HISTORY OF JACKSON COUNTY, ALABAMA
Condensed by Josephine Lindsay Bass on July 26, 1996.
The earliest white trappers and hunters to visit this territory would often build a hut for shelter and after a short time return laden with his furs and skins to the markets on the eastern coast. His only neighbor was the Cherokee Indian with whom he exchanged knives, guns, and other articles for skins and furs.
None of these has left us a record who was first to visit this land. It is said David CROCKETT left his name on a tree in upper Paint Rock Valley, but he has left no record of his impression as he stood upon some lofty hill-top in the wilds that later became Jackson County.
The valleys of the Tennessee, Paint Rock and the low level lands lying along Crow, Mud and Sauta Creeks were covered with dense cane-brakes, brushwood and briers matted together with vines; and towering above all this were large oak, poplar, gum and other trees, with a lake or lagoon here and there. The ridges and coves which were bordered by the Cumberland, Sand, and Gunter's Mountain were fertile and had a luxuriant growth of cane and forest.
The mountain tops were better suited for the early settler to make his home, with no undergrowth except tall grass with trees far enough apart that one could drive a team and wagon for miles without a road. Deer were plentiful and turkeys as numerous as chickens are at the present time. Upon the waters bevies of ducks, geese, and other wild fowls dived and circled in play. One has described these mountains as follows: "The mountain air sighed through the tree tops as pure and sweet as the breath of a maiden; squirrels gambled in the forest trees; turkeys gobbled and strutted on the mountains; eagles screamed from their lofty perch on towering cliffs; and doves cooed their story of love on every hill and in every dale."
T. J. Campbell, in "The Upper Tennessee", quoting Colonial Records, in which the statement of a British officer touring southern Indian tribes says, "that a white family emigrated in a flatboat from the Watauga settlements down the Tennessee, the Ohio, and the Mississippi to the Natches settlement in 1776."
Early in 1779, Colonel Evan SHELBY transported troops down the Tennessee River en route to join George Rogers CLARK in Kentucky and Illinois. Shelby destroyed the towns and killed a number of the Chickamauga Indians, in the mountains west of the site of the present city of Chattanooga.
When on March 8, 1780, Colonel DONNELSON's fleet of thirty boats, passed down the Tennessee River, led by the boat "Adventure", the Indians retaliated killing all on the rear boat. This company of emigrants came from Virginia, NC, and E. Tennessee and were going to settle at Nashville, Natches, and in Illinois. This is the same trip wherein a diary was kept, and detailed the event of Rueben HARRISON, a son of Mr. Harrison, who was left on the bank to search for him, and was picked up later with the boy in tow.
A company was organized in 1783, by William BLOUNT, his brothers, John and Thomas, Gen. Joseph MARTIN, Gen. Griffith RUTHERFORD, Col. John SEVIER, Gov. Richard CASWELL, and Col. John DONELSON, all of NC. For the purpose of acquiring the title to all the lands lying in the present State of Alabama, north of the Tennessee River.
In Oct 1785, a Commission of John SEVIER, Wm DOWNES, Thomas CARR and John DONELSON engaged about eighty men to join them and floated down the Tennessee River to a spot, probably Long Island Town, near the town of Bridgeport, AL, and opened a land office for the sale of the lands in the "Great Bend".
Some of the men who came with the commissioners were: Zachariah COX, George DARDIN, SR., George DARDIN,JR, George THOMAS, James CALLAHAN, James SCOTT, William NELSON, Joseph MCCONNELL, Charles ROBERTSON, Alexander KELLY, John WOODS, Alexander CUNNINGHAM, William FISHER, Abraham UTLER, John CORVIN, David MITCHELL and James M. LEWIS.
They formerly organized a County, named it Houston, and elected Valentine SEVIER, Jr. Representative in Georgia Legislature. They next proceeded to survey lands near the mouth of the Elk River.
A band of hostile Indians forced the Board to return home, after two weeks stay. On his way home, Col. DONNELSON was killed by the Indians. On August 7, 1786, a bill, to legally establish and organize Houston County, was defeated by a vote of 26 to 23. The enterprise was ended.
A new Company was organized in 1789, called the Tennessee Land Company, by Zachariah COX, of South Carolina, and Mathias MAHER and others. They purchased 3,500,000 acres from Georgia, paying less than two cents per acre. This tract embraced the northern counties of Alabama. COX, with forty others proceeded to Muscle Shoals and built a blockhouse and other defense works, against the warning of the United States and the objections of the Indians. Soon the Cherokee, Chief GLASS, appeared with a body of Indians and threatened them with death. COX and his party were allowed to withdraw without injury. The Indians destroyed their works, and this ended the second attempt to settle the Tennessee valley.
Georgia surrendered to the United States all her claims to land in this part of the world, April 24, 1802.
A census made in Madison Co. AL in 1809 by Thomas FREEMAN, U.S. Surveyor for the District, says that others had "extended their settlements over the Indian boundary up in the coves of the mountains on the Cherokee". These coves were in the present Jackson County. A vast majority came from TN, NC, SC, VA, GA, and KY.
There was a road passed southwestward through the Valley of Virginia, then down the Holston River to Knoxville. From Knoxville one part of the highway passed westward to Huntsville, which soon became an important route of travel. Those immigrants from N and S Carolina passed through Saluda Gap in the Blue Ridge where it borders N and S Carolina, then to Ashville NC, and along the course of the French Broad River to Knoxville, TN, and then to Jackson County, AL, either by land or by float-boat down the Tennessee River. Many settlers first came to Madison Co. AL, and then moved to this county. Upper Paint Rock valley was settled largely by people from Franklin, Warren and other TN counties.
