The Legend of Sam Story

At least as late as 1956, a simple stone marker stood near the confluence of the Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek, inscribed with the words “Sam Story, Cheif [sic] of the Euchees 1832.” The Euchees (or Yuchis) are not well documented in history, but some segment or segments of the tribe appear to have arrived in the Florida Panhandle by the end of the 18th century. John L. McKinnon’s History of Walton County, originally published in 1911, provides the most detailed account of the Euchee Indians and Sam Story available. It’s based on information the author learned from his father, who was one of the original pioneers of Walton County and may have met Sam Story.

Gravestone for Euchee chief Sam Story, reported to be located at the confluence of the Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek (1956).

Gravestone for Euchee chief Sam Story, reported to be located at the confluence of the Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek (1956).

According to McKinnon, Walton County’s first European settlers were Scotsmen who originally emigrated to North Carolina around 1810. In 1820, one of these settlers, Neill McLendon, set out for Pensacola along with his extended family and a few friends. Florida was on its way to becoming U.S. territory, and the group intended to make a new start.

After reaching Bluff Springs, Neill McLendon made several trips into Pensacola, where he traded with the remaining Spanish merchants and discussed options for settling in the area. The Spaniards implored McLendon to wait a few weeks for a local Indian chief, Sam Story, to arrive on one of his regular trading trips. They believed he would show McLendon the Euchee Valley, which was reputed to be fine land for settlement.

Excerpt from a 1902 Cram map showing Walton County, including Eucheeanna near the junction of the Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek, where Sam Story is said to be buried.

Excerpt from a 1902 Cram map showing Walton County, including Eucheeanna near the junction of the Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek, where Sam Story is said to be buried. Florida Map Collection, State Library.

Indeed, according to the legend, Sam Story did arrive, and invited McLendon to visit his headquarters on the south bank of Bruce Creek, across from what was later called Eucheeanna. When he reached the Euchee Valley, the Scotsman was delighted with what he found, and quickly summoned the rest of his party. He also dispatched a message back to his friends in North Carolina, explaining that he had found an excellent place for settlement. Colonel John McKinnon, John Newton, and a host of relatives and other settlers came down and joined McLendon and established the town of Eucheeanna across Bruce Creek from Sam Story’s headquarters. In today’s geography, this works out to be about 10-15 miles southeast of Defuniak Springs.

Big changes were on the way as these events developed. Florida became a United States territory in 1821, and Walton County was established in 1824. As Eucheeanna and the surrounding settlement grew, the area’s natural resources were increasingly taxed. Sam Story and and others in his tribe began thinking of moving elsewhere in Florida. According to McKinnon, the chief and a group of scouts traveled as far as the Everglades searching for a new home. After a journey of six months the party returned, exhausted and discouraged. Sam Story, weakened by the voyage and his age, died a short time afterward. McKinnon says the Scotsmen buried the chief along the banks of the Choctawhatchee and erected a marker of heart pine, saying simply “Sam Story – Chief of the Euchees.” It was replaced at some point with the stone marker seen above.

As for the rest of Sam Story’s tribe, the Euchees, they are believed to have moved eastward and southward to what is now Volusia County, where they settled and later became involved with the Seminoles. Two of the chiefs, Euchee Billy and his brother Euchee Jack, were captured in 1837 by the United States Army during the Second Seminole War.

Florida Memory holds over 600 photographs pertaining to Walton County, plus related information from a variety of other collections. Use the main search box on Florida Memory to find more about Walton County or your favorite Florida community!

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6 thoughts on “The Legend of Sam Story

  1. John McKinnon ‘s book on Walton County history has many errors especially on the early founding of Walton County. It has wrong founding date of 1828 to begin with which was actually December 29, 1824. I don’t use as source particularly for early history. A number of historians are aware of books shortcomings and don’t use as source. Early border included South Walton. Errors in early Walton leaders. Alaqua was county seat early and had one of first land grants held by Hardy Wood. Jackson’s aide from 1821, Henry Marie Brackenridge, judge of West Florida, had 1829 land grant in Alaqua and home. Brackenridge ‘ s extensive papers are in Pittsburgh archives and no mention of this romantic story. Dr. Jane Honeycutt transcribed for her dissertation. Check it out for letters from Brackenridge that describe in real time Walton County’s early history.

    • McKinnon’s book certainly does contain a number of errors and “stretches,” hence our decision to title this the “legend” of Sam Story. To emphasize the “legendary” quality of this tale even more, we’ve adjusted the tagline for the blog on the front page a bit. Thank you for identifying these additional sources!

    • Thanks for posting that info re Alaqua.

      My ancestor Rev CSV Jones lived there 1820s, ran the postoffice and founded the Alaqua Methodist Church 1827.
      Buried at Eucheeanna. He and/or his sons married into Scottish clans there.

  2. My ancestors, McLeods, McLeans, Campbell’s, Douglasses, McLennans and others from Walton County have been my quest to find out everything I can about them. My Grandmother’s great grandmother was Nancy Mckean and according to my grandmother, was the Anna that Eucheeanna was named. If she is the one,she is buried in the Euchee Valley cemetery next to her husband John.

  3. It’s a great report on Sam Story, but I have a couple long standing questions. 1. What was the meaning of the name “Timpoochee?, and 2. Where was his village located.

    • Hi Thomas,

      1. According to historian Don C. East’s A Historical Analysis of The Creek Indian Hillabee Towns (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2008) “The name Timpoochee is a Creek diminutive-ending word meaning ‘Little Timothy’ or ‘Timmy.'”

      2. Sam Story’s village was reportedly located about 10-15 miles southeast of DeFuniak Springs.

      For additional resources on Sam Story, check out the Okaloosa County Historical Association’s museum website. http://bakerblockmuseum.org/sstory.htm

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