Among the newcomers was Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt, who came to Alabama from Tennessee in 1805 to seek his fortune. Scouting the best land in the region, Hunt placed his cabin in the fertile valley above the “Big Spring.” This modest homestead signaled the birth of the town that would eventually bear his name, though not without an interesting twist. Four years after Hunt arrived, LeRoy Pope, a wealthy Georgia financier, bought sixty acres of the best tracts of land near his original settlement. Pope encouraged Huntsville’s first settlers to change the town’s name to “Twickenham,” after the English village where poet Alexander Pope made his home nearly a century before. LeRoy Pope admired the poet and wanted to honor him. Though the two men do not seem to have been related, some evidence suggests that LeRoy Pope’s family also had roots in Twickenham. Not surprisingly, “Twickenham” garnered little popularity, and on November 25, 1811, the Mississippi Territorial Legislature changed the city’s name back to “Huntsville” to permanently honor John Hunt.
Pope and other wealthy speculators facilitated settlement by purchasing broad swaths of “undeveloped” land, then making smaller parcels available to families or individuals willing to put in the backbreaking labor of clearing land, planting fields, and establishing viable farms. Many settlers could not obtain proper title to land claims, and some could not pay the requisite taxes. So a number moved on, reopening the newly cleared virgin soil to purchase and resale. Much of the settlement in northern Alabama in the early nineteenth century occurred in this fashion, and this settlement impetus lay at the heart of the coming conflict with the Creeks. The original thirteen states could neither hold the new nation’s bursting population nor curb the restless drive for expansion among its citizenry. Outposts and frontier settlements such as Huntsville marked a rising tide of development that drove American whites and their Creek counterparts closer and closer toward war.