Some came in covered wagons, on pack horses and some wealthier ones brought herds of cattle and hogs. Elder John SMITH brought with him from Kentucky to Madison County, Al in 1814, some eighty-five head of hogs and fifty head of cattle.
About 1814 Paint Rock Valley was getting her first settlers. Captain James DORAN settled in Doran's Cove; Henry DERRICK came to Old Woodville in 1815, from East Tennessee; Hans KENNAMER and sons, Jacob, Samuel, Stephen and Abram were living in Kennamer Cove. John GROSS and family came down the Tennessee River in 1817.
All that part north of the Tennessee River, east of Madison County as then existed was ceded to the national government by the Cherokee Indians on Feb 27, 1819. Congress authorized the Alabama Territory to form a State and William Wyatt BIBB became the first governor on the 25th day of Oct 1819.
Jackson County was created by an Act of the State Legislature on December 13, 1819, then in session in Huntsville, AL, and was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson. He was then visiting in Huntsville and racing his steeds at the Old Green Bottom Race Track. On Dec 14, 1819, Alabama was admitted as a State in the Union.
The boundaries of Jackson Co. have been changed six times. The temporary seat of Justice was Sauta, which was some four miles south of Larkinsville, near the old Birdsong Spring or House of Happiness. In 1821 Decatur County was created out of Jackson Co. and the part of Madison Co. east of Flint River. Further clarified in 1822 as follows: Beginning at the mouth of Sauta Creek; thence up said creek to where the Winchester road crosses said Sauta Creed; thence to Jesse THOMPSON'S; then to Caswell BIBEY's; then from said Bibey's to the top of the mountain above William E. HASKIN's, where the Winchester road descends Cumberland Mountains; thence to the leading point of the mountain between the mouth of Lick Fork and the mouth of Larkin's Fork of Paint Rock River; thence to the top of the mountain; thence northwest course to the Tennessee State line.
Joseph KIRBY, Benjamin CLOUD, Thomas RUSSELL, John HANDCOCK, James SCRUGGS, John MCVARY, and McLand CROSS were appointed commissioners to fix on a temporary site for the seat of Justice for Jackson Co.
Commissioners appointed to purchase county seat land in 1828 were W. A. DAVIS, N. HUDSON, C. L. ROACH, R. B. CLAYTON, and Joseph KIRBY. The county seat was moved from Bellefonte to Scottsboro in 1868. The northern part of Marshall County was a part of Jackson County until 1836. The portion of the present county south and east of the Tennessee River was not added until 1836; it being lately acquired from the Cherokee Indians by treaty signed at New Eschota (near Rome Georgia) on Dec 29, 1835.
Decatur County received criminal jurisdiction over all that tract of county within the limits of the Cherokee Nation of Indians, which lies west of Willstown Valley and east of the road leading from Ditto's Landing to the town of Blountsville. Thus was included in Decatur County the whole of the present Marshall County's territory, as well as a great part of DeKalb, Etowah and Blount Counties.
A commission was appointed to select a seat of Justice, which consisted of the following persons: Robert MCCAMEY, James G. HOLMES, John KENNAMER, John SNOW, Alex W. DULANEY, David BOSHART, Aaron RICE, William LEGG, and Mr. BARNETT (who lived near the mouth of the Paint Rock River). Hesekiah BAYLES, a Revolutionary soldier from Virginia, who had lived a short time in Madison County, was its first County Court Judge, having been elected by the Legislature.
Decatur County was named for Stephen DECATUR, Jr. Who was a famous naval hero. His brilliant exploits in the war with Tripoli, were greatly admired. He lost his life in a duel, as Decatur County was killed by an act of the Legislature. All the present county of Marshall north of the Tennessee River was given back to Jackson County, and all the western part of Decatur County east of Flint River and West of Jackson was added to Madison Co. This territory is often called New Madison.
The early pioneers in their march westward to seek a new home and a fortune, discovered Indian trails extending through the forests. They soon found them well laid out and the crossing places of streams were always selected with such care that from that day down to the present, little change has been made in road surveys by the white man.
The building of a road consisted merely in widening an Indian trail or cutting a passage through the woods, laying a causeway of split logs with dirt thrown on top across a bog or marsh, or erecting ferries at river crossings. Bridges were seldom built across fordable streams. A General road law was enacted in 1836 that was in force, with a few amendments for sixty years. It was the custom all this time to have an overseer with a few hands to go over the road, break up a few rocks about the size of a man's fist and fill up the deepest mud holes. With this done, the overseer reported that his time had been put in. The time usually consisted of ten days for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 years, with only a few men exempted. The roads were laid out to save all the tillable land possible for cultivation, around the foot of the hills or mountains and occasionally it passed across the valley, called a lane.
Claysville became the first county seat of Marshall County. This territory was settled at a very early date with an excellent class of people from Virginia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. Some of the settlers prior to 1830 were: David RICKETTS, William BARCLAY, Hesekiah BAYLES, Edmond BRIDGES, James FLETCHER, George GREEN, James COTTON, Isham H. FENNELL, Abraham G. HOLT, and Thomas MANNING, who settled in lower Paint Rock Valley and Honey Comb Valley; Hans KENNAMER, and sons, Samuel, Stephen, Levi, Zachary, and Jacob, Presley R. WOODALL, Isham WRIGHT, Jabez PERKINS, Robert CHANDLER, and Willis WOODALL in Kennamer's Cove; William BLACK, Bryant COBB, Joseph G. GARRETT, Hugh HENRY, John C. JOHNSON, William MCKEE, Peter STEARNES, William S. TODD, Isaac TIDWELL, Dr. Andrew MOORE, William H.E. WHEELER, Arthur C. BEARD, Washington T. MAY, James RANDLES, James BOGGESS, Eli FREEMSTER, and Percival M.BUSH, at Claysville and in the valley near; David BOSHART, Spencer BENSON, Lewis MANNING, James MCDONALD and William A. MCCAMEY, in the Boshart Community.
