Pintlala's Cold Murder Case: The Death of Thomas Meredith in 1812
Alabama in 1812, seven years before statehood, could be a dangerous place. There was no law to speak of, and tensions between white settlers and native Creeks--as well as between rival Creek factions--ran high. No one knows exactly how or why Thomas Meredith came to be set upon with "knives and sticks" by Creek Indians who "killed him dead" on the banks of Pinchona Creek near present-day Montgomery in late March 1812, but historian Gary Burton has done his best to locate all the scraps of information and weave them into a narrative that reveals as much as we are likely to ever know. Meredith was a South Carolinian, traveling west with his family along the Old Federal Road, headed for a new life in the fertile Mississippi Territory. The Federal Road itself was no doubt part of the problem. Though it was a crude assemblage of primitive bridges and dirt-on-timber causeways over swampy areas, the road did allow for easier travel from Georgia to New Orleans and "thus enabled the encroachment of white settlers, who threatened the traditions and heritage of the Indians. Every inch of progress in road construction was salt in the wounds of those who despised such sweeping changes." Burton notes that the official records and correspondence help in understanding the context of Meredith's murder, but "those records do not capture or communicate the grief and pathos of the Meredith family." Thus the murder remains one of the intriguing "cold murder cases" in Alabama history.
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