b. 1719, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1799, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Mother Sehoy II Marchand 
    Family ID F1355  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Benjamin Durant,   b. Abt 1754, South Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Aug 1813, Fort Mims, Baldwin, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 59 years) 
    Married Abt 1770  Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Arturo O'Neill alleges in a 19 Oct 1783 letter to Josef de Ezpeleta, the acting captain general in Havana, that Sophia was "married to an Indian half-breed named Duran, whose father was French, and they are actually on the road with a good herd of cattle and some forty slaves to settle on the Escambia River eighteen leagues from here." [4]
    Children 
    +1. Lachlan McGillivray Durant,   b. 1775, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1853, Baldwin County, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years)
     2. John Durant,   d. bef. 1855  [Birth]
     3. Alexander Durant,   d. bef. 1855  [Birth]
    +4. Mary Durant,   b. Abt 1783, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1836, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 53 years)
     5. Rachel Durant,   b. Abt 1785, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Sophia Durant,   b. Abt 1787, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Elizabeth Durant,   b. Abt 1790, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1855  (Age ~ 65 years)  [Birth]
     8. Nancy Durant,   b. Abt 1792, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. ca. 1854, Baldwin County, Alabama Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 62 years)  [Birth]
    Last Modified 5 Feb 2013 
    Family ID F1603  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Histories
    Forty-second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
    Forty-second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
    (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1928)
    The Muscogees or Creek Indians 1519-1893
    The Muscogees or Creek Indians 1519-1893
    Tarvin, Dr. Marion Elisha, Alabama Historical Quarterly (Wetumpka, Alabama: Alabama State Department of Archives and History, 1955), Vol. 17, pp. 125-134. Also includes Bartram, William, Extracts from the Travels of William Bartram, pp. 110-124.

  • Sources 
    1. [S336314] History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, Albert James Pickett, (Sheffield, Alabama: Robert C. Randolph, 1896), 418-419.

    2. [S336345] A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814, Gregory A. Waselkov, (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 37.

    3. [S336311] The McGillivray and McIntosh Traders on the Old Southwest Frontier 1716-1815, Amos J. Wright, Jr., (Montgomery, Alabama: NewSouth Books, 2001), 207.

    4. [S336355] McGillivray of the Creeks, Caughey, John Walton, (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2007), 62.