The first mail route to serve Jackson County was established May 13, 1820. In 1822 R. J. MEIGS, JR was the Postmaster General and established a route from Huntsville to Jackson Courthouse in Bellafonte, once in two weeks. The Postmasters at Claysville before it was added to Marshall County were: A. R. BARCLAY, James M. MACKFARLANE, and William H. E. WHEELER. The Postmasters at Cottonville were M.T. JOHNSON, and Edmond BRIDGES. When the Civil War came all established routes were stopped. After the Civil War Scottsboro became the center for mail services instead of Bellefonte. Mail carriers on horseback sometimes took two days to reach their destinations. They were: Mr. STOCKTON, Joe ELLIS, Mr. FLIPPIN, John W. PERKINS, Van STARNES, Ben GRAYSON, Joe BLANCETT, John COMPTON, John W. ELLIS, and John VERNON. C. L. CARGILE, when a young man carried the mail from Stevenson up Big Coon Valley across the mountain to Estill's Fork. He later became one of the most popular Probate Judges the county ever had.
Congress had passed a law in 1834, providing for the removal of the Cherokees in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, to the Indian Territory. Chief John Ross opposed the removal West and refused to sign the treaty. In 1837-38 their removal from their native home furnished one of the touching and most pathetic stories in American history. General Winfield SCOTT was commander of the military forces. His troops entered the territory of the Cherokees and divided into small parties for the purpose of searching every home. They were placed in camps or palisades enclosed by stakes set in ground and pointed at the top as a fence. Many Indians died in these camps where as many as 5,000 were assembled at a time.
One out of every seven died before reaching his new home in the West. There were three ports of embarkation of those who went by water: Charleston on the Hiwassee River, Ross' Landing (now Chattanooga), and Gunter's Landing on the Tennessee. One such detachment noted in Dr. C. SILLYBRIGHT's journal relates that they left Ross' Landing, March 3, 1837, in eleven flatboats. This fleet of flatboats was met at Gunter's Landing by the steamer Knoxville, which took charge of the boats and guided them to Decatur, Alabama. From Decatur a portage was made around Muscle Shoals to Tuscumbia in railroad cars. There the emigrants were met by the steamer Revenue with a flotilla of keels. On March 27 these emigrants were unloaded at a point just beyond Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Chief John Ross got an agreement with Gen. Scott to move his people himself. He marched more than 10,000 overland in separate bands and in different routes in order to be assured of finding a supply of water and game for food on the way. The season had been so dry the marchers suffered untold privations, and sixteen hundred perished en route. Ross' wife, who had gone on the boat, Victoria, died on the way and was buried at Little Rock, Arkansas.
Alexander REID, and Jonathan BEESON of Paint Rock Valley; William SIMS, Samuel HILL, and Nathan KENNAMER and other citizens of the county served in the army which removed these Indians.
According to Cherokee Connections by Myra Vanderpool Cormley, 1995, "The removal actually started when about 17,000 Cherokees, who had refused to emigrate under the disputed Treaty of New Echota (1835), were rounded up at gun or bayonet point by soldiers and were placed into holding areas, which were guarded. It is these stories of the harsh roundup that have become interwoven with the actual removal on the Trail of Tears.
Early in June of 1838, the removal to what would later be Oklahoma started when approximately 2,800 of those who had been forcibly rounded up, were divided into three detachments, each accompanied by a military officer, a corps of assistants and two physicians. The first detachment of about 800 - made up of Cherokees from Georgia who had been concentrated at Ross's Landing (now Chattanooga) – departed 6 June. It was forcibly placed on boats and was under the command of Lt. Edward DEAS. The second group, number about 875, left 13 June. It was under the command of Lt. R. H. K. WHITELEY, with five assistant conductors, two physicians, three interpreters and a hospital attendant. The third contingent of 1,070 departed from Ross's Landing 17 June in wagons and on foot for Waterloo, Alabama, where they were to be transported on Flatboats. After their departure, they learned that the removal of the remaining 13,000 Cherokees had been suspended until autumn because of the heat, drought and sickness. This third group asked to be allowed to return and remain with others in Tennessee, but their request was denied.
Major General Winfield SCOTT was in charge of the 7,000 federal and state troops whose job it was to round up and eject the Cherokees from their country in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. In the early part of July in 1838, when Chief John Ross returned to the Cherokee Nation from the nation's capital, where he had been negotiating unsuccessfully about the treaty and removal, he was able to persuade General Scott to permit the Cherokees to manage and control their own removal in the autumn. Thus, Ross gained a concession that was not granted to any other tribe that was removed, and as a result, the great majority of Cherokees who traveled the Trail of Tears were not guarded by the soldiers.
The Cherokees were divided into 13 detachments averaging 1,000 each. Officers were appointed by the Cherokee council to take charge of the emigration, with two leaders in charge of each detachment and a sufficient number of wagons and horses for the purposes. To maintain order on the march each party established a quasi-police organization that punished infractions of regulations. They also had guides and provisioners to arrange for their food. They finally started west after the drought was broken in October of 1838.
However, there was a
party of Cherokees that belonged to the treaty faction (pro-removal) of
the tribe who refused to emigrate under the leadership of Chief Ross.
This group left the old nation on 11 October under the direction of Lt.
