Life on the Frontier
Fort Gaines was still a frontier
settlement when Elizabeth
settled there following the
First Seminole War.
The Other Dill House
This home on the bluff in Fort
Gaines was also owned by
John and Elizabeth Dill. It is
not known if they lived here.
Elizabeth Dill of Fort Gaines, Georgia
Elizabeth Dill of Fort Gaines, Georgia
The Remarkable Story of Elizabeth Dill - Fort Gaines, Georgia
|Home of Elizabeth and John Dill
The home of Elizabeth Dill still stands in Fort
Gaines. It was built during the 1820s.
A Captive of the Seminole War
One of the most remarkable stories of the
early years of American settlement on the
Georgia and Florida frontiers is that of
Elizabeth Stewart Dill.
Born in Maryland in around 1791, Elizabeth
Stewart was the wife of a U.S. soldier when
the First Seminole War erupted in 1817.
When her husband left Alabama on a march
to Fort Scott (on present-day Lake Seminole),
she and several other wives set out for the
new posting aboard a schooner carrying
supplies for the troops via the Gulf of Mexico
and Apalachicola River.
Unaware that war had broken out between
an alliance of Seminoles and Creeks and the
U.S. military, the commanding officer of the
schooner placed Mrs. Stewart, 6 other
women and 4 children aboard a flatboat
commanded by First Lieutenant Richard W.
Scott of the 7th U.S. Infantry. The lieutenant
was ordered to transport them to Fort Scott
along with 20 sick men and a supply of
regimental clothing. The flatboat was able to
navigate the river with greater speed than the
On November 30, 1817, at the present site of
Chattahoochee, Florida, the boat was
attacked by a force of several hundred Creek
and Seminole warriors. Lieutenant Scott and
most of his 20 able-bodied men fell in the
first volley. The warriors then waded into the
Apalachicola River and stormed the boat.
Of the 40 men, 7 women and 4 children
aboard Scott's vessel, 34 men, 6 women and
all four of the children were killed. Six of the
soldiers (four of them wounded) survived by
leaping overboard and swimming away from
the scene of the attack. The only other
survivor was Elizabeth Stewart. (Note: For a
detailed account of the massacre, please
see The Scott Massacre of 1817).
Taken captive, she was carried away by the
war parties and spent the next several
months working as a slave in various Native
Her captors were followers of the Red Stick
Creek leader Peter McQueen, and she was
with them when the chief's band was
attacked by the army of Andrew Jackson at
the Battle of Econfina Natural Bridge, Florida,
in April of 1818. Mrs. Stewart was rescued by
Timpoochee Barnard, a Lower Creek warrior
fighting on the side of the United States.
There is some confusion over the status of
her husband during the time of these events.
Although some writers have claimed he was
one of the men killed at the Scott Massacre,
the noted Creek leader William McIntosh
reported that both her husband and father
were present when she was rescued.
According to legend, Mrs. Stewart actually
made the most of her months in captivity by
collecting paper money from the ground
where it had been discarded by Native
American war parties. The Creeks and
Seminoles had no use for paper currency,
but she recognized its value and hid it away.
By the time of her rescue, it is said, she had
collected enough to become quite wealthy.
Her husband died in the year or so following
the war and by 1820, Elizabeth was a widow.
She remarried a Fort Gaines merchant
named John Dill and lived out the rest of her
life in the Georgia community.
Although community tradition holds that Dill
was an aide to General Gaines and one-time
commander of Fort Gaines, military records
prove otherwise. His early military career
consisted of service as a private from South
Carolina. In later years, however, he was
elected a colonel and eventually a brigadier
general in the Georgia militia.
John and Elizabeth Dill were among the
wealthiest citizens on the Georgia frontier
and were significantly involved in the growth
of the town of Fort Gaines. Two homes
owned by them stand there to this day. One,
located on the bluff near the Confederate fort,
is said to have been built during the early
1820s. The other, a magnificent home for
the era, was traditionally built using the
money she collected while in captivity.
She outlived General Dill by a few years and
even after his death was listed as one of the
wealthiest residents of Fort Gaines.
Both are buried in the community's "Old
Pioneer Cemetery." Their son, John M. Dill,
lies between them.
One of the Dill homes can be seen adjacent
to the Confederate fort on Bluff Street in Fort
Gaines. The other is on Washington Street.
Neither is open to the public, but the grounds
of the former are open while the latter can be
seen from the sidewalk.
Grave of Elizabeth Dill
Elizabeth is buried here at
Pioneer Cemetery in Fort
Gaines with her husband and
other family members.
Site of Scott's Massacre
Elizabeth was captured
during a battle at this site on
November 30, 1816.
The Creek Nation
Even after her rescue,
Elizabeth lived much of her
life literally within sight of the
|Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: March 3, 2013
Southwest Georgia History