In the spring of 1818, a large number of hostile Creek Indians appeared on the big bend of the Ocmulgee river opposite Telfair county, and started committing depredations upon the whites. On March 3, Joseph Burch (Joseph was married to a niece of John Willcox) and his son, Littleton, crossed over to the Indian side of the river and started erecting a shelter near present-day Oscewichee Spring. As darkness fell they built a fire and settled down for the night. suddenly from out of the darkness, several shots rang out. Joseph was killed instantly and Littleton was severely wounded. The Indians scalped them both, and although Littleton remained conscious. he kept perfectly still to preserve his life. After the Indians had departed, Littleton somehow made his way back to the river and managed to get across. Fading in and out of consciosness, he crawled and staggered and reached the house of John Willcox two days later.
The settlers along the river, primarily from the communities of China Hill, Temperance, Hopewell and Copeland, became greatly alarmed and started gathering at Fort Adams, which had been erected in Temperance during the War of 1812. On the eighth od March a force of 34 men under the command of Major Josiah D. Cawthon, Commander of the Telfair County Militia, crossed the river at Jordan's Bluff, and as it was late in the day, went into camp for the night. Early the next morning the force moved out and soon approached a spring at the head of a branch near the present-day Browning community. There they found the Indians, estimated to be about 60 in number, scattered about the spring eating breakfast. The Indians were not taken by surprise, however, and a fierce fire fight quickly ensued. The fighting continued for about 45 minutes.
The whites, being greatly outnumbered, started taking heavy casualties and began to fall back. This soon turned into a rout and they quickly scattered and ran for the river several miles away. Mark Willcox, son of John, was severely wounded with a rifle ball in the head but was saved by Thompson Nathaniel Statham. Nat managed to get Mark upon his back, and still carrying his rifle, headed for the river with the Indians in hot pursuit. Wiley Ellison came to Nat's assistance and together they fought off the Indians and managed to reach the river with the wounded Mark. this action on the part of Nat and Wiley no doubt saved the life of Mark Willcox, who would live to become a Major General, the where abouts of Mark's father, John, amd his brother, James Lea, during the retreat is not known, although both were engaged in the battle.
In addition to Mark, Moses Roundtree and John Lawson were wounded and both recovered. The dead were a Mr. Nobels, William Mooney, William Morrison, Michael Burch (brother of the scalped Littelton) and Captain Benjamin Mitchell Griffin (Griffin was married to a sister-in-law of John Willcox). Griffin was the first coroner of Telfair County and this fact is so stated on the historical marker at the courthouse in McRae. He had also served as state senator-elect for the year of 1818, at the time of his death. Others known to have been in the battle were Redding Hunter, Daniel Drawdy and Daniel Campbell. Four Indians were known to have been killed.
This fight, known as "The Battle of Breakfast Branch", proved to be the last hostile encounter with Indians in the vicinity of Telfair County.
On September 15, 1819, a new son was born to John and Mary Willcox. This son was named Mitchell Griffin Willcox, in honor of the slain Mr. Griffin. That name survived until this day in the Willcox family.
Nat Statham was the last survivor of this fight, dying on June 26, 1892, at the extreme age of 97.
A place to gather and share information about the Thomas Willcox and Elizabeth Cole Willcox Family of Ivy Mills, PA. For more information see the Home page link above or contact Deniane Kartchner at Denianek@gmail.com. My husband is a descendant of Thomas and Elizabeth's son James who married Prudence Doyle. Their son John's daughter Prudence married John Christopher Kartchner.
Note: This is a work in progress! I am trying to verify everything before I post, but feel free to send me corrections and/or suggestions. It’s also not a complete history of Ivy Mills or a website for current operations, although I will gladly try to answer any questions and/or lead you to the right information.