Edward DEAS. Under the Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokees were assured
that once they were settled in their new land in Indian Territory they
Most of them went with their families and friends to Indian Territory, and only four of the 17 contingents had U. S. Army escorts. It is estimated that about 4,000 Cherokees died from the time of the roundup until they reached what is now Oklahoma.
It is claimed that by 1830 almost one-quarter of all Cherokees had some white ancestors, with two out of three intermarriages involving a white man and a Cherokee woman. These white ancestors usually will turn out to be traders, missionaries, teachers or government agents. Intermarriage with blacks was rare, and after 1824, it was against Cherokee law.
Among the Cherokees who traveled the Trail of Tears were about 1,600 black slaves who were pushed westward along with their masters. After the Civil War most of these freed blacks remained in Indian Territory, and by and large remained in the nation in which they had lived as slaves. Race was a significant factor with the Cherokees, and it can be most difficult to prove a mixed Cherokee-African American bloodline. In such cases, the Cherokee bloodline was frequently discounted at the time of the official enrollment."
By 1854 The Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway was complete through Jackson Co. to Chattanooga, TN. Because of the rail and river transportation facilities the entire area was occupied by the Northern invaders during the Civil War and for some time after. No part of the South suffered more than the people in Jackson County.
It was in this county that first one army and then the other passed, from the beginning of 1862 until the close of the war. If one army failed to get what you had the other one took it. And besides General SHERMAN's army wintered in this county, and it was his policy to cripple the enemy by taking his property to support the war. He began his devastating march through Georgia from the mountains in Chattanooga, burning and plundering all the way, to the Atlantic Ocean at Savannah, then turning east to South Carolina to chastise them.
In the early settlement of the county, religion did not take as prominent a place as it did later. The average pioneer settler was not inclined to be strictly religious, but he was positive in whatever position he happened to choose. The neighborhood meeting house was built for all denominations to preach in and was also used as a school house.
The history of the earliest Baptists in the county was marked by a fierce struggle between the anti-mission and the mission Baptist. The Flint River Association was organized at BRADSHAW's Meeting House, Lincoln County, TN in 1814, and churches from the territory in Alabama were represented.
By 1821 the Mud Creek Association was formed at the Mud Creek Meeting House. This Association included all Baptist churches in Jackson and some in Sequatchie Valley, TN. The nine churches were located in Mountgilled, Mud Creek, Providence (Maynard's Cove), New Hope, Hopewell, Blue Spring, Friendship, Paint Rock (in the valley), and Union, in Sequatchie Valley.
Isaac REED was elected first moderator, Josiah CONN, Clerk. Delegates were John KELLY, Shadreck HERRON, Samuel WILSON, John HAM, Andrew ESTES, Hugh GENTRY, John OWENS, Levi ISBELL, Elisha BLEVINS, Haden WILLIAMS, John BELVINS, David BRYANT, James DODSON, John JONES, David SETTLES, Richard WILSON, Daniel and John MORRIS, John WILLIAMS, John REED, Samuel MCBEE, Henry GOTCHER, Jabez PERKINS, David KENNAMER, John MOON, Moses MAPLES, Joseph and William MAPLES, S. STEPHENS.
Preachers of this church who were well and favorably known in their day are: John WILLIAMS, John REED, Isaac REED, Samuel McBEE, Jabez PERKINS, Wesley SISK, Robert CHANDLER, Elijah BERRY, John J. PAGE, Peter MAPLES, Simeon HOUK, Andrew J. WANN, John BUTLER, George F. BULMAN and his grandson George W. BULMAN, m. R. LYON, James AUSTIN, Samuel BEAN, Robert MORRIS, Lorenza IVY, and son James Poke IVY, and John BRANNUM.
Church of Christ has no creed but the Bible and has no organization larger than the local congregation. Its officers are the Elders and Deacons. The first church in the county was organized in Antioch, near Bridgeport in 1815. James ANDERSON was one of the first ministers of this church.
He began to preach in 1827. The Elders were Elisha M. PRICE, William KING, Andrew RUSSELL. It is said the Antioch Church was started through the preaching of Barton W. STONE, E. D. MOORE, and their associates. This no doubt is the first Church of Christ established in Alabama.
In 1846, the Antioch Church moved to Rocky Spring, the first building was of hewn logs, 20x30 feet, and had a stone chimney. It was destroyed by Northern soldiers during the Civil war. The following ministers preached in this house: Reese JONES, Tolbert FANNING, James and Andrew BILINGSLEY, Madison LOVE, and SIKES all from Tennessee, and Dr. HOOKER of Georgia. George Washington CONE and Washington BACON preached here before the Civil War.
In religious matters, the Methodists and Baptists have been keen rivals in the work of spreading their doctrines among the common people. With the organization of the Methodist Society, a central governing body made up of the bishops a definite policy could be carried to the frontier settlements. This led to the development of the circuit rider. The Jackson Circuit was named for this county. It was in the Tennessee District in the Tennessee Conference. In 1822 Elias TIDWELL and Richard NEELY were appointed to Jackson, they reported at the end of the year 231 white members under their jurisdiction. Thomas A. YOUNG and Greenberry GARRETT were assigned the circuit for 1823 - members 314 white, 22 colored.
It had all along been the custom to receive the slaves into the church of the whites, with the privileges of membership, not only by the Methodists but other churches. From 1824 - 1832: James MCFERRIN and Arthur MCCLURE. James was the father of William M. MCFERRIN, John B. MCFERRIN presiding Elder of the Florence District, Alexander L. P. GREEN, George W. MORRIS, Thomas M. KING, James E. BROWN, Richard NEELY, George W. MORRIS, Samuel R. DAVIDSON, Jacob ELLINGER, Nathan S. JOHNSON, Issac H. HARRIS, Hiram M. GLASS, Asbury DAVIDSON, Elisha J. DODSON, and Robert GREGORY. Jackson Circuit - 525 White and 38 colored. This church continued to grow until the division caused by the slavery question. The Southern churches were called "The Methodist Episcopal Church South." The other part of the Methodist Church was called "The Northern Methodist Church.
