The Call of Cahaba:
A Tale of Five Families
Returnto Genealogy Home Page
Visitthe Old Cahawba Restoration Project website
E.mail the site director of the Cahawba Restoration Project:

When the movers and shakers of the Alabama Territoryknew it was going to become a state and that the capital would be the newcity of Cahaba, they sent advertising that appeared in major magazinesand newspapers all over the country and even into other parts of the world. What was the call of Cahaba?  Was it merely money?  Wasit the appeal of the ground floor, of getting in on the start of somethingnew?  Was it the thrill of the unknown?  Was it simply a placeto be free, to be on one's own?  We may never know, but a new nationwas giving birth to a new state, and thousands of families would answerthat call over the early years of nineteenth century Alabama.  Andas they moved into that beautiful land they would all call home, some oftheir children would marry each other and become our people.

My objective is sharing this page is to illustratethe number of intermarriages of the children of the following five families. Today,  13 Feb 2001, I discovered at least one of these (intermarriagesheretofore unknown to me) at a new-found cousin's webpage, As there are several of the children, still, whose spouses are not yetknown to me, especially in the case of Ezekiel and Sarah Wilson, it isquite possible the number of intermarriages could have been even greater.

Of these five families--Johnand Jane (Walker ) Gwin,Jesseand Nancy (Morris)Roark,Nathanieland Jane (Jones) Wilson,Ezekieland Sarah (Rasco)Wilson,and John and Mary(Miles) Basset,four of their surnames are mentioned--some extensively--in the personaldiaryof Rev. Cotten of the Methodist church in Cahaba where most ofthem did attend and they may have all attended at one time or another.

  • Generation One, FamilyA: John Gwin and Jane Walker,newlyweds (8 Apr 1812) in Blount County, Tennessee, heard Cahaba callingand headed south. Intermarriage Summary:  Of 9 known children,1 married into family B, 2 married into family C, and 2 married into familyE.

  • Generation One, FamilyB: Jesse Vaughn Roark and his sweetheart Nancy Ann Morrisrespondedfrom somewhere along the northern border of South Carolina.  Marriedthere about 1805, they'd have been 15-year veterans of the ranks of themarried when Alabama was born in 1820.  Intermarriage Summary:Of 9 known children, 1 married into family A, 1 married into family C,and 1 MAYBE married into family D.

    Generation One, FamilyC:  TheWilson brothers heard it, too, perhaps also from the South Carolina wilds.NathanielBurdineWilson and his bride Jane Jones,married 4 Jan 1816, agreed that the place to go was this new capital countyof Dallas.  Intermarriage Summary:  Of 11 known children,2 married into family A, 1 married into family B, and 1 grandchild marriedinto Family E.

    Generation One, FamilyD: His brother, EzekielBurdine Wilson and his young wife Sarah Harrell Rasco,evidently in complete concurrence, joined them in their quest.  IntermarriageSummary:  Of 1 (maybe 2) known children, 1 may have marriedinto Family E.

    Generation One, FamilyE: And from the southern shores of England,most of the fourteen children of JohnJamesLouis BassetandMary Miles packedtheir sea bags and followed the sun into the promise of Alabama. John Jamesand Mary  married 13 Jun 1803, so they'd been married 17 years alreadywhen Alabama became a state. Whether or not they came with their childrenis not known to me.  There were no Bassets in Dallas Co. in the 1830census, so they all arrived sometime after 1830.  Charlotte Basset(Mrs. Fred) Cheeseman's children in the 1850 census close the gap to between1836, when George was born in England, and ca. 1844, when Arthur was bornin AL.  And the marriage of Sarah Gwin to Louis Basset in 1841 narrowsthe window even more.  Intermarriage Summary:  Of 14 knownchildren, 2 married into family A, and 1 grandchild married into FamilyA/C.