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Contributed May 2004
by Lewis C. Gibbs Jr.


The 1830 census showed Samuel Kinnard Oates was in Lawrence county. He bought some land in Franklin county in Range 13 and township 4. He was born in Limestone county. At the time of this purchase he owned 34 slaves. Later he bought section 28 in township 3 and range 13 and this is where he established his plantation naming it Newport Plantation. This land was located for Kilpatrick Carter. In the treaty of 1832, land was granted to Indians with white blood. In the 1850 census his estate was valued at $20,000 in real estate. At this time he owned 96 slaves. His plantation included 600 acres or improved land and 1,207 acres of unimproved land. This is the land that was mentioned earlier in T4 and R 13.

This was passed down to his son David Cannon Oates after the death of S.K. in 1854. In the 1860 census, his worth was listed at $20,000 worth of real estate and $100,000 in personal property. The bulk of this was his 123 slaves. As you see he had property since 1830.

Another of his sons was mentioned as a merchant in Cherokee, Al. at this time, S. K. Oates, Jr. The S. K. Oates family consisted of twelve children. After his mother died in 1840, he established a cemetery on this property. She was buried in the cemetery and four of his children was buried there also. His mother being the first and a Mrs. Linsey the last. Sometime in the 1880 or 1890, my wife’s great grandmother, great grandfather and one of their daughters were buried in this cemetery. Mr. A. W. Jackson told me about helping dig the grave for Mrs. Linsey in the 1920’s.

Mr. D. C. Oates first child was born in 1862. In 1854 D.C. Oates was appointed the first post master of Cherokee, which was located on the Newport Road at this time. Later the Post Office was moved to the town of Cherokee, Al.

After the Civil War was over, D.C. sold the plantation to his Mother. The deed is dated November 25, 1865 and calls for 2,546 acres. This included the Cheatham ferry track. Where the ferry landing is located on the west side of the river and consisted of 120 acres. S. K. Oates operated the ferry before his death. After this, his son D. C. acquired the ferry rights and operated it until 1867 when he sold them to Columbus Smith.

The date his mother bought the plantation back, she gave him power of attorney. He could rent, lease or hire people to work for him. In other words to manage at his own will. Amelia Oates died in 1874 and is buried in the Oates cemetery. This is probably where the Ragen family (my wife’s family) came in as a renter of the land. It is on record where he borrowed money from Columbus Smith to finance his crop.

Slavery was over and they had to make other arrangements to work the land. The price of 120 slaves at an average of $500 per slave was a big loss to any plantation owner.

Mr. D. C. Oates continued to operate the plantation until the late 1870,s but ran into financial trouble, according to the mortgage records in the Colbert County courthouse. The records of a foreclosure on the place could not be found but in 1878 section 28 was sold to R. E. Parker and her husband A. J. Parker and remained in their possession for the next several years. When we were young this was known as the Parker Place.

The 120 acres at the ferry landing to the north was lost because of the taxes and sold by the sheriff of the county in Alabama, to a Mr. Whittmore. D. C. Oates sued Mr. Whittmore trying to reclaim it, but the court ruled in favor of Mr. Whittmore. He in turn sold it to Columbus Smith, who had acquired a lot of land by foreclosure of loans.

D. C. Oates was also in debt to Mr. Smith. He conveyed to Smith his part of Henry Thompson and John Smith’s crops in 1877.

In 1886 R. E. and A. J. Parker conveyed section 28 to Columbus Smith on a trust deed and also a 60 saw magnolia cotton gin and condenser, a 12 HP steam engine and a grist mill. This is what we call a lease purchase contract today. The Parkers defaulted on the loan in 1892 and section 28 was sold to Columbus Smith for $4,200.

Columbus Smith never lived on this land. He died in 1900. His son, C. L. Smith and daughter Bessie Smith Reeder and son-in-law, J. T. Reeder were executors of his estate in 1918. The land was divided and J. T. and Bessie Reeder became owners of most of the land that he owned in Colbert County. J. T. Reeder managed the land until his death in 1923. Another manager was appointed in 1932. The court ordered section 28 sold for debts. In 1936 TVA bought 30.6 acres along Mulberry Creek including the cemetery. It seems that section 28 was farmed by a number of different tenants while the land was under Columbus Smith and his descendants. (the Wallaces, the Ragans, the Skipworths and others).

Mr. John S. Wallace, who is buried in the cemetery was an associate of Columbus Smith. His name appears on several documents as a witness. It is believed that he ran a store on the south side of the river at Newport for Mr. Smith.

This land now is owned by Carter Reid. There were several owners after Reeder and Smith sold it. Mr. Luke Thomason and Mr. Charlie Chambers were two that I remember owning it.

U. S. Bureau of Census 1830, 1840, 1850
The North Alabamian (News paper) 1860
Colbert County deed books
Colbert County mortgage books
Lauderdale County probate court records
TRC Report
People Interview:
A. W. Jackson
Wylodean Parham Gibbs
Ralph Wallace
David Oates

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