The Northern Methodist in Scottsboro were provided for by Thomas J. WOOD, who came here at a very early date, reared a large family, lived a long and useful life. His home was in Wood's Cove, which bears his name. The Baptist, Presbyterian and Southern Methodist all used his house free. This was the first church house in the town of Scottsboro. It was burned in the great fire in Feb 1881.
The Missionary Baptist is a branch of the general religious body of Baptists. The great "split" or division came in 1836. The Missionary faction was not as strong as the primitives in Jackson County and for twenty years had only a few churches. In 1857 G. A. MOORING and Charles ROACH organized the Tennessee River Missionary Baptist Association. The Free Will Baptists were merged in this organization. Emma HELTON erected a Memorial Chapel at Pleasant Spring in 1900, staffed by Preston BROWN and James COX.
The historian of the Episcopal Church in Alabama, Walter C. Whitaker, says: The first missionary work done in the county was in 1853 by T. A. MORRIS. Dr. Cary Gamble says: The work at Scottsboro was started by Dr. J. M. BANNISTER, who at the time resided in Huntsville. The Protestant Episcopal Church in America is the daughter of the Church of England, which came from the Roman Catholic Church, and claims Apostolic succession of their Bishops to the first church in New Testament times.
T.C. BLAKE, the Presbyterian historian says: The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in Dickson County, TN, in a two-room log dwelling, Feb 4, 1810. The three ministers who organized it were Samuel KING, Finis EWING, and Samuel McADOW. This church left the Presbyterian Church, originating in the great revival in Kentucky in 1800. In its government is the Synod, Presbytery and Church; and believes in an educated ministry. It has not grown as rapidly in the country districts as the Methodists or Baptists, but is a close rival in the towns.
Medicine was provided to the early settlers at no fee by it own old lady or gentleman, who prescribed barks and roots or bled people and pulled teeth. Described by his grandson as an educated doctor who attended medical school. His remedies consisted of the known processes of the day. He bled, blistered, vomited and purged his patients, and this was about all he knew to do. He did not have ether or chloroform.
Dr. William MASON (1809-1899) was born in Virginia, came to Jackson County when quite young and married Miss Elenor COWAN, daughter of Samuel COWAN. He was first cousin of General Winfield SCOTT. He practiced medicine as long as he lived. Before the Civil war, he lived near STEVENSON, where he has a handsome residence, which was destroyed during the war. After the war, he lived in a modest cottage on South Coon Creek near Fabius. A charter member of the Bolivar Lodge of Free Masons, and with Charles JONES rode to Tuscaloosa on horseback to get the Charter for that lodge.
Other medical doctors during this period were: Dr. David STERNE, Dr. P.H. HELTON, and Dr. Barton Brooks SMITH, who was the second son of Brooks SMITH, who came from Ireland to Virginia and then to Jackson county before the land was surveyed; Half-brothers Dr. Felix R. GRANT, and Dr. J. O. ROBERTSON; Dr. J. H. BOYD (1836-1899); Dr. Lafayette DERRICK(1827-1897); Dr. James Knox Polk ROREX (1845-1909), his father was David ROREX, and mother Sarah A. WILKINSON, he married Miss Ella Lou WHITWORTH, daughter of Wm. WHITWORTH; Dr. Francis Lee DILLARD came from Lynchburg, Virginia, to Brownsville, Tennessee, and then went to Jackson, Mississippi. He moved then to Madison County, Alabama, and there married Miss Elizabeth Diggs HARRIS.
About 1836, they moved to Woodville, AL. He attended medical lectures in Louisville, Kentucky, owned 1200 acres of land. Jesse E. BROWN married his granddaughter; T. Boyd FOSTER, born in Virginia and county surveyor for forty years, was the father of Dr. George W. FOSTER married to Miss Jennie GRAHAM; Dr. Elisha L. LEE (b.1840) was born in Dunlap, Tennessee, married to Miss Millie A. BEAN. His father was Guilford LEE and his grandfather was John LEE (b. 1789), and his great grandfather was William LEE of Virginia related to General Robert E. LEE. He was also a partner with Dr. W. K. SPILLER in the drug business; Dr. James M. PARKS (1820-1900), who was in the Seminole war; Dr. Richard W. JONES (1821-1886) born in Virginia and came to this county when a boy. He graduated at West Point and was Captain of Company F, known as the Jackson Hornets in John R. COFFEY's regiment in the Mexican war; Dr. Jack and Dr. David B. MCCORD were brothers, the latter served sixteen years as county treasurer.
For many years after the County was organized, there was quite a bit of litigation, both civil and criminal, and the judges covered large circuits, traveling from county seat to county seat by carriage or on horseback. Many lawyers rode the circuit with the court. Some of the ablest lawyers had a large practice in several different counties.
