Atasi, in its later years, was on close terms of intimacy with Tukabahchee, of which it was said to be a branch. While this may have been the case, its independent history extends back to very early times. Spanish documents of the last decade of the sixteenth century mention a town called Otaxe (Otashe), in the northernmost parts of the province of Guale. On a few maps, representing conditions before the Yamasee war, Atasi appears among the towns on Ocmulgee River. It is perhaps the “Awhissie” of Lamhatty, laid down midway between the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. 1 Oh later maps it appears on the Chattahoochee between the Kolomi and Tuskegee, but this position was probably occupied for only a few years before a permanent retirement was effected to the Tallapoosa. Another location is, however, given by Hawkins on the authority of an old Kasihta chief, Tussikaia miko, as on a creek bearing its name, near the village of Apatai. 2 A French writer of the middle of the eighteenth century declares that the Creeks on Tallapoosa River were formerly under absolute monarchs who resided at Atasi “and bore the same name” as the town. He adds: ”After the death of the last of these princes there was no particular chief in this village, but the chief of war commands. They say that this chief has gone into the sky to see his ancestors, and that he has assured them that he will return.” 3 This perhaps marks nothing more than a shift of the chieftainship from a peace to a war clan.
At least three successive places were occupied by the Atasi on Tallapoosa River. The first was some miles above the sharp bend in the river at Tukabahchee, where Bartram found them in 1777-78. 4 The second was five miles below Tukabahchee on the south side of the river, 5 and the third a few miles higher on the north side near the mouth of Calebee Creek. The name appears in the census lists of 1738, 1750, 1760, and 1761. 6 On the last mentioned date James McQueen and T. Ferryman were the officially recognized traders. 6
Bartram in 1777-78 described the square of this town at some length; his account will be given when we come to consider the social organization of the confederacy. The name appears also in the lists of Hawkins and on the census rolls of 1832, but is omitted by Swan. 7 In 1797 the traders stationed there were Richard Bailey, a native of England, and Josiah Fisher. 8 The following is what Hawkins has to say of it:
Aut-tos-see, on the left side of Tallapoosa, below and adjoining Ca-le-be-hat-che. A poor, miserable looking place, fenced with small poles; the first on forks in a line and two others on stakes hardly sufficient to keep out cattle. They have some plum and peach trees; a swamp back of the town and some good land back of that, a flat of oak, hickory and pine. On the right bank of the river, just below the town, they have a fine rich cove of land which was formerly a cane brake, and has been cultivated.
There is, [5 miles] below the town, one good farm made by the late Richard Bailey, and an orchard of peach trees. Mrs. Bailey, the widow, is neat, clean, and industrious, and very attentive to the interests of her family; qualities rarely to be met with in an Indian woman. 9 Her example has no effect on the Indians, even her own family, with the exception of her own children. She has fifty bee-hives and a great supply of honey every year; has a fine stock of hogs, cattle and horses, and they all do well. Her son, Richard Bailey, was educated in Philadelphia by the Government, and he has brought with him into the nation so much contempt for the Indian mode of life, that he has got himself into discredit with them. His young brother is under the direction of the Quakers in Philadelphia. His three sisters promise to do well, they are industrious and can spin. Some of the Indians have cattle; but in general, they are destitute of property.
In the year 1766 there were forty-three gun men, and lately they were estimated at eighty. This is a much greater increase of population than is to be met with in other towns; they appear to be stationary generally, and in some towns are on the decrease; the apparent difference here, or increase, may be greater than the real; as formerly men grown were rated as gun men, and now boys of fifteen, who are hunters, are rated as gun men; they have for two years past been on the decline; are very sickly, and have lost many of their inhabitants; they are now rated at fifty gun men only. 10
One outsettlement is mentioned by Hawkins, on ”Caloebee” Creek, although at the time he wrote (December 27, 1797) 11 it was abandoned. It appears on the Purcell map (pl. 7) as ”Callobe.”
Atasi was the seat of a leading camp of hostile Indians during the Creek War and the site of one of its principal battles, November 29, 1813. It suffered severely in consequence, and, whether on account of that struggle or for other causes, the number of Atasi Indians has been reduced to a mere handful.
- Amer. Anthrop., n. s. vol. X, p. 569.
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 70.
- MS., Ayer Lib.
- Bartram, Travels, p. 448 et seq.
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, pp. 40, 46. ” On the opposite bank [from Mr. Bailey’s house] formerly stood the old town Ohassee [Ottassee], a beautiful rich level plane surrounded with hills, to the north, it was formerly a canebrake, the river, makes a curve round it to the south, so that a small fence on the hill side across would enclose it.”- p. 40.
- MSS., Aver Lib.; Miss Prov. Arch., I, p. 95; Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, p. 523.
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 25; Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 252-254.
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 168.
- She belonged to the Hotålgalgi, or Wind Clan.- Hawkins in Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 39. Misprinted “Otalla (wine) family.”
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, pp. 31-32.
- Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls.,IX, p. 49.