Crawley Incident Revisited

Re-enactment of 1812 Kidnapping, Killings Takes Place in McFarland Park

FLORENCE – The Natchez Trace Parkway Association will host two all-day events in McFarland Park on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4. The event will include a re-enactment of the Martha Crawley Incident of 1812, speakers, food vendors, educational booths, stickball games, and more. Both events are free and open to the public. The events take place from 9am-2pm on Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturday.

Speakers for Saturday’s event will be Tom Kanon of the Tennessee State Archives at 9am, Tony Turnbow, former president of the Parkway Association at 10am and Kristi Biondi, Park Ranger at 11am. These sessions will take place in the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Visitor Center Gallery.

The NTPA will be bringing in Choctaw dancers, stickball players, a Creek warrior, a keelboat from Arkansas and the 7th Infantry Living History with a cannon.

The audience will be invited to join in the Social Dance and hear stories from the dancers following the re-enactment. There will be an opportunity to witness a stickball game and a bidding opportunity for a seat on the Keel Boat to act as work crew during the re-enactment.

This event is a part of the Alabama Bicentennial celebration. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the outdoor event. There will be limited seating provided.

For more information, please contact Robert Perry at or 256-415-0700.


In May of 1812, a small party of Creek Indians lead by Little Warrior attacked the isolated settlement in western Tennessee. The attack was brutal, meant to place fear into the hearts of those trying to scratch out a living on the edge of the frontier.

Jesse Manley and John Crawley had left the homeplace to purchase some corn. When they returned they found five children dead and scalped, the man they left to watch over the place in their absence dead as well.

Mrs. Manley was found alive, shot once in the side of the head, once in the knee, an eye burned and her head partially scalped. She told her husband and his friend of the attack, and of the fate of Martha Crawley. Mrs. Manley died a short time after.

Months passed and rumors of Martha’s death, torture, and enslavement circulated. Instead a blacksmith named Tandy Walker had secured her release.