Some of those lawyers who resided in the county and practiced at Bellefonte are: Benjamin SNODGRASS, John H. NORWOOD, W. H. NORWOOD, John W. PARKS, Hugh Lawson PARKS (son of W. D. PARKS and Lucinda KIRBY), Henry C. BRADFORD (son of General Bradford of Huntsville), Nelson ROBINSON, H. C. COWAN, William Logan MARTIN (Attorney General in 1873), Judge John B. TALLY, W. J. HARALSON of DeKalb Co., Lemuel G. MEAD, Jasper J. JONES, Lawson C. COULSON, W. D. CAMPBELL, R. W. CLOPTON, Joseph J. GREGORY, Sam W. TATE, Richard HUNT, Virgil BOULDIN (State Supreme Court), and Jesse Edward BROWN (1845-1905). The writer says that Jesse E. Brown was the greatest one. He was born in Caney Cove, Jackson County, AL. He enlisted at first in the First Arkansas Infantry at the age of 16. After the death of his older brother at Shiloh, he was discharged. He at once enlisted in the Fourth Alabama Cavalry, Company C, which was commanded by Captain Frank B. GURLEY, where he served as a private.
He was severely wounded in the battle of Noonday Creek, to the right of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, and his leg was amputated six inches above the knee. After the war, he went to school at Georgetown, Kentucky, served in the 1872 Legislature, delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1875, owner and editor of The Progressive Age, but his greatest work was in the practice of the law.
The Masons were the first to organize in the county. There were five lodges and they held a big meeting once a year. In 1869 they met about half-way between Woodville and Paint Rock. At this meeting a great fight broke out between the WOODALLS and the WHITECOTTONS. Jim and Hy WHITECOTTON were killed. As the WHITECOTTONs were turbulent, dangerous men, the people of the Woodville community felt greatly relieved at knowing these men had been killed. Scottsboro hosted the annual meeting the next year and Dr. T. T. COTNAM was the orator. This meeting was to celebrate the "anniversay of St. John, the Baptist". In 1871 a new hall was erected in Scottsboro by the three orders of Masons, Odd Fellows and Pale Faces. Odd Fellows had been organized in the county before the Civil war, some of the members were: John F. PATTERSON, John SNODGRASS, G. W. STORY, W. H. ROBINSON, S.G. GRIMMETT, G. W. ALLEN, J. L. GENTRY, J.F. POTTS, D. N. PATTERSON, J. D. PATTERSON, David TATE, Wm. MATHEWS, Wiley MATHEWS, Jesse L. POTTS, Lewis T. WEBB, A. M. HOLLAND, James M. BRYANT, S. G. GRIMMETT, George W. THORTON, John G. MATHEWS, F. M. MCMAHAN, Leroy RASH.
When the first Newspaper was published in Jackson County has not been determined. The first mention in any official records found is in 1839, "Notice of mortgage sale, published in a newspaper at Bellefonte, AL by Moses MAPLES". Resolutions passed in 1835 on the death of Revolutionary soldiers were ordered published in the Huntsville paper with no mention of a Jackson County newspaper. J. F. GREEN and brother published the North Alabama Register at Bellefonte, they sold to J. W. MADDEN, and R. C. T. GILL published the Bellefonte Democrat or Jackson County Democrat in 1846. He sold to FRASIER and JONES and the paper was named Bellefonte Era until the coming of the Federal Army under General O. M. MITCHELL in 1862, who destroyed the plant. In 1868 P. J. SMITH and Colonel A. SNODGRASS published in Scottsboro The Jackson County Herald. The first paper published after the Civil war.
Smith withdrew after three months and went to Lebanon, DeKalb County and began publication of The Republican Union. The Jackson County Herald was changed to the Southern Industrial Herald until 1871 when it was then changed to The Alabama Herald. Sixteen years later it was changed to The Scottsboro Herald, and in 1887 it was sold to Mr. BRINDLEY of the Will's Valley Post. James ARMSTRONG (b Lawrence Co. AL) established the Scottsboro Citizen in 1877 (suspended 1911). He was a splendid newspaper man and the paper prospered, after his health failed it was sold in 1911 and consolidated with the Progressive Age. Thomas D. OSBORNE and CRAWFORD published The Stevenson New Era, they moved it to Jasper, Tennessee in 1870. The Star by Charles M. GARDNER merged to become the New Era and then passed to B. F. SHOOK. In 1886, W. T. BOYLE renamed it the Progrressive Age which he sold to Jesse E. BROWN in 1895, and his son , Lawrence E. BROWN managed the paper until he sold it in 1909 to Mark L. TUCKER. The Progressive Age was sold in 1919 to James S. BENSON. The Stevenson Chronicle was established in 1887 by J. H. VAUGHT and J. H. GREGORY and in 1912 W. J. ROREX was editor, the plant was sold to R. H. MCKINLEY of Jasper, Tennessee.
The early settlers of Jackson County were not without some means of education for the grant of the sixteenth section in each township for local schools afforded a small foundation upon which to build. The gift of this sixteenth section was to the township and not to the State, and if the section was fertile and would sell or rent for a high price, the schools received sufficient funds to run a free school a few months. On the other hand, if the sixteenth section happened to be located on lands which were rough, ridge or poor soil, then the income was quite small, and the zeal for education of the people was not enough to make up a sufficient fund for schools. There were here, as in other parts of the State two classes of settlers; The more wealthier planter, who lived in the valleys, and the poorer mountaineer. This latter class had neither time nor facilities for education. Life was one continuous burden of hardships, want and toil.
In early times, the school teacher was usually a crippled man, who was not able to do manual labor, a man who had some eccentric disposition, with a limited ability to figure, and could read and write a little, yet one who could use the rod of correction briskly.
He came into a community to make up a school, and after seeing a few of the leaders, would announce that school would open next Monday in the little neighborhood church house. The school day began just after sunup and lasted until near the setting of the same. His rules were strict, his word was law, and harsh discipline was his chief aim of success. He boarded among his pupils as that was part of his pay. He also took furs, skins and a little money for his work. In the village or small town, the teacher was better qualified and the course of study was enlarged to include grammar, elocution and a little Latin. Later, ladies began to teach and music became part of the course of study.
