Our knowledge of the Hokes Bluff Ferry and “The Bluffs”
In 1842, The Tidmore’s, whom Tidmore Bend is named after, entered the land on the north side of the Coosa River. In 1854, Daniel Hokes, Jr. entered land on the south side of the Coosa. However, historical records tell us he was already at the “Bluff” in 1850.
Daniel Hokes was a Jacksonville mercantile business owner. His trading post, general store and blacksmith shop were on the high bluff near, what is now, the First Baptist Church of Hokes Bluff. It was at that location that Daniel Hokes would meet steamboat traffic from Rome, Georgia and take the supplies he needed to his business in Hokes Bluff, as well as to Jacksonville, where his primary business was located.
The city’s name, Hokes Bluff, originated from Major W.B. Wynne of Gadsden, who was a close friend of Daniel Hokes and John H. Wisdom, in May of 1852.
While it is known that the Tidmore’s, and others on the north side of the river, realized that connecting to Hokes’ trading post and riverboat traffic was important to daily life; it cannot be documented as to when the actual date the ferry was first placed on the Coosa.
The old Cherokee National Removal valuation papers were checked to make sure there was not a ferry or road back then. Also checked, were pre and post Removal maps. The LaTourette map of 1837 shows nothing, nor do the surveys done by John Coffee in 1839-1840.
The Tallman’s map, which is the 1st Etowah County map of 1877, does show the road in Tidmore Bend and also indicated there was a ferry across the Coosa at that time. The 1895 Geological Topo map also shows the roads and indicated a ferry existed, as well as the 1900 Geological Top map.
Generally, it is believed the ferry came into existence due to economic needs from landowners on both sides of the Coosa River. This could not have been any earlier than 1842, when the Tidmore’s came and no later than 1845-1850, when the Hokes first came to the area. It is noted that the first Coosa River steamboat, the U.S.M. Coosa came up the river in 1845.
It is also possible that Hokes was already trading with the Tidmore’s on the Coosa in early years and had a ferry built. But it is also known that Mr. Hokes had a large business in Jacksonville in the 1830’s and it was said he was one of the first to take advantage of riverboat traffic when it first started. In all probability, this could be the case since the closest to the Coosa River from Jacksonville was via Hokes Bluff and thus, why he located a trading store in Hokes Bluff to take advantage of riverboat traffic.