In the prosperous days before the Civil War the sons and daughters of planters were educated in the Arts and Classics. After finishing the academic course here, they went to some college or university to complete their education, before taking up the law, medicine, or politics as a profession in life. All efforts to instruct the young in schools quickly vanished when the great and terrible Civil war began. Many persons born in the fifties and sixties were deprived of any education, except that received in the school of hard-knocks, hard work, and self-denial.
There were a few pay schools in the towns in year 1868. Larkinsvile's five month school was taught by E. A. RUSSELL and L. A. GRUBBS. T. G. WINDES and Mrs. Bettie E. MILLS taught at Scottsboro, and Julia A. SHELTON and Matt M. ROBINSON taught at the Scottsboro Male and Female Institute in 1870. A. B. MAYHEM taught in the Brick Church in 1872, and Prof J. ROSAMOND and Miss Ella WHITWORTH in 1874. Miles MOODY and John SNODGRASS were trustees. Prof. W. G. MENTROSE taught a school on Sand Mountain in 1873. Other schools on the mountain were taught by Osborn DURHAM, C. B. ROACH, and Ezekiel STRINGER. In 1875, Mr. AUSTIN at Stevenson built the William and Emma Austin College. The Northern Methodist in Scotsboro were provided for by Thomas J. WOOD, who came here at a very early date, reared a large family, lived a long and useful life. His home was in Wood's Cove, which bears his name. The Baptist, Presbyterian and Southern Methodist all used his house free. This was the first church house in the town of Scottsboro. It was burned in the great fire in Feb 1881.Scottsboro. Miss Annie SCRUGGS taught the primary grades in the T. J. Wood's building. Other teachers who taught in the Scottsboro school were: W. G. MENTROSE, N. H. SCRUGGS, C. W. BROWN, Miss Fannie LEDBETTER, Wallace GROSS, J. M. HOPKINS, S. H. Bartlett, and Miss Sue SNODGRASS. Scottsboro Academy was incorporated in 1883, James M. BLEDSOE came in 1889 as president of the Baptist College.
Teachers were: Miss Maude TERRILL, Ben GOWEN, Jr, Dr. and Mrs. BAEREKY from Holland, and Miss Julia BRANDON. Music teachers were: Miss Amanda HURT, Miss Anna SKELTON, Miss Stella MOODY, Mrs. EWING and Miss Lillie BLEDSOE.
In 1894 the teachers were: Mr. COLEMAN, J. M. MCIVER, Miss Allie MCIVER, Mrs. IVY, Miss Ielia WATTS, and Mr. DUNSTON. Teachers in the Tri-State Normal from 1894-1898 were J. TY. ROSE, O. J. DODGE, R. M. GREGG, J. M. MCIVER and Mr. DUNSTON. Miss Sally MCIVER and Miss HERBERT taught music.
The Methodists ran the school in 1898. Mr. SHOEMAKER, principal; Miss WILSON, Miss SEAY, and Mr. LINN. The Baptist from 1899-1904 with J. C. DAWSON, principal. In other parts of the county classes were taught by A. A. and J. A. WATSON, Idella BROWN, daughter of Judge M. P. BROWN, Joe B. SHERRILL, who published his book in 1884 "Sherrill's Short Methods" in Arithmetic. John J. BEESON opened his school at Pisgah in 1881. Green Academy was bult and run by the Missionary Association of the Congregational Church, with headquarters in New York City. The two room school house and cottage was built in 1890 on top of Cumberland Mountain overlooking Peter's Cove near Woodville. The school grew and was patronized by the best people in this county and the adjoining coounties of Madison and Marshall. Any one finishing the work here was prepared to enter college and make good. The first teachers, Mr. Mersene Elon SLOAN and sister, Miss Emma SLOAN came from Minnesota. Herbert E. SARGEANT and wife from St. Paul and the Misses Libby and Edith HATFIELD of Ohio. In 1897 Prof. A. D. LUETHI of Chicago, Miss Jessie M. HOUSE of Michigan and Miss Lida STEELE of Oberlin, Ohio began teaching and remained for three years. They were followed by Miss Flora M. CRANE of Brooklyn, Maine, Miss Eugene HEPLER of Iowa, Miss F. A. JACKSON of Florida, and Miss Louise STONE of Iowa. Prof PEEK and wife came in the fall of 1901. Other teachers were: Mrs. M. R. PAKE, Miss Annie PHELPS, John JONES of Princeton, J. B. CAGLE of Sand Mountain, G. Wallace GASQUE, Miss Ada BRAYTON, J. M. TROSPER, and Miss Lila BROADFIELD. There is no school here now, the buildings all gone. Mr. STEELE had provided a $350 bell heard from a distance of ten miles, it is now used on a little church house some distance away from the place where it had been heard and heeded by these eager students.
A partial list of the students from Green Academy, Jackson Co. AL on the mountain top. George S. GILLIS went to the Spanish-American war as a private came out a Brigadier General of the 79th Division, d. in San Francisco 1922. Robert I. GILLIS, Captain in Quartermaster's Corps in France. He made his home in Williamsburg, Kentucky, then as superintendent of Buffalo Mining Co., Buffalo, TN, d. in Tucson, Arizona. Henry GILLIS, a leading lawyer in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Mabel, Roxie, and Elizabeth GILLIS are teachers. William HAYES is in Ordinance Division of Army and Navy HQ, Washington, DC. Leslie H. WOODALL is Superintendent of Southern Railroad at Birmingham, AL. Sanford D. LEE was Supervisor of Vicksburg and Memphis Div of Louisiana Railroad. He lost his life in the flood of 1927, in the Mississippi River. Wilbur COE was Colonel in the Army, acting Adjutant General. Ollie CRAWLEY was Captain of Infantry, U. S. Army. Andrew HOUK, teacher and preacher, is located at Birmingham, AL. Harvey HOUK is a preacher and was postmaster at Gurley, AL. Will Ed STEPHENS was a physician. Nellie COE was a missionary to Africa. Charles B. KENNAMER was three times District Attorney and is now Federal Judge in Montgomery, AL. Thomas J. KENNAMER has served as u. S. Marshall three terms in Birmingham, AL. J. B. WOODALL, a successful merchant, planter, banker and business man in Huntsville, AL, R. E. CHANDLER was a successful merchant in New Decatur. Hugh WALKER is a lawyer in Anniston, AL. Andrew and Sam SKELTON were in the front line at the Armistice. Both met King George who commended them in a letter to their father. John Robert KENNAMER, author of History of Jackson County, AL, pub. 1935, attended in 1894 for two years and received the first certificate the school gave for completing the course. William SHELTON and Nelson COWART went West and made a splendid record. Others who attended this school and made good are: Ezekiel KENNEDY; Robert PRICISE, Edna COE, Ed BOYLES, Mrs. Leona WOODALL MERRITT, Mrs. Eleanor LINDSAY BOYD, Mrs. Laura Wilson BATTLES, William LILLY, John, Richard, and Nellie COCHRAN, Nellie FRAZIER, Felix and Calvin ROUSSEAU, William J. WHITAKER, Samuel WININGER, Charley MANNING, Robert A.ALBERT, Rufus PERRY, Arthur and Miss Della HALL.
The Gay Nineties saw Jackson County as a pretty tame place to be. For amusement and entertainment on Sunday was going to the depot to see the train go by, taking walks on the railroad track, or driving a span of beautifully matched horses to the surrey or top buggy, which was sure to invoke envy in everyone. Every home boasted a horse-block and a hitching post as this was the surest way to get anywhere. Harry HILL was Agent at Paint Rock, P. H WOODALL at Woodville, Jess ISBELL at Lim Rock, John CANTERBERRY at Larkinsville, Spillman COWLEY at Scottsboro, George CHAPMAN at Hollywood, and R. B. ELLIS at Stevenson.
The Town Well was usually in the center of the business district and the gossiping place for loafers and merchants when in need of a fresh bucket of water, and others who depended on the town well for water. Bicycling became the craze, and was taken up by women equally with men. Swimming was indulged in only by men. One great amusement among men, both married and single was to meet and play a card game, five-up or seven-up, for past time or the drinks. Some played for money. Sometimes a store-keeper would even close his store to get in a game of cards or marbles. Fighting was much more common then than at the present. After crops were laid by, men would meet at town or in the country at some neighbor's house and play marbles all day. If it was wet weather they played under some barn or shed. It was always a source of pride to be able to plump the middler more than once in a game. Players of the present day would have little chance to win in a game of marbles with those of an earlier day.
Jackson County had its Great Court Trials that kept folks talking for days if not years. August 1, 1884: In 1856 Henry PORTER came from New York to die as he and his friends thought of a lingering disease amid the mountains of North Alabama. His health began to improve rapidly invigorated by the pure air and he entered on a new lease of life. He purchased land and built a handsome residence on a commanding bluff on the Tennessee River on Sand Mountain, now known as Porter's Bluff. Mr. And Mrs. PORTER, Miss Sue Z. STANDISH, and Mrs. CHUBBUCK were living in quietude and happiness. On Sunday evening, Mar 25, 1883, about dark they were startled by the reports of fire arms near the home. They saw under the evergreens three or four men. After demanding money which the Porters did not have, they meanly set fire to the house. George and Asbury HUGHES and John GRAYSON were arrested shortly after the crime. George SMITH was not arrested until shortly before the trail.
He was captured in Tennessee. Smith was a bad man and had killed a Mr. STREET before this house-burning. The Hughes boys were about 18 and 20 years old. Their father lived in Rhea County, Tennessee. The counsel for the defense were Gen. L. P. WALKER of Huntsville, Mr. ALLEN of Rhea County, TN, Judge HARALSON of DeKalb, R. C. HUNT and Judge COULSON of Scottsboro. The attorneys for the prosecution were, Hon. J.E. BROWN of Scottsboro, Capt. L. W. DAY of Huntsville, and Solicitor JONES. H. C. SPEAKE was the trial judge. All the accused protested their innocence. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and sentenced George SMITH, George and Asbury HUGHES to be hanged and John GRAYSON to the penitentiary for life. All appeals were exhausted and on execution day the excitement was intense; serious trouble was narrowly averted. The Sheriff, Thos J. ROBINSON called in a strong force of guards. Many threats to release the prisoners were heard in the crowd. Many thought the sentence too severe. Others thought them innocent and that governor O'NEAL would at least give a short respite. Because of the Hughes boys youthful age, at the last, Hon. J. E. BROWN, who had helped prosecute them, had wired the Governor to stay the execution, but the Governor refused and the execution was carried out. They firmly denied to the last, knowing anything about the Porter house burning. J. J. BEESON of the Baptist Church complied with their request and baptized them by immersion. After the 51st Psalm was read, a prayer offered and a song was sung, the prisoners were led to the scaffold. L. F. WHITTEN, the Methodist minister, and Judge TALLY made short speeches to the crowd. The deputy sheriff, John C. JOHNSON, cut the rope and the prisoners were hurled into eternity. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, "This is the first instance in which a white man was executed for arson in Alabama". This trial and hanging had its influence in the next general election in the county and as a result, the regular Democratic ticket was defeated by Independents.